The Flexibility of Fascist Ideology – Internationalism by Lauren McCoy

After considering this week’s material, it feels like fascism’s relationship to internationalism is intentionally flexible, which allows it to make contradictory claims that benefit its national cause. When reading last week’s material on defining populism, one of the elements that stood out to me was the suggestion that populism lacks an ideology in it itself, instead attaching itself to existing political beliefs without disrupting them. At the time, I had assumed this lack of ideology is what separated populism and fascism, since fascists clearly have a strict, uncompromising worldview. While maybe fascism cannot camouflage itself quite as well as populism, in reflecting on this week’s reading I feel like fascism is much more flexible than I had previously thought. I think this flexibility may speak to how fascism is emotionally driven rather than ideologically, like other traditional political ideologies. Rather than conform their actions to an ideological framework, fascists create their own meaning for elements that support their movement. This allows them to be contradictory and shift their stance as they see fit, since an intellectual-base isn’t the source of their authority.

By extension then, I think fascist governments can maintain a contradictory stance toward internationalism without decreasing its validity because their ideology is so flexible. This allows for anti-internationalism and pro-internationalism views to exist within the same body of fascist thought, so long as both support the overall movement. Having a looming, existential international enemy in the form of Judeo-Bolshevism or liberal democracies is extremely effective in their fear-mongering, creating a single enemy for their national army to violently rally against in the creation of their nation. The Judeo-Bolshevism is especially good considering how variable interpretations of a supposed Jewish communist revolution have shifted dramatically, allowing each state to make its own specific claims and arguments that speak to their national circumstances while remaining tied to the overall antisemitic movement. At the same time, placing yourself in a global anti-liberal/antisemitic movement adds further validity to fascist “ideology” while providing the strategic benefit of allies (more support in the international system, resources, e.c.t.).

3 Replies to “The Flexibility of Fascist Ideology – Internationalism by Lauren McCoy”

  1. Hello Lauren,

    I think that you are correct in identifying the intentionally flexible nature of fascism in order to allow them to appropriate certain ideologies to further their goal. I also think it was incredibly important to connect this flexibility with the emotionally-driven nature of fascism. Throughout the readings, it is evident that intense emotionally-charged narratives appear in conspiracies against internationalism (such as those that appear in Ben-Ghait’s and Hanebrink’s works) and simultaneously in the fascist propaganda which attempted to engineer feelings of unity between anticolonial and fascist movements in the Motadel reading. Overall, I think that these affective discourses encouraged the proliferation of contradictory ideas about internationalism within fascist movements because emotion negotiated the contradictions in a way that logical thought couldn’t. Overall, I think that your post summarised these connections very well!

  2. Hello.

    I think that Lauren makes a really good point about how flexible Judeo-bolshevism is as a concept, and that Kaileigh makes an equally good point about how it appealed to the emotionalism of fascism. What really interests me about Judeo-fascism, though, is that it was so flexible that it appealed to non-fascist cultures as well. As Hanebrink points out, it was a ubiquitous concept throughout the liberal democracies to the point that it stopped being a theory or assertion to be weighed and considered, and instead became common knowledge, common sense. Fascist nations believed a lot of illogical and bizarre things, it’s striking to me when those same things were common currency in nations that were supposed to be their intellectual and moral superiors.

  3. Analyzing the ideological flexibility of fascism and populism reminds me of the idea that fascists (and to a lesser extent populists) will do anything to achieve their ‘destiny,’ or as you say, their “national cause.” Tying all of that to emotion as you’ve done is something I didn’t consider at first, but you’re absolutely right. Fascism can get away with being contradictory because it doesn’t rely on logic or philosophy, just emotion.

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