For the Nation, Against Empire?

Sara Dix

The articles by Motadel and Ben-Ghiat highlight the themes of anti-colonialism and cosmopolitanism through the historical fascist perspective. In The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt against Empire, Motadel discusses that while fascism was out to correct certain national issues, it also aimed at creating a new world order. So fascism, inherently, is cosmopolitan to an extent.

During WWII, the Nazi regime needed to engage with outside anti-colonial movements to achieve its goal for furthering an spreading its ideologies outside of Europe. Motadel also argues that Berlin’s anti-colonial revolutions was essentially anti-imperial and it called for an international order based on the principles of the nation and not empire which appealed to many anti-colonial nationalists worldwide. These included anti-colonial revolutionaries did not represent the majority which is why they needed to band together. Even Ben-Ghiat, through her analysis of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, mentioned that even though it was meant to portray this idea of creating an Italian empire, the result meant repeated Ethiopian rebellions and failure of the Italian authorities to secure Ethiopia as its own.

Motadel mentions the Catalan situation in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg and Britain’s Brexit Party who turned their backs during the Union’s anthem. While “internationalism” is considered to be hated by contemporary nationalists, it is ironic that these same nationalist groups are seeking out allies across borders and becoming the definition of “internationalism” through transnational institutions. He calls it “reactionary cosmopolitanism” where these groups are working together as a reaction to their threatened nationalist perspectives and the idea that multiculturalism and pluralism only puts a negative weight on the state.

Works Cited

David Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American
Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

David Motadel, “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier than Internationalism – But They Depend on It.” The New York Times (July 3, 2019).

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Conquest and Collaboration” in Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945
(University of California Press, 2004), pp. 123-130.

Defining Terms

Sara Dix

Since the Second World War, the use of the term “fascism” has increased to label specific groups of people. Its meaning has changed over time since World War II which has led to its lessening impact on identifying true fascist behaviour within certain political parties or its corresponding groups of extremist followers. President Trump and his administration are often used in comparison to analyze similarities and patterns from history, but there are opposing arguments regarding the definitions of these terms that creates conflicting messages about these terms and how they are, or should be, used.

Victoria de Grazia goes to explain that understanding the meaning of fascism during 1920-1945 is extremely important in order to use the term correctly. She mentions that the historical importance of fascism was that the term, as a label, was not what mattered to people, but that it was created to fight off important political, material, and social issues at the time. But now, the term has transformed into a label against people with opposing ideologies, particularly those in populist, extremist groups. So, how does this impact the effectiveness of using the historical definition of “fascism” to identify similarities within the current politic scene with the rise of populism and extremist groups?

Both Gordon and Moyn discuss the issue with analogies when comparing the past to the present. A good point that Gordon emphasizes is that by reflecting and understanding history, a person can connect the past to see the significance in the present and how it is beneficial to analyze the historical context of fascism in order to see its components arise once again. While analogies can be misleading in certain situations, they tend to be more helpful in identifying patterns so people are aware and can respond appropriately.

Works Cited

Victoria de Grazia, “What We Don’t Understand about Fascism” Zocalo Public Square
https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2020/08/13/understand-fascism-american-historymussolini-hitler-20th-century/ideas/essay/

Peter E. Gordon, “Why Historical Analogy Matters,” NYR Daily (7 January 2020),
nybooks.com/daily/2020/01/07/why-historical-analogy-matters/

Samuel Moyn, “The Trouble with Comparisons,” NYR Daily (19 May
2020), https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/05/19/the-trouble-with-comparisons/

Introduction

Sara Dix

Hello everyone!

My name is Sara and I’m in my fourth-year of Global and International Studies, specializing in European and Russian Studies, and I’m also minoring in American Sign Language. I enjoy learning about history in general, but I’m more focused on European history.

A couple years ago, I also took Professor Evans’ 19th Century Germany course and I completed a Balkans history course last semester so I’m looking forward to this course! I think it’ll be really interesting to learn about populism and authoritarianism, especially since it relates so much to events that have happened in more recently. I unfortunately haven’t gotten to travel to Europe, but I do want to at some point. I was going to go to Ireland last summer for my international experience requirement, but that fell through due to COVID-19.

As for personal interests, I enjoy creative writing, reading, playing video games, and watching anime. I have been lucky enough to still be able to play Dungeons & Dragons with my groups online. Lastly, I included a photo I took of my pet axolotl, Norman, as I figured he will bring you guys some happiness during this tough time in lockdown.