My name is Marc Mulholland. I am a Fellow (lecturer and tutor) in the History Faculty of Oxford University. My College is St Catherine's. I come from Ireland.

This is a blog relating to my book published in 2012 by Oxford University Press, Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservativism.
Now on sale here and here. If you want 20 per cent off the price, I can arrange that! Send me a message or leave a comment, and I'll tell you how.

The thesis my book is examining was rather pithily summarised by Leon Trotsky in 1939: "Wherever the proletariat appeared as an independent force, the bourgeoisie shifted to the camp of the counter-revolution. The bolder the struggle of the masses, the quicker the reactionary transformation of liberalism." [Context is here]

However, my book isn't a defence of Trotskyism, or indeed any particular ideology. It's a study of an idea that took shape in Left, Right, and Centre variations.

This blog has tid-bits not included in the book, and other thoughts that occur.

You can see book details at the
OUP website.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Fascism Again?

Richard J. Evans, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, has an essay in the Staggers on 'The New Facists' (?): 'A New Threat for a New Era'. Given Evans's remarkably learned (and well-written) corpus, in particular his definitive-for-a-generation history of the Third Reich, it's well worth attending to what he says. The essay begins with a re-writing of Marx's famous phrase: 'A spectre is haunting Europe: the spectre of unemployment.' (almost 25 million in the EU, nearly 10 percent of the pop., 22 percent of youth). The Golden Dawn in Greece - straightforwardly neo-Nazi - has reached and held 7 percent of the vote. Jobbick in Hungary is anti-Semitic and anti-Roma, and has reached 17 percent. Less extreme, but powerful are the Front National in France and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. There's evidence, as ever, of right-wing authoritarian parties appealing to the state apparatus: 50 percent of police in Athens supporting the Golden dawn. Jobbick, Evans points out, is rather more professional and business in its support base than petty-bourgeois or lumpen-proletarian. In fact, Evans implies, the desperate unemployed are far from straightforwardly the seedbed for the new right. Ruling and opposition parties of the soft right have adopted some of the hard-right's slogans etc, without directly criticising democracy. (The governmental party in Hungary, I hadn't realized, has espoused revisionism by repudiating the post-Great War Treaty of Trianon!)

Evans' points out that (as Greece shows) there is a potential for the hard-left to take off too. It was the threat of 'proletarian democracy' (as I call in in my book) that seemed to undermine the efficacy of liberal constitutionalism in many people's eyes in the inter-war period. When selling the new German regime to international opinion in 1934, Goring was careful to prioritise its achievements in rolling back the subversive Left:

Hitler's mission is of importance for the history of the whole world, because he took up a war to the death against Communism and therewith raised a bulwark for the other European nations. ... It is our solemn belief that if, in the mighty struggle between Communism and National Socialism, the former had won, then the deadly bacillus would have spread from Communist Germany to the other European countries. The day will come when the other countries will begin to realize this, and on that day France, England and other peoples will be thankful that at that critical moment there was an Adolph Hitler in Germany.

[Hermann Goring, Germany Reborn (1934), excerpted in Carl Cohen (ed.), Communism, Fascism and Democracy: The Theoretical Foundations (New York, 1962), p. 395.]

Of course, inter-war Fascism railed against cosmopolitan capitalism too. Capitalism looks fairly secure now, and in the EU there is a formidable institutional shield against the 'excesses' of democracy in the shape of a trans-national European elite, and the dictature of the Bond Markets. Given the screaming pain of austerity, pretty clearly self-defeating in terms of economic recovery, its not clear how long this will last. If the 'threat' to Western civilization begins to extend from Muslims, immigration, Roma, Eurocrats, 'the bankers', etc., to 'class war subversives' of the Left, then one might see a yet more dangerous development of neo-fascism.

Anyway, it's a fine article, and another strong reason in particular to revisit Evan's stunningly good book on the rise of the Nazis.

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