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End the duopoly

Will Fascism Return to the Far Right?

In my book, The New Authoritarians, I have argued that we are in a post-fascist moment. In other words, that fascism remains a despised tradition and that the most successful recent movements on the Right have been those which have acknowledged fascism’s unpopularity and based their politics on more recent events: on 9/11 rather than Hitler or Mussolini. Here I ask whether that shift within the far right is permanent, whether a far right which has turned away from fascism might turn back in years to come.

If this question is addressed from the perspective of today’s leaders, then the answer is straightforward: none of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, or Marine Le Pen envisage a revolutionary war against the liberal state; their approach is solely electoral and this is likely to remain the case for any foreseeable future. The leaders of the converged right and far right are well aware that the dominant values of our time remain hostile to fascism.

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This is one reason why, for example, the League was able to form a government in Italy while the Front failed in France. The former was not founded as a fascist party, its adoption of Italian nationalism has made it a hybrid party, combining nationalism with its earlier regional politics. The party was mobile, heterogeneous, and hard to pin down. It was in these ways different from the Front and better equipped for power.

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