Roger D. Griffin (born 31 January 1948) is a British professor of modern history and political theorist at Oxford Brookes University, England. His principal interest is the socio-historical and ideological dynamics of fascism, as well as various forms of political or religious fanaticism.
Education and career
Griffin obtained a First in French and German Literature from Oxford University, then began teaching History of Ideas at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes). Becoming interested in the study of extremist right-wing movements and regimes which have shaped modern history, he obtained a PhD from Oxford University in 1990. In his PhD thesis he first developed his theory of fascism. His best known work is The Nature of Fascism (1991).
Griffin's theory of fascism suggests that a heuristically useful ideal type of its definitional core is that it is a form of palingenetic ultranationalism. In other words it seeks, by directly mobilizing popular energies or working through an elite, to eventually conquer cultural hegemony for new values, to bring about the total rebirth of the nation from its present decadence, whether the nation is conceived as a historically formed nation-state or a racially determined 'ethnos'. Conceived in these terms, fascism is an ideology that has assumed a large number of specific national permutations and several distinct organizational forms. Moreover, it is a political project that continues to evolve to this day throughout the Europeanized world, though it remains highly marginalized compared with the central place it occupied in inter-war Europe.
Griffin's approach, though still highly contested in some quarters, has had an enduring impact on the comparative fascist literature of the last 15 years, and builds on the work of George Mosse, Stanley Payne, and Emilio Gentile in highlighting the revolutionary and totalizing politico-cultural nature of the fascist revolution (in marked contrast with Marxist approaches). His latest book, Modernism and Fascism, locates the mainspring of the fascist drive for national rebirth in the modernist bid to achieve an alternative modernity, which is driven by a rejection of the decadence of 'actually existing modernity' under liberal democracy or tradition. The fascist attempt to institute a different civilization and a new temporality in the West found its most comprehensive expression in the 'modernist states' of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which also revealed the destructive and self-destructive nature of all fascist political projects to 'regenerate' the nation or achieving cultural renewal.
His most recent research has been on terrorism. In his Terrorist's Creed: Fanatical Violence and the Human Need for Meaning he studies the origins and motivations behind terrorism. He compares the origins of terrorism to the extremes of the Nazis in the 1930s, noting that fanatics separate the world into good and evil, and then undergo "heroic doubling" where they see themselves as warriors in the battle between good and evil.
- The Nature of Fascism (St. Martin's Press, 1991 ISBN 0-312-07132-9, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-09661-8)
- Fascism (Oxford Readers) (Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-289249-5)
- International Fascism: Theories, Causes and the New Consensus (view table of contents, Edward Arnold, 1998, ISBN 0-340-70614-7)
- Fascism: Critical Concepts in Political Science edited with Matthew Feldman (Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-29015-5)
- Fascism, Totalitarianism, and Political Religion Routledge, 2006, ISBN 0-415-34793-9)
- Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler (view Table of contents, Introduction, and Index, Palgrave, 2007, ISBN 1-4039-8783-1)
- A Fascist Century: Essays by Roger Griffin, ed. by Matthew Feldman (view Table of contents, Chapter 1, and Index, Palgrave, 2008, ISBN 0-230-22089-4)
- Terrorist's Creed: Fanatical Violence and the Human Need for Meaning, Palgrave, 2012, ISBN 0-230-24129-8.