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Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neo-fascism usually includes ultranationalism, racial supremacy, populism, authoritarianism, nativism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration, as well as opposition to liberal democracy, parliamentarianism, Marxism, communism and socialism. Allegations that a group is neo-fascist may be hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet. Some post–World War II regimes have been described as neo-fascist due to their authoritarian nature, and sometimes due to their fascination with and sympathy towards fascist ideology and rituals.
According to Jean-Yves Camus and Nicolas Lebourg, neo-fascist ideology emerged in 1942, after the Third Reich launched the invasion of the USSR and decided to reorient its propaganda on a Europeanist ground. Europe then became both the myth and the utopia of the neo-fascists, thus abandoning previous theories of racial inequalities within the white race to share a common euro-nationalist stance after World War II, embodied in Oswald Mosley's Europe a Nation policy. The following chronology can therefore be delineated: an ideological gestation before 1919; the historical experience of Fascism between 1919 and 1942, unfolded in several phases; and finally neo-Fascism from 1942 onward.
Drawing inspiration from the Italian Social Republic (1943–1945), institutional neo-fascism took the form of the Italian Social Movement (1946–1995; MSI). It became one of the chief reference points for the European far-right until the late 1980s, and "the best (and only) example of a Neofascist party", in the words of political scientist Cas Mudde. At the initiative of the MSI, the European Social Movement was established in 1951, as a pan-European organization of like-minded neo-fascist groups and figures, such as the Francoist Falange, Maurice Bardèche, Per Engdahl, and Oswald Mosley. Other organizations like Jeune Nation, remnant of pre-war fascist strategies, called in the late 1950s for an extra-parliamentarian insurrection against the regime. The main driving force of neo-fascist movements was what they saw as the defense of a Western civilization from the rise of communism and the Third World.
In 1961, Bardèche redefined the nature of fascism in a book deemed influential in the European far-right at large, Qu'est-ce que le fascisme ? ("What is fascism?"). He argued that previous fascists had essentially made two mistakes: they focused their efforts on the methods rather than the original "idea", and they wrongly believed that fascist society could be achieved via the nation-state as opposed to the construction of Europe. According to him, fascism could survive the 20th century in a new metapolitical guise, only if its theorists succeed in building inventive methods, adapted to the changes of their times, in order to promote the core politico-cultural fascist project, rather than trying to revive doomed regimes:
The single party, the secret police, the public displays of Caesarism, even the presence of a Führer are not necessarily attributes of fascism. […] The famous fascist methods are constantly revised and will continue to be revised. More important than the mechanism is the idea which fascism has created for itself of man and freedom. […] With another name, another face, and with nothing which betrays the projection from the past, with the form of a child we do not recognize and the head of a young Medusa, the Order of Sparta will be reborn: and paradoxically it will, without doubt, be the last bastion of Freedom and the sweetness of living.— Maurice Bardèche, Qu’est-ce que le fascisme? (Paris: Les Sept Couleurs, 1961), pp. 175–176.
In the spirit of Bardèche's strategy of disguise through framework change, the MSI had developed a policy of inserimento (insertion), which relied on gaining political acceptance via the cooperation with other parties within the democratic system. In the political context of the Cold War, anti-communism began to replace anti-fascism as the dominant trend in liberal democracies. In Italy, the MSI became a support group in parliament for the Christian Democratic government in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. The party was forced back into "political ghetto" after anti-fascist protests and violent street clashes occurred between radical groups, which led to the demise of the short-lived fascist-backed Tambroni Cabinet in July 1960.
Causes and description
A number of historians and political scientists have pointed out that the situations in a number of European countries in the 1980s and 1990s – in particular France, Germany and Italy – were in some significant ways analogous to the conditions in Europe in the period between World War I and World War II that gave rise to Fascism in its many national guises. Constant economic crises including high unemployment, a resurgence of nationalism, an increase in ethnic conflicts, and the geo-political weakness of national regimes were all present, and while not an exact one-to-one correspondence, circumstances were similar enough to promote the beginning of a new Fascist movement, "neo-Fascism." Because intense nationalism is almost always a part of neo-Fascism, the parties which make up this movement are not pan-European, but are specific to each country they arise in; other than this, though, the neo-Fascist parties and other groups have many ideological traits in common.
While certainly Fascistic in nature, it is claimed by some that there are differences between neo-Fascism and what can be called "historical Fascism", or the kind of neo-Fascism which came about in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Some historians claim that contemporary neo-Fascist parties are not anti-democratic, because they operate within their country's political system. Whether that is a significant difference between neo-Fascism and historical Fascism is doubted by other scholars, who point out that Hitler worked within the existing political system of the Weimar Republic to obtain power, although it took an anti-democratic but constitutional process – presidential appointment rather than election through the Reichstag. Others point to the current neo-Fascists not being totalitarian in nature, but the organization of their parties along the lines of the fuhrerprinzip would seem to indicate otherwise. Historian Stanley G. Payne claims that the differences in current circumstance to that of the interwar years, and the strengthening of democracy in European countries since the end of the war prevents a general return of historical Fascism, and causes true neo-Fascist groups to be small and remain on the fringe. For Payne, groups like the National Front in France are not neo-Facists in nature, but are merely "right radical parties" that will, in the course of time, moderate their positions in order to achieve electoral victory.
The problem of immigrants – both legal and illegal (or "irregular") – whether called "foreigners", "foreign workers", "economic refugees", "ethnic minorities", "asylum seekers", or "aliens", is a core neo-Fascist issue, intimately tied to their nativism, ultranationalism, and xenophobia, but the specifics differ somewhat from country to country due to prevailing circumstances. In general, the anti-immigrant impetus is strong when the economy is weak or unemployment is high, and people fear that outsiders are taking their jobs. Because of this, neo-Fascist parties have more electoral traction during hard economic times. Again, this mirrors the situation in the interwar years, when, for instance, Germany suffered from incredible hyperinflation and many people had their life savings swept away. In contemporary Europe, mainstream political parties see the electoral advantage the neo-Fascist and far-right parties get from their strong emphasis on the supposed problem of the outsider, and are then tempted to co-opt the issue by moving somewhat to the right on the immigrant issue, hoping to slough off some voters from the hard right. In the absence in post-war Europe of a strong socialist movement, this has the tendency to move the political center to the right overall.
While both historical Fascism and contemporary neo-Fascism are xenophobic, nativist and anti-immigrant, neo-Fascist leaders are careful not to present these views in so strong a manner as to draw obvious parallels to historical events. Thus both Jean-Marie Le Pen of France's National Front and Jörg Haider's Freedom Party of Austria, in the words of historian Tony Judt, "revealed [their] prejudices only indirectly". Thus Jews would not be castigated as a group, but a person would be specifically named as danger who just happened to be a Jew. The public presentation of their leaders is one principle difference between the neo-Fascists and historical Fascists: their programs have been "finely honed and 'modernized'" to appeal to the electorate, a "'far-right ideology with a democratic veneer'". Modern neo-Fascists don't appear in "jackboots and brownshirts", but in suits and ties. The choice is deliberate, as the leaders of the various groups work to differentiate themselves from the brutish leaders of historical Fascism, and also to hide whatever bloodlines and connections tie the current leaders to the historical Fascist movements. When these become public, as they did in the case of Haider, it can lead to their decline and fall.
In 1951, the New European Order (NEO) neo-fascist Europe-wide alliance was set up to promote Pan-European nationalism. It was a more radical splinter group of the European Social Movement. The NEO had its origins in the 1951 Malmö conference when a group of rebels led by René Binet and Maurice Bardèche refused to join the European Social Movement as they felt that it did not go far enough in terms of racialism and anti-communism. As a result, Binet joined with Gaston-Armand Amaudruz in a second meeting that same year in Zurich to set up a second group pledged to wage war on communists and non-white people.
Several Cold War regimes and international neo-fascist movements collaborated in operations such as assassinations and false flag bombings. Stefano Delle Chiaie, who was involved in Italy's Years of Lead, took part in Operation Condor; organizing the 1976 assassination attempt on Chilean Christian Democrat Bernardo Leighton. Vincenzo Vinciguerra escaped to Franquist Spain with the help of the SISMI, following the 1972 Peteano attack, for which he was sentenced to life. Along with Delle Chiaie, Vinciguerra testified in Rome in December 1995 before judge María Servini de Cubría, stating that Enrique Arancibia Clavel (a former Chilean secret police agent prosecuted for crimes against humanity in 2004) and US expatriate DINA agent Michael Townley were directly involved in General Carlos Prats' assassination. Michael Townley was sentenced in Italy to 15 years of prison for having served as intermediary between the DINA and the Italian neo-fascists.
The regimes of Francoist Spain, Augusto Pinochet's Chile and Alfredo Stroessner's Paraguay participated together in Operation Condor, which targeted political opponents worldwide. During the Cold War, these international operations gave rise to some cooperation between various neo-fascist elements engaged in a "Crusade against Communism". Anti-Fidel Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was condemned for the Cubana Flight 455 bombing on 6 October 1976. According to the Miami Herald, this bombing was decided on at the same meeting during which it was decided to target Chilean former minister Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated on 21 September 1976. Carriles wrote in his autobiography: "... we the Cubans didn't oppose ourselves to an isolated tyranny, nor to a particular system of our fatherland, but that we had in front of us a colossal enemy, whose main head was in Moscow, with its tentacles dangerously extended on all the planet."
Italy was broadly divided into two political blocs following World War II, the Christian Democrats, who remained in power until the 1980s, and the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which was very strong immediately after the war.
With the beginning of the Cold War, the British government feared that the requested extradition of Italian war criminals to Yugoslavia would benefit the PCI. Preventing anything like the Nuremberg trials for Italian war crimes, the collective memory of the crimes committed by Italians was excluded from public media, from textbooks in Italian schools, and even from the academic discourse on the Western side of the Iron curtain throughout the Cold War. The PCI was expelled from power in May 1947, a month before the Paris Conference on the Marshall Plan, along with the French Communist Party (PCF).
In 1946 a group of Fascist soldiers founded the Italian Social Movement to continue advocating the ideas of Benito Mussolini. The leader of the MSI was Giorgio Almirante, who remained at the head of the party until his death in 1988.
Despite attempts in the 1970s towards a "historic compromise" between the PCI and the DC, the PCI did not have a role in executive power until the 1980s. In December 1970, Junio Valerio Borghese attempted, along with Stefano Delle Chiaie, the Borghese Coup which was supposed to install a neo-fascist regime. Neo-fascist groups took part in various false flag terrorist attacks, starting with the December 1969 Piazza Fontana massacre, for which Vincenzo Vinciguerra was convicted, and they are usually considered to have stopped with the 1980 Bologna railway bombing. A 2000 parliamentary report from the center-left Olive Tree coalition concluded that "the strategy of tension had been supported by the United States in order to impede the PCI, and, in a lesser measure, the PSI from reaching executive power".
Since the 1990s, the National Alliance, led by Gianfranco Fini, a former member of the Italian Social Movement, has distanced itself from Mussolini and fascism and it has also made efforts to improve its relations with Jewish groups, with most die-hards leaving it; it now seeks to present itself as a respectable right-wing party. Fini joined Silvio Berlusconi's government. Neo-fascist parties in Italy include the Tricolour Flame ("Fiamma Tricolore"), the New Force ("Forza Nuova"), the National Social Front ("Fronte Sociale Nazionale"), and CasaPound.
After the onset of the Great Recession and economic crisis in Greece, a movement known as the Golden Dawn, widely considered a neo-Nazi party, soared in support out of obscurity and won seats in Greece's parliament, espousing a staunch hostility towards minorities, illegal immigrants and refugees. In 2013, after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by a person with links to Golden Dawn, the Greek government ordered the arrest of Golden Dawn's leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other Golden Dawn members on charges related to being associated with a criminal organization.
After the fall of authoritarianism in Portugal after the Carnation Revolution of 1974, several neo-fascist Salazarist groups arose such as the New Order (Portugal) which was created in 1978. A report by the European Parliament defined the ideology of the New Order as revolutionary fascist and hyper-nationalist. The group also had connections to Fuerza Nueva in Spain. The New Order was disbanded in 1982, however its activities continued to as late as 1985.
Kotleba – People's Party Our Slovakia is a far-right political party with views that are considered extremist and fascist. The Party's leader, Marian Kotleba, is a former neo-Nazi, who once wore a uniform modelled on that of the Hlinka Guard, the militia of the 1939-45 Nazi-sponsored Slovak State. He opposes Romani people, immigrants, the Slovak National Uprising, NATO, the United States, and the European Union. The party also endorses clerical fascist war criminal Slovak President Jozef Tiso.
In 2003, Kotleba founded the far-right political party Slovak Togetherness (Slovak: Slovenská Pospolitosť). In 2007, the Slovak interior ministry banned the party from running and campaigning in elections. In spite of this ban, Kotleba's party got 8.04% of votes in the Slovak 2016 parliamentary elections, and voter opinion towards the party continues to increase.
Grey Wolves is a Turkish ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist youth organization. It is the "unofficial militant arm" of the Nationalist Movement Party. The Grey Wolves have been accused of terrorism. According to Turkish authorities,[who?] the organization carried out 694 murders during the late-1970s political violence in Turkey, between 1974 and 1980.
The British National Party (BNP) is a nationalist party in the United Kingdom which espoused the ideology of fascism and anti-immigration. In the 2009 European elections, it gained two members of the European Parliament (MEPs), including former party leader Nick Griffin. Other British organisations described as fascist or neo-fascist include the National Front, Combat 18, the English Defence League, and Britain First.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has been accused by political opponents of holding to elements of fascism e.g. populist nationalist and anti-immigration policies. However, UKIP has denied this, stating that its policies are not anti-immigration but pro-controlled immigration, patriotic not nationalist, in support of British democracy, and for all British citizens without regard to ethnicity or country of birth. Furthermore, it supports a small state and economic freedom, which are not typically found within Fascism. A London School of Economics blog examined both UKIP and the BNP and, while it did find similarities in demographic support and a few policies, it failed to conclude any strong ideological links between them. However, it did remark on a coinciding increase in support of UKIP and a decrease in support for the BNP, speculating a possible relationship between them. Some leftist literature, critical of UKIP, also denies that they are fascist.
Groups identified as neo-fascist in the United States generally include neo-Nazi organizations and movements such as the National Alliance, and the American Nazi Party. The Institute for Historical Review publishes negationist historical papers often of an anti-semitic nature. The alt-right—which covers a broad range of groups, from authoritarian right-wing technocrats and neo-monarchists to neoreactionaries and white nationalists—is also often included under the umbrella term "neo-fascist", as many adhere to a radical authoritarian ultranationalism.
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The Bolivian Socialist Falange party founded in 1937 played a crucial role in mid-century Bolivian politics. Luis García Meza Tejada's regime took power during the 1980 Cocaine Coup in Bolivia with the help of Italian neo-fascist Stefano Delle Chiaie, Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and the Buenos Aires junta. That regime has been accused of neo-fascist tendencies and of admiration for Nazi paraphernalia and rituals. Hugo Banzer Suárez, who preceded Tejada, also displayed admiration for Nazism and fascism.
Australia and New Zealand
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian-born perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, was an admitted fascist who followed eco-fascism and admired Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British fascist organization British Union of Fascists (BUF), who is also quoted in the shooter's manifesto The Great Replacement (named after the French far-right theory of the same name).
The Hindutva ideology of organizations such as RSS have long been compared to "fascism" or "Nazism". An editorial published in February 4, 1948, for example, in the National Herald, an Indian newspaper linked to the Indian National Congress party, stated that "it [RSS] seems to embody Hinduism in a Nazi form" with the recommendation that it must be ended. Similarly, in 1956, another Congress party leader compared Hindutva-ideology based Jana Sangh to the Nazis in Germany.[note 1] After the 1940s and 1950s, a number of scholars have labeled or compared Hindutva to fascism. Marzia Casolari has linked the association and the borrowing of pre-World War II European nationalist ideas by early leaders of Hindutva ideology. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics and International Relations, the term Hindutva has "fascist undertones".
The Indian Marxist economist and political commentator Prabhat Patnaik calls Hindutva "almost fascist in the classical sense". He states that Hindutva movement is based on "class support, methods and programme". According to Patnaik, Hindutva has the following fascist ingredients: "an attempt to create a unified homogeneous majority under the concept of "the Hindus"; a sense of grievance against past injustice; a sense of cultural superiority; an interpretation of history according to this grievance and superiority; a rejection of rational arguments against this interpretation; and an appeal to the majority based on race and masculinity".
- The Hindutva organizations were not exclusively criticized in the 1940s by the Indian political leaders. The Muslim League was also criticized for "its creed of Islamic exclusiveness, its cult of communal hatred" and called a replica of the German Nazis.
With Mongolia located between the larger nations Russia and China, ethnic insecurities have driven many Mongolians to neo-fascism, expressing nationalism centered around Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler. Groups advocating these ideologies include Blue Mongolia, Dayar Mongol, and Mongolian National Union.
The National Socialism Association (NSA) is a neo-fascist political organization founded in Taiwan in September 2006 by Hsu Na-chi (許娜琦), a 22-year-old female political science graduate of Soochow University. The NSA views Adolf Hitler as its leader and often uses the slogan "Long live Hitler". This has brought them condemnation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights center.
Adolf Hitler's propaganda which advocated the hegemony of "Greater Germany" inspired similar ideas of "Indonesia Mulia" (esteemed Indonesia) and "Indonesia Raya" (great Indonesia) in the former Dutch colony. The first fascist party was the Partai Fasis Indonesia (PFI). Sukarno admired Hitler's Third Reich and its vision of happiness for all: "It's in the Third Reich that the Germans will see Germany at the apex above other nations in this world," he said in 1963. He stated that Hitler was 'extraordinarily clever' in 'depicting his ideals': he spoke about Hitler's rhetorical skills, but denied any association with Nazism as an ideology, saying that Indonesian nationalism was not as narrow as Nazi nationalism.
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