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, Griffin obtained a PhD from Oxford University in 1990. He first developed his palingenesis theory of fascism in his PhD thesis. His best known work is The Nature of Fascism (1991). In May 2011, he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Leuven in recognition of his services to the comparative study of fascism.
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Griffin's theory of fascism, set out first in The Nature of Fascism in 1991 and more recently in Fascism: An Introduction to Comparative Fascist Studies (2017) suggests that a heuristically useful ideal type of its definitional core is that it is a form of revolutionary organic nationalism, or palingenetic ultranationalism. In other words, it seeks, by directly mobilising popular energies or working through an elite, to eventually conquer cultural hegemony for new values, to bring about the total rebirth of the 'ultranation', whether conceived as a historic nation-state or a race, 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 marginalised compared with the central place it occupied in inter-war Europe, and its central role in identity politics has been largely replaced by non-revolutionary forms of radical right-wing populism.
Griffin's approach, though still highly contested in some quarters, has had an enduring impact on the comparative fascist literature of the last 25 years, and draws on the work of George Mosse, Stanley Payne, and Emilio Gentile in highlighting the revolutionary and totalising politico-cultural nature of the fascist revolution (in marked contrast with Marxist approaches). His 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 civilisation and a new temporality in the West found its most comprehensive expression in the 'modernist states' of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Since 1945 fascism has diversified and can no loner gain the critical mass to form a mass movement of populist charismatic, so that it is reduced to terroristic attacks to live out its war on liberal democratic society and those it sees as 'enemies' of the 'true' nation/race and its rebirth.
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 National Socialists 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.
This theme will be pursued and deepened in his next monograph The Divisible Self: Heroic Doubling and the Origins of Modern Violence (Columbia: Agenda, Columbia University Press, September 2021).
Roger Griffin was co-founder of the open access journal Fascism (Brill) and co-founder of COMFAS, International Association for the Comparative Study of Fascism, directed by Professor Constantin Iordachi (Central European University).
- 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)
- Griffin, Roger, ed. (2005). Fascism, Totalitarianism and Political Religion. Routledge. ISBN 9781136871689.
- Griffin, Roger (2007). "The 'Holy Storm': 'Clerical fascism' through the Lens of Modernism". Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 8 (2): 213–227. doi:10.1080/14690760701321130.
- 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
- Fascism. An Introduction to Comparative Fascist Studies (Polity, 2017) ISBN 9781509520688
- Fascism in the series Quick Immersions (Tibidado, 2020)
- The Divisible Self: Heroic Doubling and the Origins of Modern Violence (Columbia: Agenda, Columbia University Press, September 2021)
- 'Interregnum or endgame? Radical Right Thought in the 'Post-fascist' Era', in Michael Freeden (ed.), Reassessing Political Ideologies (Routledge, London, 2001), pp. 116-131.
- Football in No-Man’s-Land? The prospects for a fruitful “inter-camp” dialogue within fascist studies between Marxists and non-Marxists, for special issue of European Journal for Political Theory, vol. 9, no. 2 (2012),Fixing Solutions: Fascist Temporalities as Remedies for Liquid Modernity. In: Journal of Modern European History 13 (2015), 1, 15–23. (Introduction to a forum on Fascist Temporalities)
- ‘Building the visible immortality of the nation: The centrality of ‘rooted modernism’ to the Third Reich’s Architectural New Order’, Fascism, vol. 7, no. 1 (2018), pp. 9-44.
- The role of heroic doubling in terrorist radicalisation: a non-psychiatric perspective’, International review of psychiatry, vol. 29, no. 4 (2017), pp. 355-61.
- "Professor Roger Griffin - Oxford Brookes University". www.brookes.ac.uk. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- "Honorary doctorate for fascism expert Roger Griffin". KU Leuven. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- Maggs, Charles (29 October 2012). "Interview: Professor Roger Griffin". politics.co.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2013.