Comparisons and Definitions

Robert O. Paxton

in The Oxford Handbook of Fascism

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594788
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Comparisons and Definitions

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)



Why did fascism succeed in some parts of Europe and not in others? This question places the topic squarely in the domain of comparative history. The development of fascism in Europe after 1919 presents a fruitful terrain for comparison. Every European nation, indeed all economically developed nations with some degree of political democracy, had some kind of fascist movement. At further stages of development, the outcomes were dramatically different. In Italy and Germany, fascist movements became major players and achieved power. In the most solidly established Western European democracies, such as Britain and Scandinavia, fascist movements remained marginal. In some cases, such as France and Belgium, they became conspicuous but could approach power only after foreign conquest. A number of authoritarian regimes, including Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Antonescu's Romania, Horthy's Hungary, imperial Japan, and Vargas's Brazil, borrowed some trappings from fascism but excluded fascist parties from real power.

Keywords: fascism; Europe; comparative history; fascist movements; Italy; Germany; Britain; imperial Japan

Article.  9012 words. 

Subjects: History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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