HIST 2285 Fascism in the Twentieth Century: History and Theory (HA-AS) (HNU) (HEU)
Monday and Wednesday: 8:40-955
Professor Nicholas Mulder
Fascism was the most shocking political phenomenon of the twentieth century. By the 1940s more than 280 million Europeans were living under fascist regimes. A violent, transformative, and genocidal form of politics, fascism left a profound imprint on world history, and it continues to define our moral compass today. In recent years, the rise of right-wing politics worldwide has brought the dangers of fascism back to widespread attention. Are we witnessing a return of fascism? To understand this, we need to understand what fascism was actually about. What were its core characteristics? Why was it successful in seizing and holding power? Were people attracted to it, and if so, why?
This course uses history and political theory to understand the fascist experience in the twentieth century. In the first part of the course, we will examine fascist ideology; its relation to democracy and dictatorship; whether fascism is best understood as another form of authoritarianism or as totalitarianism; the role of nationalism, race, religion, culture, gender, the family, and intellectuals in fascist regimes; and the institutional and economic foundations of fascist politics. The second half of the course covers the origins, development and defeat of fascist states in the mid-twentieth century. We will devote the most time to understanding what happened in Mussolini’s Italy (1922-1945) and in Hitler’s Germany (1933-1945), but will also examine fascist movements and regimes in Austria, Hungary, Romania, Spain and Portugal. We will finish the course by looking at the persistence of fascist movements and ideas beyond WWII and into the present, and ask how these are similar to historical fascism and in what ways they differ from that experience.