Fascismens aktualitet

Historia som analogi och kontrast


  • Olof Bortz


The Relevance of Fascism: History as analogy and contrast

Politicians, intellectuals, journalists, and scholars in several different countries have used the concept of fascism to describe political developments during recent years. Right-wing populist parties and extremist movements have gained ground in national elections, while political leaders worldwide have challenged democratic norms and institutions. Is the concept and history of fascism useful as a tool for understanding this situation? Or does it obscure the novelty and specificity of what is going on? This article analyzes various answers to this question, gathered from proponents and critics of the utility of the concept of fascism for understanding contemporary politics in Sweden, the USA, France, Spain, and Germany, during the past ten years. In countries where fascism has played a central role in national history, a nostalgic embrace of the memory and history of fascism, although not its political program, has accompanied the ascent of right-wing populist and extremist parties. In other countries, such as Sweden and the USA, historians and intellectuals have dismissed using the concept of fascism as a label for the Sweden Democrats or Donald Trump as historically incorrect. Although such critique can indeed adduce a long list of differences between historical fascism and contemporary politics, it also contributes to making the history of fascism into a politically useful past in the present.