Fascinating Antifascism
Fire and Blood: The European Civil War, 1914-1945

Wald, Alan

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/07/2016
Year Published:  2016  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21460

Book review of Enzo Traverso's Fire and Blood: The European Civil War, 1914-1945.



The political term "totalitarian" emerged in the 1920s to describe a one-party despotic state; after World War II, the German-born emigré political theorist Hannah Arendt inaugurated a stimulating debate about the degree to which systems such as German fascism and the post-Lenin Soviet Union were updated versions of old tyrannies or new forms owing to the role of ideology.

In the Cold War, however, "anti-totalitarianism" took on a life of its own as a makeshift doctrine that subsumed Communism into Nazism. The former's tradition of anti-fascism was nearly erased, and the conflation of the two facilitated harsh international policies toward and domestic repression of the entire Left - including nationalist movements aiming at decolonization.

Many other Left-wing books have explored this phenomenon, but a distinction of Traverso's volume is that a diversified antifascist culture, vital in the history of endeavors to animate a radical socialist mobilization since the 1920s, receives equal space in many of its complexities.