Neo-Fascism lends itself to an exact definition even less than Fascism, its ideological progenitor. In the postwar world, all radical right-wing movements, irrespective of their doctrinal contents and differences – except those explicitly aiming at the restoration of an anti-Semitic, racialist, Nazi-type dictatorship (see Neo-Nazism) – are commonly referred to as “neo-Fascist.” They share an attitude of extreme, militant nationalism; a belief in authoritarian rather than democratic government; and a total rejection of socialist, particularly Marxist, dogma with its underlying universalist and egalitarian ethos. Inhabiting the social periphery between the middle and the working class, Neo-Fascism appeals mostly to those deprived of their former independent status (as artisans, white-collar workers, small-holders, craftsmen, etc.) by the growth of an urban, industrialized society and driven to xenophobia and hostility toward minority groups, which they believe to have either caused their social and economic decline or contributed to it.
Hatreds vary according to demographic conditions. In the United States and Britain, Neo-Fascist movements have a strong anti-color bias, whereas similar French groups in the 1950s and early 1960s were anti-Algerian, and in Switzerland these prejudices inspired agitation against alien workers. Anti-Semitism is almost always implicit in such attitudes and it can easily become, as in the case of the Argentinian Tacuara or the Swedish Nordiska Rikspartiet (Nordic Realm Party), an ideological focal point.
In the West, the shock of the Holocaust militated after World War II against the spread of Neo-Fascist movements, particularly obsessively antisemitic ones; however, the Israel-Arab Six-Day War (1967) modified this trend. Formerly disreputable antisemitic prejudices relabeled “anti-Zionism” became respectable again when disseminated by the Communist establishment, the New Left, and Black Power activists. Arab anti-Israel propaganda agencies, until 1967 associated with the extreme right, have since – and without breaking their Neo-Fascist links – been courted and supported by the radical left as well.
Neo-Fascism survived best in Italy. The Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) obtained close to 1,500,000 votes (5.2% of the total poll) in the 1970 provincial elections, sending 32 deputies to the regional councils. However, neither occasional swastika-daubing forays into Rome’s old ghetto (1958, 1960) nor parliamentary representation dating back to the early 1950s elevated the MSI to a significant position. Further to the right, the minuscule Ondine Nuovo (New Order), formed by activist dissidents from the MSI, is a terrorist, but otherwise negligible, force, cultivating links with like-minded European “New Order” movements. Prince Valerio Borghese, a former honorary MSI president, founded the militant National Front which made an abortive attempt to overthrow the government (December, 1970).
In France the horrors of Nazi occupation inhibited the revival of overtly Fascist movements. Efforts by the Sidos brothers to channel resentments brought about by the loss of empire (Indochina, North Africa) into the Neo-Fascist Jeune Nation failed, while the less clearly defined anti-establishment campaign of Pierre Poujade won 60 parliamentary seats (1956). Both his party and the anti-Gaullist extremists of the Algérie-Française OAS had Fascist and antisemitic overtones, but neither survived the nationalist appeal of de Gaulle’s presidency. In the post–de Gaulle era, Ordre Nouveau, the successor organization to the Occident (banned 1968), gained some notoriety for militancy and street-fighting.
Neo-Fascism also failed to prosper in postwar England. Sir Oswald Mosley’s once-powerful British Union of Fascists, renamed British Union, had dwindled into irrelevance. A number of extremist organizations like the Empire Loyalists, the British National Party, and the Racial Preservation Society (whose street-fighting propensities gained them brief notoriety in the early 1960s), combined in 1967 to form the National Front, without, however, making any impact on national politics. In the 1970 general election the Front put up ten candidates, none of whom polled more than 1,600 votes. In the United States old-style primitive anti-Semitism flourished among such movements as the Ku Klux Klan and the Christian Crusader, while the more sophisticated John Birch Society vented their anti-Jewish resentments on the “liberal establishment” represented as being predominantly Jewish. The Klans, Crusaders, and Birchists were typically U.S. phenomena; lacking any party organization able to attain power, they cannot be regarded as true neo-Fascists.
D. Eisenberg, The Re-emergence of Fascism (1967).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.