The International Political Economy of Fascism
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This dissertation focuses on the intersection between security, governance, and the international economic system in the interwar period - constructing an analytic narrative to explain why so many states adopted the policy prescriptions of the radical right, which states did so, and what form these prescriptions took. While many new authoritarian states were established in the 1920s - and Fascist Italy was not the only one where radical right activists played a major role in regime consolidation - the ends pursued by these states were largely traditional. In the wake of the Great Depression, however, the difficulties in simultaneously attaining full employment, freedom of labor, and profitability forced capitalist states to adopt active macroeconomic policies - and, in turn, either move left, assigning labor a significant role in governance, or right, repressing organized labor. The fascist and “para-fascist” regimes which would be established in the 1930s would represent a renegotiation - whether brokered from within democratic or extra-democratic politics - between these conservative elites and fascist activists. Although the balance between the two would differ from place to place - from especially strong movement activists in Germany to especially strong traditional elites in Japan or Balkan royal dictatorships - all of these new compacts represented a willingness of the conservative elites to turn their back on economic and geopolitical liberalism forever. Which path elites chose to take, I argue, depended upon their positionality in the world economy. High-mobility fractions of capital were concentrated in the leading states, could discipline governments through exit, and benefited from a worldwide open market economy. Low-mobility fractions of capital, by contrast, especially those attached to semiperipheral states, needed to discipline governments through monopolies on voice. Further, relatively richer economies at the core of the world-system were in a better position to compromise with labor. This process resulted in a polarization within countries and in turn a polarization among countries - in favor of a relatively more liberal and international capitalism as against a relatively more nationalist and state-monopoly variant of capitalism.