Federico Finchelstein

 

On his book Transatlantic Fascism: Ideology, Violence, and the Sacred in Argentina and Italy, 1919-1945

Cover Interview of October 18, 2010

In a nutshell

This book provides a contextual and theoretical introduction to transnational fascist ideology and practice, particularly the central role of political violence, empire and war across the “fascist Atlantic.”

I stress the genesis of the conceptual connections between Italian fascism and the Argentine fascists, and also deal with their more general relationship with transnational, self-perceived experiences—communism, totalitarianism, imperialism, the Spanish Civil War, racism and antisemitism, the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.

This is a dimension of the study of fascism that is by and large not emphasized in current historiographical approaches.

While not ignoring nationally specific contexts and traits, the book emphasizes the importance of “fascism for export.”  I write specifically about the transatlantic character of fascist discourse and practice as it informs the works of major Argentine and Italian fascist ideologues and intellectuals.

In other words, by focusing on the transatlantic dimensions of fascism, the book deals with the changing ways Mussolini and other leading fascist intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic conceived their movement as an ideology grounded in global notions of history and politics.

More specifically, the book addresses the Italian fascist attempts to export fascism across the Atlantic.  From the perspective of European fascists this was the history of a failure.  However, if one thinks this transatlantic ideological encounter as a conversation rather than a passive acceptance of foreign ideology, the idea of failure becomes relative.

This is precisely the way Argentine fascists thought about their transatlantic encounter with European fascism. They were influenced by European fascism and in fact they appropriated many aspects of it.  But they created an original, and one might add pervasive, form of “sacred” fascism that gravely affected the Argentine twentieth-century history.