Federico Finchelstein


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

Cover Interview of October 17, 2010

The wide angle

Fascism was a cross-regional civic religion in its most extreme form.  In certain Catholic countries fascism reoccupied places previously held by institutional religion but also let itself be invested by the “sacred.”

This intertwining of the secular with the sacred is central to an understanding of Argentine fascism and is thoroughly explored in the book.  I stress the complex interaction between secularizing processes and religious tradition and practice.  The book focuses on the quasi-religious dimensions of fascism that complexly overlapped with the Catholic “sacred.”

This relation was not devoid of conflicts.  But antisemitism, and with it anticommunism, provided both fascists and Catholics on the far right with a common intellectual battlefield on which to join forces as well as a symbolic shared space for enacting fascist ideology.

As a political religion, Argentine fascism was embedded in Catholicism, as the fascists understood it.  In this context they resorted to antisemitism as the best metaphor to represent the internal enemy.