Bed Time Book of Famous BeastsFascism. Oxford Readers Ed. Roger Griffin. Oxford Readers O.U.P. 1995 410 pp #9 19s 10d
AS A LONG TIME STUDENT of fascism and national-socialism I was at first very glad to buy this book, thinking that it would be an important source of original texts on a difficult and delicate subject. Especially in Russia, where I come from, there is a dearth of information on the subject and it was, and still is, impossible to find original texts by almost all theorists of fascism and national-socialism. In Russia "fascism" is a word used to discredit political opponents. But this for politicians and media commentators; for researchers of modern history, ideology or politics I hope every researcher, if he or she is an honest one (oh my dream!) chooses subjects with a view to his own interests and based on the results of previous research. More interesting than treading well-worn paths is to investigate problems little known or inaccurately known or banned, that which is known in the U.S. and Europe as "revisionism". For many years "there was no such thing as an unofficial history in the Soviet Union", as American revisionist James J. Martin put it (James J. Martin, The Saga of Hog Island and Other Essays in Inconvenient History. Ralph Myles pub. Colorado Springs 1977. pp 86). "Writing history is a dangerous trade", said Charles A. Beard many decades ago; especially in Russia I might add. By re- interpreting the history of some ideological movement or of Soviet- German, Soviet-Japanese or German-Japanese relations between the wars a researcher may swiftly be labelled neo-fascist by the likes of Colonel General Dmitri A. Volkogonov, former Soviet now anti-Soviet court historian; and many there are who, like Colonel Volkogonov, see no difference between research and propaganda.
Some court historians are more subtle and realize that it is necessary to study fascism. It remains to decide who and what is fascist. This is where Mr. Griffin's book comes in. Who is a fascist? This guidebook will tell you. Just open and read. It is as simple as that. According to our writer the species includes a wide range of beasts: Giovanni Papiai, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Curtio Malaparte, Richard Wagner, Stefan George, Ernst J|nger, Oswald Spengler, Gottfried Benn. More beasts? Be Mr. Griffin's guest: Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Julius Evola, Alain de Benoist, Dominic Campbell....Had enough? What is this? An encyclopaedia of "bad guys"? This seems to be the intended message, but in reality the book reads more like a pantheon of European philosophers, writers and political theorists. An impressive bunch these "fascists".
Mr. Griffin endorses Adrian Lyttelton's opinion that there is "not one Fascism but various Fascisms" (see his anthology, Italian Fascism from Pareto to Gentile Jonathon Cape, 1973), even in the case of Italy. Mr. Griffin also attempts to make some gradations such as "not-nazi German Fascism" but the guiding principles of said group remain somewhat unclear. Beyond post-war European Fascism Mr. Griffin offers us more "bad guys" in the form of the New Right, Third Position and conservative revolution. Talk about mixing drinks...Mr. Griffin and his friends are unwilling or unable to make effective distinctions between Fascists, the New Right, national-socialists and any other "bad guys". Notably, the unpleasant, even fatal destiny of (fascist?) conservative revolutionaries during the (fascist?) Hitler's era is overlooked.
If a lot of non-fascists are served up as fascists in this book, some real fascists are missing. Nakano Seigo, "Berlin's mouthpiece", was an indisputable fascist of Italian style and German type, as he openly characterized himself. Where are Kita Ikki and Ukawa Schumei, leading theorists of Japanese national-socialism? Where is the 1930's all- Russian fascist party of Konstantin Rodzayevsky? Arguably the only purely fascist movement out of Russia. There is nothing about fascist (?) esoteric Hitlerians such as Savitri Devy and Miguel Serrano. Also missing is Louis Ferdinand C‚line and Knut Hamsun. (Perhaps it would have been just a little too embarrassing to include a Nobel prize winner in a book of beasts).
I hope that none of the Russian readers of my monographs ever reads this book. Why? I have great sympathy for Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Carl Schmitt, Vilfredo Pareto and Gottfried Benn, Martin Heidegger and Julius Evola. I have studied the theories of Mussolini, Hitler, Rosenberg, Darri, Nakano, Kita, Okawa, Gentile and other "bad guys" and have written about them to boot. I am preparing a monograph The Conservative revolution in Japan: Its Ideology and Politics. I should prefer my readers to judge me on my own merits and those of whom I write. Pretending to disclose political prejudice, Mr. Griffin's book serves to reinforce it. Nevertheless, to appear in a second edition of Mr. Griffin's book would flatter me: between Heidegger and Evola perhaps?
Vasiili E. Molodiakov