Sunday, 25 September 2011

Fascism, Roger Griffin

"It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless.... I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else."

So wrote George Orwell.  This is a book which is essentially dedicated to the opposite view: that fascism exists as a coherent phenomenon which can be defined and studied.  It is a reader compiled by one of the great academic experts on the subject, the Oxford Brookes scholar Roger Griffin.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Architects of the Resurrection, R.M.Douglas

When scholars are looking for an Irish example of fascism, they generally light on a group called the National Guard, better known as the Blueshirts.  This was a short-lived organisation led by a complete idiot which failed to get close to the levers of power and ended up being subsumed into the mainstream conservative Fine Gael party in 1933.  In fact, most historians have come to the conclusion that the Blueshirts weren't really proper fascists, not least because most of them didn't have any very coherent political beliefs beyond a dislike of the IRA and Eamon de Valera's economic policies.

In this book, the historian Ray Douglas seeks to identify an alternative Irish manifestation of fascism: a charming little organisation called Ailtirí na hAiséirghe, or 'Architects of the Resurrection' (Labour supporters dubbed it Áilteoirí na hAiséirghe, 'Clowns of the Resurrection').  This group was active during and after the Second World War, though it lingered on in some form until the 1970s.  More contentiously, Douglas argues that Irish society in general was a great deal more receptive to extreme right-wing ideas than is generally admitted today.