Fascism in the CegeSoma Library (3): heirs, populists and 'national-populists'.

"Fascism in the CegeSoma Library (3): heirs, populists and 'national-populists'". Under this title, we invite you to discover the fourteenth theme of our series 'The Librarian's Talks'. Each theme will be an opportunity to dive into our collections and will be illustrated by a video and a text complementing the information found there.

Watch the fourteenth video 'The Librarian's Talks: 14. Fascism in the CegeSoma Library (3): heirs, populists and 'national-populists'".



Fascism in the Italian or German style has left a trace in the history of the XX century. A trace so negative that for decades, for a vast majority of European opinions, it was understood that... Never again! '. And except in one or another very specific case (Spain, Portugal,...), the 'fascist phenomenon' seemed to belong definitively to the past. Decolonization itself, with the anxieties, frustrations and humiliations that it could arouse here and there within the Western countries, was incapable of resurrecting it, except in a groupuscular form (O.A.S. in France, Mouvement d'Action Civique in Belgium, etc.), and it was the same with the Cold War. In terms of "neo-fascism", the Italian Social Movement seemed to be alone in the sun of the triumphant social democracy in various and varied forms. Then, at the beginning of the 1970s, the economic situation turned around and a long, long structural crisis occurred, while new leaders appeared who claimed a less friendly "neo-liberalism", with a series of social cuts at the end. Soviet communism died its death, while economies globalized, and this increasingly competitive globalization turned out to be less happy than its heralds had imagined. And time continued to run out, wearing down the last generations that had experienced World War II.

By the end of the 1980s, political groups were reappearing on the 'Old Continent' that could, without too much polemical exaggeration, be likened more or less to the heirs of the historical fascisms of the inter-war period. Certainly, whether it was the French National Front, the Scandinavian or Dutch anti-tax parties, or the Flemish Vlaams Blok, they all had an air of 'déjà vu' in the eyes of political scientists and historians (not to mention left-wing publicists who are always quick to denounce the return of the 'foul beast'). Didn't they contest the ordinary forms of representative democracy in the name of a sublimated People, adorned with all the virtues...and in 'direct' communication with a charismatic leader who claimed to be a great believer? The twentieth century advancing, punctuated by spectacular attacks and repeated crises, the democracies seeming to become more and more impotent and formal, these movements which one designated more and more as 'populist' or, better, as 'national-populist', became stronger until the election, across the Atlantic, of a certain Donald Trump to the presidency of the U.S.A. It was then a tidal wave, historiographically speaking.

CegeSoma, by its very function, could not fail to pinpoint the phenomenon and to provide the library's collections with a number of interesting titles on the subject.

If until now we still lack the studies of Dominique Borne (Petits bourgeois en révolte ? Le mouvement Poujade-1977) or Sandro Setta (L'Uomo Qualunque 1944-1948-2005), it is probably only a postponement, and we have already been able to enter a good deal of research on the French National Front and its foreign imitators. In this respect, we will recall the very interesting synthesis produced by CRISP in 2004 under the direction of Pierre Blaise and Patrick Moreau, Extrême droite et national-populisme en Europe de l'Ouest. It is of high scientific quality and has been followed by a number of works of the same kind on this theme but, it must be said, with a few years' delay... As if by chance, the media ascension and then the surprise election of Trump as head of the United States of America proved to be a powerful stimulant in this respect. Thus, while before 2017 Enzo Traverso was still one of the few international researchers to address this issue after the work of Dick Pels (Het volk bestaat niet. Leiderschap en populisme in de mediademocratie-2011), Pierre-André Taguieff (Le nouveau National-populisme-2012) and Benjamin Moffitt (The global rise of populism-2016), from 2017 onwards, following this famous American election, there was a veritable proliferation of historical writings dedicated to the close study of populism, its drifts, its various forms and its dangers.

Have a look: while Federici Finchelstein re-situated the phenomenon in its general context in 2017 (From fascism to populism in history), political scientists close to the University of Oxford produced a voluminous Oxford Handbook of populism the same year. And barely a year later, the Belgian Bruno Colmant tried to embrace the concept Du rêve de la mondialisation au cauchemar du populisme (2019) while Federico Tarragoni remained (a bit naively?) at L'esprit démocratique du populisme (2019), seeing in it an authentically popular protest against the vacuity of an increasingly theoretical democracy... Contrary to him, as early as 2016, Renée Frégosi had denounced Les nouveaux autoritaires. Justiciers, censeurs et autocrates, seeing in these contesting forces only purely negative entities inspired by dangerous demagogues little concerned with the common good, and this thesis will be taken up again con amore in 2022 by Gino Germani in Authoritarianism, fascism and national populism. On the other hand, 'left-wing' populism has been the subject of much less work, even if quality researchers, such as Chantal Mouffe, have been active in its shadow.

Things being what they are and humanity being what it is with its short memory, let's bet that national-populism, like fascism, is promised to a bright future... at least in our library collections!