General Propositions on Fascism and the Dominant Classes

march_on_rome-bc10a5cdb597fb1a123af8b8aabe1cb7First published in France in 1970, Nicos Poulantzas’ Fascism and Dictatorship was translated by Judith White for New Left Books (Verso) in 1974. In the introduction to the edition, the editors wrote: 

The victory of fascism in Germany and Italy in the inter-war period was perhaps the greatest defeat ever suffered by the European working-class movement. The exact social nature of the political regimes led by Hitler and Mussolini has remained a focus of controversy on the Left ever since. Much new scholarly research has been done in the last decades on Nazism and Fascism, and a large literature written on them by liberal sociologists and historians. Nicos Poulantzas’s work, by contrast, is the first major Marxist study of German and Italian fascism to appear since the Second World War. Fascism and Dictatorship takes full account of recent advances in empirical knowledge of the phenomenon of European fascism, but seeks to develop a rigorous theory of it as a specific type of capitalist State — using many of the concepts formulated in the now standard Political Power and Social Classes. Poulantzas’s book carefully distinguishes between fascism as a mass movement before the seizure of power and fascism as an entrenched machinery of dictatorship. It compares the distinct class components of the counter-revolutionary blocs mobilized by fascism in Germany and in Italy respectively. It analyses the changing relationship between the petty bourgeoisie and big capital in the evolution of fascism. It discusses the internal structures of the fascist State itself, as an emergency regime for the defence of capital, and it provides an extensive and documented criticism of the official policies and attitudes of the Third International towards fascism, in the fateful years after the Versailles settlement. Fascism and Dictatorship represents a challenging synthesis of factual evidence and conceptual analysis that has generally been rare in Marxist theory.

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