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Open Access Universal Fascism and its Global Legacy. Italy’s and Japan’s Entangled History in the Early 1930s

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Universal Fascism and its Global Legacy. Italy’s and Japan’s Entangled History in the Early 1930s

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In the early 1930s, fascism emerged as a global phenomenon. In Europe, Mussolini’s Italy was the driving force behind this development, whereas in Asia the center of gravity lay in the Japanese Empire. But the relationship between Japan and the mother country of fascism, Italy, in the interwar period has been hardly examined. The following article thus focuses on the process of interaction and exchange between these two countries. Moreover, the question of Japanese fascism has previously been discussed from a comparative perspective and thereby generally with a Eurocentric bias. In contrast, this article adopts a transnational approach. Thus, the question under consideration is not whether Japan ‘correctly’ adopted Italian Fascism, so to speak, but rather the extent to which Japan was involved in the process of fascism’s globalization. I will show that the pattern of influence in the early 1930s was certainly not limited to a single West-East direction and that fascism cannot be understood as a merely European phenomenon. This article begins by describing the rise and fall of universal fascism in the period from 1932 to 1934 from a global perspective. It secondly explores the legacies of fascism’s global moment and its consequences for the subsequent formation of the Tokyo-Rome-Berlin Axis when, following the end of an utopian phase, a more ‘realistic’ phase of global fascist politics began, with all its fatal consequences.

Affiliations: 1: Historisches Seminar, LMU München Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 80539 München, Germany, hedinger.daniel@gmail.com

10.1163/22116257-00202003
/content/journals/10.1163/22116257-00202003
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In the early 1930s, fascism emerged as a global phenomenon. In Europe, Mussolini’s Italy was the driving force behind this development, whereas in Asia the center of gravity lay in the Japanese Empire. But the relationship between Japan and the mother country of fascism, Italy, in the interwar period has been hardly examined. The following article thus focuses on the process of interaction and exchange between these two countries. Moreover, the question of Japanese fascism has previously been discussed from a comparative perspective and thereby generally with a Eurocentric bias. In contrast, this article adopts a transnational approach. Thus, the question under consideration is not whether Japan ‘correctly’ adopted Italian Fascism, so to speak, but rather the extent to which Japan was involved in the process of fascism’s globalization. I will show that the pattern of influence in the early 1930s was certainly not limited to a single West-East direction and that fascism cannot be understood as a merely European phenomenon. This article begins by describing the rise and fall of universal fascism in the period from 1932 to 1934 from a global perspective. It secondly explores the legacies of fascism’s global moment and its consequences for the subsequent formation of the Tokyo-Rome-Berlin Axis when, following the end of an utopian phase, a more ‘realistic’ phase of global fascist politics began, with all its fatal consequences.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22116257-00202003
2013-01-01
2016-12-03

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