Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe

Collectivist Visions of Modernity
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492 pages

Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe examines the historical examples of Soviet Communism, Italian Fascism, German Nazism, and Spanish Anarchism, suggesting that, in spite of their differences, they had some key features in common, in particular their shared hostility to individualism, representative government, laissez faire capitalism, and the decadence they associated with modern culture. But rather than seeking to return to earlier ways of working these movements and regimes sought to design a new future – an alternative future – that would restore the nation to spiritual and political health. The Fascists, for their part, specifically promoted palingenesis, which is to say the spiritual rebirth of the nation.

The book closes with a long epilogue, in which Ramet defends liberal democracy, highlighting its strengths and advantages. In this chapter, the author identifies five key choke points, which would-be authoritarians typically seek to control, subvert, or instrumentalize: electoral rules, the judiciary, the media, hate speech, and surveillance, and looks at the cases of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, Jarosław Kaczyński’s Poland, and Donald Trump’s United States.

CHAPTER 1. Rival Visions of Alternative Modernity: An Introduction
CHAPTER 2. An Evolving Vision of an Alternative Modernity: Soviet Communism
CHAPTER 3. The Quest for an Alternative Modernity: Fascism and Nazism, Part I
CHAPTER 4. The Quest for an Alternative Modernity: Fascism and Nazism, Part II
CHAPTER 5. The Quest for Freedom and Solidarity: Anarchism in Spain
EPILOGUE In Defense of Liberal Democracy—and a Warning
Further Reading
About the Author