Paxton and Fascism

Robert Paxton is among the outstanding authors on the subject of fascism. In an article published in the Journal of Modern History in 1998, he presented a concise version of his argument, which he entitled “The Five Stages of Fascism”. (His book, The Anatomy of Fascism, is also on canvas wk 4.)

He started the article with a wide ranging discussion of the problem of defining fascism, then presented his ‘5 stages’ analysis (pages 11 to 21); the final pages of the article provide what the author calls a concise ‘functional’ definition of and possible explanation of fascism (p. 21-22; pp. 13-22). He also explores the question of the extent to which fascism could or has re-emerged in any contemporary society.

In your 3 page essay, you are to paraphrase two things: Paxton’s definition of fascism and his argument about the 5 stages of the development of fascism. Do you think Paxton explains fascism adequately? Why or why not? Finally, how does his perspective help you understand the interwar years and the road to WWII?

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