Deep historical trends suggest the United States could be moving toward a distinctly novel form of fascism, embracing elements of the historical phenomenon as it appeared in such countries as Italy, Germany, Japan, and Spain while departing in significant ways. A twenty-first century fascism would hardly be revolutionary or totalitarian, as it would involve no dramatic break with the past, following a logic of continuity and building on firmaments of entrenched power going back to World War II. This new type of fascist regime would be driven by a tightening confluence of sectoral interests in American society: corporate, state, military, and cultural – interests favoring oligarchy, authoritarianism, the warfare system, and surveillance order within an expanding globalized matrix of power. The dominant historical forces emphasized by such theorists as C. Wright Mills (The Power Elite) and Sheldon Wolin (Democracy, Inc.), an important foundation of this book, have grown stronger and more pervasive across the decades. An integrated power structure has been fueled by new advances in technology, a money-saturated political system, and neoliberal globalism bolstered by the spread of right wing populism that, among other things, has catapulted Donald Trump into the U.S. presidency.
In this book, Carl Boggs explores new political and ideological terrain in systematically considering the prospects for a gradual development of fascism in contemporary American society and, by extension, elsewhere across the advanced industrial world. He persuasively argues that modern fascistic trends, arguably most visible in the U.S., demonstrate a closer affinity with Mussolini’s Italy (corporate state) than with the more extreme Nazi German model of tyranny and genocide.
A very timely scholarly enterprise, this book will be of interest to students of contemporary radical politics, fascism more broadly, US political history, ideologies and party politics.
Table of Contents
1. Power in Capitalist Society
- The Logic of Capitalist Rationalization
- The Rise of State Capitalism
- The Globalization of Corporate Power
- The End of Liberalism
2. Fascism in History
- The Rise of Interwar Fascism
- Ideological Regeneration
- Fascism in Power
- Afterword: Mussolini in America
3. The Revival of Authoritarian Politics
- Mills’ Power Elite
- Elite Power, Mass Alienation
- The Rightwing Ascendancy
- Wolin’s "Inverted Totalitarianism"
4. The Permanent Warfare State
- Empire Versus Democracy
- Superpower: Politics, Ideology, Culture
- Militarism and Terrorism
- The Rambo Culture
- American Exceptionalism
5. Fascism of a New Type?
- Postwar Neofascism
- "Friendly Fascism"?
- Xenophobic Politics
- Reactionary Populism
- A Peculiarly American Fascism?
Afterword: Mussolini and America
Postscript 1: The Surveillance Society
Postscript 2: Donald Trump and Fascism
Carl Boggs is Professor of Social Sciences at National University in Los Angeles. After receiving his Ph.D. in political science from U.C., Berkeley, he has taught at Washington University in St. Louis, Carleton University in Ottawa, UCLA, USC, and Antioch University, Los Angeles. In 2007 he was recipient of the Charles McCoy Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association. While at National University he has received numerous awards, including Scholar of the Year and three Professoriates for outstanding faculty contributions. He has authored more than twenty books, written more than three hundred articles and has had three radio programs at KPFK in Los Angeles. He is on the editorial board of several journals, including Theory and Society, where he is book-review editor, and New Political Science. He writes regularly for the journal CounterPunch, founded by Alexander Cockburn.
'Carl Boggs is one of the most brilliant political theorists writing today. Fascism Old and New offers a coruscating analysis of the development of the twenty-first fascism taking root in the political soil of the United States. It is a work that is both pathfinding and iconoclastic and sure to be a classic.' - Peter McLaren, Distinguished Professor of Critical Studies, Chapman University
'While most writers fixate on Trump and Twitter, Carl Boggs digs deep into the political and social realities of America. For Boggs, the danger of fascism is not one rogue politician, but is rooted in U.S. history and the growing combined power of corporations, the state, and militarism. Everyone concerned about the future of America, and indeed the world, needs to read this book.' - Jerry Harris, National Secretary of the Global Studies Association
'Carl Boggs’ Fascism Old and New systematically explores the defining features of the European and Japanese fascisms that emerged between the two World Wars and examines the extent to which current configurations of economic, political, military and cultural power constitute the potential for fascism in contemporary U.S. society. Boggs' analysis suggests that highly capitalist and militarist societies like the U.S. could be susceptible to fascist trajectories and shows that fascism remains a threat in the world today.' - Douglas Kellner, UCLA, Author of American Nightmare: Donald Trump, Media Spectacle, and Authoritarian Populism
'In the age of Trump, it is crucial to develop a new language, critical narrative, and understanding of politics that captures what Carl Boggs terms America’s move into a "fascist equivalent." While the term fascism has been increasingly emerging in the popular and mainstream media to address the current political and economic landscape, its use is often muddled and ahistorical. In Fascism Old and New, Carl Boggs has produced a brilliantly layered and comprehensive commentary on America’s slide into fascism that is historically illuminating, theoretically novel, and enormously informative in its scope and development. Not only does this book offer an important warning from history, but it also addresses what it means to think through, understand, and engage the looming threat to democracy that has emerged in the United States. Fascism for Boggs is both far from a relic of the past and a carbon copy of past fascist regimes; he explores its emergence in the United States as a culmination of a long series of economic, political, cultural forces wedded to globalization and the barbarism of a financial order that has intensified its concentration of power and influence. This is a work of superb scholarship and lyrical writing that will make the reader rethink both the importance of history, especially the defining elements of European fascism, and the relevance of their legacy for contemporary politics, while providing a new and accessible language that is at once rigorous, accessible, and illuminating. Everyone who is concerned about the legacy of fascism and how it might emerge in the United States should read this book.' - Henry Giroux, Author of American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (2018)