Tidskriften ”Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies” recenserar boken, vilket är smickrande eftersom publikationen är världens främsta vetenskapliga organ angående fascismforskning. Recensent är fil.dr. Matthew Kott vid Uppsala universitet.
Recensionen är en dubbelrecension, även den norska boken ”Den sorte tråden: Europeisk høyreradikalisme fra 1920 til i dag” av Øyvind Strømmen recenseras.
Øyvind Strømmen’s Den sorte tråden [The Black Thread] traces the development and persistence of the radical right (including fascism) in Europe, with a particular focus on Norway. His goal is to locate Breivik within a history of radical nationalist movements that integrates Norway into a broader European context. In his Älskade fascism [Beloved Fascism], Henrik Arnstad also argues against a perceived Scandinavian exceptionalism, but, as alluded to in the title, looks instead more closely at the ideological aspects of fascism in an attempt to explain its enduring appeal and continuing ability to inspire the likes of Breivik.
By contrast, Arnstad’s book is more thematic and analytical, weaving in the ideas of Robert Paxton, Stanley Payne, Kevin Passmore, and other key figures from the scholarly literature on fascist studies. After a description of how Italian Fascism developed, he examines the relationship of fascist ideologies and movements to such topics as conservatism, revolution, modernity, the Holocaust, and gender. Unlike Strømmen, Arnstad ranges beyond Europe to include examples from Latin America, Japan, and even fictional Middle Earth. Throughout, Arnstad stresses that essential to any fascism is ideology, particularly Griffinian palingenetic ultranationalism.
Kott tar även upp att Strømmen och jag polemiserar i nutida debatt, angående det populistiska norska regeringspartiet Fremskrittspartiet:
Where Strømmen’s and Arnstad’s complementary approaches come into direct conflict is in their assessment of the place of the Progress Party on the political spectrum. Since Arnstad asserts that the most successful fascist movements of today have embraced parliamentarianism as the best way to achieve their palingenetic ultranationalist agendas, he warns that, if not outright fascist, there are at least fascistogenic tendencies within the Progress Party. As an example of this, Arnstad cites the fact that Breivik was active within the Progress Party before he became radicalized and left it for more overtly fascistic milieux. This controversial interpretation is generally rejected in Norway, where commentators, Strømmen among them, argue that the Progress Party is not a party of the same type as the post-neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats. (As in Finland with Skyldig till skuld, the fact that Arnstad is a Swede who critiques Norwegian nationalism is highly provocative for many in Norway.) Instead, borrowing from the ideas of Cas Mudde, Strømmen asserts that the right-wing populist Progress Party, long a magnet for disaffected protest voters, has actually acted as a blocker preventing fascistic parties from gaining a significant foothold in the Norwegian political system.
Nevertheless, it cannot be ignored that disturbing tendencies – anti- immigration sentiments, islamophobia, and antiziganism – are represented in the Progress Party today. Furthermore, following the September 2013 elections, these populists now form part of the core of a new coalition government in Norway. The long-term results of this development are not predictable. Arguably, the spectacular rise (and fall) of the populist, anti-immigrant Ny Demokrati [New Democracy] party in Swedish parliamentary politics during the 1990s changed the political climate in Sweden enough for the more radical Sweden Democrats, with their neo-Nazi roots, to become electable in the 2000s. Once in a position of power, could not the Progress Party become attractive for more radical, fascist elements as a ‘gateway’ or ‘enabling’ party for accessing greater political influence, even a role in government?