Notebook

Considering these precursors, a debate has arisen about which country spawned the earliest fascist movement. France is a frequent candidate. Russia has been proposed. Hardly anyone puts Germany first. It may be that the earliest phenomenon that can be functionally related to fascism is American: the Ku Klux Klan… The Klan constituted  an alternate civic authority, parallel to the legal state, which, in the eyes of the Klan’s founders, no longer defended their community’s legitimate interests. By adopting a uniform (white robe and hood), as well as their techniques of intimidation and their conviction that violence was justified in the cause of their group’s destiny, the first version of the Klan in the defeated American South was arguably a remarkable preview of the way fascist movements were to function in interwar Europe. It should not be surprising, after all, that the most precocious democracies – the United States and France – should have generated precocious backlashes against democracy.

Robert Paxton, “The Anatomy of Fascism”.

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