Notebook

The term “national socialism” seems to have been invented by the French nationalist author Maurice Barrès, who described the aristocratic adventurer the Marquis de Morès in 1896 as “the first national socialist”. Morès, after failing as a cattle rancher in North Dakota, returned to Paris in the early 1890s and organized a band of anti-Semitic toughs who attacked Jewish shops and offices. As a cattleman, Morès found his recruits among slaughterhouse workers in Paris, to whom he appealed with a mixture of anti-capitalism and anti-Semitic nationalism. His squads wore the cowboy garb and ten-gallon hats that the Marquis had discovered in the American West, which thus predate black and brown shirts (by a modest stretch of the imagination) as the first fascist uniform. Morès killed a popular Jewish officer, Captain Armand Meyer, in a duel early in the Dreyfus Affair, and was himself killed by his Touareg guides in the Sahara in 1896 on an expedition to “unite France to Islam and to Spain”.

Robert O. Paxton, “The Anatomy of Fascism”.

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