13th Mar, 2019




"It will change the way you think about civil society, fascism, and democracy." – William Sewell, University of Chicago

How the development of twentieth-century fascism depended on strong civil societies



Drawing on a Gramscian theoretical perspective and developing a systematic comparative approach, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe: Italy, Spain and Romania 1870–1945 challenges the received Tocquevillian consensus on authoritarianism by arguing that fascist regimes, just like mass democracies, depended on well-organised, rather than weak and atomised, civil societies. In making this argument the book focuses on three crucial cases of interwar authoritarianism: Italy, Spain and Romania, selected because they are all counterintuitive from the perspective of established explanations, while usefully demonstrating the range of fascist outcomes in interwar Europe. 

Civic Foundations argues that, in all three cases, fascism emerged because of the rapid development of voluntary associations, combined with weakly developed political parties among the dominant class, thus creating a crisis of hegemony. Riley then traces the specific form that this crisis took depending on the form of civil society developed (autonomous, as in Italy; elite -dominated, as in Spain; or state-dominated, as in Romania) in the nineteenth century.

Dylan Riley is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and is on the editorial committee of New Left Review.


"Dylan Riley's intelligent study succeeds in opening fresh perspectives. His book ought to be read by everyone interested in fascism." – Robert O. Paxton, New Left Review

"Riley's account of the civic foundations of fascism succeeds not only in throwing new light on old questions, but also in redefining the theoretical parameters for understanding fascism. It will change the way we think about fascism in the future." – Max Whyte, American Journal of Sociology

"Dylan Riley fruitfully questions the subjacent assumptions of standard interpretations of fascism. His creative use of Toquevillean and Gramscian concepts is fascinating and his arguments are compelling. A must-read in the field of fascism studies." – Enzo Traverso, author of Fire and Blood: The European Civil War 1914-1945


Paperback: ISBN 9781786635235 / £16.99


THE CIVIC FOUNDATIONS OF FASCISM IN EUROPE is available at a 30% discount (paperback), and 40% discount (ebook) on our website. Purchasing details here: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2675-the-civic-foundations-of-fascism-in-europe

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