Drawing on a Gramscian theoretical perspective and developing a systematic comparative approach, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe 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'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
'Fascism did not arise from weak civil societies, but rather from the inability of the ruling elites to establish political hegemony. It filled this discrepancy, creating new forms of authoritarian power based on the social premises of modern democracy: on its 'civic foundations.' This is the argument of this highly original book in which, navigating with ease between political theory and historical research, 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
'Historical sociology of a high calibre.' --Mark Mazower, Financial Times