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History and Theory

by David Renton

The classic text on the history and theory of fascism, revised for the twentieth anniversary of its first publication

Across Europe and the world, far right parties have been enjoying greater electoral success than at any time since 1945. Right-wing street movements draw huge supporters and terrorist attacks on Jews and Muslims proliferate. It sometimes seems we are returning to the age of fascism.

To explain this disturbing trend, David Renton surveys the history of fascism in Europe from its pre-war origins to the present day, examining Marxist responses to fascism in the age of Hitler and Mussolini, the writings of Trotsky and Gramsci and contemporary theorists. Renton theorises that fascism was driven by the chaotic and unstable balance between reactionary ambitions and the mass character of its support. This approach will arm a new generation of anti-fascists to resist those who seek to re-enact fascism.

Rewritten and revised for the twentieth anniversary of its first publication, Renton's classic book synthesises the Marxist theory of fascism and updates it for our own times.

David Renton is a barrister, historian and anti-fascist activist. His previous books include The New Authoritarians: Convergence on the Right (Pluto, 2019).

'David Renton's thoughtful and open-minded study shines a light on this often misunderstood political current and contains vital lessons for anti-fascists today'

- Daniel Trilling, author of 'Lights in the Distance: Exile and Refuge at the Borders of Europe'

'An invaluable book showing us again why and how Marxists have been the best interpreters and fighters against fascism. Renton's updates make this even more urgent reading for taking on the return of fascist ideas in our time'

- Bill V. Mullen, author of 'James Baldwin: Living in Fire'

'This book is so much more than a historical survey because Renton’s detailed description of the development, growth and successful establishment of pre-war fascist regimes chimes worryingly with contemporary times'

- Morning Star

'Fascism: History and Theory not only remains a thorough account of interwar Marxism’s understanding of fascism, but also provides a strong argument for a vital understanding of fascism, both in analysis and as practice'


'A nuanced and intelligent discussion of what constitutes fascism'

- Counterpunch

Introduction: The Anti-Fascist Wager
1. Interwar Fascism
2. An Alternative Method
3. Marxists against Mussolini and Hitler
4. Benjamin, Gramsci, Trotsky
5. Beyond 1933
6. Marxists and the Holocaust
Conclusion: A Specific Form of Reactionary Mass Movement

Published by Pluto Press in Sep 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745341200
eBook ISBN: 9781786806512

135mm x 215mm

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