ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee
Question/Answer on cataloging issues – November 2016
Question: What are the LC Subject Headings and Name Authorities for Cataloging Works Dealing with Fascism and Fascist Movements?
Submitted By: Shonn M. Haren, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
The recent increased visibility and electoral successes of far-right parties running on anti-immigrant platforms across Western Europe and the United States has brought the term Fascism back into popular discussion. While often used as a catch-all pejorative for right-wing political movements, what is Fascism and how is it cataloged in LC?
A standard definition of Fascism is difficult to pin down, as Fascist movements, unlike their liberal democratic and Marxist contemporaries, have left behind a relatively thin theoretical framework, and they tended to either violently flame out (as was the case in Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy) or become subsumed by the authoritarian elements they rode into power with (as occurred in Spain, Portugal and Argentina).
The LC defines fascism as follows:
Fascism (May Subd Geog)
- Here are entered the works on fascism including works on post-World War II fascist movements. Works on German Fascism during the Nazi regime are entered under National Socialism
Thus fascism may be used as a subject heading for any applicable political movement before, during, or after the Second World War, with the exception of the Nazi government in Germany during the period of 1933-1945, which has its own designated subject heading. It is worth noting that Fascism – Germany may be used for fascist movements within Germany prior to 1933, and is also appropriate for post-1945 fascist and neo-Nazi movements. As the subject headings dealing with National Socialism are numerous and complicated, they will not be addressed in this essay.
As Fascism may be subdivided geographically, it may serve as the subject heading for fascist movements that currently do not have an LCSH, such as:
- Fascism – Brazil (use for Integralismo/Estado Novo/1st Vargas Presidency)
- Fascism – Croatia (use for Ustasa/Ustasha)
- Fascism – Portugal (use for Estado Novo)
However, in other cases, where the movement, or regime in question has its own LCSH, use of the narrower term may be more appropriate:
- Fascism – Hungary (The Arrow Cross Party)
- Narrower term: Nylaskeresztes Párt
- Fascism – Romania (The Iron Guard)
- Narrower term: Garda de Fier
- Fascism – Argentina (1st Peron Government)
- Narrower term: Peronism
- It should be noted here that there are political movements in contemporary Argentina that would consider themselves “Peronist” or ideological heirs of “Peronism” that do not consider themselves to be fascist, and probably would not be categorized as such, so use this term carefully.
- Fascism – Spain (The Falangist Movement)
- Narrower term: Falange Espanola Tradicionalista y las J.O.N.S.
- Narrower term: Peronism
Walter Benjamin (1936) stated that, “The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life.” Fascism’s emphasis on aesthetics and the emotional response that can be triggered through effective uses of spectacle and symbolism, have been noted by subsequent historians. Therefore, it is unsurprising that there are numerous subject headings pairing Fascism with artistic and cultural topics, such as:
- Fascism and art
- Fascism and architecture
- Fascism and culture
- Fascism and culture in literature
- Fascism and literature
- Fascism and motion pictures
In addition to the headings listed above, Fascism is paired with the following topics in LCSH:
- Fascism and education
- Fascism and freemasonry
- Fascism on postage stamps
There is however, one notable exception that reverses this construction:
- Labor unions and fascism
The term Fascist is used in the following LCSH:
- Fascist Aesthetics
- Fascist economics
- Fascist ethics
- With the broader term: Totalitarian ethics
- Fascist propaganda
- With the narrower term: Italian propaganda
The term Fascists (May Subd Geog) receives its own LCSH, with the following more specific designations:
- Jewish Fascists
- Women Fascists
Otherwise, Fascists from specific nations may be designated as follows:
- Fascists – France
- Fascists – Hungary
- Fascists – Germany
- With, of course, the narrower term: Nazis
Some significant events in the history of Fascism also include their own subject headings:
- Mussolini’s 1922 march on Rome that led to his seizure of power in Italy
- Italy – History – March on Rome, 1922
- Hitler’s 1923 abortive attempt at a coup in Germany, which began in a Munich Beer Hall
- Germany – History – Beer Hall Putsch, 1923
- The 1933 Reichstag Fire Trial in Germany, in which a group of Communists were implicated in the destruction by arson of the German parliament building, an act that helped the Nazis consolidate their control of Germany
- Germany – History – Reichstag Fire Trial, 1933
Finally, as noted by Payne (1995) a key identifying factor in Fascist movements was the “Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style of command, whether or not the command is to some degree initially elective” (p. 7). Hence, Fascist movements are usually inseparable from their charismatic leaders and founders, many of whom have their own LC name authorities:
- Codreanu, Corneliu Zelea, 1899-1938
- Codreanu was the founder of the Iron Guard, the Fascist movement in Romania between the World Wars. He was killed in fighting against the Romanian state in 1938.
- Franco, Francisco, 1892-1975
- While Franco rose to power with the support of the Spanish Fascist movement (Falangist) and the military aid of Hitler and Mussolini, he did not join the Axis, and the Falangists were largely subsumed into his more traditionally authoritarian regime.
- Hitler, Adolf, 1888-1945
- Mussolini, Benito, 1883-1945
- Mussolini gave this particular revolutionary form of authoritarianism its name by adopting the ancient Roman symbol of the state, the Fasces (a bundle of sticks surrounding an axe) as the symbol of his movement. He was executed by partisans alongside his mistress Clara Petacci in 1945.
- Peron, Juan Domingo, 1895-1974
- While technically a populist, Peron modeled his first government in the mid-to-late 1940’s on Fascist Italy, of which he was a great admirer. As noted above, Peronist populism is still a major force in Argentine politics, though its early ties to fascism have been abandoned.
- Salazar, Antonio de Olivera, 1889-1970
- Like Franco, Salazar’s regime in Portugal contained Fascist elements and maintained friendly relations with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. However, over time the Fascist elements in Salazar’s “Estado Novo” were largely subsumed into a more traditional authoritarian dictatorship.
- Szalasi, Ferenc, 1897-1946
- Founder of the Arrow Cross Party, Hungary’s Fascist movement, which briefly ruled Hungary while under German occupation. Szalasi was executed for war crimes in 1946.
- Vargas, Getulio, 1883-1954
- Vargas’ first government (also called the “Estado Novo”) included some Fascist characteristics. Vargas voluntarily relinquished power in 1945 and was later reelected President of Brazil in 1951. Faced with the possibility of a second removal from power by the military, he committed suicide in office in 1954.
Benjamin, W. (1936). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Retrieved from https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm
Payne, S. G. (1995). A history of fascism, 1914-1945. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.