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The following is taken from Walter Payne's History of Fascism, if you can get a copy of the book, the part covering France is on pages 291-99:

The principal leader of Action Francaise was Charles Maurras. Payne describes it as neomonarchist authoritarianism as “integral nationalism”. Apparently, the monarchy, instead of ruling by virtue of dynastic legitimacy would rule as the head of an organically whole nation. Said values apparently were to be expressed in the form of authoritarianism, anti-Semitism and religious intolerance. It was apparently the nationalist party of early twentienth-century France. Its street activists were called Les Camelots du Roi (Streethawker or Vendors of the King). They were argubly a prototype of the “shirt movements” (i.e., Blackshirts, Brownshirts, etc.)

Bear in mind that it never had much popular support given its elitist tendencies and it was repudiated by both the papacy and the pretender to the throne. Its elitist tendencies also took the form of condemning Italian Fascism's demagougery, emphasis on mass politics rather than elites.

There were some other groups but, according to Payne, the largest and most successful group was the Croix de Feu (Crosses of Fire), organized in 1927 as a veteran's organizaton. The leadership was taken over in 1931 by a recent retiree, Lt. Col. Francois de la Rocque, and he converted it into a political association with a uniformed militia and elected 20 deputies to parliament under the name, Mouement Social Francais (it may have had 150,000 members in 1934). However, some of its popularity was from the fact that it was only moderately authoritarian. He opposed xenophobia and totalitarianism and wasn't fascist (according to the author, but a footnote does mention some dissenting studies).

Apparently, the closest thing to an Italin Fascist movement that had some success was the Parti Populaire Francais organized by Jacques Doriot in 1936. He had originally started out as a Communist but was expelled in 1936. It was then he conceived of a populist, nationalist party that would draw in leftist dissidents and new nationalists. In OTL, he got financial backing from anti-Communist business interests which he may not get here.

I say this in general for both France and Russia, there is certainly room for arguing the ascendancy of rightist, authoritarian movements but I think we have to be careful in assuming the fascist model can be exactly paralleled in these two countries. Payne asserts that all the countires in which significant fascist movements arose (Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Romania) had the following in common. Unsatisfied ambitions of status and late-developing political systems that were still transitioning to liberal democratic systems. Further, France had a well-established party system. Also, all these countries faced a menace from the left.

What ultimately kept France from going fascist in OTL was that it remained stable, relatively prosperous and democratic. Although France lost this war, it didn't lose territory, it didn't suffer nearly the same demographic shock as it did OTL and I don't see another military defeat causing a massive shake-up like what you can expect in Russia in this TL. Further, France still has a long history as a successful nation-state and had the second-largest empire in the world.

I could see an authoritarian party like the Croix de Feu with Gaullist-style nationalism perhaps getting voted into power and initiating a more conservative policy (more state support of Catholicism, perhaps some civil disabilities for Jews, less freedom of the press, etc.) but I don't see a dictatorship arising just out of not regaining Alsace-Lorraine. Russia is different. She was a much bigger loser, if suffering massive economic dislocation and has no established democratic tradition. Bear in mind that what arises in Russia probably won't be as secular as Fascism, though. The only OTL analogy I can find is Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael, led by Corneliu Codreanu. It has was collective and anti-individual (which Payne asserts was typical of sociopolitical movements in Eastern Orthodox countries) and combined fascist beliefs and a biological concept of the nation with religious mysticism. Codreanu is quoted as aiming at “The spiritual resurrection! The resurrection of nations in the name of Jesus Christ!”. That the struggle was also for the spiritual community of the nation, which meant a tremendous emphasis on martyrdom for the individual members.

resources/history_of_fascism.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 by

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