Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Blasco Sciarrino (Central European University) – Radical-Right Romanian Great War Veterans and their Transnational Influences, 1920-1939
In analyzing the relationship between Great War veterans and far-right extremism in interwar Europe, recent studies stress how the ideological and organizational models provided by fascist regimes encouraged European ex-servicemen to radicalize towards their own countries’ far Rights.
Aiming to contribute to these new approaches, I analyze the relevance of foreign political trends for the radicalization of Romanian ex-combatants, between the two World Wars. Specifically, I focus on various fascist and far-right groups in which veterans were prominent, such as the Romanian National Fasces and the Romanian National Socialist Party.
I look at how these organizations were inspired in their radical activism, to a relevant degree, by the examples provided by Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. I focus especially on how foreign fascist political myths influenced Romanian former fighters: chiefly, I consider Mussolini’s notion of ‘trenchocracy’, in other words the assumption that Great War veterans, having allegedly interiorized the political values of self-abnegation and assertiveness as a result of their combat experiences, had the right to overthrow parliamentarian elites in their own countries and build dictatorships.
Finally, I explain why these extremist organizations failed to significantly affect Romanian politics. In doing so, I focus mainly on the Romanian State’s resilient monopoly of violence, in addition to its ability to significantly satisfy some among the local veterans’ material demands.
Ultimately, my contribution points out the relevance of transnational entanglements, for the development of the radical Right’s ideological tenets and organizational practices. Moreover, it helps locate the main catalysts for the political radicalization of war veterans in the period after the Great War, rather than interpreting this extremism as the outcome of wartime combat experiences, with their allegedly-desensitizing effect over various ex-combatants’ moral values and political beliefs.