In This Review

Fascism and Communism
Fascism and Communism
By Francois Furet and Ernst Nolte, translated by Katherine Gols
University of Nebraska Press, 2002, 100 pp

Two historians -- Francois Furet, a renowned French intellectual who died in 1997, and Ernst Nolte, a conservative outcast in Germany -- discuss here their affinities and disagreements concerning communism and fascism. Both men lament the Left's obsession with Nazism, which communists have long exploited. But the stakes of this polite quarrel are high. Nolte sees fascism and Nazism as defensive reactions to the Bolshevist threat and even tries to rationalize Hitler's rabid antisemitism. In contrast, Furet rejects this causal nexus and does not try to minimize the depth and centrality of antisemitism in Nazi doctrine. He does a fine job of explaining that insistence on the "derivative character of Nazism vis-ê-vis Bolshevism" is in fact an attempt "to exonerate the former by indicting the latter." He is also right in analyzing Nazism not as a reactionary ideology but as an innovative revolutionary movement. Looking ahead, Furet concludes on a dark note that "the forces that work toward the universalization of the world" will "trigger sequences of events" beyond prediction. He was right, alas, once again.