Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2021
Chapter10 summarizes the book’s central findings, which highlight a massive backlash to Communism as well as fascism. Due to this double deterrent effect, revolutionary Communism and counter-revolutionary fascism rarely spread during the interwar years; instead, fear of these two extremes led to the overthrow of liberal democracy by the advocates of conservative authoritarianism. The chapter then emphasizes that cognitive-psychological insights are crucial for understanding the tremendous turmoil and terrible death toll of the interwar years. The subsequent section stresses that the horrors culminating in the 1940s exerted their own deterrent effects, which fostered the revival of political liberty and democratic consolidation in Western Europe. Because democracy has in recent years faced a rightwing-populist challenge, the last section highlights how this threat differs fundamentally from fascism. This study of the past thus helps to calm present fears.