Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 November 2021
As contemporaries noted at the time and as scholars have explained since, European fascism and American nativism shared common ground: exclusionary nationalism, frustrations with deliberative democracy, conspiracy theories, status anxieties, hostility in the face of change, longing for strong (male) leadership, and readiness for redemptive or restorative violence.1 The history of white supremacy, of European and American racial exclusions, prejudices, persecutions, and organized violence is a story of transatlantic affinities, entanglements – and of important divergences. The Nazis seized on American practices of eugenics, miscegenation laws, immigration restrictions, and manifest destiny ideology as a “model” for the Third Reich. Yet during World War II, the two countries fought each other not only militarily but also as an ideological Other. An exploration into the underlying depths and shallows that American nativism shared with European fascism thus requires conceptual clarifications. Not the least because, since its original European incarnation, fascism has had a second career as a political term of opprobrium, usually provoking defensive outrage and forestalling further analysis.