Dave Renton

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David Renton in 2011

David Renton (born 1972) is a British barrister, historian and author.


  • The division between left and right in history is both evident and real. For example, the few detailed histories of specific anti-fascism that exist describe a conflict unrecognisable beside the subtle arguments of these liberal historians. The struggles between fascists and anti-fascists have been violent, lethal and real. The study of them makes it clear that the liberal historians have ignored the decisive importance of anti-socialism to the fascists. They have also overlooked the facists that in every country, socialists and communists have proven to be fascism's staunchest enemies, and that the political left has always been the first victim of fascist rule.
  • The alleged symmetry of fascist and socialist thought rarely amounts to anything more than a recognition that both groups have sought to change society and used political parties to affect this change. The fact that fascism and socialism differ in terms of ideas and traditions, have distinct sources of support and radically different relationships to the capitalist status quo, all seem to be neglected. The historians also glide gently over the obvious fact that fascism acquires its allies from the right and not the left.
  • The great problem with understanding fascism simply as an ideology is that many of the ideas that characterise fascism are not in themselves distinctive. Some of these ideas are purely nationalistic, and there have been many nationalists who were not fascists. Similarly, many conventional conservative parties have had racist supporters.
  • Historians must break out of the prison of ideas. The alternative is to analyse fascism as an active force within society. In order to understand fascism, therefore, any theory must base itself on an examination of the history of the movement, and of its behaviour as a political tradition. It is only from such a sound historical foundation, that a more adequate theoretical understanding can be achieved.
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