Review of Walter Laqueur's Fascism: Past, Present Future (New York, Oxford University Press, 1996); Roger Eatwell's Fascism: A History (New York: Allen Lane, 1996).
Three secular political creeds have claimed the souls and loyalties of men in the twentieth century: liberalism, communism, and fascism. Liberalism has been identified with capitalism, which communism rejected, while fascism could be and has been characterized as both capitalist and anti-capitalist. Communism equated capitalism (and therefore liberalism) with fascism; fascism defined itself in opposition to both liberalism and communism; and liberalism fought each of the other two in turn, sharing its victory over fascism with the Soviet communists in 1945, and forty-five years later watching Soviet communism expire of natural causes, perhaps aided somewhat by the exertions of the Cold War. But just as the collapse of the Soviet empire has not meant that communism is dead and buried, neither did the defeat and partition of Nazi Germany spell the end of fascism.
At the end of the twentieth century, liberalism again faces a hostile and frightening world. It is frightening, among other things, because we (those who uphold the virtues of liberalism, that is) are unsure of the nature of the enemy. The enemy we knew so well is disabled, and so we feel that the threat must come from another direction. Feeling secure on the Left flank, we naturally turn our attention to the Right. This explains the renewed interest in fascism.