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Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe

Collectivist Visions of Modernity

Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe examines the historical examples of Soviet Communism, Italian Fascism, German Nazism, and Spanish Anarchism, suggesting that, in spite of their differences, they had some key features in common, in particular their shared hostility to individualism, representative government, laissez faire capitalism, and the decadence they associated with modern culture. But rather than seeking to return to earlier ways of working these movements and regimes sought to design a new future – an alternative future – that would restore the nation to spiritual and political health. The Fascists, for their part, specifically promoted palingenesis, which is to say the spiritual rebirth of the nation. 

The book closes with a long epilogue, in which Ramet defends liberal democracy, highlighting its strengths and advantages. In this chapter, the author identifies five key choke points, which would-be authoritarians typically seek to control, subvert, or instrumentalize: electoral rules, the judiciary, the media, hate speech, and surveillance, and looks at the cases of Viktor Orbán's Hungary, Jarosław Kaczyński's Poland, and Donald Trump's United States.

About the Author

Sabrina P. Ramet is a Professor of Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway. She is also a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and a Research Associate of the Science and Research Center of the Republic of Slovenia, Koper. She is the author of 13 scholarly books.


"This is a timely moment to step back from the presentation of contemporary politics and take a historical approach to past challenges to liberal democracy in the twentieth century, which is precisely what Sabrina P. Ramet does in this eloquently written history of alternatives to democracy. She identifies four principal rival visions to that of liberal democracy: German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, and Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalism. Ramet's book is an extremely learned and interesting book that will be read with great benefit by anyone interested in the intellectual history of liberal democracy and its adversaries."—Politics, Religion & Ideology

"Alternatives to Democracy is at its core a transnational work of comparative twentieth-century history philosophically rooted in the immediate contexts of the late 2000s and the 2010s. The ideas underpinning the central thesis of this book are thus explored through two interconnected analyses. The first, comprising most of the book's content, identifies and deconstructs four forms of collectivist ideology that dominated the political landscape of twentieth-century Europe: Soviet communism, Italian and German fascism, and the more incongruous choice of interwar Spanish anarchism. Despite widely differing socioeconomic objectives and geopolitical aspirations (or lack thereof), each of these ideological movements positioned itself as a distinct alternative to liberal democracy, defined by Ramet as a political commitment to 'the rule of law, individual rights, toleration, respect for the harm principle, basic human equality, and the neutrality of state in matters of religion'. In the context of the early twentieth century however, collectivist alternatives to liberal democracy were able to command widespread support within the countries in which their adherents came to power, granting them a mandate for reshaping society to better reflect their core 'moral values': fundamental goods 'such as freedom, equality, or human rights or, in the case of the Nazis, the rights of race'. Alternatives to Democracy follows Ramet's quintessential style in terms of both its scope and ambition. This latest offering represents a fresh interpretation of modernity's competing political visions."—Europe-Asia Studies

9789633863091 : alternatives-to-democracy-in-twentieth-century-europe-ramet
480 Pages
$105.00 USD
9789633863183 : alternatives-to-democracy-in-twentieth-century-europe-ramet
Paperback / softback
480 Pages
$35.00 USD

Other Titles by Sabrina P. Ramet

Civic and Uncivic Values in Poland

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Serbia Since 1989

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Civic and Uncivic Values in Kosovo

edited by Sabrina P. Ramet, Albert Simkus, Ola Listhaug
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