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French Democracy and the ?Croix de Feu Complex?

5 aprile 2011
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
The extreme right-wing movement Croix de Feu and its leader Colonel de La Rocque are perhaps the most controversial element in the debate about the existence and, if so, the extension and impact of a genuinely French Fascism. For a long time almost ignored by historical research, since the “paxtonian trauma” of the 1970’s its enigmatic and in all regards particular characteristics have been the object of a harsh dispute between French and mainly anglo-saxon historians. For a short period the greatest mass movement and political party in France ever, the Croix de Feu (later PSF) experienced a strange destiny, finally declining – though equivocal until the very end – in the swirl of war and foreign occupation. It’s performance leads us to the core of the conflict-ridden relations between fascism and democracy and their struggle in the specific context of the 1930’s. Interpretations of the movement reached from distinctively fascist and totalitarian in outlook to proto-gaullist and loyal to the republican institutions; only recent research has attempted to turn away from this ideological impasse and instead to inquire about its real and practical intentions in case it would have taken power. The seminar will attempt to illustrate the complex set of questions related to the Croix de Feu and their importance in a wider stream of interpretations about the extreme right as an element in French democracy
Blasberg, Christian