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Blackshirts for the twenty-first century? Fascism and the English Defence League

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This paper examines the extent to which the English Defence League (EDL) may be considered fascist in form and ideology. First, it draws comparisons between the EDL and the squadristi of interwar Italy. Second, it explores how the EDL has negotiated a new political direction as it joins forces with the British Freedom Party (BFP). By adopting a theoretical framework of fascism as outlined by Roger Griffin, this work advocates that the EDL has transformed its single-issue anti-Islamist platform into part of a larger discourse of ‘palingenetic ultranationalism’. In light of this we argue the organization can no longer deny the presence of a fascist ideology.
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Keywords: Blackshirts; Breivik; EDL; fascism; squadristi

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, The American International University in London, Queens Rd, Richmond, London, TW10 6JP, UK 2: Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London, 51C Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0EL, UK

Publication date: January 2, 2014

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