The Apprentice’s Sorcerer

Liberal Tradition and Fascism


20th-century European Fascism is conventionally described by both historians and political scientists as a fierce assault on liberal politics, culture and economics. Departing from such typical analysis, this book highlights the long overlooked critical affinities between liberal tradition and fascism. Far from being the antithesis of liberalism, fascism, both in its ideology and its practice, was substantially, if dialectically, indebted to liberalism, particularly to its economic variant. Fascism ought to be seen centrally as an effort to unknot the longue durée tangle of the liberal order, as it finally collided, head on, with mass democracy. This brilliantly provocative thesis is sustained through innovative and incisive readings of seminal political thinkers, from Locke and Burke, to Proudhon, Bagehot, Sorel and Schmitt.

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Ishay Landa, Ph.D. (2004) in History, Ben-Gurion University, Israel, is Visiting Senior Lecturer of History at the Israeli Open University. He has published on Nietzscheanism, Marxism, political theory and popular culture, including The Overman in the Marketplace (Lexington, 2007).
“How many panegyrical books have been written about liberalism? Ishay Landa presents us, in contrast, with a profane account, one which investigates, precisely and pungently, the real interests that have inspired this political movement, and does not shy away from depicting its disquieting facets, starting with its role as the “apprentice” who elicits the “sorcerer”– i.e. fascism.” — Domenico Losurdo, author of Liberalism: A Counter-History

"As a prime target of fascist attacks, liberalism has largely avoided serious interrogation over its shared responsibility for the rise of its tormentor. Working his way through a dozen major liberal thinkers and myths, Ishay Landa's equally scholarly and readable treatise should put an end once and for all to this undeserved exception. Brimming with important insights about our darker past that convey essential lessons for the dimming present ... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!! " — Bertell Ollman, author of Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marxist Method

"This book is a significant example of de-dichotomization […] Scholarly research on fascism continues to be largely defined by an ossified dichotomy […]: either liberalism or fascism. Landa’s book goes against the current of these prejudices. Its strength lies in the precision of a re-reading, not only of Nietzsche […] but of countless other authors, whose habitual interpretation is marred by preconceptions. Among such authors, to name only the better known, are Spengler, Carl Schmitt, Sorel, Pareto, Burke, Donoso Cortés, Carlye, Tocqueville, Pirandello. In these readings, the author has compiled treasures which may transform the poverty of the political history of ideas into riches." — Prof. Bernhard H. F. Taureck, University of Braunschweig, Germany
What Do Words Matter? Preliminary Reflections on Fascism, Socialism, Liberalism and Semantics

1. The Liberal Split: Divorcing the Economic from the Political Liberalism and Democracy in the Longue Durée
Putting Property under Locke and Key
From Constant to Donoso Cortés
Pareto: on Foxes and Musso-Lions
Engels and Gumplowicz Outlining the Overthrow from Above

2. Liberal Economics, Fascist Politics: “A Wonderful Wedlock”
Spengler: The “Will to Property”
Hitler and Liberalism: a “Wonderful Harmony” of Politics and Economics
Spengler and Hitler: the Bookworm Mistakes His Place
After Fascism: J. S. Schapiro and the Illusive Death of the Dismal Science

3. Anti-Liberal Liberals—I (Moeller van den Bruck, Proudhon, Carlyle)
The Bourgeois Spirit of the Germanic Ideology
Outsiders-Insiders: Proudhon and Carlyle

4. Anti-Liberal Liberals—II (Schmitt, Sorel)
Carl Schmitt: A Democratic Anti-Liberal?
The Strange Case of Georges Sorel

5. Liberalism and Fascism between Myths and Reality I
Liberal Myth No. 1: Fascism as Tyranny of the Majority
Liberal Myth No. 2: Collectivist Liberalism, Individualist Fascism?

6. Liberalism and Fascism between Myths and Reality II
Liberal Myth No. 3: The Origins of the Fascist “Big Lie”
Liberal Myth No. 4: Fascism as a Nationalistic Attack on

Sub-Man, Underman, Untermensch:
Fascism as an International Co-production

Historians, political scientists, and social critical thinkers and activists, interested in modern history, political theory, history of modern ideologies, Marxist historiography, history of fascism and liberalism.
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