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Radical Politics and the Struggle for Democracy in Europe, 1918-1939 (HI276)

The years between the two world wars (1918-1939) in Europe saw the rise of radical political movements, both on the extreme right and extreme left. At times, those defending democracy were able to hold their opponents at bay, but more often than not did radical movements, mostly on the right, succeed in taking over the state, which allowed them to implement their political programs.

This 30 CATS undergraduate second-year option module will discuss radical political movements, their struggle against each other and democratic societies. We will inquire why they succeeded in some countries, while democracy could prevail in others. Finally, we will consider how radical movements that took power implemented their politics. While the module will draw upon national case studies, it aims at understanding radical politics in the interwar period as a genuinely European phenomenon. Themes will include the Russian revolution and its impact on the European working-class movement; the rise of fascist and other radical rightist movements; the struggle for democracy in the era of Popular Fronts, and implementation of fascist regimes in Italy and Germany. Further national case studies will include Hungary, Austria, France and Spain.