The End of Immunity? Recent Work on the Far Right in Interwar France

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
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Beginning in the 1980s, several historians began to challenge the view that fascism was a marginal phenomenon in interwar France, a view dubbed "the immunity thesis" by one of its critics. Surveying a range of works on far-Right intellectuals and movements during the 1920s and 1930s, this article suggests that "the immunity thesis" has been increasingly challenged by a variety of historians since the mid-1990s. However, a consensus on the issue has not emerged, as a number of historians stress the need to differentiate between fascism and other forms of right-wing nationalism in the French context. At the same time, there are signs that scholars are beginning to move beyond questions of categorization and address other themes relating to the inter-war Right. These new agendas have the potential to broaden our understanding of the late Third Republic in general.