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Towards a New Understanding of Terrorism and Extremism?

Pete Lentini

Many years after 9/11 we are still struggling to categorize groups like Al Qaeda, home-grown cells and others that claim to be perpetrating and justifying terrorist acts under the banner of jihad. This book introduces the concept of ‘neojihadism’ as a new form of political organization, grand narrative, global subculture, counterculture and theological understanding, with an approach to political violence that is unique to the post-Cold War period. What these groups espouse and enact differs radically from fascism, totalitarianism, cults, jihad – and even jihadism.
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Chapter 7: On fascism and totalitarianism

Towards a New Understanding of Terrorism and Extremism?

Pete Lentini


Chapter 6 established that since the 9/11 attacks politicians, pundits and some scholars have characterized The Movement’s participants and some of its groups as Islamo-fascists or claimed that The Movement is a contemporary manifestation of totalitarianism. This chapter’s purpose is to construct the equivalent of fascism and totalitarianism’s head, trunk and tusks. In so doing, this chapter will provide working models through which to evaluate the accuracy of the commentators’ statements about The Movement. The chapter contains that analysis and synthesis and suggests whether any, all or none of the terms Islamo-fascism or new totalitarianism constitute an appropriate label for The Movement, or whether it is necessary to develop another framework to enhance our understanding of it. This chapter’s primary research questions are: what are (or were) fascism and totalitarianism? In what circumstances did these movements evolve? What are their core features? There are several points to establish before this discussion proceeds. First, fascism occurred in several European countries during the interwar period, and was not confined to Italy and Nazi Germany. Hence, fascism was indeed a diverse movement. However, it possessed a core of features that movements and parties throughout Europe had in common. Second, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were not sole protagonists of, respectively Fascism (and fascism) and Nazism, and they were not the only ideologues who contributed to their developments as political doctrines (Lyttleton 1973; Griffin 1995; Stackelberg and Winkle 2002, pp. 1–22).

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