According to the dominant ideology, fascism constitutes an exceptional break with the protocols of liberal democracy, which has only happened at rare moments in the history of the West, such as in Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany. Liberalism is thereby postulated as a bulwark against fascism, an idea that’s been consolidated through the massive perpetuation of a historical narrative regarding the supposed democratic defeat of Nazism in WWII. This presentation will critically interrogate these assumptions by re-examining the historical relationship between liberal democracy and fascism. Have they always been opposed to one another, or do they sometimes work in concert as two capitalist ideologies? Is it really the case that liberal democratic governments in the imperial core serve as safeguards against fascism? If so, what are we to make of their imperialist foreign policies, their colonial histories, their general tolerance toward fascists, and their current domestic practices of draconian policing, mass incarceration, the militarization of borders, and the empowerment of vigilante militias? In addressing these and parallel questions, this talk will seek to develop a refined dialectical understanding of fascism and liberalism as capitalist modes of governance that are often partners in crime, while also avoiding any simplistic, ultra-leftist conflation between them.

This event will be co-sponsored by the Critical Theory Workshop

Gabriel Rockhill  ( is the Founding Director of the Critical Theory Workshop / Atelier  de Théorie Critique (, Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University, and the author or editor of nine books, as well as numerous scholarly and general public articles.