Radicalisation of the British aristocracy : aristocratic decline, inter-war fascism and reactionary rhetoric
The purpose of this study is to shed light on the relationship between the decline of British aristocracy and British inter-war fascism. It is argued that there was a link between the decline of aristocratic influence, achieved largely by political and legislative means, and the subsequent radicalisation of the aristocracy. Furthermore, the history and development of British fascism is examined especially in the aristocratic context, and the pre-war radical right groups are placed in the same continuum as the later actual fascist parties. The aristocratic rhetorical opposition to proposed reforms aimed at the democratisation of British politics is studied in the context of Albert Hirschman's theory of reactionary rhetoric, and it is asserted that this 'rhetoric of danger' is consistent with Hirschman's jeopardy thesis. The jeopardy thesis can be defined in terms of action-reaction, where the action is represented by a proposed reform and the reaction by the reactionary statements opposing the reform. The main idea of the jeopardy thesis is that the proposed reform is argued to endanger the achievements brought about by an earlier reform, and it should, therefore, not be implemented. The mode of argument resorted to by the aristocracy during the decades of decreasing influence was underlined by a sense of imminent danger to existing social and political order thus enabling the effective implementation of the jeopardy thesis. Aristocratic opposition to the democratisation of the British society is, therefore, proved to be a part of a general wave of reactionary rhetoric brought about by the French Revolution. ...
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