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How to educate an authoritarian society: conflicting views on school reform for a fascist society in interwar Switzerland


Giudici, Anja; Ruoss, Thomas (2020). How to educate an authoritarian society: conflicting views on school reform for a fascist society in interwar Switzerland. Paedagogica Historica, 56(5):605-623.

Abstract

Despite its image as an antifascist stronghold, interwar-Switzerland hosted several fascist movements. So far, research has not remarked upon the extraordinarily strong involvement of educators in these groups. Exploiting Switzerland’s particular situation in this period, this paper aims to shed new light on the relationship between authoritarian politics and education. To this end, we analyse the educational writings by activists of the main Swiss fascist organisation Nationale Front (NF), between 1933 and 1938, asking what role they attributed schooling in bringing their societal vision about, as well as which reforms they proposed for schooling to conform to this role. We argue that Swiss interwar-fascists considered schooling a conservative institution that could not contribute to producing an authoritarian revolution, but had to be reformed thereafter. However, despite sharing a unified vision of the future fascist Volksgemeinschaft, NF activists did not agree on what kind of schools were needed to educate it. Swiss fascists never even came close to attaining the position of power needed to execute their ideas, and thus were never burdened by practical or institutional difficulties of government. Consequently, these results suggest that, despite its totalitarian aspiration, interwar European authoritarianism did not come with a clear educational vision.

Abstract

Despite its image as an antifascist stronghold, interwar-Switzerland hosted several fascist movements. So far, research has not remarked upon the extraordinarily strong involvement of educators in these groups. Exploiting Switzerland’s particular situation in this period, this paper aims to shed new light on the relationship between authoritarian politics and education. To this end, we analyse the educational writings by activists of the main Swiss fascist organisation Nationale Front (NF), between 1933 and 1938, asking what role they attributed schooling in bringing their societal vision about, as well as which reforms they proposed for schooling to conform to this role. We argue that Swiss interwar-fascists considered schooling a conservative institution that could not contribute to producing an authoritarian revolution, but had to be reformed thereafter. However, despite sharing a unified vision of the future fascist Volksgemeinschaft, NF activists did not agree on what kind of schools were needed to educate it. Swiss fascists never even came close to attaining the position of power needed to execute their ideas, and thus were never burdened by practical or institutional difficulties of government. Consequently, these results suggest that, despite its totalitarian aspiration, interwar European authoritarianism did not come with a clear educational vision.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Social Sciences & Humanities > History
Uncontrolled Keywords:History, Education, Fascism, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Fronten, Politics of education
Language:English
Date:2 September 2020
Deposited On:12 Aug 2021 12:41
Last Modified:25 Feb 2024 02:41
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0030-9230
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/00309230.2019.1675726
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDP2ZHP1_177998
  • : Project TitleBankengeschichte als Bildungsgeschichte. Kinder- und Jugendpolitik der Banken und Sparkassen im 20. Jahrhundert
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDP2ZHP1_184086
  • : Project TitleEducation against (liberal) democracy: education and schooling according to the postwar radical right
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