There is a par tic u lar perversity to assessing a fascist movement in terms
of its success. How many people had to be killed, how much destruction
wrought, in order for a movement to count as successful? Even the most
power ful were of course militarily defeated by August 1945 and therefore
failed on their own terms. Still, scholars must recognize and account for
differences between fascist movements that succeeded in capturing states
and securing the consent of targeted populations and those that, as in 1930s
China, saw their energies and organ izing capacities dissipated before mak-
ing much headway toward their desired futures. The weak and fractured
nature of the Nanjing regime and the socioeconomic unevenness of the
vast territory that they claimed— especially the preponderance of isolated
rural areas where fascist rhe torics of Confucianism as a national spirit
that promoted efficiency would have rung particularly hollow— stymied
their efforts as much as the Nanjing regime’s abrupt 1937 southwestward
removal. Guomin dang fascism may have been largely defused soon after it
emerged, but it nevertheless left impor tant legacies. Identifying these lega-
cies is not akin to suggesting that fascism has reappeared in the Chinese-
speaking world since the heyday of the Blue Shirts and cc Clique or that it
necessarily will, only that they need to be considered when evaluating its
historical significance.
This book has treaded and retreaded the years between 1925 and 1937
to explain the rise of fascist organ izations in China as well as their cultural
preoccupations— how groups within the gmd came to espouse what I have
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