The period 1918-39 was one in which new political forces emerged from the aftermath of the Great War (1914-1918). In Russia, Bolsehvism rose triumphant from the collapse of the Tsarist empire to inspire communist parties to form and offer an alternative to social democracy across the world. Elsewhere, however, radical but reactionary forces also formed. In Italy, Mussolini's Fascists marched on Rome in October 1922 to seize power and establish a dictatorship. In Germany, National Socialism grew in influence as democracy wained, disseminating an anti-Semetic message that led straight to the death camps of the Second World War. In Britain, of course, parliamentary democracy remained intact. Even so, both communism and fascism exerted an influence on the British polity, providing rival visions of an alternative future.
This issue of Socialist History is focused on the grass-roots expressions of British fascism and responses thereto. Across four essays, it considers questions of 'space', of territory, and the localised factors that conspired to forge political loyalities and identities. There is an old motif that suggests that it's best to 'know your enemy': and it is in just such a spirit that this issue of Socialist History is presented.