French Peasant Fascism is the first account of the Greenshirts, a militant right-wing peasant movement in 1930s France that sought to transform the Republic into an authoritarian, agrarian state. Author Robert Paxton examines the Greenshirts in five case studies, throwing new light on French rural society and institutions during the Depression and on the emergence of a new rural leadership of authentic farmers. Paxton points out that fascism remained weak in the French countryside because the French state protected landowners more effectively than did those of Weimar Germany and Italy, and because French rural notables were so firmly embedded in social and economic power.
Although the Greenshirts disappeared with the Third Republic, they left a double legacy: a tradition of peasant direct action, which is still exercised today; and the idea of France as a peasant nation, whose identity and virtues rest upon the persistence of a large peasant sector. That self-image continues to influence French policy choices today, long after the social structure on which it rested has disappeared.
...Paxton's book succeeds admirably, for through his account of Dorgeres the world of rural France in the 1930s comes alive....[A]llows readers to grasp how differences in rural economic structure and political traditions profoundly affected the different trajectories that fascism took in Europe. -- Agricultural History