Coalition-Building in the Creeping Shadow of Fascism

Publication Date

January 2021

Document Type


Publication Title

Spark: A 4C4Equality Journal




One of the ongoing debates among historians is whether a more durable left-wing coalition in post-WWI Germany could have prevented the Nazis from coming to power. I can’t resolve this question, but I contend that the failed anti-Nazi coalitions highlight challenges for left and left-leaning coalition-building in a damaged democracy. In particular, interwar history teaches us that a primary goal of coalition-building in the pursuit of social justice has to be the protection and strengthening of processes and procedures that allow deliberative democracy to persist. In this article, I look briefly at the formation and collapse of the interwar coalitions in Germany and draw some lessons from this historical example for US politics in the 21st century.


rhetoric, Interwar Germany, Nazis, coalition-building, democracy