This is a revised edition of a book that came out not that long after WWII had ended and was revisited about 20 years later when the geopolitical situation surrounding the concept of treason further shifted from the politics of fascism and democracy to one of the Cold War logic of communism and democracy (and I know that communism is an economic system, but meaning here the authoritarian governments under communist regimes in Soviet Union, and within time China and North Korea, although the book doesn’t cover those countries).
The book takes on the evolving question then of what is and what was treason in a shifting world landscape. The cases that West examines with fascism involve primarily the ways in which statelessness of many of the actors and specifically through their changing or giving up specific British citizenship, or in the case of one actor, being born Irish and English, living in Spain during the civil war, and then moving on to Nazi Germany, how this complicates the question of treason as a legal charge, if not actually as a moral charge.
The book then moves onto the question of figures who gave or sold secrets to the Soviet Union, especially scientists, many of whom believed more in the concept of the scientific community as being outside politics than in loyalties to specific countries, especially in the wake of the second world war.
West still clings fiercely to loyalty to one’s country and finds the arguments about statelessness (whether fascist, communist, or capitalist) as being either temporary, untested, or even naive or childish. She’s conservative in her views of the changing world, if not specifically in her politics, and does not quite cozen to these different ways of looking at an almost post-state world. Ideologies don’t quite register with her.
The book is fascinating in its journalistic accounting of the topic, and I think West is clear in her thinking, even when I don’t agree with her, but I also feel like this book feels like the beginnings of a final cry of the state. I imagine a newer book would be an accounting of corporatism and terrorism.