Mussolini's Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought
A. James Gregor
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Fascism has traditionally been characterized as irrational and anti-intellectual, finding expression exclusively as a cluster of myths, emotions, instincts, and hatreds. This intellectual history of Italian Fascism--the product of four decades of work by one of the leading experts on the subject in the English-speaking world--provides an alternative account. A. James Gregor argues that Italian Fascism may have been a flawed system of belief, but it was neither more nor less irrational than other revolutionary ideologies of the twentieth century. Gregor makes this case by presenting for the first time a chronological account of the major intellectual figures of Italian Fascism, tracing how the movement's ideas evolved in response to social and political developments inside and outside of Italy.
Gregor follows Fascist thought from its beginnings in socialist ideology about the time of the First World War--when Mussolini himself was a leader of revolutionary socialism--through its evolution into a separate body of thought and to its destruction in the Second World War. Along the way, Gregor offers extended accounts of some of Italian Fascism's major thinkers, including Sergio Panunzio and Ugo Spirito, Alfredo Rocco (Mussolini's Minister of Justice), and Julius Evola, a bizarre and sinister figure who has inspired much contemporary "neofascism."
Gregor's account reveals the flaws and tensions that dogged Fascist thought from the beginning, but shows that if we want to come to grips with one of the most important political movements of the twentieth century, we nevertheless need to understand that Fascism had serious intellectual as well as visceral roots.
spaces, at the core of which might be a nation-state (as was the case with the Monroe Doctrine),54 could extend over entire hemispheres and have only some of the deﬁning properties of traditional empires or any of the other familiar politico-juridical international bodies. In the course of his discussion, Schmitt reminded his readership that it was still uncertain what the international legal status of the Monroe Doctrine was at its initiation, or what that status might be at the time of his
sovereign. It could no longer remain passive, responsive to initiatives emanating from parochial interests. The argument was that as long as the state remained unresponsive to its historic tasks, it would remain hostage to the interests of ephemeral groups and parochial concerns that found expression in a parliamentary system that was neither representative nor functional. What emergent Italy required, Rocco contended, was a strong state, animated by its own sovereign interests—capable of
Western intellectuals are so accustomed to the liberal conception that the Actualist argument strikes them immediately as incomprehensible. To provide a rationale for Fascist corporativism, Spirito was compelled to make plausible what appeared counterintuitive to most of his audience. As we shall see, he was to argue that individuals took on the fullness of self only in the context created by the state.6 What that implied, he was to maintain, was that the individual exists as a “concrete”
technological and industrial output of Italy’s economic system to preindustrial levels—thus crippling any military potentialities the nation might have developed. Under Fascism, Italy would be reduced to a “lower technical and economic level” as a consequence of the constraints imposed by productive relations—property and distributive modalities—that had become obsolete.45 Torn by the contradictions dictated by the “laws of history,” Fascism could only compel the economy of the Italian peninsula
. . the Fascist revolution has attained maturity . . . [The] period of transition between the old liberal, and the new Fascist, civilization is now over.”1 As a consequence of that conviction, Gentile changed the title of the journal of the Institute over which he presided from Educazione fascista, to Civilta` fascista—from reference to a tentative “Fascist education” to invocation of a presumably fully emergent “Fascist civilization.” Years later, Camillo Pellizzi, the last effective president