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Liberal Revolution Toward a New Elite

  • James Martin
Chapter
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Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)

Abstract

In 1922, Gobetti began publishing his weekly review, La Rivoluzione Liberale. The review extended the demand for a renewal of Italian political culture that began with Energie Nove and hosted the views of many of the same friends and commentators who had appeared there. But it also reflected the significant development undergone in Gobetti’s outlook since 1920, and it sought out a larger audience than before. The experience of the factory council movement and the increasing degeneration of Italian political life form the dramatic backdrop of this publication. Rivoluzione Liberale was both a source of commentary on the decline of liberal Italy but also an intervention in its own right, one aimed at revitalizing the liberal conscience at the very moment authoritarian reaction was descending.

Keywords

Ruling Class Political Struggle Liberal Ideal Moral Disagreement Free Initiative 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    See La rivoluzione liberale: Saggio sulla lotta politica in Italia, in Scritti politici, ed. Paolo Spriano (Turin: Einaudi, 1960), 913–1078 (hereafter SP). For a comprehensive discussion of the book, treated as a statement of Gobetti’s liberalism, see Gervasoni, Lintelletuale come eroe, 118–43. I base my reading of Gobetti’s liberalism in this chapter on the original articles rather than the book version.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Ibid., 229.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
  4. 8.
    Ibid., 230.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Ibid., 236.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Ibid., 238.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Ibid., 238–39.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Ibid., 239; emphasis in original.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    See Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003). Weber’s study was first published in German in 1904.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    Ibid., 254.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Ibid., 257.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Ibid., 255.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    See Gobetti, “Il nostro protestantismo,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (May 17, 1925), SP, 823–26. This article was first published in December 1923 in the Protestant journal, Conscientia. Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    Ibid., 824–25.Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    Ibid., 825.Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    On the question of religious reform in Gobetti’s thought, see Giorgio Spini, “L’eco in Italia della Riforma mancata,” in Gobetti tra Riforma e rivoluzione, ed. Alberto Cabella and Oscar Mazzoleni (Milan: F. Angeli, 1999), 43–58. I agree with Roberto Paris’s argument (in the same volume) that Gobetti was interested primarily in the significance of Protestantism in promoting a civic political culture and not in religious reform as such. See “Piero Gobetti et l’absence de Réform protestante en Italie,” in Gobetti tra Riforma e rivoluzione, especially 36–37.Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    See La filosofia politica di Vittorio Alfieri, now in Gobetti, Scritti storici, letterari e filosofici, ed. Paolo Spriano (Turin: Einaudi, 1969), 87–146.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    See Risorgimento senza eroi (1926) in ibid., 23–83. Gobetti had planned to publish the text before his death. The incomplete manuscript was edited by his friend Santino Caramella.Google Scholar
  19. 26.
    See John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Other Writings, ed. Stefan Collini (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  20. 28.
    See Gobetti, “Note di politica interna [I],” La Rivoluzione Liberale (July 30, 1922), SP, 397–400.Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    See Gobetti, “Il liberalismo in Italia,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (May 15, 1923), 1.Google Scholar
  22. 36.
    For a profile of Einaudi and his thought, see Norberto Bobbio, Ideological Profile of Twentieth-Century Italy, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), 81–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 37.
    Luigi Einaudi, Le lotte del lavoro, ed. Spriano (Turin: Einaudi, 1972), 9.Google Scholar
  24. 38.
  25. 39.
  26. 40.
    Gobetti, “Il liberalismo di L. Einaudi,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (April 23, 1922), SP, 323.Google Scholar
  27. 41.
    Ibid., 330.Google Scholar
  28. 42.
    Ibid., 335–56.Google Scholar
  29. 46.
    Ibid., 331–32.Google Scholar
  30. 49.
  31. 50.
    Piero to Ada, in Gobetti and Gobetti, Nella tua breve esistenza. Lettere 1918–1926, ed. E. A. Perona (Turin: Einaudi, 1991), 449; emphases in the original. I have briefly discussed De Ruggiero’s liberalism in Chapter 2.Google Scholar
  32. 51.
    Letter to Ada, September 9, 1921, ibid., 500.Google Scholar
  33. 52.
    Gobetti, Carteggio 1918–1922, ed. E. A. Perona (Turin: Einaudi, 2003), 160.Google Scholar
  34. 53.
    Elementi was repeatedly updated up until 1939. For a selection of key passages, see Mosca, La classe politica, ed. Norberto Bobbio (Bari: Laterza, 1966). The standard English translation is The Ruling Class, ed. Arthur Livingston (New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1939).Google Scholar
  35. 54.
    On this theme, see Joseph Femia, The Machiavellian Legacy. Essays in Italian Political Thought (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998).Google Scholar
  36. 57.
    On Pareto and Mosca’s role in developing political science in Italy, see Norberto Bobbio, Saggi sulla scienza politica in Italia, 2nd ed. (Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1996).Google Scholar
  37. 60.
    Ibid., 154.Google Scholar
  38. 63.
    In his Prison Notebooks, Gramsci, while dismissive of many of Mosca’s claims, also made use of his work to conceptualize the relationship between leaders and the led inside the revolutionary party. For a discussion of the influence of Mosca on Gramsci, see Maurice A. Finocchiaro, Beyond Right and Left: Democratic Elitism in Mosca and Gramsci (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  39. 64.
    Gobetti, “Un conservatore galantuomo,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (April 29, 1924), SP, 656.Google Scholar
  40. 65.
    Ibid., 654–55.Google Scholar
  41. 66.
    Ibid., 656.Google Scholar
  42. 67.
  43. 72.
    Ibid., 657.Google Scholar
  44. 75.
  45. 76.
    Piero to Ada, September 9, 1921 in Gobetti and Gobetti, Nella tua breve esistenza, 500. See also Pietro Polito, “Gobetti e Sorel,” Mezzosecolo: materiali di ricerca storica 6 (1985–86): 45–46.Google Scholar
  46. 77.
    David D. Roberts, “Frustrated Liberals: De Ruggiero, Gobetti, and the Challenge of Socialism,” Canadian Journal of History 17 (1982): 78.Google Scholar
  47. 80.
    Ibid., 135–38.Google Scholar

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© James Martin 2008

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  • James Martin

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