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Contesting Fascism, Defending Liberalism

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

Abstract

Gobetti was an instinctive antifascist. His endorsement of popular struggles for liberty, especially those of the revolutionary workers’ movement, naturally set him against the authoritarian demagoguery and antisocialist violence paraded by Mussolini’s fascists. What we have examined in the previous chapter as Gobetti’s liberalism should be simultaneously understood as the guiding thread of his own struggle to contest fascism in the years from 1922 up to his death in 1926. For it was in his opposition to fascism’s initial formation that Gobetti’s revolutionary liberalism found its ultimate nemesis and its greatest political test.

Keywords

Liberal Politician Political Struggle Opposition Parti Political Class Liberal Regime 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (London and New York: Penguin, 2004).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Later responses to fascism from those who witnessed its initial development are now legion. Unlike Gobetti, all benefited from seeing the movement transform into a regime, and revised their earlier views considerably. For the liberal-democratic Left, see Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism (New York: Viking Press, 1936); from the Marxist Left, seeGoogle Scholar
  3. Palmiro Togliatti, Lectures on Fascism (New York: International Publishers, 1976), his Lenin school lectures in Moscow of the mid-1930s.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Recent debates have focussed on the search for a fascist “minimum,” that is, a statement of the fundamental ideological core to fascism. For this view, see Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London and New York: Routledge, 1991). I am not wholly convinced of the value of this enterprise, but for a useful discussion of the debates and controversies surrounding the historical and ideological interpretation of fascism, seeGoogle Scholar
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    This is not the place for a full discussion of the character of Mussolini. But for a very useful and up-to-date biographical discussion, see Richard J. B. Bosworth, Mussolini (London: Arnold, 2002).Google Scholar
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    See Emilio Gentile, The Origins of Fascist Ideology, 1918–1925 (New York: Enigma, 2005), 1–3. As Gentile points out, although Mussolini disavowed viewing fascism as one political ideology amongst others, it is nevertheless possible to draw out some of the guiding threads in the development of his thought that fed into the movement.Google Scholar
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    For a discussion of the intellectual lineage of fascism, see A. J. Gregor, Mussolinis Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
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    On this aesthetic revolt, see Walter L. Adamson, Avant-garde Florence: From Modernism to Fascism (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1994). The aesthetic of self-creation in fascism is explored inGoogle Scholar
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    See Fabio Fernando Rizi, Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), 43–49. Croce was later accused of providing passive support for the dictatorship. Fabio Rizi goes a long way in providing evidence contrary to this accusation.Google Scholar
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    A view developed in the first two chapters of Benedetto Croce, Politics and Morals (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1946).Google Scholar
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    On Italian fascism as a form of “political religion” in which politics itself becomes a site and object of worship, see Emilio Gentile, The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1996). Falasca-Zamponi provides an alternative, “aesthetic” reading of fascism’s use of symbols in her Fascist Spectacle. Google Scholar
  28. 40.
    Gobetti, “Esperienza liberale [V],” La Rivoluzione Liberale (May 28, 1922), SP, 356.Google Scholar
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  30. 43.
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  33. 46.
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  34. 47.
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  36. 49.
    Gobetti, “Uomini e idee [V],” La Rivoluzione Liberale (May 28, 1922), SP, 358. See also his derisory comments on the Futurists: “Uomini e idee [III],” (May 4, 1922), SP, 348.Google Scholar
  37. 51.
    On Gobetti’s distinctive interpretation of fascism, see Marco Revelli, “Piero Gobetti e il fascismo. La teoria della ‘rivelazione,’” in Perché Gobetti. Giornata di studio su Piero Gobetti (Torino, 16 aprile 1991), ed. Cesare Pianciola and Pietro Polito (Turin, 1993), 103–20.Google Scholar
  38. 54.
    See Aldo Agosti, Togliatti: Un uomo di frontiera (Turin: UTET Libreria, 2003), 45–46.Google Scholar
  39. 56.
    Gobetti, “Il liberalism e le masse [I],” La Rivoluzione Liberale (April 10, 1923), SP, 479.Google Scholar
  40. 57.
    Gobetti, “Problemi di libertà,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (April 24, 1923), SP, 494.Google Scholar
  41. 58.
    Ibid; italics in original.Google Scholar
  42. 59.
    On Gentile’s role as the philosopher of fascism, see A. J. Gregor, Giovanni Gentile: Philosopher of Fascism (New Brunswick and London: Transaction, 2001), 47–65;Google Scholar
  43. H. S. Harris, The Social Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile (Urbana and London: University of Illinois Press, 1960), 160–223. For Gregor, Gentile’s philosophy long anticipated the fundamental principles of the fascist doctrine.Google Scholar
  44. 60.
    See Harris, Social Philosophy, 167–78; Gabriele Turi, Giovanni Gentile: una biografia (Florence: Giunti, 1995), 315.Google Scholar
  45. 61.
    Gobetti, “I miei conti con l’idealismo attuale,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (January 18, 1923), SP, 441–48.Google Scholar
  46. 63.
    See Amendola, “L’Italia sulla soglia del dopoguerra,” (1919), in La Nuova Democrazia (Naples: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1951), 3–19.Google Scholar
  47. 64.
    Amendola, “Il governo e la situazione,” Corriere della Sera (September 17, 1920), inGoogle Scholar
  48. In difesa dItalia liberale. Scritti e discorsi politici (1910–1925), ed. Antonio Carioti (Florence: Liberal libri, 2001), 90.Google Scholar
  49. 65.
    Amendola, “Il Mezzogiorno e la crisi politica italiana,” Speech at Sala Consilina (October 1, 1922), La Nuova Democrazia, 144.Google Scholar
  50. 66.
    See Amendola, “Prefazione a ‘Una Battaglia Liberale,’” (March 1924), La Nuova Democrazia, xxxi.Google Scholar
  51. 68.
    See Amendola, “Al di sopra degli equivoci,” Il Mondo (April 11, 1923), In difesa dItalia liberale, 119–20.Google Scholar
  52. 70.
    See Prezzolini, “Per una Società degli Apoti,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (September 21, 1922), inGoogle Scholar
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  54. 71.
    Ibid., 62.Google Scholar
  55. 72.
    Gobetti, “Per una società degli apoti [I],” La Rivoluzione Liberale (September 28, 1922), SP, 409–10.Google Scholar
  56. 73.
    Ibid., 410.Google Scholar
  57. 74.
    Gobetti, “Per una società degli apoti [II],” La Rivoluzione Liberale (October 25, 1922), SP, 412.Google Scholar
  58. 75.
    Ibid., 414–15.Google Scholar
  59. 76.
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  60. 79.
    Gevasoni also notes an “oscillation” in Gobetti’s support of other anti-fascists. See Marco Gervasoni, Lintelletuale come eroe. Piero Gobetti e le culture del Novecento (Milan: La Nuova Italia, 2000), 146.Google Scholar
  61. 80.
    See the extracts collected in Stanislao Pugliese, ed., Italian Fascism and Anti-Fascism: A Critical Anthology (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2001), 117–25.Google Scholar
  62. 81.
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  63. 82.
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  64. 83.
    See Sergio Caprioglio, “Gobetti, Gramsci e il manifesto del primo maggio 1925,” Belfagor XLVIII, no. 6 (1993), 633.Google Scholar
  65. 85.
    Ibid., 130–32. Although it took as its object “cultural” rather than political concerns, Il Baretti was motivated by a similar desire, on Gobetti’s part, to generate a critical liberal outlook.Google Scholar
  66. 86.
    Ibid., 120–21. Gobetti’s criticism of the parliamentary opposition to fascism was typically scathing. See “Noi e le opposizioni"; “Democrazia,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (May 13, 1924), SP, 674–78, and “Congiure e opposizione (Postilla),” La Rivoluzione Liberale (May 22, 1923), SP, 500–502.Google Scholar
  67. 88.
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  68. 93.
    For Gobetti’s response to Matteotti’s murder, see “Ho conosciuto Matteotti,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (June 17, 1924), SP, 707–8; “Due tattiche,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (June 24, 1924), SP, 732–34; and “Matteotti,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (July 1, 1924), SP, 735–52.Google Scholar
  69. 99.
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  70. 100.
  71. 104.
    Gobetti, “Il fronte unico,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (June 7, 1925), SP, 841.Google Scholar
  72. 105.
    Ibid., 842.Google Scholar
  73. 107.
    See Gobetti, “Noi e le opposizioni,” La Rivoluzione Liberale (April 22, 1924), SP, 641–44.Google Scholar
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  75. 109.
    Ibid., 644.Google Scholar
  76. 110.
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  78. 115.
    See Ibid., 265–67 and Benito Mussolini, “La situazione sarà chiarata,” in Italian Fascism and Anti-Fascism, 70–76.Google Scholar
  79. 119.
    See the special issue of Il Baretti 3, no. 5 (March 16, 1926). On the reception of Gobetti’s thought immediately following his death, see Ersilia A. Perona, “Alle radici della fortuna di Piero Gobetti,” in Gobetti tra Riforma e rivoluzione, ed. Alberto Cabella and Oscar Mazzoleni (Milan: F. Angeli, 1999), 122–28.Google Scholar

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© James Martin 2008

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