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Politicizing Liberalism Gobetti’s Italian Legacy

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

Abstract

On the face of it, Gobetti’s project for a liberal revolution was not a success. Within only a few years of its enunciation, organized political opposition in Italy was outlawed, parliamentary democracy was replaced by a raft of repressive legislation, and political leaders such as Gramsci were arrested and imprisoned. The deaths of both Gobetti and Amendola in 1926 robbed the antifascist opposition of powerful, critical voices, and effective publicists. Rather than being roused to a liberal revolution, many Italians had instead succumbed, either by force or persuasion, to the authoritarian “revolution” offered by Mussolini.

Notes

  1. For comprehensive surveys of Gobetti’s posthumous intellectual legacy, see Paolo Bagnoli, “On the Fortune of Piero Gobetti in Italian Historiography,” The Journal of Italian History 2, no. 2 (1979), 293–335 andGoogle Scholar
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  3. 2.
    See Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, ed. Valetino Gerratana, 4 vols (Turin: Einaudi, 1975).Google Scholar
  4. English translations of key selections are: Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. Quntin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1971) andGoogle Scholar
  5. Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. Derek Boothman (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1995). On Gramsci’s imprisonment and the conditions under which he wrote his Notebooks, seeGoogle Scholar
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  7. 3.
    For a fuller account of the content of Gramsci’s prison writings, see James Martin, Gramscis Political Analysis. A Critical Introduction (Basingstoke and New York: Macmillan, 1998), especially chaps. 2–4;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Gramsci’s letter to the communist party leadership of February 9, 1924, Lettere 1908–1926, ed. Antonio A. Santucci (Turin: Einaudi, 1992), 223–38 and, in particular, “Un esame della situazione italiana” inGoogle Scholar
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    Gramsci, “Some Aspects of the Southern Question,” 334.Google Scholar
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  16. 11.
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    Ibid., 337. Gramsci’s continued interest in Gobetti is further evidenced by letters to party colleagues in 1924 from Vienna, where he had been posted. Gramsci asked that copies of La Rivoluzione Liberale be sent him and also commented positively on the merits of Gobetti’s analysis of fascism. See Gramsci, Lettere, 137–38, 162, 216, and 334.Google Scholar
  18. 13.
    For excellent discussions of Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, see Femia, Gramscis Political Thought, Bellamy and Schecter, Gramsci and the Italian State. See also the relevant articles in James Martin, ed., Antonio Gramsci: Critical Assessments of Political Philosophers (London: Routledge, 2002), particularly vol. 2, part 8.Google Scholar
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    See ibid., 1815, 1975. See also his recollection of the exchange between Prezzolini and Gobetti on the “Society of Abstainers,” Gramsci, Quaderni, 2216–18.Google Scholar
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  29. 24.
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  30. 25.
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  39. 37.
    See Ibid., 303, 308. Gramsci’s essay on the “Southern Question” was published in Lo Stato operaio in 1930 and served as a justification for the communists’ appropriation of Gobetti. See Perona’s discussion in “Alle radici della fortuna di Piero Gobetti,” 135–39.Google Scholar
  40. 39.
    For an excellent account of Rosselli’s life and thought, see Stanislao Pugliese, Carlo Rosselli: Socialist Heretic and Anti-fascist Exile (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1999). In this chapter, I have drawn upon my own account of Rosselli in “Italian Liberal Socialism: Anti-fascism and the Third Way,” Journal of Political Ideologie 7, no. 3 (2002), 339–41.Google Scholar
  41. 40.
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  42. 42.
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  43. 45.
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  44. 46.
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  45. 47.
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  50. 50.
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  52. 52.
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  53. 53.
    C. Rosselli, “Risposta a Giorgio Amendola,” Quaderni diGiustizia e Libertà” (n. 1, January 1932), in Scritti dellesilio, 61. The controversy is discussed in Bagnoli, “On the Fortune of Piero Gobetti,” 302–5 and in Perona, “Alle radici della fortuna di Piero Gobetti,” 137–41.Google Scholar
  54. 55.
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  56. 58.
    For an outline of the unifying themes of “Azionismo,” see Giovanni De Luna, “L’Azionismo,” in La politica italiana. Dizionario critico 1945–95, ed. Gianfranco Pasquino (Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1995), 165–80. For a historical account, see Claudio Novelli, Il Partito dAzione e gli italiani (Milan: La Nuova Italia, 2000). The place of Gobetti amongst the azionisti is surveyed in Bagnoli, “On the Fortune of Piero Gobetti,” 305–8.Google Scholar
  57. 59.
    See his essays “Liberalsocialismo” (1942); “Orientamento per una nuova socialitá” (1943); and “Complessitá del liberalsocialismo” (1945) in Aldo Capitini, Liberalsocialismo (Rome: Edizioni e/o, 1996), 19–42, 43–50, and 59–66.Google Scholar
  58. 60.
    Guido Calogero, Difesa del liberalsocialismo ed altri saggi, ed. Michele Schiavone and Dino Cofrancesco (Milan: Marzorati, 1972), 199.Google Scholar
  59. 61.
    Ibid., 79.Google Scholar
  60. 62.
    Ibid., 69.Google Scholar
  61. 63.
    Calogero, Difesa del liberalsocialismo, 77.Google Scholar
  62. 64.
    Ibid., 226.Google Scholar
  63. 68.
    An argument made explicitly by Aldo Garosci in “Il passato nel presente. Eredità Gobettiana da respingere e da accettare,” Nuovi Quaderni di Giustizia e Libertà 1 (1944): 78–85.Google Scholar
  64. 70.
    For a detailed account of Croce’s anti-fascism, see Fabio Fernando Rizi, Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  65. 71.
    See Ada Gobetti, Diario partigiano (Turin: Einaudi, 1996).Google Scholar
  66. 72.
    On the politics of Croce’s historicism, see chapter 5 of David D. Roberts, Benedetto Croce and the Uses of Historicism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  67. 74.
    Croce, Politics and Morals (London: Allen & Unwin, 1946), 78, 80.Google Scholar
  68. 75.
    Ibid., 81. Croce and Einaudi’s positions are republished in Benedetto Croce andGoogle Scholar
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    On this shift and its continuity with his historicism, see Richard Bellamy, “Between Economic and Ethical Liberalism: Benedetto Croce and the Dilemmas of Liberal Politics,” History of the Human Sciences 4 (1991): 175–95; Norberto Bobbio, Politica e cultura, 2nd ed. (Turin: Einaudi, 2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    On Croce’s concept of liberty and its influence on the anti-fascists, see David Ward, Antifascisms: Cultural Politics in Italy, 1943–46: Benedetto Croce and the Liberals, Carlo Levi and theActionists” (Cranbury, NJ and London: Associated University Presses, 1996), 46–52. See also Bobbio, Politica e cultura, 90–93.Google Scholar
  73. 84.
    Ibid., 310.Google Scholar
  74. On the formation of Italy’s “republic of parties” and the constraints its political system imposed on politics, see Pietro Scoppola, La Repubblica dei partiti. Evoluzione e crisi di un sistema politico 1945–96 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1997).Google Scholar
  75. 85.
    For a fuller discussion of Bobbio’s life, see his autobiography, A Political Life, ed. Alberto Papuzzi (Cambridge: Polity, 2002).Google Scholar
  76. Illuminating assessments can be found in Richard Bellamy, Modern Italian Social Theory. Ideology and Politics from Pareto to the Present (Cambridge: Polity, 1987), 141–56;Google Scholar
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  78. Perry Anderson, “The Affinities of Norberto Bobbio,” New Left Review 170 (1988): 3–36; Sbarberi, Lutopia della liberta eguale, 162–213.Google Scholar
  79. 88.
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  80. 89.
    See “Politica culturale e politica della cultura,” in ibid., 18–30.Google Scholar
  81. 90.
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  82. 92.
    See Norberto Bobbio, Which Socialism? Marxism, Socialism and Democracy, ed. Richard Bellamy (Cambridge: Polity, 1986).Google Scholar
  83. 93.
    This critical relationship to the Left underlay Bobbio’s own widely read interpretation of Gramsci in the late 1960s. See his “Gramsci and the Concept of Civil Society” in Mouffe, ed., Gramsci and Marxist Theory. Bobbio’s various essays on Gramsci are collected in Saggi su Gramsci (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1990).Google Scholar
  84. 94.
    See Norberto Bobbio, Liberalism and Democracy, trans. Martin Ryle and Kate Soper (London and New York: Verso, 1990).Google Scholar
  85. 95.
    On Bobbio’s interpretation of Gobetti, see Bagnoli, “On the Fortune of Piero Gobetti,” 328–35. Bobbio’s reflections on Gobetti and his influence are to be found in Norberto Bobbio, Italia fedele. Il mondo di Gobetti (Florence: Passigli, 1986).Google Scholar
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© James Martin 2008

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