Monday, September 28, 2015

Heidegger on the "Jewish Contamination" of Germany

"Nothing less is at stake than our undeferrable facing of the fact that we are confronted by a crucial choice: Either to infuse, again, our German spiritual life with genuine indigenous forces and educators, or to leave it at the mercy, once and for all, of the growing Jewish contamination, both in a larger and a narrower sense."

- Martin Heidegger, letter to Victor Shwoerer (1929)

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is at last being freed
from the charge that he was not an antisemite.

For decades, Heidegger's phony supporters have argued he was not a sincere antisemite, and constantly downplayed criticism from his detractors. Heidegger's now published 'black notebooks' have firmly established Heidegger's antisemitism. Heidegger is the only academic philosopher to have consistently rejected appeals to acknowledge the Jewish historical narrative and the Holocaust. His postwar philosophical writings are an extension of a worldview that was never altered in its fundamentals, and as a consequence a special debt is owed to Heidegger for having sustained National-Socialist ideas in his own way.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Quote from Hitler on the Tragedy of the US-German War

"This war against America is a tragedy... It is illogical and devoid of any foundation of reality. It is one of those queer twists of history that just as I was assuming power in Germany, Roosevelt, the elect of the Jews, was taking command in the United States. Without the Jews and without this lackey of theirs, things could have been quite different. From every point of view Germany and the United States should have been able, if not to understand each other and sympathize with each other, then at least to support each other without undue strain on either of them." 
- Adolf Hitler, to Martin Bormann, 1941; quote in Toland's 'Adolf Hitler'
Hitler's declaration of war on the US in 1941
came after two year of American violations
of Neutrality Act provisions.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"A nation is organic; a nation is alive...": Patrick J. Buchanan on Blood and Soil as the Basis of a Nation

Buchanan has long been denounced for opposing the accept World War II narrative, for a defense of Hitler's intentions, and for his "nativism" and "isolationism." In the video below, Buchanan offers a defense of a "blood and soil" conception of nation: a nation is a vital and living reality, composed of a unique people and its racial, ethnic, cultural, and its historical parts. The nation that rejects these is a dying nation... It can survive regime changes and a change in its political realities, but not a rejection of things that hold it together.

Nation or Notion?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
American Conservative Magazine - September 25, 2006 Issue
America rose from kin and culture, not an abstract proposition. 
In an address to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois on Jan. 27, 1838, a 28-year-old lawyer spoke on "the Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions." Abe Lincoln asked and answered a rhetorical question: 
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. 
Lincoln saw ahead a quarter of a century—to civil war. 
The question that must be asked a century and a half after Lincoln’s death is the one that troubled his generation. Are we on the path to national suicide? 
The America of yesterday has vanished, and the America of tomorrow holds promise of becoming a land our parents would not recognize. Considering the epochal changes that have taken place in our country, the political and economic powers working toward an end to national sovereignty and independence, it is impossible to be sanguine about the permanence of the nation. 
In Catholic doctrine, death occurs when the soul departs the body, after which the body begins to decompose. So it is with nations. 
Patriotism is the soul of a nation. When it dies, when a nation loses the love and loyalty of its people, the nation dies and begins to decompose. 
Patriotism is not nation-worship, such as we saw in Europe in the 1930s. It is not that spirit of nationalism that must denigrate or dominate other nations. It is a passionate attachment to one’s own country - its land, its people, its past, its heroes, literature, language, traditions, culture, and customs. "Intellectuals tend to forget,” wrote Regis Debray, “that nations hibernate, but empires grow old. The American nation will outlast the Atlantic Empire as the Russian nation will outlast the Soviet Empire." 
A century ago, the French historian and philosopher Ernest Renan described a nation: 
A nation is a living soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul, this spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other in the present. One is the common possession of a rich heritage of memories; the other is the actual consent, the desire to live together, the will to preserve worthily the undivided inheritance which has been handed down … The nation, like the individual, is the outcome of a long past of efforts, and sacrifices, and devotions … To have common glories in the past, a common will in the present; to have done great things together, to will to do the like again—such are the essential conditions of the making of a people. 
This community called a nation is much more than a “division of labor” or a "market." Added Renan: 
Community of interests is assuredly a powerful bond between men. But … can interests suffice to make a nation? I do not believe it. Community of interests makes commercial treaties. There is a sentimental side to nationality; it is at once body and soul; a Zollverein is not a fatherland. 
An economic union like the European Union is not a nation. An economy is not a country. An economic system should strengthen the bonds of national union, but the nation is of a higher order than the construct of any economist. A nation is organic; a nation is alive. A constitution does not create a nation. A nation writes a constitution that is the birth certificate of the nation already born in the hearts of its people. 
"'Nation' - as suggested by its Latin root nascere, to be born - intrinsically implies a link by blood," wrote Peter Brimelow in National Review in 1992. "A nation in a real sense is an extended family. The merging process through which all nations pass is not merely cultural, but to a considerable extent biological through intermarriage." 
Brimelow describes a nation as an "ethno-cultural community—an interlacing of ethnicity and culture," that "speaks one language." He cites the late senator from New York:
In his recent book Pandaemonium, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan even used this rigorous definition, in an effort to capture both culture and ethnicity: a nation is a group of people who believe they are ancestrally related. It is the largest grouping that shares that belief. (Moynihan’s italics) 
To be a nation, a people must believe they are a nation and that they share a common ancestry, history, and destiny. Whatever ethnic group to which we may belong, we Americans must see ourselves as of a unique and common nationality - in order to remain a nation. 
There is a rival view, advanced by neoconservatives and liberals, that America is a different kind of nation, not held together by the bonds of history and memory, tradition and custom, language and literature, birth and faith, blood and soil. Rather, America is a creedal nation, united by a common commitment to a set of ideas and ideals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Italy's "Man of Tomorrow" by Alice Rohe, 1922

This piece was published in the New York Times, in 1922, following the Fascist revolution and Mussolini's seizure of power following his famed "March on Rome."

Alice Rohe (1876-1957), journalist.

Mussolini, Hope of Youth, Italy's "Man of Tomorrow"
by Alice Rohe

Hard Work His Creed
Scholar and Editor, Self-Taught, Is Premier at Thirty-Eight
Once a Socialist Leader
Spectre of a Bolshevik Government Led Him to Organize Fascisti and Upset Cabinet
Everything is possible in Italy. The speaker was Benito Mussolini, the new Italian Premier; the place was Rome; the timejust the other day. Since then his words have become reality. He has been swept into the seats of the mighty on that overpowering wave of Fascismo. Just as Fascism is a political phenomenon without parallel in history, so is Mussolini a leader without political precedent. He is the political phenomenon of modern Italy, risen like a flame from the ashes of her cumbersome, confusing, parasite-covered bureaucratic régime.

To interview Benito Mussolini not only was to interview Italy’s “Man of the Hour,” but Italy’s “Man of Tomorrow.” He is that person, to the lack of whom Italy has long attributed her political misfortunesa strong man.

Mussolini has brought into the Italian situation that which it has lacked, and his achievements are proof of what discipline and organization, guided by an indomitable will, personal fearlessness, powerful intellect, profound learning, straight thinking, direct action can do.

The things that he foretold in our first meetings, when the Fascisti practically forced the July ministerial crisis during the fiasco of the general strike, gloatingly holding aloft the broken spine of Bolshevism, and what he said in the months following, have come to pass without a comma changed in his program.

It took me less than two minutes to discover why Fascismo had been able to blaze a trail to the seats of government, while the wise ones were still saying: “Oh, the Fascisti served their purpose when they saved Italy from Bolshevism. They have no significance now.”

In addition to an iron will, a genius for organization and uncompromising discipline, Mussolini has a contempt for futile conversation. Actions, not words, is his motto.

We sat talking, this dark, smooth-shaven man of 38 and myself, in the parlor of his Rome hotel. I noticed as he waitedrather critically, I thought—for me to launch my questions, that his eyes were almost as contradictory as his mouth. They were piercing, commanding, blazing eyes, but they also were brooding and melancholy eyes. Mussolini’s mouth is strong, determined, domineering, uncompromising. The lips are neither thin nor thick, but the upper lip is so curved as to accentuate an unmistakable sensuousness. His teeth are white and even. His nose is large, well formed, suggestive of power. His head, upon which the short black hair is thinning on top, is of that dominating, aggressive, powerful type one associates with old Roman leaders.

When I asked him a question he had a concise reply, sometimes condensed to one word. He is a man who counts his words and whose words count. In place of the streams of oratory so often associated with leaders he utters one word. But in response to that one word the youth of Italy rises! Surely the power of a single word never has been so demonstrated in oratory-loving Italy.

His terseness and directness was sometimes disconcerting to one accustomed to the old Italian method of wordy evasion.

A Man of Brevity.

“What would be you very first step as head of the Government?” I asked.

He answered in one word: “Discipline.”

“And then?” I queried.

“Discipline for every onethat is a good beginning,” he replied.

“What steps would you take to place Italy on a firm economic basis? How would you silence the voice of unrest, for instance, over the exchange?”


Surely there was a challenge to new national effort in that word.

“Production!” he continued. “That is the cornerstone upon which I would build government.”

“And your foreign policy?” I asked.

“Equilibrium and conciliation.”

“We Americans are disliked here in Italy because of the exchange,” I commented. “How do you feel about us?”

“The question of exchange will have to adjust itself after we have put into effect our program of production,” he said. “As an Italian I naturally am more interested in countries where we have colonies than in the United States. The immigration problem today is the important issue with the United States. But even emigration difficulties with us might be solved through proper colonial programs. Italy is a fecund country. It is overpopulated, but I believe we should have a government capable of solving some of our own problems. International whining get a country nowhere. One must develop from withing.”

To a person who has lived long in Italy the utterances of Mussolini were significant. He seemed to put his finger on the weakest spots with a clarifying touch. Just the two words, “discipline” and “work,” spoken tersely and unemotionally, expressed volumes of understanding.

“Your organization of labor has been your greatest accomplishment, hasn’t it I inquired. At that time the network of “sindicales,” the organizations of every calling, even farm workers, which had been going on silently and surely in all corners of Italy, had not yet been fully estimated by the dormant powers.

Mussolini’s face has a somewhat cynical expression until he smiles. Then it is illuminated with that rare spirit without which no man can have broad understandinga sense of humor.

“How do you know?” he demanded.

I explained what to him seemed a most unfeminine habit that I had talked to everybody who would answer me in first, second or third class railroad carriages, preferably the last, concerning political conditions in Italy. A phenomenon I had discovered in many out-of-the-way places which did not exist three years ago was the acute interest in politics shown by every young man over 15.

“I consider Fascismo responsible,” I commented, “and what most impressed me was the range the social ladder included in Fascismo.”

“Yes, our generation of labor is our strength, because in that we have a great constructive force,” he agreed. “Nothing can be of use in Italy today that is not aggressively constructive.”

“And in every part of Italy where I have traveled,” I interpolated, “wherever I have heard laments about ‘Provera Italia’ and the weak government, I also have heard the insistent whisper, ‘Oh, we have a strong manif only Mussolini gets into power!’”

“But,” protested Mussolini, and I thought not so very convincingly, “I am too young to be head of the Government. Italy”—and his teeth flashed in a smile—“loves old men.” And that was such a short time ago. But perhaps Mussolini has aged in these last few weeks.

Youth Against Age.

“After all, Fascismo is really the protest of youth,” I suggested: “a protest of youth against the doddering old inefficiency, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” replied Mussolini.

“Yet you say you are too young.”

“I do not seek power for myself,” he answered. “I am working for Italy. Italy’s hope lies in her youth. Stop and think just what Fascismo means and who the Fascisti are. They are the flower of Italian youth, the young intellectuals, the young students, the splendid young men released from the war, the young workers. Why, our enrollment reaches to youths of fifteen. Think what that means in creating a national spirit, enrolling all of these fine young men to save Italy!”

I recalled one of the mottoes flung high on the Rome Fascisti headquarters—“Italia è una religione” (Italy is a religion), and I could not help but see Mussolini in the light of a political Messiah—a super-Nationalist.

“Have you ever seen a more striking spectacle,” he demanded, “than these splendid young men in their black shirts marching toward national unity? You see, what Italy needs is not only a political conscience but a national conscience.”

“As a former leader of the Socialist Party, have not some of your old beliefs clung to your new organization? For instance, in your labor organizations and your mode of procedure? Have you not used means you decry, theoretically?”

“One is forced to use the most expedient methods when danger threatens,” replied Mussolini. “So far as socialism forming a substructure of Fascismo—you are wrong.”

“On the other hand,” I argued, “your organization is so completely military, that you have swung around the circle to the very point where you broke with the Socialist Party to fight militarism.”

Again Mussolini smiled. His drawling voice, reminiscent of our own South, seemed out of keeping with his words.

“Yes, the Fascisti are organized in a perfect military system,” he admitted. “It is necessary. But as soon as socialism ceases to be Bolshevism we are ready to put down our arms. While Italy is in danger we must remain a military organization. You know perfectly well that twenty organized men can control a thousand unorganized, unarmed men. At the first sign of safety we demobilize.”

The sign of safety evidently has come with Mussolini at the head of the Government.
In discussing the various political elements I referred to Don Storzo, the priest leader of the Popolari or Clerical Party, and distinctly unfriendly to the Fascisti.

“Priests,” said Mussolini succinctly, “should only say mass; they should not mix in profane affairs—like politics.”

“I was surprised,” I commented, “to find so many Contadini enrolled in Fascismo, as I had been given to understand that they were almost solidly Popolari.”

“Yes, and where did you discover that for yourself?” he inquired with interest.

“Only the other day,” I replied, “in darkest Etruria. In a trip to a remote and ancient Etruscan site I found all the peasants on a huge estate organized Fascisti!”

“Mussolini’s black eyes gleamed.

“Yes, and—” he asked.

“And before that—why, even bending over the ancient bronze tablets at Gubbia, I had Fascismo whispered in my ear by a learned young nobleman. That was last May, and he said that if the Government did not behave the Fascisti had a revolution all prepared.”

Nation of Contradictions.

“A revolution,” mused Mussolini, “not in the Russian sense of the word. That would not be possible in Italy—but a peaceful revolution, well—we are an overspirited people. We make war one day and are kissing our enemies the next. We are young and we are old. We have unbroken centuries of history and traditions, and yet we are a very young nation. Yes—everything is possible in Italy.

“You understand Fascismo,” said Mussolini, with a question in his assertion.

“How could I help it?” I replied “My masseur beats it into my head, my waiter serves it with my food, the electrician enlightens me with it when he turns on the current, the newsdealer hands it in with my baggage. I’ve felt it in the air ever since I crossed the frontier last May.”

“Strange you felt it,” he began, and stopped.

Perhaps, I fancied, he wanted to add, “and here they didn’t even have an ear to the ground.”
“With your super-nationalist program,” I ventured, “do you think Fascismo, imperialistic and military, will prove of ultimate good for Italy, internationally?”

“Italy today has a more urgent need in getting a solid national foundation. To be internationally respected we must be nationally strong.”

“And you would begin by killing the beaurocratic incubus?”

“Yes, and I would organize a rigid productive régime.”

“And even though you are too young to be head of the Government,” I said pointedly, “what would be your ideal form of government—a republic—or—”

“I am loyal to the monarchy and to the House of Savoy,” he answered. “And remember, Fascismo is neither revolutionary nor reactionary, but it is against a demagogic State.”

Looking at Mussolini, I saw him as the real leader of Italy, and his story came to mind. This man of iron, who, despite almost fatal wounds received in the war, shows no trace of physical weakness, had a most extraordinary background for the Premiership of Italy.

Mussolini was born in Romagna in 1884. “You must not forget that my father was an ironmonger,” he informed me when talking of his past.

Mussolini is one of the most cultured men in Italy, but he gleaned his knowledge at no age-dried fonts of learning. In his early years he began an intellectual vagabondage which has given him an international erudition. He knows many languages, having worked at jobs of all sorts to finance himself while he studied the literature of other lands in their native tongues. From his intellectual vagabondage he would often return to his home in Romagna, where, shut off from the world, he would give himself over to veritable debauches of study. At times he taught French, and always he wrote. His short stories are bitter and cynical, the fruit of his wanderings.

Many-Sides Personality.

Journalism was his real work. Finally he left home and books to become Secretary of Labor as well as editor of Avvenire at Trent. Later he was made editor of Cesaro Battisti’s Popolo. Still later he edited The Struggle of the Classes in his native Romagna, where he began his campaign to revise Socialism and to destroy republican bourgeoisie. To him at that time Socialism meant the supremacy of the proletariat masses, and Socialism was his religion.

The separation of Mussolini from Socialism, of which he had become leader and editor of its journal Avanti, was one of the outstanding incidents in the effect of the war upon internationalism.

When the German Socialists disavowed internationalism for the defense of the Fatherland, Mussolini urged the Italian Socialists to enter the war against German militarism. His insistence caused his dismissal from the party. Then he found Il Popolo d’Italia, pouring all his journalistic ardor into it, urging Italy to enter the war. Being a man of action rather than words he was among the first to fly to the colors. He went as a bersagliere, this man of learning. The explosion of a bomb terminated his services at the front.

Then he founded Fascismo, which has taken its name from fascio, meaning a bundle or a group. It, in turn, was derived from the Latin fasces, referring to the bundle of rods carried by the old Roman lictors. The term was used by groups of soldiers, mostly Arditi, who formed themselves into fasci of ex-combatants after the war.

“As a political party, Fascismo is only a year old, but its spirit is much older than that,” said Mussolini, who was proud of its early demonstration at Fiume and in crushing Bolshevism. “But we are not adequately represented politically. The need of electoral reforms—the absolute, crying necessity of general elections so that the Fascisti shall have proper representation, is one of the problems that can no longer be evaded.”

What really fascinated me most about this man of powerful personality and now Italy’s Premier, was the heights and depths of culture he revealed. A man who can discuss the various periods of Etruscan frescoes with the same understanding as he can political economy, who can thrill at the wistful melancholy of a Chopin Nocturnes as he can at the “Eja, Eja, Eja, A La Là” cry of the Fascisti: who can balance the satiric humor of an Aristophanes against that of a Pirandello, surely is a man who understands much of life.

There was one question I had intended putting to Mussolini, but which was answered without any solicitation on my part.

“Do you know,” said Mussolini suddenly, fixing me with a curious gaze, in the midst of a political discussion, “really you are a most intelligent person. You understand politics. It’s remarkable—remarkable.”

“I’m sure I don’t see anything remarkable about it,” I replied; “I’ve lived in Italy five years. Why shouldn’t I understand the political situation?”

“Oh—but you are a woman!”

From the wreckage of my plan to question him about feminism, my outraged soul arose to protest.

“And do you think that the mind of a woman, given the same opportunity for development, the same education, doesn’t function as well as that of a man?” I demanded.

“Certainly not—it’s impossible,” he replied, still regarding me as though I were a strange bug seen for the first time under a microscope—“impossible.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry you said that,” I cried.

“Why?” he demanded.

“Because up to this moment I thought you the most intelligent man I had ever met.”

He laughed good-naturedly, but with that fine superiority with which the Latin male regards woman.

And so I am certain that although there may be vivandieres in the Fascisti army, the immediate plans of Premier Benito Mussolini are not disturbed by the consideration of woman as a political factor.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Il Duce, Protector of Animals and Steward of Nature: Isle of Capri Declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1932

Environmental policy was first advanced in fascist nations. Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany were far ahead of the nations of their day. In the cartoon image below, from Punch in 1939, Mussolini's 1932 declaration of the Italian island of Capri as a sanctuary for birds is depicted. Mussolini is shown as steward of nature and protector of the birds of Italy, giving them a safe and secure domain, away from poaching hands; one grateful bird looks up at him. Beneath the image are a handful of newspaper articles on the event.

Il Duce of Italy declares Capri a sanctuary for birds,
from Punch, 21 December, 1932.

From Berkeley Daily Gazette, "New Bird Haven in the Mediterranean," 1 April 1933; click on the clipped article or follow the source to get a much clearer version.

In early the next year, this article, from the same paper, notes American admiration for the Duce's policy and speculates about whether the US might do the same for song birds.

This is from San Jose News, 27 April, 1934, summarizing the policy and formation of a "Scholar's League for Preserving Little Birds," with its patron Saint, Francis of Assisi.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"The Philosophical Basis of Fascism" (1928) by Giovanni Gentile

Giovanni Gentile was an Italian philosopher and an influential member of Mussolini's government. He wrote many articles and books, and co-authored "The Doctrine of Fascism" with Mussolini. The following essay was published in 1928.

Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944), at his desk.

The Philosophical Basis of Fascism
by Giovanni Gentile

For the Italian nation the World War was the solution of a deep spiritual crisis. They willed and fought it long before they felt and evaluated it. But they willed, fought, felt and evaluated it in a certain spirit which Italy's generals and statesmen exploited, but which also worked on them, conditioning their policies and their action. The spirit in question was not altogether clear and self-consistent. That it lacked unanimity was particularly apparent just before and again just after the war when feelings were not subject to war discipline. It was as though the Italian character were crossed by two different currents which divided it into two irreconcilable sections. One need think only of the days of Italian neutrality and of the debates that raged between Interventionists and Neutralists. The ease with which the most inconsistent ideas were pressed into service by both parties showed that the issue was not between two opposing political opinions, two conflicting concepts of history, but actually between two different temperaments, two different souls.

For one kind of person the important point was to fight the war, either on the side of Germany or against Germany: but in either event to fight the war, without regard to specific advantages—to fight the war in order that at last the Italian nation, created rather by favoring conditions than by the will of its people to be a nation, might receive its test in blood, such a test as only war can bring by uniting all citizens in a single thought, a single passion, a single hope, emphasizing to each individual that all have something in common, something transcending private interests.

This was the very thing that frightened the other kind of person, the prudent man, the realist, who had a clear view of the mortal risks a young, inexperienced, badly prepared nation would be running in such a war, and who also saw—a most significant point—that, all things considered, a bargaining neutrality would surely win the country tangible rewards, as great as victorious participation itself.

The point at issue was just that: the Italian Neutralists stood for material advantages, advantages tangible, ponderable, palpable; the Interventionists stood for moral advantages, intangible, impalpable, imponderable—imponderable at least on the scales used by their antagonists. On the eve of the war these two Italian characters stood facing each other, scowling and irreconcilable—the one on the aggressive, asserting itself ever more forcefully through the various organs of public opinion; the other on the defensive, offering resistance through the Parliament which in those days still seemed to be the basic repository of State sovereignty. Civil conflict seemed inevitable in Italy, and civil war was in fact averted only because the King took advantage of one of his prerogatives and declared war against the Central Powers.

This act of the King was the first decisive step toward the solution of the crisis.


The crisis had ancient origins. Its roots sank deep into the inner spirit of the Italian people.

What were the creative forces of the Risorgimento? The "Italian people," to which some historians are now tending to attribute an important if not a decisive role in our struggle for national unity and independence, was hardly on the scene at all. The active agency was always an idea become a person—it was one or several determined wills which were fixed on determined goals. There can be no question that the birth of modern Italy was the work of the few. And it could not be otherwise. It is always the few who represent the self-consciousness and the will of an epoch and determine what its history shall be; for it is they who see the forces at their disposal and through those forces actuate the one truly active and productive force—their own will.

That will we find in the song of the poets and the ideas of the political writers, who know how to use a language harmonious with a universal sentiment or with a sentiment capable of becoming universal. In the case of Italy, in all our bards, philosophers and leaders, from Alfieri to Foscolo, from Leopardi to Manzoni, from Mazzini to Gioberti, we are able to pick up the threads of a new fabric, which is a new kind of thought, a new kind of soul, a new kind of Italy. This new Italy differed from the old Italy in something that was very simple but yet was of the greatest importance: this new Italy took life seriously, while the old one did not. People in every age had dreamed of an Italy and talked of an Italy. The notion of Italy had been sung in all kinds of music, propounded in all kinds of philosophy. But it was always an Italy that existed in the brain of some scholar whose learning was more or less divorced from reality. Now reality demands that convictions be taken seriously, that ideas become actions. Accordingly it was necessary that this Italy, which was an affair of brains only, become also an affair of hearts, become, that is, something serious, something alive. This, and no other, was the meaning of Mazzini's great slogan: "Thought and Action." It was the essence of the great revolution which he preached and which he accomplished by instilling his doctrine into the hearts of others. Not many others—a small minority! But they were numerous enough and powerful enough to raise the question where it could be answered—in Italian public opinion (taken in conjunction with the political situation prevailing in the rest of Europe). They were able to establish the doctrine that life is not a game, but a mission; that, therefore, the individual has a law and a purpose in obedience to which and in fulfillment of which he alone attains his true value; that, accordingly, he must make sacrifices, now of personal comfort, now of private interest, now of life itself.

No revolution ever possessed more markedly than did the Italian Risorgimento this characteristic of ideality, of thought preceding action. Our revolt was not concerned with the material needs of life, nor did it spring from elementary and widely diffused sentiments breaking out in popular uprisings and mass disturbances. The movements of 1847 and 1848 were demonstrations, as we would say today, of "intellectuals"; they were efforts toward a goal on the part of a minority of patriots who were standard bearers of an ideal and were driving governments and peoples toward its attainment. Idealism—understood as faith in the advent of an ideal reality, as a manner of conceiving life not as fixed within the limits of existing fact, but as incessant progress and transformation toward the level of a higher law which controls men with the very force of the idea—was the sum and substance of Mazzini's teaching; and it supplied the most conspicuous characteristic of our great Italian revolution. In this sense all the patriots who worked for the foundation of the new kingdom were Mazzinians—Gioberti, Cavour, Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi. To be sure, our writers of the first rank, such as Manzoni and Rosmini, had no historical connection with Mazzini; but they had the same general tendency as Mazzini. Working along diverging lines, they all came together on the essential point: that true life is not the life which is, but also the life which ought to be. It was a conviction essentially religious in character, essentially anti-materialistic.


This religious and idealistic manner of looking at life, so characteristic of the Risorgimento, prevails even beyond the heroic age of the revolution and the establishment of the Kingdom. It survives down through Ricasoli, Lanza, Sella and Minghetti, down, that is, to the occupation of Rome and the systemization of our national finances. The parliamentary overturn of 1876, indeed, marks not the end, but rather an interruption, on the road that Italy had been following since the beginning of the century. The outlook then changed, and not by the capriciousness or weakness of men, but by a necessity of history which it would be idiotic in our day to deplore. At that time the fall of the Right, which had ruled continuously between 1861 and 1876, seemed to most people the real conquest of freedom.

To be sure the Right cannot be accused of too great scruple in respecting the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution; but the real truth was that the Right conceived liberty in a sense directly opposite to the notions of the Left. The Left moved from the individual to the State: the Right moved from the State to the individual. The men of the left thought of "the people" as merely the agglomerate of the citizens composing it. They therefore made the individual the center and the point of departure of all the rights and prerogatives which a régime of freedom was bound to respect.

The men of the Right, on the contrary, were firmly set in the notion that no freedom can be conceived except within the State, that freedom can have no important content apart from a solid régime of law indisputably sovereign over the activities and the interests of individuals. For the Right there could be no individual freedom not reconcilable with the authority of the State. In their eyes the general interest was always paramount over private interests. The law, therefore, should have absolute efficacy and embrace the whole life of the people.

This conception of the Right was evidently sound; but it involved great dangers when applied without regard to the motives which provoked it. Unless we are careful, too much law leads to stasis and therefore to the annihilation of the life which it is the State's function to regulate but which the State cannot suppress. The State may easily become a form indifferent to its content—something extraneous to the substance it would regulate. If the law comes upon the individual from without, if the individual is not absorbed in the life of the State, the individual feels the law and the State as limitations on his activity, as chains which will eventually strangle him unless he can break them down.

This was just the feeling of the men of '76. The country needed a breath of air. Its moral, economic, and social forces demanded the right to develop without interference from a law which took no account of them. This was the historical reason for the overturn of that year; and with the transference of power from Right to Left begins the period of growth and development in our nation: economic growth in industry, commerce, railroads, agriculture; intellectual growth in science, education. The nation had received its form from above. It had now to struggle to its new level, giving to a State which already had its constitution, its administrative and political organization, its army and its finance, a living content of forces springing from individual initiative prompted by interests which the Risorgimento, absorbed in its great ideals, had either neglected or altogether disregarded.

The accomplishment of this constitutes the credit side of the balance sheet of King Humbert I. It was the error of King Humbert's greatest minister, Francesco Crispi, not to have understood his age. Crispi strove vigorously to restore the authority and the prestige of the State as against an individualism gone rampant, to reassert religious ideals as against triumphant materialism. He fell, therefore, before the assaults of so-called democracy.

Crispi was wrong. That was not the moment for re-hoisting the time-honored banner of idealism. At that time there could be no talk of wars, of national dignity, of competition with the Great Powers; no talk of setting limits to personal liberties in the interests of the abstract entity called "State." The word "God," which Crispi sometimes used, was singularly out of place. It was a question rather of bringing the popular classes to prosperity, self-consciousness, participation in political life. Campaigns against illiteracy, all kinds of social legislation, the elimination of the clergy from the public schools, which must be secular and anti-clerical! During this period Freemasonry became solidly established in the bureaucracy, the army, the judiciary. The central power of the State was weakened and made subservient to the fleeting variations of popular will as reflected in a suffrage absolved from all control from above. The growth of big industry favored the rise of a socialism of Marxian stamp as a new kind of moral and political education for our proletariat. The conception of humanity was not indeed lost from view: but such moral restraints as were placed on the free individual were all based on the feeling that each man must instinctively seek his own well-being and defend it. This was the very conception which Mazzini had fought in socialism, though he rightly saw that it was not peculiar to socialism alone, but belonged to any political theory, whether liberal, democratic, or anti-socialistic, which urges men toward the exaction of rights rather than to the fulfillment of duties.

From 1876 till the Great War, accordingly, we had an Italy that was materialistic and anti-Mazzinian, though an Italy far superior to the Italy of and before Mazzini's time. All our culture, whether in the natural or the moral sciences, in letters or in the arts, was dominated by a crude positivism, which conceived of the reality in which we live as something given, something ready-made, and which therefore limits and conditions human activity quite apart from so-called arbitrary and illusory demands of morality. Everybody wanted "facts," "positive facts." Everybody laughed at "metaphysical dreams," at impalpable realities. The truth was there before the eyes of men. They had only to open their eyes to see it. The Beautiful itself could only be the mirror of the Truth present before us in Nature. Patriotism, like all the other virtues based on a religious attitude of mind, and which can be mentioned only when people have the courage to talk in earnest, became a rhetorical theme on which it was rather bad taste to touch.

This period, which anyone born during the last half of the past century can well remember, might be called the demo-socialistic phase of the modern Italian State. It was the period which elaborated the characteristically democratic attitude of mind on a basis of personal freedom, and which resulted in the establishment of socialism as the primary and controlling force in the State. It was a period of growth and of prosperity during which the moral forces developed during the Risorgimento were crowded into the background or off the stage.


But toward the end of the Nineteenth Century and in the first years of the Twentieth a vigorous spirit of reaction began to manifest itself in the young men of Italy against the preceding generation's ideas in politics, literature, science and philosophy. It was as though they were weary of the prosaic bourgeois life which they had inherited from their fathers and were eager to return to the lofty moral enthusiasms of their grandfathers. Rosmini and Gioberti had been long forgotten. They were now exhumed, read, discussed. As for Mazzini, an edition of his writings was financed by the State itself. Vico, the great Vico, a formidable preacher of idealistic philosophy and a great anti-Cartesian and anti-rationalist, became the object of a new cult.

Positivism began forthwith to be attacked by neo-idealism. Materialistic approaches to the study of literature and art were refuted and discredited. Within the Church itself modernism came to rouse the Italian clergy to the need of a deeper and more modern culture. Even socialism was brought under the philosophical probe and criticized like other doctrines for its weaknesses and errors; and when, in France, George Sorel went beyond the fallacies of the materialistic theories of the Marxist social-democracy to his theory of syndicalism, our young Italian socialists turned to him. In Sorel's ideas they saw two things: first, the end of a hypocritical "collaborationism" which betrayed both proletariat and nation; and second, faith in a moral and ideal reality for which it was the individual's duty to sacrifice himself, and to defend which, even violence was justified. The anti-parliamentarian spirit and the moral spirit of syndicalism brought Italian socialists back within the Mazzinian orbit.

Of great importance, too, was nationalism, a new movement then just coming to the fore. Our Italian nationalism was less literary and more political in character than the similar movement in France, because with us it was attached to the old historic Right which had a long political tradition. The new nationalism differed from the old Right in the stress it laid on the idea of "nation"; but it was at one with the Right in regarding the State as the necessary premise to the individual rights and values. It was the special achievement of nationalism to rekindle faith in the nation in Italian hearts, to arouse the country against parliamentary socialism, and to lead an open attack on Freemasonry, before which the Italian bourgeoisie was terrifiedly prostrating itself. Syndicalists, nationalists, idealists succeeded, between them, in bringing the great majority of Italian youth back to the spirit of Mazzini.

Official, legal, parliamentary Italy, the Italy that was anti-Mazzinian and anti-idealistic, stood against all this, finding its leader in a man of unfailing political intuition, and master as well of the political mechanism of the country, a man sceptical of all high-sounding words, impatient of complicated concepts, ironical, cold, hard-headed, practical—what Mazzini would have called a "shrewd materialist." In the persons, indeed, of Mazzini and Giolitti, we may find a picture of the two aspects of pre-war Italy, of that irreconcilable duality which paralyzed the vitality of the country and which the Great War was to solve.


The effect of the war seemed at first to be quite in an opposite sense—to mark the beginning of a general débâcle of the Italian State and of the moral forces that must underlie any State. If entrance into the war had been a triumph of ideal Italy over materialistic Italy, the advent of peace seemed to give ample justification to the Neutralists who had represented the latter. After the Armistice our Allies turned their backs upon us. Our victory assumed all the aspects of a defeat. A defeatist psychology, as they say, took possession of the Italian people and expressed itself in hatred of the war, of those responsible for the war, even of our army which had won our war. An anarchical spirit of dissolution rose against all authority. The ganglia of our economic life seemed struck with mortal disease. Labor ran riot in strike after strike. The very bureaucracy seemed to align itself against the State. The measure of our spiritual dispersion was the return to power of Giolitti—the execrated Neutralist—who for five years had been held up as the exponent of an Italy which had died with the war.

But, curiously enough, it was under Giolitti that things suddenly changed in aspect, that against the Giolittian State a new State arose. Our soldiers, our genuine soldiers, men who had willed our war and fought it in full consciousness of what they were doing, had the good fortune to find as their leaders a man who could express in words things that were in all their hearts and who could make those words audible above the tumult.

Mussolini had left Italian socialism in 1915 in order to be a more faithful interpreter of "the Italian People" (the name he chose for his new paper). He was one of those who saw the necessity of our war, one of those mainly responsible for our entering the war. Already as a socialist he had fought Freemasonry; and, drawing his inspiration from Sorel's syndicalism, he had assailed the parliamentary corruption of Reformist Socialism with the idealistic postulates of revolution and violence. Then, later, on leaving the party and in defending the cause of intervention, he had come to oppose the illusory fancies of proletarian internationalism with an assertion of the infrangible integrity, not only moral but economic as well, of the national organism, affirming therefore the sanctity of country for the working classes as for other classes. Mussolini was a Mazzinian of that pure-blooded breed which Mazzini seemed somehow always to find in the province of Romagna. First by instinct, later by reflection, Mussolini had come to despise the futility of the socialists who kept preaching a revolution which they had neither the power nor the will to bring to pass even under the most favorable circumstances. More keenly than anyone else he had come to feel the necessity of a State which would be a State, of a law which would be respected as law, of an authority capable of exacting obedience but at the same time able to give indisputable evidence of its worthiness so to act. It seemed incredible to Mussolini that a country capable of fighting and winning such a war as Italy had fought and won should be thrown into disorder and held at the mercy of a handful of faithless politicians.

When Mussolini founded his Fasci in Milan in March, 1919, the movement toward dissolution and negation that featured the post-war period in Italy had virtually ceased. The Fasci made their appeal to Italians who, in spite of the disappointments of the peace, continued to believe in the war, and who, in order to validate the victory which was the proof of the war's value, were bent on recovering for Italy that control over her own destinies which could come only through a restoration of discipline and a reorganization of social and political forces. From the first, the Fascist Party was not one of believers but of action. What it needed was not a platform of principles, but an idea which would indicate a goal and a road by which the goal could be reached.

The four years between 1919 and 1923 inclusive were characterized by the development of the Fascist revolution through the action of "the squads." The Fascist "squads" were really the force of a State not yet born but on the way to being. In its first period, Fascist "squadrism" transgressed the law of the old régime because it was determined to suppress that régime as incompatible with the national State to which Fascism was aspiring. The March on Rome was not the beginning, it was the end of that phase of the revolution; because, with Mussolini's advent to power, Fascism entered the sphere of legality. After October 28, 1922, Fascism was no longer at war with the State; it was the State, looking about for the organization which would realize Fascism as a concept of State. Fascism already had control of all the instruments necessary for the upbuilding of a new State. The Italy of Giolitti had been superceded, at least so far as militant politics were concerned. Between Giolitti's Italy and the new Italy there flowed, as an imaginative orator once said in the Chamber, "a torrent of blood" that would prevent any return to the past. The century-old crisis had been solved. The war at last had begun to bear fruit for Italy.


Now to understand the distinctive essence of Fascism, nothing is more instructive than a comparison of it with the point of view of Mazzini to which I have so often referred.

Mazzini did have a political conception, but his politic was a sort of integral politic, which cannot be so sharply distinguished from morals, religion, and ideas of life as a whole, as to be considered apart from these other fundamental interests of the human spirit. If one tries to separate what is purely political from his religious beliefs, his ethical consciousness and his metaphysical concepts, it becomes impossible to understand the vast influence which his credo and his propaganda exerted. Unless we assume the unity of the whole man, we arrive not at the clarification but at the destruction of those ideas of his which proved so powerful.

In the definition of Fascism, the first point to grasp is the comprehensive, or as Fascists say, the "totalitarian" scope of its doctrine, which concerns itself not only with political organization and political tendency, but with the whole will and thought and feeling of the nation.

There is a second and equally important point. Fascism is not a philosophy. Much less is it a religion. It is not even a political theory which may be stated in a series of formulae. The significance of Fascism is not to be grasped in the special theses which it from time to time assumes. When on occasion it has announced a program, a goal, a concept to be realized in action, Fascism has not hesitated to abandon them when in practice these were found to be inadequate or inconsistent with the principle of Fascism. Fascism has never been willing to compromise its future. Mussolini has boasted that he is a tempista, that his real pride is in "good timing." He makes decisions and acts on them at the precise moment when all the conditions and considerations which make them feasible and opportune are properly matured. This is a way of saying that Fascism returns to the most rigorous meaning of Mazzini's "Thought and Action," whereby the two terms are so perfectly coincident that no thought has value which is not already expressed in action. The real "views" of the Duce are those which he formulates and executes at one and the same time.

Is Fascism therefore "anti-intellectual," as has been so often charged? It is eminently anti-intellectual, eminently Mazzinian, that is, if by intellectualism we mean the divorce of thought from action, of knowledge from life, of brain from heart, of theory from practice. Fascism is hostile to all Utopian systems which are destined never to face the test of reality. It is hostile to all science and all philosophy which remain matters of mere fancy or intelligence. It is not that Fascism denies value to culture, to the higher intellectual pursuits by which thought is invigorated as a source of action. Fascist anti-intellectualism holds in scorn a product peculiarly typical of the educated classes in Italy: the leterato—the man who plays with knowledge and with thought without any sense of responsibility for the practical world. It is hostile not so much to culture as to bad culture, the culture which does not educate, which does not make men, but rather creates pedants and aesthetes, egotists in a word, men morally and politically indifferent. It has no use, for instance, for the man who is "above the conflict" when his country or its important interests are at stake.

By virtue of its repugnance for "intellectualism," Fascism prefers not to waste time constructing abstract theories about itself. But when we say that it is not a system or a doctrine we must not conclude that it is a blind praxis or a purely instinctive method. If by system or philosophy we mean a living thought, a principle of universal character daily revealing its inner fertility and significance, then Fascism is a perfect system, with a solidly established foundation and with a rigorous logic in its development; and all who feel the truth and the vitality of the principle work day by day for its development, now doing, now undoing, now going forward, now retracing their steps, according as the things they do prove to be in harmony with the principle or to deviate from it.

And we come finally to a third point.

The Fascist system is not a political system, but it has its center of gravity in politics. Fascism came into being to meet serious problems of politics in post-war Italy. And it presents itself as a political method. But in confronting and solving political problems it is carried by its very nature, that is to say by its method, to consider moral, religious, and philosophical questions and to unfold and demonstrate the comprehensive totalitarian character peculiar to it. It is only after we have grasped the political character of the Fascist principle that we are able adequately to appreciate the deeper concept of life which underlies that principle and from which the principle springs. The political doctrine of Fascism is not the whole of Fascism. It is rather its more prominent aspect and in general its most interesting one.


The politic of Fascism revolves wholly about the concept of the national State; and accordingly it has points of contact with nationalist doctrines, along with distinctions from the latter which it is important to bear in mind.

Both Fascism and nationalism regard the State as the foundation of all rights and the source of all values in the individuals composing it. For the one as for the other the State is not a consequence—it is a principle. But in the case of nationalism, the relation which individualistic liberalism, and for that matter socialism also, assumed between individual and State is inverted. Since the State is a principle, the individual becomes a consequence—he is something which finds an antecedent in the State: the State limits him and determines his manner of existence, restricting his freedom, binding him to a piece of ground whereon he was born, whereon he must live and will die. In the case of Fascism, State and individual are one and the same things, or rather, they are inseparable terms of a necessary synthesis.

Nationalism, in fact, founds the State on the concept of nation, the nation being an entity which transcends the will and the life of the individual because it is conceived as objectively existing apart from the consciousness of individuals, existing even if the individual does nothing to bring it into being. For the nationalist, the nation exists not by virtue of the citizen's will, but as datum, a fact, of nature.

For Fascism, on the contrary, the State is a wholly spiritual creation. It is a national State, because, from the Fascist point of view, the nation itself is a creation of the mind and is not a material presupposition, is not a datum of nature. The nation, says the Fascist, is never really made; neither, therefore, can the State attain an absolute form, since it is merely the nation in the latter's concrete, political manifestation. For the Fascist, the State is always in fieri. It is in our hands, wholly; whence our very serious responsibility towards it.

But this State of the Fascists which is created by the consciousness and the will of the citizen, and is not a force descending on the citizen from above or from without, cannot have toward the mass of the population the relationship which was presumed by nationalism.

Nationalism identified State with Nation, and made of the nation an entity preëxisting, which needed not to be created but merely to be recognized or known. The nationalists, therefore, required a ruling class of an intellectual character, which was conscious of the nation and could understand, appreciate and exalt it. The authority of the State, furthermore, was not a product but a presupposition. It could not depend on the people—rather the people depended on the State and on the State's authority as the source of the life which they lived and apart from which they could not live. The nationalistic State was, therefore, an aristocratic State, enforcing itself upon the masses through the power conferred upon it by its origins.

The Fascist State, on the contrary, is a people's state, and, as such, the democratic State par excellence. The relationship between State and citizen (not this or that citizen, but all citizens) is accordingly so intimate that the State exists only as, and in so far as, the citizen causes it to exist. Its formation therefore is the formation of a consciousness of it in individuals, in the masses. Hence the need of the Party, and of all the instruments of propaganda and education which Fascism uses to make the thought and will of the Duce the thought and will of the masses. Hence the enormous task which Fascism sets itself in trying to bring the whole mass of the people, beginning with the little children, inside the fold of the Party.

On the popular character of the Fascist State likewise depends its greatest social and constitutional reform—the foundation of the Corporations of Syndicates. In this reform Fascism took over from syndicalism the notion of the moral and educational function of the syndicate. But the Corporations of Syndicates were necessary in order to reduce the syndicates to State discipline and make them an expression of the State's organism from within. The Corporation of Syndicates are a device through which the Fascist State goes looking for the individual in order to create itself through the individual's will. But the individual it seeks is not the abstract political individual whom the old liberalism took for granted. He is the only individual who can ever be found, the individual who exists as a specialized productive force, and who, by the fact of his specialization, is brought to unite with other individuals of his same category and comes to belong with them to the one great economic unit which is none other than the nation.

This great reform is already well under way. Toward it nationalism, syndicalism, and even liberalism itself, were already tending in the past. For even liberalism was beginning to criticize the older forms of political representation, seeking some system of organic representation which would correspond to the structural reality of the State.

The Fascist conception of liberty merits passing notice. The Duce of Fascism once chose to discuss the theme of "Force or consent?"; and he concluded that the two terms are inseparable, that the one implies the other and cannot exist apart from the other; that, in other words, the authority of the State and the freedom of the citizen constitute a continuous circle wherein authority presupposes liberty and liberty authority. For freedom can exist only within the State, and the State means authority. But the State is not an entity hovering in the air over the heads of its citizens. It is one with the personality of the citizen. Fascism, indeed, envisages the contrast not as between liberty and authority, but as between a true, a concrete liberty which exists, and an abstract, illusory liberty which cannot exist.

Liberalism broke the circle above referred to, setting the individual against the State and liberty against authority. What the liberal desired was liberty as against the State, a liberty which was a limitation of the State; though the liberal had to resign himself, as the lesser of the evils, to a State which was a limitation on liberty. The absurdities inherent in the liberal concept of freedom were apparent to liberals themselves early in the Nineteenth Century. It is no merit of Fascism to have again indicated them. Fascism has its own solution of the paradox of liberty and authority. The authority of the State is absolute. It does not compromise, it does not bargain, it does not surrender any portion of its field to other moral or religious principles which may interfere with the individual conscience. But on the other hand, the State becomes a reality only in the consciousness of its individuals. And the Fascist corporative State supplies a representative system more sincere and more in touch with realities than any other previously devised and is therefore freer than the old liberal State.