The Fascist Experience in Italy: Italian Society and Culture, 1922-1945 0415116325, 9780415116329

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The Fascist Experience in Italy: Italian Society and Culture, 1922-1945
 0415116325, 9780415116329

Table of contents :
Introduction: The “Problem” of Fascism
1 The Setting (To December, 1920)
2 The Fascist Revolution
3 The Life of the Party
4 Economy and Labor
5 Fascist Socialization and Conformity
6 Education
7 Catholics and Fascism
8 Popular Culture and Propaganda
9 Literary and Artistic Trends
10 Intellectual and Cultural Life
11 War and Resistance
Conclusion: Legacies of Fascism and Anti-Fascism
Appendix: A Note on Sources

Citation preview


FASCIST Experience



FASCIST Experience Italian Society and Culture

1922-1945 Edward R. Tannenbaum BASI C NEW YORK




© 197^ by Basic Books, Inc. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-174813 SBN 465-06877-4 Manufactured in the United States of America DESIGNED BY THE INKWELL STUDIO

Preface The purpose of this book is to evoke and describe the Fascist experience, not to pass moral judgments on the behavior of specific individuals or groups. My own feeling about Fascism is that it was a terrible thing, that just about any other kind of regime would have been preferable to it, and that those Italians who fought it, in exile or at home, were the true heroes of the Mussolini years. Nevertheless, as an historian rather than a polem­ icist, I must try to put aside my personal bias and to reconstruct the past with as open a mind as possible—to be what the Italians call spregiudicato. Although the wide variety of evidence used in this study is described in the footnotes and in the Appendix, I should like to acknowledge my debts to those individuals and institutions without whose help my research could not have been completed. First, I want to thank Doctor Costanzo Casucci and his colleagues at the Archivio Centrale dello Stato in Rome, my most important source for unpublished documents. Also very helpful were the national libraries in Rome and Florence, the library of the Cham­ ber of Deputies, the Gramsci Institute in Rome, and the municipal library of Florence. In addition to state archives and general libraries, I used a number of specialized libraries; in this category I wish to thank Professor Luigi Volpicelli and his staff at the Istituto di Pedagogia in Rome and Pro­ fessor Giovanni Calò and his staff at the Centro Didattico Nazionale in Florence for much of my material on education. Doctor Nicola Baratucci, Director General of the Gioventù Italiana, gave me a number of insights and leads regarding that institution’s predecessor, the GIL. My chapter on popular culture would not have been possible without the resources made available to me by Doctor Valerio Marino and his staff at the Istituto L.U.C.E., Doctor Leonardo Fioravanti, Director of the Centro Sperimentale Cinematografico, and the staff of the library of RAI (the Italian broad­ casting system). I am also grateful to Padre Angelo Martini, S.J., for letting me see the archives of La Civiltà Cattolica on the Azione Cattolica, as well as a large collection of pastoral letters. In the final stages of my writing, the staff at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York was always ready to supply last-minute information on short notice. The American Philosophical Society and the Research Council of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University awarded me several financial grants. These grants helped to pay not only for travel and supplies but also for a first-rate research assistant, Doctor Paola Corti, in Rome. I chose most of the illustrations in this book from hundreds of others V


collected according to my instructions by the photographer Carmelo Catania and his staff in Rome. Finally, I want to thank all those colleagues and friends who gave me encouragement and assistance during the six years it has taken me to produce this book. Most helpful of all were Professors Renzo De Felice, Rosario Romeo, and Alberto Aquarone. 1972 New York

Contents Introduction: The “Problem” of Fascism



The Setting (To December, 1920)



The Fascist Revolution



The Life of the Party



Economy and Labor



Fascist Socialization and Conformity






Catholics and Fascism



Popular Culture and Propaganda



Literary and Artistic Trends


10 Intellectual and Cultural Life 11


War and Resistance


Conclusion: Legacies of Fascism and Anti-Fascism


Appendix: A Note on Sources




A portfolio of photographs follows pages 85,147,210,275

Introduction The “Problem” of Fascism

■ h e word Fascism, with a capital "F,” refers specifically to the political system of Italy from the early 1920s through the early 1940s and should not be a problem; the problem con­ cerns the word fascism, with a small "f,” which has been used by serious scholars to describe such diverse regimes as Hitler’s Germany, Franco’s Spain, Perón’s Argentina, and even France under Napoleon III, Japan in the 1930s, and the USA in the 1970s. As an epithet of ideological oppro­ brium, "fascist” has been second only to "communist” in popularity. Indeed, since the mid-1960s some liberals and leftwing radicals have been calling each other fascists. (In graffiti and the language of the street, "fascist” is often just another word with which to deprive one’s enemies of their human dignity, like “pig” or sexual deviant.) Leaving the level of epithets and mutual recriminations aside, we are still faced with the bewildering and sometimes contradictory ways in which the word "fascist” has been applied to different regimes and movements throughout the world.1 Part of the problem is the confusion between fascism as a model in the sense of a prototype and in the sense of an ideal-type or structural pat­ tern. During the 1930s, José Antonio Primo de Rivera in Spain, Comeliu Zelia Codreanu in Rumania, and even Antonio de Oliveira Salazar in Portu­ gal, borrowed some of the trappings of Mussolini’s Italy and were generally labeled fascists. By the early 1940s most of the countries of East Central Europe were either ruled by Nazi sympathizers or had important Nazi movements, while several of the German-occupied countries of Western Europe had Nazi puppet regimes. Yet these imitations of the regimes in Italy and Germany usually lacked the mass base and revolutionary potential of the two prototypes; in most cases, particularly Portugal and Spain, fascism was merely a fashionable mask for reaction. The situation becomes more confusing when one looks for an allembracing theory using fascism as an ideal-type. Here the most obvious danger is the reductionist fallacy: fascism is nothing but the last gasp of capitalism, a rationale for imperialism, an extreme form of nationalism, a stage in the process of modernization, a kind of "utopian antimodemism,” a lower-middle-class reaction against the threat of proletarization, or a perverted form of the revolt of the masses. In fact, all of these elements were present in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and in theory they could


The FASCIST Experience

be present in any fascist system. But there is a subtler danger in making the ideal-type of fascism so loose that it includes any “directoral system of government, with populistic appeal and sub-structure, which served to establish, strengthen or maintain a substantially capitalist economy against the real or imagined threat of a socialist takeover, invasion or revolution.”2 This definition disregards the violent, mystical, antiestablishment outlook of most fascist movements and is actually a more complex way of saying that fascism is nothing but counterrevolution. Another part of the problem is the failure of some analyses to distin­ guish sufficiently between fascism as a movement seeking power under given conditions and fascism as a system of government. A particularly serious aspect of this failure is that, if the aforementioned definition in­ cludes the system of government in the USA today, as its proponents would have it do, then we would be unable to identify as fascist a violent rightwing movement seeking to overthrow it; similar loose talk prevented the Communists from seeing where the real threat lay in Italy in 1922 and in Germany in 1933. On a more basic level, it should be clear that two neces­ sary, though not sufficient, conditions for the success of any revolution are an extreme degree of social disorganization and a loss of faith, by everyone concerned, in the existing political leadership. What makes a revolution specifically fascist is its slogans and its appeal to certain kinds of peo­ ple who see themselves as losers in modem, technological civilization: "peasants who opposed the urbanizing aspects of industrialism; small businessmen and those engaged in the traditional crafts and trades that opposed mechanization or concentration; white-collar workers (at least as long as they felt the loss of economic independence); lower levels of the professions, especially the teaching profession, which opposed changing social values.”3 Having once mobilized such people, a fascist movement that gained power had to keep them in tow in nonpolitical organizations and with an overriding stress on nationalism. Thus, whereas fascist movements seeking power were usually contemptuous of the existing authorities and had an anarchic streak, once in power they made every effort to be totali­ tarian. An important subdivision of the preceding problem is the frequent difference between ideology and practice. When still seeking power, Mus­ solini and Hitler preached revolution against the existing establishment while making compromises with the army, the bureaucracy, the church, and sections of the wealthy bourgeoisie. Yet once in power their acts clearly showed that they were more interested in displacing the old political leaders than they were in saving the other ruling circles from worse alter­ natives. Perhaps the most confusing aspect of fascist ideology, as opposed to fascist practice, was its glorification of rural, populist, antimodem values. Yet aside from those fascists who sincerely believed in this aspect of the ideology, the motive for using it was clearly as opportunistic as making compromises with parts of the establishment: the fascists needed a mass base of support, and independent farmers threatened by modernization or, as in Italy in 1920, by socialism, provided this base along with those sections of the lower middle class already mentioned. (No socioeconomic


The "Problem" of Fascism

class, age group, or sex is immune to demagoguery when it feels strongly enough about a specific injustice to itself.) Once in power, however, neither Hitler nor Mussolini did anything to improve the economic lot of these "marginai” people. Another divergence between talk and reality was fas­ cism’s emphasis on youth; while the movement was seeking power, this emphasis certainly reflected the disenchantment of its young "militants” with the established order, but once it had achieved power its continuing talk about dynamism and youth became mere rhetoric. Only in its anti­ communism and its ultranationalism was fascist practice fairly consistent with fascist ideology. In many ways Fascist Italy is a more satisfactory starting point for a general conception of fascism than Nazi Germany. Not only was it chronologically first, but it also lasted longer, thus giving the observer a fuller picture of its possible varieties and tendencies. Also, neither Nazi extremes of racism nor the SS state of the concentration camps was typical of fascist regimes in a number of other countries. If the rise of fascism is related to the dislocations caused by modernization, then Italy was in a more typically transitional stage in this process than Germany. If fascism gains popularity because liberal regimes seem unable to maintain ‘law and order,” then the situation in Italy in the early 1920s was also more typical than that in Germany ten years later; not only did the threat of "anarchy” seem greater in Italy than in Germany, but liberalism there, though on the defensive, was not as thoroughly discredited as in Germany by 1933, and hence Mussolini had to preserve liberal forms several years longer than Hitler did. Finally, the "repressive tolerance” of the Fascist regime was actually more insidious and corrupting than the overt in­ humanity of the Nazis. The latter is not likely to reappear as a serious danger; the former might. Not only is fascism a problem for people now seeking a general con­ ception of it, but it also raised problems of interpretation among Italians from the early 1920s onward.4 Unfortunately, most of these interpretations were too closely associated with particular ideological positions to be of much use today, though Angelo Tasca’s Nascita e avvento del fascismo— first published in French in 1938 and revised in Italian in 1963—stands up rather well. Suffice it to say that Marxists had their interpretation, as did liberals, conservatives, and Catholics, not to mention the Fascists them­ selves. The main question asked was not, What was Fascism like? but, How did it happen in Italy? And, given the deterministic bias of the earlier part of this century, the answer usually emphasized the history of the seven or eight years immediately preceding Mussolini’s seizure of power. The purpose of this book is not to solve the "problem” of fascism, either for Italy or for the rest of the world. Its purpose, rather, is to describe and explain what life was like in certain respects under Fascist rule. Since the politics of the regime has been amply covered by others5 and since it was not strictly speaking experienced by most ordinary Italians, it will be touched on here only as part of the historical framework within which most Italians did experience Fascism as part of their daily lives.


The FASCIST Experience

NOTES 1. Recent comparative studies include Stuart J. Woolf, ed.. The Nature of Fascism and European Fascism (both published in New York by the Vintage Press in 1969), A. James Gregor, The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale of Totalitarianism (New York: Free Press, 1969), Francis L. Carsten, The Rise of Fascism (London: Batsford, 1967), Ernst Nolte, Die faschistischen Bewegungen (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1966) and Eugen Weber, The Varieties of Fascism (Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1964). 2. This is Stuart J. Woolf’s paraphrase of Heinz Lubasz’s point in a discussion reprinted in The Nature of Fascism, p. 56. 3. Wolfgang Sauer, “National Socialism: Totalitarianism or Fascism?”, American Historical Review, 73, no. 2 (December 1967): 4 *7 * 4. Two useful anthologies of these interpretations are Renzo De Felice, Le interpretazioni del fascismo (Bari: Laterza, 1969), and Costanzo Casucci, Il fascismo. Antologia di scritti critici (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1961). 5. Works on specific aspects of Fascist politics will be mentioned in the ap­ propriate places; the best analytical work on the political regime itself is Alberto Aquarone, L'organizzazione dello Stato totalitario (Turin: Einaudi, 1965); the two major narrative political histories are Luigi Salvatorelli and Giovanni Mira, Storia dTtalia nel periodo fascista, 4th ed. (Turin: Einaudi, 1962), which is anti-Fascist; and Attilo Tamaro, Venti anni di storia 1922-1943, 3 vols. (Rome: Editrice Tiber, 1953), which is pro-Fascist.


The Setting (To December, 1920)

Bl_ ™

Benito Mussolini became prime minister, and January 3, 1925, when he formally announced his dictatorship, the Fascist regime was established without any effective resistance in a country that had been ruled by par­ liamentary liberals since its unification in 1861. Before the March on Rome, which brought Mussolini to power, the various parties and factions were more concerned with fighting among themselves than with putting up any kind of united front against the Fascists. After the March on Rome the most significant protest was a partial boycott of the Chamber of Depu­ ties, a noble but ineffective gesture. The king, the army, the police, the church, the majority of the politicians, indeed the ruling circles in general, were primarily responsible for giving the Fascist seizure of power an aura of legality. But in a real sense the great bulk of politically conscious Italians —and not merely those who were anti-Communist—had only itself to blame for the Fascist victory. The Communists themselves refused to cooperate with any of the other anti-Fascist forces; the Catholics ( Popolari) were split over how much support to give to Mussolini's coalition govern­ ment; the Socialists allowed themselves to be caught in the crossfire of the Communists and the Fascists. There are perfectly plausible reasons for the behavior of all the parties and factions concerned, but these do not shift the responsibility elsewhere. The point is that a liberal political system can only work when the majority of people with anything to say agree to make it work. This consensus sim­ ply did not exist in Italy. Thus, the first well-organized attack against the liberal regime succeeded in destroying it altogether. Fascism was no mere "parenthesis” in the history of Italian liberalism, as Benedetto Croce main­ tained both during and after his own collaboration with Mussolini. Nor was it the last-ditch stand of capitalism, against the proletariat, as the Marxists used to claim. The argument that Italy was too underdeveloped economically to sustain a liberal regime discounts the fact that the main attacks against this regime came from some of the most advanced areas of the north, not the poverty-ridden south. The most that can be said is that Italy’s liberal leaders did not adequately prepare the people for par­ ticipation in the nation’s political life. Yet, in 1912 the extension of the suf­ frage and the improvement of elementary education were clearly supposed


The FASCIST Experience

to increase mass participation. And Giovanni Giolitti did at least as much as other prewar liberal leaders elsewhere in trying to integrate the urban workers into the national society. If on the eve of the First World War Italian “democracy” was at least “in the making,” what went wrong? It is easy to argue that the war itself was what went wrong, but this argument is too vague. Was it the military aspects of the war or the war as a divisive moral issue at home, the antiparliamentary way in which Italy entered the war or the allegedly inade­ quate spoils she gained from her victory? The war and its immediate aftermath aggravated existing tensions and created new ones in other victorious nations without seriously threatening their liberal parliamentary regimes. One must therefore assume that there was something different about the Italian setting, at least since unification. Strictly speaking the geographical setting for the rise of Fascism was the northern half of the country, the half that most resembled the rest of Western Europe in its degree of modernization. In the southern half of the peninsula, in Sicily, and in Sardinia, some nationalistic veterans' or­ ganizations had formed Fasci di combattimento during the immediate postwar years, but nowhere did these have a significant following or con­ trol a local government by the time of the March on Rome. The south was an economic drag on the rest of the country, and its Bourbon heritage of corruption, clientelism, and arbitrariness probably lowered the level of national politics, despite the fact that some of the leading figures in Italian cultural and political life came from there: Antonio Salandra and Fran­ cesco Saverio Nitti, Don Luigi Sturzo, Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gen­ tile, Luigi Pirandello, Gaetano Salvemini. Yet, insofar as Fascism was the price the liberal regime had to pay for its inability to solve the “social question,” the south was a major factor in its rise, for it was there that the poor, downtrodden masses were most resentful toward this regime, and it was southern leaders, particularly in Parliament, who were most eager for reactionary solutions to the problem of “law and order.”1 The economy of the north had made notable progress during the two prewar decades without overcoming its basic weaknesses. Compared to what it had been previously, the standard of living of all classes had im­ proved considerably, but compared to that of other Western European countries it remained modest. Agriculture, which still occupied the majority of the working population, was not productive enough to give northern Italians as varied and nutritious a diet as the French or the Germans or, with certain specialized exceptions (silk, wines, cheeses), to bring in revenue from the international market. Though growing, industry was still underdeveloped, partly because of Italy’s lack of coal, iron, and other raw materials, and partly because of the limited market for its products. Commerce, banking, transportation, and the professions were certainly expanding, but the demand for their services was limited by the country’s basic poverty. Along with Italy’s backward economy went a fairly rigid social struc­ ture. In the north, even more than in the south (whence many rural people


The Setting (To December, 1920)

emigrated in the prewar decades), peasants had virtually no way of im­ proving their low status. The percentage of underemployed agricultural day-laborers was far higher than in France, where population growth had almost ceased, or in Germany, where jobs in the booming cities were plentiful. Italian urban workers also had little chance of bettering their social position, either as individuals or as a class, although the war was to improve their relative economic condition, as we shall see. In the early 1900s some lower-middle-class people tried to help their children move upward by giving them a secondary education, but the majority led a modest, fixed existence. Even the middle ranks of the bourgeoisie—mainly professional people and all but the biggest businessmen—lived more mod­ estly than their northern European counterparts and valued their stable status above all else. The upper ranks of the bourgeoisie, both urban and rural, mingled relatively freely with the nobility, especially in Piedmont, Lombardy, and Tuscany. Because of Italy’s disjointed history these two classes were not a truly national aristocracy, although the power of the nobility remained strong in the south. Italy’s "ruling class”—a term still dear to most Italian historians— was not coterminous with the nobility and upper bourgeoisie for several reasons. First of all, as in every society, only those people who control the levers of power are properly called the "ruling class”; by this criterion, a bank president or a general is certainly part of the ruling class, but his wife and children are not, nor is his brother or son who becomes a priest or a playboy. Second, as in other western parliamentary regimes by the turn of the century, many of Italy’s political rulers came from the middle and occasionally the lower ranks of the bourgeoisie; this was true for both the men in the Chamber of Deputies and the cabinet ministers themselves. Third, the abstention of upper-class Catholics from public life after the pope’s non expedit in 1874 deprived the Italian state of their services in such traditional parts of the ruling establishment as the diplomatic corps, the army and navy, the upper bureaucracy, and the magistrature. Thus, despite its relatively inflexible social structure, united Italy had failed to produce a ruling class that drew upon all the top talent in the nation, that had the respect of the masses either from tradition or for services ren­ dered, and that was capable of guiding the country through the accelerated social changes brought about by the First World War and its immediate aftermath. Because of its relative backwardness, the economy of Italy had to make a proportionately greater effort than that of the other major powers in order to meet the demands of the war effort. The steel and machine industries expanded enormously, owing to heavy investments and wartime needs, but when the war was over these industries had to cut back pro­ duction and lay off tens of thousands of workers; the peacetime economy simply could not provide enough orders. Furthermore, these industries, because they had been protected from competition and paid exorbitant prices by the state, had attracted speculators who, in the immediate post­ war years, were to be the objects of social hatred because, as war profiteers (pescicani), they had grown wealthy and ostentatious, while others had


The FASCIST Experience

sacrificed their lives. The second feature of the wartime economy which had explosive social effects was the government’s policy of forced inflation as a means of paying for the war, a policy made necessary by the nation’s low national income and inadequate system of taxation. The middle classes suffered the most from this forced inflation, not only because it reduced their savings and fixed incomes, but especially because the salaries of white-collar employees and professional people did not keep up with the rising cost of living. On the other hand, the income of the working class did keep up with inflation—the income of the agricultural workers because they were paid mainly in kind, and the income of the industrial workers because their wage increases were easily passed on by their employers in the form of higher prices to the state. Working-class family income was also augmented by an increase in working wives and children and by the spread of piece work and overtime. The resultant resentment by the middle classes was to be crucial to the rise of Fascism. Class antagonisms were compounded by regional and linguistic dif­ ferences. In the 1840s and 1850s Giuseppe Mazzini and other intellectuals had postulated the resurgence—Risorgimento—of Italy as a cultural ideal, and in 1859-1860 the diplomatic skill of Count Camillo Benso di Cavour and the military exploits of Giuseppe Garibaldi had created Italy as a political reality. But neither the ideal nor the reality meant much to the masses of people who were nominally Italians. On the morrow of political unification not more than 2 percent of the total population spoke official Italian (the language of educated Tuscans) in preference to their native dialect. This percentage increased by the time of the First World War as compulsory elementary education and universal military training eventu­ ally exposed millions of youngsters to the national language, but the majority still considered it their second rather than their first language. Furthermore, each local dialect was more closely tied to local loyalties than in Germany, where, despite the nominally loose federal political structure, the Protestant-Catholic division, and strong anti-Prussian feeling in the south, even people who habitually spoke dialect considered themselves Germans first and Landsmänner second. In Italy, regionalism hindered the growth of a national culture and a national civic spirit in several ways. The economic cleavage between the north and the south actually grew after unification, with the latter increas­ ingly assuming the character of a semicolonial dependency. There were also customs duties on goods shipped from one region to another and even between neighboring towns. Unlike Germany, the formerly independent states had lost every vestige of political power; united Italy was as highly centralized as France. Yet pride in one’s city or village remained strong, particularly in the north, where such attachments dated back to the Middle Ages. The Florentines looked down on everybody else, but the citizens of other Tuscan cities—Siena, Pisa, Livorno—preferred not to be confused with those from Florence. Many Venetians still lamented the vanished glories of their Most Serene Republic but felt no kinship with the neigh­ boring cities it had once included. The Milanese (like the people of Bar­ celona) assumed that they kept the rest of the country going through their


The Setting (To December, 1920)

hard work and commercial skills, and they looked down on all Italians south of the Po as incorrigibly inefficient and lazy. By the outbreak of the First World War, Rome still could not compete with Florence and Naples as the national center of humanistic culture, and its local popular culture had little chance of imposing itself on the rest of the nation as that of Paris or Berlin was doing by then. At the time of the First World War, Italy’s national culture consisted of the values and expressive forms of the educated middle classes. By and large this culture reflected the humanistic secondary education that most of these people had received, and this culture was therefore alien to the urban and rural masses, most of whom had not got beyond the third grade in elementary school. This lack of cultural integration was not unique to Italy, but because of that country’s economic and social backwardness the middle classes were neither large enough nor strong enough to make their way of life prevail over the rest of the population, as was usually the case in the more modem nations. In Italy the social cleavages reinforced the cultural cleavages, a phenomenon that the Fascists were to do their utmost to overcome. Bourgeois culture—which to any self-respecting intellectual is bad by definition—had received its full share of criticism in Italy before the First World War, particularly in certain Florentine literary reviews. But it would be difficult to demonstrate any direct connection between La Voce, Leo­ nardo, II Regno, or Lacerba, and the rise of Fascism. No leading Fascist had ever had anything to do with these reviews (converted nationalists like Enrico Corradini, who had, were to have no real influence on Fascist policy), and of their major editors, Giuseppe Prezzolini was to spend most of the Fascist period on the campus of Columbia University, while Giovanni Papini was to continue his purely aesthetic and “philosophical” pursuits in Florence. The only indirect connection between these reviews and Fascism was that they intellectualized certain feelings that were rife in the early 1900s and that the Fascists were later to exploit. Italian Fascism was the postwar political expression of anti-intellectual mass movements that began to appear at the end of the nineteenth cen­ tury. These movements rejected both rationalistic liberalism and scientific Marxism, putting their faith in action—or at least an activistic rhetoric— rather than thought. They appeared in many parts of Europe and included anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists as well as extreme nationalists. Each of them had its intellectual spokesmen—Kropotkin and Sorel, Barrés and Corradini—but their significance lay more in their style, which would be called “militant” today, than in their ideology. This is not to say that anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists wanted the same things as na­ tionalists: certainly the former were revolutionaries whereas the latter were counterrevolutionaries. The point here is that both sides found the existing reality intolerable, and since the sponsors of that reality claimed that it was based on rational and scientific principles, its “militant” op­ ponents (always excepting the Marxists) tended to attack it in the name of other values: feeling, “life,” the ‘liberating” quality of violence. By the time the Fascists controlled the government, their counter-


The FASCIST Experience

revolutionary side had won out over their revolutionary side, but they were to continue to stress both sides, which were part of their heritage from prewar radical movements. The argument over whether Mussolini himself was a revolutionary who turned to the right in 1920 still rages,2 but even those who say “No,” allow that he was at least a “subversive.” And two of his closest associates at the time of the March on Rome—Edmondo Rossoni and Michele Bianchi—had organized revolutionary syndicalist strikes in the Po Valley in 1907-1913 and in the fall of 1914 had broken away from the anarchist-oriented Unione Sindacale Italiana, which remained pacifist, to form the Unione Italiana di Lavoro and to work for the interventionist cause. Mussolini’s anticapitalist populism, militarism, and imperialism can be traced to the prewar views of Alfredo Oriani, Giovanni Pascoli, and Enrico Corradini. The poet Pascoli, for example, in a famous speech in 1911 honoring the dead and wounded of the Libyan War, justified im­ perialistic conquests as a means of alleviating the misery of the masses. As early as 1905 the nationalist publicist Corradini had called war “the greatest instinctive act of the nation.” Like Corradini, Mussolini developed a rhetorical and irrational view of war, in which concrete problems of preparation took second place to an indiscriminate will to expand. In addition to being a challenge to bourgeois smugness the glorifica­ tion of war and imperialism was a form of overcompensation for an un­ comfortable feeling of national inferiority, which the Fascists were also to exploit to the fullest. This feeling was based partly on centuries of for­ eign domination, partly on Italy’s dependence on foreign help in gaining independence and unity, and partly on continuing slights from foreigners thereafter. Despite the glaring regional and class differences among Ital­ ians, outsiders tended to see only the uncomplimentary national stereotype: emotional, untrustworthy, fickle, noisy, given to bragging, preoccupied with sex, and likely to burst into song without warning. This stereotype was almost all wrong for millions of ordinary Italians, let alone a Giolitti, a Croce, or any pope. Yet for the French all Italians were “macaronis,” while the Anglo-Saxons gave them far crueler nicknames. Millions of Italians experienced the contempt of foreigners firsthand, either from tourists in Italy or in their own travels abroad (not as tourists but as immigrants). Mussolini himself had felt it as a drifter in Switzerland during the early 1900s, and Edmondo Rossoni, later the head of the Fascist unions, had become acutely conscious of it as a labor agitator in France and in North and South America. But even Milanese tycoons and Florentine literati sëemed to believe that Italy was destined to lag behind the more advanced countries of Europe with little hope of catching up. The most serious weakness of Italians as a people was not any in­ herent inferiority but rather a conditioned inability to work together in a spirit of trust and cooperation. They lacked what is called a civic culture. Unlike the French and the Americans, they had not acquired one by fight­ ing together in a revolution; unlike the Germans, they had not acquired one by having habits of discipline and obedience forced on them from above. From the time they were children they were taught to be suspicious


The Setting (To December, 1920)

of strangers and cynical about other people’s motives. The “amoral familism” of poor, helpless southerners was no more typical of Italy than that of the hillbillies of eastern Kentucky was in the United States. Nevertheless, on the eve of the First World War only the middle classes were beginning to acquire a civic culture within a truly national framework. Urban workers and northern peasants were beginning to develop a limited class-conscious­ ness, but even on this level they seemed to prefer spontaneous acts of protest to sustained efforts through disciplined organization. It has already been suggested that the liberal regime died in the early 1920s because not enough people were committed to keeping it alive. Surely its apparent inability to cope with the postwar crises made even some of its friends turn against it, at least temporarily, but its basic weak­ nesses antedated the war. Some observers blame these weaknesses on the constitution for allowing the executive to maneuver Italy into wars for which neither the public nor the economy was prepared; others blame the men who ruled Italy for not providing more effective leadership; still others argue that the liberal regime never had a large enough popular base of support because of its authoritarian treatment of the masses. But another factor, Italy’s political culture—the standards and practices of its politi­ cians—must also bear some of the blame, though it is not easy to separate it from the system and the men involved. One of the main standards of Italy’s political culture was that only those politicians who accepted the regime in its nineteenth-century form— monarchical, anticlerical, bourgeois-capitalist—should be allowed in the government, and the main practice used to meet this standard was called trasformismo ( “transformism”). The practice of trasformismo entailed what in today’s jargon would be called co-opting one’s nearest rivals in order to form a coalition against common enemies who refused to be co-opted. In the process, ideological and policy differences were “trans­ formed”—a euphemism for sacrificed—in the interest of preserving the coalition and staying in power. By the 1890s the old distinction between the Destra (conservative liberals) and the Sinistra (progressive liberals) had already become meaningless, and between 1901 and 1914 trasformismo reached its apex under the leadership of Giovanni Giolitti. Although some of the reforms of the Giolittian era resembled those of the “new liberalism” in other western countries, Italy’s political culture precluded any alternative to the ruling coalition. The reforms it passed— labor benefits, universal manhood suffrage, improvements in elementary education—were based not on a sincere desire to democratize Italian public life, but on the hope of pacifying the masses so that they would not turn against the regime in its present form. Within the ruling coalition there was no real division between conservatives and progressives along party lines; there were only individuals and cliques without a following. Thus the public never had the feeling that, at election time, it was taking power away from one party and giving it to another—the feeling that made liberal democracy more acceptable, and even interesting, in other coun-


The FASCIST Experience

tries. Even in France, the ruling coalitions gave the appearance at least of being either right or left of center; in Italy they seemed to remain at dead center. As in France, the majority of Italy’s politicians represented themselves more than any party, class, region, or other real interest in the larger society. And, as in France, Italy had no strong conservative party to pro­ vide an alternative group of leaders. But in France, for better or for worse, the legislature was supreme, whereas in Italy it was virtually ignored on certain key issues, particularly in foreign policy. In the summer of 1911 Giolitti maneuvered Italy into a war with Turkey over Libya while Parlia­ ment was in recess, not because he represented the "forces of imperialism” (indeed, he had opposed earlier efforts at colonization), but merely as a political maneuver to steal the thunder of the nationalists at home and enhance his country’s prestige abroad while the rest of Europe was pre­ occupied with the Second Moroccan Crisis. In this respect Giolitti was being a good Cavourian. But that was the trouble; the constitution, the men, and the political culture of the liberal regime had not basically changed since Cavour’s time, whereas new political forces that did repre­ sent larger interests were clamoring to be heard. Although many "Cavour­ ian”—that is, mid-nineteenth-century—liberals were to survive the First World War, in Italy and elsewhere (one has only to remember Paul Miliu­ kov, Miguel Azana, Thomas Masaryk), the "revolt of the masses” was already impinging on their prerogatives in the early 1900s. In retrospect, the Giolittian system has seemed so much more palatable than Fascism that it has perhaps been praised for having been more than it actually was; as part of the setting for the rise of Fascism, what is im­ portant is what people thought of it at the time. Aside from its opportunism, it was bitterly criticized for its nefarious electoral practices. Gaetano Sal­ vemini, an academic historian and parttime Radical politician, called Giolitti il ministro della mala vita (the minister of the underworld) for the way in which he used his control over the state administration—par­ ticularly the prefects—to "manage” elections in a way that insured the vic­ tory of government (liberal) candidates: The police enrolled the scum of the constituencies and the underworld of the neighboring districts. In the last weeks before the polls, the opponents were threatened, bludgeoned, besieged in their homes. Their leaders were debarred from addressing meetings, or even thrown into prison until election day was over. Voters . . . favoring governmental candidates were given not only their own polling cards, but also those of opponents, emigrants, and deceased voters, and were allowed to vote three, five, ten, twenty times.

Although this description was accurate for certain extreme cases, it was exaggerated for the country as a whole. Still, it was the withdrawal of Radical support in February, 1914, that prompted Giolitti to resign as prime minister, even though he had a majority without the Radical votes. Meanwhile, in the 1913 elections—the first under universal manhood suf­ frage—the various socialist groups together got one fourth of the votes


The Setting (To December, 1920)

(though less than one sixth of the seats in the Chamber because there was no proportional representation), and Catholic and nationalist candidates gained notable successes. Barred from participating in the government and critical of the regime in principle, these opposition groups became increas­ ingly impatient for the downfall of both. The “isolative character” of Italian politics3 was reinforced by the Catholic challenge to the very legitimacy of the Italian state. This challenge was not exclusively reactionary. The reactionary view—called intransigent then—had been initiated by Pope Pius IX at the time of unification and would settle for nothing less than a complete return to the situation before 1870, or even 1848, when clerical control of the Papal States had been com­ plete. As long as the pope was a “prisoner in the Vatican,” Italy’s Catholic aristocracy refused to serve the Italian state in any way, thus depriving it of their talents as well as their support. But by the end of the nineteenth century a leftwing intransigent group appeared, the Christian Democrats, headed at first by a young priest from the Marches, Don Romolo Murri. Their antagonism toward the liberal regime was inspired less by the Roman Question than by their desire to democratize the nation’s political, social, and economic life.4 Still, the Christian Democrats as well as the reactionary Catholics obeyed the papal non expedit forbidding all Catholics to vote or hold office in the national government. Although the non expedit was not rescinded until after the First World War, it was relaxed somewhat during the prewar years. In 1904 Pope Pius X suspended it in those electoral districts in which anticlerical candi­ dates might have won if the Catholics had abstained from voting. Mean­ while, another new group, the Clerico-Moderates, sought a rapprochement with laic conservatives and even liberals against the laic (Socialist) and clerical (Christian Democratic) left. This rapprochement became fullfledged cooperation in the 1913 general election, when Count Ottorino Gen­ tiioni, president of the Catholic Unione Elettorale, made a pact with Giolitti, whereby Catholics were permitted to vote for Giolittian candidates who agreed to safeguard the rights of the church. Although this so-called Gen­ tiioni Pact did attract some reactionary intransigents, it failed to produce a strong conservative alliance; instead, it alienated the leftwing Christian Democrats, such as Giuseppe Donati, Guido Miglioi, and Giovanni Gronchi, who led the Catholic labor and peasant unions. The “separatism” of Italy’s public-spirited Catholics was greater in the field of social action than in political action. The Opera dei Congressi, one of the most active and extensive organizations of Catholic laymen in the world, had been founded in 1874; it had 700 parish committees in 1879, 1,300 by 1884, and nearly 4,000 in 1897, mainly in the north. Inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum novarum (1891), the congress movement sponsored hundreds of associations of Catholic workers, mutual-aid so­ cieties, youth groups, newspapers, and even banks in rural areas. These or­ ganizations and activities tried to be “separate” in two senses : from their secular counterparts and from the modem sector of the economy. Shunning the socialist emphasis on class conflict, they tried to revive the corporatist and cooperative habits of craftsmen and small fanners, people resentful of


The FASCIST Experience

modernization and with no political influence. (The lot of such people was far different in France, where they had helped make the Revolution of 1789 and where they continued to have considerable political influence in the early twentieth century through the Radical Socialist party.) At the turn of the century, Italian Social Catholicism, like its counter­ parts in other continental countries, found its aristocratic and paternalistic outlook challenged by Christian Democrats. It was this challenge within the Opera dei Congressi, plus the division over the issue of founding a mass party, that prompted Pope Pius X to dissolve that organization in 1904. The most influential Christian Democrat of the day, Romolo Murri, got himself defrocked and excommunicated for his (then) daring view that concerned Catholics, including priests, should help workers and peasants organize to defend their class interests against capitalist exploiters rather than merely set them a good example. As in its war on theological modernism, so in social action, the Vatican was determined to control the ways in which Catholics accommodated themselves to the emerging industrial society. It replaced the Opera with a series of Unioni Cattoliche, which were more directly controlled by the bishops. One of the leaders of the Unioni move­ ment—Giuseppe Tomolo, a Venetian-born economic historian at the Uni­ versity of Pisa—called for professional associations (whenever possible, the phrase "Catholic trade-unions” was avoided) for workers without abandoning the antimodem, corporatist outlook of his Social Catholic predecessors. Ultimately the most important Catholic leader to emerge out of fer­ ment of the early 1900s was Don Luigi Sturzo, the Sicilian priest who was to head the Partito Popolare in the years immediately after the First World War and to found a school of Catholic sociology upon his return from exile after the Second World War. Like Tomolo, Sturzo condemned the liberal order wholeheartedly, but he went further in viewing the workers' profes­ sional associations as the agencies through which the working class partici­ pates in civil life and heightens its own collective moral and religious consciousness.5 Like Murri, Sturzo wanted to form a mass party of Catho­ lics, but unlike him, Sturzo did not want this party to have a formal alli­ ance with the church.6 On this issue Sturzo was the more realistic politician, for neither the Roman Catholic Church nor any other part of the traditional establishment can permit itself to be identified with a particular "sect,” no matter how well-meaning that sect may seem at the time. Although clerico-moderates could sometimes ally themselves with laic conservatives against the extreme left, especially in the provinces, away from the parliamentary games in Rome, the basic hostility of most Catho­ lics toward the liberal regime remained unchanged up to the First World War. The unsolved Roman Question and the non expedit were the main stumbling blocks for the more politically conscious Catholics, whereas "atheistic capitalism” alienated the more socially conscious ones. The great mass of less-educated Catholics was not so much hostile as indifferent to the liberal regime and to "Italy” in general. This was particularly true in the south, where the clergy extended old patterns of clientelism and local influence in order to make cooperation with the state innocuous. Even in


The Setting (To December, 1920)

the north, where social activism led the younger generation of Catholics to seek further involvement in public affairs, there were areas and whole provinces—as in Venetia—in which traditional clerical influences predomi­ nated over those of the laic state. Whereas the extreme “separatism” of the Catholics was peculiar to Italy, the political isolation of much of the working class was typical of most continental countries in the early twentieth century, but the frictions within and between the Italian Socialist party and labor movement made both less effective than their counterparts elsewhere. At the 1900 Socialist party congress the division between reformists and revolutionaries was ex­ pressed in the minimum and maximum programs that were presented to it: the “minimum” program, while retaining longterm ideas of social rev­ olution, advocated tactical collaboration with other leftwing parties in parliament as well as a program of political and economic reforms most of which Giolitti himself was soon to accept; the “maximum” program of thoroughgoing revolution was based on the belief that the historical dialec­ tic would bring success to the Socialists and that they should therefore shun ordinary social reforms and cooperation with liberals as hindrances to their ultimate victory. In order not to split the party, its founder and titular head, Filippo Turati, persuaded the congress to approve both pro­ grams, the minimum one being a means to the maximum one. This rhetorical compromise failed to prevent future schisms and an increasing gap between doctrine and tactics. As in other European countries, the extreme wings of the Socialist party disagreed over ends as well as means, yet even the right wing hesi­ tated to split the party by openly collaborating with the bourgeois govern­ ment. The party was typically Italian in having too many theorists and tacticians and not enough organizers. In fact, its best organizers tended to be revolutionary syndicalists until 1908, when the failure of the agricul­ tural strikes they led brought their expulsion from the official Socialist party. Between 1908 and 1912 the revolutionary remnant of the party came under the leadership of Costantino Lazzari and the young Benito Mussolini, while the leaders of the reformist majority tried to use the pages of the party newspaper Avanti!—first under Leonida Bissolati, then under Claudio Treves—to educate the workers to accept their gradual approach. But most party leaders were too much attached to dogmas of class war and revolution to accept this approach, and in the party congress of 1912 the “Maximalists” expelled Bissolati and his followers from the party and seized control of the party organization and funds. While the “Maximalists” dominated the Socialist party after 1912 the reformists retained control of the CGL (General Confederation of Labor), which had been formed in 1908. Rinaldo Rigola, its secretary-general, argued that the workers no longer had nothing to lose but their chains and that they were not anxious to risk their recent gains in revolutionary ac­ tion. Most skilled industrial workers and state employees did indeed adopt this view, and it might have spread as economic growth reduced the num­ ber of unskilled workers, both urban and rural, who still had nothing to lose through revolutionary violence. But this growth did not come fast


The FASCIST Experience

enough before the First World War, and the anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists were able to retain much of their influence among the poorer workers. All the major strikes of the prewar years were their doing, cul­ minating in the “red week” of June, 1914, in the Romagna. This insurrec­ tion showed how deep was the split between the reformist-controlled CGL and the Maximalist-controlled Socialist party as well as within the party itself. “Red week” began on June 7,1914, in Ancona as an antimilitarist dem­ onstration during which the police were provoked into firing on the crowd. Spurred on by the veteran anarchist Errico Malatesta, the workers of that city declared a general strike, which soon spread to other towns in the Romagna. On June 8 the leaders of the Socialist party proclaimed a gen­ eral strike of protest for the rest of the country for the next day in accord with the executive committee of the CGL, calling the deaths at Ancona “premeditated assassination, assassination without attenuating circum­ stances.” But as the strike spread and took on the character of a revolt, the leadership of both the Socialist party and the CGL wavered. The CGL had never wanted the general strike to be anything more than a protest and, on June 10, it announced through the press the end of the strike for the fol­ lowing day. Without its support the strike movement faltered,7 and the incipient revolution ended even in the Romagna by June 14. Among the Socialists, Mussolini, the editor of Avanti! since November, 1912, won sup­ port for his “revolutionary” position, but many of the Socialist deputies and rank-and-file members opposed this position and the events of “red week” as irresponsible and self-defeating. Despite its failure and the divisions it exposed, “red week” demon­ strated the degree to which the mass of Italian workers was hostile to the liberal regime. The insurrectionists in the Romagna expressed this hos­ tility by committing acts of sabotage against government buildings and installations and by declaring the towns they captured independent com­ munes. This kind of radicalism, plus the fear it evoked in the partisans of law and order, was a preview of similar events in 1919-1920. But it really was foolhardy in 1914 to launch the revolutionary syndicalist version of the general strike, which was supposed to topple the regime, without prep­ aration and without the support of the nation’s largest labor confederation. Italy’s entry into the First World War in May, 1915, was to be the crowning blow to the liberal regime, for, in the face of the “separatism” of the Catholics and Socialists, the decision to intervene divided the ruling elite itself. It was already clear that this elite could survive only by expand­ ing trasformismo to include one or more of the budding mass parties in a united front against the remaining antiparliamentary forces. Instead, the interventionist liberals, led by the prime minister, Antonio Salandra, and the foreign minister, Sidney Sonnino, accepted the support of noisy inter­ ventionist minorities, while the neutralist liberals, led by Giolitti himself, abandoned their responsibilities for the duration of the war. The peculiar diplomatic position of Italy in August, 1914, made it


The Setting (To December, 1920)

practically impossible for her to enter the war at that time, nor did the overwhelming majority of her citizens want her to do so. Her membership in the Triple Alliance did not oblige her to support Austria-Hungary in an aggressive war against Serbia, and she could hardly switch sides overnight. (In fact, a year later, after Italy had switched sides and declared war on Austria-Hungary, her military leaders had still not devised a workable strategy for defending her northeastern frontier.) The Vatican was proAustrian, and the Nationalists were pro-German, but the pope refused to support the Italian government whatever it did, while the Nationalists be­ gan advocating a declaration of war against Italy’s recent allies as early as August 6. Although they differed on other issues, Gabriele D’Annunzio and the futurists Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Umberto Boccioni shared the Nationalists’ belief that Italy had to enter the war in order to "revivify” and “purify” her national existence. The other partisans of intervention on the side of the Entente devel­ oped their positions more slowly. Mussolini’s volte face in November, 1914, put him on the side of a handful of revolutionary syndicalist intervention­ ists8 but got him expelled from the Socialist party, which alone among those in Europe, was united in its opposition to the war. It is true that, like the Nationalists’ L'Idea Nazionale, Mussolini’s new daily, Il Popolo d'Italia, got financial support from certain interventionist industrial corporations, par­ ticularly Ansaldo, but most authorities now agree that the future Duce be­ came an interventionist not because he was “bought” by anyone but because he thought that the war could further his subversive goals at home. (Significantly, by late 1914, both the revolutionary syndicalists and the rightwing nationalists believed that Italy’s participation in the war could be turned to their respective ends : revolution for the former, counter­ revolution for the latter. Caught up in their own rhetoric of violence, both groups wanted the existing regime to be overthrown or at least profoundly transformed, and the disruptive effects of wartime seemed to be the only means of “softening it up” for this purpose. ) On the other hand, the socalled democratic interventionists, led by Bissolati and Salvemini, far from being subversive, wanted to make certain that Italy’s “democracy on the move” survived by preventing the reactionary, imperialistic Central Powers from imposing their rule on all of Europe. Finally, by early 1915, a more conservative kind of interventionism was nurtured by the respected and widely read Milanese daily, Corriere della Sera, whose position was closest to that of the government itself. Salandra and Sonnino brought Italy into the war on the Allied side be­ cause they saw themselves as the heirs of Cavour and the Risorgimento. By 1915 the myth of the Risorgimento combined the pre-Cavourian idea of Italy’s cultural preeminence (primato) with Cavour’s emphasis on power politics in the national interest. This myth made Italy’s rightwing liberals think that they had to establish their country’s cultural preeminence by making Italy a great power. It was difficult for these men to renounce this desire and to be “realistic” about their country’s industrial and military capabilities. Like Cavour in 1859, Salandra and Sonnino in 1915 got their


The FASCIST Experience

country into what they hoped would be a short, victorious war against Austria after having obtained from their western allies (France in 1859, France and Great Britain in 1915) secret promises of new Austrian terri­ tories in the Treaty of London. And like Cavour, they put national aggran­ dizement above parliamentary scruples. The manner in which Italy was brought into the First World War also weakened the Uberai regime by downgrading Parliament. During the “radiant days of May” (1915) it seemed as if the NationaUsts and D’Annunzio, through their euphoric speeches and street demonstrations, were forcing the government to declare war. This was hardly the case, but the impression that it was cast doubts on the supremacy of Parliament. Another apparent link between the Nationalists and Salandra and Sonnino was their common belief that a successful war could destroy the possibiUty of revolution at home as well as enhance Italy’s power and prestige abroad. Most damaging to parliamentary rule was the high-handed means by which Salandra and Sonnino committed the nation and the king to declare war and then forced the Chamber to ratify this decision under the threat that Vittorio Emanuele III would otherwise feel honor-bound to abdicate,9 thus creating political chaos at home and disgracing the nation abroad. The Salandra cabinet agreed to resign and give the king the responsibihty of either reconciling GioUtti or asking him to form a new government, which would surely have had a majority in the Chamber. But GioUtti would not balk the king, and the king, on his own, chose a poUcy and a premier (Salandra again) against the wishes of ParUament. ConstitutionaUy, he was within his rights, but the precedent was to be fatal in 192a. Many interventionists later argued that the war had completed the work of the Risorgimento by integrating the masses into the national so­ ciety, but this had not been their motive for intervention nor was even an appearance of national unity achieved before late 1917. Again, the manner in which Italy entered the war was crucial; the masses had not been con­ sulted on this decision, and they continued to view the war as an affair of the governing classes. At the front, the cleavage between “rulers” and “ruled” could be seen in the different attitudes toward the war of the officers and the men, and in the social and cultural isolation of the two groups. Lack of contact between them in civiUan life was reinforced by diversity of language, both Uterally (a middle-class officer knew the dialect of his own region but not that of his men from other regions) and figura­ tively (the goals of the officers were national, while those of the men were social and economic : a few hectares in his own paese meant more to the average soldier than Trieste or the Trentino). By 1917, defeatism was rife on both the home and battle fronts. But the rout at Caporetto, beginning on October 24 of that year, was due, on the ItaUan side, mainly to bad generalship both in tactics and in insensitivity to the needs and feelings of the fighting men. Only this defeat, which opened northern Italy to a fullscale invasion, rallied both the people and their leaders to the common cause of national defense. During the final year of the war government propaganda raised the hopes of all sections of society for a better world: land for the peasants,


The Setting (To December, 1920)

social justice for the workers, moral and spiritual regeneration for the middle classes. Never in their history had the Italian people made so many sacrifices in a common cause, but in no other belligerent country were so many promises made to justify similar sacrifices. Neither Clemenceau nor even Lloyd George spoke of “making war for the proletariat,” which were the words of the Italian prime minister, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. Par­ ticularly important in the immediate postwar years were wartime prom­ ises of land reform and redistribution, for the peasants were to take these promises literally. On another level, nationalist extremists and the Fascists themselves were to pervert the wartime goal of moral regeneration to a demand for the revolt of “good Italy” against “bad Italy,” playing in a new key the prewar tune of the “real Italy” versus “official Italy”—that is, the honest, patient, hard-working “silent majority” against the establishment and the ruling class. Having been forced into the war against their will, the Italian masses had been promised more than any regime could deliver; their resultant frustration and disillusionment with the liberal regime made many of them ripe for Fascism. Those groups that had never supported the war were also ready to re­ new their attacks on the liberal regime as soon as the fighting was over. When Italy had entered the war the Socialist party, under Maximalist con­ trol, had adopted the slogan: “Neither join [the war effort] nor sabotage [it].” In July, 1917, even a reformist like Claudio Treves called for “nobody in the trenches any longer next winter.” A few weeks later Vatican opposi­ tion was vividly reaffirmed by Pope Benedict XV, who labeled the war a “useless slaughter.” In November the example of the Russian Revolution prompted the Maximalists to combine their demands for peace with calls for rebellion. From then on the Maximalists insisted on accepting Lenin's revolutionary program in their rhetoric while refusing to adopt the tactic necessary for achieving it: jettisoning their reformist wing and making the revolution themselves. The alternative was to cooperate with other demo­ cratic forces to bring about basic reforms, but the Maximalists refused to do that either. Meanwhile, once the war was over the other “separatist” group in Italian society, the organized Catholics, made their bid to trans­ form the liberal regime through mass political action; in January, 1919, they founded the Partito Popolare Italiano. Soon after the armistice had been signed (November 4, 1918), the superficial national unity achieved as a result of Caporetto broke down, and the social and political conflicts that had divided the nation in 19141915 flared up with greater intensity than ever before. Each section of so­ ciety presented its bill, so to speak, for its wartime sacrifices, but neither the Italian government, the Allies, nor anyone else could pay these bills. Not only factory workers, but school teachers and even judges, were striking for higher pay and better working conditions by the spring of 1919. The eight-hour day and other gains of the labor movement exacerbated the envy of middle-class Italians who had no effective way of preserving their position. In 1919 much of the social protest and resentment was displaced from economic targets to political targets. The revolutionary rhetoric of


The FASCIST Experience

Socialist-led protest strikes prompted an anti-Bolshevik response among the Nationalists and their wealthy backers, to be sure. But the polariza­ tion between revolution and counterrevolution was partially obfuscated by the issue of the “mutilated victory” and the ways in which it was exploited by two political mavericks : Benito Mussolini and Gabriele D’Annunzio. Neither the Nationalists at the end of the war nor the Fascists later on had a monopoly over chauvinism or the “Call of Rome”; at the time of the Armistice the first reports of the desire of the people of Fiume to become a part of Italy elicited a flood of rhetoric which neither the government nor the major newspapers were able to resist and which expressed “a danger­ ous emotional fragility and a substantial political immaturity.”10 As for the victory itself, Prime Minister Orlando said on November 20 in an extrava­ gant speech to the Chamber: “An altogether Roman breath of greatness pervades this latest epic; and certainly never as at this moment has Italy seemed a more worthy heir of Rome.”11 At the beginning of November, 1918, Fiume had been almost unknown to most Italians; by December, due to newspaper articles and speeches about the desire of its citizens to join Italy, that Adriatic town was fast becoming a symbol for all of Italy’s territorial claims. By early 1919 many Italians began to feel that if they did not get Fiume they would have won the war in vain. There was no rational basis for such a belief; even the Treaty of London had not prom­ ised Fiume to Italy for her participation in the war. Nor was the demand for Fiume consistent with Italy’s professed friendliness for the nascent Yugoslav nation, the spirit of the “new diplomacy,” or Italy’s bargaining position at the Paris Peace Conference. Fiume was important as a symbol of Italian frustration at not having Italy’s great wartime achievement sufficiently acknowledged by the AngloSaxons and the French: not getting Fiume was like being demoted in rank.12 Actually, Italy had risen a good deal in rank as a result of the war: not only was she one of the Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference, but she was also the dominant power in south central Europe, replacing her now defunct hereditary enemy, Austria-Hungary. While France still faced an undivided Germany of 65 million people, Italy faced only an Austria of 6 million and a Yugoslavia of 12 million. Nor did France get the Rhine frontier, which was far more important to her security than Fiume was to that of Italy. Yet the “renunciation” of Fiume caused far more open protest in Italy than the “renunciation” of the Rhine frontier caused in France. The reason was that the majority of the French people, no matter how much they differed on other issues, never doubted the necessity for their sacrifices in the war; they had fought for national survival, not terri­ tory. In Italy the idea of national survival had superficially united the majority of the people for barely a year, from Caporetto to the disintegra­ tion of Austria-Hungary. Then nationalism took over as an attempt to con­ vince these people that, unless, they got Fiume, their victory would be “mutilated.” As part of the setting for the rise of Fascism, Fiume (as distinct from its occupation by D’Annunzio’s legions) was to remain important as a sym-


The Setting (To December, 1920)

boi of the rightness of Italy’s participation in the war and of the doubtful patriotism of all those who questioned that participation. The issue of the war itself, more than the “mutilated victory,” served as a catalyst (though hardly the cause) for the eruption of deep-seated group antagonisms. Italians seemed to need to keep reassuring themselves that the war, with its heavy sacrifices, had been worth fighting. In a broader sense they seemed to be asking if they all had anything in common worth fighting for on the same side. Hence one of the appeals of Fascism was to be its glori­ fication of the war effort and its pledge to fulfill the hopes engendered by that effort. But the Fascist movement was to make little headway until the end of 1920, when Mussolini was finally to abandon his effort to unite the interventionists of the left in order to concentrate on anti-Bolshevism. This change was to come about partly because D’Annunzio’s Fiume expedi­ tion siphoned off many of the left interventionists and partly because at home the people the Fascists found themselves attacking for being antipatriotic were Bolsheviks at heart if not in deed. The founding of the Fasci di combattimento on March 23, 1919, in Milan involved an effort to combine the rhetoric of “the hopes of the war” with a nationalistic perversion of revolutionary syndicalism. Led by Mus­ solini, still only the editor of a newspaper, the two hundred people present for the occasion were a heterogeneous lot. The nucleus consisted of a group of arditi (wartime daredevil shock troops) and futurists, who believed that politics should be felt “in terms of seizures, risks, dangers, adventures, not as something calculated but as boldness, as striving, as dissatisfaction with reality, as a celebration of the rite of action.”13 (These two militant movements were the only base that Mussolini then had for making himself a leading figure in the larger world of war veterans, which in turn was the only mass following he could envision at the time.) The other main group in attendance was an assortment of ex-revolutionary interventionists—renegade socialists, anarchists, revolutionary syndicalists; there were also a few republicans and younger war vétérans with no par­ ticular political affiliation. The main speeches by Mussolini and Michele Bianchi were demagogic and subversive in tone but contained no substan­ tive program beyond “the defense of the victory” and the promotion of “national syndicalism.” The Fascist program in 1919 was anticapitalist, antimonarchical, anticlerical, antisocialist, antiparliamentary, and, most especially, antibourgeois. The men who propounded it were classic exam­ ples of revolutionary subversives beginning to turn counterrevolutionary while publicly denying that anything of the kind could possibly happen to them. It was the position of the Socialists on foreign policy, more than their demand for a political revolution at home, that most antagonized Mussolini and his followers. There is little evidence for the argument that, as in late 1914, Mussolini wanted to bring the Socialist party around to his inter­ ventionist position and then rejoin it. (This argument assumes that Mus­ solini was a renegade Marxist, whereas his prewar penchant for revolution, insofar as it had been based on any ideological faith, had been Sorelian.)


The FASCIST Experience

He had already committed himself to the myth of the war itself as the beginning of a revolution and therefore had to defend the war effort at all costs or else lose his credibility completely. Thus, as the Italian Socialist party reaffirmed its commitment to Lenin's definition of the war as a con­ flict between imperialisms, incapable by its very nature of bearing any but reactionary fruits, Mussolini and his Fasci had no alternative but to oppose the Socialists at every turn. Ironically, in 1919-1920, the Maximalist Socialists seemed to be doing what they had opposed in the perpetrators of “red week” in 1914— confusing revolutionary rhetoric and political strikes with a real revolution —only this time the counterrevolutionary forces outdid the would-be revo­ lutionaries in violence. On April 15, 1919, the Socialist party and labor leaders of Milan launched a twenty-four-hour general strike in protest against the manner in which the police had broken up a Socialist rally two days earlier, leaving several people killed and wounded on both sides. A counterprotest, organized by army officers, Arditi, futurists, and Fascists, attacked the headquarters of Avanti!, destroying its presses and burning everything in sight. Thus was set the pattern of relatively peaceful strikes countered by massive physical violence. The next major episode occurred July 20-21, 1919, when the Socialist party leadership called another gen­ eral strike, this time throughout the country, supposedly in coordination with similar strikes in Great Britain and France, to demonstrate interna­ tional socialist solidarity against Allied military intervention in the revolu­ tions in Russia and Hungary. But the British and French socialists did not act at all, and in Italy all the public services operated normally; even the mass rallies were somewhat apathetic. The failure of the strike marked the beginning of the decline of the “red wave” while reinforcing the deter­ mination of the counterrevolutionaries to fight. At the same time, the government of Francesco Saverio Nitri (who had replaced Orlando a month earlier) gave a boost to these “subversives of the right” by temporarily offering to accept their help in case it might be needed to maintain law and order during the July 20-21 strike. Yet the habit of revolutionary rhetoric not backed up by deeds would not die; in December, 1919, the 156 newly elected Socialist deputies interrupted the king's speech from the throne with cries of “Long live the socialist republic” and marched out singing the 'Tied Flag.” Growing disaffection with the ineffective leadership of men like the rhetorical Orlando and the irresolute Nitri was obvious in the elections of November, 1919—the first in six years and the freest in Italy's history so far—which had returned this massive contingent of Socialists to the Chamber of Deputies. Together with the Popolari, the next biggest winners, they got 54.1 percent of the votes cast and 256 out of the 508 seats in the Chamber. Universal manhood suffrage, plus a newly installed system of proportional representation, had shown conclusively that the mass of Italians preferred the two parties that were least likely to be “transformed” by shrewd liberal politicians and that had most consistently opposed Italy's entry into the war. But since these two parties retained their “separatism” with regard to one another as well as the government parties, liberal and


The Setting (To December, 1920)

Radical politicians continued to head minority governments for almost two more years. These minority governments could do nothing to alleviate the frustra­ tions and resentments of opposing sections of Italian society. The redis­ tribution of income caused by inflation, higher wages, and speculation by war profiteers, brought increasing resentment among the middle classes, particularly those with fixed incomes. As one contemporary observer said: A professor in a lic e o o r a university usually becomes more indignant over the fact that a good mechanic could have a wage not far from or even higher than his salary than when he hears that an illiterate but lucky boor earns ten times more than he by black market dealings in hogs or dairy products.14

This kind of class envy became stronger than ever over such postwar gains of the labor movement as the eight-hour day and representation in the factories through shop stewards. Another form of social frustration and resentment was expressed by demobilized soldiers who had no jobs to which they could return and who, because they found it discouragingly difficult to resume their high-school or university studies, were unable to get the academic degrees essential to most careers in Italy. Many of these spostati began to swell the ranks of the Fasci di combattimento in 1920 and 1921. When Giolitti returned to office as prime minister from June, 1920, to June, 1921, his former neutralism lowered his prestige in the eyes of the right, while the left continued to view him with suspicion. When he eventually tried to crack down on war profiteers, control in­ flation, and raise taxes, big business was to turn against him. Meanwhile, most urban and rural workers felt cheated in their demands for social justice and their militancy made property owners of all kinds feel threat­ ened. The most spectacular threat to private property was the "occupation of the factories” in September, 1920. This episode began in Milan on August 28 when the workers in the Alfa Romeo plant, faced with a lockout in a dispute over wages and working conditions, occupied the building in order to prevent the owners from bringing in scabs. Within a week the movement spread among metallurgical workers throughout the peninsula and was supported by the nation’s major labor federations. In themselves the occupations were indeed open infringements on the property rights of the owners, but the demands of the occupiers became more ominous when, on September 11, the national council of the CGL passed by a small margin what was actually the more moderate of two proposed resolutions. The more extreme resolution demanded that the Socialist party take over the responsibility and direction of the occupation movement and extend it to the whole country and the entire working class. The resolution that passed demanded the acknowledgment, on the part of the employers, of the principle of union control in the factories as a prelude to collective management and socialization as the solution to the problem of production. In Turin, sovietlike factory councils elected by the workers were already in operation under the guidance of Antonio Gramsci, the future leader of


The FASCIST Experience

the Italian Communist party, and his colleagues on the newspaper UOrdine Nuovo (The New Order). It is also interesting to note that Mussolini and his associates on II Popolo d'Italia, while decrying certain aspects of the occupations, took great care to support the principle of “workers’ control,” which they unconvincingly argued was a variation of their own “national syndicalism.” Although the novelty of the occupation movement seemed to require novel countermeasures, Giolitti merely repeated what he had done during the general strike of 1904: he waited until the movement lost its initial thrust and then stepped in as a neutral mediator. For a full month after the first occupations, Giolitti resisted the employers’ demands that he use troops to oust the workers from the factories. The red flag flew over most of these factories, and in some of them, notably in Turin, factory councils were maintaining production and discipline at almost normal levels. But the majority of the workers were unable to run the factories without the engineers and technicians, and, as Giolitti predicted it would, the move­ ment gradually spent itself. Thus, when he finally persuaded the employers to grant most of the workers’ original demands, the reformist leaders of the CGL held a referendum in which the majority of the workers agreed to end their occupations. The whole episode left permanent scars, however, scars that helped the rise of Fascism : the employers never forgave Giolitti for his “softness”; the more extremist labor leaders never forgave the re­ formists for their failure to lead the workers in the most revolutionary situation in postwar Italy. In many ways the occupation of the factories was the swan song of the postwar revolutionary movement in Italy.15 First of all, it isolated the urban blue-collar workers from the intermediate strata of the population and from the working-class movement in the countryside. Second, it high­ lighted the divisions within the Socialist party and the CGL, and particularly between the students and intellectuals of UOrdine Nuovo group and the rest of the labor movement. Third, Giolitti’s handling of the whole episode deprived the militant workers and the Socialists of their victory, since they owed what they did get to the government. Finally, the failure of the occupation movement loosened the hold of the Socialist party on the CGL and initiated a critical phase in their relations. Even more than the occupation of the factories the class struggle in the countryside forced Mussolini and his urban Fascists to drop any lingering revolutionary pretensions and put themselves in the vanguard of the anti-Bolshevik movement. This struggle had begun in March, 1919, in the vineyards around Rome and had soon spread to much of the south and into the Po Valley. At first it was limited to groups of peasants, espe­ cially war veterans, occupying fields not being farmed at the moment, but it soon turned into armed attacks by Socialist leagues of farm workers against everyone and everything that stood in their way, not only in seizing land from small and large proprietors alike but also in running the eco­ nomic and political life of whole provinces through their cooperatives and their control of municipal governments. By April, 1920, 27,000 hectares


The Setting (To December, 1920)

had already been seized from 191 proprietors. Helpless in the face of this rural class-war, the Nitti government gave retrospective sanction to most of these seizures. Many landowners who had counted on the government to restore order in the countryside were extremely indignant at Nitti’s ges­ ture and, in August, 1920, they founded their own General Confederation of Agriculture for mutual defense. Like the Socialist movement in the cities, the rural leagues were unwilling to become soviets as a prelude to seizing control of the central government. As Paimiro Togliatti observed: The heads of leaguism looked askance at all efforts to put their movement in the framework of that of the [urban] workers, and politically they limited them­ selves to being the electoral agents of the Socialist party. Thus, their action, instead of seeming, as it was, the beginning of the construction of a new society, finished by seeming a vain exercise in bullying.16

In Bologna province this impression reached its peak in October, 1920, when after many violent incidents and the resultant loss of a significant portion of the year’s crop, the landowners were forced to give in to most of the league’s demands for control of all farming operations in the area. It was in Bologna province and others in the Po Valley soon afterward that the first squadristi appeared in late 1920. Many of these young rowdies were the sons of landowners, including small proprietors who had recently bought land from large landowners and who feared a Red takeover. While the league leaders refused to cooperate even with their counterparts in neighboring provinces, these squads of rural Fascists set out to dislodge them from control of local governments and to destroy their movement altogether. The squadristi introduced a distinctly provincial and anarchic quality to Fascism, specializing in vicious "punitive raids” against socialist and Catholic labor unions and the headquarters of rival parties. Although many squadristi leaders were to accept subsidies from the big landowners and businessmen, they did not abandon their ultimate goal of making their own revolution. A number of the ex-revolutionary syndicalists in the origi­ nal Fascist movement were to play a major role in organizing counter­ unions of agricultural workers, but by the end of 1920 Mussolini began taking his cues from the squadristi. The squadristi, in turn, borrowed the daredevil, revolutionary stance—epitomized in the slogan Me ne frego ("I don’t give a damn”) —of D’Annunzio’s Fiume legions. The whole D’Annunzian enterprise in Fiume was an essential part of the setting for the rise of Fascism in several ways. From September 12, 1919, when D’Annunzio and his legions marched from Ronchi (near Venice) to Fiume, until December 25, 1920, when they abandoned the city after the regular army arrived and fired a few shots (Natale di sangue), they had openly defied the Italian government, which was negotiating the fate of that Adriatic port through diplomacy, first with the Allies in Paris and finally—in November, 1920—with the Yugoslavs. This defiance weak­ ened the public image of the government all the more because it received


The FASCIST Experience

the approval and even cooperation of some important military and naval officers. It also taught the radical right, and particularly Mussolini, that, despite its ultimate failure at Fiume, a well-orchestrated appeal to patriotism could divide the Italian ruling class and force it to make crucial com­ promises.17 Finally, D’Annunzio’s retirement removed Mussolini’s major rival as the would-be leader of Italy’s rebellious war veterans. But by the time this happened Mussolini wanted to lead these veterans toward the right, whereas D’Annunzio had been led by them increasingly toward the left. Recent studies18 have tended to view D’Annunzio’s regime in Fiume as the outstanding dramatization of the early twentieth-century spirit of revolt—a spirit that also gave rise to movements like expressionism, futur­ ism, Bolshevism, and the first Fasci di combattimento. Whereas the poetcommander himself tended to remain the symbol of wounded nationalism and some of his followers were mere adventurers, an important element in his entourage saw his regime as a base from which to impose an alterna­ tive society and value-system on the hated establishment at home. In the end even D’Annunzio himself succumbed to ideas like conquering Rome and Italy and “annexing” them to Fiume and aiding “oppressed peoples” in other lands; he also promulgated a constitution, the Charter of Camaro, which came closer to the dreams of the revolutionary syndicalists than any­ thing later Fascist corporatists were to devise. It was D’Annunzio, not Mussolini, who attracted the most support from those rebellious war veterans who espoused a confused mixture of patriotic anarcho-syndicalism and revolution for its own sake. Later on his Fiume adventure seemed like a mere comic-opera episode in the serious business of peacemaking, but at the time even Lenin took it seriously and had kind words for it. It was only the slogans, symbols, and poses of D’Annunzio’s legionnaires that Mus­ solini’s squadristi borrowed. Most of the legionnaires themselves became anti-Fascists after the March on Rome, and soon thereafter D’Annunzio relinquished his role as politician and returned definitively to that of poet. In Italy by the end of 1920 the dangers from revolution and counter­ revolution were far less serious than they were believed to be at the time. Neither the extreme left nor the extreme right had the physical power, the program, or the following sufficient to threaten seriously the existing re­ gime. The occupation of the factories had failed, the occupations of rural lands had peaked, and the Socialist party was splitting up. The National­ ists,19 who were the closest thing to an organized party on the extreme right, were out of the limelight. Yet within less than two years the Fascists were to grow strong enough to seize control of the national government, partly because of their ability to play on fears of revolution from the left. One of the main reasons for the Fascists’ success was the continuing crisis within the liberal regime itself: more than anything else, loss of public confidence made it such an easy prey. The prestige of Parliament had already been badly damaged by the war. Now, in 1920, the Fiume expedition and the occupation of the factories had shown up the weakness of the executive branch of the government as well.


The Setting (To December, 1920)

NOTES 1. Roberto Vivarelli, “Italia liberale e fascismo. Considerazioni su di una recente storia d'Italia/’ Rivista storica italiana, 82, no. 3 (September 1970): 679-680; see also Guido Dorso, La rivoluzione meridoniale, 2nd ed. (Turin: Einaudi, 1950), PP. 96-97. 2. Compare Renzo De Felice, Mussolini il rivoluzionario, 1883-1920 (Turin: Einaudi, 1965), passim, with Roberto Vivarelli, Il dopoguerra in Italia e Vavvento del fascismo, 1918-1922 (Naples: Istituto italiano per gli studi storici, 1967), voi. 1, es­ pecially Chapter 3, where Vivarelli challenges De Felice’s description of Mussolini as a revolutionary. 3. See Joseph La Palombara, “Italy; Fragmentation, Isolation, Alienation,” in Lucian Pye and Sidney Verba, eds., Political Culture and Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965), pp. 301-302. 4. For the Christian Democratic program of 1899 see Giorgio Tupini, I demo­ cratici cristiani (Milan: Garzanti, 1954)» pp. 326-328; and Michael P. Fogarty, Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820-1953 (South Bend, Ind.: Notre Dame University Press, i 957 )> PP- 319-320. On Murri see Lorenzo Bedeschi, Romolo M uni e la Romagna (Rome: Guanda, 1967). 5. “Le unioni professionali e la questione sociale” (1903), in Luigi Sturzo, Sintesi sociale (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1961), p. 76. 6 . Sturzo expressed his views on the relationship between politically organized Catholics and the church in his speech at Caltagirone (Sicily) in December, 1905. See Gli Atti dei congressi del Partito Popolare Italiano, ed. Francesco Malgeri (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1969), pp. 3-31. 7. For the text of an intercepted telephone conversation in which the Maximalist leader Lazzari in Rome tried to persuade Rigola in Milan to revoke the order to end the strike, see De Felice, op. cit., pp. 677-678. 8. The first manifesto-appeal of their Fascio rivoluzionario d’azione inters nazionalista was issued on October 5 and included the signatures of Michele Bianchi, Filippo Corridoni, and Angelo Oliviero Olivetti (see ibid., pp. 679-681). 9. See John Alden Thayer, Italy and the Great War (Madison, Wise.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964), Chapters 10 and 11. 10. Vivarelli, II dopoguena in Italia, p. 197. 11. Discorsi parlamentari di Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 4 vols. (Rome: Tipo­ grafia della Camera dei deputati, 1965)» 4 »P* 1435* 12. In the fall of 1969, when the author was finishing his research in Italy, the young men of the city of Caserta (near Naples) rioted for several days in protest against the demotion of their football team to a minor league. 13. Curzio Malaparte, quoted in Vivarelli, p. 284. 14. Giovanni Zibordi, Critica socialista del fascismo, in Guido Bergamo, Il fas­ cismo visto da repubblicani e socialisti (Bologna: Cappelli, 1922), p. 21. 15. Paolo Spriano, L’occupazione delle fabbriche (settembre 192.0) (Turin: Ei­ naudi, 1964), p. i64ff. 16. In his “Rapporto sul fascismo per il IV Congresso dellTntemazionale (1922),” Rinascita, December 1,1962. 17. Renzo De Felice, “D’Annunzio e la vita politica italiana dal 1918 al 1936,” offprint from Quaderni Dannunziani, nos. 38-39 (1969)*’ 6. 18. Particularly noteworthy are Nino Valeri, D’Annunzio davanti al fascismo (Florence: Le Monnier, 1963) and Ferdinando Cordova, Arditi e Legionari dannunziani (Padua: Marsilio Editori, 1969). 19. On the influence of the Nationalists on the rise of Fascism see Franco Gaeta, Nazionalismo italiano (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1965); Robert Paris, Les origines du fascisme (Paris: Flammarion, 1968), and Giuliano Procacci, “Appunti in tema di crisi dello Stato liberale e di origini del fascismo,” Studi storici, 6, no. 2 (1965).


2 The Fascist Revolution

■ r o m the end of 1920 onward the Fas­ cist movement changed direction in ways that gained it the backing it needed for its eventual seizure of power. Mussolini now proved willing to make deals with Giolitti and even the Socialists in order to advance the in­ terests of his party in the arena of parliamentary politics. He was limited, however, in some of these deals by the new agrarian Fasci, whose interests were predominantly local and openly reactionary. The main financial back­ ing of the Fascist movement came from wealthy landowners and helped leading ras like Roberto Farinacci and Italo Balbo carry on their rural strike­ breaking activities. (The term ras, which is the same in the singular and plural, had been imported from Ethiopia in 1896 and means a strong local chieftain. ) Other subsidies came from urban, particularly Milanese, bankers and industrialists. These wealthy bourgeois were determined to turn back the “red wave,” dramatized by the occupation of the factories, and the Fascists offered them the armed force they needed for this purpose. It seems fair to say that in the early 1920s the majority of Italians of all classes lost confidence in the liberal regime. The mass of urban and rural workers were hostile to it, and their militant leaders had been openly defying it on numerous occasions. The Nittian and especially Giolittian formulae of neutrality followed by compromise in labor disputes failed to win over the workers while antagonizing the employers. The conservative bourgeoisie wanted to rescind all the postwar gains of labor and to force the government to abandon its Giolittian strategy, which had not only favored the cause of the workers but had also aided the Socialist party, whose reformist wing Giolitti now seemed to want to bring into his ruling coalition, along with the Popolari. The economic and social reforms that such a coalition might initiate were inimical to the landowners, much of big business, and lower-middle-class people who were already envious of the workers, whose economic status had risen in comparison with theirs, and who feared that any new “concessions” would further threaten their already precarious position in Italian society. Part of this response was mere meanness, but part of it was also due to a feeling of bewilderment and helplessness in the face of rapid changes that they did not understand and that seemed to be passing them by. In the end it was people like this who gave the Fascists their mass base in their attacks on both the “reds” and the liberal regime.


The FASCIST Experience

Mussolini owed much of his success to his skill as a politician. In 1920 his political prospects were not very hopeful. On the one hand, D'Annunzio’s Fiume expedition had upstaged his own efforts to be the leader of the na­ tion's rebellious patriotic veterans and had even lured a number of Fascists away from the fold. On the other hand, his attempt to preserve his "image" as a man of the left had also failed, despite his program for drastic labor reforms in October, 1919,1 and his qualified support for the occupation of the factories in September, 1920. He therefore concluded that only on the right could he and his movement achieve the "unity” he had sought on the left for seven years. The most important thing was not to be used and then discarded, like so many other anti-Bolshevik groups. It was in this struggle for survival that Mussolini demonstrated his real mastery. He also showed his awareness of the motives of those sections of the liberal and democratic bourgeoisie which wooed him, as is evident in the following sentence from a speech he gave on October 15, 1920, in Milan: The image may seem rather daring, but I have the impression that when these elements look for support in Fascism they do $0 with the same motives as people who take Spanish fly; they are people who feel exhausted after a long period of exertion and who want to use our youthful impulse to recuperate their strength and maintain their dominant role in the society.2

None of those political forces that tried to use Mussolini was his equal— neither Giolitti, who hoped to "transform" him into another element in his ruling coalition, nor the Nationalists and the extreme right, who thought they had found in him a pawn to carry out their program, nor the indus­ trialists, who hoped to use him and his squadristi against the extreme left. Mussolini’s success was made possible in part by the fact that there was no precedent for it. The combination of a demagogue who was also a skilled politician (which D'Annunzio was not) and paramilitary vigilante forces posing as champions of the little people was original in the early 1920s. The established order could probably have “managed" the leader or the squadristi separately; together they proved to be unbeatable. Beginning in 1921 and especially from 1922 onward it was Mussolini who used his allies more ruthlessly and more successfully than they used him. Mussolini the politician had begun to replace Mussolini the subversive rabble rouser by the end of 1920. After having given qualified support to the occupation of the factories, in the September 28 issue of II Popolo d'Italia he had openly approved Giolitti’s refusal to oust the workers by force. In the issue of December 28 he gave the government only a mild reprimand for the ouster of D'Annunzio's legions from Fiume by the regular army. These moves were calculated to make Mussolini and his party acceptable to the aging Piedmontese statesman in his next electoral alliance, for only in such an alliance could the Fascists hope to gain a significant number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Mussolini's new image as a responsible politician also pleased the Milanese bankers and industrialists whose sub­ sidies were needed by II Popolo d'Italia and who balked at the brutality of the rural squadristi.


The Fascist Revolution

The response of Giolitti and his closest collaborators to the Fascist movement was self-defeating, to say the least. In many ways these old-style liberals were still living in the nineteenth century and failed almost com­ pletely to understand the profound changes that the war and its immediate aftermath had wrought in all aspects of Italian life. Although the prosaic Giolitti may be excused for not seeing the violent and subversive character of Fascism, Croce (his minister of education for a while), who had preached against this sort of activism for over two decades, should have known better. Yet Croce argued that Fascism was not dangerous because it had no program. Giolitti, on the other hand, convinced himself that a move­ ment that expressed the feelings of the nation’s patriotic middle classes would never defy ‘law and order” by turning against the state; those in­ dividual Fascists who did so should be punished by the courts, of course, but the movement itself was a healthy, if overexuberant, force capable of being integrated into the liberal body politic. In his determination to be pragmatic, Giolitti saw Fascists but not Fascism. Hence, in preparation for the May, 1921, elections he brought the Fascists into a “national bloc” of candidates in the hope of reducing the power of the Socialists and Popolari in the Chamber and thus increasing his working majority. The results of the election were disastrous from Giolitti’s point of view. The Socialists lost 34 seats but still held 122; the Communists, who had split off in January, got 16 seats; the Popolari now had 107 instead of 100. The Fascists got 35 seats, not a spectacular showing but enough to give them national “visi­ bility” and, eighteen months later, the right to be considered a possible government party. In the meantime, however, Mussolini repudiated his alliance with Giolitti, and the latter was voted out of office in July, 1921. Having bested Giolitti, Mussolini wanted to continue on the road to personal power through parliamentary politics, but this course, particularly his “pact of pacification” with the Socialists, caused a major split within the Fascist movement in late 1921. On the surface, this pact, which was signed on August 2, was a reciprocal renunciation of violence by the Fas­ cists on one side and the Socialist party and the CGL on the other.3 For Mussolini, however, it had the double purpose of making his will prevail over the more revolutionary elements in the Fascist movement—both syn­ dicalists and squadristi—and of making the party the main instrument for bringing the movement to power. He may also have wished to put a bit of a scare into those wealthy landowners and businessmen who thought that they could turn the Fascists into “white guards” to be dismissed once their work was done.4 In any case, the “pact of pacification” was so vigorously opposed by both the local ras and the party directorate that Mussolini tem­ porarily resigned; he did this to show that none of his main rivals— particularly Dino Grandi and Roberto Farinacci—could take his place effectively, and to leave himself a free hand in championing his own ideas for the party. At the party’s Rome congress, in early November, Mussolini’s views prevailed, and the “pact of pacification” was abandoned as the op­ portunistic gesture it had been from the start. In late 1921 and early 1922 Mussolini succeeded in moving toward the right again while at the same time mollifying the squadristi with the


The FASCIST Experience

hope of an eventual coup d'état. At the party congress in November, he made his first reference to solving the Roman Question as a conciliatory gesture toward the Vatican. He also began adopting an expressly laissezfaire, antisocialist economic line as a means of appealing to big business. Some business leaders loosened their purse-strings a bit, but they still wanted to use the Fascists to assure law and order and then drop them.5 Mussolini kept assuring the squadristi that he would never allow this to happen—that they were true revolutionaries whose goal was to overthrow the existing regime in a “March on Rome” and seize power themselves. Squadrism was extremely useful to him in progressively weakening the authority of the state, in hemming in and destroying the strongholds of the “reds,” and, because of this, gaining favor with the larger public. It is now clear that he preferred the road of parliamentary politics to that of revolu­ tion in gaining power for himself,6 but at the time he had to encourage the idea of revolution in order to get the best from the other Fascists. A crucial factor in helping the Fascists gain and keep power was their belief that they were making their own revolution7 and not merely prevent­ ing the “reds” from making theirs. This belief was a classic example of the self-fulfilling prophecy: it encouraged the Fascists when things went against them, and it gave them a justification for the brutal means they employed. After the March on Rome, it also began to convince a number of intellectual leaders without whose support the Fascists’ claim to be making a revolution of the spirit (once the political revolution had been achieved) would not have been convincing. An obvious example was Giovanni Gentile, but there were many others, as we shall see later. What is important here is that the Fascists convinced themselves that they were revolutionaries. In 1921-1922 the one area where they worked hardest along these lines was in organizing agricultural workers and sharecroppers into unions that would challenge the big landowners’ protective associations as well as des­ troy the red and white (Catholic) leagues.8 In mid-May, 1922, Italo Balbo had his squadristi and the Fascist union officials organize a four-day “oc­ cupation” of Ferrara by 60,000 unemployed farm-workers as a means of forcing the government, through the prefect, to provide jobs on public-works projects.9 For Balbo, who thought of “the revolution” as essentially political, this action was pure demagogy. Other Fascist leaders, however, were more committed to winning the workers over by championing their interests. In August, 1922, for example, they put strong pressure on the employers in the port and shipping industry of Savona to respect previous labor gains.10 In practice, the efforts of the Fascists to “do something for the work­ ers” were secondary to their ultimate goal of a coup d'état, and in order to achieve this goal they had to destroy the hold of the Socialists and Com­ munists on the labor movement and on local governments. Only after they already controlled a number of important local governments, at least in the north, could they hope to challenge the central government itself. Hence, in 1921-1922, their “revolution” took the form of a series of local civil wars in which their victims were almost invariably the workers’ organizations, both rural and urban.11 Some union and leftwing party leaders had been


The Fascist Revolution

trying to make their own revolution since 1919, but even on the local level they were divided and poorly organized. The occupation of the factories had frightened the propertied classes without advancing the cause of the workers; the ambition of certain Socialists, especially in Emilia, to “build socialism in one province” had been equally unsuccessful; the internal quarrels within the Socialist party and the Communist secession from it at the Livorno Congress in January, 1921, demoralized the workers at the very moment when the Fascists and their counterrevolutionary backers were mobilizing their strength. Even during the Fascist party crisis of late 1921, the squadristi continued the work of destroying the agrarian leagues and ousting the Socialists and Communists from control of the municipal governments of Emilia and parts of the Po Valley. Fascist takeovers of local governments reached their climax in July, 1922. There is no better description of the situation than Mussolini’s article, “L'imminente crollo delle ultime roccaforti del ‘pus,’ ” in the July 15 issue of II Popolo d’Italia. It reads almost like a war bulletin: Italian Fascism is currently committed to a number of decisive battles involving local purges. . . . According to the latest bulletins we have, at Rimini Fascism has succeeded, albeit with the inevitable sacrifice of blood, in moving in and imposing its will. Now the entire situation has been changed. With Rimini in our hands we now control the arm of pincers which had been lacking for us to squeeze Emilia and Romagna; at the same time Rimini in Fascist hands is the bridge for penetrat­ ing into the neighboring March. . . . At Andria our troops have now achieved their victory. . . . Passing from Apulia to Latium, the news of the past few days shows incidents a t Viterbo and a Fascist concentration in reaction to them. . . . Moving northward we find Fascist forces deeply involved in Liguria . . . . Sestri Ponente will no longer be retaken by the reds. Nor will the ignoble coalition of socialists-Freemasons and followers of [Guido] Miglioli [an extreme leftwing Catholic leader who advocated a kind of rural socialism] succeed in retaking Cremona. In Novara, too, the battle is moving toward a triumphant conclusion for us.

But these takeovers sometimes led to such barbarous excesses that they threatened to isolate the Fascists from many of their potential sup­ porters. The ordinary tactics used by the squadristi against individual enemies were malicious practical jokes—shaving off half a man’s mustache or beard or forcing an overdose of castor oil into him—and blows with a big club (affectionately called the santo manganello). They met organized resistance with brass knuckles, revolvers, and hand grenades against people, and arson and dynamite against any buildings these people might hold. By the summer of 1922, however, the sheer volume of Fascist violence made it difficult for anyone to control its level in all cases, so excesses did occur: men were dragged from their beds and shot, people were tortured and mutilated. Atrocities had been committed by socialists and anarchists, to be sure, but in the summer of 1922 middle-class opinion began to fear that the excesses of the Fascists would bring a counterreaction against them, leading perhaps to a government far more anti-Fascist than the


The FASCIST Experience

current one of Luigi Facta, a Giolitti stand-in. This fear was expressed in the July 15 issue of the conservative Giornale d'Italia, despite its acknowl­ edgment of the Fascists’ "great and unforgettable merit of having saved the country from the Bolshevik catastrophe.” On July 18, the liberal Corriere della Sera was much harsher toward the squadristi, calling their atrocities inexcusable, but oversimplifying the distinction between their "revolutionary” Fascism as opposed to Mussolini’s "political” Fascism. The fickleness of public opinion was beautifully demonstrated in Italy at the beginning of August, 1922, during the so-called legalitarian strike called by a workers’ "alliance” in protest against the same Fascist excesses that had repelled the middle classes two weeks earlier. When the general work-stoppage was announced for August 1, the Fascists informed the government and the public that, if the authorities could not put a halt to it within forty-eight hours, they would "demand full freedom of action and substitute themselves for the State which once again will have demon­ strated its impotence.”12 On the next day squadristi in many towns managed to keep the mail flowing and the buses and trains running; their actions provoked some violent incidents with the striking workers but pleased the lower-middle-class and middle-class public. Even though the workers’ "alliance” itself called off the strike, the Fascists claimed victory not only over the "reds” but also over the ineffective government. Thus, after two and one half years of indiscriminate use, the leftwing tactic of the protest strike was incapable of serving the purpose for which it was intended : all it could do was to reinforce the hostility of the state and society against which it was directed for tolerating Fascist violence. The failure of the "legalitarian strike” broke the will of the labor movement and put the Fascists on the road to Rome. The strike itself had backfired, not only because of lack of enthusiasm and cooperation among the workers, but also because of the vigor of the Fascists plus the hostility of the representatives of law and order and the middle classes. With the labor movement temporarily broken, many squadristi wanted to seize power right away. In Genoa, Milan, Livorno, and Ancona they took over the central districts and treated the government officials as equals. In Savona they tried to win support from the workers by persuading the employers, particularly in shipping, to respect previous labor gains.13 On August 3 the prefect of Milan, Alfredo Lusignoli, telegraphed the minister of the interior in Rome that "public opinion is completely favorable to the Fascists, whereas among the Socialists one sees a deep despondency. . . . In its present state of mind the citizenry would never tolerate strong government measures against the Fascists.”14 On August 3 even the Corriere della Sera, in every respect the most serious paper in Italy, ex­ pressed substantial approval of what the Fascists had done. Indeed, the eminent liberal economist Luigi Einaudi wrote in the August 8 issue that the Fascists had no need to impose a dictatorship on the national level: “They can get everything by means of discussions and through legal chan­ nels.” Since neither the Corriere della Sera nor the government was ready for a Fascist coup d'état, Mussolini soon persuaded the Milanese squadristi to go home. Nevertheless, with the labor movement and the leftwing


The Fascist Revolution

parties beaten and torn by internal conflicts and recriminations, he was now free to concentrate on his political maneuverings against the liberal government itself. In September and October the Fascists mustered their forces for a seizure of power: politics were handled by Mussolini, Bianchi, Cesare Rossi, and a few other members of the party directorate; organizational and military preparations were entrusted to Italo Balbo and several other squadristi leaders, plus two older military men, Cesare Maria De Vecchi and Emilio De Bono. This second group reorganized the Militia—as the squadristi as a whole were henceforth called—into a Fascist “army” in open defiance of the armed forces of the state. The fact that Prime Minister Facta allowed this to happen showed both his weakness and his opportunism in not wanting to sever all links with Mussolini the budding minister. Mussolini himself made several public speeches calculated to dispel the doubts of the nation’s conservative forces about the revolutionary character of the Fascist movement. His three main themes were a conciliatory attitude toward the monarchy, a laissez-faire economic policy, and an effort to present Fascist syndicalism as a harmless sop to the working classes. Most important to Mussolini’s bid for power were continued con­ tacts with men like Gioliti!, Facta, and Salandra—contacts designed to make them believe that the government crisis could be solved by giving Mussolini, and maybe a couple of other Fascists, cabinet posts in a new Giolitti government. These negotiations deliberately obscured his real goal, which was the premiership for himself. In order to achieve this he supported his political bid for power with an insurrectional one. For him the forthcoming March on Rome was to serve as political blackmail of the establishment and as a symbol of revolution to the squadristi. For the squadristi, of course, their revolution was to be more than symbolic. Perhaps the most crucial factor the Fascists had to worry about was the attitude of the army and the police. In their local raids and punitive actions the squadristi had often had the tacit and sometimes the open sup­ port of these forces : partly because of the middle-class and lower-middleclass background of most police officials, party because most of them were war veterans, and partly because they approved of the Fascists’ emphasis on anti-Bolshevism and order. Except for the Carabinieri, Italy’s various police organizations, particularly the Royal Guard, left something to be desired from the point of view of quality and discipline and hence were easily encouraged in their Fascist sympathies by the example of the army itself. The open collaboration between army officers and Fascists in the provinces is well documented.15 But would the army tolerate a March on Rome? On this score General Emanuele Pugliese, in charge of the 28,000 troops in the Rome district, always maintained that, despite their proFascist sympathies, these troops would have obeyed any orders from the king and the government.16 But recent scholarship points to a different attitude on the part of the army: “formal obedience to the constituted powers, but substantial support for Fascism, expressed in the pretext of staying neutral during the government crisis.17


The FASCIST Experience

Despite the risks, on October 12 Mussolini decided to go ahead with the March on Rome by the end of the month. The political groundwork had been laid, and any further delay might lead to a new Giolitti government. Also, on October 11, Mussolini had met D’Annunzio at the latter’s retreat at Gardone and felt that he had mollified him sufficiently that he would not interfere with the Fascists’ plans.18 On October 21 the Quadrumvirate of Balbo, De Bono, De Vecchi, and Bianchi, took charge of organizing the March on Rome. Meanwhile, Mussolini and Bianchi were still leading Facta and Giolitti to believe that at the October 24 Fascist Congress in Naples they would make their final decisions regarding their participation in a new government. (It is a tribute to the loyalty of the top Fascists and to the inefficiency of the police spies that the government had no inkling of this deceit.) In reality, for Mussolini and his collaborators the Naples meeting had the sole purpose of completing a kind of premobilization for the March on Rome on October 28 after certain key localities in the provinces were occupied.19 Mussolini used the threat of a Fascist insurrection in a masterly way in his bid to obtain the premiership legally. On the night of October 27, while the squadristi were seizing communications centers in many parts of northern Italy and the prefecture in Perugia, Mussolini attended the theater in Milan with his wife and daughter. On October 28 and 29 he convinced the leaders of the Confindustria (the Italian National Associa­ tion of Manufacturers) and Senator Luigi Albertini, publisher of the Corriere della Sera, to use their influence to get him appointed premier.20 Mussolini also maintained his contacts with Giolitti and Salandra until the last minute, in case something prevented him from becoming prime minister himself. The crucial factor, however, was the attitude of King Vittorio Emanuele III. On the night of October 27, when Facta and his cabinet wanted to resign in the face of an imminent Fascist insurrection, the king refused to accept their resignations and went to bed. Early the next morning the Facta government pulled itself together and prepared a proclamation for a state of siege and even notified all the prefects to count on it. But the king refused to sign the decree, and nothing now stood in Mussolini’s way. The king’s responsibility was enormous, and the reasons for his decision, insofar as they can be pieced together, illuminate the crisis of the liberal regime. One reason was that the king had little confidence in Facta and his fellow ministers after seeing their obvious desire to resign. He also hated Giolitti (particularly for his wartime neutralism), but until later in the day of October 28 the Fascists encouraged him to believe that a Salandra government was still possible. A second reason (to which some observers attribute more importance than others) was the king’s concern about the attitude of his cousin, the Duke of Aosta, who openly supported the Fascists and who might be their choice for king if Vittorio Emanuele openly opposed them. A third reason was that when the king consulted the highest military authorities in the land, they advised him not to put the army to the test. A corollary was the king’s alleged fear of a bloody civil war, also involving the Communists, if the army failed to put down


The Fascist Revolution

the Fascist insurrection speedily. Finally, some of the king's closest advisers at court urged him not to sign the decree for a state of siege. The fact that the king gave in to these influences indicated his own lukewarm attitude toward the liberal regime; the fact that he could refuse to sign the decree highlighted a basic defect in the constitution. The king's refusal marked the end of both Facta and the liberal regime in Italy. Having renounced armed resistance, Vittorio Emanuele had to ask Mussolini to be premier or risk a real, rather than symbolic, March on Rome. On October 29 tens of thousands of squadristi were camping in the rain outside the capital waiting for the order to move in. Under this pressure the king sent Mussolini, then in Milan, a telegram asking him to form a new government. Mussolini then took the night train to Rome, arriving in the midmoming of October 30. By the end of the day he presented his coalition government to the king; it contained three other Fascists, two Popolari, four assorted democrats and liberals, one nationalist (Luigi Federzoni in the ministry of colonies), one independent (Giovanni Gentile in the ministry of public instruction). General Armando Diaz, and Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel. Mussolini then invited the squadristi to march in a gigantic victory parade, which he reviewed flanked by the king and the leaders of Italy's political and military establishment. Such was the “March on Rome" that was soon to become a Fascist legend. Most people who accepted Mussolini at first were interested in the restoration of law and order, not in squadrism, syndicalism, or demagogic nationalism, and Mussolini himself was interested in personal power, not in making a revolution, Fascist or otherwise. By 1926 he was to create a regime based on much of the authoritarian program of the prewar Italian Nationalist Association, with which the Fascist party merged in March, 1923. Although each of these two movements already had its own internal divisions, their fusion engendered the most acrid arguments over ideology between the half-educated former squadristi leaders who had made the “Revolution" of 1919-1922 and the nationalist intellectuals who tried to use it for their own ends thereafter. There was also a conflict of generations here: aside from Mussolini himself, most Fascist ras were still in their twenties when he gained power, and they resented the apparently prepon­ derant influence of the older nationalists, particularly Litigi Federzoni and Alfredo Rocco, soon thereafter. The Fascist syndicalists wanted a new, autonomous labor movement, not the absorption of the workers into corporations dominated by the employers and controlled by the state. The squadristi wanted the triumph of rebellious youth over the existing order and the older generation in all the other parties, not a bureaucratic Fascist party machine stripped of its political power. For many of them Fascism continued to mean beating people with the santo manganello and perform­ ing daredevil feats of courage. The squadrism that brought Mussolini to power on October 30, 1922, did not disappear after the Black Shirts went home peacefully two days later. While Mussolini seemed content to be prime minister of a coalition government and to leave the existing order intact. Farinacci, Balbo, and


The FASCIST Experience

even Michele Bianchi, the national party secretary, viewed the March on Rome as only the beginning of their conquest.21 On the other hand, half of the 60,000 party members as of August, 1922, resigned within a year, especially those rank-and-file squadristi from the rural areas of the Po Valley, many of whom were the sons of landowners, including small proprietors who had recently bought land from large landowners who feared a Red take-over.22 These people left the party because they believed the Bolshevik danger to be over; others did so because they disapproved of the directives of the central party hierarchy after the March on Rome. (These defections were, however, more than equaled by late joiners; by December, 1922, there were 300,000 party members.) One of these direc­ tives ordered all squadristi to become members of the newly created Fascist Militia (Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale). But the Militia did not solve the problem of unbridled squadrism. Throughout 1923 many ras kept their squads aloof from it, and Mussolini had to struggle hard to make them conform.23 Before the fusion with the Nationalists, the squadristi had violent brawls with their Blue Legions, particularly in the south. In 1924 rival gangs of squadristi were fighting each other—in Bergamo, Novara, Milan, Bari, Naples, Messina, Livorno, Genoa, and Bologna.24 These incidents of organized violence for its own sake created a serious crisis for Mussolini’s new government, a crisis that was to be aggravated by the murder of the Socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti. Unlike the situation in October, 1922, when Mussolini himself had decided that the squadristi should march on Rome, by the end of December, 1924, it was they who were to force him to “complete the revolu­ tion” by setting up a dictatorship in place of the liberal regime, as we shall see presently. The methods of many leading ras were as brutal as those of Al Capone, but these men were not ordinary gangsters. They wanted their gangs to take over the whole country, punish all those citizens whom they considered subversive, and indoctrinate the rest with a superpatriotic military spirit. They wanted to base the new Fascist order on their mode of organized violence and on an omnipotent but decentralized party oligarchy, with themselves as dictators in their own provinces. Their revolution, however, was to be political; the old ruling groups were to be displaced by a new rough-and-ready elite, but the economic and social structures were not to be altered. The leading exponent of squadrism was Roberto Farinacci, the ras of Cremona. Writing in II Popolo d’Italia on October 20, 1925, when he was the national party secretary, he said that the goals of squadrism were “the legalization of Fascist illegality . . . exceptional laws for the defense of our revolution . . . reforms for the great Fascist reconstruction.”25 Although the squadristi could not have realized their youthful ideal of regenerating Italy’s “sick society” either with or without Mussolini, they did give Fascism its heroic, revolutionary, D’Annunzian stance. Mussolini himself openly assumed this posture in early August, 1924, when he said that all true Fascists should be proud to reach their goal unadorned by titles and honorific trappings (arrivare nudi alla metà) and that their mòtto should be: Live dangerously (Vivere pericolosamente). The


The Fascist Revolution

squadristi inarching song, "Giovinezza, Giovinezza,” which became the second national anthem, along with the "Marcia Reale,” vaunted grenade­ throwing and dagger-wielding as well as youth as the springtime of beauty. Many squadristi thought of themselves as the successors of Garibaldi's Thousand, of the Arditi (who had used daggers and grenades during the war), and of D'Annunzio's legionnaires. Their self-styled revolutionary activism gave them a mystique that the Fascist regime preserved—albeit as mere rhetoric—long after they themselves were either tamed or purged. As early as mid-1923 Mussolini had decided to use the authority of the state increasingly to curb dissidence among the squadristi and to impose discipline on the Fascist party. This modus operandi not only served his own purpose of reinforcing his personal power but also convinced many liberal leaders that his government might even make the existing regime more workable. Actually Mussolini had no program of reform in mind; he simply "played it by ear,” using everything and everybody, even his enemies, then discarding them in order to take advantage of a new set of conditions requiring different tactics and different allies.26 A consummate actor, he could be suave or crude to suit the needs of the moment. Later on, his cynicism and his lack of faith even in his own nation were to become clearer. But during his first two years in office he played the patriotic restorer of law and order, complete with top hat and tails. In their own way each of the other political parties helped Mussolini to consolidate his control over the state within the constitutional framework of the existing regime. Less than one month after he took office the Chamber of Deputies voted to give him decree powers for one year by a vote of 215 for and 80 against. This decision gave him a virtually free hand in administrative and fiscal reforms. Salandra himself led the major­ ity, which also included Giolitti and the other Liberals as well as the Popolari. Not even all the Socialists, now badly split, voted against decree powers. The position of the liberal establishment was best summarized by Croce, who viewed Mussolini's coalition government as a bridge to orderly, constitutional rule. Croce argued that the king would never allow the dismantling of Italy's liberal institutions and that he held the upper hand as head of the armed forces. In October, 1923, in a famous inter­ view,27 Croce said that the question was not one of Fascism or liberalism but one of the political forces that could replace Mussolini without risking a return to the disorders of 1921-1922. Unfortunately, these forces no longer existed. In fact, in July, 1923, the Chamber had approved—by a vote of 223 against 123—a new electoral law, named after Giacomo Acerbo, which said that any party that got a majority of at least 25 percent of the popular vote would get 65 percent of the seats in the new Chamber. By the time of the parliamentary elections in April, 1924, the major opposition parties were already weakened by internal divisions; these divisions, plus the violence and intimidation used by the Fascists during the electoral campaign, gave the Fascists an even greater victory than they had hoped for. In 1921 the Socialist party ( Partito Socialista Italiano) had received 25.7 percent of the votes cast; in 1924 the Maximalist rump received only 4.9 percent, while the Reformist wing, now separate and


The FASCIST Experience

called the PSU (Partito Socialista Unitario), got 5.9 percent. The Popolari, who in 1921 had received 21.2 percent of the votes cast, received only 9.1 percent in 1924; by then the right wing of the party had already deserted to Mussolini, and the rest of the party was split into at least three factions and was already out of favor with the Vatican (see pp. 184-186). Only the Communists and the small Republican party increased their vote slightly in 1924: the former to 3.8 percent, the latter to 1.6 percent. Aside from 3 percent more for two leftwing democratic parties, all the rest of the votes went to the parties that supported the government: 66.3 percent for the Fascists and their liberal, conservative, and Catholic allies28 plus 2.8 percent for Giolittfs “parallel” list of Liberals. Despite the violence that had punctuated the electoral campaign, even the stanchest antiFascists had to admit that Mussolini’s majority was incontestable. The Acerbo electoral law did not even have to be invoked, since the Fascist coalition list had already won 374 out of the 535 seats in the Chamber. The assassination on June 10, 1924, of Giacomo Matteotti, the out­ spoken secretary of the PSU, sparked the most serious political crisis of the Fascist period. Until then, some members of his own party and some reformist leaders of the CGL had shown a limited willingness to collaborate with the Mussolini government.29 But in his last speech in the Chamber, Matteotti had expressed strong opposition not only to Fascism but also to these would-be collaborators from his own camp. His subsequent murder by Fascist thugs ruled out any further thoughts of collaboration for the moment and set the whole Fascist movement back in many ways. Many of Mussolini’s liberal supporters, including Senators Orlando and Albertini, deserted him. Most of the opposition deputies absented themselves from the Chamber in protest; after the fashion of the plebs in ancient Rome, they began meeting on the Aventine hill. Members of the bureaucracy and the police took a more aloof attitude toward the Fascist government, so as not to be too compromised in case it should fall. Even within the Fascist camp itself, many moderates and late joiners wanted to detach themselves from the squadristi element, which now found itself isolated because of the Matteotti murder and the wave of shocked indignation it produced in the whole country. During the rest of 1924 and into the early months of 1925, many Italian leaders believed that Mussolini could be turned out of office without any difficulty. Most big businessmen adopted a cautious wait-andsee policy, but one group, led by Senator Ettore Conti, eager to persuade the king to oust him, though once again Vittorio Emanuele bowed to counter­ pressures that told him not to risk a return to the “anarchy” of the im­ mediate postwar years. Conti was particularly critical of the deputies of the “Aventine Secession” for deserting their posts instead of working with Mussolini’s former allies for a vote of no confidence.30 Even the astute Filippo Turati believed that the Matteotti murder had finished Mussolini by exposing him as a bandit chieftain, and that for the Socialists the question was henceforth merely whether to give the crisis a final resolute push against the wall or to let the gangrene dissolve itself.31 The way in which Mussolini finally extricated himself from the Mat-


The Fascist Revolution

teotti crisis was the supreme example of his tactic of seizing opportunities and at the same time seeming to let himself be influenced by others to do something that was to his own ultimate advantage. At first he had seemed uncertain about how to stay in power in the face of public protests and possible dismissal by the king. By mid-December he even proposed restoring the pre-1923 electoral law as a means of placating some of his opponents in both houses of Parliament. Such acts of "normalization” prompted several high-ranking leaders of the Militia, followers of Farinacci,32 and other squadristi extremists to intimidate Mussolini into making a coup d'état. Under pressure from these people he set up a dictatorial regime in his speech to the Chamber on January 3, 1925, and made Farinacci the national party secretary a month later. The squadristi precipitated a new outburst of violence that lasted until early 1926. But this "second wave” was their swan song, for the very dictatorship they had forced Mussolini to establish gave him the power, through the prefects, to tame them and disperse most of their leaders. Whereas the squadristi idea of the Fascist revolution was the con­ version of Italy to a demagogic, gangsterlike form of militarism, the goal of the militant Fascist trade-union leaders was a heretical version of revolutionary syndicalism.33 Fascist syndicalism paid lip-service to the ideal of cooperation among classes while retaining its faith in an auton­ omous labor movement as the main force capable of completing the political revolution with a social revolution. Edmondo Rossoni, the rela­ tively moderate head of the Fascist trade unions, said in a speech in Naples in December, 1922: “Between Italians and Italians there should be neither masters nor servants, but loyal collaborators for the common interest and for the overriding ends of the Fatherland.”34 He then added that “against the ‘bosses’ in the old sense of the word we shall fight ruthlessly.” Three years later, when the Fascist unions were being given a legal monopoly in representing labor, Agostino Lanzillo, a leading Fascist spokesman in the Chamber of Deputies, said that these “unitary” unions were “a new reality alongside the family, the city, the commune, the State.”35 Lanzillo went on to say that the regime should not fear their revolutionary function in realizing the complete program of syndicalism: their development into a structure parallel to the state and, ultimately, their assuming certain responsibilities of the state in the collective administration of society. But the hope of making the syndicalist version of the Fascist revolu­ tion prevail had already been vitiated by the actual means the Fascists used to gain power. From late 1920 until the March on Rome, Fascist syndicalist leaders had to concentrate on the immediate task of adminis­ tering the Fascist unions of small farmers that the leading ras in the Po Valley sponsored in order to compete with the older landowners’ associa­ tions in destroying the leagues of agricultural laborers. In Cremona, Farinacci forced some small farmers to join, but he opposed real workingclass syndicalism.36 In Ferrara, Balbo helped to found the first Fascist unions and persuaded Rossoni to come from Rome to help him; in January, 1922, Rossoni established the first confederation of all Fascist unions at


The FASCIST Experience

Bologna, where Mario Rachelli, another ex-revolutionary interventionist, was setting up the national headquarters of the farmers’ unions.37 In Bologna, the squadristi leader Leandro Arpinati denied that the farmers’ unions in his province represented a bourgeois reaction, but the leading Fascist history of the rural unions describe the two founders of the Bologna federation as sons of big landowners38 and Rachelli as an ex-legionnaire at Fiume who, "after having vainly tried with . . . others to reconstitute along­ side the Fascist movement the ranks of revolutionary syndicalism inspired by the Charter of Camaro,” threw himself into his new job of organizing the farmers.39 The Fascist syndicalists opposed squadristi violence against the Socialist and Catholic leagues of agricultural workers,40 but it was the destruction of these unions and the attacks against the urban labor move­ ment that gave the Fascists their mass following among the middle and lower-middle classes as well as tacit support from the police and the army. After the March on Rome both the squadristi and the syndicalists tried to pursue their own goals in opposition to each other and often to Mussolini himself. From the beginning, however, the syndicalists were handicapped by the determination of the ras to keep them under their own control. Thus, the Fascist unions had to fight an uphill battle against individual ras who, as federal secretaries of the party, wanted to have their own headquarters run all the local mass organizations, including the unions. The conflict with the ras and with the regime itself reached its peak in December, 1924, when both the militant syndicalists and the ex­ tremist squadristi leaders were each trying to force Mussolini to fulfill their differing versions of the "revolution.” Although squadristi pressure was undoubtedly more crucial in making Mussolini set up a dictatorship in his speech of January 3, 1925, syndicalist pressure also had some effect in showing him how isolated he was from the militant forces in the Fascist movement. Rossoni summed up the views of the leading syndicalists in a report to Mussolini at the end of 1924.41 On the question of Mussolini’s failure to see syndicalism as the motive force of the Fascist revolution and to fulfill this revolution, Rossoni mentioned an interview of his colleague Arnaldo Fioretti in the December 3, 1924, issue of Nuovo Paese. According to Fioretti, Fascism should carry out in the political field the goals of the Fascist union movement just as socialism had done for the CGL. Fioretti’s torment over the "arrested revolution” led him to consider making the unions autonomous from the party, even to the point of abandoning the label "Fascist.” Other syndicalist leaders, including Rachelli, shared this view, but Rossoni, while reporting it, asserted that he wanted to remain loyal to Mussolini and the party.42 Rossoni agreed with his colleagues, however, in their opposition to control of the provincial union federations by the ras.48 The main enemy of Fascist syndicalism was not the ras but the Confindustria. Already on December 19, 1923, in the so-called Palazzo Chigi Pact, Rossoni had had to renounce his "integral syndicalism”— which the Confindustria feared would undermine the independence of management—in return for preferential treatment in collective bargaining


The Fascist Revolution

for his unions. But Mussolini was not averse to using the Fascist unions and the idea of "mixed corporations” of workers and employers as a counter­ force to big business, once his own position was stronger. At the January 23, 1925, meeting of the Fascist Grand Council, that body, under his lead­ ership, issued a strong statement favoring Fascist syndicalism and criticiz­ ing the selfishness of the employers.44 Then, in March, Augusto Turati, the ras of Brescia, instigated a strike among the metalworkers in his province; this strike soon spread throughout Lombardy. This kind of militancy was obviously designed to show that Fascist unions were not the instruments of management and hence, to regain members who had deserted these unions as a result of the Matteotti murder.45 In the end, however, the Confindustria won out over labor. On October 2,1925, in the Palazzo Vidoni Pact, its representatives and those of the Fascist unions agreed to recognize the monopoly of their respective organizations. This pact in effect de­ stroyed the position of the CGL and the Catholic unions, but it was a Pyrrhic victory for the Fascist unions, because it also abolished the workers’ factory commissions and virtually eliminated the right to strike. More than anything else, the labor policies of the Fascist regime made its claims to being revolutionary a mockery. These policies, spelled out on April 3, 1926, in the Rocco Law on the Juridical Regulation of Labor Relations, and a year later in the Charter of Labor,46 destroyed Italy’s free labor movement which, despite a certain lack of discipline and coopera­ tion, had shown a degree of autonomy equal to that found in more ad­ vanced countries.47 After the CGL leadership dissolved itself on January 4, 1927, saying that Fascist restrictions made its functioning impossible, the Communists launched their own CGL underground, while a group of exiles in Paris, led by Bruno Buozzi, set up a rump CGL there.48 But their activities had little impact for two reasons: the Fascist Federation gained official recognition by the International Labor Organization in Geneva, and a number of leaders of the reformist wing of the CGL agreed to work within the Fascist framework. The Fascist syndicalists hoped that this collaboration would make the regime more responsive to the needs of labor,49 but it was to do so only on its own terms* without reference to them. It supported the Confindustria position of noninterfer­ ence with the employers’ activities until the end, in November, 1928, when it broke up Rossoni’s confederation and forced him out of the labor move­ ment. Henceforth the Fascist unions were to be run mainly by bureaucrats in the interest of the state rather than by labor leaders in the interest of the workers. In 1925, before the squadristi and syndicalists had been quelled, Mus­ solini’s regime began to institute its own version of "totalitarianism” in a manner which in Nazi Germany eight years later was called Gleichschal­ tung. As in the Third Reich, this process involved the elimination of the opposition political parties and independent labor unions and the "co­ ordination” of the press, the schools, and all rival social organizations. These three categories will be discussed at length in later chapters. It should be noted here, however, that the "coordination” of the schools came


The FASCIST Experience

considerably later than that of the other two. Press censorship was given definitive legal sanction in the law of December 31, 1925,50 and in the following year the venerable Federation of the Italian Press was absorbed into the National Fascist Union of Journalists. On November 26, 1925,51 another law strictly regulated the activities of all nonpublic associations and forbade state employees at all levels to belong to any association "operating even in part in an undercover or secret manner or whose members are in some way bound by secret vows.” The Freemasons were the principal target here, but other kinds of organizations were harassed in other ways. Most worth noting here in view of the origins of Fascism are the principal organizations of war veterans: Associazione Nazionale Combattenti, Associazione Nazionale fra Mutilati e Invalidi di Guerra, and Federazione Nazionale Arditi di Guerra. In the province of Genoa, for example, the members of the second of these organizations resisted the efforts of local Fascists to take control throughout 1925, and the first and third of them were not finally "coordinated” until the early 1930s, when the prefects had to step in directly.52 Unlike its counterpart in Nazi Germany, Fascist "totalitarianism” included the subordination to the state of the party itself and the organiza­ tions it sponsored: Militia, Balilla, Dopolavoro, and so forth. Mussolini strengthened the faltering state administration he inherited, especially the ministry of the interior; in Germany, friction between Nazi party organizations and the traditionally strong state administration weakened the latter.53 Martin Bormann had far more discretionary powers than any Fascist party secretary; Robert Ley's Labor Front was able to challenge the Reichsbank, the Ministry of Economics, and the party hierarchy itself, whereas the Fascist unions and corporations could put no real pressure on anyone except the workers. Yet despite the Fascists' subordination of other agencies to the state, their attempt to create a totalitarian regime had less success than that of the Nazis. One reason was that Mussolini never completely eliminated the influence of the king and the pope; another reason was that, unlike Hitler, he delegated the task of his Gleichschaltung to men whose outlook was quite different from his: Luigi Federzoni (minister of the interior, 1924-1926), Alfredo Rocco (minister of justice, 1925-1932), and Arturo Bocchini (chief of police, 1926-1940). One of the main tasks of Federzoni was to make state Fascism prevail over revolutionary Fascism. The squadristi leaders who had made the "Revolution of 1919-1922” had wanted the party to take over the state, not vice versa. Their revolutionary Fascism was one form of political expression of "dropouts” from the established order. These "dropouts” were not proletarian either in origin or in consciousness. But neither were they petit-bourgeois, because they rejected the values and norms of this class. Whatever their social origins—usually plebeian—they denounced the existing social order as having no acceptable place for them. Like the Nazi storm troopers, they enjoyed bullying the people who had formerly looked down on them in their home towns, and they themselves looked down on people from other camps—particularly Federzoni—who had joined their revolution in order to turn it to their own ends. But in Italy


The Fascist Revolution

therte was nothing comparable to the "night of the long knives,” in which Ernst Roehm, Hitler’s archrival, and his leading henchmen were slaugh­ tered. Mussolini’s archrival, Farinacci, was made national party secretary from January, 1925, to March, 1926, and then allowed to return to his bailiwick in Cremona for the rest of the Fascist period. Nevertheless, he was bested by Federzoni, whose control over the prefects and the police gave him the decisive advantage in limiting the activities of the party, and especially the ex-squadristi, to those that the government approved. By the late 1920s all the ex-squadristi leaders were either tamed or purged. Mussolini had tried to tame Balbo early in 1923 by making him one of the top commanders of the Militia, but the rivalry between the two men appeared even then when, in the meeting of the Fascist Grand Council of January 12, Balbo openly asked Mussolini if "the revolution has been made for you alone or for all of us.”54 He served as air minister in the late 1920s, but his spectacular transatlantic flights in 1930 and 1933 made him so popular that Mussolini got rid of him by sending him off to govern Libya. Of the other ex-squadristi revolutionaries. Augusto Turati (Brescia) served as a pliant party secretary from 1926 to 1930 and died in 1932 under a cloud of accusations; Leandro Arpinati (Bologna) became a good bureaucrat as undersecretary of the interior until his dis­ grace and expulsion from the party in 1933 at the instigation of the then party secretary Achille Starace, another former revolutionary turned conformist. But more ex-squadristi were purged than tamed. A typical example was Gino Baroncini, a young accountant and one of Balbo’s leading lieutenants until 1923. In 1924 and 1925 he was disowned by Balbo and became the leader of the dissident Fascists in Bologna, where he and his comrades fought with late joiners, stored up grenades and bombs (their slogan was: “One bomb is worth a hundred lectmes”), and called themselves the true Fascists,55 until their expulsion from the party. A good case study of a typical squadristi leader turned typical Fascist hierarch was Renato Ricci, from the Tuscan town of Carrara. Bom in 1896, this “son of the people”56 went to night school to study accounting and later used the tide ragioniere. In 1915 he volunteered for die army and became a lieutenant by the end of the war. He participated in D’An­ nunzio’s Fiume expedition mid returned to Carrara in the spring of 1921 to form the first group of squadristi there. During the “legalitarian strike” in August, 1922, his Fascist gangs participated in the “conquest” of Genoa, having already destroyed the trade unions in his home town as well as overthrown its republican mayor and dispersed the Socialist and Com­ munist parties there. In May, 1923, when his main rival was expelled from the party as a dissident, Ricci became the leading ras in his section of Tuscany. A year later he was made a high official in the Militia, and, in 1926, the head of the Opera Nazionale Balilla until its transfer to party control in late 1937. (Thereafter he was undersecretary (1938) and then minister of corporations (1939-1943), and the head of the Republican National Guard (1943-1945) in Mussolini’s Repubblica Sociale Italiana.) In Carrara, Ricci was hated by the workers for having destroyed their unions; the small quarry owners also resented him for forming a con-


The FASCIST Experience

sortium with the big owners in order to control the production of the area's famous marble. Later on, however, he ordered marble for the con­ struction of ONB building and pocketed part of the money that was sup­ posed to pay for it. Ricci was no more brutal or corrupt than many Fascist hierarchs; but it was ironical that he should have been the head of the nation's youth organization, with its Boy Scout-like pretensions, for eleven years. Although the ministry of the interior successfully asserted the authority of the state over the party, its apparent inability to prevent assassination attempts against Mussolini in 1925 and 1926 brought a change of leader­ ship in the national police force and a permanent crackdown on all antiFascist activities. The first assassination attempt—really only a conspiracy —was that of Tito Zaniboni in November, 1925. It served as an excuse for the immediate dissolution of the Socialist party, to which Zaniboni belonged, and of all other opposition parties shortly thereafter. The Zani­ boni plot also gave many Italians an excuse to turn from aloofness or opposition to support of the regime on “patriotic” grounds. Mussolini's participation as one of the Big Four at Locarno a month later, dissipated fears of an adventurist foreign policy, thus improving the regime's respect­ ability. In 1926 there were three real attempts to assassinate the Duce: one by Violet Gibson, an aging and slightly crazy Irishwoman, in April; one by Gino Lucetti, a young anarchist, in September; and one in October, attributed to a teenage anarchist named Anteo Zamboni. Between the last two attempts Mussolini fired his old police chief and replaced him with Arturo Bocchini, who was to devote the next fifteen years of his life to protecting the life of the Duce and rooting out subversives. In November, a draconian internal security law was instituted, with the Special Tribunal —outside the regular judicial system—to enforce it. Meanwhile, by drama­ tizing the “law-and-order” issue, the assassination attempts of 1926 rallied many Italians to the policies of the regime, including its repression of all opposition. The monarchy and the army also reinforced the legitimacy of the regime. In November, 1926, Vittorio Emanuele III once again failed to meet his responsibilities. Marshal Enrico Caviglia, hardly an antimonar­ chist, later said of the king: “He permitted violations of the Constitution; he allowed the civil liberties guaranteed by the Statuto to be tampered with; he proscribed many citizens for extra-constitutional reasons amount­ ing to persecution.”57 The modus vivendi between the regime and the army dated back to the winter of 1923-1924, when Mussolini had first assured the generals full control of the army without interference or criticism, as well as providing a climate of patriotism and militarism. The army in turn assured the regime of its support in any civil strife and guaranteed the policy of prestige pursued by Mussolini, thus “allowing the regime to don a warlike mask and to seek an international role beyond the country's capabil­ ities.”58 Of the three men who consolidated Mussolini's regime after 1925, Rocco became known as its “official theorist.” Whereas Federzoni was a traditional authoritarian nationalist and Bocchini an efficient and largely


The Fascist Revolution

apolitical police chief, Rocco was an eminent professor of law and an original thinker. By 1914 he had made his reactionary elitist ideas prevail in the Italian Nationalist Association. He had two basic goals: to substitute an authoritarian state for the liberal state and to replace the unsupervised conflict of social and economic forces with a hierarchical class structure and with corporations for each sector of the economy, which would run their own affairs, but would have to submit to the authority of the state. Rocco incorporated these goals into a full-blown, logically consistent ideology. Because Mussolini gave Rocco the power to make this ideology the constitutional basis of the Fascist regime, a number of observers argued that the Fascists, having no ideology of their own, took over the Nationalist program. This argument overlooks both the difference between the façade and the praxis of the regime and the divergence of Mussolini’s goals from those of other Fascists. Mussolini wanted a personal dictatorship based on mass support for his charismatic leadership ("Mussolini is always right”) and reinforced by a strong police state; most other Fascists wanted some­ thing more, although this was all that materialized. Nevertheless, in 1926, having accepted Rocco’s program of reform, Mussolini launched the famous slogan: "Everything in the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state.” Mussolini was mainly concerned with the second goal—eliminat­ ing the enemies of his regime and neutralizing those forces, especially the monarchy and the church, that he could not eliminate. Rocco’s ideal society was to be run by the grands commis de Vétat and the progressive captains of industry, with Auguste Comte’s primacy of the social organism as the new principle of legitimacy.59 Thus, despite Mussolini’s slogan, Rocco’s conception of the state was reactionary rather than totalitarian, authoritarian rather than demagogic. As we shall see in succeeding chapters, Rocco’s economic goal of a corporate state merely continued the practices established in the 1926 laws disciplining labor without controlling management; it was his political goal that made him the "official theorist” of Mussolini’s variety of Fascism. The exceptional laws devised by Rocco in 1926 reinforced the Duce’s dictatorial powers by allowing him to legislate by decree, by outlawing all other political parties, by eliminating the possibility of subversion, by "demoting” the Fascist party from an autonomous "private” organization to a propaganda agency of the government, and by making the Fascist Grand Council Mus­ solini’s "general staff.” Even the government itself was reduced to the status of a merely consultative and executive organ without joint respon­ sibility for decisions taken by its head. The law of December 9, 1928, defined the organization and powers of the Grand Council and made it the highest deliberative organ of the regime. Not only was its approval neces­ sary for all further constitutional changes; it also prepared the lists of deputies to be elected and union leaders to be appointed and was even empowered to rule on the succession to the throne and to choose Mussolini’s eventual successor. As the regime entrenched itself, a number of anti-Fascist politicians and intellectuals went into exile—the celebrated fuorusciti. Francesco


The FASCIST Experience

Saverio Nitti set the pattern by going first to Switzerland in June, 1924, and then settling in Paris at the end of 1925. During this period two out­ standing leaders of the Popolari also emigrated, Don Luigi Sturzo to London and Giuseppe Donati to Paris. The historian Gaetano Salvemini, harassed by the police and some of his own students at the University of Florence, went to Paris in 1925 and later to Harvard. Piero Gobetti, the brilliant young publisher of the suppressed Rivoluzione Liberale, in Turin, died a few weeks after his arrival in Paris in early 1926. The biggest wave of emi­ gration came in late 1926, in the wake of the exceptional laws. The most spectacular escape was that of Filippo Turati, who, though ailing, twice eluded the police network designed to catch him. Turati was soon followed to Paris by Pietro Nenni and other Socialist and leftwing political and labor leaders. Aside from these well-known figures, over ten thousand ordinary Italians emigrated during the 1920s because of their anti-Fascism. Some anti-Fascists who did not emigrate went underground beginning in late 1926. As with the fuorusciti, these people included Communists (Paimiro Togliatti had moved to Paris before settling permanently in Moscow), Socialists, Catholics, and leftwing liberals. The Communists alone maintained an active underground organization, led by Antonio Gramsci until his imprisonment in June, 1928. They continued to denounce all other anti-Fascists, particularly the Socialists, and to cultivate the im­ pression, confirmed by the government, the police, and the press, that they were the only anti-Fascists left in Italy. This impression was mistaken; the total number of non-Communist anti-Fascists exceeded that of the Com­ munists. Yet all of them together comprised a small minority of the total population. The Fascist revolution began as an alternative to a Bolshevik revolu­ tion and ended as a counterrevolution. From 1919 to 1925 the majority of the black shirts were alienated young men, a self-styled “lost generation,” determined to overthrow the liberal establishment by violent means and restore a “sick society” to health. In their struggle to destroy the liberal political regime, Mussolini and the Fascists had made the reactionaries their main allies and the Reds their main rivals. But in making this alliance Mussolini wittingly, and many other Fascists unwittingly, had brought about the counterrevolution desired by the big landowners and businessmen, along with the monarchy, the military, and some of the higher civil servants; the church also preferred Mussolini to the liberal politicians, as we shall see in Chapter 7. The main purpose of this counterrevolution was to “demobilize” the urban and rural workers, many of whom were being “mobilized” for the first time in modern forms of political, social, and eco­ nomic participation after having been mobilized in the more traditional sense as part of the armed forces during the war. Thus, the basic raison d'être of the new regime was to consolidate a state of affairs considered capable of enforcing indefinitely both lower-class “demobilization” and a moratorium on all those aspects of modernization that might threaten the interests of the alliance, “even at the cost of prolonged economic and social stagnation.”60 In order to placate the middle classes who also opposed the


The Fascist Revolution

"mobilization” of the lower classes but not other aspects of modernization, substitute satisfactions were provided in the form of stability and national prestige. In 1926 the majority of Italians accepted the Fascist regime as legit­ imate, and its air of legitimacy convinced a number of its former opponents to work with it. Some liberal intellectuals salved their own consciences by arguing that the king would have acted illegally if he had dismissed Mus­ solini after the Matteotti murder, while the king salved his by invoking the conservative bogey of anarchy as the only alternative. Once Mussolini reasserted his power in January, 1925, both the army and the police became his loyal servants, as did the civil service and the courts. The Fascist party itself was relieved of most of its would-be revolutionary elements and incor­ porated into the constitutional structure of the regime; the Fascist labor unions still retained a modicum of militancy, but they were fighting a los­ ing battle against the combined opposition of the government and the Confindustria. Slowly but surely Mussolini the Fascist was becoming Mus­ solini the Duce, a national rather than a party chief. This change also added to the regime’s air of legitimacy. Talk of a Fascist revolution was restricted to party periodicals and handbooks; those aspects of the regime which people accepted as legitimate were frankly counterrevolutionary.

NOTES 1. At the first Congress of the Fasci, held on October 10, 1919» at Florence, Mussolini advocated: a) an eight-hour day, b) a minimum wage, c ) participation by workers’ representatives in the technical functioning of industry, d) entrusting to the proletariat’s own organizations the running of enterprises unable to run themselves, e) reorganization of the transport industry and its workers, f ) improvements in sick­ ness and old-age insurance, g) the obligation of landowners to cultivate their fields, h ) uncultivated fields should be turned over to peasants’ cooperatives, with special consideration for those composed of veterans of the trenches. Cited in Edoardo Malusardi, Elementi di storia del sindacalismo fascista, 3rd ed. (Lanciano: Carabba, 1938), pp. 25-26. 2. In Opera Omnia, ed. Edoardo and Dulio Susmel, 35 vols. (Florence: La Fenice, 1951-1963)» *5 »261. 3. One particularly murderous example of such violence occurred at Sarzana (just south of La Spezia) on July 21; contrary to the usual outcome, in this case the raid by five or six hundred squadristi was turned back by a force of local workers and arditi del popolo, leaving 18 Fascists dead. 4. Giacomo Acerbo, one of the leading Fascist deputies in parliament, indicated this possibility in an interview published in II Giornale d’Italia on August 29 and re­ printed in II Popolo d’Italia on August 30. 5. The degree to which big business supported the Fascists in 1921—1922 is still a matter of controversy. See Roland Sarti, “Fascism and the Industrial Leadership in Italy before the March on Rome,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 21, no. 3 (April, 1968); Piero Melograni, “Confindustria e fascismo tra il 1919 e il 1925»” Nuovo osservatore, nos. 44-45 (November-December 1965); Renzo De Felice, “Primi elementi sul finanziamento del fascismo dalle origini al 1924,” Rivista storica del socialismo, 7 (May-August 1964); Ernesto Rossi, I padroni del vapore (Bari: Laterza,


The FASCIST Experience 1966); Felice Guamieri, Battaglie economiche tra le due grandi guerre, 2 vols. (Milan: Garzanti, 1953); Angelo Tasca, Nascita e avvento del fascismo. U ltalia dal 1918 al 1922 (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1963). 6. Renzo De Felice, Mussolini il fascista, I, La conquista del potere, 1921-1925 (Turin: Einaudi, 1966), p. 170. 7. For the flavor of the “Fascist Revolution” see Pietro Gorgolini, Il fascismo nella vita italiana (Turin: Silvestrelli e Cappelletto, 1921), which expresses the militantly antibourgeois stance of early Fascism; Giuseppe Bastianini, Rivoluzione (Rome: B. Berlutti, 1923)» which takes a more conservative line; Alceste De Ambris, “L'évolu­ tion du fascisme,” Mercure de France, 162, no. 2 (15 February 1923), by a disillu­ sioned revolutionary syndicalist supporter of the early Fascists; and Pietro Nenni, Storia di quattro anni (Rome: Einaudi, 1946) and idem, Vagine di diario (Milan: Garzanti, 1947), by a revolutionary socialist. 8. See Massimo Rocca (Libero Tancredi), Come il fascismo divenne una dit­ tatura (Milan: Edizione Librerie Italiane, 1952), pp. 88-89, who says that the party directorate (Mussolini, Roberto Farinacci, Michele Bianchi, and himself) refused the request of the agricultural employers’ association that the Fascists limit them­ selves to organizing the workers and not interfere with the employers; see also Giovanni Pesce, La marcia dei rurali. Storia dell*organizzazione sindacale fascista degli agricoltori (Rome: Casa Editrice Pinciana, 1929), pp. 156-157, who says that the purpose of the Fascist farm workers* union was to counter and destroy the old Con­ federazione Generale dell’Agricoltura, which was too conservative and passive. 9. Italo Balbo, Diario, 1922 (Milan: Mondadori, 1932), p. 6off. 10. Arrigo Cervetto, “Dopoguerra rosso e avvento del fascismo a Savona,” Rivista storica del socialismo, I (1958), 519-520. 11. This generalization is borne out by the reports of the prefects and by a growing number of local and regional studies. In addition to ibid., see Luigi Abrizzani, “L’avvento del fascismo nel Bolognese,” Movimento operaio e socialista, io (AprilJune, July-December 1964), 83-102, 253-276; Antonio Bemieri, “Il fascismo a Car­ rara tra ü 1919 e il 1931»” ibid., (January-March, April-June 1964), 39-55, 105-19; Secondo Ramella, Uazione sindacale nelVagro novarese dal 1918 al 1925; Socialisti e fascisti a confronto (Novara: Tip. P. Riva, 1962); Mario Vaini, Le origini del fascismo a Mantova, 1914-1922 (Rome: Riuniti, 1961); Gino Bianco, “L’avvento del fascimo a Sestri Ponente (1921-1922),” Movimento operaio e socialista, 8 (1962): 189-203. Claudio Silvestri, Storia del fascio di Trieste dalle origini alla conquista del potere and Mario Fabbro, Le origini del fascismo in Friuli (both published by the Libreria Internazionale “Italo Svevo” di Trieste, 1969). In the south and in Sicily and Sardinia there were fewer Fascists than in the north, and their main rivals were often the Na­ tionalists; see Luigi Nieddu, Origini del fascismo in Sardegna (Cagliari: Fossataro, 1964); Salvatore Sechi, Dopoguerra e fascismo in Sardegna. Il movimento autonom­ istico nella crisi dello Stato liberale 1918-1926 (Turin: Einaudi, 1970); Simona Colarizi, Dopoguerra e fascismo in Puglia (1919-1925) (Bari: Laterza, 1971)* The situation in Naples, however, tended to resemble that of the northern industrial cities; see Raffaele Colapietra, Napoli tra dopoguerra e fascismo (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1962). 12. Il Popolo dTtalia, August 1,1922. 13. Arrigo Cervetto, loc. cit., 561. 14. See Lusignoli to Taddei, 3 August 1922, no. 6613, Ministero dell’Intemo, Gabinetto, ufficio cifra, telegrammi in arrivo (1922), Archivio Centrale dello Stato. All the government and party documents cited hereafter are in this archivio. 15. See, for example, the report of May 27, 1921 from Camillo Corradini, under­ secretary or state for the ministry of the interior, to Giulio Rodino, the minister of war, on the attitude of the army toward the Fascists in Tuscany; cited in De Felice, Mussolini il fascista, I, 733-735* 16. In addition to the general’s own memoirs—Io difendo Vesercito (Naples: Rispoli, 1946)—see M. Michaelis, “Il generale Pugliese e la difesa di Roma,” La Rassegna di Israele, June-July 1962, p. 271. There is also a record of the plan for stop­ ping Fascist moves toward the capital: “Zone di sbarramento per impedire incursioni di fascisti,” Ministero dell’Interno, Direzione generale, Pubblica Sicurezza (1914-1926),


The Foscist Revolution Divisione affari generali e riservati [hereafter called simply P.S. (1914-1926)], busta 61, “Fasci Combattimento—Affari generali/’ 17. Giorgio Rochat, Vesercito italiano da Vittorio Veneto a Mussolini, 19191925 (Bari: Laterza, 1967), p. 407. 18. The various organizations of D’Annunzio’s ex-legionnaires and their rivalries with the Fascists are discussed in Cordova, op. cit. 19. De Felice, op. c it, p. 345. The most detailed account of the March on Rome is Antonino Repaci, La marcia su Roma. Mito e realta, 2 vols. (Rome: Canesi, 1963). 20. Melograni, loc. c it, 844-45. 21. Rocca, op. c it, p. 127. 22. Ibid.,p. 161-62. 23. Alberto Aquarone, “La Milizia volontaria nello Stato fascista,” La Cultura, 2, no. 3 (May 1964): 266. 24. See P.S. (1914-1926), busta 86, “Fascisti dissidenti,” for telegrams from the prefects of all these provinces describing these events. 25. The speeches and declarations made by Farinacci when he was party sec­ retary have been published in Roberto Farinacci, Un periodo aureo del Partito Nazionale Fascista. Raccolta di discorsi e dichiarazioni, ed. Renzo Bacchetta (Foligno: Franco Campitelli, 1927). See also Harry Fomari, Mussolini's Gadfly: Roberto Farinacci (Nash­ ville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1971). 26. De Felice, op. c it, p. 457. 27. Reprinted in Benedetto Croce, Pagine sparse, ist ed. (Naples: Ricciardi, 1943), 2, pp. 37iff28. These allies included Orlando and Salandra, Stefano Cavazzoni from the rightwing Catholic camp, and representatives of big business like Antonio Stefano Benni (president of Conflndustria), Gino Olivetti (secretary general of Confindustria), and Giacinto Motta (a high official in the Edison Corporation). 29. Particularly noteworthy in this connection is the record of the CGL national convention on August 23-25, 1923 at Milan (cited in Melograni, loc. c it, 850), in which Ludovico D’Aragona welcomed such collaboration, as long as the CGL repre­ sentatives in the government “did not forget their own past and continued their work in defense of the proletariat.” 30. Ettore Conti, Dal taccuino di un borghese (Milan: Garzanti, 1946), p. 322. 31. Filippo Turati-Anna Kuliscioff, Carteggio, ed., Alessandro Schiavi, voi. 6, Il delitto Matteotti e VAventino, 1923-1925 (Turin: Einaudi, 1959), PP* 219®. 32. There is no evidence that Farinacci himself was involved in the movement led by the militia consuls, but a number of his followers knew of it and tried to exploit it. See Adrian Lyttleton, “Fascism in Italy: The Second Wave,” Journal of Contemporary History, 1, no. 1 1966: 95. 33. Some observers see this aspect of Fascism, especially in the beginning, rather as a Marxist heresy. See Giovan Battista Chiesa, “Il ‘patto col diavolo’ di Alfredo Rocco,” Rivista trimestrale, 4 (March-June 1965): 178-200; and Augusto Del Noce, “Idee per l’interpretazione del fascismo,” in Costanzo Casucci, Il fascismo: Antologia di scritti critici, pp. 370-383* 34. Edmondo Rossoni, Le idee della ricostruzione: Discorsi sul sindacalismo fascista (Florence: Bemporad, 1923)» P* 31 • 35. Meeting of December 5, 1925» Atti del Parlamento italiano. Camera, Legisla­ tura XXVII, Sessione 1924-25, Discussioni, 5, 4849-51* 36. Rocca, op. c it, p. 144* 37. Malusardi, op. cit., p. 45. 38. Pesce, op. c it, p. 115. 39* Ibid., p. 157* 40. Rocca, op. cit., p. 84. 41. Rossoni, résumé of the meeting of the directorate of the Confederazione delle Corporazioni Fascisti, December 30-31, 1924, Partito Nazionale Fascista, Segretario Particolare del Duce, Carteggio Riservato (hereafter referred to as Seg. Part, del Duce), W/R, sottofascicolo 3* 42. See also Rossoni’s lead editorial in La Stirpe, 3 (January 1925)9 where he too


The FASCIST Experience insisted that syndicalism was an integral part of the Fascist revolution and essential for the realization of that revolution. 43« Rossoni’s position at this time was confirmed to me by Riccardo Del Giudice in a personal interview on November 10, 1967. Del Giudice was active in the Fascist labor movement throughout its history and was the head of the national Confederation of Commercial Employees from 1933 to 1939. He remained on friendly terms with Rossoni until the latter’s death in 1965 and is a professor of labor law at the University of Rome. According to him, until 1926 Rossoni believed in a rather nebulous syn­ dicalist corporatism in which unions of workers and unions of employers working together would give Italy a new spirit. Rossoni wanted the labor movement to be autonomous from the party at the local level, with himself as the link between the two at the national level. 44. Cited in Benito Mussolini, Opera Omnia XXI, 250-251. 45. See excerpts from the April 25, 1925, resolution of the Fascist Grand Council (cited in Malusardi, pp. 90-94) and from the meeting of the National Council of the Confederation of Fascist Syndicalist Corporations of April 27 (ibid., pp. 94-96). 46. These two documents may be found in Alberto Aquarone, L’organizzazione dello Stato totalitario pp. 442-451, 477-481, and in S. William Halperin, Mussolini and Italian Fascism (Princeton, N.J. : Van Nostrand-Anvil, 1964), pp. 117-121 and 129-133. In essence these laws brought all aspects of the labor movement under strict state control, set forth a number of workers’ rights—such as paid vacations, terminal leave payments, and various kinds of insurance—but specifically prohibited the right to strike. 47. Gino Giugni, “Esperienze corporative e post-corporative nei rapporti collettivi di lavoro in Italia,” Il Mulino, 5, nos. 1-2 (January-February 1956): 5. 48. See Gino Castagno, Bruno Buozzi (Milan-Rome: Edizioni Avanti, 1955). 49. See the article by Agostino Lanzillo, “La lettera degli organizzatori. Sintomi.” La Provincia di Como, 6 February, 1927 (in Seg. Part, del Duce, W /R Lanzillo Agos­ tino). 50. Cited in Aquarone, op. cit., pp. 418-420. 51. Cited in ibid., pp. 393-394« 52. Letters from the prefect of Genoa, 25 February, 6 April, and 5 November, 1925; 4 February and 5 March, 1931; and 4 May, 1933; P«S. (1910-1934), Serie Cl, Associazioni, busta 21, Genova. 53. See Hans Mommsen, Beamtentum im Dritten Reich (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags—Anstalt, 1966). 54. Cited in Rocca, op. cit., p. 122. 55. Telegram from Prefect Arturo Bocchini, May 21, 1925, P.S. (1914-1926) busta 86, Fascisti dissidenti, fascicolo Bologna. This was the Bocchini who was soon to become the national chief of police. 56. This brief biography of Ricci is culled from police reports dated January 1929, 4 February, 1935, and 16 March, 1938—all in Seg. Part, del Duce, 242/R, Renato Ricci, sottofasc. 3. Additional information on his activities during the 1920’s may be found in Antonio Bernieri, “Il fascismo a Carrara tra il 1919 e il 1931»” Movimento operaio e socialista, io , nos. 1 (January-March 1964) and 2 (April-June 1964): 39 - 5 5 , 105-119. 57. Enrico Caviglia, Diario (Rome: G. Casini, 195a), p. 18. 58. Rochat, op. cit., pp. 408-409. On Mussolini’s foreign policy in the 1920’s see Alan Cassels, Mussolini’s Early Diplomacy (Princeton, N.J.; Princeton University Press, 1970) and Giorgio Rumi, Alle origini della politica estera fascista, 1918—1923 (Bari: Laterza, 1968). 59. Paolo Ungari, Alfredo Rocco e l’ideologia giuridica del fascismo (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1963), p. 32. 60. Gino Germani, “Political Socialization of Youth in Fascist Regimes: Italy and Spain,” revised text of a paper delivered at the Symposium on Single-party Systems, Jenner, California, 5-7 April, 1968, p. 3.

3 The Life of the Party

B l- ..—

Fascist party became a servant of the state rather than its ruler; as this happened, it changed both its character and its composition. The more that membership in the party came to be a badge of acceptability, the less it entailed any commitment to change Italian society. This was particularly true among the state’s highest administrative and judicial officials, many of whom tended to view Fascism as merely an ideological façade for the preservation of the old order, now freed from meddlesome politicians. On the other hand, the gerarchi—party officials at the national and local levels —became increasingly preoccupied with rhetoric and ritual as the possi­ bility of their seizing the main levers of power receded. Achille Starace, the national party secretary during most of the 1930s, tried to impose the Fascist style of behavior on the whole country; in doing so, he became a caricature of what Max Weber once called the “routinization of charisma.” The Duce himself remained outside of the vast party bureaucracy and its internecine conflicts; he used it to implement many of his policies but ignored it in deciding what these policies should be. Yet the party had a life of its own, the most direct and intense manifestation of the Fascist experience. Within a few months after his dismissal as party secretary on March 30, 1926, Roberto Farinacci accused his successor, Augusto Turati, of turning the party into “an athletic and leisure-time organization” and of depriving it of “any revolutionary dynamism.” He was right: according to Mussolini, “the trouble is, the revolution having been made, the revolution­ aries remain.” The Duce wanted Turati to eliminate all “personal” and “provincial” positions and give the party a centralized, authoritarian or­ ganization; to incorporate the party into the regime as its instrument; and to serve as a reservoir of loyal Fascists for service in the state.1 In addition to forming a new ruling class, Turati wanted the party to integrate the working classes into the regime, both through the Fascist unions and the Dopolavoro. Turatfs personal loyalty to Mussolini did not prevent him from in­ terpreting the slogan “all power to Fascism” in the old squadristi sense of putting dedicated black shirts into top positions of power in the nation, but


The FASCIST Experience

this kind of Fascistization never took place for several reasons.2 First of all, unlike the Bolsheviks, the Fascists had come to power not by making a real revolution but through a compromise with the leaders of the existing establishment. Although they held the premiership and a number of cabinet posts, they could not displace most of the leaders of the army, the civil service, and the courts—not to mention the monarchy and the church. Secondly, the fact that many high administrative and judicial officials joined the party made it more difficult than ever to dislodge them. Thirdly, even in those places where the Fascists could have put their own men die Old Guard had not only been deprived of some of its best elements through purging or taming, but its remaining members also lacked the technical competence to compete with new converts from the old order. Finally, even though it proclaimed itself revolutionary and substantially altered the old governmental and legal structures, the Fascist regime was never able to ignore completely the privileges of certain categories of people—e.g., uni­ versity professors until 1931, the clergy and the military at all times. All the evidence leads us to believe that Mussolini himself wanted the Fascist party depoliticized and all power concentrated in his hands as the Duce of the Italian people. One obvious sign was the fact that, in addition to holding the premiership, he headed eight ministries, including foreign affairs, colonies, the three armed forces, and corporations until September, 19^9» and again sporadically in the early and mid 1930s; he was also the nominal minister of the interior during much of the dictatorship. Another sign was his insistence on making all major policy decisions—such as the "Conciliation" with the Vatican, the Ethiopian War, and Italy's entry into the Second World War—without consulting the Fascist Grand Council, despite its supposed status as the highest deliberative body in the land. More specifically, the party constitution of December 14, 1929, spoke of the "conscious and definitive subordination of the Party to the State, both at the center and at the periphery" and decreed that all the national party officials and provincial secretaries be appointed by the head of the govern­ ment, thus eliminating all remnants of democratic control within the party. The fact that this new party constitution itself had to be approved by a royal decree initiated by the premier made it clear that the party was now an institution of the state rather than an independent political force. And increasingly the state came to mean Mussolini’s regime. Indeed, his unwill­ ingness to provide for his succession not only confirmed his own lack of confidence in any other man or group of men but it also made many lead­ ing Fascists doubt the durability of the regime without Mussolini as Duce. During the late 1920s Mussolini removed the remaining "revolution­ ary" elements from both his party and his regime. The breaking up of Rossoni’s National Confederation of Fascist Unions and the replacement of most top union leaders with bureaucrats effectively silenced the syndi­ calists. In a letter to Mussolini on January 1, 1930, even Turati complained that the minister of corporations and his growing bureaucracy were stifling the unions and recommended restoring the authority of the local party secretaries in union matters.3 (We have seen how, in that role, he had led a strike by Fascist unions in March, 1925.) But it was the powers of these


The Life o f the Party

secretaries, particularly those who still behaved like ras, that Mussolini insisted on curbing. Ironically, it was the secretary in Milan, the birthplace of Fascism, that gave Mussolini the most trouble. There the ex-squadrista Mario Giampaoli continued to run the party as if the “Revolution” of 1922 were still going on. In October, 1927, Mussolini told the prefect to call Giampaoli on the carpet and ask him about an incident in the neighboring province of Bergamo, where several Milanese Fascists had allegedly mistreated a hotelkeeper and sung rowdy songs while in the party uniform.4 Giampaoli ignored all efforts to discipline him, and in December, 1928, he was re­ placed by Achille Starace, a longtime vice-secretary of the national party, who fired a number of local leaders, seized stocks of weapons, and brought Milanese Fascism temporarily back into line.5 But the new secretary, Franco Cottini, proved to be just as unregenerate a squadrista as Giampaoli and inept as well. For example, when Mussolini visited Milan in 1930, Cot­ tini charged that the police could not provide adequate security and in­ sisted that the local black shirts protect him. Because of their prominence and their earlier services to the party, Giampaoli and Cottini were treated rather well after their expulsion: on Mussolini’s recommendation Giampaoli was made the representative of the Shell Oil Company in the south, and Cottini was given an administrative post in the Ernesto Breda works (manufacturers of heavy machinery) in Milan.6 Other ex-squadristi were less fortunate. Many of them held low-level jobs during the 1930s and occasionally protested their lot publicly. Those who did so too flagrantly, like praising early squadrism in graffiti or jeer­ ing the gerarchi, were given short jail sentences by the civil courts.7 But they were never “liquidated” the way the old Nazis and old Bolsheviks were in Germany and the Soviet Union. Not only the leadership but also the membership of the party became more respectable and conformist during the late 1920s. In fact, the social composition of the rank-and-file changed a good deal more than that of the gerarchi. As we have seen, the typical Fascist during the early 1920s was someone who had either not yet made a place for himself—a student or a young war-veteran—or whose socioeconomic status was on the borderline between the lower-middle and upper-lower class. By 1927, with further recruitment temporarily halted, perhaps 75 percent of the members were middle-class or lower-middle-class, particularly white-collar employees,8 and the average age was over thirty. Naturally those members of the Old Guard who remained resented these opportunistic late joiners, and even Mussolini himself felt that the less desirable ones should eventually be booted out. Nevertheless, he welcomed the broader base the new mem­ bership gave to his regime as well as the less militant tone it gave to the party itself. The more it was depoliticized, the more visible and (one is tempted to add) “audible” the party became; it was this visibility and “audibility” that made most Italians and foreigners think of it as all-powerful, whereas its main functions were extrapolitical. The most obvious of these functions was propaganda: as early as 1926-1927 all party organs, including the Popolo


The FASCIST Experience

d'Italia, now run by the dictator's brother, Arnaldo, were championing Mussolini's economic policies such as the revaluation of the lira (see Chap­ ter 4), the necessity for wage reductions, and the Charter of Labor. The party also ran the regime's nongovernmental agencies, particularly the Dopolavoro and the youth organizations; the Balilla, under Ricci, was an adjunct of the state, not the party, until November, 1937, but, in 1931, the party was given its own youth group for eighteen-to-twenty-one-year-olds, the Fasci Giovanili di Combattimento, from which to recruit future mem­ bers and leaders. All these changes in the Fascist party fitted in with Mussolini's con­ ception of his personal dictatorship.9 There was to be no opposition of any kind, of course, and the ministry of the interior would see to that through its control of the prefects and the police; in late 1927, under the guiding hand of Bocchini, not only was a new political police force, the OVRA, created, but the whole national police organization was reinforced, modern­ ized, and made to operate with calculated efficiency, without unnecessary brutality or personal vindictiveness. On the more positive side, the authority and the public image of the Duce would embody the highest potential of the Italian people and lead them to new heights. The function of the party was to nurture this conception of the Duce and his regime, particularly among the younger generations, which when properly indoctrinated would provide continuing support for him and it. Finally, Mussolini wanted his regime to rest on as broad a consensus of the entire population as possible. In 1929, in addition to having created political and economic stability and given his party a mass base, Mussolini broadened his consensus with the Lateran Accords on February 11 and a "plebiscite" on March 24. The Lateran Accords and their longterm effects on Catholic life in Italy will be discussed in Chapter 7; here we are concerned only with their immediate effects on the regime. In return for sovereignty over Vatican City, a finan­ cial settlement, and increased influence in public life—particularly the schools—the church gave its blessing to the Fascist regime. Not only were all Italian Catholics now free to support it openly, but the signing of the Lateran Accords also reinforced the "national"—that is, moderate and tradi­ tional—aspect of the regime. Soon thereafter the entire electorate was called out for its support. Technically the Italian voters went to the polls on March 24 to "elect” a one-party slate to the Chamber of Deputies, but it was a true plebiscite in the sense that it was a vote of approval for Mussolini's policies, Fascism, and the regime itself. The fact that almost 90 percent of the electorate voted merely indicated that few people were willing to reveal themselves as anti-Fascists by openly abstaining. What is crucial is the fact that 8,519,559 voted "Si" and only 135,761 voted "No," in a period of calm and without any massive forms of coercion. Between October 8, 1930, and December 7, 1931, the new party secre­ tary, Giovanni Giurati, completed the purge of opportunists and extremists, thus giving the impression that the party had become completely bureauc­ ratized. Bottai’s influential fortnightly review Critica Fascista entitled its lead editorial for September 15, 1931, "The Party is Not Outmoded.”10 The very title reflected a real fear that the actual disbanding of the party


The lif e o f the Party

was being seriously considered. In its December 15, 1931, issue Critica Fascista greeted the appointment of Starace as Giurati's replacement with a plea for the party to challenge the nation's youth and to reach the com­ mon people. Throughout 1932 the review periodically stressed the neces­ sity for the party to create a competent, up-to-date elite. But this possibility receded rapidly as party membership, previously restricted, was now opened indiscriminately to almost anyone who wanted it. Meanwhile, Starace be­ came the symbol of the depoliticization of the party and the reduction of its role to primarily that of “choreographer" of the regime, with himself as the “high priest of the cult of the Duce ”n Almost all observers agree12 that the year 1932 was the turning point away from any basic reform and toward bureaucratization of the Fascist regime. The “changing of the guard” in the national party leadership was followed by a similar change in the government in July, 1932, when most of Mussolini's ablest collaborators were dismissed, including Rocco as minister of justice, Grandi as minister of foreign affairs, Balbino Giuliano as minister of education, and Bottai as minister of corporations. There­ after the leading government ministers were mainly party hacks, although Bottai returned to office as minister of education in 1936. In 1932 the “Fascist Revolution'' was merely history and was enshrined in a public exhibition ( Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista) on the Via Nazionale in Rome. This exhibition depicted the events of 1919-1922, stressing the ac­ tivities leading up to the March on Rome and thus making it perfectly clear that the revolution had been purely political.13 The squadristi heroes of this revolution were canonized as the Old Guard ( Vecchia Guardia), again em­ phasizing their place in the past rather than in the present. (Alessandro Blasetti's film Vecchia Guardia, released in 1934, was the best artistic effort to glorify squadrism as a historical phenomenon. See p. 232.) Anyone look­ ing for evidence of Fascism as a “continuing revolution'' did not find it in the 1932 exhibition or in any other feature of Italian public life. From 1932 on, the cult of the Duce—always printed in block letters as DUCE—became the overriding feature of Italian Fascism, surpassing even the cult of Führer in Nazi Germany in its importance to the regime. Here was the charismatic leader par excellence, now portrayed in profile in a steel helmet, in order to emphasize his manly jaw and his warlike demeanor and to hide his baldness. Far more than any European dictator of his time, Mussolini was also a sex symbol to millions of women of all ages; it was probably to enhance this image, rather than his military or athletic prowess, that he was so often photographed on horseback. He saw to it that he personally was given credit for any and every benefit attributa­ ble to his regime—from (yes!) making the trains run on time to ridding a farming region of snakes, as well, of course, as raising Italy's international prestige. The most blatant and definitive expression of his charisma—in the original Greek meaning of “magic power''—was the slogan, emblazoned on public buildings throughout the land: “Mussolini is always right.” In a sense, to paraphrase Keats, that was all Italians knew or needed to know. For all his charisma, however, Mussolini was not a great leader of men. This defect could be blamed on the fact that, coming from a small-town.


The FASCIST Experience

petty-bourgeois background—especially in Italy—he lacked confidence in other people’s loyalty and willingness to follow his orders, that such con­ fidence is restricted to self-conscious elites and proletariats. But Hitler came from a similar backround, albeit Austrian, and he had an uncanny skill and self-assurance in dealing with people of all classes as well as a greater willingness to delegate authority to competent subalterns. Perhaps Italians are simply more cynical than Germans. Perhaps Mussolini was taken in by the myth of his own infallibility; he certainly trusted his own "animal instinct” above all else.14 Yet he could not reconcile his mania for making all political decisions himself with his growing indulgence toward the proliferation of rival administrative structures. The party, however, was never able, in Weberian langauge, to bureaucratize the charisma of the Duce. One of his most astute colleagues compared him to "an electric power station that illuminated one small lamp bulb . . . an energy that dispersed itself and evaporated for want of collecting centers, of links that might articulate it.”15 On the local level the influence of the party and the quality of its leadership varied considerably from region to region. In the south there was virtually none of the revolutionary fervor of the syndicalists and squadristi elsewhere.16 Aside from Starace himself, who left his native Apulia soon after the March on Rome, the outstanding Fascist "revolutionary” in the south was Aurelio Padovani in Naples.17 Mussolini got rid of him in May, 1923, in order to placate the city’s leading businessmen, but the Fascist party in Naples never produced another leader of comparable force. In the provinces of Apulia, Basilicata, and Calabria, the local Fascist leaders tended to be the lieutenants and "ward heelers” of the former political leaders and deputies—unemployed lawyers, semi­ literate farmers, and lordlings of the town squares.18 Unlike certain parts of the north—particularly Tuscany and Milan—in the south neither the noblemen nor the middle classes were much interested in Fascism. In Sicily and Sardinia, which were economically, socially, and culturally ex­ tensions of the south, the Fascist party and its auxiliary organizations had very little influence outside of the larger cities. Sicilians working in Rome during the 1930s smiled when the government announced that the Mafia had been destroyed and that the habitual delinquency of many parts of their island was about to disappear;19 one did not give such people a civic culture in one or two decades. In general it may be said that on the strictly local level the Fascist party gained the most influence in those places where the municipal civic culture was weakest. The outstanding exception was the city of Rome itself, whose forceful communal administration was replaced by a governor in October, 1925. In a series of decree-laws20 between February, 1926, and October, 1927, Mussolini’s government replaced the elected mayors and communal councils in all towns with a podestà and municipal committee appointed by the prefect. Often the podestà himself was appointed from outside the commune as a way of superseding old divisions among local parties and families21 and assuring control by dedicated Fascists. This 66

The Life o f the Party

procedure was less necessary in the south than in those northern and central towns with a strong municipal tradition. In Turin, even with the municipal administration in Fascist hands, the local party was weak and ineffective in promoting the national policies of the regime in this least Fascist of Italy’s major cities.22 Furthermore, in the largest cities it was not possible to replace the whole municipal bureaucracy, which, like the lower echelons of the national bureaucracy, retained much of its pre-Fascist out­ look. This was particularly the case in Milan,23 where the party, on the other hand, was strong. The municipal reform was more effective in weakening pre-Fascist forces than in spreading Fascist influence, which was the job of the party anyway. In keeping with the ideals of the corporative state, representation on the new municipal committees was to be by economic category rather than by head, so that in the larger industrial towns the employers had one third of the seats, professional men one third, and workers one third. Thus, not only were the old political leaders eliminated, but the workers lost most of their former influence on the old communal councils, where they had often held a majority of the seats through democratic elections. Even more than in the party, the appointed municipal govern­ ments in the north were composed primarily of middle-class and upperclass people, and in the south they were primarily lower-middle-class. Whereas in the smaller communes, particularly in the south, there was often close cooperation between party and government officials, in each of Italy’s ninety-four provinces the federale (provincial party secre­ tary) had to demur to the prefect in any open struggle for power. Mus­ solini had decreed in his January 5, 1927, circular to the prefects that: The prefect. . . is the highest authority of the State in the province. He is the direct representative of the central executive power. All citizens, and first of all those who have the great privilege and highest honor of being militant Fascists, owe respect and obedience to the highest political representative of the Fascist regime and must collaborate with him in a subordinate way in order to help him fulfill his duties as easily as possible.24

Nowhere was the subordination of the party to the state made clearer than in this all-important document, and nowhere was the difference clearer than between party leaders and high government officials who were nominally party members. Throughout the 1930s individual federali tried unsuccessfully to reassert their power in the face of the prefects. In 1931 the federale of the province of Milan complained bitterly to his own lieutenants about the national police for believing the reports of informers about him, but he gradually had to bow to the authority of the prefect.25 One area where the two leaders sometimes clashed during the early 1930s was aid to the un­ employed and the needy. In early 1932 the federale of the province of Piacenza openly flouted the prefect’s order not to take certain measures in this regard and was eventually removed from his post, but by the end of the year his successor, urged on by other party leaders, was campaigning


The FASCIST Experience

to have the prefect transferred.26 More often the conflict between the federale and the prefect was over strictly political decisions regarding personnel or policies, with each leader being backed by a particular fac­ tion within the Fascist party itself, as in Matera and Siracusa.27 In Nuoro hi 1937, the excessive zeal of the federale in humiliating a number of suspected anti-Fascists backfired, and several hundred citizens of the town demonstrated in favor of the prefect, who had opposed this action.28 Back in Piacenza in 1938, the federale openly challenged the authority of the prefect and accused him of publicly making "pessimistic statements” about Fascism.29 At Taranto the federale was angry at the prefect be­ cause of his close association with the colonel in charge of the local Carabinieri (the two friends were probably both northerners commiserating over their "exile” in this Godforsaken southern town) and accused him of being too much under their influence.30 In all parts of Italy the typical gerarca, from the federale on down, was a man who had suffered the frustrations of powerlessness under the liberal regime. The squadristi "Revolution” had transformed him from a petty bully over other powerless people into a person of authority and prestige; even the riding boots he wore symbolized both his exaggerated masculinity and his aspirations toward aristocracy, the class that tradi­ tionally went about on horseback. In most towns and even in many neighborhoods of large cities the local gerarchi continued to be viewed as bullying upstarts (the Italian word prepotente—overbearing, bullying— was used with greater frequency than ever before during the Fascist period) by their acquaintances who had known them before their rise to power. Understanding that this was how many people viewed them, many gerarchi flaunted their contempt for the values of the former local bigwigs—traditional learning, the social graces, family snobbery—in order to emphasize the new dispensation under which they now "rode high in the saddle.” In a country where ‘lording it over” one’s inferiors was almost a national vice, it is easy to understand the kind of meanness that crept into the manner of so many gerarchi now that they had a license to push other people around. Although the increase in total membership in the Fascist party from slightly more than 1 million in October, 1932, to over 2.6 million in October, 1939, might seem to indicate its growing popularity among the masses, other factors add up to a different impression. First of all, the 1 million in October, 1932, was abnormally low owing to the restrictions on new members in preceding years. Secondly, the bulk of the increase came in 1934 and 1935 as a result of recent laws requiring all civil servants, including school teachers, to be party members. Thirdly, hardly any pea­ sants—who constituted half of the total population—belonged to the party, and the percentage of urban workers who did was very small, so that the party was "popular” mainly with the middle and lower-middle classes. One reason for this social imbalance was the fact that membership in the party and all of its subsidiary organizations required a fee, which many people found too high and which some simply could not pay at all. Indeed, in 1933 Mussolini personally ordered the ministry of the interior 68

The Life o f the Party

to tell Starace to stop the Genoa branch of the party from charging an additional fee for the application for membership, a practice that the Duce said was keeping some workers away.31 Finally, there was a con­ siderable variation in the party's size and strength from one region to another. The party's youth organizations, women's groups, and the Dopolavoro will be discussed in Chapter 5; here we are concerned only with adult party members (who, as in Nazi Germany, but unlike the Soviet Union, were all men) in certain typical provinces. In 1932 the national average for membership in what were still called Fasci di Combattimento was 2.4 percent (1 million out of 42 million); in 1940 it was 6 percent (2.6 mil­ lion out of 44 million). In the province of Trent the figure for 1932 was 3.2 percent; for 1940, 7.5 percent.32 In the province of Naples the cor­ responding figures were 2 percent and 4.1 percent; the further south one went from Naples, the lower the figures were.33 Whereas the figure for most cities in the north varied between 7 and 8 percent, even in 1940 it was less than 4.5 percent in recalcitrant Turin. With the exception of Turin one can say that party membership was highest in the richest and most urbanized provinces and lowest in the poorest and most rural provinces. It was highest of all in the province of Rome—over 15 percent34 —mainly because of the large number of government workers there. The growth in party membership during the 1930s did not bring new blood into the leadership. Except for a minority of young men who rose from the Fasci Giovanili, control of the party at the local and national levels usually remained in the hands of gerarchi who had taken part in the “Revolution" and were now beginning to fight off middle age. Since there were few such people in the south, many of the gerarchi there had been sent down from Emilia or Tuscany and were viewed—like all northerners, no matter how well-meaning—as foreigners by the local party members. Even in the north the party leaders tended to become increasingly a class apart from the rank-and-file, which included, in each district, a small segment of the Old Guard—ex-arditi, ex-squadristi, wounded and decorated war veterans, all of whom remained aloof from the host of late joiners and retained a kind of arrogant “sour grapes” attitude toward the party hierarchy that honored them but at the same time ignored them. During the Starace era the local gerarchi tended to become carbon copies of the apparently irreplaceable national secretary in their outward behavior; they could not all jump through flaming hoops or over automobiles on horseback, but they all could and did pay punctilious attention to rank and ritual. For ordinary Italians the most disturbing official at the local party headquarters was the fiduciario, who combined the roles of drill sergeant, deacon, and police inspector. Even most ordinary party members entered this headquarters, “as a Christian enters a mosque,''35 with wonder and trepidation toward a world they barely understood. At least once a year, however, every member had to see the fiduciario, if only to renew his party card. After he had filled out the necessary forms he had to listen to the fiduciario rebuke him for his absences from party rallies and to swear to


The FASCIST Experience

serve the Duce with renewed zeal in the coming year. Even non-party members had to visit the fiduciario, sometimes merely to have their dossiers brought up to date, sometimes to be disciplined for not supporting some current government campaign or merely for lack of patriotism. As with the police, the party meted out punishment appropriate to the social class of the accused: a brusque verbal warning for a bourgeois, a slap or a kick for a worker or peasant. The myth that sustained the professional Fascists during the 1930s was that of a “second Revolution,!* of a “smoldering fire in the ashes” of the current atmosphere of tranquility and softness. (There was nothing comparable in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union; in the mid-1960s the “great proletarian cultural revolution” in China was launched ostensibly against the party bureaucracy, but Mussolini was no Mao Tse-tung.) The so-called Reform of Custom after 1937—abolition of the formal Lei in favor of voi, substitution of the Roman salute for the traditional hand­ shake—was partly a tactic to “co-opt” the demands of young firebrands who took the myth too literally. As relayed to ordinary party members the myth entailed the possibility that the Duce might at any time call on all black shirts to march again and shed their blood for the cause. Mean­ while, the gerarchi expressed their “revolutionary” zeal in a group of slo­ gans reflecting the outlook of the arditi, futurists, and Fiume legionnaires: Vivere non è necessario, ma è necessario navigare36 (“It is not necessary to live, but it is necessary to plot a course and stick to it”); Ardisco non ordisco (“I dare, I don’t just arrange”); La guerra sta alVuomo come la maternità alla donna ( ‘W ar is to a man what childbearing is to a woman”). According to the myth, Fascism was a continuing revolt of idealistic young men who did not give a “damn” against a conventional and cowardly bourgeois establishment. As often occurs in such cases, the Freudian mechanism of projection was at work in the party’s hostility toward anything bourgeois. One slogan announced that Fascists hated paperwork, yet in every party head­ quarters everyone was busy coping with a mountain of bureaucratic red tape. In the mid-i93os the party review Gerarchia published the following item: Those dandies in starched collars who get up at noon and flit from one café to another into the night have become rarer. . . . Italians under Fascism have an al­ together different style: to rise at seven, to exert one's self for hours on end skiing, to return home at sunset and, after having eaten, to retire into a comer and sing a simple refrain, with a good pipe in one's mouth.37

This grotesquely ironical attempt at populism (skiing was hardly a plebeian pastime) not only showed a remarkable ignorance of how most middle-class and upper-middle-class people spent their time (Mussolini himself was said to have shared this misconception), but it also overlooked the frequent portrayal of society playboys in the movies—often by Vittorio De Sica—to say nothing of the elaborate wedding of Mussolini’s daughter to Galeazzo


The Life o f the Party

Ciano. Even as late as 1941 a party critic in Critica Fascista lamented the slowness with which the bourgeois life-style was giving way to Fascist norms,38 yet the advertisements in this review pictured quite elegant bourgeois Italians sipping brandy and tasting fancy chocolates. As the party become increasingly bureaucratized and preoccupied with ritual, the federali sent Starace elaborate monthly reports on all the activities they sponsored. They sometimes complained about sparse at­ tendance at rallies of the Fascist Women and the Fascisti Giovanili 39 but they could always list impressive numbers for cultural events—mainly lectures on “political culture.40 Another favorite activity was “reaching the workers,” through patriotic rallies41 and even through lectures by university students.42 During the early 1930s the federali in Milan province tried to win over the workers by holding large meetings to honor “oldtimers” and other “worthy” employees with diplomas and five-hundredlire prizes.43 In Palermo the federali also took an interest in the mistreat­ ment of several thousand workers who were dislocated by an urban renewal project between 1934 and 1938.44 In 1939, Starace in turn issued an order to the federali to distribute one-thousand-lire prizes to party members who had taken part in the “Revolution,” saying that the ones that he and the other gerarchi were entitled to should be distributed to “squadristi burdened with large families.”45 Some ex-squadristi who were no longer in the party protested so loudly in some places that it was forced to give some prizes to them as well.46 The activity that gave the party the most popularity at the local level was relief for the poor and unemployed during the depression years. Although the federali had to compete with various state officials in this realm, they were often successful in winning the allegiance of the poor people they helped. When this kind of relief was launched on a large scale at the beginning of 1932 it was given much fanfare, and the federali everywhere stressed the fact that it came from the party itself. (It is also worth noting that the principal lay Catholic organization. Azione Cattolica, was much distressed over this “competition” in welfare work, considering it another blow to its activities.)47 Indeed, the distribution of flour, pasta, soup, and other foodstuffs was sometimes labeled “Gift of the Duce ”48 Supplementary rations and clothes for the children were distributed at Christmas and Epiphany. In some places as much as 10 per cent of the total population was reached at least a few times a year, and the school-lunch program for children was perhaps the largest and steadiest item of relief. In its relief work the party was partial to children and war veterans and their families. The party not only considered these people more deserving than ordinary “needy” folk, but it could also expect them to be more appreciative. It was particularly sympathetic to veterans with permanent disabilities, to the families of men killed in the war, and to veterans who had been Fascists of the first hour. Its main help to children, aside from the school lunches, was the highly publicized summer “colonies” —really camps—at the seashore and in the mountains. By 1935 as much


The FASCIST Experience

as io percent of the total number of children of the eligible age were being sent to these “colonies” for two weeks or more each summer.49 The party fanfare that accompanied their departure from the city plus the programmed combination of good times and inspirational talks at camp were bound to have made a strong impression on these indigent young­ sters, most of whom had never been outside the slums of their home town. So important did the party consider these summer colonies that it spent almost exactly half of its own funds for public assistance on them.50 Actually, 90-95 percent of the funds spent by the federale in the name of the party’s public-assistance agency—Ente Opere Assistenziali (EOA)— came from the ministries of the interior and of corporations and from a number of government agencies. For this reason, although the EOA was under the jurisdiction of the federale, its accounting was controlled from the prefect’s office.51 The party itself spent 8,843,777 lire of its own funds through the EOA in 1935-1936,52 but in Ferrara alone, an average size province, 3,000,000 lire a year were53 spent. Although the bulk of these funds were obviously coming from outside the party, it got the credit for all the money spent. It also instituted a grain levy on the local farmers— 750 grams out of each quintal (100,000 grams) for poor relief. Yet for all the money spent by the EOA the relief was sporadic and temporary, aside from the school-lunch programs and the summer “colonies.” Charity was no substitute for a real welfare system, and the party, which was mainly interested in earning brownie points, was hardly equipped to administer such a system. One specific, almost Boy Scout-like, function acquired by the party in October, 1935, was that of watchdog over rising prices caused by the Ethiopian War and restrictions on imports. The main work was done by provincial trade-union committees presided over by the federale. These committees not only kept a close watch for illegal price increases but also established fines and jail sentences for transgressors and defended the purchasing power of the poorer classes. They took their work seriously, and many small merchants were unhappy about the kind of spot-checks this work entailed.54 In the early spring of 1937, faced with complaints that price controls were not being enforced, one quick-witted federale countered by saying that the real reason for the high cost of living was that wages had not risen as fast as prices.55 Needless to say, such candor was not welcomed in Rome, either at party headquarters or by the government. Punishing the local grocer was a far cry from running the state; indeed, throughout the 1930s the party had even less influence on the national government than on local affairs. Bottai, Ciano, and the other leading Fascists still active in Mussolini’s government in the late 1930s, had little or nothing to do with the party or its activities. The ministry of the interior, the empire, and even foreign affairs, continued to be run by older “establishment” types who were party members in name only. Al­ though the courts had to enforce the rather harsh Fascist conception of law and order and most judges joined the party, they managed to preserve a good deal of their professional integrity;56 only the special tribunal for


The Life of the Party

subversives was outside their purview, but even here it was the OVRA rather than the party that took charge. Bocchini also refused to appoint Fascist zealots to the important post of chief constable ( questore) in large towns.57 In fact, the OVRA and other branches of the national police were not averse to keeping high party officials under surveillance; Farinacci complained that this happened to him in 1932, and Adelchi Serena, vice­ secretary of the party, made a similar complaint in 1936.58 The party itself had no power over the armed forces, and Mussolini himself was less suc­ cessful in intimidating them than Hitler, who was able to get rid of a number of his leading generals by 1938. In September, 1934, Mussolini could not even get General Pietro Badoglio io applaud his speech to a group of divisional commanders.59 Although the party had no control over the regular armed forces, a certain number of younger officers brought Fascist attitudes into the army from the Militia and the Fasci giovanili. Most observers agree that the man most responsible for promoting such officers was General Federico Baistrocchi, undersecretary of war during the 1930s.60 The Militia itself remained in an ambiguous position because of Mussolini’s unwillingness, on the one hand, to allow it to become in any way an instrument of the party independent of the state and, on the other hand, to allow it to become completely absorbed by the army, thus eliminating a tangible and living sign of the permanence of the Fascist Revolution, with its militaristic overtones. In fact, on February 1, 1938, he inaugurated the Roman “goosestep” to give the ‘legionnaires” of the Militia added distinction. But it was certainly not this new parade-step that could ever transform this motley national guard—“whose militaristic and administrative-bureaucratic ele­ ments met on the common level of supplying the choreography for the regime”—into a new elite.61 The regular army officers looked down their noses at an organization that could transform a ragtag group of family men into an assault battalion by a simple bureaucratic directive.62 The head of the Militia, on the other hand, argued that the real rivalries were not so much between it and the regular army as between rival army officers in the two organizations.63 Beginning with the Ethiopian War, the Militia became a kind of auxiliary volunteer force of the regular army. As is well known, Mussolini began planning the conquest of Ethiopia at the time of the Ualual border incident in early December, 1934. His main goal was undoubtedly to replace the “social” card of corporativism (which had withered in his hand, so to speak) with a “historical” justification for his dictatorship; a revival of “Roman” imperialism, as a way of stimulating national enthu­ siasm and unity. But an important secondary purpose of the war was to put some of the nation’s unemployed men into uniform. Already in March, 1935, the class of 1911 was being called into the regular army, and a number of these men were simply transferred to the Militia as “volun­ teers.”64 In May, 1936, with Ethiopia conquered and the empire proclaimed, these and more authentic volunteers were dismissed and given bonuses. Then, later in that year, Mussolini began sending 50,000 “volunteers” to Spain to fight on the side of Franco. Although most of the volunteers in


The FASCIST Experience

the Militia, particularly from the southern countryside, joined because they were unemployed and needed the money, a significant number of them became Fascist enthusiasts after their experience as black shirts. And during the Second World War university graduates, including teachers and journalists, were to fight enthusiastically in the Militia.65 From the beginning, however, a number of leading figures of the regime, though nominally Fascists and “purged” for this reason in 1945, were poles apart from Starace and most party gerarchi. Luigi Federami, for example, was one of Mussolini’s closest collaborators throughout the 1920s;66 after retiring from his post as minister of the interior in Novem­ ber, 1926, he became minister of colonies and, in August, 1928, governor of Rome. From 1929 to 1939 he was president of the Senate, from 1931 on the editor of the Nuova Antologia, and in 1938 the president of the Italian Academy. Federzoni’s appointment to the Senate and his wife’s appointment, in May, 1931, as a leader of the Fascist women’s group (Fasci feminilï) in the province of Rome, disturbed Starace and other “Fascists of the first hour.” They were right to be disturbed, for Federami, himself a prewar nationalist and loyal monarchist, was their enemy not only in his role as minister of the interior but also in his basic conservatism and his intellectual and social snobbery. Another, perhaps more typical, member of the conservative upperbourgeoisie who served the Fascist regime throughout its existence was the Neapolitan Amadeo Giannini (1886-1960).67 He had strong ties with the church, was a diplomat, jurist, and professor of law at the University of Rome, and sat on numerous state and international commissions. Before 1922 he admired Sidney Sonnino, but he had a stronger nationalist bent. A conformist, he accepted and served the Fascist regime without question. Although he had little personal contact with the party or Mussolini, he corresponded with many of the leading figures of the Fascist period : Italo Balbo, Michele Bianchi, Luigi Federzoni, Roberto Forges Davanzati, Gen­ eral Pietro Badoglio, Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, Giovanni Gentile, and many others. Even operating behind the scenes, Giannini had more influence on national policy than a pompous loud mouth like Starace. For this reason, he and other men like him must be held just as much responsible as the party gerarchi for what happened under Fascism, however “pure” their motives may have been. Although the party’s leadership could do little about men like Feder­ zoni and Giannini, it vented its wrath on those from its own ranks who, in the jargon of more recent times, became co-opted by the establishment; the outstanding example was Leandro Arpinati. As we have seen, Arpinati, a prewar anarchist, had been the ras of Bologna in the early 1920s but had gone over to the idea of the supremacy of the state after being ap­ pointed undersecretary of the interior and the actual head of that ministry under Mussolini. During the early 1930s Starace had a running feud with him, accusing him of trying to undermine the party secretary’s position and of not having a true Fascist spirit.68 After forcing Arpinati’s dismissal from his post in May, 1933, his expulsion from the party, and his actual arrest and incarceration a little over a year later, Starace still complained


The Life of the Party

that he helped his disciples retain high administrative posts in the ministry of the interior.69 Starace also complained that the ministry of press and propaganda authorized the readmission into the journalists’ union of sev­ eral journalists expelled from the party, thus demoralizing old-line Fascist militants.70 As a kind of sop to Starace, in early 1937 Mussolini made the office of party secretary include the title minister-secretary of state and in September gave Starace, in this capacity, precedence immediately after the minister of the interior. Still, Starace was not accepted in fact as one of the Duce’s inner circle. Infighting among Fascist bigwigs was easily as frequent and acri­ monious as among the top Nazis. We have seen how Renato Ricci, the ruthless former ras of Massa and Carrara, had become the head of the Opera Nazionale Balilla, the regime’s organization for children up to age eighteen. In 1931 he came into conflict with Carlo Scorza, the former ras of Lucca, whom he accused of trying to enroll fourteen-to-eighteen-year-old students in his newly created Fasci Giovanili, thus robbing the Balilla of them.71 Scorza, who was to be the last national party secretary before the fall of the regime in July, 1943, had recently participated in the campaign of a group of ex-squadristi and futurists to rid the Duce of "bad advisers” like the "conservative” Arpinati.72 Even though both Ricci and Scorza were loyal to Mussolini until the end, they were bitter enemies during most of the 1930s over the issue of which one would control the nation’s youth. Another feud was the one between Gaetano Polverelli and Cornelio Di Marzio over mastery of the nation’s journalists, each man trying to absorb the organizations controlled by the other.73 Next to Galeazzo Ciano, who was protected as Mussolini’s son-in-law, the Fascist minister most hated by the party gerarchi was Giuseppe Bottai, minister of education from 1936 to 1943. Starace was frequently at odds with him, and he was con­ stantly being denounced by anonymous informers as insensitive and in­ competent,74 mainly because he favored the schools over the Balilla and the party in molding the young. Before turning to some of the ideological efforts to revive the spirit of the "Fascist Revolution” within the framework of the bureaucratized regime during the 1930s, we must mention Giovanni Gentile’s conception of the "ethical state.” This conception was important mainly because Mus­ solini himself followed it almost literally in his famous article on "Fascism” in the 1932 edition of the Enciclopedia italiana. The controversy over whether or not Gentile ghost-wrote this article is irrelevant here. Certainly the first part, "Dottrina-idee fondamentali,” is borrowed completely from Gentile’s 1925 essay Che cosa è il fascismo. The second part, "Dottrina politica e sociale,” diverges from Gentile in its emphasis on militarism, in its conception of the state as an entity independent of its citizens, and in its identification of the Fascist state with the Roman tradition. Gentile, of course, was the editor-in-chief of the encyclopedia, but it is unlikely that he edited Mussolini. The first part of Mussolini’s article assumes the basic premise of Gentile’s "actual idealism” : the identity of thought and action (see Chap-


The FASCIST Experience

ter io ). From this premise Mussolini postulates the idea of an authentic community that Fascism is trying to make actual by fusing the individual and the nation. Only in such a community can the individual realize his true potentialities, which are spiritual rather than material, social rather than individual. The means for making this ideal a reality is the totalitarian state. Fascism reaffirms the state as the true reality of the individual. . . . For the Fascist everything is in the state, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value, outside the state. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist state, which is the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops, and brings out the full potential of the total life of the people.

Thus the Fascist state is an ethical state because it alone makes possible the realization of true human values. “The nation as state is an ethical reality that exists and lives as long as it develops.” Mussolini liked Gentile's idea that the Fascist regime was the means of creating a new type of Italian and a new civilization. According to Gentile, the spiritual essence of Fascism, its “religious, totalitarian view of life,” must inform the consciousness of all citizens and permeate every sphere of daily life.75 The neoidealist philosopher maintained that “politics and history are made not only by promulgating new laws, creating new institutions, or winning battles, but also (and properly so) by developing new states of mind, and ideas, in forming new men and a new spirit.”76 Fascism for him was neither a philosophy nor a dogma; it was, rather, a “continuing revolution” of the immanent spirit of the nation. It was bound by no irrevocable policies: “The true resolutions of the Duce are those that are both formulated and put into actual effect.”77 This kind of language obviously flattered Mussolini, but he had no intention of making Gentile his Plato. First of all, he could not accept Gentile's idea that the state exists in so far as the citizens cause it to exist; for Mussolini and for all other leading Fascists, the state was autonomous. Furthermore, the “continuing revolution” was obviously over by the time of the Lateran Accords. By then Gentile, who had been Mussolini's first minister of education (see Chapter 6) and had headed an important con­ stitutional commission, was relegated to purely academic posts and had no further influence on government policy. The hostility of the Vatican78 also made it necessary to downgrade him in Fascist circles. He was, in addi­ tion, attacked by many party officials for harboring anti-Fascist professors on the editorial board of his encyclopedia. Consequently, by the time Mus­ solini's article appeared in 1932, the man and the philosophy that had in­ spired it were already out of fashion. But neither Mussolini, nor Starace, nor the old and new ideologues were content with the bureaucratized “corporate state.” Mussolini soon turned to imperialism, and Starace wanted his version of the party's “Roman” style of behavior to become the national norm. By 1937, in a three-volume work called Sistema di dottrina del fascismo, Antonio Canepa


The Life of the Party

blamed the mediocrity of Fascist thought on the doctrine itself and the rigidity with which it had to be interpreted and the atmosphere of exalta­ tion in which Fascist writers had to operate.79 Those older ideologues who wrote for Critica Fascista, kept calling for the creation of an elite com­ petent to deal with the problems of an industrial society. Bottai, who con­ tinued as its editor, also wanted to give Fascism a new cultural base through his Carta della Scuola (1939), which tried to democratize the public schools and to bring life and work experience into the educational process (see Chapter 6), and through his efforts to patronize Italy’s most talented artists and writers, regardless of their political views.80 But Critica Fascista had many enemies, both on the left and the right, and it was never the official spokesman for the regime. The most militant of the younger ideologues were divided into two opposite extremes: the neo­ mystics (exponents of mistica fascista) and the "integral corporatists.” Despairing of all efforts to give Fascism a philosophical base, the neomystics rejected rationality in all its forms in favor of faith in the genius of Mussolini. Nicolò Giani, the director of the Istituto di Mistica Fascista, with headquarters in Milan, said: “We are mystics because we are mad . . . factious . . . and even absurd. Yes, absurd . . . [for] History has always been and will always be an absurdity—that is, mystical—the absurdity of the spirit and the will which bends and conquers the merely material.”81 Gianni Guizzardi said that “man is happy to abdicate his reason in order to believe in Him who leads . . . ” and he preached a “re­ turn to that most beautiful Myth, bom in the bloodbath of the world war, which gave the first blow to modernity.”82 By “modernity” Guizzardi meant the rational, modernizing leadership of the liberal regime. In its place the neomystics substituted unquestioning faith in whatever Mussolini said or ordered them to do. Credere, obbedire, combattere (“Believe, obey, fight”) was a perfect slogan for their irrationalism, which was a vulgarized version of the ’’destruction of reason” proposed by certain philosophers and poets at the turn of the century; this slogan also had echoes of the menefreghismo of the original squadristi. At the opposite extreme from these reactionary mystics a smaller number of radical students and older syndicalists were attracted to the seemingly ultramodern “integral corporatism” of the political philosopher Ugo Spirito.83 The whole subject of the corporative state, including Spirito’s extremist position, regarding it, will be discussed in Chapter 4. Here all we need to note is that during the late 1930s a self-styled “new left” among the university students tried to use Spirito’s ideas as a means of reviving the 1919 Fascist program’s promise of radical social change. The government permitted the expression of all sorts of heterodox ideas as long as these ideas did not challenge the regime itself, but it ignored them completely in formulating its own policies, especially imperi­ alism. Indeed, these polemics served as an ideal safety-valve for powerless Fascist intellectuals and idealistic Fascist students. Although the conquest of Ethiopia rallied the Italian people behind the regime as no other Fascist policy did, it was not a uniquely Fascist goal. Mussolini’s war with Ethiopia


The FASCIST Experience

was popular, not because it transformed Italy into a new Roman Empire, but because it united the Italians against the opposition of the League of Nations and especially against the English. The Duce9s words and manner expressed the strong emotional need of millions of Italians to overcom­ pensate for the patronizing and often contemptuous attitude of AngloSaxons, Frenchmen, and other Europeans, toward them. The victory over Ethiopia84 seemed to fulfill this need until Mussolini spoiled the illusion that Italy could create its own "place in the sun” by making the country a junior partner of Germany. The strengthening of the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1938 brought a seem­ ingly new ingredient into Fascist ideology and practice: racism. Before then there had been individual anti-Semites and anti-Africans among Fascist and non-Fascist Italians (particularly among traditional clericals and reactionaries), but there was no ideological tradition of biological racism comparable to the one in Central Europe. At first, when Fascist theoreticians or even Mussolini himself spoke of the Italian race, they were referring to a politically defined population within the borders of a particu­ lar nation, just as other people spoke of the French race or the English race. Nevertheless, the Fascist regime eventually did push its exaggerated nationalism toward ethnic racism in its effort to integrate the highly diverse regional, cultural, and physical types that made up the Italian population, as well as to assert that Italians were "as good as” northern Europeans. As the idea of the nation no longer seemed to have the power to fulfill these two crucial functions, and with no other unifying slogans available, ethnic racism became the main ideological component of Fascism from 1938 until the end of the Second World War. The alliance with Nazi Ger­ many prompted some (though not all) Fascist theorists to try to graft biological racism onto their ethnic racism, but so did the "problem” of keep­ ing Italian soldiers from mating with Ethiopian women. Thus it is not true that Fascism had no racial doctrine and that it simply imitated the Nazis "out of a clear blue sky,” so to speak.85 It is a mistake to insist that a person or a group cannot sincerely sup­ port today an attitude that he or it opposed yesterday; this is particularly true of racism. Undoubtedly Mussolini and the majority of Italians were not temperamentally anti-Semites, whereas Hitler and a large number of Germans were. Yet, once the Manifesto of Fascist Racism was issued on July 15, 1938,86 its contents were gradually accepted by millions of Italians. The example of Critica Fascista shows how quickly attitudes changed. Until 1938 Bottai’s review had opposed racism of any kind. Then, immediately after the issuance of the manifesto, it stressed the "spiritual” rather than the biological idea of race.87 A month later, although still playing up the "spiritual” side of racism, it went along with denying Jews influence in government or education because they had a different spirit.88 In early 1940, in a widely publicized lecture,89 Giacomo Acerbo, distinguished pro­ fessor of economics and sometimes Fascist minister, alluded to the loose­ ness of the term "Aryan” but said that it had to be used in order to isolate the Jewish minority from the "national organism.” By then Fascist periodi­ cals, including those with intellectual pretensions, were publishing cartoons


The Life of fhe Party

ridiculing Jews and articles accusing them of being against whatever the author happened to be for—modern art or traditional art, the rich or the poor, etc.90 While the theoreticians struggled to balance psychic against physical traits in order to justify laws against "miscegenation” between "Aryan” and Jew, Italians of all classes became "sincere” anti-Semites, partly out of conformity and partly out of conviction,91 only to abandon this new attitude after 1943, when the Nazis themselves imposed their anti-Semitic practices on Italy's 45,000 Jews. Part of the ambiguity about Fascist "totalitarianism” stems from the fact that the Fascist party as such never destroyed the old power structure, like the Russian Communists, and never succeeded in dominating it, the way the Nazis did in Germany. Even on such a crucial ideological issue as racial policy it was the state, not the party, that took the initiative in Italy, whereas Hitler and the Nazi party imposed this policy on the German state. Hitler shrewdly left the presidency "vacant” after the death of Hindenburg, thus altering the state power structure in a way that was impossible for Mussolini, for whom the monarchy remained a stumbling block until the very end. Nor were the Fascists able to gain as much control over the army as their counterparts in Germany; many of Italy's army officers kept their first loyalty for the king, whereas in 1934 Hitler made all German officers swear allegiance to him personally, and in 1938 his creation of the Ober­ kommando der Wehrmacht broke the power of the old general staff. The difference between the two countries was to widen during the Second World War, when the SS, originally an elite organization of the party and with no Italian counterpart, gained increasing power and independence, while in Italy the party was deprived of much of its remaining influence even in the Dopolavoro and the Olympic training committee.92 In the end, the rift between the party and the leader was to forestall any resistance to Mus­ solini's overthrow. (Even in April, 1945, when Germany's military situation was far worse than Italy's had been in July, 1943, there was no party re­ volt against the Führer.) As we have seen, the Fascist Party was legally deprived of its potential role as a ruling elite by the end of the 1920s, to the regret not only of the Farinaccians but also of Fascist intellectuals who wanted the party to create an aristocracy of thought and action. One of these intellectuals, Gherardo Casini, protested the subordination of the party to the state as early as 1928,93 and in the early 1930s, along with Bottai, he periodically warned that this subordination was ruining the party's ability to produce the required elite.94 But the political downgrading of the party and of the Fascist Grand Council was only part of the reason; at least as important was the poor quality of the party’s leadership from the beginning. At no time was this leadership socially cohesive, competent on a technical or administrative level, or endowed with the high moral caliber of a true ruling elite—like, for example, the Communist party of the Soviet Union. One need not go as far as the conservative Catholic Stefano Jacini, who said that the regime had to rely mainly on small cliques and influential men who often represented the worst rather than the best elements of their


The FASCIST Experience

respective sections of Italian society.95 It is nonetheless true that the leaders of the Fascist party lacked not only the intelligence but also the selfdiscipline and self-sacrifice needed to make a revolution of any kind. The revolution that most Fascist intellectuals wanted was the trans­ formation of Italy into a modern industrial state. There is a growing litera­ ture on Fascism as a modernizing ideology,96 but it must be remembered that this ideology was set forth by only one of several pressure groups and never by the party itself after the mid-i920s. (Neither Farinacci, Turati, Giurati, Starace, nor Starace’s successors were modernizers in any sense of the word.) Only at the very beginning, when Mussolini was still seek­ ing power, did he encourage the formation of teams of experts (gruppi di competenza) to function in an advisory capacity within the party and form the cadre of a new ruling class.97 These teams were also to serve as a means of attracting non-Fascists with technical and administrative know-how. But by 1925 they had ceased to exist outside of public administration and education, both of which were overhauled to some extent, though hardly “modernized” (see Chapter 6 on the Gentile educational reform). There­ after men like Alfredo Rocco and Ugo Spirito urged the creation of new in­ stitutions to facilitate Italy’s industrial progress, but the state soon lost interest in these, and the party was simply not involved. The sociologist Camillo Pellizi said the most that could be said for the Fascist effort at modernization by calling it another of Italy’s “missed revolutions.” From the early 1930s onward the review Critica Fascista was the main champion of modernization and of the need for a new elite to push this process forward. Its main whipping-boy was the Italian bourgeoisie, which, unlike that of Germany, the United States, and Japan, did not provide the needed modernizing leadership. This accusation was not true of the Agnellis (Fiat), Olivettis, or Pirellis, though many other leaders in big business were still somewhat backward in their managerial techniques by Ameri­ can or German standards, though less so, during the interwar years, by British or French standards. In an article written in late 1940, Mimmo Steppa attacked the basic Italian ways of doing things: getting favors and jobs through recommendations; getting the job for the man, rather than the man for the job; lack of professionalism and expertise in most jobs. Steppa went on to criticize even the hierarchy of the party for its amateurism and for giving jobs to men without concern for their qualifica­ tions.98 He concluded by saying that the strongest nations are the best or­ ganized ones, which, in December, 1940, obviously meant Nazi Germany. But since Germany had been strong and modernized before the Nazis had taken over, even this grudging admiration for their achievements was mis­ placed. Although it failed to produce a new ruling elite, the Fascist regime had brought about a political revolution whose effects were immediate, ob­ vious, and enduring. Parliamentary democracy, such as it was, was de­ stroyed, and most of the old political class went into retirement or exile. Mussolini gave the impression of being all-powerful, but he could not rule alone, and the Fascist party as such was little help to him in running the country. The civil service, the courts, the armed forces, and the police re-


The Life of the Party

mained in the hands of career officials whose commitment to Fascism was usually nominal. Chief of Police Bocchini had far more real power than Party Secretary Starace. Indeed, the party and the Militia tended increas­ ingly to become ceremonial leftovers from the days of the "revolution”— much like the soviets in the. USSR. The bigger and more ostentations they became, the less they had to do with the way in which Italy was ruled.

NOTES 1. See especially Mussolini's suggéstions for Turati to use in his speech to the party directorate in March, 1927, cited in De Felice, Mussolini il fascista, 2: 178. 2. The analysis in this paragraph comes largely from ibid., pp. 343-44. 3. Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 242/R. Gran Consiglio, sottofasc. 8, inserto A. 4. Telegram of October 17, 1927, busta 31, fase. 242/R, ibid., Giampaoli, Comm. Mario. It should be noted that Giampaoli was segretario politico of the city of Milan; a man named Maggi was the segretario federale of the province of Milan. As we shall see presently, during the 1930s the main conflicts were between the segretarii federali and the prefects, whereas until then, at least in the north, these two officials were usually on the same side against the segretario politico. 5. Telegrams from Starace to Turati and from the prefect to the ministry of the interior, from December 12, 1928 through February 1, 1929, plus a congratulatory telegram from Mussolini to Starace on May 21, 1929, ibid., busta 24, fase. 242/R, Missione delTon Starace (Milano-Fascismo). 6. See the police dossiers on these two men in ibid., busta 31, fase. 242/R, Giam­ paoli, Comm. Mario and busta 26, fase. 242/R, Luigi Franco Cottini. 7. Anonymous reports of 18 July and 26 October, 1931, PNF, Situazione Politica delle Provincie, Siracusa (hereafter called PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov.). 8. This estimate comes from Secondo Tranquilli (pseud., Ignazio Silone), “Ele­ menti per uno studio del PNF,” Lo Stato Operaio, October 1927, 875ff.> and “Borghesia, piccola borgesia e fascimo,” ibid., April 1928, 15iff. 9. Opinions on this subject run the gamut from De Felice, who says that Mus­ solini’s conception of the “true” Fascist Italy was simply “to endure and to use its power to. mold the new generations of Italians according to its ideals” (Mussolini il fascista, 2: 360), to A. James Gregor, who sees it as a full-blown, consistent ideology of totalitarianism capped by Gentile's notion of the ethical state. (The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale of Totalitarianism, New York: The Free Press, 1969» passim, but particularly pp. 194-95* 10. 9, no. 18. Bottai's co-editor until 1936 was Gherardo Casini. The other staff writers who wrote editorials most frequently were Agostino Nasti, Mario Bivoire, Ser­ gio Panunzio, F. M. Pacces, and Emilio Canevari. 11. Aquarone, U organizzazione dello Stato totalitario, pp. 182-183. 12. E.g., PNF, Sit. Poi. delle Provincie, Roma; report of 30 December 1931 on a secret meeting attended by the ex-futurists F. T. Marinetti, Emilio Settimelli, and Mario Carli, as well as former Minister of Finance Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata, Minister of Corporations Giuseppe Bottai, and Prof. Arturo Rocco, brother of the minister of justice. According to this report, this group believed that “the leaders of the dictator­ ship have understood that all the revolutionary objectives of Fascism have failed and so they now pursue a purely day-to-day kind of policy.” Camillo Pellizzi, a noted so­ ciologist and sometime contributor to Critica Fascista, told me the same thing about the year 1932 in an interview on July 28, 1966, in Rome. 13. The main exhibits were on the ground floor; the first five rooms dealt with events from the outbreak of the First World War to the founding of the Fasci Italiani


The FASCIST Experience di Combattimento on March 23, 1919; the next ten rooms depicted the events from that date to the March on Rome, the last, and largest, hall being the “Shrine of the Martyrs” ( squadristi killed during the “Revolution”). Only in five small rooms upstairs were there exhibits suggesting the accomplishments of the regime, and even here the emphasis was on things already done rather than things yet to be done. (See the 258page illustrated catalogue of the Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista [Rome: Partito Nazionale Fascista, 1933].) 14. In his Memorie (Florence: Sansoni, 1958), p. 333, Alessandro Lessona, min­ ister of colonies in the late 1930s, quotes Mussolini as saying that “il mio fiuto d’animale non m’inganna mai.” 15. Giuseppe Bottai, Ventanni e un giorno (Milan: Garzanti, 1949), p. 31. 16. Report to the party directorate, dated 12 August 1923, PNF, Mostra della Rivoluzione, parte 1, busta 69, fase. “Ufficio Propaganda del PNF, Anno 1924.” 17. On Padovani see Guido Dorso, La rivoluzione meridonale, pp. 133-139 and 148; and Raffaele Colapietra, Napoli tra dopoguerra e fascismo, p. 236. 18. Tommaso Fiore, Un popolo di formiche. Lettere pugliesi a Piero Gobetti (2nd ed. Bari: Laterza, 1952), pp. 132-134; and Carlo Levi, Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Turin: Einaudi, 1962), passim. 19. Report of 26 June 1932, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Roma. 20. Reproduced in Aquarone, op. cit., pp. 412-418. 21. Report from the segretario federale, Umberto Guglielmotti, to the prefect of Rome, 30 October 1928, regarding communes outside of the capital itself, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Roma. 22. Report to Mussolini, Ministero della Cultura Popolare (hereafter called Minculpop), Agenzia Stefani—Manlio Morgagni, busta 1, fase. 1, 1931. See also PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Roma, anonymous report of 17 June 1932, in which one finds one of many references to the fact that Turin was somewhat isolated from Fascism, despite “years and years of propaganda and speeches.” For a later view see Armando Gavagnin, Ventanni di resistanza al fascismo. Ricordi e testimonianze (Turin: Einaudi, 1957). 23. Report to Mussolini, Minculpop, Agenzia Stefani—Manlio Morgagni, busta 1, fase, i, 1931. 24. Opera omnia, 22, p. 467. 25. Anonymous report of March 28, 1931 and a report to Mussolini by Dino Alfieri on October 14, 1931, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Milan. 26. Anonymous reports of February, September, and December, 1932, ibid., Pi­ acenza. 27. Anonymous report of December, 1932, Siracusa; anonymous report of Feb­ ruary 22,1935, ibid., Matera. 28. Anonymous report of April 27, 1937 and reports of the federale, June 21 and 30,1937, ibid., Nuoro. 29. Report of the federale, January 8, 1938; confirmed by an anonymous re­ port of May 7, ibid., Piacenza. 30. Report of the ispettore di zona of the Ministero dell’ Interno, May 14, 1938, ibid., Taranto. 31. Telegram from Mussolini dated July 29, 1933, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 34, fase. 242/R, Starace, Achille. The party got over 10 per cent of its funds from regular fees, aside from these “extras.” At nearby Imperia some people accused the local gerarchi of pocketing these extra fees as graft; anonymous report of Feb. 28, 1933, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov. Imperia. 32. Reports of the federale for December, 1932 and 1940, PNF., Sit. Pol. delle Provincie, Trento. 33. Reports of the federale for December, 1932 and 1940 ibid., Napoli; also similar reports for Taranto and Palermo. 34. For figures on these cities see report of the federale for October 1940, ibid., Torino, as well as similar reports from Milan, Trieste, Genoa, Savona, Mantua, Parma, Piacenza, Modena, and Ferrara; and report of the federale for Nov. 1940, ibid., Roma. 35. Emilio Radius, Usi e costumi delVuomo fascista (Milan: Rizzoli, 1964), p. 297 .


The Life of the Party 36. This is a variation on the closing lives of D’Annunzio’s play, Laus Vitae (1903) • “Chè necessario è navigare/vivere non è necessario.” 37. D. Calcagno, “Cronaca del Partito,” Gerarchia, 15 (1935), 17a. 38. Domenico Vanelli, “Rivoluzione totalitaria,” Critica Fascista, 19 (1 March, 1941):135-136. 39* E.g., anonymous report, 15 November, 1933, PNF, Sit. Poi. delle Provincie, Trento. 40. Report of the federale of Trento, 24 January, 1934; also, reports of the federali of Rieti, 16 March, 1935, ibid; of Pisa, 4 May, 1935; and of Pistoia, 8 May, 1935. 41. Anonymous report of 11 September 1935, ibid,, Milano, saying that several thousand workers attended such a rally but without enthusiasm, and the report of the federale on 11 November 1935» saying that the response was impressive consider­ ing that the district had recently been a “fortress of subversion.” 42. Report of the federale, November 1934, ibid,, Napoli. 43. Anonymous reports, November 17, 1930; July 22, November 20, December 15, 1931 ; November 23, 1932; January 21, 1933; and periodic reports of the same kind for two more years, ibid., Milano. 44. Report of the federale, July 6, 1934, ibid., followed up by an anonymous re­ port, July 20, 1938, describing the poor housing conditions of the displaced workers. 45. Order No. 1285 (Mar. 12, 1939), in Bollettino del Comando Generale delta G.I.L., 13, no. l i (1 April 1939), 174« 46. In July, 1967» the Italian scholar Domenico Zucaro told me of several ex­ amples of modest employees in Turin protesting in this way with this result. 47. Anonymous report, February 23, 193a, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Roma. On the other “blows” to the Azione Cattolica in 1931 see Chapter 7. 48. My information on the kinds and amounts of poor relief doled out by the party comes from reports of the federali in the early and mid 1930s from the following provinces: Mantova, Matera, Milano, Napoli, Perugia, Pesaro, Pescara, Piacenza, Pisa, Pistoia, Potenza, Reggio Emilia, Roma, Savona, Siena, Temi, Torino, Trento. 49. Ibid., Milano, Modena, Napoli, Roma, Temi. 50. “Consistenza patrimoniale del PNF in base ai bilanci dell’anno XIV” (Oc­ tober 1935-October 1936), cited in Aquarone, op. cit., pp. 600-601. All information on national party funds for public assistance come from this source. 51. Article 27 of the 193a Party Statute, cited in ibid., p. 528. 52. Ibid., pp. 600-601; 2,500,000 out of 4,431,235 lire spent on the colonies came from the ministry of corporations; of the other party funds for the EOA, 1,500,000 came from contributions from semipublic and private institutions and 1,633,264 from contributions for a Monument to the Empire, which were transferred to the EOA. 53. Report of the prefect, September 11, 1936, PNF. Sit. Pol. Prov., Ferrara, and Nuoro, report of the prefect, May 4, 1938; the rest of the infomation in this para­ graph is based on these two reports. 54* Report of the federale, March 6 , 1937» ibid., Reggio Emilia, and Milano, anonymous report, March 20,1937. 55. Anonymous report of March 16, 1937, ibid.. Temi, and the answer of the federale, April 31,1937. 56. Among the many memoirs that support this observation see Domenico Ric­ cardo Peretti Griva, Experienze di un magistrato (Turin: Einaudi, 1956), p. 17. See also Antonio Raimondi, Mezzo secolo di magistratura. Trentanni di vita giudiziaria milanese (Bergamo: SESA, 1951), and Mario Berutti, Un magistrato indipendente e altri racconti di vita e costumi giudiziari contemporanei (Milan-Rome: Gastaldi, 1950). 57. See Guido Leto, OVRA. Fascismo-Antifascismo (Bologna: Cappelli, 1951); Leto, a high officiai under Bocchini, says that his boss allowed only three Fascist zealots to become questori during his fourteen years as chief of police (p. 132). 58. Letter to Mussolini, December 2, 1932, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 242/R, Fari­ nacci, Roberto, sottofasc. 6, inserto B.; also, ibid., busta 34, Starace, Achille, undated report (some time in 1936) from Serena to Starace. 59. Letter from Starace to Mussolini, Sept. 1 4 ,1934» ibid. 60. Aquarone, op. cit., p. 253*


The FASCIST Experience 61. Ibid,, p. 255. 62. Quirino Armellini, La crisi dell*esercito (Rome: Editrice “Priscilla,” Edizioni delle Catacombe, 1945), p. 102. 63. Enzo Galbiati, Il 25 luglio e la MVSN (Milan: Editrice Bemabo, 1950), p. 24. 64. Armellini, op. cit., p. 103. 65. See, for example, Giuseppe Berto, Guerra in camicia nera, new ed., (Milan: Garzanti, 1967). 66. Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 82/R, Federzoni, Luigi. The correspondence in this file bears this point out beyond any doubt. 67. See Gabriele De Rosa, I Conservatori nazionali: Biografia di Carlo Santucci ( Brescia : Morcelliana, 1962), passim. 68. Letter on May 3, 1933 to Mussolini, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 34, fase. 242/R, Starace, Achille. For a recent apologia for Arpinati see Giancarla Cant amessa Arpinati, Arpinati mio padre (Rome: “Il Sagittario,” 1968). 69. Letter of January 27,1937, ibid. 70. Memos to all cabinet ministers, February 15 and September 10,1937, ibid. 71. Ricci letter to Mussolini, May 30, 1931, ibid., 242/R, Riunioni del Direttorio del Partito Nazionale Fascista, sottofasc. I. 72. See the May 30, 1930, issue of the review La Quarta Roma, in which its director, Guglielmo Danzi, praises Scorza for participating in this campaign, along with Mario Carli and Emilio Settimelli. 73. Copy of a memo from the Pubblica Sicurezza to Mussolini, May 10, 1937, re­ garding a conflict between Polverelli and Di Marzio over the control of the Instituto di Previdenza dei Giornalisti “Arnaldo Mussolini,” Seg. Part, del Duce, busta, 62, fase. W/R, Polverelli, Gaetano. 74* Anonymous reports of February 19 and June 19, 1940, ibid., busta 64/R, Bottai, Giuseppe. 75. Giovanni Gentile, Che cosa è il fascismo: Discorsi e polemiche (Florence: Vallecchi, 1925)» P- 38. 76. Id., “La legge del Gran Consiglio,” Educazione Fascista, VI (September 1928), 51477. Id., “Origini e dottrine del fascismo” (1927), cited in Casucci, Il Fascismo, p. 37 . 78. In March 1930 Gentile had publicly attacked the pope as a doctrinaire Thomist and cryptomaterialist. (See Police report, March 15, 1930, Seg. Part, del Duce, 7R, Senatore Professore Giovanni Gentile, sottofasc. 1.) 79* (Rome, Formiggini, 1937), 2: 207-208. 80. Bottai had come to Fascism via futurism, and he maintained his contacts with Italy’s avant-garde writers and artists throughout the duration of the regime. In the late 1930s he gave academic posts to the poets Giuseppe Ungaretti, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Alfonso Gatto; the novelist Vasco Pratolini; and the painters Ottone Rosai and Giorgio Morandi. Gatto, who was a crypto-Communist then and has been an outspoken Communist since the days of the resistance, told me (personal interview, November 28, 1967, in Rome) that Bottai did not patronize these artists and writers as a means of corrupting them into supporting the regime and that he remained per­ sonally loyal even to those who were anti-Fascist. This view was also expressed to me by Piero Bargellini, a conservative Catholic literary critic, writer of textbooks for the Fascist elementary schools, and mayor of Florence in 1967-1968, in a personal interview on July 9,1967 in Florence. 81. Nicolò Giani, “Perchè siamo dei mistici,” Gerarchia, 19 (February 1940): 113. 82. Gianni Guizzardi, “Dalla ragione alla fede,” ibid., 198. 83. See Ruggero Zangrandi, Il lungo viaggio attraverso il fascismo (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1964), pp. 442-445. 84. See A. J. Barker, The Civilizing Mission: A History of the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-1936 (New York: Dial Press, 1968), for an up-to-date account of the military history of this war. 85. A. James Gregor, The Ideology of Fascism, p. 282; although it stresses only the theoretical aspects of Fascism, this work is particularly good as a corrective to


The Life of the Party conventional oversimplifications about Fascist racism* The standard work on Fascist anti-Semitism is Renzo De Felice, Storia degli ebrei sotto il fascismo (Turin: Einaudi, 1962). 86. Cited in ibid., pp. 383-386. 87. Editorial, 16, no. 19 (1 August 1938). 88. Ibid., no. 21 (1 September 1938). 89. “Il fondamento della dottrina fascista della razza:” a summary appeared in Razza e civiltà, 1, no. 1 (1 March 1940): 99-104, and the reference cited is on p. 102. 90. E.g., Il Bargello, the weekly newspaper of the Fascist Federation of Florence, whose third page (see Ch. 10) contained some of the liveliest cultural criticism in the Fascist press. Its November 20, 1938» issue featured on page one an article by Gino Ersochi in which he criticized the Jews for opposing modern art, and on page three a cartoon of a neanderthal-like figure, with a huge nose, telling an official: “I have a cousin who lives near the Piazza San Sepolcro. Do you think that this could work in my favor?” Articles and cartoons like these appeared regularly in II Bargello until its demise in 1943* 91. All the reports of police and party officials do not portray this phenomenon nearly as vividly as Giorgio Bassani’s novel, Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (Turin: Einaudi, 196a); the English version is called The Garden of the Finzi-Contini (New York: Atheneum, 1965); Vittorio De Sica adapted it into a film in 1971* 92. Guido Cavallucci, “H Partito e la classe dirìgente,” Critica Fascista, 19, no. 4 (15 December 1940); the author tries unconvincingly to argue that the decentraliza­ tion of these organizations will allow the party to concentrate on its role of “spiritual” and “moral” leadership. 93. “Il Partito e la Rivoluzione,” Il Popolo dTtalia, 12 February 1928. 94. “Quando il popolo ascolta,” Critica Fascista, io , no. 13 (1 July 1932). 95. Stefano Jacini, Il regime fascista (Milan: Garzanti, 1947)» PP* 57®• 96. In addition to Gregor, op. cit., see Alberto Aquarone, “Aspirazioni tecnocra­ tiche del primo fascismo,” Nord e Sud. 11, n.s., no. 52 (Aprii 1965) and Roland Sarti, “Fascist Modernization in Italy: Traditional or Revolutionary?” American Historical Review, 75, no. 4 (April 1970), 1029-1045. The principal Fascist treatments on the subject in retrospect are Camillo Pelizzi, Una rivoluzione mancata (Milan: Longanesi, 1949) and Massimo Rocca, Come il fascismo divenne dittatura, cited earlier. 97. Il Popolo dTtalia, October 8, 1921; the groups were not actually formed for over a year and then slowly. 98. Critica Fascista, 19, no. 3 (1 December 1940); see also Cesare Zavoli, “Spirito della modernità fascista,” ibid. (1 January 1941)*

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mm»n»m PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Sassari. 92. This decline is evident in the reports of the inspector general of the Pub­ blica S icu rezza for January 1935 (P.S. 1903-1949» C i, busta 1, Affari per provincie, 1935)» in bis radio broadcast of January 11, 1935» Roberto Forges Davanzali boasted that while Fascism had reduced the crime rate in Italy, it was rising in the United States ( C ronache , I, pp. I 94 - I 9 5 )* 93. Ugo Ojetti, I ta c c u in i (Florence: Sansoni, 1954 )» P* 222. 94. The national figures given in this paragraph come from T ra tta to elem en ta re d i sta tistic a , vol. 6, S ta tistich e sociali, Alfredo, Spallanzani, S ta tistic h e g iu d izia rie (Milan: Giuffrè, 1934), p. 31; and C om pen dio S ta tistico Italian o, voi. 13, 1939 » P* 261. These figures are confirmed by reports of the police and the fed e ra li from most of the provinces I have investigated. 95. Tamaro, op. cit.. Ill, 219.


Threshing grain In the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Propaganda poster ior the Battle of Grain



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Little Balilla boys.

Little Balilla girls.

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T a r g e t p r a c t i c e o n a D o p o la v o ro c r u is e s h ip .

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6 Education

| n trying to use Italy's schools for their own purposes the Fascists had to contend with two fundamental facts of life : the conservatism of most teachers and schools and the bourgeois character of most forms of modem education. The former stumbling block can eventually be removed by structural reforms and by training a new crop of teachers, but the latter has remained in countries far more “totali­ tarian” than Fascist Italy ever was. (One is reminded of Marshall McLuhan's quip about the Soviet Union trying to have a nineteenth century—by ap­ plying middle-class standards in education as well as in art.) One of the many ironies of the Fascist experience was the fact that the Gentile reform of 1923 actually delayed the “Fascistization” of Italian education by shoring up nineteenth-century bourgeois elitist values. “Fascistization” had its greatest effect beginning in the mid-i930s on elementary school teachers fresh from their training institutes and on their pupils. By that time the regime was trying to break down the bourgeois character of the secondary schools in order to increase social mobility and select talent in techno­ logical and scientific fields. The Bottai reform of 1939 also tried to bring the schools closer to the world of work. Finally, by enforcing school at­ tendance and teaching patriotism and religion, the regime hoped to inte­ grate the masses into the national society. * It is easy enough to identify the Gentile and Bottai reforms with rival educational philosophies, but it is difficult to say which of these men and their backers were the most truly Fascist. The Gentile reform was worked out in close collaboration with his idealist disciples Giuseppe LombardoRadice and Ernesto Codignola; the Bottai reform was inspired in large part by the pronouncements of Luigi Volpicelli, an admirer of John Dewey. During the Fascist period Lombardo-Radice was the head of the Pedagogical Institute of the School of Education at the University of Rome until 1935, when he was succeeded by Volpicelli; in this key post (and as directors of the review I Diritti della scuola) they had a major influence on Italian pedagogy. Yet all these men eventually became disabused with Fascism, whereas Gentile, who lost most of his influence during the 1930s, remained loyal to Mussolini until his own death at the hands of the resistance partisans in April, 1944. Even Bottai, the most influential Fascist with any


The FASCIST Experience

brains throughout the history of the regime, turned against the Duce be­ fore that. The educational establishment that the Fascists tried to transform re­ flected different class attitudes toward schools. For the upper-middle and middle classes the classical preparatory school was the traditional agency for helping their children maintain or improve their position in life and develop their personalities. By the beginning of the twentieth century sec­ tions of the lower-middle class began to see secondary education as a means of moving upward economically and socially, but they had mixed feelings about the literary culture they had to learn in the process. By then some urban workers wanted elementary schooling for their children, but most peasants still resisted any form of instruction in reading, writing, and reckoning, let alone in how to behave in nontraditional ways. Education in the sense of upbringing was not considered a function of schools in tradi­ tional European societies. One learned the cultural values and norms for behavior of one's class from one's family, from priests, and, among aristo­ crats, from tutors and governesses. During the first two decades of this century Italy's liberal leaders made a determined effort to spread elementary education among the masses while monopolizing higher education for the bourgeoisie. One index of their relative success in their first goal was the decline in the national illiteracy rate from 48.5 percent in 1901 to 30 percent in 1921 (27 percent for those over six—a more realistic measure). School attendance remained uneven beyond the first three grades, particularly in the south, but after the Daneo-Credaro reform of 1911 the ministry of public instruction main­ tained some minimum standards in schools formerly administered by the communes, and five grades were compulsory according to the law. The "selecting out'' process for higher education took place when a pupil was ten or eleven. Only the classical high school consisting of the ginnasio (first five years) and the liceo (last three years) gave access to all divisions of the university, and it was at this age that the child went into this school after successfully passing an entrance examination. The other kinds of secondary school—technical, vocational, and normal schools—gave termi­ nal diplomas, whereas the ginnasio-liceo was viewed as a preparatory school for professional training at the university level. Obviously only the wellto-do middle classes could support a child in school until he was twentytwo or. twenty-three years old. At the end of the First World War the revolutionary turmoil that helped destroy the tottering liberal regime was accompanied by counter­ revolutionary demands for the strengthening of the nation's elites through the revitalization of the classical high school. Not only did the nationalistic educators who set forth these demands lament the prewar trend toward democratizing the ginnasio-liceo by making it easier to get in and stay in; they also charged the majority of the teachers with lack of patriotism. Ernesto Codignola sparked a near-riot at the congress of secondary school teachers at Pisa in May, 1919, by accusing them of being "friends of Free-



masonry” and of having "prepared the way for Caporetto” with the anti­ clerical and antinational outlook they had instilled in their students. Giuseppe Lombardo-Radice, who, with Codignola, founded the Fascio di Educazione Nazionale later that year, was particularly fierce in his con­ demnation of "bolsheviks” for their hostility to the war and their revolution­ ary activities after it was over.1 This Fascio had no connection with the Fascio di combattimento, and a number of its members (Piero Gobetti, for example) were to oppose the Fascist regime openly. What held it together during the immediate postwar period was its loyalty to Gentile’s principles and its nationalist orientation. The nature of this orientation was best ex­ pressed by Lombardo-Radice in his appeal to the teachers to join, the new Fascio in the January 15, 1920, issue of the review UEducazione nazionale: We must renovate the conscience of the new generations, if we want to reap suit­ able benefits. . . . The bitter ordeal of the war—notwithstanding the marvelous, spontaneous gifts of our people, second to none—has laid bare serious gaps in the spiritual framework of the nation, particularly in those classes whose studies should have given them a devout feeling for the law and for the subordination of the individual to the supreme collective interests, an active faith, moral training, a realistic view of things, and a sense of the concrete.

Needless to say, not all the secondary school teachers accepted the position set forth by Codignola and Lombardo-Radice. If moral and ideo­ logical training was to be introduced into the heretofore apolitical high schools, there were other possibilities than reactionary nationalism in neoHegelian trappings. Many of the teachers had a radical, masonic, or so­ cialist background, and opposed the introduction of a state examination for liceo graduates from both private—mainly Catholic—and state schools, though Gentile and his followers insisted on this examination. In contrast to this traditional laic outlook was that of the Catholics in the new Partito Popolare, who welcomed the idea of the state examination and the possibility of teaching religion in the elementary schools. Like Codignola, Gentile, and Benedetto Croce, the young Antonio Gramsci wanted the sec­ ondary schools to concentrate on molding the ruling class, rather than giving any kind of practical training, but, unlike these conservatives, Gramsci wanted to open this kind of moral and cultural education to talented people from the lower classes.2 The novelty of the situation in the immediate postwar period was that, with the nationalistic neoidealists forcing the issue, people of diverse ideo­ logical persuasions began thinking of the schools as agencies for indoc­ trinating students with a particular point of view or value system. The Catholic schools had always done this, of course, and in the state schools individual teachers had instilled pacifist, laic, and perhaps socialist values. Lombardo-Radice and Codignola soon got over their nationalism, which was merely a symptom of the times.3 Unfortunately, the regime whose sponsorship they were soon to accept shared neither their philosophical outlook nor their concern for the individual pupil. The Fascists had no


The FASCIST Experience

ideas of their own concerning education before they seized power but, given their plebeian, antiestablishment outlook, they could hardly be ex­ pected to like a reform that was designed to revive and reinforce the nineteenth-century bourgeois elitist conception of education and culture. Mussolini supported the Gentile reform in 1923 and 1924 as a particu­ lar expression of the desire for some kind of renovating conservatism which held together the loose coalition of Fascists, nationalists, conservative liberals, and Catholics during those early years. He also did so as a means of gaining respectability in the intellectual community by creating the impression that Gentile was the regime’s philosopher-in-residence. As one of Italy’s leading interventionist intellectuals, Gentile had obvious appeal in nationalist circles; as a longtime advocate of raising educational stand­ ards, he had a considerable following in the liberal educational establish­ ment. Indeed, his goal of poche scuole, ma buone (few schools, but good ones) was shared by his archrival Croce, who had been unable to put his own ideas into practice during his brief tenure as education minister in 1920. In late 1922 Gentile was given this post in Mussolini’s first govern­ ment, while Lombardo-Radice became the director-general of elementary instruction. Their reforms were set forth in a series of decrees during the following year. The spirit of the Gentile reform involved two principles : the identifica­ tion of philosophy and pedagogy and the unification of teacher and pupil in the learning process. According to Gentile, the teacher is not somebody who “instructs” his pupils by giving them information, formulas, laws, or arguments. The truth of all such things resides in the conscious act of him who utters, hears, or thinks them. Hence, the teacher “éducates” his pupils by making them one with himself, that is, by bringirig them into his sphere of thought and making them share in his enlightened life.4 Since the nature of “spirit” is movement and perpetual creation, every teacher and every pupil are something new in comparison with all others. Pedagogic rules can therefore only hamper the progress of truth and should be abolished. (In fact, Gentile abolished the teaching of pedagogics in his new teacher-training colleges and even excluded practice-teaching.) Peda­ gogy can only acquire meaning by becoming subsumed to philosophy; there is no distinction between “spirit” becoming conscious of truth and “spirit” extending its truth through education. Thus, the “spirit of the reform” re­ sided more in the authoritarian way teachers taught than in any changes in curriculum, examinations, or administration. The most conservative and authoritarian aspect of the 1923 reform was the introduction of compulsory religious instruction in the state ele­ mentary schools. Like Charles Maurras in France, Gentile was a non­ believer who favored the stabilizing, disciplinary influence of Roman Catholicism on the young. Starting from different philosophical premises both of these reactionary nationalists abhorred the laic, materialistic, and cryptomasonic tone of public education in their respective countries and wanted to use religion as a means of restoring traditional moral values. In the May-June, 1923 issue of L’Educazione nazionale Gentile frankly said:



Today restoration is our by-word—the restoration of the state. The state cannot be restored without restoring those moral forces that find their concrete form in the state itself. The state cannot be restored without restoring the school, and the school cannot be restored without restoring the family.

The idealist philosopher also argued that religion anticipates some univer­ sal views that will be fully understood only through philosophy. But since the overwhelming majority of children never went on to secondary school and studied philosophy it also seems clear that Gentile was using religious teaching in a typically conservative way, namely to instil obedience and respect for authority. Even Croce supported Gentile's view that the ele­ mentary schools should use religion to reinforce family upbringing in the hope that the intellectual "disadvantages" could be corrected later.5 In adopting this attitude Croce was merely reasserting the old conservativeliberal view that freedom of conscience was the highest good but, unfor­ tunately, accessible only to men of culture. Gentile made sure that the "spirit of the reform" would be carried out by strengthening the authority of school administrators at all levels: the authority of principals and headmasters over teachers, of superin­ tendents over them, and of the minister of education over all. Although the universities were officially recognized as autonomous bodies with regard to educational policy and their own administrative affairs, the professors lost the right to elect their rectors and deans. Thus, one major aspect of the Gentile reform was its authoritarianism and its extension of the power of the state at all educational levels. This move was justified by Gentile's conception of the state as partaking of the nature of "spirit” itself: the state embodies all the experiences and happenings that take place in it; it represents the combined expression of the minds and wills of its citizens and rules over them for their and its own good. Gentile's philosophy of the state and its responsibilities also gave theoretical justification to another major reform, the introduction of a state examination at the end of each three-year or four-year cycle of study. Not only did the certificates, diplomas, and degrees gained by passing these examinations guarantee the same standards in all public schools, but they also gave equality of opportunity to pupils from private schools. Educators have argued the pros and cons of state examinations for genera­ tions—how on the one hand they do the good things just mentioned as well as creating better relations between teachers and pupils (formerly the teacher was feared as the examiner; now the pupils viewed him as an ally in helping them pass the state examinations); how on the other hand they place culturally deprived sections of society at a disadvantage, how they thwart an interest in learning anything not in the syllabus for the exami­ nations, etc. In the 1920s, however, state examinations were a definite im­ provement over existing conditions in Italy. The Gentile reform reinforced the humanistic character of the Italian schools at all levels. The elementary schools gained from the fact that their new teachers no longer came from the catch-all normal schools but from new teacher-training colleges ( istituii magistrali) in whose lower grades


The FASCIST Experience

philosophy and Latin were compulsory courses. The old normal schools and the lower technical schools were abolished, as were substandard secondary schools of all kinds. The ginnasio-liceo remained the institu­ tion for educating the nation's bourgeois elite in a humanistic way, with the introduction of philosophy for the first time and with more em­ phasis on the reading of Latin classics and the study of the life they revealed. Lombardo-Radice's Lezioni di didattica, which for a generation after its appearance in 1913 was considered indispensable for all elementary school teachers, had tried to bring about a renewal of their consciousness before the actual structural reforms of 1923. This book took the Gentilian principle of the spirit as act and as becoming, and of education as a spiritual communion and said that it must become action in every moment, transforming itself into ever changeable relations. Based on an under­ standing of this principle and informed by it, the whole school operation was supposed to lose its abstractness and become life. In his book Lombardo-Radice became the teacher's companion during his or her whole school day, helping him discover the value of his every initiative, showing him the wonderful unfolding of the child's consciousness according to laws of development which are the same for him. The teacher must engage the child's interest with a wide range of activities but always leading to de­ velopment—that is, to the life of the mind. A method is good if it pushes the child to think and to work; a lesson is good if it becomes a personal conquest of knowledge on the part of the child; techniques are good if they arise out of the organic character of the work; discipline is good if it is demanded by the work and not mere passive obedience. In practice, of course, the authority of the teachers prevailed over the hoped-for spon­ taneity of the children. The reform of the elementary schools, launched and supervised by Lombardo-Radice, had the most noteworthy effects on teachers and pupils. Changes in the curriculum itself were greater than in the secondary schools; the children between six and eleven were given broader and more varied interests through innovations like religious instruction, free design, music, and the writing of a diary. The older teachers, on the other hand, often had difficulty adapting themselves to the new curriculum and the new teaching methods imposed upon them, and they resented the young teachers from the new istituti magistrali, who thought that their richer acquaintance with the “big problems of life" made up for their complete lack of training in actual teaching. In the istituti magistrali the pros­ pective teachers were supposed to receive humanistic and philosophical training in order to be able to establish with their pupils that spiritual com­ munion that Gentile's philosophy made the basis of every educational ex­ perience. Lombardo-Radice's Lezioni di didattica continued to give them some orientation in child psychology, though this subject itself was elimi­ nated from the curriculum. Once they were actually on the job, however, the graduates of the istituti magistrali were given little initiative by their supervisors, who had more power than ever before. Apart from the istituti magistrali, the secondary schools changed little



as a result of the Gentile reform. The weekly schedules of subjects were altered to meet the requirements of the various state examinations and the increased emphasis on philosophy, but the kind of work done in the classrooms and at home remained much the same. Every morning for four hours the students had four lessons of fifty-five minutes each, during which he either listened to the formal presentations delivered by the teacher or was questioned on his homework and given a grade for each answer. The preoccupation of both students and teachers with grades and routine work continued to have the same deadening effect as it had before the reform. At first the dread of the final examinations made the students believe that studies were becoming more difficult and serious, but the gen­ eral attitude toward school soon reverted to normal—namely doing what was necessary to pass from one grade to another and finally to the “free­ dom” of real Ufe. Within the framework of an elitist, humanistic education Gentile’s in­ sistence that the state examinations be a cumulative judgment of the student’s general culture and understanding was a step forward from the previous emphasis on encyclopedic knowledge, but it was difficult to en­ force. In effect, failure in one subject meant failure in all and the neces­ sity for the student to repeat the whole year’s work. Each teacher-examiner believed that the proficiency in his subject was essential to successful ad­ vancement in all fields of higher education, and few could be persuaded to accept an outstanding performance in other subjects as compensation for neglect of theirs. As a result, the students crammed for each subject covered in the examination syllabuses in order to memorize enough to get by, especially in the last year, when failure barred them from going on to a university. Gentile himself might have believed that a student who failed trigonometry could go into the Faculty of Letters if he were espe­ cially good in philosophy and Latin literature; most of the teachers and administrators who enforced his reform did not believe so. The divorce between pensiero and azione—thought and action—in the Gentile education reform was paradoxical in view of Gentile’s insistence on their absolute identity. But this paradox was not a function of his philosophy or of Fascism, nor was it peculiar to Italy. It had to do with the problem—chronic in any society—of translating educational theories into practice. The causes of this problem are : the personal and professional limitations of most teachers, the resistance (or at least indifference) of most pupils, large classes, and the isolation of the educational process from life outside the school—family, class, church, popular culture. In addition, the Fascist regime created a particularly uncongenial atmosphere in which to translate Gentile’s educational ideas into practice. It was extremely ironical, not to say hypocritical, for Mussolini to call the Gentile reform “the most Fascist of reforms.” The conservatives welcomed it because it required no financial sacrifices or organizational efforts and because putting the formula poche scuole ma buone into prac­ tice restricted the number of lower-middle-class and lower-class children who could aspire to a humanistic education. The Catholics welcomed the state examination because it put their schools on the same level as the


The FASCIST Experience

state schools. But the Gentile reform and the ideas that inspired it were the antithesis of what the “Fascist Revolution” stood for: the overthrow of the liberal establishment and the exaltation of more plebeian leadership and values. (Ortega y Gasset was right : Fascism was a form of the “revolt of the masses.”) Mussolini wanted to placate the conservatives and gain respectability, but in so far as he did so he was not a typical Fascist. The most typical Fascists were men like Farinacci, Turati, Starace—the very types die intellectual bourgeoisie despised and who reciprocated the feel­ ing.6 The obvious proof of this was the way the Fascist leaders “retouched” the Gentile reform and the way Gentile reacted. The “retouching” of the Gentile reform began as soon as he left office; so did his objections. In early March, 1925, Gentile wrote a letter7 to Roberto Forges Davanzati, editor of Videa nazionale, violently criticizing the new minister of public instruction, Pietro Fedele, for modifying his rule that high-school students who failed one or two out of ten compre­ hensive examinations in June had to repeat the whole year’s work. Fedele decreed that, for a transitional period of four years, the old system would prevail, whereby such students could retake these examinations in Sep­ tember. (In fact, Fedele’s “transitional” decree remained in effect through­ out the Fascist period.) This contretemps was the first in a series of conflicts between Gentile’s bourgeois elitist outlook and the plebeian, “democratic” outlook of most Fascists. Two years later Gentile complained directly to Mus­ solini that the party, through the ministry of public instruction, was sabotaging his reform through “irresponsible” and “arbitrary” decrees and through putting unqualified party members in important posts.8 On January 9, 1929, another minister of public instruction, Giuseppe Belluzzo, wrote a letter to Mussolini9 explaining Gentile’s rejection of the post of president of the council for a separate section of the lower grades of the ginnasio-liceo. Gentile argued that the new detached section would lack prestige and that the classical high school should remain intact. Belluzzo argued that each section served a useful purpose, implying that some students could benefit from two more years of schooling in specialized subjects even though they could not cope adequately with general classical subjects, particularly Latin. (A comparable dispute arose in the United States when the first junior colleges were set up.) The Fascistization of the schools—as opposed to the mere lowering of Gentile’s standards—did not really get under way until 1929. In February of that year elementary and secondary school teachers had to take a loyalty oath to the regime. The inauguration of this oath was partly a counteraction to the Concordat with the Vatican, which introduced religious instruction into the secondary schools. In September, Mussolini further reasserted the state’s monopoly over the education of the young by changing the name of the ministry of public instruction to national education; since the word educazione means the total upbringing of the child, the name change was meant to be more than symbolic. Furthermore, the Opera Nazionale Balilla, whose very function was to give moral guidance and physical education



to the young, was transferred from the jurisdiction of the party to that of the renamed ministry. The appointment of the pro-Gentilian professor of philosophy Balbino Giuliano as the new minister, plus the rivalries between Renato Ricci's ONB and Carlo Scorza’s GUF helped to fragment the regime’s efforts to change the basic character of the schools and univer­ sities. Nevertheless, it was during Giuliano’s ministry (September, 1929July, 1932) that the state began publishing its own textbooks and exclud­ ing all others from the public schools. During the early 1930s the regime concentrated its efforts on "Fascistizing” the teachers. In October, 1931, the turn of the university profes­ sors came when they were forced to swear loyalty to the regime in order to keep their posts. Only 11 out of 1,250 openly refused. Many of the others took the oath "with their fingers crossed,” but the fact remains that, in the eyes of the students and the outside world, almost all of Italy’s professors gave their moral sanction to Fascism. In 1933 the decree re­ quiring membership in the party for admission to any regular post in the state administration applied to all new teachers and professors. Those who had been appointed before 1933 were not affected. But beginning in November, 1934, all teachers had to wear the uniform of some Fascist organization—party, militia, Balilla—on official occasions.10 In addition, as we have seen, the elementary school teachers had been urged to join the ONB as officers and local leaders; in the smaller towns and villages they almost always did so. Fascistization went into full swing when Cesare Maria De Vecchi (one of the four triumvirs of the March on Rome) was minister of education— from January, 1935, to November, 1936. He was determined to root out of every agency of public education "the individualistic and decentralizing attitude, which is least compatible with the ethics and doctrine of the Fascist State.”11 His favorite target was the universities, whose autonomy he destroyed and whose professors he harassed in many ways. Under De Vecchi tighter controls were instituted over the curriculum and textbooks of the elementary schools, and courses in "Fascist culture” were added. He also completed the undermining of Gentile’s efforts to favor private secondary schools and to reduce the number of state secondary schools (poche scuole, ma buone). De Vecchi increased the number of state schools, took over many private institutions, and brought hundreds of others under state control. De Vecchi also seemed determined, in the name of Mussolini’s dicta­ torship, to strengthen the more traditional forces in Italian society; the monarchy, the church, the army. He had always been a stanch supporter of the king and in 1929 he had been the regime’s first ambassador to the Vatican after the Lateran Accords. De Vecchi heartily approved of the introduction of religious instruction into the secondary schools, and he increased its importance by making proficiency in it necessary for a pupil’s promotion to the next grade. But whereas this instruction was given by "qualified” lay teachers in the elementary schools, in the secondary schools it was given by priests.12 Within a month after De Vecchi took office the Fascists made their most specific effort at education (in the Italian sense)


The FASCIST Experience

by introducing a program of military instruction in the high schools (and into the first two years of university study in 1937). In the licei this pro­ gram was geared for future officers, in the vocational schools for noncoms. In contrast to the premilitary training directed by the youth organizations there was little that was strictly Fascist in this military education in the schools. It was taught by active or retired army officers who gave lectures on the history of war, on the organization of armies—particularly the Italian army—on tactics and weapons. Furthermore, the one hour a week allotted to it at first was hardly enough to make much of an impression. (In contrast, the hundreds of thousands of students in American public high schools and colleges enrolled in ROTC programs during the 1930s spent half a day each week in these programs and received more systematic training in "military science.”) As one would expect, there is wide disagreement about the extent to which Italy’s teachers were “Fascistized.” Codignola was very pessimistic about the results of the Gentile reforms a decade after they were launched. He said that many years were still needed to transform the mental outlook of teachers and students and he was particularly critical of the inability of the state examinations to select the best students because they were still based on encyclopedic and textbook notions of culture.13 Writing in the late 1950s Lamberto Borghi, director of the Pedagogical Institute in Florence and of the review Scuola e città, argued that many teachers paid only lip-service to the Fascist regime and instilled orally and by example a humanitarian, pacifistic outlook.14 Yet the implication even here is that this "many” was a minority and that the majority of teachers at all levels, including the universities, instilled their version of the Fascist outlook in their students. For, as in other walks of life, most teachers and professors saw in Fascism what they wanted to see and blamed what they did not like about it on party hacks rather than on the regime itself. All observers agree that the elementary school teachers were the most affected by Fascistization. It has been pointed out that in 1934 their average age was thirty-five, so that the majority had been trained in the pre-Fascist era.15 Yet, as a group, they were younger and more conformist than the secondary school teachers and professors; they were also less likely to be committed to any of the pre-Fascist ideologies and, frankly, were less well trained to think for themselves. What they taught and how they taught it was much more closely controlled by their superiors, and every subject was to be given a propagandists slant. Probably most im­ portant in their more thorough Fascistization was the increasing intrusion of Balilla and GIL activities in the schools and their own involvement in these activities. By the outbreak of the Second World War it would have been very difficult indeed for most elementary school teachers not to have been convinced Fascists, reinforcing in the schools what the children learned in the youth organizations and the mass media. Many educators who were active during the Fascist period now contend that Fascistization was least effective in the secondary schools; what they really mean is the state-run classical preparatory schools— as if the kinds of people who went to them were the only ones who mat-



tered. In the first place, there is no justification for the argument that the humanistic spirit—which supposedly immunized young people against Fascism—was necessarily liberal; the Jesuits and even Gentile were author­ itarian humanists. In the second place, the majority of Italian students in secondary schools did not attend the state-run ginnasî-licei. In the academic year i939“"i94o there were 162,797 students in these schools, and 50,242 in private (mostly Catholic) and semiprivate schools of the same type; private and semiprivate teacher-training schools enrolled just over half the number of students as those run by the state (56,757 as opposed to 108,343). The priests and nuns in these private schools were far more likely to instill conformity to the regime than their colleagues in the state-run preparatory schools. There were also over 375,000 students in state-run secondary technical and vocational schools, which had no strong humanistic tradition and some of whose most influential teachers were decidedly Fascist.16 The most that can be said is that most secondary school teachers over thirty-five did not propagate Fascist ideals with much real conviction and that this was perhaps especially true in the state-run classical prepara­ tory schools. Still, teenage students in the late 1930s were more likely to be Fascist-oriented than not, having already been indoctrinated in the elementary schools and their Balilla activities. Indeed, in 1935 participation in Balilla activities was made compulsory in all secondary schools as well.17 During the late 1930s the youth organizations impinged increasingly on school life, so that it is almost impossible to separate the impact of the two on teachers and children alike. In October, 1937, the incorporation of the Balilla into the GIL and the transfer of this organization to the direct jurisdiction of the party gave the party more influence in the schools than it had had when the ONB had been under the indirect jurisdiction of the ministry of national education. The physical-education teachers of the youth organizations came to have the same status as other schoolteachers without being responsible to the school administration; we have seen the nature of their training and outlook. On the other hand, in thousands of rural elementary schools, controlled by the ONB since 1928, the teachers were almost invariably the officers in charge of the youth organizations. After the creation of the GIL these rural schools were administered by a royal commission directly under the ministry of national education, thus limiting their former ability to adapt themselves to local peasant needs. Henceforth the activities of the GIL and the GUF were given equal priority to those of the school, from first grade through the university. Unlike the American "pep rallies” of the time, which were candidly accepted as extracurricular, the Fascist youth organizations insisted that their activities were fully as educational as anything that went on in the classroom. The GIL, the Royal Commission for Rural Schools, and the ENIM ( Ente Nazionale per l’Istruzione Media) were all instituted in late 1937 and 1938 by Giuseppe Bottai—minister of education from November, 1936, to February, 1943—in an effort to increase the regime’s control over all aspects of education. The ENIM in particular was created to im­ pose the authority and the political goals of the regime on all secondary


The FASCIST Experience

schools, including private and religious schools (only ecclesiastical seminaries were exempted). This agency was a kind of national board of secondary education representing the party, the ministry, private school owners, ecclesiastical authorities, teachers, and educational experts; it was under the supervision of the ministry of education but ran its own affairs. In addition to imposing Fascist political ideals it was also supposed to bring about a fundamental unity in teaching methods and educational standards in existing private and semiprivate schools and to set up or control new schools that could not be run on exactly the same lines as existing ones. Although the ENIM did not change secondary education in any drastic way, it was a further step toward forcing all dispensers of culture into a homogenized national mold. The last and most concerted effort to put Fascist educational principles into practice was Bottai’s Carta della Scuola (1939). Here is its credo: To all the effective possibility of enrolling in school and following a course of study, but to each one the duty of fulfilling his scholastic obligation in the interest of the State, that is, according to his truest aptitudes, committing all his faculties and his entire responsibility in such a way that the schools may be the reserve from which the State continually draws all the fresh energy it needs and not simply the agency in which thoughtless bourgeois vanity looks for seals and diplomas for its sterile ambitions.18

It is, of course, easy to see the Carta della Scuola9s goal as "making the school a source of cheap labor for the Fascist economy and transforming it into an instrument of the corporate state,”19 especially since manual training was introduced into the schools so that all children could learn that even the humblest forms of labor have their dignity and humanity. But another goal of the new charter was to unite the activities of the schools with those of the GIL as an aid to the cultural, political, and militaristic development of the new generation. Finally the Carta della Scuola instituted a so-called unified junior high school (scuola media unica), whose avowed purpose was social democratization.20 Bottai’s threefold educational program—study, physical fitness, and manual work—was supposed to realize the ideal of uniting school ex­ perience with life experience, an ideal put forth by a number of educators, including Nazzareno Padellaro and Luigi Volpiceli!. Padellare, who edited the review Primato educativo, said in 1934 at a conference in Rome: "Just as the moral man springs forth when the limitations of the individual are overcome, so the State, the true State, is bom only when the arbiters of a vulgar asocial outlook are eliminated and beaten/*21 Bottai’s credo was an obvious paraphrase of this assertion. According to Volpicelli, the dominant figure in Italian education during the late 1930s, an effective school was one firmly tied to reality; school was not a preparation for life but a concrete exercise in life in society,22 Both Padellaro and Volpicelli accepted the substance of Fascist culture as something concrete, as op­ posed to the abstract culture of Gentile. But Volpicelli’s conception of a



“school for life ” though incorporated into Bottafs charter, was more humanistic and serious than anything the Fascists had in mind. Luigi Volpicelli, still prominent in the late 1960s, was the most out­ standing of many Italian pedagogues who served the Fascists while trying to make the elementary schools a living experience with as little emphasis on the regime as possible.23 A devoted follower of John Dewey, he wanted to make all kinds of knowledge “relevant” to the needs of ordinary humans : “The real problem is to humanize science, history, philosophy, economics —to humanize knowledge.”24 According to Volpicelli, cultural values are meaningless unless derived from the social environment and from history, and it was the social function of the schools to awaken all pupils to these values.25 Unfortunately for him and his disciples, both the education ministry and the party, through the GIL, were interested in manipulating schoolchildren as objects rather than in enriching their experiences. Before turning to the actual operation of the schools a word is neces­ sary about the effects of Fascist racial policy on them. The decree laws of September and November, 1938, barred all Jewish teachers and students from the nation’s universities. Not only did one out of twelve of the permanent professors have to abandon their chairs—particularly in science, medicine, and law—but the Nobel Prize winning physicist Enrico Fermi, a non-Jew himself, left the country permanently when he was deprived of the help of his Jewish friends and collaborators in his research. Excluded from all existing state and private schools, Jews in some communities were allowed to set up segregated elementary and secondary schools with their own funds, but under no conditions could Jewish students enter any university. At the same time, “Aryan” children were to be indoctrinated with the new racial line. Although no changes were made in the course plans and textbooks of the elementary schools, teachers were urged to make their pupils conscious of their own race and all threats of con­ tamination, “so that they would be the most effective propagandists in their families of the new truth.”26 By 1940 new courses with a racial slant were introduced into the universities, and even die history textbook used in most technical high schools explained and justified the regime’s racial laws.27 Thus the schools shared with the mass media the honor of introducing racism into a nation where it had been almost unknown in the past. Elementary school teachers were guided closely by the official course plans (programmi didattici) of the education ministry and by the teaching hints in the two biweekly reviews written expressly for them: I Diritti della scuola (published by the pedagogical institute of the University of Rome) and its Catholic counterpart Scuola italiana moderna (published in Milan). During the 1930s the course-plans changed almost every two years, reflecting the ever-increasing emphasis on chauvinism and imperial­ ism in government policy. The new curriculum of 1934 eliminated all use of local dialects in the classroom, reduced instruction in science and hygiene in favor of propaganda about the regime and Balilla life, and banished


The FASCIST Experience

the history of all ancient peoples before the Romans in favor of exclusively Italian history.28 The didactic hints in the teachers' periodicals were quite specific. For example, third-graders were to be told: ‘The national flag is not a rag, even if it was unfortunately dragged to the ground by the bourgeoisie and its political representatives.”29 One wonders what eightyear-old children could have made of such language, even assuming that the teacher watered it down. Most teachers probably interpreted the prescribed curriculum in their own way. Nonetheless, the articles and teaching hints in the reviews are important for showing what Fascist schools were supposed to be like. It is to be noted that the Catholic publica­ tion was more militantly Fascist than its laic counterpart, even though the editorials in I Diritti della scuola signed by Mario Mazza of the Balilla must have made Volpicelli wince. In the spring of 1937, a typical week in the third grade included the following materials. Religious instruction involved mainly tales of ex­ emplary lives and explanations of moral sayings about giving to the poor and being honest and hard-working. In drawing and penmanship one of the suggested sentences for practice was: “All knots were cut by our shining sword, and the African victory will remain complete and pure in the history of the Fatherland, as the fallen and surviving legionnaires dreamt of it and wished it.” The largest number of hours was devoted to practice in the Italian language; about half of the drill material was on Fascist topics—the regime's public works, the Ethiopian War, the Mediter­ ranean Sea as mare nostro. The geography class also emphasized mare nostro, while the history class discussed famous naval battles and the First World War. There was also supposed to be a “field trip” to a nearby woods (where available!) in order to talk about different kinds of trees. In arithmetic the following problem was to be solved: “Mussolini the teacher. In 1902 the salary of Mussolini the teacher was 56 lire a month. How much a day? A year?” Finally, since November, 1936, lessons in “Fascist culture” were added in the third grade. This was a catchall subject involving glorifications of the regime, its leaders, and its achievements— a subject that was undoubtedly beyond the ken of most eight-year-olds even in the larger cities. Unlike other subjects, in which some of the readings and dictation exercises for rural children were on specifically rural themes, Fascist culture was the same for all. A typical week in the fifth grade included most of the same subjects as in the third with some differences in approach. Religious instruction covered the origin of baptism with John the Baptist; in one of the lessons in Italian the teacher read a traditional tale about the child Jesus being kind to some birds. The geography lesson was on the Balkan states; al­ though the Albanian minorities in Yugoslavia and Greece were mentioned, those in Italy were not. Of particular interest was the history lesson on the French Revolution, in which all three readings emphasize luckless princesses and conservatives being guillotined by bloodthirsty mobs. In general, less classroom time was devoted to specifically Fascist themes in the higher grades, with more devoted to practical training in arithmetic, hygiene, basic science, etc.



In the official textbooks and readers, as in the classroom, the proportion of Fascist propaganda declined from about two thirds to one half between the third and fifth grades. The following two lessons come from the thirdgrade reader and textbook respectively. “ ‘Obey because you must obey/ Whoever looks for the reason for obedience will find it in these words of Mussolini. With our obedience we give to the Duce the gift of our hardened will.” “In the face of the subversives who created chaos after 1919 God did not abandon Italy and the Italians: the Duce of the recovery was Benito Mussolini.”30 Piero Bargellini, one of Italy's leading Catholic pub­ licists and litterateurs, wrote the most popular of all elementary school readers for the fourth grade. Over half of the stories, fables, poems, and lessons deal directly with Fascism. Bargellini’s description of the departure of some squadristi for the March on Rome paraphrased the popular film, Vecchia Guardia: Since dawn the family had been moving about. Before going to the workshop. Dad had recleaned the rifle of his son the s q u a d r is ta . Sister had sown the emblems on his shirt while Mom prepared something to give him to eat. . . . Only the fourteenyear-old brother moped about uneasily behind the departing one, now fondling the rifle, now putting on the black fez. And when he found himself alone with his brother he repeated his usual question: "Why don't you take me with you?" . . . À s q u a d r i s t a at heart, he repeated the refrain: "Grenades, and caresses from the dagger." [B o m b a a m a n , c a r e z z e d i p u g n a i.] 81

Another interesting slant in Bargellini's reader was its conservative attitude toward women, as expressed in the medieval fable “Bertoldo and the Queen.” It begins as follows: “The queen was somewhat ambitious. She wanted along with her ladies-in-waiting to participate in the king's council as the equals of men.” When the king received her demand he asked Bertoldo (an ugly but wise peasant buffoon) to buy a little bird, put it in a box, send it to the queen and her ladies-in-waiting with an order to keep it unopened until the following morning. But the queen and her ladies could not resist opening the box, and the bird escaped. The next morning, when the king received the queen and her ladies, he said: “You want to come into the council and you are not even capable of keep­ ing a secret for a single night.” This fable expressed the traditional Italian rural Catholic attitude toward women; it was certainly Mussolini's attitude as well. Despite calisthenics and rhythm dancing in public stadiums, the Fascists said that woman’s place was in the home. The most popular fifth-grade reader—and the one that adults today remember as the best written—was published in 1934 by Roberto Forges Davanzati and subtitled II balilla Vittorio. In 372 pages it tells the experi­ ences of Vittorio Balestrieri (b. 1920) from six to sixteen (in the 1938 edi­ tion)—his school days in Rome, his travels to various parts of Italy, the move of his family to the new city of Sabaudia, and, in the last ten pages, his reactions to the Ethiopian War. The bulk of the book covers Vittorio’s elementary-school years (six to ten), so that all boys and girls who read it could “identify” with him. Actually the story of Vittorio is merely a


The FASCIST Experience

backdrop for propaganda about all aspects of the regime: public works, land reclamation (making possible the new city of Sabaudia), the armed forces, the GIL, the Duce as hero, etc. Forges Davanzati’s reader epitomized the rampant chauvinism and militarism of Fascism’s ‘Imperial” era and helped instill these "virtues” into millions of ten-year-olds and elevenyear-olds. Many middle-aged Italians still remember Vittorio’s fascination with the Duce and eagerness to catch a glimpse of him on a visit to Rome. Outside the realm of textbooks, the most widely read children’s book during the Fascist period was Salvatore Gotta’s Piccolo alpino, first pub­ lished in 1926. A Fascist from the beginning (he wrote the words to "Giovinezza, Giovinezza”), Gotta uses his boy-hero, Giacomino Rasi, to glorify Italy’s armed forces during the First World War. But whereas the Balilla Vittorio was at least a son of the people, Giacomino was the son of a rich Milanese industrialist (a precursor of Daddy Warbucks in Little Orphan Annie). He becomes a kind of mascot to the Alpine troops at the age of ten, and before the war is over, he has been in all the branches of the army: infantry, artillery, medical corps, intelligence—even the air force at the end! His adventures are related in a lively and appealing manner, and the reader shares all his boyish joys and sorrows. What is so insidious is that these joys and sorrows are supposed to be those of war itself. According to Gotta, "Whoever has been to war knows that war is a passion and that, like all passions, it produces tremendous anguish along with the wildest joys.”32 This last phrase seems most inappropriate for the realities of the Italian front during the First World War, but then most boys probably enjoyed reading about the adventures without really feeling the setting in which they occurred. None of the other popular children’s books had modern military settings, nor were their heroes and heroines from rich families with French governesses. Collodi’s Pinocchio (1883) reflects a traditional village culture untouched by bourgeois values, nationalism, or modern civiliza­ tion; it is a world of medieval peasant fable, in which human relations are based on simple give-and-take equations ( Quel che è fatto è reso), in which lies have short legs and a long nose, and in which little boys—even puppets—were not really bad but only led astray by bad companions. The continued popularity of Pinocchio in the Fascist period was due not only to its outstanding literary quality but also to the nostalgia it evoked of carefree childhood and lack of responsibility. The other famous children’s book of the late nineteenth century still widely read was Edmondo De Amicis’s Cuore (1886), which dealt with a class of third-graders during the course of a school year. De Amicis was a bourgeois populist; he at­ tributed positive and humanitarian feelings and qualities to humble people and contended that these should replace the corruption of society, the injustices of men, and the brutal violence of the class struggle. The Fascists could not abide him, though they said that Cuore could be read if the teachers showed the children that they had to try to be less sentimental and more reasonable. Fascist educators did not like Emilio Saiagri either;33 he was the author whose books more boys aged eleven to fourteen read behind the covers of



their school books than any other. Saiagri, who wrote at the turn of the century, published over a hundred adventure stories, including The Black Pirate (Il Corsaro nero). Captain Storm (Capitan tempesta), and a four­ teen-volume cycle on the Indian jungle. Captain Storm takes place during the war between Venice and Turkey in 1570. One of the main protagonists is a beautiful Turkish female warrior named Haradja, the niece of a pasha. Whereas much of the story is a cheap imitation of medieval tales of the crusaders, Haradja is strictly a twentieth-century comic-strip character—the bloodthirsty "Dragon Lady,” to whom, however, Saiagri gives a secret passion for a Christian knight, who does not even notice her. Another element in Salagri’s books is bloody violence; for example, the whole first half of The Mysteries of the Black Jungle deals with "The Exploits of the Stranglers.” Clearly adolescent boys liked Salagri’s adventure stories for the same reasons they liked movies and comic strips about cowboys and American Indians; these formed a spicy "countercul­ ture” to the discipline and moralizing they experienced at home, in school, and in the Balilla. The higher the student went in school, the less specifically Fascist in­ doctrination he or she encountered. One obvious reason for this was the need for more substantive courses in preparation for state examinations and professional qualifications. Another reason was the unwillingness of even such stanch Fascists as De Vecchi and Bottai to alter the basic cur­ riculum of the secondary schools and universities; all they did was add "Mickey Mouse” courses in pre-military training and Fascist culture, which, along with the activities of the youth organizations, seemed extracur­ ricular to most students and professors. Even the anthologies of readings for high-school students contained mostly good literature rather than propaganda. An example was the anthology L’Anno felice of Giancarlo Vigorelli and Bruno Romani, published by Mondadori in 1942; although the majority of selections and authors were Fascist, even at that late date it included avant-garde writers who were not only anti-Fascist—like Alfonso Gatto, Elio Vittorini, and Carlo Emilio Gadda—but also Umberto Saba, who was Jewish as well. The academic subject in which the textbooks gave the most speci­ fically Fascist view was history and, interestingly, this view was closér to that of the socialists than to that of the nationalists. In what was com­ parable to a textbook for American college sophomores—that is, the last year of the higher secondary school in Italy—Alfonso Manaresi called "the struggle between the bourgeosie and the proletariat” "the great torment of the nineteenth century.”34 The regime sanctioned this Marxist interpreta­ tion in order to show how its own efforts were necessary to transcend the class struggle. Curiously, although Manaresi mentioned Marx, international socialism, and trade unions for the period 1890-1914, he said nothing about the labor unrest during those years. His main fire was directed against the corrupt bourgeois government of Giolitti, which "dragged itself along day by day, balancing off the insidious influences of Free­ masonry with those of clientism.”35 Of particular interest are the last two pages of Manaresi’s volume on


The FASCIST Experience

the period 1492-1795—the consequences of the French Revolution.36 (Since they were his conclusion, students undoubtedly took special note of them.) The author lists its "good effects” as the destruction of intolerable vestiges of the Middle Ages and the creation for France and Europe of a truly modem political, economic, and social structure. "The nineteenth century— with its aspirations toward liberty, with its martyrs, with its wars of independence, with its rapid economic development—is the child of the French Revolution. Our own national Risorgimento also drew inspiration from this new ideal world.” But the French Revolution had more "bad” than "good” effects. In the political field the mistaken theory of popular sovereignty weakened the authority of the state in many countries and degenerated into parliamentarianism, with its often incompetent dilettantes and its tendency toward clientism. In the social field the omnipotence conceded to the bourgeoisie inevitably produced the struggle between capital and labor. In the economic field the triumph of laissez-faire favored the development of modem industry, but the prohibition of all union activity put the proletariat at the mercy of the bourgeoisie and provoked the socialist reaction, "which is the most important social and economic fact of the ninetenth century. From it was to come forth modem syndicalism 9 which today has its most decisive expression in the Fascist Corporative State.” Except for the extracurricular activities of the GUF, Fascism had little direct effect on Italian university life. There were no state textbooks and few required courses. Students attended lectures or stayed away as they pleased, and they had little contact with their professors. In most schools the ultimate goal of the students was the laurea, a degree somewhere between an American M.A. and Ph.D, which certified that one had success­ fully completed one’s formal schooling and now had the right to practice some profession. One gained this degree by passing comprehensive examinations and writing a thesis on a narrow topic in a specific academic discipline. The university authorities and even the education ministry itself assumed that the student’s education ended with the maturità diploma, which permitted him to enter the university, and that henceforth he was to receive professional training. In this situation the regime no longer tried to reach the students through the classroom but rather, as we have seen, to make the activities of the GUF take precedence over academic con­ cerns whenever possible. The universities continued to propagate the view that their students were the nation’s aristocracy, far above the mass of Italians. We have seen how the GUF made sporadic and half-hearted efforts to send students among the working classes, but the universities themselves did nothing to link what went on within their walls to the society outside. With a combination of self-hatred and snobbery all too familiar today, bourgeois students berated the bourgeoisie as a class and saw themselves as aristo­ cratic heroes. They invariably responded with thunderous applause when a speaker repeated Mussolini’s dictum that the credo of Fascism was heroism, whereas the credo of the bourgeois was egotism. (II credo del fascismo è Veroismo; il credo del borghese è l’egoismo.) Yet they also



wanted to preserve the traditional student pranks and rituals, which set them above the ordinary townspeople, and they resented Starace’s pro­ hibition of these practices. The Italian university students’ contempt for Starace during the 1930s was similar to that of American students’ feelings during the 1960s toward an ignorant army sergeant whose orders they had to obey—frustration over his insensitivity and indignation that some­ one of their class should have to submit to someone from his class. No matter what other needs schools are supposed to serve—fostering class or ethnic goals, nurturing individual psyches, providing "union card” diplomas, or merely keeping young people off the streets and the labor market—they have a primary obligation to the total society. And if a modern society is to function effectively, its educational system must fulfill three basic requirements: it must meet the need for technically trained people; it must serve as a means of social mobility and of selecting and advancing talent; it must integrate all citizens into the national society and culture. In trying to determine how effective Italy’s educational system was in fulfilling these requirements under Fascism, we must con­ sider both the system itself as it evolved between the Gentile and Bottai reforms, and the ways in which individual Italians tried to use it to serve their own interests. The Gentile reform had been a step backward with regard to all three requirements for a modem society. It had abolished the technical secondary schools, which had not only provided needed technicians but had also been a ladder to higher secondary education for some members of the working classes. Its insistence on Latin and classical studies as the means of select­ ing and advancing talent reinforced existing class barriers as well as neglecting the nation’s technical needs. Gentile believed in the political integration of the masses into the “ethical state” but not in their social or cultural integration. In 1930 the regime made its first effort to restore the defunct lower technical high schools and the moribund “postgraduate” elementary training schools with which Gentile had replaced them. It created a new category of vocational junior high schools, called scuole di avviamento professionale, which would hopefully keep all children in school until age fourteen and prepare some of them to go on to higher schools for agriculture, industry, and commerce. They would also—hopefully—bridge the gap that Gentile had widened between the bourgeois school and the school for the masses. Although these scuole di avviamento did not bridge this gap by the outbreak of the Second World War, nor did they make it possible for more than one child out of six or seven to stay in school through his fourteenth year,87 they did take hold among niany working-class people and were undoubtedly the most effective and popular educational institutions created by the regime. It was the higher secondary technical schools that were least ef­ fective in meeting the growing need for technically trained people. Between 1900 and 1922 the trend had been for enrollment in such schools to grow faster than in the classical licei. Between 1922 and 1939 this trend was


The FASCIST Experience

dramatically reversed: in 1922 there were 17,186 students in the classical licei and 44,534 in all higher secondary technical schools; in 1939 the respective figures were 43,115 and 40,440, plus 12,498 in the newly created scientific licet 38 Gentile can hardly be blamed for this change; he had actually cut down the number of students in the classical licei, and the big rise came between 1931 and 1939, when enrollment in this type of school doubled. Part of the increase can be accounted for by the postwar baby boom, but it was mainly caused by the traditional view of bourgeois and would-be bourgeois families, which identified a classical education with high social status. Meanwhile, during the late 1930s, the main sectors of the Italian economy were poorly served by the higher secondary technical schools. In agriculture, which was mostly unmodernized, the demand for technicians was easily met by the small number of graduates from agricultural institutes, whereas in the more modem industries this was not the case. The situation was worst in commerce, where the number of graduates of commercial high schools far outnumbered the available posts. Here again the reason was that parents identified white-collar clerical work with higher social status than work in agriculture or in­ dustry. The Bottai reform was supposed to reverse all these trends. Article 25 of the Carta della Scuola says: "Its basis is the will to substitute, both in principle and practice, for the bourgeois school a people’s school, which will really be for everyone and which will really meet the needs of everyone, that is the needs of the State.” As we know, Bottai himself was the leader of the modernizers within the Fascist party and undoubtedly hoped that his school reform would produce the technical and administrative elite that he and his associates had wanted for many years. But in both the secondary schools and the universities the old bourgeois desire for the trappings of a classical education resisted all pressures toward increased scientific and technical training.39 This resistance was due partly to snobbery, partly to skepticism concerning the availability of jobs in engineering and other technical fields in a period of economic depression, and partly to the belief (partly justified) that the examinations were easier in law, letters, and especially education. The problem of what kind of secondary and higher education should be available to the masses has not been finally solved anywhere. Should they all be allowed to continue in a humanistic curriculum until age eighteen or beyond, whether they are getting anything out of it (or even want it) or not, in the name of equality of opportunity? Or should large numbers of them be given quality technical and vocational training from fourteen to eighteen in order to prepare them for the kinds of jobs they can realistically hope for? The various policies set forth regarding this problem in any country at any time reflect the prevailing culture, the level of economic development, and the degree of pressure exerted by specific upward mobile classes. There are usually spokesmen for all the major alternative educational policies; hence, the policy that gets adopted at the moment depends primarily on the political situation—which groups



are exerting the most pressure—both for change and for the status quo. Gentile’s policy of poche scuole, ma buone at the secondary level turned out to be merely a holding action against the rising level of aspira­ tions of millions of Italians. At the turn of the century a large influx of lower-middle-class children into the classical preparatory schools had prompted educators of Gentile’s generation to think about raising standards in the first place. The general Fascist predilection for favoring the "revolt of the masses” (in Ortega y Gasset’s sense) reinforced the movement toward mass education, which was growing everywhere in the 1930s. As one high-school principal put it: Just as in Napoleon's army every soldier could aspire to a marshal's baton, so in the corporative order every worker can become a senator. The classical high school is no longer the only road to power, as it seems to have been in the days of parliamentarianism.40

Thus, both popular pressure and Fascist policy whittled away the barriers that the Gentile reform had set up in order to improve the quality of secondary education. Especially significant was the regime’s accommoda­ tion to this popular pressure.41 As in the Dopolavoro, so in the schools Fascism hastened the trend toward cheapening the nation’s budding lowermiddle-brow culture as a way of making it accessible to more and more people. Of all the secondary schools—both public and private—the teacher­ training institutes were the main agencies of this trend. These istituti magistrali became less costly imitations of the ginnasi-licei, the refuge for the rejects of all the other schools; only a small percentage of these stu­ dents, particularly among the boys, had any intention (not to mention possibility) of going into teaching upon passing the state examination (abilitazione). Whereas enrollment in the ginnasi-licei doubled between 1931 and 1939, it more than tripled in the istituti magistrali—from 33,000 to 108,000 in the state system and from 14,000 to 56,000 in the nonstate schools. There were tens of thousands of other students in extension and evening courses getting an even more diluted exposure to humanistic culture in the form of undigested lists of facts and "varied notions.” In 1939, 19,000 candidates—two thirds of the total—passed the state ex­ amination for the abilità certificate. A year later, in the wake of Italy’s entry into the Second World War, the number of candidates passed reached the astronomical total of almost 29,000. There were teaching positions for only one tenth of these young men and women; the majority of them simply wanted the certificate in order to get a better job than was possible without it, but many others swelled the ranks of the unemployed. There was a similar inflation of enrollment in the universities during the late 1930s and a corresponding growth in the size of the nation’s intellectual proletariat. Total enrollment had actually declined from around 54,000 in 1921-1922 and did not reach that figure again until 1933-1934. Thereafter, however, it rose rapidly, reaching over 85,000 in


The FASCIST Experience

1939-1940 and a peak of almost 165,000 in 1942-1943. In 1939-1940 the number of lauree and equivalent diplomas was almost 20,000. This total was twice that of 1935-1936 and the figure for women was more than double—despite the regime’s alleged discrimination against women in state jobs. In almost all Italian universities the schools of education had the largest number of students (5,000 new ones each year by 1939), and almost all of these wanted to teach in the classical preparatory schools.42 Since there were more than enough teachers of this kind already, most of these graduates had to find less rewarding jobs and join the ranks of dissatisfied intellectuals. How different from Nazi Germany, where the total number of university students was markedly curtailed in the late 1930s, particularly outside strictly technical fields! Under Fascism the schools were more successful in integrating the urban masses into the nation than in meeting the need for technically trained people or in breaking down petty-bourgeois social and cultural prejudices. For one thing, instruction in the national language helped to break down the constant use of dialect. The fact that Catholicism now had a significant place in the Fascists’ ideal national society also helped to breach traditional barriers. The most important integrating force, how­ ever, was aggressive patriotism. Members of the intellectual bourgeoisie look back with utter contempt at the propagandists glorifications of the regime in the schools. But for most pupils at the time the regime was the nation, just as today unsophisticated Cuban and Chinese school children equate their regimes with the nation. (Like Mussolini, Mao is “always right.”) Aggressively patriotic themes permeated both what elementary-school pupils were taught and what they repeated in their own impromptu com­ positions. In October, 1936, many teachers read the following poem to beginning first-graders : Little black faces . . . pretty darkies who are going to school for the first time, we are thinking of you Abyssinian children, in your little school rooms full of sunshine . . . But you are looking at something with bewilderment. . . What? a portrait? . . . His name is: the Duce. A name that will remain in your heart and which you will learn before all others. That other one? Vittorio. King-Emperor. In grayish green uniform? Why, yes. Even though, you see, it is an outfit that your Haile did not like at all. Him . . . too much stuff: shield, peaked cap, beard, spear, medal, umbrella . . . maybe that's why he ran away. Little black faces . . . All the children of all Italy cry to you: —Have a good year! Hail, Abyssinian children.43



In their reader these first-graders learned, among other patriotic notions, that "Italy is powerful and feared.”44 In the third grade the children's first dictation exercise went as follows: One year has passed since November 18, 1935: we have shown the world that we are the strong ones, the just ones, the best ones. The fifty-two sanctionist nations denied us bread, iron, gold, coal, and doth; we found it all anyway: bread from the fields of Italy. Iron, from the houses of Italy. Gold from the women of Italy. White coal from the waters of Italy. Black coal from the mines and forests of Italy. They wanted to humiliate us, but our victory and sacrifice has raised us above them . . .45

An impromptu composition by a fourth-grader, based on a news item describing Hermann Goering*s visit to Rome, concluded: “We are proud of the expression of admiration that foreigners offer to our beautiful Italy.” A fifth-grade dictation exercise, later paraphrased in the pupils' compositions, began: "Italian bayonets—to our steel is entrusted the destiny of Italy and that of the peoples of Europe . . .” One could go on, but there is no reason to doubt that the overwhelming majority of Italy's schoolchildren, especially in the cities and larger towns, accepted without question Mussolini's imperialistic foreign policy, tempered by a patronizing attitude toward the "natives” of "their” new colony; the adaptation of the popular adult song, “Facetta Nera” ("Little Black Face”) for school use was particularly ben trovato. As was to be expected, the regime was least successful in integrating the rural masses into the national culture through the schools. In the late 1930s it eliminated the last vestiges of specialized instruction in the poorer and more remote rural areas. Founded earlier in the century, mainly by private initiative, several thousand small rural schools had provided ele­ mentary vocational instruction for peasant children, taught both children and adults to read and write (in both Italian and dialect), and catered to other local needs. Between 1928 and 1935 all these schools were practically absorbed by the Balilla, which did not, however, alter the character of the specialized rural schools, nor did it bother much about sending its “missionaries” into the less accessible rural areas. The situation changed only with the creation of the Royal Commission for Rural Schools as the heir to the Balilla in 1938. When this commission brought these schools under the direct jurisdiction of the ministry of education it stated that their specialized functions would be preserved and even increased, but the central authority was more concerned with providing a standardized education for all children than with adapting local schools to local needs. Ironically, then, it was not the “revolutionary” party but rather the incorrigibly bourgeois educational establishment that took over the task of “assimilat­ ing” the rural masses into the dominant national culture. Given their lack of integration in other respects, their experience in the newly standardized rural schools may well have hindered rather than helped the long-run process.


The FASCIST Experience

The schools were most ineffective in the south and in Sicily and Sardinia, which remained the semicolonial ghettos of the northern half of the country. The overall backwardness of these areas has been attested to in numerous literary works, in eyewitness accounts like Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, and in official, though unpublicized, government reports.46 Although there are no national figures on literacy between 1931 and 1946, government reports—on Sicily, Calabria, and Basilicata— indicate that 40 percent of the population over age six was still illiterate at the beginning of the Second World War. The economic and cultural gap between these regions and the north was wider than ever; hence, the efforts of the regime to impose the standards and values of the latter on the former largely failed in the schools as in most other agencies. Most children in the rural south and the islands left school after one or two years. On the basis of written testimony, memoirs, and personal interviews a few tentative generalizations can be made about the effectiveness of the schools in achieving Fascist goals. Clearly almost all elementary-school pupils believed what their teachers told them; this was especially so during the Ethiopian War and the first two years of the Second World War, when the aggressive patriotism instilled in school reinforced what the children heard at home, in church, and through the mass media. During their adolescence a few youngsters began to seek alternative views about the world around them; this pattern was restricted to the large cities but included working-class youths who had finished their studies, as well as middlè-class youths in the classical preparatory schools. But most teenagers took no interest in political matters in those days, and the Balilla and GIL gave most of them the group activities they needed. It was at the university level, as we saw in the preceding chapter, that some students used the activities of the official youth organization (GUF) to express doubt and even dissent concerning the policies of the regime. Generally speaking, then, the schools were the most important agency used by the regime to create good Fascists until age eleven or twelve. Thereafter the youth organizations became increasingly more important, whereas the higher secondary schools and the universities preserved much of their bourgeois, apolitical outlook. Bottai’s so-called unified junior high school began to extend the common political-cultural orientation of the elementary schools until age fourteen, but the war cut this effort short. The Fascist regime never succeeded in using the schools to train a new ruling class. Gentile hoped that his reforms would do this on the basis of intellectual excellence, but this standard was abandoned soon after he left office. The party tried to get into the education system through the back door, so to speak, by the fact that its youth organization, the Opera Nazionale Balilla was attached to the education ministry, with Renato Ricci as undersecretary. But, except for physical education instructors, the separation remained between the Balilla and the schools (outside of the more remote rural areas) in both personnel and activities. This separa­ tion was made formal in 1937 with the creation of the GIL and its corn-



plete subservience to the party. It alone was now to be the training ground for the party leadership, though this was obviously not the same thing as the ruling class. Bottai’s reform was supposed to unite the activities of the schools with those of the GIL, but the new arrangement did not have enough time to become widespread. What the regime did create in the field of education was a new crop of elementary school teachers many of whom were to find it difficult to throw off their earlier indoctrination and habits after Fascism itself disappeared.

NOTES 1. In a famous letter written to Codignola on November 21, 1923, LombardoRadice denied that he and the other leaders of the Fascio di Educazione Nazionale were Fascists but said: “. . . even more than the Fascists we are anti-Communists.’’ See his Accanto ai maestri: Nuovi saggi di propaganda pedagogica, 2nd ed. (Turin; Paravia, 1925)» P* xv* 2. Antonio Gramsci, Gli intellettuali e Vorganizzazione della cultura (Turin: Einaudi, 1949)9 P* 114. 3. The two men flirted briefly with Fascism—Lombardo-Radice until the mid1920s, Codignola until the Lateran Treaty in 1929. Lombardo-Radice died in 1938. Codignola supported the resistance in the mid-i940s and the Communists after that. Among the numerous books about these influential educators the following two are particularly useful: Roberto Mazzetti, Giuseppe Lombardo Radice per Videalismo pedagogico e Maria Montessori (Bologna; G. Malpiero, 1958) and Ernesto Codignola in 50 anni di battaglie educative (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1967). 4. Gentile’s ideas on education can be found in his Sommano di pedagogia come scienza filosofica (Bari: Laterza, 1925), La riforma dell*educazione (Bari: Laterza, 1920), and Educazione e scuola laica (Florence: Vallecchi, 1921). See also H. S. Harris, The Social Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, i960). 5. “Sull’insegnamento religioso,” La Critica, 4 (1923), 253* 6. At the very time when Gentile was trying to reduce numbers and raise standards, Farinacci, a former railway clerk, was becoming laureato with a plagiarized thesis. 7. Seg. Part, del Duce, 7R, Gentile Giovanni, sottofasc. 6. 8. Letter of 4 August 1927» ibid. 9. In ibid. 10. In his radio broadcast of November 7, 1934* Roberto Forges Davanzati gave the impression that the uniforms were to be worn every day during school hours (op. cit., I, 16), but this was not the case. He was right, however, in stressing the regime’s effort to unite the activities of the schools and the ONB. 11. Cesare Maria De Vecchi di Val Cismon, La bonifica fascista della cultura (Milan: Mondadori, 1937 )> P» i 4 12. Ministero dell’Educazione Nationale, Programmi didattici ministeriali (Sa­ lerno: Di Giacomo, 1934), pp. 62-63; Programmi di esame per le scuole medie (Rome: Signorelli, 1933)» P* 63. 13. Ernesto Codignola, “Dieci anni di educazione fascista,” Critica Fascista, i l , no. 2 (15 January 1933) : 68-69. 14. *Xa scuola dal fascismo alla resistenza e la Repubblica,” in Federazione Nazionale Insegnanti Scuola Medie, Scuola e risorgimento (Turin: L’Eco della Scuola Nuova, 1958), p. 35*


The FASCIST Experience 15. Marcello Luchetti, Educazione civica intemazionale (Rome: Unione Scolas­ tica Internazionale, 1965), p. 92. 16. Testimony of the journalist Luciano Della Mea in La generazione degli anni difficili, p .118. 17. G.C.—one of the four authors of Autobiografie di giovani del tempo fascista (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1947)—who was seventeen in 1935, claims that it was only in that year, when the Balilla “invaded his liceo in force/* that he felt the full impact of Fascism (pp. 8-9 ). 18. Giuseppe Bottai, La Carta della scuola (Milan: Mondadori, 1939)» PP* 57-58. 19. Lamberto Borghi, Educazione e autorità nellTtalia moderna (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1951), p. 209. 29. The Second World War prevented most of the goals of the charter from being realized, but the unified junior high school was a misnomer to start with, since it served only those pupils who intended to go on to the higher secondary schools. Latin remained the requirement that kept out pupils from the vocational junior high schools who might have wanted to change their course of study, and that tested apti­ tude for the classical liceo. 21. Cited in Luigi Volpicelli, Tra la scuola di oggi e quella di domani (Turin: Parvia, 1935), P* 47 * 22. Ibid., p. 41. 23. In my conversations with him in July, 1965» and December, 1967, Professor Volpicelli called the Fascist experience a “tragic farce/* but during the 1930s he wrote several books (see especially his Motivi su Mussolini, published in 1935 in Rome by the Istituto Nazionale Fascista di Cultura) in which he eulogized the Duce in the extravagant manner of the time. Although primarily an educator, Volpicelli was known as a gourmet and raconteur, and in 1944 he wrote the scenario for a sentimental film called Rosalba, starring Doris Duranti. 24. Tra la scuola di oggi e quella di domani, p. 119. 25. La scuola italiana dopo la riforma del *23 (Rome: Istituto Nazionale di Cultura Fascista, 1939), P* 3 i* 26. V. Felice Cassano, Argomenti di pedagogia fascista. Guida alla preparazione ai concorsi magistrale (Bari: L. Macri, 1938), p. 222. 27. Alfredo Manaresi, Corso di storia per Vistituto tecnico superiore, voi. 2 (Milan: Trevisini, 1940), pp. 273-275. 28. Ministero dell’Educazione Nazionale, Programmi didattici ministeriali (Sa­ lerno: Di Giacomo, 1934), pp. 54-55. 29. I Diritti della scuola, 25 Aprii 1937, p. 441. 30. Il libro della terza classe elementare. Lettura( Rome: La Libreria dello Stato, 1936)» PP* 56 - 5 7 ; Il libro della terza classe elementare (Religione storia, geografia, aritmetica) (Rome: Il Libro dello Stato, 1936), p. 168. 31. Piero Bargellini, Il libro della IV classe elementare. Lettura (Rome: La Libreria dello Stato, 1938 ), p. 25. 32. Salvator Gotta, Piccolo alpino (Milan: Mondadori, 1966), p. 174. 33. Adriano Seroni found his books too “romanticist** and escapist; in Libri per la Scuola delVOrdine Elementare, no. 2 (February 194a): 46. 34. Corso di storia per Vistituto tecnico superiore, voi. 2 (Milan: Trevisini, 1940), P* 5 * 35. Alfonso Manaresi, Corso di storia per i licei classici, scientifici e gli istituti magistrali, voi. 3, Storia contemporanea (i795~i935) (Rome: Trevisini, 1935)» p* 332. 36. Ibid., voi. 2, Storia moderna (1492-1795), PP* 331-332. 37. Allied Commission, Italy, La politica e la legislazione scolastica in Italia dal 1922, al 1943 (Milan: Garzanti, 1947), PP* 150-151* Unless otherwise noted, all sta­ tistics in this chapter come from this source (compiled under the supervision of the noted American educator Carleton Washburne) or from the Annuario Statistico Italiano. 38. Ibid., pp. 246-247. 39. See Cornelio di Marzio, “La giornata della tecnica/* Corriere della Sera, 23 November 1939; Luigi Volpicelli, Commento alla carta della scuola (Rome: Istituto


Education Nationale di Cultura Fascista, 1940), p. 19; Carlo Alberto Biggini (minister of national education), “Appunto per il Duce,” 6 March 1943, in Seg. Part, del Duce, Carteggio Ordinario, fase. 500.009/1, Ministero dell’Educazione Nationale. 40. Achille Crespi, “La scuola media nei confronti dei diversi tipi di insegna­ mento,” lecture given 29 May 1937, reprinted in Corso di preparazione politica per i giovani (Milan: Federazione Provinciale Fascista Milanese, 1938). 41. During the early 1930s there were widespread complaints, particularly in the northern cities, concerning the allegedly insufficient number of secondary schools and teacher’s colleges; e.g., a party informant’s report of 13 August 1932 in PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano. 42. Nicola Terzaghi, “Il problema dei Magisteri,” Annali della Università, 29 Aprii 1940, cited in Allied Commission, op. cit., p. 294. 43. Cited in I Diritti della scuola, 1 October 1936» p. 5* 44. Il libro della prima classe (Rome: La Libreria dello Stato, 1936), p. 45. 45. This and the other dictation exercises and impromptu compositions noted here are in the collection begun by Giuseppe Lombardo-Radice at the Istituto di Pedagogia of the School of Education at the University of Rome; they are cited in Luchetti, op. cit., p. 99. 46. E.g., Ministero dell’Agricoltura e Foreste, Il latifondo siciliano. Corso di lezioni svolte nel 1940-XVIII dalla Sezione palermitana delVIstituto di Cultura fascista con Ut collaborazione delVEnte di Colonizzazione (Palermo, 1942).


7 Catholics and Fascism

I t a l i a n Catholics, both clergy and laymen, had dealings with the Fascist regime on many levels.1 The diplo­ matic negotiations leading to the Lateran Accords of February n , 1929, have been described in detail by a number of scholars and need not concern us here. But the “conciliation” between church and state had important political consequences, such as the sacrifice of the Partito Popolare by the Vatican and the support given by most prelates to the Fascists’ foreign policy; it also had financial consequences in the way certain Catholic banks were saved from bankruptcy by Mussolini’s government in 1929. In addition to Fascist repression, the official support the Vatican and the Italian clergy gave the regime most of the time made it especially difficult for Italian Catholics to be unequivocally anü-Fascist; those who were either went into exile or held their tongues. The closest the Vatican and its champions came to an open break with the regime was over its attempts to stifle Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action) in the spring and summer of 1931. The avowed function of this organization of militant laymen was “the molding of the perfect Catholic,” “the perfect Catholic” being someone who promotes the interest of the church in secular affairs—in other words, a clerical. The obvious yet basic appeal of early Fascism to most Catholics was the way it presented itself to them as the great enemy of their enemies : liberalism, socialism. Freemasonry. Even the democratic Don Luigi Sturzo hated the “atheistic, bourgeois, masonic democracy” and was willing, at first, to see Fascism as a constructive alternative. As a result of this response, which Mussolini himself cleverly encouraged, virtually no Catholic lifted a finger to prevent him from seizing power. In late 1922 and early 1923 he openly conciliated the church by reintroducing religious services on state occasions, restoring the crucifix to the nation’s classrooms, and persecuting leading Freemasons.2 By mid-1923 a large section of the Christian Democratic movement was to become anti-Fascist but still could not bring itself to ally with its other enemies in order to oust Mussolini from power. As for the more conservative Catholics, they never lost sight of Fascism as a lesser evil than the liberal regime and as a bulwark against Bolshevism.


The FASCIST Experience

Among both Christian Democrats and conservative Catholics, there were intransigents—people who refused to have anything to do with the existing regime (be it liberal or Fascist) and collaborators—those who were willing to work with whatever regime was in power. Hence, there were at least four possible political positions for Italian Catholics, with a number of variations within each one. The two main positions were typified by the Sicilian priest Luigi Sturzo, whose views were mentioned in Chapter i, and Achille Ratti, the Lombard prelate who became Pope Pius XI in February, 1922. Whereas Sturzo championed agrarian and labor re­ forms, Ratti was an archconservative on economic and social issues, as is evident in the following extract from his pastoral letter of November 16, 1921, written when he was a cardinal and the archbishop of Milan: There is too much shouting against the employers as exploiters of labor, a sad calamity even though far less prevalent than is proclaimed; but there is not enough of an outcry against those other exploiters of the workers, men who come from that new bourgeoisie of organizers who not infrequently succeed in gaining en­ viable economic positions dishonorably by preaching a leveling equality.3

Only on the issue of extending the church’s influence, particularly through religious instruction in the public schools, were Sturzo and all other Catholics in agreement with Cardinal Ratti.4 In the immediate postwar period Catholics controlled the Partito Popolare and three “white” (as opposed to “red”) confederations: one of workers, one of cooperatives, and one of mutual assistance. Founded in 1919 the Partito Popolare and the CIL ( Confederazione Italiano dei Lavoratori) quickly became mass organizations competing with the Socialists and Fascists for popular support, particularly among rural work­ ers. Although Pope Benedict XV did not officially sanction either organiza­ tion, nor were they in any way instruments of the Vatican, the Popolari elected 100 deputies in 1919 and 107 in 1921, while in June 1920 the CIL had 1,200,000 members. But it soon became clear that these figures did not mean that the Popolari and the CIL were the main voices of Catholic Italy. Among laymen there were rightwing intransigents and moderates who opposed these mass organizations; among the higher clergy opposition was even stronger, and a number of archbishops strictly forbade their clergy and parishioners to have anything to do with the Popolari.5 Like other Italians, the Catholics of this period became divided along class lines, despite Don Sturzo’s ideal of transcending class an­ tagonisms. A major example of class antagonisms involving Catholic unions was the situation in the countryside around Cremona in 1921 and early 1922. In August, 1921, the Catholic unions of this area, led by Guido Miglioli, de­ creed the end of the existing capitalist system of agriculture and set up in its place a kind of cooperative in which the landowners and farm workers would share the profits from the land. This threat to private property not only elicited negative reactions in Catholic circles but also gave the budding Fascist movement one of its most important footholds. It was here, as we


Catholics and Fascism

have seen, that Farinacci and his squadristi got their start. Not even a pact between the “white” and Socialist union was able to save the situation,6 which had clearly crystallized along class lines. The landowners—large and small. Catholic and agnostic—supported the Fascists, and the “red” and “white” unions of agricultural workers were soon destroyed, not only in Cremona but throughout Italy. The industrial wing of the CIL lasted some­ what longer but it too was threatened by conservative Catholic forces in the form of the Azione Cattolica, as we shall soon see. More important politically was the fate of the Popolari. Like the other mass parties of the immediate postwar period the Partito Popolare had its roots in the prewar years. Unlike the neo-Guelf movement of the Risorgimento (Gioberti, Manzoni, Rosmini, et. al.), which had been a reformist elite, the Popolari, from the beginning, wanted to change society through mass action. In this respect they also differed from the Opera dei Congressi (disbanded in 1904), a kind of social Catholicism with corporatist leanings but intransigent in its refusal to have anything to do with the liberal state.7 On the other hand, Luigi Sturzo abandoned some of the more revolutionary views that had got his prewar colleague Romolo Murri defrocked and excommunicated.8 Finally, most of the Popolari leaders wanted to avoid the path of the clerical moderates who, with the Gentiloni Pact in 1913, had been willing to engage in Giolittfs parlia­ mentary games. Under Sturzo's leadership, the Popolari tried to be clerical democrats. They wanted to create a Christian democratic society in con­ trast to the “democratic-pantheistic” liberal state; their motto, Liberias, was associated with the traditional liberties that had evolved historically, rather than with “the liberal, individualist, antiorganic, atomic conception, which is based on the [false] conception of the sovereignty of the people.”9 Like the Socialists and the Fascists, the Popolari passionately opposed the liberal establishment and hope to create a better world in the imme­ diate postwar years. As Catholics they refused to have anything to do with the atheistic Socialists; concerning the Fascists, however, they had mixed feelings. On the one hand, early Fascism had a strong anticlerical tinge: at the first Fascist national congress—in August, 1919, at Florence—the more extreme anticlericals spoke of seizing all property of the religious orders and abolishing episcopal incomes; Marinetti, the futurist poet turned Fascist, even demanded the expulsion of the pope from Rome and “the devaticanization of Italy.” (At this time, Jean Cocteau, in his Dadaist phase, was content to demand the burning down of the Louvre.) And of course the violence of the squadristi repelled Catholics of all political per­ suasions. On the other hand, Mussolini, himself a confirmed anticlerical almost out of instinct, began making conciliatory gestures toward the Vatican shortly before coming to power. More important for many Catho­ lics was their wish to see in Fascism a new patriotic and idealistic force anxiously looking for a moral philosophy, which they of course had to give to it.10 Those Popolari leaders who supported Mussolini's first government were the victims of a double delusion. Not only were they unable to impose Christian principles on Fascism, but Mussolini's first conciliatory policies


The FASCIST Experience

toward the church were designed in large part to eliminate the Popolari from Italian political life,11 by putting into effect the clerical side of their program. Actually their social program was what really distinguished the Popolari, but the Fascists thought otherwise. Both Farinacci and Michele Bianchi said publicly in March, 1923, that the Partito Popolare had lost its reason for existence now that Mussolini had become the defender of the church.12 Coming from these two rabid anticlericals this argument was truly cynical. The argument that the Fascists had taken over the program of the Popolari, thus making them superfluous, was developed further by the in­ fluential Jesuit review, La Civiltà Cattolica. In its March 3, 1923, issue, it said: “. . . just as in the political field the most important points for Italy's reconstruction have been borrowed from the program of the Partito Popolare (school reform, religious instruction, reform of the bureaucracy, decentra­ lization, technical councils for labor . . .), so in the trade-union realm Fascism has derived its main directives from the white unions.”13 The article noted, however, that Fascist syndicalism was different from that of the CIL in many ways—especially in its use of violence—and expressed doubts about “mixed corporations” because the bourgeois employer class is “agnos­ tic,” “materialistic,” and “polluted by the principles of liberalism.” Un­ doubtedly the Fascists were as surprised as anybody to learn that they had borrowed their program from the Partito. Popolare, particularly since a month later, at its congress in Turin, the majority opposed any further collaboration with the regime by its members. With the bulk of the Popolari in permanent opposition by mid-1923, the Vatican saw that the members of its expelled right wing—whom Sturzo baptized “clerico-Fascist”—would, along with the Nationalists, be more suitable agents for bringing Catholics and Fascists together.14 Shortly after Mussolini first took office, Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, Pope Pius XI's sec­ retary of state, had already favored a Fascist conservative alliance. (Ac­ cording to the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See, in early November, 1922, the cardinal said: “I certainly have no regrets for Italian parliamentarianism when I see Mussolini moving resolutely toward a conserva­ tive government.”) 15 If one accepts Pius XI's determination to have a “conciliation” with the state and if one accepts the contention that he fol­ lowed Cardinal Gasparri's advice, then one need look no further in order to understand why the Vatican sacrificed Sturzo’s party. On the one hand, that party could never hope to get enough votes in Parliament to impose a concordat between church and state; on the other hand, one sure way of conciliating Mussolini was to hasten the demise of that party. It is also true, of course, that the Vatican did not like idea of a nominally Catholic party beyond its control and that it found many of its leaders too leftwing. But the main reason for its abandoning the Popolari was its hope of success through a Fascist-conservative alliance. Besides, as we shall see presently, Pius XI put much more stock in the Azione Cattolica than in any political party. In the summer of 1924, soon after the Matteotti murder, the split be­ tween pro-Fascist and anti-Fascist Catholics was highlighted by Padre Enrico


Catholics and Fascism

Rosa’s controversial article on the role of Catholics in the current party strug­ gles in the August 16 issue of La Civiltà Cattolica. Even more than the pope, Padre Rosa, the director of this authoritative review, viewed the Fascists as the lesser of two evils. In his article he argued that any attempt to dis­ lodge them from power by violence would lead to a civil war and that if the king constrained them to abandon power peacefully, they would be re­ placed by a “Kerensky-type” of socialist government; hence, with all its faults, the Fascist government was the only possible one under the cir­ cumstances. Many parish priests opposed this view vehemently. In a long letter to Padre Rosa, one such priest said: “In Padua and its surrounding district many people, especially priests, are saying that La Civiltà Cattolica and Padre Rosa have been bought by Mussolini” and that it might be a good idea to suppress once again the Society of Jesus, “because the Jesuits and the pope are Fascists.”16 No doubt the clergy in the Padua diocese were particularly angry because, one week before this letter was written. Fascist gangs had burned and destroyed the headquarters of the Azione Cattolica in the provincial capital.17 In any case, the nationwide Fascist offensive against the Popolari embittered many supporters of that party toward Catholics who backed the regime. The first pro-Fascist group of Catholics was the Unione Nazionale, founded on April io, 1923, two days before the Turin congress of the Partito Popolare. Led by the deputy Carlo Ottavio Comaggia Medici Castiglioni, publisher of the Milanese daily Italia, this Unione included Prince Francesco Boncompagni Ludovisi, Count Barbiano di Belgiojoso, and a number of other rightwing Catholic aristocrats and press lords. Its program openly opposed the Partito Popolare for its “equivocal religion” and called religious faith the fundamental element in the grandeur of Italy. But the Unione Nazionale did not succeed in expressing a personality of its own and was later absorbed by Fascism.18 Another organization of Catholic fellow travelers was the Centro Na­ zionale Italiano, launched in August, 1924, by a group of former rightwing Popolari. This Centro included some of the wealthiest and most influential Catholics in Italy. Count Carlo Santucci was a conservative nationalist who had seen the Italian occupation of Rome in 1870 and who had tried ever since to create a Catholic party that would reconcile the interests of church and nation. Senator Paolo Mattei-Gentili was the editor of the Corriere d’Italia, one of the many publications of the Società Editrice Romana, a trust of Catholic newspapers founded by Count Giovani Grosoli in 1908. Grosoli, another leader of the Centro Nazionale, was also promi­ nent in Catholic banking circles. Stefano Cavazzoni, a powerful Milanese banker, had been Mussolini’s first minister of labor. Although the Centro Nazionale itself had little political influence,19 its individual leaders helped in many ways to bring Catholic institutions and the Fascist regime into closer harmony. One important example was the cooperation of the Holy See and the government, through the Bank of Italy, in funding the Istituto Centrale di Credito in 1929 as a means of bolstering the Catholic network of small banks and credit institutions. Cavazzoni, who became the first chairman of the board of this Istituto, played a major role


The FASCIST Experience

in persuading the regime to sponsor it.20 Another example of a Centro leader who helped bring about a rapprochement between the church and the regime was Count Carlo Santucci, who, along with the Jesuit Padre Pietro Tacchi Venturi, was to be particularly active in the negotiations lead­ ing to the Lateran Accords, which, from the beginning, were what both Mussolini and Pius XI wanted. Whereas the majority of Italian Catholics was to accept the papal view without question, a small but important group of politically active Catho­ lics (including Giovanni Gronchi, the head of the disbanded “white” unions and Alcide De Gasperi, the leader of the disbanded Popolari) went into the permanent opposition to Fascism; the most important of these opponents was Sturzo himself, who became the first Catholic victim of Fascist black­ mail. As we have seen, until 1926 the squadristi periodically attacked their local enemies, including some members of the clergy, sometimes hamper­ ing Mussolini’s efforts to strengthen his position on the national level. But in the late spring of 1923 Mussolini himself threatened to unleash the black shirts against Catholic organizations and the clergy unless the Vati­ can persuaded the Partito Popolare to give up its opposition to the Acerbo electoral law and forced Don Sturzo to resign as party secretary. On July 11, 1923, the day after Don Sturzo made his sacrifice in order to forestall the threat of violence, UOsservatore Romano said that the reasons prompting his resignation honored above all his “image as a Catholic priest.” But 1924 was a year of assassinations, and, in order to safeguard Sturzo from the fate of Matteotti, Cardinal Gasparri persuaded him to leave for London with a Vatican passport on October 25, 1924. Other Popolari leaders who paid for their anti-Fascism in jail or in exile included Giuseppe Donati, Alcide De Gasperi, and Francesco Luigi Ferrari. Donati gained notoriety in November, 1924, by publicly accusing the Fascist quadrumvir Emilio De Bono of complicity in the assassination of Matteotti; because of this brave but futile gesture Donati was persecuted by the Fascists, and he died in exile in France. The fate of De Gasperi, Sturzo’s successor as party secretary, is more familiar; he resigned this post in December, 1925, and after a number of difficulties, including a term in jail, finally was given a post in the Vatican library, where he worked and plotted under the pope’s protection during the 1930s. Ferrari, the least clerical and most democratic of the Popolari leaders, moved to Paris where, before his death in 1933, he collaborated with the socialist-dominated group known as Giustizia e Libertà. Thus the Popolari, who had begun as opponents of the liberal regime, ended by being persecuted by the Fascist regime; the fact that the pope also appeared hostile to them by 1924 (along with their own right wing) created much consternation among their supporters. On September 18, in a speech reported in all the newspapers the following day, Pius XI said that the contribution of priests to political affairs should be limited “. . . either to setting an orderly example of the conscientious exercise of the duties and rights which concerned everyone or to illuminating and directing their parishioners’ consciences according to the unfailing laws of God and his Church.” The Fascist press interpreted this passage as forbidding priests to


Catholics and Fascism

engage in politics, particularly in the Partito Popolare, but many Catholic organizations openly protested this alleged implication in the pontiff’s speech. In Brescia, for example, the local section of Gioventù Cattolica (Catholic Youth) interrupted a church service in order to criticize the pope publicly; the city’s Catholic daily, Il Cittadino di Brescia, supported this demonstration.21 At the time, of course, few people could see that Pius XI’s abandonment of the Popolari was a diplomatic move for which he ex­ pected (and got) a “conciliation” between church and state. But the fact that the Popolari stood in the way of this “conciliation” was not the only reason for their failure; they also suffered other handi­ caps, which their successors the Christian Democrats tried to avoid twenty years later. Their image as a nonsectarian party led by a priest irritated many Catholics beside the pope himself. Their inability to ally with or assimilate any other party made them politically ineffective, and this in­ effectiveness was compounded by their division over the issue of participa­ tion in the first Fascist government. Their program of social reform lost them the support of conservative Catholics without gaining any support from the Socialists and Communists. Hence, partly because of their own ineptitude and partly because of forces beyond their control, they found both the regime and the papacy against them. Like the Popolari, the “white” unions faced the combined opposition of the Fascists and the conservative Catholics almost from the beginning. In early 1922, under the leadership of Giovanni Gronchi, they still had one million members; by August 1,1923, this total had declined to 300,000, mainly as a result of the destruction of the “white” unions by the Fascists in the rural areas. After the Matteotti murder, there was, as we have seen, a brief revival of the free unions, but by early 1925 the Azione Cattolica, under the leadership of Luigi Colombo, an old Milanese friend of the pope, began its campaign to take over what was left of the CIL through its newly constituted Istituto Cattolico di Attività Sociali.22 The Palazzo Vidoni Pact, which recognized only Fascist unions, brought protests from all Catholic quarters23 against this blow to freedom of association and temporarily brought together the leaders of the CIL and the Azione Cattolica. The CIL agreed to give up some of its autonomy to the Azione Cattolica in the hope of gaining its protection against the Fascist attempt to monopolize control over all unions. But by early 1926, Colombo was urging Catholic workers and employers to join the Fascist experiment in corporatism, calling the state unions “a favorable environment for the development of the doctrine of social Catholicism.”24 The CIL tried to maintain a separate existence in early 1926, despite pressures from the Azione Cattolica.25 But the July 1, 1926, law forbidding union activities outside the Fascist unions doomed the CIL as it did the CGL. The fact that the papacy was an international institution centered in Rome and run by Italians obviously modified the relations between Italian Catholics and Fascists, both before and after the Lateran Accords. For Pope Pius XI the Roman Question was not only the diplomatic one of temporal sovereignty and financial indemnification; it also involved the


The FASCIST Experience

restoration of the church’s influence in Italian civil affairs. Since he was the pope, and not an ordinary national primate, his uncompromising clericalism had a unique impact. Mussolini, on the other hand, always in­ sisted that the state was accountable to no other institution. Clericalism and Fascism were far apart ideologically. Extreme cleri­ cals and extreme Fascists recognized this difference and remained hostile to each other until the end. At first Mussolini had no definite policy toward the Vatican, except to keep it favorably disposed to his rise to power, but once a reconciliation and a solution to the Roman Question seemed possi­ ble, he wanted them for the popularity and prestige they would bring to him and his regime, both in Italy and abroad. Thus, both he and the pope restrained their more extreme partisans most of the time; Mussolini argued that the "conciliation” made it possible for the state to turn the church into a national institution, while Pius XI argued that it gave the church the op­ portunity to "Catholicize” the regime. Although these goals were unachiev­ able in themselves and incompatible with one another, the Roman Curia also had another reason for continuing to support the Fascist regime : its supposed determination to stamp out international Communism, particu­ larly during the Spanish Civil War. It is a mistake, however, to label the support given by clericals to fascists anywhere as clerico-fascism, not only because the two groups wanted different things, but also because there was no reciprocation; no true fascist ever wanted to share power with another institution, least of all one with its own all-inclusive value system. Apparently the initiative for the "conciliation” came from the Holy See, first under Benedict XV and then with special determination from Pius XI, but even before official negotiations began in 1926 Pius was already trying to assert the church’s influence in civil affairs. His personal envoy to Mussolini in these matters was the Jesuit historian Padre Pietro Tacchi-Venturi, who called himself "a good Jesuit and a good Fascist.”26 On December 1, 1925, for example, Tacchi-Venturi wrote a letter to Mus­ solini asking that in the new province of Alto Adige (South Tyrol) the catechism be taught in German to children whose native language was German; on December 2 Mussolini wrote to Pietro Fedele, the minister of public instruction, asking that the pope’s wish, as conveyed by TacchiVenturi, be granted; on December 7 Fedele wrote to Mussolini saying that this would be done.27 On two other occasions during the late 1920s the pope, through TacchiVenturi, tried to interfere in matters having to do with public education. The most serious case was that of Professor Ernesto Buonaiuti, Italy’s leading modernist scholar, whom the pope wanted to prevent from teaching at the University of Rome. Pius went so far as to threaten to forbid Catho­ lic students to attend that university unless his wish was obeyed. On Feb­ ruary i i , 1927, Fedele wrote a letter to Mussolini protesting this attempt by the Holy See to determine whom should be allowed to teach in the universities, but on October 17 he acknowledged that Buonaiuti had given up his right to teach and noted what a big concession the government had made to the Vatican.28 The second occasion, which came a year later, in­ volved Leonardo Severi, a high official in the ministry of public instruction.


Catholics and Fascism

Under pressure from party militants Severi was forced to resign because of the partiality he had shown toward the Catholic high schools. In this case, the Holy See was unable to have its wish that Severi be kept on in another post.29 Whereas the Vatican was adamant on the Buonaiuti issue, the regime persisted in its effort to monopolize the nation’s youth organizations; these difficulties retarded moves toward “conciliation,” which in 1927 and 1928 were carried on in secret. Already in early 1926 the regime began restrict­ ing the activties of the Esploratori Cattolici (Catholic Boy Scouts) and the Società Ginnastiche Cattoliche. Both the pope and the Catholic press op­ posed these restrictions, but the Vatican finally gave in and dissolved both groups in return for required chaplains in the Balilla. Roberto Faino, the head of the Società Buona Stampa (the national Catholic press association in Milan), complained bitterly about these “concessions” by the Holy See to the regime, taking care to blame Cardinal Gaspard, rather than Pius XI, and criticizing Catholic philo-Fascists in general.30 Despite all obstacles, however, the “conciliation” was achieved with the signing of the Lateran Accords on February 11, 1929. These consisted of the Conciliation Treaty, the Financial Convention, and the Concordat. The Conciliation Treaty resolved the Roman Question by recognizing the independence of the Holy See and its complete sovereignty in the Vatican City as well as acknowledging the Catholic Apostolic Roman religion as the only state religion. The Financial Convention gave the Holy See 750 million lire in cash and 1 billion lire in state bonds. The Concordat proper did the following basic things. 1) it recognized the autonomy of the ecclesiastical hierarchy as a privileged, self-regulating society within the larger society; 2) it transferred from the state to the church the control of marriages be­ tween Catholics; 3) it imposed required instruction in Catholic doctrine in all secondary as well as elementary schools. In Article 43 of the Concordat the state recognized the organizations connected with Azione Cattolica.31 But the “conciliation” as finally achieved through the Lateran Accords failed to remove the basic differences between clericals and Fascists. It was certainly a far cry from the outlook of the sansepolchristi and even from that of conservative nationalists like Gentile and Rocco—so far, in fact, that Mussolini himself had to make several clarifying statements in parlia­ ment in order to mollify the Fascist opponents of the Concordat. At the same time, Pius XTs argument that it “brought God to Italy and Italy to God” did not convince all the intransigent Catholics. Some members of the “black” (Roman) nobility still refused to accept anything less than the complete liberation of their city from Italian control; Prince Ruspoli, who held a high Vatican post, is alleged to have said : “I am sorry that we are no longer living in the Middle Ages, when it would have been possible to administer a little poison to this pope.”32 The militantly antimodemist Catholic weekly Fede e Ragione (Florence) accepted Mussolini’s authori­ tarianism33 but was so uncompromising in its attacks on more outspokenly anticlerical Fascists that it was forced to cease publication in December, 1929, apparently “on orders from above.” On the other hand, Ferrari and other leftwing Catholic expatriates opposed any “conciliation” with the


The FASCIST Experience

Fascist regime, along with rightwing Catholic intellectuals like Stefano Jacini. But the majority of Italian Catholics was glad to have the Roman Ques­ tion resolved. Many simple priests and laymen now felt free to exult in the patriotism sponsored by the regime; others welcomed the outward signs of clerical influence in Italian public life. The official Vatican line, how­ ever, was that the Concordat was a first step toward restoring the kind of regime that had existed uninterrupted in the Papal States until the French Revolution and again after 1815. This line was set forth by Padre Agostino Gemelli, Rector of the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and one of Italy’s most gifted Catholic intellectuals, when he said that the Lateran Accords had finally ended the epic duel between the Catholic and liberal outlooks, a duel that had dominated the entire nineteenth century. Ac­ cording to Padre Gemelli, the Concordat specifically "recognized that the life of the State and that of the individual must be based on the super­ natural foundation that Jesus Christ has brought to the world” (in other words, the Roman Catholic church).34 The Vatican lost no time in trying to step up its influence on the gov­ ernment. Six days after the signing of the Lateran Accords, Tacchi-Venturi wrote a letter to Mussolini urging him to revise his list of candidates for the "plebiscite” of March, 1929, arguing, in the name of the pope, that the existing list contained too many anticlericals, Freemasons, and other "bad” people. By doing this, the letter concludes, the Duce would "put the most beautiful and necessary crown on the great work of the Accord and the Concordat.35 Another area in which the Vatican wanted to extend clerical influence was in the control of public morals. On February 3, 1929, TacchiVenturi, in the name of the pope, urged the government to forbid per­ formances by scantily clad dancing-girls during intermissions at movie theaters. On July 7, 1936, he sent Mussolini a long polemic on the evils of government-approved houses of prostitution.36 The crucial test of the influence of the Vatican in Italian life was not its pressures on the government but its effort to maintain Azione Cat­ tolica as a camouflaged competitor of the mass organizations of the regime. Article 43 of the Concordat clearly recognized the immunity of that or­ ganization from Fascist coercion. Hence, when the government closed down its local centers in late May, 1931, it sparked the most serious crisis be­ tween church and state in the entire Fascist period. Azione Cattolica had been founded in Italy in 1865 by Pope Pius IX and reorganized in 1915 by Pope Benedict XV; it was brought strictly under clerical control in 1923 by Pope Pius XI, who wanted it to include all political views compatible with Catholic doctrine, all social classes, and women’s organizations as well as men’s. He wanted to it be an organic whole, as opposed to the separate organizations of the past; its subdivisions — Unione Femminile Cattolica Italiana, Unione Donne Cattoliche Italiane, Gioventù Femminile Cattolica Italiana, Federazione Italiana Uomini Cat­ tolici, Gioventù Cattolica Italiana, Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana—were to operate like branches of an army working for the victory of Christ on earth. In order to be sure that this would be so, Pius XI him-


Catholics and Fascism

self appointed its Central Committee, with his old friend Luigi Colombo as president. The bishops were to appoint the Diocesan Committees, the parish priests, the Parish Councils of Azione Cattolica. These arrangements were incorporated in that organization’s new statutes during the year 19 2 3 .37 The pope’s conception of Azione Cattolica as an apolitical, authori­ tarian instrument of clerical control caused much consternation in Chris­ tian Democratic quarters. Some young anti-Fascist members of Azione Cat­ tolica criticized Pius XI for not allowing them to elect their own officials.38 Colombo’s desire to move into the economic and social sphere almost im­ mediately brought protests not only from the leaders of the “white unions,” but also fremi some regional leaders of Azione Cattolica itself. For example, in February, 1923, Sebastiano Corradi, speaking in the name of the Cen­ tral Committee of Azione Cattolica in Genoa, said that he and his colleagues resented the downgrading of the “white unions,” which were still numerous in the province of Liguria.39 As we have seen, Azione Cattolica increased its pressure on the “white unions” in the mid-i920s by founding the Istituto Cattolico di Attività Sociali, whose constitution provided for a kind of Catho­ lic syndicalism—through professional organizations, a kind of Dopolavoro, etc.—without the strictly trade-union activities of strikes and collective bargaining.40 Under Luigi Colombo’s leadership Azione Cattolica also undertook a number of educational and cultural activities. In December, 1923, it held a meeting to organize Catholic university graduates and to aid and coordi­ nate the Catholic press.41 The purpose of these two activities was “to spread Catholic thought in Italy among the cultivated classes (by means of the Associazioni Laureati) and among the humble classes (especially by means of the weekly press).”42 Another means of spreading “Catholic thought” was the annual Settimana Sociale, which, beginning in 1924, was domi­ nated by Azione Cattolica; significantly, the theme that year was Uautorità sociale nella dottrina cattolica.43 A year later Colombo said that one of the main goals of the Settimane Sociali was “to bring together the doctrines of Catholic thought in their highest and purest form and in this way to teach Catholics how to distinguish that which is contingent and temporary from that which is fundamental and eternal—-and how to intensify their own activities in spreading the sublime principles of Catholic truth.”44 Many leading Catholics gave papers at these Settimane Sociali, including Padre Rosa, Padre Gemelli, and Count Giuseppe Dalla Torre (editor-in-chief of UOsservatore Romano ). With its high cultural tone and its paternalistic social outlook Azione Cattolica did not thrive in the 1920s. In some parts of the country, particu­ larly the south and the islands, it hardly existed at all, partly because of lack of interest by the laymen and partly because of diffidence by the clergy.45 On the national level Azione Cattolica was unable to do anything about Fascist attacks on the “Catholic Boy Scouts”; indeed, it kept insisting on its own apolitical character in order to avoid any threat to its own youth organizations.46 Gioventù Cattolica, which had been 500,000 strong on the eve of the March on Rome, had declined in numbers to 160,000 by early


The FASCIST Experience

November, 1926, by its own president’s admission.47 By 1930 its member­ ship was up to 261,303, but by then, despite Article 43 of the Concordat, mainly leading Italian Catholics were talking frankly about the "crisis”— or at least the "stasis”—of Azione Cattolica.48 According to Raimondo Manzini, editor-in-chief of the Catholic daily UAvvenire d’Italia (Bologna), in his editorial for August 3,1930, the reason for the "stasis” of Azione Cattolica was that ", . . we are in a period of modest visions, of pacifications, of easy consolations; we seem to be con­ tracting, to be living in and for ourselves, to lack the fever to invade, to explode, to get the upper hand. . . . We have to become younger, more modem, more alive.” These accusations did not go unchallenged. On August 6, L’Osservatore Romano published a rejoinder praising the various enterprises of Azione Cattolica; other Catholic papers took up the challenge in what threatened to become an open discussion of the "stasis.” In order to prevent this discussion from becoming too open, Azione Cattolica can­ celed its Settimana Sociale for 1930. Meanwhile, in late June, its own inner circle had already had its soul-searching session under the guidance of Monsignor Guiseppe Pizzardo, righthand man to papal Secretary of State Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli and assistant general of Azione Cattolica. Monsignor Pizzardo, who spoke for the Vatican, said that the two principal causes of the alleged "stasis” of Azione Cattolica were the fear of many bishops and priests that its local branches would be too autonomous and the impatience of those militants who wanted "to invade, to explode, to get the upper hand.” Monsignor Pizzardo urged both groups to adopt a more moderate position and to trust the national leadership. He also urged them to be active clericals while remaining aloof from all political parties but cooperating with the Fascist regime in those programs (particularly labor unions and youth organizations) that lent themselves to Christian in­ fluence. The “stasis” did not end with Monsignor Pizzardo’s admonitions; in­ deed the report of the police informer who described it is so perceptive that the following excerpts are worth citing at length : It remains to be seen if all our Catholics will be disposed to follow the present policy of benevolent anticipation, if not indeed of sincere cooperation, which pre­ vails in the Vatican today with regard to the Regime. Even the best Catholics feel held back by the frequent waverings in Vatican policy, waverings that end up by imposing a certain reserve, which has had no small influence on the lamented crisis or stasis of A z io n e C a tto lic a and which con­ tinues to prevail with regard to Fascism and the Regime. More numerous are those Catholics who, preserving the spirit of the P o p o la ri, deeply entrenched in them, persist tenaciously in their open aversion toward Fascism, notwithstanding all the explicit and tacit urgings by the ecclesiastical au­ thorities to cooperate or at least to coexist peacefully with the Regime.

These were the people who wanted to spread the "fever to invade, to ex­ plode, to get the upper hand.”


C atholks and Fascism

At any rate our Catholic political dabbler remains faithful to the clerical out­ look, to the same outlook of the late P a rtito P o p o la r e , stubbornly opposed to the laic State . . . and especially to the present Regime because it is stronger, more powerful, and more inflexible than preceding ones. In conformity with theological doctrine he obeys passively even governments considered bad—"etîam discolis"— but he prepares with his prayers, his murmurings, and with A z io n e C a tto lic a , the advent of the only truly desirable government, a government openly and com­ pletely subject to the Church, in other words, clerical. Since experience teaches that governments are ephemeral, the everlasting Church has no intention of compromis­ ing itself directly in these and in other ephemeral experiences, whence its recourse to the ancient aphorism: "distingue frequenter."

1931 marked a turning point in the history of Azione Cattolica. At the beginning of the year Luigi Colombo was succeeded by Augusto Ciriaci as president; this change in leadership was to bear fruit in the mid-i930s in the form of a much revitalized organization. But the most dramatic events of 1931 concerned the temporary closing of Azione Cattolica centers and the resulting crisis between the Vatican and the regime. Each side blamed the other for precipitating this crisis. Mussolini and his ambassador to the Vatican, De Vecchi, argued that the reason for closing down the Azione Cattolica circles in late May, 1931, was the influ­ ence of ex-Popolari in them.49 Actually, pressure from Fascist anticlericals, beginning with Party Secretary Giovanni Giurati in March, was the real reason that Mussolini took this action, just as the Azione Cattolica and Vatican leaders charged. Further charges and countercharges resulted from police reports alleging that Azione Cattolica leaders and some of the Jesuits on La Civiltà Cattolica wanted to create a “united front” of all Catholics to denounce the Concordat because the regime had failed to fulfill its part of the bargain.50 As these reports and rumors spread among militant Fas­ cists, Mussolini could no longer resist the pressure to act. On May 28, he ordered the prefects to close down all local centers of Azione Cattolica and to sequester their records for possible incriminating evidence, while at the same time warning all local party officials to avoid incidents that would antagonize the Catholics; on the same day the papal secretary of state sent a secret circular to all Italian bishops urging them and their priests to clarify the complaints of Azione Cattolica regarding the regime without arousing possible reactions from the local Fascists.51 Reactions to the shutdown were vigorous on both sides. As in 1924, many priests expressed open hostility to Fascism,52 despite the papal cir­ cular letter. Although the prefects, rather than the local party officials were in charge of the shutdown, in many places these officials did not hinder and sometimes encouraged young Fascist hotheads, mostly students, from attacking their counterparts in Azione Cattolica. The most notorious ex­ ample of Fascist malice was the “invasion” of the Jesuit residence in Rome, which housed the headquarters of La Civiltà Cattolica, on May 27, 1931. In his memorandum on this incident Padre Felice Rinaldi, the head of the Jesuit residence, said that thirty university students had broken some


The FASCIST Experience

furniture and a few windows but concluded that the small amount of damage seemed to indicate merely a threat of worse things to come.53 Never­ theless, the Jesuits and the Catholic community as a whole were deeply shocked by this Fascist violence, which was obviously directed against Padre Rosa himself because of his ill-disguised hostility toward the regime in this period. The conflict over Azione Cattolica continued in June and July between the Holy See and the regime. On July 5, but with the date of June 29, Pius XI issued his encyclical, Non abbiamo bisogno, in which he clearly condemned the principle of the totalitarian state and its exclusivisüc pre­ tensions, particularly in the field of education. Although he did not con­ demn the regime outright, he did say that those Catholics who had to swear allegiance to Mussolini in order to keep their jobs or further their careers should make the mental reservation that this oath would hold only within the laws of God and of the church. The pope was obviously willing to risk a great deal for Azione Cattolica, and this fact made Mussolini more willing to negotiate, though the "mental reservation” passage from the en­ cyclical further enraged the more militant Fascists. By late July the beginnings of a compromise were in sight. In order to reduce the friction between the Holy See and the regime, Padre Rosa was relieved of his post as director of La Civiltà Cattolica (though he con­ tinued to write for it until his death in late 1938), probably at the instiga­ tion of Padre Ledokowski, the general of the Jesuit order. Both Pius XI and Mussolini began making minor concessions through Padre Tacchi-Venturi, their old reliable go-between. Negotiations continued through August and culminated in an accord signed on September 2. In this accord the gov­ ernment agreed to allow Azione Cattolica to resume its activities as a reli­ gious and cultural organization as long as it abstained from any political or union affairs. Its closed centers and sequestered documents were to be transferred to the control of the local bishops. Azione Cattolica was to have no uniforms, flags, or other outward symbols different from those of the Fascist party, and it was not to sponsor sports of any kind (thus pre­ serving the monopoly of the Balilla). Finally, persons known to be sym­ pathetic to the ideas of the Partito Popolare were to be excluded from Azione Cattolica. The September 2 accord officially ended the crisis, although it took a while for feelings to cool down on both sides. Pius XI, despite all his con­ cessions, maintained that the existence and essential purposes of Azione Cattolica had been preserved. Mussolini eased tensions with the Vatican by removing Giurati as party secretary in December, 1931 (there were other reasons for his dismissal, but this was certainly one), and tried to mollify the more militant Fascists by stressing the strictly nonpolitical character of Azione Cattolica. But the militants on both sides were not so easily mollified. The party secretary of Turin province reported that the vast majority of the population of Pinerolo had not participated in a regional gathering of Giovani Fascisti in that town as a result of "the preachings of the priests.”54 Party informers in Milan province reported that the local priests in charge of the Azione Cattolica youth groups opposed putting


Catholics and Fascism

these groups under the jurisdiction of the local bishops, claiming that this was a ruse for giving the prefects a tighter rein on them.55 As a result of much vocal hostility by Catholics to the September 2 accord, the party secre­ tary of Milan province had great difficulty justifying a portrait of the pope at a party ceremony in Monza.56 Another cause for complaint among the oldline Fascists was the fact that the new constitution of Azione Cattolica (December, 1931) permitted the creation of professional organizations of a nonunion character.57 Relations between church and state improved in 1932, though there was still unofficial hostility on both sides. On January 9 Pius XI gave Mussolini a papal decoration, and on February 11, the anniversary of the Lateran Accords, Mussolini made an official visit to the Vatican. By and large, the regime gained the most prestige from these official gestures of reconciliation, which were received with mixed reactions by both Catholic and Fascist militants,58 with the main criticism directed at the pope by exPopolari and younger priests. The bitterest pill, in January, 1932, was the requirement that all students in Catholic secondary schools join the Balilla. Still, tensions eased in most places thereafter, with the most intensely clerical provinces, like Venetia, holding out the longest.69 There is no dearth of generalizations about the responses of Italian Catholics to Fascism during the 1930s. Perhaps the most general, and hence vaguest, is the one that says that the majority of Catholics, even those who worked closely with the regime, always had certain reservations about the “un-Christian” methods the Fascists had used to gain and keep power. But when one remembers the much stronger reservations held by most Italian Catholics toward the liberal-democratic regime that Fascism replaced, this generalization seems completely gratuitous. Another gratui­ tous generalization, with more cynical undertones, is that Catholics, like other Italians, enthusiastically supported Fascism when they were well off and then deserted it when things began going badly after Italy entered the Second World War. In effect, this generalization makes Italians* attitudes toward their government little different from their attitudes toward their favorite football team. Still more cynical is the generalization that most Italian Catholics were temperamentally authoritarian and saw in Fascism an approximation of their ideal society, disregarding its un-Christian side altogether. Then there is the generalization that Italian Catholics supported Fascism because of its anti-Communism. The most cynical generalization of all is that Italian Catholics—again like most other Italians—accepted Fascism out of pure conformity, regardless of their “real” feelings toward it, simply because this was the safest and most convenient attitude to adopt. Although all of these generalizations have been set forth by serious, and even eminent, scholars, the most that can be said for them is that some of them describe the behavior of some types of people some of the time. The views of the Roman Curia were sometimes severely criticized by priests and laymen, as we have already seen; there were also differences among the bishops, as we shall see presently. It is perfectly true that the official Catholic world continued to view Fascism in the 1930s as a regime


The FASCIST Experience

without a doctrine and hence capable of being pushed in a “right-thinking” direction ideologically. But in Azione Cattolica there were ex-Popolari and a new generation of university graduates who were unequivocally antiFascist. Under Pius XI the opposition of the Vatican to these budding demo­ crats never wavered; indeed, in November, 1938 (when he was practically on his death bed), Padre Rosa received a communication from Monsignor Pizzardi asking him to examine the draft of a Vatican-inspired tract criti­ cizing those Catholic laymen who wanted to be more active politically and to resist Fascist inflitration into the youth organizations of Azione Cat­ tolica *0 These anti-Facist laymen were or course a small minority, and even they conformed outwardly to the requirements of the regime—swear­ ing allegiance to it and joining party organizations. But it is highly prob­ able that, among practicing Catholics, the unequivocally Fascist laymen were just as small a minority. Before going any further, we must make some kind of estimate about the numbers and kinds of Catholics in Italy. In 1940, out of a total popula­ tion of 44,000,000 roughly 24,000,000 were adults (over age 16). Almost 4 percent of these adults were in the regular or secular clergy—over 100,000 in the latter and over 800,000 in the former, 27 percent of whom were men.61 Probably no other modem country had such a high proportion of clergy; this fact must be kept in mind when speaking of Italian Catho­ lics. The influence of the good sisters and brothers on the young was enormous—there were, for example, over 600,000 children in Catholic orphanages and over 1,000,000 in Catholic schools. After age 16 many children became lax or even indifferent toward the faith in which they were raised, so we must not assume that this influence was permanent. Nevertheless, in 1938 there were officially 1,000,000 young men and women in the various organizations of Azione Cattolica.62 If there actually were that many, they would have constituted over 4 percent of the total adult population (over 16) and at least 15 percent of the age group 16-25. There are no reliable estimates of figures on the proportion of prac­ ticing Catholics in Italy before the Second World War, and in any case there were wide regional variations. To be sure, over 95 percent of the population was baptized, but, if we define practicing Catholics as persons who take communion regularly, the range of estimates for Italy in the 1930s is 5 to 10 percent. If we broaden the definition to include persons who go to church at least every other Sunday, the figure might rise to 20 percent; this figure, plus the 4 percent for the clergy, gives a maximum total of 24 percent practicing Catholics, broadly speaking. (Perhaps as much as another 25 to 30 percent of adult Italians might have considered themselves “good Catholics,” even though they only went to church on a few major holidays, but no religious sociologist would call them practicing Catholics.) Henceforth in this chapter the term Catholic will include this 24 percent only. Fascism was experienced in a number of ways by different kinds of Catholics. At one extreme was a handful of prelates who were constantly photographed at Fascist ceremonies and whose praise for the regime was unconditional.63 At the other extreme were those priests, nuns, and pious


Catholics and Fascism

laymen in a few provinces with especially strong religious traditions (Treviso, Padova, Lucca, etc.), whom Fascism hardly touched at all. In Lombardy there was still an active group of disciples of Don Davide Albertario, whose intransigent position toward any kind of cooperation with the state at the end of the nineteenth century had earned him a jail sen­ tence. This kind of popular intransigence reappeared in 1930 after the new archbishop of Milan, Idelfonso A. Schuster, openly praised the Fascist regime in II Popolo d'Italia of March 25. Three hundred Milanese Catholics then circulated an open letter of protest throughout Italy, saying that good Catholics should not accept Fascism.64 More common were those Catholics who, like Senator Cavazzoni, collaborated freely with the regime as a means of attaining their longterm religious and national goals without com­ mitting themselves irrevocably to its policies.65 Most Catholics did not go this far; they accepted Mussolini's dictatorship, with all its harshness and even corruption, but reacted unfavorably when the church and its organi­ zations were threatened or treated discourteously. In our age of aggiornamento and ecumenism it is difficult to grasp the diehard reactionary outlook of the Italian Catholic hierarchy during the 1930s, an outlook fortified by Pope Pius XI. He sincerely believed that the Concordat was but a first step toward the "reclericalization” of Italy and for this reason he never considered denouncing it—not during the crisis over Azione Cattolica in 1931 and not during the controversy over the legality of the racial laws in 1938-39.66 Many prelates simply repeated his periodic condemnations of atheistic and agnostic states, modernism, and Protes­ tantism as the main enemies of the true faith,67 but some went even fur­ ther. In 1935, for example, there was much concern over the decline in religious knowledge among the faithful: some bishops still reacting against the nineteenth century, blamed this decline on "the laic, agnostic policies of the Liberal State”68 and "the ferment of materialistic philosophies and in­ toxication with the new critical science”;69 others blamed modern leisure­ time activities such as competitive sports, taverns, movies, and ballroom dancing.70 The following quotation from a pastoral letter of 1932 epitomizes the clerical-reactionary outlook: The Protestant intellectualisai of the sixteenth century, in the name of freedom of thought, stole whole nations and peoples of believers from the church. Then came the French Revolution, which destroyed with the blows of pick axes the corporative harmony that had been such a marvelous system of regimenting the proletariat in the Middle Ages. When that tempest was over, the church resumed its normal benevolent rule over public and private morals, customs, laws, arts and letters, everything."71

However, in the 1930s any hope of turning the clock back one hundred years was unrealistic, to say the least. Surely not all Italian prelates were as unsophisticated as these pro­ vincial reactionaries; Cardinal Schuster of Milan may have lacked a certain sensitivity toward his fellow man but he followed a fairly independent line regarding the regime. Whereas he had been hostile in 1931 over the


The FASCIST Experience

Azione Cattolica issue, in October, 1935, he publicly expressed as much enthusiasm as he could muster for the Ethiopian War, comparing it to the Crusades.72 He even called the anniversary of the March on Rome "not only a purely political celebration but an essentially Catholic holiday/’73 Cardi­ nal Schuster’s patronage for the mistica fascista in 1937 made him notori­ ous among anti-Fascists. Yet beginning a year later he became cooler toward the regime because of its racial laws. As we have seen, it was not so much the Ethiopian War itself as the combined hostility of the other nations that rallied almost all Italians, Catholics included, to the support of the government. At first the position of the Catholics was not at all certain. In fact, the national leaders of Azione Cattolica canceled their annual Settimana Sociale for late Septemper, 1935, because they feared that differences of opinion over the war might disturb the sessions.74 Scattered reports from the provinces also in­ dicated a lack of unanimity among Catholics on this issue.75 In the Vatican Library, while De Gasperi continued to oppose all policies sponsored by Fascists, some of his colleagues, including Igino Giordani, rallied to the regime in its efforts to give Italy what the other powers already had. Even Adriano Bemareggi, bishop of Bergamo, ecclesiastical adviser to an or­ ganization of university graduates (Movimento Laureati), and known for his aloofness toward the regime, said that the nations that imposed sanc­ tions on Italy were "consumed by jealousy and in agreement only in the defense of their privileged positions and in their opposition to a nation that wants to rise in the world.”76 But the popularity of the Ethiopian War did not prevent some in­ fluential prelates from expressing their aloofness to the regime. Evasio Colli, archbishop of Parma, said in his Pastoral Letter of February 5, 1936


Before a war is declared, the ordinary citizen has the freedom, and we would like to say the duty, to make up his own mind about it, notwithstanding the difficulties in finding the information necessary for making such a complex and important judgment at a time . . . when even the clearest heads and sturdiest hearts can give in to waves of collective hatred, organized lies, and prejudices of every kind.77

Archbishop Colli added that, once war is declared, however, everyone must do his duty, including taking up arms. Another prelate whose hostility to Fascism was well-known was Cardinal Pietro Boetto, Archbishop of Genoa. Already in his first pastoral letter (April 26, 1938), he said that resistance to the legitimate exercise of power was wrong, implying that once people no longer considered a government legitimate they were free to challenge it.76 1937 was a big year for anti-Communism among Italian Catholics. The Civil War in Spain was the obvious threat, and the official line was soon set forth in Pius XI’s encyclical, "Divini redemptoris.” Yet even on this topic there were significant differences in tone. Impassioned reac­ tionaries like Luigi Cardinal Lavitrano of Palermo played up the "un­ imaginable atrocities” (on the republican side only) of the war in Spain,


Catholics and Fascism

“a war caused by Communism but prepared by Liberalism.”79 A more upto-date kind of anti-Communism was expressed by Elia Cardinal Dalla Costa, Archbishop of Florence, who urged his priests to warn their parish­ ioners constantly of the possible future danger of Communism, “with its seductive promises of social justice.”80 The most typical tone of the pastoral letters dealing with anti-Communism was what might be called perfunctory conformist: “I know that you, my beloved children, find it hard to believe in a Communist danger, living as you do in a country where you cannot see it; nevertheless, believe me and the pope and worry about it anyway.”81 All the prelates praised the anti-Communism of the Fascist regime with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but most of them persisted in seeing Fascism as authoritarian and proclerical, rather than totalitarian and anticlerical. This view was expressed especially clearly by Padre Gemelli, who often “burned his bit of incense” for the regime as a means of safeguarding his university in Milan: “Against Communism Fascism has opposed the concept of hierarchy, order, discipline, sacrifice . . . as embodied in the State, the family, and the Catholic religion.”82 By early 1938 Mussolini’s increasing closeness to Nazi Germany began to alienate Catholic laymen and the church hierarchy as well. Jesuit hair-splitting about what was 'legitimate and acceptable to Christianity in the Nazi movement” from what was not gave way to increasingly harsh critiques of Nazi racism and totalitarianism in La Civiltà Cattolica.83 The pope, who had already expressed his anger over Nazi persecution of Catholics in his encyclical, Mit brennender sorge, was particularly unhappy about Hitler’s forthcoming visit to Italy and about newspaper articles praising the Führer to the skies.84 The German annexation of Catholic Austria in March, 1938, also irritated the Italian hierarchy by putting an end to Italy’s attempt to lead an alliance of minor Catholic states in Central Europe; now Mussolini was allowing Italy herself to become a junior partner of Nazi Germany. Mussolini’s efforts to imitate Nazi racial policy also antagonized the Vatican and many educated Catholics. There is little evidence that the bulk of the Catholic masses and middle classes objected to the regime’s persecution of Italian Jews before the Nazis themselves began their deportations in late 1943, but as early as mid-1938 some Catholic newspapers were condemning Fascist antiSemitism. Generally the largest Catholic dailies—Ultalia (Milan), UAvvenire dïtalia (Bologna), Il Nuovo Cittadino (Genoa), UOrdine (Como), L’Eco di Bergamo—conformed closely to the Fascist line, whereas the small weekly periodicals under clerical control often followed the more independent line of UOsservatore Romano. For example, in its July 31, 1938, issue La Difesa del Popolo, the clerical weekly of the Catholic stronghold of Padua, told its readers that “communism and racism are merely developments of secularism.” Such outbursts brought Fascist pres­ sure on Mussolini to take countermeasures,85 and the next issue of this weekly was seized by the police. Although some of the large provincial Catholic dailies were also seized on occasion, UOsservatore Romano remained immune from of­ ficial interference from the regime. In ordinary times this newspaper was


The FASCIST Experience

read only by people interested in current Vatican policy on some particular issue; during the 1930s its circulation jumped to 250,000s6 and it was being read by non-Catholics and even government officials for its un­ censored foreign news and quotations from foreign newspapers. Since the regime frowned on people who read it, news vendors asked their steady customers whether they wanted their usual Fascist paper “with or without,” meaning with or without L’Osservatore tucked inside. Not only in Rome but also in provincial towns, purchases sometimes tripled during periods of international crisis.87 Despite their criticisms of Fascist racial and foreign policy, neither the Vatican, the clergy, nor the mass of Catholics was anti-Fascist before 1940. Like all other Italian individuals and institutions, they accepted the legitimacy of the regime and assumed that it would last for a long time. When its policies irritated them, they complained or made jokes at its expense. Don Sturzo in London had no way of influencing the handful of Catholic anti-Fascists operating underground or in semiobscurity in Italy. The only significant Catholic anti-Fascist organization was the Movi­ mento Guelfo cTAzione, centered in Milan. Founded in 1928 by a group of young men, this Guelf movement tried to spread its updated ideas of social Catholicism through study circles and leaflets, particularly in those provinces where Catholic and Christian Democratic influences were strongest: Venetia, Brescia, Bergamo, the Marches, Rome. By late 1932, however, some of its leaders began associating with secular anti-Fascists at the headquarters of ex-CGL leader Rinaldo Rigola’s Circolo di Studi di problemi del lavoro, which was under close police surveillance. These contacts brought the arrest of over one hundred leaders of the Guelfs in April, 1933, and the imprisonment of four of them, including Piero Mal­ vestiti and Gioacchino Malavasi, by the Special Tribunal in June, 1934.88 During the late 1930s isolated Christian Democratic intellectuals— like Giorgio La Pira at the University of Florence, and the small circle around Alcide De Gasperi in Rome—argued that Fascist totalitarianism was incompatible with Catholic social doctrine, but the most prominent Catholic writers of the time tried to reconcile Catholic and Fascist corpor­ atism. Gino Arias, Amintore Fanfani, and other professors at the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan pursued this line in both Catholic and Fascist periodicals. According to Arias: Fascism can be proud of the fact that its institutions, its laws, and its works are realizing, for the first time in history since the distant precedent of medieval corporatism, the eternal truth of Catholic and Latin political thought.89

Most Catholic corporadvists understood that Fascist corporativist ideas came from Alfredo Rocco, not Saint Thomas Aquinas, but they still thought that the differences could be reconciled. They were encouraged in this belief by Pope Pius XFs encyclical, Quadragesimo anno, promulgated in May, 1931, on the fortieth anniversary of Rerum novarum. The purpose of Quadragesimo anno was to clarify the church’s guide­ lines for a desirable social and economic order without tying this order 200

Catholics and Fascism

to any particular regime. Pius XI undoubtedly took a certain bitter pleasure in pointing out that, in addition to fostering social injustice and class conflict, laissez-faire capitalism had failed even to bring continuous material progress, as the current world economic crisis clearly showed. Furthermore, the liberal parliamentary regimes, unable to cope with the depression, were giving way to various kinds of authoritarian regimes in Europe. Under these conditions, Catholics were asking what institutions to support, and Quadragesimo anno7s answer was corporative associations. Quadragesimo anno acknowledged the advantages of Fascist Italy’s corporate institutions—the peaceful collaboration between the classes, the repression of socialist organizations and efforts, the moderating action of the special magistrature—but criticized them for being too bureaucratic and political in character. (As we have seen, the leading Fascist corporativist theorists made the same criticism.) The implication was that the regime had erred in destroying the free Catholic unions along with the socialist ones five years earlier. In Quardragesimo anno Pius XI tried to get them and their counterparts for employers reinstated through the back door, so to speak. According to him: . . . the promotion of a better social order . . . will be attained the more certainly the larger the number of those ready to contribute toward it their technical, oc­ cupational, and social knowledge and experience; and also, what is more im­ portant, the greater the contribution made thereto of Catholic principles and their application, not indeed by Catholic Action (which excludes strictly syndical or political activities from its scope), but by those sons of Ours whom Catholic Action imbues with Catholic principles and trains for carrying on an apostolate under the leadership and guidance of the Church.90

Pius XI did everything in his power to preserve and enlarge the in­ fluence of Azione Cattolica and its auxiliaries in Italian life. He stood up for it against the regime; he forced the bishops to sponsor it in their dioceses; he provided its local branches with funds when local resources were insufficient.91 Not only was this policy in line with his basic clerical­ ism, but he also felt that it was necessary merely to maintain some kind of Catholic presence in the new institutions created by the regime. As he said in his encyclical Divini redemptoris (March, 1937): A z io n e C a tto lic a cannot remain aloof from reality; it must give to these new forms and institutions the wisdom of its own thought, based on the study of new prob­ lems in the light of Catholic doctrine; it must also take an active part in these institutions . . . bringing to them the Christian spirit, which is always the principle of order and of mutual and brotherly collaboration.92

Actually Azione Cattolica found it more expedient to build parallel institutions than to “infiltrate” Fascist ones. In late 1933, for example, both the senior and junior women’s organizations of Azione Cattolica in Abruzzi and the Marches, echoing the clergy’s complaints about gymnastic ex­ hibitions by Fascist girls’ organizations, sought to create their own corn-


The FASCIST Experience

peting groups for Catholic girls: groups that would sponsor beach resorts, artistic contests, and courses in home economics. The prefect of Pescara gleefully reported that their first efforts along these lines were failures,93 but by 1935 these Catholic ladies were more successful. Public assistance was a major activity of Catholic teenagers and adults, who visited poor families and gave them food stamps paid for by Azione Cattolica; this kind of charity competed directly with that of the Fascist party. Another major activity of the various organizations of Azione Cattolica was participation in conferences and symposia and attendance at lectures. Less important activities included spiritual exercises conducted by the Jesuits and pro­ paganda among merchant seamen in port towns. By 1937 Azione Cattolica was also sponsoring a national Gara di cultura religiosa in obvious com­ petition with the Littoriali. In general, from 1935 onward, the police and the prefects showed increasing concern over the activities of Azione Cattolica because these put forth values and attitudes different from those of the regime. Naturally, the "problem” was more serious in some places than in others. In the south the religious orders hindered any major expansion of Azione Cat­ tolica during the 1930s.94 In Genoa the provincial leaders of Azione Cat­ tolica, inspired by Cardinal Archbishop Carlo Dalmazio Minoretti, were too “radical” for the central committee.95 The most Catholic provinces, like Venetia, had the most dynamic branches of Azione Cattolica. As early as mid-1935 the prefect of Treviso saw that, despite its claims to be con­ cerned exclusively with spiritual and cultural activities among its own members, Azione Cattolica was “undoubtedly the fulcrum of a vast, tenacious, and hidden political action which through FUCI [Catholic Federation of Italian University Students], is bent on forming the cadres that will have to educate new recruits ready for every eventuality.”96 It was an extremely delicate matter to keep the outward “stance” of Azione Cattolica sufficiently innocuous to prevent reprisals from the regime while at the same time maintaining the loyalty and dynamism of the rank-and-file membership. The national presidents of the organization— Augusto Ciriaci until his death in late 1936, Lamberto Vignoli thereafter— were both accused of being philo-Fascists when they cautioned members not to criticize any aspect of the regime and to support its institutions.97 Many bishops resented what they considered the overbearing manner of the national leadership of Azione Cattolica and complained that they were forced to carry out orders from unqualified persons and then take respon­ sibility for them vis-à-vis the local authorities.98 Partly as a result of these complaints and partly under pressure from Mussolini, the new pope, Pius XII, brought Azione Cattolica increasingly under ecclesiastical control in April, 1939; UOsservatore Romano (April 24) said: “The executive organs of Azione Cattolica are only instruments in the hands of the ecclesiastical hierarchy for the carrying out of its own apostolic program.” By the outbreak of the Second World W ar Azione Cattolica was not only thriving but was also openly competing with Fascist social and cultural organizations, especially among young people. The don’t-rock-the-boat tactics of its leaders had paid off; Azione Cattolica was too respectable and


Catholics and Fascism

its meetings too apolitical for the regime to suppress. Yet it was a threat to the "totalitarian” regime in so far as it offered an alternative environ­ ment to its more than one million members. The regime tried to draw the line between activities involving only Azione Cattolica members—as when it did not object to a meeting of five thousand Catholic high-school students in the Coliseum99—and proselytizing among outsiders—as when it repeatedly refused requests from local sections for permission to pro­ pagandize in factories.100 But whereas the local authorities sometimes harassed Azione Cattolica leaders who held posts in the public schools, it could not prevent the majority of these people from having a foot in both camps. One of the best-known examples was Aldo Moro; his father was the chief inspector for the ministry of national education, while in 1939 he himself was both the head of FUCI and a member of GUF at the University of Bari. FUCI (Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana), too, not only survived the difficulties of the i93o’s but thrived as well. The worst difficulties were not always the most obvious ones, such as the crisis of 1931. It was not easy for Catholic university students to resist the blandish­ ments of Fascism, die easy fame one could gain by being active in GUF, and the certainty of a rapid and brilliant professional career which would come from these activities.101 Yet these students did resist and, under the able leadership of Igino Righetti and Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), they developed a devotion to science and learning and to their future professions as well as a deeper understanding of Catholic philosophy and dogma. They also published a weekly magazine dealing with organizational matters (Azione Fucina), and, from 1935 to 1939, a review dealing with intellectual matters (Studium). In the early 1930s Righetti and Montini felt that those FUCI mem­ bers who had graduated should also be organized; in 1934 the Movimento Laureati came into being. Righetti became its president until his death in 1939, by which time it had thousands of members and took over the review Studium. The movement was unique in its intellectual orientation, its exclusivism, and its sense of dedication. Although men and women from all professions were members, professors and teachers predominated, and in time they would constitute an important Catholic "presence” in the state schools. Meanwhile, the movement held frequent meetings at which the most highly educated clerics and laymen applied Catholic moral and cultural ideas to their respective fields. The behavior of the members of the Movimento Laureati reminds one of nothing so much as the more respectable liberals and nationalists in the Austrian Empire a century earlier. Barred from any kind of overt political activity or even discussion, they organized study circles to deal with religious culture in the liberal professions. (Their predecessors had used the ruse of discussing literature, philosophy, or even economics.) Actually their goal was to make Catholic social doctrine the basis of a "new order” as soon as the old order gave way. Until then they conformed out­ wardly to the standards of the existing society (though, unlike their predecessors, they held no high positions in government or the military),


The FASCIST Experience

while quietly fortifying themselves was the belief that having a theory of culture made them superior to liberals and Fascists, who did not have one. The men in the Movimento Laureati were also preparing themselves to be the ruling class of the “new order.” Padre Gemelli had long viewed his own Catholic university in Milan as a training ground for a new elite to replace the bankrupt liberal and Fascist elites.102 The police and the government also saw how easy it would be for this mass of dedicated Catholic professional men to “become in a few hours the strongest and most important political party in Italy.”103 During the last years of the Fascist regime some leaders of the Movimento Laureati began to talk like guilt-ridden nineteenth-century Russian noblemen, saying that they should “examine their conscience as members of a ruling class that has ignominiously betrayed its obligations to society.”104As a result of their group studies, especially the annual gatherings at Camaldoli, a complete blueprint for the new Christian Democratic society they foresaw as imminent.105 The group that gathered around De Gasperi in 1943 was largely drawn from the FUCI and the Movimento Laureati. Disputes over specific policies of the Fascist regime—particularly its attempts to monopolize the youth movement and its racial laws—never brought an open break with the church. This was so mainly because Pope Pius XI viewed the Concordat as a longterm gain not to be thrown away because of such disputes. Next to the Concordat itself, the pope and the majority of the prelates viewed Azione Cattolica as the most important agency for furthering the interests of the church in Fascist Italy. During the 1930s and early 1940s Azione Cattolica “molded” a new generation of potential leaders, ready to take over as soon as Mussolini fell. It produced this elite with far fewer resources and none of the fanfare of the Balilla, GIL, and GUF. Thus, Pius XFs response to Fascism (It would have been the same under any other regime.) was to prepare the future triumph of clericalism—expanding the influence of the clergy in all aspects of public life through laymen trained by it and directly under its control.


I. The best overall treatment of relations between Catholics and the Fascist regime is Richard Webster, The Cross and the Fasces: Christian Democracy in Fascist Italy (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, i960). For a good summary see Pietro Scoppola, Coscienza religiosa nellTtalia contemporanea (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1966), especially his chapter, “La Chiesa e il fascismo durante il pontificato di Pio XI/’ Arturo Carlo Jemolo has long been considered the leading historian of Italian church history since unification, but his generalizations are not always backed up with concrete evidence. His Chiesa e stato in Italia negli ultimi cento anni (Turin: Einaudi, 1948) has run into several editions, the latest in 1963; an English translation


Catholics and Fascism of an Italian abridgement of this work, Church and State in Italy 1850-1950 (Oxford: Blackwell, i960), stresses the Fascist period, as does his article, “Pio XI e il fascismo/' Il Ponte, 19, No. 6 (June, 1963), 787-792. The most up-to-date account of the back­ ground of the Lateran Accords is Francesco Margiotto Broglio, Italia e Santo Sede dalla grande guerra alla conciliazione (Bari: Laterza, 1966). See also Padre Angelo Martini, Studi sulla questione romana e la conciliazione (Rome: 5 Lune, 1963), which is a collection of articles from La Civiltà Cattolica commenting on Francesco Pacelli, Diario della conciliazione (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1959); this work, based on Vatican archives, originally appeared in 1929. For the Fascist side of this story, written by Bottai’s successor as minister of education in 1943, see Carlo Alberto Biggini, Storia inedita della conciliazione (Milan: Garzanti, 1942). 2. The revered Pietro Maffi, Cardinal Archbishop of Pisa, expressed the op­ timism of most prelates regarding the new government in his pastoral letter for 1923, reprinted in his Lettere, omelie, e discorsi, 3 vols. (Turin: Società Editrice Inter­ nazionale, 1931)» voi. 3 (1920-1927), p. 138. 3. (Milan: Tipografia Ponteficia ed Arcivescovile S. Giuseppe, 1922), p. io. 4. In this same letter Ratti and his bishops underlined this issue, blaming all existing parties for their anticlericalism and the current “moral decadence and vio­ lence” on the lack of religious instruction (p. 4)» 5. E.g., Cardinal-Archbishop Tommaso Pio Boggiani of Genoa, in his pastoral letter of July 25, 1920, said that the clergy in his archdiocese must have nothing to do with any political party, including the Partito Popolare, and that the lay Catholic organizations were forbidden to allow their premises to be used for meetings by any political party, including the Partito Popolare—(Genoa: Tipografia Arcivescovile, 1920), pp. 30-31. 6. On the activities of the “white” unions in Cremona province see Amos Zanibelli, Le leghe bianche nel Cremonese (Rome: 5 Lune, 1961) and Antonio Fappani, Guido Miglioli e il movimento contadino (Rome: 5 Lune, 1964)* 7. See pp. 17-18. 8. On the Catholic movement during the prewar years see Gabriele De Rosa, Storia del movimento cattolico in Italia, vol. I (Bari: Laterza, 1966) and Fausto Fonzi, I cattolici e la società italiana dopo VUnità, 2nd. ed. (Rome: Studium, i960); on Murri see Lorenzo Bedeschi, Romolo Murri e la Romagna (Rome: Guanda, 1967)* 9. Luigi Sturzo, Riforma statale e indirizzi politici (Florence: Vallecchi, 1923)» pp. 19-20. This work, along with his Popolarismo e fascismo, is reprinted in his Opera omnia (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1962). 10. For a contemporary analysis of the internal drama of many Catholics visà-vis Fascism see Vito G. Galati, Religione e politica (originally published in 1925 in Turin by Piero Gobetti, and reprinted in 1966 in Brescia by Morcelliana), pp. 198—200 in the 1966 edition. 11. This view is generally accepted now. See Margiotto Broglio, op. cit., pp. 451490, where this political motive is confirmed in the correspondence, cited in full, be­ tween Amadeo Giannini, Mussolini, and Aldo Oviglio in late 1923* 12. Speeches cited in UOsservatore Romano, 14, 17, and 28, March 1923. 13. “Fascismo e sindacalismo,” La Civiltà Cattolica, 1(3 March 1923), 4*7#14. This motive comes out in the letters from Carlo Enrico Barduzzi (one of Cardinal Gasparri’s “emissaries” ) to Senator Salvatore Contarmi, a high official in the ministry of foreign affairs; these letters are reproduced in Margiotto Broglio, op. cit. 15. Eugène Beyrens, Quatre ans à Rome (Paris: Plon, 1934), p. 138* 16. This letter, dated June 1, 1925, and written by Don Andrea Baraldi, is in the Padre Rosa file, “Cartella Partito Popolare,” at the Archivio della Civiltà Cattolica (hereafter referred to as ACC); parts of it are also cited in Ambrogio M. Fiocchi, Padre Enrico Rosa, SJ. scrittore della “Civiltà Cattolica” (1870-1938) (Rome: La Civiltà Cattolica, 1957), P- 190. 17. On May 26, 1925, Bishop Elia Dalla Costa of Padua published a letter of protest in La Stampa of Turin. 18. Gabriele De Rosa, Storia del partito popolare (Bari: Laterza, 1958), pp. 3 5 i“ 2.


The FASCIST Experience 19* In their reports of late March, 1927, the prefects of Milan, Pesaro, Ravenna, and Vercelli said that the Centro was not very influential but that the activities of Senator Paolo Mattei-Gentili were. (See P.S. 1903-1949, G ì, busta 1.) The former editor of UOsservatore Romano, Count Giuseppe Dalla Torre, also minimizes the importance of the Centro in *1 cattolici e il fascismo,'* in La partecipazione dei cattolici alla vita dello Stato italiano (Rome: Studium, 1958), pp. 124-125. On the history of the Centro, see Gabriele De Rosa, I conservatori nazionali. Biografia di Carlo Santucci (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1962), pp. 64-126. 20. See Giuseppe Rossini, “Banche cattoliche durante il periodo fascista,” in his II movimento cattolico nel periodo fascista (Rome: 5 Lune, 1966). 21. This incident is summarized in two letters of Cardinal Gasparri on Septem­ ber 20, 1924, one to Pius XI and one to Angelo Nazzari, the head of the organization whose prayer service had been interrupted in the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Brescia; these letters are in ACC, no. IV, 109, Azione Cattolica Italiana—iniziative e ostacoli. 22. Bollettino dell*Azione Cattolica Italiana, 3, no. 5 (15 March 1925): 9. 23. E.g., UOsservatore Romano, 7 October 1925, and La Civiltà Cattolica, 1925, 4 (October 17): 189. 24. Bollettino dell*Azione Cattolica Italiana, 4, no. 5 (1 March 1926): 22. 25. On Achille Grandi, Gronchi’s successor as head of the CIL after the March on Rome, see Giulio Pastore, Achille Grandi e il movimento sindacale italiano nel primo dopoguerra (Rome: 5 Lune, i960) and Giuseppe Rapelli, “Azione cattolica e sindacati bianchi di fronte al fascismo: La relazione Grandi al Consiglio Nazionale della C.I.L. (Milano 1926),” Quaderni di cultura e storia sociale, 3 (Nuova serie), 3 (March 1954): 153-172. Gabriele De Rosa, who discusses these events in his Storia del partito popolare, pp. 505-526, says that the Azione Cattolica was not actually philoFascist but gravely mistaken in seeing Fascist “corporativism” as a revival of the corporativism of the premodern period. 26. Tacchi-Venturi to Mussolini, 4 May 1928, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 47, fase. 404/R, Tacchi-Venturi, Pietro, sottofasc. 1. 27. Letters mentioned in text, in ibid, 28. Letters mentioned in text, in ibid. 29. Tacchi-Venturi to Mussolini, 28 October 1928, Seg. Part, del Duce, H/R, Severi Leonardo. 30. Faino to Padre Rosa, 17 April, 4 May, and 8 May, 1928, ACC. no. IV. 109.2, Dissidi tra Azione Cattolica e Governo Fascista. 31. Cited in Halperin, Mussolini and Italian Fascism, pp. 137-144. 32. Cesare Maria De Vecchi di Val Cismon, “Mussolini vero,” installment io , in Il Tempo, 12 January i960, p. 64. De Vecchi was Italy's first ambassador to the Vatican. See also Dino Secco Suardo, I cattolici intransigenti (Brescia: Morcelliana, 1962). 33. Fede e Ragione, 9 (11 March 1928): “ . . . la posizione assunta dall'on Mussolini [against the idea of popular sovereignty] è la rivincita più bella del principio di autorità, quale dalla Chiesa Cattolica fu sempre insegnato, sostenuto, difeso.” 34. Padre Gemelli expressed these views in his lesson, “Il significato e il pro­ gramma del pontificato di Pio XI,” at the Settimana Sociale d*Italia XVI Sessione: 1929—Rome, published under the title UOpera di S.S. Pio XI (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 1929), p. 3 7 35. Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 47» fase. 404/R, Tacchi-Venturi, Pietro, sottofasc. i. The following two letters are in the same file. 36. By 1936 Mussolini saw Tacchi-Venturi only occasionally and was unwilling even to give him the seat in the Accademia d'Italia, left vacant by the death of Cardinal Gasparri, a slight that embittered the faithful Jesuit; ibid., anonymous re­ port, 15 April 1936. 37. The statutes were published in the Bollettino Ufficiale delVAzione Cattolica Italiana, 1, no. 9 (September 1923) and commented on by Padre Rosa in “L'Azione Cattolica Italiana e i suoi nuovi statuti,” La Civiltà Cattolica, 4 (5 October 1923): 199-208.


Catholics and Fascism 38. Senator Emilio Battista, personal interview in Rome, 18 October 1969. Senator Battista maintains, however, that he now sees that the pope was right and that he and his protesting colleagues were wrong. 39. Corradi to Padre Rosa, (24 February 1923)» plus a copy to the pope; in ACC. no. IV. 109. Azione Cattolica Italiana, iniziative e ostacoli. 40. A copy of the ICAS constitution was enclosed in one of several letters to Padre Rosa from Msg. Fernando Rovera, Secretary General of Azione Cattolica Italiana in March, 1926; in ibid. Whereas people of all persuasions wrote to Padre Rosa, he himself followed the papal line to the letter and participated in many activities of Azione Cattolica. 41. By the mid-1920s the Associazioni Universitari di Azione Cattolica were operating under the presidency of Igino Righetti; a decade later, as we shall see presently. Righetti and Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (now Pope Paul VI) reorganized these Associazioni into the Movimento Laureati. Efforts to give financial aid to the Catholic press reached their peak in the late 1920s, when Padre Rosa, al­ ways active in these matters, even tried to get the Giannini family of the Bank of America to help. A letter of 24 September 1927 from the bank's home office in San Francisco politely turned Padre Rosa down. (ACC, no. IV. 109.) 42. Roveda to Rosa 13 December 1923, inviting Padre Rosa to attend this meeting; in ibid. 43* See the Atti delVXI Settimana Sociale, Torino 1924 (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 1924). 44. Bollettino Ufficiale dell9Azione Cattolica Italiana, 3, nos. 18-19 (30 September-15 October 1925): 1745. In his Pastoral Letter for Lent, 1924 (Catania: Scuola Tipografica Salesiana, 1924), p. 15, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Catania, Giuseppe Francica-Narva di Bondfé, urged the founding of a section of Uomini Cattolici in a very perfunctory way. This prince of the church seemed to disdain the idea of ordinary laymen being active in religious affairs. 46. La Civiltà Cattolica, 2 (5 June 1926): 457, and 4 (20 November): 366. 47. Ibid., p. 368. 48. Anonymous report dated Rome, 2 October 1930, P.S. (1920-1945), Gì. As­ sociazioni. Azione Cattolica, busta 146, fase. 22-23, sottofasc. 3. The following material comes mainly from this exceptionally astute informer, who was obviously no ordinary police spy. His main sources of information included a meeting in late June, 1930, in Rome of the Consigli Superiori delle Organizzazioni di Azione Cattolica, which he attended, and articles in the Catholic press, particularly UOrdine (Como) and L*Avvenire dTtalia (Bologna). 49. Cesare Maria De Vecchi di Val Cismon, “Mussolini vero,” Il Tempo, March i960, p. 27. 50. P.S. (1920-1945) as cited in footnote 48, anonymous reports dated 27 April and 9 May 1931* 51. Both Mussolini’s telegram to the prefects and excerpts of the papal circular to the bishops are reproduced in a report of May 28 in ibid. 52. Reports from local party secretaries and anonymous informers from Pesaro (28 May 1931)» Rovigo (2 June 1931)» and Torino (14 June 1931)—all in PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov. 53. Memorandum, 31 May 1931, ACC, no. IV. 109.2, Dissidi tra Azione Cattolica e Governo Fascista, Invasione della Civiltà Cattolica. 54. Letter from the federale dated 28 September 1931» PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Torino. 55. Letter dated 16 September 1931» ibid., Milano. 56. Letter dated 20 November 1931» Ibid. 57. Anonymous report dated 8 January 1932, ibid., Roma. 58. Anonymous reports dated 9 January and 29 January 1932, ibid.; anonymous reports dated 24 January and 12 February 1932, ibid., Milano. 59. Anonymous reports from September 1932 to the end of March 1933 ibid., Vicenza, when relations between the bishop and the Fascist authorities finally im­ proved.


The FASCIST Experience 60. The tract that Padre Rosa was to inspect, along with those tracts it attacked, are in ACC, no. 4: 109. 61. Trattato elementare di statistica diretto da Corrado Gini, voi. 6, Statistica Sociale, part 3, Dott. Carmelo D’Agata, Statistica Religiosa (Milan: Giuffre, 1943), pp. 20-21. 62. Ibid,, p. 67. 63. One good example was Monsignor Scotto di Pagliara, the head chaplain of the army, who could not get over the speed with which the Fascists had changed all the bad things Italy had endured for over a century; see his pastoral letter, “1/ Armando Diaz di Napoli” (Pompei: Scuola Tipografica Pontificia, 1930), p. 5. Goffredo Zaccherini, Bishop of Jesi, urged the priests of his diocese to disseminate the party sec­ retary’s guidelines on religious education so that their parishioners could appreciate the merits of the new regime; see his pastoral letter for 1930 (Subiaco: Tipografia dei Monasteri, 1930), p. 16. Toward the end of 1936, Angelo Ficarra, Bishop of Patti (Sicily) saluted “tutte le associazioni sindacali e giovanili del Fascismo, che sono la primavera spirituale dell’Italia rinnovellata.”; see his pastoral letter for Christmas, 1936 (Agrigento: Tipografia Vescovile, 1936), p. 11. 64. While the Fascist police added the names of the signers to its files, the conservative Catholics denounced the resurgence of populist intransigence. See Mon­ signor Luigi Cornaggia Medici, Antesignani della conciliazione (Fidenza: “La Com­ merciale,” 1936), p. 206, for a copy of the open letter and the rest of the book for the denunciation of opponents of the “Conciliation.” 65. Anonymous report, 24 August 1936, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano; see also Webster, op. cit,, p. 120 66. Padre Angelo Martini, Studi sulla questione romana e la conciliazione, p. 22in . Pius XI never mentioned such a denunciation even “ai più intimi collaboratori nei momenti più acuti, neanche come a deprecata ipotesi. Voleva piuttosto conservare intatto tutto il Concordato.” 67. E.g., Giacinto Tredici, Bishop of Brescia, Pastoral Letter, Lent, 1935 (Bres­ cia: Tipografia Morcelliana, 1935), pp. 14-18. 68 . Adriano Bernareggi [auxiliary bishop of Bergamo], “Vizi del tempo. L’ignoranza religiosa,” pastoral letter. Lent, 1935 (Bergamo: Tipografìa Vescovile Secomandi, 1935), p. 10. 69. Giuseppe Angelucci [bishop of Città della Pieve], Bollettino Ufficiale Dio­ cesano (Supplement), 21 (March 1935): 7. 70. Santino Margaria, Bishop of Civita Castellana, Orte, and Gallese, pastoral letter, Lent, 1935 (Roma: Tipografìa Agostiniana, 1935), pp. 4-9; Giovanni Sismondi [bishop of Pontremoli], pastoral letter. Lent, 1935 (Pontremoli: Scuola Tipografica Artigianelli, 1938), pp. 32-33—this good country bishop even managed to find quotations from a number of Fascist leaders condemning ballroom dancing in the late 1920s. 71. Oronzo Caldarola [Bishop of Teggiano], pastoral letter. Lent, 1932 (Sala Consilina: Tipografìa di Francesco Auleta, 1932), p. 19. 72. Sermon delivered in the Duomo, in Rivista Diocesana Milanese 26 (1935): 419. 73. Ibid,, 425-428. 74. Report of the questore of Rome, 10 October 1935, to Chief of Police Bocchini, in P.S. (1920-1945), Gì, Azione Cattolica, fase. 1, sottofasc. Movimento Laureati Cattolici, In his reports of Nov. 22 and Dec. 7, however, the questore says that the majority of the members of Azione Cattolica, especially the younger ones, support the Ethiopian campaign and that only a few of the older leaders have reservations. 75. E.g., anonymous report, 16 Sept. 1936, PNF., Sit. Pol. Prov., Genova, busta 2, which says that the mass of priests and laymen have ceased to read II Nuovo Cittadino, the official Catholic organ of Genoa, because it supports the war and is philo-Fascist. Although exaggerated, this report is not entirely unfounded. 76. Adriano Bemareggi [Bishop of Bergamo], pastoral letter, Lent, 1937 (Bergamo: Tipografica Vescovile Secomando, 1937), p. 2.


Catholics and Fascism 77. Evasio Colli, Lettere pastorali (1932-1956) (Turin: Società Editrice In­ ternazionale, 1963), p. 115. 78. Pietro Boetto, “Prima lettera pastorale,” (Genoa: Stabilimento Grafico “Buona Stampa,” 1938), p. 12. 79. Luigi Cardinal Lavitrano, [and the sixteen archbishops and bishops under him (all of Sicily),] “Lettera dell’episcopato siculo: dopo le conferenze episcopali dell’aprile 1937” (Palermo: Tipografìa Pontefìcia, 1937), pp. 4, 9; on p. 26 these prelates cite Joseph De Maistre as their ideal thinker. Another example of the im­ passioned reactionary attitude toward the Spanish Civil War is in Alfonso Archi [bishop of Cesena], pastoral letter, 1937 (Faenza: Stabilimento Grafico F. Lega, 1937), P- 39 80. Elia Cardinal Dalla Costa, pastoral letter, Lent, 1937 (Florence: Libreria Editrice Fiorentina, 1937), pp. 19-20. 81. Some typical examples of this outlook are: Giovanni Cazzani [bishop of Cremona], pastoral letter, Lent, 1938 (Cremona: Tipografia Buona Stampa, 1938), p. ij Giuseppe Holla [bishop of Forlì], pastoral letter. Lent, 1937 (Forlì: Tipografìa Valbonesi, 1937), P* 41; Umberto Ugliengo, Bishop of Susa, pastoral letter, Lent, 1937 (Turin: Tipografìa La Salute, 1937), p. 10. 82. Padre Agostino Gemelli, “Il compito di una università cattolica e italiana nella lotta del comuniSmo contro cattolicismo e fascismo,” Vita e pensiero, 28, n.s., no. i (January 1937): 7583. Compare Padre Barbera’s article, “La gioventù nella Germania razzista e totalitaria,” 2 (2 Aprii 1938): 3-16, with Padre Rosa’s “Gli auspizi del ‘Nuovo ordine’ sociale,” i (15 January 1938): 97-109, and especially his “Nuova orientazione o ‘disorientazione,” ’ 2 (4 June 1938): 400-413. 84. Letter from papal secretary of state, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, 8 Jan. 1938, asking Tacchi to register the pope’s complaint to the Duce; Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 404/R. Tacchi-Venturi, Padre Pietro. 85. E.g., Farinacci to Mussolini, 3 August 1938, Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 242/R, Farinacci, R., sottofasc. 39. Pressure even came from Joseph Goebbels to his counter­ part, Dino Alfieri, minister of popular culture, to suppress L’Osservatore Romano; see transcript of a telephone conversation between Alfieri and Goebbels, 23 Nov. 1938, Ministero della Cultura Popolare, busta 116, fase. 8, Goebbels, Giuseppe, sottofasc. 4. 86. This figure comes from two staff editors, Giorgio L. Bernucci and Guido Gonella (personal interview, Rome, 13 October 1969); Gemella, a Christian Democratic minister during much of the 1950s, says that L’Osservatore Romano had to import more modern printing equipment from Switzerland in order to put out so many copies. 87. See police reports from La Spezia, 6 October 1939; from Modena, 1 January 1940; from Udine, 22 April 1940, in P.S. (1920-1945), busta 52, fase. La Spezia; busta 52, fase. Modena; busta 58, fase. Udine. 88. See Gioacchino Malavasi, “Il processo dei Guelfi,” Fascismo e antifascismo, i: 250-256, and Piero Malvestiti, Parte guelfa in Europa (Milan: Corticelli, 1945). 89. “Genesi e sviluppo del corporativismo fascista,” Vita e pensiero, 25, n.s., no. 5 (May 1934): 303. For an up-to-date discussion of this whole subject see Carlo Vallauri, “Corporativismo fascista e il pensiero sociale dei cattolici italiani,” Il Nuovo Osservatore, 6, nos. 44-45 (November-December 1965): 889-957. 90. In Terence P. McLaughlin, ed.. The Church and the Reconstruction of the Modem World (New York: Doubleday, 1957), P- 252. 91. Police report from Milan, 3 June 1936» P*S. (1920-1945)» G.i. Azione Cattolica, fase, i; this report quotes a Dr. Monachesi, administrative secretary of the Central Committee of Azione Cattolica in Rome, as saying that the Vatican provided as much money as was needed. 92. In Igino Giordani, ed.. Encicliche sociali dei Papi (Rome: Studium, 1942), p. 458 . 93. Report of 24 Aug. 1934, P.S. (1920-1945), G.i. Azione Cattolica, fase. 1, sottofasc. “Propaganda contraria a cultura e manifestazioni ginniche femminili.”


The FASCIST Experience 94. Police report from Milan, 3 June 1936, ibid., sottofasc. 3. 95. Ibid. 96. Report of 9 July 1935—stamped “Seen by His Excellency the Head of the Government,” ibid. 97. Ibid., also, report of 2 Nov. 1938 from Venice, in which Vignoli urges members not to prevent their children from attending G.I.L. meetings, even at the cost of sacrificing the meetings of Azione Cattolica: “Bisogna berre amaro e forse domani trionferà la giustizia!” 98. Ibid. 99. Memorandum from the chief of police, dated 9 November 1940, ibid. 100. Negative answers to such requests from the chief of police to the prefects of Savona (17 Apr. 1941), Novara (13 May 1941), and Terni (10 Mar. 1942), ibid. 101. Il Movimento Laureati di A.C.: Appunti per una storia (Rome: Studium i9 6 0 ), pp. 20--21 ; the historical part of this book was written by Giampietro Dore. See also Guido Anichini, Cinquantanni di vita della F.U.C.I. (Rome: Studium, 1947). 102. E.g., Padre Agostino Gemelli, Idee e battaglie per la cultura cattolica (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 1940), p. 37a, from a speech delivered in 1930. 103. Police report from Milan, 10 May 1935, P.S. (1920-1945), G.i, Azione Cattolica, fase. 1, sottofasc. 3. 104. E.g., an unsigned article by Sergio Paronetto in Bollettino di Studium (July 1943), cited in II Movimento Laureati di A.C., p. 73. 105. See Per la comunità cristiana—Principi dell*ordinamento sociale a cura di un gruppo di studiosi amici di Camaldoli (Rome: Studium, 1945)—also known as the Codice di Camaldoli.


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8 Popular Culture and Propaganda


various forms of mass culture to create the impression that life in their country is wholesome and that their citizens are all honest and patriotic; Fascist Italy went even further in this respect than Stalinist Russia, with its periodic campaigns against traitors and wreckers, or Nazi Germany, with its open persecution of the Jews. The fact that the Fascists were more amateurish in their propaganda than the Nazis and the Communists did not limit their control over the mass media, though it did reduce their effectiveness in inculcating the public with a coherent, new set of values. This ineffectiveness was also due, in part, to the lack of coherence or newness in the values the Fascists thought they had. Italians tried to be skeptical toward overt propaganda and to trust only their personal ex­ perience. But most of them had no way of resisting the covert propaganda in the mass media, which pretended that crime, vice, and poverty did not exist. Since the advent of the mass media most of us acquire our general impressions of what is going on in our society (and the rest of the world) from these media. This commonplace is true even of the most dis­ criminating intellectuals for matters outside their individual competence. Among less educated people it is often leaders of the peer group who filter and select certain images and ideas from the media, thus reinforcing them with their own prestige before passing them on to the other people in the group. In order to understand the impact of propaganda and mass culture under Fascism one must try to see how they were related to certain tradi­ tional features of Italian popular culture and general behavior. Obviously these varied among different classes and regions and rarely appeared full blown in any one individual. Nevertheless, most observers, including Italians, would agree on certain common personality traits. The question is: Did these traits typify some kinds of Italians more than others, and, if so, were they the ones for whom the Fascist experience was the most meaningful? When speaking of typically Italian personality traits during the Fascist period we must exclude most peasants, not out of snobbery or elitism, but because most Italian peasants, particularly in the south, had


The FASCIST Experience

virtually no contact with the national popular culture of the mass media and the party. Even when they were forced to listen to Mussolini on the radio in the village square, his words went over their heads, leaving no trace. In parts of northern and central Italy, traditional folk cultures continued to give some dignity and meaning to rural life. But in what had been the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (plus Sardinia) the rural masses were truly second-class citizens—servile and resigned, much like the blacks in the American south, but with a far less expressive popular culture. The fantasy-escapist films of the 1930s, with their petty-bourgeois dreams of individual happiness, would have been incomprehensible to most peasants even if they had seen them. And Fascist propaganda, with its boastfulness and its scoffing at death, was especially alien to people for whom death was the most meaningful reality in all the world and whose presence was constantly evoked in the fatalistic sayings of the men and the black mourning clothes of the women. In many ways the southern peasantry had degenerated since unifica­ tion owing to economic stagnation, overpopulation, and the emigration of many able-bodied young men. Rationality had never had much place in their lives, and the ceremonies of the church had usually been felt as pagan rites celebrating the undifferentiated existence of familiar things, animals, gods, and evil spirits. The Neapolitan Bourbons had at least been viewed as native rulers, whereas the Piedmontese dynasty was considered, with much justification, as a foreign power exploiting the south as a colony. Earlier arts and crafts fell into disuse without being replaced by new ones on the local or national level. In his Christ Stopped at Eboli, based on his observations while under internal banishment, Carlo Levi says that the two pictures he saw on the walls of peasant houses in one southern village in the late 1930s were colored prints of the black Madonna of Viggiano and of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; he never saw pictures of the king, Mus­ solini, Garibaldi, or even the local saint. Although emigration to America declined during the depression years, utopia for most southern Italians was not heaven or Rome but New York or Boston. Yet those emigrants who returned brought back little of American culture and know-how, aside from a few pieces of hardware and some cheap calendar art. In this environment of ignorance and abnegation, the popular culture of the Fascist era had little influence indeed. A number of sensitive anti-Fascist authors have tried to capture the motivations and attitudes of those millions of Italians who did feel a strong sense of identification with Mussolini’s regime. The most extreme appraisal is that of the novelist Carlo Emilio Gadda in his Eros e priapo (written in 1944 and published in 1967), which says that Mussolini took and kept his political power because he was an exhibitionist and that his exhibitionism fascinated Italian men with its supermasculinity and Italian women with its supersexuality. For Gadda the feelings pandered to by Mussolini and his propaganda were vaginal and visceral (Gadda sub­ stitutes the cry “Ku-ce” for “Du-ce” to suggest enthusiasm for Mussolini as the “cook” who filled people’s stomachs), and the images used were


Popular Culture and Propaganda

frankly phallic. The publicist Luigi Barzini argues that much of Mus­ solini’s public performance impersonated the secret longings of many Italians and calmed their unexpressed anxieties;1 as signs all over Italy proclaimed, “Duce, you are all of us.” Patriotism, though loudly asserted, was less meaningful to some Fascist supporters than young men showing off their athletic mettle in shorts or their bullying capabilities in black shirts and boots. According to the art critic Giuseppe Marchiori, equating national power with male prowess in sex and sports was partly a heritage from D’Annunzio and the early futurists,2 but it was also an appealing fantasy for warding off feelings of inferiority and powerlessness in ordinary people later on. Carlo Levi sees Fascism rather as ritualized snobbery as an answer to the fear of freedom.3 According to him, the regime borrowed much of its ritual and behavior from the traditional “parasitic” social groups: the military; the bureaucracy; the church; and the small-town petty-bourgeoisie, epitomized by Don Luigino, the school-teacher-gerarca in the southern village where Levi spent part of his exile. But it gave these bor­ rowings its own voluntaristic, violent, and “totalitarian” stamp, thus creating the illusion of overcoming their often contradictory elements. “Fascist ritual covered everything, preserved everything, saved everything, and liberated everyone from freedom, giving everyone the blissful feeling of being members of the elect.” Levi calls this feat a “miracle” because it allowed so many kinds of people to be snobbish about their conformity. But he adds that this “miracle” appealed mainly to the “Luigino” in most petty-bourgeois Italians—that is, their feelings of servility and inferiority —and that the educated classes and the masses were not taken in. Levi’s familiar condemnation of petty-bourgeois attitudes needs quali­ fication. First of all, not all members of the lower middle classes shared these attitudes; indeed, some provided outstanding leaders of the resist­ ance to Fascism. Second, and probably more important, most large groups and even most individuals have their “good” and “bad” sides, one or the other of which can be brought forth by a certain kind of leader or a particu­ lar circumstance; instead of condemning the petty bourgeoisie as a class, one should note that the Fascist regime brought forth its “bad” side. Third—and here Marxist critics are the first to agree—petty-bourgeois attitudes can be found in members of other classes: the more affluent peasants and workers, members of the middle and upper bourgeoisie whose status seems threatened, and the other traditional “parasitic” social groups mentioned by Levi. Finally, there are historical reasons for the excessive feelings of servility and inferiority of the lower-middle classes in Italy, in contrast to those in France, Great Britain, the United States, and even Germany; here too, Italians from other classes partook of these feelings. The key reasons involve dependency in most social relations and patroniz­ ing treatment by foreigners. As in Nazi Germany,4 there was an apparently unresolved contrast between the social and cultural forms for which the Fascist regime’s lowermiddle-class supporters yearned and those forms advocated by its most


The FASCIST Experience

vociferous leaders. Few of these supporters were attracted to daredevil feats of courage such as jumping through fiery hoops, à la Starace; they were more likely to envy secretly those upper-middle-class and upper-class café-loungers whom the leftwing Fascist periodicals ridiculed. The bulk of the people who had sympathized with the Fascists from the beginning wanted to prevent any change in the social structure which might raise the status of rural and urban lower classes and thus threaten their own. With exceptions like Grandi, Bottai, and Ciano, the leading Fascist gerarchi and propagandists continued to pose as the champions of "the people” against the middle and upper classes. As we shall see later in this chapter, these contrasts were particularly apparent in the commercial films pre­ ferred by most people as opposed to the propaganda films and newsreels of the Istituto L.U.C.E. But people can be made to feel guilty about their selfish, materialistic yearnings, in which case they tend either to "project” this guilt onto other members of their class or else reject their own links with this class. This last form of snobbery is a common defense mechanism among people who, in a wider cultural context (in the case of Italy, an inter­ national one), feel that their own group hinders them from gaining the approval and higher status of the next one above them. Most Italians had a strong desire to make a good impression (fare la bella figura) in the eyes of others. Social and cultural pretensions—such as the unwarranted use of the titles dottore and professore—were one means to this end. Other manifestations included subservient posturing and indiscriminate agreeableness ( “Yes, dottore, whatever you say”). The Fascists pushed to extremes the kinds of rhetoric and spectacle on which so many Italians relied for various purposes, including making their poverty, humiliation, and frustration bearable. The most obvious of all their personality traits was indeed their use of rhetoric, from symbolic gestures with the hands and face to high-flown oratory. Politicians, lawyers, and lovers had little popularity without it. (Giolitti was always resented as a "cold Piedmontese” because of his lack of rhetoric.) Formal rhetoric had been the most important single subject taught in the classical high schools, to which almost all of Italy’s pre-Fascist leaders had gone. It was also a major part of the training of lawyers, of whom Italy had more than its share; and most politicians before Fascism had also been lawyers. The exaggerated professional acting style of Italians pervaded all kinds of spectacle, from traditional farces and grand opera to the silent film epics of the early twentieth century. And the rhetorical character of their lovemaking may well have been the most important influence of Italian men on their Latin cousins, from Paris to Buenos Aires. On a more serious level, the belief by many Italians that the expression is the thing expressed hampered their political judgment and made them confuse slogans like mare nostro and "eight million bayonets” with a reality these hardly ex­ pressed at all. Another familiar trait of many Italians was their tendency to give up rather quickly when faced with adversity, more often out of impatience


Popular Culture and Propaganda

than cowardice. Since unification they had been somewhat naïve in expecting quick solutions and maximum gratification and overly cynical when disappointed. In addition to using the defense mechanism of cynicism toward other people and the “system,” individual Italians sometimes dep­ recated their own behavior openly, thus absolving themselves in their own eyes and those of others (T m just a poor, worthless fellow, so what else could anyone expect from me?”). They even did this about themselves as a nation: when they said that something was done alVitaliana ( “Italianstyle”) they usually meant in a permissive, bumbling, and mildly corrupt way. This attitude is important in understanding the way censorship and other forms of cultural control operated. But the main defense against frustration and disappointment was not cynicism but realism. When a difficult situation seemed inevitable Italians could adapt themselves to it with ingenuity, like the soldiers in 1942 who managed to obtain perfume, flowers, good food and wine, and other comforts while Montgomery's army was pursuing them across the Libyan desert, still hoping for salvation but resigned to death. A corollary to Italian impatience and resignation was a certain fickle­ ness toward hero-figures who did not always live up to the highest ex­ pectations. (A good example is the treatment accorded a losing football team even today.) One of the basic appeals of Fascism was that it would make Italians braver, stronger, and better all-around performers, as individuals and as a nation. The regime came closest to fulfilling this dream during the Ethiopian War. But from 1937 onward a growing minority of people began to feel disappointed and even cheated by con­ tinuing unemployment now coupled with rising prices, by the inanities of the Starace era, by Mussolini's subservience to Hitler in international affairs. The main means of striking back were gossip, ridicule, and funny stories Cbarzellette) about leading Fascists. In typically petty-bourgeois fashion, ordinary citizens and even certain gerarchi accused Bottai, Federzoni, and other Fascist luminaries of fostering graft and crooked deals in their personal bailiwicks.5 Galeazzo Ciano, despite his good looks, was an easy target for contempt with his squeaky voice and pompous manner, which no official propaganda could cover up. People called him “papa's boy” (Mussolini was his father-in-law.), a thief, an incompetent (which was not true), and a cuckold (which was true). Word-of-mouth gossip and stories of this kind were the main response of Italy's traditional popular culture to the mass culture and propaganda of Fascism. Finally, for all their rhetoric, their propensity to gossip, their lack of perseverance, and their fickleness, many Italians had a strong feeling for justice and a sensitivity toward human suffering. They enjoyed making fun of other human beings but showed indignation and sympathy for those persecuted for reasons beyond their control—like the Jews after 1938. These virtues are typical of groups that feel themselves to be down­ trodden. Revenge and pathos often go hand in hand. In addition to exploiting traditional personality traits, the Fascists played on two new features of Italian popular culture: chauvinism and


The FASCIST Experience

populism. These had not been part of any regional traditional culture and had only been introduced into the national popular culture immediately before and during the First World War. Furthermore, there was a basic ambiguity between chauvinism, which was a state-oriented, petty-bourgeois attitude, and populism, which was an attitude of intellectuals reacting against the centralized state and existing bourgeois culture. The ambiguity between chauvinism and populism in Fascist ideology also appeared in Fascist propaganda. As we have seen, during the im­ mediate postwar years there had been no such ambiguity: the feeling of having been cheated out of the fruits of victory had been united with militant demands for the rights of “the people,” that is, those people who, having carried the material and moral burden of the war, seemed about to be pushed back into their old subordinate position in a society run by corrupt and incompetent members of the old ruling classes. Both the squadristi and the syndicalists had championed the two goals and aimed their radical rhetoric at the bourgeoisie while wielding their clubs against the socialists and workers. As Mussolini’s regime became a bulwark of conservatism in the late 1920s, both the radical rhetoric and the club wielding seemed increasingly out of place; yet they were preserved, and the rhetoric was revived a decade later. Hence, on the one hand Fascist propaganda used chauvinism to help overcome feelings of inferiority among the conformist petty-bourgeois masses, while on the other hand, it often took a militantly antibourgeois tack in an effort to glorify “the people.” (One of the chief antibourgeois propagandists was Asvero Gravelli, editor of the review Antieuropa and of the anthology Vademecum dello stile fas­ cista). From the beginning to the end of their regime the Fascists exploited chauvinism as a compensation for feelings of inferiority. On April 21, 1923, in a speech in Milan, Balbo said that the martial discipline and training of the Militia would restore dignity to Italians and prevent them from emigrating to lands where they were treated as inferiors.6 Five years later Leo Ferrerò, son of the famous historian, noted in his diary a con­ versation with two young Fascists who wanted to beat up the students of an anti-Fascist professor in Florence. When Leo argued that this kind of behavior would make a bad impression abroad, they replied: "We’re no longer living in the time when Italy was a servant. Now we give the orders! Why, we were a hair’s breadth from war with England, and England was afraid.”7 This urge to “stand up to” the English took a pathetic form in a speech by Mussolini to the party directorate on May 3, 1943 (a few days before his army surrendered in Tunis), when he said, “They despise our race, which is superior to theirs. We were the ones who taught them about money and banking. Now they want to reduce us to the non-Power toward which they have always been condescending: a peaceful people engaged in tourism.” Whereas Fascist chauvinism was self-deluding, Fascist populism was artificial and inconsistent with the regime’s avowed goal of building a new, modem culture. “Going to the people” ( andare verso il popolo) was a favorite theme of that super-Tuscan publicist-squadrista Curzio Malaparte


Popular Culture and Propaganda

during the 1920s. For him, “the people” was the pure and living force that would overcome the bourgeois monopoly of power and corruption; the manganello was nothing less than the expression of a healthy and manly peasant way of settling a discussion.8 Yet the regime discouraged regional feelings in general and dialect literature and drama in particular,9 thus un­ dermining the very bases of peasant values. There was far less emphasis on folk culture in Fascist Italy than in Nazi Germany and no overt attempt to revive pagan rites. The culture of imperial Rome—with which the regime hoped to remake modem Italy—was the antithesis of a folk cul­ ture. Unlike Hitler, Mussolini was not trying to revive the Volk (popolo) of another era; he was trying to create a new one out of whole cloth. During the 1930s the populism he encouraged was mainly a tactic for discrediting bourgeois values and manners. Much has been written about Fascist—and Nazi—populism and bourgeois-baiting as “covers” for preserving the real interests of the bourgeoisie. (Curiously—given the commercial exploitation of the recent “youth revolution”—little has been written about the Fascist glorification of youth as a “cover” for preserving the power of the older generations.) The deliberate use of anti-Semitism for this purpose is self-evident, but presenting a sympathetic image of “the little guy” was at least partly deter­ mined by the need of the mass media to hold their audience. During the 1930s most Italian movie-goers, radio-listeners, and readers of masscirculation newspapers and magazines, were shopgirls, office clerks, petty merchants and craftsmen, and lower-level civil servants such as police­ men, firemen, elementary school teachers, postal employees, etc. Italy was not the only country in which these types were still glorified collectively as “the people” in the mass media during the depression years; some of the best French films of that period also did so, and in the USA the leftwing WPA Theater and the conservative Chicago Tribune lambasted exploitive Wall Street bankers, though for different reasons. The most that can be said is that in Italy the populism and bourgeois-baiting of the leftwing Fascist students and intellectuals were probably sincere, whereas these attitudes in films and the popular press were demagogic in their intention but could have been “covers” for the party's frustrated lust for power as well as for the preservation of capitalism. The daily press was the medium of communication most congenial to the Fascists, whose regime was in some ways the reign of the journalists. Mussolini, himself a longtime newspaper man, held ultimate power, and many others served as propagandists and party officials. Some of these journalists were also literary critics; others fancied themselves political philosophers. In no other dictatorship were so many journalists speaking out so much on so many subjects: Virginio Gayda became the semi­ official spokesman for the regime's foreign policy as director of the Giornale dltalia; Roberto Forges Davanzati expanded his journalistic activities from the press to the radio, where his daily commentaries were extremely in­ fluential during the mid-i930S; Ugo Ojetti pontificated on literature and the arts. Fascist leaders usually observed the unwritten rule that the press


The FASCIST Experience

was Mussolini’s preserve. The Duce set the tone of the regime with his own continuing journalistic interests, and this tone also permeated the ministry of popular culture. Mussolini’s special interest in the daily press accounts for some of the differences in the way it was treated in Italy as opposed to Nazi Germany, but the relative slowness with which he consolidated his power plus his downgrading of the party were also important in this regard. During the early 1920s the leading mass-circulation “bourgeois” dailies were the Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Stampa (Turin), the dormale d'Italia and the Messaggero (Rome), Il Mattino (Naples), and II Resto di Carlino (Bologna). In addition, there were party organs of which the Socialist AvantiI had by far the largest circulation. The major Fascist dailies were Mussolini’s Popolo d'Italia, Balbo’s Corriere Padano, Farinacci’s Cremona Nuova, and the Impero, published in Rome by Carli and Settimelli. In Germany the Socialist and Communist newspapers were confiscated within a few months after Hitler became chancellor, and their facilities were taken over directly by the Nazi party. In Italy the newspapers of the Communist and Socialist parties were suppressed only four years after Mussolini became head of the government, and their facilities did not usually benefit the Fascist party in any way. Also, Nazi Germany despoiled middle-class publishers of their rights and properties to a far greater extent than in Italy, and not just Jewish publishers. The major newspaper in whose Fascistization the party played the most direct role in the 1920s was II Mattino.10 This liberal Neapolitan daily had been founded in the 1890s by Edoardo Scarfoglio and was published in the early 1920s by his sons Carlo and Paolo. Although he gave nominal support to the Fascist party in 1923, Paolo signed Croce’s Manifesto of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals in May, 1925 (see p. 282). Thereafter Party Secretary Farinacci gave direct support to Giovanni Preziosi (director of a rival Neapolitan daily, Il Mezzogiorno, and one of the most intransigent and anti-Semitic Fascists) in his effort to put II Mattino out of business, at least under its current publishers. By December 15, Il Mezzogiorno was publishing party edicts telling Neapolitans to boycott II Mattino. Three days later the Roman daily Impero announced that the Scarfoglio brothers had been condemned to six months in prison for slandering the army. In early 1926 the party bought II Mattino from the Scarfoglio brothers and sold it to a man named Barattolo; in April Mussolini ordered him to take on Bottai as the paper’s Rome correspondent. In December, 1931, Luigi Barzini (senior) took over the editorship of II Mattino. The case of the Giornale d'Italia, whose national circulation of 300,000 was surpassed only by the Corriere della Sera and La Stampa, illus­ trates the response to Fascism by conservative nationalists who called themselves liberals—men like Sidney Sonnino, the paper’s founder, and Antonio Salandra, a member of its board of directors for many years.11 Under the directorship of Alberto Bergamini until November, 1923, and Vittorio Vettori thereafter, the Giornale d'Italia regarded the Fascists as “patriotic defenders of the social order and national aspirations.” It expressed in classic form the hope for an alliance between 'liberals” and


Popular Culture and Propaganda

Fascists, even after the Matteotti murder, until Mussolini himself de­ nounced the paper for its half-hearted support in the wake of that event. Throughout 1925 it expressed reservations about many Fascist programs, but by early 1926 it had to succumb to Fascist party pressure to change its management and its policies. In March the new board of directors took office under the presidency of Enrico Corradini; in May the paper’s new director, Virginio Gayda, announced that the Giornale d'Italia would hence­ forth be "unconditionally Fascist and unconditionally disciplined.” Unlike the Giornale d'Italia, the Corriere della Sera, under the director­ ship of Luigi Albertini and his brother Alberto, was more or less anti-Fascist after the March on Rome.12 Previously, however, its position had been quite different, as is evident in the following excerpt from Luigi Albertini’s editorial of April 8,1921 : Fascism is the most exasperated expression of the resurgent national conscience. Its excesses may be deplored; but it should be very clear that the Fascists are the extreme wing of a great national party that willed the sacrifice of the war for the benefit of Italy and that does not want Italy to die of suffocation by a stupid and . . . outdated utopia.

Albertini was in effect condemning his old enemy Giolitti not only for his former neutralism but also for his weakness in stemming the tide of red subversion. It was natural for a man of Albertini’s wealth and con­ nections—his co-owners of the Corriere included leading Lombard in­ dustrialists like the Crespi brothers, the Pirellis and the De Angelis —to resist any challenge to Italy’s bourgeois elite. But he also abhorred the excesses of the squadristi and Fascist threats to individual freedom and to the liberal regime itself. Albertini and the Corriere acknowledged Fascist successes in restoring civil order and improving the economic situa­ tion in 1923, but they continued to criticize Mussolini’s government on ideological grounds. After the Matteotti murder the Corriere went into unqualified opposition and hoped to use its prestige and influence to force Mussolini’s resignation. Replying to an attack by Albertini in the Senate on December 5, 1924, Mussolini said that he might resign on orders from "His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III of Savoy” but not from "His Majesty the Corriere della Sera." From January, 1925, until the forced ouster of the Albertinis in November the Corriere had to refrain from all political commentary in order to be allowed to publish at all. Even so, the campaign against them in the Fascist press became more and more acrimonious in its demands that either they leave or the paper be suppressed. The November 22 issue of the Corriere quoted Party Secretary Farinacci as calling Luigi Albertini "that monstrous fungus bom in the unhealthy dampness of an Italietta long since outdated.” On November 29 a brief notice announced that the Albertinis had sold their shares to the Crespi family and that the paper would continue publication under the direction of Pietro Croci. In March, 1926, Croci was replaced by Ugo Ojetti who, after twenty months, gave way to another interim director. From September, 1929, to July, 1943 »


The FASCIST Experience

director of the Corriere della Sera was its former Rome correspondent Aldo Borelli. After 1926 there was no longer an opposition press in Italy, and during the 1930s even the nonparty dailies became increasingly conformist. The largest dailies lived on their own resources; only the Resto di Carlino was taken over directly by the party, and hence given access to party funds, after the disgrace of Leandro Arpinati in 1933 had spread to those editors who were his friends. But efforts to boost the circulation of the leading party daily, the Popolo d’Italia, in that same year failed to bring the figure even up to 100,000,13 in contrast to the 600,000 of the Corriere della Sera. In 1936 in Genoa the party daily, Giornale di Genova, had a circulation of 32,000, in comparison with 70,000 for the Lavoro, which even at that late date never used the word "Duce,” only “Head of the Government” or “President of the Council.”14 By 1938 in Germany the Nazi party directly controlled daily newspapers with one third of the total circulation in the country;15 in Italy the Fascist party dailies never had more than one tenth of the total circulation. It is important to note, however, that the nation’s only wire service, the Agenzia Stefani, was headed by one of Mussolini’s most loyal followers, Manlio Morgagni, and that before the ministry of popular culture told it what to send out to its subscribers, Mussolini himself sometimes did so.16 Yet in some ways the press in Fascist Italy was more effective than in Nazi Germany in promoting conformity. For one thing, many of Germany’s leading journalists either emigrated or sought other careers after Hitler came to power, whereas in Italy the majority continued in their jobs, and their familiar bylines reassured the public : Mario Missiroli, Guelfo Civinini, Renato Simoni, Paolo Monelli, Giovanni Ansaldo. In Italy, more than in most European countries, eminent scholars contributed articles regularly to important daily and weekly newspapers, and some, like Luigi Einaudi and Alberto De Stefani, continued to write for the Corriere della Sera in the 1930s. Only outspoken anti-Fascists like Luigi Salvatorelli were barred from the press, La Stampa in his case. (Some of the leading journalists of the opposition press went into exile, but they were a small minority compared to their counterparts in Nazi Germany.) In general, journalism remained an attractive career in Italy under Fascism, in contrast to Germany under Nazism. In Germany, for example, art editors were forbidden to write “art criticism” and had to restrict themselves to “art appreciation”;17 as we shall see in Chapters 9 and 10, there were no such restrictions in Italy. Finally, although news reporting in Italy obviously lacked originality and spontaneity, the Italian press—at least until the Second World War—was not reduced to the monotony and poor quality which brought a considerable decline in circulation in Germany between 1932 and 1937 as a result of public indifference and distrust.18 It is impossible to generalize about the attitudes of Italy’s newspaper­ men toward the Fascist regime; some were sincerely taken in, while others retained that grain of cynicism which is typical of all journalists, particu­ larly in Italy. Filippo Sacchi was a former anti-Fascist whom Borelli 222

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allowed to return to the Corriere della Sera as its film critic; like all other journalists, he eventually had to join the party. He later recalled19 how many employees at all levels on the Corriere salved their consciences with indirect little acts of sabotage calculated to erode the dominant mentality and manners of the regime, such as cutting out a line of type, substituting a synonym, omitting a bombastic adjective. In his film reviews Sacchi himself tried to present in a sympathetic light a hero who represented modern, pacifist, and other “advanced” ideas, or certain features of foreign films which gave a favorable picture of foreign manners and viewpoints. Guido Piovene, another member of the Corriere staff and its correspondent in Spain during the civil war, says that he and many of his colleagues comforted themselves with the knowledge that they were all hypocrites together. This hypocrisy became “a kind of bitter salt that made one’s service more savory, more disgusting, and more acceptable because more disgusting.”20 But the Corriere was an exceptional newspaper, even under Fascism. On most other dailies and weeklies the kinds of selfindulgence mentioned by Sacchi and Piovene were not tolerated. Not only was adulation of the Duce and the regime required but it was also well rewarded, as the lists of government and party subsidies to hundreds of journalists clearly show.21 The most frustrating experience for Italian journalists was not having to say things about the regime which they knew to be exaggerated, but having to keep quiet about many kinds of real news. In newspapers—and in the mass media in general—what is left out often has a greater impact than the overt propaganda that is put in. From 1926 onward, orders emanating from Mussolini’s press office told newspaper editors what they could and could not print. Particularly comprehensive was the circular of September 26,1928, issued by the head of the press office, Landò Ferretti.22 Regarding speeches of the Duce and his interviews with the foreign press, only the versions disseminated by the Stefani Agency could be printed. Provocative pictures of women—either nude or in short skirts—were prohibited, as were all references to lovers’ disputes and broken homes. The rationale for censoring news about train wrecks, floods, and other public calamities, was the following: “The exaggerated and alarmist reporting of such events could give the false impression that the Italian people has not yet reached that level of maturity which would allow it to face reality with a strong and virile spirit.” Most crime news was also to be strictly censored —from muggings to embezzlement. Finally, in order to keep the public from knowing about censorship, orders concerning it were to be transmitted orally to the newspaper editors and the reporters. Beginning in 1930, Ferretti and his successors23 disregarded the stric­ ture about oral orders and sent out numerous written notices (Note di servizio) on thin sheets of paper (veline). These censorship orders give a more complete picture of what was really happening in Italy than the news­ papers themselves. For example, in early 1930 Ferretti sent out orders prohibiting mention of an attack by a “Communist” worker on two local Fascist leaders (one of whom died) in a town near Ravenna and of violent


The FASCIST Experience

antitax riots by some farmers near Taranto, which required the interven­ tion of two hundred soldiers and police to quell; he also prohibited any mention of the arraignment of Senator Edoardo Soderini in connection with a bank scandal.24 In late 1931 his office forbade the printing of any news dealing with the political police.25 As for the economic depression, though soup kitchens were being set up as early as October, 1930, no mention of its magnitude was allowed before late 1932. The enforcement of censorship orders usually rested with the news­ paper editors themselves, but the prefects were called in when these orders were disregarded. In some cases the prefect in one province would censor an item that other prefects allowed. In other cases Mussolini’s press office would wire the prefect of a particular province to take action concerning some local news item—as when Polverelli told the prefect of Venice to for­ bid the reporting of an attack on an English tourist at the Lido because it would give the resort a bad name abroad.26 Apparently the Italian love of news about sex and crime ( cronaca nera) continued to tempt editors to print such items in the hope of increasing sales, for repeated orders were sent to the prefects to seize local dailies for doing so.27 In any case, in the year 1937-1938 over four thousand censorship orders were issued, and over four hundred reprimands were imposed on papers violating them.28 Italians were especially badly informed about foreign affairs by their daily newspapers. From the late 1920s through the mid-1930s the general tone of the orders regarding foreign powers (including the USSR) was to take a respectful, or at least a reserved position. Apparently Mussolini did not want to offend any foreign government irretrievably. Even toward the end of the Ethiopian War the order to the press was to maintain an "absolute reserve” toward the international crisis over the Rhineland in March, 1936.29 The Spanish Civil War was handled very gingerly for over six months after it began. In a telegram to all prefects, dated July 27, 1936, Alfieri forbade the printing of pictures of atrocities and said that “headlines must not (I said not) be sensational or more than two columns wide.”30 In fact, on December 17 he forbade the publication “of any news whatsoever about the war in Spain until further notice.”31 Only later, when Italian “vol­ unteers” fought in Spain, was the war there given extensive coverage. By 1938 the press was instructed to speak often of the Rome-Berlin Axis and of Hitler while playing down events in Britain and France; indeed, during the first half of 1939 the orders were usually to “ignore” France altogether. Naturally, censorship of foreign news became particularly strict once Italy entered the Second World War. It was very difficult for most Italians to get any news from abroad except from the Fascist-controlled press, radio, and newsreels. Foreign newspapers smuggled into the country occasionally reached enough people, at least indirectly, to require denials in the Italian press, particularly re­ garding riots and other civil disorders among depressed agricultural work­ ers.32 Travelers returning from abroad were subject to arrest for bringing in news unreported in the Italian press, and their influence on public opinion was negligible.33 But in the port city of Genoa, news from France and Spain was easily obtainable from sailors and refugees.34 During the


Popular Culture and Propaganda

1930s probably the most important uncontrolled source for foreign news was the Osservatore Romano— so much so, that GUF members periodically "raided” news stands that stocked it, after which the vendors sold it under the counter. Ordinarily this semiofficial Vatican daily printed only 20,000 copies a day, but, as we have seen, in the late 1930s its circulation was 25o,ooo.33 In addition to foreign news not available in the Italian press, the Osservatore had a half column of extracts from papers like the Times, Le Temps, and the Journal de Genève, all of which were forbidden in Italy. The Fascists themselves were the first to recognize the reputation of the Osservatore for accuracy, and no doubt many of them read it in secret. Censorship and propaganda made the Italian press provincial. Even those nationally circulated dailies traditionally known for their breadth of coverage had to limit the news they reported to what was officially ap­ proved. By the late 1930s the weekly Corriere della Domenica tried to be the Italian equivalent of Match or Life in its slick format and many illustrations, but in content it was as conventional and non-political as its older competi­ tor, the Illustrazione Italiana. The small-town press, as everywhere, concen­ trated on local nonevents such as the inauguration of a new postoffice by a party or government dignitary, the price of eggs, and social gather­ ings; in addition, however, there were press releases on the "benefits” of the regime. The typical large-city dailies had somewhat more foreign and national news of specific events, but no presentation of movements or trends that might prompt their readers to see the Italian scene in an unfavorable light—such as free elections, effective trade-union activities, congresses of leftwing writers and artists abroad. Most of the "copy” in the larger dailies, again as in the freer countries of that era, concerned the ncnpolitical activities of "personalities,” as well as the usual features: want ads, sports, entertainment, serial novels, etc.; the main difference, as in the small-town papers, was the propaganda about the regime and its leaders. From their own press most Italians must have had the impression of living in a world of day-to-day affairs in which nobody was concerned with power struggles, economic hardship, or social grievances. They had no idea of the kinds of controls imposed by the ministries of press and propaganda and popular culture, particularly orders to omit this, to minimize that, or to overemphasize something else. Those who thought about it knew that the press was not free. Yet, as everywhere, most people took everything they read in their daily newspapers literally. And the "news” they read dealt only with superficial, innocuous, and, above all, nonpolitical matters: public ceremonies, social "events,” sports, the programs of the regime, the comings and goings of Mussolini and members of the royal family. When foreign events were dealt with at all, only the official interpretation was allowed. But before speculating on the responses of public opinion, we must examine two other mass media of communication: radio and film propaganda, particularly in newsreels. Radio as a medium has rarely appealed to highly literate people (Luigi Einaudi called it "the perfect instrument for turning men into imbeciles”) because they are always looking for content, and in Fascist Italy many


The FASCIST Experience

thought they could dismiss it with ridicule. This was a mistake. It must be remembered that, before television, radio was not only the electronic en­ tertainment medium but that it was also listened to in groups ranging from small families to school classes to crowds in public places. Furthermore, whatever the kinds of program and specific messages, the main impact of radio is the nature of the medium itself as "a subliminal echo chamber of magical power to touch remote and forgotten chords.”36 Hitler used radio effectively not so much because of the specific things he said but because the medium was tailor-made for his effort to retribalize the German people. Mussolini had to be seen to be effective; although his speeches from the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia were broadcast on radio, he rarely used the medium the way Hitler and Roosevelt did, for ostensibly person-toperson contact. But Italians were especially receptive to the spoken word and music, and others besides Mussolini were very successful in exploiting this receptivity through radio. If people exposed to radio really listened— and they were more likely to do so in a group than alone—they tended to take it more seriously than the printed word, particularly in the case of propaganda. Radio became a mass medium in Italy in the 1930s. The number of sets in 1932 was 305,120, in 1935, 530,000, in 1938, i,ooo,ooo;37 one should multiply these figure by five to get the number of habitual listeners, and by a far greater figure for listeners on special occasions in public places. At the beginning of January, 1928, the government had given the EIAR (Ente Italiano Audizione Radiofoniche) a monopoly over all radio broad­ castingin the peninsula;38 by 1930 every major city had its transmitter, and by 1933 all important programs were broadcast on the national network. The EIAR was a public corporation controlled by the state and responsible to it; in addition, the Fascist party controlled an agency for broadcasting to rural areas—the Ente Radio Rurale. In 1935 the regime made a special effort to provide more radios for rural areas39 in order to bring the peasants into the national "consensus,” but it seems to have been much more ef­ fective in stimulating group listening in Dopolavoro centers than in village piazzas. In any case, both the administrative and creative staff of the EIAR became increasingly professional as the listening audience grew; in the late 1930s its president was Giancarlo Vallami, a noted scholar and member of the Royal Italian Academy. The regime certainly used the evocative qualities of radio sounds for propaganda purposes as much as the specific messages it transmitted over the medium. Beginning in 1930 the daily newscast, Giornale Radio, was delivered in a stentorian, martial style similar to that of the "March of Time” newsreels in the USA. Radio has often evoked the sounds of tribal drums and chants, and the announcers of the 1930s and early 1940s were trying to sound like unseen oracles. Literate people found this style offen­ sive, but millions of Italians could not completely shut out its foreboding effects, especially in the reading of war bulletins, during which people listening in public places had to stand in order to emphasize the solemnity of the "rite.” The new electronic medium was particularly congenial to the


Popular Culture arid Propaganda

futurist sensibility of F. T. Marinetti, who was chosen to describe the triumphal return from America of Balbo’s Atlantic Air Squadron in August, 1933- In the following excerpts from his broadcast, surely the sound "pic­ ture” was more important than the literal meanings of the words them­ selves: . . . Ecco la musica del cielo con tubi d'orgoglio flautati, trapani ronzanti da scavatori di nebbie, vocalizzi di gas entusiasti, martelli sempre più ebbri di rapidità e radiose eliche applaudenti. Ronza, brilla e ride fra gli scintilli turchini dell'orìzzonte l'ampia musica di Balbo e degli Atlantici. . . . L'incrociatore D ia z spara a salve. La folla grida di gioià. Il sole rassomiglia al genio creatore italiano. . . . La folla delirante urla: "Eccoli, eccoli, eccoli! Duce! Duce! Duce! Italia! Italia!" Rombo, rombo rombo dei motori che passano a pochi metri dalla mia testa . . . Listen to the music of the sky, with its mellowed tubes of pride, the buzzing drills of miners of the clouds, enthusiastic roars of gas, hammerings ever more in­ toxicated with speed and the applause of bright propellers. The rich music of Balbo and his transatlantic fliers hums, explodes, and laughs among the blue flashes of the horizon. . . . The cruiser D ia z fires salvos. The crowd shouts with joy. The sun mirrors the Italian creative genius. . . . The delirious crowd yells: "Here he is, here he is, here he is! Duce! Duce! Duce! Italy! Italy! The rumble, rumble, rumble of the motors that pass a few yards from my head . . .40

The most evocative broadcast of all was that of October 2, 1935, in which Mussolini announced his decision to conquer Ethiopia to hundreds of thou­ sands of ecstatic, cheering Romans in the Piazza Venezia. Among the mil­ lions who heard the demagogue’s shouts for justice and victory and the roaring responses of the crowd, even some supersophisticates were caught up in the enthusiasm of the occasion. It must be remembered, however, that the aforementioned broadcasts were altogether exceptional and that the bulk of EIAR’s programming was pure entertainment. Because Italian radio was state-controlled, there was more classical music, opera, and full-length drama—in most cases broad­ cast live from theaters—than in the United States. But there was also a good deal of American jazz and swing music for dancing, and Fascist Italy had its share of the type of popular singers then known as crooners. There was also a popular comedy series in which Vittorio De Sica played “straight man” to Umberto Melnati. As everywhere in the 1930s, radio was the prime medium in Italy for introducing its listeners to the sounds and rhythms of industrial society, from time-checks and music for setting-up exercises in the morning, to the last newscast and weather-report at night. Even after 1938, when the regime tried to ban foreign cultural influences, American swing music continued to pervade Italian homes through the radio, while the comedians De Sica and Melnati, like their counterparts in Britain, France, and the United States, helped their listeners try to cope vicariously with the time-oriented, bureaucratically run modern world by superficially domesticating it as background for their silly and sometimes pathetic little gags, intrigues, and misunderstandings.


The FASCIST Experience

The regime used radio more than the press or films in its efforts to indoctrinate and "co-opt” the nation’s children, for radio had the greatest power to involve their feelings and imagination.41 Beginning in 1930, the Rome station featured Cesare Ferri in the roles of Nonno and Zia Radio ("Grandfather” and "Aunt Radio”), while in Milan Ettore Margadonna played Mago Blu ("The Blue Wizard”) in the Cantuccio dei Bambini ("Chil­ dren’s Comer”) program. Every week-night, from 6:10 to 6:30, the pro­ gram "The Balilla’s Friend” featured seven-year-old and eight-year-old boys —some regular, some visiting—who shared their adventures and hopes with their listeners. Beginning in 1937, the ministry of popular culture in­ troduced weekly radio broadcasts of forty-five minutes into all school class­ rooms through loudspeaker extensions of each school’s receiver. As everywhere, such broadcasts were most effective among smaller children in smaller communities; sophisticated students in urban licei were less impressed. Aside from the inevitable patriotic music the weekly topic varied according to the propaganda interests of the government. A common theme in 1938 and 1939 was "autarchy,” which in one broadcast was dramatized in the form of a goddesslike woman showing a street-cleaner how to salvage empty toothpaste-tubes and coffee-grounds for "recycling” into other uses.42 The pompous style of this broadcast undoubtedly made some of the older students laugh, but it combined a mysterious mood with an elementary chemistry lesson for many of the younger children. For adults the most influential regular radio program was the fifteenminute nightly commentary on the day’s news, "Chronicles of the Regime,” by Roberto Forges Davanzali. We have already seen that he wrote the Balilla Vittorio, the mpst popular fifth-grade reader of the Fascist period. He was also one of Italy’s most forceful journalists. Since December, 1925, he had been the editor of the Tribuna, the former mass-circulation Giolittian daily, which he had fused with his own nationalist daily, LTdea Nazionale. Then, beginning at 8:30 p .m . on December 27, 1933, he became the most important broadcaster in Italian radio until his death at the age of 56 two and a half years later. With the full backing of the head of Mus­ solini’s press office, Galeazzo Ciano, Forges Davanzati dispensed the current government “line” in the camouflaged form of a reasoned commentary. Even his detractors grudgingly admit his persuasiveness as a speaker, com­ bining a reassuring voice with an air of objective detachment and ironical superiority.43 Until the summer of 1935 Forges Davanzati covered a wide range of topics in his nightly broadcasts.44 Interspersed with descriptions of the "reforms” of the regime—draining and settling the Pontine Marshes, wel­ fare for mothers, etc.—were comments on international relations, political events in France, Hungary, and Great Britain; financial scandals in France and Japan; the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s baby in the United States, and the trial of the kidnapper. Forges’s very emphasis on such disturbing happenings abroad—in contrast to Italy—was an obvious boost for the Fascist regime. Then, during the spring of 1935, he expounded in a calm but firm tone on Italy’s rights and Ethiopia’s provocations against Italian Eritrea. During the summer his tone became more exalted, particularly in


Popular Culture and Propaganda

his on-the-spot broadcast on August 31 from a military training camp where he was doing a brief tour of duty and where Mussolini spoke to the troops: Whoever has had the good fortune to find himself grouped in the ranks—not as a spectator—in the Ronzone Basin this morning has reached the greatest emotional heights when the words of the D u ce were shared with the regiments in arms in, one can say, a perfect identity of body and spirit. These are moments when the living Fatherland is deified.45

Surprisingly few Italians seem to have listened to foreign broadcasts, which were easy to receive at night. The weekly program guide, Radiocornere, which had a circulation of 200,000 by 1938, regularly listed programs from all European countries, including the USSR. Hence, Italians with ordinary radios could not only listen to the news from these countries (as­ suming that they understood the language) but could even plan time to listen. On short wave many foreign stations broadcast some programs in Italian. In its issue for January 6-12, 1935, the Radiocorriere said that the number of short-wave receivers was growing steadily and began listing programs of all the major short-wave stations in the world, including the USA and the USSR. Yet with all this availability few Italians, aside from a handful of anti-Fascists, listened to news broadcasts from abroad, even from London and Paris. Why? First, these broadcasts were very brief; second, they wounded Italian pride by indiscriminately condemning both the Fascist government and the Italian nation. What was more important, except for commercial films, the mass media of an alien culture, even in translation, seemed to ring false to Italian ears. They were so used to the tone and rhetoric of their own radio broadcasts that, unconsciously, they rejected other broadcasts which lacked these; they were unwilling to “heed the rumble of a distant drum.” The Istituto Nazionale L.U.C.E. (UUnione Cinematografica Educativa), with its ultramodern plant in the southeast section of Rome, produced and distributed the regime’s documentary films and newsreels. The newsreels, Cinegiornali, were silent from 1928 to 1932 and with sound tracks there­ after. Although not bound by orders from the ministry of press and propaganda, the newsreels were usually viewed by Mussolini himself on the Tuesdays preceding their release.46 Naturally the Duce’s word was final, and he was apparently more stringent in editing the newsreels than in overseeing the daily press. His favorite image seems to have been Sonja Henie ice-skating; the image he hated most was political assassination. (For example, he expressly forbade any newsreel coverage of the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia in Marseilles on October 9, 1934.) Aside from Mussolini’s personal editing, the Istituto L.U.C.E. operated under its own forms of censorship. In addition to its own newreels, it screened film from foreign newsreel agencies. Film of events not to be shown was put in a file with a green label marked “Temporarily Classified”; after three months it was put into another file marked “Permanently


The FASCIST Experience

Classified”; after a year it was taken away in sacks and burned.47 Among the film so disposed of, were scenes of the Wall Street crash in October, 1929; the February 6, 1934, riots in Paris; and anything having to do with the Soviet Union, including the purge trials.48 The style and format of the weekly newsreels, which were shown in every commercial movie-house in the country, were similar to that of news­ reels in the western democracies, except for heavy doses of Fascist activities and a greater emphasis on sports : the first event was usually a happening abroad, followed by two sports items, or one sports item and one item of Italian or foreign local color (happy peasants, festivals, and the like); there was always at least one item about the Duce, the party secretary, or a public ceremony involving one of them or of the royal family (inaugurating a new bridge or ocean liner); the last item was almost invariably in a lighter vein—either the pranks of animals or children or else a scene from the entertainment world. By the mid-i930s the voice of the narrator, as in radio newscasts, was very clipped and military, à la the “March of Time” newsreels in the USA. A typical Cinegiornale in August, 1936, began with the triumphal acclamation of the German, American, and Italian champions at the Berlin Olympic Games; then there were scenes of Dopolavoro games, folk costumes, and motorboat racing; the last item showed scenes of naval construction, the naval academy, and maneuvers at sea. In the late 1930s and into 1941 the Cinegiornali still showed film of nonpolitical items about the USA: the ice-skating star Sonja Herde performing at Lake Placid in March 1939, the auto racer Ab Jenkins at Bonneville Flats, Utah, in Au­ gust of the same year. The world as portrayed by the newsreel was strangely artificial every­ where, but especially so in Fascist Italy. There was no crime, no sex, and no ugliness or brutality. Italians learned nothing about the effects of the depression in their own country from their newsreels, and there were only two shots of idle workers in Germany in 1931 and one of a strike of Vienna bus drivers in 1933. In 1938 and 1939 there were occasional scenes of strikes in France and the USA; the narrator commenting on a strike in New York City in mid-August, 1939, said, with obvious irony, that such “delights of the democratic countries were unregulated by [Fascist] syndi­ calist discipline and corporative law.” The Ethiopian War was of course well covered, but there was very little on the civil war in Spain; even in September, 1939, only one or two scenes in fifty concerned the GermanPolish War. The main images conveyed by the newsreels were of vigorous Italian leaders at public ceremonies, male and female athletes of all types, and a kaleidoscope of unrelated and inherently superficial views of places that most Italians could never hope to visit, such as ski resorts in the Alps and outdoor swimming-pools in Los Angeles. The documentary films of the Istituto L.U.C.E. were better produced and more moving than the newsreels. Some, to be sure, were merely scissorsand-paste compilations of newsreel film, as in the case of A Noi, about the March on Rome, and a number of others featuring trips by Mussolini to Milan and Turin. But the fifteen-minute documentary Dell* acquitrino alla giornata di Littoria skillfully portrays the “before” and “after” of the trans-


Popular Culture dnd Propaganda

formation of the Pontine Marshes; there is no commentary, merely appro­ priate musical background; to drive home the "beneficial” role of the regime in this enterprise the film ends with a speech by the Duce at the new city of Littoria. As was fitting for the most popular achievement of the regime, the best and longest of the Istituto L.17.C.E. documentaries deals with the conquest of Ethiopia; it lasts almost an hour and is called II cammino degli eroi (The Road of the Heroes). This film begins with scenes of the elaborate planning that went into the Ethiopian campaign, particularly auxiliary services such as transport, medical facilities, building roads and bridges, and the manufacture of all kinds of equipment. As the campaign moves into action, there is a scene of men and equipment (including some sheep and sacks of flour) being airlifted "for the first time in history” to remote areas. At no point are Ethiopians ever shown, even in the few war scenes. The whole tone is that of a well-planned, civilizing expedition. Technically the film is excellent and, for this type of documentary, very convincing. There are happy, busy soldiers, to be sure, but the film is not sentimental or moralizing. The predominating images are of efficiency and modernity, rather than heroism. Unlike the Istituto L.U.C.E., which was completely subsidized by the government a year after it was founded in 1924, commercial film producers got no financial aid whatsoever from the government until the early 1930s. From 1919 onward the Italian market was dominated by American produc­ tions, which conquered the world during the era of the silent film, while the Italian film industry all but died for lack of capital and up-to-date methods and themes. This situation was indeed scandalous, and in 1934 the government finally undertook to salvage Italian film producers by im­ posing certain limits on foreign imports, by encouraging the showing of Italian films, and by setting up a modest fund for financing certain pro­ ductions. The IRI, which resuscitated other failing businesses, helped to refurbish certain studios and, in 1936-1937, to construct the mammoth Cinecittà complex about a half a mile beyond the Istituto L.U.C.E. The newly created Ente Nazionale Italiano Cinematografico (ENIC) and other agencies gave loans, subsidies, and premiums to film producers and distrib­ utors. Cinecittà itself became Hollywood-on-the-Tiber, though, as we shall see, American films remained very popular. But the main point is that the Fascist regime supported the commercial film industry as part of its policy of autarchy rather than as a medium for making propaganda for its values and achievements. This point is underlined by the fact that the biggest financial premiums went to those films with the largest box-office receipts. Even Luigi Freddi, the film "czar” of the mid and late 1930s, found much to criticize in this arrangement,49 whose main advantages were an increased amount of em­ ployment within the industry and compensation to distributors for the smaller number of foreign films available to them. According to Freddi, the main disadvantage was lowering of standards of quality and the re­ sultant danger of reduced public attendance at the movies. Another dis­ advantage was that the increased number of films produced brought


The FASCIST Experience

competition for services and hence higher production costs, which simply ate up the premiums without using them for any particular improvement of Italian films. It should be noted, however, that Freddi himself favored entertainment over propaganda films and was always ready to sacrifice quality in order to avoid any reference to contemporary reality. Both he and the regime he served wanted to out-Hollywood Hollywood in providing “hits” that helped ordinary people escape that reality. Of the three or four self-consciously Fascist films ever made, Ales­ sandro Blasetti’s Vecchia guardia (1934) had the greatest impact. Its avowed purpose was to exalt squadrism in a small town against the “red peril” immediately preceding the March on Rome. In the opening scene, middle-class women looking out of windows say “what handsome Italian boys” the squadristi are. The main hero, however, is Mario, the twelveyear-old brother of the squadrista Roberto. Mario knows how to repair clocks and sewing machines and is everybody’s helper—a balilla ante lit­ téraux. After having established these character traits, Blasetti focuses on the strike-breaking activities of the squadristi, beginning with a “red” ef­ fort to close the hospital run by Mario and Roberto’s father. The squadristi are always outnumbered, and their reprisals with castor oil, beatings, and other forms of humiliation (in one scene they cut off half of a Socialist parliamentary deputy’s beard) are presented as well deserved acts of justice. Blasetti avoids rhetoric, except in the final scene when the March on Rome gets under way. All his characters are human, including the Com­ munist strikers and the Socialist deputy. Still, all our sympathies go to Mario and his family. He keeps trying to get involved in his brother’s activities and finally manages to sneak into the truck, taking Roberto and other squadristi into an armed attack on a power center held by “them”— i.e., the “reds.” Mario is shot and killed and made into a martyr. There follow very sad scenes showing his room and his gadgets, and people bring flowers to his family. At the end, when Roberto and his companions leave for Rome, the father joins them. Despite Freddi’s reservations about Vecchia guardia being too realistic, the film was generally well received in Fascist circles that were more critical of Camicia nera (1933), directed by Gioacchino Forzano, a thirdrate playwright who sometimes served as a mouthpiece for Mussolini. For ex­ ample, in his review in the January 20, 1935, issue of the Florentine Fas­ cist weekly II Bargello, Ludovico Moroni praised Blasetti’s film. He said that it should have had a real squadrista as its hero rather than a boy and that it lacked the pathos that a suffering mother would have given it. But Moroni concluded that Vecchia guardia was a moving film, true to the squadristi spirit, and that his fellow Florentines should go to see it instead of standing in line to see Greta Garbo. Blasetti was undoubtedly the most talented film-director under Fas­ cism. His films always had human warmth and compassion, whether in La tavola dei poveri (1932), which has marvelous scenes of poor people having a free meal at an outdoor banquet given by some local bigwig during the depths of the unmentioned depression, or in Quatre passi tra le nuvole (1942), which highlights a bus driver’s responses to his wife’s having a


Popular Culture and Propaganda

baby while he is working and while the Second World War is going on, also unmentioned. But Blasetti was best known for his historical films of Italy’s past glory. His i860, made just after Vecchia guardia, tries to re­ create Garibaldi’s “Expedition of the 1000” from the point of view of ordinary Sicilians. One such Sicilian serves as the film’s protagonist by first traveling north to Genoa and then joining the expedition. In his travels he talks with many different kinds of people, including intellectuals, priests, and businessmen, as well as the varied types in the “1000.” When the expedition lands in Sicily our protagonist wants to take off to see his wife but gets a lecture in discipline from an officer. The native rebels in Sicily look convincingly ragged, and are mostly local people rather than profes­ sional actors, but the “1000” are wearing smart military uniforms, and a few of the leaders are in civilian suits; in any case, there are no red shirts in sight. Also, Blasetti gives the false impression that the Neapolitan army is made up primarily of “Swiss” mercenaries who speak Prussian German and who push helpless people around. Nevertheless, i860 is one of the best historical films made anywhere during the 1930s, and it certainly established Blasetti as the director to handle patriotic and imperial themes. The other leading director under Fascism was Mario Camerini, who was often called Italy’s watered-down version of the great French director René Clair for the way he specialized in the petty strivings of humble people in the big city. His masterpiece was GU uomini che mascalzoni (193a), starring Vittorio De Sica and Assia Noris. De Sica, a handsome but shy delivery boy, catches sight of Noris, a dumb blonde of the type now used in commercials for cosmetics, as he is riding his bicycle past the bus on which she and her girl friends are going to work in a department store. After a series of awkward but poignant efforts to meet her—the film is really about what snobbish teases such girls can be rather than what rogues men are—he eventually takes her dancing. The two stars appeared in many later films in which one or the other or both find that true love and ingenuousness are the keys to personal happiness and that aspiring beyond one’s social means inevitably leads to disappointments. Camerini dramatized this moral message most effectively in II signor Max (1937), starring De Sica as Johnny, a news vendor, and Noris as Loretta, a lady’s maid. The film begins with Johnny, assuming the identity of Signor Max, taking a trip from Rome to Naples and Athens—first class, to see how “the other half” lives. A flirtation with a wealthy woman and her retinue takes him off his course and out of his element: he fol­ lows the woman on a transatlantic liner from Naples to Genoa where he is invited to San Remo by her friends; but he runs out of money in three days (having spent eighty dollars for orchids alone on the ship) and returns home frustrated. Fascinated by the glimpse of high society he has seen, he spends the summer learning what he thinks he needs to know in that society: English, bridge, tennis, golf, horseback riding. Then the woman’s maid, Loretta, sees him at his newsstand; he denies that he is Signor Max and begins to take a romantic interest in her as well as in her mistress. From then on our hero’s dual existence becomes increasingly difficult to sustain. He is interested enough in Loretta to invite her to


The FASCIST Experience

hear him sing in the chorus at a Dopolavoro songfest. When the dancing begins afterward she remarks on how gay and pleasant it is at the Dopolavoro center. But she has to leave for the railroad station to be with her mistress, and he has to leave for the same destination as Signor Max to be with the mistress and as Johnny to see Loretta off. He manages to do both in a quick-change act. On the train both Johnny and Loretta begin to tire of the glamorous world in which they are moving, but he cannot comfort her as Signor Max, so he goes back to his newsstand so that she will find him there as Johnny, which she does. He brings her home to his uncle’s humble apartment, and the young lovers realize that this setting is best for them. Italian film critics have made much of II signor Max as epitomizing the "Dopolavorist” side of Fascism and the films of Blasetti expressing its imperial side. It should be noted, however, that numerous American films of the 1930s (and some French and British ones as well) made fun of high society and showed how honest, humble people were better off not "crashing” it. One excellent example was You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1938), with W. C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, and Charlie McCarthy; like Johnny’s uncle in II signor Max, they finally persuade the young lovers in the film to shun the snobbish world of the rich. Indeed, this American film, along with a number of songs telling how "two can live as cheaply as one,” were primarily palliatives for people suffering from the economic depression. Although the highlighting of the mass-participation pleasures of the Dopolavoro in II signor Max was more than a palliative for the depression, Camerini’s ideal of the good life was nostalgic rather than Fas­ cist—a longing for personal happiness with no thought of politics. It can be argued that spreading the idea that politics should be left to a few political leaders was the most insidious type of progaganda in the films of Camerini, but for him this message was ancillary to his main goal, which was to make popular, sentimental movies. The themes of empire and personal happiness were also expressed in two of the most popular songs of the late 1930s: "Facetta nera” ("Little Black Face”) and "Se potesse avere mille lire al mese” ("If I Could Have a Thousand Lire a Month”). The former expressed a light-hearted, patroniz­ ing attitude toward newly annexed Ethiopia, the latter the modest dreams of "a simple employee with no pretensions.” Actually, 1,000 lire a month (about $100 in 1938 dollars) was perhaps only 20 percent more than his current salary, but that obviously made a big difference to him. In any case, the song epitomized the feeling that personal happiness was available to everyone in Fascist Italy, at least in dreams (just as the song "We’re in the Money” did in the depression-ridden USA). It was originally launched by Vittorio De Sica in a revue called "The Fireflies of the City” ("Le lucciole della città”) in 1938 and then sung by him in the film Grandi magazzini. A year later, a comic-sentimental film called Mille lire al mese appeared, starring Umberto Melnati and Alida Valli and set in contemporary Buda­ pest; the story concerned a young man seeking a career in radio and the help he got from his girl friend. During the late 1930s the largest group of films made in Italy were


Popular Culture and Propaganda

of the sentimental-escapist variety. This was called the "era of the white telephones” because so many of the indoor settings were Jean Harlow-ish boudoirs with white telephones as the symbol of ultramodern chic. In order to complete the unreal quality of what was portrayed, the producers of the time often used gay Budapest as their locale—somewhat the way gay Vienna and gay Paree had been used in the farces and operettas of other countries at the turn of the century. The 1940 Camerini film Centomila dollari, starring Assia Noris and Amadeo Nazzari, was also set in Budapest. On the other hand, the obviously make-believe villa of a rich Italian count was the setting of the 1939 film Pazza di gioia, starring Vit­ torio De Sica, Maria Denis, and Umberto Melnati. This film is full of slap­ stick humor; it also satirizes the strict father of ten daughters, one of whom, Cinderella-like, eventually gets the count in a triumph of true love. Although Luigi Freddi encouraged this type of film, it is a mistake to place all the blame on him or the regime; every western country turned out such films during the 1930s and 1940s. They seem to represent a certain stage in the evolution of mass culture in each society, a stage in which the un­ sophisticated shop girl's dreams set the tone; in the 1950s and into the 1960s Argentina and Mexico produced similar films when those countries reached the stage of cultural evolution Italy had attained in the late 1930s—about eight to ten years behind the USA and Germany, whose musicals and sentimental comedies Italian producers copied at that time. Next to sentimental-escapist films in modem settings, the largest group of films of the late 1930s consisted of costume epics and romances. The most notoriously pretentious one was Carmine Gallone's Scipione VAfricano (1937), portraying the Roman struggle against Hannibal, with a cast of thousands. Coming only a year after modem Rome's triumph in Africa this film was too openly propagandists as well as too heavy-handed to win as much popularity as Blasetti's Ettore Fieramosca (1938), with Gino Cervi in the title role. At the beginning of the film Ettore is the cocky, aggressive "Great Captain,” an Italian mercenary soldier of the Renais­ sance. Little by little, however, he becomes “patriotic,” and, in a chivalric tournament, his group of thirteen Italian mercenaries defeat thirteen French knights at Barletta, in Apulia, in 1503; as a result, he also wins the Duchess of Monreale. Ettore and his mercenaries were a small part of the Spanish force fighting the French, but the film glorifies the Italian victory at Barletta. The theme of a freelance, selfish hero redeemed by patriotism was dramatized most effectively in the film Luciano Serra, pilota (1938)» di­ rected by Goffredo Alessandrini and starring Amadeo Nazzari—Italy's Tyrone Power—in the title role. Superficially it resembled a number of Hollywood films, particularly The Lost Squadron, about ex-First World War pilots doing various kinds of freelance work in aviation and becoming bitter. But we have the word of its artistic producer himself—who was none other than Vittorio Mussolini—that Luciano Serra, pilota “vividly symbolizes today's Italian, who was beaten and then won out over fiftytwo nations.”50 For almost fifteen years after the end of the First World War, Luciano, having defied the wishes of his parents, lives as a kind of


The FASCIST Experience

aviation adventurer, flying circus lions in South America and doing other odd jobs as a pilot; once he even tries a transatlantic solo flight and is temporarily given up for lost. Finally, at the age of forty, he returns to Italy and volunteers in the Ethiopian War, not as a pilot but as a simple legion­ naire. His son Aldo, however, is a pilot, and he gets killed trying to dis­ perse an Ethiopian force that, unbeknownst to either father or son, is attacking the train carrying Luciano to his unit. In the final scene a gold medal dedicated to the father is put on the chest of the dead hero Aldo. A good case can be made for the argument that Luciano Serra, pilota had a more specifically Fascist message than conventional patriotism. As one critic has put it: "The confusion, the perplexity of the character who is transformed from a negative to a positive being is really the con­ fusion and perplexity of the country, which Fascism [allegedly] banished, salvaging all the national energies—including those that had deviated or gone astray—for a destiny of greatness achieved by a heroic act in which the objective and the subjective are reunited.”51 It was all very well for the ideal Fascist hero to have a bronzed skin, a body of granite, and a will of iron, but most Italians could not identify themselves with such an ideal. A much more insidious and effective technique of propaganda was to en­ courage them to identify themselves with an ordinary and even confused man who finally does the right thing. Luciano Serra, pilota was the bestmade and most popular film of this type. Camerini's It grande appello (1937) followed a similar technique with its protagonist, a renegade Italian bar-owner in Djibuti, who welcomes spies and deserters from Italy's army in East Africa and seems to have no moral scruples. Then, on the day the Ethiopian War begins, someone in the bar plays a record of "Giovinezza.” The bar owner, tom by nostalgia and remorse, smashes the record in order to stop the suffering these emotions cause him, but soon afterward he be­ comes an enthusiastic supporter of Italy's war effort. Once Italy entered the Second World War in June, 1940, Italian films moved further than ever from the realities of the day. The war films were little different from those of other countries; even Roberto Rossellini’s La nave bianca (1941) did not succeed in becoming an authentic docu­ mentary, despite the use of nonprofessional actors. Farcical comedies of the Pazza di gioia type helped simple people forget the war, while a new form­ alism began to dominate the films of a budding generation of highbrow directors schooled, ironically, in the regime's Centro Sperimentale Cinema­ tografico, which, along with the Cinecittà studios, was Fascism's main con­ tribution to the renaissance of the Italian cinema at the end of the war. A good example of formalism in certain films made during the war was Renato Castellani^ Un colpo di pistola (1942), based on a Pushkin story, in which the photography, composition, costumes, and other details are ends in themselves. Yet a few films made during the war were moving toward neorealism. Blasetti's Quattro passi fra le nuvole has already been mentioned. De Sica moved from his silly comedy roles into directing in I bambini ci guardono (1942), which tackled the heretofore forbidden subject of divorce, albeit from the point of view of the children who were damaged by it. In Mario


Popular Culture and Propaganda

Bonnard’s Campo di fiori (1943) there is a contemporary market scene with Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani yelling at one another in the same way they were to do in a number of "resistance” films, beginning with Roma, città aperta ( Open City ) a year later. The one "resistance” film made just before the fall of Mussolini in July, 1943, was Luchino Visconti’s Ossessione, based on James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. As we shall see in the next chapter, merely showing an interest in certain American novels of the 1930s was an act of protest against Fascist conformity. In addition, Visconti combined the sordid realism of Cain’s novel with that of “Popular Front” directors like Jean Renoir and Marcel Camé to portray with unprecedented vividness the mean, sweaty, hopeless world that Fascism had tried to hide for so many years. Before speculating on the possible effects of films on the Italian people under Fascism, it is necessary to know which films most of them actually saw. Certainly Ossessione, the best Italian film made before 1944, had vir­ tually no impact at all, since it was withdrawn by the censors within a week after its release. As of May, 1941, the most popular—in box-office terms—Italian film of the preceding three years was Luciano Serra, pilota.52 By then very few American films were still being shown, owing to the effects of the Italian government’s quota system of 1938 and the retaliation of Hollywood, which was to show in Italy only those films already con­ tracted.53 Through 1939, however, American and other foreign films con­ tinued to outdraw native ones, at least in the larger cities. In January, 1939, by far the most popular film in Italy was Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; number two was Blasetti’s Ettore Fieramosca, followed by the American film Stand-in, the Italian film La Dama bianca, and the French film Prison sans barreaux54 In May, 1939, the films with the four longest runs in Milan were a 1932 French film, Poil de carotte; Adventures of Tom Sawyer (American); a 1939 French film. Bivio (Un caso famoso); and the 1938 Hollywood musical. Break the News. In Rome, the four leaders were Conflit (French); It’s in the Air (British); Adventures of Tom Sawyer; and Nothing Sacred (American), starring Carole Lombard.55 In the smaller towns sentimental comedies and romances made in Italy were more popular than in the more sophisticated cities, at least at the first-run houses,56 but throughout the mid and late 1930s the films shown most often were Ameri­ can.57 Not only did many Italians prefer foreign—particularly American— films to their own, but they also preferred the best ones. In 1937, for ex­ ample, My Man Godfrey, Camille, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and La Kermesse héroïque were among the biggest box-office successes.58 In other words, when allowed a free choice, Italians showed taste well above that of Cinecittà. Furthermore, the subject matter of these four films was closer to real life than that of any made in Italy during this period. Only in the years 1938-1940 did Italians show an unusual preference for films with an "im­ perial” flavor, such as Luciano Serra, pilota. It is also true that the star of this film, Amadeo Nazzari, was by far the most popular actor in the coun­ try.59 Censorship of films under Fascism emanated from an office of the min-


The FASCIST Experience

istry of the interior headed by Leopoldo Zurlo until January, 1935, when it was transferred to the ministry of press and propaganda. According to Zurlo himself, until this transfer occurred, film censorship was "above all a political instrument”60—that is, a means of preventing anti-Fascist views from being presented on the screen. Thereafter, however, the censorship office of Freddi’s Direzione Generale per la Cinematografica broadened its scope and began reviewing film scripts and projects in advance, distributing prizes, and regulating international film exchanges,61 all in the interest of spreading Fascist cultural ideals. Freddi claims that the censorship office was very specific in its efforts to raise the stylistic level, not only of fulllength feature films, but even of films advertising products and "coming attractions” during intermissions.62 The guidelines for "style” were: every­ thing healthy and "modernistic,” nothing earthy or sordid. The boards of the Censorship Office included representatives of the ministries of interior, corporations, and war; the party; and the GUF. No Italian-made film was suppressed entirely, but many scenes were edited by order of this office. On the other hand, certain foreign films were banned for glorifying "unFascist” values such as pacifism in La grande illusion or images such as Italian gangsters in America in Scarface. A priceless example of official Fascist views on what should and should not be shown in films is the following excerpt from a report by Freddi to the Duce in September, 1937 against the proposed accord between Hal Roach and Vittorio Mussolini for Italo-American productions of films based on the operas Rigoletto, Tosca, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Aida: . . . but has anyone thought that each of these films might be rejected by the censors in Italy? Is it really possible that today anyone could think of producing a R ig o le tto —that brutal story of a petty provincial tyrant who exploited and abused his subjects, a satrap who amused himself with abductions and killings in a primitive and divided Italietta, with all the political consequences that such a film could have on the mass of people who go to the movies, a public a hundred times larger than that of the theater? Is it really possible that in a Catholic Italy one could resurrect for the edification of the masses a gloomy and wicked drama like Tosco, drenched in blood, with a side dish of political abuses and judicial errors? Is it really pos­ sible that in modern Italy anyone dares to speak of recalling to the whole world that crime-sheet drama C a v a lle r ia R u stican a (the opera, naturally, not the original story), with its old-fashioned, overly colorful stock-in-trade of jealousy, knifings, and folk customs? Is it really possible that in an Italy that claims to be stabilizing moral standards for relations between the white race and the colored race anyone should think of producing an A id a , which—it seems to me, although I have never really understood the story—extols the marriage between a white man and a Negress whose father only lacks the backing of the League of Nations in order to appear as the Negus?63

Unofficially there was much criticism of Freddi’s effort to keep Italian films from showing anything related to real life. In Critica Fascista, tor example, one film critic charged that these films not only did not portray the working class as it was, but rarely even showed anyone "who wore.


Popular Culture and Propaganda

without ostentation, the Fascist insignia in his buttonhole.”64 The Centro Sperimentale Cinematografico put out a highbrow review, Bianco e Nero, which deplored the "white-telephone films” and pleaded for films with artistic merit and social and political significance, albeit in the service of the regime. Cinema, which was run by Vittorio Mussolini in the late 1930s, was even more forthright in its demands for realistic films of high artistic quality. The contributors to this review constituted the true avant-garde of Italian cinema during the years 1938-1943—men like Michelangelo An­ tonioni, Carlo Lizzani, Mario Alicata, and Luchino Visconti. In fact, the whole editorial staff of Cinema helped to produce Visconti’s Ossessione. But though both the Centro Sperimentale and the two reviews helped to train the postwar generation of film producers and directors, they had little impact during the Fascist period. It is of course impossible to generalize about the influence of films— individually or cumulatively—on a whole nation. A person’s response to any film depends not only on his familiarity with what is being shown but also his general awareness, perception, sensitivity, and degree of concentration and involvement. When groups of school children were taken to see Ettore Fieramosca and Luciano Serra, pilota, they undoubtedly responded more spontaneously to the former, with its swashbuckling action and pageantry, than to the latter, with its adult moralizing; the "Great Captain” was the best approximation to Tom Mix that the Italians had, and the boys particu­ larly found it easy to glorify him. On the other hand, as in the USA, most intellectuals and aesthetes in Italy did not deign to go to the movies at all before the Second World War. The bulk of the movie audience in those days was young and lower-middle-class, with limited experience and limited horizons; most of the films they saw offered them escape from their hum­ drum lives and required little effort to grasp hidden meanings (as in the art films of the postwar period). American films with contemporary settings confirmed the myth of the USA as a land of social opportunity and a vast variety of consumer products—of which the "white telephones” of many Italian films were but a weak echo. And movies about cowboys and Indians had as much success in Italy as anywhere else, not because of the inherent appeal of the subject but because Hollywood handled it so well. (Contrary to Freddi’s view, most moviegoers did not concern themselves with the physical or moral setting but with the action itself and with certain stars in stereotyped roles.) The generalization that seems most valid is that in Fascist Italy, more than in any other country except Nazi Germany, movie­ goers were lulled into a false sense of security and national pride by not being confronted with any of the economic, social, or political problems of the real world on the silver screen. The effects of the mass media must be understood not only as func­ tions of the media themselves but also as being mediated in turn by the psychological and group factors through which they pass. These factors in­ volve selective perception and exposure, individual predispositions, inter­ personal relations, group pressures, and personal influence by one’s peers.65 The historian cannot recapture the psychological motivations of the anon-


The FASCIST Experience

ymous masses in times gone by, but he can suggest that, aside from the impact of a few world religions, changes in the traditional cultural be­ havior and values of the majority of people have usually been brought about by economic transformation and increased urbanization, neither of which occurred on a significant scale under Fascism. The older generations of rural people, particularly in the south, were virtually untouched by the mass media, and their children, who were more exposed to them in the youth organizations and the schools, still preserved many of their traditional values beneath a veneer of Fascist gestures and slogans. Even most urban workers seem to have learned little about the regime from the mass media,66 although they were presumably “integrated” into it through their labor unions and the Dopolavoro. On the other hand, the educated classes tried to resist the media as a sign of their own superiority. It was the younger members of the urban middle and lower-middle classes who were most receptive to both the media and their messages, particularly their entertainment aspects. Just as the young adults were captivated by Ameri­ can dance music, so many eight-year-old boys from the same classes were fascinated by cowboys and Indians, a fascination reinforced in games with their peers—as in so many other places. Yet it would be inaccurate to as­ sume that these middle-class and lower-middle-class Italians were being Americanized in any substantial way; like more sophisticated people in other societies at other times, they selected what appealed to them in an alien culture, perceived it through their own cultural blinkers, transformed it to suit their own psychic and social needs, and then pretended that they were doing something all9americana. The big effort to make Italians do things in a Fascist way—the socalled Reform of Custom—changed them even less than exposure to Ameri­ can ways through the mass media. This reform, launched in early 1938, included the abolition of Lei as a form of address, the substitution of the Roman salute for the handshake as a form of greeting, and the goose-step for military parades. The campaign against the use of Lei was not only the most important, but it is also interesting that the Fascists got the idea from a high-flown Florentine littérateur, Bruno Cicognani, whose first article on the subject appeared in the January 15, 1938, issue of the Cor­ riere della Sera. Cicognani’s arguments included the illogicality of address­ ing someone in the third person (the only usage in English comparable to Lei would be addressing a prince directly as “His Highness”), the fact that the ancient Romans and Dante used a form of voi, the hindrance that the use of Lei was to good writing, the allegedly Spanish origin of the third person as a polite form of address,67 the “feminine” quality of Lei, and, most telling, the servility of the sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century Italian bourgeoisie in aping this practice. It was Cicognani’s association of Lei with the powdered wig and other symbols of the Old Regime that caught the fancy of Starace and other Fascist gerarchi; here was the one case where Florentine literary populism had a direct impact on official policy. Beginning in February the party forbade the use of Lei in all the organiza­ tions under its control, although not until June, 1939, was this prohibition extended to state employees in an order signed by Mussolini himself. A


Popular Culture and Propaganda

month later party members were urged to denounce in signed statements people who still used the forbidden form of address,68 but even by early 1940 reports to the party secretary from Genoa and Milan said that, outside of public offices and stores, Lei continued to be widely used, and that fac­ tory managers were especially reluctant to allow their subordinates to address them as voi.69 In other words, when the Fascists tried to put their anti-bourgeois, populist slogans into practice, the leaders of the old social order resisted and forced their- dependents to follow suit. With no real change in the dependent character of most interpersonal relations the forced cultural change rang hollow. The ineffectiveness of Fascist propaganda in changing people’s atti­ tudes was especially evident regarding the regime’s two most important changes in policy in the late 1930s: racism and the alliance with Nazi Germany. For one thing, both policies went against traditional Italian attitudes, which were neither anti-Semitic nor pro-German. Then too, the church opposed the two new policies. Finally, the anti-Semitic laws of 1938 seemed like a concession to propitiate Italy’s new German ally and were resented by many for this very reason. Neither the laws themselves, nor the highly publicized state visits of Mussolini to Germany and Hitler to Italy, nor the massive campaigns in the press and on the radio were able to make most Italians hate the Jews and love the Germans. In his rash determination to transform the Italian people and, with the Germans, to transform the world, Mussolini—and the regime itself—began to lose the admiration and trust that had reached their peak during the Ethiopian War. It was pretty obvious, even at the time, that after the conquest of Ethiopia Italy was becoming Germany’s junior partner in foreign affairs. In late 1936 and early 1937 reports from police and party officials indi­ cated not only a division of opinion concerning the Spanish Civil War and the role of the Italian "volunteers,” but also the fact that this division tended to follow class lines, with many Italian workers favoring the Spanish "reds,” and big business and the religious orders favoring Franco.70 In the end Italy was to gain nothing for her aid to Franco; meanwhile, it had to accept increasing subordination to Germany, as the annexation of Austria in March, 1938, clearly showed. This unilateral action by Hitler was a bitter pill for Mussolini himself to have to swallow, and it certainly reduced his "credibility” among skeptical Italians, as a number of police reports indicated.71 There were increasing numbers of reports of hostility toward the Rome-Berlin Axis in late 1938 and early 1939.72 It was easy enough to arouse Italians’ ire against Great Britain at the time of the Ethiopian War or France over Nice, Corsica, and Tunisia in late 1938 and early 1939, but this kind of anger quickly subsided in the face of fears of another world war. In Calabria and Apulia many people feared that France would not give in and that there would be war at the end of 1938.73 A year later, after Germany defeated Poland, some Italians were complaining that the newspapers and the radio were not telling them what was really happening in the war and that the Duce should speak up.74 Even after Italy herself had entered the war—and before her first serious defeats—the news of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Japan was re-


The FASCIST Experience

ceived with reservations in some quarters because of the danger of the entry of the United States on the side of Great Britain.75 In his authoritative history of the Italian Jews under Fascism, Renzo De Felice links the anti-Semitic law of November 17, 1938, and its later modifications directly to the alliance with Nazi Germany.76 In fact, he argues that certain allegedly spontaneous acts of anti-Semitism beginning almost two years earlier were part of a campaign by Nazi agents and Italian partisans of a German alliance, a campaign to encourage antiSemitic feelings among the general public and to put pressure on Mussolini —whose uncertainty and waverings over both anti-Semitism and a German alliance were well known—to adopt their point of view.77 The campaign picked up momentum in April, 1937, with the publication of a pamphlet by the Fascist propagandist Paolo Orano, The Jews in Italy. During the first half of 1938, anti-Semitic articles appeared not only in the Fascist press but also in prestigious dailies like the Corriere della Sera and the Giornale dTtalia, as well as in the conservative magazine Nuova Antologia. In July, 1938, following a visit to Italy by a delegation of the Nazi Racial Bureau, the ministry of popular culture issued a "Manifesto of the Racist Scholars,” in which leading biologists, anthropologists, and other university dignitaries asserted, among other things, that "the population of presentday Italy is of Aryan origin and its culture is Aryan,” "the Jews do not belong to the Italian race,” and "the purely European physical and psycho­ logical features of Italians must not be altered in any way” (that is, by intermarriage with Jews). On October 6 the Fascist Grand Council decided that official persecution of the Jews should begin, and this decision was incorporated into a decree-law, signed by the king, on November 17. This decree-law, which affected the country’s 45,000 native-born Jews and 10,000 foreign-bom Jews (mostly refugees from Nazi persecution), was almost as cruel as its counterpart in Germany and yet very Italian. It followed the Nazi model in prohibiting mixed marriages and in barring Jews from all sectors of public life—from the schools to the military and government service—and from owning most forms of property. But it recognized a large category of Jews who would be exempted from these latter two forms of persecution, namely wives and children of men killed in any of Italy’s wars or "for the Fascist cause,” most war veterans and their families, early members of the Fascist party, and people who had "acquired exceptional merits.” For true Fascist anti-Semites, like Preziosi and Farinacci, this decree-law was a half-hearted compromise, and indeed it was, for, logically, a Jew was a Jew racially, whatever his war record or "exceptional merits.” Be it as it may, it hit the country like a thunder­ bolt, forcing innocent children to leave school and persecuting their parents as undesirable aliens even though in many cases their ancestors had lived in Italy since the time of Saint Peter. The initial reaction of most Italians to the decree-law varied from lukewarm approval to open hostility. As we saw in the preceding chapter, the church officially opposed it, and there were numerous instances of clerics preaching against it.78 In Rome certain businessmen complained that it was bad for business, since in textiles alone 30 million lire worth


Popular Culture and Propaganda

of orders had already been canceled before Christmas by Jewish firms in the process of liquidation.79 In late September a police report from Milan spoke of the envy of certain people for Jews in high places, but two months later the same informer said that many Milanese pitied the Jews and resented the Nazi-like persecution they had to endure.80 There were also reports of sympathy for the Jews from Florence, Trent, and Turin.81 The one city where most people seem to have approved the persecution from the first was Trieste,82 which was a special case with its large Jewish colony and Austrian heritage. The press campaign against the “pietism” of most Italians toward the Jews during the winter of 1938-1939 showed how much still needed to be done to change their attitude. Some success was to be achieved during the next four years, but once the Nazis took over most of the country all Italians except a few Fascist extremists were to try to help the Jews escape extermination, as we shall see in Chapter 11. The organization and control of propaganda and popular culture in Fascist Italy never reached the levels attained in Nazi Germany. Until the establishment of the ministry of popular culture, censorship of the press and the theater was in the hands of Mussolini’s press office. The men who ran these agencies—Polverelli, Ciano, Alfieri—were all merely party gerarchi, with none of the drive or professional competence of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, a skilled sociologist. Goebbels controlled both the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (comparable to the ministry of popular culture) and the Reichskulturkammer (comparable to the Fascist Confederation of Professionals and Artists—see Chapter 10—but a state rather than a party agency). Alfred Rosenberg, a leading Nazi intellectual, headed a party cultural office at first but lost most of his powers to Goebbels by 1938.83 By then both Goebbels and Rosenberg had blacklisted hundreds of books, plays, paintings, films, and their creators and set up rigid norms for what would be tolerated as true German culture in all fields; they also fused the professional organizations with the organs of control and political direction, thus making separate police surveillance unnecessary.84 In Italy blacklisting and other forms of cultural control were never as extensive as iri Germany and never as strictly enforced, as we shall see in Chapter 10. By design the Fascist regime allowed a limited amount of criticism on specific matters—a policy later dubbed “repressive tolerance.” In addi­ tion to self-criticism within the party—as in Critica Fascista, the GUF publications, and the Littoriali—there was relative freedom of criticism in the arts and literature, as we shall see in the next two chapters; there were also the gossip and funny stories which served as safety valves for pent-up frustrations and resentments. All these vicarious forms of protest diffused the revolt of the few and thus appeased the need of the millions for revolt—not political revolt or revolt against the social system, but revolt against specific restraints and daily vexations. (For example, in June, 1938, as complaints against the poor quality of bread mounted. Alfieri issued a directive to the newspapers telling them to print, “. . . with­ out any demagogic overtones, articles asking that higher standards of


The FASCIST Experience

bread baking be enforced.”) 85 Mussolini understood well the need of his countrymen for verbal and other symbolic expressions of hostility and dissatisfaction as compensations for their individual feelings of power­ lessness. At the same time, however, the regime gave the Italians an almost irresistibly flattering image of their country as powerful, modem, and, above all, free at last from those sordid features that had been associated with it for so long. Aside from pure entertainment the goal of the mass media was to make it appear as if there were no crime, vice, poverty, broken homes, or social unrest under Fascism. During the 1930s, with a high level of unemployment and a great mass of people living at the poverty level, there were fewer beggars on the city streets than before or after the Fascist period. But this obvious indicator of hard times is also directly dependent upon the degree of police control in many countries, and under Fascism, keeping beggars off the streets gave as false a picture of the country’s economic coixdition as making the trains run on time. There is no objective evidence that poverty, vice, or crime diminished signifi­ cantly under Fascism, yet after years of exposure to the controlled mass media, millions of Italians believed (and still believe) that this was so. For obvious reasons, there was indeed less overt social unrest, but, as we have seen, there was plenty of discontent among the poorer classes.

NOTES 1. Luigi Barzini, The Italians (New York: Atheneum, 1964), p. 150. 2. Giuseppe Marchiori, Arte e artisti d'avanguardia in Italia (1910-1950) Milan: ^dizioni di Comunità, i960, p. 9. 3. Carlo Levi, “Lo snobismo del conformismo/’ Il Ponte, 8 , no. io (October 1952): 1476-1480. 4. See David Schoenbaum, Hitler’s Social Revolution, p. 41. 5. Anonymous report from Rome, 27 May 1935, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 64/R, Bottai Giuseppe; Bottai was then governor of Rome, and Federzoni, director of the authoritative review Nuova antologia. 6. Italo Balbo, Lavoro e milizia per la nuova Italia (Rome: Giorgio Berlutti Editore, 1923), p* 397. Leo Ferrerò, Diario di un privilegiato sotto il fascismo (Turin: Chiantatore, 1946), p. 135. For Mussolini’s 1943 speech, see, Seg. Part, del Duce, 242/R, Riunioni del Direttorio del PNF, fase. 14, inserto E. 8. Alberto Asor Rosa, Scrittori e popolo: Il populismo nella letteratura italiana contemporanea, 2 vols. (Rome: Samonà and Savelli, 1966), voi. 2, p. 95. 9. E.g., telegram of 9 August, 1932, from Gaetano Polverelli, head of Mussolini’s Press Bureau, to all prefects, in Minculpop, busta 38, sottofasc. 113. 10. The story of II Mattino as told here comes from Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 5, fase. 168/R, Scarfoglio (Fratelli—Carlo e Paolo). On Giovanni Preziósi, see Renzo De Felice, “Giovanni Preziosi e le origini del fascismo,” Rivista storica del socialismo, 5, no. 17 (1962). 11. The story of the Giornale d'Italia as told here comes from Enrico Decleva, “Il Giornale d’Italia,” in Brunello Vigezzi, ed., 1919-1925: Dopoguerra e fascismo


Popular Culture and Propaganda (Bari: Laterza, 1965), pp. 5-62. This work also has a chapter by Massimo Legnarli, “La Stampa (1919-1925)/* On La Stampa under Fascism, see Alfredo Signoretti, La Stampa in camicia nera 1932-1943 (Rome: Volpe, 1968); Signoretti was the director of the Turinese daily during those years. 12. The story of the Carriere della Sera as told here has been pieced together from articles in the paper itself plus the following works: Luigi Albertini, In difesa della libertà (Milan: Rizzoli, 1947); Piero Melograni, ed., Corriere della Sera (19191943) (Bologna: Cappelli, 1965); Enrico Deeleva, “Il Corriere della Sera/* in 1919192,5: Dopoguerra e fascismo, pp. 155-257. 13. Letter of 31 December 1933» from Storace to Mussolini, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 34, fase. 242/R, Starace Achille. 14. Report for 1936-37, “Situazione Giornalisticha Genovese/* PNF. Sit. Poi. Prov., Genova, busta 2. 15. Oron J. Haie, The Captive Press in the Third Reich (Princeton, N.J. : Prince­ ton University Press, 1964), P* 59 * 16. Copy of a memorandum from Mussolini, dated 22 March 1932, to the Agenzia Stefani, setting out the guidelines for reporting on party assistance to victims of the depression; Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 34. fase. 242/R, Starace Achille. 17. Hale, op. cit., p. 241. 18. Ibid., p. 235. 19. In Fascismo e antifascismo, p. 332. 20. Guido Piovene, La coda di paglia (Milan: Mondadori, 1962), p. 32. 21. Minculpop, busta 14, fase. 188, “Giornalisti Italiani*’; busta 128, fase. 3, “Fondi propaganda**; and busta 155, fase, io , “Ufficio Stampa: Elenco dei sussidi erogati nell’anno 1932.” 22. Cited in De Felice, Mussolini il fascista, 2, pp. 554-558. 23. In 1932 Gaetano Polverelli took over as head of Mussolini’s press office; he was succeeded by Galeazzo Ciano in August, 1933 * Meanwhile, the post was raised to undersecretary for press and propaganda and, in June, 1935, to minister for press and propaganda. In August, 1936, Ciano was replaced by Dino Alfieri, and in June, 1937, the ministry was expanded and renamed ministry of popular culture. Alessandro Pavolini replaced Alfieri in October, 1939, and was himself replaced in February, 1943» by Polverelli. 24. Orders dated 18 February, 4 March, and 9 March 1930, Minculpop, busta 37, sottofasc. 21. 25. Order dated 19 November, 1931, ibid., busta 38, sottofasc. 57. 26. Telegram dated 31 August 1932, ibid,, sottofasc. 129. 27. Telegram dated 4 November 1938, ibid., sottofasc. 59. 28. These figures come from the monthly reports of the ministry of popular culture; ibid., busta 28, fase. 424, “Direzione Generale della Stampa.” 29. Order of 11 March 1936, ibid., busta 37, sottofasc. 39. 30. Ibid., sottofasc. 33. 31. Ibid., sottofasc. 39. 32. Anonymous report of 26 February 1933, PNF. Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano. 33. Report of the federale, 11 November 1935, ibid., and Alessandria, report of the prefect, 2 April 1935, ibid. 34. Pro-memoria for Starace, 22 March 1937, ibid., Genova, busta 1. 35. E.g., anonymous report of 22 April 1940, PNF. Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano. 36. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), P- 302. 37. Radiocorriere, 14, no. 51 (18-24 December 1938): 3 * 38. Alessandro Galante Garrone, “L’Aedo Senza Fili,” Il Ponte, 8, no. io (October 1952): 1405. This excellent article is often evocative but marred by its concentration on propaganda as opposed to entertainment. 39. Radiocorriere, 11, no. 32 (4-10 August 1935) •* 3 * 40. Cited in Garrone, loc. cit., p. 1412. 41. Since the advent of television, radio for young people has become primarily ah “echo chamber” for pseudo-tribal pop music, the supreme expression of their sub-


The FASCIST Experience culture, but in the 1930s music was less important than adventure series, mystery shows, and even educational programs. 4a. See Marcella Olschki, “Ricordi di scuola/* Il Ponte, 8, no. io (October 1952): 1493 - 1494 . 43. Garrone, loc. cit., p. 1414. 44. The transcripts of these broadcasts, beginning with October 29, 1934, were later published as Cronache del Regime, 3 vols. (Milan: Mondadori, 1936-1937). 45. Ibid., 2, 173. 46. Luigi Freddi, Il cinema, 2 vols. (Rome: L’Amia, 1949), 1, 388-391. Freddi, the head of the Direzione generale per la Cinematografìa from 1934 to 1939, describes the kinds of comments and orders given by Mussolini on these occasions as well as his underlying dissatisfaction with the monotonous and superficial qualities of the newsreels. 47. This procedure, so reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, was explained to me by an employee at the Istituto Nazionale L.U.C.E. in a personal interview on Oc­ tober 19, 1967. 48. The information and analysis set forth here is based on two weeks of research at the Istituto Nazionale L.U.C.E. in October, 1967, during which I examined the complete file—by topic—of the Cinegiornale for the Fascist period, and viewed about fifty of these newsreels in their entirety. I also viewed in their entirety the documentary films discussed. 49. Op. cit., 2, p. 175. 50. Quoted in an editorial in Film, no. 34 (17 September 1938). 51. Mino Argentieri, in Giorgio Tinazzi, ed., II cinema italiano dal fascismo all*antifascismo (Padua: Marsilio Editori, 1966), p. 70. 52. Cinema, io May 1941, p. 297. 53. According to Freddi (op. cit., II, n o ) , this quota system had been intro­ duced in the interest of autarchy; in 1937 over 80 percent of Italian box-office receipts were still going to foreign films. 54. Cinema, 10 February 1939, p. 92; in Rome, Snow White had a run of 21 days at the Corso and 20 days at the Barberini; in Milan it ran for 16 days at the Corso and the Ambasciatori; Ettore Fieramosca ran for 12 days in Rome and 10 in Milan, although it was no longer a new film. 55. Ibid., 10 June 1939 » P* 379 * 56. E.g., report of the Prefect of Pesaro of 23 August 1938 (P.S., 1903-1949, busta 3 ), according to which the four Italian films seen by the most people in July and the first half of August were La principessa Tarankova, Eravamo sette sorelle. La mazurka di papà, and II signor Max. 57. According to the International Motion Picture Almanac, 1937-1938 (New York: Quigley Publishing Co., 1938) p. 117a, between 1 September 1935 and 31 August 1936 the fifteen films shown most often (A=American) were Casta diva. The Merry Widow (A ), Aldebaran, The Count of Monte Cristo (A ), Curly Top (A ), The Little Colonel (A ), Resurrection (A ), David Copperfield (A ), Anna Karenina (A ), Scarpe al sole, Passaporto rosso. Non ti conosco piu. Fiat voluntas dei, Aria del continente. Re Burlone. 58. Ibid., 1938-1939, p. 1040. 59. Cinema, io February 1940, 73; in a poll taken by this magazine, of 40,000 responses, 19,000 went to Nazzari, while Vittorio De Sica received 4,200; among the actresses, Assia Noris, Alida Valli, and Paola Barbara all received 8,000-9,000 votes. 60. Leopoldo Zurlo, Memorie inutili. La censura teatrale nel ventennio (Rome: Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1952), p. 8. 61. Unsigned report, 27 March 1939, Minculpop, busta 132, fase. 3, “Rapporti sulla situazione dell’Industria Cinematografica.” 62. Freddi, op. cit., 1, 212. 63. Cited in ibid., p. 316; Freddi was angry because he had been bypassed in the signing of this accord, but the main point is that, of the four films contracted, only Cavalleria Rusticana was ever made. (Rigoletto was made under other auspices as II rè si diverte.)


Popular Culture and Propaganda 64* Ferrante Azzali, “Il film e la società italiana/’ Critica Fascista, 16, no. 20 (15 Aprii 1938): 317-318. 65. Arthur R. Cohen, Attitude Change and Social Influence (New York: Basic Books, 1964)» pp. 119-120. 66. Enzo Capaldo, “Gruppi Universitari Fascisti e Gioventù Italiana del Littorio,” Critica Fascista, 7, no. 1 (1 November 1938): 7. 67. No Fascist opponent of Lei ever explained why it had never replaced voi in the south, where Spanish influence had been the longest and strongest. Even an educated Neapolitan like Croce habitually used voi until the Reform of Custom, when he ostentatiously switched to Lei as an expression of his anti-Fascism. 68. Il Bargello, July 9, 1939. 69. Anonymous report of 24, January 1940, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Genova, busta 3. 70. Reports from informants and unconvincing denials by the federale of Milan on 26 August, 28 September, 1936, and 29 March, 8 April, and 13 April 1937: PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano; also, report of the prefect of Genoa on November 25, 1936, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 6 , Genova. 71. E.g., reports of the questore, 19 March 1938, and an anonymous informant, 24 March 1938, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 3, Cagliari, and from Bari, report of the Inspector General of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 15 March 1938. 72. E.g., anonymous reports and unconvincing denials by the federale from Naples on 10 and 18 September 1938, and 16 May 1939, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Napoli, and from Trento on 5 and 21 June, 1939, in ibid., Trento; also, report of the Inspector General of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 25 March 1939, P.S. (1903-1949), busta, 6, Puglia and Lucania. 73. Anonymous report, 25 December 1938, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Taranto. 74. Anonymous report of 26 October 1939, ibid., Grosseto. 75. Report of the federale, 7 October 1940, ibid., Trieste, busta 2. 76. Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo, pp. 2870. 77. Ibid., p. 246. 78. E.g., anonymous reports, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 7, Milano, 17 November 1938, busta 6, Milano, 21 November and 20 December 1938, and reports from the prefects, busta 7, Roma, 12 December 1938, Catania, 14 January 1939, busta 6, Macerata, 1 September 1938. 79. Anonymous report of 24 December 1938, ibid., busta 7, Roma. 80. Anonymous reports of 29 September and 27 November 1938, ibid., busta 6, Milano. 81. Anonymous report of 25 December 1938, ibid., busta 6, Firenze; anonymous report of 11 September 1938. PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Trento, and anonymous report of 21 December 1938, ibid., Torino. 82. Reports from the prefect of 8 September and 8 October 1938, P.S. (19031949), busta 7, Trieste. 83. Hildegard Brenner, La politica culturale del nazismo (Bari: Laterza, 1985), p. 191. The original German edition is called Die Kunstpolitik des Nationalsozialismus (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1963). 84. Ibid., p. 107. 85. Order of 15 June 1938, Minculpop, busta 38, sottofasc. 182.


9 Literary and Artistic Trends


Êm ^ A l t h o u g h the Fascist regime produced no original high culture of its own and had little influence on the main literary and artistic trends of the period, certain creative in­ dividuals and styles did reflect a mood, especially at the beginning and the end. Some obvious examples are the plays of Luigi Pirandello in the early 1920s, Alberto Moravia’s novel, The Time of Indifference (1929); the "hermetic” poetry of the 1930s, and the beginnings of neorealism in the novel, films, and painting in 1943-1944. During the 1920s and 1930s some little reviews tried to give Fascism an original literary stamp, while others tried to ignore it. By and large, however, censorship and harass­ ment prevented any overt comment on its policies in literature and drama. Virtually no avant-garde music was performed; after the death of Puccini in 1924, Ottorino Respighi (1879-1937) was Italy’s “modem” composer par excellence. Efforts to make futurism the Fascist style in the plastic arts fizzled by the mid-i92os, and the younger painters thereafter sought a new modem conscience in other ways. Only architecture directly served the regime, with “Mussolini modem” giving way to modified imperial Roman by the end of the 1930s. According to Croce’s famous definition, poetry is “neither feeling, nor image, nor even the sum of the two, but the ‘contemplation of feeling’ or ‘lyrical intuition’ or (which is the same thing) ‘pure intuition’—pure, that is, of all historical and critical references to the reality or unreality of the images of which it is woven, and apprehending the pure throb of life in its actuality.” Croce maintained that not only is poetry—and indeed all art—autonomous from history and social forces but also from the biog­ raphy of the artist himself. Once a poem has been created, it has a life of its own and is valid only insofar as it evokes in others the “pure intuition” the poet put into it. A poem or other work of art must therefore be a finished product, not a “happening” in which the poet self-consciously pursues disconnected impressions spurred on by fragmentary bursts of sensuality and an aestheticized mysticism, à la D’Annunzio. Croce par­ ticularly deplored the way in which D’Annunzio tried to fuse his literary creations with the erotic events of his personal life, as in his novels Piacere and 11 Fuoco, and, worse, with his political views, as in his nationalistic


The FASCIST Experience

and warlike “Canto Augurale per la Nazione Eletta,” at the end of his Elettra, one of his four collections of poems. The contrasts between Croce and D’Annunzio are basic to an under­ standing of high culture under Fascism in a number of ways. Although practically the same age and from the same region—D’Annunzio was only three years older, and both were from the Abruzzi—they embodied two opposing temperaments and epitomized the two dominant views of the role of the artist from the end of the nineteenth century until the early neorealistic writings of Elio Vittorini and Cesare Pavese around 1940 and the Gramscian view that gained ascendancy thereafter. The way in which the Crocean and D’Annunzian views raised the issue of the trahison des clercs among Fascist and anti-Fascist intellectuals will be discussed in the next chapter. Here we are concerned with the main literary and artistic trends themselves in so far as they affected or were affected by Fascism. In this regard Croce’s rationalism and “classical” outlook were always opposed to Fascism, despite his temporary support for Mussolini in the early 1920s, and he remained the acknowledged maestro of most nonFascist and anti-Fascist writers during the 1930s, except for the youngest generation. More complicated is the relationship between Fascism and the prewar movements that Croce had deplored, not only literary and artistic decadentism, which he identified with D’Annunzio, but also futurism, whose champions were equally ultranationaliste. These movements lauded violence less from political theories than from literary attitudes; they supplied Fascism with its rhetoric, but only a few of the futurists actually served the regime. D’Annunzio became literally a living monument to his former self in his villa on Lake Garda and had only a few ceremonial contacts with Mussolini from 1922 until his death in 1938. Other prewar writers and artists who had belittled the society and culture of postRisorgimento Italy became increasingly detached from civic and social life and concerned themselves primarily with aesthetic and “metaphysical” problems. Two of Italy’s leading creative artists, Luigi Pirandello and Giorgio De Chirico, developed their “metaphysical” preoccupations before 1914 and intensified them during and immediately following the war. During those years Carlo Carrà and Giorgio Morandi among painters and Luigi Chiarelli and Pier Maria Rosso di San Secondo among playwrights worked along similar lines. In different ways each of these artists evoked the emptiness of human life and a world without a meaningful orientation for individual human beings. The painters utilized featureless dressmaker’s dummies; the playwrights had their characters assume grotesque “masks.” In fact, Chiarelli’s La maschera e il volto (The Mask and the Face), written in 1913 and first performed in 1916, was one of the most successful Italian plays of the twentieth century and launched a new style of theater: the grottesco (“grotesque”). In Rosso di San Secondo’s Marionette, che pas­ sione! . » . (The Passionate Marionettes), performed two years later, the mask is the face. In their efforts to dramatize the absurdity of modern life the authors of these grotteschi peopled the stage with ghosts, mechanical men, Pierrots, and skeletons and devised impossible plots involving time


Literary and Artistic Trends

machines and rebirths; one grottesco—Alfredo Casella’s La morte in va­ canza (Death Takes a Holiday, 1924)—was to have a long run on Broad­ way and to be made into a film with Fredric March in the title role. For the cultural historian, Pirandello provides the best spokesman of the angst felt by many ordinary middle-class Italians in the immediate postwar years.1 According to Gramsci, his plays were an important attempt to publicize some of the themes of the contemporary malaise and the dis­ orientation of many people confronted with the crumbling of an old con­ ception of the world.2 In Croce’s view, his personages effectively express not a new vision of reality as conceived by Pirandello but the manner in which "mediocre people and good bourgeois” came to experience a crum­ bling of values, of doctrines, of faiths, beyond which they saw neither redemption nor reconstruction.8 Many of these people would like to have clung to the nineteenth-century petty-bourgeois sensibility perpetuated in the operas of Puccini. In his plays Pirandello dissected and mortified that sensibility. It was the new form of Pirandello’s plays, rather than his ideas or language or characterizations, that expressed what he had to say. As Susan Sontag has argued, the form is the experience, or, in the familiar words of Marshall McLuhan, "the medium is the message.” The structured uni­ verse of Pirandello’s plays represented the world view of Italy’s humanistic middle classes as it had evolved by the early years of this century. The destructuring of the form of the drama symbolized the destructuring of the social and culturàl framework within which the drama took place. Pirandello and other avant-garde Italian playwrights consciously rejected both the conventional plots of the bourgeois theater and the rhetorical tradition in all branches of Italian literature. The language of their plays is antirhetorical. Pirandello’s destructuring of the traditional form of the drama was most spectacular in Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921), Henry IV (1922), and To Clothe the Naked (1922). The scene of Six Characters is a bare stage where a Company of Actors is rehearsing one of Pirandello’s earlier plays under the direction of an insensitive, run-of-the-mill Manager. In a few minutes the Six Char­ acters wander onto the stage. (According to Pirandello’s stage directions, "A tenuous light surrounds them, almost as if irradiated by them—the faint breath of their fantastic reality.”) They announce that they are the Father, the Stepdaughter, the Mother, the Son (22), a Boy ( 14), and the Child (a 4-year-old girl), whom their author has created and then refused to put into a work of art. The Father tells the Manager that they have come in search of an author, any author, who will help them fulfill their destiny by allowing them to act out the sordid drama they carry within themselves. At first the Manager rebuffs them, but he and the Actors gradually become intrigued by the situations and emotions that the Char­ acters reveal and see these as possible material for a new play. Yet, no matter how hard they try, the Characters cannot give their drama a sense of development, for they cannot help repeating the emotional responses fixed in them by its outcome. This "play within a play,” which fails to get presented coherently, is


The FASCIST Experience

commonplace and even slightly ridiculous. The Father and the Mother had had one son but had been unhappy together. Seeing that his wife really loved his assistant, the Father had urged her to go away with him and had sent his infant son to be reared in the country. During the suc­ ceeding years the Mother and her lover had had three illegitimate children, and this “family” had been happy until the lover died. Then the Mother moved back to the town where the Father lived and allowed the Step­ daughter (now 18) to work in the dress shop of a certain Madame Pace. Madame Pace, however, expected her girls to satisfy male customers as well as sew. One of these customers is the Father, who is driven there, despite his shame, by his lust. He is about to consummate his assignation with a new girl when the Mother bursts into the room and tells him that this girl is his own stepdaughter. Full of remorse, he brings the Mother and his three stepchildren home, but there is no possibility of reconcilia­ tion: the Son rejects the Mother, thus making her miserable; the Father cannot overcome his guilt, nor the Stepdaughter her revulsion over the incident at Madame Pace's. The Stepdaughter finally flees after the Child drowns in a fountain, and the Boy shoots himself. When the Characters try to act out this last situation, the Actors and the Manager are momentarily confounded. As the Mother cries for help, some Actors lift up the Boy and carry him off, and the Manager asks: Is he really wounded?” Some

A cto rs: He's dead! dead! O th e r A ctors: No, no, it's only make believe, it's only The F ath er (with a terrible cry): Pretence? Reality sir, The M a n a g e r : Pretence? Reality? To hell with it all!

pretence! reality! Never in my life has such a thing happened to me. I've lost a whole day over these people, a whole day! Curtain.4

This play illustrates several of Pirandello's ideas : the enigma of illu­ sion versus reality, the contradiction between form and life, the difficulty the playwright has in representing the truth about people—whose per­ sonalities are multifaceted and constantly changing—by means of char­ acters—who, by definition, are fixed in a specific “mask” required by the plot. Yet the overwhelming impression conveyed by the action itself is that of the tragicomic frustrations of the Characters trying to find some means of getting their drama onto the stage. They know that their author has rejected their drama, but they do not know that he has “accepted them and realized them as rejected: in search of another author”5 in another play. Thus, while they are trying at all costs to extricate themselves from the “impossible” situation of being in search of an author and rejected, Pirandello has actually made this situation their new raison d'être. Since they have a life of their own, they would not believe that this could be their real function even if someone were to tell them so. “It is not possible to believe that the sole reason for our living should lie in a torment that seems to us unjust and inexplicable.”6 Six Characters expresses most spectacularly Pirandello’s poetic vision


Literary and Artistic Trends

of the human condition as the vain effort of each person to transcend the prison of his disjointed existence into the absolute reality of form. It is the Characters who are the authentic expressions of this condition. The Actors who try to imitate them in the hope of putting their “parts” into a new play are merely the traditional masks of the theater. The spectators too are part of Pirandello’s vision, at once rebellious and resigned to the demystification of their commonsense protest. In Six Characters Pirandello gives them “art-as-a-mirror-for-life” unadulterated by the conventions of the well-made play. He shows them that they are exactly like the Charac­ ters, destined to a vain search for a form that will give them a purpose for living. The fact that Pirandello obviously knows the difference between real people and characters makes his technique of holding the latter up as a mirror for the former all the more poignant. When the Manager, whose vulgar commonsense attitude is the same as that of the spectators, uses the word “illusion,” the Father says : “Please don’t use that word, which is particularly painful for us.” “. . . If we have no reality beyond illusion, you too must not count overmuch on your reality, as you feel it today, since, like that of yesterday, it may prove an illusion for you tomorrow.”7 This idea implies that the reason for the crisis of consciousness of the Italian middle classes is the lack of a “plot” to hold together the different phases of a person’s life. Just as a character without an author to put him into a plot fulfills no purpose, so a real person without an “author” and a “plot” may have no raison d’être. Pirandello dealt directly with the crisis of consciousness in Enrico IV ( Henry IV, 1922) and Vestire gli ignudi (To Clothe the Naked, 1922). Whereas in Six Characters he portrays men as puppets condemned to a single passion by an author who has refused to let them act out their sordid drama, in these two plays his characters are real people who try to be their own “author”—to construct themselves ( costruirsi) as complete persons. The protagonists of both of these plays become completely aware of their own crisis of consciousness and of their efforts to overcome it by making their own masks. Their tragedy is existential in the full sense. In Henry IV, To Clothe the Naked, and Six Characters Pirandello held up to the members of Italy’s ‘lost generation” a mirror for their own feel­ ings of alienation. The way in which he transfigured their crisis of con­ sciousness in these plays stemmed from the social and moral breakdown that he had experienced before the war and that the war itself had brought home to them. As preoccupied as he was with the theatrical presentation of this crisis and with its universal significance he usually gave it a rec­ ognizable historical and social setting. Having “understood the game” Pirandello was too deeply entrenched in his own alienation to deceive himself into seeing Fascism as anything more than a strong replacement for a corrupt liberal regime; so were many of his younger contemporaries. Others behaved more like the protagonists of Six Characters; in their des­ perate quest for a new “author” they turned willingly to the Duce. Pirandello used the theatrical devices of Six Characters in Ciascuno a suo modo (Each in His Own Way, 1924) and Questa sera si recita a soggetto (Tonight We Improvise, 1930). The experimental form of these


The FASCIST Experience

two plays still expressed the “lost” feeling of the 1920s as an effort to understand the human plight in a world that had lost its bearings. In Six Characters this form was essential to the content—an organic necessity and spontaneous projection of the tragedy of the characters. In the two later plays, however, it was merely “a spectacular animation of a theoretical and polemical postulate”8—an effort by Pirandello to transcend his nihil­ istic and fatalistic sense of the human tragedy through surrealistic theat­ rical techniques. He tried to do the same thing through the creation of subjective myths in his plays of the 1930s, especially the unfinished I giganti della montagna (Giants of the Mountain). But Pirandello began to lose his poetic originality as he became increasingly preoccupied with the mechanics of the theater, as director and actor as well as playwright. The last major play that dramatized the postwar feeling of the pur­ poselessness of life in an original way was Bontempelli’s Minnie la candida ( 1 9 * 7 )Massimo BontempeUi (1878-1960), who was best known as a novelist and critic, wanted to create a new form of literature to express the new realities of the twentieth century. Just as he felt that this new form of literature should return to the imaginative myth-making techniques of primitive peoples, he viewed Fascism “as a frankly political primitivism, cheerfully eradicating in one stroke the spent politicians who preceded it.”9 Bontempelli’s “magic realism” was an attempt to objectify creatures of fantasy so that they would acquire an independent existence, like the characters in popular myths. In this respect he anticipated a trend in “pop art” whereby “mythical” characters from contemporary popular fiction —like James Bond and Superman—are treated as having a mindless, un­ sentimental life of their own. His most famous theatrical creation, the heroine of Nostra Dea (Our Dea, 1925), is a highbrow prototype of the heroine of the 1965 American television program “My Living Doll.” Dea too is a kind of living doll, with no enduring personality; her moods and behavior are completely determined by the different outfits she wears. Yet Bontempelli’s goal was to make the creatures of his fantasy seem more real than real-life people, while at the same time expressing his own message. Like Pirandello, Bontempelli often begins with a surrealistic premise —the “mechanical” nature of Dea, the unworldly candor of Minnie—but, unlike Pirandello, he then develops the consequences of this premise in an almost classically logical way. Pirandello shows the pathos of his dis­ concerted characters in the face of situations that go against common sense; Bontempelli’s characters generally lack this pathos. The heroine of Minnie la candida is a noteworthy exception. She is meant to represent a human being in a pristine natural state (like a small child) who simply cannot cope with the hypocrisy and lies of “civilized” adults, that is, people whose behavior and attitudes are of the conventional nineteenth-century sort, combining Aristotelian logic with Christian sentimentality. Bontem­ pelli’s effort to transcend both of these responses reflected the more positive side of the ‘lost generation’s” outlook: a search for new artistic forms. In Minnie he also seemed to be expressing the existential anguish of his younger contemporaries.


Literary and Artistic Trends

Minnie bears a superficial resemblance to Voltaire’s Candide in that she takes seriously everything she is told, but the resemblance ends there. Although Minnie is very much a creature of fantasy, Bontempelli’s purpose was to make her seem more real than everyone else. “The true rule of the narrative art is this : to relate dreams as if they were reality, and reality as if it were a dream.”10 Her background is very complicated: her father was from India, and her mother, who was from Norway, had lived for some time in Italy before meeting her husband. Minnie herself speaks a strange, ungrammatical form of Italian; she had been bom in Siberia and had traveled in many countries until she had recently met her Italian lover, Skagerrak, in Constantinople. As the play opens, Skagerrak and Minnie have just arrived in an Italian city en route to America to take over his uncle’s business. Skagerrak’s best friend, Tirreno, joins them in an outdoor café and, prompted by Minnie’s childlike credulity, he makes up a story about twelve artificial men and women who have escaped from their makers and who are now in the neighborhood. These automatons, he tells her, look real “down to the last eyelash,” and they themselves think they are real. Whereas Candide had been the victim of Dr. Pangloss’s platitudinous optimism, Minnie becomes the victim of Tirreno’s sinister joke. As the play progresses she suspects each new person she sees of being an automaton until, in the end, she believes herself to be one and jumps out of a window. Before doing this she tells Skagerrak that she is sure that at least her love for him was real, but, unlike Candide, who was redeemed by the reality of cultivating his garden, Minnie cannot be saved by her love. While Minnie’s belief in the authenticity of her love for Skagerrak is quite original as a poetic transfiguration of her conscious perplexity, it does not prevent her from being ‘lost.” Unlike Candide’s garden, which was a miniature society of real people, the apartment in which Minnie, Skagerrak, and Tirreno have barricaded themselves in the last act is an inadequate refuge from the “real” world outside. The two men agree to stay there with Minnie until she gets over her obsession that everyone and everything “out there” is prefabricated and false. At one point, however, Skagerrak is almost convinced that her madness is closer to the truth than all his ties with the outside world: “. . . madness, who knows? . . . truth?”11 (Cf. the end of Six Characters.) He even comments on the arti­ ficial quality that the illuminated signs of the city give to the night sky as seen from their window: “So many signs! Is all of life there? No, not all. But the most important things: hotels . . . plastic heels . . . champagne . . . a toothpaste . . . automobiles, the phonograph . . . Pekinese dogs. . . . And the sky [itself] has put on [red] make up.”12 Yet he and Tirreno are ready to accept the whole world as a fabrication. Minnie cannot, for it has no place for innocence, nature, or love. If people are somehow “ready­ made,” their lives can have no purpose; they are not part of a meaningfifi social matrix, there are no ethical norms to guide them, and they them­ selves have no mind, heart, or will of their own. Bontempelli’s message in Minnie la candida is ambiguous. On the one hand, Minnie may be viewed as a ‘lost” victim who carries her anguish


The FASCIST Experience

to its extreme, though logical, conclusion: suicide. On the other hand, she may be viewed as the poetic, anticonventional voice of Bontempelli’s twentieth-century artist, still overwhelmed by the false values left over from an earlier age. In 1938 Bontempelli said that . . the new century demands only one quality of its poets : that of knowing how to be candid, of knowing how to marvel, of feeling that the universe and all of life are a continuous and inexhaustible miracle.”13 But the Italians who saw the play a decade earlier could not have got this meaning; to them Minnie could be more readily understood as “the tortured voice of the perplexity of the contemporary consciousness.”14 By the end of the 1920s those middle-class Italians who still felt them­ selves to be part of a “lost generation” began to adopt a new attitude toward their predicament: indifference. In Nostra Dea and Minnie la candida Bontempelli had pushed the theme of depersonalization beyond human comprehension. Pirandello continued to dramatize this theme in more human terms, especially in Come tu m i vuoi (As You Desire Me, 1930), though, as we have seen, he was trying to evade his own crisis of conscious­ ness by means of surrealistic theatrical techniques. Meanwhile, Mussolini had silenced his critics at home and was giving Italy new prestige abroad. Success eventually breeds consent in modem mass civilization, but for most people this consent rests on little more than conformity. Relatively few Italians were able to submerge their individual personalities in the communal enterprise prescribed by the new “author.” The moral crisis, which had helped the Fascists gain power but which they failed to resolve, made people more and more callous, more and more indifferent to a fate they felt helpless to control. Alberto Moravia (b. 1907) evoked this new attitude in his first novel, Gli indifferenti (The Time of Indifference, 1929). Instead of six characters in search of an author to give them a plot Gli indifferenti has five characters who have already lost faith in “an author” and who soon lose interest in constructing their own “plots.” The mother, Mariagrazia Ardengo, her twenty-four-year-old daughter Carla, and her twenty-year-old son Michele lead an empty existence in their Roman villa. Mariagrazia has been the mistress of Leo Merumeci, a cynical busi­ nessman, since her husband died fifteen years ago, but Leo has ceased to love her. Furthermore, the family’s modest fortune has dwindled away, and the mortgage on the villa is about to be foreclosed. When the story begins, Leo is in the process of seducing the daughter, while the fifth character, an aging grass-widow named Lisa, hopes to become the mistress of the son. Carla succumbs to Leo’s blandishments in the faint hope that her life might thereby take a new, more meaningful, direction, but she soon discovers that his interest in her is purely sexual. Michele has found himself incapable of taking any purposeful action regarding Lisa, the mortgage, or his mother’s degrading position as Leo’s unloved mistress; he cannot even pretend to play the roles required by the situations in which he finds himself. In a series of tiresome monologues he constantly berates himself for his lack of feeling. When Lisa tells him about Carla and Leo, he longs to be able to feel hate : “. . . all the riches in the world for a little sincere hate.”10 Michele finally tries to force himself out of his indifference


Literary and Artistic Trends

by purchasing a pistol with which to kill his sister’s seducer. But he botches his big scene by forgetting to load the pistol before firing it. In a complete anticlimax Leo coldly offers to marry Carla, and she coldly accepts. Moravia’s characters are indifferent because they are incapable of giving meaning and purpose to their lives in a world without beliefs. Their inner monologues express longings that are almost as banal as their overt behavior. Michele, for example, longs for a “paradise where everything— gestures, words, feelings—would cling instantly to the reality from which they derived,”16 but he has no faith in its existence. Whatever they do, the five characters remain the same; for the characters of the older avantgarde playwrights such a situation is intolerable, whereas Moravia’s char­ acters no longer really care. They make no protest against the corrupt society in which they live, and they cannot be aroused by even the most elemental passions. The language of the novel is as gray and unrhetorical as Pirandello’s—deprived even of its gesticulations—again making the “medium” at least a good part of the “message.” For all the aridness of Gli indifferenti, Moravia has always been a humanist. His wish that people would be able to love and accept one another for what they are comes out more clearly in his later short stories and novels, especially La ciociara (Two Women, 1957). In his essay “Man as an End in Himself” (1946), he repeats Kant’s credo that to use man as a means and not as an end is the root of all evil, that “. . . employing man as the means comes from . . . a lack of respect for man.17 Like Piran­ dello, though in a less extreme way, Moravia continues to lament the in­ humanity of the modern world. But in Gli indifferenti he also seemed to be prophesying the callousness and indifference that the Fascist use of men as means was to engender in millions of Italians. Mussolini’s govern­ ment did in fact regard him with considerable suspicion and tried to harass him by asking him to use a pseudonym. (His real name was Alberto Pincherle.) Opposed to the aloofness of Croce, the reactionary pessimism of Pirandello, and the aridness of the early Moravia, were those assorted nationalists, futurists, populists, and modernists who hoped that the new regime, in addition to superseding the liberal political establishment, would favor new cultural trends. This fervent desire for cultural renovation had its roots in the prewar era, particularly in the Florentine review La Voce, edited by Giuseppe Prezzolini from 1908 to 1914 and by Giuseppe de Robertis from 1914 to 1916. Here too, the original impulse had come from Croce, who led a one-man campaign to deprovincialize and elevate Italian thought and letters in his own review, La Critica, beginning in 1902. At first he supported the efforts of Prezzolini in La Voce, but he soon repudi­ ated that review when it acquired a seemingly indiscriminate taste for anything new or daring in the arts and, despite Prezzolini’s wish to main­ tain a strong moral code, a tendency to align itself with shifting philo­ sophical and ideological fads. The adoption of militant nationalism by men like Prezzolini and by the futurists in the immediate prewar years and their commitment to the interventionist cause gave them a different outlook


The FASCIST Experience

from the dadaists, surrealists, and expressionists across the Alps at the end of the war. Whereas these others tended to be anarchist or communist and in any case repelled by the war, the Italian avant-garde seemed to find its revolutionary expression in D'Annunzio’s Fiume adventure. As we saw, a number of Fiume legionnaires joined the Fascist movement after 1920 believing that it would carry on the revolution. Among avant-garde artists and writers, three major examples of this type were the painter Ardengo Soffici, the architect Giuseppe Pagano, and the poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. From the beginning, then, Italian Fascism had enthusiastic backing from a number of avant-garde writers and artists, something that Nazism lacked almost completely.18 These people tried to create their own versions of Fascist culture; some were “modernistic” (futurism, Novecento, and Stracittà) while another was based on a kind of snobbish nativism ( Stra­ paese). Since neither the government nor the party hierarchy took any interest in these movements before the late 1930s, their leaders felt free to polemicize with one another and to pontificate for the nation as a whole. At first the futurists tried to set the tone; they had the oldest “tradi­ tion” of artistic rebellion—dating back to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's famous Manifesto of Futurism in 1909—and they had been among the founders of the Fascist movement ten years later. In his “Technical Pro­ gram of Futurism” (May 11, 1912) Marinetti had said: Courage, audacity, rebellion, are to be the essentials of our poetry. Literature hitherto has exalted pensive immobility, rapture and sleep: we shall exalt aggressive movement, hectic sleeplessness, the quickstep, the somersault, the slap, the blow.

For all its violence, this proclamation was mainly concerned with dramatiz­ ing the need for a literature free from traditional rules and themes and responsive to the sensibility of modern man. Published in Paris, it was part of a wider revolution in the arts (fauvism, cubism, neoprimitivism) centered in that city but encompassing expressionism in Central Europe and Russian futurism as well. Yet unlike, say, Guillaume Apollinaire or Vladimir Mayakowsky, the Italian futurists, no matter how cultivated or gifted, were more rebels than poets. In any case, it was in the plastic arts that futurism influenced contemporary culture, particularly in the paint­ ings and sculpture of Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balia, Carlo Carrà, and Gino Severini. By the end of the war, however, Boccioni was dead, Carrà and Severini left the movement, and Soffici, for all his verbal futurism, went on painting like Cézanne. The “second futurism” of the 1920s was far less original, despite all its exhibitions and new manifestos, such as the one in 1929 advocating “Futurist Aerial Painting.” Balia's paintings became increasingly abstract and surrealistic, and it was watered-down versions of them that transformed the “second futurism” into simply a “modernistic” style for commercial and political posters. Probably the best examples of “modernistic” artists with strong ties in Fascist cultural circles were Mario Sironi, who was primarily a painter,


Literary and Artistic Trends

and Arturo Martini, the sculptor. (The architect Pagano will be discussed later.) From 1922 onward Sironi was the art critic for II Popolo d’Italia and helped design numerous Fascist exhibitions, including the famous one celebrating the tenth anniversary of the regime in 1932. Yet his own paintings have a force, a refinement, and an integrity unrelated to those of his opportunistic imitators, who vulgarized his versions of the myths of ancient Rome and of work for propagandists purposes. The same was true for Martini, who also combined an ultramodern sensibility with references to the sculpture of classical civilization. Sponsored by Mar­ gherita Sarfatti, Mussolini's mistress of the late 1920s, Sironi and Martini led a group of artists in Milan in a movement called Novecento (“Twen­ tieth Century”). Their works, far more than those of the “second futurism,” were the most advanced examples of Italian art during the 1920s. In literature the most advanced movement with Fascist connections, Stracittà (superurban, cosmopolitan, antiprovincial) had its origins in a review, also called Novecento, directed by Bontempelli in Florence and then in Rome from 1926 to 1929. By far the most cosmopolitan of any review of its kind, it was also published in a French edition, called Cahiers d’Italie et d’Europe, and had an editorial board composed of Pierre McOrlan, Georg Kaiser, Ramon Gomez de la Serna, James Joyce, and Ilya Ehrenburg. Bontempelli’s “magic realism” has already been mentioned. What interests us here is the way in which his review tried to highlight the contradiction between futurist avant-gardism and Fascist ideology in order to show how his own “movement” was more suitable to the latter. The following excerpt is from his article, “Analogie,” in the June 1927 issue of Novecento, . . . the most interesting differences between novecentism and futurism are the following: 1) Futurism is above all lyrical and ultrasubjective. We repudiate the lyrical attitude and propose the creation of works that are as detached as possible from their creators, that become objects of nature . . . 2) Hence our antistylistic attitude. . . . Futurism, on the contrary, is above all stylistic, and a large part of its poetry is created according to formal rules. 3) In contrast, novecentism cannot have a "poetics" and is as far as possible from what is called a "school" . . . 4) Futurism was necessarily avant-gardist and aristocratic. Novecentist art must make itself "popular" and attract the "public" . . . 5) Unlike the Futurists, we have no admiration for the great development America has given to mechanical civiliza­ tion. 6) Futurism refused all meditative attitudes (this was also necessary and most useful at the time): novecentism has at its very base a speculative and philosophical tendency. Finally: Marinetti has conquered and courageously held certain advanced trenches. B eh in d th e s e I h a v e b e e n a b le to b e g in to b u ild th e c ity o f th e c o n q u e ro r s .

Not only are these distinctions confused in themselves, but they fail to remove the basic ambiguity between an ultramodern cosmopolitan literary movement and a nationalistic and increasingly reactionary political move­ ment. Yet the Stracittà tendency maintained a tenuous existence after the demise of Bontempelli’s review, particularly in Quadrivio, directed from


The FASCIST Experience

1933 to 1943 by Telesio Interlandi. As we shall see presently, the leading non-Fascist review of the late 1920s and early 1930s, Solaria, was also ultramodern and cosmopolitan in its interests, though without Bontempelli’s ideological pretensions. (Its contributors certainly did not talk about building "the city of the conquerors.”) On the other hand, there is the notorious example of Russian Communism, surely a revolutionary move­ ment even under Stalin, insisting on an artistic style that, for all its ideological pretensions, preserved the worst of nineteenth-century pettybourgeois sentimentalism and literal-mindedness. One sometimes wonders if there is any necessary connection between art and politics at all. One group of Fascist artists and writers insisted that their particular brand of Italian-modem-provincialism was the true cultural expression of the regime: they called it Strapaese—literally, “super-native-landism.” (Paese means the rural locality in which one is bom and grows up.) This terminology is certainly paradoxical, but anyone living in the 1960s and 1970s should be familiar with the kinds of "modern” uses to which folk music and folk culture can be put. The Strapaese movement was strictly Tuscan, and mainly Florentine. To outsiders its best-known exponent was Curzio Malaparte, a typical secondrate literary intellectual who began as a Fascist populist, became an international-minded Communist toward the end of the Second World War, and seems to have turned to Maoism shortly before his death in 1957. The official organ of the movement, Selvaggio (Wild One), had the longest life of any Fascist cultural review (19241943) and was run by people far more talented than Malaparte. Its main editor in the late 1920s was Mino Maccari, with a strong assist from Ardengo Soffici. Among its contributors was the painter Ottone Rosai, who seemed to typify the artistic "wild one” of the twenties—not so much a "hippie” as an antiurbanite; though he lived and worked in the very urbane city of Florence, Rosai and all the other collaborators on Selvaggio osten­ tatiously rejected city ways. The theme of the Strapaese movement was the irreconcilability of its members to the Roman "treason” of the Revolution of 1919-1922, which had promised the “wild ones” of all Italy the moral and social reformation of the "corrupt peninsula.” The movement opposed all theories that could corrode the authentic tradition and "sober” customs of the Italian nature, particularly in the provinces. For this reason it was diametrically opposed to Novecento, which was published mainly in Rome and attuned to a wider world. Not only was the movement nativist and anticosmopolitan, but it was antibourgeois insofar as bourgeois meant urban, cosmopolitan, and materialistic. In a real sense, Strapaese was the cultural voice of the non­ conformist provincial squadristi reacting against Fascist conformism dic­ tated from Rome. Selvaggio continued to aim barbs at the conformist aspects of the regime, but it seemed so harmless that the regime never bothered to silence it. Not only did the Fascist regime not impose its own cultural standards on the nation’s creative artists and writers—in contrast to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union—but it actually tolerated, though sometimes with


Literary and Artistic Trends

bad grace, new and independent literary and artistic developments. This was probably the main reason that virtually no creative writers or artists emigrated during the Fascist period—again in contrast to Germany and Russia. Indeed, there had been many more of them abroad, particularly in Paris, before the war under the liberal regime. The first cultural reaction against Fascism was—not surprisingly— a repudiation of La Voce, D’Annunzio, and the futurists, “whose verbal violence and cut-rate revolutionism were nursed by the same source as Fascism itself.”19 This was the position of the Roman review La Ronda, published from early 1919 to late 1922. Its main contributors, particularly the critic Emilio Cecchi, divorced themselves not only from political con­ cerns but also from modernism in general and foreign influences in par­ ticular, in order to reassert the virtues of Ariosto, Leopardi, Manzoni, arid other classics of Italian literature. They wrote essays in a cool, highly controlled prose style purged of all romantic and effusive elements and typical of the conservative and static sensibility of literary mandarins. Unfortunately for them, it was impossible to remain aloof from the social turmoil of the postwar period and, rather than become involved, the review ceased publication. Although Crocean in its aloof conservatism, La Ronda did start a new trend with its undivided attention to creativity, a trend that was to find its fullest expression in the “hermetic” poets of the 1930s. A second reaction, embodied in the Florentine literary review Solaria (1926-1934), “humbly acknowledged that the most original expressions of modem literature had flourished elsewhere, regardless of whether their names were Joyce or Kafka, and affirmed that Italian writers were also worthy of consideration, but that they were only part of a larger European dialogue.”20 The regime’s toleration of such an independent, cosmopolitan point of view in a major literary publication, despite the opposition of most Fascist litterati, was not at all typical of other “totalitarian” regimes of the day. For almost a decade Solaria served as the only forum for the new generation of Italian writers—novelists like Moravia, and Carlo Emilio Gadda, the critic Gianfranco Contini, and the “big four” poets: Giuseppe Ungaretti, Umberto Saba, Eugenio Montale, and Salvatore Quasi­ modo. Solaria also established the literary reputation of the prewar psycho­ logical novelist Italo Svevo by devoting a whole issue to him. Elio Vittorini said later, in Diario in pubblico, that he became a “solariano” around 1929 because in literary circles that word meant “anti-Fascist, European, inter­ nationalist, anti-traditionalist.” It was indeed fitting that the review was finally silenced in the spring of 1934 for printing installments of Vittorini’s first novel, II garafano rosso ( The Red Carnation), which the government declared subversive and an affront to public morals. The hero of this novel was an enthusiastic squadrista at the time of the Matteotti murder but then lost interest in politics and ended up in the arms of an expensive courtesan. The indifferent and provisional character of Vittorini’s hero was similar to that of Moravia’s in The Time of Indifference. The most extreme literary reaction to Fascism was the trend loosely known as hermeticism in poetry. A preview of it came in 1919 with the publication of a war poem of Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970), Il porto


The FASCIST Experience

sepolto (The Buried Port), in a collection called Allegria di naufragi ( Gay Shipwrecks), and in 1931 as Allegria. Ungaretti brought about a drastic change in the form of Italian verse by completely abandoning all rhetoric, metaphor, and circumlocution. He later characterized this change in the following way: "This is what I have to give: how can I say it with the minimum number of words? nay, with that single word that can say it in the most complete manner possible?”21 The most famous example of this economy of words was the following poem, called Mattina (Morning), from Allegria: “M’illumino d’immenso.” ("I illuminate myself with immensity.”) One is reminded of the lines of Paul Valéry, from The Cemetery by the Sea: “I embrace this bright emptiness.” Indeed, Ungaretti acknowledged Valéry as his master and shared with him the heritage of the French symbolists of an earlier era. Both men responded to the cultural crisis precipitated by the war by a kind of turning inward, though Ungaretti was more revolu­ tionary, both in his language and in his participation in D’Annunzio’s Fiume adventure. Far more difficult and obscure than Allegria was his Il sentimento del tempo (The Feeling of Time), published in 1933, which prompted the Crocean critic Francesco Flora to coin the phrase herm etic poetry” soon thereafter. Ungaretti’s younger contemporary Salvatore Quasimodo (b. 1901) claims that he was the true founder of Italian hermeticism22—and most critics support this view—in his Oboe sommerso (Sunken Oboe), published in 1932. The title poem evokes the poet’s isolation in "a dream of sensations and feelings explicitly linked to Mediterranean myths,” which he ardently tries to translate into verbal material that is "incorruptible, granitelike, and as bright as possible.”23 Avara pena, tarda II tuo dono in questa mia ora di sospirati abbandoni. Un òboe gelido risillaba gioia di foglie perenni, non mie, e smemora; in me si fa sera: l'acqua tramonta sulle mie mani erbose. Ali oscillano in fioco cielo, làbili: il cuore trasmigra « ed io son gerbido, e i giorni una maceria. Miser pain, delay your gift in this my hour of longed-for abandons.


Literary and Artistic Trends

Chill, again an oboe utters joy of everlasting leaves, not mine, and disremembers; in me, evening falls: the water sets on my grassy hands. In a dim sky, fleeting wings sway; the heart migrates and I am fallow and the days, rubble.24

Hermeticism was primarily an attitude among poets bom after the turn of the century: men like Quasimodo, Carlo Bò, and Alfonso Gatto, who in the late 1930s wanted to isolate their poetry from politics and the vulgarity of daily life. As Gatto later said, it was "the necessary response to an enemy who offends us with his clearness.”25 But he went on to say that hermetic poetry was a "physical” expression of the poet’s inner rela­ tions with himself, which in turn reflect all the possible ways of relating to others. In order to discover these relations the poet had to isolate him­ self and face his innermost self without illusions and without reference to conventional social or cultural standards; only then could he face his fellow men as an authentic being and without fear of being corrupted. For Gatto and his colleagues this discovery was a form of anti-Fascism, not only as a passive kind of nonconformism but also as a basic rejection of the meretri­ cious, rhetorical, success-oriented values of the "enemy.” Once having dis­ covered through their own efforts the virtues of authenticity and integrity, men like Gatto were to turn to Communism and to open resistance, as we shall see later. During the Fascist period Eugenio Montale (b. 1896) was probably the profoundest poetic interpreter of the drama of twentieth-century man, with his existential anguish and his victimization by events and move­ ments. His first book of poems. Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones), published in 1925, is spiritually akin to the T. S. Eliot of that era, both in its pes­ simistic outlook and in its use of geographical images—in his case the rugged Ligurian coast—as living symbols of a moral and emotional waste­ land. For Montale the poet is always at odds with life because its mystery eludes him; all he can grasp is its desolating reality, as in the following lines from Ossi di seppia : * Spesso II male di vivere ho incontrato: era il rivo straziato che gorgoglia, era Raccartocciarsi della foglia riarsa, era il cavallo stramazzato. * These poems are quoted by permission of Arnoldo Mondadori Editore and the Edin­ burgh University Press, publisher of Eugenio Montale, Poesie/Poems, trans, by George Kay (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1964), pp. 10-11, 16-17.


The FASCIST Experience

Often I have met the ill of living: it was the choked stream that gurgled, it was the parched leafs curling tight, it was the horse that fell to lie.

Nor has Montale ever offered answers, ideological, religious, or aesthetic: Non chiederci la parola che squadri da ogni lato l'animo nostro informe, e a lettere di fuoco lo dichiari . . . Non domandarci la formula che mondo possa aprirti, sì qualche sorta sillaba e secca come un ramo. Codesto solo oggi possiamo dirti, ciò che non siamo, ciò che non vogliamo. Do not ask us for the word that squares off, every side, our shapeless life-urge, and in characters of fire proclaims it . . . Do not ask us for the formula to open worlds, some twisted syllable, yes, one dead-dry as a branch. Nowadays we can tell you only this, what we are n o t, what we do n o t want.

Here was truly a language capable of expressing the problems that Piran­ dello tried to deal with in his plays, and it has appealed to intellectuals who find Pirandello banal. According to Montale, all poets, as such, “are forever in a state of crisis . . . . Other people say that poets are crazy . . . I say that it is the nonpoets who are crazy.”26 This is so because they live in illusion, whereas the poet seeks the Truth, even though it always eludes him. Although not technically a “hermetic” poet, Montale has consistently maintained that only in “isolation” can the artist communicate with his reader: . . . even tomorrow the most important voices will be those of the artists who, through their voice of isolated people, will let [the world] hear the echo of the fatal isolation of every one of us. In this sense, only those who are isolated speak; the others—the people of mass communication—repeat, echo, vulgarize, the poets' words, which are today not words of faith but may someday perhaps be so.27

Nowhere was the poet’s effort to speak to others from his own isolation as vivid as in Montale’s second collection of poems, Le occasioni ( Occa­ sions), published in 1939, on the eve of the Second World War. “With its existential testimonials and premonitions of disaster, this book represented a historical moment and a comfort to the youth.”28 In Nuove stanze, written in 1939, it is the storm of history, no longer just existence, that asserts it­ self:


Literary and Artistic Trends

s'apre la finestra non vista e il fumo s'agita. Là in fondo, altro stormo si muove: una tregenda d'uomini.* the unseen window opens and the smoke is set astir. There in the background, another horde begins to move: a witch's sabbath of men.

Other lines from Le occasioni evoked in distilled form the fear, anxiety, and pessimism of the 1930s; for example: La vita che sembrava vasta è più breve del tuo fazzoletto.** Life which seemed so vast is a tinier thing than your handkerchief.

Yet there was also courage in the face of “il domani velato che non fa orrore" ( “the veiled tomorrow that does not make us shudder"). In art and architecture, as in literature, there were those innovators who wanted to relate their works to politics and those who did not. Just as for every Pratolini there was a Montale, so for every Pagano or Guttuso there was a Morandi. But often the political or ideological intentions of artists have little effect on their products. Also, the products themselves give rise to conflicting interpretations and attempts to fit them into schools or “isms” based on their external style or on some historical determinism or sociological schematization. Thus the critics speak of the expressionistic art, bourgeois art, or decadent art of artists who have never considered themselves expressionistic, bourgeois, or decadent. Gherardo Cassini, one of the leading cultural spokesmen for Fascism, recognized these pitfalls when, writing in the avant-garde Florentine Fascist review UUniversale in February, 1931, he said of the painter Ottone Rosai, “. . . elite fighter in World War I, squadrista of Mussolini, agitator against dirty bourgeois slackers, artist risen from that aristocracy of the Florentine lower classes which lives on the other side of the Arno, he demands no definitions and requires no labels.”29 Yet even though Rosai’s paintings are self-consciously unintellectual, he himself was one of the leading lights in the Strapaese movement and an habitué of the Giubbe Rosse Café, the center of the Florentine literary and artistic avant-garde. The first of a small group of postwar artists to seek a new modem consciousness was Scipione (Gino Bonichi, 1904-1933). He rejected the ambiguous polemicizing of Strapaese, the tired academicism of futurism, * Montale, Poesie/Poems, p. 14a. ** Ibid., p. 10a.


The FASCIST Experience

and the anonymous mannerism of Novecento in the tone and quality of his images as well as in his satirical intentions, which subtly hinted at a broader outlook inspired by liberal European culture. “His sluts from Trastevere and his decrepit prelates are not different, as personages, from the fountains and piazzas of Rome in the unity of a ‘decadent’ vision that has for its symbols the clergy and prostitution.”30 Though not in the avantgarde aesthetically he had a style and a sensibility without precedents in modern Italian or French painting. Even his close friend Mario Mafai (1902-1965) copied elements of his style, despite the fact that Scipione considered him “hoodwinked” by Parisian influences. Scipione’s untimely death left Mafai virtually alone among the new Roman painters. Young, Europe-oriented avant-garde artists continued to seek new forms of expression during the late thirties and early forties. The critic Edoardo Perisco (1900-1936) sustained a lonely but indefatigable polemic for an architecture along the lines of Gropius, Le Corbusier, Wright, and Mies van der Rohe, and against the “culture of arches and columns”—that is, against the pompous and ridiculous efforts of Fascism to restore the grandeur of ancient Rome. Luigi Spazzapan and Renato Birolli moved in Perisco’s circle and continued their experiments in painting after his death. Beginning in 1938 in Milan, the review Corrente di vita giovanile became the focal point for all kinds of artists and writers seeking liberty of expres­ sion in the deadening atmosphere of Fascist conformism. Along with Birolli and other painters in Milan, the most notorious of these rebels was Renato Guttuso, who adopted a violent “expressionistic” style between 1938 and 1942 in a series of paintings conveying a thinly disguised moral protest against the regime. Guttuso became the leading painter of the Resistance period and, immediately after the war, led the Italian avantgarde back into the European mainstream through his interest in Picasso. During the 1930s, however, the majority of Italy’s artists went their own way; the most extreme, and best known, example was Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964). Ironically, this least Fascist of painters was more strictly Italian in his inspiration than practically all of his contemporaries. Al­ though his debt to Cézanne is obvious, he himself studied only in Italy, where he was particularly inspired by the masters of the early Renaissance. In 1918-1920 Morandi worked briefly in the “metaphysical” style of De Chirico and Carrà, but beginning in 1922 he developed his own artistic expression in solitude and with absolute independence and logical con­ sistency in his native Bologna. For the next forty years he remained en­ grossed in depicting the reality enclosed in solid objects—vases with or without flowers, bottles, and a limited number of landscapes. The artistic world he created was completely divorced from all outside events, con­ tingencies, and distractions. Yet rarely has a twentieth-century painter conveyed such intensity of inner feeling or such “faith in his message to mankind even in its most fearful moments . . .”31 In 1962, after fifty years of silence, Morandi said: “There is nothing or very little that is new in the world; the important thing is the new and diverse position in which the artist finds himself for considering and seeing the things of so-called nature and the works that have preceded and interested him.”82


Literary and Artistic Trends

Like the poet Montale, the painter Morandi was living proof that a great creative artist could work in his own way in Italy and make no compromises with Fascism. Of course, most other artists and writers lacked their humility, aloofness, restraint, and moral sternness, as well as their ability to work in isolation. Montale’s thoughts on this last point applied even more strongly to Morandi. Because of his international fame Morandi, like Pirandello, was honored and subsidized by the regime in 1938, whereas in that same year Montale, who was less well-known, had to give up his post as head of the Vieusseux Library in Florence for refusing to join the party. But all three were profoundly anti-Fascist and never changed their artistic expression in order to accommodate to the regime. Only in architecture, the most public of all art forms, did the modern­ ists, led by Giuseppe Pagano (1896-1945), work closely with the regime.33 As in the other arts, the contrast with postwar Germany is striking: like Walter Gropius, Pagano believed that good architecture should be a deterfrnining force in the social revolution, that it could give new vigor to an ailing society, but whereas Gropius and his school were identified with the left and were anathema to the Nazis, Pagano and many of his colleagues had been Fiume legionnaires and Fascists of the first hour and were favored by Mussolini until the late 1930s. They sincerely believed that Fascism was a revolutionary movement and that therefore revolutionary modem archi­ tecture should serve it. In the reviews Casabella, directed by Pagano, and Quadrante, directed by Bontempelli, they criticized the prevailing style of architecture of the early twentieth century—with its curved and spiral lines ornamented with stone flowers, fruit, and leaves34—as “un-Fascist” and in­ sisted that their own architecture was truly Fascist. Actually the ascendancy of the new, "rational,” "Mussolini modem” style of architecture was a brief one—from 1931 to 1937. Pagano and his colleague Giuseppe Terragni had built a few private office buildings and apartment houses before 1931, but it was in that year that their group got its first commission for public buildings—the University City in Rome— and even there Pagano tacked on a few arches and columns in order to save his larger plan. Also in 1931, the Movimento Italiano Architettura Razionale (Italian Movement for Rational Architecture) was founded, and it held a big exhibition soon thereafter. The fact that the Duce himself favored the new style encouraged the young architects themselves and also gave the regime an air of modernity among foreigners. Among the leading examples of the new style were the Casa del Fascio in Rome, the new city of Sabaudia in the drained Pontine Marshes, the 1934 Aeronauti­ cal Exhibition, the railroad station in Florence, the Bocconi University in Milan, and the Italian pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exposition. Then Pagano’s leading rival, Marcello Piacentini, got the commissions with his “imperial” style, heavy with arches and monumental in scope. The "imperial” style is still very visible to any visitor to Rome in the Foro Italico and the nearby Stadium of the Marble Statues (entirely surrounded by statues of over­ developed athletes) as well as in some of the earlier buildings at EUR (originally planned to open in 1942 as the Esposizione Universale Reale and then abandoned during the war).


The FASCIST Experience

Despite this setback, Pagano and his review preserved the traditions of modem architecture for the younger* generation. His ideas can be sum­ marized in a few points : hatred of monumental rhetoric, a vision of archi­ tecture as rational but not rationalistic, a preponderantly urbanistic con­ sciousness, a contempt for bureaucratic inefficiency, and an acute aware­ ness of the lack of an adequate art criticism. For Pagano, monumentalism, the disorganized construction that was ruining Italy’s cities, bureaucratic inertia, and historical-critical conformism, were all aspects of the same phenomenon : a moral and civil decadence compounded by a corrupt busi­ ness mentality. The raison d’être of his life was to combat this decadence and to create an alternative to this corruption and inertia. Such a vigorous and unrelenting moral stand was a far cry from poetic escapism, and, in­ deed, Pagano’s aversion for any original variation of his clean, simple, horizontal lines was his major limitation as an architect, a critic, and a teacher. Nevertheless, his impact on architecture in Italy was as great as that of Gropius in Germany, Le Corbusier in France, and Frank Lloyd Wright in the United States. Pagano’s personal history is also the outstanding example of a crea­ tive artist who for twenty years clung to his belief that he could win his battles within the framework of the Fascist regime. He opposed rhetorical monumentalism on moral as well as cultural grounds, arguing that it hid the misery of reality and expressed the conscious or unconscious bank­ ruptcy of current solutions to social problems. In 1939 he volunteered to fight in Albania, telling his friends who were already anti-Fascist that he would be in a stronger position because of his active role as a war hero. But he finally lost his illusions and joined the resistance movement. He was eventually captured by the Nazis and died in the concentration camp at Mauthausen. In literature the new trends of the late 1930s involved a renovation of taste and a change from a commitment to words to a commitment to things, to man and his society; this change was called neorealism and was identified with the names of Cesare Pavese, Elio Vittorini, and, by the early 1940s, Vasco Pratolini. Despite their many differences, these three men shared a desire to deprovincialize Italian culture, particularly through the use of American literature, as well as a belief in political commitment as a primary concern of the writer. Most important of all, they sought a new descriptive language for their contacts with a new reality, not merely the poor and sordid world behind the façade of Fascist conformism but a reality in which the inhabitants of that world would have a better life under some kind of humanitarian socialism.35 Whereas Vittorini and Pratolini came from working-class backgrounds and were generally out­ going, Pavese never lost his bourgeois hypersensitivity. (He took his own life in 1950, at the age of forty-two.) Also, Pavese had been anti-Fascist all along and been placed in protective confinement in 1936, whereas Vit­ torini and Pratolini had been active members of the Fascist literary left, particularly between 1932 and 1937, when they edited the third page of the Florentine Fascist weekly, Il Bargello.


Literary and Artistic Trends

The literary turning point toward neorealism and away from Fascism was Vittorini’s Conversazione in Sicilia (In Sicily), first published in in­ stallments in 1938-1939 in the Florentine review Letteratura, successor to Solaria. This work had an impact in intellectual circles similar to that of Montale’s Le occasioni. In the opening passage of his tale, Vittorini de­ scribes “the abstract furies” that induce his hero—Silvestro, a thirty-yearold lineotype operator—to leave his job in the north and return to his native Sicily in the hope of regaining contact with life. Like the mood in Montale’s poems, Vittorini’s hero says: “That was the terrible part: the quietude of my hopelessness; to believe mankind to be doomed, and yet to feel no fever to save it, but instead to nourish a desire to succumb with it.” However, through his contacts and conversations on his trip to Sicily Silvestro gains hope for a better world, just as Vittorini and other young Fascist intellectuals were looking forward to the beginning of a new period of consciousness and history in the late 1930s. (Some critics see Silvestro’s “abstract furies” as symbols of Vittorini’s passionate antiFascism.) Conversazione in Sicilia was a new departure after the dead end of dry indifference and privileged apathy expressed in Moravia’s Time of Indifference, as well as in his own Red Carnation and in the hermetic poetry of the mid-i93os. It was also a turning point because it was the first major work published in Italy in decades to focus on the lives of poor down­ trodden peasants and to take their side against their oppressors. Ignazio Silone’s Fontamara, which also deals with such people, though in a more traditional style, was published abroad and virtually unknown in Italy until after the Second World War. Yet Conversazione in Sicilia is neither as realistic nor as specifically anti-Fascist as its admirers in the Resistance assumed it to be. Although the Sicily that Vittorini portrays is somewhat mythical, the sufferings and misery of its people are real and are vividly conveyed through the con­ versations. (There is no “plot” aside from these conversations.) On the other hand, die characters, though alive and believable, function as sym­ bols of certain attitudes rather than as individuals; in fact, most of them are not given names, merely attributes, like the Great Lombard, or Bad Face, or, as in the case of the two police spies in the train, Mustache and No-Mustache. Even the mother, from whom Silvestro gains so many in­ sights about real life, is highly stylized, not to say idealized. It was the conversations and the attitudes expressed in them that were startlingly revealing to the generation that grew up in the 1930s. But Vittorini was not concerned exclusively with the “liberation” of the downtrodden peasants of Sicily; rather, he wanted the “liberation” of all mankind: man is “ripe for new and different duties.” The historical and political reasons for the oppression of the poor are lost in a vague categorization of good and evil men, of human and inhuman men. Although the generation of the 1930s and the Resistance found hope in Vittorini’s “exposure” of evil and in­ humanity, he himself was more interested in man’s eternal condition and those humanitatrian forces in the world that helped make that condition bearable. Unlike Pratolini, who always kept in touch with the poor neighbor-


The FASCIST Experience

hood in which he grew up in Florence, Vittorini gained his interest in the common people from reading certain American authors, particularly Wil­ liam Saroyan. The drinking scene in the bar toward the end of Conversa­ zione in Sicilia is obviously inspired by Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life. This is not to say that Vittorini copied Saroyan or was not a better writer, and one can understand how this new style was popular in the early 1940s. The bar scene still has a certain charm, and the book as a whole is a literary gem, beautifully made, elegant in style, and aspiring to universal significance. Vittorini’s drunks, loafers, and honest workmen are not as sentimentalized as Saroyan’s, but the way he idealized them now seems just as dated as much of the socially conscious fiction and films of the 1930s in the Western democracies. One is reminded of Clifford Odets, George Orwell, Louis Aragon, and French films starring Jean Gabin and Arletty. The interest shown by Vittorini, Pavese, and Pratolini in American literature was as much a form of protest against Fascist values as a search for a new, more realistic, mode of expression. It may seem incredible to young Americans in the 1970s that only a generation ago Italian leftwing intellectuals viewed the United States as the most democratic and progres­ sive country in the world. But compared to Fascist Italy it was. Vittorio Mussolini’s fascination with Hollywood was paralleled by the intense in­ terest of these intellectuals in Saroyan, William Faulkner, Erskine Cald­ well, and Ernest Hemingway. But whereas the Duce’s son visited the United States, none of the three aforementioned Italian writers did, and they had very imprecise notions about its geography. (In the early pages of the very popular Cronache di poveri amanti, published in 1947, Pratolini says: “Via del Como is like Fifth Avenue, because it is their street, where they live and look at each other from the window.”) What they looked for in America was themes of democracy and humanity, of individual lives with all the sordidness and passion that were lacking in official Italian cul­ ture. It will be recalled that Luchino Visconti’s first film—Ossessione, 1943—was based on James M. Cain’s novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Pavese later explained his youthful interest in foreign cultures as follows: “Foreign voices sustained our forces for understanding and for living; each of us loved and was addicted to the literature of a far-off people and society, and spoke about it, and translated it, and made it into an ideal fatherland. . . . Naturally [the Fascists] could not admit that we might seek in America, in Russia, in China, and who knows where, a human warmth that official Italy denied us. Even less, that we should simply seek out ourselves.”36 Although Pavese is called “the undisputed head of Italian ‘neoreal­ ism,’ ”37 his concern with existential anguish and the “absurd vice” of selfdestruction gives him a special place in Italian literature, particularly in his postwar novellas 11 diavolo sulle colline (The Devil in the Hills) and Tra donne sole (Among Women Alone), written in 1948 and 1949 respec­ tively. Even in La bella estate (The Beautiful Summer), written in 1940, the simple chronicle of the seventeen-year-old Ginia’s emotional adventure in the world of amateur artists and models is complicated by a certain


Literary and Artistic Trends

implicit moralizing. Yet Pavese did succeed in creating a new reality, de­ spite the intrusion of his personal concerns and the intellectual and cul­ tural filters through which he made it emerge. Nowhere was this truer than in his “folk” novel Paesi tuoi (Your Homelands), which first ap­ peared in 1941. Paesi tuoi sets forth a conflict between city "slickers” and country "boors” in a manner that was immediately hailed as a return to the verism of Giovanni Verga fifty years earlier. Once again, simple country people were being portrayed as long-suffering but virtuous, in Piedmont in Pavese s case, rather than in Sicily, as in Verga or Vittorini. Actually the moral underpinning of Paesi tuoi is closer to that of Conversazione in Sicilia, where the northern urbanite rediscovers real life among the humble rural people of his paese. In Pavese s novel, however, the style is less sym­ bolical and much closer to that of John Dos Passos or Ernest Hemingway, with its silent monologues, its syntactical ellipses, its colloquialisms, and its verbal confrontations among the characters. This style is particularly appropriate since the narrator is the city-slicker mechanic who has taken refuge in the paese of the peasant who had been his cellmate in prison. In this paese, after a great deal of bloodshed and perversion, the unfathom­ able nature of the country "boors” prevails. Though not primarily a popu­ list, Pavese was one of those hypersensitive bourgeois intellectuals who have periodically sought to assuage their feelings of guilt and decadence through contacts with the culture of "the people.” In Italy this tendency was to reach its peak during the years 1944-1947 in films like Open City and Paisà and in Moravia’s novel A Woman of Rome. The most significant neorealist novels of Vasco Pratolini—Il quartiere and Cronache di poveri amanti—belong to this later period, but he must be mentioned here because he was the outstanding example of a leftwing Fascist intellectual who turned to Communism in order to achieve the new reality set forth in these novels. It must be remembered that Pratolini (b. 1913) came of age as a self-educated Florentine worker in the midst of the Strapaese movement, with its strong antibourgeois populist over­ tones; as we shall see in the next chapter, he also had ties with the hermetic poets as joint editor, with Alfonso Gatto, of the review Campo di Marte. Already when he and Vittorini were writing for II Bargello Pratolini was trying to elaborate a new concept of culture : more dynamic, more modem, and closer to the people than Fascism seemed able to handle. It was pri­ marily for this reason that he lost patience with that increasingly con­ servative regime at the end of the 1930s without, however, making an open break until 1943. What Pratolini wanted from the beginning was for edu­ cated ex-workers like himself (later personified by Giorgio and Valerio in Il quartiere) "to inject into the worker [and anyone else] a higher—that is, ever clearer and more definite—possibility of a social and revolutionary consciousness.”38 But Pratolini’s idea of "the worker” remained that of Maciste, the blacksmith in Cronache di poveri amanti, and his conception of a social and revolutionary consciousness was based on a romantic humanitarianism rather than on specific social and political demands. In this novel it is not intellectuals like himself, but folk heroes like


The FASCIST Experience

Maciste who will lead the working-class struggle. This temporary stance of self-abnegation was prompted by the real exploits of latter-day Macistes in the Resistance movement. Generally speaking, high culture under Fascism was unimpressed with the efforts of popular culture to integrate the Italian masses into a modem industrial society. Aside from the architect Pagano, none of the “modernist” Fascist artists or writers was much interested in the plight of the masses; indeed, Bottai’s school reform came closer to such an interest than all the aesthetic efforts of a Sironi or a Bontempelli, or the populism of II Selvaggio. The non-Fascist artists and writers became more aloof than ever from the masses and moved in an increasingly limited world of little reviews, hermetic poetry, and isolated artistic experimentation. Only at the end of the 1930s did men like Vittorini and Pratolini begin to link their own desperate isolation with anti-Fascism. And when they did, not even the cultural models they found in American literature helped them resolve their ambivalence toward the process of modernization and the value of native roots. As the critic Alberto Asor Rosa says of Pratolinïs preoccupa­ tion with the outlook of Florentine blacksmiths, small shopkeepers, pros­ titutes, and other preindustrial types of common people, “. . . he skipped, in a certain sense, centuries of economic and social development in order to pluck out the kernel of a human condition still oppressed under the weight of misery.”39 For intellectuals like Pratolini, Vittorini, and Pavese, Communism and the Resistance movement were linked to their own concern with populism and native roots and, in the case of Pavese, personal frustration; they were movements for a more human world, not a more modern one.

NOTES 1. This view is shared by Gramsci and Croce, as we shall see presently, and by Eugenio Garin, C ronache d i filosofia ita lia n a , 2 vols. (Bari: Laterza, 1966), voi. 2, 402-403. The literary critics and creative writers, on the other hand, say that Piran­ dello was a better short-story writer than a playwright, that he had no great poetic insights, and that his language was not good enough for the problems he tackled. This view was expressed to me personally by Giorgio Bassani, Alessandro Bonsanti, and Alfonso Gatto; it is pretty much the same in any history of Italian literature. 2. Antonio Gramsci, L ettera tu ra e v ita n azion ale (Turin: Einaudi, 1952), p. 46 ff. 3. Benedetto Croce, L a le ttera tu ra d e lla n u ova Ita lia , 6 (Bari: Laterza, 1943)» 353- 371.

4. Six C haracters in Search o f an A u th or, in N a k ed M asks; F ive P la ys b y L uigi P iran dello, ed. Eric Bentley (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1958), p. 276. 5. Pirandello, in his 1925 Preface to Six C h aracters, reproduced in full in Appendix I of ib id ., p. 368. 6. Ibid., p. 369. 7. Ibid., pp. 263, 265.


Literary and Artistic Trends 8. A. Leone De Castris, Storia di Pirandello (Bari: Laterza, 19.62), p. 190. 9. Massimo Bontempelli, Avventura novecentista (Florence: Vallecchi, 1938), p. 286. 10. Ibid., p. 257. 11. Massimo Bontempelli, Minnie la candida (Milan: Mondadori, 1929), p. 141. 12. Ibid., p. 146. 13. Avventura novecentista, p. 505. 14. Giorgio Pullini, Teatro italiano fra due secoli, 1850-1950 (Florence: Pa­ renti, 1959 ), p. 313. 15. Alberto Moravia, Gli indifferenti (Milan: Bompiani, 1964), p. 290. 16. Ibid., p. 274. 17. In Man as an End: A Defense of Humanism, trans. Bernard Wall (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1966), p. 25. 18. See Hildegard Brenner, op. cit., who shows that the well-known Nazi oppo­ sition to modern art was actually part of its appeal during its rise to power. 19. Lanfranco Caretti, “Significato della ‘Ronda’,” cited in Giorgio Luti, Cronache letterarie tra le due guerre 1920-1940 (Bari: Laterza, 1966), p. 19. 20. Alberto Carocci [the founder of Solaria], in his introduction to Antologia di “Solaria,” ed. Enzo Siciliano (Milan: Lerici, 1958). 21. In an interview with Ferdinando Camon, ed., Il mestiere di poeta (Milan: Lerici, 1965), P- 27. 22. In an interview in ibid., pp. 89-90. 23. Gianfranco Contini, Letteratura dell'Italia unita, 1861—1968 (Florence: San­ soni, 1968), p. 908. 24. Quoted by permission of Sergio Pacifici, A Guide to Contemporary Italian Literature (Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Co., 1962), p. 194. 25. In an interview in II mestiere dì poeta, p. 112. 26. In an interview in ibid., p. 81. 27. Cited in Pacifici, op. cit., p. 186. 28. Contini, op. cit., p. 813. 29. Reprinted in the anthology L'Universale, edited by Diano Brocchi (Milan: Edizioni del Borghese, 1969), p. 112. 30. Giuseppe Marchiori, Arte e artisti d'avanguardia in Italia, 1910-1950, p. 210. 31. Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, in the catalogue for the 1967 Florence exhibit, Arte moderna in Italia, 1915-1935 (Florence: Marchi e Bertolli, 1967), p* 227. 32. Cited in Lamberto Vitali, Morandi (Milan: Edizioni del Milione, 1965), p. 73. 33. Emesto Rogers, “L’esperienza degli architetti,” in Fascismo e antifascismo, 1918-1936, pp. 334-339; see also Bruno Zevi, Storia dell'architettura moderna, 2nd ed. (Turin: Einaudi, 1956), pp. 265-281. 34. Italians often called this style “liberty” after A. L. Liberty, the owner of a shop in London which sold objects in this style at the end of the nineteenth century. 35. Giuliano Manacorda, Storia della letteratura italiana contemporanea, 19401965 (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1967), PP* 28-34, 73* 36. From an article, “Ritorno all’uomo,” published in L'Unità of Turin, 20 May 1945, and reprinted in Cesare Pavese, La letteratura americana e altri saggi (Turin: Einaudi, 1953 )> PP* 217-219. 37. Contini, op. cit., p. 1004. 38. From a 1937 article in II Bargello, cited in Alberto Asor Rosa, Scrittori e popolo: Il populismo nella letteratura italiana contemporanea, I, p. 137. 39. Ibid., pp. 184-185.


F a t a r i s t p o s t e r l o r a F a s c is t c e le b ra tio n «

S c ip io n e , P o rtra it ot Giuseppe U ngaretti (1 9 3 0 ) « GALLERIA NAZIONALE D'ARTE MODERNA, ROME ________________________________________________ ___ __________________________________________________

M a r io S ir o n i, Urban Landscape ( 1 0 2 9 ) . GALLERIA NAZIONALE D’ARTE MODERNA, ROME

A r t u r o M a r tin i, T h irst ( 1 0 3 4 ) . GALLERIA NAZIONALE D’ARTE MODERNA, ROME

G io rg io M o r a n d i, S till U te ( 1 9 3 8 ) . THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK

R e n a to G o tto s o , B a ttle w ith W ounded H orse GALLERIA NAZIONALE D’ARTE MODERNA, ROME

(1 9 4 2 ).

M e m b e rs o f th e A ccadem ia d9ita lia •

B o t t a i ( f r o n t ) w ith a g r o u p o f a r t i s t s a n d w r ite r s .

10 Intellectual and Cultural Life

I taly’s intellectual leaders were more conservative than the nation’s literary and artistic innovators during the Fascist period. This was due partly to the overriding influence of Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile in philosophy, education, and the humanities in general. Their neoidealism had already overshadowed posi­ tivism and Marxism before the First World War, and under Fascism con­ tacts with the newer European and American intellectual currents were limited. Mathematics and the natural sciences were not bothered much by the regime’s efforts at cultural autarchy, but most Italian historians, economists, and humanistic scholars became less international-minded than they had been in the past. Although the grosser aspects of Fascist official culture received the ridicule they deserved, institutions like the Royal Italian Academy and the Italian Encyclopedia attracted many of the nation’s leading intellectuals and scholars. And some major literary critics gave an aura of respectability to ostensibly Fascist publications. Non-Fascist thinkers of the Crocean variety led a tenuous existence, and the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, which were to spread beyond Communist circles during and after the Second World War, were not generally available in print before then. By the late 1930s, however a new generation of literary writers carried on active polemics for a true cultural renovation. Fascist Italy managed to retain the nominal allegiance of more of its intellectual and cultural leaders than Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. Far fewer Italians of this type emigrated than Germans or Russians. Part of the reason was the possibility of going about one’s professional business with a minimum of kowtowing to the regime and its organizations. There was also the safety valve of criticism of specific policies (except foreign and colonial affairs) of the regime as long as it itself was lauded. Perhaps more important was the wish of Mussolini himself—in contrast to anti­ intellectuals like Farinacci and Starace—to create a favorable impression abroad with a certain degree of tolerance for non-Fascist intellectuals and artists, as long as they did not openly oppose the regime. The most famous example of this type of intellectual was Croce, who remained in Italy throughout the entire Fascist period. Until 1931 Mussolini allowed the internationally best-known Italian next to himself, Arturo Toscanini, to


The FASCIST Experience

keep his post as musical director of the La Scala opera company in Milan. He also wanted to prevent Toscanini’s leading patron, Luigi Albertini, from becoming an expatriate,1 despite the fact that Albertini, along with Croce, voted against several of the regime’s major proposals in the Senate. The four most famous intellectuals and artists who left Fascist Italy for what could be called political reasons were Toscanini himself, the physicist Enrico Fermi, the historian Gaetano Salvemini, and the literary critic Giuseppe Antonio Borgese. These latter two had been political polemicists before the war and were outspoken anti-Fascists, so that they had little choice about leaving the country once the regime was firmly entrenched: as we have seen, Salvemini was hounded out of Florence in 1925 and resigned from his chair in modem history at the university there; Borgese, one of the eleven university professors to refuse to take the loyalty oath to the regime in 1931, left for the United States soon thereafter. At the other extreme, Fermi had no interest in politics and no reason to emigrate until 1938, when the anti-Semitic laws deprived him of some of his ablest assistants thereby making it difficult for him to carry on his research; as is well known, he (who was not Jewish) and his wife (who is) never returned to Italy after traveling to Stockholm to receive his Nobel Prize. Toscanini’s case was the most complicated and in the end the most exasperating for the regime. The maestro had actually been a candidate on the Fascist ticket in the 1919 elections, and he and his wife were very close to the Fascist cause during the immediate postwar years.2 By 1924, however, Toscanini seems to have moved into the liberal camp of the Albertinis, whose preponderant influence at the La Scala opera house allowed them to give him a free hand in making that institution into the Temple of Art of which he had always dreamed. He antagonized the Milanese Fascist leaders by denying them any influence in his enterprise and was supported by the prefect and, by 1930, by the new chairman of the board of La Scala, the conservative Fascist bigwig Senatore Borletti. The main issue was Toscanini’s refusal to play “Giovinezza, Giovinezza” at the beginning of his performances. Finally, on March 14, 1931, when he and his wife appeared at the entrance of the theater in Bologna where he was to be guest conductor, they were beaten by a gang of local Fascists and forced to go into hiding. Four days later, his name was cheered at a symphony concert at La Scala, much to the dismay of the government. But on June 10, Toscanini left Italy permanently. On a lesser plane than that of Croce and Toscanini, writers who did not openly support the regime had a more difficult time. In 1926 and 1927, for example the historian Guglielmo Ferrerò was dissuaded by Mus­ solini from going on a lecture tour to the United States, the police spied on his home, and the second volume of his novel Rivolta del figlio was stricken from the list of the Mondadori publishing house on orders from the government.3 Ferrerò tried to maintain a neutral attitude toward Fascism but he eventually went into exile in Geneva. The case of the popular poet and playwright Sem Benelli is particularly interesting because of his many ups and downs vis-à-vis the regime. Benelli was a kind of cut-


Intellectual and C ultural Life

rate D’Annunzio, both in his patriotic writings and in his efforts at heroics. He too had been a Fiume legionnaire; he had supported Fascism during its rise to power but had soon turned against it and like Ferrerò, he signed the Croce Manifesto of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals in 1925. Like Ferrerò, he was put under police surveillance, but he had more cordial relations with Mussolini and was promised that his persecution would stop in 1928. Still, a number of party gerarchi, including Starace himself, con­ tinued to consider him an anti-Fascist and put pressure on periodicals and theater producers not to present Benelli’s works in any form. Although he considered himself as great an artist as Toscanini, it was not as easy for a poet as for a musician to find an appreciative audience in foreign climes, so he tried to make his peace with die regime in 1933 by sending an eleven-page letter to Mussolini outlining his merits and the injustices done him;4 in 1936, though almost sixty years old, he fought as a volunteer with the armed forces in Ethiopia. Apparently these gestures worked, for on April 5, 1937, Starace complained in a letter to Dino Alfieri, the minister of popular culture, that Benellfs plays were being produced even by the amateur theatrical groups of the Dopolavoro.5 Benellfs case is instructive in showing that, from the point of view of the regime, a Fascist could do no wrong and an anti-Fascist could do no right. The plays of Gioacchino Forzano were more vulgar and pretentious as those of Benelli, but since it was an open secret that some of them were inspired and partly written by Mussolini, they were praised in the official Fascist journals (with the exception of a few avant-garde reviews). In practice, the regime’s efforts at cultural and intellectual totalitarianism were mainly organizational; once a writer or artist joined the appropriate Fascist institution he was relatively free to produce what he wished. The founding of institutions of Fascist culture was first proposed in March, 1925, only two months after Mussolini had set up his dictatorship, at a conference of intellectuals and artists presided over by Gentile in Bologna. The most important one, the Reale Accademia d'Italia (Royal Academy of Italy), was not fully launched for four more years. The other institutions, most of which were set up much sooner, included the National Fascist Institute of Culture—later changed to National Institute of Fascist Culture—the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East, the National Institute of Ancient Drama, the Italian Institute of Germanic Studies, the Italian Institute of International Law, the Italian Center for Studies in Administrative Sciences, the National Council of Research, the Fascist Colonial Institute, the Italian Naval League, the International Institute of Rome for the Unification of Private Law, the Italian Inter-University Institute, the National Institute of Educational Cinema, the Institute of Roman Studies, the subsidization of the National Institute L.U.C.E., the National Italian Commission for Intellectual Cooperation, the Giovanni Treccani Institute for the Preparation of the Italian Encyclopedia (En­ ciclopedia Italiana). Only the Accademia and the Enciclopedia will be dis­ cussed in this chapter. The National Institute of Fascist Culture and the National Institute L.U.C.E. have been dealt with earlier, and the other in­ stitutions had little impact on the Fascist experience.


The FASCIST Experience

Another, more immediately dramatic, outcome of the Bologna meeting was the issuance of a Manifesto of the Intellectuals of Fascism, which was printed in the national press on April a i, the "birthday” of the city of Rome. The Manifesto was conceived as a first act toward clearing the air "of a dangerous commonplace: the antithesis between Fascism and cul­ ture.”6 In many ways it was a latter-day hodge-podge of prewar national­ ism, D’Annunzianism, and futurism—the religious character of the myth of the fatherland, the greatness of the fatherland, the glorification of war and violence—completed by the Fascist myth of youth and exaltation of the Duce and the Gentilian-Hegelian notion of Fascism as a higher synthesis of all earlier political ideologies, including liberalism and socialism. The purpose of the Manifesto was more frankly political than cultural; it was not so much to reconcile culture and Fascism as to isolate anti-Fascists. "Today in Italy people are ranged in two opposing camps; on one side the Fascists, on the other their adversaries—democrats of all tendencies—two worlds that exclude one another reciprocally.” In response to this so-called Gentile Manifesto, with its 250 signatures, Croce published his own Manifesto of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, on May I, 1925; within a few weeks it too had several hundred signatures. Its basic assumption was the old liberal one of the autonomy of art and thought from politics, a position similar to that taken a couple of years later by Julien Benda in The Betrayal of the Intellectuals and José Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses. In condemning the attacks on democ­ racy, the irrationalism, and the glorification of violence in the Gentile Manifesto, Croce was reasserting the value of free institutions and protest­ ing the division—for the first time in the unified nation’s history—of citizens into supporters and enemies of the same country. At the end of his manifesto Croce took his stand squarely against Fascism as a "religion” of force and violence : "For this chaotic and elusive religion we are in no mood to give up our old faith, the faith that for two and a half centuries has been the spirit of resurgent, modern Italy, the faith that consists of love of truth, of aspirations toward justice, of a generous and refined human feeling, of a solicitude for freedom, the force and guarantee of every advancement,” Henceforth Italian intellectuals and artists were identified by the manifesto they had signed; there were a few turncoats in each group in later years, but most of the signers maintained their original position, at least formally. In the case of the Bologna congress and the Gentile mani­ festo, however, as with the professors who swore allegiance to the regime in 1931, there was a good deal of opportunism. The most notorious example was Luigi Pirandello who, before signing this manifesto, wrote a letter to the congress expressing his support for the creation of the new, Fascist institutions. Regretting that his work prevented him from attending in person, he said that his support was not merely formal: "On the contrary, I want to ask you to give me the honor of considering me present at your congress. I will strive, like you, to keep giving, with my utmost power, new consistency to the reality of an Italy of today, which, by our health and will, is an Italy alive.”7 As Carlo Bò later said,8 this letter was written


Intellectual am i C ultural Life

by many others in one form or another as a means of giving apparent obéissance without a total commitment. Pirandello then signed the Gentile manifesto at the very time that Mussolini was helping him to open his own Art Theater in Rome. After Toscanini emigrated Pirandello was Italy's most internationally known artist. His works were performed in the leading cities of Europe and the western hemisphere, and in 1934 he received the Nobel Prize for literature; in 1936, just before his death, he was summoned by Hollywood (where Greta Garbo had already starred four years earlier in his As You Desire Me) to appear in a film version of Six Characters. Yet in the 1930s he resembled Montale and Morandi in trying to create self-sustaining works of art as a way of transcending the hollowness and conformism he saw all around him, and near the end of his life he rejected both Fascism and his own surrealistic and myth-making evasions. He reasserted his existential anguish in his last short story. Una giornata (One Day), and his last wishes were that he be given the simplest possible funeral ( “The wagon, the horse, the coachman—e basta**)9 and that he be covered only with a shroud, thus cheating the Fascists out of a state ceremony and the pos­ sibility of burying him in a black shirt. Despite their political differences Croce and Gentile shared the same classical humanist view of education, as we have seen; they were also both neoidealists in the Hegelian tradition as revived by the southern thinkers Bertrando Spaventa and Francesco De Sanctis. It is relatively easy to understand how an upper-middle-class intellectual like Croce or an ambitious professor like Gentile could adopt such a philosophy at the turn of the century as a reaction against the mediocrity they saw around them. But surely their towering presences alone do not explain the preponderant influence of this philosophy for over three decades thereafter. Other European countries got over their “revolt against positivism" in much less time than that. There was also a certain irony in the effect that this “revolt" had in downgrading the value of natural science in Italy, which had produced some of the world's leading scientists since the time of Galileo. There were precedents for lauding the human over the natural sciences in Vico and the neo-Kantians, to be sure, but it was unfortunate that, in a developing country like Italy, its leading philosophers should have shown so muchf disdain for the natural sciences and technology. Cultural snobbery seems to be the only plausible explanation of why the bulk of the Italian “intellectual bourgeoisie” preferred classical humanism in a neo-Hegelian guise to the spirit of Galileo. In any case, although Croce and Gentile wanted to reassert spiritual values against Marxian materialism and arid positivism, one cannot help but believe that this disdain continued to give science a bad name under Fascism. Aside from politics Gentile reacted against his older colleague Croce somewhat the way Jung reacted against Freud. According to Gramsci, “Gentile's actualism gave the chiaroscuro effects to the picture [i.e., Croce's philosophy], which are necessary to put everything in greater relief."10 Not only Gentile himself, but also many of his disciples lived in the shadow of Croce's philosophical and cultural outlook, which they had all absorbed


The FASCIST Experience

before the war. This was particularly so among the leading contributors of the Enciclopedia Italiana, where people said that “Croce gave the spiritual bread and Gentile the material bread.”11 The connection did not escape the notice of the top party gerarchi, who continually criticized Gentile, the editor-in-chief, for harboring signers of the Croce manifesto and pro­ fessors who refused to take the loyalty oath in 1931. Yet Gentile had a strong antipathy for Croce not only on political but also on philosophical grounds. Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) had begun his intellectual career as a historian and then turned to philosophy because of the needs he had felt in this role and, to a lesser extent, that of critic and historian of literature. His greatest contribution to twentieth-century Italian thought (not always followed by his disciples) was to rid philosophy of its traditional dogmatism and transform it into a method of thinking about the problems posed by life. He set forth his “Philosophy of the Spirit” in his Aesthetics (1902), his Logic (1909), and his Philosophy of the Practical, subdivided into Economics and Ethics (also 1909). This chronology reflects Croce's system of priorities: artistic intuition ideally precedes logical or conceptual knowledge, and they both precede action, whose purely economic or utilitarian activity precedes moral action (hence the axiom of the auton­ omy of politics). Croce's ideas about the autonomy of art and the nature of “pure intuition” have already been mentioned. The basis of his Logic is the replacement of the Hegelian dialectic of opposites with a dialectic of “differences”; each of the four forms (Gentile was later to refer derisively to the “philosophy of the four words”) becomes the material of its suc­ cessor, but according to the “circulation” of the forms, all are implicit in each one in a progression toward infinity, which Croce substituted for Hegel’s progression ad finitum. He distinguished concepts (“concrete universals”) from “pseudo-concepts,” which are directed at practical ends, particularly in the so-called natural sciences. Croce's concept of the dialectic provides no logical justification for downgrading the natural sciences in favor of the human sciences; this justification came from Vico and the humanistic tradition. The “facts” that Croce pursued were in the field of history, which he identified with philosophy in the book that completed his “system,” Theory and History of Historiography (1917). This study was later incorporated into his History as the Story of Liberty (1938), whose Italian title, La storia come pensiero e come azione, makes clear Croce's belief that all history is contemporary history. Croce's 1925 manifesto and his moral opposition to Fascism there­ after should not blind us to the basically conservative outlook he had expressed until then. His ideal statesman was Cavour; his favorite modem poet, Carducci. By nineteenth-century standards these were liberal choices; in the twentieth century they were conservative. During the First World War Croce had reasserted his almost visceral aversion for abstract ideas from the Enlightenment, like philanthropic and humanitarian democracy, whose appeal had been exploited by the interventionists. He had been so concerned about the cynicism and indifference of Italy's liberal elite toward good government since the late nineteenth century that he viewed


Intellectual a n d C u ltu ra l Life

Fascism at first as “a bridge of passage for the restoration of a stricter liberal regime/'12 It was his disillusionment on this score that made him become a liberal in the Giolittian sense by 1925. This change was evident in the very language of the manifesto cited earlier; it was also obvious in his History of Italy from 1871 to 1915 (1928), in which he said good things about the governments after 1876 (and not just those of the disciples of Cavour—the Destra—who had held power until then) and clearly implied that the liberal regime had been better than Fascism. But Croce remained a conservative in his aesthetic judgments, condemning all poetry after Baudelaire in France and Carducci in Italy as decadent, and this conservatism set his principal disciples in literary criticism, particularly Francesco Flora and Luigi Russo, against the avant-grade of the thirties. Gentile’s divergence from Croce in their common effort to reform the Hegelian dialectic began as early as 1911,13 when Gentile gave a lecture entitled “The Act of Thinking as Pure Act.” Thereafter he set forth his philosophy in an order of priority the reverse of Croce’s : General Theory of the Spirit as Pure Act (1916), System of Logic as Theory of Knowing (1917-1923), and Philosophy of Art (1931). Unlike Croce’s system, Gentile’s actual idealism—or actualism—rejects the commonsense view of a pre-existing, natural reality that remains after we are gone. In order to avoid the opposite extreme of arguing that the only true reality is the result of our thinking, Gentile set forth the theory of absolute immanence, whereby the world of experience and history is immanent within us. Thus the reality that we think is not arbitrary. It is not subjective either, for whoever thinks does so as best he can and, by affirming the truth of his thought he objectifies it, cuts it off from himself, and makes it the starting point for criticism and reforms. Thought is an act that eternally deter­ mines itself and is not determined by anything else; hence there is no distinction between thinking and doing. Not only is thinking an activity, but it is the unique activity of which all others are simply facets. In art, however, Gentile’s pure act is not merely thinking but also feeling; it is a purely subjective reality, in contrast to the limitation of laws on the individual will, which is the objective reality of religion. It was this last connection, leading to the idea of the ethical state, that was all-important for the ideology of Fascism. According to Gentile the state is the authority that appears to us as the universality of our moral will; it is the bridge of passage over which the moral law passes into positive law. The Fascist state comes closer than any other to acting as this bridge because its “religious,” totalitarian view of life best fulfills men’s need for self-realization by means of the fullest possible integration into society. It is this view of life, however, this spiritual essence, and not the government or the party at any given moment,.that gives the Fascist state its ethical character. Nevertheless, as long as the state tries to make this view of life prevail, its will is immanent in the citizen, and it cannot tolerate opposition. Members of the government may disagree, but ordinary citizens must obey; otherwise they are criminals. Gentile had a strong authoritarian bias and a fervent desire to educate


The FASCIST Experience

his fellow men and put them on the right path. In this respect he was a true descendant of Plato and Hegel. His philosophy of the state and his views on educational reform have been discussed earlier. Here we are concerned only with his theory of actualism as applied to the notion of Fascism as a "continuing revolution,” a perpetual striving to make actual the ideal of the ethical state. As we saw in Chapter 3, this theory and this notion began to lose their meaning fór the regime after the Concordat with the Vatican in 1929. Still, in an age of discord and shattered values, Gentile^ actualism urged men to think of those things that gave them a common humanity and the hope of an ideal society. The appearance of Mussolini’s article on Fascism, based heavily on Gentile’s ideas, in the 1932 edition of the Enciclopedia Italiana, preserved the illusion that the neoidealist philosopher was still the official intellectual voice of the regime. In reality, Gentile and his philosophy of actualism were already being criticized by the clerical wing of the party. A year after the Concordat Gentile was still openly attacking the pope for being "incapable of understanding pure, idealist philosophy, and master only of Thomism and notions that are confused with materialism itself.”14 In June, 1934, Gentile’s books were put on the Index, along with Croce’s; though all the newspapers except die Osservatore Romano were forced to ignore this condemnation, members of Azione Cattolica spread the news among their friends.15 In private Mussolini remained indulgent toward Gentile, flattering him over his Philosophy of Art (which he said he read on a lonely beach).16 In 1936 he even persuaded Minister of Education De Vecchi to postpone Gentile’s "retirement” as director of the Reale Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa from June to October, so that it would not look as if he were being fired before the beginning of the new academic year, and ended his letter with the admonition to "be indulgent with the professors.”17 (Actually the new minister of education, Bottai, allowed Gentile to stay on until the Second World War.) By the mid-1930s Gentile was being attacked by certain liberal and radical elements in the Fascist party as well as by the clericals. They were able to do this with impunity once it was clear that, after the Concordat, Mussolini had dropped his attachment to the philosophy of actualism.18 After that, most of Gentile’s disciples also deserted him. Giuseppe Lom­ bardo-Radice and Ernesto Codignola have already been mentioned, and others followed them into an unequivocally anti-Fascist position. Others, like Ugo Spirito, became involved in the turbulent and often confused movement of leftwing Fascism, which was later to lead many of its sup­ porters to Communism. Gentile himself remained in semiretirement until the founding of the Italian Social Republic in late 1943, when Mussolini blamed the "intransigents” in the party for his own resistance to actualism and then persuaded the philosopher to become the president of the Italian Academy. On April 15, 1944, Gentile was killed in Florence, presumably by anti-Fascist university students. Like the anti-Bourbon intellectuals who had preceded him in Naples a century earlier, Croce was more effective in moral resistance and in forming


Intellectual and C ultural Life

men’s consciences than in overt political activities, either through a party or in the government. After his 1925 manifesto, which was directed more against Gentile than Mussolini, Croce did not openly oppose the regime. Although he continued to attend the meetings of the Senate and spoke out there against the Concordat, Mussolini apparently still hoped to win him over and on one occasion in the late 1920s told the police chief in Naples to stop spying on his house.19 On April 12 and June 24, 1929, police informers reported that Croce was alleged to have said at a private gathering that he was not an anti-Fascist, that he was on the contrary a friend and admirer of Mussolini and Fascism but opposed to it on certain points because of his principles. By July 2 and 3, 1930, however, the reports give a picture of aristocratic aloofness and a pronounced resentment over the fact that, though he was free to travel abroad each year, his movements were watched by the police; the first of these two reports quotes Croce as saying “I will never be a Fascist for two reasons : because everything I have written and thought is poles apart from Fascist thought, and because if I should be­ come a Fascist today I would either have to consider myself a fool or else be one in bad faith.” During the 1930s Croce’s anti-Fascism grew with his own relative isolation from the mainstream of Italian intellectual and cultural life. Although he and his family lived modestly in Naples, Croce was a rich man (Aside from owning large estates in the Abruzzi and Apulia and prop­ erty in Naples, he was co-owner of the Laterza publishing house in Bari and had a large account in the Bank of Naples.) and thus financially inde­ pendent. He was a true gentleman-scholar of the nineteenth century, working full time on his numerous writings and letting his faithful brother Alfonso take care of his business affairs. During the summer of 1933 he visited Paris and had many contacts with the Italian exiles there, including Carlo Rosselli; he even wrote an unsigned article for the Quaderni di Giustìzia e Libertà criticizing Minister of Education Francesco Ercole.20 But he had no confidence in the ability of the fuorusciti to do anything about the state of affairs in Italy—at least according to a police report on August 22, 1933. Croce later said that he knew at least one of the police informers who visited him ostensibly as a friend, so he may not have been completely candid even as far back as 1933 and 1934. Nevertheless, his great friend­ ship for the anti-Fascist writer Leone Ginzburg was well-known, and (report of July 11,1934) he saw him during his stay at a resort town near Turin during the summer. Yet despite the regime’s efforts to isolate Croce, his influence re­ mained stronger even than that of Gentile; this was the supreme irony of intellectual and cultural life under Fascism. His review, La Critica, which sold an average of 1,750 copies per issue in 1922, was selling 3,000 by 1943 21 After 1933 the number of subscribers declined because Minister of Education Ercole ordered all secondary schools and universities to cancel their subscriptions, but the number of anonymous purchasers in book­ stores increased. Croce’s History of Italy from 1871 to 1915 (1928) and his History of Europe in the Nineteenth Century (1932) were more widely read, going through several editions within a few years. Most important of


The FASCIST Experience

all, his idea of the autonomy of art and his exaltation of liberty served as rallying points for anti-Fascists not only of the liberal school but socialists and communists as well. Croce raised the central issue of modem Italian historiography with his History of Italy, which, despite his disclaimers, was written in answer to Gioacchino Volpe’s Italia in cammino (Italy on the Move), published a year earlier. Volpe, an eminent medievalist who became a Fascist in­ tellectual leader, gave a nationalist, Croce a liberal, interpretation of the forty-five-year period preceding the war. Both works have an essentially political framework, with Volpe’s giving more space to foreign policy and Croce’s more to “ideals.” Whereas Croce tried to see the history of that period as the gradual triumph of liberalism, Volpe tried to see it as the movement of the nation toward power and greatness. Croce praised Giolitti’s return to trasformismo after 1901 as the best way of overcom­ ing the antagonism between the extremes of left and right—as “a unifying transformation of their ideals.”22 He also saw the extension of the franchise in 1912 (at which time he had viewed it with misgivings) as evidence of democracy in the making. For Volpe, Giolitti’s laissez-faire liberalism was simply an excuse for lack of leadership of the nation in the making.23 Aside from this basic difference in interpretation the two books re­ flected the different interests and temperaments of their authors. Whereas Croce described Italy’s economic growth briefly and impersonally, Volpe devoted a long chapter to “The Italians at Work,” in which he gave evoca­ tive examples of all phases of economic life as well as a revealing analysis of the effects of mass emigration at home and abroad. Croce criticized Volpe’s “materialistic” preoccupation with social issues such as population movements and class conflicts and decried his neglect of moral questions. Volpe tried unconvincingly to justify the “morality” of Crispi’s imperialism (which Croce deplored) by reminding his readers that the poet Giosuè Carducci (whom Croce admired) had enthusiastically supported this policy. Croce, on the other hand, gave full credit to his own philosophical and critical efforts to revitalize Italian culture after 1902, especially in La Critica, Croce’s two main historical works, far from being ignored, were widely reviewed. Adriano Tilgher’s long review of his History of Italy on the second page of the April 1, 1928 issue of La Stampa was particularly important because of his own prestige and the national circulation of that Turin daily. Tilgher showed a certain blindness when he said that Croce portrayed Italy in the liberal era as all progress under a wise ruling class and hence incapable of explaining interventionism and the rise of Fascism. It is true that Croce was later to call Fascism a “parenthesis” in Italy’s historical progress toward liberty and reason, but in this book he certainly described unwise leaders (Crispi) and irrational currents (na­ tionalism, syndicalism, futurism) as threatening and real. Tilgher, who had signed the Croce manifesto, in 1925, praised the book but disagreed with its historicism. The director of La Stampa, Andrea Torre, introduced the review with a statement disavowing Tilgher’s view of Mussolini as “Romanticism in government,” but more important was the fact that he


Intellectual and C ultural Life

did publish the review. Croce’s History of Europe in the Nineteenth Century was reviewed in the April 15, 1932, issue of Critica Fascista by Romolo Murri,24 who argued, with some justification, that Croce’s “religion of liberty” was antihistoricist, because historicism was indifferent to moral judgments. In addition to Croce’s books, the critical spirit and the European liberal tradition were kept alive in Fascist Italy by works like Guido De Ruggiero’s History of European Liberalism (1921) and by a number of university professors.25 Among those with the most influence on their graduate students were the historian Adolfo Omodeo, the literary critic Luigi Russo, and the philosopher Guido Calogero. One former student at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (Italy’s dosest equivalent to France’s École Normale Supérieure) recalls how in 1939 he received comfort for his theoretical anti-Fascism from Russo, Calogero, and the historian Delio Cantimori.26 Most of his fellow students were Croceans and were allowed relative freedom of discussion and reading—except for Marx—until Italy entered the Second World War. Russo, a follower of De Sanctis and Croce, expounded a conception of culture as a complete historical con­ sciousness, a commitment to worldly affairs, and a determination to make the liberal moral tradition the basis of all one’s actions. Calogero, an exGentilian, extolled the merits of clear ideas and honest arguments in the prevailing intellectual atmosphere of mysticism, myths, and rhetoric. Piero Calamandrei, who helped frame the Code of Civil Law Procedure of 1942, tried to base it on pre-Fascist doctrines and jurisprudence as much as possible.27 Like all the others mentioned here, he was a liberal socialist who opposed the regime in principle but who did not engage in open resistance until 1944. Even Italian Marxists tried to inject Croce’s ideology of liberalism into socialist theory. One major example was Carlo Rosselli’s Socialismo liberale ( Liberal Socialism), which the author worked on in Paris between 1929 and 1935. As for Gramsci, it has been said that all his writings, both before and during his imprisonment, were a continual dialogue with the ideas of Croce. His most original contribution to Marxist theory was precisely in the field of the arts and culture in general, and here he adopted many of Croce’s ideas, particularly the autonomy of aesthetic creation and criticism from politics and their independence from the economic base of a given society. Rejecting the Stalinist notion of art as propaganda in the service of the party, Gramsci set forth a conception of an art that would be new insofar as it had a new content; it would emerge from the new culture that would be determined in its turn by the new humanity and society without classes and conflicts which would be bom out of the political action of the party of the working class. But Gramsci also rejected much of Croce’s “Philosophy of the Spirit,” which, as we have seen, he linked with the philosophy of Gentile. By the time of Gramsci’s death, in 1937, a number of young leftwing intellectuals were also making this connection, as we shall see presently. In addition to those university circles and little reviews already men­ tioned, there were other pockets of non-Fascist and anti-Fascist culture


The FASCIST Experience

during the 1930s. The Rivista di filosofìa was run by the neo-Kantian Piero Martinetti—one of the eleven professors who lost their chairs in 1931 for refusing to take the loyalty oath—and continued to print articles by known anti-Fascist philosophers of all schools, including Croce and De Ruggiero, Gioele Solari, Antonio Banfi, Alessandro Levi, and Norberto Bobbio.28 The Laterza book company, in Bari, went on publishing the works of Croce’s friends in Italy and a wide range of European studies in the humanities. In Milan, Mondadori’s series "Today’s Culture” and Bompiani’s "Adventures in Thought” contained many of the best foreign works in translation. The most notorious publishing venture was that of Giulio Einaudi in Turin; not only was its "Library of Scientific and Historical Culture” the largest and most avant-garde in its choice of foreign works, but its editorial offices were a haven for anti-Fascists like Leone Ginzburg and Cesare Pavese, whose translations of European and American literature have already been men­ tioned. The Einaudi group was all that remained in the 1930s of the cos­ mopolitan intellectual circle in Turin, but it was of primary importance in giving Italians under Fascism a preview of the new cultured and intellectual trends in Europe and America. Among more strictly academic intellectuals there were varying degrees of compromise or aloofness. A good example of the latter was Luigi Einaudi (Giulio’s father), professor of "financial science” at the University of Turin throughout the Fascist period and a senator after 1931. He managed to retain both posts despite his known lukewarm attitude toward the regime and his known association with some of its opponents, particularly Croce, whose manifesto he had signed, and his colleague Francesco Ruffini, professor of ecclesiastical law. As in other cases already described, it was the party and its organs that pushed for firing Einaudi as early as 1928, whereas Mussolini protected him.29 Einaudi, like other classical liberals, had at first viewed Fascism as a move back to laissez-faire but had abandoned this hope by 1925. Although he opposed any kind of economic planning as well as the corporative state, he stayed out of politics and was left unmolested by the government and the party after being asked to resign from his executive post in a local history association in 1933. A different, but not, unfortunately, atypical example of a major university professor, under Fascism was that of Niccolò Castellino, who taught "labor medicine” at the University of Naples from 1932 on. Bom in 1893, he had become a Fascist in May 1921, federale of Naples in 19241926, as well as president of the Federation of Newspaper Editors in 1936. At Naples he was a big professor with numerous graduate students; he was also a millionaire.30 This fact apparently helped him get his academic and professional posts; in one exchange of letters with Mussolini’s private secretary Castellino "anonymously” offered 40,000 lire for Fascist charities, and Mussolini acknowledged this "anonymous” gift. In 1940 Musso­ lini granted his request to be appointed general secretary of the Na­ tional Council of Research. On July 18, 1940, Castellino complained to Mussolini’s secretary that he was being confused with a certain G. Castel­ lino who wrote a book defending the Jews. He argued that he was as good a racist as anybody, and indeed he was, as he showed in his article,


Intellectual and C ultural Life

"Biological Factors in the Defeat of the Anglo-French,” in the July i, 1940, issue of the Nuova antologia. The best-known racist professor who was also a scientist was Nicola Pende, who taught biology at the University of Rome. Not only did he introduce courses on racism in 1938, but he also had his own Biotypological-Orthogenic Institute, which made films for the Istituto L.U.C.E. on physical fitness and on how to become an athlete. In addition, Professor Pende did propaganda work for the government in magazine articles and radio speeches on racism.31 Actually, the racist laws accounted for greater losses of professors, particularly in the sciences, medicine, and law, than voluntary emigration or forced resignations for political causes; of the 1,200-odd professors with chairs, 98 had to leave because they were Jewish—practically 1 in 12. However much they were pressured and decimated the Italian uni­ versities, particularly in the humanities, clung to their traditional values and habits. A most telling "survey” confirming this generalization was made in 1941 by the literary review Primato. More will be said about this review presently, but its importance here is obvious from the fact that its director, Giuseppe Bottai, was also the minister of education. The majority of the professors expressing an opinion said that true Italian culture was still enshrined in the universities. Fascist intellectuals like Camillo Pellizzi and Pompeo Biondi demanded a greater degree of politicization in order to bring the spirit of the regime home to these professors, while the editors of the GUF little reviews demanded that their desired cultural revolution begin in the universities. The fact that all this was being said as late as 1941 in an eminent Fascist review reflects not only the degree of tolerance allowed in such matters but also the failure of the regime to make any serious inroads into Italian academic culture. Insofar as there was an "official” Fascist culture by the early 1930s, it was "academic” in the derogatory sense of conformist, old-fashioned, and lifeless—in this case, monumental-rhetorical. After the downgrading of Gentile, the "official” philosopher in university circles, Francesco Orestano, was "D’Annunzian” in his basic assumption.32 As we have seen, the modernist outlook prevailed longest in architecture, under the leadership of Pagano, but even there the "official” spokesman, Marcello Piacentini, won out by 1937, with his "imperial” style. In his pronouncements on art and architecture, as on most matters, Mussolini talked out of both sides of his mouth : in 1926, at the opening of the Novecento art exhibit in Milan, he encouraged a modem, cosmopolitan outlook; three years later, speaking in Rome, he urged that the style of the age of Augustus be restored.83 The nationalist-imperialist spirit launched by Franco Ciarlantini in 1924 under party auspices prevailed in the art schools, in the giving out of prizes in national competitions, and in the choices for all art exhibits, including the Venice Biennale. Even in the field of literary criticism, with its variety and eclecticism, many people considered the ultra-refined conservative aesthete Ugo Ojetti34 the "official” leader, particularly in his reviews Dedalo, Pegaso, and Pan.


The FASCIST Experience

Ojetti came closer than anyone else to being the spokesman for Italy’s artistic and literary establishments under Fascism. This millionaire connoisseur of literature and the arts wrote newspaper articles for every commemorative occasion, on every exposition of Italian art and architec­ ture, and on the refurbishing of every local museum, as well as book reviews for the Corriere della Sera. In all cases he championed the traditional over the modem.35 A dilettante compared to Croce, Ojetti had a greater public influence because of his many connections in high places and his participa­ tion on almost all the prize committees for the arts and letters. He dined with everyone from members of the royal family to Bernard Berenson, Gaetano Salvemini, Alberto Pirelli, Luigi Albertini, Luigi Cadomo, Galeazzo Ciano, and Croce himself. Like other members of his class he supported Mussolini as an antidote to democracy and disorder and tried to draw him into the conservative camp. Although he later tried to appear critical of the regime, Ojetti was an honored guest at the banquet Duce gave for Premier Pierre Laval on January 5, 1935, and at a gathering of Fascist dignitaries at Tripoli on March 20, 1937. His traditionalist point of view made him condescending and occasionally malicious toward those who did not meet his standards; for example, in addition to condemning the avant-garde, he was particularly disdainful of Papini. Ojetti combined the social snobberies of the Milanese business magnate with the cultural snob­ beries of the Florentine aesthete and the pedantry of the Roman aca­ demician. The most important institution of official culture under Fascism was the Accademia d’Italia, formally inaugurated on October 28, 1929. Its links with the conservative establishment were clear from the financial backing it received from the ubiquitous Senatore Borletti. of the Mondadori publishing company—30,000 lire a year for prizes—and from Consolidated Edison of Italy—50,000 lire a year. The fact that it was launched on the anniversary of the March on Rome obviously underlined its Fascist character. Yet it was supposed to resemble the French Academy, founded three centuries earlier by Richelieu to exalt the nation’s cultural ‘Im ­ mortals”—in this case, sixty instead of forty. In addition to the honor of membership, the academicians had a dress uniform featuring a twopointed hat similar to an admiral’s plus a sword and a decorative sash; they also received a permanent stipend of 3,000 lire a month (It should be remembered that this “honorarium” was three times as great as a shop clerk’s dream of a total monthly income.) and a free railroad pass. In December, 1934, again in obvious imitation of its French precursor, the Accademia appointed a commission, headed by Ojetti, to compile an official dictionary of the Italian language. Finally, in May, 1939, the Accademia d’Italia “absorbed” the venerable Accademia dei Lincei and “attached” its former members, including men of the caliber of the econ­ omist Luigi Einaudi and the historian Arturo Carlo Jemolo, alongside of such diverse luminaries as Giovanni Papini, Gioacchino Volpe, and Cesare Maria De Vecchi di Val Cismon.36 Almost from the beginning the Accademia was used for the regime’s


Intellectual and C ultural Life

political purposes. In February 1931, for example it presented a vote of thanks to Marshal Henri-Philippe Pétain for having said that Italian soldiers had defended their country after Caporetto without waiting for reinforcements from France and England; even Ugo Ojetti thought this gesture undignified and out of place for such an august cultural institu­ tion.37 On October 28, 1934, the third anniversary of the opening of the Exhibit (Mostra della Revoluzixme) celebrating the tenth anniversary of that date, the members of the Accademia stood guard in their dress uniforms. In anticipation of a rally on January 19, 1936, protesting sanctions by the League of Nations, the academicians were concerned over whether they should wear these uniforms or black shirts, since five of them were not party members.38 In the summer of 1940 they saw a “Leopardian” beauty in bombardment of London by German planes in the midst of anti-aircraft tracer shells/ The fact that even the Accademia lent its prestige to the politics of the regime in these ways made it not at all surprising that the Fascist Confederation of Professionals and Artists should do so more blatantly. The Confederation, run pretty much by the former journalist Cornelio Di Marzio, had funds to subsidize “worthy” artists, writers, and musicians, and controlled the distribution of the San Remo prizes.39 In addition, the members of the artists and writers branches were specifically asked to be present at the celebration of the “Birthday of Rome” in April, 1936, “in order to show the public the great and varied activities of the regime in the artistic and literary fields.” Di Marzio tried continually to foster activities of this type. In January, 1941, in a telegram thanking the Duce for the 5 million lire allotted to his organization for the year, Di Marzio as­ sured him that the members would “give their works, thoughts, and fervor to the fatherland in arms for the triumph of the Fascist revolution and of the new Italian culture that brings your ideas and your name to the world.”40 Alongside of overt propaganda of this type the regime tolerated certain periodicals that made it seem permissive and even liberal; this was particu­ larly true of those published by the Fascist intellectual Leo Longanesi. In competition with older periodicals of Italian official culture—Nuova an­ tologia and Illustrazione italiana—Longanesi founded his monthly review Vitaliano in 1926 and continued publishing it in Bologna until 1942. Just as Ojetti was a conservative, skeptical, ultrabourgeois representative of official culture, so Longanesi adopted an antibourgeois, pseudoradical (but also antiproletarian) stance within the established order. Unlike the editors of II Selvaggio, who were real radicals, Longanesi limited himself to incisive irony, somewhat along the lines of Punch or The New Yorker of the same era. Vitaliano also resembled these Anglo-Saxon publications in its luxuri­ ous format, facetious humor, and slick illustrations, though these were rather tum-of-the-century in tone. In addition to Vitaliano, Longanesi founded an even slicker weekly, called Omnibus, in 1937, in the new roto­ gravure format that was taking hold everywhere by then. Although its outlook was similar to that of Vitaliano, it was suppressed by the ministry


The FASCIST Experience

of popular culture two years later, probably because it reached a much wider audience. In 1940 Oggi took the place of Omnibus under the editor­ ship of Mario Pannunzio and Arrigo Benedetti. Its "opposition” to official culture and even to the regime was as problematical as that of its predeces­ sor, but it too was suppressed, in January, 1942. (It was revived after the war and is now one of the most popular weekly picture newspapers in Italy.) The main importance of all these periodicals was that they printed articles by known anti-Fascists like Alberto Moravia and Renato Poggioli, as well as all but the most conservative Fascist and philo-Fascist writers, thus lending an aura of cultural respectability to the regime. But it was the Corriere della Sera itself—particularly its third page— . that was most successful in linking the Italian intellectual community to the regime.41 From 1926 on, as its role as a news medium declined, its function as a cultural medium grew. Many writers preferred to see their signatures on articles in the Corriere than to receive most academic honors. And its third page had "the most impressive signatures,” including Corrado Alvaro, Giovanni Battista Angioletti, Antonio Baldini, Sem Benelli, Massimo Bontempelli, Emilio Cecchi, Giovanni Gentile, Pietro Pancrazi, Giovanni Papini, Giorgio Pasquale, Guido Piovene, Mario Praz, Filippo Sacchi, Gioacchino Volpe. It is not without interest that the three main prewar promoters of a new, modem culture—Giuseppe Prezzolini (b. 1882), Giovanni Papini (1881-1956), and Ardengo Soffici (1879-1964)—became conservative, second-rank figures in official Fascist culture. Prezzolini disappeared from the scene entirely, or so it seemed, moving to New York City in the late 1920s and becoming the head of the newly founded Casa Italiana at Colum­ bia University, much to the dismay of his liberal colleagues on Momingside Heights. Papini, the most vitriolic of the prewar literary revolutionaries, became converted to Catholicism at the end of the war and settled down in his native Florence, issuing periodic pronouncements against modem literature and art and, from the mid 1930s onward, generally serving the regime as a fixture—as a member of the Accademia, as a propagandist for racism, and, in 1942, as vice-president of a congress of European writers held in Weimar, Germany; in 1939 he published his Italia Mia, a two hundred-page propagandists "history” of the Italian genius in terms so exaggerated and simplistic that even some of his friends were embarrassed. Soffici, the most talented of the three and a painter as well as a poet, was also much more active in the official cülture of the regime. He had known Mussolini since 1914 and kept up his acquaintance with him throughout the Fascist period and was, in his own eyes, the regime’s poet laureate and oracle, as is evident in his correspondence with the Duce,42 Mussolini some­ times found him too zealous in wanting to purge the regime of all but the most ardent Fascists,43 but he did put him on a number of artistic com­ missions and finally had him appointed to the Accademia in May, 1939. But, like Papini, Soffici became conservative in his poetry; indeed his Elegia dellAmbra (1927) was neoclassical in style. And like Papini, he could produce quite appalling propaganda, as in the following "Ode to Mussolini,” reprinted in the venerable Nuova antologia, October 16, 1938:


Intellectual and C ultural Life

Augusta, cìnta di grazia allora L'Italia e di virtù splendenti, S'alzera alla nuova aurora Divino modulo ed astro alle genti. Si muoverà: e tu, fatale Sua scorta, con senno profondo Guidando il suo piè trionfale. Le ridarai l'impero del mondo. Italy, majestic, crowned With the grace of yore and resplendent in virtue. Will rise to the new dawn, A divine example and guiding star to all peoples. She will stir: and you [Mussolini], Chosen as fate's guardian, with deep wisdom Guiding her triumphal foot. Will restore the empire to the world.

As we saw in the last chapter, there was a strong trend toward provincialism in Florentine Fascist literary circles, and, as was often the case in other European countries, (Maurice Barrés in France, Paul de Lagarde in Germany) the proponents of provincialism were outspoken anti-Semites. They were anti-Semites because they identified Jews with cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitanism with what they disliked in modem, urban civilization. Not only the champions of Strapaese who wrote for It Selvaggio and It Bargello, but also the militant Catholics who wrote for It Frontespizio sharply criticized the review Solaria for its “Jewish” outlook. In an oft-quoted passage [from his Diario in pubblico] Elio Vittorini recalled his own collaboration with Solaria:u “They called us dirty Jews because we used to publish Jewish writers and because of all the good things we said about Kafka or Joyce. And they called us jackals. They called us hyenas. They called us ditchdiggers.” Many of the leading writers on Solaria did indeed view Jewish “internationalism” as a means of breaking through the provincial Italian atmosphere; the review’s studies of the Jewish aspects of Italo Svevo’s personality seemed to be directed toward this end.45 So the lines were clearly drawn; the provincialists and many Catholics criticized modern movements of all kinds, including those in literature and the arts. Frontespizio, for example, strongly opposed the “rational architecture” of Pagano and his school.46 On the other hand, the modernists, both nonFascist and Fascist, tended to be cosmopolitan and, if not pro-Jewish, at least ready to protest the persecution of Jews. In 1939, for example, Mas­ simo Bontempelli refused to accept the chair of Italian Literature at the University of Florence because its incumbent, Attilio Momigliano, had been forced to vacate it because he was a Jew. In retaliation, the government “suspended” Bontempelli from his post in the Accademia d'Italia. Of the little reviews that remained aloof from or opposed Fascist official culture in the late 1930s 11 Frontespizio was the most widely read47 and the least controversial. Founded in August 192*9 by Fascist and non-


The FASCIST Experience

Fascist Catholics and run for the first year by Papini, this review tried to combine religious and literary interests for an audience that was predom­ inantly nationalistic but not Fascist, concerned about high literary and aesthetic standards but opposed to the avant-garde, including the hermetic poets. The review's main quarrel with the regime was its dissemination of Gentile's ideas in the schools. Piero Bargellini, who ran II Frontespizio from 1931 until its demise in 1940, was (and still is) a militant Catholic, more orthodox than Papini, who campaigned vigorously against the neoidealist philosophies of both Gentile and Croce. Like Papini and Carlo Betocchi, the review's most incisive literary critic, Bargellini had been an interven­ tionist in 1915, and the attacks of all three on Croce were related to his former neutralist stand as well as to his personality and philosophy. Papini was particularly unfair to Gentile in reviewing his Philosophy of Art48 (which Mussolini liked so much) ; the review was petty and pedantic, citing mistakes in quotations but never talking about the point of the book, which is the theory of art. It was an ad hominem review of a major book by a literary pigmy. And of course, Papini lambasted Gentile for his “odd” views on Christianity. After 1937 Frontespizio faced increasing competition from other literary reviews of high quality, particularly Letteratura, Campo di Marte, and Giuseppe Bottai's Primato, whose appearance in 1940 coincided with the demise of Bargellini's review. During the last six years of the regime Bottai tried to promote modern artists and writers and give them a good deal more freedom of expression than his most intransigent Fascist col­ leagues were willing to accept. In addition to Primato, which will be dis­ cussed presently, Bottai had followed this policy in his review Critica Fascista since the early 1930s. As minister of education beginning in 1937 he was in a position to appoint people of “obvious note” (“chiara fama") to posts in universities and art and music academies without their having to go through the usual national competitions. Bargellini had cordial relations with him but refused to accept one of these posts,49 although many others did (see Chapter 3, note 80), including Alfonso Gatto, who was appointed to the faculty of the University of Bologna in the fall of 1939 after the demise of Campo di Marte and at a time when his anti-Fascist, if not his crypto-Communist, sympathies were well known. Alessandro Bonsanti, the director of Letteratura, also had good relations with Bottai, and though he paid his own way (because he was not a Fascist) from Florence to Rome when he was called to sit on literary advisory commissions, during the Second World War his name was put up as one of three candidates for a vacancy in the Accademia d’Italia.50 Letteratura was in some ways the successor of Solaria, particularly through Bonsanti, who had been co-editor of the latter review, but it repre­ sented a broader spectrum of Italian literary life and reached a wider audience. In addition to former Solariani its contributors included more conservative writers from Pegaso and Pan, as well as Frontespizio, and more radical ones, including the hermetic poets. Carlo Emilio Gadda's Cognizione del dolore was first published in installments in Letteratura in


Intellectual and Cultural Life

1938. This novel, recently translated as Acquainted with Grief, makes Gadda a precursor of Günter Grass and shows his promise as one of Italy’s foremost writers of the twentieth century. Because of when it was written its anti-Fascism is much more hidden than Grass’s anti-Nazism, and it is also more autobiographical, but its style and outlook are similar to those of The Tin Drum and The Dog Years. Letteratura published excerpts of Moravia’s Uepidemia, which was also implicitly critical of the regime and which appeared only a few years before Albert Camus’s The Plague. Most of the litterary works and essays that appeared in Letteratura stayed clear of open controversy: in this way Bonsanti was able to keep it going without interruption from 1937 to the summer of 1943. Not so Campo di Marte, which was the most "militant” of the new Florentine literary reviews and which lasted only from August, 1938, to August, 1939. Its co-directors and principal contributors, Vasco Pratolini and Alfonso Gatto, represented the true avant-garde in Italian literature in the form of neorealism and hermeticism. Pratolini concerned himself with the cultural policies of the regime. In the issue of August 15, 1938, he criticized it for giving prizes to poor novels with a propagandists message, referring specifically to the Biella Prize given to Gian Paolo Callegari’s La terra e il sangue. This criticism as such could have appeared in Critica Fascista, but Pratolini went on to say that Bolshevik propaganda literature was better at combining ideological orthodoxy with artistic merit. In the March 15, 1939, issue Pratolini commented favorably on Bottai’s Carta della Scuola, particularly its effort to "recognize the merits and needs of the workers.” In the October 15, 1938, issue Pratolini made a biting attack on Gentile and his philosophy, citing Ugo Spirito as a far more prefer­ able ideologue for the younger generation of Fascists. Although Gatto’s articles were all on art and literary criticism, we have already seen how he viewed his hermeticism not as a turning inward but rather as a first step toward grappling with social problems. Even so, it was the growing suspicion that he was already a Communist that caused the minister of popular culture to ban Campo di Marte exactly one year after it had first appeared. Whereas Campo di Marte and Letteratura tried to make art and litera­ ture autonomous from life in Fascist Italy, Primato, which Bottai published from 1940 to 1943, tried to relate them to that life. At first Bottai’s purpose seems to have been to spread his "revisionist” Fascist ideals into a broad intellectual community and to rescue Italian culture from strictly propagandistic uses.51 Primato sought and got the collaboration of the liveliest literary forces of the day, even to the point of publishing the more or less open expressions of dissatisfaction of leftwing Fascist dissidents. Whatever its original purpose may have been, its effect was to spread the best and latest examples of Italian high culture to a wider audience than any of its com­ petitors. The list of its contributors included dyed-in-the-wool anti-Fascists like the historian Luigi Salvatorelli, Pavese, Guttuso, and the critic Giaime Pintor, as well as Fascist stand-bys like Bontempelli and Volpicelli and "uncommitted” writers like Bonsanti. Certainly the more "intransigent”


The FASCIST Experience

Fascist periodicals condemned Bottai’s enterprise, as they had condemned all his others since the mid-ig20s but he was the minister of education and the only gerarca with any claim to speak authoritatively on cultural mat­ ters. Only the war and its demoralizing effects on the regime can explain the apparent anomaly of an “official” Fascist publication whose editor pro­ claimed that “. . . Fascism does not promulgate aesthetic rules . . . Fas­ cism does not want an art of the State.”52 Before 1940 many of the positions taken in Primato would have been considered subversive, though not necessarily intolerable. One of the most unusual aspects of Italian intellectual and cultural life during the late 1930s was the regime's toleration of semiunderground “revolutionary” polemics by young idealists in a number of their little re­ views, as long as these polemics did not openly threaten the existing order. This policy was the archetype of “repressive tolerance.” The unorthodox views expressed at the Littoriali and in certain periodicals of the GUF were mentioned in Chapter 5. Young zealots were able to use the myth of a recurring Fascist “revolution” to attack complacent bureaucrats, material­ istic bourgeois philistines and speculators, and even corrupt gerarchi below a certain level. Indeed, the party itself was engaged in its own antibourgeois campaign and Reform of Custom under the banner of the same myth, so that, on the one hand, the attacks of the young zealots could be used to reinforce its own propaganda, and, on the other hand, this propaganda could serve as a way to co-opt the less subversive of the zealots. Even the polemic against capitalism by admirers of Ugo Spirito could be used as a party weapon in dealing with industrialists who disapproved of the Duce9s foreign policy. But above all, these polemics served as a mere safety valve; the people involved exhausted themselves within its confines while the regime diverted other youthful energies and idealism toward imperialism and, in 1940, the “war of poor peoples” (“have-not” nations) against the ‘Western plutocracies.” An excellent example of one type of young leftwing Fascist “cultural revolutionary” was Berto Ricci, a Florentine populist and a major influence on his slightly younger contemporary Pratolini. In the September 18, 1927, issue of II Selvaggio, in one of his first articles, Ricci adopted the thenfashionable Strapaese stance against writers like Pirandello and Bontempelli. In II Bargello of March 9, 1930, he called the young avant-garde artists the “new pedants.” From 1931 to 1935 he published his own review, UUniversale, first as a weekly, then a fortnightly. In its first (January 3, 1931) issue Ricci proposed a new level of cultural encounter that would “transcend any remnants of nationalism” in the name of a universal need for common action to change the course of Italian history at a time when the most intelligent people were turning inward toward literary and aesthetic interests. Thereafter Ricci used UUniversale to express his unor­ thodox views on modern art as well as to make his call for social and political “renovation” more specific. Yet on the eve of the Ethiopian War he decided to stop publishing it (perhaps under official pressure) and to volunteer in the armed forces. He said in the last issue (August 25, 1935) :


Intellectual and C ultural Life

This journal ends when it has to end, when its desire for battle and greatness finds its magnificent recompense in the will of the Chief. We ask nothing else and we be­ lieve in nothing else. . . . Now, comrades, is no longer the time for printed paper; if yesterday a literary Italy seemed ridiculous, today to us poets it seems like the personification of the unreal.

On his return from Ethiopia, Ricci continued his efforts to transform Fas­ cism, while spending most of his time commuting to nearby Prato and teaching in the liceo there. Zangrandi insists that by 1940 Ricci was al­ ready on the “other side” but could not bring himself to an open break, that instead he again volunteered to fight in the armed forces in the hope— quickly fulfilled—that he would be killed.53 The Fascists, on the contrary, continue to treat him as a “martyr” to their cause. Whichever version is true, on the morrow of Italy’s entry into the Second World War Ricci wrote in Rivoluzione, the GUF fortnightly in Florence, that the war would bring about the Revolution that would sweep aside the “old world of rich and poor, of landowners and landless, of employers and employees.”54 Such language implied more than a mere revival of the Fascist “Revolu­ tion” of 1919-1922; it was closer to that of the revolutionary syndicalist interventionists in 1914-1915. In fact, what the most extreme leftwing Fascist dissidents wanted was what was to be called in a later age “the great proletarian cultural revolution.” The sociologist Gaetano Silvano Spinetti, who was one of these dissidents during the 1930s, says that they used Ugo Spirito’s idea of “the proprietary corporation” (jointly owned and run by management and workers) to bring Fascism closer to Communism and to overthrow official Fascist culture, Marxism, Croce’s liberalism, and the retrograde “Fascism” of Gentile.55 According to Spinetti—and we have seen corroboration in the example of Gianni Guizzardi—this line of think­ ing had even penetrated the school of Fascist mysticism by 1940.56 Already by July, 1936, it was being expressed in a tentative way by Zangrandi him­ self in his article, “Possibilità e limiti di un fascismo universale,” in the GUF fortnightly in Padua, Il Bò.57 In Milan, in 1938-1939, the fortnightly review Corrente di vita giovanile functioned as a kind of cultural “popular front” of anti-Fascists ranging from the liberal Catholic Carlo Bò to crypto-Communists like Alfonso Gatto and Renato Guttuso. The articles in Corrente openly demanded freedom of artistic expression and the right to criticize all aspects of the regime except the “infallibility” of the Duce himself. Fascist intellectual and cultural policies reflected the regime’s relative lack of dogmatism and its concern with creating an appearance of respect­ ability. There were no book-burnings and no attempts to create a purely Fascist science. Certain textbooks by Jewish authors were proscribed after 1938, but in general books and periodicals were withdrawn from circula­ tion because of their content, not because of the racial, class, or philo­ sophical charateristics of their authors. Starace and other gerarchi, as well as artistic zealots like Soffici, wanted a much more “totalitarian” stance and


The FASCIST Experience

made trouble when they could for intellectual and cultural enemies of the regime, whereas Mussolini and his ministers, particularly Bottai, were re­ latively tolerant and eclectic. The contrast was evident in the attitude of the two groups toward the Enciclopedia: the gerarchi attacked it for har­ boring anti-Fascist professors; Mussolini ordered these attacks to stop be­ cause they damaged the prestige of the Enciclopedia, which was indeed the outstanding cultural product of the Fascist period. And Bottai’s patronage of avant-garde writers and artists had no parallel in Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia. The main parallel was in co-opting and subsidizing lesser writers and artists for propaganda work. Outward conformity was the price that most Italian scholars, writers, and artists had to pay in order to go about their professional activities unmolested. For many this was a small price, particularly since they could disagree with the government on specific issues as long as they paid lipservice to its wisdom. Others compensated for their shame and anguish by ridiculing the gerarchi—particularly Starace and Ciano—in private. Gossip and funny stories ( barzellette) became their main form of “resistance” in the late 1930s, though publicly they still conformed. The real “double game,” however, was played by younger men like Zangrandi and Gatto, whose “resistance” was to go beyond funny stories. Despite the outward conformity of many, the majority of Italy’s lead­ ing scholars, writers, and artists were always anti-Fascists “at heart.” This kind of generalization is, of course, impossible to document, aside from the fact that they all say so now. In any case, such an attitude had little effect on youngsters looking for models and guidance, if it was kept secret. The example of Pirandello was probably more typical than that of Croce, who, once he became an anti-Fascist, was able to make his feelings known with relative impunity. Other anti-Fascist intellectuals who did not choose to emigrate suffered imprisonment and exile. The Fascist regime was not as brutal and arbitrary toward nonconformists as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, but “repressive tolerance” is a poor compensation for the loss of real intellectual and cultural freedom, and this was the main reason that the regime never won the hearts of its most sensitive thinkers and artists.

NOTES 1. Memorandum of June 1928, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 377, fase. “OppositoriSenatori.” 2. Report to Mussolini, 19 May 1931, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 55, H/R, Toscanini Arturo, sottofasc. 3, “Manifestazioni e incidenti.” 3. Leo Ferrerò, Diario di un privilegiato sotto il fascismo, p. 82. 4. A copy of this letter is in Minculpop, Atti Diversi, busta 155, fase, io , “Ufficio Stampa del Capo del Governo—varie.” The letter was written on July 16, 1933» and, to show his allegiance to the regime, Benelli added the Fascist year, A. XI. 5. Ibid., Atti, busta 84, fase. 3, sottofasc. “revisione dei libri.” 6. The Manifesto of Fascist Intellectuals and the Croce Manifesto that followed


Intellectual and Cultural Life it are cited, with lists of names and detailed comment, in Emilio R. Papa. Storia di due manifesti: Il fascismo e la cultura italiana (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1958). 7. Ibid., p. 48. 8. In Fascismo e antifascismo, p. 312. 9. “Mie ultime volontà da rispettare,” in Saggi, poesie e scritti vari (Milan: Mondadori, i960), p. 1249. 10. Antonio Gramsci, Il materialismo storico e la filosofia di Benedetto Croce (Turin: Einaudi, 1948), p. 200. 11. Arnaldo Momigliano, “Appunti su F. Chabod storico/* Rivista storica italiana, 72 (i9 6 0 ): 644. 12. From an interview in the Giornale dyItalia in July 1924, reprinted in Pagine sparse, 2, pp. 376-379* 13. For a good survey of Italian philosophy in the twentieth century, see Eugenio Garin, Cronache di filosofia italiana, 1900-1943> 2 vols. (Bari: Laterza, 1966). 14. Copy of a police report of 14 March, 1930 regarding Gentile’s speech at Bologna two days earlier, Seg. Part, del Duce, 7R, Sen. Prof. Giovanni Gentile, sottofasc. I. 15. Report of 25 June, i934> ibid. 16. Copy of Mussolini’s letter to Gentile, 31 August, 1931, ibid. 17. Copy of Mussolini’s letter to De Vecchi, 16 June, 1936, ibid. 18. Augusto Del Noce, “Idee per l’interpretazione del fascismo,” in Casucci, II fascismo: antologia di scritti critici, p. 381. 19. Copy of Mussolini’s telegram to Castelli, July 17, 1927, Seg. Part, del Duce, Repubblica Sociale Italiana, busta 9, fase. 77/R, Croce Benedetto. All the references to police reports on Croce’s activities in this section are from this file unless noted otherwise. As is well known Croce was aware of the fact that his “friend” Aldo Romano (who later wrote a three-volume history of Italian socialism) was an OVRA informer. The names of most police informers under Fascism were later published in the Gazzetta ufficiale della Repubblica italiana. Supplemento ordinario, no. 145, 2 July, 1946. 20. Croce republished the arride in 1953 in II Mondo; it was reprinted in Leone Ginzburg, Scritti (Turin: Einaudi, 1965). 21. This information was given by the Casa Editrice Laterza to Renzo De Felice; see his Mussolini il fascista, 2; p. 462. 22. Storia d*Italia dal 1871 al 1915, 3rd ed., (Bari: Laterza, 1928), pp. 225-226. 23. Italia in cammino (Milan: Treves, 1928), pp. 79-80. 24. This defrocked, ex-revolutionary priest worked regularly at the Rome office of the Bolognese daily II Resto di Carlino and wrote from time to time in Critica Fascista. 25. An excellent survey of Crocean scholarly work in history and the humanities is the Festschrift for Croce, edited by Carlo Antoni and Raffaele Mattioli, Cinquantanni di vita intelletuale italiana, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1966). 26. Mario Pomilio, in La generazione degli anni diffìcili, pp. 210-212. 27. Piero Calamandrei, Costruire la democrazia: Premesse alla costituente (Flor­ ence: Edizioni U—n.d., but postwar), p. 55. 28. Eugenio Garin, La cultura italiana (Bari: Laterza, 1963)» PP* 229-230. 29. Letter to Mussolini, 25 November, 1932, thanking him for supporting his recommendation of one of his own students for a post at the University of Messina, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 52, fase. H/R, Einaudi, Luigi. Other pertinent items in this file include a telegram from the prefect of Turin, 16 June, 1928, requesting the re­ moval of Einaudi, and a telegram from Mussolini to Minister of Education Ercole, 2 July, 1933, asking that Einaudi and Ruffini resign from their posts on a local history association. 30. Copy of a P.S. report of March 9, 1929, ibid., busta 25* fase. 242/R, Castellino, on. Prof. Niccolò; all other letters mentioned in this paragraph are from this file. 31. Excerpts from one such speech are given in II Ponte, VIII, no. 10 (October 1952), 1418-1419.


The FASCIST Experience 32. Garin, Cronache di filosofia italiana, 1, p. 137L 33. Francesco Sapori, L'arte e il Duce (Milan: Mondadori, 193a), p. 1. 34. In addition to being president of Alfa Romeo, the second largest automobile manufacturer in Italy, Ojetti was on the boards of directors of a number of other big companies. It will be recalled that he had also been the director of the Corriere della Sera in 1926 and 1927. 35. He opposed Margherita Sarfatti’s sponsorship of avant-garde art, particularly the Novecento movement, and voted against the architectural plan for the Florence railroad station. See I taccuini, pp. 204-205, 417-418, 491. My characterization of Ojetti comes mainly from his own words in these “notebooks.” 36. Memos from Borletti, 20 January, 1929, and from the Consolidated Edison representative, 14 March, 1929, Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 154/R, Accademia d'Italia. Others who had been members of the Accademia but who were dead by 1939 included Luigi Pirandello, Ottorino Respighi, Gabriele D'Annunzio, and Guglielmo Marconi. 37. Note from Ojetti to Mussolini, 21 February, 1931, Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 154/R, Accademia d'Italia. 38. Note from Arturo Marpicati, secretary of the Accademia, to Mussolini, 7 January, 1936, ibid. 39. Report prepared by Di Marzio in 1937 (ACS. Carteggi di Personalità, Di Marzio, Cornelio, pacco 12, busta 4 ) indicating the existence of 1.5 million lire (mainly from copyright fees) for needy artists and musicians and designating the winners at the forthcoming San Remo prize festival in sculpture, music, and painting. The 200,000 lire in prize money was a “gift” from the commune of San Remo, which got the money from its gambling casino (Seg. Part, del Duce, fase. 154/R, Accademia d'Italia, undated memorandum from some time in 1936). For Di Marzio’s telegram of 1936, see Carteggi, Di Marzio, pacco 1, circolare no. 845/S, 18 Aprii, 1936. 40. Ibid., pacco 18, draft of telegram to Mussolini, 19 January, 1941. 41. Piero Melograni, ed., Corriere della Sera (1919-1943), pp. lxxvi-lxxvii. 42. Letter to Mussolini, 16 January, 1927, Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 9, 208/R, Ardengo Soffici. 43. Letter from Mussolini to Bottai, 6 January, 1928, ibid. 44. (Milan: Bompiani, 1957)» P- 174 45. This was the position of the young critic Giacomo Debenedetti in a letter to the review's editor, Alberto Carocci, in 1929 (no. 3-4). 46. In a series of articles by Piero Bargellini in the May, August, September, and October, 1933, issues. 47. In 1937 its sales jumped from 8,000 to 16,000, according to Carlo Betocchi, “Il Frontespizio,” in L'Otto-Novecento (Florence: Sansoni, 1957), p. 352. 48. Il Frontespizio, 3, no. 3 (March 1931). 49. Personal interview, 9 July, 1966, in Florence. 50. Personal interview, 8 July, 1966, in Florence. 51. Giuseppe Bottai, Scritti, ed. Roberto Bartolozzi and Riccardo del Giudice (Bologna: Cappelli, 1965)» PP- 293-295; on the other hand, Zangrandi claims (op. cit., pp. 390-391 ) that Bottai wanted to use Primato as a “personal political platform” with which to “succeed” Mussolini. 52. Bottai, in a speech inaugurating the occasion of the Bergamo Prize for 1941, Primato, 2, no. 19 (1 October, 1941). 53- Op. cit., p. 45554. Rivoluzione, 1, no. 10 (28 June, 1940). 55. Gaetano Silvano Spinetti, Cultura impegnata e crisi di civiltà (Rome: Edi­ zioni di “Solidarismo,” 1961), p. 63. 56. Id., Difesa di una generazione (Rome: O.E.T. Edizioni Polilibraria, 1948), P- 33 . 57. In his supposedly anti-Communist II comuniSmo nel conflitto spagnolo (Flor­ ence: Le Monnier, 1939)» Zangrandi managed to hint that Communism had often had an important historical function in,critical times.


11 War and Resistance


I^Ê v^FT E ß 1939 the Fascist regime lost favor among most Italians but continued to have considerable influence on their lives. Even unpopular wars have a way of forcing people to work together, to hate the enemy, and to believe that their government’s actions are right. Only on July 25, 1943, after Italian soil had been invaded, did the majority of the Fascist Grand Council vote to dump Mussolini and to abandon the “false myth” of a “Fascist war,” which had “accelerated the rupture between the Nation and Fascism.”1 Until then the anti-Fascist Resistance had made no real headway, and it got going only when a signifi­ cant number of young Fascists completed their ‘long journey” of disen­ chantment with the regime. Meanwhile, anti-Semitism was increasingly taken for granted and its effects accepted as legal; only after the Nazis took over was this trend reversed. Yet during the last two years of the war the impact of Fascism continued to be felt, not only through the exactions of the puppet regime in the north but also as a stimulus to the development of the Resistance into a mass movement. Throughout 1939 the government was receiving reports from the provinces of discontent building up against both its economic and foreign policies. The occupation of Albania in April hardly offset Italy’s wasted effort on the side of the Spanish Nationalists or Germany’s usurpation of Italian influence in the Danubian countries. And growing production in the war industries did not alleviate the hardships caused by rising food prices and higher payroll deductions for social security benefits. During the spring and summer complaints over these issues combined increasingly with antiwar feelings.2 The Rome-Berlin Axis was never popular, and the overwhelming majority of Italians dreaded going to war on the side of Germany, even after her spectacular defeat of Poland.3 The most out­ spoken critics of Mussolini’s aggressive foreign policy were the industrial workers in the northern cities, despite the regime’s pleas for forbearance.4 But anti-German feeling was not restricted to any one class or region and was not uncommon even among stanch Fascists. Signs of division within the regime’s leadership over foreign policy were not limited to reports from the provinces. The conciliatory, proWestern orientation of cabinet ministers like Ciano and Grandi was almost


The FASCIST Experience

as well known as Mussolini’s fascination with Germany. Oddly enough, however, in November and December, 1939, Ciano used his influence to bring some of the most disreputable and bellicose ex-squadristi into the cabinet and the party leadership, including Renato Ricci as minister of corporations, Adelchi Serena as minister of public works, Alessandro Pavolini as minister of popular culture, and Ettore Muti as party secretary replacing Starace. Because of the ambiguous character of Italy’s “non­ belligerency” in the winter of 1939-1940, different shades of opinion were able to find expression even in the Fascist press. In fact, the party appeared increasingly like an unmanageable monster whose limbs no longer re­ sponded to its central organs of control, especially after its membership of over 3,500,000 was swelled by almost 750,000 servicemen between Decem­ ber, 1939, and March, 1940.5 Mussolini himself was disturbed by these developments and cautioned the ministry of popular culture to tighten its censorship of the press and radio in order to eliminate pro-Western and defeatist innuendoes.6 But nothing the government or the party did could make the majority of the Italians want to enter the Second World War on the side of Germany. In early 1940 many educated middle-class people and businessmen con­ tinued to believe that the Western Allies would win because of their superior wealth.7 Factory owners complained about the lack of coal due to the English blockade against German shipping and were not taken in by news­ paper stories about an agreement whereby Germany would send Italy 1,500 carloads of coal a day by rail.8 Port cities like Genoa and Trieste, hard hit by declining business in shipping and steep increases in local taxes, were particulary tense about the prospect of further economic sacrifices in a war on Germany’s side and were among the most defeatist areas of Italy;9 even the port of Taranto, which benefited from naval operations and merchant shipping to the Empire in Africa and Albania, experienced fre­ quent labor unrest.10 In Lombardy and other northern provinces many peasant proprietors and agricultural laborers complained about increased taxes and ration cards imposed by a regime that was leading them into an unwanted war.11 In Milan many readers of the Popolo d'Italia thought it outlandish of that daily to print accusations about Polish atrocities against the conquering Germans.12 In late April, 1940, in a movie house in the center of that city, the audience applauded Chamberlain and hissed Hitler, and throughout April and May there were reports of anti-German feelings in Milan and Turin and of a desire for Italy’s continued neutrality.13 Similar reports from Rome mentioned the increasingly anti-German feelings of most people, except for university students.14 Indeed, aside from industrialists with war contracts, the main enthu­ siasts for Italian intervention seem to have been students. Some of them were so conditioned to demonstrating against England and France that they were apparently eager for a showdown with those countries.15 Others viewed Italy’s entry into the war as the next step after the ouster of Starace in the revival of the original spirit of the Fascist revolution.16 Even allowing for the censorship and regimentation to which they were subjected, the naïveté of many of Italy’s university students in 1940 seems incredible


W ar and Resistance

today. Certainly Mussolini did not tell them then that the war would revive the revolutionary spirit of 1915 or 1919; on the contrary, he wanted war as a means of tightening his hold on the country and preserving the status quo, along with maintaining Italy’s place among the great powers. Yet a militant minority of students and Fascist leftwing intellectuals sin­ cerely believed that the war would make a clean sweep of decadence and conformism and allow them to build a better, more modem world. Shades of 1914 and 1915I From Mussolini’s declaration of war against Britain and France on June 10,1940, to his first setbacks in Greece five months later, some Italians temporarily shared his hopes for cheap victories and territorial gains at the expense of the western democracies. In Milan, for example, even some workers who had opposed the war were cheered by Italian military successes against the British in Egypt and East Africa in early August, only to lose heart after the first British air raids on their own city.17 Other workers and employees in Milan and Turin quickly gave up their gratuitous hopes for Nice and Corsica and were so open in their pro-French feelings in the summer of 1940 that the Fascist party and press launched a big counter­ campaign against these feelings.18 Generally speaking, the Italians were half-hearted in their desire to teach other nations a lesson and gain lands at their expense, and they were certainly unwilling to make any new sacrifices to achieve these goals. They were particularly apprehensive over the signing of the Tripartite Pact on September 27 with Germany and Japan because of its avowedly imperialistic purposes.19 Mussolini’s desire to extend his influence in the Balkans from Albania into Greece was heightened by Hitler’s occupation of Rumanian territory two weeks later. Unfortunately for all Italians concerned, this enterprise was undertaken at a time of partial demobilization and with little planning for Greek resist­ ance. On November 8, little more than a week after their invasion began, they had to go on the defensive. The dismal failure of the "Fascist war” was completed a month later by the beginning of the British Eighth Army’s offensive against Libya. From early 1941 onward Italy’s military effort was subordinated to that of Germany. It was Hitler who, in February, sent an armored force to bolster Italian resistance in Libya; it was Hitler who, in April, invaded Greece and Yugoslavia, giving the Italians much of the burden of occupying and pacifying those countries with troops badly needed in North Africa. On the other hand, Britain was able to conquer all of Italy’s East African Empire in time to transfer most of her troops from there to meet the German-Italian offensive in Cyrenaica, under the overall command of Gen­ eral Erwin Rommel, by midsummer. Already deeply concerned over Ger­ man imperialism in Italy’s spheres of influence in the Balkans and North Africa, Mussolini blithely declared war on the Soviet Union on the side of Germany on June 26 and on the United States on the side of Japan on December 11. Apparently he still believed that only by bearing its part of the military burden could Italy hope to share in the spoils. Thus he worked hard to persuade Hitler to let Italian troops replace Germans on leave from the Russian Front. According to the entry of September 22 in Ciano’s


The FASCIST Experience

Diary, he also believed, mistakenly, that the uneasiness of the Italian people was caused by the country’s insufficient participation on that front. Ciano himself noted that “the name of the uneasiness that disturbs our people is lack of bread, fats, eggs, etc.” On the home front the first defeats in Greece and Libya had begun to demoralize those Italians who were already suffering economic hardships, and this demoralization and these hardships grew thereafter. Even before the invasion of Greece almost 8 percent of the work force in Milan province was unemployed, and the figure was 10 percent in Genoa province.20 In late 1940 there were demonstrations against the government and the Fascist unions for failing to provide all the social-security benefits and wage increases they had promised; these demonstrations occurred among rural workers as well as urban ones.21 Even the film extras at Cinecittà marched on the head office to demand wages they had been promised and had to be dispersed by the police; in this case the protest was so effective (perhaps actors were more convincing in the role of strikers than ordinary workers) that the wages were paid, even though the work on the film involved had been halted.22 By the summer of 1941 reports of unrest in the provinces were coming from the federali themselves, particularly regarding the inade­ quacies of the rationing system and the distribution of family allowances.23 On the purely political level the party and the regime began to lose their internal unity. On November 26, 1940, Ciano noted semifacetiously in his Diary that the attendants at the Palazzo Venezia had to put rival gerarchi waiting to see the Duce in different rooms in order to avoid a freefor-all fist-fight. Mussolini was especially irritated by jurisdictional disputes among his younger cabinet ministers and their demands that he intervene directly on their behalf.24 In January, 1941, he vented his wrath on both his ministers and the gerarchi by forcing them to do turns at the front, a policy .that led to much administrative confusion at home. Even poor Starace, after being dismissed in May without reason from his post as head of the Militia, was unable to get another one from the Duce he had served so faithfully.25 Ettore Muti, his replacement as party secretary, had proved totally inept and was replaced by Adelchi Serena in October, 1940. But Serena lasted only until December, 1941, when he was replaced by an unknown twenty-eight-year-old former law student named Aldo Vidussoni. Under these incompetent leaders the national party lost what little cohesive­ ness it still had, while on the local level the old rivalry between the party and civil authorities reasserted itself, despite the war, with the police and the federali accusing one another of helping themselves to scarce rationed items before distributing them.26 On the other hand, rank-and-file party members, along with the public at large, complained about the availability of black-market luxuries to favored gerarchi.27 In no other belligerent country did so many people lack confidence in their government so early in the war as in Fascist Italy. From the very beginning its propaganda struck a sour note, for Mussolini’s justification for entering the war, repeated in the press and on the radio,28 was that Italy was a poor country that had to vindicate itself against the humiliations inflicted on it by the rich countries. If this was still so after over seventeen


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years of Fascism and four years of the “restoration of the Empire.” then the regime that was dragging the country into the Second World War against its will had little indeed to show for itself. Furthermore, images of the British as condescending tourists or of their country as a modem Carthage could not make the majority of Italians hate them the way the Germans hated the Russians or the Americans the Japanese.29 Nor were the regime’s efforts to convince the Italians that they were a militaristic people at all successful. In no other belligerent country was this line considered necessary; even the Germans had better reasons for fighting than to convince themselves of their military prowess and their ability to take punishment.30 And nowhere else did so many people listen to enemy radio broadcasts so early in the war in order to find out how their own fighting forces were faring;81 so many Italians were listening to reports from London by October, 1940, that the government increased its surveillance and imposed severer penalties on those who got caught. The one line of Fascist wartime propaganda that got some response, albeit a relatively small one, was anti-Semitism. After resisting this policy in 1938 and 1939 many Italians came to accept it as part of the Fascist “system.” Some ousted local Fascist leaders, in turn, exhibited excessive zeal in beating up Jews and defacing synagogues in the hope of showing up the current leaders and getting back into power.32 Most important, how­ ever, was an understandable, though regrettable, tendency of a significant number of Italians to see the Jews in their midst as partly responsible for their own hardships and frustrations.33 The government encouraged this tendency by sponsoring five radio talks in October, 1941, on “The Protocols of Zion,” “Judaism against Western Civilization,” “Judaism against Rome,” ‘The Jewish International,” and, perhaps most significantly, “Judaism wanted this War.”34 Meanwhile, Farinacci and other party leaders urged the government to take more drastic measures against the Jews as a way of diverting discontent from the regime itself.35 Although the clergy, like most Italians, gave lip-service to the nation’s war effort, the church’s disapproval of anti-Semitism and, by extension, of Nazism, continued to haunt many Catholics. As early as September, 1940, police reports complained of anti-Nazi propaganda in Catholic circles, particularly in the publications of the Azione Cattolica,36 Whereas in March, 1943, the bishop of Grosseto, still repeating the government’s words, told the farmers of his region to produce more wheat for the soldiers at the front,37 two years earlier the Archbishop of Salerno combined a lukewarm appeal to support “our men, who, obeying legitimate authority, are fighting on land, at sea, and in the air,” with a biblical reference to the “alliance and friendship of the Spartans for the Jewish people.”38 In general, the clergy, as always, preached obedience to the government while disclaiming any responsibility for seeing that its rules were observed, particularly re­ garding the home front.89 Most Catholics probably obeyed the rules to a greater extent than non-Catholics; otherwise their attitudes toward the war seem to have differed little from those of other Italians. Until 1943 Italy was physically untouched by the war, except for a few bombings, but the home front suffered growing hardships. Unable to pay


The FASCIST Experience

its bills, even with increased taxes, the government printed more paper money, thus driving prices up faster than wages and family allowances. Electric power had to be cut back not only for industrial and domestic users but even in the lighting of the streets of Rome on moonlit nights beginning in February, 1942; four months later, in another effort to conserve elec­ tricity, the government forbade the sending of all but the most urgent tele­ grams. Almost all consumer goods were in short supply, and even essential services, such as public transport, were limited owing to shortages of electricity and fuel. Food shortages affected the most people in the severest ways. Even those who could afford to eat in restaurants could not find meat in them on the week-ends, and in October, 1942, the use of milk in public cafes was restricted to the cappuccino. After the Allies occupied Algeria a month later their bombers intensified their raids on Italian cities and created a major problem of dealing with the victims, as well as in main­ taining morale and discipline. These problems were particularly acute in Turin, where many state employees deserted their posts,40 and in March, 1943, the workers at Fiat launched the most effective strike the country had seen in almost twenty years. By 1943 the military defeats in the Soviet Union and North Africa, plus the crumbling of the home front, sounded the death-knell for Fascism. The cultural efforts of the regime in education and the arts could no longer be funded, and it had to stop the construction of the Royal Universal Ex­ position (EUR), to be held in 1942 in a then-suburb of Rome as an inter­ national advertisement of its achievements during twenty years. Mussolini himself frequently lamented the party’s inability to create a Fascist con­ sciousness in the majority of Italians and compared their performance in the war unfavorably to that of the Russians.41 In a speech to the party’s directorate in early March he complained that young Italian men and women in some northern cities were copying the latest clothing styles of London and New York, having read in their own newspapers (which should not have published such items) that youngsters in Paris were doing so and disregarding the fact that, for the French this was at least an act of patriotism.42 In an effort to breathe new life into his faltering regime, Mussolini initiated his last “changing of the guard” in his cabinet in Feb­ ruary, 1943; particularly noteworthy was his dropping of Ciano, Grandi, and Bottai. Perhaps more important than these cabinet changes were the replacement, in mid-April, of Bocchini’s successor as chief of police. Car­ mine Senise, by the ultra-Fascist prefect Renzo Chierici, and the replace­ ment of young Vidussoni as party secretary by the hard-line ex-squadrista Carlo Scorza. But these changes could not halt the regime’s complete collapse. Before turning to the fall of Mussolini and the occupation of most of Italy by the Germans we should note that the members of Italy’s armed forces performed better than the government, the party, and the civilian population. The navy, which had the best esprit de corps and the most up-to-date equipment, fought particularly well against the might of the British in the Mediterranean but was unable to destroy their base at Malta, from which they constantly harassed Axis supply lines to North Africa.


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During the summer and fall of 1940 the Italian air force was able to raid Alexandria and Suez but had insufficient strength to continue its offensive after the British reinforced their position in Egypt. In contrast to their poor showing in Greece, Italy’s soldiers fought effectively, despite inadequate equipment and leadership, in Libya and on the Russian front. Even in the disastrous defeat of the expeditionary force in the Volga region in January, 1943 (over 100,000 casualties) there were many acts of bravery: the dogged rear-guard battles fought by the Alpine troops during their retreat gave the lie to sweeping generalizations about the low morale and poor military caliber of the Italian soldier. Three months later Italian troops valiantly defended Tunisia’s southern front against the advancing British Eighth Army, now commanded by General Bernard Montgomery, knowing full well that they could not win and that they were only delaying the Allied attack on southern Europe. The first Allied landings in Sicily on July 10, 1943, precipitated the downfall of Mussolini and the Fascist regime fifteen days later, but the ease with which the coup d'état was executed highlighted the weaknesses of the man and the system it overthrew. One of these weaknesses was the fact that high-ranking royal agents like minister of the royal household Duke Pietro Acquarone, and military leaders like chief of the general staff General Vittorio Ambrosio and Marshal Pietro Badoglio, could help engineer Mussolini’s ouster by the king with no interference from the police. (In fact. Carmine Senise, who had been removed as chief of police in April, was part of the plot and was designated to replace Chierici on July 25. Chierici put himself at the disposition of his successor, who then seized control of the telephone communications connecting all government and party offices and helped bring a quick transition to military rule.)48 Another weakness was the loss of faith in the regime’s ability to continue the war effort by many Fascist leaders themselves, including the two living quadrimvirs of the March on Rome—De Bono and De Vecchi—as well as Bottai, Ciano, Rossoni, and the other fourteen members of the Grand Council who, on the morning of July 25, voted for the Grandi resolution calling on the king to take control of the armed forces and, implicitly, to dismiss Mussolini. Some apologists for the Duce blame him for calling the meeting of the Grand Council in the first place (allegedly to gain its backing in asking Hitler to allow him to make a separate peace), others for not reasserting his au­ thority over its objections to his policies. (After all, Hitler was still making and breaking top Nazi leaders "when the Third Reich held sway only over a few heaps of rubble and a bunker twenty-five feet below ground in the center of Berlin.”)44 Not even the Militia lifted a finger to prevent the palace revolution that overthrew Mussolini and signaled its own imminent demise;45 its head, Enzo Galbiati, contented himself with voting with six other loyal Fascists against the Grandi resolution. The supreme irony of this resolution was its call "to restore immediately all the functions of the State by attributing to the Crown, the Grand Council, the Government, Parliament, and the Corporations the duties and responsibilities established by our statutory and constitutional laws.” In effect, the majority of the top


The FASCIST Experience

Fascist leaders voted to restore the regime they had set out to destroy twenty years earlier, hoping to preserve some of the more conservative Fascist institutions but resigned to the demise of Fascism as such. On July 26, the morning after the king dismissed Mussolini and ap­ pointed Badoglio to succeed him, Italians throughout the country poured into the streets to celebrate the fall of Fascism, while most Fascist leaders went into hiding or exile. Newspapers like the Corriere della Sera and the Giornale d’Italia quickly divested themselves of their Fascist editors and hailed the return of liberty; underground papers came into the open and demanded immediate peace. Although there were isolated acts of violence against Fascists who had not shed their uniforms soon enough, the general atmosphere was one of exultation and hope for an early end to the war; there were also a number of work stoppages sparked by the mistaken rumor that it had actually ended. But the seventy-two-year-old Badoglio and the seventy-four-year-old Vittorio Emanuele III had no plan for coordinating the fall of Mussolini from power with Italy's withdrawal from the war. They were especially fearful of what the Germans might do before they had the chance to bargain secretly with the Allies, and it was to confuse the Germans that Badoglio announced that the war would continue in accord­ ance with Italy's pledged word. Meanwhile, at home, on July 27, General Mario Boatta, the new chief of the army general staff, announced that soldiers and police would shoot anyone disturbing the public order. (Three demonstrators had already been shot in Bari on July 26, and a worker was killed, albeit accidentally, in a Florence two days later.)46 This government repression, plus the restraining influence of the moderate wing of the opposition, prevented the more militant anti-Fascists from tak­ ing matters into their own hands. A day later Badoglio further restricted freedom of expression by allowing the old ministry of popular culture to continue censoring the press. The king and Badoglio replaced Fascism with a royal-military dictator­ ship. Badoglio’s cabinet ministers came exclusively from the upper ranks of the military, the civil service, and the magistracy, with no representation from the underground, anti-Fascist parties. Indeed, in its first meeting, on July 27, the new cabinet forbade all political parties to function publicly for the duration of the war. It specifically dissolved the Fascist party and its subsidiary organizations as well as the Grand Council, the Special Tribunal, and the Chamber of Fasci and Corporations. Instead of immediately abolish­ ing the Militia, it incorporated it into the regular armed forces. Certain categories of political prisoners were freed, and laws discriminating against bachelors were abrogated. Although the new government did not dare annul anti-Semitic decrees because of the presence of the Germans, Bado­ glio promised not to enforce them. Thus the “de-Fascistization” of Italian life consisted mainly of the removal of the former regime's leaders and outward symbols. Badoglio spent the forty-five days between the fall of Mussolini and the armistice with the Allies trying to avoid an uncondi­ tional surrender to them, a German seizure of most of the peninsula, and the discrediting of the monarchy. But he proceeded in so devious and con­ spiratorial a way that nobody except the king trusted him, and in the end


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he failed in all three endeavors. By the time the armistice (in effect an unconditional surrender) was announced on September 8, the Germans had occupied most of the peninsula, and the king and his family were pre­ paring their ignominious flight from Rome to the south, leaving no orders for the civil or military authorities in the capital. In view of his lifelong devotion to his military career Badoglio’s sacri­ fice of the army to his secret negotiations for an armistice was particularly reprehensible. During his "forty-five days” he deliberately sent ambiguous orders to his field commanders in the vain hope of confusing the Germans and he had no plan for using Italy’s armed forces against them once the armistice was achieved. On September 9 in Italy itself many soldiers sold army goods for civilian clothes in order to return home undetected by the Germans, though a few units fought them before surrendering. Outside of Italy, however, over half a million Italian occupation forces found them­ selves caught between the hatred of the local citizenry and the contempt of the Germans. In Corsica some of them joined the forces of General De Gaulle and the local resistance in driving out the Germans a month later. But the bulk of the Italian troops in the Balkans were sent to internment camps in Germany where, unlike their comrades captured in North Africa by the Allies, they were given few of the basic rights of prisoners of war and where thousands of them died of hunger and want. As the chief victims of Germany’s wrath against its treacherous ally these Italian prisoners were particularly bitter toward the Fascist war of aggression. Meanwhile, on September 10, 1943, the German supreme command con­ temptuously announced: 'The Italian armed forces no longer exist.” Since the nascent Resistance forces were in no position to take their place, Italy was completely at the mercy of foreign occupying powers. Between the time of the armistice and the installation of Mussolini’s puppet government a t Salò, near Verona, three weeks later, the Italian front had become stabilized along the Gustav lin e, north of Naples. Hereafter we shall be concerned only with what happened in those parts of Italy still under effective German occupation and nominal neo-Fascist rule. In the territories they gradually liberated (roughly the central third of the country) during the next twenty months, the Allies set up their own control commissions and military government everywhere except in the southeastern provinces (popularly known as the "kingdom of the south”) and encouraged a faster pace of "de-Fascistization” than Badoglio himself wanted. Hence, the Fascist experience was over in the liberated territories. It was in the unliberated territories that the inhabitants suffered a disas­ trous extension of that experience in the form of brutal Nazi occupation policies and an expanding civil war between the armed forces of the "Republic of Salò” and those of the anti-Fascist Resistance. The dependency of Mussolini’s RSI (Repubblica Sociale Italiana) upon the Germans was complete from the beginning.47 On September 9 the first proclamation of a new Fascist government had been issued from Hitler’s field headquarters in East Prussia by a group of ex-gerarchi who had fled there and which was headed by Roberto Farinacci, Alessandro Pavolini, and Vittorio Mussolini. Then, on September ia , Mussolini was


The FASCIST Experience

rescued from his mountain confinement by a German plane and whisked off to join the others. He named Pavolini party secretary and Renato Ricci head of the Militia and, on September 23, in a radio broadcast from Munich he announced the formation of his new government, in which he kept the ministry of foreign affairs for himself and appointed Guido Buffarini-Guidi to head the ministry of the interior and Fernando Mezzasoma the ministry of popular culture. These latter two, along with Pavolini, constituted his inner circle during the next twenty months. When the new government returned to Italy, the Germans insisted that it stay in the north (where its ministries were scattered in several cities) rather than move back to Rome, thus emphasizing its wartime and provisional character. Furthermore, not only was it anathema to the monarchy, but the Vatican also had nothing to do with it, recognizing only the Kingdom of Italy. The RSI, in turn, repudiated the “traitorous” monarchy and those Fascists who had voted for the Grandi resolution on July 25; five of the six who were caught and tried at Verona, including De Bono and Ciano, on January 8, 1944, were to be executed three days later. Although the reconstituted Fascist Republican party claimed 250,000 members at its first national congress at Verona in mid-November, it and the government it served had a narrow base in the territory nominally under their control. Without German backing the RSI would have been stillborn. From the summer of 1943 onward, the Germans were already treating Italy little differently than they treated conquered France, with Mussolini playing a role similar to that of Laval under the puppet regime at Vichy. To them it was just another occupied country that would keep Allied military forces far from the Fatherland and supply it with labor and goods. Indeed, the fact that they considered the Italian more valuable as a worker than as a soldier was the main hindrance to the creation of a viable military establishment by the RSI. In addition to keeping workers in Italy in war-related jobs the Germans “imported” many of them to Germany and, as in other occupied countries, blocked their earnings there and forced their own puppet governments to support their families at home. Besides official arrangements for the exploitation of Italian goods and services the occupying forces used their local authority as they saw fit for this purpose. Neither on the local nor on the “national” level did the authorities of the RSI have any real independence. Mussolini himself rarely left his villa on Lake Garda, where he was closely watched by the German ambassador, Rudolf von Rahn, who moved the embassy there from Rome. Like Laval, he was forced to swallow all sorts of slights from the Führer, despite their former friendship. And, again like Laval, he found that the Nazis respected those of his subordinates who most slavishly imitated them, such as Buffarini-Guidi and Pavolini. But the RSI was bom live, if not free, and it busied itself with establishing a new ideology and a new political and economic order. Aside from resuming the war on the side of Germany, reorganizing the armed forces toward this end, and punishing traitors, the new regime set forth a number of demagogic proposals, including the calling of a constituent assembly and the abolition of exploitative capitalism. Although Mussolini


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is said to have opposed privately the more "communistic” proposals of some party leaders,48 these were passed by the Congress of Verona. The general outlook of the RSI and the reorganized party was dominated by the two most revolutionary currents of the movement’s early years: squadrism and syndicalism. Diehard Fascists wanted to revert to their original role of rooting out traitors and anti-Fascists, this time with no obligation to appear respectable in order to win the support of the mon­ archy, the church, the army, and big business. But the war prevented the calling of a constituent assembly, and many of the same old personal and ideological rivalries within the party prevented it from becoming—at last —the unified elite long desired by Farinacci and other ex-squadristi. In fact, despite their ties with the Nazis and even the SS, Farinacci was once again forced to become a mere newspaper publisher in Cremona in late 1943,49 and Ricci was sacked as head of the revived Militia by the following sum­ mer. A major division soon arose over the nature and role of the new army of the RSI. Ricci’s Militia held the field at first, but by October Marshal Rodolfo Graziani—the man whom Badoglio had replaced during the Ethiopian War, and his archrival thereafter—was already trying to rebuild a "national and apolitical” army by conscripting eighteen-year-olds at home and soliciting volunteers from Italian prisoners of war in Germany. Neither source proved very fruitful, and even those conscripts who did appear were often allowed to go home for want of quarters and equip­ ment.50 After two months of controversy between Ricci and Graziani, a compromise solution was reached whereby there would be both an "apolitical” and a party army, the latter to be called the Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana. But even the so-called party army included not only the Militia but also the remains of the colonial police force as well as the Royal Carabinieri. The Carabinieri, never at home in the GNR, were dissolved and sent to Germany in the spring of 1944. After Ricci’s ouster what was left of his command was incorporated into the four divi­ sions of Graziani’s army while the party retained the new Black Brigades as its only armed force; it used these henceforth exclusively in the civil war with the Resistance forces.51 To the very end, these Black Brigades in­ cluded dedicated young Fascists who were desperately aware of the hostility of the bulk of the population toward them, including women whose mothers had thrown themselves at the blackshirts a generation earlier.52 Although in Italy, as elsewhere, the Resistance revived nationalism as a rallying point for the anti-Fascists, there were sincere nationalists on the side of the RSI as well. Marshal Graziani, the head of its regular army, represented the kind of emotional, well-meaning nationalism of the lower middle class and of other people willing to turn to any demagogue or move­ ment that mouthed the proper rhetoric. This handsome, long-suffering war hero introduced a note of confusion into the civil war with his excuses of errors committed in good faith and his appeals to defend the Fatherland against all its enemies, including even the Germans when they pushed him too far. Graziani’s gratuitous nationalism also found a more aristocratic and snobbish expression in the D’Annunzian commander of an elite naval corps


The FASCIST Experience

of antisubmarine chasers, the Roman Prince Junio Valerio Borghese. After the armistice he turned this corps, the Tenth MAS (Motoscafi AntiSommergibile) into a personal army, the most notorious of several that specialized in antipartisan activities. In many ways Prince Borghese was a throwback to the overmighty subjects who led revolts against centralizing sovereigns in the sixteenth century. But he also recalled the more recent patriots “from good families” who were willing to do or die for the cause. (In Britain and France such militaristic aristocrats usually found their outlet in the overseas colonies. ) In any case, the Tenth MAS recruited over four thousand young sailors seeking fortune and adventure in the name of service to their country, which they hoped to rid of corrupt politicians and parties and replace with the only party they recognized: the “party of the gold medal.” Just as the revived rightwing squadrism of the GNR and the Black Brigades failed, so did revived leftist efforts to create a revolutionary syn­ dicalist society. Even the more militant and determined advocates of the RSTs policy of socializing big business were not sure whether this policy was sincere or merely a last-minute demagogic play for support by Mus­ solini from the urban workers.53 A few diehards hoped to “strew enough mines” (socialized enterprises) in the Po Valley to “blow up in the faces” of the conservative royal and Allied invaders from the south.54 But from the time the first law on socialization was set forth, on January 13, 1944, there was resistance to it from big business and indifference to it from die workers.55 Over a year later, Minister of Labor Angelo Tarchi admitted to Mussolini that, in addition to these two continuing obstacles, the Germans themselves were opposed to socialization, partly on ideological grounds and partly because it would disrupt their war effort.56 On paper, at least, a number of businesses, mostly in publishing but including the Alfa Romeo Company, were in the process of being socialized by early March, 1945.57 Yet the regime failed to win over the workers even by transferring owner­ ship of some of their apartment houses to them.58 The persecution of the Jews under the Italian Social Republic was the most monstrous aspect of the Fascist experience. Although the worst ex­ cesses were perpetrated by the German rather than the Italian authorities, anti-Semitism was as much a logical outcome of Fascism’s contempt for any morality other than its own as it was a by-product of Mussolini’s oppor­ tunism in sacrificing Italy’s Jews on the altar of the Nazi alliance. Mus­ solini’s crime was perhaps even more monstrous than Hitler’s; the Führer at least believed in the “guilt” of the Jews, whereas the Duce did not even try to justify his anti-Semitism on moral grounds.59 In late 1943 Mussolini and the more “moderate” leaders of his puppet regime undoubtedly re­ jected Hitler’s goal of mass extermination. Instead, they wanted to herd all the Jews in Italy into concentration camps as “enemy aliens”80 and postpone any decision on their disposition until the end of the war. Given the Nazis’ known “final solution” and their ultimate control over what went on in the territories they occupied, this policy, far from being a milder alternative, actually helped the Nazis carry out their program of deporta-


W or and Resistance

tion and extermination by saving them the trouble of finding some of the Jews. The main German roundups took place in late 1943 and early 1944. In September and October, 1943, the German authorities caught a number of Italian and foreign Jews who had taken refuge in the Val d'Aosta and Lake Maggiore regions. In several of these raids they did not even go through the motions of deporting their victims; instead they bound their hands and feet and threw them into the lake to drown. The most notorious "round up” occurred in Rome on October 16. Between 5:30 a .m . and 2:00 p.M. over 1,000 men, women, and children were dragged from their homes in the narrow streets of Europe's oldest ghetto; two days later they were on their way to the extermination camp at Birkenau. Before the roundup the German police had hoodwinked the Jewish community out of over 50 kilograms of gold and 2 million lire in cash as an alleged ransom; after it was over they systematically confiscated all Jewish prop­ erty in the Rome ghetto. Of those Jews in jail awaiting shipment from later raids, some were executed in periodic acts of reprisal, such as the 100 who were shot in the Ardeatine Caves, along with 235 other hostages, and then sealed inside the caves on March 24, 1944. The fact that only 7,495 Jews from Italy were sent to German con­ centration camps (only 610 survived)61 was due less to lack of Nazi or Fascist zeal than to the complicity of Italian non-Jews in helping the others to escape this fate. After the war the Union of Jewish Communities of Italy was to acknowledge this help in hundreds of individual cases, and thousands more will remain anonymous except in the memories of those involved. Even government and police officials sometimes went against their own orders in hiding Jews, giving diem false documents, and alerting them to the moves of the Nazi authorities.62 As is well known. Pope Pius XII did not speak out officially against the persecution of Europe's Jews, ostensibly in order to avoid reprisals against the church from the Nazis.63 But in the Rome area he did what he could to save as many lives as possible,64 and 155 religious houses in that city gave refuge to over four thousand Jews. Catholic clerics and laymen throughout the occupied territory also gave individual help to local Jews. Yet despite all this help, which was greater than in any other country, the Jews in Italy lived under the same terror of being captured as those in all the Nazi-occupied coun­ tries and suffered the same physical and mental hardships of helpless victims moving from one remote hiding place to another. And there were enough instances of individuals betraying Jews for personal reasons to make them mistrustful of all people but their closest friends. All the evidence points to the antipathy of the overwhelming majority of Italians toward Mussolini's puppet regime. By the summer of 1944, fol­ lowing the Allied invasion of Normandy, even those businessmen with German war contracts assumed that the Allies would win and began burn­ ing their Fascist and Nazi bridges behind them. The clergy, the civil service, and the magistracy gave the regime only minimal support. Even the police saw the futility of trying to force its revived Fascism on the war-weary


The FASCIST Experience

population. They went through the motions of trying to enforce the ration­ ing laws and punishing people active in the black market.65 But their chiefs also reported the general hostility of the population to the regime, its grow­ ing sympathy for the Allies, and its longing for an end to the war and Germany’s defeat.66 These reports dealt with all social classes in both rural and urban areas still under the control of the RSI. (It will be recalled that Rome was not liberated until June 5,1944, that Florence was liberated only in mid-August, and that the Gothic Line just south of Bologna held until the following spring.) According to them, many people felt caught be­ tween the RSI authorities and the growing Resistance forces, but even those who resented the robberies and confiscations of the latter did not believe that the former had the power to stop them. Also, the police reports often alluded to the difficulty in recruiting young men for the army and the Black Brigades. Probably the most widespread and dramatic expression of civilian hostility toward the RSI was the growing number of strikes by factory workers and protest demonstrations by housewives against food shortages. Not even mass arrests and deportations of striking workers to Germany (2,000 from Genoa alone on July 1,1944) could halt this seething unrest.67 The story of the Italian Resistance during the last two years of the Second World War has been told many times;68 our concern here is not with its military or political activties but with its impact on the lives of individual Italians as an antidote, so to speak, to the Fascist experience. In a sense, the anti-Fascist Resistance had begun with the secession to the Aventine in the summer of 1924 and the publication of reviews like Piero Gobetti’s Rivoluzione Liberale in Turin, Il Caffè by Ferruccio Parri and Riccardo Bauer in Milan, and Non Mollare! by Gaetano Salvemini and Piero Calamandrei in Florence. By early 1926 most of the participants in these efforts, along with political leaders like Nitti, Sturzo, and Donati, were already carrying on their resistance in exile, particularly in France.69 Until 1934 the movement there, led by Giustizia e Libertà, got no coopera­ tion from the Italian Communist party. Thereafter, until the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939, the Popular Front prevailed, and the Communists became the strongest force in the Resistance, both at home and among the exiles. The Spanish Civil War strengthened the Popular Front of So­ cialist and Communist Italian exiles at the expense of Giustizia e Libertà (particularly after the assassination of the Rosselli brothers in June, 1937), but it also trained many from both camps in the techniques of guerrilla warfare. Once the armed Resistance in Italy itself began in September, 1943, it was the returning exiles and other older leaders like Nenni, Longo, Parri, and De Gasperi who gained the top political and military positions in it. While Committees of National Liberation were already being formed by September 11, 1943, in Rome and many towns in the north to organize re­ sistance against German efforts to reimpose Fascism on the country, the first mass insurrections occurred later that month in the south in anticipation of the imminent arrival of Allied troops. These insurrections, of which the


W ar and Resistance

most important was in Naples itself, had no political orientation other than hatred of the Germans, and they were almost completely spontaneous. The port and city of Naples had been severely damaged by Allied bombings, causing mass unemployment and hunger, since the city was cut off from its agricultural hinterland. Then the German commander began a series of terrorist reprisals against ordinary citizens, including executions of hos­ tages and firing into crowds of women waiting in line for nonexistent bread. On September 27, rumors of approaching Allied troops sparked a series of uncoordinated insurrections in many neighborhoods of the city. At first the insurgents numbered no more than four or five hundred, mostly young men in menial services, such as shoe shiners, waiters, and cab drivers.70 By September 29 there were over a thousand, many women helped to recruit additional forces, and the great majority of the city’s one million inhabi­ tants gave them their moral support. On September 30 the rear guard of the Germans left the city destroying, among other things, its historical archive. The Four Days of Naples helped to restore the nation’s selfrespect at the time of its worst humiliation. But as the Germans dug in along the Gustav Line, the possibility of repeating this kind of insurrec­ tion in other cities receded. Henceforth the Resistance was to take the form of subversion and sabotage. After the insurrection in Naples and the initially antimonarchical stance of the Committee of National Liberation in Rome a few weeks later, the south became more conservative, while the north, led by the CLNAI (Comitato della Liberazione Nazionale per VAlta Italia), became more radical. The leadership of the anti-Fascist forces in the liberated areas of the south passed increasingly into the hands of traditional liberals like Croce and Bonomi; in fact, it was Croce who, in the early fall of 1943, tried to save the monarchy as an institution by persuading King Vittorio Emanuele III to abdicate in favor of his six-year-old grandson, with Crown Prince Humbert as regent with the title Lieutenant-General of the Realm. In the north, on the other hand, the risks and frustrations of trying to re­ sist the might of Nazi Germany and its RSI henchmen helped to radicalize many people who first joined the Resistance out of wounded patriotism or to escape the army and labor drafts. Even the major parties tended to be more radical in the north than in the south by the spring of 1944; this was particularly so of the Christian Democrats and Liberals but also of the Socialists and the newly formed Party of Action, which combined former radical liberals and independent socialists of the Giustizia e Libertà group in Paris (some of whom had fought for the Republic in Spain) with students and other young men disillusioned with Fascism and looking for a new ideal with which to replace it. At first the Communists everywhere refused to support the Badoglio regime, and some of them tended to view the fight for national liberation in strictly class terms. Then, on April 1, 1944, four days after his return from his twenty-year exile, Paimiro Togliatti brought from Moscow the order to all Italian Communists to switch to the opposite position (their famous “svolta”) on these two issues. The Russian Communists wanted all the help they could get abroad in gaining the final victory over Nazi Ger-


The FASCIST Experience

many, and the Italian Communists were treated no differently from any others in this connection. The initiative of the Italian Communists gave the Italian Resistance forces more solidarity than they might otherwise have had during the last year of the war. Not only were they the best organized of the major political groups, but also their slogans were the most un­ equivocally revolutionary. In addition, their opportunism made them attrac­ tive to people who wanted to erase their Fascist past; being able to call oneself a Communist in 1945 was a kind of insurance for some of them, though others were undoubtedly sincere in their conversions at the time. From the beginning the Resistance took several forms. Acts of sabo­ tage occurred more or less continuously, particularly the disruption of rail­ road and telephone service. Special teams of Communist terrorists—called GAP ( Gruppi d’Azione Popolare) —stepped up their guerrilla attacks in the major cities during the early spring of 1944 by assassinating a high Fascist official in Bologna, Giovanni Gentile in Florence, and thirty-three German security police in Rome. These terrorists were the self-styled elite of the Resistance and looked down somewhat on its partisan fighting forces, which still numbered only about twenty thousand on April 30, 194471 and whose ranks were swelled thereafter by many “summer partisans.” The Re­ sistance also had its collaborators among the civilian population—in­ cluding school teachers, minor civil servants, and even policemen—who relayed messages and sent out warnings of reprisals. Workers' strikes be­ came increasingly politically oriented in early 1944, culminating on March 1 in a general work stoppage in the north by perhaps 500,000 people (including many women), the largest strike of its kind in occupied Europe; the New York Times of March 9 paid glowing tribute to the patriotic Italians who risked serious reprisals in this strike, including deportation to Germany. “Rebelliousness” (ribellismo) of these kinds was a complete novelty after twenty years of Fascist regimentation. The police authorities of the RSI reported innumerable acts of sabotage and terrorism as well as strikes during the winter of 1943-1944.72 They also assembled surprisingly ac­ curate figures on the number of rebels in the partisan bands of the macchia (comparable to the French maquis and meaning “taking to the woods” as outlaws), showing the big upsurge in the spring of 1944 and the decline after the cessation of the Allied offensive in November.73 Probably the most permanently “rebellious” part of Italy was the Alpine province of Cuneo, near the French border. Already at the beginning of 1944 the police re­ ported that there were over seven thousand young partisans in the hills and that the peasants were becoming increasingly loyal to them; a year later the overwhelming majority of the people in the province opposed Nazi-Fascist efforts to root out the partisans.74 The Resistance movement also tried to spread its message through the underground press. Each major party had its own dailies, weeklies, and irregular issues throughout the occupied territories, and local groups had their own papers as well. (Over six hundred different papers appeared at one time or another.) It was mainly through the underground press that the reformist and revolutionary goals of these parties and groups reached


W ar and Resistance

those Italians who were sympathetic but not directly involved. Estimates of the numbers of readers vary widely;75 more important than numbers was the commitment of those Italians who risked serious punishment by reading these papers, as well as the dedication of those anonymous young people who helped put them out and distribute them. In addition to pre­ senting a particular point of view, most underground newspapers re­ ported the steady Allied advances in Italy and France and the Soviet counteroffensives as antidotes to the news disseminated by the Fascist press and radio. The editors of the more important underground papers, like many leaders of the Committees of National Liberation, belonged to Italy’s intellectual elite and included such diverse men as the Communst party chief, Paimiro Togliatti; the liberal historian Franco Venturi; and the leader of the revived Christian Democratic party, Alcide De Gasperi. Like the partisan forces, the underground press had its share of heroes and martyrs. One of the outstanding martyrs of the underground press, Eugenio Curiel, was also an excellent example of a former university student whose 'long journey” through the Fascist experience had included the editorship of a GUF paper. Il Bò in 1937-1938, when he was already becoming a crypto-Marxist and champion of the working-class movement. He showed how, on his own, a youngster reared as a Fascist and with no direct ex­ perience of other countries could work out an intelligent and uncannily accurate analysis of the world around him. This remarkable young man used his Marxism as a critical instrument of the social and political reali­ ties of his day and, though a party member during the 1940s, he was never an inflexible Communist.76 As a Jew he had been forbidden to write for the public from late 1938 to 1943, but within two months after the armistice he was already helping to found the Fronte della Gioventù as an organization for reeducating the nation’s youth away from Fascist beliefs. He reached an even wider audience as the chief editor of the Communist party’s two major newspapers in Milan, UUnità and La Nostra Lotta. Through all these media he spread his message that the Resistance was a second Risorgimento>this time with the active participation of the masses, and played down the idea that it was primarily a class struggle against the capitalists. Then, on February 24, 1945, he was shot down in the street by the Fascist secret police. Another interesting, though less typical, example of a former Fascist who ended as an anti-Fascist martyr of the underground press was Teresio Olivelli. Unlike Curiel, who had attended the state university at Padua, Olivelli had gone to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, where he was known as the most ardent Fascist among his contemporaries. His ‘long journey” did not end until September 9, 1943, the day after the armistice, when he was deported along with some of his fellow army officers to Germany. He soon escaped, however, and returned to Italy where, in early 1944, he founded the underground newpaper II Ribelle in Brescia. Like Curiel, Olivelli used his paper to reeducate his readers and explain the evils of capitalist society, but his utopia was a radical form of Catho­ lic corporativism rather than Communism. Even within the revived Chris-


The FASCIST Experience

tian Democratic movement Olivelli was part of an isolated vanguard, not only in comparison with De Gasperi but even with ‘leftwingers” like Amintore Fanfani and Paolo Emilio Taviani.77 But his arrest on April 27, 1944 and his death on January 12, 1945, in a German concentration camp were widely celebrated in Catholic circles as a kind of redemption for all their sins under Fascism. The main form of redemption, however, was guerrilla warfare, which began in earnest in the summer of 1944. Good weather and the northward march of the Allied armies prompted tens of thousands of young men to join the partisan fighting forces, particularly the Garibaldi brigades of the Communists. In Tuscany the Communists were also able (unlike Gari­ baldi himself during the Risorgimento) to gain the allegiance of many peasants by promising them basic economic and social reforms. The libera­ tion of Florence at the beginning of August was the high point of the Italian armed Resistance in 1944 and came closest to duplicating the situa­ tion in Paris a few weeks later: threats of the physical destruction of the historic city by the Germans, breakdown of services in anticipation of the Allied advance, extensive street-fighting by the partisan forces, public cele­ brations interrupted by sniper fire. Before Florence was completely liber­ ated partisan forces north of Modena, anticipating a rapid Allied advance* attacked the Germans at Montefiorino in the biggest open-field battles of the Resistance; they had to flee southward in the face of superior force. Further north various partisan forces carved out fifteen small “republics” in German-occupied Venetia, Piedmont, Lombardy, Liguria, and Emilia; none of these lasted more than a few weeks, and in some of them the partisans, again expecting the imminent arrival of the Allied armies, suf­ fered needless losses defending untenable positions. In the different provinces of central and northern Italy the Fascist experience had considerable influence on the development and character of some of the Resistance movements there. It certainly accounted, in part, for the fact that Rome was the only large city that did not have some sort of popular insurrection as the Allied armies approached. The restraining influence of the Vatican78 may have been less important than the dis­ persal, by June, 1944, of the only small armed force of partisans Rome had,79 but surely the main reason was the lack of a significant anti-Fascist movement in Mussolini’s former capital, which had neither an industrial labor force nor a progressive-minded bourgeoisie to launch such a move­ ment. In Florence, on the other hand, the Tuscan Committee of National Liberation, run by university professors like the art historian Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, not only led the military insurrection against the re­ treating Nazis but also set up a viable local government. This achievement, with which even the Allied military authorities had to come to terms, was based on the most noteworthy example of the kind of cooperation between bourgeois intellectuals and manual workers advocated by both old-line Communists and the young idealists in the Party of Action. In Genoa and Turin the longterm working-class hostility to Fascism was the dominant moving force in the resistance. One of the most novel, though ephemeral, experiences of the Resist-


W ar and Resistance

ance was the experiments in partial self-government in the partisan "re­ publics” in the summer and early fall of 1944, particularly the two large Piedmontese ones in the Val d’Ossola and Montferrato and the one in Carnia, northwest of Trieste. Each of these republics consisted of a num­ ber of communes with a total population of up to 80,000. In each "capital” the Committee of National Liberation undertook to reorganize not only the political and administrative institutions of the area but also the labor unions, the schools, and parts of the economy. In their purge of local Fascists they disavowed capital punishment, but they were far more drastic than the postwar national government in rooting out Fascist influences in these various aspects of daily life. Even many of the non-Communist leaders of these republics favored popular democracy at all levels, including the running of the criminal courts. They hoped to establish a model for the country as a whole once it was liberated. Unfortunately for them, the halt­ ing of the Allied offensive in the fall made their position untenable, and the republics were ruthlessly suppressed by superior German and RSI military forces. Although only a minority of Italians was as revolutionary as the leaders of these republics, the majority sided with the armed Resistance by the winter of 1944-1945. Even most wealthy conservatives were aloof from rather than hostile to it, partly out of opportunism but also out of a sincere recognition of their past errors and of the changed human relations of the times, in which valor counted more than money; this outlook did not last long but it was nonetheless real. The middle and lower-middle classes, particularly in the north, openly supported the armed Resistance, giving it the bulk of its leadership and a good part of its fighting forces. The overwhelming majority of the workers backed it as a matter of course and had no special interests to defend or guilt feelings to assuage. Probably the most novel impact of the Resistance was the way it reached large num­ bers of peasants, particularly in Tuscany, Romagna, and Piedmont, bring­ ing them into the mainstream of national life for the first time in history. In addition, the active role played by many women in the Resistance helped to change the status of women as a whole in the postwar period. From February, 1945, onward, the armed Resistance began to grow into a truly mass movement. Having shrunk to 50,000 in December, its fighting strength reached 80,000 by the beginning of March and 130,000 by mid-April; during the insurrection later that month as many as 250,000300,000 young Italians were carrying some kind of arms and wearing some kind of partisan insignia.80 Many of these people were of little help to the veteran fighting forces and were indeed somewhat looked down on by them, but they were necessary to the goal of the Resistance of bringing the masses into the movement for national liberation, thereby restoring their faith in a national community—a faith profoundly shaken by the failures of Fascism. The leaders of the major political groupings also agreed to unified military commands in each region in anticipation of the national insurrection. But everything happened too fast for the leaders to have much influence on the mass of new recruits to the Resistance; indeed, they did not always bother to keep them informed of their maneuvers and


The FASCIST Experience

polemics, not only with each other but also with General Raffaelle Cadoma, the military chief of Bonomi’s government in Rome. Meanwhile, in March, the partisans widened their effective control over Emilia while in Genoa they helped to organize major acts of sabotage and strikes.81 At least as important as the desire of the Resistance forces to topple the Nazi-Fascists was their desire to replace them in the seat of power, and in this connection they faced the uncompromising opposition of the Allies. In other words, the most militant Resistance leaders were also revolutionaries—not only the Communists but also many members of the Party of Action and some of the Socialists. (In general the Liberals and most Christian Democrats wanted reforms rather than revolution.) A classic "national liberation syndrome” was developing whereby an elite of fighters and organizers came to view their achievements and sacrifices in the face of the current enemy as justification for their determining the constitution of the future society once this enemy was gone. Unfortunately for them, the Italian Resistance forces were not important enough to the Allied military authorities to warrant concessions regarding local selfgovernment after the liberation. This fact of life became clear in late March, 1945, when Aldobrando Medici Tornaquinci, undersecretary in the ministry of occupied Italy in Bonomi’s government, made a secret trip to Turin to inform the Piedmontese CLN that the British and Americans considered the Italians not as allies but as a nation liberated by them. Hence, any power given to the local CLN after the liberation would also come from them rather than from its own claims to be the rightful suc­ cessor of the Nazi-Fascists. Because of these limitations the Italian Re­ sistance movement was to serve primarily as a means of restoring the self-respect of those who fought in its ranks. These limitations could not prevent the mass insurrection that the Resistance movement and millions of Italians wanted to coincide with the Allied military victory. In April, 1945, the Allies had no need for such an insurrection or for a major military campaign in order to defeat the Ger­ man forces in northern Italy; the general course of the war saw to that. Hence, they encouraged the partisans to carry out tasks within their capa­ bilities, such as guarding important installations and launching guerrilla attacks behind the German lines. They did, however, recognize the need of the various Resistance movements for a sense of active participation in the overthrow of their oppressors, at least during the interregnum between Fascist an(J post-Fascist rule. On April 10 the Communist party issued a directive prohibiting any of its subgroups from accepting any proposals that would impede "the national insurrection of all the people.”82 The other parties sent out similar appeals. The national insurrection took place during the last ten days of April, with the Germans in Italy themselves surrendering to the Allies on May 2. Beginning with Bologna on April 21, city after city fell into partisan hands as the Fascist authorities were left isolated by the retreating Germans. The battles for Genoa and Turin were particularly high-spirited, despite considerable casualties. In Milan, where Mussolini had moved a few days earlier, Cardinal Schuster arranged a meeting on April 25 between himself


W ar and Resistance

and representatives of the CLNAI in order to facilitate his peaceful sur­ render. While the fallen Duce awaited this meeting in the archdiocese, the cardinal, a strangely unfeeling man, gave him one of his own books to read. Mussolini himself refused to grasp the fact that his end was near and spoke of all sorts of wild projects that would extricate him from his predicament. Finally, instead of giving the cardinal an answer as prom­ ised, he fled toward Como, only to be captured and shot, together with his mistress and three top gerarchi. Their bodies were then brought back to Milan, where they were strung up in the Loretto Square, along with those of two of these gerarchi; the hysterical mob, its pent-up hatred at last having free rein, repeatedly kicked and spat upon the swinging corpses. Acts of vigilante justice had taken place in other cities, particularly Turin, but the national insurrection was more an act of letting off steam than of systematic vengeance. In May and June of 1945 the revolution that had been “missed” in 1849 and 1919 seemed about to be realized. The leaders of the northern Committees of National Liberation spoke of the new vento del nord (“wind from the north”) that would purify the rest of the country not only of the vestiges of the Fascist era but also of its decrepit liberal institutions, par­ ticularly the monarchy. The most important single reform of the CLNAI to survive the liberation period in modified form was the creation of workers’ “management councils” ( consigli di gestione) in the larger fac­ tories. But, as in other countries, the politicians replaced the Resistance leaders after the liberation; even the wily Togliatti sacrificed some of the Resistance goals regarding popular democracy for cabinet posts in the new government of Ferruccio Parri on June 20. Just before Parri took office, the multiparty organs of the Resistance had already been reduced to a purely advisory role, and the Allied Military Government had estab­ lished itself in Milan. “Ruefully the reformist-minded wing of the CLNAI conceded . . . that its gusty vento del nord had all but blown itself out against the soporific sirocco [from the south] and the prevailing westerlies from the Atlantic world.”83 With the replacement of Parri by De Gasperi in November the eclipse of the militant anti-Fascists was complete, along with the possibility of a real revolution.

NOTES I. Luigi Fedeizoni, Italia di ieri per la storia di domani (Milan: Mondadori, 1967), p. 298. Federzoni claims to have taken notes at this meeting; in any case, these were apparently his own words at the time. 2. Reports (all in PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov.) of 30 May, 12 August, and 24 August, 1939, Genova, busta i; report of 24 August, Napoli; report of 25 August, Roma. These and numerous other reports of this period were often denounced by the federali of these three provinces because they feared that the party leadership would blame them for low morale and defeatism. In Trieste, however, in his report of 17 June, I 939 > the federale himself (Emilio Grazioli) acknowledged the defeatist mood there.


The FASCIST Experience 3. Reports of 19, 20, and 22 December, 1939, ibid., Milano; these reports are confirmed by hundreds from other provinces. 4. Report of 28 January, 1940, ibid.; report of 18 October, 1939, ibid., Roma. 5. Anonymous report, 23 January, 1940, ibid., Roma. By 1942 total party mem­ bership reached 4.75 million. 6. Report of 3 February, 1940 from the Duce’s Capo di Gabinetto, Minculpop, busta 7, fase. 77. 7. Ibid.; it is noteworthy that even Mussolini acknowledged the existence of this belief in these classes. 8. Anonymous report of 15 March, 1940, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Savona. 9. Report of the federale, 2.7 February, 1940, ibid., Trieste, busta 3. 10. Anonymous report of 12 March, 1940, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 9, Taranto. 11. Anonymous report of 24 January, 1940, referring to the village of Abbiategrazzo, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano. 12. Anonymous report of 23 February, 1940, ibid., feebly denied by the federale on 12 March. 13. Over a dozen reports from 4 April to 30 May, ibid., Milano and Torino, including unconvincing denials by the federali. 14. Anonymous reports of 5, 11, and 22 April, and 6 May, 1940, ibid., Roma. 15. E.g., anonymous report of 5 March, 1940, ibid., Reggio Calabria, and Pisa, anonymous report of 29 April, 1940, concerning anti-English demonstrations. 16. In addition to Zangrandi’s description of the attitude of Berto Ricci already cited and to the “confessions” in La generazione degli anni difficili, see Renzo Renzi, “Rapporto di un ex-balilla,” in II processo s'agapò (Bari: Laterza, 1954), p. 112, on the belief that the war would revive the spent revolution. 17. Anonymous reports of 14 and 17 August, 1940, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Milano. 18. Reports of 26 July and 7 August, 1940, ibid. 19. Report of 27 September, 1940, ibid. 20. Anonymous report of 30 September, 1940, ibid., and report of the federale of Genoa, 17 October, 1940, ibid., Genova, busta 3. 21. Anonymous report of 29 December, 1940, ibid., Taranto; reports from the Carabinieri, 11 October, 1940 and from the questore of Rome, 12 and 14 November, 1940, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 8, Roma. 22. Report of the questore of 24 December, 1940, ibid. 23. E.g., official report for 1941, dated 11 September, 1941 and signed by the federale, Vittorini Ortalli, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Parma. 24. Memo of 5 January, 1941 concerning a dispute with Giuseppe Tassinari, who had replaced Rossoni as minister of agriculture in November 1939, Seg. Part, del Duce, 242/R, Renato Ricci, sottofasc. 1. 25. Letters from Starace to Mussolini from September 1941 through January 1943, ibid., busta 3, fase. W/R, Starace, Achille. 26. E.g., report of the federale on 17 October, 1941, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Napoli. 27. Letter to the Prefect of Rome, dated 2 July, 1942 and signed by five young Fascists, Minculpop, busta 90, fase. 6, “Associazione Italo-Germanica”; their complaint was about a black-market restaurant and bar sponsored by the ministry of popular culture for this association. 28. Broadcast on 10 June, 1940, by Nino D’Aroma, reprinted in Pagine sulla guerra alla Radio, 2nd ed. (Florence: Sansoni, 1942), p. 28. 29. Even as late as March 1943 Mussolini admitted this in his speech to the Party Directorate. See Seg. Part, del Duce, busta 23, fase. 242/R (V) Riunioni del Direttorio del PNF, March 11 draft of a speech delivered on 13 March. 30. In a radio broadcast on 10 October 1940, Giovanni Ansaldo told his listeners that their sang-froid in the face of British bombings of their cities gave the lie to the belief of “frigid imbeciles in London and New York” that Italians could be frightened out of their desire for grandeur as a nation (in Pagine sulla guerra alla Radio, p. 117). 31. Anonymous report of 15 October 1940, PNF, Sit. Pol. Prov., Reggio Calabria, confirmed by the federale four days later; also, anonymous report of 12 November 1940, ibid., Milano.


W ar and Resistance 32. Undated report (probably early 1942) from national party headquarters, ibid., Trieste, busta 2. 33. Renzo De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo, p. 451. 34. Memorandum of 1 October 1941 to the Ispettatorato per la radiodiffusione e la televisione, Minculpop, busta 19, fase. 281. 35. Report from the party inspector. Angelo Manaresi to Adelchi Serena, 23 Sep­ tember 1941» PNF, Sit. Poi. Prov., Trieste. 36. Report of 17 September 1940 for the whole of Apulia by the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza, P.S. (1903-1949), busta 9, Bari. 37. Bishop Paolo Galeazzi, pastoral letter, 1943. 38. Archbishop Nicola Monterisi, “Sosteniamo il nostro popolo,” estratto dal Bollettino del Clero, 19 no. 4 (Aprii 1941). 39. Giacinto Tredici, bishop of Brescia, pastoral letter, 1942. 40. Report to Mussolini’s secretariat by Di Marzio on his fact-finding trip to Turin, Milan, and Naples, dated 31 March 1943, Carteggio Di Marzio, primo versa­ mento, busta 21, fase. 1. 41. E.g., his speech to the party directorate on 3 January 1943; see his Opera Omnia, 31, pp. 137-138. 42. Speech of 13 March; see note 29. 43. Carmine Senise, Quando ero capo della polizia, 1940-1943 (Rome: Ruffolo, 1946), PP* 193-205. 44. Joachim C. Fest, The Face of the Third Reich (New York: Pantheon, 1970), P. 135 . 45. On the coup d’état of July 25, 1943, see Enzo Galbiati’s II 25 luglio e la MVSN, cited earlier; Giorgio Bianchi, 25 luglio, crollo di un regime (Milan: Ugo Mursia, 1963); Ruggero Zangrandi, 1943: 25 luglio- 8 settembre (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1964); the memoirs of Giacomo Acerbo and Luigi Federzoni, cited earlier; Carlo Scorza, La notte del Gran Consiglio (Milan: Aldo Palazzi Editore, 1968); and the invaluable collection of documents, Ultalia dei quarantacinque giorni (Florence: La Nuova Italia, for the Istituto per la Storia del Movimento di Liberazione, 1970). 46. On the events in Bari, see Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, Disegno della libera­ zione italiana (Pisa: Nistri-Lischi, 1954), p. 288; on the strikes and demonstrations in Florence, see report of the questore, 5 August 1942, P.S. (1903-1949) (C i), busta 3, Firenze. 47. The best and most unbiased description of the RSI is in Frederick William Deakin, The Brutal Friendship (New York: Harper & Row, 1962). Among pro-Fascist accounts see Attilio Tamaro, Due anni di storia, 1943-1945, 3 vols. (Rome: Tosi, 19481950); Ermanno Amicucci, j6 o o Giorni di Mussolini (Rome: Edizione Faro, 1948); Filippo Anfuso, Da Palazzo Venezia al lago di Garda (1936-1945)—con aggiunta di documenti Roma-Berlino-Salò (Bologna: Cappelli, 1957); Eugenio Dollmann, Roma nazista (Milan: Longanesi, 1949). 48. Giovanni Dolfìn, Con Mussolini nella tragedia (Milan: Garzanti, 1950)» p. 97; Dolfìn was Mussolini’s private secretary under the RSI. 49. Letter of 4 January 1945 from Farinacci to Mussolini, in which the director of II Regime Fascista complains, as he had fifteen years earlier, of police surveillance over his activities and correspondence; Seg. Part, del Duce, Cart. Ris. Rep. Soc. Ital. busta I, fase. 12, Farinacci Roberto. 50. On the conscripts, see Salvatorelli and Mira, op. cit., p. 1072; on the infini­ tesimal number of volunteers among the prisoners of war, see Giorgio Vaccarino, “La resistenza al fascismo,” Il Movimento di Liberazione in Italia, no. 54 (January-March 1959): 33 * 51. The most detailed and up-to-date study of the armed forces of the RSI is Giampaolo Pansa, U esercito di Salò (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1970). 52. This outlook is poigantly expressed in their official song: Le donne non ci vogliono più bene perchè portiamo la camicia nera. Hanno detto che siamo da galera hanno detto che siamo da catene


The FASCIST Experience L’amore coi fascisti non conviene: meglio un vigliacco che non ha bandiera uno che salverà la pelle intera, uno che non ha sangue nelle venel Cited in Lamberto Mercuri, “Brevi note per una storia del fascismo canoro,” II Protagora, nos. 26-27 (April-June 1963): 112. For an overall view of the outlook of those young men who supported the RSI, see Lettere di caduti della RSI, published by the Associazione nazionale famiglie caduti e dispersi della Repubblica sociale italiana (Milan, i960). 53. E.g., Ugo Manunta, La caduta degli angeli: Storia intima della Repubblica sociale italiana (Rome: Azienda Editoriale Italiana, 1947), p. 35. 54- Testimony of Ugoberto Alfassio-Grimaldi, in La generazione degli anni difficili, p. 48. 55 * Report of the questore of Milan, 2 Feb. 1944, P.S. (1903-1949) (C2), busta 4, Milano; see also the report of Minister of Labor Angelo Tarchi, dated a week later (Seg. Part, del Duce, Cart. Ris., RSI, busta 17, fase. 221, Socializzazione delle imprese), which says that when a number of leading Milanese industrialists—includ­ ing Pirelli, Donegani, and Treccani—were invited by the German ambassador to a luncheon to discuss the law, only one of them attended. 56. Report of February 1945, ibid. 57. Bulletin of the Agenzia Stefani, 2 March 1945, ibid. 58. Report of the Inspector General of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 2 April 1945, P.S. (1903-1949 (C2), busta 3, Cuneo. 59. Renzo De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani, p. 522. The author cites Mus­ solini’s brother Edvige, who quotes the Duce as saying that, if he had wanted a Rome-Moscow rather than a Rome-Berlin Axis, he might have gone through the motions of imposing the Stakhanovite ideology on the Italian workers in order to please Stalin. 60. In many provinces in the northern third of the country, the ministry of the interior ran its own local camps—e.g., report of the questore, 29 December 1943, P.S. (1903-1949) (C i), busta 6 , Vicenza—but the larger camps at Fossoli, Verona, and Bolzano were controlled by the Germans and served as staging areas on the way to the gas chambers of the Reich. 61. De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani, p. 524. 62. Ibid., p. 533. 63. See especially Saul Friedländer, Pope Pius XII and the Third Reich (New York: Knopf, 1966) and Carlo Falconi, The Silence of Pius XII (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970). The papal side will be presented in Padre Angelo Martini’s forthcoming work on Pius XII during the Second World War. 64. See Padre Roberto Leiber, “Pio XII e gli ebrei di Roma 1943-44,” La Civiltà Cattolica, 1961, 1 (4 March): 454-55: Padre Leiber’s complete list of the 155 religious houses that sheltered Jews in Rome and the numbers of Jews involved is reproduced in De Felice, op. cit., pp. 682-685. 65. E.g., reports of the following officials, all in P.S. (1903-1949) (C i), busta 6: the questore of Vicenza, 29 December 1943; the prefect of Viterbo, 9 December 1943; and the questore of Viterbo, 10 January, 24 January, and 7 March 1944; the questore of Venice, 10 May, 17 May, 12 July, and 2 November 1944; the questore of Verona, 12 August, 19 September, 10 November, and 13 December 1944* Also, in ibid,, (C2), busta 2: the questore of Bergamo, 21 February and 15 March 1944* 66. Reports of the questore of Florence, 27 December 1943; of the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza from Cuneo, i March 1944» and from Parma, 30 March 1944; of the questore of Ferrara, 1 February 1945, all in ibid., busta 3. Also, in ibid. (C i), busta 6, reports of the questore of Viterbo, 24 January and 20 February 1944; of Vercelli, 2 February 1944; of Verona, 19 September 1944; and of the inspec­ tor general of the Pubblica Sicurezza from Varese, 4 December 1944. 67. Reports of the questore of Genoa, 30 December 1943 and 1 July 1944; of the prefect of Ferrara, 6 June and 23 July 1944; of the questore of Bergamo, 17 January 1944; of the questore of Florence, 6 March 1944; of Milan, 15 March 1944;


W ar and Resistance and of Bologna, 30 April 1944; all in ibid., (C 2), busta 3. Also, reports of the ques­ tore of Varese, 3 January 1944; and of the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza from Varese, 10 March and 4 December 1944, and 5 February 1945, all in ibid., (C i), busta 6. 68. The most authoritative account in English is Charles F. Delzell, Mussolini’s Enemies: The Italian Anti-Fascist Resistance (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1961). The most balanced study in Italian is Giorgio Bocca, Storia dell’Italia partigiana, settembre 1943-maggio 1945 (Bari: Laterza, 1966). Each of these two works has extensive bibliographical references. 69. The most authoritative, if overly flattering, account of the anti-Fascist exiles is still Aldo Garosci, Storia dei fuorusciti (Bari: Laterza, 1953). On the diver­ gence of views between Marxist leaders in Italy and Paris see the documents in Stefano Merli, La ricostruzione del movimento socialista in Italia e la lotta contro il fascismo dal 1934 alla seconda guerra mondiale, in Institute Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Annali, 5 , 1962 (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1963). 70. Bocca, op. c it, p. 76. 71. Ibid., p. 302. 72. E.g., reports of the prefect of Venice, 29 January 1944; of the questore of Vicenza, 29 December 1943; of the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 23 January, 1944; of the questore of Vercelli, 21 December 1943; and from the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 15 February 1944; of the questore of Viterbo, 7 and 20 February and 7 March, 1944; of the questore of Venice, 18 March 1944» all in P.S. (1903-1949) (C i), busta 6. Also reports of the questore of Brescia, 31 Decem­ ber, 1943; and from the inspector general of Pubblica Sicurezza from Brescia, 12 January 1944, and from Cuneo, 10 January 1944; of the questore of Cuneo, 6 March 1944; of Genoa, 17 March 1944; all in ibid., (C2), busta 2. Also, report of the questore of Parma, 4 March, 1944, ibid., busta. 4. 73. E.g., report of the questore of Brescia, 25 April 1944» in ibid., busta 2; report of the questore of Cuneo, 2 June i944> hi ibid., busta 3; also, from ibid., (C i), busta 6, reports of the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza and the questore of Vercelli, 15 March, 19 April, 28 May, and 2 June 1944 ; of the questore of Viterbo, I May 1944; of Venice, 5 and 17 May and 12 July, 1944; of the questore of Verona and the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 25 July 1944 and 19 September, 1944; of the questore and the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza from Vicenza, 24 April, 31 July, and 30 November, 1944* 74. Reports of the inspector general of the Pubblica Sicurezza, 2 January 1944; 2 February and 4 March 1945» in ibid., (C2), busta 3, Cuneo. 75. See Frank Rosengarten, The Italian- Anti-Fascist Press (1919—1945) (Cleve­ land: The Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1968), pp. in -1 1 2 . 76. This is the judgment of his biographer, Enzo Modica, who edited his writings under the title, Classi e generazioni nel secondo Risorgimento (Rome: Edi­ zioni di Cultura Sociale, 1955), p. xxv. 77. Pasquale Colella, “La Chiesa e il movimento cattolico durante il fascismo,” Asprenas, 7 (i9 6 0 ): 344-345; for a somewhat hagiographical biography of Olivelli, see Alberto Caracciolo, Teresio Olivelli (Brescia: Editrice “La Scuola,” 1947)- On other aspects of the Catholic resistance see Piero Malvestiti, Achtung/ Banditi: Saggio politico sulla resistenza (Milan: Gastaldi, i960). 78. This was the main reason according to Roberto Battaglia, Storia della resistenza italiana (Turin: Einaudi, 1965). 79. Bocca, op. cit., p. 34a. 80. Bocca, op. cit., p. 469. 81. Reports of the prefect of Parma, 24 March 1945, P.S. (1903-1949) (C2), busta 4; and of Genoa, 3 and 21 March 1945, in ibid., busta 3. 82. In Giorgio Amendola, ed.. Il comuniSmo italiano nella seconda guerra mondiale (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1963)» PP- 3a2ff. 83. Delzell, op. cit., p. 561.


Conclusion Legacies of Fascism and Anti-Fascism

Q „„

cies of Fascism was the degree of mobilization it had imposed on most Italians. As we have seen, during the early 1920s the Fascist movement mobilized much of the urban lower-middle class, which had already been integrated into modern society but felt threatened by the efforts of the lower classes to upset the status quo. Initially the Fascists won popularity with sections of the upper, middle, and lower-middle classes by promising to demobilize the lower classes, but after eliminating the political parties, leagues, and labor unions which tried to mobilize the lower classes for a real revolution, the new regime tried to direct these same classes into activities such as mass rallies and campaigns, sports, group singing, and the like. Although these activities were politically meaningless, the experi­ ence of the mobilization involved had a major effect on Italian politics once freedom of political activity, and trade-unionism became possible once again. This experience was especially crucial for those people who had been brought up in the Fascist schools and youth organizations. Cer­ tainly the increasing modernization of Italian society stimulated the mobilization of the masses in the post-Fascist period, but Fascist forms of regimentation had conditioned people to vicarious participation in political life, just as the regime itself had promoted the idea of government spon­ sorship of economic development. The Fascist regime was unable to reverse the trend toward a growing economic disparity between the north and the south or to integrate the southern third of the country—the Mezzogiorno—into the rest of the nation. The problems of the Mezzogiorno were probably more serious in 1945 than they had been in 1922, partly because of increased demographic pressure and partly because of the continued influence of powerful northern eco­ nomic interests on national policy.1 Culturally the south as a whole was virtually unaffected by Fascist efforts to mold a new breed of Italians, nor did the Fascist experience change the attitudes of middle-class and upperclass southern men toward work, women, or “inferiors.” Yet, even though the south had had little importance in the rise of Fascism, it received much of the patronage and public works allotted by the regime. This was so largely because of the increasing number of southerners in public admin-


The FASCIST Experience

istration and their special talent for informal personal politics in the in­ terest of traditional patron-client relationships.2 Whereas clientism and informal personal politics had roots in the pre-Fascist period, Fascism added a new, and apparently permanent, fea­ ture to Italy’s political culture: careerism through political parties. During the liberal period Italy’s political parties had been loose groupings for voting purposes and had rarely monopolized particular ministries or local governments. Fascism, of course, went to the opposite extreme; no political (or even administrative) career was possible outside the Fascist party at any level, so that many people joined it in the hope that with the backing of its leaders they could further their own careers. After 1945 this habit continued with the democratic parties, particularly the Christian Demo­ crats, Communists, and Socialists. These modem mass parties were more than mere voting coalitions and they have fostered the careers of many Italians who would have had no other way of gaining access to certain posts besides their loyalty and service to one of these parties. Some major cities have completely Communist administrations, others Christian Demo­ cratic ones. On the national level the Christian Democrats have shared power with other parties without giving up their monopolies over ministries such as foreign affairs, defense, and finance. In the day-to-day operation of public affairs many Fascist institutions and policies have prevailed until very recently. During the late 1960s the major Fascist codes of criminal and civil law were still in effect, with only a few of their articles having been replaced with new legislation or thrown out by the Constitutional Court. In 1953, for example, the director Renzo Renzi was tried by a court martial rather than a civil court for wanting to make an antiwar film because a 1941 law making reservists subject to military courts had not been rescinded. On a more materialistic level, the 1944 Premio Zerbino was retained after much agitation by the labor unions; the Premio Zerbino was an annual supplementary bonus and hence not to be sacrificed merely because it had been instituted by an RSI minister of the interior who was executed by the resistance forces in April, 1945. Although the Fascists did little to modernize the Italian bureaucracy, army, or courts, under the direction of Arturo Bocchini the national police ac­ quired a remarkable efficiency and coolheadedness, which they have re­ tained to some extent ever since. In education Fascism preserved the elitist secondary schools and universities, so that they required more drastic reforms by the late 1960s than the elementary and junior high schools, which Giuseppe Bottai had tried to modernize and make “relevant” along lines suggested by Luigi Volpicelli. But whereas the success of these efforts was problematic, there is little doubt about the influence of the regime on the outlook of a whole generation of elementary school teachers. The Lateran Accords and their effects were one of the Fascist regime’s most important legacies. Under Fascism the church gained more than the state from the settlement of the Roman Question and the restoration of clerical influence in public life and education. In the long run it also gained, and for this reason Pope Pius XI was correct in making the com­ promises he did in order to preserve the Concordat and Azione Cattolica.


Conclusion: Legacies o f Fascism and Anti-Fascism

In the debates on the constitution of the new republic immediately after the war Paimiro Togliatti also compromised on the preservation of the Lateran Accords in order to gain Communist participation in Alcide De Gasperi’s government; thus, these Accords are still in operation. Although Azione Cattolica is less influential today than it was until the early 1950s, it had done by then what Pius XI had wanted it to do, namely, to provide a ready-made cadre of young leaders to take over after the fall of Fascism. The Christian Democrats who took control in late 1945 were different from the Popolari in that most of them had been molded by Azione Cattolica. (Older exceptions like De Gasperi and Scelba have long since been re­ placed by men like Moro, Rumor, and Colombo.) Their party was also able to absorb millions of former Fascist sympathizers and thus integrate them into the new, democratic regime. The most important effect of the cleri­ calism fostered by the Lateran Accords has been the influence of the church itself in such aspects of civil life as censorship, birth control, and the divorce issue. In addition to its various influences on Italian life the Fascist regime left a number of direct political heirs. The first of these, the Uomo Qua­ lunque (Everyman) movement, appeared among disgruntled antidemo­ crats during the elections for the constituent assembly in June, 1946; led by the journalist Guglielmo Giannini, its slogans were, "Down with politi­ cians” and "Down with talk.” After receiving 5.3 percent of the vote in these elections, the movement was unable to compete in the democratic party politics it so disdained, and, after its disintegration during the 1948 elections, some of its members founded the Italian Social Movement (Movimento Sociale Italiano—MSI) a year later. At first the MSI was dominated by unreconstructed supporters of Mussolini’s Republic of Salò; there were also hundreds of little clubs of ex-servicemen from that puppet regime’s armed forces as well as national associations seeking pensions for these veterans and their families.3 Whereas the veterans’ clubs have con­ tinued to wrangle on ideological and personal grounds, the MSI became more moderate during the 1950s, joining informal coalitions with other rightwing parties and gaining 5 percent of the vote fairly consistently. Thereafter, although the left and right wings of the MSI both claimed to accept the parliamentary regime and said that Fascism was dead, they both recognized good things in the Fascist period and wanted them rein­ stituted. By the 1960s the MSI was also attracting secondary-school stu­ dents who had no experience with Fascism but who enjoyed beating up Communists and Socialists and shouting nationalist slogans. In June 1971, in the wake of months of labor unrest, the MSI made startling gains in regional elections, increasing its 1967 percentage of 6.6 in Sicily to 16.3 and its 1966 percentage of 9.3 in Rome to 17.2. Two more extreme neo-Fascist movements that have achieved notori­ ety in very recent years are the Ordine Nuovo (New Order) and Prince Junio Valerio Borghese’s National Front. These two groups were appar­ ently active in the violent protests in Reggio Calabria and Pescara in 1970 and 1971 in connection with the relocation of regional capitals. The Ordine Nuovo is younger and more militant than the National Front; it is also


The FASCIST Experience

more radical, envisioning a new squadristi-style revolution, this time led by students and factory workers rather than railway clerks and account­ ants. The National Front, in contrast, has many veterans of the Tenth MAS (see pp. 315-316) who, like Prince Borghese himself, are now in their sixties. The prince’s outlook was frozen in 1943, when he transformed his crack antisubmarine battalion into a counterrevolutionary force against the armed Resistance. In spite of his mania for law and order he has not shied away from encouraging large scale disobedience in places like Reggio Calabria and Pescara as a way of undermining the authority of the existing regime and paving the way for a restoration of the RSI. Although he has denied that he wants to be a new Duce,4 at the time of this writing (Sep­ tember, 1971) Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, scion of the Roman aristoc­ racy and Fascist war hero, was hiding from the police, who were seeking him for questioning in connection with masterminding a plot to overthrow the government on December 7, 1970. In all candor it must be admitted that the legacies of anti-Fascism faded away more quickly than those of Fascism itself, but it would be inaccurate to view the armed Resistance of 1943-1945 as a complete failure. As Giorgio Bocca says: “The Resistance was not the pure and simple armed climax of the anti-Fascist conspiracy but the redemption, solidification, and meeting of the democratic forces of the nation, which would not be what it is—with its good and bad sides—without it.”5 Among other things, the democratic and progressive aspects of the new, republican constitution were inspired by the Resistance. Also bom during the Re­ sistance and surviving it were certain new patterns of labor relations and representation in the factories. The key word for Bocca and many others is “redemption,” which was transmitted by the minority that was active in various forms of resistance to the great masses of workers and peasants in the north and center and which evoked a complex of ideals to fill the void left by twenty years of Fascism. Perhaps even more important, the armed Resistance gave the Italian people back their self-respect, in their own eyes and those of the rest of the world. Its role in the anti-Fascist Resistancè gave the Communist party more influence in Italy than in any other country except China and Yugoslavia. Not only has it consistently polled at least one quarter of the total vote hi all elections, but it also gained control of the largest confederation of labor unions. Despite its outward subservience to Moscow in foreign policy dur­ ing the late 1940s and 1950s, the Italian Communist party, under as loyal a Stalinist as Togliatti himself, was able to claim its own “Italian way to Socialism” largely because it was a mass party associated with the ideals of the Resistance. It also had more clubs, journals, and commemorative activities dedicated to the Resistance than all the other parties combined. In the long run, its association with the Resistance may weaken its popu­ larity among idealistic young men and women with other concerns; for them Fascism and anti-Fascism are merely historical events beyond their ken. But until the early 1960s one of the main legacies of anti-Fascism was the unprecedented hold of the Communist party not only on masses of voters and workers but also on many of Italy’s major writers and artists,


Conclusion: Legacies o f Fascism and Anti-Fascism

again because of its role in the Resistance and its championing of the cause of the common man. The First and Second World Wars had quite different effects on Italy's writers and artists. This contrast was epitomized by the outlooks of two young literary critics : Renato Serra, who was killed in battle in the sum­ mer of 1915, and Giaime Pintor, who was killed in December, 1943, by a German mine while on his way from Naples to join the nascent Resistance forces in the north. Serra expressed the irremediable isolation of the bourgeois intellectual with anguished stoicism in his “Esame di coscienza di un letterato," in the Aprii 30, 1915, issue of La Voce. (It will be recalled that, under Prezzolini, La Voce had been one of the leading interventionist reviews.) The First World War and its aftermath intensified this isolation and stoicism, and Fascism finished the job. Like Pavese and Vittorini, Pintor expressed his anti-Fascism increasingly openly, especially in Bottai’s review Primato, after Mussolini dragged Italy into the Second World War. Then, two months after the liberation of Naples and three days before his own death, Pintor wrote a kind of testament in the form of a letter,6 in which he renounced Serra’s position and urged his fellow writers and artists to abandon their privilege of aloofness and throw themselves into politics and military resistance along with the common people. The neorealists in all fields of artistic endeavor quickly interpreted Pintor’s exhortation to mean that they should turn their literary and aesthetic interests to the common people as well and portray the lives of these people in simple, unaffected language. In art the contrast is particu­ larly sharp between “metaphysical" painters like De Chirico toward the end of the First World War and neorealist painters like Guttuso toward the end of the Second. In literature one can see the contrast in the same man, Alberto Moravia, between his The Time of Indifference (1929) and A Woman of Rome, which was published in 1947 and was one of the most famous neorealist novels, along with Pratolini’s A Tale of Poor Lovers. But it was through the medium of film that neorealism reached the widest audience. Rossellini’s Open City, produced in the summer of 1944 immedi­ ately after the liberation of Rome, is the epic of the Resistance spirit par excellence as well as a superb document of the terror, corruption, and brutality of life in that city under Nazi occupation. De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief (1947) is the poignant story of a poor man who finds a job requiring a bicycle and then loses it when his bicycle is stolen. The crowning achieve­ ment of neorealism with a social conscience was Visconti’s film La terra trema (1948), which, like Vittorini’s Conversazione in Sicilia, evoked the age-old poverty and meanness of poor Sicilian villagers. Visconti based his film on Verga’s novel I Malavoglia, written over a half-century earlier, but he highlighted the theme of the exploitation of the helpless fishermen by the jobbers and the unsuccessful effort of one of them to “change the system." Many young artists and writers changed their political beliefs as well as their style as a result of their experience with the anti-Fascist Resistance. They became “Marxists of the heart"—like Brecht in an earlier time. But these bourgeois intellectuals and artists faced the same dilemma as their


The FASCIST Experience

kind everywhere else. As Pavese said, already in 1946: “To resolve to go to the people is in substance to confess a bad conscience. One cannot go to the people; one is already part of the people. Otherwise it is useless.” From September, 1945 to December, 1947, in the Milanese review II Poli­ tecnico, Vittorini and his friends tried to use their neorealism and neoMarxism as means of regenerating Italian society and culture. After 1948, however, many writers and artists began to abandon the new style and political beliefs they had adopted during the anti-Fascist Resistance, partly because they were unwilling to accept Communist discipline and partly because they recognized the truth of Pavese’s warning. Pavese himself, however, could not accept what he considered to be his political and stylis­ tic failures, and he committed suicide in August, 1950. Natalia Ginzburg, one of his closest friends, says that he in a sense manufactured or at least exaggerated the motives for his suicide, and he had certainly spoken about it almost continuously for almost six months.7 But he also blamed himself for lack of feeling in his love life and, probably more important, was the victim of a romantic personality that insisted on having infallibly rational answers to the riddles of man and history. Another legacy of anti-Fascism, particularly as affected by the war, was a special attitude toward the USA. We have seen how for Pavese and other anti-Fascist writers of the 1930s America had provided both a myth of freedom and a literary model of directness, simplicity, and, above all, the sordid reality of daily life. This myth and this model contrasted sharply with both Hollywood and Fascist official culture and served as rallying points for those Italian intellectuals who, after 1943, sought their own salvation and that of their nation through a popular insurrection against the Nazi occupation. But of course they knew that their liberation de­ pended much more upon the army of General Mark Clark than upon the novels of Dos Passos, Steinbeck, and Hemingway. The new, ambivalent attitude of anti-Fascist artists toward the USA was expressed dramatically in Rossellini’s film Paisà (1946), in which ordinary Italians treat American soldiers as their fellows but show them the grim reality of a war that is at least partly their fault. Former Resistance fighters, particularly those who became or remained Communists, soon found much to criticize in American foreign policy, but they always retained a warm feeling for Americans as individuals and many aspects of their culture. Among themselves, however, the former Resistance fighters soon be­ came divided between the older generation of anti-Fascists and those members of the generation of the Littoriali who turned against the regime only during the Second World War. The older anti-Fascists, whether in exile or holding their peace in Italy, felt that the leftwing polemics of these youngsters before 1940 confused the issue by creating die impression that the better world they wanted could be gained by working within the system rather than by overthrowing it. Guido Calogero said that, in both Pisa and Rome, the students he knew were themselves divided between those who refused to attend the Littoriali in order not to be co-opted by the system and those who went in order to meet other anti-Fascists and to confront the judges with their radical proposals.8 Although the older and


Conclusion: Legacies o f Fascism and Anti-Fascism

younger anti-Fascists cooperated during the period of armed Resistance, the gap reappeared in the 1950s and 1960s, when each group tried to justify its behavior before 1943 by attacking the other’s behavior; the bestknown examples are Ruggaro Zangrandi’s II lungo viaggio attraverso il fascismo, and Luigi Salvatorelli and Giovanni Mira’s Storia d’Italia nel periodo fascista. Like the Risorgimento and Fascism, the anti-Fascist Resistance did not long survive the military phase of its operations. The Fascists had wanted to create a truly integrated national community by transcending both liberal and Marxist ways of thinking and behaving. Instead they super­ imposed a totalitarian façade on an economic and social system that they left unchanged. Actually the pre-1922 political regime—the main legacy of the Risorgimento aside from territorial unity itself—had also been a façade superimposed upon the same system; despite his efforts to integrate the masses into the national community, even Giolitti had been more con­ cerned with preserving the parliamentary façade than with changing the economic and social realities. In 1945 and only then in the entire history of Italy was there a sincere effort to change the underlying realities of Italian life in the name of a common cause. Yet the succeeding decades of Christian Democratic rule proved to be merely a more up-to-date and pious version of earlier efforts to create an integrated society with words rather than deeds.

NOTES 1. See Pasquale Saraceno, “La mancata unificazione economica/’ in L'economia italiana dal 1861 al 1961 (Milan: Giuffrè, 1961), p. 703* 2. See Sidney G. Tarrow, Peasant Communism in Southern Italy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), p. 88. 3. The Associazione Ex-Combattenti della Republica di Salò has its head­ quarters in Rome; the Associazione Nazionale Famiglie dei Caduti e Dispersi della RSI has offices in both Rome and Milan. 4. In an interview in La Stampa, 9 December 19705. Storia dell' Italia partigiana, p. 607. 6 . This letter was circulated underground and first published in 1946* It can be found in Pintor’s posthumous collection of essays. Il sangue d'Europa (Turin: Einaudi, 1950), pp. 245-248. 7. Natalia Ginzburg, Family Sayings (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1967)» PP* 200-202; Cesare Pavese, Il mestiere di vivere (Turin: Einaudi, 1962), pp. 371-378. 8. Calogero told this to Aldo Capitini, who reports the conversation in his Antifascismo tra i giovani (Trapani: Edizioni Célèbes, 1966) p. 227.


Appendix A Note on Sources

I n addition to the specific citations in the text, a few words on the kinds of sources used, along with their limitations, may be helpful here. Some of my insights come from personal interviews with Italians from all walks of life, including senators and deputies, journalists, pro­ fessors, blue-collar and white-collar workers, business executives, small shopkeepers, priests, labor leaders, public school teachers, opera singers, housewives, a judge, and a colonel in the Carabinieri. The only major group I neglected was peasants, whose outlook I have surmised from writ­ ten commentaries by firsthand observers. Aside from over fifty formal interviews I spoke casually about the Fascist experience with several hun­ dred people during the course of five fairly lengthy visits in Italy. Although people are sometimes more candid in conversation than in written memoirs, in both cases the desire to belittle the impact of Fascism was strong among all but a few diehard Fascists. There were also all the usual difficulties with faulty memories of events and feelings thirty years later. Often, how­ ever, casual references and unintentional slips proved more revealing than conscious, prepared, responses. I do not claim to be a professional inter­ viewer, and my sample, though random in the ordinary sense, was not scientifically chosen. Nevertheless, I believe that these personal contacts helped confirm information and ideas from other sources and gave me a feeling for Fascism which I could not have gotten in other ways. Among my principal unpublished sources were reports from party and police officials and informants in the provinces. Both the national party secretaries and the national chiefs of police took these reports quite seriously; at the same time they were aware of the ways in which these could be distorted by interpersonal rivalries, lack of objectivity, and a tendency to exaggerate or minimize undesirable situations. It was standard procedure for the national party secretary to confront a provincial party secretary ( federale) with an anonymous report about his bailiwick and to demand an explanation. Despite the self-justifying character of most of these explanations, one can usually make an educated guess as to who is telling the truth, particularly if one of the conflicting statements is cor­ roborated by a report from the local police chief or the prefect. As every­ where, the party and police officials and informers doctored their reports


The FASCIST Experience

in order to improve their own images in the eyes of their superiors. But often their superiors made marginal comments on these reports thus giving the researcher an on-the-spot, expert interpretation. Most of the police reports consulted were from the files on movements and individuals con­ sidered subversive (Ci), yet they were remarkably free from the biases one usually finds in police spies. This situation owed much to the efforts of Arturo Bocchini, the national chief of police from 1926 until his death in 1940. Another major unpublished source was the correspondence of Musso­ lini, which along with the party files and those of the ministry of popular culture, were captured in the north by the Allies in 1945, microfilmed, and returned to Rome. Unless the phrase “Carteggio Ordinario” is added after Segretario Particolare del Duce, it should be assumed that the “Carteggio Riservato” was used. This file is particularly revealing because of Mussolini's accessibility, at least through the mails, to all kinds of people who wrote to him on the most diverse matters. In some cases a copy of the reply is included; in others there are marginal comments by Mussolini himself. There are also dossiers on many of his correspondents, including police reports on them and sometimes even examples of their writings in pub­ lications that are very difficult to find in libraries—particularly because of the ravages of the flood of 1966 in the national library in Florence and the incompleteness of the periodical collection in the national library in Rome. Mussolini's dictatorship was more personal than Hitler's, and the Duce took an interest in many more activities and individuals than the Führer; hence his personal correspondence was very much concerned with the Fascist experience in many quarters. The other unpublished materials consulted in the Archivio Centrale dello Stato included the police files on prominent individuals, the files of the ministry of popular culture, and various party filés dealing with the Directorate, the GUF, and major events such as the 1932-1934 Exhibition commemorating the tenth anniversary of the “Revolution.” Most of these materials are descriptive; even the directives of the ministry of popular culture, though issued at the time to suppress news, actually give the researcher today a fairly accurate picture of what was going on in Italy. Unfortunately, the files of the Fascist youth organizations and the Dopola­ voro have apparently been lost, but a fairly wide sample of their printed pamphlets, programs, and periodicals are available and were consulted. As is evident in the text, official statistics on such matters as school attend­ ance, unemployment, crime, and economic conditions have been used with caution. I have used the daily and periodical press in order to find out what the Italians themselves were reading rather than as a source of information about actual events. In most cases I have merely sampled certain issues of individual newspapers and periodicals for their “flavor,” but I read every issue of the literary reviews of the 1930s and every issue of Critica Fascista from 1931 to 1943. This fortnightly review, run by Giuseppe Bottai, pub­ lished surprisingly candid criticisms of specific policies, individuals, and


Appendix: A Note on Sources

movements, as well as polemics between Fascists on a wide variety of topics. The ways in which most Italians experienced Fascism through the mass media were pieced together from studies of the popular press, radio, newsreels, commercial films, and textbooks. (I was also fortunate in being able to consult a large number of pastoral letters—a more traditional medium of propaganda—in the library of La Civiltà Cattolica.) Collections of postcard art—such as Enzo Nizza’s Autobiografia del fascismo (Milan: Edizioni La Pietra, 1962)—songs, and folklore were also used intensively. On the other hand, I used works of high culture—particularly painting, poetry, plays, and novels—for their artistic insights into how people really felt. In addition to books and articles written during the Fascist period I have consulted all the more recent specialized studies I could find. I have relied especially on such studies for political and economic affairs, which provided the basic context in which Fascism was experienced on the social and cultural levels. Even the incomplete data I have used in the study of different levels of Italian life show that these levels developed in different ways. Economic growth, for example, was slower than the growth in the efficiency of the national police force; military preparedness was far less effective than social regimentation and control of the mass media; social attitudes changed much more slowly than the literacy rate. Future historians study­ ing computerized serial data on specific types of behavior in the century between 1870 and 1970 may find even greater contrasts during the years 1922-1945 between the different levels of Italian life and within the same level before and after Fascism. Meanwhile, this book will hopefully help to confirm the growing impression that Italian Fascism (and perhaps other so-called totalitarian regimes as well) was not only experienced differently by different kinds of people but that it also affected different levels of activity in different ways. My data also show that whereas major events like the Matteotti murder, the conquest of Ethiopia, and the Second World War changed people’s attitudes toward the regime drastically, certain kinds of political, social, and cultural conditioning were to have longterm effects even among self-conscious anti-Fascists : reliance on party membership for career advancement, a taste for mass activities and organizations, and racism.


Index A c c a d e m i a d ’I t a l ia ,

279, 281, 291-292,

2 9 4 -2 9 6

Acerbo, Giacomo, 45» 46, 78, 99, n i , 186 Albania, 305, 307 Albertini, Alberto, 221, 280 Albertini, Luigi, 42, 221, 280, 292 Alfieri, Dino, 224, 243, 281 Amaido, Secondo, 107-108 A m i c i d i C a l v a r i, 136 anarchists, 13, 19-20, 25, 39, 74, 136 anarchy, 5, 29, 46, 55 Ansaldo Corporation, 21, 94, 100, 106, 1 3 7 » 139 anti-Bolshevism, 23-25, 28, 41 anticapitalist populism, 14 anti-Communism, 5, 9, 195, 198-199 anti-Fascism, 30, 52-54, 64, 76, 130132, 141, 181, 184-185, 196, 198, 200, 287, 289, 297; legacies of, 336339; Resistance movement and 274, 305-329, 3 3 4 , 3 3 6 - 3 3 7 anti-Semitism, 78-79, 163, 199, 219, 241, 242, 280, 295, 305, 309, 316-


25, 26, 45, 70; ex-, 69 Arias, Gino, 200 Arpinato, Leandro, 48, 51, 74, 75, 222 a r d iti,

A s s o c ia z io n e

N a z io n a le

C o m b a tte n ti,

50 A s s o c ia z io n e N a z io n a le fr a M u tila ti e I n v a l i d i d i G u e r r a , 50 A v a n g u a r d i s t i , 122 A v a n t i l 19, 20, 26, 220

“Aventine Secession,” 46 A z i o n e C a t t o l i c a , 71, 121, 132, 181, 183-185, 187, 189-198, 204, 286, 309, 3 3 4 , 3 3 5 Badoglio, Pietro, 73, 74, 3H-3i3> 315, 319

Baistrocchi, Federico, 73 Balbo, Italo, 35, 38, 41-43, 47, 5i, 74, 112, 218, 220, 226-227 Balla, Giacomo, 260 Ballarati, Giancarlo, 130 Bandini, Mario, 97 Bank of Italy, 89,185 Bargenelli, Piero, 165, 296 Baroncini, Gino, 51 Barzini, Luigi, 215, 220 Battle of Grain, 95, 104, i n Bauer, Riccardo, 318 Belgiojoso, Barbiano di, 185 Benedict XV, Pope, 23, 182, 188, 190 Beneduce, Alberto, 98, 99 Benelli, Sem, 280-281, 294 Benni, Antonio, 96 Bemaréggi, Adriano, 198 Bemieri, Antonio, 129 Bianchi, Michele, 14, 25, 41-44, 74, 184 Big Four, 24, 52 Bilenchi, Romano, 128 Bionchi, Gino, 267-268 Bissolati, Leonida, 19, 21 black shirts, 43, 54, 61, 70, 73-74, 186, 215, 315 BlasettL, Alessandro, 65, 232—234, 236, 237 Bò, Carlo, 265, 282-283, 299 Bocca, Giorgio, 336 Bocchini, Arturo, 50, 52-53» 64, 73, 81, 142, 310, 334, 344 Boccioni, Umberto, 21, 260 Boetto, Pietro, 198 Bonnard, Mario, 236-237 Bonsanti, Alessandro, 296, 297 Bontempelli, Massimo, 256-258, 261, 262, 269, 274, 294, 295, 297, 298 Borelli, Aldo, 221-223 Borgese, Giuseppe Antonio, 280



Borghese, Junio Valerio, 315-316»



Borletti, Senatore, 280, 292 Bottai, Giuseppe, 64, 65, 72, 75, 76, 78, 79» 92, 127» 128, 161, 216, 296298, 300, 310, 3i i, 3 3 4 , 3 3 7 , 3 4 4 345; educational reform, 151, 162163, 167, 170, 174, 175, 274, 3 3 4 Boy Scouts, 72,122,123; Catholic, 189,


Buffarini-Guidi, Guido, 314 Buonaiuti, Ernesto, 188, 189 Buonassisi, Vincenzo, 130 Buozzi, Bruno, 49

311, 314

Cadoma, Raffaelle, 323-324 Cain, James M., 237, 272 Calamandrei, Piero, 289, 318 Calogero, Guido, 289, 338 Camerini, Mario, 233-236 C a m p o d i M a r te , 296, 297 Canepa, Antonio, 76-77 capitalism, 3, 9; atheistic, 18; exploi­ tive, 314; laissez-faire, 201; state,

90, 98

Capoferri, Pietro, 107 Caporetto, Italian defeat at, 22-24, 1 5 2 -1 5 3

41, 68, 133, 142, 315, 343 Carducci, Giosuè, 284, 285, 288 Carrà, Carlo, 252, 260, 268 C a r t a d e l l a S c u o l a , 77, 162, 170, 297 cartels, 93-94» m C a s e d e l P o p o lo , 136-137 Casini, Gherardo, 79, 92 Castellino, Niccolò, 290-291 Catholic Boy Scouts, 189, 191 Catholic corporatist thought, 90 Catholic newspapers, 185, 187, 189, 191» 199-200 Catholics, Fascist regime and, 181210; liberal regime and, 5, 9, 11,1620. S e e a l s o A z i o n e C a t t o l i c a ; P o p o ­ l a r i ; Vatican Catholic schools, 153, 161 Catholic unions, 17, 29, 38, 49, 183184 Cavazzoni, Stefano, 185-186, 197 Cavligia, Enrico, 52 Cavour, Camillo Benso di, 16, 21, 22, 284, 285 Cecchi, Emilio, 263, 294 C e n t r o N a z i o n a l e I t a l i a n o , 185, 186 C a r a b i n ie r i ,

CGL (General Confederation of Labor), 19, 20, 27, 28, 37» 46, 48, 49, 187 Charter of Camaro, 30, 48 chauvinism, 24, 131, 163, 166, 217219 Chiarelli, Luigi, 252 Chierici, Renzo, 310, 311 Chirico, Giorgio di, 252, 268, 337 C h r i s t S t o p p e d a t E b o l i, 104, 141, 174, 214 Ciano, Galeazzo, 70-72, 7 5 , 216, 217, 228, 243, 292, 300, 3 0 5 -3 0 7 , 310, Ciarlantini, Franco, 291 Cicognani, Bruno, 240 CIL ( C o n f e d e r a z i o n e I t a l i a n o d e i L a v o ­ r a t o r i ), 182, 184, 187 Ciriaci, Augusto, 193 C i v i l i t à C a t t o l i c a , L a , 185, i 9 3 , *9 4 , 199

CLNAI ( C o m i t a t o

d e lla L ib e r a z io n e N a z i o n a l e p e r V A lta I t a l i a ), 319, 325

Codignola, Ernesto, 151-153, 160, 286 Codreanu, Comeliu Zelia, 3 Colli, Evasio, 198 Collodi, Carlo, 166 Colombo, Luigi, 187,190-191,193, 335 C o m ita to O lim p io n ic o N a z io n a le I t a l ­ i a n o (CONI), 125, 126 C o n f i n d u s t r i a , 42, 48, 49, 55, 93, 96,

100, 107 consortiums, 51-52, 93-94, 96, 97 Conti, Ettore, 46

271-272, 337 Corporation of The Professions and the Arts, 140 c o r p o r a z i o n e p r o p r i e t a r i a , 91-92 Corradini, Enrico, 13, 14, 221 C o r r e n te d i V i t a G i o v a n i l e , 229 C o r r ie r e d e l l a D o m e n i c o , 225 C o r r ie r e d e l l a S e r a , 21, 40, 42, 142, 220-223, 242, 292, 294, 312 Costamanga, Carlo, 92 Cottini, Franco, 63 C r e m o n a N u o v a , 220 C r i t i c a , L a , 259, 287 C r i t i c a F a s c i s t a , 64-65, 77, 78, 80, 92, 93, 108, i n , 128, 134, 243, 289, 296, 297, 3 4 4 Croce, Benedetto, 9, io, 14, 37, 45, 153-155, 220, 251-253, 259, 279290, 292, 296, 299, 300, 319 C o n v e r s a z i o n e i n S i c il i a ,



cult of the D u c e , 65 Curiel, Eugenio, 108,130, 321 Dalla Costa, Elia Cardinal, 199 D’Annunzio, Gabriele, 21, 22, 24, 42, 44, 215, 251-252, 263; Fiume ex­ pedition, 24-25, 29-30, 36, 51, 260, 264 De Amicis, Edmondo, 166 D e a t h T a k e s a H o l i d a y , 253 De Bono, Emilio, 41, 42, 186, 311, 314 De Felice, Renzo, 242 De Gasperi, Alcide, 141, 186, 198, 200, 204, 318, 321-322, 325 de Gaulle, Charles, 313 Denis, Maria, 235 De Buggerio, Guido, 289, 290 De Sanctis, Francesco, 283, 289 De Sica, Vittorio, 70, 227, 233-236, 337

De Stefani, Alberto, 9 4 - 9 5 » 98» m , 222 De Vecchi, Cesare Maria, 41, 42, 120, 159-160, 167, 193, 286, 292, 311 Donati, Giuseppe, 17, 54, 186, 318 D o n n e F a s c i s t e , 134 Dos Passos, John, 273, 338 education, 151-177, 334; aggressive patriotism and, 172-173; anti-Semitism and, 163; Bottai reform, 151, 162-163, 167, 170, 174, 175, 274, 334; Catholic schools, 153,161; com­ mercial high schools, 170; compul­ sory, 152, 154-156; Daneo-Credaro reform, 152; elementary, 151, 153156, 159-161, 163-166, 172-174; evening courses, 171; extension courses, 171; “Fascist culture,” courses in, 159, 164; Gentile reform, 151-158, 169-171, 174; g i n n a s i o lic e o , 152,156,158,161,171; higher, “selecting out” process for, 152; lan­ guage instruction, 164, 172; manual training, 162; mass, movement to­ ward, 171; military instruction, 159160; national, 158; normal schools, 152, 155, 156; philosophy, introduc­ tion of, 156; physical, 125,127,158159, 161, 162, 174; preparatory schools, 152, 160, 161, 171, 174; private schools, 159, 161-162; read­ ers, 165-166, 173, 228; religious in­

struction, 153-155» 158, 159, 161162, 164, 182, 188, 189; rural schools, 173; secondary, 152, 153, 156-163, 169-171, 174; state ex­ aminations, 153, 155, 157-158, 160, 171; state schools, 153, 154, 159161; teacher-training colleges, 155156,161,171; technical schools, 152, 156, 161, 169-170; textbooks, 159, 163, 165, 167-168; unified junior high school, 162, 174; university, 168-169, 171-172, 174; vocational, 152, 161, 169, 170; youth organiza­ tions and, 158-161, 174 EIAR ( E n t e I t a l i a n o A u d i z i o n e R a d i o ­ f o n i c h e ), 226, 227 Einaudi, Giulio, 290 Einaudi, Luigi, 40, 222, 225, 290, 292 E n c i c l o p e d i a I t a l i a n a , 75,284,286,300 ENIC ( E n t e N a z i o n a l e I t a l i a n o C i n e ­ m a t o g r a f i c o ) , 231 ENIM ( E n t e N a z i o n a l e p e r I T s t r u z i o n e M e d i a ) , 161-162 E n te N a z io n a le p e r V E d u ca zU m e F is ic a ,


(EOA), 72 Ercole, Francesco, 287 E s p l o r a t o r i C a t t o l i c a , 189 ethical state, Gentile’s conception of, 75-76, 285-286 Ethiopian War, 62, 72, 73, 77-78, 99, 103, 107, 128-129, 131, 143, 164, 174, 197-198, 217, 224, 227, 230, 241 expressionism, 30, 260 E n te O p e re A s s is te n z ia li

Fabrizi, Aldo, 236-237 Facta, Luigi, 39-42. Faino, Roberto, 189 Fanfani, Amintore, 200, 322 Farinacci, Roberto, 35, 37, 43, 44, 47, 51, 61, 73, 80, 158, 182-184, 220, 221, 242, 279, 309, 313, 315, 325 F a s c i d i c o m b a t t i m e n t o , io, 25-27, 30, 69, 153 F a s c i f e m m i n i l i , 74, 134, 135 F a s c i G i o v a n i l i d i C o m b a t t i m e n t o , 64, 69, 71, 73, 75, 120, 124-127, 159 F a s c io d i E d u c a z i o n e N a z i o n a l e , 153 fascism, as counterrevolution, 4; ideal type of, 3-4; problem of, 3-6; rise of, 5; as system of government, 4. S e e a l s o Italian Fascism



Fascist Academy of Physical Training, 127 Fascist Confederation of Professionals and Artists, 243, 293 Fascist corporative state, 67, 77, 89-93, 97-98, 107, hi, 138, 162, 168, 187, 200, 201 Fascist Grand Council, 49, 51, 62, 79, 9 6 ,2 4 2 ,3 0 5 ,3 1 1


fascist ideology, fascist practice and, 4 -5

Fascist Institute of Social Security, 1 3 5 -1 3 6

Fascist Militia, 44, 50, 51, 7 3 - 7 4 , 81, 104, 107, 125, 218, 308, 311, 315 Fascist party, 37, 39, 61-85; audibility of, 63; Black Brigades, 315, 316, 318; bureaucratization of, 71; constitution (1929), 62; depoliticization of, 6265; f e d e r a l i , 67-68, 71, 72, 104, 106, 308; feuds in, 75; f i d u c ia r o , 69-70; g e r a r c h i , 61, 63, 68-71, 74, 75, 92, 128, 135, 138-139, 216, 240, 281, 284, 298, 308; leadership, poor qual­ ity of, 79-80; membership increase, 68-69; Old Guard, 62, 63, 65, 69; Olympic training committee, 79; pa­ triotic rallies, 71 ; political down­ grading of, 79; propaganda, 63-64; public-assistance agency, 72; purges, 62-65, 7 4 ; Reform of Custom, 70, 122-123, 240-241, 298; regional in­ fluence of, 66-69; relief work, 7172; social composition of rank-andfile, 63; social imbalance of mem­ bership, 68; subordination to State, 62, 79; visibility of, 63; welfare work, 71-72; women's groups, 69, 71, 74, 134, 135; youth organizations, 64, 69, 75, 119-132 ( s e e a ls o s p e c if i c e n t r i e s ). S e e a l s o Fascist regime; Mussolini, Benito Fascist regime, acceptance of, 55; and Albania, 305, 307; army under, 41, 52, 54, 55, 62, 73, 79-81, 89, 96, 159; autarchic policies, 93, 98-101, 104, hi; bachelor tax, 119; and banking, 97-99; Battle of Grain, 95, 104, i n ; bonus system, 102, 135136; bureaucratization of, 65, 75; Catholic reaction to, 181-210; cen­ sorship, 50, 223-225, 229-230, 237238, 241, 312; church and, 53, 62,


89, 96, 159, 181-184, 186-191, 194198, 200-201, 204, 334-335; civil service and, 54, 80-81, 96; conform­ ity and, 130-132, 139-143 ( s e e a ls o anti-Fascism ) ; constitutional basis of, 53; courts under, 72-73, 80-81, 334; crime rate under, 142; currency reform, 63-64, 95-96; decree-laws, 66, 142, 163, 242-243; demographic campaign, 135-136; downfall of, 75, 311, 312; economy under, 63-64, 89116; education under ( s e e educa­ tion); elections, 64, 280, 335, 336; establishment of, 9; exceptional laws, 53, 54; family-allowance pro­ gram, 102, 112; and foreign trade, 99, 100; film industry and, 109, 139, 219, 229-239; Freemasonry and, 50, 181,190; and Germany, 78,130,199, 224, 241-242, 305-308, 313-315, 318-320; and Great Britain, 307, 310-311; and Greece, 307, 308, 311; industry and, 97-100; intellectual and cultural life, 279-302; and Jews, 78-79, 130, 163, 199, 241-242, 295, 309, 316-317; labor movement and, 49, 53, 89-91, 96, 101, 105-108; land-reclamation program, 96-97, 104; legacies of, 333-336; literary and artistic trends, 251-275, 337338; militarization of youth, 124125,159-160, 162; mobilization and, 333; modernization efforts, 80, 334; monarchy and, 41, 53, 54, 89, 159; municipal reform, 66-67; news­ papers and, 49, 50, 109, 219-225; peasants and, 1 0 9 -m , 214-215; police under, 41, 54, 55, 64, 68, 70, 72, 80-81, 142, 334; political revolu­ tion brought about by, 80-81; pre­ fects under, 64, 66-68; price-fixing, 72, hi; propaganda, 90, 95, 109, 163-166, 213, 214, 223, 225-227, 229-231,240,243,244,293,308-309; public works projects, 96-97, 104, 105; racial laws, 123, 130, 197, 198, 204, 241, 242, 280, 291; racism and, 78, 199, 241, 345 ( s e e a l s o antiSemitism); radio and, 109, 225-229; rearmament policy, 98-99; re-evaluation of lira, 63-64, 95-96; “repressive tolerance” of, 5, 243, 300; Re­ sistance movement, 274, 305-329,


334, 336-337; and Second World War ( s e e Second World War); social­ ization under, 119-147; social secu­ rity benefits, 102-103,108, 112, 305, 308; and Soviet Union, 307, 310; and Spanish Civil War, 75-76, 104, 130, 135, 188, 198-199, 224, 241, 318, 319; sports under, 125-127; and state budget, 94-95; taxation under, 94, 100, 105, u i , 119, 309-310; teacher loyalty oath to, 158, 159; Tripartite Pact, 241-242, 307; and university professors, 62, 120, 159, 163,188, 291 ; Vatican and, 158,159, 181-184, 186-191, 194-198, 200201, 204, 334-335; women and, 119, 133-136. S e e a l s o Fascist party; Italy; Mussolini, Benito Fascist revolution, 35-58, 65, 69, 71, 7 3 , 7 5 , 91-92, 158, 306 Fascist unions, 38, 47-50, 55, 61, 62, 89-91, 96, 106-108, in -1 1 2 , 134, 136, 187, 308 Fedele, Pietro, 158,188 Federation of the Italian Press, 50 F e d e r a z io n e N a z io n a le A r d iti d i G u e r r a ,

50 Federzoni, Luigi, 43, 50-52, 74 Fermi, Enrico, 163, 280 Ferrari, Francesco Luigi, 186, 189-190 Ferrerò, Guglielmo, 280, 281 Ferrerò, Leo, 218 Ferretti, Landò, 223 Fiat, 80, 89, 98, 100, 106, 137, 139, 310 Fioretti, Arnaldo, 48 First World War, io, 11, 13, 15-18, 20-26, 103, 152, 337 Fiume, 24; D'Annunzio's expedition to, 24-25, 29-30, 36, 51, 260, 264 Flora, Francesco, 264, 285 Foranzo, Gioacchino, 232, 281 Forges-Davanzati, Roberto, 74, 158, 165, 219, 228-229 France, 3; economy, 11, 95-96, 100, n i ; Germany and, 24; inflation, 9596; Italy and, 21-22, 307; legislature, 16; Radical Socialist party, 18; ruling coalitions, 16; Socialist-led strikes, 26 Franco, Francisco, 3, 73, 241 Freddi, Luigi, 231, 232, 235, 238, 239 Freemasonry, 50, 152-153, 167, 181, 190

French Revolution, 18, 164, 167-168, 190 F r o n t e d e l l a G i o v e n t ù , 321 F r o n t e s p i z i o , II, 295-296 FUCI (Catholic Federation of Univer­ sity Students), 202-203 f u o r u s c i t i , 53-54, 287 futurism, 30, 260-261, 282 Gadda, Carlo Emilio, 167, 214, 263, 296-297 Galbiati, Enzo, 311 Gallone, Carmine, 235 GAP ( G r u p p i d ’A z i o n e P o p o l a r e ), 320 Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 12, 214, 322 Garibaldi's Thousand, 45, 233 Gasparri, Pietro, 74, 184, 186, 188, 189 Gatto, Alfonso, 167, 265, 273, 296, 297, 299, 300 Gayda, Virginio, 219, 221 Gemelli, Agostino, 190, 191, 199, 204 Gentile, Giovanni, 10, 38, 43, 74, 76, 189, 279, 281-287, 289, 294, 296, 297, 299, 320; educational reform, 151-158, 169-171,174 Gentiioni Pact, 17,183 Germany, 3; anti-Semitic practices, 79, 242, 305, 316-317; bourgeoisie, 80; concentration camps, 5, 317; cult of F ü h r e r , 65; economy, 11, 89, 9496; Fascist regime and, 78, 130, 199, 224, 241-242, 305-308, 313-315, 318-320; France and, 24; Great Britain and, 306; and Greece, 307; imperialism, 307; inflation, 95-96; local dialects, 12; modernization, 80; and Poland, 241, 305, 306; racism, 5 , 7 8 - 7 9 , 199, 242, 305, 316-317; and Rumania, 307; state power struc­ ture, 79; Strength Through Joy movement, 126, 138; totalitarianism, 49, 50, 94, 119, 199; unions, 108; university students, 172; youth or­ ganizations, 121. S e e a l s o Hitler, Adolf Giampaoli, Mario, 63 Giani, Nicolò, 77 Giannini, Amadeo, 74 Giannini, Guglielmo, 335 Gibson, Violet, 52 GIL ( G i o v e n t ù I t a l i a n a d e l L i t t o r i o ), 109, 119-124, 127, 132-133, 160163, 174-175



152, 156, 158, 161, 171 Ginzburg, Natalia, 338 Giolitti, Giovanni, 10,15-17, 19, 20, 22, 27, 28, 3 5 - 3 7 , 41, 4 2 , 4 5 , 46, 167, 183,216, 221,288, 339 G io r n a le d I t a l i a , 40, 219-221, 242, 312 G i o r n a le R a d i o , 226 G i o v e n t ù C a t t o l i c a , 187, 191-192 Giuliano, Balbino, 65,159 Giurati, Giovanni, 64, 65, 80, 193, 194 G i u s t i z i a e L i b e r t à , 186, 318, 319 Gobetti, Piero, 54, i53, 318 Goebbels, Joseph, 243 Goering, Hermann, 173 Gotta, Salvatore, 166 Gramsci, Antonio, 27-28, 54, 141, 153, 2 5 3 , 279, 283, 289 Grandi, Dino, 37, 65, 216, 305, 310, 311, 314 Graziarti, Rodolfo, 315 Grazioloi, Francesco Saverio, 125 Great Britain, economy, 100; Fascist regime and, 307, 310-311; and Ger­ many, 306; Italy and, 21-22, 241242, 307, 310-311; Socialist-led strikes, 26; unemployment, 103 Greece, 307, 308, 311 Gronchi, Giovanni, 17, 186, 187 Gropius, Walter, 268-270 G u a r d i a N a z i o n a l e R e p u b b l i c a n a , 315, g i n n a s i o - li c e o ,


Guarneri, Felice, 92 Guelf movement, 183, 200 GUF ( G i o v e n t ù U n i v e r s i t a r i a Fas­ cista), 119, 120, 128-130, 132, 161, 168, 174, 225, 238, 243, 291, 298, 2 9 9 , 321, 3 4 4 Guizzardi, Gianni, 77, 131, 299 Guttuso, Renato, 268, 297, 299, 337 Hemingway, Ernest, 272, 273, 338 Hitler, Adolf, 3-5, 50-51» 65, 7 3 , 78, 79, 94, 199, 217, 219, 220, 222, 224, 226, 241, 307, 311, 313 Holy See, 184, 185, 188, 189, 194 I l l u s t r a z i o n e I t a l i a n a , 225, 293 IMI ( I s t i t u t o M o b i l a ir e I t a l i a n o ),

99 imperialism, 3, 14, 16, 21, 26, 76, 77; African, 130; German, 307; “Roman,” 73, 76 I m p e r o , 220 integral corporativism, 77, 91

IRI ( I s t i t u t o p e r l a R i c o s t r u z i o n e d u s t r i a l e ), 98-99, 104, i n I s titu to

C a tto lic a


A ttiv a tà

In ­

S o c i a li ,

187, 191

I s t i t u t o C e n t r a l e d i C r e d i t o , 185-186 I s t i t u t o L .U .C .E ., 140, 216, 229-231,

281, 291 I s titu to N a z io n a le d i C u ltu r a F a s c is ta ,

139-140 Italian Fascism, 3; anti-intellectual mass movements and, 13; birthplace of, 63; as “continuing revolution,” 65, 76, 129, 286; credo of, 169; geographical setting for rise of, 10ii; revolutionary character of, 40, 41, 49, 50, 65, 76, 129, 286; rise of, 12, 13, 16, 23, 25, 28-30; as ritual­ ized snobbery, 215; spiritual essence of, 76; state, 50; subversive character of, 37; visibility of, 27. S e e a ls o Fascist party; Fascist regime Italian Nationalist Association, 43, 53 Italians, civic culture and, 14-15; per­ sonality traits, 213-217; stereotypes of, 14 Italy, agrarian leagues, 28-29, 35, 38, 39, 47, 48; agricultural day laborers, i l , n o —in ; agriculture, 10, 95, 101, 109-110; annual per capita in­ come (1926-1940), ioi; army, 4143, 62, 73, 79; birthrate, changes in, 102, 135, 136; bourgeois culture, 13; bourgeoisie, 11, 35, 36, 80; Catholics ( s e e Catholics); Catholic unions, 17, ^9, 38, 49, 183-184; Chamber of Deputies, 9, 11, 16-17, 22, 24, 26, 38, 37, 45-47, 84; Christian Demo­ crats, 17, 18,131,181,182,187,191, 200, 319, 334, 335, 339; class an­ tagonisms, 12, i n ; class envy, 27; class struggle, 28-29; Clerico-Moderates, 17,18; Communist party, 2728, 37-39, 48, 51, 130, 220, 318-320, 3 3 4 , 3 3 6 - 3 3 7 ; Communist under­ ground, 54, 107, 108, 130; conserva­ tives, 5, 15, 17, 18, 182; cultural cleavages, 13; cultural pre-eminence, 21; customs duties, 12; dependence on foreign help, 14; depression (1929-1938), 100, io i, 103, 104, 109, n o , 112, 134; “devaticanization” of, 183; economy, 9-13; edu­ cated middle class, 13; education,



9-13, 15; elections, 16-17, 26, 37, 45-46, 64; émigration, 10-11, 54, 103-104, 214, 280, 283, 291; em­ ployment, by distribution of popula­ tion, io o -io i; and Ethiopia ( s e e Ethiopian War); Fascist take over of local governments, 39-40; First World War and, 10, 11, 13, 15-18, 20- 26, 103, 152, 337; France and, 21— 22, 307; futurists, 21, 25, 26, 70, 183, 215, 260-261; Great Britain and, 21-22, 241-242, 307, 310-311; illiteracy rate (1901-1921), 152; in­ dustries, 10-12; inflation, i i , 27, 95-96; interventionists, 14, 21, 25, 47-48; intransigence, 182,197; labor movement, 15, 23, 27-28, 30, 35, 36, 38-41, 43; landowners, 29, 35, 37, 38, 44, 47, n o , 183; legalitarian strike, 40, 51; legislature, 16; lib­ eral regime, 9, 10, 15-18, 20, 22, 23, 30, 35, 43, 54, 181, 186; liberals, 5, 36, 45 , 46, 5 4 , 3^4; and Libya, 14, 16, 307, 308, 311; Maximalists, 1920, 23, 26, 45; modernization and, 3, 4, 10, 17-18, 54-55, 80, i n ; na­ tional culture, 12, 13; Nationalists, 16-17, 21-24, 30, 36, 44, 184; no­ bility, ii, 140-141, 143; occupation of the factories, 27-28, 30, 35, 36, 39; Parliament, 10, 16, 19, 22, 30, 184, 311; peasants, 10-11, 15, 22, 28; police, 41, 42, 52; political cul­ ture, 15-17; popular culture, 13; population increase ( 1936-1940 ), 136; poverty, 9, 10, 89, 100, 104, 112; private consumption per capita (1926-1940), ioi; public expendi­ tures per capita (1926-1940), ioi; “radiant days of May,” 22; Radicals, 16, 27; “reclericalization” of, 197; “red” unions, 183; “red week,” 26; Reformists, 45-46; regional and lin­ guistic differences, 12, 22; regional­ ism, 12-13; Republican party, 46; Royal Guard, 41 ; ruling class, 11, 30, 61 ; ruling coalition, 15-16, 35, 36; rural workers, 19, 35, 38, 54; “sick society,” 44, 54; social and political conflicts, 23-24; social cleavages, 13, 133; Socialist party, 17, 19-21, 2330, 35, 37-39, 45, 51, 5*, 220, 334; Socialist unions, 29, 183; social

structure, io - ii; strikes, 14, 20, 2324, 26, 28, 40, 49, 51, 62, 310, 318, 320; taxation, 12, 27; in Triple En­ tente, 21; underground organiza­ tions, 54, 107, 108, 130, 200, 212, 320-321 ; unemployment, 103-105, 107, 112, 134, 140; unification (1861), 9; unions, 17, 29, 38-39, 49, 51, 183-184, 186, 187, 191 ( s e e also Fascist unions); universal manhood suffrage, 9, 15-17, 26; universal military training, 12; urban workers, 11, 15, 19, 28, 35, 38, 48, 54 ; wages, 12, 27, io i, 102, 104, 106, 107, n o ­ n i ; war profiteers, 11-12, 27; war­ time sacrifices, 23-25; war veterans, 25, 27, 28, 30, 36, 41, 50, 69, 136; “white” unions, 183, 186, 187, 191; and Yugoslavia, 24, 29. S e e a ls o Fascist party; Fascist regime Jacini, Stefano, 79-80, 189-190 Japan, 3, 80, 241-242, 307 Jesuits, 161, 184-186, 188, 193-194, 202 Jews, 78-79, 130, 163, 199, 241-242, 295, 309, 316-317 J e w s i n I t a l y , T h e , 242 Lanzillo, Agostini, 47, 90 Lateran Accords, 64, 76, 140-141, 159, 181, 184, 187, 189, 190, 334, 335 l a t i f u n d i a , abolition of, h i Lavitrano, Luigi Cardinal, 198-199 law and order, maintenance of, 5, 10, 20, 26, 37, 40, 43, 5a, 7a, 142 Lazzari, Costantino, 19 League of Nations, 77-78, 99,131, 293 Lenin, Nikolai, 23, 26, 30 Leo Xm, Pope, 17 L e t t e r a t u r a , 296-297 Levi, Carlo, 104, 141, 174, 214, 215 L e z i o n i d i d i d a t t i c a , 156 liberalism, 4 5 , 90, 9 5 , 181, 184, 198199, 289; “new,” 15; rationalistic, rejection of, 13 L i b r e t t o d i l a v o r o , 103 L ib r o e M o s c h e t t o , 128, 129 Libyan War, 14, 16, 307, 308, 311 V i d e a N a z i o n a l e , 21, 228 V i t a l i a n o , 293 L i t t o r i a l i , 120, 128-131, 202, 243, 298,




Lombardo-Radice, Giuseppe, 151, 153, 154, 156» 286 London, Treaty of, 21-22, 24 Longanesi, Leo, 293 L ’O r d in e N u o v o , 27-28 Lucetti, Gino, 52 Ludovisi, Francesco Boncompagni, 185 L ’U n i v e r s a l e , 298-299 Mafai, Mario, 268 Mafia, 66, 106, 142 Magnani, Anna, 236-237 Malaparte, Curzio, 218-219, 262 Malatesta, Errico, 20 Manaresi, Alfonso, 167-168 Manifesto of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, 282, 284, 285 Manifesto of Fascist Racism, 78 Manifesto of the Intellectuals of Fas­ cism, 282 March on Rome, 9, 10, 13, 14, 30, 38, 41-44, 47, 48, 65, 66, 120 Marinetti, Filippo Tommaso, 21, 226227, 260, 261 Martini, Arturo, 260-261 Marxists, 5, 9,13, 126, 289, 321 Marzio, Cornelio di, 75, 293 M a s s a i e R u r a l i , 134 Matteotti, Giacomo, 44, 46-47, 49, 55, 136, 184, 186, 187, 220-221, 263, 345

220 Melnati, Umberto, 227, 234, 235 M e s s a g g e r o , 220 Mezzasoma, Fernando, 314 M e z z o g io r n o , II, 220 Miglioli, Guido, 17, 39, 182 M i n n i e l a c a n d i d a , 256-258 Minoretti, Carlo Dalmazio Cardinal, 202 m i s t i c a f a s c i s t a , 77, 131, 198 Montale, Eugenio, 263, 265-269, 271, 283 Montecatini chemical works, 95, 98, 100,106 Montini, Giovanni Battista, 203 Morandi, Giorgio, 252, 267-269, 283 Moravia, Alberto, 273, 294, 297, 337 Morgagni, Manlio, 222 Mori, Cesare, 142 Moro, Aldo, 203, 335 Moroni, Ludovico, 232 M o s t r a d e l l a R i v o l u z i o n e F a s c i s t a , 65, M a t t i n o , II,

M o v i m e n t o L a u r e a t i , 198, 203-204 M o v i m e n t o S o c i a le I t a l i a n o , 335

Murri, Romolo, 17, 18, 183, 289 Mussolini, Arnaldo, 63-64 Mussolini, Benito, 3-5, 14, 20, 24, 25; “animai instinct,” 66; announcement of dictatorship, 9, 48; assassination attempts against, 52, 136; bid for power, 41, 42, 80; charismatic lead­ ership, 53, 65, 66; coalition gov­ ernment, 9, 43-45; death of, 325; downfall of, 130, 311, 312; and Ethiopian War, 62, 73, 227; exhibi­ tionism, 214; expulsion from Social­ ist party, 21 ; gaining of power, 9, 43-44; image(s) of, 36, 65, 214-215; as interventionist, 21; and League of Nations, 131; and Libyan War, 14; Matteotti assassination and, 44, 4647, 55; militarism, 14; ministries headed by, 62; and parliamentary politics, 35, 37, 38; “plebiscite,” 64, 190; and policy decisions, 62; politi­ cal skill, 36; puppet government, 313-318; revolutionary policy, 20, 25-26; and Second World War, 62; self-assurance, lack of, 65-66; as sex symbol, 65, 214-215; and Social­ ist party, 19, 21, 37; struggle for survival, 36; subversion and, 14, 21, 25, 36; and Vatican, 38, 62, 64, 183, 186, 195; v o l t e f a c e , 21. S e e a ls o Fascist party; Fascist regime Mussolini, Vittorio, 129, 235, 238, 239,

272, 313 Muti, Ettore, 306, 308 Napoleon III, 3 N a s c ita e a v v e n to d e l fa s c is m o , N a t a l e d i s a n g u e , 29


National Confederation of Fascist Unions, 62 National Fascist Union of Journalists,

50 National Front, 335, 336 nationalism, 3, 4, 24, 78; Arab, 143; demagogic, 43; economic, 99; ultra-, 5; wounded, 30 Nazi storm troopers, 50 Nazzari, Amadeo, 235, 237 Nenni, Pietro, 54, 318 Nitti, Francesco Saverio, 10, 26, 29,


3 5 , 53 - 5 4 , 318


Index n o n e x p e d i t , i i , 17, 18 N o v e c e n t o , 260-262, 267, N u e v o P a e s e , 48 N u o v a A n t o l o g ia , 74, 293,

291 294

Ojetti, Ugo, 142, 219-221, 291-293 Olivelli, Teresio, 131, 321-322 Olympic Games (1936), 126, 230 O m n i b u s , 293-294 Omodeo, Adolfo, 289 O p e r a d e i C o n g r e s s i , 17, 18,183 O p e r a N a z i o n a l e B a l il l a , 50-52, 64, 75, 109, 119-125, 132, 158-161, 164, 173, 174, 189 O p e r a N a z i o n a l e C o m b a t t e n t i , 112 O p e r a N a z i o n a l e D o p o l a v o r o , 50, 61, 64, 69, 79, 109, 119, 126, 132, 136139

, 171

Orano, Paolo, 242 O r d in e N u o v o , 335-336 Orestano, Francesco, 291 Orlando, Vittorio Emanuele, 23, 24, 26, 46 Ortega y Gasset, José, 158, 171, 282 O s s e r v a t o r e R o m a n o , 224-225, 286 OVRA, 64, 73, 141 Padovani, Aurelio, 66 Pagano, Giuseppe, 260, 267, 269-270, 274, 291, 295 Palazzo Chigi Pact, 48, 96 Palazzo Vidoni Pact, 49, 96, 187 Pamphili, Filippo Doria, 141 Papal States, 17,190 Papini, Giovanni, 13, 292, 294-296 Paris Peace Conference, 24 Parri, Ferruccio, 318, 325 P a r t i t o P o p o la r e I t a l i a n a , s e e P o p o la r i

Pavese, Cesare, 252, 270, 272-274, 290, 297, 337, 338 Pavolini, Alessandro, 128, 306, 313,


Pellizi, Camillo, 80, 139, 291 Pende, Nicola, 291 Perisco, Edoardo, 268 Péron, Juan Domingo, 3 Piacentini, Marcello, 269, 291 Pintor, Giaime, 297, 337 Piovene, Guido, 223, 294 Pirandello, Luigi, io, 138, 251—256, 258, 259, 266, 269, 282, 283, 298 Pirelli, Alberto, 80, 89, 92, 292 Pius IX, Pope, 17

Pius X, Pope, 17, 18 Pius XI, Pope, l i , 90, 182, 184, 186191, 194-198, 200-201, 204, 334 Pius XII, Pope, 202, 317 Pizzardo, Giuseppe, 192, 196 Poggioli, Renato, 294 Poland, Germany and, 241, 305, 306 Poli, Giovanni, 120 Polverelli, Gaetano, 75, 224,243 Pontine marshes, 96-97, 104, 109, 228, 230-231, 269 P o p o la r i, 9, 18, 23, 26, 3 5 , 3 7 , 4 3 , 4 5 , 46, 54, 153, 182-188, 355; ex-, 196 P o p o lo d ' I t a li a , II, 21, 27-28, 36, 39, 44, 83-64, 220, 261, 306 populism, 4, 217-219, 274; anticapital­ ist, 14 Pratolini, Vasco, 128, 270-274, 297, 298, 3 3 7 P r e m i o Z e r b in o , 334 Preziosi, Giovanni, 220, 242 Prezzolini, Giuseppe, 13, 259-260, 294, 337

P r i m a t o , 291, 296-298, 337 PSU ( P a r t i t o S o c i a l i s t a U n i t a r i o ),


46 Pugliese, Emanuele, 41 Q u a d ra g e sim o a n n o , Q u a d r i v o , 261-262

90, 200-201

Quasimodo, Salvatore, 263-265 q u o t a n o v a n t a , 95-96 Rachelli, Mario, 48, 92 racism, 5, 78-79, 163, i99, 241, 291, 294. S e e a l s o anti-Semitism Ragghianti, Carlo Ludovico, 322 Rahn, Rudolf von, 314 Rancicci, Piero, 139 r a s , 35, 37, 43, 44, 47-49, 5*. 62-63, 74, 75 Renzi, Renzo, 334 R e p u b b l i c a S o c i a le I t a l i a n a , 51, 313320, 334 R e r u m n o v a r u m , 17, 200 Resistance movement, 274, 305-329, 3 3 4 , 3 3 8 -3 3 7 Respighi, Ottorino, 251 revolutionary syndicalists, 13, 14, 19a i, 25, 29, 30, 37 Ricci, Berto, 298-299 Ricci, Renato, 51-52, 64, 7 5 , 9 3 , H 9, 120, 125, 159, 174, 306, 314, 315



Righetti, Igino, 203 Rigola, Rinaldo, 19, 200 Rinaldi, Felice, 1 9 3 - 1 9 4 R i s o r g i m e n t o , 12, 21, 22,168,183, 321, 322, 339 Rivera, José Antonio Primo de, 3 R i v o l u z i o n e L i b e r a l e , 54, 299, 318 Roach, Hai, 238 Roatta, Mario, 312 Robertas, Giuseppe de, 259 Rocco, Alfredo, 4 3 , 4 9 , 5, 5 2 - 5 3 , 6 5 , 80, 90-91, 96, 189, 200 Roehm, Ernst, 50-51 Roman Curia, 188, 195 Roman “goose-step,” 73 Romani, Bruno, 167 Roman Question, 17, 18, 38, 187-190, 334

Rome-Berlin Axis, 78, 224, 241, 305

Rommel, Erwin, 307 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 90, 214, 226 Rosa, Alberto Asor, 274 Rosa, Enrico, 184-185, 191, 194, 196 Rosai, Ottone, 262, 267 Rosenberg, Alfred, 243 Rosmini-Serbati, Antonio, 183 Rosselli brothers, assassination of, 318 Rosselli, Carlo, 287, 289 Rossellini, Roberto, 236, 337, 338 Rossi, Cesare, 41 Rossoni, Edmondo, 14, 47-49, 62, 96,


Ruffini, Francesco, 290 Rumania, 3, 307 Ruspoli, Prince, 189 Russian Revolution, 23, 26, 91 Russo, Luigi, 285, 289 121-122, 132 Saba, Umberto, 167, 263 Sacchi, Filippo, 222-223, 294 Salagari, Emilio, 166-167 Salandra, Antonio, 10, 20-22, 41, 42,

s a b a to f a s c is ta ,

45, 220 Salazar, Antonio de Oliveira, 3 Salvatorelli, Luigi, 222,297, 339 Salvemini, Gaetano, 10, 16, 21-22, 54, 280, 292, 318 San Secondo, Rossi di, 252 s a n t o m a n g a n e l l o , 39, 43 Santucci, Carlo, 185, 186 Saraceno, Pasquale, 98 Sarfatti, Margherita, 261

Saroyan, William, 271-272 Sarti, Roland, 98 Scarfoglio, Carlo, 220 Scarfoglio, Edoardo, 220 Scarfoglio, Paolo, 220 Schuster, Ildefonso A., 197-198, 324-


Scorza, Carlo, 75, 120, 126, 159, 310 Second World War, 18, 62, 74, 78, 79, 97, i n , 135,160,171,174,195, 203, 222, 224, 305-329, 3 3 7 - 3 3 9 Senise, Carmine, 310, 311 Serena, Adelchi, 73, 306, 308 Serra, Renato, 337 S e t t i m a n a S o c i a li , 191, 192, 198 Severi, Leonardo, 188-189 Severini, Gino, 260 S i g n o r M a x , 139, 233-234 Silone, Ignazio, 104, 271 Sironi, Mario, 260-261, 274 S i s t e m a d i d o t t r i n a d e l f a s c i s m o , 76-77 S ix C h a r a c te rs in S e a rc h o f a n A u th o r,

253-256, 283 social Catholicism, 18, 183, 187 socialism, 4, 90, 181; atheistic, 183; international, 167; national, 133; state, 90, 91 S o c i e t à B u o n a S t a m p a , 189 S o c i e t à G i n n a s t i c h e C a t t o l i c h e , 189 Soderini, Edoardo, 224 Soffici, Ardengo, 260, 262, 294, 299 S o i a r i a , 263, 295 Solari, Gioele, 290 Sonnino, Sidney, 20, 21, 74, 220 Soviet Union, Communist party, 79; Fascist regime and, 307, 310; leisuretime organizations, 138; social secu­ rity benefits, 103; state socialism, 91 ; totalitarianism, 119; unions, 108; Young Communists’ League, 120 Spain, 3; Civil War, 75-^76, 104, 130, 135, 188, 198-199, 223, 224, 241, 3 1 8 ,3 1 9

Spaventa, Bertrando, 283 Spinetti, Gaetano Silvano, 131, 299 Spirito, Ugo, 77, 80, 91-92, 297-299 squadrista, 38, 43, 44, 315, 316 s q u a d r i s t i , 29, 30, 36-45, 47-51, 61, 65, 66, 68, 77, 125, 165, 182-183, 186, 218; ex-, 51, 63, 69, 71, 75, 306, 310, 315 Stalin, Joseph, 141, 213, 262, 300 S t a m p a , L a , 222, 288



Starace, Achille, 51, 61, 63, 65, 66, 68-69, 71, 74-76, 80, 81, 120, 121, 125, 127, 128, 130, 134, 158, 169, 216, 217, 240, 279, 281, 299, 300, 306, 308, 325 Steppa, Mimmo, 80 S t r a c i t t à , 260-262 S t r a p a e s e , 260, 262, 267, 273, 295, 298 Sturzo, Luigi, io, 18, 54, 181-184, 186, 200, 318 subversion, 14, 21, 25, 26, 36, 37, 52, 5 3 , 7 2 - 7 3 , 105, 130, 141 syndicalism, Fascist, 41, 43, 47-49, 315; integral, 48; modem, 168; na­ tional, 25; patriotic-anarcho-, 30; revolutionary, 25, 47, 48 ( s e e a ls o revolutionary syndicalists); workingclass, 47 “Syndicalist Reprisal, The,” 130 Tacchi-Venturi, Pietro, 186, 188, 190,


Tarchi, Angelo, 316 Tassinari, Giuseppe, 97 Taviani, Paoli Emilio, 322 Tenth MAS, 316, 336 Terragni, Giuseppe, 269 Tilgher, Adriano, 288 T im e o f I n d iffe r e n c e , T h e ,

251, 258-

259, 263,337

Togliatti, Paimiro, 29, 54, 319, 321, 325, 3 3 5 , 3 3 6 Tomoli, Giuseppe, 18 Tornaquinci, Aldobrando Medici, 324 Torre, Andrea, 288-289 Toscanini, Arturo, 279-281, 283 totalitarianism, 4; Fascist, 4 9 -5 0 , 76, 79, 92, 94, 119, 200; German, 49, 50, 94 , 1 19,199; Soviet, 119 t r a s f o r m i s i o , 15, 20, 241, 288 Treves, Claudio, 19, 23 Triple Entente, 21

Turati, Augusto, 49, 51, 61-62, 80, 158 Turati, Filippo, 19, 46, 54 Ungaretti, Giuseppe, 260, 263-264 U n io n e E l e t t o r a l e , 17 U n io n e I t a l i a n a d i L a v o r o , U n io n e N a z i o n a l e , 185 U n io n i C a t t o l i c h e , 18


universal manhood suffrage, 9, 15-17, 26 U o m o Q u a lu n q u e movement, 335 Valéry, Paul, 264 Vallauri, Giancarlo, 226 Valli, Alida, 234 Vatican, Fascist regime and, 158, 159, 181-184, 186-19*, 194-198, 200201, 204, 334-335; and First World War, 23; Mussolini and, 38, 62, 64, 183, 186,195 V e c c h i a g u a r d i a , 65, 165, 232, 233 Venturi, Franco, 321 Verga, Giovanni, 273, 337 Vidussoni, Aldo, 308 Vignoli, Lamberto, 202 Vigorelli, Giancarlo, 167 Visconti, Luchino, 237, 239, 272, 337 Vittorini, Elio, 104, 167, 252, 270-274, 295, 337, 338 Vittorio Emanuele III, 22, 42-43, 46, 52, 312, 319 V o c e , L a , 13, 259, 263, 337 Volpe, Gioacchini, 288, 292, 294 Volpicelli, Luigi, 151, 162-164, 297, 334

Yugoslavia, Italy and, 24, 29 Zamboni, Anteo, 52 Zangrandi, Buggerio, 129-131, 299, 300, 339

Zaniboni, Tito, 52 Zurlo, Leopoldo, 237-238