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Related: Italy - Benito Mussolini - Nazism - 1920s - 1930s

Films dealing with fascism: A Special Day (1977) - Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979)

Mussolini and Hitler

Fascism 1922 - 1943

Fascism (in Italian, fascismo), capitalized, refers to the right-wing authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. The name comes from fascia, which may mean "bundle", as in a political or militant group or a nation, but also from the fasces (rods bundled around an axe), which were an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of magistrates. The Italian 'Fascisti' were also known as Black Shirts for their style of uniform incorporating a black shirt. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism [Nov 2004]


The word fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism [Nov 2004]


[Italian fascismo, from fascio, group, from Late Latin fascium, from Latin fascis, bundle.] --AHD

Writers linked to Fascism

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriele_D%27Annunzio [Aug 2005]

See also: author

Modernism as a literary theory of fascism

It was a European obsession, tied up in European fears of a Malthusian crisis, which was adopted after a lag by American writers such as H.L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. Baudelaire and Nietzsche were the pioneers, leading their followers to an aristocratic contempt for democracy, capitalism, bourgeois values, and the United States of America. Baudelaire had spoken for example of "a knave in Benjamin Franklin's style, the rising bourgeoisie come to replace the faltering aristocracy." A nostalgia for aristocracy bubbled up in the century after 1848, a treason against the liberal polity. Modernism, says Carey, is a literary theory of fascism. One finds it still among certain literary intellectuals, many of whom think of themselves as politically progressive. --Donald N. McCloskey commenting on John Carey's The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992) via http://www.reason.com/9407/bk.mccloskey.html [May 2006]

The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (2004) - Richard Wolin

The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (2004) - Richard Wolin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Fifteen years ago, revelations about the political misdeeds of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man sent shock waves throughout European and North American intellectual circles. Ever since, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been widespread and not incidental. He calls into question postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the left--and suggests that postmodern thought has long been smitten with the opposite end of the political spectrum.

In probing chapters on C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot, Wolin discovers an unsettling commonality: during the 1930s, these thinkers leaned to the right and were tainted by a proverbial "fascination with fascism." Frustrated by democracy's shortcomings, they were seduced by fascism's grandiose promises of political regeneration. The dictatorships in Italy and Germany promised redemption from the uncertainties of political liberalism. But, from the beginning, there could be no doubting their brutal methods of racism, violence, and imperial conquest.

Postmodernism's origins among the profascist literati of the 1930s reveal a dark political patrimony. The unspoken affinities between Counter-Enlightenment and postmodernism constitute the guiding thread of Wolin's suggestive narrative. In their mutual hostility toward reason and democracy, postmodernists and the advocates of Counter-Enlightenment betray a telltale strategic alliance--they cohabit the fraught terrain where far left and far right intersect.

Those who take Wolin's conclusions to heart will never view the history of modern thought in quite the same way. --http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7705.html [May 2006]

One of the crucial elements underlying this problematic right-left synthesis is a strange chapter in the history of ideas whereby latter-day anti-philosophes such as Nietzsche and Heidegger became the intellectual idols of post-World War II France--above all, for poststructuralists like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze. Paradoxically, a thoroughgoing cynicism about reason and democracy, once the hallmark of reactionary thought, became the stock-in-trade of the postmodern left. As observers of the French intellectual scene have frequently noted, although Germany lost on the battlefield, it triumphed in the seminar rooms, bookstores, and cafés of the Latin Quarter. During the 1960s Spenglerian indictments of "Western civilization," once cultivated by leading representatives of the German intellectual right, migrated across the Rhine where they gained a new currency. Ironically, Counter-Enlightenment doctrines that had been taboo in Germany because of their unambiguous association with fascism--after all, Nietzsche had been canonized as the Nazi regime's official philosopher, and for a time Heidegger was its most outspoken philosophical advocate--seemed to best capture the mood of Kulturpessimismus that predominated among French intellectuals during the postwar period. Adding insult to injury, the new assault against philosophie came from the homeland of the Enlightenment itself. --http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/i7705.html [May 2006]

See also: Nietzsche - fascism - irrationalism - counter enlightenment - postmodernism - seduction

The Birth of Fascist Ideology (1989) - Zeev Sternhell

The Birth of Fascist Ideology (1989) - Zeev Sternhell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

[This] work obliges us to ground any study of fascism in the particular moment toward the end of the nineteenth century when politics expanded dizzily from a gentleman's hobby to a matter of mass opinion and votes. [Sternhell] shows irrefutably that fascist doctrine had complex cultural origins, drawing not only from conservative efforts to adapt to the novel requirements of mass politics,...but also from dissent within the left against the materialism, positivism, and reformism that mainstream Marxism shared with social democracy in the 1890s.

Book Description
When The Birth of Fascist Ideology was first published in 1989 in France and in 1993 in Italy, it aroused a storm of response, both positive and negative. In Sternhell's view, fascism was much more than an episode in the history of Italy. He argues here that it possessed a coherent ideology with deep roots in European civilization. Long before fascism became a political force, he maintains, it was a major cultural phenomenon.

See also: fascism - cultural history

Literary Apologies for Violence in the Avant-garde and (Pre-)Fascism

Conceptions of violence as emancipatory, or life-affirming, or as a fascinating phenomenon with aesthetic value which has been repressed by bourgeois culture, all belong to the central strategies of the European political, artistic and intellectual avant-garde, and in the case of a great number of the protagonists involved, these concepts are linked to the fascist cult of violence (Heidegger, Céline, Pound, Hamsun, D'Annunzio, Yeats, Mauras, Marinetti, Gentile, Pirandello, Drieu de la Rochelle, Marcel Jouhandeau, Wyndham Lewis, Cocteau, Ernst Jünger, Gottfried Benn). Ze'ev Sternhell (1983, 1992) argues that European fascism first articulated itself as a cultural phenomenon, as a nonconformist, avant-garde, revolutionary movement. -- International Handbook of Violence Research (2003) - W. Heitmeyer, J. Hagan [Amazon.com]

See also: aestheticization of violence - violence - avant-garde

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