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Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascism

Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascism

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 333
  • Book Info
    Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascism
    Book Description:

    Well-documented and well-written,Benedetto Croce and Italian Fascismoffers a critical and engaging contribution to Croce studies

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7125-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    Benedetto Croce was one of the greatest European intellectuals of the twentieth century, and one of the few Italians to have made an original contribution to modern philosophy. With the frequent publications of his books and the regular presence of his own bimonthly periodical, Croce dominated the Italian literary landscape for more than fifty years, at the end leaving a mountain of books, impressive in both quantity and quality. He brought a new vitality to Italian culture that assured the revival of idealism and undermined the dominance of positivism.¹

    His ideas introduced different methods of critical analysis, providing new concepts...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Background to National Politics, 1866–1920
    (pp. 12-34)

    Benedetto Croce was born 25 February 1866, five years after the unification of Italy under liberal institutions, the crowning event of the Italian Risorgimento, which would change the course of Croce’s life and shape his future political ideas. Once his ancestors had been successful shepherds in the remote province of Abruzzi, but at the time of his birth Croce’s family had long since moved away from that bucolic corner of Italy, acquired lands, wealth, and reputation, and belonged to the upper classes of Naples. His grandfather graduated from the University of Naples, held important positions in the judicial system, and...

  6. CHAPTER TWO From Giolitti to Mussolini, 1920–1922
    (pp. 35-49)

    The First World War destroyed ancient empires and changed the course of European history, creating the social and economic conditions for revolution in several nations. The realities brought by the war compelled people to change personal habits and to acquire new political beliefs or to abandon old aspirations. New and more radical movements were born; Socialist parties became more militant; revolution and subversion grow more appealing, even fashionable; violence learned in the war spread to all aspects of civil society; strikes became endemic and were called on the least pretext. The mood of rebellion challenged traditional assumptions and undermined liberal...

  7. CHAPTER THREE From Critical Benevolence to Opposition, 1923–1924
    (pp. 50-79)

    After the March on Rome and the creation of a coalition government, neither the present nor the future appeared in a clear light. For all the players, the clarification had still to come, the Fates holding their secrets. In 1923 and 1924, there were few signs of an impending revolution or of a future completely different from the past. As Giorgio Candeloro recognized correctly in his work: ‘In those two years, neither the anti-Fascists nor the allies of fascism, nor the Fascists themselves had a clear sense of the institutional transformation which would be realized from 1925 to 1928.’¹


  8. CHAPTER FOUR ‘Continuous and Resolute Opposition,’ 1925
    (pp. 80-103)

    On 3 January 1925 the crisis that had begun with the murder of Matteotti ended. With Mussolini’s speech to Parliament that day, the illusions of the liberal leaders were shattered forever. Mussolini overcame his previous vacillations, put aside his promises of reconciliation, imposed a radical solution, and achieved complete victory without facing challenge. The coalition government ended and a truly Fascist one took its place. Alfredo Rocco became minister of justice and used his formidable legal talents to destroy the liberal state and fashion a new constitutional fabric for the Fascist regime.

    From January 1925, the creation of the authoritarian...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE New Forms of Opposition, 1926
    (pp. 104-122)

    Once put into motion, the march of oppression continued inexorably. Under the newspaper law passed in December 1925, editors had to be recognized by the courts before they could assume their positions, while journalists were required to belong to a professional organization, controlled by the state and run by Fascists. Within a few months, the most important papers came under Fascist control, one by one. Some owners were compelled to sell under economic or political pressure. All the liberal editors had to resign and were replaced by more accommodating men.

    This affectedLa Criticain a small way and later...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Towards a New Definition of Liberalism, 1927–1928
    (pp. 123-139)

    By the end of 1926, liberal Italy had died. Mussolini had consolidated his power and created the legal instruments for the continuation of his dictatorship. Political parties had been outlawed, and freedom of the press destroyed. The opposition had been disarmed and Parliament reduced to impotence. In 1927 it became almost impossible to undertake any open political action; it was also dangerous to express critical opinions in personal letters or in public places. Civil employees could lose their jobs if they expressed views contrary to government policy. Besides a powerful and revitalized police division in the Ministry of the Interior,...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Defence of Liberal Italy, 1926–1928
    (pp. 140-154)

    Besides all his other activities, from the middle of 1926 to the end of 1927, Croce was occupied in writing hisHistory of Italy from 1871 to 1915. The research had begun in June 1926, and by July 1927 the writing was under way. In the first days of December, Croce went to Bari and gave the manuscript personally to Laterza; in January 1928 the first edition was published and immediately became a best-seller. The book’s publication was an extraordinary event then and has remained the subject of a lively debate ever since, praised and blamed with equal force, always...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Lateran Pacts, 1929
    (pp. 155-170)

    With the publication of hisHistory of Italyand after the death of Giolitti, Croce became the symbol of liberal Italy. And so it was natural that, when the Senate was called to approve the Lateran Pacts, the role of the leader of the opposition should fall upon Croce rather than upon a more experienced parliamentarian. Parliament had become a rubber stamp of the government’s decisions. Speeches of the few remaining members of the opposition were ignored, or more often shouted down by jeers from the floor and from the public galleries. The only task left to the opposition inside...

  13. CHAPTER NINE ‘Faith in the Future and Courage in the Present,’ 1930–1940
    (pp. 171-195)

    The elections of 1929 and the Lateran Pacts marked the end of one era and the beginning of another in the history of fascism and in the fortunes of Mussolini. The elections were a vote of confidence for the government, and turned into a plebiscite for Mussolini, showing that the regime had consolidated its original success and now rested on solid foundations. For fascism, those were years of consensus, but for the opposition, or what remained of it, the period was one of despair and isolation. Many lost hope for a different future, became disillusioned, and abandoned the struggle as...

  14. CHAPTER TEN Cultural Activity as Political Opposition, 1930–1940
    (pp. 196-212)

    In the struggle against fascism, Croce’s most important contribution was his intellectual activity. In this respect he assumed a position of leadership, and his influence was unmatched, affecting in different ways the old and new generations and the cultural and political movements of the time. His books were Croce’s way of defending liberal and democratic ideals, and their wide readership gave him the moral leadership of the anti-Fascist resistance, as well as assuring his personal security against the dictatorship. It is now evident that, given the nature of fascism, Croce’s refusal to go into exile or to join the underground...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN Difficult Choices, 1930–1940
    (pp. 213-232)

    During Mussolini’s dictatorship, prudence and courage were required not only in literary affairs but also in other aspects of life, public and private. After 1930, the regime became more demanding and made it more difficult to remain faithful to liberal values. Sometimes it was even hard to maintain professional dignity. Government policy often put personal convictions to the test, and the appropriate answers were not easy to come by nor the choices easy to endure. In those troubled waters, the navigation became perilous for members of the opposition. In order to have a better appreciation of Croce’s position under the...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE The Fall of Mussolini and the Kingdom of the South, 1940– 1944
    (pp. 233-245)

    In 1940 Mussolini had entered the war sure of a quick victory, hoping to enjoy the spoils of the defeat of France and England. But his hopes soon turned into ashes. In 1942 the Germans were halted before Stalingrad, the Italians and the Afrika Korps were defeated at El Alamein, and the Americans landed in North Africa. Then, many Italians realized that the nature of the war, and the fortunes of fascism, had changed. By the end of that year, political parties had been reorganized and were active again, publishing and distributing clandestine papers and pamphlets. At the beginning of...

  17. CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Elder Statesman, 1944– 1952
    (pp. 246-260)

    Croce’s participation in Badoglio’s cabinet represents his most direct role in the political affairs of Italy. Once Rome was liberated from the Germans and returned to Italy, the king retired to private life while Badoglio resigned and without much ceremony was replaced by Bonomi in June 1944. With the formation of the Bonomi cabinet, political power shifted to the CLN, and more precisely to the national mass parties. The influence of independent figures declined and the large political parties reasserted their pre-eminence in national affairs and in the decisions of the government. Croce remained in the Bonomi cabinet without much...

  18. Conclusion
    (pp. 261-268)

    Recently released and newly discovered documents have clarified Croce’s political actions and revealed new aspects of his personality. After reading his diaries, one can no longer view Croce as an Olympian philosopher, serenely contemplating the unfolding of the universe, indifferent to political events. The diaries have shown a complex man, subject to bouts of depression but tenacious in his determination, constant in his beliefs, full of fighting spirit, and deeply involved with the general welfare of the country and the personal situation of his friends.

    The letters so far published show that, in his personal relationships, Croce was a man...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 269-294)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-312)
  21. Index
    (pp. 313-321)