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On Liberal Revolution

On Liberal Revolution

Edited and with an introduction by Nadia Urbinati
Translated by William McCuaig
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    On Liberal Revolution
    Book Description:

    This book is the first English-language edition of a collection of writings by one of Italy's most important radical liberals, Piero Gobetti (1901-1926). In thirty-five thought-provoking essays, Gobetti proposes an original and challenging notion of liberalism as a revolutionary theory of both the individual and social and political movements. His theory is of particular relevance in the wake of the collapse of Marxist socialism, as non-Western countries with nonliberal or antiliberal cultural and moral traditions confront the problems of transition toward democracy and liberalism. Gobetti's ideas continue to influence in important ways today's heated debates over the nature of liberalism.Gobetti was the first Italian scholar to identify "two Italys": one enlightened and modern though small and weak, the other premodern, traditional, and dominant. A witness to the seizure of power by the Fascists, Gobetti became convinced that Italy's hostility to liberalism could be overcome only with a cultural revolution. Endorsing a radical liberalism, he nevertheless believed that the Communists, led by Antonio Gramsci, could play a crucial role in democratizing Italy by helping to develop a secular culture. For a liberal state to subsist and grow, Gobetti argued, there must first be a transformation of both the economic structure and the legal and moral culture of the society.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13296-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Norberto Bobbio

    I am old enough that I would have been able to know Piero Gobetti if he had not died so young. Between us there was a difference of only eight years: he was born in 1901, I in 1909. When he died in Paris on 15 February 1926, he was only twenty-five, and I was still in high school. As I have written on previous occasions, I heard his name for the first time from the teacher of Italian in our school, Umberto Cosmo, a noted antifascist who was forced to give up his teaching position the same year. Upon...

    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-lvi)

    The rise of liberalism has reflected and inspired the economic and political transformation of Western societies. The ideas of Locke and Jefferson, of Mill and Dewey, testify to the historical evolution of liberalism from the age of liberal revolutions, to the age of constitutionalism, and finally to the age of the democratic transformation of the liberal state. Seen from the vantage point of the present day, the story of liberalism is decidedly one of success.¹ With few exceptions, both the authors and the principles embodying what we call liberalism today belong to those few countries in which liberalism completed both...

    (pp. lvii-lx)
    (pp. 1-62)

    In theRivista di Milano[Journal of Milan] for 20 February 1921, I showed that the Russian Revolution—by promoting the creation of an agrarian democracy, overthrowing autocracy and themir[village commune], and creating a state in which the people believe because they feel they have made it themselves—is essentially, in its inner dialectic, an affirmation of liberalism.¹ Further research on the intellectual crisis in Russia in the previous century and the study of a magisterial work by Lev Trotsky (Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Kautsky), which has not yet been translated into Italian and with which...

    (pp. 63-140)

    The misfortunes of Italian public life, the lack of sincerity and clarity (the main expression of which is Giolittism),¹ are the result of a tragic contradiction and a disastrous heterogeneity of methods and individuals, principles and consequences.² To resolve the contradiction it will be necessary to get rid of systems that no longer correspond to reality, and make the two terms now in conflict combine in a logically complete and coherent development.

    The forms within which our political life unfolds (that is, the parties) do not allow individuals sufficient vitality; they are looking to practical life for real, concrete ideals...

    (pp. 141-210)

    Surrounded by liberalism, with its ambiguous art of governing, by nationalist demagogy, and by the clerical threat, the Italian Socialist Party never even came close, in its logic or its praxis, to looking like a political phenomenon connected with the history of Marxism in Italy.¹ Marxism teaches direct popular initiative and the formation of a worker aristocracy capable of promoting the rise of the working class through the experiment of daily struggle. In Italy only a few solitaries, like Antonio Labriola and Rodolfo Mondolfo,² have thought it through with any degree of originality, while syndicalists, like Enrico Leone and Arturo...

    (pp. 211-234)

    The spirit of our inquiry might have absolved us of the duty to say anything about fascism, which was identified in the preceding pages as a historical parenthesis, an example of unemployment in the economy and the unemployment of ideas connected with all the errors of our coalescence into a nation.¹

    This book makes the assumption that Italy will succeed in finding the strength within itself to overcome its crisis and resume the drive to be part of Europe that appeared to manifest itself, in certain episodes at least, of the Risorgimento.

    It therefore happens that our objections to fascism...

  11. INDEX
    (pp. 235-242)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-243)