2 Explaining Italianfascism: from movement
to dictatorship, 1919–26
Given the tumultuous events surrounding the Russian revolution and civil war,
the upheavals in Eastern Europe, the situation in Germany and developments on
the home front at the end of the First World War, the British left could perhaps
be forgiven for not placing Italy at the top of its agenda. While the origins of
Italianfascism, both intellectual and organisational, would later be intensively
analysed by the British left, the actual formation of the Fasci di azione
The Powers of Were-Goats in Tommaso Landolfi‘s La pietra lunare (The Moonstone)
Jewell links the were-animals in Tommaso Landolfis novel La pietra lunare to population ecology in the 1930s. Landolfi imagines and narrates a were-population explosion in the specific historical context of the changes fascism brought to rural life when it favored a grain-based economy. When state policy attempts to manage grazing populations and the culture of transhumance, the uncontrolled growth of fast-breeding, broad-ranging, mountain-going were-goats in the novel puts the validity of fascist agricultural policy into question. When in secret at the full moon they couple monstrously and multiply, were-animals thoroughly challenge the effectiveness of discourses of controlled population management.
Imagined Baroques offers a new account of Italian post-unification visual culture through its entanglement in the Baroque. The book argues that, by reinventing Baroque forms in their artistic and architectural practices, modern Italians confronted their fears about their nation’s past and imagined future. Although ignored by most scholarship, the Baroque was repeatedly evoked in modern Italian visual culture and intellectual history. This is so because, between the fin de siècle and the end of the Second World War, the reception, influence, and disavowal of the Baroque enabled Italians to probe the fraught experience of national unification, addressing their ambivalent relationship with modernity and tradition. The Baroque afterlives in modern Italy, and its temporal and conceptual destabilisation, allowed Italians to work through a crisis of modernity and develop a visual culture that was both distinctly Italian and modern. Imagined Baroques interrogates a diverse range of media: not only paintings, sculptures, and buildings, but also magazine illustrations, postcards, commercial posters, pageants, photographs, films, and exhibitions. The Baroque functioned in post-unification Italy as a legacy of potential annihilation but also of potential consolidation, and as a critique of modernity and a celebration of an intrinsically Italian road to modernity. Unearthing the protean and contradictory legacy of the Baroque in modern Italy shows that its revivals and appropriations were not repositories of exact facts about the seventeenth century but rather clues to how visions of modernity and tradition merged to form a distinct Italian identity.
intellectual heritage in that both drew on the radical and explosive intellectual ideas of the fin de siècle. Although they were poles apart politically, there were some evident points of convergence between fascism’s ideology and some of the underlying principles of artistic modernism. Both fascism and Surrealism, for example, stressed the importance of the irrational sources of creativity and ‘poetic’ truth. British fascism, though, unlike Italianfascism which incorporated aspects of modernism into its cultural and artistic programme, including Futurism and Cubist art
In the years between the two world wars, fascism triumphed in Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere, coming to power after intense struggles with the labour movements of those countries. This book analyses the way in which the British left responded to this new challenge. How did socialists and communists in Britain explain what fascism was? What did they do to oppose it, and how successful were they? In examining the theories and actions of the Labour Party, the TUC, the Communist Party and other, smaller, left-wing groups, the book explains their different approaches, while at the same time highlighting the common thread that ran through all their interpretations of fascism. The author argues that the British left has largely been overlooked in the few specific studies of anti-fascism which exist, with the focus being disproportionately applied to its European counterparts. He also takes issue with recent developments in the study of fascism, and argues that the views of the left, often derided by modern historians, are still relevant today.
Confino (internal exile) has a history that pre-dates Fascism. While utilised in ancient times, it has its immediate antecedents in Liberal Italy. Fascism expanded the scope of practice to consolidate its political power and to exert social control. Drawing on legislation, the penal codes, and archival materials, this chapter examines the legal, political and philosophical foundations of internal exile and the factors that permitted its rapid implementation as an effective means for addressing internal political opposition to the Regime. The so-called ‘exceptional laws’ presented the rationale for internal exile, but the punishment extended beyond the purely political. Anyone considered ‘different’ could be exiled: e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Freemasons, defeatists, sex workers, abortion providers, gender nonconformists, Roma, mafiosi, Slovenians, Croatians. The chapter also considers the role of Chief of Police Arturo Bocchini and the evolution of the practice of confino after 1943.
Pankhurst was a leading member of the Suffragette movement, committed to non-violent, militant civil disobedience. She broke with her mother, Emmeline, and her sister, Christabel, because of her strong socialist beliefs. She prioritised working-class women and devoted herself to suffrage and socialist activism in London’s East End. Pankhurst was strongly opposed to the First World War, and was a member in its early years of the CPGB. She was an internationalist and active in the anti-fascist campaigns of the 1930s. In the last decades of her life she was involved with the struggle in Ethiopia against Italian fascism and, subsequently, what she saw as British imperialism. She became a nationally celebrated figure for Haile Selassie and the Ethiopian people.
Italian Fascists in the prewar period was highly significant in that
the ‘years of Italian-Canadian Fascist propaganda and reckless activities
inspired by it’ contributed to the way Italians were perceived in 1940
and was a contributory factor in their subsequent internment.3 An
analysis of Italian Scottish wartime experience would be incomplete
without addressing the inter-war popularity of ItalianFascism amongst
the community elite and its impact on how the war is now represented
within communal discourse.
British Italian historiography has traditionally asserted
Anglophobia in Fascist Italy traces the roots of Fascist Anglophobia from the Great War and through the subsequent peace treaties and its development during the twenty years of Mussolini’s regime. Initially, Britain was seen by many Italians as a ‘false friend’ who was also the main obstacle to Italy’s foreign policy aspirations, a view embraced by Mussolini and his movement. While at times dormant, this Anglophobic sentiment did not disappear in the years that followed, and was later rekindled during the Ethiopian War. The peculiarly Fascist contribution to the assessment of Britain was ideological. From the mid-1920s, the regime’s intellectuals saw Fascism as the answer to a crisis in the Western world and as irredeemably opposed to Western civilisation of the sort exemplified by Britain. Britain was described as having failed the ‘problem of labour’, and Fascism framed as a salvation ideology, which nations would either embrace or face decay. The perception of Britain as a decaying and feeble nation increased after the Great Depression. The consequence of this was a consistent underrating of British power and resolve to resist Italian ambitions. An analysis of popular reception of the Fascist discourse shows that the tendency to underrate Britain had permeated large sectors of the Italian people, and that public opinion was more hostile to Britain than previously thought. Indeed, in some quarters hatred towards the British lasted until the end of the Second World War, in both occupied and liberated Italy.
that given by A. James Gregor in relation to ItalianFascism. Gregor held that ItalianFascism enthusiastically embraced the ideas of technological Futurism and productivism, and in so doing aimed at the creation of a new industrial society. 33 Gregor also stated, more generally, that paradigmatic fascism ‘displayed all the principal properties of a developmental nationalism’. 34 He thus likened fascism to the mass-mobilising modernisation movements of various ideological persuasions that had appeared in the underdeveloped world during the twentieth century