Italian Fascism is a reaction to Political Modernity

Discussion in 'Your Shitty Projects' started by Dr. Rice, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Dr. Rice

    Dr. Rice
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    I apologize that this has shitty format, but EDF2 has shitty formatting abilities (or I don't give enough of a fuck to learn them). I wrote this paper for a class. I intend to expand upon this paper later. To those who might enjoy reading this @Akula @Stormtrooper @VX Salesman @The Lieutenant

    Throughout human history there have been events and inventions that have radically altered the destiny of the world. These instances forever change how humanity functions on Earth. Such instances are so world shattering, it is not simply a matter of us humans resisting these changes—to attempt such resistance would be like trying to stop a thundering locomotive by placing a penny upon the railway in the pathetic attempt to derail the train. All we can do is realize these events happen and appropriately react to them—such reactions could manifest as a complete shift in human consciousness. For example, the world that existed before and after the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press were two different worlds defined by two different peoples. This technological development represents a shift in consciousness to a more literate world, one in which knowledge was more easily stored and less expensive than pre-1439 where books were painstakingly transcribed by hand. There are many events in human history that can accurately be described as “game changing,” but none more so than the event known as World War I. If any single event can be described as drawing a line in the sand at where the modern world begins, it would be the events that lead to and manifest as World War I. But why is this the case? Some would argue that “Modernity” began before the events of World War I; that “Modernity” began as early back as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution or the French Revolution. Others would argue that “Modernity” occurred later than World War I. Such arguments would not be wrong depending on how they define “Modernity,” and most likely World War I would be an important aspect of that argument. What is not debatable is that “Political Modernity” began with the events of World War I and some of the first people to recognize this change were the intellectuals of Italian Nationalism and [Italian] Revolutionary Syndicalism that would eventually merge into the political ideology known as Italian Fascism.

    Before discussing how proto-Fascist movements were the first to react to “Political Modernity,” what exactly is “Modernity” and “Political Modernity?” Modernity is a concept that can be quickly summarized as “modern times and societal conditions emerging from that time period.” The problem with such a vague description of such a concept is what “Modernity” are we talking about? The “Modernity” brought about by the invention of steam engine is a different “Modernity” brought about by the invention of the Internet. Both such inventions represent radical shifts in how human society functions and even thinks, but to say that the “Modernity” brought about by the steam engine is still relevant in the “Modernity” brought about by climate change and the consequences of a Post-Fukushima world is intellectually dishonest. And to say that the “Modernity” brought about by the Internet is to ignore the “Modernity” brought about by inventions like the television, radio, electricity, and even the steam engine which is equal in intellectual dishonesty. Defining the modern era with a term like “Modernity” means very little unless if we are specific in what aspect of “Modernity” we are talking about; by placing the word political before modernity, we have achieved a level specificity. The reason why “Political Modernity” is so important because, short of a religious truth, everything is dictated by politics; which is why the blatant manifestation of “Political Modernity” is so important for understanding the actions of political actors and why historical events unfolded as they have.

    So what exactly is “Political Modernity” and how does it relate to World War I? “Political Modernity” is a means to understand geopolitics and how nations interact with one another. While the foundation of the modern state can be traced back to the Treaty of Westphalia, it would still be quite a while before the nation state would be brought to its full potential, which was brought out by the events of World War I. While the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648, it would be another one hundred and forty one years before concepts of nationalism became apparent with the French Revolution: “What is a nation? a body of associates living under a common law and represented by the same legislature.”[1] To contemporary individuals, this seems like common sense, but for the vast majority of humanity history, such thought was not the norm. In fact, such thoughts would be considered as political heresywhen viewed as competition for the status quo of Monarchism or even a “democracy” controlled by an aristocratic citizenry (such as ancient Greece, Rome, or the elite Republican regimes of the United States or liberalizing Europe). Today, this would be quite unfathomable, but there was a point in recent history where many people viewed the “democratic” political state as “outdated” and “conservative”:

    For [A.O.] Olivetti, both syndicalism and nationalism were “modern” and “intellectual respectable” revolutionary movements, distinguishing themselves from the “conservatism” of both reform socialism and the traditional parliamentary politics of the nation. Both were “collectivistic” in orientation, recognizing that human beings were creatures inextricably born and shaped in association, animated by the will and leadership of those sensitive to the historic needs of any given time.[2]
    Olivetti articulated the political theory and philosophy that were prevalent among [Italian] Revolutionary Syndicalists. The Revolutionary Syndicalists were a form of heretical Marxism that was against the democratic processes in which Marx and Engels believed was necessary to bring about the struggle of the classes, one in which the conflict between the bourgeois and the proletariat would first manifest.[3] Revolutionary Syndicalists like Olivetti rejected contemporary political theory of other factional forms of Marxism that believed that a democratic regime was part of the fundamentals of Marxist ideology:

    The political democracy and representative parliamentarianism jerry built by the bourgeoisie could no longer hold the prevailing state structure together… At the same time, the syndicates, possessed of their own autonomous law and authority, would federate into agencies “harmoniously” incorporating all the lesser syndical entities into a superior “organic” body that would represent a “perfect and distinct incarnation of authority.”[4]
    Despite Olivetti was against parliamentarianism, he envisioned a political system that performed the necessary functions of a democratic regime without the messiness of a democratic regime. He believed this representative state without the division of parliamentarianism factionalism was what was needed for Italy to properly react (in his opinion) in response the approaching manifestation of Political Modernity that became apparent with the events of World War I.

    The Italian Nationalists, like their contemporary political rivals the Revolutionary Syndicalists realized (at an earlier date) that the contemporary political system that manifests as traditional/today’s contemporary “democracy” or “parliamentarianism” as irrelevant in Political Modernity in which the political state now represented (in theory) the will of the people:

    [Alfredo] Rocco argued that because of their relatively unique histories in a struggle against monarchial absolutism, the advanced industrial nations of Europe had committed themselves to a form of exaggerated political individualism.… Fragmented by parliamentary factionalism, the uncertainties of government response to clientalistic (sic) influences, a “democratic” state could hardly serve the collective interests of the emerging nation.[5]
    The reasoning behind Rocco’s argument was not strictly against the concept of democracy or political liberalism itself, but rather how such ideological concepts hurt emerging nations in a world approaching the undeniable reality of Political Modernity—a world, according to Luigi Valli, was defined by conflict:

    Valli maintained that because of historic, economic, political, and military realities of the twentieth century, the nation was the only agency that could successfully harbor, protect, and foster the well-being of individuals and groups of individuals. In an international environment of constant competition—economic, military, and demographic—the nation, as the privileged community, must be forever prepared to struggle for survival, security, and place.[6]
    This conflict between nations became more and more apparent as the years drew closer to World War I. Today, this continued recognition of Political Modernity as was realized by Italian political theorists in the 1900s-1920s is still relevant and there is advantage to recognizing that economic competition can best be carried out at the national level is paying off for numerous nations,[7] especially China.[8] Today, the international arena doesn’t seem competitive from a military perspective, but economically and demographically, this is apparent. It was apparent to the leader of the Italian Nationalist movement Enrico Corradini as early as 1902:

    Corradini argued that emergent nations, those characterized by delayed industrial development—proletariat nations—found themselves victims of those nations that had already acceded to the level of advanced industrialization—plutocratic nations. Those nations suffering delayed industrial development found themselves subject to the impostures of those more advanced. Corradini maintained that all the trade and financial infrastructure of the modern world was controlled by the plutocracies. The result was the threat of perpetual inferiority for those proletarian nations that were late in achieving industrial development….Corradini contended that, given those conditions, the less developed nations were condemned to a threat of perpetual dependency on the plutocracies…. Italy, capital and resource deficient, would subsist on the sufferance of wealthy nations. It would remain forever an economic and cultural colony of its “superiors.” “Rich nations” would forever dominate “proletarian Italy.” [9]
    Corradini’s analysis of the current financial infrastructure and how it creates a system of conflict is apparent to anyone who understands how the International Monetary Fund World Trade Organization function today.

    This realization of Political Modernity from an economic perspective began before the events of World War I. However, this understanding of the economic aspects of Political Modernity was only apparent to Nationalist Intellectuals and their readers before the events of World War I, the vast majority of society did not hold such views and even ideological similar parties like the Revolutionary Syndicalists disagreed with their interpretation of the world. Corradini argued that while there were merits to the intellectual thought of the Revolutionary Syndicalists, their fundamental flaw was their complete rejection of the nation-state:

    In the world at the beginning of the twentieth century, Corradini maintained, only nations could serve as international actors. The world, almost all nationalists argued, was an arena of Darwinian struggle for survival. If Italian workers expected to survive and prosper in such a world, they required entrepreneurs, functionaries, merchants, financiers, intellectuals, educators, and state officials. Once syndicalists understood that, Corradini concluded, they could only become advocates and practitioners of a national syndicalism—a revolutionary syndicalism that nationalists could wholeheartedly support.[10]
    The Revolutionary Syndicalists, while respecting the ideology of Italian Nationalism, disagreed with the Nationalist analysis of the approaching Political Modernity. This changed with the approaching war:

    Even antistate syndicalists began to reconsider their unreflecting rejection of the political state. Obviously precipitated by the realities of a war that involved everyone in a fateful enterprise,… Revolutionary Syndicalists like A.O. Olivetti, witnessing the disintegration of “socialist internationalism” under the pressure of the events during the summer and fall of 1914, made the case that some conception of a “national socialism” should not be summarily dismissed. Given the new reality, syndicalists must be prepared to acknowledge the influence of national sentiment on the overt political loyalties of Italy’s working classes. Olivetti recognized that the nation, presumable exorcised by traditional Marxism, still retained a critical hold on many. He alluded to the increasingly evidence emergence of a new conception of society and revolution—one that was both idealist and aristocratic, regenerative and transformative, voluntaristic (sic) and heroic.[11]
    While the Revolutionary Syndicalists were highly idealistic in their ideological philosophy, they were realists who believed that ideology should conform to the events of the time. Political Modernity had revealed that nationalism was a dominate force in the mind of the masses and that Revolutionary Syndicalists must incorporate this notion into their ideology or face political irrelevancy. This realization of what Political Modernity required, a nation that was capable in defending itself in an international arena of Darwinian conflict, was necessary. “Mussolini identified the nation as “the social organization” that “at that historic moment” was “dominate in the world.”[12] It had become clear to the intellectual and political elite within Italy that Italy must change how their nation was organized in order to deal with the conflicts such as economic competition or events such as World War I which, while Italy was on the winning side, proved that Italy was in no way prepared to survive in this Darwinian conflict.

    The synthesis of Nationalism and Revolutionary Syndicalism created the movement known as Italian Fascism as a response to the constant state of conflict brought about by Political Modernity. In order for Italy to survive, it needed a radical shift in how it viewed the world. Italian Fascism provided a guideline for how to view the blatant manifestation of Political Modernity brought about by World War I:

    The State, as conceived and realized by Fascism, is a spiritual and ethical entity for securing the political, juridical, and economic organization of the nation, an organization which in its origin and growth is a manifestation of the spirit. The State guarantees the internal and external safety of the country, but it also safeguards and transmits the spirit of the people, elaborated down the ages in its language, its customs, its faith. The State is not only the present; it is also the past and above all the future. Transcending the individual's brief spell of life, the State stands for the immanent conscience of the nation. The forms in which it finds expression change, but the need for it remains. The State educates the citizens to civism, makes them aware of their mission, urges them to unity; its justice harmonizes their divergent interests;[13]
    Fascism realized that preparing for struggle in Political Modernity required a level of organization not previously seen in the world. The nation must be prepared for the most intense of conflicts, war. If there was anything less than absolute preparedness for this conflict, the nation would face extinction. “Although we needed reinforcement, the recruits give us almost more trouble than they are worth. They are helpless in this grim fighting area,… Modern trench-warfare demands knowledge and experience.”[14] As the nation could, at any time, be dragged into a world war, the citizenry must be educated in all aspects of life to bring about to a high level of quality in each citizen:

    It conceives of life as a struggle in which it behooves a man to win for himself a really worthy place, first of all by fitting himself (physically, morally, intellectually) to become the implement required for winning it. As for the individual, so for the nation, and so for mankind. Hence the high value of culture in all its forms (artistic, religious, scientific) and the outstanding importance of education.[15]
    Fascism realized that training its citizenry to a certain level of quality in physical and intellectual abilities did not make them more squeamish towards the concept of constant struggle—in fact, it did the opposite—it made it apparent to the individual that conflict was constant and sometimes that conflict demanded their very lives: “But for all that we were no mutineers, no deserters, no cowards,… We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action;”[16] While World War I Germany was not in any way Fascist, it did realize a certain style of education was necessary for its citizenry to make them into “good citizen cannon fodder” to fight for an old man wearing a crown.

    The creeping advance to the obvious manifestation of Political Modernity that made itself apparent with the events of World War I made people realize that a new sort of society was needed to properly react to unprecedented historical forces that could manifest as conflict at any time. And the first intellectuals to realize what Political Modernity demanded of their society were the political ideologies that formed the synthesis known as Italian Fascism.


    [1] Getz, Trevor R., Richard J. Hoffman, and Jarbel Rodriguez. Exchanges: A Global History Reader. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009. Print. Page 98.
    [2] Gregor, A. James. Mussolini's Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005. Print. Page 36.
    [3] Ibid., pp. 63
    [4] Ilib., pp 72-73
    [5] Ilib., pp 43
    [6] Ilib., pp 39
    [7] “Of Emperors and Kings” http://www.economist.com/node/21538159?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/ar/ofemperorsandkings 2011
    [8] “Special Report: State Capitalism – A Choice of Models; Themes and Variations http://www.economist.com/node/21542924 2012

    [9] Gregor, A. James. Mussolini's Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005. Print. Page 33-34.
    [10] Gregor, A. James. Mussolini's Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005. Print. Page 31-32.
    [11] Gregor, A. James. Mussolini's Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005. Print. Page 52
    [12] Ilib., pp 89
    [13] “The Doctrine of Fascism” http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/reading/germany/mussolini.htm
    [14] Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1958. Print. Page 116
    [15] “The Doctrine of Fascism” http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/reading/germany/mussolini.htm
    [16] Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1958. Print. Page 17.
     
  2. The Lieutenant

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    Rice, the more I learn from you about Fascism, the less I understand about Fascists. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you.
     
  3. GSTalbert1

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    How did I not get in this reading club?

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Dr. Rice

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    It wasn't intentional. I feel bad I forgot @Solution. I am sorry @Solution, please still love me long time!
     
  5. Dr. Rice

    Dr. Rice
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    I feel like an Enrico Corradini of new age fascist thought since I want to hybridize it into a doctrine for America, with an emphasis on Jeffersonian Libertarianism (and cite shit like Natural Aristocracy). Which changes the fundamental principles of the political theory and ideology because America is a plutocratic nation instead of a proletarian nation. I am going to fucking smash my professors and peers when I transfer in the fall to the UC system.
     
  6. The Lieutenant

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    So at this point could we even call that Fascism anymore?
     
  7. Dr. Rice

    Dr. Rice
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    So far I am going with Libertine Totalitarianism.