Italian Fascism - Doctrine


The Doctrine of Fascism (La dottrina del fascismo, 1932), by the Actualist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, is the official formulation of Italian Fascism, published under Benito Mussolini’s name in 1933. Gentile was intellectually influenced by Hegel, Plato, Benedetto Croce, and Giambattista Vico, as such, his Actual Idealism philosophy was the basis for Fascism. Hence, the Doctrine’s Weltanschauung proposes the world as action in the realm of Humanity — beyond the quotidian constrictions of contemporary political trend, by rejecting “perpetual peace” as fantastical, and accepting Man as a species continually at war; those who meet the challenge, achieve nobility. To wit, Actual Idealism generally accepted that conquerors were the men of historical consequence, e.g., the Roman Julius Caesar, the Greek Alexander the Great, the Frank Charlemagne, and the French Napoleon; the philosopher–intellectual Gentile was especially inspired by the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 476, 1453), from whence derives Fascism, thus:

The Fascist accepts and loves life; he rejects and despises suicide as cowardly. Life as he understands it means duty, elevation, conquest; life must be lofty and full, it must be lived for oneself but above all for others, both near bye and far off, present and future.

—Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism, 1933.

Therefore, in 1925, Benito Mussolini assumed the title Duce (Leader), derived from the Latin dux (leader), a Roman Republic military-command title. Moreover, although Fascist Italy (1922–43) is historically considered an authoritarian–totalitarian dictatorship, it retained the original “liberal democratic” government façade: the Grand Council of Fascism remained active as administrators; and King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy could — at his Crown’s risk — discretionarily dismiss Mussolini as Italian Prime Minister, as, in the event, he did.

Gentile defined Fascism as an anti-intellectual doctrine epistemologically based on faith rather than reason. Fascist mysticism emphasized the importance of political myths, which were true not as empirical facts but as "metareality". Fascist art, architecture and symbols constituted a process which converted Fascism into a sort of a civil religion or political religion. La dottrina del fascismo states that Fascism is a "religious conception of life" and forms a "spiritual community", in contrast to bourgeois materialism. The slogan Credere Obbedire Combattere ("Believe, Obey, Fight") reflects the importance of political faith in Fascism.

La dottrina del fascismo proposed an Italy of greater living standards under a single-party Fascist system, than under the multi-party liberal democratic government of 1920. As the Leader of the National Fascist Party (PNF — Partito Nazionale Fascista), Benito Mussolini said that democracy is “beautiful in theory; in practice, it is a fallacy”, and spoke of celebrating the burial of the “putrid corpse of liberty”. In 1923, to give Deputy Mussolini control of the pluralist parliamentary government of the Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), an economist, the Baron Giacomo Acerbo proposed — and the Italian Parliament approved — the Acerbo Law, changing the electoral system from proportional representation to majority representation. The party who received the most votes (provided they possessed at least 25 per cent of cast votes), won two-thirds of the parliament; the remaining third was proportionately shared among the other parties — thus the Fascist manipulation of liberal democratic law that rendered Italy a single-party State.

In 1924, the PNF won the election with 65 per cent of the votes; yet the United Socialist Party refused to accept such a defeat — especially Deputy Giacomo Matteotti who, on 30 May 1924, in Parliament formally accused the PNF of electoral fraud, and reiterated his denunciations of PNF Blackshirt political violence, and was publishing The Fascisti Exposed: A Year of Fascist Domination, a book substantiating his accusations. Consequently, on 24 June 1924, the Ceka (PNF secret police) assassinated the Parliament Deputy; of the five men arrested, Amerigo Dumini, aka Il Sicario del Duce (The Leader’s Assassin), was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, yet served only eleven months, and was freed under amnesty from King Victor Emmanuel III. Moreover, when the King supported Prime Minister Mussolini, the socialists cried “Foul!”, and unwisely quit Parliament in protest — leaving the Fascists to govern Italy. In that time, assassination was not yet the modus operandi norm; the Italian Fascist Duce usually disposed of opponents in the Imperial Roman way: political arrest punished with island banishment.

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