Giovanni Gentile taught that Fascism was a development from Italian liberalism, and represents a new spiritual and revolutionary ideal of order and progress. It combined elements and minds from the left and right. Mussolini heavily sought the promotion and power of Fascism and believed that the liberalism of Italy had become outdated.
We moreso associate Fascism today with the Right, because the Fascists strategically allied themselves to the old Right. The Fascist would however use or slit the throats of either political side, because as said within the Fascist State, nothing else can exist within it, but Fascism. In the control of a very intelligent and therefore cunning ideologue, orator and populist the threat is at its true peak. What we see today is however, purely American-born and and rooted symptoms of our own history.
However, the Fascist is used as the tool, puppet and a rabid dog of the old Right who were in sympathy with the Fascists and saw opportunity to utilize them for the purpose of revitalizing conservative traditional order. The American Right are not thinking like Fascists. Their exact thinking, social opinions and concerns have been in European politics since the time of Burke before the Fascists.
When it is said that Fascism has no philosophy or is not a philosophy, this is not true. It does. Its originators taught, that it is a philosophy, a totalistic doctrine. Mussolini coined the term totalitarianism to explain this all-encompassing political conception of the relationship of the State to the body, mind and social life.
You will, if you choose to approach it with the least of your own political bias, find influences in Fascism you are quite familiar with already: such as Platonism, Stoicism, Gabriele D’Annunzio’s ideas about acting and life (great influence on Mussolini’s act or performance of masculinity), Giambattista Vico, Mazzini (or Mussolini and Gentile’s conception of Mazzini’s philosophy of life and politics), Christianity, an assortment of Italian Philosophy, the culture of the Japanese Samurai and even Zen Buddhism, among other foundational elements and documents I have listed in my article, Post-Risorgimento Idealism: Historical Context of Giovanni Gentile’s Fascism.
As a student, or researcher, you can go directly to these sources of information through libraries and piece together the origins yourself. You do not need three Doctor of Philosophy degrees and mountains of debt to do this work. Perhaps, actually you will see something to add substance to a thesis, or related history. My purpose is to relate to you and have fun writing, and not to create an incredibly formatted academic environment here. You could compare what you’ve got to scholars in the field and make additions and corrections.
This will add to the much great work being done by other scholars in this area. Some people do not understand my approach and are very rude. Some people are surprised, or compliment my work, like this one German Professor from the University of Chicago. She was though surprised, that a Black kid from the southside of Chicago was writing about and interested in these topics.
If you believe you are actually being taught Fascism, one, that is good. So, this means I am doing my job and getting the research right. Although, keep in mind — with the side note of my warning about its reality in practice. It’s crazy, but it works for me. I believe in wringing out every possible corner of these systems, leaving no room for ridiculous outdated conspiratorial research.
The first thing I do is present you the propagandized view of Fascism that the Fascists present. Then, I present the reality. I often focus heavily on the many possible consequences of a belief. This is something students have learned and will learn this semester or quarter to do in a college course on Ethics and Morality. Evoking vivid imagery is part of my approach, and I very much enjoy the style of dramatization and historical narrative.
Lastly, if you are afraid, that going to these sources will persuade you somehow to become a Fascist, then the foundations of your own views, perspective and principles are not strong. Use this as training and enrichment.
The reasoning is if Fascism is a philosophy, then it has a structure, and this structure can be studied and contrasted. Giovanni Gentile tells us what exactly influenced Fascism. You do not need to go to a third-hand source.
In the States, the political Left and Right, terms jarring to my ears when heard, accuse each other incessantly in turns of being Fascists or Nazis. The American conservative and liberal are NEITHER. Any political party can and do exhibit traits, action and beliefs that if carried to a certain conclusion or extremity are also exhibited in imperialism, absolutism and totalism. If one finds my approach uncomfortable, one should understand firstly, that the American is not quite aware of the over-encompassing scope of liberalism in which we are bred into. All those seemingly empty mottos we repeat, but for some reason cannot truly define intellectually is a problematic part of our ongoing degenerating political language.
I actually had no problem with Joe Biden calling Republicans semi-fascist after decades of them accusing former President Obama and Liberals of being Fascists, Communists and every other possible thing in their ordinary day-to-day propaganda. But the point is how easily this term is used, and the confusion that surrounds what is a Fascist. A Fascist is a verb. It seems like anything at this point. I will always argue, that in the end, this strategy on the part of both sides of the political spectrum will prove to be weak in the end. I understand that it is used to warn us about elements that remind us of Fascism in a political group but remember these ways of thinking and militancy existed in American politics long before Fascism and Nazis.
Fascism used in that way actually keeps people in line. You can’t really think, because it is implied that stepping out of the boundaries of our political thought leads to Socialism, Communism, Third Positionism, Far-Left, Far-Right, Ultra this and that. It merely devolves into political strategy against the opponent. I wrote about this as devil’s advocate in Where Authority Lies: Republicanism, Liberalism, and Progressive Morality.
The way we talk about political philosophy to me is frankly incredibly dull, and therefore I do not enjoy talking about it with anyone, because it always seems we have no substance to go into, since we already agree on things! Everyone just separates into their two sides mainly, each knowing one or the other has to win in what becomes in D.C. political stalemate, blame-game and utter bitterness.
The United States alone does not have the claim to being a democracy. The American system is not a pure nor “classical democracy,” but was meant to be new and different. It is a mixed system, American Romanità: What we lost when we Abandoned Classical Education, with its particular imprint and influences. Certain abuse, corruption and degeneration of that system in certain areas lead to several types of systems and various dystopic alternate futures.
The United States system has its pieces of influence just like Fascism, and both indeed in their beginnings claim to herald the legacy of Rome. The United States made a bolder claim–a confederacy of thirteen colonies (of European peoples, which grew into rationale for the inclusion and diversity of more peoples), herald of the legacy of several great ancient civilizations (though in each of their idealized golden ages), and a beacon of hope for the world. This imperialistic and totalist view is actually built within republicanism so apparent for example in the empire of the Venetian Republic. When the American (no matter the race) leaves their country, one is met by a world that regards the American as arrogant, or believing the world revolves around them. This is not merely the White man. What makes each of us differ is our degree and willingness towards empathy, our ability to relate to the historical injustices, persecution and sufferings of peoples. However, the American is bound by limits we are not often aware of.
It is believed, that the American has no culture. Like the republic, there are truly no boundaries, or so one thinks. One tries to hide behind race, but no matter the race, all are contained by sociological and political limitations. Within these limits, we think and create.
Our country and civilization seem to be at a troubling and almost predictably self-destructive cycle but believe by attaching the negative term of Fascism to everything and each other is the greatest and maybe the only strategy. The strategy of calling Republicans fascist works only up until a point where the momentum is flipped once again against the Democrats and then a Republican is elected. We continuously go through this. Many of the ugly elements we are seeing are only reflections of ourselves and our conditioning. An issue political regime change cannot fix.
In our conflicted state, therefore some will continue to seek systems outside of liberalism once again, defend liberalism, or believe the entire system should be burnt, though offering more ruinous ideological alternatives. It is crucial to understand the many sides of the system we already have and face that initially.