Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism? On the Uses and Abuses of a Philosophy

By Jacob Golomb; Robert S. Wistrich | Go to book overview

11

Nietzsche, Mussolini, and Italian Fascism

Mario Sznajder

Most of the writings dealing with the intellectual origins of fascism mention the name of Friedrich Nietzsche as one of the philosophers whose work influenced Nazism.1 However, when examining the central sources of Italian Fascism as a political regime and movement, little or no mention is made of Nietzsche's influence. Here we will try to assess the relationship between Nietzsche's work and Italian Fascism through an examination of Gabriele D'Annunzio, the warrior poet who interpreted and introduced Nietzsche into Italy and was one of the main figures of Italian culture between the 1890s and the advent of fascism; and we shall also look at Mussolini's uses of Nietzsche during his transition from socialism to fascism and subsequently as Duce of Italy.

In the 1930s, at the zenith of fascist power, Mussolini had pronounced D'Annunzio as Italy's greatest living writer, yet the poet never held any official position in Fascist Italy except that of President of the Royal Academy. Still, D'Annunzio's influence on Fascism was considerable. He was, for example, seen as one of its cultural precursors, having co-authored with Alceste De Ambris (a national syndicalist leader closely related to Mussolini and the “fascism of the first hour” in 1919) the Carta del Carnaro. The constitution of the Regency of Fiume in 1920, was seen as a model for Italy. Fascism even claimed that its corporative model and ideas were inspired by it. D'Annunzio also invented the political style later adopted by Mussolini and fascism, stressing the

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