The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism

The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism

The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism

The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism

Synopsis

Analyzes the ideological undercurrents and cultural myths that unite various 20th century Italian nationalist movements, from the radical nationalism of "La Voce" to futurist nationalism and fascism.

Excerpt

Italy had a number of regrettable political records in the twentieth century. It was the first European country, after World War I, where a mass militia-party of revolutionary nationalism achieved power and abolished parliamentary democracy while aiming at building a totalitarian State. It was also the first country in western Europe to institutionalize the sacralization of politics, and to celebrate officially the cult of the leader as a demigod. All this was not the result of accidental circumstances. Italian nationalism, dating from the beginning of the twentieth century, fostered one of the strongest movements of European rightwing radicalism.

At the turn of the century, Italy was questioning its destiny as a nation in an era of disturbing changes produced by modernization. Radical nationalism was the driving force of the political modernism that accompanied the dynamic of modernization in Italy. By political modernism I mean those ideologies and political movements that arose in connection with modernization and tried to make human beings capable of mastering the processes of modernization in order not to be overwhelmed by the vortex of modernity. The confrontation between nationalism and modernity is one of the main clues to understanding the permutations of Italian radical nationalism from modernist avant-gardes to the fascist regime. In Italy this confrontation gave birth to a new brand of radical nationalism, which includes varieties of cultural and political movements such as the group La Voce, futurism, and the Nationalist Association, that existed until the fascist totalitarian experiment.

This book analyzes the ideological undercurrents and cultural myths that unite all these movements, though they are not outright identical in ideas, organization, and politics. Before World War I these movements gave birth to a radical critique of parliamentary democracy, one in which alternative visions of the . . .

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