Italy from Napoleon to Mussolini

Italy from Napoleon to Mussolini

Italy from Napoleon to Mussolini

Italy from Napoleon to Mussolini

Excerpt

A little over four years ago we celebrated with relief the end of the Second World War, first in Europe, shortly thereafter in Japan. There was, in America especially, a widespread feeling that a job had been finished, and the understandable urge to resume the interrupted and "normal" (meaning pre-war) course of existence found expression in the precipitateness with which we brought the boys back home and dismantled our war machine. We are, at present, very exercised--departing, in some ways, with resentment born of frustration, from the canons of calm judgment--about what appears to many an attempt on the part of Soviet Russia comparable to that of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo triangle to organize the world in accordance with its designs. The latter attempt has undoubtedly failed, but, in a sense, this failure, and our victory, represent an essentially negative accomplishment, for the following reason.

On the level of power, Germany, Italy, and Japan were seeking certain definite and concrete acquisitions and advantages. But this is only part, in some respects not the major part, of the story. For, in connection with their attempt, cause as well as effect of it, there emerged the assertion of a wholly new set of values and view of life--new at least in the sense that they represented a departure from what we had come to regard as the established trend of social and political evolution since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Like all historical phenomena, this one is complex, and our proximity to it, even discounting the part of emotions, preconceptions, and established patterns of thought, makes it difficult to appraise the factors involved at their true value. There is one view which would consider the phenomenon of Fascism and Nazism as a mere extension of the past. Nazi Germany is shown to have its roots in Bismarck, Frederick, and Luther. Mussolini is but the logical heir of Machiavelli and Sorel. These roots undoubtedly exist and it is useful to trace them. But as a complete explanation, this is one that, because of its limitations, amounts to gross distortion. At the other extreme, Nazism and Fascism are . . .

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