Our Twentieth Century is an epoch of warring ideas and clashing political and economic interests. Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Democracy, are some of the watchwords for which men are apparently ready to take up arms and kill their fellow-men. It is difficult to perceive where this universal conflict of ideas and opposing aspirations for power and expansion will lead. But it is clear that in it the traditional values of Western civilization are at stake.
Italy was the first European country to experience the rise of Fascism, which, its adherents claim, constitutes a new revolutionary movement of the future destined to shape the face of the world after its own image. Opponents of Fascism, in contrast, viewing it as a return to tribalism, paganism, and social reaction, believe that it is only a passing phenomenon in the long history of man's painful struggle for a freer and fuller life. But no one can deny that Italian Fascism was the first in a world-wide series of movements that have shaken the very foundations of our traditional institutions, modes of thought, and ways of life. National Socialism in Germany and Fascist movements elsewhere owe so much of their ideological armor and political technique to Italian Fascism that its study becomes increasingly imperative as Fascist ideology spreads throughout the world. Italy, moreover, has now entered upon a career of imperial expansion which has already altered the balance of forces in the world at large, and which may modify still further the existing distribution of political and economic power.
The purpose of this book, in which I also include some material from my Fascism at Work and other previous studies, is to present a unified view of the Fascist state in Italy as an integrated complex of institutions, policies, and aspirations. While aiming at analyzing primarily the effects of Fascism upon Italy, I also attempt to survey its place in the world . . .