Making the Fascist State

Making the Fascist State

Making the Fascist State

Making the Fascist State

Excerpt

This book is the result of studies carried on in Italy during 1926-7 when I was a Fellow of the National Social Science Research Council. The generosity of this Council and the kindly interest of its President, Professor Charles E. Merriam, have made this work possible.

My guiding aim in this study was to investigate the construction of fascist theories in terms of the varying practical situations into which the movement was forced by dint of circumstances. The fascist mind and imagination hold the foreground of this picture, while enough of the political history and economic problems of the movement is brought into the background to make clear how the fascisti intended their ideas to be applied. The interaction between fact and philosophic fiction, between practical exigencies and social theories, between mind and body, forms the dominant theme of the following interpretation of fascism. To the practical politicians both within and without the movement the greater part of this ideology is mere froth. But to the student of the workings of the human mind such froth is not negligible. Philosophies may not reveal the ultimate and universal nature of things, nor are they prime movers; but they are significant symptoms of social pathology and entertaining forms of human energy. I make this explicit statement here of my method, to save the reader the trouble of discovering for himself that this book is intended as both more and less than a history of fascism; it is a laboratory study of the mind and imagination at work.

I have been helped more than I can well express by distinguished Italians, by ex-ministers, senators and many others actively engaged in politics, whom I should like to name here, were it prudent under the present political circumstances to do so. But in order not to repay their kindness by causing them embarrassment, I content myself with acknowledging my indebtedness to them collectively. I wish to express my appreciation to various fascist officials, to librarians, to university administrators, and to Italians generally, for their courteous and hospitable treatment of an inquisitive stranger.

To my colleagues, Professors John Dewey, John J. Coss and Dino Bigongiari, I am indebted for their encouragement, advice and criticism. To Carol Smith Schneider, who has written and rewritten all of this many times, and who has seen the manuscript through its many stages and vicissitudes, the reader owes more than he realizes, and I more than I can say.

H.W.S.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MAY 1928.

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