Renzo De Felice and the Historiography of Italian Fascist

by Borden W. Painter, Jr.
Citation
Title:
Renzo De Felice and the Historiography of Italian Fascist
Author:
Borden W. Painter, Jr.
Year: 
1990
Publication: 
The American Historical Review
Volume: 
95
Issue: 
2
Start Page: 
391
End Page: 
405
Publisher: 
Language: 
English
URL: 
Select license: 
Select License
DOI: 
PMID: 
ISSN: 
Abstract:

BORDEN W. PAINTER, JR.

RENZODE FELICE occupies a central and controversial position in the contemporary study of Italian fascism. Some historians hail his voluminous political biography of Benito Mussolini, others think it looks suspiciously like a monument to the Duce. De Felice himself aspires to write a history of Italian fascism based on thorough documentation in order to provide a foundation for future interpretations, but critics charge him with already giving us an interpretation that allows the most favorable reading possible of Mussolini.

The controversy over his work is not confined to academic circles. Periodically, it emerges in the Italian media, as it did in the mid-1970s and again early in 1988. The public attention given to the issues raised by De Felice and his critics marks the depth of the continuing political debate over the place of fascism and antifascism in Italian society. The context of that debate will help us to understand De Felice's work in terms of the historiography of Italian fascism and generic fascism, and it also furnishes an interesting case study in the political use of history.

Here I examine one period of the debate that has stretched over a quarter- century, the years 1974 to 1988. A great controversy broke out in 1974 when De Felice's volume on the years 1929 to 1936, Mussolini il duce I: Gli anni del consenso, appeared. In 1988, it re-erupted when De Felice called for an end to the quasi-established antifascism that had undergirded Italian political life since World War 11, but that argument quickly became absorbed into a larger debate over Stalinism. By 1988, changes in both the academic and political worlds had created a more receptive atmosphere for De Felice's ideas, although controversy and debate over his methods and his conclusions continued.

THECENTERPIECE OF DE FELICE'S WORK is the multivolume biography of Mussolini. Five volumes have appeared, bringing the story up to the Italian entrance into World War I1 on June 10, 1940.1 The next volume will cover the war years. Finally,

I began this study in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, "Fascism as a Generic Phenomenon," directed by Henry A. Turner, Jr., at Yale University in 1987. I presented a revised version at the Southern Historical Association Annual Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, in November 1988, on a panel, "Studies of Fascism," with Joseph Biesinger and Anthony Di Iorio, both colleagues in the Summer Seminar. I am grateful for Henry Turner's encouragement and the suggestions of Charles Delzell, Claudio Segrk, Carole Fink, and Frank Coppa.

Published volumes of Renzo De Felice's Mzlssolini are: I1 rivoluzionario 1883-1920 (1965), I1 fascista

I: La conquista del potere 1921-1925 (1966), 11 fescista 11: L'organizmzione dello stato fascista 1925-1929 (1968), 11 dwe I: Gli anni del consenso 1929-1936 (1974), 11 duce 11: Lo stato totalitario 1936-1940 (1981), all published in Turin. In preparation is L'alleato 1940-1945. For useful summaries of De Felice's work

De Felice promises a one-volume summation with his latest conclusions. He has

stressed that his views are always evolving, developing, and changing. "Every book

at the very moment it is published, in a certain sense, is rejected by the author,

because as he rethinks it he will have something more, something different to say."2

Born in 1929, Renzo De Felice began his academic career as a student of Federico Chabod, whose broad historical interests ranged from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, from nineteenth-century foreign policy to the fascist period. De Felice also acknowledges the influence of Delio Cantimori, another internationally respected Italian historian whose published works deal with historical methodology as well as subjects from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century. Under Cantimori's tutelage, De Felice produced his first publications on eighteenth-century Italian Jacobins.3 De Felice came to the fascist period through a study of the Jews in Mussolini's Italy: Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo (1961). What began as a diversion turned into a new and permanent direction for his career. Since then, he has been a remarkably productive scholar, concentrating his energy on the study of Mussolini and Italian fascism. Fascism is a political as well as a historical topic in Italy, and De Felice has thus become a public figure. He occupies a place in Italian society unlike that of any scholar in the United States.

Through his first three volumes of the biography of Mussolini, De Felice has challenged the established framework of historiography of Italian fascism. In turn, he has been attacked for both methodology and content. His discussions of Mussolini's intellectual formation and the influences on his thinking, for example, have met with objections that De Felice makes the Duce into a more profound or original thinker than could possibly have been the case. Critics complain that De Felice relies too heavily on documents from within fascism, overlooks evidence that does not fit his views, and too often appears to give Mussolini the benefit of the doubt.

When Volume 4, Mussolini il duce, appeared in 1974 with its subtitle, Gli anni del consenso [The years of consensus], critics immediately called into question the idea of anything appproaching a "consensus" between the fascist regime and the Italian people. De Felice had apparently touched some historical and political nerves. Italians pride themselves on the antifascist consensus that has prevailed in their political life since World War 11.4 The next year, De Felice took his views to a larger audience by granting a long interview to an American historian. Published in book form (The Interuista, 1975), it yielded an easy-to-read 115 pages compared to Gli anni del consenso's 800 pages of text and notes and 100 pages of appendixes. The interview book became a best seller, generating articles in the daily and weekly press, and interviews in the press and on television. Michael Ledeen, who

up to the mid-1970s, see "Introduction," Charles Delzell, trans., Renzo De Felice, Le interpretazioni del fascismo: Interpretations of Fascism (Cambridge, Mass., 1977); and "Introduction," Michael A. Ledeen, ed. and trans., Renzo De Felice, Fascism: An Informal Introduction to Its Theory and Practice (New Brunswick, N.J., 1976).

For the comments on a final, abridged volume and the quotation, see Renzo De Felice, Interuista sul fascismo, Michael A. Ledeen, ed. (Rome-Bari, 1975): 19-22. [English translation: Fascism: An Informul Introduction to Its Theory and Practice, 36-39]. Hereafter, citations of the interview will give page references in both the Italian and English editions as Intervista [Fascism]. References to Ledeen's intro. to the English edition will appear thus: Ledeen, Fascism.

S Interuista, 1-10 [Fascism, 21-29]. See Richard Bosworth, "Italian Foreign Policy and Its Historiography," in AltroPolo: Intellectuals and Their Ideas in Contemporary Italy, Richard Bosworth and Gino Rizo, eds. (Sydney, 1983), 65-68.

conducted the interview, summarized the immediate reaction to its publication in July 1975:

By the middle of the month it was the best-selling paperback in the country, and at this writing (mid-October) it is still number one on the best-seller list. It has sold over fifty thousand copies (a remarkable figure in a country with a population of sixty million, an illiteracy rate of over thirty percent, and where only one person out of ten reads a daily newspaper). It has been the object of long diatribes from several of the country's leading intellectuals, and the subject of front-page editorials in the official newspapers of both the Communist and Neofascist parties. It has twice been the subject of prime-time programs on the national television network. Renzo De Felice has been called everything from "soft on Mussolini" to "depraved," and has been accused of trying to "rehabilitate fascism." In short, it is the most controversial book of the year in a highly charged political atmosphere.5

Although many historians before De Felice had viewed the years 1929 to 1936-that is, from the Lateran Pact to the conquest of Ethiopia-as the most successful period for the fascist regime, De Felice went further. He found antifascism nearly extinct within the country and thoroughly ineffective from its bases abroad. He argued that, with Mussolini firmly in control of the state as well as the means of communication and education, the fascist government and its charismatic leader had achieved a genuine consensus on fascism among the Italian people.6

De Felice had begun his definition of "consensus" in the previous volume of the biography, covering the years 1925 to 1929 (published in 1968).7 As evidence, he cited the growing recognition of fascism and Mussolini abroad, Mussolini's prestige at home-which admittedly far outstripped that of the fascist party and fascist ideology-and the growing conservatism of once-revolutionary movements such as futurism, which accorded with a widespread openness to fascism's combination of traditional and revolutionary elements. In fact, part of the regime's appeal was its claim to a revolution that was, first of all, a restoration of the traditional culture and a fulfillment of the Risorgimento.

In Gli anni del consenso, De Felice argued that there was both a moral and material consensus on fascism.8 The material consensus arose from the security that the regime offered to Italians, including the working class, while the moral consensus grew out of the fascist call for change and a new society that appealed particularly to the young. This moral element represented "that spark of revolutionary fervor that there is within fascism itself, and that tends to construct something new."g The politics of Mussolini's regime ultimately stifled this revolutionary component of the original movement, but in the early 1930s it formed an important part of the consensus.

De Felice qualified his notion of consensus in several ways. First, he placed its strongest point in the period from 1929 to 1934, curiously leaving the Ethiopian war out, and, second, he admitted that the consensus was superficial in character. He also acknowledged that much of its power stemmed from the lack of any alternatives. Because the regime could produce neither the new ruling class nor the new society it had promised, it turned to war in a vain attempt to "fascistize" Italy.

5 Ledeen, Fascism, 7.

6 See Philip Cannistraro, La fabbrica del consenso (Rome-Bari, 1976).

Mussolini il fascista 11: L'organizzazione dello stato fascista 1925-1929, 369-81.

See De Felice, Mzcssolini il duce I: Gli anni del consenso, chap. 2, "Gli anni del consenso: I1 paese," 54-126.

Interuista, 29 [Fascism, 441.

What ultimately led to the demise of Italian fascism was a kind of "self-destruction," stemming in part from the self-deception of Mussolini.10

De Felice's Duce, for all his cunning and political shrewdness, could not move beyond ideas, policies, and institutions aimed at short-term political benefits. The state came to intervene more and more in national life but often in heavy-handed and inefficient ways, with the Duce trying, but often failing, to keep control. Psychologically, Mussolini turned inward, especially after the death of his brother and confidant Arnaldo in 1931. He isolated himself from the views of others and increasingly came to believe that the "whole edifice of the regime and the destiny of Italy depended on him." While De Felice's Mussolini, then, tried to appear as the infallible Duce who alone knew how to control the masses, he was in fact a kind of behind-the-scenes political broker and mediator who had to keep a number of constituencies sufficiently happy to avoid "putting into crisis the general equilib- rium on which the system was founded."ll

Mussolini's failure to take full advantage of his opportunities to build a strong foundation for future success also manifested itself in the fate of the fascist party during the 1930s, when Achille Starace served as party secretary. Starace opened up party membership in 1932, requiring civil servants to join and allowing others in who could pay the fee, reversing earlier attempts to restrict membership to a truly fascist elite. Although staracismo came to symbolize the virile fascism of physical fitness and daring, it seemed to many a sterile substitute for the revolution fascism had long promised.12 Mussolini, unable or unwilling to find a way of transforming Italians into new fascist men, turned to a policy of war and empire after 1935, which broke down the superficial and fragile consensus. Thus De Felice allotted about half of his fourth volume to chapters on foreign policy, Ethiopia, and empire.

Before the publication of the Intervista, the initial critical appraisals of Gli anni del consenso had attacked De Felice's interpretation. Leo Valiani's 1975 review for example, acknowledged the accomplishment of De Felice and the importance of his work for the study of Italian fascism. But it also took issue with De Felice's treatment of Italian foreign policy, arguing that Mussolini's policy up to 1934 was hardly the "diplomacy of peace" that De Felice would have it be. In addition, Valiani offered a more general criticism of the book, one frequently leveled at the biography as a whole: De Felice had fallen prey to that fascination with his subject that often besets biographers. The result was a portrait of the Duce placed in the best possible light. "We do not deny," wrote Valiani, "that Mussolini had his notable personal magnetism, exactly that magnetism that even decades distant still dazzles De Felice."l3

Such criticism was not new. Roberto Vivarelli had made similar points in his 1967 review of Mmsolini il rivoluzionario. He took issue with De Felice on a number of specific points, such as his treatment of Italian socialism and Mussolini's place in both the socialist movement and the events of 1912 to 1914. He also made the same larger point about De Felice, namely, that he was dazzled by his subject, did not understand Mussolini's character as an adventurer, and ignored evidence contrary

10 Mzcssolini il duce I: Gli anni del consenso, 180-81 and following.
l1 Mzcssolini il duce I: Gli anni del consenso, 174, 168.
12 Mzcssolini il duce I: Gli anni del consenso, 216 and following.
13 Leo Valiani, Corriere della sera, February 7, 1975.

to his views. Above all, Vivarelli complained, De Felice's greatest defect was his lack of any sense of irony in dealing with his subject.14

De Felice used the Intervista to respond to such criticisms and to expand on his tentative conclusions about both Italian fascism and fascism more generally. He admitted that even Mussolini understood the "precariousness" of the consensus he had achieved,lj but he argued that Mussolini was not as stupid as many wanted to believe. The Duce was aware of the nature of the problems facing him and his regime. De Felice maintained that fascism had a genuinely revolutionary compo- nent in its desire to incorporate the mass of the population into the life of the state and the nation.16 When the precarious consensus did not lead to a true "fascisti- zation" of the Italian people, the regime became more totalitarian and turned to war and conquest.

Citing Jacob Talmon's book, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, De Felice sought to show that Italian fascism had roots in the left, going back to the French Revolution and Rousseau. In effect, he denied the existence of a generic fascism by arguing that the differences between the Italian and German varieties were greater than their similarities. He did not see the social base of Italian fascism as limited to a lower middle class threatened with a loss of identity and squeezed between the organized working class and the increasing power of big business and industry. Rather, he emphasized the involvement of an "emerging middle class" that in a positive and dynamic way sought entrance into the political life of the nation. Above all, De Felice maintained the importance of distinguishing between fascism as a movement and fascism as a regime. The regime pushed aside but never wholly eliminated the movement, and De Felice sees the movement as the true embodi- ment of fascism. The distinction between movement and regime is key for him."

The Intervista also allowed De Felice to talk about his approach to history. Of particular significance was his contention that historical views are always tentative and developing as scholars learn more and uncover new evidence. It is an approach quite different from more structured and theoretical methods that accept certain givens as part of the study of history. His way of doing history, in other words, was bound to clash with the Marxist approaches that have dominated much of Italian intellectual and academic life since World War 11. De Felice's continuing polemic with Italian Marxism provides another important clue for understanding where his work fits in the historiography of fascism.

WITHINTHE IMMEDIATE AND WIDESPREAD REACTION to the Intervista,ls the objections to De Felice's views were of two kinds: those that took De Felice to task on specific

l4 Roberto Vivarelli, Rivista storica italiana, 79 (1967): 438-58; 458.

l5 Interuista, 53 [Fascism, 661.

l6 Interuista, 63--65 [Fascism, 74-76]. Compare Joseph La Palombara, Democracy Italian Style (New Haven, Conn., 1987), 273-75, on the legacies and lessons of fascism. La Palombara concluded that "the Fascist party did politicize society! It became the chief mechanism through which people were recruited and promoted to coveted positions"; 274.

l7 Interuista, 100, 24-31 [Fascism, 102, 40471.

Is Some examples include articles and reviews in the following newspapers and magazines, all from 1975: L'Espresso, June 29; Corriere della sera, July 5 and July 23; I1 Giorno, July 6; La Stampa, July 18; L'Unita, July 20; Panorama, July 31. Subsequent books that include these and other references and discuss De Felice and the historiography of Italian fascism are: Nicola Tranfaglia, ed., Fascismo e capitalism0 (Milan, 1976), with essays by P. Alatri, G. Carocci, V. Castronovo, E. Collotti, G. Quazza, G. Rochat, and Tranfaglia; Marina Addis Saba, I1 dibattito sul fmcismo: Le interpretazioni degli storici e dei militanti politici (Milan, 1976); Francesco Perfetti, I1 dibattito sul fmcismo (Rome, 1984); Guido Quazza, et al., Storiografia e fascism0 (Milan, 1985), with essays by Quazza, E. Collotti, M. Legnani, M. Palla, G.

issues while also calling attention to his allegedly benign attitude toward his subject; and those that went further to reject his general position, his way of doing history, and his presumed political bias. We have already seen the first type of criticism. Leo Valiani wrote two additional articles on the Intervista in which he denied the importance of De Felice's distinction between movement and regime and reiterated his disagreement with De Felice's reading of documents and treatment of such issues as foreign policy.19 Paolo Alatri rejected De Felice's notion of a dynamic emergent middle class, seeing instead a frightened lower middle class on the defensive, "caught between a rising proletariat and the ruling upper middle class, which raised Mussolini to power and kept him there. When has a dictatorship of the Right ever favored the masses? De Felice makes a distinction between the original movement and the actual government. For me, as for everyone else, there is just Fascism pure and simple." Giampiero Carocci commented, "Fascism? A mess, that's all. If we must speak of 'consensus' it is for only the 18 months between the foundation of the Empire and the Spanish Civil War."*o

Indeed, it is De Felice's penchant for fine points, details, and distinctions that has particularly annoyed and disturbed those taking a more theoretical and, it might be said, global view of fascism and the forces shaping history. During the controversy in 1975, De Felice offered a revealing analogy: "I feel like a paleontologist trying to reconstruct a dinosaur, and every tiny bone I find fills me with enthusiasm. I have been gathering these bones for 15 years. No one wanted to dig them up, and now everyone wants to send them back. Yet every day I find something new on Mussolini."21

Although Alatri and Carocci are Marxist historians, they kept to specific points of disagreement with De Felice and avoided rejecting his work as a whole on ideological or political grounds. Others were not so cautious, and this second type of criticism found De Felice's position, methods, and alleged political bias wholly unacceptable. For example, Giovanni Ferrara, participating in the same interview and discussion with Alatri and Carocci, commented that the approach to fascism had to be "polemical," and he considered De Felice's viewpoint "fascist." Nicola Tranfaglia, a young Marxist historian, charged De Felice with rehabilitating fascism.22 A devastating editorial in the journal of the National Institute for the History of the Movement of Liberation in Italy, Italia contemporanea, bore the pejorative title "An Afascist Historiography for the 'Silent Majority"' and de- nounced positions that ended by becoming "objectively philo-fascist" and thereby having a "diseducational" function. From its perspective, De Felice advanced not only a novel interpretation of fascism but also a new and illegitimate way of doing history. After a brief defense of a Marxist interpretation of fascism, the editorial condemned De Felice and his followers in no uncertain terms. In both his biography of Mussolini and his journal, Storia contemporanea, De Felice was guilty of a phony kind of objectivity that refused to take a clear position, placed all theses on

Santomassimo, and an extensive bibliography. Nicola Tranfaglia, Labirinto italiano: I1 fascismo, l'antifes- cismo, gli storici (Florence, 1989), is a collection of Tranfaglia's essays and book reviews from 1970 to 1988.

l9 Leo Valiani, Corriere della sera, July 5 and July 23, 1975. Valiani later wrote a longer review of both the Interuista and Gli anni del consenso in Rivista storica italiana, 88 (1976): 509-30.

20 Both comments appeared in an interview published in the weekly news magazine Panorama, July

31. 1975. 21 Renzo De Felice, Panorama, July 31, 1975. 22 In I1 Giorno, July 6, 1975, as quoted in Ledeen, Fascism, 17.

the same plane, failed to make any qualitative distinctions between various political, social, and economic forces. The editorial concluded by condemning such academic opportunism as representative of one of the worst traditions of Italian intellec- tuals.z3

The public debate over De Felice's views quieted somewhat when a senior and revered member of the Italian Communist party, Giorgio Amendola, commented that, although he disagreed with De Felice, a fresh examination of antifascism was needed.24 In effect, Amendola admitted that the fascist regime did forge something of a consensus because antifascism failed to establish a base among all groups and classes of Italian society.25

Not surprisingly, De Felice's views on Mussolini and fascism did not raise in other countries the storm that thundered through Italy in 1975. Professional historians took note, especially in England, where Denis Mack Smith, dean of British historians of modern Italy, managed to make some of the issues public in the pages of the Times Literary Supplement. He reviewed Gli anni del consenso and the Intervista in the TLS of October 31, 1975, taking vehement exception to De Felice's portrait of Mussolini as one far too kind, flattering, and indulgent. A few years later, he summed up his views on Mussolini in a masterful, tightly organized, and lucidly written biography of Mussolini.26

Mack Smith found it "hard to avoid the impression that Mussolini has been given the benefit of too many doubts. We are informed, for example, that he was not cruel (also, incidentally, that he lacked the cold fanaticism of Winston Churchill)," when there is abundant evidence to the contrary. De Felice, according to Mack Smith, simply ignored evidence that did not support his views and expressed views without offering evidence. Where, for example, were the facts to show that fascism was a truly revolutionary and progressive movement? The evidence for De Felice's consensus argument was far from conclusive, and the heavy documentation De Felice employed relied too much on fascist documents. Mack Smith did credit De Felice with showing that the corporative system was a sham, but he complained that

23 "Fare la storia senza prendere posizione, riferire diverse ipotesi interpretative per negarle tutte, senza peraltro riuscire ad esprimere una propria, ecco il falso mod0 di problematizzare tipico di questa storiografia. Porre tutte le tesi sullo stesso piano, livellare tutte le forze politiche e sociali-la burocrazia, la diplomazia, le forze economiche, il partito fascists-uasi che tra di esse non vi fosse un differenza qualitativa di peso specifico, ecco un altro dei canoni metodologici della storiografia afascista, esemplar- mente rappresentata dalla biografia mussoliniana del De Felice e dalla rivista Storia contemporanea, che proprio per le sue caratteristiche promette di offrire larga copertura al mimetismo culturale e all'opportunismo accademico delle peggiori tradizionali intellettuali italiane"; Italia contemporanea, 119 (June 1975): 3-7.

24 Giorgio Amendola's comments appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Communist party daily L'Unita, July 20, 1975. Subsequently, he was interviewed on antifascism by the historian Piero Melograni: see Amendola, Interuista sull'antifascismo, Piero Melograni, ed. (Rome-Bari, 1976). This Intervista had little more to say about De Felice's views, but it did explore the subject of antifascism from the 1920s to the 1970s.

25 De Felice complained in the Interuista that his critics had overlooked the fact that some of his views agreed with those of Communist leader Palmiro Togliatti: "Years ago-when I wrote my first volume, I1 Rivoluzionario, and certainly the first volume of I1 Fascists, and maybe even when the second had appeared-Ernesto Ragionieri published Togliatti's Lessons on Fascism. In these Lessons, which I could not have known about when I wrote my books, I found certain of my central themes about fascism. No one, even in passing, noticed this 'strange' fact"; Interuista, 113 [Fascism, 1131. For his assessment of Togliatti's ideas, see De Felice, Interpretations of Fascism, 150-51 (orig. pub. in the Italian edition of 1969). Giorgio Rochat charged, nevertheless, that De Felice had misused Togliatti and quoted him out of context; Rochat, "I1 quarto volume della biografia di Mussolini di Renzo De Felice," Italia contemporanea, 27 (1976): 96.

26 Times Literary Supplement, 3842 (October 31, 1975): 1278-80; Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini, A Biography (New York, 1982).

then De Felice turned around and called the conquest of Ethiopia Mussolini's "political masterpiece and greatest success," which Mack Smith believed was "worse than shocking, it is nonsense."27

Michael Ledeen then stepped forward to defend De Felice in the TLSof January 9, 1976.28 De Felice had, Ledeen maintained, shown Mussolini's failure as a leader, and his calling the Ethiopian war a "political masterpiece" must be seen within the context developed by De Felice; it should not be read as approval of the deed. Ledeen also offered the context for the distinction between movement and regime and the meaning of "revolutionary" as applied to Italian fascism.29 Mack Smith would have none of it. His stinging reply in the TLS one week later reiterated that De Felice's heavy reliance on fascist documents had "led [him] to a lopsided view of events." He charged that De Felice used the term "revolutionary" in "a highly idiosyncratic way," and he dismissed Ledeen's discussion of the "political master- piece" as a misleading characterization of "a catastrophic blunder and as a natural product of the kind of regime Mussolini had so expertly set up." Mack Smith concluded with examples of De Felice's distortion of evidence, especially in the chapter of Gli anni del consenso dealing with British and European attitudes toward Mussolini and fascism in the early 1930s.30 None of this criticism kept Mack Smith from acknowledging, a few years later, the value of "the substantial study of fascism being written by Renzo De Felice who has done more than anyone to open up the subject to research in the archives."31

However we view De Felice's work, no one can deny the impact it has had on the study of Mussolini and fascism. The furor of the mid-1970s brought his work to the attention of more English-speaking historians. A special issue of the Journal of Contemporary History in October 1976 devoted to "Theories of Fascism" included several articles on Italy, with those by Ledeen and Piero Melograni touching on some of the themes in the De Felice controversy.32 The American political scientist A.James Gregor remained true to his maverick views on fascism by writing a strong endorsement of De Felice's position in a 1978 review of Gli anni del consenso and the Zntervista.33 It is not clear that De Felice would subscribe as enthusiastically to Gregor's views, which depict Italian fascism as a "developmental dictatorship" and seek to exclude German Nazism altogether from the fascist camp.34

The final word is not yet in on De Felice's work. Once he completes the last volume of the biography, we can look forward to his one-volume summation, which will surely be translated into English. At that point, there will be a fresh assessment with, no doubt, renewed polemics, but the results should benefit the general enterprise of understanding fascism, regardless of the disagreements on specific

27 Times Literary Supplement, 3842 (October 31, 1975): 1278, 1280.

28 Ledeen is an American who first met De Felice in Italy while doing research for his dissertation, later published as Universal Fascism: The Theory and Practice of the Fascist International, 1928-1936 (New York, 1972). He conducted the famous interview of the Intervista and edited the English translation. The success of the Intervista led to Intervista sul nazismo (Rome-Bari, 1977), in which Ledeen interviewed George L. Mosse [English translation: Nazism: A Historical and Comparative Analysis of National Socialism (New Brunswick, N.J., 1978)l.

29 Times Literary Supplement, 3852 (January 9, 1976): 35-36.

30 Times Literary Supplement, 3853 Uanuary 16, 1976): 58.

51 Mack Smith, Mussolini, xiv.

52 Journal of Contemporary History, 11 (October 1976).

33 A. Tames Gregor, "Professor Renzo De Felice and the Fascist Phenomenon," World Politics, 30 (April 1978): z33-49. 34 See Charles S. Maier, "Some Recent Studies of Fascism," Journal of Modern History, 48 (September 1976): 506-21. Maier's review article discussed the work of both Gregor and De Felice, as well as a

-

number of other books on Italian and German fascism.

points. In the meantime, it is the Italian political and cultural scene that provides the context for De Felice's views and the reactions to them. Antifascism was the foundation of the postwar Republic and was written into the Constitution of 1948. All the parties, with the exception of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), shared an antifascist faith. This antifascism, according to the Australian historian Richard Bosworth, tended to view Mussolini's regime as having been one "of a semi-criminal minority. The 'Italian people' were unwilling victims of Fascist tyranny. When they had the slightest chance they sympathised with or joined the Resistance."35

IN 1975 ,THE ITALIAN PARTY (PCI), espousing "Eurocommunism," was

COMMUNIST on the ascendant, and it seemed quite possible that it would come into a government with the Christian Democrats or join in a coalition with other parties of the left. Hence it was good politics to keep all doors open and not to question perceived historical truths that had direct connections with present political realities. There was a compromise, Italian style, reports Bosworth, "whereby Christian Democracy and its allies dominated the world of 'real power' in Italy; they formed the government, staffed the bureaucracy, and controlled the state-owned industries. The P.C.I. and its allies in exchange were left the world of the intellect which remained a place of immense and, to an Anglo-Saxon, almost incomprehen- sible prestige." Within that intellectual and cultural world, "Marxism, or rather Gramscism, seemed to have become the governing ideology of the Italian intelligentsia."36

Antonio Gramsci's revision of Marxism stressed the significance of the political superstructure, the special role of intellectuals in the class struggle, and the concept of hegemony in civil society. Although Gramsci's concepts have given many historians a useful and sometimes highly illuminating context within which to work, De Felice has rejected Gramscian categories, thus setting himself on a collision course with most of Italy's intellectual and academic elite. De Felice concluded the Intervista with this statement:

Recent attempts to historicize fascism and the Resistance that a politician like Giorgio Amendola has felt the need to undertake are symptomatic of the political and cultural situation in Italy. On the one hand, they illustrate-by counterpoint-the abstractness and cultural conformism of many of our historians; on the other hand, they offer the possibilities of evaluating communist cultural hegemony. From the mouth of a nonconformist, many of Amendola's affirmations would be considered heresies, and the spirit of his analysis would be considered moderate if not downright reactionary, while coming from Amendola they acquire authority and citizenship.37

Four years later, De Felice expressed rather pessimistic views about the state of Italian historiography, charging that Marxist and non-Marxist historians had failed to find common ground for their historical work. He blamed, in particular, the

35 Bosworth, "Italian Foreign Policy," 68.

86 Bosworth, "Italian Foreign Policy," 68. As Bosworth notes, it is more "Gramscism" than Marxism that dominates the thinking of the intellectual and academic elite of the left. Antonio Gramsci's influence on the historiography of Italy, and that of the West generally, has been particularly important. Gramsci helped found the PC1 in 1921 and served the party with distinction until his imprisonment by the fascist regime in 1926. His notebooks and letters, written while in a fascist prison for a decade, are a remarkable corpus that has brought fresh perspectives and new life to Marxist thought.

37 Interuista, 115 [Fascism, 1151.

historiography of the New Left, which had exerted such strong influence after 1968. It challenged traditional Marxist historiography and thwarted the revisionist efforts of Marxist historians begun in 1956. Only Giuliano Procacci and Paolo Spriano, according to De Felice, continued such revisionist work. The Marxist historians also had to worry about their "duty of recovering converts for the Communist Party." Under these circumstances, there was little hope for "any defence of a common historicism."38

When the next volume of the biography appeared in 198 1, the audience's mood was quite different. Mussolini il duce 11: Lo stato totalitario, 1936-1940 also met negative criticism, but most of the debate remained on a scholarly level, with little of the public controversy of 1975. The storm had clearly abated, and relative calm reigned. The reasons for the difference arose from changes De Felice made, changes within the academic and intellectual worlds, and changes within the Italian political scene. This time, De Felice gave no Intervista to reach a wider audience. Circumstances did not create the environment for repeating such a best seller, and De Felice apparently no longer felt the need to seek the same sort of public hearing he had in 1975.

In his fifth volume, De Felice devoted an entire chapter of nearly one hundred pages to "consenso" between 1936 and 1940.39 His use of quotation marks around the term indicated an apparent retreat from its controversial application to a country ruled by a dictatorship. He stated in the first chapter that the fascist regime continued to enjoy broad support in the period under discussion, but the consensus was less solid and more passive than it had been a few years earlier, because of the Spanish Civil War and the introduction of the racial laws in 1938.40 Nevertheless, this "consensus" persisted and was intact when Italy entered the war in 1940. Only with defeat impending in 1942-1943 did it finally break down. That breakdown will presumably be analyzed in the next volume.

Anything De Felice wrote was still news in 1981, even if not at the level of 1975. In an interview in the popular weekly magazine Panorama, on July 20, De Felice noted that an argument over his views went on but without it being seen as a struggle between "God and Lucifer." He apparently took comfort from the fact that the debate over consensus now focused on its extent rather than its existence.41 De Felice saw something of a historiographical turning point ("una svolta sto- riografica") taking place. One of De Felice's more persistent and consistent critics, Gianpasquale Santomassimo, agreed that the climate had changed. He also felt that De Felice had become more cautious than in the past. He went on to review Lo stato totalitario, finding fault again with De Felice's over-reliance on fascist documents and his reaching for conclusions not supported by the sources. Indeed, Santomas- simo suggested that some of the sources De Felice cited supported conclusions opposite from those he had drawn. Santomassimo also disagreed with De Felice's portrayal of foreign policy from 1936 to 1940, a large portion of the book.42

French historian Michel Ostenc also saw 1981 as initiating something of a new era

38 Renzo De Felice, "Italian Historiography since the Second World War," in Altro Polo, A Volume of Italian Studies, Richard Bosworth and Gianfranco Cresciani, eds. (Sydney, 1979), 178. 39De Felice, Mussolini il duce II: Lo stato totalitario, 1936-1940, chap. 2, "I1 'consenso' tra la meti del 1936 e la meta del 1940," 15f5-255. 40 See the review by Charles F. Delzell, "Mussolini and the Totalitarian State, 1936-1940: The De Felice Interpretation," Italian Quarterly, 24 (Summer 1983): 101-08. 41 The statement reads "vede che vi si discute la misura del consenso. Prima si negava che il fatto fosse, semplicemente"; Renzo De Felice, Panorama, July 20, 1981, 128. 42 Gianpasquale Santomassimo, "Discussioni di Renzo De Felice," Passato e presente, 1 (1982): 23-30.

The Historiography of Italian Fascism 401

in the historiography of Italian fascism. He observed that, by 1981, there came "the end of the hagiography of antifascism." This change would clear the way for fresh appraisals of fascism. He hastened to add that this development in no way weakened the moral condemnation of fascism. On the contrary, a more objective study of it would help historians better understand fascism as a historical phenom- enon and thus oppose its res~rgence.~~

Apart from critical comments other historians may make about De Felice's work, the extent of his influence emerges in how other historians use his work. For example, the late Giorgio Candeloro's ninth volume of Storia dell'ltalia moderna, I1 fascismo e le sue gueme, appeared in late 198 1. Candeloro included in his bibliogra- phy and cited in his text all the volumes of De Felice's biography of Mussolini, including the latest volume, Lo stato totalitario.44 Candeloro wrote as a historian identified with the left and once again took issue with De Felice's reliance on fascist sources, with his inflation of the consensus enjoyed by the fascist regime and consequent deflation of the coercion it used, and his overemphasis on the ideology and psychology of Mussolini, whose decisions thus appeared autonomous, free from the influence of social and institutional factors.45 Yet Candeloro's criticism did not keep him from using De Felice throughout his own volume. He cited De Felice more than any other historian. Over seventy footnotes list works by De Felice, the majority citing volumes of the biography. In one sense, there is nothing surprising in Candeloro's stance. He disagreed with certain aspects of De Felice's perspectives and methods but finds his work a rich mine, as do most historians, for his own understanding of the phenomenon of Italian fascism. And the tenor of his criticism and his use of De Felice's work were far removed from the polemical atmosphere of 1975.

Marco Palla's review of Lo stato totalitario in Studi storici carried a similar tone. He raised the standard objections to De Felice with respect to outlook, bias, use of documents, and attitude toward Mussolini. Nevertheless, he did not reject, out of hand, the notion of consensus in the 1930s but, rather, criticized De Felice's vague definition of it and lack of strong and clear empirical data based on local studies. In a sense, Palla seemed to suggest that there may have been a consensus, but we do not yet have sufficient evidence for it.46

The appearance of the journal Passato e presente in 1982 was another indicator of a different intellectual and political atmosphere in Italy. The editorial in the first issue justified its publication by arguing that "no other existing journal seems to have-in content and structure-one of the characteristics that is at the base of Passato e presente: the explicit will to reflect the historiographical debate, to discuss the orientations of historiography and, if possible, to influence them." Although starting from a leftist, Marxist, and Gramscian position, the journal's editors hoped to transcend narrow or dogmatic points of view in order to look at the full panorama of historiography on the events of the twentieth century.47

Passato e presente also proclaimed that it would be international in its represen- tation of contemporary historiography. Immediately following the first issue's

43 Michel Ostenc, "Historiographie du fascisme italien: Examen critique," Revue d'histoire de la dewidme guerre mondiale, 139 (1985): 22-23.

44

Giorgio Candeloro, Storia dell'ltalia moderna, vol. 9: I1 fascismo e le sue guerre (Milan, 1981).

45 Candeloro, Storia dell'ltalia moderna, 9: 495.

46 Marco Palla, Studi storici, 1 (1981): 23-49.

4' Pmsato epresente, 1 (1982):3-4. The editors are Franco Andreucci and Gabriele Turi. The editorial committee includes Gianpasquale Santomassimo. Among those listed as collaboratori are Enzo Collotti, Eugenio Garin, Eric Hobsbawm, and Marco Palla.

editorial were three reviews of De Felice's Lo stato totalitario: two by foreigners, Adrian Lyttelton and Jens Petersen, and the third, already mentioned above, by Gianpasquale Santomassimo. While all three found points of disagreement with De Felice's latest work, the tone of their criticism was temperate. As Lyttelton commented, De Felice was producing a work beyond the scale of anything else attempted on the subject. His conclusion was not unlike Candeloro's rejection of certain aspects of De Felice's work and simultaneous use of it as an indispensable source for his own work on the fascist period.

Richard Bosworth has proposed several reasons for the relatively quiet reception of De Felice in 198 1-1982 compared with the uproar of 1974-1975. First, De Felice had succeeded in winning support for his argument that fascism had built some kind of consensus. Thus when he "argued that 'without war and defeat Fascism would not have fallen,' or that anti-Fascism was not a serious threat to the regime and almost all discontent towards it was pre-political, or that few among the 'fellow-travelers' of Mussolini actively wanted his downfall, there was little reac- tion." De Felice's rejection of ideological treatments of history, whether Gramscian- Marxist or Catholic, seemed consonant in the 1980s with increasingly popular public views. "It may be accidental, it may be not, that De Felice's own rejection of Catholicism and Communism and defence of an increasingly conservative lay and capitalist 'third way' was paralleled by similar developments on the political stage."48

Bosworth noted that about the only historian to mount a full-scale assault on De Felice's newest volume was Giorgio Rochat, a military specialist. Rochat's review appeared in Italia c~ntemporanea.~~

Once again, De Felice's documentation came under attack, and Rochat charged that he relied far too much on the accounts of Galeazzo Ciano and Dino Grandi for his discussion of foreign policy. For Rochat, De Felice's analysis of consensus was as vague and unsubstantiated as ever. He singled out De Felice's use of the term "cultural revolution" as particularly provocative, since the fascist regime had never used the term, and it could only call to mind Mao Tse-tung's China. Finally, Rochat concluded that De Felice offered only a partial revaluation of fascism with no clear line of interpretation and objected to his use of quotation marks as spreading ever more ambiguity about difficult and controversial terms.

Rochat's final paragraph linked De Felice to the mass media, charging that he seemed to have a near monopoly on public radio and television programs on history, as a result of his political connections and his capacity to give to a large segment of the public the history it wanted. Nicola Tranfaglia seconded this point in an article on fascism and the mass media in 1983. Tranfaglia saw the publication of the Intervista in 1975 as the initiation of a challenge to "the dominant interpretation in the culture of the antifascist tradition," which had "opened the way to the possibility of a gradual revaluation of Mussolini and his regime." The media had ignored earlier scholarly debate, but De Felice's decision to offer a psychological study that explained events in terms of Mussolini's temperament gained the attention of the media.50 Three years later, Enzo Collotti argued that De Felice's influence had been amplified by the work of his students and colleagues in De Felice's journal, Storia contemporanea, and his exposure on state television, which

48 Bosworth, "Italian Foreign Policy," 70, 71.

49 Bosworth, "Italian Foreign Policy," 70; Giorgio Rochat, "Ancora sul Mussolini di Renzo De Felice," Italia contemporanea, 141 ( 198 1): 5-1 0.

50 Nicola Tranfaglia, "Fascismo e mass-media," Passato e presente, 3 (1983): 135-48.

so constantly sought his historical opinion that the public might conclude he was the only important researcher on the subject.51

THECONCERN EXPRESSED OVER THE INFLUENCE of De Felice's views through exposure in the mass media was also a concern over the changing political atmosphere in Italy. By the early 1980s, the PC1 occupied a weaker and more ambiguous position on the Italian political spectrum. The fall of the Christian Democratic government in 1981 led-to the appointment of the first non-Christian Democratic prime minister, the Republican party leader Giovanni Spadolini. Even more significant was the assumption of the premiership, after Spadolini's seventeen months in office, by the Socialist leader Bettino Craxi. Craxi held office for over three years until March 1987, longer than any prime minister since World War 11.

Elections between 1976 and 1987 showed a decline in the electoral strength of the PC1 from nearly 35 percent to just under 27 percent. Craxi had succeeded in increasing the Socialist vote in national elections from just under 10 percent to over 14 percent in the same period, and even a Communist political scientist admitted that his party had lost votes to the Socialists in the June 1987 parliamentary elections.52 The Socialists, in other words, had fought for an enhanced position on the Italian party spectrum without collaboration with the Communists. The death of the PCI's popular leader, Enrico Berlinguer, in June 1984 brought immense sympathy from the Italian public but only momentarily halted the electoral decline of the party.53

By 1988, the situation for Italian historiography had also changed considerably from that of 1975. De Felice touched off a second public controversy at the beginning of the year by calling for an end to the official antifascism of the Italian Republic, which he argued was now an outdated obstacle to political reform. Among other things, antifascism "was used by the Communists to assume a patina of democracy and they continue to claim legitimacy with it."54

The subsequent debate in the media on these remarks55 was engulfed by a new public and political fracas over the historical and political implications of Stalinism. Bettino Craxi's Socialist party (PSI) held a two-day conference in March 1988 on the subject of "Lo stalinismo nella sinistra italiana" [Stalinism in the Italian Left]. A number of historians, including De Felice but with the conspicuous absence of Communist historians, discussed and debated the effects of ~talinism on Italy and Europe with particular attention to the role played during the 1930s and 1940s by

5' Enzo Collotti, "L'Etat totalitaire," Revue d'histoire de lu deuxikme guerre mondiale, 143 (1986): 32.

52 See the article in the New York Times, June 21, 1987, IV, 2: 3.

52 For an interesting analysis of the decline of the Communist vote and the gains of the Socialists, Social Democrats, Liberals, and Republicans, see Adolfo Battaglia, "New Politics Emerge in Italy," on the editorial page of the New York Times, April 4, 1985.

j4As quoted in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, January 17, 1988, IV. The interview that touched off the controversy appeared in the Com'ere dellu sera, December 27, 1987. Shortly thereafter, Leo Valiani and De Felice had an opportunity to state their views on the question of antifascism in Nuova antologza (January-March 1988): 167-71. De Felice emphasized the need to distinguish between antifascists and democrats. The two are not the same, and the communists, in particular, must demonstrate their adherence to liberal democratic values. "An antifascist habit no longer makes a democratic monk" [L'abito antifascista non farebbe piu il monaco democratico]. The Corriere dellu sera interview of December 27 and a follow-up interview published January 8, 1989, appear in Jader Jacobelli, I1 fescismo e gli storici oggz (Rome-Bari, 1988), along with comments by twenty-four journalists and historians.

See, for example, "L'antifascismo e salvo," in L'Espresso, January 17, 1988.

the leader of the PCI, Palmiro Togliatti, who had died in 1964.56 The political motivation of Craxi and the Socialists was clear enough: embarrass the PCI, undermine Togliatti's historical stature by his association with Stalin and Stalinism, and, further, make the case that the Socialists were the true inheritors of a democratic socialism whereas the Communists were the inheritors of a tradition tainted by totalitarianism.57 The conference prompted complaints from Commu- nist party leader Alessandro Natta that it was unfair to attack and try Togliatti in this fashion.58

De Felice's place within Italian historiography on fascism has been most affected by the crisis facing the Italian Marxists both politically and historiographically.59 Eurocommunism has failed to develop, and the left wing of the PC1 is loath simply to meld into "Mediterranean" socialism. The PSI has considerably enhanced its political strength in Italy and now seriously challenges the PC1 for leadership of the left. Marxist historians find themselves on the defensive because the debate over fascism has been dwarfed by the debate over Stalinism. The changes in the Soviet Union brought on by Mikhail Gorbachev have revived all sorts of troubling historical questions that Italian Marxist historians previously either ignored or played down by attributing the sins of Stalinism to Stalin himself rather than to his system or its ideology. In addition, although Gramsci remains the patron saint of the left in Italy and elsewhere, some historians have doubts about the precise meaning of his historical ideas and their political implications.60

In these circumstances, De Felice's polemical stance toward Italian Marxist historiography has become part of a larger challenge to the hegemony so long enjoyed by that school. The challenge is fundamentally of a twofold character: a rejection of abstract, theoretical approaches to history; and skepticism about traditional Marxist definitions of fascism. This challenge has opened the way to a

j6 The conference was held on March 16 and 17, 1988. Some of the papers then appeared in the Socialist party journal Mondoperaio, April-May 1988. A volume including all the papers, commentaries and discussions appeared a few months later: Lo stalinismo nella sinistra italiana, Atti del Convegno Organizatto da Mondoperaio, Roma 16-17 marzo 1988 (Rome, 1988).

57 Craxi had begun his campaign to disassociate the PSI historically and politically from the PC1 as early as 1976. See "La storia second0 Bettino," in Epoca, March 13, 1988. For a Socialist critique of Gramsci, see Luciano Pellicani, Gramsci e la questione comunista (Florence, 1976).

58 See, for example, "Che errore attaccare Togliatti," in La Repubblica, March 19, 1988.

j9 A sample of recent books on the Marxist "crisis" by Marxists includes: Carl Boggs, The Two Revolutions: Antonio Gramci and the Dilemmas of Western Marxism (Boston, 1984); Carl Boggs, Social Movements and Political Power: Emerging Fom of Radicalism in the West (Philadelphia, 1986); Joseph Femia, Gramci's Political Thought: Hegemony, Consciousness, and the Revolutionary Process (Oxford, 1981); John Hoffman, The Gramcian Challenge: Coercion and Consent in Marxist Political Theory (Oxford, 1984); Jack Lindsay, The Crisis in Marxism (Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, 1981); Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London, 1985); Anne Showstack Sassoon, Gramci's Politics, 2d edn. (Minneapolis, Minn., 1987). Also see the comments on Gramsci and the concept of hegemony in H. Stuart Hughes, Sophisticated Rebels: The Political Culture of European Dissent 1968-1987 (Cambridge, Mass., 1988).

60 The following sorts of questions are being raised and debated by scholars interested in Gramsci: What exactly does hegemony mean? Do Gramsci's ideas lead to the dicatatorship of the proletariat or a democratic state? Is the distinction between Western and Eastern Marxism accurate? What did Gramsci think of Stalin and Stalinism?

Victoria De Grazia uses Gramsci's notion of hegemony in her fine study of the Dopolavoro: The Culture of Consent, Mass Organization of Leisure in Fascist Italy (Cambridge, 1981), and rejects De Felice's consensus thesis: "Consent is sometimes defined as a favorable public opinion, something subject to being ascertained scientifically at the ballot box or by polling. The assumption that such opinions are freely given, if not freely formed, could never be sustained for fascist Italy; nor, as some recent studies of the regime have implied, is it possible to deduce from the personal charisma of the Duce or from the propaganda bombardments of the Ministry of Popular Culture the existence of a generalized consensus in favor of the regime"; 20. The "recent studies" she cites are De Felice, Mussolini il duce I: Gli anni del consenso; and Cannistraro, La fabbrica del consenso.

more sympathetic attitude toward De Felice's work.61 De Felice's contribution has been to dLmythologize and to depoliticize the study of Italian fascism, arguing that Marxist or Communist views have distorted historical perspective on the subject. The Italian Communists, De Felice seems to say, have profited from a kind of "innocence by association." They have monopolized antifascism and hence pur- veyed historical views in accordance with their best political interests.

De Felice's work supports two major points with rkspect to the nature of Italian fascism and fascism more generally. First, Italian fascism can only be understood in its dialectic with communism. Fascism's defeat of Marxism was accomplished by a combination of support from conservative and traditional forces as well as attempts to formulate a revolutionary stance of its own while endeavoring to build its own mass base. The Marxists accept only the first part of such a formulation. Second, generic fascism to De Felice has no basis in historical fact62 but is a political construct advantageous to Marxist parties and governments, for generic-fascism means that fascism can always appear again. If it does, the Marxists, claiming to understand it "objectively," will be in the best position to thwart it.63

In the short run, the current political situation means that De Felice's views now stand a better chance of getting a sympathetic hearing, though not necessarily unanimous applause. The trend seems to be toward a historiography that concen- trates more on specific points and less on theory. In the long run, the issues raised by an examination of De Felice's views of Italian fascism and generic fascism must be assessed within the larger context of the methods underlying the study of history in general and fascism in particular. De Felice has succeeded as a historian nbt because everyone agrees with what he has written but because, as with Jakob Burckhardt on the Renaissance or Geoffrey Elton on Tudor England, everyone who writes on the subject has to take his views into account.

61 Even those critical of De Felice's position in general and his consensus argument in particular seemed capable, by the 1980s, of making their points more on the basis of empirical research and less on the basis of political and ideological stances. See, for example, Luisa Passerini, "Work, Ideology and Working Class Attitudes to Fascism," in Our Common History: The Transformation of Europe, eds. Paul Thompson and Natasha Burchardt (London, 1982): 54-78; and Fascism in Popular Memory: The Cultural Experience of the Turin Working Class (Cambridge, 1987). For a sympathetic summary of De Felice's position and its influence, see the article by his student Emilio Gentile, "Fascism in Italian Historiogra- phy: In Search of an Individual Historical Identity," Journal of Contemporaly History, 21 (1986): 179-208.

62 De Felice does see enough similarities in the various fascisms to warrant continuing attempts to define the fascist phenomenon: "The task certainly is not easy, but it is my conviction that-thanks above all to the research and new approach given the problem by some scholars and especially by Jacob Talmon, George L. Mosse, Eugen Weber-it is not impossible"; Renzo De Felice, "I1 fenomeno fascista," Storia contemporanea, 10 (1979): 627-28. Compare Intervista, 24, 82 [Fascism, 40-41, 89-90].

63 For examples of non-Italian views on the question of generic fascism, see Martin Kitchen's critique of Ernst Nolte, Fascism (London, 1976), 44-45; and Tim Mason's quarrel with De Felice and Henry Turner over modernization, "Italy and Modernization: A Montage," Histoly Workshop, 25 (Spring 1988): 127-47. The latter article concludes with some unflattering comments about "Bettino Craxi, the Socialist Party leadership and the media-managers arrayed behind them"; 144.

Comments
  • Recommend Us