Dienstag, 15. September 2009

The Culture of "Hierarchical Brotherhood." Fascism and the Legacy of the Great War

ANGELO VENTRONE
Vortrag The Culture of "Hierarchical Brotherhood." Fascism and the Legacy of the Great War
28. September 2009, 18 Uhr c. t., IFK (freier Eintritt)
Diskussion zum Thema "First World War Studies in Italy"
29. September 2009, 16 Uhr c. t., IFK (freier Eintritt)

Vortrag und Diskussion in englischer Sprache

Much of the "innovation" attributed to the fascist regime must be backdated to the war period: especially the project to build a differing model for modernity to that which seemed to be establishing itself in the West.
From the end of the 19th century onwards strong criticism of bourgeois modernity had come to typify European cultural debate. The most common accusations in relation to this phenomenon regarded the effects it seemed to provoke: the destruction of all solidarity due to the exaltation of individualism; the spreading sense of individual isolation and social displacement; waning vitality; moral decline and even the physical degeneration of the peoples of Europe.
During the 19th century the United States had represented the supreme model of modern society and therefore the most dangerous one. In Italy, however, in the course of the First World War, the Germans were the ones who came to be perceived as representing an extreme, radical modernity.
The defeat of Germany represented a necessary step in the substitution of quantitative, repetitive, involuntary mechanical modernity, with a form of modernity that was qualitative, creative and conscious. With the defeat and end of the "German threat", Europe's attention turned to focus on "American" civilization again; or rather, on American hell. A hell — however — which was the mirror image of the Soviet inhuman society, the other mortal enemy for fascism.
To sum up, one might say that the dictatorial regime purported to continue the attempt — carried out between the end of the 19th century and the First World War — to bring modern society under control. That is a society of technology and finance, decadence and effeminacy, individualism and atomistic disintegration, which was considered as a threat not only to Italy, but to the West as a whole.


Angelo Ventrone is Professor for Contemporary History at the Università degli Studi di Macerata in Italy.

Publications (among others): Il nemico interno. Immagini, parole e simboli della lotta politica nell´Italia del Novecento, Roma 2005; Piccola storia della Grande Guerra, Roma 2005; La seduzione totalitaria. Guerra, modernità, violenza politica (1914–1918), Roma 2003.

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