Giovanni Gentile

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For Fascism...the state and the individual are one.

Giovanni Gentile (30 May 1875 – 15 April 1944) was an Italian neo-Hegelian idealist philosopher, educator, and fascist politician, and a peer of Benedetto Croce. The self-styled "philosopher of Fascism", he was influential in providing an intellectual foundation for Italian Fascist thought, and ghostwrote part of The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) with Benito Mussolini.

Quotes[edit]

  • For Fascism...the State and the individual are one, or better, perhaps, "State" and "individual" are terms that are inseparable in a necessary synthesis.
    • Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, trans. A. James Gregor, Transaction Publishers (2011), p. 25
  • Fascism as a consequence of its Marxian and Sorelian patrimony . . . conjoined with the influence of contemporary Italian idealism, through which Fascist thought attained maturity, conceives philosophy as praxis.
    • Origini e dottrina del fascismo, Rome (1929) p. 58, A. James Gregor, The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale of Totalitarianism, New York: NY, The Free Press (1969) p. 317
  • The Fascist, on the other hand, conceives philosophy as a philosophy of practice (”praxis”). That concept was the product of certain Marxist and Sorellian inspirations (many Fascists and the Duce, himself, received their first intellectual education in the school of Marx and Sorel)—as well as the influence of contemporary Italian idealistic doctrines from which Fascist mentality drew substance and achieved maturity.
    • “The Philosophy of Fascism,” first published in English in the Spectator, November 1928, pp. 36-37. Reprinted in Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, A. James Gregor, translator and editor, Transaction Publishers (2003) p. 33
  • It is necessary to distinguish between socialism and socialism—in fact, between idea and idea of the same socialist conception, in order to distinguish among them those that are inimical to Fascism. It is well known that Sorellian syndicalism, out of which the thought and the political method of Fascism emerged—conceived itself the genuine interpretation of Marxist communism. The dynamic conception of history, in which force as violence functions as an essential, is of unquestioned Marxist origin. Those notions flowed into other currents of contemporary thought, that have themselves, via alternative routes, arrived at a vindication of the form of State—implacable, but absolutely rational—that finds historic necessity in the very spiritual dynamism through which it realizes itself.
    • Che cosa è il fascismo: Discorsi e polemiche (“What is Fascism?”), Florence: Vallecchi, (1925) pp. 42-45, 47-48, 49-51, 56,Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, A. James Gregor, translator and editor, Transaction Publishers, 2003, p. 59
  • Of which liberalism does one wish to speak? I distinguish two principal forms of liberalism. For one…liberty is a right; for the other a duty. For one it is a gift; for the other a conquest… One liberalism conceives liberty rooted in the individual, and therefore opposes the individual to the State, a State understood as possessing no intrinsic value—but exclusively serving the well being and the improvement of the individual. The State is seen as a means, not an end. It limits itself to the maintenance of public order, excluding itself from the entirety of spiritual life—which, therefore, remains exclusively a sphere restricted to the individual conscience. That liberalism, historically, is classical liberalism—of English manufacture. It is, we must recognize, a false liberalism, containing only half the truth. It was opposed among us by Mazzini with a criticism, that I maintain, is immortal. But there is another liberalism, that matured in Italian and German thought, that holds entirely absurd this view of the antagonism between the State and the individual.
    • Che cosa è il fascismo: Discorsi e polemiche (“What is Fascism?”), Florence: Vallecchi, (1925) pp. 42-45, 47-48, 49-51, 56,Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, A. James Gregor, translator and editor, Transaction Publishers, 2003, p. 63
  • In the Renaissance there is much light, yes, and there is much in it with which Italians may share national pride. But there is much darkness. For the Renaissance is also the age of individualism, that through the splendid visions of poetry and art brought the Italian nation to the indifference, skepticism, and distracted cynicism of those who have nothing to defend, not in their family, their Fatherland, or in the world where every human personality conscious of its own value and personal dignity invest itself.
    • Che cosa è il fascismo: Discorsi e polemiche (“What is Fascism?”), Florence: Vallecchi, (1925) pp. 13-16
  • The authority of the State was not a product, but a presupposition. It could not depend on the people, in fact, the people depended on the State… The Fascist state, on the other hand, is a popular state, and, in that sense, a democratic State par excellence… Every citizen shares a relationship with the State and is so intimate that the State exists only in so far as it is made to exist by the citizen.
    • Orgini e dottrina del fascismo, Rome: Libreria del Littorio, (1929). Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, A. James Gregor, translator and editor, Transaction Publishers (2003) p. 28
  • The authority of the State is not subject to negotiation, or compromise, or to divide its terrain with other moral or religious principles that might interfere in consciousness. The authority of the State has force and is true authority if, within consciousness, it is entirely unconditioned.
    • Orgini e dottrina del fascismo, Rome: Libreria del Littorio, (1929). Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, A. James Gregor, translator and editor, Transaction Publishers (2003) p. 31
  • The merit of Fascism was that it courageously and vigorously opposed itself to the prejudices of contemporary liberalism—to affirm that the liberty proposed by liberalism serves neither the people nor the individual.
    • Orgini e dottrina del fascismo, Rome: Libreria del Littorio, (1929). Origins and Doctrine of Fascism, A. James Gregor, translator and editor, Transaction Publishers (2003) p. 31
  • Gentlemen: Fascism is a party, a political doctrine. But Fascism, while being a party, a political doctrine is above all a total conception of life. So the fascist, whether his is writing in newspapers or reading them, going about his private life or talking to others, looking to the future or remembering the past and the past of his people, must always remember he is a Fascist. Thus he fulfills what can really be said to be the main characteristic of Fascism, to take life seriously. Life is toil, is effort, is sacrifice, is hard work.
    • Che cosa è il fascismo: Discorsi e polemiche (“What is Fascism?”), Florence: Vallecchi, (1925) pp. 38-39
  • How many times has Fascism been accused with obtuse malevolence of barbarity? Well yes: once you understand the true significance of this barbarity we will boast of it, as the expression of the healthy energies which shatter false and baleful idols, and restore the health of the nation within the power of a State conscious of its sovereign rights which are its duties.
    • Che cosa è fascismo? (What is fascism?), lecture delivered in Florence (March 8, 1925)

Quotes about Gentile[edit]

  • It was Gentile who prepared the road for those—like me—who wished to take it.
    • Benito Mussolini, as quoted in The Ideology of Fascism: The Rationale of Totalitarianism (1969) by Anthony James Gregor, p. 207
  • What distinguished Gentile’s Fascist rationale from that which came to characterize the legitimating rationale of Marxist-Leninism was Gentile’s identification of the nation—rather than the ‘proletariat’—as the community of destiny that would shape our time. For Gentile, proletarians represented only component elements of a larger organic community: the nation. In the modern world, only the nation could provide the material, intellectual, political, and moral environment in which the individual might find fulfillment.
    • A. James Gregor, Phoenix: Fascism in Our Time, Transaction Publishers, 2009, p. 100
  • Many of the principal theoreticians of Fascism, as we have seen, had been schooled in Marxism and, like Giovanni Gentile, demonstrated a competence in the material that won the admiration of Lenin himself. The fact was that the philosophical neo-idealism that served Fascism as its normative foundation shared its origins with orthodox Marxism through their common connection to Hegelianism… Like Marx, Gentile rejected the ‘liberal’ conviction that human beings are best understood as independent, self-sufficient monads, possessed of inherent freedoms, interacting only at their conveniences.
    • A. James Gregor, The Face of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century, Yale University Press, 2000, p. 166, and Gentile’s “La filosofia di Marx,” in I fondamenti della filosofia del diritto (Florence: Sansoni, 1955) p. 147
  • Giovanni Gentile is not exactly a household name today. Even among educated people in America, he is an unknown figure. Yet Gentile was, in his day, which is the first half of the twentieth century, considered one of the leading philosophers alive. ... Why, then, has Gentile vanished into the mist of history? ... Although Gentile is forgotten, his philosophy could not be more relevant, because it closely parallels that of the modern American Left. In fact, the slogan unveiled by Obama at the 2012 Democratic Convention—"we belong to the government"—was not coined by Gentile but is utterly congruent with his core philosophy. This then is the reason for Gentile's obscurity—not that his ideas are dead but that they are very much alive. ... In many respects he provides a deeper and firmer grounding for modern American progressivism than anyone writing today. ... Gentile seems to be speaking directly to leftist activists in the Democratic Party, in the media, and on campus. One might naively expect the Left, then, to embrace and celebrate Gentile. This, of course, will never happen. The Left has the desperate need to conceal fascism's association with contemporary leftism. Even when the Left uses Gentilean rhetoric, its source can never be publicly acknowledged. And since the Left dominates academia and popular culture, it has the clout to perform this vanishing trick. That's why the progressives intend to keep Gentile where they've got him: dead, buried, and forgotten.
  • There is persuasive evidence that the thought of Karl Marx exercised considerable influence over all Gentile’s subsequent philosophical development. It can be said, in a qualified sense, that Gentile entertained considerable sympathy for the neo-Hegelian Marxist intellectual tradition.
    • A. James Gregor, Phoenix: Fascism in Our Time, Transaction Publishers, 2009, p. 93

External links[edit]

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