Notes on Ball & Dagger reader
Alfredo Rocco (1925 [trans. 1926])
"The Political Theory of Fascism" — Selections from The Political Doctrine of Fascism

Alfredo Rocco (1875-1935)

Alfredo Rocco was one of the most important Fascist intellectuals.  He became Minister of Justice (1925-1932) under Mussolini and was the primary source of the government's legislative program, particularly its repressive legal code.

Rocco's thesis

The situation:  Italian earlier, incomplete nationalist unification;  corruption, clientelism, personalism;  economic backwardness.  (Note the "underdog" sensibility of 383A/2/middle.)  Turmoil.  Mussolini originally a Marxist / Socialist (he edited a Socialist newspaper) but became dissatisfied with Marxism's applicability to Italy. 

The fasces (the rod carried by the Lictors of Rome) represented strength in unity and the compulsion bound up in it.

Note the problem of collective action.  We want to think beyond ourselves, but how to?  Rousseau's idea of the General Will was unclear and was used in Latin America to justify dictatorship.

Fascism as critique of modernity

Fascism as critique of individualism (a.k.a. "atomism", "mere aggregation"), seen as the common root of liberalism, democracy, and socialism.  The approaches of the latter may differ, but they are all inherently alienating.  The ends of society are subordinated to those of the individuals composing it.

Also a critique of materialism (in the sense of consumerism), which is the only thing that binds these atoms into a society.  These doctrines ignore "the spiritual inheritance of ideas and sentiments which each generation receives from those preceding and hands down to the following generation, thus destroying the unity and the spiritual life itself of human society" [313B/2/end].

Fascists offer inspiration & hope, a sense of common purpose, a sense of meaning & direction.  [Note Weber's concept of charismatic leadership as a dissolution of traditional ties, traditional leadership.] 

Action & sentiment [before ideas, or at least before intellectualization].  The "unconscious reawakening" of national spirit.

Fascism as constructive program

"For liberalism, the individual is the end, and society the means ....  For Fascism, society is the end, individuals the means, and its whole life consists in using individuals as instruments for its social ends."

The Fascist reconstruction of the concepts of liberty, government, and social justice:

Philosophical problems:


Quiz question:  What is Rocco trying to prove in his essay, overall?


Author:  Stephen Chilton [email]  |  Last Modified:  2005-04-22
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