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New Left Review 68, March-April 2011

paolo flores d’arcais


What italy is experiencing under Berlusconi is not fascism. The proprietary dictatorship of Berlusconi is not the political dictatorship of Mussolini. Fascism was, first and foremost, the violence of Mussolini’s ‘action squads’: armed bands that set fire to the premises of unions, left-wing parties and workers’ associations, that attacked and beat individuals and forced them to drink castor oil, to add humiliation to violence. Fascism was essentially violent—a seizure of power that explicitly subverted the law. Its violence and subversion could easily have been stopped, if a larger portion of the country’s ‘moderate’ political and institutional forces had valued legality over profit and privilege. Instead, Fascist violence found zealous support in crucial sectors of the state, and acquiescence from all the others: from the King to the Army; from the head of the government, Luigi Facta, to the former liberal premier, Giovanni Giolitti, to the philosopher, Benedetto Croce.

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Paolo Flores d'Arcais, ‘Anatomy of Berlusconismo’, NLR 68: £3

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