Fascism, a Primer, Part 1: From Under the Rubble, Episode 15



September 13, 2017

Dr. Thomas Fleming and Rex Scott search for particles of truth among the rubbish of the media.

Original Air Date: September 13, 2017
Show Run Time: 25 minutes
Show Guest(s): Dr. Thomas Fleming
Show Host(s): Rex Scott

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8 Responses

  1. Robert Harris says:

    I really enjoy Rex. Keep him on.

  2. Harry Colin says:

    A very refreshing commentary on today’s most over-used and poorly understood word.

    I am presuming the Italian author mentioned is Eugenio Corti?

  3. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    Yes. As he said when he told me the story, many things happened in WW II that would never get into the history books. I knew a number of older people who served in the Italian army or lived through the Fascist period. None of them was a Fascist, though all preferred the Duce to the Communist alternative. In some respects he was a lot like Trump–intelligent but coarse, full of bright ideas but expressed in embarrassing hyperbole, ignorant of all things that did not serve his personal interest, a faithless husband but a good family man in other respects. A much better human being than Hitler or Stalin. I would never have supported him and do not particularly admire him now–I never have. I think it was Luigi Barzini who compared him to Cola di Rienzi, the loon who reestablished the Roman Republic in the time of Petrarch.

  4. James D. says:

    Dr. Fleming, I am extremely ignorant of the history of Italy from the unification up until WWI. What were the sides in the Italian unification? To what degree did the immediate aftermath of the unification form Mussolini and have an impact on the fascist period?

  5. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    These are big questions, James D., and not easy to answer. Most–nearly all histories–are cast in the form of a morality play: Degenerate local despotisms and the colossus of reactionary superstition (the Estates of the Church) were overwhelmed by the crusading armies of the King of Piedmont and the irregular forces led by the Italian George Washington, Garibaldi, whose career more nearly resembles that of Pancho Villa. A few minor problems with the play. First, although Piedmont was a monarchy, its political and military leaders were Freemasons, more in tune with the French Revolution in the toned down form it assumed under and after Napoleon. On the other hand, the great liberal leader Mazzini–and Garibaldi himself–were extreme anti-Catholic/anti-Christian Jacobins. As they moved South, they liberated South Italians from both the Pope and the King of Naples, and they also liberated their factories, railroads, and more portable wealth from their unworthy possessors and shipped them to the more enlightened regions of the North. Elections were held with the only possible results. Probably a better account is given in the novel Il Gattopardo, where the Prince complains that of course the Piedmontese had to rig the election for a favorable outcome, but why, he asks, did the results have to be so absurdly impossible? In Sicily, Garibaldi and his men were welcomed as liberators from Naples but they were soon hated as the agents of a more oppressive government. I don’t now how many thousands were “executed” in the first few years, creating the sympathy for the Mafia resistance that endures even up to this time. Harold Acton’s history of Bourbon Naples is a good place to start. Really, something is to be said for both the good men on both sides, but the resultant Italy was a Jacobin monarchy ruled by an incompetent liberal coalition whose basic principle “transversalism” was a rejection of all political principle. I was once interviewed by a nice journalist for Il Sole 24 Ore, who knew that I knew the leaders of the Lega Nord–that was amusing to him–but he was not amused when I turned the tables and gave the South Italian view of the Risorgimento. He was as outraged as an American New England Nationalist is when he is confronted with the Southern version of our own Risorgimento, otherwise known as Lincoln’s conquest of the South. Lincoln, by the way, wanted to hire the bandit Garibaldi, on the strength of his adventures as a pillaging mercenary in South America.

  6. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    If you want to read the official Anglo lying version, start with Trevelyan. A better approach is to read the greatest modern Italian classic, I promessi Sposi, which allegorically represents the tyranny of Austro-Hungarian rule. There is a fair-minded bio of the Duce by Nicholas Farrell, who may even be a bit too sympathetic, though, Heaven knows, one needs to a corrective to the almost entirely one-sided picture. Of course one must read Il Gattopardo or at least see the fine Visconti film with Burt Lancaster. For the Sicilian view of things, read Sciascia’s novels and stories. He is very anti-Mafia until he got sick of the official version of history and of the Mafia. Sicilians are very strange people and even a leftist Sicilian like the author of the Montalbano novels is capable of shrewd insights into the hypocrisy and corruption of the Italian government.

  7. Dot says:

    I don’t remember anything about WWI. I was a child during WWII. I think my parents sided with Mussolini in that war. As a child, what I do remember is that sugar was rationed. My mom had a ration book that she used when she wanted to purchase sugar. At times when I was with her at the supermarket and asked for something, the usual answer was no. I recall that when “Double Bubble Gum” was available and we knew what store had some, we would race from school to put down our penny to get a piece. How happy we were to try to make a bubble as big as our face.
    I recall that civil defense would set off sirens as a test. Once when my family and I were downtown my dad and everyone else had to stop the car and we had to stay put until the all clear was sounded. During those drills the house shades had to be pulled down until the all clear was sounded.
    My uncle was in that war and my grandmother displayed a flag on the window to show that a family member was in the war.

    I think that people of my generation were and are more fortunate than the current generation who seem to have everything they want. Many of them don’t know what it’s like to make sacrifices.

  8. Thomas Fleming Thomas Fleming says:

    One interesting American nationalist was the Yankee newspaper editor William Roscoe Thayer, a great enthusiast for Cavour and Garibaldi, but he was incautious enough to note a few plain truths. For example, in reading Garibaldi’s correspondence he was disturbed to find that the great liberator of other men’s property was not merely a virulent anti-Catholic, which would have been fine for Thayer, but an extreme blaspheming anti-Christian on par with the Great Prevaricator Abe Lincoln. You could read Trevelyan and Dennis Mack Smith for years and not discover the facts. there is an interesting academic book by Angela Pellicciari, which really should be translated, showing to what degree the Kingdom of Piedmont was, even before the invasion of the South, militantly anti-Catholic and Masonic. It is all based on documents.

    The option the Italians should have taken was the course outlined by the Lombard politician Carlo Cattaneo who argued for something like an American or Swiss Federalism in which the historic Italian regions would preserve home rule, perhaps even under their traditional rulers, under an Italian kingdom that would function something like the Holy Roman Empire. He was not at all a minor figure.