Machiavelli and Italian Fascism

Author: Femia, Joseph

Source: History of Political Thought, Volume 25, Number 1, 2004 , pp. 1-15(15)

Publisher: Imprint Academic

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The paper challenges the fashionable interpretation of Machiavelli as an idealistic champion of liberty and self-governance, and tries to demonstrate -- through textual analysis -- that the ideology of Italian fascism is permeated by Machiavellian themes and principles. Although this convergence is generally ignored in the scholarly literature on fascism and was rarely acknowledged by Mussolini or Gentile themselves, it is evident in their hostility to metaphysical abstractions, their contempt for the idea of moral progress, their indifference to conventional moral pieties, their reduction of politics to underlying power struggles, their view of the patria as the foundation of existence, and their desire to rescue Italy from its present enfeeblement by recreating the (real or imagined) glories of the Roman past. Machiavelli, often depicted as an essentially left-wing figure, can be seen as a precursor of fascism.

Keywords: Gentile; Machiavelli; Mussolini; fascism; hostility to metaphysics; palingenesis; political realism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Politics, School of Politics and Communication Studies, Roxby Building, Chatham Street, Liverpool, L69 7ZT, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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