Saturday, September 11, 2004

The nation and the state

Emilio Gentile's recent book The Struggle for Modernity: Nationalism, Futurism, and Fascism (Praeger 2003) begins with an introduction sketching phases in the development of Italian nationalism from the Risorgimento to Mussolini's era. He notes that fascist rhetoric and practice wedded nationalism and fascism: subjecting the nation to the myth of the totalitarian State, fascism actually contributed to the decay of feelings in the collective conscience of the Italians of national identity and loyalty to the nation-State. The decline of national patriotism almost started unknowingly during fascism and through the means of fascism, from the moment the fascist party conquered the monopoly on patriotism, identifying "Italian-ness" with its own ideology and claiming to make the nation an instrument of obtaining the ambitions of a totalitarian party. Eventually, totalitarian nationalism discredited patriotism and the authority of the nation-State in the souls of the Italians, transforming Italy into a despotic and arbitrary party-State.

Many intellectuals who had been brought up believing in patriotism and loyalty to one's nation in all circumstances, especially during a war, no longer felt the duty of allegiance to the nation-State in reaction to the fascist dictatorship and they wished the defeat of their own country in hopes of ridding themselves of fascism. (8)

Let me see: "Support our troops" rallies, party conventions at ground zero, declarations that war protesters are incapable of leadership. . . .

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