The Fascist Era Strikes Back: Mussolini’s Ministers in Postwar Politics

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 2:30 PM
Maryland Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Rhiannon Evangelista, Georgia State University Perimeter College
This paper examines the post-World War II political activity and writings of four of Italy’s most famous former Fascist politicians, all of whom contributed to Fascist colonial or foreign policy. During Italy’s regime change in 1944-1946, the anti-Fascists in power attempted to remove Fascist influence from the Italian state through a purge of the former Fascist political class. This project achieved only limited success and by 1948 supreme court decisions had freed most of Mussolini’s former collaborators. No strangers to attacking liberal democratic ideas and institutions, many former Fascists and their allies criticized in word and deed Italy’s parliamentary politics. Former Minister of Education Giuseppe Bottai spear-headed the ex-Fascist critique of Italy’s democracy in his 1953-1959 bimonthly magazine abc. Translating their words into action, Bottai and three of his fellow former ministers joined extra-parliamentary political organizations centered on popular Fascist-era principles like nationalism, militarism, and monarchism. Ex-Fascists and their allies insisted that Fascist-era ideas continued to have relevance in the postwar period, calling on the ruling Christian Democrats to consider Fascist solutions to Italy’s current problems. Former Fascists’ political participation did not directly threaten Italy’s new democracy, but it did indicate that Fascist-era policies and politicians continued to appeal to certain sectors of postwar Italian society well into the 1950s.
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