Slate Academy: Fascism

Italy: Fascism’s Violent Birth

The first episode of our new Slate Academy asks what fascism means and examines the rise and fall of Mussolini.

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Episode Notes

In the first episode of Fascism: A Slate Academy, Slate writers Rebecca Onion, June Thomas, and Joshua Keating ask what the term fascism means. As Kevin Passmore writes, “How can we make sense of an ideology that appeals to skinheads and intellectuals; preaches revolution while allying with conservatives; adopts a macho style yet attracts many women; calls for return to tradition yet is fascinated by technology; idealizes the people yet is contemptuous of mass society, and advocates both violence and order?”

Then they talk to historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922–1945. Did Mussolini have any ideology beyond the acquisition of power? Who did his fascism benefit, and who were its victims?

This episode is being made available to everybody, but the full episode, and future episodes, are for Slate Plus members only.

Supplementary reading for this episode

• Giulia Albanese, “Violence and Political Participation during the Rise of Fascism, 1919–1926” (from In the Society of Fascists, Acclamation, Acquiescence, and Agency in Mussolini’s Italy, eds. Giulia Albanese and Roberta Pergher).
• Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922–1945.
• Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “An American Authoritarian,” TheAtlantic.com, Aug. 10, 2016.
• Lorenzo Benadusi, “Borghesi in Uniform: Masculinity, Militarism, and the Brutalization of Politics from the First World War to the Rise of Fascism” (from In the Society of Fascists, Acclamation, Acquiescence, and Agency in Mussolini’s Italy, eds. Giulia Albanese and Roberta Pergher).
• Umberto Eco, “Ur-Fascism,” New York Review of Books, June 22, 1995.
• Kevin Passmore, Fascism: A Very Short Introduction: Chapter 1: “Scenes From the History of Fascism”; Chapter 2: “’A and not A’: What is Fascism?”; Chapter 3: “Fascism Before Fascism?”; Chapter 4: “Italy: ‘Making History with the Fist.’”
• Nick Harkaway, “What You Talk About When You Talk About Fascism,” Medium, Nov. 18, 2016.
• Stanley Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945: Chapter 4: “The Rise of Italian Fascism, 1919–1929”; Chapter 7: “The Transformation of Italian Fascism, 1929–1939.”

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About the Show

Join Rebecca Onion, June Thomas, and Joshua Keating for a Slate Academy that travels back in history to examine how fascism looked in the 20th century, then uses that knowledge to examine America and the world today. All episodes

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