The Violence of Fascism and Its Legacies

Fascism first emerged in Italy in 1919 and the National Fascist Party (PNF) was founded in 1921. It spread in various forms to many other countries and over different continents; its German mutation caused WWII and was defeated after millions of deaths. However, to what extent was Fascism really defeated? Contemporary political events show that anti-democratic ideologies hardly disappear, and ideological networks – even if composed only by a scant minority – can survive as karst rivers, that continue irrigating parts of the society and re-emerge on the surface at specific critical junctures. In this talk, Professor Ruggeri will bring together several of his research projects to discuss and show the relation of fascist violent practices and their long-term legacies.
The first part of the talk shows how the violent practices of fascism before the March on Rome were tolerated and then supported by incumbents for political purposes, how the killing of civilians by the Nazi foreign invaders in 1943-45 was part of a logic of Fascist political survival, and how the armed resistance against fascism in the same years related to the collapse of the fascist myth of its own army, alternative ideological networks, and emotional shocks. In the second part, the talk discusses how the legacy of local armed resistance against fascism did have a long-lasting effect on democratic practices and voting behavior in the Italian democratic republic, and how the local experience of first Fasci mobilization in the 1920s had a legacy effect on the neofascist violence during the Years of Lead in Italy (1968-mid 1980s).