History and Historiography

The Reactionary Modernism of Fascism

by Hugen and Zoltanous

The interconnectedness of Fascism and the avant-garde bore significant influence on their perception and interpretation of modernity. Specifically examining the political dimension, we delve into how political modernism emerged alongside the process of modernization. These ideologies aimed to empower individuals to navigate the rapid changes of modernity, allowing them to shape and embrace the evolving world. Both Futurism and Fascism can be seen as manifestations of political modernism, sharing a common cultural foundation.

During the early 1910s, Italian newspapers went as far as equating Benito Mussolini and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, highlighting their shared values. Fascism’s initial attempts to solidify its ideology can be traced back to the concept of Trenchocracy. Rather than 1919, historians believe that Fascism took shape within the trenches of the Great War, embodying the idea of an Aristocracy of the Trenches. This concept emphasized the division between Parasites and Producers, distinguishing those who fought for the nation and made sacrifices from those who did not. It also revealed striking similarities between the beliefs of Futurists and Mussolini. It was within the trenches that Mussolini developed a disdain for the capitalist spirit of comfort and the easy life, recognizing a higher level of unity among compatriots in a common struggle. The influence and similarities between the Fascist movement and the Futurist Ideal led to the inclusion of Futurism as one of the various internal branches of Fascism.

Democracy, communism, [and] Judaism are equally depressing and traitorous dusty passéisms.

— F. T. Marinetti quoted in Edinburgh Companion to Ezra Pound and The Arts by Roxana Preda

Futurism, which originated in Milan, Italy in 1909 under Marinetti’s leadership, encompassed artistic and social realms alongside its political aspect. The movement attracted notable Italian figures such as Carlo Carrà and Umberto Boccioni. Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism, a visionary proclamation, expressed a deep admiration for youth, speed, Italian nationalism, technology, conflict, and a rejection of antiquity, religion, and conventionality. These sentiments found their artistic expression.


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