Initially an attempt is made to present an overview of the interpretations of the meaning of Fascism. In a presentation of the views of Renzo De Felice and Zeev Sternhell the opinions of the latter are highlighted. It appears that Stemhell's conclusions better explain Italian Fascism, as well as Nazism, although Sternhell has not extensively described Nazism. His conclusions can also be used to illustrate the fact that most characteristics of Nazism and Fascism were identical, something which De Felice denies. This also applies to anti-Semitism.
Then follows an analysis of the origin of the Fascist ideology, and it is stated that this ideology, both in Germany and in Italy originated in the "frn-de-siècle crisis", the anti-positive climate which existed at the end of the 19th century. This climate included a reaction against what was regarded as "decadence". It is maintained that amongst a number of Italian and German intellectuals there existed a number of similar ideas, such as for instance contempt for monetary economy, pacifism, intellectualism, the calm bourgeois life, liberalism, democracy and socialism. In the same environments violence and youth started to be glorified, and finally the modern world was accused of being egotistical and without ideals. It is in this environment that the core of Nazi- Fascism is to be found, a core to which other elements were later added.
In later chapters Fascist agricultural policy is discussed in relation to earlier Italian cultural tendencies which had placed great importance on agricultural society. It is pointed out that agricultural policy was an important part of the Fascist ideology. Finally Mussolini's ideas on this subject are described, and it is maintained that the myth of the citizen/small scale farmer/soldier in ancient Rome became, in all important aspects, a part of the agricultural ideology of Fascism. It is shown here that this idea is in harmony with the general philosophy of Fascism.
Subsequently, an overview of corporativism and its predecessors in Italian history are presented. Here it is stated that corporativism was a corner-stone of Fascist ideology. Thereafter the basic principals of corporativism are described as well as its tangible contents, and some important suggestions for interpretation are presented. The role of corporativism during the short period that the Italian Socialist Republic existed, is also a subject for discussion. Although this republic was scarcely of any military, economic or political importance, it was not without interest from an ideological point of view, taking into consideration the ideas it presented concerning working life.
Finally, in a chapter describing the International University of Perugia, the manner in which Fascist ideology was implemented in concrete situations within the educational sector is investigated. The public support for Fascism appears to have been almost unanimous, but at the same time mostly of a formal nature. If a general conclusion can be drawn from this study, it is that Fascism and its ideology were in reality only of minor importance to education at the university level. In the conclusion it is stated that, despite the obvious contradictions, Fascism had a relatively complete; ideology, which was quite closely related to Nazism.
Umeå: Institutionen för historia, Umeå universitet , 1998. , 317 p.
Fascism, Nazism, ideology, anti-Semitism, decadence, agricultural policy, right-wing radicalism, corporativism