The legacy of Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism did not suddenly appear from nowhere. Its origins were deeply rooted in certain intellectual, social and political developments in the decades preceding the First World War, and there were many continuities between the Fascist regime and the Liberal state which it had displaced. It is also true that Fascism did not suddenly and finally disappear in 1945 without leaving any traces. On the contrary, it left behind a powerful legacy which ensured strong continuities between the Fascist regime and the democratic republic of the postwar period. Insofar as Fascism failed to solve the major economic, social and political problems facing Italy, there are even continuities between the preFascist Liberal regime and the democratic republic. Indeed, according to the Marxist historian, Paolo Spriano, the legacy of Fascism conditioned, ‘the entire life of the [Italian] nation’ (Duggan and Wagstaff, 1995, p. 9). This is certainly overstating the case, but even allowing for other powerful factors-such as the Cold War and the consequent fear of Communism in Italy, the economic ‘miracle’ of the 1950s and 1960s and the massive social changes which it brought, and the American cultural ‘invasion’ from the 1950s onwards-much of Italy’s development as a modem, democratic, capitalist state in the post-war period has been shaped by the legacy of Fascism. It has also become evident in the last few years that the Fascist legacy still has a potentially important role to play in shaping Italy’s future.