Tag Archives: Italy

Modernization without westernization is the first step to reject imperialism – Grego

Modernization without westernization is the first step to reject imperialism

By Antonio Grego

Committee for the project «Eurasia»

 

The staff of the Committee for the project «Eurasia» is organized within three different structures, separated and independent, but all of them are interdependent. Two of them contribute to the scientific and academic work of our Group: «Eurasia», a quarterly of Geopolitical Studies, born in 2004. Since that, «Eurasia» has published many analysis and studies focused on Geostrategy and International Relations. Our second structure is the CESEM Institution («Centro Studi Eurasia-Mediterraneo», a think-tank focused on the Eurasian-Mediterranean partnership).

A brand new organization, it has established ties with many Italian universities, aimed at the training and the apprenticeship of our young collaborators. During these eight years our quarterly has organised many open meetings, conventions and workshops with foreign institutions. Our goal is focused on the knowledge of foreign countries, on the introduction of new books of geopolitics and the explanation of Multipolarism and its trends for a mainstream Italian audience.

Furthermore, we have a web journal called «Stato e Potenza» («State and Power»); it has a definitely more political and militant approach to the global situation. It has been created to reach more people with our analysis focused on issues like Eurasianism and the Multipolar system. In this case our analysis is oriented to a daily examination of capitalism and imperialism. Its style is less scientific than «Eurasia» and «CESEM», but the goal is the same: a strategic and economical analysis of the global system we live in.

We cannot forget that we operate and we organize our public initiatives in a difficult country like Italy. You certainly know that the Ministry of Defense and the Italian Armed Forces have been part of NATO since 1949 (its establishment), and our internal policy has always been influenced (if not directed) by Washington D.C. and London. For almost fifty years the chances for criticizing this situation with independent studies have been restrained, despite the activity of the most important Communist Party of Western Europe. However, the communist forces gradually changed their political field, first joining the Euro-Communist project (created by CIA to divide the leftist parties in Western Europe from the USSR) and finally becoming in the Nineties one of the most pro-American political forces in the Italian politics. Let’s make it clear: the former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi raised many doubts before joining the U.S.-led campaign against Gaddafi’s Lybia, while the Democratic Party (the post-Communist and social-democratic formation) was quick in asking for a military intervention.

You can easily understand the Italian scenario within we have to move: a country whose culture has been totally destroyed by Liberalism, nowadays organized in a «left» and a «right». The extreme liberal capitalism was introduced in Italy after the end of the so-called «First Republic» (1948-1992), and it was presented like a panacea for the corruption of the State institutions. It won after the so-called «Mani Pulite» («Clear Hands»), a judicial operation led by Washington D.C. that erased a whole political system and led to the total destruction of the Italian economy based on State industries and the public intervention in the economic field.

Our country was enslaved to the ultra-capitalist era of the unipolar world, with the absolute power of the global finance; in a few years Italy lost most of its industrial assets, bought by Anglo-American societies thanks to deregulated privatizations and denationalizations. Now it seems we are back to those years: after the financial crisis our economy fell into a deep crisis due to its huge debt and the progressive strategic decline of Italy during the Nineties.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Euopean Union decided to impose on Italy a political transition with a so-called «technical government» under Giorgio Napolitano’s supervision. Napolitano is another former Communist who became pro-American during the Seventies. The new Italian Prime Minister is Mario Monti, former president of the European branch of the Trilateral Commission, former commissioner of the European Union and international advisory for Goldman Sachs; the new minister of Defense is admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, member of the NATO General Command, while the new Foreign minister is Giulio Terzi di SantAgata, former Italian ambassador in the United States of America and in Israel. These facts make you clear the political and strategic lines that the new Italian government (not chosen by the Italian people) is going to follow.

Social protests in Italy rise day after day, and in a long period this could benefit our publishing activity. However the pressure and the open hostility by mainstream media toward critic voices is still high, especially in relation with the international politics. In Italy four different reviews of geopolitics are currently published, but on the other hand televisions and other medias ignore these topics; their approach to geopolitics is very superficial and mainly based on the American propaganda. We try to challenge mainstream cultural elites with an activity which relies only on our own economical resources, with many sacrifices but always aiming at the higher dignity and professionalism.

The international situation

The current world order is the result of two main events, happened during the last decade of the past century: the liberal and capitalist counter-revolution in the USSR and the birth of a common market and monetary free area in the European Union. These two events resulted in a stronger influence of the Transatlantic partnership, because of the expansion of the American power in Eastern Europe, from the Baltic countries to the Balkans; moreover, we saw the victory of capitalism in the geopolitical European space, an important event as described in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s publications. The Warsaw’s Pact quick decline and the geopolitical weakening of Russia have been other important factors.

The European Union is currently paying a high price for its military and economical dependance on the American superpower: in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal workers and small factories are going to be wiped out due to the financial crisis and the financial measures. Brussel’s solutions are focused to help only the private banking system, forgetting the people. This is a complete non-sense because that’s the same sector that led to the current crisis through speculation and the sub-prime derivates market. Meanwhile our countries keep on spending billions to support military campaigns ordered by the United States of America and Great Britain.

The situation we are witnessing is a clear example of the skill of capitalism to perpetuate itself through Space and Time, showing the inadequacy of the optimistic and dogmatist views of the Marxist ideology. Capitalism has never been in danger of its own existence, it can’t destroy itself without the presence of another factor: the political force of a party and a State and its army, the Socialism in a powerful country. At the same time this can be considered like a realist prevision of the Marxist theory: capitalism could contain the seeds for its own destruction.

Globalization has shown two different faces: the worst one consisting in the violent will of expansion of the American power all over the world, the other has seen the spreading of new technologies and economical development in different parts of the planet. This process of modernization is without any doubt positive from the perspective of countries like China, Pakistan, Brazil and India, and could lead to a global change that could create the preconditions for a multipolar order. This can have other effects, like the beginning of a self-destruction of capitalism: in its moment of biggest success, the capital system doesn’t represent only a «division of workforce», but even a «world division» in areas of influence and direct conquer.

Carl Schmitt’s idea of «Great Spaces» has been confirmed in the past years: these constructions exist in a midway between the global order and the single National States. It became reality with the return of Russia as a power after Eltsin’s dark age, and it has been proved when States like China, India, Iran, Turkey and Brazil gained more and more influence. This process was not a simple «Westernization» of the world, but something more and deeper.

On the political side, the idea of «Westernization» isn’t enough to fully understand what’s happening in the world; it could be seen as a part of a bigger process which also includes modernization, a slide from modernity to post-modernity and a general analysis of what we consider as the «West». Every «political resistance» that the unipolarism is now meeting in different part of the world relies on peculiar histories and traditions which capitalism hasn’t been able to defeat. Political and social struggle must rely on these cultures.

The American imperialism represents a brand new structure of global will of power, something we had never seen before in history: a process aimed at the expansion of its influence worldwide, but still different from the old European colonialism. If we consider the world as we know we should infer that the Anglo-American power and its influence have won.

However this conclusion (as Samuel Huntington wrote) has been an illusion for the cultural and political elites in the White House since 1992: the global spreading of the so-called «American Way of life» (its subculture, its movies, its food) cannot lead to a decisive victory. In his famous book «The Clash of Civilizations», Huntington wrote about the Japanese «Wakon-Sai» and the Chinese «Ty-Jong», eras of technical modernization without any Western influence.

The president of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Hu Jintao, recently claimed that China seeks to defend its own tradition from any foreign (Western, we can add) influence. Non-Western cultures have three different paths on their way: defending their cultural identity while achieving modernization (like Hu Jintao said), rejecting both «Westernization» and modernization (just like some Islamic movements and Lin Biao’s Chinese school) or a mid-way of what we can call an inclusive «Westernization», like that we are witnessing now in Turkey.

We believe that the first step to reject imperialism and to seek a real multipolar system can be chosen only by the first way: modernization without «Westernization». In our view the other two way of thinking modernity aren’t winning strategies: on the contrary, they are going to strengthen global capitalism. We can observe this in many cases: Tukey’s Neo-Ottomanism is directed by the USA in organizing

Middle East after the so-called «Arab Spring», and so it is the same for many political and religious groups in Middle East and Asia. The United States of America are seeking a strategy of containment for every possible global competitor, spreading chaos and poverty to weaken them: this can be reached in many different ways, even using some ideologies like a certain radical Ecologism and reactionary ideologies (often with some kind of a religious background) in non-Western parts of the world. At the same time, even some ultra-nationalist movements can be used for their goals, as we can see in some parts of Eastern Europe.

The strategic and technological power will be the key for all those countries willing to increase their influence.

Nowadays, Russia and China are America’s most influential global competitors. The People’s Republic of China has a stronger political system than the Russian; it is based on a Communist and patriotic system and it is seeking an intelligent approach to the global market to improve its own social and technical development. Beijing still relies on the strategy called «non-intromission» in States’ internal affairs (Zhou Enlai explained this at the Bandung Conference), but is studying new tactics to contain Western aggressive policies in Asia.

We are going to see some kind of a new «Cold War» in Africa very soon. Libya and Sudan have been two preliminary examples of that (although Beijing’s reaction to Western aggressions hasn’t been strong). Russia and China are the only non-Western global powers, they are Permanent Members in the United Nations Security Council, they have got nuclear weapons and important military industries. Plus, Russia has got another very important weapon: the world’s biggest resources in oil and gas, and many other raw materials like coal, steel and uranium.

The Soviet defeat marked a dark era not only for its political meaning, but even more for geopolitics: Russia lost its «Great Space», which Vladimir Putin is trying to build again within the Eurasian Union. Without its strategic routes to the South and the East (Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus), Russia would lose a huge part of its potential.

A new multipolar order would not automatically lead to the defeat of imperialism, to a fair world and an era of peace. This could lead incited to a global conflict and many regional wars, especially in Northern and Central Africa, in the Middle East and in South-Western Asia. The Cold War ended years ago, but the nuclear power still exists and the multipolar order will be a challenge between nuclear superpowers. Multipolarism has already existed in history: for example during the Thirties, after the end of the British imperial power. It resulted in a terrible conflict between the West and the Tripartite Pact, and a subsequent war against the USSR.

The nuclear power was officially born during the days of May 1945. The criminal attack on Japan was a clear message to Moscow: «Now we can fully destroy you». From that moment, Stalin planned how to defend his country from the American imperialist madness. The Russian answer was the very beginning of the Cold War with the Mutual Assured Destruction era.

Now nine Nations have nuclear weapons: the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Israel, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Four of them are NATO members or part of the Western sphere, five of them joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and share partnerships with Russia and China. Of course nobody will declare war on the counterpart (this would be a suicide) with a first strike, so we can assume that conventional weapons will still be used in the future wars, adding some new high-technology and ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) systems. We think that future wars will be fought in the most underveloped areas of the world, where the superpowers strategies and interests will collide.

The Italian case

As we wrote in the beginning of this analysis, Italy is currently in a very difficult position. After the recent regime change, our new government includes a former Goldman Sachs and Trilateral Commission associated member as a Prime Minister, a NATO personality as minister of Defense and a former ambassador to Washington D.C. and Israel is our Foreign minister. This is enough for you to understand the real nature of this «technical government», collecting military, political and economical personnel from Atlantic structures.

The social situation of Italy is worsening day after day: this system is literally crushing every social conquer that Italian workers won during the past decades. Young people have no perspective for their future but in-occupation and unemployment; the State has no chance to get back its sovereignty and independence. The War on Libya marked a milestone. Sivlio Berlusconi’s government, with all its political faults, was still a strict ally of Russia’s Putin and Libya’s Gaddafi. Our State-run oil and gas company, ENI, launched cooperation projects with its Russian and Libyan counterparts like we had never seen before.

Italy is a kind of bridge in the Mediterranean Sea which links Europe to Northern Africa and Middle East. For this reason Italy has been like a NATO aircraft carrier since the end of the Second World War. We have had more than one hundred American and NATO military bases and facilities on our soil since the beginning of the Cold War. More or less every American aggression in the past decades was launched from Italy: the first Gulf War, the War on Serbia, the invasion of Afghanistan, the second Gulf War and the latest War on Libya. We have been forced to a war against an allied country and its people only to follow Western orders (those coming from the nuclear Western powers, France, Great Britain and the USA). If Italy had a different government and a sovereign political system, our country could play an important role to improve a strategic partnership between the Arab countries and Europe and in defending peace and security in areas like the Balkans and Syria.

Fernand Braudel thought the Mediterranean Sea to be an independent economical space that could be totally independent because of its culture, its economy and its political balance. With its internal differences, the Mediterranean Space has been a beacon of light for centuries in the past. Despite some weird interpretations that we totally reject, the example of Roma and its Empire are totally different from the modern American imperialism: Rome’s institutions still today are some of the highest examples that the word has ever known in fields like administrative law, politics and the State system. This model was melted with the Greek one, able to improve and grow up throughout the centuries, and it was translated to other historical experiences like those of Constantinople (during the long era of the Byzantine peace and harmony) and Moscow, the headquarters of a great empire which is the center of the international balance.

Unfortunately it seems that Italy today has forgotten its own lessons and its rich heritage (political, historical and cultural); our country is living in a condition of extreme ethic, political and social decadence.

Because of that, the American influence found the ground to establish its «cultural» model meeting light or no resistance at all in our society and cultural life. One of our main problems is the historical fragmentation of the Italian political and geographical condition; Italy is united by its culture and literature, but sadly divided by its economical internal conditions. The division of Italy (North, Center and South) is shown by two different phenomena: the Northern League, struggling from more than twenty years for the political independence of Northern Italy, and crime organizations based in the Southern regions, like the Mafia.

The economical scenario of modern Italy is based on small and medium-sized factories. In some cases these industries exploit workers, but more often they suffer from the policies of big companies like Agnelli’s FIAT, Pirelli (tires), Benetton (clothing production), linked to the biggest global lobbies and oligopolies. Every year the Italian State supply these big companies with public money, but workers have never seen the results of these operations, which benefit only super managers like FIAT’s Marchionne and Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, whose policies often lead to serious mistakes and damages for our public interests.

Recently Italy has reformed the Article n. 18 of the Workers’ Statute (originally written in 1970), so it is now possible to fire workers without any right cause. Only a judge could decide if the workers has been fired on the basis of a right cause, but even if the worker wins the lawsuit (and that’s not sure) he couldn’t take back his former workplace. Italian banks have shown the same cynical approach: they aren’t funding anymore small factories nor citizens who want to buy houses; their variable rates of interests are too high and their bonds aren’t sustainable for the middle class.

Tens of Italian workers, small businessmen and traders fell into a deep crisis with their own families and the rates of suicides for economical reasons is increasing day after day. Thousands of Italians are losing their job, unemployed young people rate has never been so high (36%), and the public sector and retirement pensions are being targeted by new taxes, while bonus for super managers and big assets were left untouched. Some isolated cases (controls on the fiscal renditions of celebrities) in the last two months must be considered as pure forms of propaganda by an ultra-capitalist government which considers public money more important than a worker’s life.

The same for the European Union: this is a political construction built on economical basis decided by bureaucrats that the people of Europe have never chosen nor elected. Southern Europe is now paying the price for the guidelines that the Brussels-Paris-Berlin alliance implemented under the direction of the White House and London. It can be viewed as a giant octopus ruled by lobbies struggling to keep Europe under NATO’s control.

If the present scenario is dark, our perspectives are brighter: the current system known as the so-called «Second Republic», the main responsible for the triumph of the Anglo-Saxon model in Italy (a majority election system based on a duopoly that Italian never truly accepted) has failed and corruption is creating a deep lack of confidence towards all the political parties. After years of fierce struggle, the two main parties (Bersani’s Democratic Party and Berlusconi’s «Popolo della Libertà») support Mario Monti’s government. The opposition (the Northern League, recently stricken by judiciary scandals and the only movement of the Italian parliament opposing Brussel’s policies) has never been so weak.

The Italian people are going to face serious challenge now and in the next future; the liberal guidelines ordered by Brussels are likely to be implemented until the end of the term of office and next elections (May 2013). We must not ignore that some analysts are saying that the elections could be delayed, allowing Mr. Monti’s government to operate for some additional months. The social situation in the country, the conditions of workers, families and retirees will be something to focus on during the next twelve months. May’s administrative elections will be an interesting test to understand what Italians really think of this situation. The lack of credibility that politics, parties and the parliamentary system is suffering could bring a low turnout as a result. As a paradox, this discredit could lead to an increased support for «non-political» personnel, like the current government itself, but people see and know what this government is doing. This is not a «technical government», but the cynical result of the influence shared by Western lobbies, banking system, big private monopolies, NATO, the High Finance and it embodies the extreme and worst trends of the two main political parties.

 

—————-

Grego, Antonio. “Modernization without westernization is the first step to reject imperialism.” Евразия: Международное Евразийское Движение, 18 May 2012. <http://evrazia.org/article/1985 >.

 

Notes on further reading: The concept in the above article has also been expressed by Alexander Dugin in his article “The Multipolar World and the Postmodern”. An academic study over-viewing the theory and development of the process called “modernization without westernization” in Asia can be found in “Modernization without Westernization: Comparative Observations on the Cases of Japan and China and their Relevance to the Development of the Pacific Rim” by Stuart D.B. Picken (NUCB Journal of Economics and Information Science, Vol. 48, No. 2 (2004), pp. 171-179, <http://www.nucba.ac.jp/themes/s_cic@cic@nucba/pdf/njeis482/14PICKEN.pdf > [Alternative download from our website: Modernization without Westernization – Picken]).

An example of a book written from a specifically Chinese perspective on this topic and focusing almost entirely on China (thus it is not a good resource for studies of developments outside of China) is Between Tradition and Modernity: Philosophical Reflections on the Modernization of Chinese Culture by Li Zonggui (Oxford: Chartridge Books Oxford, 2015). A collection of studies and perspectives on this process in various Asian countries can be found in Cultural Identity and Modernization in Asian Countries: Proceedings of Kokugakuin University Centennial Symposium (Tokyo: Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, 1983. <http://www2.kokugakuin.ac.jp/ijcc/wp/cimac/index.html >.)

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under New European Conservative

Femmes Fatales – Solère

Sisters of Salome: Femmes Fatales, Left & Right

By Fenek Solère

 

Left/Right dichotomies in the representation of female militants in the movies The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) and A Student named Alexander (2011).

‘Although typically villainous, or at least morally ambiguous, and always associated with a sense of mystification and unease, femme fatales have also appeared as heroines in some stories . . .’ — Mary Ann Doane

From the Levantine Lilith to the Celtic Morgan Le Fay; and from Theda Bara’s vamp in Hollywood’s A Fool There Was to Eva Green in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the notion of the fille d’Eve tantalizes us. In sociological terms the notion of diabolic women is potent with misogyny, witchcraft and the negative aspects of anima, how woman appears to man, from the Jungian viewpoint. To take the cinematic angle, licentious dames mean box office receipts, plain and simple. Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman (1957), starring starlet Brigitte Bardot and Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Betty Blue (1986) with Beatrice Dalle being just two cases that prove the point.

Stereotypes range from enchantress to succubus, haunting our consciousness in different guises, such as the spectral Cathy from Emily Brontë’s classic Wuthering Heights (1847) or the more malign character of Rebecca in Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 book of the same name. As Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) (1), Once mused, ‘The strange thing about woman — her pre-ordained fate — is that she is simultaneously the sin and the Hell that punishes it’. Indeed, a whole academic industry has grown up deconstructing such iconography with writers like Toni Bentley’s Sisters of Salome (2002); Bram Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture (1986); and Elizabeth K. Mix’s Evil by Design: The Creation and Marketing of the Femme Fatale in 19th-Century France (2006) leading the way.

Baudelaire’s own magnum opus Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) epitomizes the dichotomy perfectly. The schizophrenia embodied in his poetic creations, Jean Duval (Black Venus) and Apollonie Sabatier (White Venus), both mirroring and reinforcing some male fantasies about women’s sexuality in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. The dialectics of Serpent Culture and Snake Charmer sensuality, so beautifully carved in Auguste Clesinger’s (2) writhing milk white statue Woman Bitten by a Snake (1847), a representation of Apollonie Sabatier currently on display in the Musée d’Orsay, raises the question, is she squirming in agony or riding a paroxysm of pleasure from the venomous bite?

Moving beyond the arts, literature and film to the political milieu? What evidence do we have for Femme Fatale’s within the Left/Right dichotomy? There is certainly a colorful cast of charismatic characters to choose from: Inessa Armand, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Jiang Quing, Bernardine Dohrn, and Angela Davis to name but a few on the left-side. Unity Mitford, Savitri Devi, Alessandra Mussolini, Beate Zschape, Yevgenia Khasis, and Marine Le Pen, as examples from the right side of the aisle.

It is my intention to dismiss empathetic documentaries like Confrontation Paris, 68, The Weather Underground (2002) and hatchet-job investigative journalism like Turning Point’s Inside the Hate Conspiracy (1995) about America’s The Order without further comment. Instead arguing that there are few, if any, historically accurate, unbiased and insightful fictional or factional celluloid representations of female (or for that matter male) political militants in circulation. Instead, what we are served up are predictable stereo-types and clichéd cartoonesque parodies, completely aligned with the liberal left Euro-68 ethos, wherein, a mélange of well-meaning but misguided (and always attractive) socialist idealists try to change society for the better, juxtaposed with psychopathic rightist harridans, or male sexual inadequates, portrayed as vacuous outsiders, decidedly uncool and devoid of social capital.

Indicative examples of the genre being, from the left: The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975), The Underground (1976), Running on Empty (1988), What to Do in Case of Fire (2002), Baader (2002), The Dreamers (2004), Guerilla — The Taking of Patty Hearst (2005), Regular Lovers (2005), Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008), Che (2008), The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008), The Company You Keep (2012) and Something in the Air (2013). As opposed to the more objectionable characterizations of rightists in productions like The Day of the Jackal (1973), The Odessa File (1974), The Boys from Brazil (1978), Betrayed (1988), Siege at Ruby Ridge (1996), Brotherhood of Murder (1999), and A Student named Alexander (2011).

For the sake of argument I have been deliberately selective and will focus specifically on Uli Edels’s Baader Meinhof Complex and Enzo De Camillis’s fifteen minute short A Student named Alexander. Risking the approbation of cultural commentators by possibly extrapolating too general a hypothesis from too limited a sample, I nevertheless press my case, that the content, reaction and intent of both these films exemplify the paradox of Left/Right caricatures in the entertainment media.

Recipient of 6.5 million euros from various film boards and Golden Globe and Oscar nominee in the Best Foreign Film category, The Baader Meinhof Complex, rode the wave of resurgent seventies retro, a movie filled with baby boomer nostalgia for the late sixties and early seventies. Simpler times, when idealism meant Sartre, anti-Vietnam protest, Che Guevara posters, and smoking pot in bedsits listing to the sitar music of Ravi Shankar.

The movies all-star cast includes Martina Gedeck as Ulrike Meinhof, Moritz Bleibtreu as Andreas Baader, Johanna Wokalek as Gudrun Ensslin, and Alexandra Maria Lara as Petra Schelm. All of whom had already or were soon to appear in mainstream feature films like: The Lives of Others, Run Lola Run, The Good Shepherd, Pope Joan, North Face, Control, and Downfall.

The action begins with the 1967 Schah-Besuch mass street protest in Berlin against the Shah of Iran. Mohamed Reza Pahlavi’s supporters are depicted launching an unprovoked attack on the anti-Pahlavi elements, resulting in running battles and the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg in Krumme Strasse 66, by what appears to be a reactionary police officer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, but who was in reality a card-carrying member of the Communist Party acting as an undercover operative for the East German Stasi.

We are then treated to scenes where Maoist students hold packed meetings, intercut with footage of American warplanes strafing and bombing Vietnamese peasants. Rapidly followed by ‘Red’ Rudi Dutschke (3) of 2nd June Movement fame (named after the aforementioned riot) raising his clenched fist, the Messianic leader of the Gramscian ‘Long March through the Institutions’.

Dutschke is elevated to intellectual martyr status when he is mercilessly gunned down in the street by Josef Bachmann, portrayed by actor Tom Schilling, whose cinematic appearance is clearly meant to conjure images of a Hitler Youth or a die-hard Werewolf with a chronic nervous disposition. Which is ironic given that the Baader Meinhof gang and the various later incarnations of the Red Army Faction relied so heavily on a group linked to Heidelberg University, the Sozialistisches Patientiv Kollektiv (Socialist Patient Collective), an organization that sought to convince neurotics and the insane that they were not wrong, it was the system that was wrong, and social revolution was the cure.

‘Shooting is like fucking,’ screams Baader as Bernd Eichinger’s screenplay and Rainer Klausman’s hypnotic lens combine to present a seductive and fast paced cine-orgasm of free love, role model women for Second Wave feminism, cool people smoking cigarettes in coffee shops debating Marxist dialectics, driving around in BMWs, burning department stores, shooting up road signs, Robin Hood bank robbers sunning themselves topless in PLO training camps, liberating captives in a back glow of exploding gelignite and the swashbuckling rat-a-tat of 9mm shells.

Even the capture of Baader, Ensslin, and Meinhof for their egregious crimes are contextually ambiguous. Baader, in a scene more reminiscent of the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) than the original television footage of his stand-off with police; Meinhof, kicking and screaming in outrage, rather than the deflated, depressed, and played-out fantasist she was; and Ensslin, by pure chance, when a shop assistant notices a gun in her handbag. Another martyr is then injected into the story as Holger Meins (4) is depicted a la Bobby Sands (5), going on hunger strike and the subsequent trial in Stammheim (6), more Monty Python farce than a serious attempt to enact justice.

One is left in doubt as to where the audience’s sympathy is meant to lie. Especially, with our ever heroic protagonists making fun of the trial judges and gaining increasing support from those in attendance with their witty quips and stunning mind-games. Even The movie’s ending perpetuates the on-going myth that the ‘night of death’ was not triggered by the failure of the Mogadishu hijack (7) to negotiate their release but was in fact a pre-arranged multiple state murder made to look like simultaneous suicide. The movie culminating in a defiant cadre of young stern faced acolytes holding a graveside vigil, determined eyes set on continuing the struggle.

As a consequence, Christina Gerhardt writing in the Film Quarterly describes the movie thus: ‘During its 150 minutes, the film achieves action film momentum, bombs exploding, bullets spraying and glass shattering’. While Christopher Hitchens commenting in Vanity Fair refers to the movie’s ‘Uneasy relationship between sexuality and cruelty . . . an almost neurotic need to oppose authority’. A theme implied by Michael Bubach, son of Siegfried Bubach, the former Chief Federal prosecutor assassinated by the Red Army Faction in 1977, who’s summation of the feature pointed to the fact that the film ‘concentrates almost exclusively on portraying the perpetrators, which carries the danger that the viewer will identify too strongly with the protagonists’.

Examples of how this claim can be justified are so numerous that they would prove tedious to list. However, two personifications, beyond the central characters, stand out in particular, the first involving a chase sequence where Petra Schelm, portrayed by the beautiful Alexandra Maria Lara, is cornered and dies defiantly in a shoot-out with a horde of drone-like cops. The second is the murderous Brigitte Mohnhaupt, depicted by the stunning Naja Uhl, who is shown bedding Peter-Jurgen Boock, played by the teenage heart-throb actor Vinzenz Kiefer, before cold bloodedly slaughtering Siegried Bubach in his own home, organizing the ‘hit’ on Jurgen Ponto, Chairman of the Dresdner Bank of Directors, and the kidnap and murder of Hanns Martin Schleyer. Mohnhaupt, the leader of the second generation of the urban guerillas was also implicated in the 1981 attempt to kill NATO General Frederick Kroesen with a PRG-7 anti-tank missile. In fact, just the sort of unrepentant femme fatale we meet in her polar-opposite, the rightist Francesca Mambro in A Student Named Alexander, but who is treated in the diametrically opposite way.

In Enzo De Camillis’s 15 minute silver ribbon winning short, shown at the Roma Film Fest and lauded for its journalistic quality, the much maligned Mambro is portrayed by Valentina Carnelutti (8), who at least partially resembles Mambro. De Camillis, a blood relative of the Alexander in question, (so no conflict of interest there?) indicated his intent in making the movie was to ‘show young people what they do not know, to reflect on a period of history that should not be repeated’. So, following a showing at The House of Cinema to an audience of impressionable students, a discussion is initiated, moderated by Santo Della Volpe (9), who declares at the outset, that ‘The goal of the short is not to re-open old wounds or discussions on the years of lead (10), but to bring to light the issue of the victims that are set aside, of which we no longer speak’.

Really? Well, that is somewhat convenient given the long list of crimes committed by the Italian Brigate Rosse during the period in question. The most notorious being the ambush at Via Fani on the 16th March 1978 and the kidnap and murder of the President of the Christian Democrats, Aldo Moro. But it should also be remembered, especially given the context of De Camillis’s film, that the Left also killed activists from the right wing Italian Social Movement (MSI) and the University National Action group, like Miki Mantakas, murdered in Via Ottaviano in Rome in 1975, and Stephan and Virgilio Mattei, the sons of the MSI party District Secretary for Prati.

It is also a disingenuous claim given the vociferous presence of the Association of Families of victims of the massacre at Bologna train station of 2nd August 1980, whose demands echo down the decades through documentaries and dramas. The latter being the main event used to demonize Mambro and her then lover, now husband, Valerio Fioravanti (11). Although, they have long denied involvement in the Bologna attack, though freely admitting, like their Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (Armed Revolutionary Nuclei) NAR accomplices to other political killings, such as, the assassination of Judge Vittorio Occorsio (12) in 1976 and Magistrate Mario Amato (13) in 1980.

Fioravanti maintains that the bombing was the work of Libya, but the Italian government were reluctant to pursue that line of enquiry because of the state’s dependence on Libya’s oil and blamed neo-fascists instead. Mambro and Fioravanti also confessed to planning an attack on the then Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga (14), so one can hardly accuse them of hiding their intentions. When the initial 16 year prison term for Mambro was converted into house arrest in 1998, the Bologna Association’s President Paolo Bolognesi, described Mambro’s parole as ‘A disgrace. It is outrageous that this parole was granted to a terrorist who does not have the requirements, who was sentenced and has never expressed any feelings of detachment from her past’. This, despite the fact that the NAR, never claimed responsibility for the incident and there is substantive cause to believe that the Mafia Banda della Magliana gang (15) and prominent politician Licio Gelli’s (16) secretive Masonic Propaganda Due P2 Lodge (17) linked to the NATO’s Cold-War Operation Gladio architecture (18) had a hand in the incident.

The prosecution’s main witness against Mambro’s partner Fioravanti, Massimo Sparti, of the banda della Magliana, was even contradicted by his own son. ‘My father has lied about his part in the Bologna history’, he declared. Similarly the sinister presence of German terrorists Thomas Kram and Margot Frohlich, closely linked to both the PLO and Carlos the Jackal, who were in Bologna that very same day was never properly investigated. Coincidences like this and the possible link to the Ustica Massacre (19), when Aerolinea Itavia flight 870 was brought down by a missile, gave President Francesco Cossiga pause for thought, leading him to state on the 15th March 1991 that he felt the attribution of the Bologna Massacre to fascist activists may be based on misinformation supplied by the security services.

Returning to A Student named Alexander, unlike the Baader Meinhof Complex, the detail is nearly entirely on the victim, showing his cluttered bedroom, his journey by car to the art school in Piazza Risorgimento. No context is provided as to why Mambro and the NAR are robbing the Banca Nazionale on the 5th March 1982. Neither is reference made to the murder of her fellow MSI activists Franco Bigonzetti and Francesco Ciavatta, gunned down in the Acca Larentia by Left extremists, the Armed Squads for Contropotere Territorial, despite the fact that this led Mambro and her cohort to confront both their political opponents and the police in three days of shootings, stabbings and torching cars across Prenestino:

‘A few of us knew what this meant. Francesco Ciavatta was in our small circle. Our immediate reaction was shock, as if a relative had died. We looked at each other not knowing what to do. All around the city young militants flocked to us. The Italian Social Movement did not react. Kids like us were being used to keep order at meetings of Giorgi Almirante (20) , ready to take the blows and hit back . . . Acca Larentia marked the final break with the MSI . . . It could no longer be our home. For three days we shot at police and this marked the point of no return . . .’ — Francesca Mambro

Even, the circumstances of Alexander’s death are disputed. The movie depicts Mambro standing over the boy, firing into his head execution style, apparently mistaking him and his small umbrella for an armed plain clothes policeman. The counter argument is that he was killed in cross-fire as the NAR broke out of a police encirclement. A shoot out in which Mambro did not have in her possession the gun that was identified as the murder weapon and was herself very seriously wounded in the abdomen. She later recalls, hiding out in a garage, where a young doctor visits her and confirms ‘that it is only a matter of time . . . saying I could die . . .’

A discussion followed as to whether or not her compatriots should kill her there and then because she may talk under anesthetic but instead the NAR cell, led by Giorgio Vale (21), who went on later to found Terza Posizione (22), deposited her on the roadside outside an Emergency room.

When Mambro’s Rome based lawyer Amber Giovene challenged the authenticity of the way Mambro is depicted in the movie, claiming it ‘harmed her image’ she was met with a barrage of criticism. The case, overseen by prosecutor Barbara Sargent, was opened three months after the film opened and came like a bolt from the blue to the self-righteous director and the cultural association School of Arts and Entertainment. People in Bologna were whipped up into a state of frenzy, signing a petition in support of the film, which had already received a letter of commendation from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. Expressions like censorship and statements like ‘You cannot stop a cultural work, you cannot stop history’, were bandied around with the usual air of moral indignation.

The 2013 Appeal notes relating to the accusation of defamation of Mambro’s character read: due to the benefit of the law, Francesca Mambro, who has never repented of her criminal and terrorist past, nor as ever wanted to work together to build the truth about serious events like the Bologna Massacre, will remain free. The request for the seizure of the short film is extremely serious because it sets a precedent on the freedom of cultural expression, journalism and news, and also because it opens the door to dangerous revisions and attempts to wipe clean historical memory’. The account continues: ‘A country without memory will never understand the present or the future’.

The double standards and contradictions exemplified in the differing responses to A Student Called Alexander and The Baader Meinhof Complex cannot be more stark. Memorialization of such actions are to be glamorized and mythologized if of the Left and censored and misrepresented if of the Right. The word revision is of itself loaded, implying an attempt to challenge supposedly known historical facts and is a term usually reserved for historians deviating from the legend of the Jewish Holocaust. Indeed, it seems that anything that transgresses the Left’s self-serving narrative is to be expunged, cast down the Orwellian memory hole, or twisted beyond all recognition.

Roberto Natale, the auteur of such movie classics as Kill Baby Kill and Terror Creatures from the Grave, also reiterated before his recent demise, that ‘there is a right and duty to tell. Art strengthens the record and citizens need to know. We journalists are on the side of those who stubbornly continue to speak against the custom in our country to silence uncomfortable voices, instead of being willing to speak. This short film has to circulate and be seen in schools, but not only in Rome’.

So, is the movie meant to educate or perpetuate the questionable conviction of Mambro for that specific crime? Be re-assured De Camillis states:

I tell you a story, I do not give you a political speech. I want to get out of games of this type. The short film I made for a number of reasons that I think are important. It is a warning to our politicians. Right now, if you do not listen to the needs of young people, you risk terrorism, perhaps we have already. We remember the riots in San Giovanni in Rome in October (23), the bullets that came in envelopes and the letter bombs.

Then specifically commenting on the release of Francesca Mambro, but of course not being invested in any way, De Camillis adds:

I will not even enter into legal issues because one relies on the judgment of the judiciary already formulated in 1985. But a citizen reflecting on the penalties imposed on others for far less serious offenses fully expatiated are still in prison. Mambro was guilty of 97 murders and was sentenced to nine life sentences. Yet, she walks outside, lives 400 meters from my house, and I may happen across her path by accident. There is a whisper that this story has resurfaced because of my family bonding and friendship with Alexander . . . Who was Alexander Caravillani? He was a boy of 17, he ran with the times, had a girlfriend, and harbored all the fantasies of a 17-year-old. He was not political, nor left or right. He passed in front of the bank, was simply crossing the street, going to school when he was shot, his short umbrella tumbling from his jacket, leading Mambro to believe he was a plain clothes policeman. Then she came back and put a bullet in his head. For that, she was sentenced to life imprisonment.

This is a story, he insists once again, to preserve the history of the years of lead.

And if that is indeed the case, why not tell the story of one of the murdered MSI Youth Front members, Sergio Ramelli, 18; Francesco Cechin, 19; and Paolo Di Nella, 20, contemporaries of Alexander Caravillani and Mambro, who met their deaths by beating, shooting, and stabbings from Leftist brigands like the Autonomus Workers in the late ’70s and early ’80s? But of course, that will never happen. It does fit their agenda.

On February 11th 2012, De Camillis in direct contradiction to his supposed non-political stance is quoted, ‘Today, the city of Rome is right’, referring to the ‘post fascist’ Mayor Gianni Alemanno (24), MSI Youth Front veteran and graduate of Campo Hobbit (25), who was elected in April 2008 to the sound of Fascist-era songs and shouts of ‘Duce’. ‘Who are those who have called me to present the short film?’ asked Camillis, ‘They are Alemanno’s allies, Berlusconi’s Il Popolo della Liberta (26) . . . When it all came out I was in silence and I decided to just promote it, as I always do. But in the face of this attack, I mean to defend it at all costs. It is a ‘cultural action’ like opposition to gagging journalists. This is a way to silence not only the news but also the authorship of the image’.

There is clearly no intention of admitting even the possibility of bias or inaccuracy. De Camillis and his people are intent on staking their claim to the moral high ground. The following day, Mambro’s lawyer responded: ‘I write in the name and on behalf of the my client Francesca Mambro about the article published yesterday . . . I understand the presentation of the short film flatters the author. But I do not understand the claim that Mambro came back and shot him in the head. I do not know if Mr. De Camillis’s draws from insider sources? Caravillani, unfortunately died in the firefight because a bouncing bullet caused his immediate death. A bullet from an assault rifle that Mambro had never had in her possession, either as she entered the bank or as the NAR shot their way out. The scene is constructed in a way that will definitively condemn Mambro’. When Caravillani was struck, the judges concluded, it was because the young man, after he had run, suddenly found himself in the trajectory of shots fired between the various agents . . . Unfortunately, even the trailers of the short graphically depict Mambro in the disputed manner, astride a guy lying on the ground, shooting the coup de grace . . . I am sure, that in the name of the need to preserve the memory of the years of lead, both you and the newspaper for which he writes would give an account of this correction’. My personal advice is not to hold your breath for a retraction. Smear and distortion is their modus operandi.

Sentenced, for the killing of 9 individuals between May 1980 and March 1982, and the alleged involvement in the massacre of the Bologna bombing on 2nd August 1980, Mambro served 16 years in prison. Sometimes sharing a cell with Anna Laura Braghetti (27), of the Brigate Rosse, then after 1998 home detention until the 16th September 2008 when she was granted parole on the basis of ‘repeated and tireless dedication to reconciliation and peace with the victims’ families (28). Parole was ended on September 16th 2013 when the sentence was disposed of . . .’

So to end has I began with a quote from a French man of letters, Alexandre Dumas (29), author of The Three Musketeers, ‘she is purely animal; she is the babooness of the Land of Nod; she is the female of Cain: Slay her!’ Or at least besmirch her reputation and disparage her cause so that no one will want to emulate her.

Notes

  1. Along with Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire identified counter enlightenment philosopher Joseph de Maistre as his maître a penser and adopted aristocratic views. He argued ‘There are but three things worthy of respect: the priest, the warrior and the poet. To know, to kill and to create . . .’
  2. Auguste Clesinger (1814-1883), French sculptor who created Bacchante, the Infant Hercules Strangling Snakes, Nereid, and Sappho, was an Officier de la Legion d’honneur.
  3. Rudi Dutschke (1940-1979), disciple of Rosa Luxemburg and critical Marxist, survived Josef Bachmann’s attack, but drowned as consequence of having an epileptic fit in the bath.
  4. Holger Meins, seized with Baader and Jan Carle-Raspe on the 1st June 1972, went on hunger strike, dying a mere 39kg in weight. He is a central character in the movie Moses und Aron by Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet (1974). Followed by a documentary about Meins called Starbuck — Holger Meins by Gerd Conradt (2002).
  5. Bobby Sands (1954-81), a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) died whilst on hunger strike in HM Maze Prison. During the course of his protest he was elected to the British Parliament as an Anti-H Block candidate. He has been depicted in various films including Some Mother’s Son (1996) and Hunger (2008) and is celebrated in songs like Christy Moore’s The People’s Own MP’.
  6. Stammheim is a high security prison in Stuttgart.
  7. Four militants of the Commando Martyr Halime hijacked Lufthansa flight 181 on the 13th October 1977. The plane was stormed in Somalia by GSG-9 elite counter-terrorism units in an operation code-named Feuerzauber (Fire Magic).
  8. Valentina Carnelutti was trained at the Theatre Active in Rome and the Mime Theatre Movement. She has also appeared in the movies Martina Singapore (1995), Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (2001) and The Best of Youth (2003).
  9. Santo Della Volpe is a professional journalist who covered the first Gulf War and is a managing editor on Italy’s TG3.
  10. The term “Years of Lead” was used to describe the socio-political turmoil in Italy between the 1960s to the 1980s. It is thought that the reference originated from a movie called Marianne and Julianne by Margarethe Von Trotta. The Italian title was Anni di Piombo, literally years of lead. A later linked feature called The German Sisters (1981) became a classic of new German cinema, sympathetic to Gudrun Ensslin and dedicated to women’s civil rights.
  11. Born in 1958, Giuseppe Valerio ‘Giusva’ Fioravanti, was a former child actor, who became a leader in the NAR and has been romantically linked with Mambro since 1979. While serving his prison sentence he made a documentary on Rome’s Rebibbia prison, Piccoli Ergastoli, Little Life Sentences (1997).
  12. Occorsio Vittorio (1929-1976) oversaw the trial of those indicted for the Piazza Fontana bombing.
  13. Maria Amato was an Italian magistrate assassinated by NAR member Gilberto Cavallini in 1980.
  14. Francesco Cossiga, Italy’s 42nd Prime Minister and 8th President between 1985-1992.
  15. The Banda della Magliana was a criminal network operating out of Lazio, named after the district from where most of their leaders originated. Their activities included the murder of the banker Roberto Calvi, the kidnapping of Emanuela Orlandi and the attack on John-Paul II.
  16. Licio Gelli, an Italian financier, heavily involved in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and the venerable master of the P2 Lodge.
  17. The Propaganda Due (P2) Lodge was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy implicated in numerous crimes and mysteries, often referred to as a ‘state within the state’.
  18. Operation Gladio was the code-name for NATO’s ‘stay behind’ activity should the Warsaw Pact mount an invasion of western Europe. The name Gladio came from the word gladius, a type of short Roman sword.
  19. The Ustica Massacre is still a subject of some controversy. Whether or not a French naval aircraft brought the plane down with a missile, or a bomb was set off in the toilet as evidenced by forensic experts, it is known that the Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi was in the same airspace at the time. Linking the Ustica and Bologna incidents became common in some conspiracy circles.
  20. Giorgio Almirante (1914-1988) studied under Giovanni Gentile, the eminent pro-Fascist philosopher and wrote for the Rome-based fascist journal Il Tevere. He once described Julius Evola as ‘Our Marcuse, only better’. Almirante was suspected of safe-housing Carlo Cicuttini, a MSI leader in the Monfalcone area and later a member of the Ordine Nuovo, a suspect convicted in absentia for his part in the Peteano di Sagrado killings. Almirante and his rival Pino Rauti often clashed bitterly on the tactics and methodology used by the Italian Right.
  21. Giorgi Vale was killed in a shoot-out with police.
  22. The Terza Posizione emerged from the national student’s movement under Roberto Nistri, who was imprisoned from 1982 to the early 2000s.
  23. The San Giovanni Riots of the 15th October were violent street protests by Black Bloc Left extremists.
  24. Gianni Alemanno was born in Bari in 1958. He is a former secretary of the MSI’s Youth Wing, who entered the Chamber of Deputies representing Lazio, serving as Rome’s 63rd Mayor between 2008-2013 and a Minister of Agriculture under Silvio Berlusconi. He is married to Isabella Rauti, the daughter of Pino Rauti.
  25. Campo Hobbit was named after Catholic writer J. R. R. Tolkien’s first novel. It was an alternative cultural and musical ‘happening’ linked to Elemire Zolla who wrote The Arcana of Power 1960-2000. Held in various locations, the first in Montesarchio, it boasted its own Manifesto and became a ‘field school’ for the Italian New Right and thinkers like Pino Rauti and Marco Tarchi.
  26. Berlusconi’s Il Poplo della Liberta was closely aligned with Gianfranco Fini’s conservative National Alliance and Umberto Bossi’s Lega Nord.
  27. Anna Laura Braghetti owned the apartment where Aldo Moro was imprisoned. She is also the subject of her own book Prisoner which influenced Marco Bellocchio’s film Good Morning, Night (2003).
  28. Mambro currently works for the Italian NGO Hands off Cain, an association campaigning against the death penalty linked to the Libertarian Radical Party.
  29. Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870). It was said of Dumas, that his ‘tongue was like a windmill — once set in motion, you never knew when it would stop, especially if the theme was himself’ — Watts Phillips, English illustrator, playwright and novelist.

 

——————

Solère, Fenek. “Sisters of Salome: Femmes Fatales, Left & Right.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 7 May 2015. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/05/sisters-of-salome/ >.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under New European Conservative

Evola’s Political Endeavors – Hansen

Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors by H.T. Hansen (PDF – 574 KB):

Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors

————

Hansen, H.T. “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors.” Introduction to Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, pp. 1-104. Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002.

Note: On Evola’s theories, see also: “Against Nihilism: Julius Evola’s ‘Traditionalist’ Critique of Modernity” by Thomas F. Bertonneau, “Julius Evola on Race” by Tomislav Sunic, “Tradition?” by Alain de Benoist, “A True Empire: Form and Presuppositions of a United Europe” by Julius Evola, “The Defining Element of the Conservative Revolution” by Julius Evola, and various other articles by or about Evola.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under New European Conservative

Vilfredo Pareto – Alexander

Vilfredo Pareto: The Karl Marx of Fascism

By James Alexander

Italian contributions to political and social thought are singularly impressive and, in fact, few nations are as favored with a tradition as long and as rich. One need only mention names such as Dante, Machiavelli, and Vico to appreciate the importance of Italy in this respect. In the twentieth century too, the contributions made by Italians are of great significance. Among these are Gaetano Mosca’s theory of oligarchical rule, Roberto Michels’ study of political parties, Corrado Gini’s intriguing sociobiological theories, and Scipio Sighele’s investigations of the criminal mind and of crowd psychology. [1] One of the most widely respected of these Italian political theorists and sociologists is Vilfredo Pareto. Indeed, so influential are his writings that “it is not possible to write the history of sociology without referring to Pareto.” [2] Throughout all of the vicissitudes and convulsions of twentieth-century political life, Pareto remains to this day “a scholar of universal reputation.” [3]

Pareto is additionally important for us today because he is a towering figure in one of Europe’s most distinguished, and yet widely suppressed, intellectual currents.That broad school of thought includes such diverse figures as Burke, Taine, Dostoyevsky, Burckhardt, Donoso Cortés, Nietzsche, and Spengler and stands in staunch opposition to rationalism, liberalism, egalitarianism, Marxism, and all of the other offspring of Enlightenment doctrinaires.

Life and Personality

Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born in Paris in 1848. [4] He was of mixed Italian-French ancestry, the only son of the Marquis Raffaele Pareto, an Italian exiled from his native Genoa because of his political views, and Marie Mattenier. Because his father earned a reasonably comfortable living as a hydrological engineer, Pareto was reared in a middle-class environment, enjoying the many advantages that accrued to people of his class in that age. He received a quality education in both France and Italy, ultimately completing his degree in engineering at the Istituto Politecnico of Turin where he graduated at the top of his class. For some years after graduation, he worked as a civil engineer, first for the state-owned Italian Railway Company and later in private industry.

Pareto married in 1889. His new spouse Dina Bakunin, a Russian, apparently loved an active social life, which was rather in conflict with Pareto’s own love of privacy and solitude. After twelve years of marriage Dina abandoned her husband. His second wife, Jane Régis, joined him shortly after the collapse of his marriage and the two remained devoted to one another throughout the remainder of Pareto’s life.

During these years Pareto acquired a deep interest in the political life of his country and expressed his views on a variety of topics in lectures, in articles for various journals, and in direct political activity. Steadfast in his support of free enterprise economic theory and free trade, he never ceased arguing that these concepts were vital necessities for the development of Italy. Vociferous and polemical in his advocacy of these ideas, and sharp in his denunciation of his opponents (who happened to be in power in Italy at that time), his public lectures were sufficiently controversial that they were sometimes raided and closed down by the police, and occasionally brought threats of violence from hired thugs. Making little headway with his economic concepts at the time, Pareto retired from active political life and was appointed Professor of Political Economy at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) in 1893. There he established his reputation as an economist and sociologist. So substantial did this reputation eventually become that he has been dubbed “the Karl Marx of the Bourgeoisie” by his Marxist opponents. In economic theory, his Manual of Political Economy [5] and his critique of Marxian socialism, Les Systèmes socialistes, [6] remain among his most important works.

Pareto turned to sociology somewhat late in life, but he is nonetheless acclaimed in this field. His monumental Treatise on General Sociology, and two smaller volumes, The Rise and Fall of the Elites and The Transformation of Democracy, are his sociological masterworks. [7] Subsequently, we will consider the nature of some of the theories contained in these books.

The title of Marquis was bestowed on Pareto’s great-great-great- grandfather in 1729 and, after his father’s death in 1882, that dignity passed to Pareto himself. He never used the title, however, insisting that since it was not earned, it held little meaning for him. Conversely, after his appointment to the University of Lausanne, he did use the title “Professor,” since that was something which, he felt, he merited because of his lifetime of study. These facts point to one of the most dominant characteristics of this man — his extreme independence.

Pareto’s great intelligence caused him difficulties in working under any kind of supervision. All of his life he moved, step by step, towards personal independence. Because he was thoroughly conscious of his own brilliance, his confidence in his abilities and in his intellectual superiority often irritated and offended people around him. Pareto, in discussing almost any question about which he felt certain, could be stubborn in his views and disdainful of those with divergent opinions. Furthermore, he could be harsh and sarcastic in his remarks. As a result, some people came to see Pareto as disputatious, caustic, and careless of people’s feelings.

In contrast, Pareto could be generous to those he perceived as “underdogs.” He was always ready to take up his pen in defense of the poor or to denounce corruption in government and the exploitation of those unable to defend themselves. As author and sociologist Charles Powers writes,

For many years Pareto offered money, shelter, and counsel to political exiles (especially in 1898 following the tumultuous events of that year in Italy]. Like his father, Pareto was conservative in his personal tastes and inclinations, but he was also capable of sympathizing with others and appreciating protests for equality of opportunity and freedom of expression [8]. Pareto was a free thinker. In some respects, he is reminiscent of an early libertarian. He was possessed of that duality of mood we continue to find among people who are extremely conservative and yet ardent in their belief in personal liberty. [9]

Since he was an expert in the use of the sword, as well as a crack shot, he was disinclined to give way before any threats to his person, a mode of behavior he considered cowardly and contrary to his personal sense of honor. More than once he sent bullies and thugs running in terror. [10]

Pareto suffered from heart disease towards the end of his life and struggled through his last years in considerable ill health. He died August 19, 1923.

Les Systèmes socialistes

A lifelong opponent of Marxism and liberal egalitarianism, Pareto published a withering broadside against the Marxist-liberal worldview in 1902. Considering the almost universal respect accorded the more salient aspects of Marxism and liberalism, it is regrettable that Pareto’s Les Systèmes socialistes has not been translated into English in its entirety. Only a few excerpts have appeared in print. In an often quoted passage that might be taken as a prophetic warning for our own age, Pareto writes:

A sign which almost invariably presages the decadence of an aristocracy is the intrusion of humanitarian feelings and of affected sentimentalizing which render the aristocracy incapable of defending its position. Violence, we should note, is not to be confused with force. Often enough one observes cases in which individuals and classes which have lost the force to maintain themselves in power make themselves more and more hated because of their outbursts of random violence. The strong man strikes only when it is absolutely necessary, and then nothing stops him. Trajan was strong, not violent: Caligula was violent, not strong.When a living creature loses the sentiments which, in given circumstances are necessary to it in order to maintain the struggle for life, this is a certain sign of degeneration, for the absence of these sentiments will, sooner or later, entail the extinction of the species. The living creature which shrinks from giving blow for blow and from shedding its adversary’s blood thereby puts itself at the mercy of this adversary. The sheep has always found a wolf to devour it; if it now escapes this peril, it is only because man reserves it for his own prey.

Any people which has horror of blood to the point of not knowing how to defend itself will sooner or later become the prey of some bellicose people or other. There is not perhaps on this globe a single foot of ground which has not been conquered by the sword at some time or other, and where the people occupying it have not maintained themselves on it by force. If the Negroes were stronger than the Europeans, Europe would be partitioned by the Negroes and not Africa by the Europeans. The “right” claimed by people who bestow on themselves the title of “civilized’ to conquer other peoples, whom it pleases them to call “uncivilized,” is altogether ridiculous, or rather, this right is nothing other than force. For as long as the Europeans are stronger than the Chinese, they will impose their will on them; but if the Chinese should become stronger than the Europeans, then the roles would be reversed, and it is highly probable that humanitarian sentiments could never be opposed with any effectiveness to any army. [11]

In another portion of this same work that calls to mind the words of German philosopher Oswald Spengler, Pareto similarly warns against what he regarded as the suicidal danger of “humanitarianism”:

Any elite which is not prepared to join in battle to defend its position is in full decadence, and all that is left to it is to give way to another elite having the virile qualities it lacks. It is pure day-dreaming to imagine that the humanitarian principles it may have proclaimed will be applied to it: its vanquishers will stun it with the implacable cry, Vae Victis [=”woe to the vanquished”]. The knife of the guillotine was being sharpened in the shadows when, at the end of the eighteenth century, the ruling classes in France were engrossed in developing their “sensibility.” This idle and frivolous society, living like a parasite off the country, discoursed at its elegant supper parties of delivering the world from superstition and of crushing l’Infâme, all unsuspecting that it was itself going to be crushed. [12]

Marxism

A substantial portion of Les Systèmes socialistes is devoted to a scathing assessment of the basic premises of Marxism. According to historian H. Stuart Hughes, this work caused Lenin “many a sleepless night.” [13]

In Pareto’s view, the Marxist emphasis on the historical struggle between the unpropertied working class — the proletariat — and the property-owning capitalist class is skewed and terribly misleading. History is indeed full of conflict, but the proletariat-capitalist struggle is merely one of many and by no means the most historically important. As Pareto explains:

The class struggle, to which Marx has specially drawn attention, is a real factor, the tokens of which are to be found on every page of history. But the struggle is not confined only to two classes: the proletariat and the capitalist; it occurs between an infinite number of groups with different interests, and above all between the elites contending for power. The existence of these groups may vary in duration, they may be based on permanent or more or less temporary characteristics. In the most savage peoples, and perhaps in all, sex determines two of these groups. The oppression of which the proletariat complains, or had cause to complain of, is as nothing in comparison with that which the women of the Australian aborigines suffer. Characteristics to a greater or lesser degree real — nationality, religion, race, language, etc. — may give rise to these groups. In our own day [i.e. 1902] the struggle of the Czechs and the Germans in Bohemia is more intense than that of the proletariat and the capitalists in England. [14]

Marx’s ideology represents merely an attempt, Pareto believes, to supplant one ruling elite with another, despite Marxist promises to the contrary:

The socialists of our own day have clearly perceived that the revolution at the end of the eighteenth century led merely to the bourgeoisie’s taking the place of the old elite. They exaggerate a good deal the burden of oppression imposed by the new masters, but they do sincerely believe that a new elite of politicians will stand by their promises better than those which have come and gone up to the present day. All revolutionaries proclaim, in turn, that previous revolutions have ultimately ended up by deceiving the people; it is their revolution alone which is the true revolution. “All previous historical movements” declared the Communist Manifesto of 1848, “were movements of minorities or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.” Unfortunately this true revolution, which is to bring men an unmixed happiness, is only a deceptive mirage that never becomes a reality. It is akin to the golden age of the millenarians: forever awaited, it is forever lost in the mists of the future, forever eluding its devotees just when they think they have it. [15]

Residues and Derivations

One of Pareto’s most noteworthy and controversial theories is that human beings are not, for the most part, motivated by logic and reason but rather by sentiment. Les Systèmes socialistes is interspersed with this theme and it appears in its fully developed form in Pareto’s vast Treatise on General Sociology. In his Treatise, Pareto examines the multitudes of human actions that constitute the outward manifestations of these sentiments and classifies them into six major groups, calling them “residues.” All of these residues are common to the whole of mankind, Pareto comments, but certain residues stand out more markedly in certain individuals. Additionally, they are unalterable; man’s political nature is not perfectible but remains a constant throughout history.

Class I is the “instinct for combinations.” This is the manifestation of sentiments in individuals and in society that tends towards progressiveness, inventiveness, and the desire for adventure.

Class II residues have to do with what Pareto calls the “preservation of aggregates” and encompass the more conservative side of human nature, including loyalty to society’s enduring institutions such as family, church, community, and nation and the desire for permanency and security.

Following this comes the need for expressing sentiments through external action, Pareto’s Class III residues. Religious and patriotic ceremonies and pageantry stand out as examples of these residues and will include such things as saluting the flag, participating in a Christian communion service, marching in a military parade, and so on. In other words, human beings tend to manifest their feelings in symbols.

Next comes the social instinct, Class IV, embracing manifestations of sentiments in support of the individual and societal discipline that is indispensable for maintaining the social structure. This includes phenomena such as self-sacrifice for the sake of family and community and concepts such as the hierarchical arrangement of societies.

Class V is that quality in a society that stresses individual integrity and the integrity of the individual’s possessions and appurtenances. These residues contribute to social stability, systems of criminal and civil law being the most obvious examples.

Last we have Class VI, which is the sexual instinct, or the tendency to see social events in sexual terms.

Foxes and Lions

Throughout his Treatise, Pareto places particular emphasis on the first two of these six residue classes and to the struggle within individual men as well as in society between innovation and consolidation. The late James Burnham, writer, philosopher, and one of the foremost American disciples of Pareto, states that Pareto’s Class I and II residues are an extension and amplification of certain aspects of political theorizing set down in the fifteenth century by Niccolò Machiavelli. [16] Machiavelli divided humans into two classes, foxes and lions. The qualities he ascribes to these two classes of men resemble quite closely the qualities typical of Pareto’s Class I and Class II residue types. Men with strong Class I residues are the “foxes,” tending to be manipulative, innovative, calculating, and imaginative. Entrepreneurs prone to taking risks, inventors, scientists, authors of fiction, politicians, and creators of complex philosophies fall into this category. Class II men are “lions” and place much more value on traits such as good character and devotion to duty than on sheer wits. They are the defenders of tradition, the guardians of religious dogma, and the protectors of national honor.

For society to function properly there must be a balance between these two types of individuals; the functional relationship between the two is complementary. To illustrate this point, Pareto offers the examples of Kaiser Wilhelm I, his chancellor Otto von Bismarck, and Prussia’s adversary Emperor Napoleon III. Wilhelm had an abundance of Class II residues, while Bismarck exemplified Class I. Separately, perhaps, neither would have accomplished much, but together they loomed gigantic in nineteenth-century European history, each supplying what the other lacked. [17]

From the standpoint of Pareto’s theories, the regime of Napoleon III was a lopsided affair, obsessed with material prosperity and dominated for almost twenty years by such “foxes” as stock-market speculators and contractors who, it is said, divided the national budget among themselves. “In Prussia,” Pareto observes, “one finds a hereditary monarchy supported by a loyal nobility: Class II residues predominate; in France one finds a crowned adventurer supported by a band of speculators and spenders: Class I residues predominate.” [18] And, even more to the point, whereas in Prussia at that time the requirements of the army dictated financial policy, in France the financiers dictated military policy. Accordingly, when war broke out between Prussia and France in the summer of 1870, the “moment of truth” came for France. Napoleon’s vaunted Second Empire fell to pieces and was overrun in a matter of weeks. [19]

Justifying “Derivations”

Another aspect of Pareto’s theories which we shall examine here briefly is what he calls “derivations,” the ostensibly logical justifications that people employ to rationalize their essentially non-logical, sentiment-driven actions. Pareto names four principle classes of derivations: 1) derivations of assertion; 2) derivations of authority; 3) derivations that are in agreement with common sentiments and principles; and, 4) derivations of verbal proof. The first of these include statements of a dogmatic or aphoristic nature; for example, the saying, “honesty is the best policy.” The second, authority, is an appeal to people or concepts held in high esteem by tradition. To cite the opinion of one of the American Founding Fathers on some topic of current interest is to draw from Class II derivations. The third deals with appeals to “universal judgement,” the “will of the people,” the “best interests of the majority,” or similar sentiments. And, finally, the fourth relies on various verbal gymnastics, metaphors, allegories, and so forth.

We see, then, that to comprehend Pareto’s residues and derivations is to gain insights into the paradox of human behavior. They represent an attack on rationalism and liberal ideals in that they illuminate the primitive motivations behind the sentimental slogans and catchwords of political life. Pareto devotes the vast majority of his Treatise to setting forth in detail his observations on human nature and to proving the validity of his observations by citing examples from history. His erudition in fields such as Greco-Roman history was legendary and this fact is reflected throughout his massive tome.

Natural Equilibrium

At the social level, according to Pareto’s sociological scheme, residues and derivations are mechanisms by which society maintains its equilibrium. Society is seen as a system, “a whole consisting of interdependent parts. The ‘material points or molecules’ of the system … are individuals who are affected by social forces which are marked by constant or common properties.” [20] When imbalances arise, a reaction sets in whereby equilibrium is again achieved. Pareto believed that Italy and France, the two modern societies with which he was most familiar, were grossly out of balance and that “foxes” were largely in control. Long are his laments in the Treatise about the effete ruling classes in those two countries. In both instances, he held, revolutions were overdue.

We have already noted that when a ruling class is dominated by men possessing strong Class I residues, intelligence is generally valued over all other qualities. The use of force in dealing with internal and external dangers to the state and nation is shunned, and in its place attempts are made to resolve problems or mitigate threats through negotiations or social tinkering. Usually, such rulers will find justification for their timidity in false humanitarianism.

In the domestic sphere, the greatest danger to a society is an excess of criminal activity with which Class I types attempt to cope by resorting to methods such as criminal “rehabilitation” and various eleemosynary gestures. The result, as we know only too well, is a country awash in crime. With characteristic sarcasm Pareto comments on this phenomenon:

Modern theorists are in the habit of bitterly reproving ancient “prejudices” whereby the sins of the father were visited upon the son. They fail to notice that there is a similar thing in our own society, in the sense that the sins of the father benefit the son and acquit him of guilt. For the modern criminal it is a great good fortune to be able to count somewhere among his ancestry or other relations a criminal, a lunatic, or just a mere drunkard, for in a court of law that will win him a lighter penalty or, not seldom, an acquittal. Things have come to such a pass that there is hardly a criminal case nowadays where that sort of defense is not put forward. The old metaphysical proof that was used to show that a son should be punished because of his father’s wrongdoing was neither more nor less valid than the proof used nowadays to show that the punishment which otherwise he deserves should for the same reasons be either mitigated or remitted. When, then, the effort to find an excuse for the criminal in the sins of his ancestors proves unavailing, there is still recourse to finding one in the crimes of “society,” which, having failed to provide for the criminal’s happiness, is “guilty” of his crime. And the punishment proceeds to fall not upon “society,” but upon one of its members, who is chosen at random and has nothing whatever to do with the presumed guilt. [21]

Pareto elucidates in his footnote: “The classical case is that of the starving man who steals a loaf of bread. That he should be allowed to go free is understandable enough; but it is less understandable that “society’s” obligation not to let him starve should devolve upon one baker chosen at random and not on society as a whole.” [22]

Pareto gives another example, about a woman who tries to shoot her seducer, hits a third party who has nothing to do with her grievance, and is ultimately acquitted by the courts. Finally, he concludes his note with these remarks: “To satisfy sentiments of languorous pity, humanitarian legislators approve ‘probation’ and ‘suspended sentence’ laws, thanks to which a person who has committed a first theft is at once put in a position to commit a second. And why should the luxury of humaneness be paid for by the unfortunate victim of the second theft and not by society as a whole? … As it is, the criminal only is looked after and no one gives a thought to the victim. [23]

Expanding on the proposition that “society” is responsible for the murderous conduct of certain people, with which viewpoint he has no tolerance, he writes:

In any event, we still have not been shown why people who, be it through fault of “society,” happen to be “wanting in the moral sense,” should be allowed freely to walk the streets, killing anybody they please, and so saddling on one unlucky individual the task of paying for a “fault” that is common to all the members of “society.” If our humanitarians would but grant that these estimable individuals who are lacking in a moral sense as a result of “society’s shortcomings” should be made to wear some visible sign of their misfortune in their buttonholes, an honest man would have a chance of seeing them coming and get out of the way. [24]

Foreign Affairs

In foreign affairs, “foxes” tend to judge the wisdom of all policies from a commercial point of view and usually opt for negotiations and compromise, even in dangerous situations. For such men profit and loss determine all policy, and though such an outlook may succeed for some time, the final result is usually ruinous. That is because enemies maintaining a balance of “foxes” and “lions” remain capable of appreciating the use of force. Though they may occasionally make a pretence of having been bought off, when the moment is right and their overly-ingenious foe is fast asleep, they strike the lethal blow. In other words, Class I people are accustomed by their excessively-intellectualized preconceptions to believe that “reason” and money are always mightier than the sword, while Class II folk, with their native common sense, do not nurse such potentially fatal delusions. In Pareto’s words, “The fox may, by his cunning, escape for a certain length of time, but the day may come when the lion will reach him with a well-aimed cuff, and that will be the end of the argument.” [25]

Circulation of the Elites

Apart from his analyses of residues and derivations, Pareto is notable among sociologists for the theory known as “the circulation of the elites.” Let us remember that Pareto considered society a system in equilibrium, where processes of change tend to set in motion forces that work to restore and maintain social balance.

Pareto asserts that there are two types of elites within society: the governing elite and the non-governing elite. Moreover, the men who make up these elite strata are of two distinct mentalities, the speculator and the rentier. The speculator is the progressive, filled with Class I residues, while the rentier is the conservative, Class II residue type. There is a natural propensity in healthy societies for the two types to alternate in power. When, for example, speculators have made a mess of government and have outraged the bulk of their countrymen by their corruption and scandals, conservative forces will step to the fore and, in one way or another, replace them. The process, as we have said, is cyclical and more or less inevitable.

Furthermore, according to Pareto, wise rulers seek to reinvigorate their ranks by allowing the best from the lower strata of society to rise and become fully a part of the ruling class. This not only brings the best and brightest to the top, but deprives the lower classes of talent and of the leadership qualities that might one day prove to be a threat. Summarizing this component of Pareto’s theory, a contemporary sociologist observes that practicality, not pity, demands such a policy:

A dominant group, in Pareto’s opinion, survives only if it provides opportunities for the best persons of other origins to join in its privileges and rewards, and if it does not hesitate to use force to defend these privileges and rewards. Pareto’s irony attacks the elite that becomes humanitarian, tenderhearted rather than tough-minded. Pareto favors opportunity for all competent members of society to advance into the elite, but he is not motivated by feelings of pity for the underprivileged. To express and spread such humanitarian sentiments merely weakens the elite in the defense of its privileges. Moreover, such humanitarian sentiments would easily be a platform for rallying the opposition. [26]

But few aristocracies of long standing grasp the essential nature of this process, preferring to keep their ranks as exclusive as possible. Time takes its toll, and the rulers become ever weaker and ever less capable of bearing the burden of governing:

It is a specific trait of weak governments. Among the causes of the weakness two especially are to be noted: humanitarianism and cowardice-the cowardice that comes natural to decadent aristocracies and is in part natural, in part calculated, in “speculator” governments that are primarily concerned with material gain. The humanitarian spirit … is a malady peculiar to spineless individuals who are richly endowed with certain Class I residues that they have dressed up in sentimental garb. [27]

In the end, of course, the ruling class falls from power. Thus, Pareto writes that “history is a graveyard of aristocracies.” [28]

The Transformation of Democracy

Published as a slim volume near the end of Pareto’s life, The Transformation of Democracy originally appeared in 1920 as a series of essays published in an Italian scholarly periodical, Revista di Milano. In this work, Pareto recapitulates many of his theories in a more concise form, placing particular emphasis on what he believes are the consequences of allowing a money-elite to dominate society. The title of this work comes from Pareto’s observation that European democracies in the 1920s were more and more being transformed into plutocracies. The deception and corruption associated with plutocratic rule would eventually produce a reaction, however, and lead to the system’s downfall. In Pareto’s words,

The plutocracy has invented countless makeshift programs, such as generating enormous public debt that plutocrats know they will never be able to repay, levies on capital, taxes which exhaust the incomes of those who do not speculate, sumtuary laws which have historically proven useless, and other similar measures. The principal goal of each of these measures is to deceive the multitudes. [29]

When a society’s system of values deteriorates to the point where hard work is denigrated and “easy money” extolled, where honesty is mocked and duplicity celebrated, where authority gives way to anarchy and justice to legal chicanery, such a society stands face to face with ruin.

Pareto and Fascism

Before we enter into the controversy surrounding Pareto’s sympathy for Italian leader Benito Mussolini, let us take pains to avoid the error of viewing events of the 1920s through the spectacles of the post-World War II era, for what seemed apparent in 1945 was not at all evident twenty years before. Inarguably, throughout the whole of the 1920s, Mussolini was an enormously popular man in Italy and abroad, with all except perhaps the most inveterate leftists. An American writer puts it as follows:

Postwar [First World War] Italy … was a sewer of corruption and degeneracy. In this quagmire Fascism appeared like a gust of fresh air, a tempest-like purgation of all that was defiled, leveled, fetid. Based on the invigorating instincts of nationalist idealism, Fascism “was the opposite of wild ideas, of lawlessness, of injustice, of cowardice, of treason, of crime, of class warfare, of special privilege; and it represented square-dealing, patriotism and common sense.” As for Mussolini, “there has never been a word uttered against his absolute sincerity and honesty. Whatever the cause on which he embarked, he proved to be a natural-born leader and a gluttonous worker.” Under Mussolini’s dynamic leadership, the brave Blackshirts made short shrift of the radicals, restored the rights of property, and purged the country of self-seeking politicians who thrive on corruption endemic to mass democracy.” [30]

If the Italian Duce was so popular in the 1920s that he received the accolades of the Saturday Evening Post [31] and the American Legion [32], and the highest praises of British and American establishment figures such as Winston Churchill [33] and Ambassador Richard Washburn Child, [34] how much more enthusiastic must have been Italians of Pareto’s conservative bent at that time. They credited Mussolini with nothing less than rescuing Italy from chaos and Bolshevism. The coming tragedies of the ’40s, needless to say, were far away, over a distant horizon, invisible to all.

Pareto invariably expressed contempt for the pluto-democratic governments that ruled Italy throughout most of his life. His rancor towards liberal politicians and their methods surfaces all through his books; these men are the object of his scorn and sharp wit. Pareto translator Arthur Livingston writes, “He was convinced that ten men of courage could at any time march on Rome and put the band of ‘speculators’ that were filling their pockets and ruining Italy to flight.” [35] Consequently, in October 1922, after the Fascist March on Rome and Mussolini’s appointment by the King as Prime Minister, “Pareto was able to rise from a sick-bed and utter a triumphant ‘I told you so!’.” [36] Yet, Pareto never joined the Fascist Party. Well into his seventies and severely ill with heart disease, he remained secluded in his villa in Switzerland.

The new government, however, extended many honors to Pareto. He was designated as delegate to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, was made a Senator of the Kingdom, and was listed as a contributor to the Duce’s personal periodical, Gerarchia. [37] Many of these honors he declined due to the state of his health, yet he remained favorably disposed towards the regime corresponding with Mussolini and offering advice in the formulation of economic and social policies. [38]

Many years before the March on Rome, Mussolini attended Pareto’s lectures in Lausanne and listened to the professor with rapt attention. “I looked forward to every one,” Mussolini wrote, “…[f]or here was a teacher who was outlining the fundamental economic philosophy of the future.” [39] The young Italian was obviously deeply impressed and, after his elevation to power, sought immediately to transform his aged mentor’s thoughts into action:

In the first years of his rule Mussolini literally executed the policy prescribed by Pareto, destroying political liberalism, but at the same time largely replacing state management of private enterprise, diminishing taxes on property, favoring industrial development, imposing a religious education in dogmas….” [40]

Of course, it was not only Pareto’s economic theories that influenced the course of the Fascist state, but especially the sociological theories: “the Sociologia Generale has become for many Fascists a treatise on government,” [41] noted one writer at the time. Clearly, there was some agreement between Pareto and the new government. Pareto’s theory of rule by elites, his authoritarian leanings, his uncompromising rejection of the liberal fixation with Economic Man, his hatred of disorder, his devotion to the hierarchical arrangement of society, and his belief in an aristocracy of merit are all ideas in harmony with Fascism. Let us keep in mind, however, that all of these ideas were formulated by Pareto decades before anyone had ever heard of Fascism and Mussolini. Likewise, it may be said that they are as much in harmony with age-old monarchical ideas, or those of the ancient authoritarian republics, as with any modern political creeds.

Some writers have speculated that had Pareto lived he would have found many points of disagreement with the Fascist state as it developed, and it is true that he expressed his disapprobation over limitations placed by the regime on freedom of expression, particularly in academia. [42] As we have already seen, however, it was in Pareto’s nature to find fault with nearly all regimes, past and present, and so it would not have been surprising had he found reason occasionally to criticize Mussolini’s.

Neither Pareto nor Mussolini, it should be pointed out, were rigid ideologues. Mussolini once declared, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, that “every system is a mistake and every theory a prison.” [43] While government must be guided by a general set of principles, he believed, one must not be constrained by inflexible doctrines that become nothing more than wearisome impedimenta in dealing with new and unexplained situations. An early Fascist writer explained, in part, Mussolini’s affinity with Pareto in this respect:

“To seek!” — a word of power. In a sense, a nobler word than “to find.” With more of intention in it, less of chance. You may “find” something that is false; but he who seeks goes on seeking increasingly, always hoping to attain to the truth. Vilfredo Pareto was a master of this school. He kept moving. Without movement, Plato said, everything becomes corrupted. As Homer sang, the eternal surge of the sea is the father of mankind. Every one of Pareto’s new books or of the new editions of them, includes any number of commentaries upon and modifications of his previous books, and deals in detail with the criticisms, corrections, and objections which they have elicited. He generally refutes his critics, but while doing so, he indicates other and more serious points in regard to which they might have, and ought to have, reproved or questioned him. Reflecting over his subject, he himself proceeds to deal with these points, finding some of them specious, some important, and correcting his earlier conclusions accordingly. [44]

Though Fascist rule in Italy came to an end with the military victory of the Anglo-Americans in 1945, Pareto’s influence was not seriously touched by that mighty upheaval. Today, new editions of his works and new books about his view of society continue to appear. That his ideas endured the catastrophe of the war virtually without damage, and that they are still discussed among and debated by serious thinkers, is suggestive of their universality and timelessness.

Notes

  1. See, for example, W. Rex Crawford, “Representative Italian Contributions to Sociology: Pareto, Loria, Vaccaro, Gini, and Sighele,” chap. in An Introduction to The History of Sociology, Harry Elmer Barnes, editor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), Howard Becker and Harry Elmer Barnes, “Sociology in Italy,” chap. in Social Thought From Lore to Science, (New York: Dover Publications, 1961), and James Burnham, The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom (New York: The John Day Company, 1943).
  2. G. Duncan Mitchell, A Hundred Years of Sociology (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1968), p. 115.
  3. Herbert W. Schneider, Making the Fascist State (New York: Oxford University Press, 1928), p. 102.
  4. Theory, Jonathan H. Turner, Editor (Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, 1987), pp. 13-20.
  5. Appearing originally in 1909, the Manuele di economia politica has been translated into English: Ann Schwier translator, Ann Schwier and Alfred Page, Editors (New York: August M. Kelly, 1971).
  6. (Geneva: Librarie Droz, 1965). Published originally 1902-3. The book has never been fully published in English.
  7. The Treatise on General Sociology (Trattato di Sociologia Generale), was first published in English under the name The Mind and Society, A. Borngiorno and Arthur Livingston, translators (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Javanovich, 1935). It was reprinted in 1963 under its original title (New York: Dover Publications) and remains in print (New York: AMS Press, 1983). The Rise and Fall of the Elites: An Application of Theoretical Sociology (Totowa, New Jersey: The Bedminster Press, 1968; reprint, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1991) is a translation of Pareto’s monograph, “Un Applicazione de teorie sociologiche,” published in 1901 in Revista Italiana di Sociologia. The Transformation of Democracy (Trasformazioni della democrazia), Charles Power, editor, R. Girola, translator (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1984). The original Italian edition appeared in 1921.
  8. This term, “equality of opportunity” is so misused in our own time, especially in America, that some clarification is appropriate. “Equality of opportunity” refers merely to Pareto’s belief that in a healthy society advancement must be opened to superior members of all social classes — “Meritocracy,” in other words. See Powers, pp. 22-3.
  9. Powers, p. 19.
  10. Ibid., p. 20.
  11. Adrian Lyttelton, Editor, Italian Fascisms: From Pareto to Gentile (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), pp. 79-80.
  12. Ibid., p. 81.
  13. H. Stuart Hughes, Oswald Spengler: A Critical Estimate (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952), p. 16.
  14. Lyttelton, p. 86.
  15. Ibid., pp. 82-3.
  16. James Burnham, Suicide of the West (New York: John Day Company, 1964), pp. 248-50.
  17. Pareto, Treatise, # 2455. Citations from the Treatise refer to the paragraph numbers that the author uses in this work . Citations are thus uniform in all editions.
  18. Ibid., # 2462.
  19. Ibid., # 2458-72.
  20. Nicholas Timasheff, Sociological Theory: Its Nature and Growth (New York: Random House, 1967), p. 162.
  21. Pareto, Treatise, # 1987.
  22. Ibid. # 1987n.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid., # 1716n.
  25. Ibid., # 2480n.
  26. Hans L. Zetterberg, “Introduction” to The Rise and Fall of the Elites by Vilfredo Pareto, pp. 2-3.
  27. Pareto, Treatise, # 2474.
  28. Ibid., # 2053.
  29. Pareto, Transformation, p. 60.
  30. John P. Diggins, Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972), p. 17. Diggins’ quotations in the cited paragraph come from the writings of an American Mussolini enthusiast of the 1920s, Kenneth L. Roberts.
  31. Ibid., p. 27.
  32. Ibid., p. 206. Mussolini was officially invited to attend the San Francisco Legion Convention of 1923 (he declined) and some years later was made an honorary member of the American Legion by a delegation of Legionnaires visiting Rome. The Duce received the delegation in his palace and was awarded a membership badge by the delighted American visitors.
  33. In an interview published in the London Times, January 21, 1927, immediately after a visit by Churchill to Mussolini, the future British Prime Minister said: “If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been wholeheartedly with you [Mussolini] from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.” See Luigi Villari, Italian Foreign Policy Under Mussolini (New York: The Devin-Adair Company, 1956), p. 43.
  34. The United States Ambassador to Italy in the ’20s, Child dubbed Mussolini “the Spartan genius,” ghostwrote an “autobiography” of Mussolini for publication in America, and perpetually extolled the Italian leader in the most extravagant terms. Diggins, p. 27.
  35. Pareto, Treatise, p. xvii.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Franz Borkenau, Pareto (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1936), p. 18.
  38. Ibid., p. 20.
  39. Benito Mussolini, My Autobiography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), p. 14.
  40. Borkenau, p. 18.
  41. George C. Homans and Charles P. Curtis, Jr., An Introduction to Pareto (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934), p. 9.
  42. Borkenau, p. 18. In a letter written to Mussolini written shortly before Pareto’s death, the sociologist cautioned that the Fascist regime must relentlessly strike down all active opponents. Those, however, whose opposition was merely verbal should not be molested since, he believed, that would serve only to conceal public opinion. “Let the crows craw but be merciless when it comes to acts,” Pareto admonished the Duce. See Alistair Hamilton, The Appeal of Fascism: A Study of Intellectuals and Fascism, 1919-1945 (New York: Macmillan Company, 1971), pp. 44-5.
  43. Margherita G. Sarfatti, The Life of Benito Mussolini (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1925), p. 101.
  44. Ibid, p. 102.

A different version of the preceding article appeared in the Journal of Historical Review, 14/5 (September-October 1994), 10-18. The text presented here, however, includes some additional material; the JHR version is not yet online.

—————–

Alexander, James. “Vilfredo Pareto: The Karl Marx of Fascism.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 29 July 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/07/vilfredo-pareto-the-karl-marx-of-fascism/ >.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under New European Conservative