April 14, 2012

Amintore Fanfani and "La Difesa della Razza": A Correction


In a post last October about Amintore Fanfani, one of Mr. Ferrara’s inspirations in the area of Catholic political thought, we wrote:

The ‘30s were a busy time for Signore Fanfani. In 1935, the year this Fascist Party member’s first book was published (while Mussolini’s “imperial” troops were mustard-gassing Haile Selassie’s), he found regular outlet for his literary production in a magazine with the charming title La Difesa della Raza (The Defense of the Race).

Logan Hayward, currently a freshman at Notre Dame, recently wrote to alert us to the error in that sentence.

. . . I was boxing old copies of La Difesa della Razza for the [Notre Dame] library, and so, wanting to research this vulgar journal more, I looked for its reference under the first post about Amintore Fanfani on your website.  In this post, you state that Mr. Fanfani found employment with Difesa during 1935. However, according to the copies which were on record at our library, the first issue came out in 1938. Perhaps there was an earlier reincarnation of the paper, but this seems like a chronological mistake, and I would hate to see Mr. Ferrara (or any distributist) find a mistake in your blog, as it only adds to his cause. Thank you for your work at this blog!

As every online source corroborates Mr. Hayward’s report—Difesa’s first issue has a publication date of August 1938—we cannot explain and will not excuse that slip, but we thank him for taking the time to provide that correction.  We also wish to assure him that Mr. Ferrara is no more interested in exploiting that error than he was in bringing Fanfani’s insight into the Fascist potential of Catholic Social Teaching, propounded at length (often in the pages of Difesa) long before he reinvented himself as a “Christian Democrat,” to his readers’ attention in the first place.

Without repeating what we said in that post (and the one following), we acknowledge the theoretical possibility, entertained by some scholars, of a less than enthusiastic Fascist Fanfani.  According to MIT Political Science Professor Richard J. Samuels, for example:

Some historians do not believe that Fanfani was ever a committed fascist, e.g., Pombeni 1997, 173.  See also Bocci, 1999.”[1]

Really.  Not having those sources at hand, we cannot yet evaluate their “beliefs” about someone else’s “commitment.” We would, of course, be interested to see how their considerations could reverse, or even bevel the sharp edges of, the unflattering verdict to which the facts adduced in those posts seem to lead.  Certainly in that Fascist Party member's own mind, the public evidence of his commitment, which included signing the Manifesto della Razza in 1938, was enough to induce Fanfani to flee Italy five years later, that is, once the military tide had turned irreversibly against Il Duce.  Until we do see how, Mr. Ferrara’s promotion of Fanfani’s chameleon-like adaptation to various forms of the demonic state remains grist for the anarcho-Catholic mill.

[1] Richard J. Samuels, Machiavelli’s Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan (Cornell University Press), 2003, 395 n 165. Professor Samuels cited Paolo Pombeni, “I partiti e la politica dal 1948 al 1963.” La Repubblica, Vol. 5 of Storia d’Italia, ed. G. Sabbatucci and V. Vidotto (Bari: Laterza, 1997), 127-251; and Maria Bocci, Oltre Lo Stato Liberale: Ipotesi Su Politica E Societa Nel Dibattito Cattolico Tra Fascismo E Democrazia (Roma: Bulzoni, 1999).