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A short history of the political violence that helped Mussolini attain power.

Liam Brady: Pure Genius. Popular articles. Part One Featured May 2, Forerunners part 1: Rioplatense rivalries Featured December 22, Just where does the best front three in world football reside? David Nesbit - September 27, Jim Euclid. Something went wrong. Please try your request again later. Jim Euclid was born in the tropics of Nth Qld Australia.

After graduating from the University of Queensland, he worked for 5 years in mixed veterinary practise before undertaking a PhD.

He has written and performed numerous plays, a collection of which were published in 'Trial of the gadfly and other plays. He lives in Melbourne, where he divides his time between small animal practise and writing. He can be contacted at sealpoint33 hotmail. Are you an author?

Download e-book Chasing Mussolini - a play

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Free download. Art was a self-proclaimed non-political space in which politics, however, worked as a motivational engine. In this sense, although seemingly founded on separation, modern aesthetics originated in relation to politics, domesticating the masses, with all their desires and impulses and winning them to democratic politics. They deeply informed how Mussolini conceived and exercised power. At the same time, and somewhat paradoxically, Mussolini had a great intuition about the crucial role of affect in politics, an intuition that, combined with his approach to aesthetics, gave way to the strange and lethal alchemy that we know of as fascism.

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Walter Benjamin was the first to associate fascism with an aesthetic approach to politics — an approach that he saw as representative of modern antinomies. For Benjamin, such an image implied an aestheticized view of violence and war, of destruction and pain, an artistic transfiguration that overcame bodily material reality. For example, the shock experienced in combat is transformed and sublated via the remote perspective from high in the sky and out of the mechanical invention of the time, the airplane.

Liberation was countered by submission.

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How was his politics anaesthetic? The issue was not one of mere shifts in government: the old game of political compromises and formulas. With fascism, the goal was to revolutionize the meaning of politics itself in order to construct a new Italy on the ruins of the old one. Here is where the idea of the politician as artist comes in. The artist politician destroys in order to create. Politics was an art for Mussolini, and he liked to think of himself as a sculptor who alone could render hard material into malleable constructions, pliable artifacts.

Is there anything more radical in terms of disregard for people, or more opposed to the rules of democratic participation, than this approach that considers people as things? It encompasses the plethora of rituals and symbols, which attracted the attention of many, including Hitler as well as Stalin, especially during the early years of the regime.

In part the natural outcome of a movement that wanted to distinguish itself from traditional politics, in part a reflection of the youthful character of its members, and in part an expression of cultural trends of the time, fascism emerged as a semiotically rich phenomenon. Uniforms of adherents, although not colourful, were distinctive; ritualistic ceremonies and gestures identified the special nature of the group; myths framed the cultural horizon of its followers, and so on and so forth. Such semiotic excess did not merely emerge at the origins of the movement, but continued to be augmented over time with new or newly redefined symbolic means.

Their importance within the regime increased, at times exponentially, such as in the case of the Roman salute or the goose step, and of course of the myth of Mussolini, which was at the centre of this highly orchestrated ritualistic apparatus. Two decades — not an insignificant stretch of time. The question is tricky because there is no exact way to know the answer. Mussolini believed that the goal of remaking the Italians would naturally be attained.

It was not an issue of if or how. Mussolini had undeniable faith in this project and was not very rational about it, I would underline, which again demonstrates the radical nature of his subscription to an aesthetic understanding of politics.

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Aesthetic goals were absolute and independent of any ethical issues. Aesthetics in sum does not necessarily engender fascist or authoritarian outcomes.


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But we need to make some distinctions, especially when it comes to the question of the affective, emotional side of aesthetic politics. We cannot leave the monopoly over expressive politics to those who abuse it.

“This Is the Violence of Which I Approve”

Fascism gave the masses the chance to express themselves; yet, Benjamin argued, fascism still treated the masses as raw material. It objectified them and deprived them of their human qualities. This article forms part of an editorial partnership , funded by the Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament research programme at the University of Warwick and the Leverhulme Trust.

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