Apologia del Fascismo, in Flagrante

At this time of year, Italy’s newsstands offer a variety of calendars to suit every taste, from fast cars to naked women. But this one startled me, not least because it would seem to be in violation of Italy’s law against apologia del fascismo (“apology for Fascism”), which prescribes penalties against whoever “pubblicamente esalta esponenti, principi, fatti o metodi del fascismo, oppure le sue finalita’ ¬†antidemocratiche” – “publicly exalts exponents, principles, facts, or methods of Fascism, or its anti-democratic goals.”

According to Wikipedia, this law was watered down by subsequent court challenges to the point that defending Italian Fascism could only be considered a crime when such “exaltation” might lead to a refoundation of the original Fascist political party. Not likely to happen over a mere calendar, but the fact such a thing is openly offered for sale is enough to make me (and many Italians with longer memories) uncomfortable.

It seems obvious that the calendar (and other increasingly popular Fascist memorabilia) is designed to appeal to those Italians (e.g., young skinheads) who nostalgize about the Fascist period as a time of law and order and Italian martial glory – or, at least, a time when “the trains ran on time.” When the apologia law was instituted in 1952, Italians knew from direct and bitter experience that the Fascist period had been one of oppression and war which saw, among other horrors, the deportation of Italian Jews to German concentration camps.

Perhaps the Italian education system needs to spend a little less time on the glories of ancient Rome (Ross studied those in her first years of both middle school and high school), and more on the abominations committed by those who claimed to be following in Rome’s glorious footsteps. “Those who do not remember the past…”


  1. No need to worry, the Italian education system, with the last 3-4 recent reforms in the past 6-7yrs, has already eliminated the double teaching of most periods of history, though I disagree with you that it is necessarily superfluous. I think that Jr.High students and High School students can (and should) learn different things from the history and, obviously, be taught about different aspects of the ancient world the two times.

    What I find most worrisome about the “memorabilia fascista” that is coming back to the news stands (and TV ads on shopping channels) is the facility with which people (many purportedly from the left, and many 30-40+y.o.) joke about the stuff, as though it doesn’t mean anything, or even that “finally all the good things the Duce did can be talked about again” (referring to a series of public works projects which effectively have had no equivalent success since the tyranny of the Italian dictatorship – nothing like one single omnipotent mind to decide and avoid all the problems, political infighting, indecision and fillibustering that the democratic process can cause, too bad that a real dictatorship like Italy ‘1930s-‘1945s is also moreoften fatally efficient).

    This, coupled with the fact that various “denial crimes” are taken to ridiculous extremes in Europe: it has in some cases become punishable by imprisonment to try to say anything in contrast to the “official” vastness of the Holocaust or against any of the proposed “consensus” solutions to the “inevitable pending doom of global warming [oops, now it’s just global climate *change*]”, another form of censure which is just as bad, if not worse, than the original crimes they are trying to avoid happening again.

  2. i’m italian, and I recognize many things that government did for Italy, constantly plagued by weak and meak governments (before anbd after then); I admit that the net judgement must be negative for what was done since the racial laws all through WWII, but the backbone of the current welfare italian system (which I got to appreciate having lived for 5 years in an anglo-saxon country) was created in those years; medical and pension assistance for poor people changed the lives of many much more that freedom of speech/press can do, and you teach me that we cannot take for granted that those things would be achieved under democratic governments. Hiding everything positive was done during the magic Quindicennio (’22-’36) and only reporting the negative (too easy to remember) facts was the strategy dominant in italy for many decades; this attitude yes was fascism, and rest assured that our school books will always report the young spirit of those years, the first and last period italians ever dreamed and truly lived. Public opinion is now more objective when loking at the past and credits are easier to give when deserved; i.e. the culture under the regime is nowadays appreciated and by the way was very much appreciated then abroad, by “democracies” such as US and UK; Churchill defined Mussolini the best living legislator, and americans would have made Balbo their president if they could. I hope more and more calendars will be printed every year; that was a period with both positive and negative aspects, to be remembered. A noi!

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