I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mussolini's Racism

While researching for the historical novel I am writing, I stumbled onto the so called “Manifesto of Race”, signed by ten Italian scientists and published in the magazine “La difesa della razza” (“The Defence of the Race”) on August 5, 1938. It provides a glimpse into the Fascist ideology concerning an area that, I believe, is poorly known. Somehow, I feel compelled to translate the document into English for those who don’t understand Italian.

Many personalities approved of the document when it was published, including, interestingly, Amintore Fanfani, who after the end of WWII became one of the most prominent members of the Democrazia Cristiana party and served as the Italian prime minister in five occasions.

Please don’t blame me for the convoluted language. I did my best to preserve the style of the original text. I had to read some of the passages several times before making any sense of it.

Here it goes.

The Minister Secretary of the Party received on July 26 XVI a group of fascist scholars, professors in Italian universities, who, under the aegis of the Ministry of Popular Culture, edited or acceded to the propositions that lay the foundations of the fascist racism.
  1. HUMAN RACES DO EXIST. The existence of human races is not at all an abstraction of our spirit, but corresponds to a reality based on phenomena, which is material, and which can be perceived through our senses. This reality is represented by masses, almost always consisting of imposing numbers of millions of men with similar physical and psychological characteristics that were inherited and continue to be inherited. To say that there are human races does not necessarily mean that there are human races superior or inferior, but only that there are different human races.

  2. THERE EXIST LARGE RACES AND SMALL RACES. We must not only admit that there are major systematic groups, which are commonly called races, identified only through some characters, but we must also admit that there exist minor systematic groups (e.g., Northerners, the Mediterranean, etc.) identified by a greater number of common characteristics. These groups are, from a biological standpoint, the real races, the existence of which is an obvious truth.

  3. THE CONCEPT OF RACE IS PURELY BIOLOGICAL. It is therefore based on considerations other than the concepts of people and nation, which are essentially founded on historical, linguistic, and religious considerations. But underlying the differences in peoples and nations are the differences of race. If the Italians are different from the French, Germans, Turks, Greeks, etc., it is not only because they have a different language and a different history, but because the racial constitution of these peoples is different. Since very ancient times, different proportions of different races have resulted in different peoples, regardless of whether one race has the absolute domination over all others, all races are harmoniously blended, or the races remain isolated from each other.
  4. THE CURRENT POPULATION OF ITALY IS IN MAJORITY OF ARYAN ORIGIN, AND ITS CIVILISATION IS ARYAN. This population of Aryan civilisation has lived for several millennia in our country; very little is left of the civilisations of pre-Aryan peoples. The origin of the current Italians essentially comes from those same races that form and formed the forever-living fabric of Europe.

  5. THE ARRIVAL OF LARGE MASSES OF MEN IN HISTORICAL TIMES IS A LEGEND. After the invasion of the Longobards in Italy there were no other significant movements of people able to influence the racial aspect of the nation. It follows that, while in other European nations the racial composition has changed considerably even in modern times, in Italy, in broad terms, the racial composition of today is the same as that of a thousand years ago: the absolute majority of today’s forty-four million Italians belong therefore to families who have lived in Italy for at least a millennium.

  6. BY NOW THERE EXISTS A PURE “ITALIAN RACE”. This statement is not based on the confusion of the biological concept of race with the historical-linguistic concept of people and nation, but on the pure blood relationship that unites the today’s Italians to the generations that for centuries have populated Italy This ancient purity of blood is the greatest title of nobility of the Italian nation.

  7. IT IS TIME THAT THE ITALIAN FRANKLY PROCLAIM THEMSELVES AS RACISTS. All the deeds that the Regime has so far accomplished in Italy are in essence racism. In the speeches of the Chief the recall to racial concepts has always been very frequent. The issue of racism in Italy must be dealt with from a purely biological point of view, with no philosophical or religious intentions. The concept of racism in Italy must be essentially Italian and its direction Aryan-Nordic. This does not mean, however, introducing in Italy the theories of German racism as they are or stating that the Italians and the Scandinavians are the same thing. Its purpose is only to point out to the Italians a physical and above all psychological model of human race that, because of its purely European character, completely detaches itself from all extra-European races. It means elevating the Italian to an ideal of a higher consciousness of himself and of greater responsibility.

  8. IT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE MEDITERRANEANS OF EUROPE (WESTERNERS) AND THE ORIENTALS AND AFRICANS. We have therefore to regard as dangerous the theories that support the African origin of some European peoples and incorporate in a common Mediterranean race Semitic and Hamitic populations by establishing relationships and ideological sympathies which are absolutely unacceptable.

  9. JEWS DO NOT BELONG TO THE ITALIAN RACE. Nothing is in general left of the Semites that over the centuries have landed on the sacred soil of our fatherland. Even the Arab occupation of Sicily has left nothing behind, except the memory of some names; and in any case the process of assimilation was always very quick in Italy. The Jews are the only people that was never assimilated in Italy because it consists of non-European racial elements, absolutely different from the elements that gave rise to the Italians.

  10. THE PURELY EUROPEAN PHYSICAL AND PHYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTER OF THE ITALIANS MUST NOT BE ALTERED IN ANY WAY. Marriage is permissible only within the European races, in which case one should not speak of true hybridism, as these races belong to a common strain and only differ in some characteristics, while being identical in many other. The purely European character of the Italians is altered from the crossing with any extra-European race, bearer of a civilisation different from the ancient civilisation of the Aryans.

The signatories were:
  • Lino Businco, Assistant Lecturer in General Pathology, University of Rome
  • Lidio Cipriani, Lecturer of Anthropology, University of Florence
  • Arturo Donaggio, Director of the Neuropsychiatric Clinic, University of Bologna, and President of the Italian Society of Psychiatry
  • Leone Franzi, Assistant in the Pediatric Clinic, University of Milan
  • Guido Landra, Assistant Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Rome
  • Nicola Pende, Director of the Institute of Special Medical Pathology, University of Rome
  • Marcello Ricci, Assistant Lecturer in Zoology, University of Rome
  • Franco Savorgnan, Professor of Demography, University of Rome, and President of the Central Institute of Statistics
  • Sabato Visco, Director of the Institute of General Physiology, University of Rome, and Director of the National Institute of Biology, National Research Council
  • Edoardo Zavattari, Director of the Institute of Zoology, University of Rome

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