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11 - Idealism and the fascist corporative state

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Irene Stolzi
University of Florence
Nicholas Boyle
University of Cambridge
Liz Disley
University of Cambridge
John Walker
Birkbeck College, University of London
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Corporatism, Idealism and juridical science

This chapter will be concerned with a small but significant part of twentieth-century Italian legal history: the doctrine of corporatism that developed in Italy under the influence of Idealism. Prompted by the fascist regime, the corporatist system was conceived as a specifically Italian ‘third way’. On the one hand, it was meant to combine private property and private economic enterprise with the possibility of various kinds of public intervention into the economy. On the other hand, it was intended to support the establishment of a structure of power capable of reconciling, in a sharply authoritarian fashion, the supremacy of the state with the acknowledgement of the institutional legitimacy of the main expressions of the new mass society (political parties, trade unions, productive forces). The development of the corporatist system came in three phases. The first was the trade-union phase, which focused on the state's recognition of unions of both workers and employers. This aimed at abolishing both trade union pluralism and the free economy: only fascist unions were recognised, and strikes and lockouts were prohibited and severely prosecuted. The second phase was the properly corporatist one. It began in 1934, when corporations were instituted; these were state-related bodies resulting from the combination of elements from trade unions, the public administration and the Fascist Party. They were the institutions in charge of managing the relations between the state and economic, political and social forces – and, therefore, the fulcrum of the new fascist organisation of power. In fact, however, their concrete activity was quite modest. The third phase of the development of the system was the institution, in 1939, of the House of Fasci and Corporations (Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni), which formally ratified the suppression of the elections of deputies. The members of the House, in fact, were not elected; rather, they owed their membership to their being in charge of other bodies of the fascist state (the party, trade unions, corporations and others).

The Impact of Idealism
The Legacy of Post-Kantian German Thought
, pp. 260 - 276
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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