The source of fascist ideology

Lucy Hughes-Hallett at the Guardian in 2014 reviews a book on the pope’s sinister pact with Mussolini.

In 1938, Pope Pius XI addressed a group of visitors to the Vatican. There were some people, he said, who argued that the state should be all-powerful – “totalitarian”. Such an idea, he went on, was absurd, not because individual liberty was too precious to be surrendered, but because “if there is a totalitarian regime – in fact and by right – it is the regime of the church, because man belongs totally to the church”.

Attaboy, that’s putting it out there.

The Pope told Mussolini that the church had long seen the need to “rein in the children of Israel” and to take “protective measures against their evil-doing”. The Vatican and the fascist regime had many differences, but this they had in common.

Naturally. I doubt that Mussolini came to the idea entirely independently – the Catholic church has been steeped in anti-semitism all along.

Kertzer describes something more fundamental than a church leader’s strategic decision to protect his own flock rather than to speak up in defence of others. His argument, presented not as polemic but as gripping storytelling, is that much of fascist ideology was inspired by Catholic tradition – the authoritarianism, the intolerance of opposition and the profound suspicion of the Jews.

Quite so.

To be continued.

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