Call#: Van Pelt Library DG450 .T36
Edward Tannenbuam’s chapter titled “Fascist Socialization and Conformity” discusses the way in which Italians were conformed into fascist ideals around the 1920’s and 30’s. Italian youths were the first to be subject to a a form of socialization into a fascist society. They were placed in organizations and programs, similar to boys and girls scouts. The groups were not meant to be political and the rules of the groups were similar to most codes of conduct: don’t smoke, don’t gamble, don’t drink, be honest, etc. They were required to take an oath, that Tannenbaum calls as inoffensive as the American pledge of allegiance. One of their rules requires the “scouts” to stop or prevent anyone from speaking against fascism, however this rule was never enforced. In fact, most of these groups were quite loose in their regulations. Equally, Italian youths were not interested in most of these groups. Some programs provided military training. Most youths skipped their courses and viewed it as an intrusion. As Tannenbaum puts it: “...most eighteen to twenty-year-old Italian males still preferred...to view themselves as lovers rather than fighters” (125). A small minority of students were opposed to their country’s actions, and very few of them were actually rebellious. The rest of them were neither rebellious or conformist, and only tried to adapt to fascism, as long as it contributed to their well-being. Tannenbaum decides that most students were more concerned about girls and sports, rather than politics. Only the youngest children enjoyed the fascist programs, but only because they were too young to understand it and were interested only in doing what their peers did. In rural areas, fascism failed to be an influence at all. The fascist regime also created leisure activities for adults, with organizations like the Dopolavoro. The Dopolavoro was described as being “...popular without being very Fascist” (139). In fact, organizations like the Dopolavoro avoided politics altogether, with the exception of censoring certain forms of media at their centers. Most Italians felt that life under the fascist regime was normal and they did what was needed to conform, but this was done out of opportunism rather than fear or commitment. Most Italians joined the party to improve their image and professionalism and parents pushed children into conforming, so as to safeguard their future careers. Insubordination was rare. Small towns were easiest to conform, because most of the well respected citizens were already members. Interestingly, the less educated were less likely to conform because the simply did not understand what conformity would accomplish.
Several themes in this chapter were covered by Federico Fellini’s film Amarcord. The film portrays the carefree life of a boy in a small town of Italy. Those living in this small town are conformist, self-involved, and probably do not support the ideals of fascism, but live under its shadow without question. These characters are politically unconcerned as long as their personal lives are satisfactory. They do not see fascism to be a serious threat to their livelihood, and thus ignore it. Tannenbaum also cites a general, care-free attitude amongst Italians. Fellini himself lived some of the history that Tannebaum tells, as he was brought up in in a small town during the 1920’s and 30’s. The film is likely a retelling of Fellini’s own childhood, and as evidenced by Tannenbaum’s book, these are sentiments shared by many Italians of Fellini’s generation.
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Call#: GA108.7 .C53 1992
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