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Fascist Spectacle.pdf

Fascist Spectacle.pdf

Fascist

Fascist Spectacle http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft18700444&chunk.id=0&doc.v... Figure 14. A sobbing bourgeois in a stovepipe hat tries to reanimate the defunct lei (caricature drawing, "The Inconsolable," by Angelo Burattini, for the Anti-Bourgeois Exhibit planned by Starace in 1938). the 'lei' neatly. . . . Besides any other consideration, all this reveals the absence of that fascist temperament which must be able to carry out in every circumstance the style of Mussolini's time." And, Starace continued: "The federal secretaries must call upon the gerarchi and talk clearly to them without omitting to indicate that when the injunctions I have ordered regarding this matter are not followed, it may mean either little sense of discipline or even little fascist faith. This is one of those cases in which form, by definitively affecting customs, expresses its deep content with exactitude." [98] Starace assigned rituals an important role in the new society organized by fascism. He worked diligently to fulfill Mussolini's aesthetic-political vision through means that corresponded to the regime's own identification of style with character and spirit. Within this frame, the observance of myths, rituals, and symbols signified the people's acknowledgment of their fascist identity, and adoption of new rituals was intended to signify a truly radical change in style. This interpretation is exemplified by the case of the Roman salute, one of the main ritualistic gestures that fascism introduced in daily life. The Roman Salute ― 110 ― The Roman salute, in which the right arm was raised in a straight and perpendicular manner, had been adopted by D'Annunzio during his regency in Fiume. Like other rituals utilized by D'Annunzio, the salute became part of the rising fascist movement's symbolic patrimony and was inherited by Mussolini's government. On January 31, 1923, the Ministry of Education instituted a ritual honoring the flag in schools. During the ceremony, students paid homage to the flag with fascist songs and a Roman salute (Figure 15). [99] In 1925, when Mussolini began his work of fascistizzazione of the state, the salute officially became part of the regime. Mussolini ordered all state civil administrations at the center and the periphery, including schools, to adopt it as of December 1, 1925. [100] The salute was supposed to reflect a sense of discipline, as it addressed a superior as a sign of respect from an inferior in the ranks. But there were also rules concerning the salute between gerarchi of equal importance. Mussolini sent telegrams to the several ministers communicating his orders. Amidst requests for clarifications on the modalities and circumstances concerning the salute, the Roman gesture became part of people's everyday existence and experience. In 1932 the Roman salute was adopted as the substitute for the bourgeois handshake. In his disposizioni , Starace wished that "the year XI signs the twilight of shaking hands." [101] The salute was considered "more hygienic, more aesthetic and shorter," in the words of Mussolini, [102] and the regime defined itself as antibourgeois through the Roman salute. Unlike ugly, slow bourgeois culture, 66 of 199 7/11/2006 12:54 AM

Fascist Spectacle http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft18700444&chunk.id=0&doc.v... fascism was efficient, harmonic, and dynamic. The aesthetics of order and discipline combined with the regime's emphasis on character; the Roman salute represented the physical sign of a truly new man, whose gestures reflected his intimate fascist nature (Figure 16). [103] Thus, on August 28, 1932, Starace hinted that "[t]o salute the Roman way by remaining sitting is . . . little Roman"—that is, little fascist. [104] On June 12, 1933, he suggested that the Roman salute did not imply the necessity of taking off the hat unless one was indoors. [105] And on September 9, 1933, he reprimanded gerarchi who in a dispute had used the formula: "[T]hey reconciled with a handshake." They should have adopted instead the sentence: "[T]hey reconciled with a Roman salute." [106] The symbolic value assigned to the Roman salute grew to such an extent that complaints began to rise about its improper execution. The president of the Ministers' Council, for example, took into serious consideration Professor Wasserman's observations about the malfunctioning of the salute and his scientific description of a perfect execution. According to Wasser- ― 111 ― Figure 15. Schoolchildren saluting the flag ("The Promise to the Fatherland," by Stagnoli). man, the proper Roman salute had the effect of showing the fascist man's "decisive spirit," which was close to that of ancient Romans. [107] "Habitual gestures, if decisive, especially when following trajectories, which in general express a symbol, reveal firm characters, who always have a clear vision of their intentions, who are conscious of their ability to realize them." Wasserman claimed there was an interdependence between psychic life and ― 112 ― 67 of 199 7/11/2006 12:54 AM