Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

PHIL 182


Social and Political Philosophy:

Communism and Fascism in Italy


PHIL 182  –  Spring, 2013


Instructor: Dr. Stefano Giacchetti

M/W 5.00-6.15 – Office hours M/W 2.20-3.20 (by appointment)

E-Mail:   stefano.giacchetti@tiscali.it





Short Description: This course will investigate one of the central questions of philosophy and social theory: How should we, as human beings, live together?

Outcome Statement: Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the major philosophical questions in the area of social philosophy with attention to the historical and conceptual development of these questions, and be able to articulate some of the major problems and responses central to this area of philosophy.




Knowledge Area(s) satisfied:

Societal and Cultural Knowledge, Philosophical Knowledge, Ethics

Skill(s) Developed:

Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions, Ethical Awareness and Decision-Making

Values Requirement(s) satisfied:

Understanding and Promoting Justice





First Knowledge Area (Societal and Cultural Knowledge):

Loyola graduates should be able to demonstrate


(a) understanding of the relationships among cultural, economic, political, and social forces, and their impact on human behavior.

(b) understanding of the processes and components of societies, states and cultures.
(c) understanding of the differences of class, gender and race in societies, states and cultures.

(d) awareness that human values and behavior, ideas of justice, and methods of interpretation are influenced by culture and time

(e) ability to differentiate among historical and contemporary perspectives about the world with a view to fashioning a humane and just world.

Second Knowledge Area (Philosophical Knowledge):

Students should also be able to demonstrate


(a) understanding of the major philosophical questions in the area of social philosophy with attention to the historical and conceptual development of these questions

(b) ability to articulate some of the major problems and responses central to this area of philosophy.



Third Knowledge Area (Ethics):

Students will learn to


(a) recognize the way in which the basic principles governing how one ought to live are conditioned by one's involvement in and responsibilities toward the socially organized community in which one lives

(b) understand different positions on this issue, to appreciate the concerns that account for these differences, to look for the reasons given in support of the different views, and to assess the forcefulness of the challenge that each poses for the others and for our own culture.



Skills (Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions):

This course enables the student to


(a) appreciate the profound issues involved in social relations, such as dignity and diversity

(b) engage in dialogue with great philosophers, paying close attention to their meaning, their reasons, their concerns, their vision

(c) examine the way different philosophically defended views challenge each other and see how they also challenge unexamined presuppositions in our own culture

(d) include their own reflections into the dialogue

(e) recognize reasons supporting a view, identify unexamined presuppositions, appreciate astute insights, expose vulnerabilities in established positions.



Skills (Ethical Awareness and Decision-Making):

This course enables the students to:

(a) recognize the need for ethical judgment
(b) distinguish alternative courses of action.
(c) articulate the relevant ethical values, principles, rights, and virtues from the point of view of each stakeholder
(d) formulate and support an ethical judgment
(e) compare and contrast ethical theories and evaluate them in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

(The above list is taken from the Skills Development section of the Ethical Awareness and Decision-Making component of the Values area.)



Values Area (Understanding and Promoting Justice):

Students will understand and be able to articulate their understanding of the following assumptions of social and political philosophy:


(a) that justice issues belong to the  larger philosophical question of what principles ought to govern relations among persons, and to see that justice questions focus especially on what a person can legitimately demand or expect from these relations

(b) that there is a complicated set of issues involved in asking what principles ought to govern social relations, what role social existence plays in the life of individual human beings and in the development of human history, and what are the origins and characteristics of issues relating to economic, political, and social injustice.






Full Course Description:

The course provides an overview of the theoretical background of Italian radical politics. The first part of the course will cover the philosophical critique of modernity as it has been developed by Marx and Nietzsche. Their philosophy inspired the two movements that came to define 19th and 20th century Italian politics: egalitarian socialism/communism and nationalistic fascism.  The main purpose of this analysis is to stress the differences between these philosophical theories and their application by both “real” socialism and Nazi-fascism.

In the second part of the course we will examine seminal writings of Gramsci, the leader of the Italian Communist Party whose prison writings during the 20's and 30's gave rise to a more political – in some sense, more liberal and democratic – conception of socialist politics that harks back to Machiavelli and looks ahead to contemporary Euro-Communism. We will then analyze the writings of several exponents of Italian Fascism, with a special focus on concepts such as “corporativism” and “race.” The purpose of this second part is to analyze the peculiarities of the Italian reception of this philosophical tradition.

The aim of the course is to address several fundamental ideas and concepts which characterize the two, opposite Italian political currents of communism and fascism. This will provide students with the basic critical skills for judging the social and historical role of these political movements. The analysis of the philosophies which most consistently influenced the development of communism and fascism will be the tool for understanding some ideological distortions made by actual political parties. This will help students in evaluating the feasibility of radical political models today.



Required Readings:

-         Marx’s Basic Writings.

-         Nietzsche’s On the genealogy of morals.

-         Gramsci’s The modern prince and other writings.

-         Schnapp’s A primer of Italian fascism.



Course Requirements:

Student’s final grade will be based on:

-         Two in-class tests: Midterm and Final (40% of the final grade each).

-         In-class presentation and participation (20% of the final grade). Students will be requested to make a presentation (15-20 min.) for one of the scheduled readings assigned.



Grading Policy:

The following grading scale will be applied for determining the final grade:


Presentation: A=20; A-=18; B+=16; B=14; B-=12; C+=10; C=8; C-=6; D+=4; D=2; D-=1; F=0.


Test (each): A=40; A-=36; B+=32; B=28; B-=24; C+=20; C=16; C-=12; D+=8; D=4; D-=2; F=0.


Final Grade: A=100-95; A-=94-85; B+=84-75; B=74-65; B-=64-55; C+=54-45; C=44-35; C-=34-25; D+=24-15; D=14-5; D-=4-1; F=0.



Attendance Policy:

Students should plan to regularly attend the class, since we will often broaden the topics contained in the texts to contemporary issues, and since this class is mainly intended to the rousing of students’ personal thoughts and ideas.


Statement on Plagiarism: Plagiarism on the part of a student in academic work or dishonest examination behavior will result minimally in the instructor assigning the grade of "F" for the assignment or examination. In addition, all instances of academic dishonesty must be reported to the chairperson of the department involved. The chairperson may constitute a hearing board to consider the imposition of sanctions in addition to those imposed by the instructor, including a recommendation of expulsion, depending upon the seriousness of the misconduct.


Special Needs: Any student needing a special accommodation in this course due to a documented disability is asked to bring this to the attention of the instructor at the beginning of the semester so that needs can be appropriately addressed.












Course Schedule:


01/14 Introduction

01/16 Marx, Selected Writings;          pp. 12 to 20; pp. 28 to 30

01/21 “ “                                             pp. 58 to 79; 99 to 101

01/23 “ “                                             pp. 107 to 125

01/28 “ “                                             pp. 158 to 176

02/01 Movie

02/04 “ “                                             pp. 220 to 243

02/06 “ “                                             pp. 244 to 264

02/11 “ “                                             pp. 264 to 275; pp. 294 to 300

02/13 Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals;         First Essay, Sections 1 to10

02/18 “ “                                                                                First Essay, Sections 11 to17

02/20 “ “                                                                    Second Essay, Sections 1 to 7

02/25 “ “                                                                                                                               Second Essay, Sections 8 to 15

02/27 Midterm Exam

03/11 “ “                                                                    Second Essay, Sections 16 to 25

03/13 “ “                                                                    Third Essay, Sections 8, 9, 14 and 15

03/15 Movie

03/18 “ “                                                         Third Essay, Sections 18, 23, 24, 26, 27 and 28

03/20 Gramsci, The Modern Prince & Other Writings;         pp. 58 to 70

03/25 “ “                                                                                pp. 71 to 81

03/27 “ “                                                                                pp. 118 to 125

04/03 “ “                                                                                pp. 143 to 153

04/08 Schnapp, A Primer of Italian Fascism;           pp. 46 to 61

04/10 “ “                                                                    pp. 141 to 153

04/15 “ “                                                                    pp. 172 to 183

04/17 “ “                                                                    pp. 297 to 307

04/20, 22-25 Final Exam