Learning from the Enemy

Learning from the Enemy:A History of Italian Antifascism in Interwar Europe

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The first comprehensive history of "Giustizia e Libertà", the Italian revolutionary group that fought fascism in interwar Europe and pursued a liberal socialist project beyond it

This Italian antifascist revolutionary group "Giustizia e Libertà" operated both in emigration and as part of the clandestine resistance, offering radical responses to the rise of Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism. How to understand and fight fascism? How to rethink politics in the maelstrom of crisis that shook Italian and European society in the 1930s? How to design a new post-fascist order out of the ruins of the Great War?

To answer these questions "Giustizia e Libertà" - founded by Carlo Rosselli in Paris in 1929 and disbanded in 1940 – developed several revolutionary projects and linked socialist and liberal traditions in innovative ways, inspired by French and European culture. Their debates focused on fascism as a product of a post-1914 civilizational crisis and a key political, social, cultural phenomenon of the interwar period. To struggle against its enemy, the group aimed to go beyond the Marxist notion of class and to assert different concepts of nation and Europe, while elaborating lucid comparative thoughts on tyrannies.


  • Notwithstanding its small size, Giustizia e Libertà had an international relevance, due to the interaction between its exile perception of fascism, affected by the Parisian debates on totalitarianism, and a political activity fully immersed in the Italian reality. Bresciani's book is a remarkable contribution to the current debate on the distinctive nature of fascism(s).

    Carlo Ginzburg
  • The story that Marco Bresciani tells with great finesse in this necessary book is a very important chapter in the heroic history that accompanied the birth of democracy in Italy. It started far back, from when fascism took power and grew in exile, in the underground struggle, in the discussions among the anti-fascists of Giustizia e Libertà about the conditions of political democracy. The movement that had as its founder Carlo Rosselli, the author of Liberal Socialism, was both internationalist and national, engaged in the Spanish Civil War with one of its battalions, and extraordinarily capable of understanding the imperialist nature of Nazi-Fascism before it manifested itself on the battlefields of Europe. This book is a valuable reconstruction of that history.

    Nadia Urbinati, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory, Columbia University
  • Marco Bresciani has given a great gift to fascism's enemies everywhere. He captures the fierce intellectual energy that early antifascist thinkers such as Carlo Rosselli drew from their trials of resistance, conspiracy, exile, prison, and combat. Bresciani also matches their intellectual energy with his own. The result is a book of rare intelligence and inspiration.

    Joseph Fronczak, Princeton University, author of Everything Is Possible: Antifascism and the Left in the Age of Fascism