Piero Gobetti's Agonistic Liberalism

Martin, James. 2006. Piero Gobetti's Agonistic Liberalism. History of European Ideas, 32(2), pp. 205-222. ISSN 01916599 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines the ‘revolutionary liberal’ outlook expounded by the young Italian journalist
and intellectual, Piero Gobetti, immediately following the First World War. It considers the
historical evolution of his ‘agonistic’ liberalism according to which conflict rather than consensus
serves as the basis of social and political renewal. The article traces the formation of Gobetti’s
thought from his idealist response to the crisis of the liberal state through to his endorsement of the
communist revolutionaries in Turin and his denunciation of fascism as the continuation of Italy’s
failed tradition of compromise. Whilst Gobetti’s views presently resonate with a growing interest in
the agonistic dimension of politics, it is argued that his elitism and his understanding of liberalism as
a ‘civic religion’ reveal challenging tensions in his thought.

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Agonism; Anti-fascism; Conflict; Fascism; Gobetti; Liberalism

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June 2006Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

25 Feb 2021 08:14

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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