The Machine with a Soul
This introductory chapter discusses how the representation of fascism as a machine with a soul explains why Italian fascism appealed to some Americans in the interwar years. Although Richard Washburn Child, a former ambassador to Italy, and other fascist sympathizers echoed their contemporaries in their critiques of American modernity, they parted ways with most other Americans in their interpretation of Benito Mussolini and his government. In their telling, fascism was an effective system for managing contemporary challenges because it delivered the material benefits of the machine age while protecting Italians from its emotionally draining effects. These observers claimed that the fascists had intentionally reformed democratic institutions to create a government that was more receptive to the needs of ordinary people. In each case, they asserted that fascism produced a different kind of modernity from that which prevailed in the United States — one that upheld traditions, restored connections between government and the governed, and rebalanced the relationship between men and machines. The chapter then provides a background of the four individuals selected for the in-depth study of fascist sympathies: Richard Washburn Child, the diplomat and writer; Anne O'Hare McCormick, the New York Times journalist; Generoso Pope, the Italian-American community leader; and Herbert Wallace Schneider, the professor of moral philosophy.
Keywords: Italian fascism, interwar years, Richard Washburn Child, Anne O'Hare McCormick, Generoso Pope, Herbert Wallace Schneider, American modernity, Benito Mussolini, fascist sympathizers, machine age
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