This book is the first English-language edition of a collection of
writings by one of Italy's most important radical liberals, Piero
Gobetti (1901-1926). In thirty-five thought-provoking essays,
Gobetti proposes an original and challenging notion of liberalism
as a revolutionary theory of both the individual and social and
political movements, His theory is of particular relevance in the
wake of the collapse of Marxist socialism, as non-Western countries
with nonliberal or antiliberal cultural and moral traditions
confront the problems of transition toward democracy and
liberalism. Gobetti's ideas continue to influence in important ways
today's heated debates over the nature of liberalism.
Gobetti was the first Italian scholar to identify "two Italys":
one enlightened and modern though small and weak, the other
premodern, traditional, and dominant. A witness to the seizure of
power by the Fascists, Gobetti became convinced that Italy's
hostility to liberalism could be overcome only with a cultural
revolution. Endorsing a radical liberalism, he nevertheless
believed that the Communists, led by Antonio Gramsci, could play, a
crucial role in democratizing Italy by helping to develop a secular
culture. For a liberal state to subsist and grow, Gobetti argued,
there must first be a transformation of both the economic structure
and the legal and moral culture of the society.
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