• Giovanni Gentile

Fascism in the Government School

We believe and assert that the State is not a juridical system of external checks and curbs, completely foreign to the inner life of man. For us the State is an ethical substance: it is the very consciousness of the individual which, historically developing rises to social personality, affirms itself therein, and from it draws its worth. It does not therefore find itself confined within particular bounds, but unhindered, and with unobstructed range if feels itself empowered to expatiate freely as the collective, even though individualized, Will – as the nation therefore, which is this very Will when fully aware of itself and conscious of its own historical past; that past which projected before us in our consciousness molds and fashions our nationality and generates the end of our activities and our life’s mission. A mission to which we must, if need be, sacrifice our very existence; for our life, our true, worthy and unmistakably valuable life, is the one which is devoted to the fulfillment of this mission.

This active and dynamic consciousness of the State is thought; it is a system of ideas and of interests that have to be satisfied, a moral life that has to be realized. Therefore the State is and must be endowed with the function of teaching. It must maintain and protect schools which foster the growth of this very moral life in which it acquires its own actuality, for in the school the State realizes itself. In no other way can we conceive of that liberty as it applies to the much discussed relations between the State and the school. Teaching is, must be, and I dare say, cannot but be free: free because otherwise it would cease to be, in that it is development of spiritual life, and there is no spiritual life outside of freedom. But the objective existence of freedom is to be found in the State. Therefore the school is within the State whether the State supports it directly or whether it be administered by private individuals or associations; which individuals and associations, insofar as they are recognized by law, and if in the exercise of their activities they keep within the limits prescribed by this law, are themselves indirect organs of the State invested with delegated power for the better furtherance of the State’s own ends. The more conscious therefore the State becomes of this inner connection, the more carefully it will supervise these schools which, though private, yet belong to it and whose teaching therefore must be harmonize with its own direct activities in the field of education. But it need not constrain their freedom of action, it being rather to its advantage to recognize this liberty and uphold it as an essential condition for the success both of the schools privately administered and of the institutions which it directly superintends.