A Healthy Freedom. Social Defence and Caring for People in Italian Asylum Legislation 1904-1978

Ernesto De Cristofaro

Università degli Studi di Catania

European legislation on mental asylums and legal measures for people with mental disorders began in the years of the French Revolution and has a very important stage in the French law on the alienated of 1838. This law introduces the fundamental criteria in the field of public management of madness. It establishes that people with mental disorders must be interned in asylums. But the procedure of internment, which involves the authorities of public security, and the fact that those who are interned often spend their entire lives in the asylum, indicate that the purpose of the law is first and foremost the protection of public order. The mentally ill person is perceived, and described by the legislator, as a person who has the potential to compromise the peace of mind of the community. Therefore, he must be isolated and placed in a position not to harm. Moreover, this law addresses a particular social segment because it admits the possibility that, in particular cases, the mentally ill person may be assisted in the family or in private facilities. This obviously implies the existence of a family that can take care of the subject or the availability of financial resources to access psychiatric clinics. Therefore, the archetype of the mentally ill interned in asylums that this law describes corresponds to an individual without relationships, poor, unemployed. The mentally ill is a person who is on the margins of bourgeois society, who does not know or cannot integrate into its mechanisms and who is expelled from its dynamics and removed from the sight of his fellow citizens.
In many countries of the European continent, the laws on mental illness enacted during the nineteenth century were inspired by the French law of 1838. Even in Italy, where after a few projects, the law that regulates this area was issued in 1904, you feel the conditioning of French regulation. The Italian law is based on the premise of the dangerousness of the mentally ill. In fact, it establishes that in the asylums can be closed people with mental disorders when they are dangerous for themselves or for others or can generate public scandal. The content of the law, also in this case, concerns requirements of public order. On the other hand, it is the task of the authorities that protect public order, i.e. the judiciary and the forces of public security, to manage the procedure of internment in the asylum. An important role also belongs to the psychiatrist who directs the asylum who makes the diagnosis necessary to intercept a person and, with the same autonomy and the same unquestionability, decides if and when the person interned can be discharged. Life in asylums, however, is not organized to treat the sick but to bring them back to peace and obedience. The therapies that are used are often very traumatic and make the landscape of the asylum very similar to that of a high level of rigor prison. Even the fascist regime takes advantage of the law of 1904 and uses it widely against different types of subjects considered socially dangerous.
The Italian Constitution of 1948 focuses on the protection of human rights, respect for freedom and dignity. No need for collective security, of a political or health order, can lead to the sacrifice of individual freedom through hospitalization in an asylum. However, in order to fully affirm these principles it is necessary to wait until the sixties and particularly the work of Franco Basaglia in the asylum of Gorizia. Here, all forms of restraint are abolished and an approach to the sick based on dialogue and involvement is practiced. Some elements of this new cultural sensibility will be incorporated in the law 431/1968. But, in a much clearer way, in law 180/1978, which puts in the foreground the respect of the self-determination of the patient undergoing treatment, significantly reduces the hypothesis of compulsory internment and provides some robust guarantees; finally, it organizes the overcoming of the asylum as a total institution based on segregation for an indefinite period of time.

Madness; Psychiatry; Mental Asylum; Dangerousness; Freedom.

See the article in italian version

Croce and the Italian Law Culture in the 1920s

Alberto SCIUMÈ

University of Brescia

Abstract: The Twenties of the past century is a period of strong debate on the part of Benedetto Croce either with the politics of fascism (from which he gradually took the distance up to an open disapproval and to the undersigning of the anti-fascist intellectuals Declaration), or with legal science and with its demand to offer an autonomous perspective of knowledge. This second field of intervention is particularly characterized by the controversy with the doctrine of natural law of the philosopher Giorgio Del Vecchio and with the one of the Romanist Pietro Bonfante. In this second one particularly, the vision of the Law under Benedetto Croce point of view, i.e. the objection to the same autonomy of the legal speech, raised up in all its intensity. The distance from the politics of fascism and from the attacks brought to the legal science allowed Benedetto Croce to develop a deep and significant thought on some very general and basic topics, as the one on the origin of freedom, in the contrast between its individual and institutional dimension. Different effects we can find in the comparison between the historicism of Benedetto Croce and the tendencies of the jurists of the third decade of the twentieth century. A first, not secondary (and presumably unwilled) result of the position assumed by Croce toward the legal science was paradoxically to encourage the assumption, within the second, of a neo idealism interpretation of the law. In the attempt to affirm the supremacy of neo idealism philosophy, a sort of incorporation of the latter in the method used by the jurists in the formulation of their science took place. A second field where such comparison took place was for sure the issue about the qualification of the Law, a dogmatic ground where the progressive evolution of the relationship between individual and social moment of the Italian legal experience, in the direction of the definition in a totalitarian way of the behavior rules designed for founding the parameters of the activity of individuals, took place.

Key words: Neo idealism; Positivism; doctrine of natural law; freedom; ground of legislative politics; individual and society

The topic referred to in the title of this paper[1] calls for concise, preliminary clarifications in terms of research viewpoint, whose outcomes, albeit still provisional, are being presented here.

Considering the wealth of critical studies on Benedetto Croce and his thought, one can easily determine the extent of the very limited literature on the relationship between his thought and the Italian law culture of the past century. Indeed, there is, first and foremost, research carried out specifically between 1920 e 1940, itself worthy of being the object of a historical-legal analysis in the light of its presentation of Croce’s thought, as well as of its analysis on the relationship between neo-idealistic philosophy and general theory of law. Besides Georg Jellinek’s work on Croce’s view on law and state (La dottrina generale dello Stato – whose Italian edition was published by Società editrice libraria of Milan in 1921, very close the period addressed in this paper); Luigi Miranda’s Da Hegel a Croce e da Jellinek a Chiovenda, again, published in 1921 by Laterza), it is worth mentioning Luigi Di Rosa’s paper L’idealismo contemporaneo da Kant a Gentile, published in Rivista di filosofia neoscolastica in 1918 (XI, n. 5-6, p. 469 et seq.); Ancora per il concetto di diritto by Giuseppe Mazzalorso, (Milan 1919); Scuola criminale positiva e filosofia idealista by Enrico Ferri, 1925; Intorno alla concezione del diritto di Benedetto Croce (Milano 1925) by Max Ascoli; Benedetto Croce, la filosofia, l’etica, la critica letteraria, la teoria del diritto, la scienza economica, la politica (1929) by Ugo Spirito, Arnaldo and Luigi Volpicelli – anticipated by a series of essays, the most prominent of which were La scienza dell’economia in Benedetto Croce by Ugo Spirito and La teoria del diritto di Benedetto Croce and by one of the Volpicellis (Nuovi studi di diritto, economia e politica[2]). L’esistenza del diritto e la filosofia del Croce by Aldo Crosara (Rivista internazionale di filosofia del diritto, 1928, p. 487 et seq.); Nicola Chiaromonte’s work Il problema della filosofia del diritto in Benedetto Croce (published – once again – in 1928 in L’idealismo realista, file 7, p 1 et seq; files 8-9, p. 144 et seq.); Felice Battaglia’s (Diritto e filosofia della pratica) and Passerin D’Entreves’ (Morale, diritto ed economia) work of the 1930s (1932 and 1937, respectively) should also be mentioned. The more recent, concise, yet substantial reflection by Guido Calogero, published in Rivista italiana per le scienze giuridiche in 1952 – 1953, more specifically focuses on the relationship between Croce e la scienza giuridica, and follows Considerazioni intorno al concetto di legge nel pensiero di Benedetto Croce by Luigi Bagolini, published in Studi senesi in 1950. Giuseppina Nirchio’s work aimed at verifying L’autonomia del diritto nel sistema crociano was also published in 1952[3].

La filosofia dei giuristi italiani by Luigi Caiani (1955) should also be considered part of the philosophical-legal literature in this regard – particularly in the light of the method used in its research. The same applies to more recent work on the relationship between neo-idealism and legal culture, namely: Crocianesimo e cultura giuridica italiana by Antonio De Gennaro (1974); Croce e la ragione giuridica borghese by Domenico Corradini (1974, once again); Diritto e filosofia della pratica in Benedetto Croce (Barbara Troncarelli, Milan 1995); Benedetto Croce ed Emilio Betti: due figure emblematiche del panorama filosofico italiano by Di Stefano Escher published in Catania in 1997; Benedetto Croce filosofo della libertà by Renato Treves, 1998 (whose first edition was published in Buenos Aires in 1944 as Benedetto Croce, filósofo de la libertad). Other works connected – albeit from different viewpoints – to the topic being discussed can be found in Benedetto Croce e il liberalismo by Norberto Bobbio (Politica e cultura, Turin, 1955, p. 211-268); Stato e politica nel pensiero di Benedetto Croce by Giovanni Sartori (Naples, 1966[4]); Etica e politica nel pensiero di Benedetto Croce by Adriano Bausola, (Milan, 1966); Croce e le scienze politico-sociali by Antonino Bruno, (Milan, 1975); La filosofia della pratica di Benedetto Croce, by Nicola Matteucci, Tradizione e attualità nella filosofia della pratica, Genoa, 1988, in Berti (ed.), Croce e lo spirito del suo tempo (Milan, 1990) by Giuseppe Galasso. Lastly, within the research perspective adopted in this paper, Luciano Dandoli’s Informazioni bibliografiche. Stato e politica nel pensiero di Benedetto Croce: la polemica con Luigi Einaudi su liberismo e liberalismo (in Annali della Pubblica Istruzione, XXXVI, 1990, n. 2), Benedetto Croce e il problema del diritto by Marcello Mustè, in Novecento, II (1992), 4, p. 60-93; Diritto e filosofia della pratica in Benedetto Croce (1900 – 1952), Milan, 1996 by Barbara Troncarelli; Diritto ed economia. Saggio sulla “Riduzione della filosofia del diritto alla filosofia dell’economia” di Benedetto Croce, Naples, 1996 by Pasquale Landi; Benedetto Croce filosofo della libertà, Lungro di Cosenza 2003 by Costantino Marco, and lastly, the above mentioned Benedetto Croce Il liberalismo come concezione della vita, Soveria Mannelli, 2005 by Corrado Ocone and La volizione dell’ideale. Legge e stato nella filosofia politica di Benetto Croce Dalla “Filosofia della pratica” agli “Elementi di politica”, Lecce, 2008[5] by Angelo Chielli should be mentioned.

In this paper, the reflection on the relationship between Croce’s thought and legal culture – whether it be in positive or negative terms – is developed from the perspective of the law historian, thus within the legal experience point of view emerging from the Italian cultural and institutional context of the 1920s in particular.

Those years are marked by profound crises affecting Italian society as a whole – science, and more generally legal culture, but also by a phase of great turmoil bringing both positive and negative outcomes in the following two decades. Such a statement calls for a first point to be raised. Clearly, addressing this section of the Italian legal culture (including jurists, legislators and legal practitioners), even just in an attempt to identify its relationship with Croce’s thought, implies the need to address the key developments permeating institutions and Italian’s life between the two world wars with the radical transformations brought by fascism. The subsequent question involving the relationship between neo-idealism and legal culture should be addressed at this stage, since, as claimed by Aldo Mazzacane almost 15 years ago:

“[…] nazione, Stato, corpi, stirpe, famiglia, lavoro, ed altri ancora, erano elementi portanti nella costruzione giuridica del fascismo, ma non erano al tempo stesso riconosciuti e trasmessi con tutto il loro peso di figure che sintetizzavano numerosi significati, scoccati all’incrocio con linee provenienti da vari campi di riflessione, fra i quali la storia, la filosofia, la biologia, la sociologia, l’economia, la psicologia individuale e collettiva?”[6].

The issue is of major importance when considering the developments of the first postwar period. It, in fact, implies a question, which – for the matter at hand – includes an assessment on continuity and discontinuity between liberal culture and the vision of the world developed by fascism, presenting differing characteristics involved in another, yet connected question on whether fascism was “soltanto un errore contro la cultura italiana […] o [non sia stato] nello stesso tempo anche un errore della cultura italiana”, as noted by Giacomo Noventa in his highly effective description recalled by Paolo Cappellini in Il fascismo invisibile[7]. This in turn calls for an assessment as to whether Italian legal environments – as a whole, in terms of regulations, practice and scholarship- may have contributed, to a certain extent, to the transformation of the political and civic institutions of that period, within a general framework highly influenced by neo-idealism, in the transition from new to old and with the contribution of underlying issues that emerged in the 1930s. Therefore, the issue at stake requires us to address a key element in the historic-juridical tradition of the 1900s, from the viewpoint of Croce’s thought on law.

“Il problema della continuità o meno del fascismo con le istituzioni dell’età liberale – sono ancora parole del Mazzacane – è evidentemente centrale per ogni ricostruzione ed è stato affrontato numerose volte, sotto vari punti di vista e con interpretazioni anche contrastanti fra loro”[8].

The observations presented in this paper are precisely within this context, offering preliminary, but inevitably provisional, elements to be used for further reflection. The research framework is precisely the one belonging to the law historian, encompassing, within the the matter being discussed here, the “rapporto fra il sapere giuridico e una più vasta costellazione di pratiche e discipline”[9].

The reflection on the relationship between institutions and the citizen became a central point in the following decade within Italian culture, juridical and not only. A significant introduction, albeit not complete, can be found Alceste De Ambris’ review in “Il Rinnovamento”, which, in its issue dated 15 March 1919, had included a contribution by Sergio Panunzio, just over thirty years old at that time, aimed at outlining an action programme for the future fascist trade unionism. Urgent reforms the country needed were listed here, among which the need to voice – at an institutional level, the stakeholders, to steer property law in terms of “funzione sociale”, to review the relationship between the individual and society in-depth through the “distribution” of the population in “classi organiche”, and “Corporazioni”, investing them with the power of administrating the interests at stake[10]. Giuseppe Bottai’s remarks on overcoming the liberal model in the definition of the relationship between the individual and the state should be recalled in this regard: “[…] l’individuo vuole diventare Stato, afferma la propria capacità a costituirsi come Stato”, con l’effetto, per l’individuo, di “[…] darsi tutto per quest’opera, realizzarsi nella forma statale, identificarsi con lo Stato, esistere nello Stato, con lo Stato, per lo Stato”[11]. In the light of the profound changes affecting the Italian society in the first postwar period, it was inevitable to question oneself on the reasons underlying the crisis, in particular that affecting the liberal state development model. As for Croce, Giancristiano Desiderio, within the context of fascism’s development towards it apex and Croce’s historical turning point leading him to draft the antifascist manifesto, emphasises another issue on the reason why such model for Croce was unable to defend freedom[12]. “Il problema della libertà e della sua caduta – questa la risposta che Desiderio individua quale cardine della riflessione crociana – diventa un rompicapo insolubile se è posto unicamente sul piano istituzionale”. Thus, “per risolvere il problema, i suoi termini andavano capovolti: la libertà non si può definire o intendere confidando nelle istituzioni liberali – ossia la divisione dei poteri, le libertà individuali, la libertà di mercato – ma a partire da quello che Croce chiamerà lo spirito liberale o il genio liberale che le crea e le vivifica”, in the sense that “è necessario che le stesse istituzioni liberali si fondino su una cultura o sensibilità liberale che è sempre rinfrescata e formata e schiarita”[13]. The root of philosophy’s superiority claim and of Croce’s systematic critical approach towards law and its interpreters clearly follows. Two episodes, briefly presented here and in the light of their importance for the issue being discussed, rather effectively present Croce’s viewpoint and are the most suitable starting points for a reflection in this regard. Both can be traced back to the early 1920s and see Benedetto Croce in opposition to some key figures of Italian law scholarship, the law philosopher Giorgio Del Vecchio, and the historian of Roman law Pietro Bonfante.

Benedetto Croce’s review on Sui principî generali del diritto by Giorgio Del Vecchio – the introductory speech to the course in Philosophy of Law of December 1920 at the University of Rome – was published in 1921 in La Critica. Croce’s review was particularly harsh: Del Vecchio’s view on natural law, as a persisting and fundamental set of values at the foundation of any positive law discourse (but defined by Croce as “immaginario” in La Critica, a reference that is sufficient itself to understand Croce’s view of Del Vecchio’s theories), seemed to Croce an additional confirmation of his thesis on the “unica efficienza della coscienza giuridica (concreta […] e storicamente determinata)”[14].

Del Vecchio’s view on natural law originated from his observation of the limits within which the law developed by positivists and the perception of insubsistence of reason supported by them deny meaning and effectiveness of natural law:

“la repulsa del diritto naturale – scriveva Del Vecchio – è stimata oggi ancora un indispensabile atto di fede e quasi un atto di buona creanza per il giurista”[15].

Such an antipositivist approach was certainly shared by Giorgio Del Vecchio and Benedetto Croce and it is likely that it contributed to the particularly bitter tone of the dispute. This case is sufficiently notorious not to require further elaboration in this paper. It followed another controversy, once again of an antipositivistic nature, between Croce and Pietro Bonfante, a Roman law historian, and originating from the introductory speech published by Bonfante in 1917 in Il metodo naturalistico nella storia del diritto[16]. Croce’s contribution followed, in that occasion, the response to Bonfante to a not particularly lenient critique by Giovanni Gentile which appeared just prior to the publication of his introductory speech, and allowed the two to continue the heated argument in La Critica and Rivista italiana di Sociologia[17].

Croce’s critique was aimed at censoring the positivist dimension of historic research. Yet, another more profound objective of the critique was bound to affect the positions of the representatives of law culture that made reference to Croce’s thought. The latter was related to his challenging the autonomy law discourse itself of, the core of Croce’s reflection on law:

“una storia del diritto come storia di una serie di astratti che sono gli istituti concepiti al modo che usano i giuristi […] è da giudicare una pseudostoria”.

Mario Bretone’s remarks on such censorship can be agreed with:

“l’ambiguità di un simile rilievo non sfugge proprio allo storico del diritto, il quale sa bene, per la sua viva esperienza di storico e di giurista, che gli istituti non possono essere concepiti che “al modo che usano i giuristi”, poiché appunto l’opera dei giuristi ordina l’esperienza giuridica in una compiuta fisionomia”, sicché “ciò di cui si discute è, se ben si osserva, non solo o non tanto un canone metodico; quanto piuttosto la possibilità stessa di una storiografia giuridica”[18].

Croce’s censorship attempt clearly stemmed from the denial of the autonomy of law and inquiry claiming it be to pursued from independent scientific and technical perspectives[19]. Said project was doomed to fail, as any enquiry regarding same, with a coherent development would have hypothesized the elimination of law as a discipline. It was therefore put aside at once by representatives of the law sector (among which Cesarini Sforza and Cammarata where the most widely known) moving along the lines, if one may say so, of Croce’s thought, but still within the perimeter of the autonomy of law.

Even when attempiting to keep philosophy apart from the positive law – a misleading attempt itself if not directed towards a purely systematic development- the above-mentioned episodes are particularly relevant within the aim of the paper as they are (the first, actually chronologically following the second), the pillars on which the research on the topic being addressed here can be carried out.

When considering the relationship between Croce’s thought and Italian law culture, various elements contribute to making the 1920s a fundamental period in this regard.

Firstly, the 1930s seems a period in which law, as a discipline, faced an in-depth, complex crisis since, as described by Paolo Grossi, these years are indeed, “[…] al cuore del Novecento giuridico, perché già si profilano nettamente le linee di svolgimento di tutto un secolo di riflessione giuridica.”[20].

Law-making, in the second half of this decade, was characterized by the project of a new state which fascism intended to pursue, bound to take the shape of a totalitarian order in the subsequent period[21]. It also contributed to the strengthening of a phenomenon – emphasized in a rather effective fashion by Aldo Mazzacane – which had already emerged previously – constisting in the “divaricazione tra l’esperienza dei “pratici”e le scuole universitarie, che stentarono ad elaborare concettualmente le novità dell’ordinamento”[22].

Even the academic world, nonetheless, could not avoid being involved i
n the great turmoil that affected Italy as a whole in the 1920s. At the beginning of the century, the introductory speech of Del Vecchio was, for law, like a stone cast in a pond, and being the expression of complete isolation, it had the effect of starting a heated and effective debate on the key issues of law-making, and was destined to being discussed at length in specialistic reviews for a long time.

Few of the reactions from the law field are enough the emphasize, for instance, how the issue developed by the philosopher from Bologna is a key question in the reflection on postwar years: La natura dei fatti come fonte del diritto, by Alberto Asquini, published in the same year as Del Vecchio’s work; Le fonti e la funzione del dubbio nella giurisprudenza, by Brunetti (1923); Storia della giurisprudenza e interpretazione della legge, by Aldo Checchini (1923); il problema delle lacune nel diritto privato by Calogero Gangi (1923); Il problema delle lacune e l’art. 3 delle preleggi by Tullio Ascarelli (1925).

Law culture in those years – as already mentioned with reference to Mazzacane – seemed driven, on a practical level, towards a constant flow of new laws that had to appear as an expression of the equally new individual and social life standards. See, for instance, with reference to the reknown legislation following particularly fascist laws, some enlightening passages of D’Annunzio’s Carta del Carnaro, both providing a strong contribution to the already mentioned gradual and worrying separation between the experience of the practictioners and the university[23]. From a philosophical viewpoint, such culture started a forceful and rather strong initiative aimed at questioning the political world, intellectuals and law itself, as well as reasons of ‘giving or stating law’.

On the other hand, in the early 1920s, Croce’s reflection on law and law cultures was already fully established. As is well known, Riduzione della Filosofia del diritto alla Filosofia dell’economia had been published in Atti dell’Accademia Pontaniana already in 1907 (the same year of its presentation), while the following year, Filosofia della pratica was published (a second time in 1915 with “una generale revisione letteraria”) with the renokwn pages on the Leggi. These are, anyway, the key works by Croce on law.

For Croce, the 1930s were fundamental also in political and civic engagement terms, due to his ministerial appointment held until 1921 and his attention towards the first phases of fascism, defined initially, in a rather benevolent manner, as a form of “entrata baldanzosa della nuova generazione nella vita politica”[24], until he joined the liberal party and he was expelled from all government institutions in 1926.

Therefore, for Croce, this period was characterised by intense dialectical dialogue, which turned increasingly heated towards the politics of fascism as well as the law scholars aiming at representing the critical conscience of law. The outcome of such attitude was, ironically, the opposite, as, in fact, it favoured the reflection and inquiry on law which was being constantly criticized in terms of its gnoseological standards, with a contribution which allowed its scholars to characterise the conceptual framework of the law system in a neo-idealistic form.

If Croce and Pietro Bonfante’s conflict “segnalava un conflitto per l’egemonia culturale tra studi giuridici e studi filosofici nella formazione delle élites dirigenti”, as recently emphasised by Ferrajoli[25], his arguments with most of the representatives of Italian philosophy of law scholarship (not only with Del Vecchio, whose natural law theory as the theoretical foundation of actual juridical actitivity he refused[26]) expressed the willingness to keep said activity within the neo-idealistic framework. Croce’s critique was, in fact, not directed towards the scarce coherence applied by natural law theorists to the rational method, but rather, to the same demonstrative logic method, thus at the core of natural law theories within which the duality of the system which Croce’s historicism found unacceptable and fallacious in his unitarian perspective[27]. “Questa dualità – osservava Croce nella Filosofia della pratica – è contenuta […] nella più vecchia distinzione tra diritto positivo e diritto ideale, diritto storico e diritto naturale, legge e giustizia, o, come si è detto con parole più recenti, tra le due diverse giustizie, la realistica e l’idealistica, feconde solo nel loro congiungimento”. Certaintly, the same dualistic mechanism through which natural law existed according to Croce clashed with the historicistic view[28]. Yet, the key passage of Croce’s critique was directed mostly towards the theories of natural law in which such system appeared as “[…] più stretto di ideale etico e di moralità”, law thus “[…] è sembrato perciò ora congiunto ora disgiunto dal diritto positivo”. The consequence seemed clear in Croce’s view and consisted in the transformation of the dialectic between ideal law and actual law in the contrast in positive and negative terms: “Concepito come negativo uno dei due, o il diritto ideale (cioè la serietà della forza morale) era negato e deriso, o il diritto positivo (cioè la serietà della forza volitiva) era presentato come qualcosa di torbido e d’impuro, tutt’al più come imperfezione umana alla quale conveniva rassegnarsi, e che sarebbe sparita in una società di uomini perfetti o in una futura vita di perfezione”. The conclusion was obvious: “Un diritto ingiusto o immorale non è diritto ma contraddizione del diritto”[29].

After all, such critiques[30], as a whole, benefited jurists themselves, as they allowed them to disengage themselves from law philosophers’ cultural scientific control, an issue very clearly identified in the 1920s. Positive law jurists were thus offered, as claimed by Luigi Caiani, around sixty years ago, “una specie di beneplacito filosofico assai autorevole offerto alla loro filosofica tiepidezza”[31] (p. 59).

Croce defines law as “è un atto volitivo che ha per contenuto una serie o classe di azioni”[32], excluding coercion, but most importantly sociality, identifying it as a product of the individual, in the sense that each individual lives:

“stabilendo le proprie individuali leggi circa il modo di comportarsi rispetto alla religione, alla famiglia, al matrimonio, agli amici, allo Stato, alla Chiesa, o anche rispetto a tal altro individuo; […]. E chi ne avesse vaghezza potrebbe agevolmente istituire il raffronto tra i programmi o leggi individuali e le leggi che si chiamano sociali; e ritroverebbe nell’individuo statuti fondamentali, leggi regolamenti, ordinanze, disposizioni transitorie, contratti, leggi singolari, e tutte le altre formazioni legali che si osservano in società”[33].

Differences between individul laws and state and society law were weakened and faced the same characteristics defining them as concrete (the former) and abstract (the latter) free acts of will.

Therefore, the fundamental similarity of the specific content emerging from Croce’s comparison between individual and social law should be recalled, anticipating the conclusion of this paper and moving such a discouse on the more general level of continuity and discontinuity between liberal and fascist institutions. The choice of operating solely on the individual level, with the elimination of the State and society levels, or on the contrary to ascribe the individual to the state, therefore subordinating the individual’s will to the state’s will, did not lead to an assessment of the autonomy of the ontological characteristics of actual implemented law. On the contrary, it resorted to markedly ethical criteria, or to the application of valuation processes aiming at transposing the subjects’ psychological valuation onto the development of the individual will to an objective level. A clear example of this second position can be found in some excerpts of Roberto De Ruggiero’s elaboration published in 1927 in Archivio Giuridico nel 1927, dedicated to I dogmi del diritto privato e la loro revisione, such as:

“Di mano in mano che si accentuano gli elementi soggettivi e s’impone al giudice la ricerca degli interni moventi e dei vari atteggiamenti dello spirito, e sugli elementi oggettivi acquista preponderanza quello spirituale ed interno, si produce necessariamente un graduale allargamento dei poteri del giudice, che vien chiamato a rifare nel caso concreto tutto il processo psicologico dell’agente, a ricostruirne gli stadi successivi, ad immedesimarsi in lui per riprodursi le singole rappresentazioni che precedettero, accompagnarono o determinarono l’atto giuridico”[34].

Still within the law culture, a very young Tullio Ascarelli, just over twenty two years old in 1926[35], attempted to re-envision law as the product of an only source, the State, in a reflection carried out solely on a conceptual level; such attempt was only successful in part, since, as claimed by Paolo Grossi, it was developed on the basis of “due dimensioni contrastanti: quella dell’adepto convinto delle proposte idealistiche e quello di un cultore del diritto vigente”[36].

Croce’s positioning of law within practical philosophy and as abstract will addressed at “una serie o classe di azioni”[37] offered law scholars, willing to embark upon it, the opportunity to treat law as an elaboration of empirical concepts, thus escaping law philosophers’ critique. In 1921, such orientation was further elaborated by Biagio Brugi, a positivist, in Fatto giuridico e rapporto giuridico, published in Rivista internazionale di Filosofia del diritto, in which he concluded, in a rather pragmatic fashion, to feel indifferent towards jurists:

“se la norma si debba pur essa rappresentare come un rapporto originario fra gli individui o rapporto creativo, determinato da quell’indefinibile processo che ci vien dipinto come “atto del pensiero che si fa storia”. La verità è che qui siamo in sì alta sfera celeste –continuava ironicamente il Brugi- cui mal può ascendere il giurista. E un’altra verità nuda e cruda è che i giuristi diffidano della filosofia del diritto non tanto per una sfiducia nei compiti di essa, quanto anche e più perché sentono, talvolta perfino istintivamente, che i concetti giuridici non possono coincidere con i filosofici”[38].

Such a position was recalled two years later by Francesco Carnelutti as a “[…] malinteso non dico tra i giuristi e i filosofi, ma certo tra i giuristi e la filosofia […]” which he intended to resolve with his straightforward observation on the fact that

“I giuristi debbono confessare che non sono filosofi e i filosofi che non sono giuristi. E la colpa è di questo meticcio che chiamiamo la filosofia del diritto”[39].

Obviously, such perception of the effect of Croce’s thought on the juridical activity became evident to those closer to the idealistic trend and to Croce in particular. Said undertaking, as is well known, involved overcoming Croce, “Croce oltre Croce”, and to include his concept of science in law-making. Widar Cesarini Sforza and Angelo Ermanno Cammarata, who was more closely linked to Gentile’s actualism, contributed to a large extent to this endeavour. The former with Lezioni di teoria generale del diritto published in Padua in 1930, which was particularly significant for the period being considered; the latter, with Il concetto del diritto e la pluralità degli ordinamenti giuridici, 1926, and La positività del diritto e il valore pratico delle norme di condotta, 1930, published in Studi filosofico giuridici dedicati a G. Del Vecchio. Another key contribution can also be found in Giuseppe Maggiore and Max Ascoli’s work, the latter being the author of the already mentioned work Intorno alla concezione del diritto nel sistema di Benedetto Croce (1925).

Such harsh and controversial discussion took place mostly with philosophers of law, and among them with those that were not aligned with neo-idealist orientation in particular. From their perspective, the subjugation of juridical activity into economics removed any possibility of influencing law and eliminated the reason of their discipline’s autonomy, as law philosophy is “isolabile dall’organismo della filosofia”[40], as unambiguously claimed by Croce in 1918. This explains the strong reaction caused by his 1907 work in the first two decades of the 1900, and the wealth of literature emerging from some philosophers’ of law desire to debate with Croce’s method model. To name a few, Salvatore Bignone, (Filosofia del diritto e filosofia dell’economia, Genoa, 1907); La filosofia del diritto ridotta alla filosofia dell’economia by Giuseppe Natoli (Palermo, 1911); Il diritto come norma tecnica by Adolfo Ravà (Cagliari 1911[41]); Su la natura del diritto, Rivista di Diritto pubblico, 1912 (part I, n. 11-12) by Giuseppe Folchieri,; Esiste una filosofia del diritto? by Vincenzo Miceli[42]; lastly Gioele Solari’s La filosofia del diritto come scienza autonoma, “Rivista italiana di Sociologia”, April 1914 (XXII, p. 2 et seq.)[43].

Croce’s position influence can be found in Alessandro Levi’s denial of the division between “filosofia generale e scienze filosofiche particolari”[44]. Levi was certainly close to positivistic assumptions but not too far from idealistic positions and immune from their influence. His attempt, as well as that of other jurists close to Croce’s thought implications, was to mediate his effort at reconnecting law back to economics:

“Chi consideri attentamente l’esperienza – cito da uno scritto di Alessandro Levi del 1924 – si avvede, appunto, che tutti i contegni umani sono suscettibili di un altro apprezzamento, che non è quello meramente soggettivo dell’economia, né quello meramente oggettivo dell’etica, ma possono essere conosciuti e considerati sotto un altro profilo, […] che potremmo chiamare in un certo senso esteriore, o più precisamente intersoggettivo, […] sociale e più precisamente giuridico, il quale apparisce normalmente un nesso fra gli altri due, economico e morale, in quanto istituisce un rapporto fra un interesse e un dovere, considerati non già in sé, ma appunto nella loro dialettica complementarità di pretesa e prestazione […]”[45].

Similarly to Croce, Levi considered law ultimately linked to juristic act, hence – elaborating Guido Calogero’s reflection on the relationship between Croce and law science- referring to the development of relationships between individuals driven by their own interests resolved into economics by means of “un processo di eliminazione della stessa giuridicità”[46].

Similar positions are unique under several aspects. It should be noted that Levi’s identification of law as a synthesis of economics and ethics had various elements in common with philosophers of law positions on law-making, who mediated between Croce’s thought and actualism. Felice Battaglia[47], for instance, saw law as sociality through the integration of economics and ethics in law.

Thus, the 1920s easily appear as a particularly favorable period for dialectic arguments between differing opinions and scientific and cultural viewpoints, as a melting pot in which different contributions were to be collected and subjet to in-depth elaboration. The outcome had to be placed within the current discourse of two particularly heated issues: the judge’s creative power and the poetic force of interpretation.

The short circuit which had blocked the harmonic development of the Italian juridical order in that period -differently from the earlier highly positivists period – was characterised by the constant opposition betwen legislator and intepreter, most likely due to the conflict in traditional social and economic terms; it also was particularly heated on the judiciary-institutional level with the so-called special jurisdictions which were implemented very often after 1915[48]. In this regard, in 1921 Piero Calamandrei poignantly noted how one of the causes that led to their proliferation was the

“[…] necessità […] di sottrarre, in momenti di più celere ritmo della vita sociale, la formulazione del diritto alle lentezze della trafila parlamentare e di sfuggire ai sistematici inciampi che nello stato costituzionale una burocrazia accentratrice e incompetente frappone alla rapida emanazione di norme giuridiche adeguate alle esigenze imperiose di un periodo di eccezione”[49].

The need to face the new reality developing after the crises in values brought by what Croce defined as war’s “grave e mortale malattia” became evident.

This is not the right place to indulge in a deeper reflection on the extent to which special jurisdictions were used and how wide was the debate that followed. It is certain that forty or fifty years earlier, both the phenomenon and the debate would have been unthinkable and would not have easily found a place in a systematically organized law culture. In truth, the theories aimed at legitimizing, in the broadest sense, equitable jurisdictions found support in the perception of unity of the legislator and interpreter’s role, both sharing an identical capacity of law-making. The former in abstract terms, the latter in concrete terms, so as to echo Croce’s view of the law, his concept of the individual act of will and the differentiation between the abstract and concrete level of existence, more or less rigidily anchored to juridical doctrine. After all, as remarked by Guido Fassò,

“la concezione crociana del diritto è difficilmente criticabile se non mettendo in discussione l’intero sistema della “filosofia dello spirito”, cioè rifiutando la dottrina strettamente filosofica del Croce”[50].

Starting from Croce’s depiction of law as individual expression of will, it is, at last, possible to proceed with certain final remaks, albeit provisional, on the progressive evolution of the relationship between individual and social sides of the Italian law culture experience in the direction of a totalitarian view of the individual brought forward by fascism.

An aspect of the Italian law culture between 1920 and 1940 should be recalled in this regard: the origin of most of the components of the constitutional architecture developed from the 1930s into the fascist perspective of the state originated from the development following the experience and law culture of the prior decade. In his contribution to a collective work published in 1943, towards the end of the regime, Widar Cesarini Sforza stated that

“[…] anche oggi il nuovo diritto positivo ha dietro di sé, come quello degli stati liberali, un sistema di principî, espressione delle situazioni spirituali, sociali, economiche nelle quali vive l’umanità del secolo XX: […] in esso la “condizione sociale”, la responsabilità etica, la solidarietà politica, lo Stato – in una parola – o la comunità di popolo hanno preso il posto, dedotti anch’essi come “posizioni giuridiche” primitive e a priori, della “condizione individuale”, del soggettivismo morale, della libertà economica, in una parola: dell’individuo”[51] (Principi, p. 99).

In the same year, Alberto Biggini, a constitutionalist that had joined fascism enthusiastically and was certainly far away from Cesarini Sforza’s approach, adopted a similar yet not identical, position:

“L’attuazione storica dello Stato corporativo fascista – dichiarava il Biggini – è di tradurre la materia normativa individuale e sociale nella forma giuridica di una propria unitaria volizione e con ciò arricchire la propria sovranità di un nuovo contenuto”[52].

These statement crearly express the exclusive character of collective will and its ability to encompass all individual will in a scheme that would have been supported by Rousseau, the author of the Contratto sociale.
Croce’s reflection on such claims reducing social laws to individual laws may appear antithetical. In Filosofia della pratica the individual orientation seem very clear, though:

“Intendendo l’individuo nel significato filosofico, come lo Spirito concreto e individualizzato, è chiaro che anche le così dette leggi sociali si riducono alle individuali, perché per osservare una legge bisogna farla propria, cioè individualizzarla, e per ribellarlesi bisogna espellerla dalla propria personalità, nella quale essa indebitamente tentava di restare o d’introdursi”[53].

The crucial issue at stake thus seemed the consideration of the subject in individual or collective terms. The process through which the individual embraces the volition of law appears as fundamentally unitary, being a process in which the individual takes on the law at the individual level, making it part of his personality (or better his individuality). The change occured in the 30s and 40s affected solely the content with which the individual dimension of the subject was developed, represented at the end of the spectrum by the all-encompassing experience purported by the State. The individual and the community were to be sacrificed on the cultural and institutional battlefield fought between individualism and collectivism and did not allow for alternative constitutional dimensions.

The totalitarian route prevailed, while radical differences remained – and it could not have been different – in the concept of State, which for Croce “non è entità, ma complesso mobile di svariate relazioni tra individui”[54]; as well as on the value of constriction, since:

“Nessun’azione può essere mai costretta; ogni azione è libera, perché lo Spirito è libertà; potrà in un determinato caso non ritrovarsi l’azione che si ricercava, ma un’azione costretta è cosa che non s’intende, perché i due termini sono ripugnanti”[55].

Yet, there are some rather evident common elements between Croce’s reflection above and the development of the Italian juridical system as an organicistic one between the 1930s and 40s: first and foremost, in Croce’s use of models that can be deemed equivalent to those present in the thesis supporting the plurality of legal systems and antiregulatory schools of thought. A passage from Riduzione della filosofia del diritto is very clear in this regard:

“Nel campo giuridico, allorché il concetto s’intenda con rigore filosofico, e cioè in tutta la sua estensione, rientrano non solo le azioni che gli uomini compiono in conformità delle leggi dello Stato, ma quelle che compiono in conformità di ogni altra regola: non solo il codice civile e penale, ma anche il codice cavalleresco e il galateo; non solo lo statuto e la legge fondamentale dello Stato, ma anche le regole dei giuochi”[56].

The fact is that we are presented with a model of a new individual created according to a project in which, as claimed bu Aldo Mazzacane, “non è […] ammissibile la scissione tra obbedienza e coscienza”[57], either because conscience is settled fully in obedience, or because the latter is fully ascribed to conscience, being its only guide. There is, therefore, an overturning of the perspective adopted in the identification of a model of the individual bound to be the subject of will volition of law. The passage from the individual to the collective does not appear lacking continuity. Widar Cesarini Sforza’s persisting historicism but also “L’esclusione del carattere di socialità dal concetto di legge”, eliminated the need for Croce to distinguish “leggi in politiche e giuridiche da un canto e in meramente sociali dall’altro”[58]. This was, more or less, a scenario described by Sergio Panunzio when identifying the unitary foundation of the general principle of psychologic law[59]. Yet, while considering Croce’s four “distinti” moments of the Spirit as inconsistent and artificial, the support of the cultural orientation traceable back to the philosopher from Pescasseroli was widerspread, generalized and not forcing one’s conscience to obedience if not only in purely ethical terms.

Such perspectives allows us to identify Croce’s traces in the work of jurists very distant from historicism, as Francesco Carnelutti, or in those that are closer to it as Tullio Ascarelli, specifically in his concept of the role of the interpreter. It is worth recalling briefly Enrico Finzi, jurists and lecturer in Florence during fascism, a supporter of Croce’s manifesto. This refined jurist presented a thorough comparison with Croce’s thought, with noteworthy reflections on the relationship between factual reality and formal law-making, placing the value of individual will at the center of juridical construction as determining factor, thus forcefully limiting the room for nullification of the juridical relationship:

“abbandonato il regime della concentrazione dell’atto, ammessa la sua formazione progressiva, condannato di regola il formalismo, liberata la volontà da ogni veste non necessaria e attribuitale direttamente la virtù creatrice dei rapporti giuridici, fatto della dichiarazione di volontà auspice la recente teoria del negozio, una unità elementare dell’ordinamento giuridico, un nuovo ‘corpo semplice’ nel giuoco della sua alchimia, è chiaro che per ciò solo che la volontà stessa si è rivelata inutile in un dato momento non vi è ragione per considerarla perpetuamente tale”[60].

His position is even clearer when reference is made to flawed testamentary dispositions, for which

“inesistente è il rapporto cui esse miravano ma esistente è invece l’energia creatrice della dichiarazione di volontà che esse contengono”[61].

Yet, if, as remarked by, Paolo Grossi, Finzi shows a “convinta e totale” ahesion to corporatist system and a “simpatia intellettuale” towards fascism, “ordine nel quale egli si riconosce volentieri come giurista, cogliendone il carattere di lettura squisitamente risolta in termini di diritto della struttura socio-politica e delle sue potenziali conflittualità”[62], then one must conclude that an alternative vision of the individual, of a society belonging to fascism and institutional traditions or translations must be found elsewhere. This can, maybe, emerge from the arguments on the inflexibility of the basic concept developed at length by Lorenzo Mossa, in the early 1940s, a jurist who skillfully balanced the weight carried by the personal dimension with that of the individual dimension in its configurations as a legal entity:

“Ogni uomo ha diritto alla vita, alla libertà, all’onore; il fondamento del suo diritto sta nel diritto degli altri uomini e nel dovere in ognuno di rispettare i diritti della persona e della comunità”[63].

The relevance of this very clear lesson and the need to endow such rights with content not leading – yet again – to the dull contrast between individualism and collectivism are, indeed, a part of our experience as individuals (Europeans, more specifically) intending to live fully consciously the present day.

[1] The starting point for the reflection presented here is the essay Benedetto Croce. Il liberalismo come concezione della vita by C. Ocone (Soveria Mannelli, 2005) I read a decade ago in a phase of my studies driven by topics only apparently disconnected from any evident link between Croce’s philosophy and the law culture of the beginning of the last century. My attention was at that time directed to the relationship between randomness and causality and its influence on the relationship between action and event, certainty and probability as alternative criteria for the recreation of a historic event. A remark by Ocone attracted my attention and led me to reconsider the topic I had addressed earlier. This is an excerpt of his remark, although rather lengthy: “Oggi risulta generalmente difficile, ed è sicuramente una posizione minoritaria, far riferimento alla Verità con la v maiuscola. Tutt’al più la verità è una situazione, un rapporto fra l’io e le cose, fra l’io e il (suo) mondo. Non c’è pertanto conoscenza che non sia conoscenza storica, e non c’è verità che non sia storicamente condizionata e contingente. […] Per coloro che non credono, perché più non possono credere, nella verità immutabile o definitiva […] il sistema filosofico ha il sapore del passato” (Ocone, Benedetto Croce cit., p. 25). Ocone’s focus on separating “un Croce che afferma con coerenza il carattere storicistico del conoscere e […] un Croce, al contrario, elaboratore di un sistema” (Ib., p. 26) emphasized the method of knowledge acquisition which can be found in the connection between Croce and the Italian law culture in the 1920s and was linked to the determination of the truthfulness of a fact as an underlying theme of the reconstruction of definite and probabilistic criteria attributable to an event. In Filosofia della pratica there are several pages on the analysis of probabilistc viewpoints, addressed specifically in terms of their relationship with the law and the relationship between law and principles (see, in this regard, Filosofia della pratica Economica ed etica, Naples 1996 – Edizione nazionale delle opere di Benedetto Croce, p. 349 et seq.). In 1917 Croce had emphasized his view on the self-awareness philosophy had reached: “nella scienza del conoscere [essa] è metodologia, e nient’altro, ma che, appunto così, è tutto e investe tutto” (Croce, Taccuini di lavoro (1917 – 1926), 2, Naples 1987. The Italian legal culture faced the paradigmatic issue of method in the period in which Croce’s thought dominated; not only to reflect upon its being ‘art’ combining science and tecnique in a balanced fashion, but also in the form of a newer and improved adequate dialogue about the past with exact and experimental sciences undergoing an in-depth transformation at that time. This paper aims at offering further elements to be considered within such framework.

[2] Ib., I, p. 279 et seq. and p. 241 et seq; there are a few other pages by the same author on La filosofia della politica di Benedetto Croce (I, p. 321 et seq.), whereas Luigi Volpicelli (Ib., I, p. 294 et seq.) addressed his attention on Croce storico (Ib, I, p. 294 et seq.).

[3] In Sophia Rassegna critica di filosofia e storia della filosofia, XX (1952), f. I, pp. 94 et seq.

[4] Giovanni Sartori published La filosofia pratica di Benedetto Croce (Florence, 1955) a decade earlier and then Croce etico-politico e filosofo della libertà (Florence 1956).

[5] Further key bigliographical elements for the matter at hand can be found in the recent work by G. Desiderio, Vita intellettuale e affettiva di Benedetto Croce, Macerata 2014.

[6] A. Mazzacane, La cultura giuridica del fascismo: una questione aperta, in A. Mazzacane (Hrsg.) Diritto economia e istituzioni nell’Italia fascista, Baden Baden 2002, p. 5.

[7] P. Cappellini, Il fascismo invisibile. Una ipotesi di esperimento storiografico sui rapporti tra codificazione civile e regime, in Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno, 28 (1999), pp.183 et seq. More recently, see I. Stolzi in L’ordine corporativo. Poteri organizzati e organizzazione del potere nella riflessione giuridica dell’Italia fascista, Milan 2007, passim.

[8] Mazzacane, La cultura giuridica cit., p. 9.

[9] Ibidem, p. 5 et seq.

[10] S. Panunzio, Un programma d’azione, in “Il Rinnovamento”, 15 March 1919. As well as in Id., L’Economia mista. Dal Sindacalismo Giuridico al Sindacalismo Economico, Milan, 1936.

[11] G. Bottai, Corporativismo e principî dell’89, in Scritti, edited by R. Bartolozzi and R. Del Giudice, Bologna 1965, p. 378 et seq. On this issue and regardless of the general studies on the corporativist experience during fascism, see, C. Antoni, L’individuo tra natura e storia, Naples 1993. More specifically, see A. Sciumè, Nostalgie giuridiche del Novecento: l’individuo e la costruzione della ‘città corporativa’, in Amicitiae pignus. Studi in ricordo di Adriano Cavanna, ed. by Antonio Padoa Schioppa, Gigliola di Renzo Villata, Gian Paolo Massetto, Milan 2003, III, p. 2001 et seq.

[12] See Desiderio, Vita intellettuale cit., p. 172

[13] Idem, p. 173. This change in perspective provides grounds for further reading of fascism as a parenthesis, a transient moment in Italy’s contemporary histroy (an interpretation which, otherwsie, would be the mere expression of a principle claim) which can be also found in postwar writings of some jurists. See, in particular, De Gennaro, Crocianesimo e cultura giuridica italiana cit., passim. Some insights can be found in I. Stolzi, Il fascismo totalitario: il contributo della riflessione idealistica, in Historia et ius, 2/2012, paper 14, and Id., Fascismo e cultura giuridica, in Studi Storici, 2014, p. 139 et seq., as well as in Cultura giuridica e regime fascista, in Quaderni fiorentini cit., 43 (2014), p. 963 et seq.

[14] B. Croce, in La Critica 1921, p. 187.

[15] G. Del Vecchio, Sui principî generali del diritto, ora in Id, Studi sul diritto, Milan 1958, p. 212.

[16] P. Bonfante, Il metodo naturalistico nella storia del diritto, in Rivista italiana di sociologia, 21 (1917), p. 53 et seq.

[17] The chain of events was recreated by Aldo Schiavone in Un’identità perduta: la parabola del diritto romano in Italia, in Stato e cultura giuridica in Italia dall’Unità alla Repubblica, Rome-Bari 1990, note 28, p. 289 et seq.). Schiavone emphasizes how “Rimanendo sul solo terreno della storia e del contrasto delle idee, si è costretti a leggere l’episodio come uno dei tanti della battaglia antipositivistica di Croce, per stabilire la superiorità della cultura idealistica nel nostro paese”, as well as how “[…] nonostante ogni apparenza, le motivazioni teoretiche non erano tali da giustificare da sole una radicalizzazione così aspra della polemica: sotto l’involucro “naturalistico” esisteva nel pensiero di Bonfante un nocciolo spiritualista, a suo modo storicistico e romantico, che Croce non poteva non percepire e trovare, tutto sommato accettabile” (Ibidem, p. 290 et seq.). Nevetheless, it was the very idealistic tone of the introductory speech of 1917 that displeased Croce and spiralled into an excessively intense argument. More specificallty, in fact, the historicistic characterization of each argument ended appearing contrary to the overall framework of the Italian philosophical system, because it was able to provide law with an autonomous existence within the framework of the knowledge system considered from a historicistic perspective.

[18] M. Bretone, Il ‘naturalismo’ del Bonfante e la critica idealistica, in Labeo, 5 (1959), p. 277 et seq.

[19] In 1943, once more, Croce confimed, in Pensieri vari, the economic foundation of every reasoning on justice: “Ecco definita nella sua purezza la sfera giuridica [la riflessione scaturiva dal commento ad un passo de Le monde de prisons di G. Moreau (Paris 1887, p. 36), nel quale, in un dialogo fra giudice e imputato, il sentimento della giustizia veniva individuato come “la conscience […] moins les remords”], che si regge sopra un principio né morale né immorale ma amorale: un principio di convenienza economica, al quale la coscienza e il rimorso morale sono estranei.” (B. Croce, Pensieri vari, Bari 1943, now also available in Id., Dal libro dei pensieri, Milan 2002, p. 183).

[20] P. Grossi, Scienza giuridica italiana. Un profilo storico 1860 – 1950, Milan 2000, p. 119 et seq.

[21] On this topic see E. Gentile, Il mito dello stato nuovo, Rome – Bari 1999; P. Costa, Lo “Stato totalitario”: un campo semantico nella giuspubblicistica del fascismo, in Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno, 28 (1999), Book I, p. 61 et seq.; J. J. Linz, Fascism, Breakdown of Democracy, Autoritarian and Totalitarian Regimes: Coincidences and Distinction, Italian translation: Fascismo autoritarismo totalitarismo Connessioni e differenze, Rome 2003.

[22] Mazzacane, La cultura giuridica del fascismo cit., p. 18. According to Mazzacane “Si dovranno attendere i tardi anni trenta per incontrare nelle università le voci, ancora isolate, di una scienza del diritto amministrativo realmente creative” (Ib.).

[23] See, for instance, some examples taken from D’Annunzio’s work: “La Reggenza riconosce e conferma la sovranità di tutti i cittadini senza divario di sessi, di stirpe, di lingua, di classe, di religione. Ma amplia ed innalza e sostiene sopra ogni altro diritto i diritti dei produttori; abolisce la centralità soverchiante dei poteri costituiti; scompartisce le forze e gli officii, cosicché dal gioco armonico delle diversità sia fatta sempre vigorosa e più ricca la vita commune” (art. IV); “[…] ogni culto religioso è ammesso, è rispettato e può edificare il suo tempio; ma nessun cittadino invochi la sua credenza e i suoi riti per sottrarsi all’adempimento dei doveri prescritti dalla legge viva. […]” (art. VII); “[…] Unico titolo legittimo di dominio su qualsiasi mezzo di produzione e di scambio è il lavoro. […]” (art. IX); “[…] La dominazione morale è la necessità guerriera del nuovo Stato. L’esaltazione delle belle idee umane sorge dalla sua esaltazione di vittoria. Mentre concepisce la sua unità, mentre conquista la sua libertà, mentre instaura la sua giustizia, il nuovo Stato deve, sopra tutti i suoi propositi, proporsi di difendere, conservare, propugnare la sua unità, la sua libertà, la sua giustizia nella regione dello spirito […]” (art. L).

[24] Such positive opinion transpired at length in the admission of frustration in the Manifesto degli intellettuali antifascisti, published in Il Mondo on May 1, 1925: “[…] il favore, con il quale venne accolto da molti liberali, nei primi tempi, il movimento fascistico, ebbe tra i suoi sottintesi la speranza che, mercé di esso, nuove e fresche forze sarebbero entrate nella vita politica, forze di rinnovamento e (perché no?) anche forze conservatrici”.

[25] L. Ferrajoli, La cultura giuridica nell’Italia del Novecento, Rome – Bari 1999, p. 14.

[26] Corrado Ocone (in Benedetto Croce Il liberalismo come concezione della vita cit., p.118) emphasized how “[…] l’avversione di fondo di Croce nei confronti delle dottrine giusnaturalistiche sia di ordine logico, investa cioè il modo di pensare giusnaturalistico e illuministico; e sia, in questo senso, in stretta connessione con le istanze ultime della logica storicistica”. A crucial issue, in terms of a fundamental matter of method: the contrast between of historicistic method and natural law theory method was in indeed radical; the novelty brought by natural law theory originated ultimately from its method system. The contrast was, clearly, with modern natural law theory. If, as recalled by Bobbio, what characterises this line of thought “[…] non è tanto […] un principio ontologico (che presupporrebbe una metafisica comune che di fatto non è mai esistita), ma un principio metodologico” (N. Bobbio, Il modello giusnaturalistico, in N. Bobbio, M. Bovero, Società e stato nella filosofia politica moderna, Milan 1984, p. 18), it is evident how this influences the modern natural law theories and their claim to “[…] di ridurre il diritto e la morale (nonché la politica) […] a scienza umana dimostrativa» (Ibidem). A pretense which Franco Todescan (Le radici teologiche del giusnaturalismo laico. Il problema della secolarizzazione nel pensiero giuridico di Ugo Grozio, Milan 1983, p. 21 et seq., p. 38 et seq in particular) points out while stressing the need to use adequate caution, so as to avoid the unneeded stretch already present in Grozio’s De iure belli ac pacis, where the internal logic of his reflection “sembra preannunziare, con oltre dieci anni di anticipo, lo spirito del Discours cartesiano” (Ib., p. 38 et seq.). Such warning and remark can be entirely supported, just by considering that the unconditional resort to the deductive method included in the reknown § 58 of the Prolegomena (“Vere enim profiteor, sicut matematici figuras a corporibus semotas considerant, ita me in iure tractando ab omni singulari facto abduxisse animum”) has to take into due account the juridical order strutcture which draws abundantly from Roman law tradition and certainly not in a random manner.

[27] Such dualism, as mentioned, belonged to modern law theroy and was not present in classic natural law school. Filosofia della pratica seems not to present such a distinction, which, nonetheless, becomes fundamental when duality is identified as a negative characteristic of natural law theories. Francesco Gentile recently readdressed the matter in Diciannovesimo codicillo su natura e diritto ovvero della difficile intercettazione di un U.F.O., il diritto naturale, in Politica aut/et statistica prolegomeni di una teoria generale dell’ordinamento politico (Milan 2003, p. 199 et seq.). His reflection stems from the “tagliente giudizio del gran notaio madrileno Juan Vallet de Goytisolo” (according to whom “El derecho natural clasíco no fue ni pretendió ser un orden de normas autónomas, separado del derecho positivo, como un modelo ideal, sino algo vivo che existía enlazado con el derecho positivo; y aún hoy sigue siendo algo operante en quanto no lo se impida aflorar”), to vehemently emphasize the underlying difference between classic and modern natural law theory, a crucial starting point for a novel consideration of the value and scope of natural law. Gentile uses this quote to readdress the relationship between nature and law, by proceeding, from a viewpoint that is far away from Croce’s, to overcome the tradtional separation between being and having to be, nature and law, considered as “[…] due mondi separati e non comunicanti” (Ib., p. 201): this was the root of Croce’s critique of a natural law theory he considered dualistic in its entire historic development.

[28] A pillar of Croce’s thought was the statement according to which “Per noi le due forme, positive ambedue, sono in rapporto di gradi e di progresso, onde il diritto ideale o morale che si dica (posto che sia diritto e non già semplice escogitazione astratta o vano desiderio) è insieme positivo e storico” (Croce, Filosofia della pratica cit., p. 361.)

[29] Ibidem.

[30] Filosofia della pratica also included somehow a more lenient critique towards other philosophers of law, namely Luigi Miraglia e Icilio Vanni, both passed away in 1903. Croce pointed out how Miraglia was a late follower of Kant because of his tendency to repropose “[…] la vecchia partizione kantiana, rendendola ancora più empirica”. His thought can be linked to the historicistic trend and was destined to develop apart from Croce’s philosophy, also in the light of its rather evident eclecticism attributed to him very often, by Fragagpane and Bobbio to name a few, as if he was the only one manifesting it. His persistent empiricism was for Croce, only slightly weakened by a small dose of “[…] evoluzionismo positivistico” yet this did not avoid his falling into “[…] contraddizione, in cui ancora ai nostri giorni si dibatte la Filosofia del diritto”, thus the position according to which “Il diritto non è giudicato identico all’eticità, ma nemmeno diverso; è considerato identico e diverso insieme, ma quale sia l’elemento di diversità non si riesce a fermare mercé i concetti dei quali si fa uso, di esteriorità, di coazione e altrettali” (Croce, Filosofia della pratica cit., p. 378 et seq. On the eclecticism of Icilio Vanni and, in more general terms, futher insight into his philosophical thought see Giuliana D’Amelio, Positivismo, storicismo, materialismo storico in Icilio Vanni, in Quaderni fiorentini per la storia del pensiero giuridico moderno, 3/4 – 1974/75, p. 431 et seq. More recent works include N. Matteucci, Vanni Icilio, in Enciclopedia filosofica, Florence 1968, p. 838; F. Bozzi, Icilio Vanni e la critica del positivismo giuridico ottocentesco alle dottrine socialiste, in AA. VV., Scienza e pensiero nella seconda metà dell’800. Atti del Convegno di Pisa, 25-27 settembre 1981, Pisa 1982, p. 295 et seq.; E. Roggero, L’emergere della tendenza critica nel positivismo sociologico italiano, in Studi di sociologia, XXVII, January-March 1989, p. 26 et seq.).

[31] L. Caiani, La filosofia dei giuristi italiani, Padua 1955, p. 59. In fact, as claimed by Caiani «[…] il Croce, come per certi aspetti lo stesso Gentile, finivano per negare il diritto all’esistenza proprio a quella disciplina per la quale essi già nutrivano così poche simpatie e tanto scarsa deferenza» (Ibidem).

[32] Croce, Filosofia della pratica cit., p. 317.

[33] Ivi, p. 319.

[34] R. De Ruggiero, I dogmi del diritto privato e la loro revisione, in Archivio giuridico XCVII (1927), p. 140.

[35] Il problema delle lacune e l’art. 3 Disp. Prel. nel diritto privato. (Appunto critico), in Archivio giuridico, XCII (1927), p. 235 et seq.

[36] Grossi, Scienza giuridica italiana cit., p. 147.

[37] Such definition allows Croce to exclude sociality and constriction of characters qualifying law and to reduce social laws to individuals ones. (See Filosofia della pratica cit., p. 323).

[38] B. Brugi, Fatto giuridico e rapporto giuridico, in Rivista internazionale di filosofia del diritto, 1921, p. 15. It should be noted that the same topic was addressed from an opposing angle and a weaker critical standpoint by Alessandro Levi in the introductory section of his work on Filosofia del diritto e tecnicismo giuridico (Bologna 1920, p. 5 et seq.).

[39] F. Carnelutti, I giuristi e la filosofia, in Rivista Internazionale di filosofia del diritto, 1923, II, p. 187.

[40] B. Croce, Conversazioni critiche, I, Bari 1918, p. 244.

[41] See A. Ravà, Diritto e Stato nella morale idealistica, Padua 1950, p. 18 et seq.

[42] In Rivista italiana di sociologia, 1913, p. 323 et seq.

[43] Besides these, other works can be mentioned as the years following the publication of Riduzione della filosofia del diritto alla filosofia dell’economia were characterized by intense dialogue and scholarship in this regard. In addition to the authors already mentioned, Adriano Tilgher, Luigi Miranda, Francesco Aquilanti contributed to enriching a scenario, that while being concise, allows us to understand the extent to which the need to overcome the rigid framework of positivism was felt.

[44] A. Levi, Contributo ad una teoria filosofica dell’ordine giuridico, 1914, p. 25.

[45] A. Levi, L’indirizzo “giuridico” nella filosofia del diritto, in Id., Saggi di teoria del diritto, Bologna 1924, p. 25 et seq. He had developed such concepts at length emphasising the uniqueness of the juridical point of view a decade earlier in Contributi ad una teoria filosofica dell’ordine giuridico (Genoa 1914). “Il punto di vista da cui si pone il diritto (o, il che è lo stesso, lo spirito, quando valuta giuridicamente la realtà) non è né quello del giusto, che è proprio della morale, né quello dell’utile, che è proprio della economia: è, invece, quello del lecito, che è tutto suo. E se è tautologico dire che il diritto è considerazione del lecito, è altrettanto tautologico dire che l’economia è considerazione dell’utile la morale del bene. […] sarebbe grave errore il credere – col Croce – che lecito fosse il “legalmente indifferente”, il “praticamente indifferente” e dire con lui che “… fuori della legge o delle leggi permane sempre il permissivo, il lecito, l’indifferente, la facoltà, il diritto”. Il che non è punto vero, poiché il lecito non è niente affatto l’indifferente, ciò che è fuori della legge: è ciò che è dentro la legge, e non già per essa indifferente, ma bensì da essa tutelato” (Ib, p. 103 et seq.).

[46] G. Calogero, Croce e la scienza giuridica italiana, in Rivista italiana per le scienze giuridiche, Series III, year VI – VII (1952 – 1953), p. 2.

[47] See, for the matter at hand in particular, Diritto e filosofia della pratica. Saggio su alcuni problemi dell’idealismo contemporaneo, Florence 1932.

[48] For a concise overview see A. Fumè, I principî generali nell’ordine giuridico contemporaneo (1837 – 1942), Turin 2002, p. 218, n. 13.

[49] P. Calamandrei, Il significato costituzionale delle giurisdizioni di equità, in Archivio giuridico, LXXXV, 1921, p. 224 et seq..

[50] G. Fassò, Storia della filosofia del diritto III. Ottocento e Novecento, updated edition by C. Faralli, Rome-Bari 2001, p. 246.

[51] W. Cesarini Sforza, Verso la carta del diritto, in Studi sui principî generali dell’ordinamento giuridico fascista, Pisa 1943, p. 99.

[52] A. Biggini, Dei principî generali dell’ordinamento giuridico fascista (contributo alla loro formulazione), in Studi sui principî generali cit., p. 397.

[53] Croce, Filosofia della pratica cit., p. 323.

[54] Ibidem, p. 324.

[55] Ibidem, p. 320.

[56] B. Croce, Riduzione della filosofia del diritto alla filosofia dell’economia, Naples 1926², p. 38 et seq.

[57] Mazzacane, La cultura giuridica del fascismo cit., p. 12.

[58] Croce, Riduzione cit., p. 39.

[59] “Laonde è chiaro che le fonti dei principî generali del diritto sono giuridiche, in quanto i principî possono desumersi dalle norme giuridiche particolari non esclusa poi la stessa dottrina giuridica fascista da me in altra sede indicata come fonte tecnica dell’ordinamento giuridico, e da fonti non giuridiche, che, in senso lato, possiamo chiamare psicologiche. Queste sono costituite, come si è detto, dai dati immediati della coscienza; dati che molte volte si esprimono e trovano il loro linguaggio nelle dichiarazioni, nei voti, nelle mozioni dei congressi, delle assemblee e quindi nel corpo della dottrina politica.” (S. Panunzio, Principî generali del diritto fascista (contributo alla loro determinazione), in Studi sui Principî generali cit., p. 18).

[60] E. Finzi, Studi sulle nullità del negozio giuridico. I. L’Art. 1311 del Codice Civile, Bologna 1920, p. 68.

[61] Ibidem, p.71.

[62] P. Grossi, Stile fiorentino. Gli studi giuridici nella Firenze italiana 1859 – 1950, Milan 1986, p. 186.

[63] An excerpt from a L. Mossa speech at the Convegno Nazionale Universitario su i principî generali dell’ordinamento giuridico fascista tenuto in Pisa nei giorni 18 e 19 maggio 1940 – XVIII, published with the same title in the conference presentation volume (Pisa, 1940, p. 26).