Volume 1, Issue 1, Winter 2019

Franco Manni
Pages 83-116

Norberto Bobbio e Benedetto Croce

I have been a friend of Norberto Bobbio for 20 years, and our greatest common interest was Benedetto Croce. Croce has been the main Italian intellectual of the first half of the 20th century; Bobbio was the one of the second half. Both were champions of political liberalism, in a cultural environment such as the Italian one that has never loved liberalism and where three other cultures have dominated and still dominate: Marxism, fascism and Catholic traditionalism. This essay shows with great evidence that Croce was the greatest moral mentor and intellectual teacher of Bobbio. By far, the most influential philosopher. Throughout all Bobbio’s long life! The present essay is the only existing one that deals with this topic and furnishes proof of it. In fact, for 65 years the anti-Croce line launched by Togliatti and the Italian Communist Party prevailed and still prevails in Italian culture. And a crucial point of this anti-Croce line is to deny that Bobbio was an admirer and a disciple of Croce. According to the Italian Marxist intellectuals, Bobbio had to be a student of Marx, Hegel, Cattaneo, Weber, Kelsen, Labriola, Salvemini, Gobetti, but absolutely not of Croce. For example, a few years ago, when a Marxist historian published a book called "Il Mondo di Bobbio" (“Bobbio’s World”) , Croce has never been mentioned once. Why? If it had been admitted that Bobbio had been the greatest faithful disciple of Croce, the whole Marxist and neo-Marxist line of Italian culture after World War II would have to be disavowed. And in particular the 1968 movement and his legacy. This is the central point of this article. But other themes are also treated: the role of philosophers, philosophy as absolute historicism, laicity, attitude towards the academia and the cultural fashions, commitment to friendship, attitude towards tradition, the idea of liberalism and the critique of totalitarianism.