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Futurist Manifesto

The Futurist Manifesto was written in 1909 by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and issued to provide a concise collection of Futurists' thoughts, beliefs and intentions, in a declaratory form.

It might be an interesting text to read because, in the synthesis of articles, it can allow a sharper comprehension of a cultural evolution in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century, meant as an intellectual avant-garde to what will a few years later result in the birth of Fascism.

Relationships between Futurism and Fascism honestly are not generally admitted (among the many distances, between them there is WWI), but the extreme violence of this manifesto could help explaining why Fascism had the opportunity of successfully using its typical nationalistic style and look.

What was the limit of Italian literature at the end of "Ottocento" (19th century), its lack of strong contents, its quiet and passive laisser faire, is immediately fought by Futurists (see art. 1, 2, 3) and their reaction will include the use of excess, which will prove the existence of a dynamic surviving Italian intellectual class.

In the period in which industry is growing of importance in all Europe, Futurists need to confirm that Italy is present, has an industry, has the power to take part into the new experience, will find the superior essence of progress by its major symbols: the car and its speed (see art. 4). Nationalism is never openly declared, but is evident.

Also, Futurists intend confirming that literature will not be overtaken by progress: it will absorb progress in its evolution and will demonstrate that progress had to be the way it is because Man will use progress to sincerely let explode his nature, which is made of instincts. Man is reacting against the potentially overwhelming strengh of progress, and shouts out his centrality. Man will use speed, not the opposite (see art. 5 and 6).

Poetry, the voice of spirit, will help Man to consent his soul be part of all that (see art. 6 and 7), indicating a new concept of beauty that will refer to human instinct of fight.

The sense of history cannot be left aside: this is a special moment, many things are going to change into new forms and new contents, but man will be able to pass through these variations, (see art. 8) bringing with himself what comes from the beginning of civilisation.

One of most particular articles is article 9, in which war is defined as a sort of need for the health of human spirit, a purification that allows and benefits idealism. Some have said that this definition by Futurists will have influenced mass movements that a few years later will consist of totalitarism, mainly in Italy, Germany and, in a different form, Russia.

The heavy provocation included in article 10 is a logical consequence of the whole above.

It has to be noted that this manifesto appeared well before any of the facts of this century that commonly are immediately recalled as a potential concrete meaning of this text, had happened. And many of them could not even be imagined yet. The Russian revolution is the first of those revolutions "described" by article 11, but it happened several years later.

For those who know Italian language, the violent breaking effect of the manifesto can be even more evident, noting that no one of the words here used is casual; if not the precise form, at least the roots of these words recall those more frequently used in Middle Age, particularly in Rinascimento (Renaissance).

For the text of the manifesto see [1]