Archives On The Air 93: Black Magic And Fascism—Toppan Rare Books Library

Jan 16, 2019

Cover of Black Magic, by Kenneth Roberts, 1922, Toppan Rare Books Library.

Within the Toppan Rare Books Library is a book called Black Magic.

The black magic in the title is not witchcraft but fascism. The book was written by Kenneth Roberts in 1922. It is shamelessly sympathetic to fascism in Italy. But the book also displays prejudice against Italians, calling them undisciplined.

Roberts believed fascism was a positive response to European socialism and that fascism stamped out crime.

Roberts wrote of Mussolini, “there has never been a word uttered against his absolute sincerity and honesty.”

He also criticized American bureaucracy and new programs like the Department of Education. He suggested the US should move towards a brand of conservative fascism modeled on Mussolini’s Italy.

While these views may be shocking today, before World War II, the fascist movements in Europe were seen as viable political options.

A copy of Robert’s book Black Magic can be read at UW’s American Heritage Center.