Two Paths of Analysing Totalitarianism in Europe. The Crises of Mankind in Kurt Wolff and Guglielmo Ferrero
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The debate on the totalitarian phenomenon was started by European scholars from diverse intellectual backgrounds who produced analysis and interpretive models in the 1930s and 1940s, often transforming their own personal and historical experience into a laboratory of ideas. This is the route taken by prominent interpretors of sociology of knowledge, like Karl Mannheim and his student Kurt Wolff. In 1930s Italy, Guglielmo Ferrero was among those scholars who warned of the ethical crises affecting society and politics. His intellectual work is focused on understanding the condition of modern man between wars and totalitarian regimes, but also the fears and contradictions that torment human beings in any context where a sense of limit is lost. From this starting point, this paper aims to highlight how Ferrero reflects on the totalitarian crises showing passages that recall Mannheim’s view of social totality and his criticism of a policy that is incapable of being a project of sharing. The paths undertaken by the authors allow us to shine a light on different European perspectives on totalitarianism.