By studying the theoretical and empirical work of agricultural economists in pre-World War I and interwar Italy, this article shows that agrarianism was a general paradigm shared across the Italian political spectrum by different political families. Originating in the agricultural crisis of the late nineteenth century, agrarianism was understood differently by different political groups, so that its political meaning changed over time, while the underlying economic principles remained stable. The "democratic agrarianism" of the first two decades of the twentieth century-an effort to increase the number of owner-farmers in the name of the "social utility" of land-evolved into the "productivist agrarianism" of the fascistperiod, when the regime tried to reconcile under a technocratic leadership the contrast between social issues and land productivity. It declared peasant farmers a protected category of subjects, and put the development of Italian agriculture under the tutelage of the state and its bureaucratic structure.
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