WHEN one sees the building of new structures, when hammers and concrete mixers flash and turn, the occasion is not one in which to ask the superintendent his opinion about the plays of Bernard Shaw or to expect the architect to babble discursively on the subject of his preferences between the mountains and the seashore as ...mer playgro...
It is absurd to suppose that I and my life can be separated from that which I have been doing and am doing. The creation of the Fascist State and the passing of the hungry moments from sunrise to the deep profundity of night, with its promise of another dawn avaricious for new labors, cannot be picked apart. I am lock-stitched into this fabric. It and myself are woven into one. Other men may find romance in the fluttering of the leaves on a bough; to me, whatever I might have been, destiny and myself have made me one whose eyes, ears, all senses, all thoughts, all time, all energy must be directed at the trunk of the tree of public life.
The poetry of my life has become the poetry of construction. The romance in my existence has become the romance of measures, policies and the future of a state. These, to me, are redolent with drama.
Armies of Words That Never Return
SO IT is that I see, as I look back over nearly six years of leadership, the solution of problems, each of them a chapter in my life, a chapter in the life of my country. A chapter, long or short, simple or complex in the history of the advance and experimentation and pioneering of mankind.
I am not concerned deeply because I am misunderstood. It is more or less trivial that conspiracies go on to misinterpret and, indeed, to misrepresent in full, what I have sought and why I have sought it. After all, I have been too busy to hear the murmurs of liars.
He who looks back over his shoulder toward those who lag and those who lie is a waster; it is because I cannot write my lifemy daily life, my active life, my thinking life, and even my own peculiar emotional lifewithout recording the steps I have taken to renew Italy and find a new place for her in the general march of civilization that I call up one after another the recollection of my recent battles with measures which submerge men, with policies which bury under their simplicity and weight everything else I might have lived.
Two fields of my will and action, of my thoughts, my conclusions, stand out as I write and as I record my life itself.
I think of all of them in terms of utter simplicity, stripped of complex phrases. I have seen the futility of those who speak endlessly streams of words. These words are like armies enlisted forever to go away into the night, never to return from a campaign where the enemies are compromise with principle, cowardice, inaction and idealism without realism.
A New Spirit
THERE are those, no doubt, who regard me or have once regarded me as an enemy to the peace of the world. To them there is nothing to say unless to recommend to them my biography for careful reading. Facts are worth more than the accusation of fools.
From the first I wanted to renovate from the bottom to top the foreign policy of Italy. Let it be remembered that I was fully conscious always of the history and the economic and spiritual possibilities of my country in its relation to the world. Such a renovation, such a remaking of policy was absolutely new for us. It was destined to meet serious preconceptions and misconceptions before it would be clearly understood and appreciated, not only by Italians but by those responsible for the foreign policies of various nations.
I was fully aware that a new spiritone of new austerity and dignityimposed by me as to every large and small action of my ministry might create the impression that I wanted to fight to a finish old international political tradition, organization, and existing alliances and the status quo.
What an error ! To inaugurate a firm stand does not mean to revolutionize the course of international dealings. To demand a better appraisal of Italy in accordance with a correct audit of our possibilities as a powerful and prolific nation was only to reestablish our just position.
My problem was to open the eyes of the responsible elements in the various European governments and chancelleries. They had gone on rather blindly considering Italy in its unstable position after the war.
To open these eyes, sometimes with vigorous call to attention, was not always easy. I spent months and years in bringing about a realization abroad that Italys foreign policy had no tricks in it. It was always straight-going and swerved not. It was always vigilant. It was based on accurate measurement of facts, squarely faced, and it demanded equally that others should measure facts. This understanding has contributed, naturally, to bringing Italy higher in the horizon of the worlds eternal dawn of new events.
A speech on foreign policy pronounced by me in the Italian Senate in the spring of 1928, reviewed all our national and international situation and the part that Italy has had in the many little or great events of world life. It set forth a clear review of my work. It summarized the concrete success obtained by my ministry. It brought out that we had correctly insisted upon new appraisals of Italys part in the world.
But before reaching this concrete and tangible result, let no one believe that the steps were light and easy. I knew well enough how many would look toward Rome with suspicion, as if it were an irresponsible center of disturbance.
Enemies of our country and of Fascism tried in every way in their power to strengthen, in bad faith, with twisted interpretations and by false news, all the errors of foreign judgments of what I was trying to do.
But truth usually comes along behind any simple, clear policy and overcomes the obliquity, the conventional mentality, the spirit of opportunism and the lie-barking of yesterdays.
There is no country in the world where foreign policy, carefully carved out and approved by the nation, is not subject to internal attack based on ignorance or bad faith. Therefore it was no surprise to me to find that when I had already calmed the internal political situation and had established for us the main points of the general policy of Italy within and without, there were those who began an offensive of criticism.
One of them was Count Sforza, who, in October, 1922, was in Paris as the Italian Ambassador.
Starting a New Foreign Policy
THAT man had tied his name to the Adriatic situationhumiliating for our nation.
When in Italy were maturing events of historic character, homesickness for lost power made him a bad servant of his own country. He even went to the point of trying to create difficulties for the Fascist Government in the French capital. Already political groups there were unfavorable to any new solidarity in Italy. Count Sforza at once began to criticize openly my declaration on foreign and internal policy, my political method and my conception of Fascist Italy.
I sent him a telegram and this is what I said :
I MUST INTERPRET AS A NOT QUITE AMIABLE AND RATHER AN AWKWARD GESTURE, YOUR DECISION TO GIVE YOUR RESIGNATION BEFORE HAVING OFFICIALLY KNOWN MY ORDERS AS TO FOREIGN POLICY, WHICH I WILL DISCLOSE IN THE CHAMBER OF PARLIAMENT; ORDERS THAT WILL NOT BE MERELY A SUM OF SENTIMENTS AND RESENTMENTS, AS YOU WRONGLY THINK. I BID YOU NOW FORMALLY TO KEEP YOUR PLACE AND NOT CREATE DIFFICULTIES FOR THE GOVERNMENT. IN THIS MOMENT THE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTS THE HIGHEST EXPRESSION OF THE NATIONAL CONSCIENCE. I AM WAITING FOR A TELEGRAPHIC ANSWER AND I RESERVE MY LATER DECISION AS TO YOU
To this telegram Count Sforza made an elusive answer. So I called him to Rome, and after some explanations, revealing our two minds in perfect antithesis, I relieved him of office and dismissed him from his place. It was time that the central authority should no longer be debated by those who occupied interior positions. Italian political life needs command and organization and discipline. Our representatives abroad were sometimes shown to have a cold, isolated, autonomous life, far from their first duties toward their country.
This first strong gesture of mine was a clear signal; it undoubtedly served as an example and admonition for many others of our diplomatic representatives who tried to withdraw themselves, with subjective attitudes, from the supreme authority of the state.
Having closed this parenthesis of our diplomacy, I dedicated all my energies to the solution of those political problems which determined our future. I found facing me a situation already distorted, and prejudiced by the crass errors of preceding governments. I found a series of peace treaties, though in some parts full of defects, nevertheless as a whole constituting an inevitable state of fact to be squarely met.
In Italy, still palpitating and open, was the wound of the Rapallo Treaty with Jugo-Slavia. I wanted to medicate that and heal it. On the delicate ground of treaties I explained my position and suggestions in a speech about foreign policy delivered at the Chamber, November 16, 1922.
I said then, as I always say, that treaties, whether bad or good, must be carried out. A respectable nation can have no other program. But treaties are neither eternal nor irreparable. They are chapters of history, not epilogues of history.
Speaking of foreign policy in relation to the different groups of powers, I summarized my thoughts with this definition : We cannot allow ourselves either a plan of insane altruism or one of complete subservience to the plans of the other peoples. ... Ours is a policy of autonomy, then. It shall be firm and severe.
In November, 1922, I met, at Lausanne, Poincaré of France and Curzon of Great Britain. Let it be said that I reëstablished then and there, on my first personal contact with the Allies, our equality. There were some clear and precise interviews; some went on to a rather vivacious tune.
For the time had come when Italy should enter with its record of sacrifice and with the weight of its history into an equality of standing in the discussions of international character, side by side with England and France.
During my brief stay at Lausanne I held conferences also with the Foreign Minister of Rumania and with Mr. Richard Washburn Child, ambassador of the United States in Rome and chief of the United States delegation at the Conference. I eliminated also the question of the Dodecanese.
To sum up my trip to Switzerland, these were the results :
First, we made clear to foreign diplomats the new prestige of Italy.
Second, we gave examples of our new style in foreign policy at the moment of initiating a direct contact between myself and responsible diplomats of the world.
In December of that year I made other important declarations to the Council of the Ministers about our foreign affairs. I examined again the Treaty of Rapallo. I began a solution of the problems of Fiume and Dalmatia, making that solution fit in with the situation that had been created by the preceding treaties to which I had fallen heir. For the second time I met Lord Curzon, and then on to London, where I stayed for several days. On that occasion I was received by the most generous hospitality and found that I was listened to with respect by the English political world.
The Economic Aspect
ALREADY the question of the Allies debts was on the table. I had discussed this with Mr. Child and the British ambassador in Rome. I had a plan that I do not hesitate to claim was one of the most effecatious for the solution of that problem. My plan aroused a certain interest among the Allies, but some divergencies of a secondary character, and particularly design of France to occupy the Ruhr, killed that which in my opinion was the most logical solution of the debts question, combined with the problem of the German reparations. That was a solution which might have permit a quick and powerful renewal of world economy.
Before me always in my foreign policy is the economic aspect of international problems. That was why, in 1923, I concluded a series of commercial treaties, with political background, with a number of nations. It amuses me to be called an antipacifist, in light of our record of treaty making for peace and for smooth international dealing.
These commercial treaties were very helpful in settling our economic position. In February of 1923 I signed the Italian-Swiss treaty, concluded in Zurich; I ratified the Washington treaty for the Limitation on the Naval Armaments. Other commercial treaties were concluded with Czecho-Slovakia, with Poland, with Spain, and finally with France. I took the first steps to renew commercial relations with Soviet Russia.
Our record in international affairs indicates a sleepless vigilance to build peace and make friends. More peace, more friends. We yield nothing of our autonomy, nor do we allow our power to be used as pawn by others. We are idealists in the sense that we endeavor to make and keep peace by building and maintaining, brick by brick, stone by stone, a structure of peace, founded on realities rather than on dreams and visionary plans. I have insisted upon being strong, but I have labored to be generous.
For an efficient foreign service the world requires some housecleaning in its diplomatic machinery. It has grown stale and overmanned and bureaucratic and filled with feeble, petty conspiracies for place and promotion.
I began then in the reorganization of our consulates, an elimination of foreign functionaries. That work was long and widespread, because it was necessary to rebuild our old consular organization; this renovation, complex as were its problems, was completed with unswerving insistence.
A Demand Enforced
IN THE midst of this complex task of foreign policy and machinery, and while I was studying the solution of the Adriatic problem, there came the news that the Italian Military Mission to Albania had been treacherously ambushed on a road and massacred in its entirety by bandits from the border.
In this tragic happening there were wiped out brave Gen. Enrico Tellini, Surgeon Major Luigi Corte, Artillery Lieutenant Mario Bonacini and a soldier, Farneti. The Italian Military Mission went to Albania, together with other foreign missions, with a well-defined task, laid out by definite international agreements. The offense to Italy and to the Italian name hit the sensibilities of Italy squarely in the face. History furnishes other examples of such outrages and it points to accepted standards. I made myself the interpreter of the righteous wrath of Italians everywhere. I sent, at once, an ultimatum to Greece.
I demanded apologies. I demanded payment of fifty million lira as indemnity.
Greece gave us a deaf ear. Pretexts and excuses met my request. There was an attempt by Greece to find allies to aid her to slide away from my demands. I would not play that base game. Without hesitation I sent units of our naval squadron to the Greek island of Corfu. There the Italian marines landed. At the same time I sent a note to the powers. The League of Nations declared itself incompetent to solve and judge the incident. I continued the occupation of Corfu, declaring clearly that Italy would withdraw from the League if we could not obtain there a satisfactory attitude. This was not a matter of insult by words; it concerned the lives of Italian officers and soldiers. It was impossible to believe that I could allow the turning over of this tragic page with nothing more than some bureaucratic gesture.
There has been so much misrepresentation and nonsense as to this outrage and the settlement of our demands that I may do well to state the simple facts which any school child can understand and digest.
The case, when brought for judgment to the Conference of the Ambassadors, obtained, as was to be expected, a favorable verdict for the Italian position.
Greece gave me all the satisfaction that I had asked. The indemnity was paid. I offered ten millions of this indemnity to the Greek refugees. Thereafter, having obtained full satisfaction, I recalled the squadron from Corfu. The book was shut.
But that month was indeed one of tragic happenings. The new Fascist style of foreign policy had satisfied the sensibility of all the Italians, but I admit that it had hurt the feelings of many foreign elements, which saw in my foreign policy an uncommon form, disturbing to many and preventing plans contrary to the rights of Italy. I allowed nothing to swerve me. I made important declarations to the Senate, both as to the Greek incident and on the question of Fiume. I said then that the most painful inheritance of our foreign policy was Fiume, but that, anyway, I was treating with Jugoslavia to solve, with the slightest possible damage, the very grave Adriatic situation inherited as a consequence of the Treaty of Rapallo.
The Senate approved my policies and my acts.
In January, 1924, I was able, at last, to conclude with Pasic, the great Serb statesman, and with Nincic, the Jugoslav Minister, a new treaty between Italy and our neighbor. As a consequence of this treaty Fiume became Italian. Other moves, continued in 1925, brought to signature the Nettuno Conventions, which regulated all the relations of good neighborhood between the two states. It remains for Jugoslavia to ratify.
At the end of all this diplomatic work on a wide field we definitely lost Dalmatia, we lost cities sacred to Italy by the history and the soul of the populations which live in them. These had been assured us by the Pact of London. No better settlement was possible than the one that I, with the good will and the eagerness that I and Pasic and Nincic put into the negotiations, was able to draw up.
Though there is no Jugoslavian ratification of the Nettuno Conventions, our borders are well guarded and sure. Jugoslavia may show its goodwill; in any case, we now calmly can look into the eyes of our troubled neighbor.
On the Border
THE foreign program in 1924 obtained in the Senate three hundred and fifteen favorable votes against six, and twenty-six absent. In December of that same year I had an interview with Chamberlain, new Foreign Minister of the British Empire. In the many events of international character I have always found him a friend of Italy and of Italians.
In 1925 I had to undergo a lively struggle with the government of Afghanistan. In the capital of that distant country had been slain, as a consequence of some events of internal character, one of our countrymen, an engineer, Piperno, who had gone there to work and study. The Afghan Government refused to pay an indemnity to the family of Piperno.
I had to send something of a demand. Though there was a definite claim for satisfaction, I did not close the door to resuming good friendship with a distant state, and indeed, later the King of Afghanistan, in Rome, had the warmest and most sympathetic of receptions.
The clouds come and pass away, and new clouds come into our skies. A new cloud showed in the anti-Italian propaganda laid down by Germans in the region of our Eastern border.
In February, 1926, when the Fascist policy had made its justice, burden and strength felt in the mixed-population zone of the High Adige, I had to speak clearly as to the problem of our relations with those Germans behind the Brenner Pass. I made two straight-from-the-shoulder speeches that shook many a timid and self-conscious plotter or sentimentalist. These are not practiced in the habits of a school of courage and strength. I dismissed on that occasion another ambassador, Bosdari, who, in the center of an event as significant as was this concerning deeply the relations between the Italian and the German people, was not able to behave as we might expect an ambassador of a power like Italy to behave.
The frank speech that I made on that occasionit was cut from the same cloth as that I used on a similar circumstance against the policy of Seipel, Premier of Austriaundoubtedly cleared our relations with the German population behind the borders.
This question of the High Adige, however, was framed in a wide vision of our relations with all other states. It was just at that time that I had a series of important interviews with the Bulgarian, Polish, Greek, Turkish and Rumanian foreign ministers.
Thanks, then, to this intense political rhythm, Rome every day became more and more a center of attraction for important political activities and exchange. The loyal character of my foreign policy, followed and appreciated by all Italians, has given Italy more consideration from other nations.
Loyal policy is the one which scores the greatest success. Ambiguities and vagueness are not of my temperament, and consequently they are strangers to any policy of mine. I feel that I can speak with firmness and dignity, because I have behind me a people which, having fulfilled the duties, now have sacred rights to defend, for which to demand respect.
I have sent forth messages of brotherhood and faith to the Italians who live beyond our borders; I did not give them the name of emigrants, because in the past this word has had a humiliating meaning, and it seemed in some way to designate an inferior category of men and women. I have been able, I am glad to say, to protect my countrymen without hurting the susceptibilities of other peoples. This protection is founded on international law and good sense in all exchanges between nations.
Italy on its part has conceded the greatest hospitality to all those who, for business, for religious faith, for pleasure, or even for curiosity, have wanted to visit our soil. I have taught Italians to respect appropriately foreign representatives in our country; it is never admissible, in fact, that diplomatic controversies can be twisted or troubled by angry popular demonstrations against embassies or consulates. Such disorders belong to an old democratic habit which Fascismo has clearly outgrown. There have been delicate moments in Italian affairs during which resentment and protests might easily have been exhibited. I have always held these protests within the limits of Fascist dignity, though often they have been exaggerated in the foreign press. This is no little task, even for one who has imposed upon himself the task of giving order and discipline to the Italian people.
The foreign policy of Italy, directed by me, has been simple, understandable, and rests on these main points.
The Main Points
First, mine is a policy of peace. It is Founded not upon words, gestures and mere paper transactions, but comes from an elevated national prestige and from a whole network of agreements and treaties which cement harmony between peoples.
Secondly, I have not made any specific alliances with the great powers. Instead I have negotiated a series of treaties which show a clear and decisive will to assure to Italy a prosperity in its relations with all nations, especially with those of great historical importance such as England.
Nor have I failed to work out a whole series of treaties with minor powers, so that Italian influence could have its part in general progress. Albania is one case. Hungary and Turkey are others. To assure harmony on the Mediterranean I have established accords with Spain; to make possible a greater development of our industries and of our foreign trade, I resumed independent commercial relations with Russia.
Stupid, indeed, are those who fail to see that I have taken a serene, respectful attitude, but not a humble one. The League of Nations and some of the diplomacy inspired by the Locarno Treaty are witnesses of that. I made reservations, after meditated discussions and because of my grounded beliefs as to the pacts of disarmament; I noticed some absurdities in them.
I have bettered and completed the consular organization and I have put in it a series of new elements born and grown with Fascism. They have suffered the passion of the war and the passion of our rebirth. In the meantime I did not fail to bring Fascism also to our colonies; I wanted to extend the standards which demanded discipline and insured full harmony for all Italian initiatives. These must be concentrated from now on in the representative of our policies.
A sense of new life and pride fills not only the Italians in Italy but all our countrymen scattered about the world. Italy now enjoys the respect of those nations which evolve and put into effect world policy.
Developing the Colonies
My colonial policy has simple affinity with my foreign policy. Even taking into consideration the virtues of our colonizing peoples, even remembering all the fine human material we have given for the development of entire regions of the African and American worlds, before the war and after, we had failed to realize the potential possibilities for our colonial program. We had failed to bring it to vigor and fruitfulness. We missed then that legitimate satisfaction which should have come to us from right and from duty fulfilled during and after the war.
Colonial development would not have been for us merely a logical consequence of our population problem, but would have constituted a formula of solution for our economic situation. Even now, at this distance of ten years from the war, this situation has to find its full solution. Our colonies are few, and not all open to extensive improvement. Eritrea, which is the first of our colonies, has not had any change. Somaliland has been augmented by British Giubaland, following a diplomatic accord.
Lately, thanks to the wise policies of Governor De Vecchi, we have pacified all Somaliland, and considerable Italian capital is moving toward that colony of ours, to be used in definite objects and to give work to Italian labor. The Lybian colonywhich includes Cyrenaica and Tripolitaniawas reduced during the war to the occupation of the coast and some of the principal cities. Fascism, assuming the power, found grave conditions. These also have been cleared up. Our policy of military occupation, and, of course, of economic penetration, has assured us the full and uncontested domination of Cyrenaica as far as Giarabub, and of Tripolitania as far as the border recognized by treaties of international character.
There is a great fervor of rebirth in both colonies. Tripoli has become one of the most beautiful Mediterranean cities. A congress of medical men has called it a health resort. We have found water for the city and water in the hills for irrigation. I made a visit to the zone of Tripoli, and that gave me the conviction as to all the possibilities for improvement that can be given the entire colony. There are zones in Garian which can compete in production and fertility with the better zones of Southern Italy. The same can be said about the high plain of Cyrenaica. In this last region I have abolished a curious form of parliament created by the weakness of our former governments. Now the governors enjoy complete influence and a responsibility for the welfare of natives and Italians. These regions are pacified. Immigration continues to go there. Capital goes; laborers go.
These two colonies alone cannot solve our population problem. Mark this well. But with good will and with the typical colonizing qualities of Italians, we can give value to two regions which were owned by Rome and which must grow to the greatness of their past and contribute to the new and great expanding possibilities of our general economic progress.
Into these labors to rebuild Italys peaceful position before the world, and to develop as duty dictates every colonial possibility which may help to solve our population problems, I have put my days and some of my sleepless nights.
But it would be absurd to suppose that life was quite as easy for me as to allow me to stop with international and colonial questions.
Let us turn to the amazing and dramatic financial situation.
A leader of the Liberal Party in Parliament, Peano, six months before the March on Rome, had defined the deficit of our budget by a figure of more than six billions !
The financial situation was then, according even to the declaration of our opponents, desperately serious. I knew what a difficult inheritance I had received. It had come down to me as a legacy from the errors and weaknesses of those who had preceded me. I well understood, in fact, that with such an important leak in the hull of the ship of state, any great voyage of progress would have been impossible. Finance was, then, one of the most delicate and urgent problems to be solved, if I wanted to rebuild and elevate our credit abroad and at home.
There were many demands due and waiting; the necessity of turning the printing presses to the production of new paper money had been evoked to drive down and down the value of Italian currency. An irresponsible and demagogic policy had been followed which brought about complex makeshifts. These not only altered the soundness of the budget but also were undermining all our economic life and the whole efficiency of the state.
I had to give a smashing blow to useless expenditures and to those who sought tribute from the treasury. I had to rake up tax slackers. I had to establish severest economy in every branch of state administration. I had to put a brake on the endless increase of employes. Furthermore, the obligation of settling our debts with foreign powers was staring me in the face. Even if our resources were limited, this supreme act of wisdom and honesty had to be performed.
An Aid to the Family
It goes without discussion that, for the states as for individual citizens, when a debt has been signed and acknowledged it has to be paid, and faith has to be kept as to undertaken obligations.
For this work I picked a capable man; I appointed as Minister of Finance the Honorable De Stefani, a Fascist and a doctor in political economy. He was able to curtail expenses, repress abuses and create new sources of revenue and taxes; in this way the budget was almost balanced within two years.
I demobilized all the economic organization left over from wartime; I eliminated the useless bureaucracy of the new provinces, still burdened by the debts and indemnities of war. I settled all these with an issue of bonds quickly subscribed.
Before starting a policy of severe economy I wanted to do full justice to the invalids of the war. I fixed, with special privileges and without economy, the obligations that the state was to assume in their favor and in favor of the orphans and widows of those who died in battle. After having repaired in this way a cruel wrong and fulfilled a duty toward those who had given their lives and their blood to the country, it was easy for me to strike at certain forms of exaggerated and sudden richness derived from war profits. There is no doubt that I have been very harsh in this matter. But why not ? These unjust pocketbook advantages represented an offense to those who for the war had suffered not only in misery or death but also in money and property losses.
While acting in a way to eliminate all that burdened the economy and finance of the state, I tried to promote individual production to the greatest degree. I had to respect honestly accumulated wealth and make everybody understand the value, not only economic but also moral, of inheritance transmittable in families. Because of this, though I had approved a tax reform of great importance, I restored many basic rights, such as the right of succession.
It was made clear that I would never approve subjecting inheritance to a taxation which had almost assumed a socialistic character of expropriation. Interference with succession strikes a blow at the institution of the family. I aroused controversies, but at last my decision was understood and accepted by the people.
Out of the Hole
Who knows better than I that the discipline of the Italian people had been worthy of my admiration and the respect of the world ? We have no great natural resources. Nevertheless, our citizens subjected themselves to a taxation pressure in such a way that toward the end of 1924 Minister De Stefani was able not only to announce to the Chamber the balancing of our budget but also to foresee a surplus of one hundred and seventy millions for the fiscal year 1925-26.
I consider the cornerstone of all governmental policies is a wise and strong financial policy. So now, supported by the soundness of the budget, this was an accomplished fact. The state, by its ability and the disciplined patience of Italian taxpayers, was able to face all its obligations, to liquidate its liabilities and, in 1925 and 1926, to discuss with Washington and London the complex problems of war debts.
We were out of the hole.
We did not stop with the central government.
The state, self-assured, with its finances reordered, now, by the strength of its example, was able to give precise rules for restoration of the finance of the self-governing units in communes and provinces.
But even that was not enough; we had to review the financial position of many a corporation or industry. Generally this included all those industries which were quoted on the stock exchange.
By one of those phenomena of national and international speculations which are not infrequent in modern life, many stocks of our industries, and even government bonds, had risen to figures which were hyperbolical and inconceivable if one considered the relation that should exist between the value of our lira and its purchasing power in regard to gold.
Even in Italy, a wise and honest country, in which excessive speculation was never rampant and the stock exchange was never the object of excessive and unchecked interest from any class of citizens, there arose a madness for stock-e and to limit the activities of the exchanges. It was necessary to take really serious measures. These, of course, would run
(Continued on Page 80); unfortunately, a few pages are missing from this copy of The Saturday Evening Post.
AMID the innovations and experiments of the new Fascist civilization, one interests the whole world; it is the corporative organization of the state.
Let me assert at once that, before reaching this form of state organization that I now consider rounded out, the steps taken have been long, the research, analysis and discussion have been exhaustive. Experience and tests have been full of lessons.
Practical reality itself has been the navigator. First of all, we must remember that the corporative organization is not born from a desire to create merely juridical institutions; in my opinion, it arose from special necessities of the Italian situation in particular, and in general of any situation where there is economic restriction, and where traditions of work and production are not yet developed by experience and time. Italy, in its first half of a century of united political renaissance, has seen classes struggling with one another, one armed against the other, motivated not only by a desire to overcome the other in political control but also in the struggle for the limited resources that our surface soil and what was beneath it might put at the disposal of those who were interested in work and production.
Opposed to a directing middle class there was another class which I shall call, for more easy reference, proletarian. It was influenced by Socialists and anarchists in eternal and never-ending struggle with the directing class.
Every year there was a general strike; every year the fertile Po Valley, for an instance, was subject to periodical agitations which imperiled crops and all production. Against the humane sense of harmony, which should be a duty among citizens of the same fatherland, there was a chronic struggle of interests, egged on by the professional Socialists, the syndicalist organizers, against a middle class that persisted in its position of negation and Messianic expectation. Civil life did not move a step forward on the way of decisive betterment.
Through Class Consciousness and Misunderstanding
A COUNTRY like ours, which has no rich resources in the earth, which has half of its area represented by mountains, cannot have great economic possibilities. If, then, the citizens become naturally quarrelsome, if classes have a tendency to contend in order to annihilate one another, civil life has none of that rhythm necessary to develop a modern people. The liberal and democratic state, in face of upsettings, recurrent, every year and even at every season, kept itself on an agnostic ground, selecting a characteristic slogan, Neither reaction nor revolution, as if this phrase had a precise or, indeed, any meaning whatever.
It was necessary to emerge from a base, cloddish habit of the competition of class and to put aside hates and ires. After the war, especially with the subversive propaganda of Lenin, ill will had reached perilous proportions. Usually agitations and strikes were accompanied by fights, and there were dead and wounded men. The people went back to work with souls full of hate against the class of the masters which, right or wrong, was considered so idiotically lacking in vision that it surpassed in this regard any other middle class in the world. Between the peasants and the rising industry of urban centers there was also a phenomenon of noticeable misunderstanding. All our life was dominated by demagogy. Everyone was disposed to tolerate, to pretend to understand, to grant something to the violence of the crowd. But after every incident of disorder a new situation promised another and more difficult problem of conflict.
It was necessary, in my opinion, to create a political atmosphere which would allow men in government to have some manner of courage, to speak harsh truths, to affirm rights, only after having exacted duties, and to impose, if it was necessary, these duties. Liberalism and democracy were only attempted remedies of milk-and-water character; they exhausted their energies in the halls of parliaments. Leading agitation were employes of the staterailroad men and postmenand troublesome elements. The authority of the state was a kitten handled to death. In such a situation mere pity and tolerance would have been criminal. Liberalism and democracy, which had abdicated their duty at every turn, utterly failed to appraise and adjust the rights and duties of the various classes in Italian life. Fascism has done it !
A System of Economic Prophecy
THE fact is that five years of harmonious work have transformed in its essential lines the economic life and, in consequence, the political and moral life of Italy. Let me add that the discipline that I have imposed is not a forced discipline; it is not born of preconceived ideas, does not obey the selfish interests of categories and of classes. Our discipline has one vision and one endthe welfare and the good name of the Italian nation.
The discipline that I have imposed is enlightened discipline. The humble classes, because they are more numerous and perhaps deserve more solicitude, are nearest to my heart of responsible leader. I have seen the men from the countryside in the trenches, and I have understood how much the nation owes to the healthy people of calloused hand. On the other hand, our industrial workers have their typical character of sobriety, geniality, resistance, which feeds the pride of one who must rule and lead a people. The middle Italian class, too, including the rural, is much better than its reputation. Our problems arise from the variety and diversities among various economic interests, which does make difficult the formation of great national categories of producers. However, none of the producing Italian categories can be rated as vampires, as they were rated in the superficial terminology of the old Socialist demagogy. The state is no longer an agnostic when it confronts facts and interests of the various classes. Not only does it abolish struggle but it tries to find out the origin of clash and conflicts. By statistics and the help of studious men, we now are able to give a definition of what will be the great issues of tomorrow. In the meantime, with the intervention not only of the government but of the consultative bodies locally organized, we can know precisely what are to be the outlines of the productive programs of tomorrow.
I have wanted the Fascist government above all to take good care of social legislation needed to carry out our part of agreed international programs for industry and for those who bear the future of industry. I think that Italy is advanced beyond all the European nations; in fact, it has ratified the laws for the eight-hour day, for obligatory insurance, for regulation of the work of women and children, for assistance and benefit, for after-work diversion and adult education, and, finally, for obligatory insurance against tuberculosis. All this shows how in every detail in the world of labor I stand by the Italian working classes. All that was possible to do without doing an injury to the principle of solidity in our economy, I have set out to do, from the minimum wage to continuity of employment, from insurance against accidents to the indemnity against illness, from income for old age to the proper regulation of military service. There is little which social-welfare studies have appraised as practical for national economy or as wise for social happiness which has not already been advanced by me. I want to give to every man and woman so generous an opportunity that work will be done, not as a pain but as a joy of life. But even such a complex program cannot be said to equal the creation of corporativism. Nor can corporativism equal something even larger. Beyond corporativism, beyond the states labors, is Fascism, harmonizer and dominator of the Italian life, standing as the inspiration.
A Pillar of the Constitution
SOME months after the march on Rome, I insisted on the ratification of the law for an eight-hour day. All the masses which had seen in the legislative policy of Fascism a friend gave their approval to national syndicalism. Instead of the old professional syndicates, we substituted Fascist corporations. In a meeting of December 19, 1923, I had occasion to affirm that : Peace within is primarily a task of government. The government has a clear outline of conduct. Public order must never be troubled for any reason whatsoever. That is the political side. But there is also the economic side; it is one of collaboration. There are other problems, such as the one of exportation. I remind Italian industry of these principles. Until now it has been too individualistic. The old system and old ways must be abandoned.
A little further on I said : Over all conflicts of human and legitimate interests there is the authority of the government. The government alone is in the right position to see things under the aspect of the general welfare. This government is not at the disposition of this man or those men; it is over everybody, because it takes to itself not only the juridical conscience of the nation in the present but also all that the nation represents for the future. The government has shown that it values at the highest the productive strength of the nation. A government which follows these principles has the right to be listened to by everyone. It has a task to fulfill. It will do it. It will do it inexorably for the defense of the moral and material interests of the nation.
There were abandoned, little by little, the old labor structure and associations. We were directed more and more toward the corporative conception of the state. I did not want to take away from labor one of its holidays, and I fixed, instead of the first of May, which had foreign origins and a print of Socialist internationalism, a gay and glorious date in Italian lifeApril twenty-first, the birthday of Rome. Rome is a city which has given legislation to the world. The Roman law is still the text which rules the relations of civil life. To celebrate a labor day, I could not have selected a more suggestive and worthy date.
To bring into reality in a precise coordination all the provisions that I undertook and that Fascism and the corporations had brought about in all their complexity, I made the Great Council approve a document. I do not hesitate to declare it of historical character; it is the Labor Charter.
It is composed of thirty paragraphs; each of them contains a fundamental truth. From the presupposition of productionnecessity, above all, for productionarises the need of an equitable sharing of products, for the requirement of the judgment of tribunals in case of discord and, finally, protective legislation.
That document has been welcomed by all Italian classes. The labor magistrature represents, in its consecration to duty, something worthy of a strong state, in contrast to the cloudy aspirations in the misty realms of high-sounding liberalism, democracy and communistic fantasy. The framing and realization were the tasks of Fascism. Old men of the Socialist and syndical poses and postures, seeing the daring new reform, were amazed and perplexed. Another legend fell down; Fascism was not the protector of any class whatsoever, but a supreme regulator of the relations between all citizens of a state. The Labor Charter found interpreters and attracted the attention of the studious in every part of the world. It became a formidable pillar of the new constitution of the Fascist state.
As a logical consequence of the Charter of Labor and of all the social legislation and of the magistrature of labor, came the necessity of instituting the corporations. In this institution there are concentrated all the branches of national production. Work in all its complex manifestations and in its breadth both as to manual and as to intellectual work requires equal protection and nourishment. The citizen in the Fascist state is no longer a selfish individual to whom is given the antisocial right of rebelling against any law of the collectivity. The Fascist state, with its corporative conception, puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets the duties they have to fulfill.
In this new conception, which has found its logical expression in our representative forms, the citizen is valuable because of his production, his work and his thought, and not only because he is twenty-one years old and has the right to vote.
In the corporative state are reflected all national activities. It was logical that syndicalistic organizations should become a part, also, of the new representative institutions. From this need, imposed by the new political and social reality, arose the reform of national political representation. Not only does this new political directorate select its candidates in relation to their capabilities and the numbers of citizens represented but it is complemented by the selection and valuation dedicated by the Great Fascist Council to creating the best, the most stable, the most truly representative and the most expert national board of directors.
We have solved a series of problems of no little entity and importance. We have abolished all the perennial troubles and disorder and doubt that poisoned our national soul. We have given a rhythm, a law and a protection to work. We have found in the collaboration of classes the reason for our possibilities, for our future power. We do not lose time in troubles, in strikes, which, while they vex the spirit, imperil also our own strength and the solidity of our economy. We consider conflict as a luxury for the rich. We must save strength. We have exalted work as productive strength; therefore we have the majority of these elements represented in the legislative body, and this body is a more worthy and a stronger helmsman of Italian life.
And capital is not exiled, as in the Russian communistic dream; we consider it an increasingly important actor in the drama of production.
In this, my autobiography, I have emphasized more than once the fact that I have always tried to weave the character of an organic and coherent structure into all the fabric of my political work. I have not confined myself to giving merely an outward veneer or contour to Italian life; I wished to influence the depths of its spirit. I founded my labor on facts and the real conditions of the Italian people; from such realistic activity I drew valuable lessons. I have been able to give useful immediate results looking toward a new future of our country.
Preparing for a New Life
ONE of the reforms which I have promoted, following it closely in all its successive developments, is the reorganization of schools. This has been called the Gentile reform, from the name of the Minister of Public Instruction, appointed by me immediately following the march on Rome. The gravity and importance of school problems cannot escape the attention of any modern statesman mindful of the destiny of his people. The school must be considered in all its complete expression. Public schools, intermediate schools, university institutionsall exercise a profound influence on the trend, moral and economic, of the life of any nation. From the beginning this has always been on my mind. Perhaps my early experience as a school-teacher added to an inescapable interest in youth and its development. In Italy there were traditions of higher culture, but the public school had degraded because of deficiency of means and, above all, because of lack of spiritual vision.
Although the percentage of illiteracy tended to diminish, even to disappear in certain regions, and particularly in Piedmont, the citizens, however, did not get from the school world those broad bases of educational foundationsphysical, intellectual and moralthat are possible and humane. The intermediate schools were too crowded, because everybody was admitted, even without merit, through endless sessions of examinations which were reduced often to a spiritless formality. We lacked intelligent systems of selection and vocational and educational valuation of individuals.
A mill ground on and on, turning out stock patterns of human beings who mostly ended by taking tasks in bureaucracy. They lowered the function of public service by dead and not by living personnel. Universities created some other puppets in the so-called free arts, as law and medicine.
It was time that the delicate machinery of such consequence in the spiritual life of the nation should be renewed by a precise, definite organic form. We had to crowd out from the intermediate school the negative and supercilious elements. We were determined to infuse into the public school those broad humanistic currents in which our history and our traditions are rich indeed. Finally, it was indispensable to impose a new discipline in education, to which everyone had to submit, and the teachers themselves first of all.
To be sure, teachers draw a very modest wage in Italy, and this is a problem that I have determined will be faced and solved as soon as the condition of the budget will allow. Nevertheless, I cannot admit a limited pinchpenny treatment of education. Niggardly policy is of old and typically liberal and democratic origin. It furnished teachers with a good pretext to perform their duty indifferently and to abandon themselves to subversive thought, even against the state itself. This condition reached a climax in the humiliating fact that many teachers deserted their posts. We had had clamorous examples of such a tendency, not only in the elementary schools but also in some universities.
Fascism put a stop to all this, making discipline supreme; discipline both for the high and for the low; particularly for those who had the supreme ability and high duty of teaching order and discipline, and of maintaining the highest concepts of human service in the various schools of the régime.
Free Schools for the Meritorious
WE HAD an old school law which took its name from Minister Casatia law that had been launched in 1859 and had remained the fundamental law even after the successive retouchings by Ministers Coppino, Daneo and Credaro. We had to renew and refashion it under the ardent will of our party, we had to give it a broad didactic and moral vision, we had to give it a spirit of vital rebirth which would appeal to the new Italy. Great ideas and great revolutions always create the right hour for the solution of many problems. The school problem, which had been dragged on for many decades, has finally received its solution with the Gentile reform. This is not the place to explain the reform in detail. I want to indicate, however, those fundamental lines which I myself discussed and disposed of in a few compact discussions with the Minister of Public Instruction. They can be summarized in the following points :
First. The state furnishes schooling only to those who deserve it because of their merits, and leaves to other initiatives students who are not entitled to a place in the states schools.
This puts on the scrap heap the democratic concept which considered a state school as an institution for everyonea basket into which treasure and waste were piled together. The middle class had considered the school at its service and therefore did not respect it. The demand was only for the greatest indulgence possible, to reach as quickly as they could their merely utilitarian purposes, such as a degree or a perfunctory passing to promotions.
Second. The students of the state schools and of the independent schools find themselves under equal conditions when taking the state examinations before committees appointed by the government.
Thus is encouraged the régime of independent schools analogous to that of England. This régime is advantageous for the Catholics, owners of many schools, but displeases the anti-clericals of old style. It allows me a free development of scholastic initiative outside of the conventional lines.
Third. The state watches over the independent schools and creates a rivalry between independent and state schools which raises the culture and atmosphere of all schools.
Fourth. Admission to the intermediate schools is now made only by examinations. The schools are directed toward a broad humanistic culture, but with a standard of scholarship which eliminates forever the disorder and the easygoing ways of the old democratic schools.
By means of these and other reforms the elementary school comes to have two distinct but coordinated purposes. One is the preparation for the intermediate school, but the other is a high type of broad popular education complete in itself.
The intermediate schools were broadened by means of the following institutions :
Complementary Schools. The abolished technical school, complete in itself, was revived on new lines.
Technical Institutes of higher specialization.
Scientific Lyceum. Still higher, taking the place of the abolished modern lyceum and of the physico-mathematical departments of the technical institute, and preparing the students for the scientific branches of the university.
Teachers Institute. A humanistic and philosophical school taking the place of the old complementary and normal schools.
Womens Lyceum. A general-culture school, and complete in itself.
Classical Lyceum. Is left as before in its essential lines, but augmented by the humanistic character of the studies; to it the task of preparing for most university branches has been assigned. To enter the universities, admission examinations have been instituted. The final examination of intermediate schools of the classical and scientific lyceum has been called maturity examination; all the curricula have been renewed, fitting them for a more modern culture. Latin has been restored in all schools except in the complementary and religious departments of the elementary and intermediate schools.
The New Italian Renaissance
FOR all these different types of institutions an essential rule has been put into practicethat is, every school must be a unit organism, with a set number of classes and students. The candidates may enter through a graduated classification, based on the examinations. Those who are not admitted must go to independent schools.
The applying of this reform, which overthrew the old interests, the old ideas and especially the utilitarian spirit of the populations, aroused an unavoidable spirit of ill feeling. It was used by the opposition press, especially by the Corrière Della Sera, for controversial purposes; but the reform has been put through with energy, directed by me, and has marked the beginning of a real rebirth of the Italian school and of Italian culture.
The reform of the universities has been coordinated with the reforms in the primary and intermediate schools. Its purpose is to divide the university students into different organic institutions without useless overlapping. The rule of state examinations is imposed also for the universities, to which both the students of the state and independent schools can be admitted. The Institute of Libera docenzaauthorities independently attached to certain faculties of the universitieshas also been reformed, not being appointed any longer by the single departments but by central committees in Rome.
During a visit of the delegations of the Fascist university groups, I had the opportunity of declaring that the Gentile reform is the one most revolutionary of all the reforms which we have voted on, because it has completely transformed a condition of things which lasted since 1859.
I was the son of a schoolmistress; I myself had taught in the elementary and secondary schools. I knew, therefore, the school problem. Because of that, I had wished to bring it to its concrete conclusion. The Italian school will take up again its deserved place in the world. From our university chairs true scientists and poets will again illuminate Italian thought, while secondary schools will give technical and executive elements to our population and the public school will create a background of civic education and collective virtues in the masses.
I have willed that, in collaboration with the universities, departments of Fascist economics, of corporative law and a whole series of fruitful institutes of Fascist culture should be created. Thus a purely scholastic and academic world is being penetrated by Fascism, which is creating a new culture through the fervid and complex activity of real, of theoretical and of spiritual experiences.
But, more than the institutes of Fascist universities, closer to my heart is a new institution which has all the new and original marks of the Fascist revolution. It is the national organization of Balilla. Under the name of a legendary little Genoese hero was organized the new generations of children and of youth. These no longer depend, as in the past, upon various playground associations, scattered political schools and accessory formations, but are trained through rigid and gay discipline in gymnastic exercise and in the general rules of a great, well-ordered national life. They are accustomed to obedience and they are made to see a sure vision of the future.
To prove the importance that educational revival has in my mind, I myself gave a lecture at the University of Perugia. It has been pronounced by scholars as an enlargement of the worlds concept of its duty to youth.
Finally, to pay a tribute to culture and to higher culture, and to everyone that, in the field of science, art and letters, has kept high the name of Italy, I have created an Italian academy with a membership of immortals.
The armed forces of the state had fallen into degradation in the years 1919, 1920, 1921. The flower of our race had been pushed aside and humiliated. Conditions even reached the point when the Minister of War in those liberal days had a circular distributed advising officers not to appear in uniform in public and to refrain from carrying arms in order not to be subjected to challenges of gangsters and hoodlums.
This aberrationwhich it is better to pass over quickly for the sake of ones countrywas destined to find its avenger in Fascism. It was one of the factors which created an atmosphere ardent with passion for change. Today the spirit of the country is much different; today the armed forces of the state are justly considered the worthy and honored defense of the nation.
I had a very clear and decisive program, when, in 1922, at the moment. of the march on Rome, I selected as my collaborators the best leaders of the victory of 1918. General Armando Diaz, who, after Vittorio Veneto, had remained aloof in silence, overwhelmed by the difficulty of the moment, and who had been able to voice an indignant protest in the Senate against the policies of Nittis cabinet, had been selected by me as Minister of War. I appointed Admiral Thaon di Revel, the greatest leader of our war on the sea, as Minister of the Navy. On January 6, 1923, General Diaz presented a complete program of reform for the army to the Council of Ministers. That was a historical meeting; fundamental decisions for the renewal of the armed forces were taken, and we were able to declare to the country in a solemn and explicit fashion that, with that meeting, the army was given a new life to accomplish the high mission that had been intrusted to it in the supreme interests of the nation.
I had fulfilled the first promise I had made myself and to the Italian people. Immediately after that I dedicated myself to a reorganization of aviation, which had been abandoned to the most complete decay by the former administrations. The task was not easy; everything had to be done again. The landing fields, the machines, the pilots, the organizers and the technicians all were restored. A feeling of abandonment, of dejection, mistrust, had been diffused in Italy by the enemies of aviation; this new kind of armed force, many people thought, should be developed only as a sport. Into this situation I put my energy. I gave even personal performance and devotion. I have succeeded in my purpose; the successes of De Pinedo, of Maddalena, of Ferrarin, the flights in squadrons, the great maneuvers, have demonstrated that recently Italian aviation has acquired great agility and prestige, not only in Italy but wherever there is air to fly in.
The same can be said of the navy, which has reordered its formation, bettered its units, completed its fleet and made its discipline efficient. Fourth, but not least, by its spirit of emulation and daring, comes the Voluntary Militia for the Safety of the Nation, divided into 160 legions, commanded by distinguished officers and by enthusiastic Fascists. These are magnificent shock troops.
Finally, our barracks and our ships can be said to be, in the true sense of the word, refuges of peace and strength; the officers dedicate their activities to the physical and educational bettering of the men; the training conforms to the modern technic of war. The army is no longer distracted from its functions, as happened too often under the old governments, to assume ordinary duties of public order which were exhausting and humiliating, and to which entire divisions were assigned. I changed all this. For the last five years the army left its barracks for its tactical maneuvers and for no other reason.
After some time General Diaz had been obliged to resign on account of the condition of his health. General Di Giorgio commanded during an interim. But afterward I saw clearly the necessity of gathering all the armed forces of the state under one direction. I assumed then the portfolios of war, navy and aeronautics. In consequence of this program I have created a commander in chief of all general staffs, who has the task of preparing, with a complete vision of ensemble, all the plans of the various branches of our forces, to one endvictory. Our military spirit is lively; it is not aggressive, but it will not be taken by surprise. It is a peaceful spirit, but it is watchful.
To complete the revival of Fascism, it was necessary to keep in mind also several lesser problems which, for the dignity and strength of the life of the nation, were in need of an immediate solution.
The retired employes of the government, who received very small pensions before the war, had with alarm seen the value of their already meager resources diminish because of the successive depreciation of the currency. I had to make a provision of exceptional character for their protection, by making their pensions more adequate for the necessities of the day and for the value of money. I made a provision favoring the clergy also; it was a question of a just and necessary disposition. This would have been inconceivable at the time of the demagogy and social democracy which was dominated by a superficial and wrathful anticlericalism. Our clergy number about 60,000 in Italy. They are extraneous to the controversywhich I may call historicalbetween State and Church. They accomplish a wise task and assist the Italian people in all their religious practices, without meddling with political questions, especially since the rise of Fascism. Because many of them lived in poverty, we took measures of general character to better the conditions of their existence.
Resurrecting Past Glories
The policy of public works in Italy had always had an electoral character; works to be done were decided here and there, not according to an organic plan and to any plain necessity, but to give sporadic satisfaction to this or that group of voters. I stopped this legalized favoritism. I instituted bureaus of public works, intrusting them to persons in whom I have complete confidence, who obey only the central powers of the state and are immune from pressure by local interests. In this way I was able to better sensibly the conditions of the roads of the south; I mapped out a program for aqueducts, railroads and ports. All that is just finds in the Italian bureaucracy an immediate comprehension. All the officers of governmental character have received a new impulse and new prestige. The great public utilities of the staterailroads, mail, telegraph, telephone, the monopoliesfunction again. Some persons are even sarcastic about the new regularity. And this is easily explained. We should not forget that the Italian people has been for many years rebellious to any discipline. It was accustomed to use its easy-to-hand and clamorous complaints against the work and action of the government.
Some remnants of the mental attitudes of the bygone days still come up to the surface and even whine because there is efficiency and order in the world. Certain individualistic ambitions would slap at our strong achievements of discipline and regularity. But today the state is not an abstract and agnostic entity; the government is present everywhere, every day. Who lives in the ambit of the state, or outside the state, lives and feels in every way the majesty of law. It is not a thing of small account that all public utilities are conducted with an efficiency which I might call American, and that the Italian bureaucracy, proverbially slow, has become eager and agile.
I have given particular attention to the capital. Rome is a universal city, dear to the heart of Italians and to the whole world. It was great at the time of the Roman Empire, and has conserved a universal light. It was the historical seat and the center of diffusion of Christianity. Rome is first of all a city with the aura of destiny and history. It is the capital of the new Italy. It is the seat of Christianity. It has taught and will teach law and art to the whole world. I could not refuse the resources necessary to make this magnificent capital a city æsthetically beautiful, politically ordered and disciplined by a governor. With its natural port of Ostia, with its new roads, it will become one of the most orderly and clean cities of Europe.
By isolating the monuments of ancient Rome, the relation between ancient Romans and the new Italians is made more beautiful and suggestive. This work of revaluation and almost re-creation of the capital was not made with detriment to other Italian cities. Each one of them has the typical character of ancient capitals. They are cities like Perugia, Milan, Naples, Florence, Palermo, Bologna, Turin, Genoa, which have had a sovereign history worthy of high respect; but none of them think now to contest with Rome and its eternal glory.
Guardians of Order
Some writers who, as keen observers, have followed point by point the vicissitudes of our political life, at a certain moment raised an interesting question : Why did the National Fascist Party not decree its own disbandment or slip into disorganization after the revolutionary victory of October, 1922 ?
To be able to answer this question it is necessary to bring into relief certain essential points. History teaches us that, normally, a revolutionary movement can be channeled into legality only by means of forceful provisions, directed, if necessary, against even the personnel of the movement. Every revolution assumes unforeseen and complex aspects; in certain historical hours the sacrifice of those who were the well-deserving lieutenants of yesterday might become indispensable for the supreme interest tomorrow. Nevertheless, in my own life I have never deliberately desired the sacrifice of anyone; therefore I have made use of the high influence which I have always had over my adepts to stop stagnation or heresies, personal interests and contentions. I have preferred to prevent rather than to repress.
But when it has been necessary, I have shown myself to be inexorable. In fact, I had to keep in mind that, when one party has shouldered the responsibility of all power, it has to know how to perform surgery, and major operations, too, against secession. Because of my personal situation, and having created the party, I have always dominated it. The sporadic cases of secession, due not to differences of method but to personal temperament, usually withered under the general loss of esteem and interest, and by disclosure of selfish ends.
This consciousness of my incontestable domination has given me the ability to make the party live on. But also other reasons were opposed to the disbandment of the party. First of all, a sentimental motif had stamped itself upon my soul and upon the grateful spirit of the nation. The Fascistithe young, particularlyhad followed me with blind, absolute and profound devotion. I had led them through the most dramatic vicissitudes, taking them away from universities, from jobs, from factories. The young men had not hesitated when confronted by danger. They had known how to risk their future positions together with their lives and fortunes. I owed and owe to the militiamen of previous days my strongest gratitude; to disband the party and retire would have been first of all an act of utter ingratitude.
There was in the end a much more important reason. I considered the formation of a new Italian ruling method as one of the principal duties of Fascism. It would be created by the vigor of labor, through a well-experimented process of selection, without the risky creation of too many improvised military leaders. It was the partys right to offer me the men of our own régime to take positions of responsibility. In that sense the party was side by side with the government in the ruling of the new régime. It had to abandon the program of violent struggle and yet conserve intact its character of proud political intransigence. Many evident signs made me understand that it was not possible to patch the old with the new world. I had, therefore, need of reserves of men for the future. The chief of the government could very well be the chief of the party, just as in every country of the world a representative chief is always the exponent of an aristocracy of wills.
In the meantime, to mark a fundamental point for the public order, my government, in December, 1922, gave an admonition to the Fascists themselves. It was in the following terms :
Every Fascisti must be a guardian of order. Every disturber is an enemy, even if he carries in his pocket the identification card of the party.
Thus, in a few words, the position and the duty of the party in the life of the Fascist régime were indicated.
We had plenty of pitfalls and snares in 1922. The party had reached a peculiar sensitiveness through its intense experience. In the moment of its hardest test it had shown itself to be equipped to guide the interests of the country as a whole. The revolution had not had long, bloody consequences, as in other revolutions, except for the moment of battle. Violence, as I have said before, had been controlled by my will. Nevertheless, the position of same opposing newspapers was strange indeed. That of the Corrière Della Sera, of liberal-democratic coloring, and that of the Avanti, Socialist, agreedstrange bedfellowsin harshly criticizing the simultaneous and violent action of Fascism, while they wished in their hearts and wrote that the Fascist experiment would be finished. According to these political diagnosticians, it was a matter of an experiment of short duration, in which Fascism would be destroyed either on parliamentary rocks or by the obvious insufficiency to direct the complexities of Italian life. We saw later the wretched end of these prophets; but to reach results it had been necessary for me, particularly in the first year, continually to watch the party. It must always remain in perfect efficiency, superior to opposing critics and snares, ready for orders and commands.
Credentials for Membership
One grave danger was threatening the partytoo numerous admissions of new elements. Our small handfuls in the warlike beginnings were now growing to excess, so much so that it was necessary to put a padlock on the door to prevent the influx of further membership. Once the solidity of Fascism had been proved, all the old world wanted to rush into its ranks. If this had happened, we would have come back to the old mentality and defects by mere overhaste in adulteration instead of keeping our growth selective through education and devotedness. Otherwise the party, augmented by all the opportunists of the eleventh hour, would have lost its vibrating and original soul. A stop had to be put to the old world. It could go and wait with its bed slippers on, without spoiling a movement of young people for Italian rebirth.
After I had closed, in 1926, the registration in the party, I used all my force, care and means for the selection and the education of youth. The Avanguardia was then created, together with the Opera Nazionale Balilla, the organization for boys and girls which, because of its numerous merits and the high value of its educational activities, I have chosen even recently to call, The invaluable pupil of the Fascista régime.
This program brought forth unparalleled results; due to it, the party has never encountered a really serious crisis. I believe that there can be counted among my qualities one of being able to act in good season and to strike at the right moment without false sentimentality where the shadow of a weakness or of a trap is hidden.
In this watchful work of prevention I have always had at my side good secretaries of the party who have helped me no end. Michele Bianchi had already led the party with ability until the march on Rome. He had been able to balance the particularly violent character of the movement with the demands of political situations which had reality and must be ended with wisdom. Michele Bianchi has been an excellent political secretary because of this very reason, and today he is still with the government as my very appreciated collaborator in internal politics. He has a political mind of first order, a reflective mind; he is faithful at every hour. The régime can count on him every time.
The Honorable Sansanelli, a courageous participant in the late war, and today president of the International Federation of World War Veterans, took his place. The Honorable Sansanelli has been able to face vague secessionist movements.
Secretaries of Fascism
There was in that period a reprisal by anti-Fascist forces. The old liberal world, defeated, but tolerated by the generosity of the régime, was not exactly aware of the new order of things. It regained its wonted haughtiness. The forces of negation even armed the communist remnants in the obscurity of ambushes and cellars. A new direttorio, presided over by the Secretary the Honorable Giunta, until September, 1924, was formed after the elections. I have already spoken of the Fascist activity of the Honorable Giunta. In the second semester of that year the anti-Fascist movement, aroused by obscure national and international forces, showed itself with growing intensity on all fronts. I cast it down onto its nose with my speech of January 3, 1925. But also following that I willed that a line of more combative intransigence should be imposed by our party; and with this duty in mind, I appointed the Honorable Roberto Farinacci general secretary of the party.
Farinacci knew how to be worthy of the task with which I had intrusted him. His accomplishments, considered in their entirety and in the results obtained, were those of a well-deserving secretary. He broke up the residues of the aventinismo which had remained here and there in the country; he gave a tone of high and cutting intransigence, not only political but also moral, to the whole party. He invoked against offenders and plotters those exceptional laws which I had promulgated after four attempted assassinations had demonstrated the criminality of anti-Fascism.
I was closely following this movement of vigorous reprisal of the party and had prepared in time the necessary provisions. The Honorable Farinacci is one of the founders of Italian Fascism. He has faithfully followed me from 1914.
After his task had been accomplished the Honorable Farinacci left the position of secretary-general to the Honorable Augusto Turati, courageous veteran of the World War, man of clear mind and aristocratic temperament, who has been able to give the party the style of the new times and the consciousness of the new needs. The Honorable Turati has accomplished a great and indispensable work of educational improvement of the Fascist masses. Besides these, precious elements in the high positions of the party of today, I must mention the Honorable Renato Ricci for the organization of the Balilla, Melchiorri for the militia, Marinelli, a courageous administrative secretary, Starrace, a valorous veteran, and Arpinati, a faithful Blackshirt from March, 1919, and a founder of Fascism in Bologna.
Objectives of Power
The party has given me new prefects for Fascist Italy, elements for syndical organization, consuls, while various deputies have been appointed ministers and undersecretaries. Little by little, proceeding by degrees, I have given an always more integral and intransigent line to the whole world of government. Almost all positions of command have been today intrusted to Fascist elements. Thus, after four years of régime, we have actuated the formula, All the power to all Fascism, which I launched in June, 1925, at a Fascist meeting in Rome.
I have controlled my impatience. I have avoided leaps into darkness. I do not sleep my way to conclusions. I have blended the preexisting needs with the formation of a future. Naturally, giving to the state a complete Fascist character and filling all the ganglia of national life with the vitality and newer force of faithful Blackshirts, I not only did not detract from but added always to the importance of the National Fascist Party as the force of the régime. This transposition from political organization to the permanent organization of a state guarantees in the most solid manner the future of the régime. I have laid with my own hands the cornerstone of representative reform based on the interests of Italian unity and cosmos, and I have arranged that the Grand Fascist Council become a definite constitutional organ for the constancy of the state. Thus the Fascist Party, though remaining independent, is bound by ties of steel to the very essence of the new Fascist state.
Some readers of my autobiographic record may attribute to these pages of mine the character of a completed life story. If they have believed that story completed they are mistaken. It is absurd to believe that one can conclude a life of battles at the age of forty-five.
Detailed memoirs of intimate and personal character are the attributes of old age and the chimney corner. I had no intention of writing any memoirs. They only represent the consciousness of a definite completed cycle. They do not appear of much importance to a man who is in the most vigorous ardor of his activities.
I was the leader of the revolution and chief of the government at thirty-nine. Not only have I not finished my job but I often feel that I have not even begun it. The better part comes toward me. I go toward it at this moment. However, I take pride in affirming that I have laid solid foundations for the building of Fascism. Many ask me what will be my policy in the future, and where lies my final objective.
My answers are here. I ask nothing for myself, nor for mineno material goods, no honors, no testimonials, no resolutions of approval which presume to consecrate me to history. My objective is simple : I want to make Italy great, respected and feared. I want to render my nation worthy of her noble and ancient traditions. I want to accelerate her evolution toward the highest forms of national cooperation. I want to make a greater prosperity always possible for the whole people. I want to create a political organization to express, to guarantee and to safeguard our development.
I am tireless in my wish to see newly born and newly reborn Italians. With all my strength, with all my energies, without pause, without interruptions, I want to bring to them their fullest opportunities. I do not lose sight of the experience of other peoples, but I build with elements of our own and in harmony with our own possibilities, with our traditions, and with the energy of the Italian people. I have made a profound study of the interests, the aspirations and the tendencies of our masses. I push on toward better forces of life and progress. I value them. I launch them. I guide them. I desire our nation to conquer again, with Fascist vigor, some decades or perhaps a century of lost history. Our garrison is the party, which has demonstrated its strength. I have trust in young people. Their spiritual and material life is led by attentive quick minds and by ardent hearts. I do not reject advice, even from opponents, whenever they are honest. I cover with my contempt dishonest and lying opponents, slanderers, deniers of the country, and everyone who drowns every sense of dignity, every sentiment of national and human solidarity, in the filthy cesspool of low grudges. Defeated ones who cluck to the wind, survivors of a building which toppled forever, accomplices in the ruin and shame in which the country was going to be dragged, sometimes do not even have the dignity of silence.
I am strict with my most faithful followers. I always intervene where excesses and intemperances are revealed. I am near to the heart of the masses and listen to its beats; I read its aspiration and interests. I know the virtue of the race. I probe its purity and soundness. I will fight vice and degeneration, and will put them down. The so-called liberal institutions, created at other times because of a fallacious appearance of protection, are destroyed and unmasked of their phrases and false idealisms by the new force of Fascism with its idealism planted on realities.
Air and light, strength and energy, shine and vibrate in the infinite sky of Italy. A most lofty civil and national vision leads today to its goal this people which lives in its great new springtime. It animates my long labors. I am forty-five and I feel the vigor of my work and my thought. I have annihilated in myself every egotism. I, like the most devoted of citizens, place upon myself and on every beat of my heart service to the Italian people. I proclaim myself their servant. I feel that all Italians understand and love me; I know that only he is loved who leads without weaknesses, without deviation, and with disinterest and full faith.
Therefore, going over what I have already done, I know that Fascism, being a creation of the Italian race, has met and will meet historical necessities, and so, unconquerable, is destined to give its indelible impression to the twentieth century of history.
[Editors NoteThis is the last of a series of reminiscences by Premier Mussolini.]