Why is fascism a bad state
Twenty-third session of the Fifth World AI Congress on July 2, 1924
WYNKOOP: The session is open. Comrade Bordiga has the floor for the report on fascism. After the presentations by Comrades Bordiga and Freymuth, as the Congress has already decided, there will be no debate.
BORDIGA: As you know, I reported on the subject of fascism at the 4th Congress, at a decisive turning point in the history of fascism in Italy. It was on the eve of the conquest of power by fascism that I and our delegation had left Italy.
Today I have to speak for the second time on this subject; again at the moment of a turning point which was decisive for the development of fascism and which, as you know, was caused by the Matteotti case. As luck would have it, this event occurred again immediately after the departure of the Italian delegation to the 5th Congress. In both cases, the two reports fall at a point in time that is suitable for shedding light on the extremely important social and political phenomenon of fascism.
Of course, I will not repeat here everything that I said in my first report on the historical development of fascism. I have too many other points to go into. I will therefore only briefly remind you of the basic ideas of my criticism of fascism at the time. I will do this in a schematic way, because I can fully maintain what I presented to the 4th Congress at the time.
First: the emergence of fascism.
I have reminded you that the fascist movement is historically linked to part of those groups which called for Italy to enter the world war. There were several groups that supported such a policy. Among them was an extreme left made up of renegades from syndicalism, anarchism, and in some cases - mainly in the case of Mussolini - renegades from the extreme left of socialism. This group had fully identified with the truce policy and military intervention against the central powers.
Most characteristically, it was this group that provided post-war fascism with its general staff. The connections between this first political grouping and the great fascist movement we are facing today can be traced in unbroken succession.
The date of birth of the classic fascist action is November 1920: it can be found in the events of that time in Bologna (Palazzo d'Accursio). However, I leave this point, since these are purely historical statements, and move on to other facts.
The government crisis in Italy has been characterized in the following way: Fascism represents the political negation of the period during which a bourgeois-liberal and democratic left-wing politics prevailed in us. Fascism is the sharpest form of reaction against the policy of concessions carried out by the Giolitti etc. in the post-war period.
On the contrary, we believe that there is a dialectical connection between these two periods: that the initial attitude of the Italian bourgeoisie during the crisis into which the state plunged in the post-war period was nothing but the natural preparation for fascism. During this period the proletariat threatened an offensive. The forces of the bourgeoisie were insufficient to stand up to direct attack. It therefore had to use skilful maneuvers to avoid the clash, and while these maneuvers were being carried out by the politicians of the left, fascism was able to prepare its later immense means of power, it could create the conditions for the second period in which it itself launched the offensive seized to crush the revolutionary forces. I am not repeating here all the arguments in favor of this interpretation. Here, too, everything that I said at the 4th Congress still applies.
One more fact. Fascism begins in the agricultural districts. That is extremely characteristic. The attack on the positions of the revolutionary proletariat starts from the peasant districts. Bologna is an agricultural center, it is the capital of a large rural area: the Po Valley, and it was from there that fascism began its triumphal march through all of Italy. It spread in different directions. In our first report we showed this triumphal march geographically. Suffice it to recall here that fascism only attacks the industrial centers and the big cities secondarily.
But even if it is true that the action of fascism begins in the non-industrial areas, one must not conclude from this that the fascist movement was caused exclusively by the interests of the rural bourgeoisie, the large landowners. Quite the opposite: behind this movement are the interests of large-scale industry, wholesalers and financial magnates. It means the attempt of a unified counter-revolutionary advance by all bourgeois powers. I also uphold this thesis. I will come back to them several times in the course of the report.
Added to this is the fact that the middle class is being mobilized.
At first glance, fascism gives the impression from its outward appearance that it is not a movement of the above-mentioned upper social classes: the big landowners and the capitalist bourgeoisie, but rather a movement of the middle class, war participants, intellectuals and everyone else Strata that the proletariat has not yet been able to draw under its spell and has been able to gather around itself under the slogan of the revolutionary dictatorship.
A tremendous ideological, political and organizational mobilization has taken place within all these strata. Your discontent has been organized. They were told: You are the third class entering the battlefield, that is, a new power turning against the proletariat, but also against the old bourgeoisie and its classical politicians. During the crisis of the post-war period the proletariat failed to carry out its revolutionary policy and seize the power that the old ruling class could no longer hold. Now a third class enters the fight. That is the outward appearance that fascism gives. In reality it is a mobilization of the middle class on the initiative and under the leadership of the conservative powers of the big bourgeoisie, with the help of the state apparatus. Hence the double face of fascism: first and foremost, it is a defense of upper-class interests, i. H. the interests of the upper class, and secondarily about the mobilization of the middle class, d. H. the significant social forces of the middle classes in defense of those interests.
In my previous report I criticized the ideology of fascism. I asked: what theory is this movement based on? Today it has become commonplace that fascism has no theory. Nor has he done the slightest thing to lay the groundwork for a new political theory. He claims to have carried out the revolution and given a new face to the social and political struggle. But in fact, from a theoretical point of view, he did not create anything that could serve as a constructive basis for the program of this revolution, this alleged renewal of Italian society in head and limbs - and, as Mussolini says, perhaps tomorrow also the society of other countries .
The fact is that fascism initially has a program that credits the programs of the extreme left with a number of points. But this program serves only the mobilization needs that we have already mentioned; it is quickly forgotten, yes, reversed into its direct opposite, as soon as fascism takes over; at this moment his program of renewal falls into nothing.
Fascism is not a revolutionary movement; It is a purely conservative movement to defend the existing bourgeois order; it does not bring any new program. But it does bring something new as soon as we move from the ideological to the organizational field. We must then immediately establish that something appears here that neither the bourgeoisie of Italy nor that of the other countries has hitherto used. The politics of the Italian bourgeoisie was characterized by the fact that it had great political leaders, professional politicians, important parliamentarians who had a large following in the elections, that it had a large liberal party, but that it lacked any organizational strength . The Liberal Party had a clear, concrete theory; it had very definite historical traditions and an ideology that was completely adequate from the bourgeois standpoint. However, it lacked the organization.
Fascism turns this situation on its head. It brings nothing new ideologically. We shall soon see the value of his criticism of the ideology of the old bourgeois parties. But he introduces a new factor that the old parties lacked entirely: a huge fighting machine, huge both as a political and as a military organization.
This shows that in the present period of the serious crisis of capitalism the state apparatus is no longer sufficient to defend the bourgeoisie. This apparatus must be supplemented by a well-organized party that works all over the country and tries to find bases within the middle class, perhaps even to approach certain sections of the working class. Only by mobilizing non-bourgeois classes can the bourgeoisie face the threatened revolution during this crisis.
What are the relations between fascism and the proletariat?
Fascism is by its nature an anti-socialist and therefore an anti-proletarian movement. From the first moment to the last, he emerges as the destroyer of even the slightest achievements of the working class. Nevertheless, fascism is not to be equated with the earlier reaction of the extreme right: with its state of siege, its terror, its exceptional laws and its prohibition of revolutionary organizations. Fascism goes beyond that, it is a more modern, more refined movement, it tries at the same time to gain influence among the proletarian masses. He therefore adopted, without hesitation, the principle of trade union organization; he tries to found economic organizations of the working class.
It is obvious that we cannot compare these unions with the free unions. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it must be stated that the existence of fascist trade unions constitutes a serious argument against revolutionary syndicalism, which sees economic organization as the decisive weapon for the class struggle. Events show that this weapon can very well be exploited for counter-revolutionary purposes. It goes without saying that the fascist trade union movement differs from the actual trade union movement on one very characteristic point, namely that it is recruited not only from the working class but from all classes. It is actually a form of organization based on the profession. It is aimed at parallel organizations of workers and employers on the basis of the community of classes.
This brings us to a point where fascism and democracy meet. Basically, fascism just repeats the old game of the bourgeois left parties and social democracy, i. H. he calls on the proletariat to a truce. He tries to achieve this goal by forming unions of industrial workers and farm workers, which he then leads to practical cooperation with the employers' organization. Of course, the sole purpose of this whole action is the destruction of the revolutionary organizations and the extradition of the proletarian masses to the exploitation of the capitalists. Still, fascism is not admitted by the wealthy upper class as a brutal method of oppressing the working class; on the contrary, it appears in the form of an organization of all the productive forces of the country, whose recognition it demands, in the form of cooperation of all economic groups for the "national interest".
Of course, all of this is based on the exploitation of nationalist patriotic ideology. It is not something entirely new. Mainly during the war, in the national interest the formula of the working group of classes, the formula of putting all individual interests aside from the interests of the whole country, was already extensively used.
So fascism comes with the old program of bourgeois politics, but this program appears in a form which in some respects echoes the program of social democracy and which contains something entirely new, namely a huge political and military one in the service of the conservative powers standing organization.
The conclusion I drew in my speech at the Fourth Congress was that the very basis of the fascist program already shows a fundamental historical and social contradiction. Fascism wants to settle and silence all economic and social conflicts within society. But that's just the appearance. In fact, he tries to establish unity within the bourgeoisie, to establish a coalition between the wealthy upper classes, by balancing the individual conflicts between the interests of the various groups of the bourgeoisie and the various capitalist enterprises.
In the economic sphere, fascism follows the old lines of bourgeois liberalism: it opposes any intervention by the state in the economy; he preaches the unrestricted freedom of movement of economic ventures; he demands the free play of the forces that arise from capitalism. This entangles him in an insoluble contradiction, because it is extremely difficult to implement a unified policy of the bourgeois class as long as the economic organizations have complete freedom of development and complete freedom of competition between the individual groups of entrepreneurs. We conclude from this that fascism is doomed to failure as a result of the economic anarchy of capitalism, although it has firmly taken the reins of government, although it has the mighty weapon of the state apparatus, and although it has one Supports the nationwide organization which mobilizes the middle class, and to a certain extent even the proletariat, for the interests of the united bourgeoisie.
The vast apparatus of fascism can give rise to the belief that fascist power will be permanent. But the root of this power itself suffers from a fundamental contradiction, because fascism has provided no new means of overcoming the crisis of capitalism.
We are still convinced that the capitalist crisis cannot be overcome by any "heroic" means. I have here repeated the fundamental thoughts on the analysis of fascism which I explained in my first report, and which all comrades can unanimously accept; these are the conclusions that we have always drawn and that have been fully confirmed by nearly two years of fascist dictatorship.
Let us now return to the historical phase in which we found ourselves at the moment of the 4th Congress, when the fascists seized power: the conclusion of the general attack on the revolutionary forces and on the old political rulers of Italy, the march on Rome. In that report I had not yet touched on the issue which arose in our ranks during the 4th Congress, but Comrade Zinoviev mentioned it in his speech: What happened in Italy while we were away? A coup or a comedy? I will go into this question briefly, yes, in my opinion there are even three questions to be asked: Are we facing a revolution, a coup d'état or a comedy?
Let us recall the facts that characterized the fascists' conquest of power. We did not have an armed struggle, we only had a mobilization of fascism, which threatened the revolutionary seizure of power, and we had a kind of defensive mobilization of the state, which at a given moment even declared a state of siege. But the resistance was not carried out in practice on the part of the state. There was no armed struggle.Instead of the clash, a compromise was reached, and at a certain moment the struggle was adjourned, postponed, not because the king refused to sign the decree on the state of siege at the given moment, but obviously because the compromise had been long since had been prepared. The fascist government then formed in the normal way: after the resignation of the Facta cabinet, the king appointed Mussolini to form a new ministry. The leader of this so-called revolution came from Milan to Rome in a sleeping car and was greeted by all the official state representatives on the way at the stations. There can be no question of a revolution, not only because there is no uprising to seize power, but also because of everything we have said about the historical significance of fascism. Fascism does not mean overthrow in social terms; it has no new program, it does not even mean the historical negation of the old bourgeois method of government; it simply means the perfectly logical dialectical continuation of the previous phase of bourgeois, so-called democratic and liberal governments.
We absolutely oppose the fascists' repeated assertion that their seizure of power was a revolution.
In his speeches Mussolini says: We have carried out a revolution. However, if we counter him: There was no revolution, no struggle, no revolutionary terror, because there was no real "conquest" of power and the real annihilation of the enemy, Mussolini replies with an argument that is quite ridiculous from a historical point of view: This remains we still have time, we can still complete the revolution. But the revolution cannot be "put on hold"; not even the boldest and most powerful political leader can do that. With this argument one cannot refute the criticism that the revolution was not carried out. One cannot say: These facts did not occur, but we can make up for them at any moment. It is of course always possible that new struggles will arise. The march to Rome, however, was not a struggle or a revolution. And if you say: After all, there has been an unusual change in government, a coup d'état, I do not want to go into it here, because this question ultimately boils down to a play on words. But we also use the word "coup d'état" to denote a change in government that is not limited to a change of person, only to a change in the general staff of the party in power, but an action that the previous government institutions are subject to forcibly eliminated. Fascism did not do that. He spoke a lot against parliamentarism, his theory was anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary. Basically, however, his social program was nothing more than the old program of democratic lies, which is only an ideological weapon for maintaining the rule of the bourgeoisie. Fascism quickly became "parliamentary" - even before it came to power; he ruled for a year and a half without dissolving the old chamber, the vast majority of which was made up of non-fascists, yes, some of which were anti-fascists. With the suppleness that is a hallmark of bourgeois politicians, this Chamber hurried to make itself available to Mussolini to legalize his position and to grant him all the votes of confidence that he pleased to ask. Even the first Mussolini cabinet - Mussolini himself keeps coming back to this in his "left speeches" - was not formed on a purely fascist basis, but comprised representatives of the other most important bourgeois parties. In the beginning, representatives of the Giolitti party, the Popolari, the democratic left, sat in this cabinet. So it was a coalition cabinet. This is what the so-called coup produced! A party with 35 members in the Chamber took power and occupied the vast majority of ministerial and undersecretary posts.
It is true that there is a very significant historical event in Italy, but this event did not take place during the march on Rome, I mean the occupation of the whole of Italy by the fascists, which was prepared by the course of events and which can be followed geographically. The takeover of the government by Mussolini was only the official recognition of a power relationship that had already developed beforehand. Every government that came to power, especially Facta, had given fascism free rein. It was fascism that ruled Italy; he had a completely free hand and had the state apparatus at his disposal. The facta cabinet only stayed at the helm for two months, awaiting the moment that fascism considered appropriate to officially take over the government.
For these reasons we have used the term "comedy". In any case, we fully uphold the claim that this is not a revolution. There has certainly been a change in the leading forces of the bourgeoisie, but this change has gradually been prepared and taken place; in the economic and social sphere, yes, even in the sphere of domestic politics, it does not mean a change in the program of the Italian bourgeoisie. Because the great impetus of the so-called fascist revolution, both before and after the march on Rome, is not based on the official use of the state apparatus, but on the illegal reaction, albeit supported by the tacit assistance of the police, city administrations, bureaucracy and the army. This tacit assistance, it must be emphasized sharply, was in full bloom before fascism took over power.
In his first chamber speech Mussolini stated: "I have the power to blow you apart and drive you out of this room with the help of my troops. I have the power to do it, but I don't. The Chamber can continue to exercise its office if she is ready to cooperate with me. '' The vast majority of the old chamber willingly bowed to the order of the new Fuehrer.
In fact, it can be said that no new legislation was introduced after fascism took power. No exceptional laws were passed in the area of domestic politics either. There have been political persecutions, of which we will speak later, but officially the laws have not been changed, no exceptional decrees have been passed as under the bourgeois governments of earlier revolutionary epochs, e. B. under Crispi and Pelluso, who at times took refuge in the politics of the state of siege, military jurisdiction and measures of repression against the revolutionary parties and their leaders.
Fascism, on the other hand, continued to use the same original and modern method against the proletarian forces as it had used before it came to power. Indeed, he even declared that his combat cadres, which were completely outside the state, would be disbanded as soon as the similar cadres of the other parties were disbanded. The fascist combat cadre expediently disappeared as organizations outside the state, but only in order to be incorporated into the state apparatus itself through the formation of the "National Militia". Indeed, this armed force is still at the disposal of the fascist party and, moreover, of Mussolini personally. It represents a new organization that is officially admitted to the state apparatus. She is the mainstay of fascism. The question still remains on the agenda: should this organization disappear or not? Can fascism be expected to use constitutional means in domestic politics in place of this new organ? Of course, until now, fascism has not recognized these old constitutional rules, and to this day the National Militia is the most terrible opponent for all those who strive to overthrow fascist power.
We have no exceptional laws in the field of justice. When thousands of communists were arrested in Italy in February 1923, it was thought that fascism would begin a judicial campaign against us, that it would take harsh measures and have the most severe sentences pronounced. But the situation developed very favorably. We were tried on the basis of the old, very democratic laws. The Italian Criminal Code is the work of the representative of the extreme bourgeois left: Minister Zanardelli. It is extremely liberal and leaves many options open, especially when it comes to political and moral offenses, it is mild and flexible. It was therefore easy for us to take the following position: "We would completely understand it if fascism got rid of its opponents and took dictatorial measures against us. It is of course absolutely right when it condemns us for being communists , and because our aim is to overthrow the existing government through revolutionary actions; however, what we do is not forbidden by law. However, other things are forbidden, but you have no evidence of the infamous conspiracy, the infamous criminal organization, on which the indictment is based. " Not only did we uphold this point of view, but it actually resulted in an acquittal by the courts because it was utterly impossible to convict us on the basis of the existing laws.
At that time we were able to establish that the judicial and police apparatus was in no way up to the task from the standpoint of fascism. Fascism has seized the state apparatus, but it did not know how to transform it for its own purposes. He had no intention of getting rid of the communist leaders through the process. He had his own cadres, his own terrorist organizations, but in the field of justice he did not think he needed to use new weapons. In my opinion, this is further proof of the total inadequacy of the bourgeois-liberal guarantees and a liberal judiciary in the struggle against the freedom of movement of the proletariat. It is true that under these circumstances our defense also had to move in legal channels, but if the opponent is in the possession of an illegal organization through which he could solve the question in a completely different way, these democratic guarantees for him lose all Importance.
Fascism continues the old policy of left democratic lies of equality of rights for all and so on. That is not to say that he does not proceed to severe persecution against the proletariat. All I want to say is that with regard to the purely political processes by which the leaders of the revolutionary working class were to be destroyed, the new situation created by fascism has changed nothing in the old classical system of bourgeois-democratic governments. A revolution, on the other hand, is always characterized by the reshaping of political laws.
I will now turn briefly to the events that have occurred since fascism took power.
For now, a few words about the economic situation in Italy. It is a recurring claim by the fascists that the economic crisis of 1920 and 1921 gave way to a period of prosperity since they came to power. They claim that for two years the situation has stabilized, the balance of the economy restored, order reestablished, and the whole situation significantly improved. These are the advantages of fascism for all social classes, the benefits which the whole Italian people owe to fascism. This official claim is supported by a generous mobilization of the entire press and the use of all means available to a party firmly in power. But it's nothing but an official lie.
The economic situation in Italy is currently bad. The rate of the lire has today reached the lowest point in the whole post-war period: it is worth only 4.3 American cents, i. H. that the lowest level of previous currency fluctuations has been reached. Fascism was unable to improve the situation. Mussolini asserts, however, that if he weren't there, the lire would be even lower. That is of course an argument that cannot be taken seriously.
The fascists also claim that they balanced the state budget. That is true in material terms; As is well known, however, you can set up anything you want with state balances. In any case, the fascists did not refute the assertion of the experts in the opposition that if the price of coal was not reduced compared to that of the years 1920/21, and if the war expenditures, which had to be paid off within a certain period of time, were not booked differently according to purely accounting principles the deficit today would be even greater than the deficit on the balance sheets of 1920 and 1921. This has been proven numerically.
As for the Economic Conditions Index, today the situation is generally deteriorating. Unemployment, however, lags behind the enormous unemployment of 1920 and especially 1921. But the figures of the last few months show that it is increasing again and that the industrial crisis has not yet been finally overcome.
The business situation is extremely tense; trade is facing great difficulties. Evidence of this is provided by the bankruptcy statistics, which have shown a huge increase compared to recent years. The cost of living index is also rising in the big cities. The whole economic situation in Italy is noticeably deteriorating; it is in no way stabilized. It is only an external stability that fascism has brought about through the tremendous pressure exerted by the bourgeoisie. The official index numbers show that all that has been achieved is only the expression of this terrible pressure exerted on the proletariat; all of this was only achieved at the expense of the proletariat and only in the interests of the ruling class. And it must not be forgotten that the very fact of this relentless pressure foresees an explosion on the part of those classes which have been sacrificed to the attempt of the fascists to restore the economic situation in the sole interest of the big bourgeoisie.
I now come to the attitude of the fascist government towards the proletariat. I have already stated above that the major political trials pending against us provided evidence of the inadequacy of the official judicial apparatus of the fascist state. But there were other serious persecutions against the proletariat as soon as one could accuse our comrades of a "common" crime rather than of a crime that is considered "political" on the basis of the penal code. There were and are still numerous clashes between fascists and proletarians; H. primarily communists; in these clashes there are usually dead and wounded on both sides. It is well known that for a long time after fascism had seized power, the fascists who killed workers, even if overwhelming evidence of guilt against them, were granted complete impunity. The workers who wounded or killed fascists in self-defense, on the other hand, were sentenced to the heaviest penalties. The amnesty granted only benefits those who commit common crimes for national purposes, that is, in other words, it is an amnesty for the fascist murderers, while those common criminals who pursue anti-national purposes, i.e. H. those who fight against fascism have to face the most terrible punishments.
It's a pure class amnesty. Another amnesty has softened the sentences, which stretch for two to three years; but one must know that most of our comrades have been sentenced to ten, fifteen and twenty years in prison; Hundreds of workers, including Italian comrades, are in prison today because they were unable to cross the border in time after armed clashes with the fascists in which they took part, and which the fascists almost always gave rise to. The present Italian government is carrying out the most terrible persecutions of the working class in this way. The working class cannot even attempt to defend itself against fascist terror without the judiciary immediately intervening against it, in a manner that differs from the classic political processes of "treason". In the field of justice, all guarantees for the existence of the Communist Party, the anarchist movement, etc. are formally given. In theory anything is possible.
The situation is similar with the press. The freedom of the press is officially in force. All parties are authorized to surrender their organs.But despite the fact that there is no legal basis for this, the prefects of the police can prohibit the publication of a newspaper. So far this has only happened against communist newspapers. Our daily newspaper, the "lavoratore", has been banned in Trieste due to an Austrian law that is still in force there. This is how the old Austrian laws are applied against the revolutionaries; H. against those who were called accomplices of the Austrians during the war because of their "defeatism"!
Added to this is the well-known system of the destruction of the newspapers by armed gangs, of the breaking up of the editorial offices, etc., which makes it impossible for the proletarian press to appear; also the sabotage of the delivery of newspapers, etc. To this day, our newspapers, like the rest of the organs of the opposition, are often destroyed or burned when they reach their destination.
Terrible pressure is being exerted on the trade unions by the fascist government. The workers are forcibly forced to join the fascist unions. The union houses of the red associations have been destroyed. Nevertheless, it has not been possible to gather the masses in the fascist economic organizations. The numbers that the fascists publish for this area are bluff. In reality today the proletariat is unorganized. Sometimes the masses obey the movements led by the fascist trade unions, but only because that is the only possibility for the workers to strike at all. Certain workers, certain professions, the great majority of which are not supporters of the fascist trade unions, the great majority of which vote against the fascists and for the revolutionary candidates in the works committee elections, are forced to confess to the fascist association, even just that Attempt to fight against the bourgeoisie. From this a serious conflict develops within the fascist trade union movement. It cannot prevent strikes. It is pushed into the fight against the fascist business organizations. This conflict is always resolved to the detriment of the workers within the fascist and government organs. This creates the discontent, the serious crisis, which the leaders of the fascist trade union movement have been unable to hide in recent meetings. Their attempts to organize the industrial proletariat have been completely unsuccessful; their action amounts to creating a - superfluous - pretext to inhibit the activity of the free trade unions and to keep the proletariat in a state of disorganization.
Lately a government measure has even been taken against the free trade unions: an official control of the state authority over the internal administrative work of the trade unions has been introduced. This is a very momentous step, but it does not change the situation significantly, because the work of the free trade unions was almost completely paralyzed by other measures.
The free trade unions still exist; the chambers of labor, the professional associations, the trade union federation exist; but it is completely impossible to give their current membership figures, even where they have managed to stay in touch with the masses, for the proper continuation of fee collection and advertising is almost completely prevented. To this day it has not been possible to rebuild the cadres of the trade union organizations in Italy.
The great advantage of fascism is said to be that there are no more strikes. That is decisive for the bourgeoisie and for the philistines of the middle class!
It is said that in 1920, when there was no fascism, you saw crowds of workers on the streets every day, sometimes there was a strike, sometimes a demonstration, sometimes a conflict, etc. Today there are no more strikes, no more agitation. There is uninterrupted work in the factories, there is peace and order. That is the point of view of the entrepreneurs.
Nevertheless, strikes have been carried out and during these strikes there have been notable incidents arising from the relationship between fascist unions, revolutionary workers, the government and employers.
The situation is by no means stable. The class struggle continues and proves its existence through a series of significant phenomena; there is beyond all doubt that it will continue to develop despite all obstacles.
The action of the fascist government is also directed against the workers in the state-owned companies. So z. B. exercised a real terror against the railway workers. A large number of them have been released. Of course, in the first place one got rid of all active members of the revolutionary organizations; the organization of railroad workers was one of the federations whose leadership was furthest to the left. The same has been done in a number of other state-dependent establishments.
The fascists reply: We have nevertheless brought the proletariat a great achievement: the eight-hour day! We have set the eight-hour day by law! Name another bourgeois government that would have passed such a law for a large state. However, this law contains implementing provisions that completely repeal the principle of the eight-hour day. Indeed, even if it were carried out verbatim, it would be possible for the workers to work an average working time well in excess of an eight-hour day.
In addition, the law is not enforced. With the approval of the fascist trade unions, the entrepreneurs in the factories do what they want.
Thirdly, the proletariat in Italy had already conquered the eight-hour day through its organizations, and several professional groups had even carried out even shorter working hours. So it is by no means a "gift" that fascism brought to the Italian proletariat.
In fact, it can be seen that unemployment is increasing because the workers in the factories are forced by the employers to work far more than eight hours a day.
The other "achievements" are not worth mentioning. The workers, who earlier had already fought for certain rights, a certain freedom of movement and agitation in the factory, are now under an iron discipline. Today the Italian worker works under the thumb.
As for the economic situation, all the figures available show that wages have fallen dramatically after temporarily rising to the cost of living, which is now four and five times the pre-war rate. The standard of living of the working class has fallen. The "order" has been restored in the factories, but it is an order of reaction, an order in the sole interest of exploitation by the employers. There are examples which provide obvious evidence that all fascist action, including the action of the fascist trade unions, is in the service of the employers of the Federation of Industrialists.
As for the seafarers' organization, although it was directed by, or perhaps because of, notorious opportunists like Giulietti, it had to some extent resisted fascist violence and survived the conquest of power by fascism. In addition to this organization there was a cooperative of dock workers called "Garibaldi", which intended to make extensive offers for the new contract, which was about to be concluded between the government and shipowners. This meant dangerous competition for the big shipowners. This would have forced them to submit less profitable offers on their part. What did they do The group of shipowners, the shipping kings, gave the fascist government an order, and the fascist government hurried to carry out this order: Due to a conflict provoked by the local authorities, it hurried to send police troops to occupy the office of the cooperative and these thereby forcing to stop work.
The situation is very complicated. Its fundamental meaning, however, is as follows: Obviously, the fascist state apparatus today is in the service of the capitalist groups that are fighting against the workers. The whole life of the proletariat, all industrial life in Italy today offers the most striking example and the clearest proof of the fact that the most extreme form of the formation of a government as the executive organ of the capitalists has been implemented in our country.
The same is true of rural wage laborers. As an example, I mention the strike led by the fascist trade union, carried out by women working in the rice fields, the so-called "Mondarisi", in the Lomellina area.
This strike was declared with the approval of the fascist federation, but then all the terror of the reaction against it began: the striking women were killed by the police and militia, i. H. by organs of the fascist government, attacked and gunned down, and the strike was bloodily suppressed.
Hundreds of examples of a similar nature are available and give a picture of the situation in which the Italian proletariat finds itself at the moment. Fascist trade union policy allows workers to attempt to fight; but as soon as the conflict between the workers and the employers really breaks out, the government intervenes with brutal force in the interests of capitalist exploitation.
What about the relations of fascism with the middle class?
There are a number of facts that provide stark evidence of the disappointment of the middle class. For the first time, the middle class saw fascism as its own movement and the beginning of a new historical epoch. The middle classes believed that the rule of the big bourgeoisie and their political leaders was over, but that the proletarian dictatorship: the Bolshevik revolution, which had trembled in the years 1919 and 1920, would not yet dawn; that, on the other hand, the rule of the middle class, those who took part in the war, those who had carried out the war victoriously, was approaching; they believed they could create a powerful organization to take state power into their hands. In order to defend their own interests they wanted to conduct their own independent policy which would turn against the capitalist dictatorship on the one hand and the proletarian dictatorship on the other.
The bankruptcy of this program is proven by the measures of the fascist government, which hit hard not only the proletariat but also the middle class, who believed they had established their own power, their dictatorship, and which even organized certain demonstrations against the old bourgeois rule whom he believed he had overthrown by the fascist revolution, carried away.
Fascism proves through all its government measures that it is in the service of the interests of the big bourgeoisie, of industrial, financial and commercial capital as well as of the large landed property, and that its rule goes against the interests of all other classes: not only of the proletariat but also of the Middle classes, is directed.
So meet z. B. the measures in the housing question all classes without distinction. A moratorium was introduced during the war that imposed certain restrictions on homeowners on increasing rents. The fascists abolished these restrictions, giving homeowners the opportunity to raise rents. However, after the restoration of unrestricted freedom in this area, they were forced to pass a new law which in turn sets certain limits on the rights of homeowners. But this new law is of a purely demagogic nature. Its purpose is only to soothe the storm of indignation caused by the first law. To this day, the housing shortage is very great. The situation is similar with the school reform, the "most fascist of all reforms", as Mussolini puts it, prepared by the well-known philosopher Gentile. From a technical point of view, it is indeed a reform that must be taken seriously. Really significant work has been done to resolve the question based on fresh ideas. But the whole tendency of this reform is aristocratic: it brings with it the impossibility of a good education for the sons of the workers, the poor, the petty bourgeoisie. It means that only the well-to-do, i.e. H. the families who can pay the high school fees for their children have the privilege of education. This reform has therefore aroused great dissatisfaction among the middle class and the petty bourgeoisie, and even among teachers and professors, who are economically worse off and subjected to stricter discipline.
Another example: in order to solve the question of the reform of the bureaucracy, fascism carried out a revision of the salaries of civil servants according to the principle: lowering the low salaries and increasing the salaries of the higher civil servants. This also gave rise to renewed dissatisfaction with the fascist government on the part of the subordinate officials.
Added to this is the question of taxes, which cannot be dealt with in detail here, but which clearly demonstrates the class character of the fascist government. The fascist government wanted to balance the budget. To this end, however, it did not take any measures against the capitalists. In order to increase state revenue, it has only increased the burdens borne by the proletariat, consumers, the middle class and the petty bourgeoisie.
One of the main causes of dissatisfaction with fascism lies in the treatment it gave to the rural population, small farmers, tenants, etc.
Fascism is the enemy of the industrial proletariat, but it has worsened the situation of the Italian peasantry no less serious. The previous governments had already enacted certain provisions for regulating taxes in the countryside, but had not yet been put into practice. The fascist minister de Stefani has now initiated this implementation with such draconian severity that a downright overwhelming tax burden rests on all small-scale rural property, even on the income of the smallholder, the tenant and the farm laborer. In addition, there are local and provincial taxes, which were previously handled by the socialist municipal councils in an anti-capitalist, worker-friendly sense. Today, on the other hand, the cattle tax and similar taxes make the situation of small farmers very difficult. The wine tax has recently been reduced slightly to end the immense discontent in the country. As before, however, all these taxes mean terrible pressure on the rural population.
I will only cite the example given by a comrade in the Italian delegation who is himself a small farmer. For a plot of land of 12 hectares, which he partly owns and partly leased, he has to have 1500 lire, i.e. a balance sheet of 12,000 lire. H. 12.5 percent, pay taxes. Then one can assess what would have to be extracted from the ground in order to secure the livelihood for the family and the staff.
A remarkable fact has emerged in the south. Last year the grape harvest was very good. The prices fell tremendously. This year the wine is sold at minimal prices. The tenants, who are very numerous there, now declare that they will not realize any profit. For where other cultivation is carried out in addition to viticulture, the tenants generally reckon that this further cultivation will roughly cover the production costs, while viticulture yields the profit for them, from which they earn their living. With today's wine price, taxes and the costs of preparing the wine, there is no profit whatsoever for them, as has been ascertained. Production costs and sales price are the same; The winegrowers have nothing left for their own consumption and that of their families. They are forced to run up debts, to solicit advances from the petty bourgeoisie in the rural centers or from the large landowners and, if they are landowners, to take out mortgages on their land. In the period immediately after the end of the war, increasing rents was forbidden by law. This law was abolished by the fascists; Today the small tenants have to pay the large landowners a rent that is 100 to 400 percent higher. Small farmers and tenants cannot exist. The provisions governing the division of the harvest between landowners and tenants have also been greatly modified to the disadvantage of the latter.In order to make a living, the small owner is forced to sell part of his land or to give up the land he bought on condition that half of the purchase price was paid immediately in cash and the other half paid off later. If he cannot pay today, he loses both the land he acquired and the money that has already been paid. There is actually an expropriation of the small owners going on. After the war the small owner bought land at high prices; today, when he has no liquid money, he is forced to. to sell the land at lower prices. I repeat that there is a real expropriation of the small owners by the big landowners, which is becoming more and more of a general phenomenon. All the measures taken by the fascist government in this area have only worsened the situation of the rural proletariat.
In earlier times the socialists carried out an agitation whose method did not meet our full approval: They tried to have large drainage works carried out by the government in order to find employment for the agricultural workers and day laborers and thus to combat unemployment by relieving the pressure on the agricultural labor market. This work has now been stopped by the fascist government in order to bring the budget into balance. As a result, a large number of farm workers have been thrown onto the labor market, the misery in the country has intensified and the standard of living of the rural proletariat has deteriorated even further.
The discontent is directed directly against the fascist government. The fascists have spoken a lot against the parasitism of the old red cooperatives, which by means of parliamentary pressure systematically exploited the state by demanding such work. Today they do exactly the same. They are trying to pursue exactly the same policy with their fascist cooperatives (they have forcibly taken almost the entire cooperative apparatus of the socialists) in the interests of the new fascist bureaucracy.
The position in which fascism has placed the peasantry is such that today this class recognizes in the fascist government a power which is hostile to its interests and that it is gradually taking a position of struggle against this government. There are already examples of armed peasant revolts against the taxes and against the fascist municipal administrations, which led to bloody clashes. That is an extremely remarkable fact that characterizes the situation. After these remarks on the social politics of fascism I shall now turn to other areas, first of all to the politics of fascism in the religious field. Fascism's stance in this area provides an example of its theoretical agility. Initially, in order to exploit certain traditional moods of the middle class and the intellectuals, fascism had an anti-clerical, anti-church program; in this way he fought the People's Party (Popolari - Catholic Party) in order to undermine its influence in the country.
During the second period, fascism competes with the Popolari and becomes the official party of religion and Catholicism. This fact is remarkable from a historical and theoretical point of view. The Vatican pursued a policy friendly to fascism. He accepted with satisfaction the concessions made to him by the fascist government by improving the situation of the clergy and restoring religious instruction in schools. Mussolini, the former editor of a small anti-religious library in Switzerland - a library of those little five-pfennig notebooks in which the non-existence of God was proven, in which one could read the crimes of the popes and the story of the woman who was elected pope, and also all the other stupidities with which the brains of the workers were confused for several years - Mussolini himself calls the "Eternal Father" today as soon as it seems necessary and claims that he rules Italy "in the name of God".
The political opportunism of the Vatican, however, does not allow a fundamental contradiction to appear, which is clearly evident in the relations between fascism and the Popolari, who represent a kind of Christian democracy: the Catholic idea as such is hostile to fascism, because fascism means one Glorification of the fatherland, the nation; but this is heresy from the standpoint of Catholicism. Fascism wants to turn Catholicism into a national Italian affair. The Catholic Church, however, pursues an international, universal policy in order to extend its moral and political influence beyond all borders. This extremely remarkable contradiction has been resolved for the moment by a compromise between fascism and the Vatican.
Let me now turn briefly to the foreign policy of fascism. The fascists claim that Italy was in an extremely unfavorable position from the point of view of international politics: it was mocked, but since fascism came in power, since Italy had a powerful government, it has been respected and accepted very differently takes a completely different position on international issues.
The facts show, however, that the foreign policy of fascism can only continue the old tradition of the Italian bourgeoisie. Nothing has been changed materially, nothing new has occurred. At first, Mussolini played his main card with the world-famous episode of the occupation of Corfu, but after that he immediately abandoned such pranks, converted to his senses and entered the ranks of Orthodox diplomacy. He was careful not to proceed in this way on the other questions. The great French and English papers write that Mussolini is a very skilled politician and that after the Corfu expedition, which was a kind of childishness, he became very cautious and wise.
Indeed, Mussolini's international policy is the only one that can be made in Italy today, namely, a policy of second rank, because Italy itself only plays a second role in the struggle of the great world powers. On the reparations question and in the conflict between France and Germany, Mussolini always took a mediating position which did not in any way influence the existing balance of power in one direction or the other. His vacillating attitude was greeted with satisfaction now by Germany, now France, and now England.
Fascism could probably change the balance of power within the Italian borders, even overturn it completely. But he cannot repeat this on an international scale, because he has no influence on the international balance of power. In view of the fact that the historical and social preconditions for this are lacking, one cannot seriously speak of Italian imperialism today.
Certain facts put into perspective the great modesty that Mussolini is forced to adopt in his foreign policy. The Fiume question was resolved through a compromise with Yugoslavia. The threats of war against Yugoslavia have given way to a policy of compromise and reconciliation with that country. Here, too, imperialist nationalism had to bow to the real facts of foreign policy.
The recognition of Soviet Russia also shows that it is very possible to pursue a policy of the extreme right in Italy, but that the fact that the fascists seize power in Italy is not enough for this policy to be carried out internationally.
What effect has the recognition of Soviet Russia had on the Italian proletariat? The Italian proletariat has had a reasonably good revolutionary schooling. It did not fall for the machinations of the fascist press, which up to a certain day gathered their slander against the Bolsheviks, all the horror tales about Russia, and then suddenly wrote the opposite according to orders: namely, that it was no longer a question of a communist revolution, that Bolshevism is liquidating and Russia is a bourgeois country like other countries, that there are common material interests between Italy and Russia, that Russia and Fascist Italy could very well go together, etc. Furthermore, the clumsy attempt was made to say: It is a matter here about two revolutions, about two dictatorships, about two examples of the same political method of abolishing democracy, which naturally must lead to parallel action, and the like. This political declaration, however, falls within the area of ridiculousness; it is not worth mentioning. Indeed, certain capitalist interests were involved: the fascist policy had not been able to prevent the unfavorable development of industry in the field of foreign trade, and in order to find new markets it was in the interests of the Italian capitalists to establish relations with Russia.
The Italian proletariat took this event as confirmation of the weakness of fascism, not as confirmation of the weakness of Soviet Russia. I am compelled, however, to mention that the correct political understanding of the Italian proletariat towards this first-rate international event was clouded by a regrettable incident: certain statements were made by some Russian comrades which went too far in the interpretation of this political act and Italy contained pledges of friendship that could be understood as pledges of friendship to official Italy, to the great leader Mussolini. This must have caused a certain unease in the Italian proletariat, beaten and persecuted by the fascists. Had these wrong steps been omitted, everything else would have taken place under the full political understanding of the revolutionary Italian proletariat.
I now turn to the relations between the fascist party apparatus and the state apparatus under the new government. These relationships have given rise to very serious problems that have created a serious crisis for fascism and constant conflict within its own ranks.
Life within the fascist organization has been very eventful from the start. However, it is a very large organization, comprising 700,000 politically organized members - within the individual sections of the state party - and in such a large organization conflicts are of course inevitable. But the sharpness and violence of the conflicts in the fascist movement in Italy are extraordinary. At first glance, the question of relations between the party and the state was very poorly resolved. Political commissioners from the ranks of the party were attached to the state authorities, who exercised a certain influence on state officials in the state offices and who thus had real power in their hands. Of course, that led to conflict. This method of organization had to be revised and the state apparatus had to be restored to its old rights by removing the fascist commissioners.
This crisis has been overcome with great difficulty; it has not been finally resolved, because two directions emerged within the fascist movement: one that seeks the revision of extreme fascism, one that wants to return to legality and that declares: We now have power in our hands, we have our great political one Leader Mussolini, we can now limit ourselves to governing by the proper management of legal power; the entire state apparatus is at our disposal, we form the government, our leader enjoys the trust of all parties; the party no longer needs to interfere directly in administrative matters. This direction wants to renounce violent struggle and the use of illegal means of violence and wants to return to normal conditions. She tries to claim Mussolini for herself by separating him from the extreme fascist elements.
These extreme elements are drawn from the local leaders. They have been given the Abyssinian name "Ras". Racism stands up for the local dictatorship of the fascist occupation army throughout Italy, and even for the "second wave" of terror against all opposition elements. One of its characteristic representatives is MP Farinani, who recently even proposed the death penalty for anti-fascists.
Between these two extremes: between the direction that calls for the "second wave" of the offensive against the opposition, which says: if Mussolini points out that the revolution has not yet been carried out, it must be carried out now, must now, how As one puts it, "five minutes of fire" are ordered to finally annihilate all enemies of fascism - and the other direction, which strives for rapprochement between fascism and certain opposition elements, even reformists like the leaders of the trade union federation, has so far been Mussolini's a certain equilibrium was established by clever concessions made now to one and now to the other. He has returned the old rights to the state officials and the state apparatus, but he does not want to give up as bases the organizations independent of the state apparatus, on which the power of fascism and its defense against revolutionary attacks rests.
Fascism did not dissolve parliament. As already mentioned, the old chamber has repeatedly expressed confidence in Mussolini and given him all powers and whatever else he requested. Nevertheless, fascism wanted to change the electoral law. In Italy there was proportional representation for the parties. Fascism wanted to secure the majority. In my opinion, this would have been possible even with the help of the machinery of the old electoral law, given the fascist electoral methods. Even with proportional suffrage, according to the number of votes cast, fascism would have achieved what it has achieved today. On the basis of the new electoral law, the list that garnered the most votes and reached a total of 25 percent of all votes cast in the country was entitled to two thirds of the seats in the new parliament. That means: a quarter of the votes cast is sufficient to fill two thirds of the parliament, provided, of course, that another list does not reach 26 or 27 percent of the total number of votes; in this case it would be the latter list to which the majority would receive the bonus. There were 375 names on the national majority list. So Mussolini himself actually elected these MPs, because it was clear that this list would receive over 25 percent of the vote. A real struggle ensued in the fascist party over the nomination: about 10,000 fascist leaders had the ambition to be among the 375 elect.
It was not even possible to reserve all the places on the list of candidates for the fascists. A double electoral tactic was used: in the north, where the fascist organizations are very strong, any compromise was rejected and lists were drawn up made up exclusively of ordinary members of the fascist party. In the south, however, where the fascist organization is much weaker, they were forced to compromise with certain political figures of the old regime: they were given considerable space on the list. In this way, the candidates were composed partly of the new men of fascism who came from the ranks of the fascist party, and also of a number of, so to speak, traditional political figures.
The elections have taken place. I will not talk about this in detail. It is known that the fascist terror did not go so far as to prevent the opposition from exercising the right to vote. The matter was handled with a certain skill on the part of the Fascist government, for it was well known that if the opposition were completely eliminated from voting, the elections would immediately lose all political significance. The government therefore limited itself to influencing the results of the elections completely in its own way through its apparatus. Mussolini now says: "The elections have taken place. The overwhelming majority voted for us, this approval of the overwhelming majority of the Italian population legalizes our power. One can no longer speak of the rule of a minority."
In judging the electoral process, one must make a sharp distinction between the north and the south of Italy. In the north, fascism has very strong organizations, especially in rural areas, but also in industrial cities. He could monitor his constituents there. He was able to organize a check that the fascist party members cast their votes properly, i.H. he abolished voting secrecy almost completely. The fascists fought their opponents ruthlessly, but in the end they let them exercise their right to vote because they trusted in their own strength. For this reason, fascism received only a very weak majority in the north. H. Majority in the real sense, in the sense of more than 50 percent; I am of course not talking about the fixed artificial majority of 25 percent. In some cities, such as B. in Milan, one knows very well that the national fascist list remained in the minority compared to the opposition lists.
In the south, on the other hand, fascism has a vast majority of votes on its lists. The total number of votes cast throughout Italy was 7,300,000; the fascist lists received 4,700,000 votes; half of the total is 3,600,000; H. that the fascists exceeded this half by nearly a million votes. This vast majority has been won in the south, where fascism cannot rely on any fixed organizations: that is the strangest thing about the matter.
With the exception of certain districts, where the agricultural conflicts played out similarly to those in the Po Valley, there has never been any real real fascism in the south of Italy. Fascism gained a foothold there in the following way: After the fascist seizure of power, the local bourgeois cliques considered it appropriate to formally join fascism in order to get their hands on the administrative apparatus and to be able to exploit it. There is no serious fascist organization in the south, and yet it is precisely in the south, by very simple means, that this large majority has been achieved. There the elections were carried out at their own discretion: the representatives of the opposing lists were chased away, fascist troops were organized and given electoral cards provided by the municipal administration, and each member of these troops had 30, 40 and 50 times cast his vote. This is how the fascist majority was achieved. As a result of these events, Mussolini was forced to make the strange statement that the south of Italy would save the fatherland, that in the south the strongest forces were ready for the fight against revolutionary democracy, that the south did not get carried away in 1919 and 1920 He has thereby turned his whole earlier official political conception of the Italian situation on its head, namely that the north is the most advanced and civilized part of the country, the strongest pillar of the state. In his last speeches, however, he reverted to this older conception, seemingly completely forgetting to reconcile his words with the meaning of the official statistical election results.
In the south, fascism is obviously very weak: one can say that in the Matteotti case, the south spoke out against the government with absolute unity. This significant fact is proof of the artificial means by which fascism holds on to power.
A short note on the other parties that took part in the election.
Before I go into the anti-fascist parties, I want to mention the nationalist party, which today is completely officially merged with the fascist party. The nationalist party existed long before fascism was mentioned; it exerted a great influence on the development of fascism; it was she who gave him the scant theoretical knowledge he possessed. The right wing of the liberals, led by Salandra, has also fully subscribed to fascism; its members were candidates for the fascist list; Other "liberal" personalities and groups who were not included in the fascist electoral list have drawn up purely fascist parallel lists alongside this official list in order, if possible, to get some of the parliamentary seats reserved for the minority. In addition to the official lists and these parallel lists, there were other liberal lists that were officially supported by the government. Other, not explicitly anti-fascist lists, such as the Giolitti list, were not fought; they were allowed to win certain seats; the government was neutral towards them.
As far as the opposition is concerned, we must first of all stress the defeat suffered by the parliamentary parties into which the "democracy", which was formerly so strong in terms of the number of MPs, had been broken down. Bonani (far right social reformist) has not returned to parliament. Di Cesare and Amendoli only saved small groups of supporters after the tough battle that the government fought, especially against the latter.
The People's Party (Popolari) also suffered a heavy defeat. The People's Party even took part in the fascist government in the second chamber; she had always maintained an ambiguous attitude, and it was only through her fight against the new electoral law that she came to an open break with Mussolini. Mussolini then got rid of the people's party ministers. The resulting crisis forced the party's leader, Don Sturzo, to officially resign; in fact, he forwards the party's policy. This has led to a kind of split. A right-wing group, the national "Popolari", broke away from the party and stood up for the fascist list. However, the bulk of the party still follows Don Sturzo. The extreme left, led by Miglioli, has disbanded. The agitation which it led in the country and which at times came close to that of the revolutionary organizations was characteristic of this latter direction. Within the party, under the form of the mediating centrism of Don Sturzo, the influence of the landlords has prevailed. But the Popolari movement has suffered a heavy blow.
Another very notable small party that took part in the elections is the Peasants' Party. It has made its own lists in two or three districts of Italy. This party is made up of the discontented small farmers who did not want to entrust the representation of their interests to any of the existing parties. They preferred to form an independent party. This movement may have a future. It may be designed to be important on a national scale.
The small Republican Party, which is partly to be regarded as a proletarian party, takes a somewhat ambiguous position, but leads a rather energetic opposition to the fascist government. It has won two seats in parliament: it had five in the old chamber, today it has seven members.
There are also the three parties that developed out of the old traditional Socialist Party: the Unitarian Socialist Party, the Maximalist Socialist Party and the Communist Party. It is well known that when these three parties were still united in one party, they held 150 seats in parliament. Today the Unitarian Socialists (Reformists) have 24, the maximalists 22 and the Communists 19 seats. In the name of the proletarian unity, the communists had with the faction of the III. International lists jointly drawn up within the maximalist party. One can say that the Communist Party is the only one of all the opposition parties that not only returned to parliament in its old strength, but also won a few new seats. In 1921 we had 15 and today we have 19 MPs. One mandate, however, appears to have been declared invalid, we may only be 18 in number, but those are details.
In addition to the small irredentist lists of annexed Germans and Slavs, there is also a Sardinian party that arose a few years ago on the island of Sardinia and which, if not complete separation from Italy, demands extensive provincial autonomy. It is a movement that aims at the decentralization of the state, towards a far-reaching dissolution of the Italian state association and the Italian nation, and which will perhaps lead to parallel movements in other districts that are in a bad situation. A similar party is said to be being formed in the Basilicata. This movement is to a certain extent connected to a purely intellectual movement in Turin, which publishes the magazine "Liberal Revolution" on the basis of liberal, partly federalist theories. This group leads an energetic opposition to fascism, it has gathered a number of sympathizers from the strata of the intellectuals and the liberal professions.
You can see that the opposition is broken down into a large number of small groups. In addition, a few political currents deserve mention that did not take action in the elections.
There is, for example, the movement led by d'Annunzio, i. H. a small elite that rallied around d'Annunzio and awaited the sign of their leader to take action. But d'Annunzio's recent appearance has been rather contradicting. He was silent for a while. This movement emerged from the original movement of the middle class and those who participated in the war, who did not want to participate in the official mobilization by the big bourgeoisie and who - when they found that fascism denied its program in order to turn completely into conservative paths - put themselves aside . There is also the remarkable movement of "liberal Italy", i. H. the anti-fascist opposition within the organization of those involved in the war, whose influence is currently increasing rapidly. Another anti-fascist movement that works intensively are the Masonic lodges. These Masonic lodges went through a serious crisis against fascism. There was even a split, but it was not of great importance: An attempt was made to break a small opposition group, which advocated fascism, away from the Freemasons.
The fascists waged a campaign against the Freemasons. As a fascist, Mussolini adopted the same resolution on incompatibility with Freemasonry that he advocated as a socialist in 1914.
Freemasonry has made a serious response to these attacks. Through its propaganda against fascist terror, it carried out significant educational work against fascism in the liberal layers of the bourgeoisie abroad. In Italy, too, a secret educational work of some importance is going on among the petty bourgeoisie and intellectuals, in whose circles the Freemasons are very influential.
The anarchist movement does not play a role of great importance in Italian politics today.
One can see what a complicated picture the various opposition currents offer against the powerful fascist majority.
But what does this opposition mean, if it also represents some power in the press, in the field of political and military organization, i. H. with regard to the practical possibility of an attack against fascism in the foreseeable future? Here it means almost nothing. However, some groups, such as the Republicans and Freemasons, would like to believe that they do indeed have an illegal organization against fascism. But such rumors are not to be taken seriously. What is to be taken seriously is only the significant current of opposition in public opinion and in the press. The bourgeois opposition has a fairly significant press, and certain very widespread press organs in Italy take positions which, although not openly opposition, are clearly opposed to fascism. For example, the "Corriere della Sera" in Milan and the "Stampa" in Turin have a strong influence on public opinion, especially among the middle class, in the sense of a tough, if not very loud, opposition.
All of this provides evidence of the increase in dissatisfaction with fascism since it came to power.
Even if it is difficult to precisely define and categorize the various opposition groups, a sharp dividing line can be drawn between the mood in the proletariat and the mood in the middle class.
The proletariat is anti-fascist because of its class consciousness; it sees the struggle against fascism as a violent struggle that will completely upset the situation and replace the dictatorship of fascism with the dictatorship of revolution. The proletariat wants its revenge, not in the banal, sentimental sense of the word, it wants its revenge in the historical sense.
The revolutionary proletariat instinctively understands that the fact of the growth and domination of the forces of reaction must be answered with the fact of the counter-offensive of the opposing forces; the proletariat feels that only through a new period of heavy struggles and - in the event of victory - through the dictatorship of the proletariat can the situation be fundamentally changed. The proletariat awaits this moment in order to give back to the class enemy the blows which it has to accept today with an energy tenfolded by experience.
The anti-fascism of the middle class has a less active character. The opposition is strong and emotional, but it is based on a pacifist attitude: there is a whole-hearted desire to restore normal political life in Italy, with complete freedom of expression and discussion, but without beating the cane and using violence . Everything should return to normal conditions; Fascists as well as communists should have the right to represent their convictions. This is the illusion of the middle class, which strives for a certain balance of power and democratic freedom.
A sharp distinction must be made between these two moods, which arise from dissatisfaction with fascism in Italy. The latter mood presents difficulties for our approach that we should not underestimate.
Even in the bourgeoisie in the narrower sense of the word there are doubts about the usefulness of the fascist movement. There are certain concerns. The two press organs mentioned above are, to a certain extent, the bearers of these views. You ask: is this the correct method? Isn't it an exaggeration? We have created an apparatus that should perform certain functions in the interests of our class goals, but will it not exceed those functions and these goals? Will he not be forced to do more than is good? The most intelligent layers of the Italian bourgeoisie are in favor of revising fascism and its reactionary excesses, for fear that these excesses will necessarily lead to a revolutionary explosion. Of course, it is in the vested interest of the bourgeoisie that these layers of the ruling class campaign against fascism in their press, to reduce it to the ground of legality, to make it a safer and smoother tool for the exploitation of the working class. They advocate the skilful policy of seeming concessions to the proletariat, while at the same time expressing their enthusiasm for the results of fascism, for the restoration of bourgeois order and the salvation of its foundation, private property.
However, these moods are very important.
So is z. B. Senator Agnelli, the director of the great Fiat automobile factory and the greatest capitalist in Italy, a liberal. But if one overestimates the importance of such a fact, as some Italian comrades have done, one immediately encounters the protests of the Fiat workers, who assure that the reaction in the Fiat factory is exactly the same as in other factories, those under personal management capitalists belonging to the fascist party. Agnelli is just a more adept industrial tycoon; he realizes that it is very dangerous to provoke the working masses; he remembers the unpleasant moments he went through when the workers occupied his workshops and factories and raised the red flag on them; he gives well-meaning advice to fascism so that it may carry out the struggle against the proletariat in a more intelligent way. Obviously, fascism is not deaf to such advice.
Before the Matteotti case, fascism had turned to the left. On the eve of Matteotti's assassination, Mussolini had given a speech in which he addressed the opposition and stated the following: "You are forming the new chamber. We would not have had to hold elections; we could have exercised a dictatorial power, but we wanted to turn to the people themselves.You must admit today that in response the people gave us their full approval, an overwhelming majority. "It was Matteotti in particular who denied this by declaring that from a democratic and constitutional point of view, fascism was defeated, the government in the The minority remained, that their majority would be an artificial and fraudulent one. Of course, fascism did not admit that. Mussolini argues as follows: "On the basis of the official figures we have the majority. I turn to the opposition. There are two ways of driving opposition. First, in the communist way. I have nothing to say to these gentlemen. You are perfectly logical. Their intention is one day to overthrow us by revolutionary violence and establish proletarian dictatorship. We answer them: We will only give way to a superior power. If you want to dare to fight us, well! We say to the other opposition groups: The use of revolutionary force is not in your program; You are not preparing a revolt against us. What are you aiming for? How do you intend to seize power? The law gives us five years as the legislature of this chamber. Incidentally, we would achieve the same result in new elections. So the best thing is to come to an understanding. We may have exaggerated, we may have exceeded the standard. We have used illegal methods which I try to suppress. I urge you to work together! Bring suggestions, bring your own thoughts! We'll find a middle line. "
It was an appeal to all non-revolutionary opposition groups to work together. Only the Communists were excluded from Mussolini's invitation.
Incidentally, he has stated more than once that an understanding is possible with the trade union federation because it is not based on the demagogic theory of revolution, because Bolshevism has now been liquidated, etc.
That was how things were. This attitude of Mussolini shows the strength to which the anti-fascist opposition had developed. The government was forced to turn left.
But the bomb burst. The Matteotti case completely changed the situation in Italy. The events are well known: one day the reformist MP Matteotti disappeared. For two days, his family waited in vain for his return. Then she turned to the police. The police said they knew nothing. After the newspapers reported that Matteotti had disappeared, some eyewitnesses said they saw Matteotti being overpowered by five individuals on the street and forcibly dragged into an automobile; this immediately drove away at top speed.
Great excitement immediately took hold of public opinion. It was believed that Matteotti might be held captive, that it might just be a return to individual terror, to the policy of "sticking", that perhaps they just wanted to force him to sign some kind of declaration. Was it that or was it worse? Could it be a murder?
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