Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) over the course of his lifetime went from
Socialism - he was editor of Avanti, a socialist newspaper - to the leadership
of a new political movement called "fascism" [after "fasces",
the symbol of bound sticks used a totem of power in ancient Rome].
Mussolini came to power after the "March on Rome" in 1922, and
was appointed Prime Minister by King Victor Emmanuel.
In 1932 Mussolini wrote (with the help of Giovanni Gentile) and entry for
the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism.
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development
of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes
neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates
the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act
of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension
all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage
to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into
the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of
life or death....
...The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising
suicide: he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but
above all for others -- those who are at hand and those who are far distant,
contemporaries, and those who will come after...
...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist
conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through
the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change
and development in the means and instruments of production.... Fascism, now
and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions
influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception
of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets,
carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are
quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable
and unchanging class-war is also denied - the natural progeny of the economic
conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the
preponderant force in the transformation of society....
After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology,
and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application.
Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority,
can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of
a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful
inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere
operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage....
...Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political
equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth
of "happiness" and indefinite progress....
...given that the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism,
and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century
must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines
pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be
a century of authority...a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century
was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century
of collectivism and hence the century of the State....
The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its
duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison
with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in
their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that
of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual,
of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording
results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself
a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....
...The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of
liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly
harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question
cannot be the individual, but the State alone....
...For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation,
is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence.
Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always
imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the
doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people,
like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement
and foreign servitude. But empire demands discipline, the coordination of all
forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice: this fact explains many
aspects of the practical working of the regime, the character of many forces
in the State, and the necessarily severe measures which must be taken against
those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of Italy in
the twentieth century, and would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology
of the nineteenth century - repudiated wheresoever there has been the courage
to undertake great experiments of social and political transformation; for never
before has the nation stood more in need of authority, of direction and order.
If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs
which point to Fascism as the characteristic doctrine of our time. For if a
doctrine must be a living thing, this is proved by the fact that Fascism has
created a living faith; and that this faith is very powerful in the minds of
men is demonstrated by those who have suffered and died for it.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997