What is Fascism
Benito Mussolini, 1932
Modern History Sourcebook
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
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
ofMarxian 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....
...iven 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.
This text is part of the Internet Modern
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