Flunking Fascism 101
There are few words the American Left loves to fling around with such abandon as the word "fascist." According to them, social conservatives, libertarians and the Religious Right are all various brands of fascism, that political ideology which came into such disrepute following the demise of il Duce, Benito Mussolini.
And yet, is the accusation legitimate? Who better to judge than Mussolini himself, not only the founder of the Fascist movement, but also the author of its manifesto. The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle is not so well-known as the Communist Manifesto - and deservedly so, being markedly lacking in memorable phrases such as "a spectre haunting Europe" - and is not even as well-known as the Munich Manifesto of Germany's National Socialists.
In fact, one can seldom find a direct translation of the Fascist manifesto, as it is usually summarized quickly before being swept aside in favor of contorted explanations of how its socialist theoreticians, including Panunzio, Gentile and Mussolini himself, are actually right-wing extremists influenced by the Catholic Church. It is fortuitous, then, that I happen to speak Italian, and so I present herein an original translation of The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle, published in The People of Italy on June 6, 1919.
Italians! Here is the program of a genuinely Italian movement. It is revolutionary because it is anti-dogmatic, strongly innovative and against prejudice.
For the political problem: We demand:
a) Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women.
b) A minimum age for the voting electorate of 18 years; that for the office holders at 25 years.
c) The abolition of the Senate.
d) The convocation of a National Assembly for a three-years duration, for which its primary responsibility will be to form a constitution of the State.
e) The formation of a National Council of experts for labor, for industy, for transportation, for the public health, for communications, etc. Selections to be made from the collective professionals or of tradesmen with legislative powers, and elected directly to a General Commission with ministerial powers.
For the social problems: We demand:
a) The quick enactment of a law of the State that sanctions an eight-hour workday for all workers.
b) A minimum wage.
c) The participation of workers' representatives in the functions of industry commissions.
d) To show the same confidence in the labor unions (that prove to be technically and morally worthy) as is given to industry executives or public servants.
e) The rapid and complete systemization of the railways and of all the transport industries.
f) A necessary modification of the insurance laws to invalidate the minimum retirement age; we propose to lower it from 65 to 55 years of age.
For the military problem: We demand:
a) The institution of a national militia with a short period of service for training and exclusively defensive responsibilities.
b) The nationalization of all the arms and explosives factories.
c) A national policy intended to peacefully further the Italian national culture in the world.
For the financial problem: We demand:
a) A strong progressive tax on capital that will truly expropriate a portion of all wealth.
b) The seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics, which constitute an enormous liability on the Nation and on the privileges of the poor.
c) The revision of all military contracts and the seizure of 85 percent of the profits therein.
As with National Socialism and Communism, it is easy to see that far from being a right-wing ideology, fascism is simply another variant of leftist worship of the State. I found the first plank in the above platform to be particularly amusing, as last week on my blog, Vox Popoli, a five-day debate sparked by a post on the historical consequences of women's suffrage caused some hysterical leftists to label me a fascist. And yet, the only serious question is if it is more ironic to tar a libertarian or a member of the Religious Right with the fascist brush, as one seldom hears James Dobson calling for the government seizure of all church-owned property.
In 1925, Mussolini encapsulated the heart of fascist philosophy in a memorable phrase:
Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato. This means "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State." Now, I ask you, in the Year of Our Lord 2004, does that sound more like a Libertarian, a Republican or a Democrat?