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The Corporative State

"He Made the Trains Run on Time"

From 1870 until 1922, Italy was a constitutional monarchy with a parliament elected under limited suffrage. In 1922, Benito Mussolini came to power and, in the course of the next few years, eliminated the old political parties, curtailed liberties and installed a fascist dictatorship called the Corporate State. The king, with little power, remained titular head of state.

With his simple watchword, 'Work and Discipline,' Mussolini's iron hand wrought order out of chaos, economic prosperity out of economic dissolution, and restored to the nation its momentarily shaken faith in itself and the future. Italy's recovery was the most remarkable phenomenon of post-war Europe, and while it means that this country can no longer be counted negligible at international council tables. Discussion was been put aside as weakening immediate efficiency, strikes were stopped because they were wasteful, and a strong government was supported in order that it may multiply industrial energy and increase the capacity of production. In this way Italy sought both to meet the growing demands of subsistence for her people at home, and to place herself in a position eventually to obtain from the powers recognition of her world claim for international justice. The nation instinctively felt the necessity of this policy in 1922, when it gave birth to Fascism. The alternative was civic suicide and national effacement.

On October 28, 1922, Mussolini's Black Shirts marched on Rome, and the Fascist party took control of the Italian parliament and established a Syndicalist state, that is, of unions of employers and labor. Then was born that "controlling class" of militia and deputies on whose shoulders he rode the storm. This time, whatever powers that were behind the throne in Italy did more than look on. They acquiesced; and some cooperated. The nation rallied about Victor Emmanuel III, its soldier King, whose clear head at the critical moment merged the Fasci in the Government, calling their big, inspired leader in the black shirt, October 31, 1922, to be his prime minister. Soon the Fascist party took over the Italian parliament and made it an organ of their party.

On assuming power with the march to Rome, which after all was carried out with few casualties and no serious effects, Fascism initiated a period of hard 'struggle, fighting down violence, which by this time had become useless and dangerous. Its methods began to spread and to become more efficient. Law was reestablished everywhere and for everyone. The new regime was strengthened by peaceful methods through the use of constitutional measures regularly sanctioned by the Monarchy, which Fascism not only recognized, but exalted in the eyes of the entire nation. In short, it injected young and vitalizing forces into the old body of the monarchical and constitutional State. These forces, without in any way conflicting with the fundamental principles on which the Italian State rests, have gradually eliminated those elements and organisms that no longer answered the spirit of the new time, and have substituted for them more modern and active elements and organisms. In attaining these ends, violence has been resorted to only when all other methods have been found useless and insufficient.

Mussolini himself affirmed that the goal of Fascism was the Corporative State. Therefore, despite all appearances it becomes evident that even in aim this movement differed profoundly from the Russian Revolution. Fascism accepted the reality of the social division of men into classes and wishes only to change their organization and to modify and clarify their rights and their duties to the nation.

On December 12, 1923, the Italian National Fascist party definitely decided on a Corporative state. On May 15, 1931, Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, endorsed the Corporative principle as applied to social, economic, and political efforts. The Corporative New State held that the state in its normal form does not give. It demands only. It demands firstly men and arms for defense, and secondly, obedience to its laws and authority. The function of the state being to secure national survival in competition with other states, this theory may have to bend to expediency. "Fascism," says Mussolini, "rejects all ... the conceptions that there can be any doctrine of unquestioned efficiency for all times and all peoples." The Fascist state does not rest on the assent of the individual, which it saw as a delusion, but on the assent of the Corporations, that is, associations or institutions to which the individual belongs, according to his function or interests in society.

In contrast to Liberalism, Fascism insisted on obedience to constituted authority and declares that only in adopting the hierarchal principle can any political competence in the individual exist or be represented. This is declared to be the natural order whereby the direction of human action alone may be accomplished.

In the mid-twentieth century, the railroad system in Italy was notorious forthe unreliability of its daily schedules. Benito Mussolini bolstered his rise to power by promising to end the country's transportation troubles. After seizing control, he touted his authority and leadership with the claim that he made Italy's trains run on time.

Speaking to an American correspondent on June 8th, 1933, Mussolini, shrugging his shoulders, refused to admit that German "Fascism" was either an offshoot or an imitation of the Italian variety. The German revolution he described as a national rather than a social revolution, and said that no one could foretell how it might develop.

In Germany during the 1930s, the independence of the private sector was a pre-World War I memory. In the Soviet Union, where the Bolshevik Revolution was not yet a generation old, government virtually occupied the field. And in Italy, where Benito Mussolini's Fascist party promoted an economic approach called syndicalism, nominally private property was devoted to state purposes. Even in France at that time, the corporatist spirit was in the ascendancy, and the government controlled many industries.

On October 31, 1942, the Chilean ambassador to Italy, Ramon Briones Luco, informed his government that Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and German police, had just visited Rome and spoken with Mussolini. According to Briones's sources, Himmler had requested Mussolini to amalgamate the German and Italian police forces and to transfer to Germany all Polish, Czech, and Yugoslav Jews in Italy. Mussolini allegedly consulted his own police chief and declined to go along.




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