December 8, 2016

1931. "Tactics of Hitler: His Self-Assurance a Source of His Power"

"An Ideology Full of Fantasy"
Hitler with Joseph Goebbels and General Werner von Blomberg (left) in Berlin on Remembrance Day, February 24, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of contemporary reports on the rise of fascism in the 1920s and early 1930s in Italy and Germany. The articles offer perspective and analysis on how the previously obscure figures Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were viewed prior to World War II.

From The New York Times, December 13, 1931:


His Self-Assurance a Source of His Power

BERLIN, Dec. 9 — Adolf Hitler has talked to foreign journalists and, through his adjutant, Rosenberg, also to persons prominent in English politics, as if he already headed the government of Germany. Abroad the impression must have been produced that he is the head of a State within the State. Through his many newspapers in Germany he has been talking in similar tenor for a long time, and he owes his election successes to the immense power of suggestion emanating from his self-assurance of victory. That suggestion needs to be materially furthered, for there never has been a party in Germany to carry on agitation so unscrupulously as Hitler's, which calls itself the National Socialist Workers party, and with the money of heavy industry and a forced levy on the commercial enterprises in provincial towns carries on propaganda for a Bolshevist program.

This agitation is unscrupulous, first of all, as to the personal element. All Jews are swine, un-German and unpatriotic traitors. All Ministers of State are dishonest and ripe for hanging under the "third realm." In every municipal administration those belonging to the National Socialist party are corrupt. The "third realm" holds out to shopkeepers a paradise in which they would be freed from the competition of department and chain stores; to workmen, socialization of all plants; to house owners, liberation from mortgages, and to renters lower house rents.

"Third Realm" Would Halve Interest

One example will stand for many. Before the Reichstag election last year there appeared in a small country place an agitator who told an attentive audience of people oppressed by hard times that within a quarter of a year the National Socialists would govern Germany—then would begin the "third realm." And in that happy realm all interest would be halved, and debts to Jews would not have to be paid at all. A number of prudent agriculturists thereupon betook themselves to the nearest towns, where they raised mortgage loans from Jewish bankers. The latter, cognizant of the National Socialist propaganda, charged the peasants higher interest—12½ per cent.

Last October the communal elections took place in that district and the same agitator reappeared and told the same audience, again attentively listening, that it was simply necessary to make further sacrifices for the "third realm." In a subsequent discussion a participant at the meeting rose to remark: "We are of the opinion that to pay 12½ per cent interest for a year and a half is sacrifice enough." All the other mortgagors applauded. The result was that, though everywhere else in the district the communal elections resulted in National Socialist gains, in the place in question the Hitler party polled only a fourth of the vote cast for it in the Reichstag election.

This story shows how ephemeral are the demagogic promises the National Socialists lightly make in their newspapers and meetings. But it illustrates at the same time how very much sobered the electors will become the longer the fulfillment of the promises is drawn out. This circumstance must be taken into account to understand the tactics employed by Dr. Bruening against the National Socialists in order, for the time being at least, to keep them away from the government.

What chance has Hitler, anyhow, of assuming the government of Germany? There is a fine saying of Montesquieu's that "States can be maintained only be the same means with which they have been founded." That applies to parties as well. Hitler founded his party as the party of revolution. He would emulate Mussolini, and subvert the democratic parliamentary republic. He thus enlisted under his standard part of the German youth and that portion of the revolutionary workers' body that will not recognize the headship of the Moscow International but demands a German national socialism.

On Sept. 14, 1930, Hitler won an immense victory. The number of Reichstag mandates of his party was multiplied almost ten times—rose from 12 to 107. The burgher class was dismayed; the long announced march on Berlin was expected any day. It did not take place. The parliamentary activity of the National Socialist Deputies confined itself to making rows. None the less, in the subsequent elections to State Diets the Hitler party was able to better its Reichstag election vote by gains up to 100 per cent. More and more the middle class, as far as it had not already joined Hitler's following, came to look upon the advent of a National Socialist regime as an inescapable fate. In Harzburg then a "slack front" was founded—a fraternization of Hitler with Hugenberg, leader of the Monarchists' National party. Again there was trembling before an anticipated storm. But no march on Berlin—on the contrary, soon after the Harzburg meeting embittered enmity arose between Hitler's host and Hugenberg's knights. And clearer than ever before it became manifest that Hitler, who had preached an overturn and illegality, exhibited a desire to reach governmental power by legal means, and not even by himself alone but in partnership with the Catholic Centre party.

Hitler's "Delusion of Grandeur"

Negotiations between representatives of Dr. Bruening and the National Socialist leader that took place after Hitler's call on Hindenburg—who had been covered with the lowest insults in Hitler's newspapers—came about through Hitler's efforts. They began with declarations exhibiting delusions of grandeur by Hitler, who already felt himself dictator. An eyewitness thus described to me the result: "Hitler discovered that there existed in the Reich a foreign policy, a Reichswehr, and a bureaucracy. He discovered that there was no possibility of forcibly seizing the reins of government; and, since he realized he could never succeed in winning election by a majority, he started working ever more industriously toward legal joint government with the Centre party. The latter has kept him dangling till now, and one may say that Hitler's chances have become worse with each conference. On this point one must not be deceived either by the tone of the National Socialist newspaper—latterly become specially rough—or by the pretender-like addresses to the world.

The Hitler party does not draw its following from a homogeneous class or mass. In its unscrupulousness it has gathered to itself all the desperate elements among the people. It is composed of declassed members of the privileged class under the empire, members of the trading and the artisan classes, who are struggling hard to exist, and of workmen and employees with revolutionary leanings driven to desperation through prolonged unemployment. Portions of the youth in Germany, especially of the universities, have been attracted by an ideology full of fantasy. And this year there has been an increasing influx of minor officials and academicians hoping for office in the "third realm." Industrialists supplying the National Socialist party with funds support it in the hope of crushing the power of labor unions while drummed-up masses of revolutionary workmen hope that in "their realm" they will be masters of industrial enterprise.

Every legal seizure of power by the National Socialists, and particularly every participation in a coalition government, must either damage the Hitler party or cause its revolutionary members to resort to force. Now in their negotiations with the National Socialists the Centre party and the German People's party pursue different aims. The German People's party thinks it is impossible to keep so large a party permanently from a share in the government, and that therefore it should be forced to take such a share legally, in order thus to detach Hitler, the place hunters and the middle-class elements from the revolutionary wing.
Demonstration against Adolf Hitler organized by the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold at the Berlin Sportpalast on December 2, 1931 (source)
Sees Party Unmasking Itself

The Chancellor himself seems to take the view that through his negotiations Hitler's craze for power and the ambition of many of his henchmen for office were unmasking their party in the eyes of its adherents, and that if Dr. Bruening's government succeeds in obtaining results in the financial and reparations negotiations, and in maintaining domestic peace, the National Socialist peril will be exorcised without letting the Hitlerites take any hand in the government. Whether this optimistic conception is correct depends not only on the Chancellor succeeding in his international negotiations, but even more on whether France in particular will be reasonable enough to give Germany financial and economic aid in a degree sufficient to restore German economy.

There can be no doubt that mere participation by Hitler in any German government would constitute a grave danger to Germany. Not only is the agitation carried on by his party unscrupulous and brutal in its tenor, but it also moves on a very low level culturally. It asserts that much of that which Germany now honors is Jewish and un-German, and as a result of this fundamental attitude every achievement in the realm of literature and art and in civilization in general is rejected or minimized if its author is suspected of being a Jew or of Jewish descent. The "Germanic" type is the only one tolerated or lauded. The church is vilified because it tolerates the Old Testament as part of the divine revelation.

All this, however, does not prevent Mussolini from being eulogized as a paragon and the ally of the cultural interests of the sorely pressed German population of the South Tyrol which was sacrificed in his behalf. Now that he is seeking favor abroad Hitler is conducting himself most peacefully, but there can be no doubt that his program contemplates war upon France and Moscow with the aid of Italy and England.

Part is Bolshevism

Strange also is national socialism's economic program. In part it is simon-pure bolshevism, at least in its phraseology. In its purport it seeks to classify people according to crafts and professions, and when it refers to socialization it becomes evident upon closer scrutiny that it aims at profit-sharing and complete State autocracy, which threatens the recalcitrant employer with expropriation. Another plan of the platform demands the disruption of "interest slavery," to be accomplished through the issue of such unlimited quantities of currency as are demanded by commercial intercourse instead of basing circulation on gold. It is a combination of the purely inflationalistic notions and theories of Keynes and Fisher. The Hitler agrarian program is wholly bolshevistic in that it proposes to give the small peasants more land while promising to farm workers the division of the big landed estates.

None of the features of the program can be executed if the National Socialists are to govern with other parties. But even for such an emergency, counsel has been provided. In order to take cognizance of the present-day anti-capitalistic trend it is proposed to disperse the big industrial plants and to propagate economic "autarkie." That would not, however, prevent the further practice of demagogy or the vilification of other parties with whom they were cooperating. So long as the present economic misery continues in Germany, exploitation of such aims will enable any party to attain big dimensions. National socialism has become a factor only because of the world crisis and the German depression, and the future of the party's development depends wholly on their duration. Just as soon as this fostering soil becomes exhausted the National Socialist spook will vanish. What will probably remain then will be a small, discontented bourgeois party.

December 7, 2016

1965. The Nation's Outdoor Advertising Epidemic

Lady Bird Johnson's Highway Beautification Campaign
"President Lyndon B. Johnson hands a signing pen to Lady Bird Johnson as others look on" at the signing of the Highway Beautification Act at the White House, October 22, 1965 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

October 5, 1965

When the late Henry Ford put America on wheels, he made every motorist a wagon master. Ever since this advent of rapid and cheap transportation, the restless American population has been following the trails blazed by their forefathers across prairies and rivers, through valleys and deserts, over hills and mountains of such startling beauty and magnificence that the art and legend of this nation has always been rooted in the natural wonder of the continent.

The original roads and highways followed the trails left by the deer and other game who had found the easiest passage over a range of mountains or from valley to valley, or they followed the paths cut by the migratory Indians across the plains or between the water holes in the sands. Or, in the old days, if a man wanted to build his own roadway up a rise, he took his best milk cow to the bottom of the hill and then marked her zigzag path to the top. A cow is not the smartest animal on earth except that she will always find the easiest grade to climb any slope in front of her. And that's the way that America's network of road communications developed a kind of transportation Topsy wandered aimlessly across the land, but served the horse-and-buggy era very well.

However, as more and more people graduated from the Model T, they demanded more direct and well-paved roads. And as more millions took to motoring, some far-seeing traveling salesman figured out that travelers usually have money to spend, that they have a lot of time to look around when riding along, and that the sides of the thousands of barns along the virtually every other mile of American landscape made perfect backgrounds for the advertising of such things as Mail Punch chewing tobacco, Clabber Girl baking powder, and most predominately of all, Bull Durham roll-your-own smoking tobacco.

This, we believe, was the beginning of outdoor advertising. Since then it has become a multi-million dollar industry which has been ambushing the American motorist with ever more garish and more encroaching sales pitches until, in some areas, driving from one city to another makes one feel as if you'd detoured into some gigantic and frantic neon-lit pinball board—with your automobile the careening steel ball buffeted through a nightmare of light and sound.

Not until after World War II did the nation get down to serious work on the parkways and superhighways so vitally needed. Today, about half of the 41,000 mile National System of Interstate and Defense highways have been completed, and the government finds itself confronted with a problem of aesthetics.

The federal and state engineers might be building some of the most modern and best superhighways in the world, but before the national road network would be completed in 1972, there was a danger it would turn the United States into a gargantuan carnival grounds—with each highway a kind of high speed circus midway—or a blur of continuous billboards and signs with the hard sell dominating and obscuring everything.

As new highways opened up the scenic back country, it was revealed that for years the nation had been concealing its wrecked and worn out automobiles in unsightly junkyards in obscure spots of the country—something like a child hiding his broken toys. In fact, a survey made last spring showed that there were some 18,000 of these growing scrapheaps in view of federal aid primary roads across the country.

Congress recognized this eyesore problem back in 1958 when it approved a semi-voluntary billboard control policy, leaving enforcement up to the states. Only twenty states signed up with the federal government on the billboard agreement; only seven of them enforced the policy.

Which brings us up to date. This year the Senate passed an amended version of the Johnson administration billboard law with some teeth in it. It calls for strict control of outdoor advertising and junkyards along the 41,000 miles of interstate highways and about 225,000 miles of federally supported primary roadways.

The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives, which is scheduled to vote on it the day after tomorrow, Thursday, October 7.

What will make this House vote special is that it will test the political persuasiveness of Lady Bird Johnson. Mrs. Johnson has been stumping the country to promote her husband's National Beautification Program, and the war against billboards and auto graveyards has been a priority project.

But in the past week the House has been kicking at its legislative traces, and Congressmen say they're just plain tired of passing bills and appropriating money, no matter how worthy the projects.

However, Washington politicians have learned never to underestimate the powers of a woman—particularly if she's the vivacious wife of the President. In fact, some say that Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy will go down in history as the First Lady who redecorated the White House, and before it's over, Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson may make the history books as the First Lady who redid the whole American landscape.

This is Bill Downs, substituting for Edward P. Morgan, saying good night from Washington.

December 6, 2016

1943. Fireworks and Salutes in Moscow as the Fighting Continues

Moscow Salutes as Italy Falls
"Soviet troops move near the German sign for Stalino, the former name for Donetsk in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region," September 8, 1943 (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

September 11, 1943

It was a quiet night in Moscow tonight. The Russian communiqué for a change did not proclaim a sensational victory—but this does not mean there were none.

For example, in the drive west from Stalino, the Russian troops advanced from six to seven miles. They took 70 inhabited points. In the Central Ukraine, Russian troops moved from three to six miles towards Kiev. They took 20 inhabited points.

Another 60 populated points were taken in the Bryansk salient, and a lot of them you can't even find on the map.

What I'm trying to say is that despite the apparent lack of what we call "big" news, the Red Army's advance is continuing. A lot of these unknown inhabited points might be, for individual groups of Russian soldiers, battles as bitter and bloody as the fighting that separate units did for Stalingrad. You don't need a special communiqué to die—you also don't need a special communiqué to capture an inhabited point.

The fall of Italy is the most discussed news in Russia tonight. On the subway and in the streetcars and buses, people discuss the events in Southern Europe.

The people in Russia are wondering whether this is going to develop into a Second Front. No one is speculating, but with the German occupation—or what the Nazis call occupation—of Rome and other major cities north of the Allied landings, people are beginning to wonder. However, the Second Front is still the number one military question uppermost in all minds, no matter how the Italian offensive develops.

Meanwhile, people here in Moscow come home from work each night and wonder whether they will see any fireworks. In some neighborhoods they have watched certain stations where these fireworks are set off, and they can see supply trucks coming in late in the evening. Thus the word spreads that some new fireworks have arrived in such-and-such district and that a new "prekasz" is due from the Kremlin.

In fact, the whole process has become so common in the last few days that they are saying to their daughters who go out for an evening's stroll, "Remember, Galya, you must be home just after the salute."

December 5, 2016

1965. Hubert Humphrey Becomes Acting President

The World-Shaking Power of the White House
President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson at a Cabinet meeting on May 25, 1961 (Photograph by Abbie Rowe - source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

October 6, 1965

Some day historical researchers are going to make a study of how world history has been changed by the phobias and diseases of the men and women who have led and pushed mankind throughout the centuries. For example, if Alexander the Great had not suffered from epilepsy, would he have continued his push to conquer India and China?

What if England's Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, had been able to settle down to royal motherhood; or was it nymphomania that drove her to prove her superiority over men and thus restore Britain as a leading world power?

If Napoleon had not suffered the never ending irritation of shingles and attendant skin ailments, would he have possessed the patience to delay that fatal winter campaign against Moscow?

How much did the agonizing carbuncles and ever-festering boils affect the thinking of Karl Marx and his vindictive dreams of world revolution through an infectious philosophy called Communism?

And supposing Adolf Hitler had not been a paranoid megalomaniac, would Europe and Russia today be ruled by Nazi Gauleiters?

Such ruminations always come to mind when a world leader is stricken with illness; although official Washington seems to be taking the impending hospitalization of Lyndon Johnson with outward calm. However, it is inevitable that the offending cluster of gallstones which is forcing President Johnson onto the operating table already is of international concern. The ailing Presidential gallbladder already is influencing the pace of history, even though there is no reason to doubt the assurances of White House doctors that Mr. Johnson will be only temporarily inconvenienced by the operation.

But even temporary disability of a President of the United States has tremendous impact everywhere. That was the reason for the airtight White House security which kept Mr. Johnson's secret for almost a month until a firm hospital date could be arranged. Yesterday the announcement was delayed several times because the administration wanted to wait until all stock market operations on the West Coast were closed.

Any sudden upset of Presidential routine has always had a disturbing effect on the rumor-prone stock speculators. But given overnight to absorb the news, Wall Street and other stock trading centers across the country accepted the facts calmly and without panic. The market held generally steady today. So did everyone else. There were no sensational or damaging rumors to obscure the plain and simple truth about Mr. Johnson's condition.

But it is a fact of international life in this nuclear age that all nations live in a constant state of diplomatic and political jitters. The recent events in Indonesia provide evidence of this, and also proof of the damage that can be done by unfounded reports and self-serving rumors.

Like President Johnson, Indonesia's President Sukarno has troubles with his innards. For years, Sukarno has been suffering from kidney stones, and at the age of 64  his penchant for lovely ladies and high living are beginning to take their toll. Last week, rumors spread through the capital city of Jakarta and throughout the Indonesian islands that President Sukarno was dead—or dying.

The skillful and wily hand of the so-called "George Washington of Indonesia" had lost its grip, so the rumors went, thus Sukarno's control over the various military and political factions which held the nation together was no more. But now it develops that the Indonesian President is still very much alive. However, for several days there was bitter fighting throughout the country. How many persons that unfounded death report has killed is still unknown. A half dozen officers of Sukarno's Army general staff were shot. Now, the Indonesian President is occupied with trying to stave off a civil war.

By contrast, President Johnson today moved obviously and deliberately to prove to the world that his is no "diplomatic illness;" that medical surgery is not being used as an excuse for a change of leadership in the United States government. That's the reason for the vigorous walk around the White House grounds this morning and a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue—so that not only reporters, but the people could see him. Mr. Johnson followed up this exercise with a surprise visit to a National Press Club luncheon, just in case some news cameras might have missed him. If this seems to be taking exaggerated and unnecessary trouble to prove the obvious, remember that, as pointed out earlier, these are jittery and suspicious times.

All White House actions from here on out will be designed to demonstrate that when the President of the United States goes under the knife on Friday morning there will be no wavering in American power, and no pause or change in U.S. goals. In fact, so mistrustful are these days of our years that, by Friday, more extensive preparations will be ordered to protect the United States. If precedent is followed—as in the illnesses of President Eisenhower and the executive crisis during the Kennedy assassination—America's Strategic Air Force will go on 24-hour special alert at air bases around the world, as will the Polaris-loaded nuclear submarine fleet spread over the Seven Seas, along with Minuteman intercontinental missile bases in this country.

No one will dare mess with the United States while her President is ill.

This is Bill Downs, substituting for Edward P. Morgan, saying good night from Washington.
President Lyndon Johnson at the 1965 inaugural ball following his reelection, January 20, 1965 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

October 7, 1965

For an unpredictable number of hours tomorrow, the awesome powers of the Presidency of the United States technically will be in the hands of Hubert Horatio Humphrey, who will be Acting President of the nation while Lyndon Johnson undergoes surgery.

If we know Mr. Humphrey as well as we think we do, the Man from Minnesota will spend that time praying to speed the moment when he can become just plain Vice President again.

The Constitutional dilemma which has plagued the federal government for some 175 years—and through more than a half dozen known Presidential disability crises—that legal dilemma still remains. Because the Constitution states clearly that "the Executive Power shall be invested in a President"—one man, no more.

Almost as an afterthought the Constitution adds that in case of a President's "inability" to perform his duties, then the powers of the office shall "devolve" on the Vice President. But nowhere does the document define what constitutes "disability."

President Eisenhower made an agreement with Richard Nixon during his illnesses which attempted to clarify the situation. Nixon would become "Acting President" when Mr. Eisenhower judged himself unable to serve. Or the Vice President would, after proper consultation, himself serve as Acting President if Mr. Eisenhower was too ill to inform Nixon of the disability. In any case, Mr. Eisenhower reserved the right to determine when his disability had ended and when he would resume the full powers of the office.

The late President Kennedy had a similar agreement with Lyndon Johnson. And when President Johnson moved into the White House to complete the Kennedy term, he had the same compact with House Speaker John McCormack. A similar agreement now exists between Messrs. Johnson and Humphrey—a pact that is reassuring and binding between two men of honor. But for the future it carries no legal authority, which means that under present conditions the nation is lucky to have gentlemen instead of scoundrels sharing the world-shaking power of the White House.

In fact, the nation has had a 175-year run of luck because, as the Constitution now stands, the way is open for unprincipled men to exploit a President's disability, perhaps even refuse to return his Executive Power. In fact it's farfetched, but still a possibility that enough highly-placed conspirators could stage a coup to seize control of the Executive branch of the government.

It took President Eisenhower's 1955 heart attack to make Congress and the public aware of the problem, but it was the Kennedy assassination that jolted Capitol Hill to act on Presidential succession.

As you know, earlier this year Congress approved a proposal for a 25th Amendment to the Constitution—a measure which thus far has been ratified by the legislatures of eight states. It's a complicated but important proposal. Under the terms of the new Amendment, the President could declare himself unable to perform his duties—then the Vice President would take over as Acting President.

Or, if the President was so injured or so ill that he was unable to affirm his own disability, the Amendment provides that the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet—or "another body" designated by the Congress—could declare the President to be disabled. In either circumstance, the President would resume his Executive Powers upon his own declaration that he was again fit to serve.

However, if at that point the Vice President and the Cabinet still considered their Chief Executive unable or unfit to conduct the White House office, they would have four days to notify the Congress. The House and the Senate then would have 48 hours to convene and then consider whether the President—or whether his Cabinet—was making the correct diagnosis and judgment. Congress would have 21 days to reach a decision.

In giving overwhelming passage to the proposed Amendment, the Congress sought to block any chance of a so-called "internal coup" at the White House—a possibility considered extremely remote in the political fishbowl that is official Washington. However, the Presidential Succession Amendment probably will not get the necessary two-thirds ratification by the 38 states it needs until some time in 1967. Meanwhile, the question of Executive disability will continue to hang in the present legal limbo.

Meanwhile, the nation will wait and pray tomorrow while the White House doctors perform the gallbladder operation on President Johnson. Scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m., the ordeal should be over in some two hours. One thing about these Presidential illnesses, they do provide the public a short course in specialized medicine. The nation already is well-informed about heart attacks, about ileitis, about Presidential head colds; now the gallbladder.

We wish President Johnson good luck with his.

This is Bill Downs, substituting for Edward P. Morgan, saying good night from Washington.

December 2, 2016

1932. Benito Mussolini Declares Fascism the "Creed of the Century"

The "Apostle of Fascism"
Benito Mussolini (source)
In this excerpt of the essay "The Doctrine of Fascism," published in The New York Times on September 18, 1932, Benito Mussolini (alongside Giovanni Gentile) lays out his own definition of the fascist ideology, promoting it as a nationalist, pro-war, and anti-individualist doctrine antithetical to democracy and Marxism. Its violent rise in Italy and Germany drew both significant concern and interest in the United States.


He Upholds War, Condemns Democracy as an Outworn Doctrine, And Calls the Trend to Empire a Manifestation of Vitality

As originator, developer and administrator of the political regime and doctrine of fascism, Premier Mussolini of Italy recently prepared an exposition of the doctrine for Encyclopedia Italiana, herewith reproduced with slight abridgement.

Fascism today has a distinct personality of its own, both as a regime and as a doctrine. The word must be interpreted in the sense that today fascism, exercising its critical faculties on itself and others, has its own unmistakable points of view and of reference—and, therefore, also of direction—with regard to all the problems which affect the intelligence or the material aspects of the life of the peoples of the world.

In the first place, fascism, as it generally regards the future and the development of humanity, and laying aside all considerations of present-day politics, does not believe either in the possibility or the utility of perpetual peace. It therefore repudiates pacifism, which betrays a tendency to give up the struggle and implies cowardice in the face of the necessity of sacrifice.

Only war raises all human energies to the maximum and sets a seal of nobility on the peoples which have the virtues to undertake it. All other tests are mere substitutes, which never place a man face-to-face with himself in the alternatives of life or death. Any doctrine, therefore, which starts from the initial postulate of peace, is foreign to fascism.

Equally unrelated to the spirit of fascism are all those international and League of Nations institutions—even if they are accepted for the usefulness they may have in certain political situations—which, as history proves, may be scattered to the winds when sentimental, ideal or practical elements cause storms to rage in the hearts of peoples.

A Stoical Motto

Fascism carries this anti-pacifist spirit into the life of the individual. The proud motto of the fighting days of fascism, "Me ne frego" ("I don't give a damn"), which a legionary wrote on the bloody bandages covering a wound on his head, is an assertion not only of a stoic philosophy and the essence not only of a political doctrine. It is also an expression of the training to fight and of the acceptance of the risk that fighting entails; it is a new style of living for present-day Italians.

Thus the Fascist accepts and loves life and considers suicide cowardly and unthinkable. He considers life a duty, a struggle toward the heights, a conquest; he holds that life must be lofty and full, must be lived for one's self but also for others, both far and near, both present and future.

This conception of life makes fascism the complete negation of the doctrine which formed the basis of so-called scientific or Marxist socialism—the doctrine of historical materialism, according to which the history of human civilizations is to be explained only by the clash of interests between the various social groups and by the changes in the means and instruments of production. Nobody denies that economic transformations—discovery of new raw materials, new methods of work, scientific inventions—have a decided importance, but to maintain that they can explain human history to the exclusion of all other factors is absurd.

Fascism still believes and will always believe in sanctity and in heroism; in acts, that is to say, that are prompted by no economic considerations, either remote or near at hand. Having repudiated the theory of historical materialism, according to which men are mere puppets of history, which appear and disappear on the surface of the stream, while the real directive forces exist and work in the deeps, it follows that fascism repudiates class war. Particularly does fascism deny that class war is the preponderant agent of social transformations.

Dropping Republicanism

Fascism is radically opposed to the whole mass of democratic ideology and repudiates it, both in its theoretical premises and in its practical applications. Fascism denies that numbers, from the mere fact of being numbers, can play the role of leaders of human communities. Fascism denies that numbers can govern, through a system of periodical consultation of the electorate, but affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficial inequality of men, who cannot all be reduced to the same level by an external and mechanical fact such as universal suffrage.

Democratic regimes may be defined as those in which, every now and then, the people are given the illusion of being sovereign, while the true sovereignty in actual fact resides in other forces which are sometimes irresponsible and secret. Democracy is a regime without a king, but with a number of kings, often more exclusive, tyrannical and ruinous than a single king, even though he be a tyrant. This explains why fascism, though having assumed before 1922 a tendency toward a republican attitude, reversed that attitude before the march on Rome. It was convinced that the question of the political system of a State is not today of preeminent importance and that if samples of past and present monarchies and past and present republics are examined it will be found that the monarchical and republican systems must not be judged as though they were eternal, but that they represent forms in which political evolution, history, traditions and the psychology of any particular country manifest themselves.

Fascism has overcome the alternative of monarchy or republic, on which democratic theory was so wont to dwell, delighting in heaping all defects on the first and eulogizing the latter as a regime of perfection. Now it is seen that there are profoundly reactionary or autocratic republics and monarchies which welcome the boldest political and social experiments.

Fascism repudiates and leaves to democracy the free use of the absurd conventional falsehood of political equality, the habit of collective irresponsibility and the myth of indefinite happiness and progress. But, if democracy could be differently understood, the writer of this article would be able to define fascism as an "organized, centralized and authoritative democracy."

Benito Mussolini in 1922 (source)
Why Liberalism is Opposed

Toward liberal doctrines fascism assumes an attitude of absolute opposition, both in the political and economic fields. One must not exaggerate, merely for purposes of present-day discussion, the importance of liberalism in the last century and make of what was merely one of many doctrines which came into being in that century a religion for humanity for all time. Liberalism bloomed for only about fifteen years. It was born in 1830 as a reaction against the Holy Alliance, which wished to reduce Europe to its pre-1789 state, and had its year of greatest splendor in 1848, when even Pope Pius IX was a liberal.

Decadence set in immediately afterward. If 1848 was a year of light and poetry, 1849 was a year of darkness and tragedy. The Roman republic was killed by the sister republic of France. In that same year Marx preached the gospel of the religion of socialism, with the famous proclamation of the Communists. In 1851 Napoleon III made his un-liberal coup d'état and reigned over France till 1870, when he was overthrown by a popular movement, but as a consequence of one of the most ruinous military defeats that history records. The victor was Bismarck, who never even knew in what street the religion of liberty lived, or what were the names of its prophets.

It is symptomatic that a highly civilized people like the Germans should have had no knowledge throughout the nineteenth century of the religion of liberty. There was only one interlude, represented by what has been called the "ridiculous Parliament of Frankfurt," which lasted only one season. Germany has reached national unity outside liberalism and against liberalism, a doctrine foreign to the German soul, which is essentially monarchical, while liberalism is the historical and logical antechamber of anarchy.

Forward-Looking Doctrine

The milestones of German unity are the three wars of 1864, 1866 and 1870, which were led by such "liberals" as Moltke and Bismarck. As for Italian unity, liberalism had a part in it of much less importance than the contributions of such men as Garibaldi and Mazzini, who were not liberals. Without the intervention of the un-liberal Napoleon, we should not have had Lombardy, and without the help of the un-liberal Bismarck at Sadowa and Sedan, very probably we should not have had Venetia in 1866 and should not have entered Rome in 1870.

From 1870 to 1915 is the period in which the priests themselves of the new religion began to see the decline of their creed, beaten all along the line by "decadentism" in literature and by "activism" in practice—"activism" being, in other words, nationalism, futurism, fascism.

The "liberal" century, after having put together a large collection of Gordian knots, attempted to untie them with the World War. Never did any religion call upon its followers for such an immense sacrifice. The gods of liberalism were, perhaps, thirsty for blood. Now liberalism is about to close the doors of its deserted temples, because all peoples feel that its agnosticism in economic matters, its indifference in political and moral matters, will lead (as they have led) to the certain ruin of States. This explains why all political experiments in the contemporary world are anti-liberal, and it is supremely ridiculous to try to classify them for that reason as being against the general trend of history.

Unity and Liberalism

The Fascist negation of socialism, of democracy, of liberalism, must not lead people to believe, however, that fascism wishes to push the world back to what it was before 1789, which is usually given as the opening year of the democratic-liberal century. It is not possible to turn back. Fascist doctrine has not elected de Maistre to be its prophet. Monarchical autocracy is a thing of the past, just as rule by any church is. In the same way, feudal privileges and the division of humanity into impenetrable castes are things of the past. The conception of Fascist authority has nothing to do with a police-ridden State.

A party which governs a nation entirely is a new fact in history and therefore no reference points are available and no comparisons can be made. Fascism has been rescued from the wreckage of liberal, socialist and democratic doctrines, those elements which still appear to be vital. It has retained those that may be termed the "proved facts" of history and has rejected everything else. It has rejected, in other words, the conception of a doctrine that can be applied to all peoples in all ages.

Political doctrines pass, while only the peoples of the world remain. It may be thought that the present is the century of authority, the century of "the right," the century of Fascism. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism means individualism), it may be thought that the present is the century of "collectivism" and, therefore, the century of the State.

A cornerstone of Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State of its essence, of its duties, of its aims. For fascism, the State is something absolute, before which individuals and groups are something relative. Individuals and groups are conceivable only inasmuch as they exist within the State. The liberal State does not direct the material and spiritual growth and development of the community, but limits itself to registering the results. Fascism, instead, has a consciousness, a will of its own. For this reason it is called an "ethical" State.

In 1929, in the first quinquennial assembly of the Fascist regime, I said: "For fascism, the State is not merely a night watchman, who must think only of the personal safety of the citizens. It is not even an organization with purely material aims, such as guaranteeing a certain well-being and a relatively peaceful life for the community, in which case it could be replaced by a board of directors. It is not even by creation of pure politics, without any adherence to the complex material life of single individuals and of communities.
"Benito Mussolini with two of his sons, Bruno (left) and Vittorio, 1935" (source)
The Fascist Idea of the State

"The State which fascism has conceived and brought into being is a spiritual and moral fact, because it is a concrete expression of the political, juridical, economic organization of the nation, and such an organization is, both at its birth and in its development, a spiritual manifestation. The State is the guarantor of internal and external peace, but it is also the custodian and the agency which transmits the spirit of the people, such as it has been elaborated through the centuries in the language, in the customs, in the faith. The State is not only the present, but it is also the past and, above all, the future . . ."

From 1929 to today, the universal political and economic development has further strengthened these doctrinal positions. The State looms as a giant. Only the State can solve the dramatic contradictions of capitalism. That which we call "the crisis" can be solved only by the State, within the State. Where are the notions of Jules Simon, who at the dawn of liberalism proclaimed that "the State must try to render itself useless and prepare its resignation"? Where are the theories of the MacCullochs, who in the second half of the past century affirmed that the State must abstain from governing too much? And what would be the reaction to the constant, inevitable, eagerly sought interventions of the State in the economic vicissitudes of nations of the Englishman Bentham, according to whom industry had only one thing to ask of government, namely, to be left in peace? Or the German Humboldt, according to whom an "idle" State was to be considered the best?

It is true that the second wave of liberal economists was less extreme than the first and that Smith himself opened—though with extreme caution—the door to the intervention of the State in economic phenomena.

Just as he who says liberalism says individualism, so he who says fascism says State. But the Fascist State is unique and is an original creation. It is not reactionary, but revolutionary, inasmuch as it anticipates the solution of certain specific universal problems, which are elsewhere placed in the political field by the multiplication of parties, by the excessive power of parliamentarism, by the irresponsibility of assemblies; or in the economic field by the syndicalist functions, which are becoming ever more powerful both in the sectors of capital and of labor, by their conflicts and their understandings; or in the moral field by the necessity of order, of discipline, of obedience to the moral dictates of the country.

Fascism and the State

Fascism wants the State to be strong, organic, but at the same time wants it to rest on a wide popular foundation . . . A State which is based on millions of individuals who recognize it, who feel its influence, who are ready to serve it, is not the tyrannical State of a medieval lord. It has nothing in common with the autocratic States of before and after 1789. The individual, in the Fascist State, is not annulled, but rather multiplied, just as in a regiment a soldier is not diminished but multiplied by each one of his comrades. The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves sufficient margin to the individual; it has limited useless or harmful liberties, but has preserved the essential ones.

The Fascist State does not remain indifferent toward religion in general and toward that particular positive religion which Roman Catholicism is. The State has not a theology, but has a moral code. In the Fascist State religion is considered to be one of the deepest spiritual manifestations. Religion is, therefore, not only respected but defended and protected. The Fascist State does not create a god of its own, as Robespierre wished to do in the last delirium of the convention; nor does it vainly try to wipe God from the minds of men, as bolshevism does. Fascism respects the god of the ascetics, of the saints and of the heroes, and the God that is believed in and prayed to by the simple and primitive heart of the Italian people.

The Fascist State is a will to power and empire. Roman tradition is here an idea of power. In the Fascist doctrine, empire is not only a territorial, a military or a mercantile expression, but a spiritual and moral one. One can conceive of an empire or a nation which directly or indirectly leads other nations, without the need of conquering a single square mile of territory. Fascism regards the tendency to empire—that is to say, the expansion of nations—as a manifestation of vitality; the converse, or an inclination toward stay-at-home principles, is a sign of decadence. Nations which are rising or are rising again are imperialist; dying nations are renouncers.

Fascism is the doctrine most fitted to represent the tendencies and aspirations of a people like the Italian, which is being born to new life after centuries of neglect and subjection to foreigners. But empire requires discipline, coordination of effort, duty and sacrifice. This explains many aspects of the practical action of the Fascist regime and the severity necessary with those who would oppose this spontaneous and fateful movement of the Italy of the twentieth century—and would oppose it, moreover, waving the flag of time-worn nineteenth century ideologies that have been repudiated wherever there has been the daring to try large-scale experiments in the political and social transformation.

Never as in this moment have the peoples of the world been athirst for authority, for leadership, for order. If it may be said that each century has its own doctrine, then a thousand indications point to fascism as the doctrine of the present century.