Faith and Works of Fascism

Rocco, Alfredo. “Faith and Works of Fascism.” Graphic Survey LVII, no. 11 (March 1, 1927): 702–3.

Fascism is a new regime; it is the Italy of Vittorio Venetto which, having risen to a position of complete independence among the Great Powers, now through the revolution of the Black Shirts securely proceeds towards unfailing success. In its international relations, the Fascist regime has to some extent and as far as possible eliminated certain exceedingly harmful effects of the Treaty of Versailles, thus rendering possible, for example, the annexation of Fiume. In addition to this, by various international agreements and through a dignified foreign policy which tends to reaffirm the status of Italy as a great European and Mediterranean power, it works for the establishment of peace in Europe and for the economic expansion of the Italians who could not be hemmed in within their boundaries without damage to themselves and without danger to their peaceful international relations.

Internally, the Fascist regime has strongly consolidated its program of moral, political and economic reconstruction, by means of a national discipline which enables the Government to carry on vast reform in the fields of legislation and administration, production and labor. This elemental and moral discipline rendered possible the important legislation on the collective contracts of labor, the balancing of the budget and all those provisions already enacted or in course of enactment which are the manifestations of a financial policy, of which the object is the reduction of paper circulation, the improvement of the commercial budget-sheet (import-export), the revaluation of money and developments in agriculture, industries and commerce. Led by a firm hand, the Italian people are steadily working without strikes, fully appreciating the greatness of the task which has been set to them by the Fascist revolution.

All the Fascist Government has thus accomplished or is about to accomplish-as for example, the reform of all the codes: the penal code, penal procedure code, commercial code, code of civil procedure, civil code, maritime code (these are well advanced)-constitutes the realization of a new political doctrine, on the basis of which Fascism works for the complete renovation of everything that affects the national life. Fascism in fact possess its own political doctrine, which clearly distinguishes it from other regimes or political parties. Considered as action, it is a typically Italian phenomenon and acquires a universal validity because of the existence of this coherent and organic doctrine.

THE Fascist doctrine constitutes an integral doctrine of the community and is in absolute contrast to the individualism of the Liberals, Democrats and Socialists. It replaces the old atomistic and mechanical state theory with an organic and historic concept. When I say organic I do not wish to convey the impression that I consider society as an organism after the manner of the so-called organic theories of the state; but rather to indicate that the social groups as fractions of the species receive thereby a life and scope which transcend the scope and life of the individuals identifying themselves with the history and finalities of the uninterrupted series of generations. This organic concept of the state gives to society a continuous life over and beyond the existence of the several individuals. Liberalism, Democracy, and Socialism look upon social groups as aggregates of living individuals; for Fascism they are the recapitulating unity of the indefinite series of generations. For Liberalism, society has no purposes other than those of the members living at a given moment. For Fascism, society has historical and immanent ends of preservation, expansion, improvement, quite distinct from those of the individuals which at a given moment compose it, so distinct in fact that they may even be in opposition. Hence the necessity, for which the older doctrines make little allowance, of sacrifice even up to the total immolation of individuals, in behalf of society; hence the true explanation of war, eternal law of mankind, interrupted by the liberal democratic doctrines as a degenerate absurdity or as a mad monstrosity.

For Liberalism, the individual is the end and society the means; nor is it conceivable that the individual, considered in the dignity of an ultimate finality, be lowered to mere instrumentality. For Fascism, society is the end, individuals the means, and its whole life consists in using individuals as instruments for its social ends. The state therefore guards and protects the welfare and development of individuals not for their exclusive interest, but because of the identity of the needs of individuals with those of society as a whole. We can thus accept and explain institutions and practices, which like the death penalty, are condemned by Liberalism in the name of the preeminence of individualism. The fundamental problem of society in the old doctrines is the question of the rights of individuals. It may be the right to freedom as the Liberals would have it; or the right to the government of the commonwealth as the Democrats claim it, or the right to economic justice, as the Socialists contend; but in every case it is the right of individuals, or groups of individuals. Fascism on the other hand faces squarely the problem of the right of the State and of the duty of individuals. Individual’s rights are only recognized in so far as they are implied in the rights of the State. In this preeminence of duty we find the highest ethical value of Fascism.

This, however, does not mean that the problems raised by the other schools are ignored by Fascism. It means simply that it faces them and solves them differently, as for example, the problems of liberty. There is a liberal theory of freedom, and there is a Fascist concept of liberty. For we, too, maintain the necessity of safeguarding the conditions that make for the free development of the individual; we too, believe that the oppression of individual personality can find no place in the modern State. We do not, however, accept a bill of rights which tends to make the individual superior to the State and to empower him to act in opposition to society.

What I say concerning civil liberties applies to economic freedom as well. Fascism maintains that in the ordinary run of events economic liberty serves the social purpose best; that it is profitable to entrust to individual initiative the task of economic development both as to production and as to distribution; that in the economic work individual ambition is the most effective means for obtaining the best social results with the least effort. By the liberals, freedom is recognized in the interest of the citizens; the Fascists grant it in the interest of society. What I have said concerning political and economic liberalism applies also to democracy. The latter envisages fundamentally the problem of sovereignty. Fascism does also, but in an entirely different manner. Democracy vests sovereignty in the people, that is to say, in the mass of human beings. Fascism discovers sovereignty to be inherent in society when it juridicially organized as a State. Democracy therefore turns over the government of the State to the multitude of living men that they may use it to further their own interests; Fascism insists that the government be entrusted to men capable of rising above their own private interests and of realizing the aspirations of the social collectivity, considered in its unity and in its relation to the past and future.

As for Socialism, the Fascist doctrine frankly recognizes that the problem raised by it as to the relations between capital and labor is a very serious one, perhaps the central on of modern life. What fascism does not countenance is the collectivistic solution proposed by the Socialists. The chief defect of the socialistic method has been clearly demonstrated by the experience of the last few years. It does not take into account human nature, it is therefore outside of reality, in that it will not recognize that the most powerful spring of human activities lies in individual self-interests and that there for the elimination from the economic field of this interest results in complete paralysis. The suppression of capital itself, for capital is formed by savings and no one will want to save, but will rather consume all he makes if he knows he cannot keep an hand down to his heirs the results of his labors. The dispersion of capital means the end of production since capital, no matter who owns it, is always an indispensable tool of production. Collective organization of production is followed therefore by the paralysis of production since, by eliminating from the productive mechanism the incentive of individual interests, the product becomes rarer and more costly. Socialism then, as experience has shown, leads to increase consumption, to the dispersion of capital and therefore poverty. Of what avail is it, then to build a social machine which will more justly distribute wealth if this very wealth is destroy by the construction of this machine? Socialism committed an irreparable error when it made of private property a matter of justice while in truth it is a problem of social utility. The recognition of individual property rights, then, is a part of the fascist doctrine not because of its individual bearing, but because of its social import.

But though the socialistic solution is rejected, the problem left by socialism cannot be allowed to remain unsolved with detriment to justice but above all with serious damage to public peace and to the authority of the state, as liberal and democratic regimes do. The unchecked and unbridled self-defense of classes which manifest itself in lockouts, strikes, boycotts, and sabotage leads to anarchy. The Fascist doctrine enacts class justice which is a fundamental necessity of modern life, but it does away with self-defense of classes which, as the self-defense of barbaric times, is the source of disorder and civil war.

Set forth in this way, the problem admits of only one solution: the realization of justice between classes by means of the State. The State, specific organ of justice for many centuries has made individual self-defense illicit, and substituted for it State justice. With a view to solving this important problem, fascism has created its syndicalism and a legislation on which the whole attention of the world is fixed.

The suppression of self-defense of classes does not signify the suppression of the defense of classes, which is a necessary element of economic and modern life. The organization of classes is therefore a fact and a necessity, and as such cannot be ignored by the State, but it must be disciplined, controlled and incorporated in the State. Instead of being an extra-legal organ of defense, as it has been hitherto, it is now an organ of legal protection, which will soon become judicial defense.

This is how under Fascism, the syndicate, from a revolutionary instrument, as it was in Socialistic syndicalism, has become an instrument of judicial and extrajudicial legal defense of the producing classes.

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