Fascism's Interests for the Working Classes

Mussolini, B., & Saverino, B. Q. (1923). Pp 75-78 Mussolini as revealed in his political speeches: (November 1914-August 1923). London: J.M. Dent & Sons.


People of Ferrara! And I say people intentionally, because that which I see before me now is a marvelous gathering of the people, in both the Roman and Italian sense of the word. I see among you children who are upon the threshold of life, and not long ago I shook hands with an old Garibaldian, a survivor of that heroic Italy which was born at Nola in 1821, when two cavalry officers hoisted the flag of liberty against the Bourbons, and which triumphed at Vittorio Veneto with the great and magnificent victory of the Italian people. I see also among you factory hands and their brothers of the fields.

We, Fascisti, have a great love for the working classes. But our love, in as far as it is pure, is seriously disinterested and transigent. Our love does not consist in burning incense and eating new idols and new kings, but in telling upon every occasion and in every place the plain truth, and the more this truth is unpalatable the greater the need to speak it out. We, Fascisti, hitherto slandered and maligned, wished to continue the war in order to obtain freedom of movement in Italy, and although not giving way to a sense of weak demagogism, we are the first to recognize that the rights of the laboring classes are sacred, and even more so the sights of those who work the soil. And here I can give hearty praise to the Fascisti of Ferrara, who have undertaken with facts, and not with the useless words of the politicians, that agrarian revolution which must gradually give the peasants the possession of the soil. I strongly encourage the Fascisti of Ferrara to go on as they have begun, and to become the vanguard of the Fascista agrarian movement in all Italy.

How does it come about that we are said to be sold to the middle classes, capitalism and the Government? But already our enemies dare no longer continue this accusation, so false and ridiculous is it. This impressive meeting would move a heart harder than mine, and shows me that you have done justice to those base calumnies put into circulation by people who believed in the eternity of their fortunes, while in reality they had barricaded themselves in a castle which must fall with the first breath of a Fascista revolt. And this Fascista revolt, and we could also use the more sacred and serious word revolution, is inspired by indestructible and moral motives and has nothing to do with incentives of a material nature. We, Fascisti, say that above all the competition and those differences which divide men and which might almost be called natural and inevitable, since life would be extraordinarily dull if everybody thought in the same way. Above all this there is a single reality, common to all, and it is the reality of the nation and of the country to which we are bound, as the tree is bound by its roots to the soil which nourishes it.

Thus, whether you like it or not, the country is an in destructible, eternal and immortal unity, which, like all ideas, institutions and sentiments in this world, may be eclipsed for a time, but which revives again in the depths of the soul, as the seed thrown in the soil bursts into flower with the coming of the warmth of spring. We have thus, by our furious blows, broken the unworthy crust beneath which lay imprisoned the soul of the proletariat. There were those among the proletariat who were ashamed to be Italian; there were those who, brutalized by propaganda, shouted “Welcome to the Germans!” and also “Long live Austria!" They were for the most part irresponsible but sometimes wicked! Well we, Fascisti, want to bring into every city, into every part of the country, even the most remote, the pride and passion of belonging to the most noble Italian race; the race which has produced Dante, which has given Galileo, the greatest masterpieces of art, Verdi, Mazzini, Garibaldi and D’Annunzio to the world, and which has produced the people who won Vittorio Venetorr? And not this only. We do not intend to push the working classes backwards. All that which they have won and which they will win is sacred. But they must acquire these conquests by material and moral improvement. We, Fascisti, do not speak only of rights, we speak also of duty, as Mazzini would have wished. We have not only the verb "to take," we have also there verb "to give," because sometimes when our country calls, whether she be threatened by an internal or external enemy, we exact both from our adherents and from those who sympathize with us readiness even for the supreme sacrifice. And you, Fascisti of Ferrara, have consecrated the Fascista ideals with martyrdom. If the idea of Fascismo had not contained in itself great potentiality, nobility and beauty, do you think that it would have spread with this tremendous impetus! Do you think that seven lives would have been given for it, lives which point out to us the path of perseverance and victory? A short time ago I went to your cemetery. One by one we visited the graves and threw our flowers upon them. Those seconds of silence which we passed there were pregnant with feeling. Each one of us felt that within those graves were the bodies of young men in the flower of their days, men who were certainly loved and who had before them all the possibilities of life. They are dead; they have fallen. But we, in this great hour of your history, O people of Ferrara, will recall them one by one in the orders of the day; and since they are not dead, because their mortal clay is transformed in the infinite play of the possibilities of the universe, we ask of the pure, bright blood of the youth of Ferrara the inspiration to be true to our ideals, to be faithful to our nation. And so we are content that our flags, after having saluted the dead, smile on life, because the working people of Ferrara, and of all Italy, have found the true path that had been forgotten, have cast off all those ignoble politicians who had filled their heads with lying fables.

We, O Italians of Ferrara, have no need to go beyond our boundaries, beyond the seas, in order to find the word of wisdom and of life. We do not need to go to Russia in order to see how a great people may be massacred. We do not need to turn the pages of the Muscovite gospels; gospels which the prophets themselves are reviling since, over whelmed by the reality of life, they are denying them. We have no need to imitate others, because brilliant original minds are to be found in Italy in all branches of civilization and learning. And if there is to be Socialism, it cannot be the bestial, tyrannical Socialism of yesterday, it can only be the Socialism of Carlo Pisacane, of Giuseppe Ferrari and Giuseppe Mazzini.

Here, O people of Ferrara, is your history, your life and your future. And we, who have undertaken this hard battle, which has cost us tens and hundreds of lives, we do not ask you for salaries, we do not ask you for votes. We only ask you for one thing, and that is that you shall shout with us “Long live Italy!” (Loud applause.)

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