Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Past and Future

(Published in Il Popolo d'Italia, April 21, 1922)

By Benito Mussolini

Italian Fascism is gathered today, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of pennants, to celebrate its own feast as well as that of the Anniversary of the Foundation of Rome. This severe and imposing demonstration will succeed, even in centres where it has been prohibited by the police at the behest of a government which does not know and does not want to choose between national forces and anti-national forces and which will eventually die from its lamentable ambiguity.

The proposal to choose April 21 as the day of Fascism was welcomed everywhere with enthusiasm. Fascists sensed the profound meaning of this date.

To celebrate the Birth of Rome means to celebrate our kind of civilization, it means to exalt our history and our race, it means to lean firmly on the past in order to project better onto the future. In fact, Rome and Italy are two inseparable terms. During the gray or sad epochs of our history, Rome was the lighthouse of navigators and the expectant. Beginning in 1821, the year in which national consciousness awoke from Nola to Turin, the thrill of unified insurrection erupted, Rome appeared as the supreme goal. The mazzinian and garibaldian cry of "Rome or death!" was not only a battle cry, but solemn testimony that without Rome as the capital there would be no Italian unity, since only Rome, and the charm of its geographical position, could carry out the delicate task and necessity of gradually fusing the various regions of the Nation.

Of course, the Rome that we honour is not just the monuments and the ruins, the Rome of the glorious ruins, among which no civilized man can wander without feeling a thrill of ardent veneration. Certainly the Rome that we honour has nothing to do with that triumphalist, modernistic mediocrity and the barracks out of which swarm the massive army of ministerial functionaries. We consider all that to be like those fungi that grow at the foot of giant oaks.

The Rome that we honour, and above all the Rome that we dream of and prepare, is something else: not of distinguished stones, but of living souls: not nostalgic contemplation of the past, but tough preparation for the future.

Rome is our starting point and reference; it is our symbol, or if you will, our Myth. We dream of a Roman Italy—that is, an Italy wise, strong, disciplined, and imperial. Much of that immortal spirit of Rome is raised anew in Fascism: Roman is our Littorio, Roman is our organization of combat, Roman is our pride and our courage: "Civis romanus sum". And now it is necessary that the history of tomorrow, which we wish assiduously to create, shall not be the contrast to, or the parody of, yesterday. The Romans were not only warriors but also formidable constructors who could defy—and did defy—time.

In the war and in victory Italy was Roman for the first time in fifteen centuries, and now must be Roman in peace; and this Romanità must be renovated and renew itself in these names: discipline and labour. With these thoughts, Italian Fascists today remember the day when 2,757 years ago—according to legend—was traced the first furrow of the city square, destined a few centuries later to dominate the world.