Saturday, March 3, 2012

Speech in Fiume, May 22, 1919

The Adriatic and the Mediterranean

By Benito Mussolini

It is necessary that we return to the Mediterranean, since this Mediterranean necessity is inherent in our reason of being and becoming, and is innate to the strength and future of Italy. One can say that this Mediterranean necessity is in the nature of things, since it represents not only the right of forty million Italians to freely pursue the natural field of their inevitable expansion, but also the logic of victorious Italy which wants to have open the ways of its legitimate ascension and its rightful part in the deeds and gestures in which it is the yeast of new history.

But to realize this plan we must be strong... It is enough to consider the position of England and France – as well as Gibraltar, Malta and Suez – to demonstrate the advantage that other countries have compared to Italy. The political and military problem of the Mediterranean must be set upon this basis. This is the starting point in the evaluation of all factors, the examination of which will lead to important conclusions in the setting of the Mediterranean problem, both as regards the increase of our naval power, and for the preparation of new bases.

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One thing is certain: Italy now has its weight in the balance of European destiny; and this fact alone gives Italy the right to prepare such conditions for the future development of its moral and material life so as not to jeopardize its health and its ascension for a long period of time. These conditions of greater prosperity and greater grandeur will inevitably be determined in the Mediterranean. Only if Italy is strong and powerful in the sea will it bear the symbol and sign of the new order and the new history and will be able to shape its new greater destiny with its own hands. It is good to fix this evident truth within the Italian conscience.

The time of Italy has not yet sounded, but must inevitably come. The Italy of Vittorio Veneto feels irresistible attraction towards the Mediterranean, which opens the way to Africa. A two-thousand-year-old tradition calls Italy to the shores of the black continent whose venerable relics preserve the memory of the Roman Empire. If Italy has known the tragedy of Adua, it owes it to the ideal inadequacy of its domestic and foreign policy, to which our failure in Cyprus and our exclusion from Tunisia must be attributed. It is democracy that has distorted our mission and has distorted the history of Italy, whose genial people had given it the characteristic of player and director of European history.

The conscience of an Italy which is great and respected in the world has been lacking ever since the day when we achieved the unity of Italy with the conquest of Rome.

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The conquest of Tripoli revealed Italy to itself, denying the theories of democracy and breaking down the myths of old Italy; and Italian participation in the Great War, won by our victorious arms, destroyed the lies and typical comforts of the old ruling class who had not understood the great irrepressible ideal and moral strength of the Nation, and had not been able to understand and contain within its framework the new values aroused by the war. Italy – advancing against the men of the past and against false theories of foreign origin, in full decline before the new formations that want their place in the sun – has obeyed a command of destiny; and by following its infallible instinct, it was able to grasp its destiny against the adversities of men and systems incapable of adapting spirit and will to the needs of the hour.

Today, just as before, they are still trying to lead the Nation astray, to lose it, to kill it; but, overcoming the tragedy that afflicts her, she will be able to rediscover herself. Italy went through moments of profound depression, but always recovered by acquiring its place as a teacher of life and civilization; it knew sad hours, but it never knew darkness. The crisis that it is going through today will be another experience, a tough bloody experience; but the Nation will return victorious in its mission. Nothing is useless in history, not even mistakes and negative experiences. What stands as a tangible and intangible truth is the Nation, which already feels the thrills of a new life that is about to explode into a greatness that only Italian genius can conceive and realize in a conquest for humanity. The Libyan war was but a premise for our Mediterranean affirmation; Italian participation in the European war is the certainty of our return to Africa.

This in the external order. In the internal order, Italy must first know how to conquer itself. This is the task of Fascism, which is becoming the soul and conscience of the new national democracy. This is the mission of the movement that must penetrate the masses – who today are inert, opaque, without ideals and without faith – to bring it to consciousness of itself, to national consciousness. But the Fascist movement must first sweep away all the encumbrances – men and systems – that hinder the rise of the Italian government.

It will not be the sparse and feeble ruling class to speak the word that the people are waiting to hear: it has exhausted its task simply because it has exhausted itself. The great trial of the war has ripped it apart and torn it down. It will not be illogical and discredited parliamentary regime that will renew the Nation which you want to live and expand. It will not be the liberal, democratic, socialist doctrines that will give back to the Italian people the awareness of its valor for the life of the Nation.

It is the Fascist movement – an exquisitely revolutionary movement – made of reality and truth, of impetus and faith, that will assert the right of the Italian people and lead the Nation to higher destinies; and when Fascism has convinced the masses of the goodness of the cause and of the sanctity of the struggle – which is not a fight for a party, but for the supreme good of the Nation – the Italian people will be the direct architect of their own fortune. Not classes, not parties, not idiotic dogmas, but labour will be the animator and the propeller of new Italian life, that is the generations of the war and the victory, which in the trenches consecrated their right to the pride and conquest of free men in the great Fatherland within and beyond the borders.

The march of those who led the country to war and brought it to victory does not stop at Vittorio Veneto and does not stop at the Brenner and the Carnaro. The march resumes and goes further because not all the goals have been achieved. It is about transforming Italian life according to the ideals that inspired intervention and generated victory. Victory of arms is not enough; victory of the spirit is necessary if we want to renew the Nation and launch it on the path of its greater imperial destiny.

This will be the premise of our affirmation in the world. Italy must appear – and it will appear – as a solid block of will, with one face and a single soul, striving in its effort to change its destiny, which the satanic powers are trying to control and stifle with an unjust peace and an antihistorical balance; they want to keep Italy within its narrow confines, without the possibility of leaving the circle that suffocates its life and prevents its free development.

The peace conference, which is amassing error on top of error, fraught with consequences for the near future, is attempting to immobilize history and consolidate the dominant positions of England and France, even in places where our vital interests would lay.... This is not and will not be possible. Italy has an imposing demographic mass, unlimited vitality, a great history, its directing part in the world, and nobody can stop the Italian people in their inevitable journey towards greatness. Also in this regard the attitude of the peace conference is simply absurd because it is anti-historical, and unfair because it is immoral.

Fiume has rightly said that history written with the most generous Italian blood does not stop in Paris. In this warning one finds the the revelation of the historical instinct of all people who, after emerging victorious from a bloody war, feel dissatisfied, and ask for space for the basic needs of their existence, and for their place in the world in order to fulfill their mission of civilization. Italy more than any other people has this right, because Italy – which created modern civilization through the Roman Empire and the Renaissance – still has to speak for the third time its word of light, which will carry an idea of universal value.