By Benito Mussolini
Honorable Fascist deputies!
I deeply regret and am profoundly humiliated to announce to you that my speech today will not be brief, as is my usual custom. It will not be brief because I have many things to say, and today is one of those days in which I need to take the Nation and place it in front of itself. I must also accompany my speech with many facts and equally as many figures. With this I do not intend to express agreement with those who say that people are governed by numbers. No, people can not be governed by numbers. But especially in modern societies, which are so numerous and so complex, numbers are a necessary element for anyone who wants to seriously govern a nation.
My speech, therefore, will be necessary, irritating and amusing. Necessary, because I promised myself I would say only what is strictly necessary: not a word more. Irritating, because I shall say some unpleasant things. Perhaps I shall shatter some false axioms on which we were resting. Finally, the third part of my speech will contain a polemic, something which, as you know, I am particularly equipped for (laughter), and during that part of the speech I wish to amuse myself by mocking all the internal and external enemies of the Fascist Regime.
My speech is divided into three parts: first, an examination of the situation of the Italian people from the standpoint of physical health and race; second, an examination of the administrative organization of the Nation; third, the general political directives of the State, both present and future.
The Defense of the Race
Someone once said that the State should not preoccupy itself with the physical health of the people, that the Manchesterian doctrine of "laissez faire" should apply even here. This theory is suicidal.
It is evident that in a well-ordered State the care of the people's physical health ought to be of prime importance.
How do we go about this question? What is the situation? Is the Italian race — that is, the Italian people in its physical expression — in a period of splendor, or are there symptoms of decadence? If the movement is retrogressive, what are the possible prospects for the future? These questions are important not only to the medical profession, or to those who profess the doctrines of sociology, but above all to the government. As regards this question, the situation is quite disheartening.
The figures which were reported to me by the General Department of Health — directed by the illustrious Professor Messea, who does his work with 91 fewer employees than would have been allowed him by the administration — are mediocre.
The Social Diseases
Social diseases are on the rise, and there are symptoms upon which it is appropriate to cause those who have a sense of responsibility to reflect and focus their attentions, both in the center and on the periphery. The so-called social diseases are showing signs of resurgence. We must concern ourselves with them, and in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, what has the General Department of Health done? A great many things, which I am going to read to you, if only to provide the necessary documentation.
First of all, it has strengthened the sanitary defenses on the land and maritime borders of the Nation. Under the direct supervision of the public health organizations, 9,000 vessels have been de-ratted, that is to say, they have killed those rodents which carry infectious diseases from the Orient: that Orient from which many lovely things come to us, such as yellow fever and Bolshevism. (Laughter).
We have occupied ourselves with the sanitary profession, with health care, with scholastic hygiene, with anti-tubercular services, with the fight against malignant tumors, with the inspection of foodstuffs and beverages, with hygienic works, aqueducts and sewage systems, with narcotics, with patent medicines, and finally, with the provincial anti-tubercular societies. All this, probably, does not tell you much. But let us move on to the figures, which are always interesting.
Meanwhile, it can today be said that a social disease which has weighed heavily upon the Italian population for at least forty years has completely disappeared. I am speaking of pellagra. In absolute figures, 198 died of pellagra in 1922; it decreased to 108 in 1925. In Veneto, which was the region most affected, the figure is 1.3 dead per 100,000 inhabitants. Today it can thus be said that the Italian Nation has decisively won this battle.
But the same cannot be said for tuberculosis. This is still greatly on the rise. The figures are terrible, and should cause reflection. They range from a minimum of 52,293 in 1922 to 59,000 in 1925. The region which suffers most is Venezia Giulia; the one least affected is Basilicata. Equally noteworthy is the number of those who are stricken with illness due to malignant tumors. Here the region most affected is Tuscany; the least stricken, fortunately, is Sardinia, which, however, is rather extensively and sorrowfully affected by malaria. The absolute figures for deaths by malaria are not great and show a decrease. They go from 4,085 in 1922 to 3,588 in 1925. Here Sardinia has first place: 99 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
Another question to which it is necessary to attract the attention of well informed citizens is that of mortality due to alcoholism. The organizers of the recent Anti-Prohibitionist Convention need fear nothing from what I am about to say about this question. Not only am I not a believer in absolute abstention; rather I think that if reasonable doses of alcohol had been able to do much harm to the human race, humanity by this time would have been wiped out, or very nearly so, because fermented liquids have been drunk ever since prehistoric times. However, there is no doubt that in Italy people are beginning to drink too egregiously.
The Battle Against Alcoholism
Mortara, in his "Prospettive economiche", informs us that Italy has 3 million hectares of vineyards; one million more than what France and Spain have, which are, as you know, global producers of wine.
The number of deaths resulting from alcoholism is not excessive; there were 664 in 1922 and 1,315 in 1925; the highest ratios are in Marche, Liguria, Veneto, Umbria, Piedmont, Abruzzo and Emilia.
Here it is a matter of reducing the number of saloons, which are very numerous: there are 187,000 taverns in Italy! We have closed 25,000 of them, and we will proceed energetically in this direction because we are able to do so. Since we shall probably not have further occasion to solicit votes from the owners and from their clients (laughter) as happened during the liberal-democratic Middle Ages (laughter), we can allow ourselves the luxury of closing down these cheap saloons of ruinous felicity.
Death by insanity is also on the rise, as is the number of suicides.
You can see from these figures that the situation, though not dark and tragic, still merits rigorous attention.
The Agency of Maternity and Infant Welfare
We must be vigilant, therefore, in watching over the destiny of our race, we must take care of our race, beginning with maternity and infancy. This is the purpose of the National Agency for the Protection of Maternity and Infant Welfare, as willed by the Hon. Federzoni (and this is but one of his many merits during his tenure as Minister of the Interior); this national agency is today directed by our colleague Blanc, with a fervor that resembles an apostolate.
Once the law was made, the Agency of Maternity and Infant Welfare was organized in its Central Committee — which was too numerous, which is why it was dissolved — and in its provincial committees. This work must be financed.
In this country there are 5,700 institutions devoted to maternity and infancy, but they do not have sufficient funds.
Hence the tax on bachelors, and perhaps in the future there will be a tax on childless marriages. This tax yields between 40 to 50 million lire. But do you really think that I introduced this tax only for that purpose? I introduced this tax to give a demographic boom to the Nation. This may surprise you, and some of you may say: "But why? Is it really necessary?". Yes, it is really necessary.
Italy Needs 60 Million Inhabitants
The unintelligent man says: "We are too many." Intelligent men reply: "We are too few!". I affirm that the most fundamental if not essential element in the political power and therefore economic and moral power of Nations, is their demographic strength.
Let us speak frankly: What are 40 million Italians compared to 90 million Germans and 200 million Slavs? Let us turn to the West: what are 40 million Italians compared to 40 million Frenchmen, in addition to 90 million colonial inhabitants, or compared to 46 million Englishmen, in addition to the 450 million colonials? Gentlemen, if Italy is to count for anything in the world, then she must reach a population of no less than 60 million inhabitants by the middle of this century.
You may say: How will they live in this territory? The same reasoning was very likely brought forward in 1815, when there were only 16 million Italians living in Italy. Perhaps at that time it was also thought impossible that in the same territory one would be able to find — on an infinitely higher standard of living — food and lodging for the 40 million Italians of today.
For five years we have been going about saying that the Italian population is overflowing. It is not true! The river no longer overflows; rapidly enough it is returning to its channel. All nations and all empires have felt the bite of their decadence when they have seen their birth rates decline. What was the Pax Romana of Augustus? The Pax Romana of Augustus was a brilliant facade, behind which lay the already-fermenting signs of decline. And throughout the last century of the Second Republic — from Julius Caesar, who sent his legionaries with three sons to the fertile lands of the South, to the laws of Augustus, to the ordines maritandi — the anguish is evident. The whole history of Rome up to Trajan, in the last century of the Republic and from the first to the third century of the Empire, is dominated by this anguish: the Empire was no longer held, because it had to be defended by mercenaries.
The Effectiveness of Demographic Laws
Are these laws effective? These laws are effective if they are timely. Laws are like medicine: when given to an organism that is still capable of some reaction, they help; but when given to an organism that is close to death, they hasten the end due to their fatal congestions.
It cannot be decided whether the laws of Augustus were effective. Tacitus said no; Bertillon, 20 centuries later, said yes, in a very interesting book of his, dedicated to the depopulation of France.
However, the fact is that the destiny of Nations is linked to their demographic power. When did France dominate the world? When a few Norman baronial families became so numerous that they were enough to compose an army. When, during the brilliant period of the Monarchy, France had this proud uniform: "Égale à plusieurs", and when, alongside the 25 or 30 million French, there were only a few million Germans, a few million Italians, a few million Spaniards. If we want to begin to understand what happened in the last 50 years of European history, we must remember that France, from 1870 to today, has increased by 2 million inhabitants, Germany by 24 million, Italy by 16 million.
Birth Rate Statistics
Let us go deeper into this problem which concerns me. Some believe — and this is another cliché that is being demolished today — that France is the country with the lowest birth rate in Europe. This is not true. For about 15 years France has stabilized its birth rate at 18 per 1,000 inhabitants.
Not only that, but in some French departments there is a resurgence in the birth rate.
The country that holds the record in this sad affair is Sweden, which is at 17 per 1,000, while Denmark is at 21, Norway is at 19 and Germany is in full demographic decline: from 35 per 1,000, it has declined to 20. Two points lower and it would be at the same level as France. Nor is England in good condition. In 1926 its birth rate was the lowest in Europe: 16.7 per 1,000.
Of the European nations, the one with the highest birth rate is Bulgaria, with 40 per 1,000. Then comes other nations with different levels, and finally one arrives at Italy.
Italy's highest birth rate was during the five-year period from 1881 to 1885, with 38 live births per 1,000; the highest year was 1886, with 39. Since then we have been declining: from 39 to 35 per 1,000 we have fallen today to 27. It is true that deaths have also decreased; but the ideal would be: maximum births, minimum deaths.
Many regions of Italy are already under 27 per 1,000. The regions that are above are Basilicata — and I pay my sincere praise to this region, because it demonstrates its virtue and its strength; clearly Basilicata has not yet been sufficiently infected by all the pernicious currents of contemporary civilization — then comes Puglia, Sardinia, Marche, Umbria, Lazio. The regions that are equal to 27 per 1,000 are Emilia and Sicily; below this are Lombardy, Tuscany, Piedmont, Liguria, Venezia Tridentina and Venezia Giulia.
In 1925 the population increased by 470,000 inhabitants, in 1926 by only 418,000. The decrease is considerable.
The Dangers of Urbanism
This is still not enough. There is a type of urbanism that is destructive, which sterilizes the people, and it is called industrial urbanism. Let us take a look at the figures of the large cities, those with about half a million or more inhabitants. The figures are not reassuring: Turin lost 538 inhabitants in 1926; the population of Milan increased by 22 inhabitants; Genoa increased by 158 inhabitants. These three cities are mainly industrial cities. If all Italian cities had these same figures, we would soon be struck by those anxieties that are hitting other countries. Fortunately it is not so: Palermo has 4,177 more inhabitants — I am speaking of those who are born there, not those who move there, because that would be displacement, not increase —; Naples 6,695 and Rome holds the record with 7,925. This means that, while Milan will grow by 220 inhabitants in 10 years, Rome will grow by 80,000.
So do you really think that when I speak about the ruralization of Italy, that these are mere empty words, which I detest?
No! I am a physician who does not neglect the symptoms, and these are symptoms that should make us seriously reflect. And what do these considerations lead to?
First, that industrial urbanization leads to the sterility of populations; and second, that small rural property possession leads to the same result. Add to these two factors the infinite moral cowardice of the so-called upper classes of society, and you have a complete picture. If we decline in number, gentlemen, we can not create an Empire, instead we will become a colony! It is necessary for me to tell you these things; if I did not, then you would be living under a Regime of false and lying illusions, which would prepare the way for atrocious disappointments.
Now you understand why I do everything to help agriculture and why I proclaim myself a ruralist; now you understand why I do not want industries around Rome; now you understand why I only allow healthy industries in Italy, namely those industries which work in agriculture or on the sea.
The Administrative Structure of the Country
From this demographic digression, I move on to the second part of my speech, which concerns the administrative structure of the Country, which is linked in some way to this chapter of my speech.
Why have I created 17 new provinces? To better distribute the population: because these provincial centers, when left to themselves, produced people who ended up being bored and drifted toward the big cities, where there are all those pleasurable and stupid things that enchant those looking at life through naive eyes.
There were, at the time of the March on Rome, 69 provinces in the Kingdom.
The population had increased by 15 million, but no one had ever dared to touch this problem and to penetrate this sphere, because in the old regime the mere thought or idea of diminishing or increasing a province, of removing a hamlet from a municipality, or even a kindergarten from a hamlet, was so great a problem as to cause the severest ministerial crises. We are more flexible in this matter, and thus, since our advent, we have changed what were the most absurd historical and geographical inconsistencies in the administrative structure of the Italian State.
Thus we created the provinces of Taranto and La Spezia, we returned the Sabina to Rome, because the Sabines wanted this, and the district of Rocca San Casciano to the province of Forlì, for obvious geographical reasons.
There were four particularly dismembered provinces, which accepted these dismemberments with perfect discipline: Genoa, Florence, Perugia and Lecce.
There was one suppressed province which gave a superb spectacle of absolute discipline: Caserta.
Caserta has understood that it must resign itself to being a quartiere of Naples.
The creation of these provinces was free from the pressure of interested parties; it was perfectly logical that the federal secretaries celebrated, but they knew nothing about it!
We have created border provinces. We created them now because the conditions which prevented us from creating them four years ago have disappeared.
The border provinces are not all comparable to each other: Aosta is very Italian, extremely proud and patriotic; Aosta can not be compared to Bolzano or Bolgiano, as we shall see in a moment. Of all the provinces... there is one which is particularly interesting to me: Bolzano. It is time to acknowledge that for many centuries Bolzano was called Bolgiano; it is time to acknowledge that Bolgiano was always a very Italian city; it is time to acknowledge that the Germanization of Bolgiano dates back to the second half of the last century, precisely when Austria, after losing Venetia, sought to forcibly Germanize Alto Adige and Trentino, so as to have a secure wedge planted between two Italian regions.
All this has nothing to do with the Brenner border. Even if, for the sake of argument, there were hundreds of thousands of 100% pure Germans in Alto Adige, the Brenner border would still be sacred and inviolable. And we will defend it, even with war if necessary, even tomorrow.
Those who inhabit that region in reality are Italians who speak a German dialect as a language of use, and they have spoken it only for the last half century. Moreover, the problem of ethnic minorities is unsolvable. It is turned on its head, but it is not resolved.
To the Hon. Barduzzi, our consul in Marseille, we owe the interesting discoveries made in the archive of the Chamber of Commerce of Bolgiano. From this archive, which was kept jealously secret, it appears that all the acts of the mercantile magistrate of Bolgiano, which for some centuries was the most important authority of that land, were written in Italian. Privileges, confirmations, dozens upon dozens of very interesting codices are in Italian. Commercial documents, accounting records, legal petitions, appeals to the merchant magistrate, commercial bulletins, nominative lists of tradesmen, and even petitions to the Emperor were written in Italian.
Let us present the documentation. Here is a petition written to the Emperor. Take note of what language it is written in:
"Monarca, l'inalterabile meta dell'ardentissimo nostro voto è di collocare la statua dell'immortale nostro Monarca in questo palazzo mercantile. L'aquila imperiale, segno caratteristico del Dio de' Dei, siede ai suoi piedi.
Avanti al suo maestoso aspetto giace Mercurio sulle ginocchia carico di catene e chino al quale l'aquila scioglie i ceppi e l'ottimo nostro Giove ridona il suo caduceo.
Sì, clementissimo Monarca, questa è l'immagine impressa dal più vivo sentimento di gratitudine dei nostri animi.
Augustissimo Monarca, mai e poi mai si avrà a pentire la Maestà Vostra della clementissima risoluzione notificatasi in data del 20 passato agosto e della Sovrana grazia mediante questo onore al nostro commercio concesso.
Questa è la voce, clementissimo Principe, dei nostri cuori penetrati dal più efficace spirito di gratitudine, di fedeltà e di sommisione, col quale ci prostriamo ai piedi della Maestà Vostra; fedelissimi e ossequiosissimi consoli e consiglieri dello Stato mercantile di Bolgiano, insieme ai contrattanti e fieranti."I recommend that word "fieranti", it is very beautiful and tastes good, like good country bread as it used to be made, before the invention of electric ovens.
These are documents of unique historical value. It turns out that those who thought that the creation of the province of Bolgiano constituted a gift or a concession to the German element, especially to the more turbulent one on the other side of the Brenner, were ill-informed. Nothing of the sort: the province of Bolgiano was created to more quickly Italianize that region. No other policy can be adopted. This does not mean that the inhabitants of Alto Adige should be harassed; we regard them as Italian citizens who have forgotten their origin and who have to rediscover themselves.
No More New Provinces
As soon as the list of new provinces was published in the newspapers, desires arose. Some cities, which considered themselves worthy of this honor, began to solicit. But I replied with a telegram to the community leaders of Caltagirone (laugher), saying that we would not discuss the matter until 1932. Why 1932? Because in 1932 the census that we are preparing will be finished. There are four years left, but I have decided that within six months the results of the 1931 census must be made known. And then very probably there will be a new arrangement of the Italian provinces, there will be cities that will become provinces if the populations are industrious, disciplined, prolific. (Applause).
Meanwhile, we have implemented the podestarial system in all the municipalities of the Kingdom. When there was talk of a podestà, there were many who shed tears over that old electionism which was waning in administrative competition. Well, the appointment of a podestà took place throughout Italy without any of those incidents or disorders that some had predicted. Only a few mediocre quarrels, limited to some small areas. And it is understandable that, being the first municipal magistrate, the first in a hierarchy, that there would be fights to see which candidate possessed the superior virtues. This is human, it is natural. But the fact is that all the podestàs, or almost all of them, govern with the full and often enthusiastic consent of the people.
Orders For Administrators
I must say one word to the podestàs of Italy: slow down with the expenses! I understand perfectly well that a podestà wants to do something to manifest his work: a Colosseum, a fountain, a school, etc. But slow down: everything must conform to the Government's policy, because otherwise we will have imbalances and the municipalities will go into debt. And being unable to pay the debt and raising taxes, they will have recourse to the State, which would then have to impose more taxes, because the Fascist State does not want to print money. Slow down, also, with the municipalization. This is a left-over of the old administrative socialism. Slow down also with ceremonies, banquets and displays, possibly even with speeches. (Laughter).
Reorganization of the Circonscriptions
However, we shall proceed gradually in the reorganization of municipal boundaries: 9,000 communes in Italy are too many. There are some that have 200, 300, 400 inhabitants. They cannot exist, they must resign themselves to dissolution and must be merged into larger centers.
One service has given excellent results: the inspection service. As you know, there are functionaries in the Prefectures whose duty it is to inspect the municipal administrative management. Let us see the results: inspections which have discovered serious irregularities, which have brought about the adoption of special provisions, are 238 in number; inspections which have revealed a few book-keeping errors and without any practical consequence, are 2,041; inspections which have verified the regular administrative functioning, are 176. Total number of inspections: 2,455. From this you can see that the service is working and is absolutely necessary.
We will also gradually reform the State Council, but it is not urgent. The State Council can be reformed in 1928: we have a lot of time ahead of us.
The New Police
We come now to the subject of police. Fortunately the Italians are freeing themselves from the residues left in their minds by the memories of foreign domination — Habsburgs, Bourbons, the Grand Duchy — by reason of which the police were viewed as an odious, abominable function to be avoided.
Gentlemen, it is time to say that the Police should not only be respected, but honored. It is time to acknowledge that man, before feeling a need for culture, felt a need for order. In a certain sense it might be said that historically the policeman preceded the professor, for if there is no one armed with salutary handcuffs, the laws remain a dead and worthless letter.
Naturally it requires Fascist courage to speak in these terms. The Hon. Federzoni left a law on Public Safety which is almost perfect. But it was necessary, after the law, to create the forces of Public Safety. We have in Italy 60,000 carabinieri, 15,000 policemen, 5,000 metropolitan, 10,000 belonging, so to speak, to the technical militia: railway, harbor, telegraph, traffic; all militia and police who perform a regular, perfect and useful service. Then we have the border guards and finally the Forestry Militia. I calculate that the Regime has a police force of 100,000 men. It is an imposing number. The Police must be purged, especially those in plain clothes. I did not want to add to the number of men in uniform, that is to say, I did not want the 15,000 plain clothes officers to wear a uniform. It is useless always to bell the cat! Too many uniforms, no uniforms.
But when a police force is in plain clothes and not controllable through the uniform, it should be specially selected; that is, it should be composed of blameless, zealous and taciturn citizens.
All those who have not these attributes, I dismiss without mercy. Thus during these months I have removed 7 questors, 4 vice-questors, 20 commissioners, 6 special commissioners, 5 vice-commissioners, and have given a quick cleaning, a stroke of the broom, to that Police Department in Milan which I never liked. There are now 52 other officers in process of being retired and 37 employees of Group C. But this is the beginning of the purge. It will have to be continued.
Then it was necessary to give means to the Police. Modern crime is very far advanced, it is progressing: it is acquainted with chemistry, physics, ballistics, it uses all the swiftest means. The Italian Police still had old automobiles whose noise resulting from their loose machinery warned criminals from a distance, giving them time to flee.
We have brought the automobiles of the Police Department from 161 to 611. All the legion commands of the Carabinieri have automobiles. The same may be said for all the legion commands of the voluntary Militia. The police today now have 774 automobiles, 290 trucks, 198 motorcycles, 48 boats and motorboats, as well as 12,000 bicycles.
From a Police force so reformed, so organized, and so equipped, I expect many things. And they are being done.
I shall speak to you of three tasks accomplished by the Italian Police: the fight against counterfeiters, the fight against the "Mazzoni" gangs, and the fight against the Mafia.
The fight against counterfeiters is a fight against spurious coinage, a crime for which 824 people were arrested during the past year. It is dangerous to counterfeit the currency of the Fascist State!
We come now to the "Mazzoni". The Mazzoni is an area between the provinces of Rome and Naples, formerly Caserta: marshy, bare, malarial, inhabited by a population which since Roman times has had a bad reputation, and was called a population of latrones.
I will give you an idea of the crime in this territory: in the five years between 1922 and 1926 the following major crimes were committed, without taking into consideration minor crimes: outrages to public authority 171; arsons 378; homicides 169; assaults 918; thefts and robberies 2,082; damages 404. That is only one part of this territory. Let us look at the other part, Aversano: outrages 81; arsons 161; homicides 194; assaults 410; thefts and robberies 702; damages 193.
I dispatched a major of the Carabinieri with this order: Free us from this crime with fire and sword! This major took his job seriously. In fact, from December to today, 1,699 affiliates of the underworld have been arrested in the Mazzoni area, and 1,268 in the area of Aversa, for crimes committed and for preventive measures.
The magistrates of that region are jubilant, the war veterans of that region are equally so. I have here a parcel of telegrams, letters, orders of the day and documents in which the healthy part of that population expresses its thanks to the established authorities, the authorities of the Fascist Regime, for the necessary work of cleaning up — a work that will be continued until it is finished.
Now we come to the Mafia.
Gentlemen! Here, too, I will speak frankly: I do not care if tomorrow the international press picks up these figures. But the international press at least will have to admit that Fascist surgery is truly courageous and very timely. From time to time I hear dubious claims which would like to suggest that the present situation in Sicily is exaggerated, that the whole region is dismayed, that an unfair shadow is cast over an island of very noble traditions. I disdainfully reject these claims, which can only derive from those very disreputable criminal centers.
Gentlemen, it is time for me to tell you about the Mafia. But first of all, I wish to strip this criminal organization of all that sort of charm and romanticism which it does not deserve in the least. One must never speak of nobility or of chivalry in relation to the Mafia, unless one really wishes to insult the whole of Sicily!
Now, since many of you do not yet know the extent of this phenomenon, I will present it to you as if on a surgeon's table: and the body has already been incised by my scalpel.
In the municipalities of Bolognetta, Marineo and Misilmeri (Palermo), a criminal association has existed since 1920, consisting of about 160 criminals, who are responsible for 34 homicides, 21 attempted homicides, 25 robberies, thefts, etc.
In Piana dei Greci — and many of you remember the unspeakable mayor of that town, who always found a way to have himself photographed on all solemn occasions, and who is now in prison, and will remain there for a while! — in Piana dei Greci, Santa Cristina, Gelo and Parco a group of 43 criminals were arrested who had committed 12 homicides, 6 robberies, etc.
In the district of Termini Imerese, in the month of March, 278 criminals were arrested, who must respond to the charges of 50 homicides, 9 attempted homicides, 26 robberies, and this is without counting the petty crimes.
Another large criminal association was discovered in the districts of Mistretta and Patti. Some 40 of its members were arrested, and large quantities of animals and foodstuffs were seized for a value of two million.
Another group of criminals, in Belmonte and Mezzoluso, had committed 5 homicides, 7 robberies, etc. In Piana dei Colli, another group of "gentlemen" was responsible for 37 homicides and 31 attempted homicides. In Bisacquino, Chiusa Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Corleone, Campofiorito, 72 criminals committed 14 homicides and minor offenses. In Casteldaccia, Baucina and Ventimiglia (Palermo) it could be demonstrated that 179 criminals, at various times, were responsible for 75 homicides, 14 attempted homicides, etc.
In the municipalities of Bagheria, Ficarazzi, Villabate, Santaflavia (Palermo) there was an association of 330 individuals, who, at different times, were responsible for 111 homicides, 31 attempted homicides, 19 robberies, etc. In Santo Stefano Quisquina, in the Province of Girgenti, 42 individuals committed 12 homicides, etc. In Roccamena (Palermo), another group of 42 criminals committed 7 homicides, etc.
The Blackshirt Militia also participated in this struggle, which was largely carried out by the Carabinieri. The Militia was present at all the great battles against the crime of the Mafia.
But do not think that this has not cost anything. Here is the report which documents the loyalty and honor of the Royal Carabinieri Corps. After a year of work, the Carabinieri has payed the following price: 10 servicemen killed in conflict with criminals; 1 killed in the line of duty; 350 wounded with injuries that could be healed over 10 days; 14 decorated with the Silver Medal for Military Valor; 47 with the Bronze Medal for Military Valor; 6 with the Medal for Civil Valor; 10 certificates of public merit; 50 solemn commendations.
All Fascists must know that the Royal Carabinieri Corps is one of the pillars of the Fascist Regime.
What are the results of this work against criminality? Remarkable results. I have here a bulletin issued by the prefect Cesare Mori, to whom I send my cordial wishes.
Here is his bulletin: it is the overall bulletin for all of Sicily:
In 1923, 696 cattle-thefts, in 1926, 126; robberies decreased from 1,216 to 298; extortions from 238 to 121; blackmail from 16 to 2; homicides from 675 to 299; damages from 1,327 to 815; arsons from 739 to 469.This is the best praise that can be given to that prefect and to another functionary who works with him very excellently: I am speaking of the magistrate Luigi Giampietro, who has the courage to condemn these criminals in Sicily. Someone will ask me: when will the fight against the Mafia end? It will end not only when the Mafia is eradicated, but when the very memory of the Mafia disappears definitively from the memory of the Sicilians.
At the Borders
Let us speak about the Border Militia. You know that the border is guarded by the Blackshirts, by the Carabinieri, by the agents and by Guardia di Finanza in this proportion: 55 functionaries, 224 agents, 1,626 carabinieri, 2,806 blackshirts and 4,417 men of the Guardia di Finanza. Why do I report these figures? For a very simple reason: to calm the nerves of those on the other side of the border. When the Blackshirts arrived at the western frontier, some imagined the march of legions going beyond the Colle dell'Argentera and the Tenda Pass, crossing into the lands of our neighbors. That is ridiculous. On the entire western border there are only 900 Blackshirts, and unfortunately they only deal with bad Italians who wish to leave and bad Italians who would like to enter.
I arrive now at the third part of my speech. The political action of the Fascist State.
You recall in what circumstances I assumed the office of Minister of the Interior. Remember the great day of October 31st at Bologna: an incomparable and unrivaled spectacle which will never be forgotten by those who saw it and participated in it. You recall the negligible incident of that evening. There was profound emotion in Italy, and it was necessary to take measures. The revolution had to confront the anti-revolution.
It was then that on this sheet of paper written by my hand, in pencil, as you can see, I dictated the measures that had to be taken: the withdrawal and revision of all foreign passports; the order to shoot without warning anyone caught in the act of secretly crossing the border; the suppression of all daily and periodical anti-Fascist publications; the dissolution of all associations, organizations and groups which were anti-Fascist or suspected of anti-Fascism; the deportation of all those who were suspected of anti-Fascism or who carried out any kind of counter-revolutionary activity, and anyone who abusively wore the black shirt; the creation of a special police in all regions, and the creation of investigative police officers and a special tribunal.
The Hon. Federzoni, who is a soldier faithful to orders, wished to return to the Colonial Ministry; but he desired, before doing so, to elaborate these measures and bring them with his elaborations before the Council of Ministers. This should be noted and remembered.
These measures have been applied. They have been applied with intelligence, for it is necessary to be very intelligent in carrying out a work of repression.
The Defense of the Revolution
All the opposition newspapers have been suppressed; all the anti-Fascist parties have been dissolved; a Special Police for the regions has been created and is already rendering remarkable service; the political offices for investigation have been created; the Special Tribunal has been created, which functions efficiently and has not caused any trouble, and will never do so, especially if the measure is taken to exclude from its walls the female element, which often brings the incorrigible sign of its frivolity into serious affairs. The penalty of confinement has been applied.
Why did I say that in this work it is necessary to be intelligent? Because the opposition in Italy must not be exaggerated, as perhaps has been done. It has been more slapstick than anything else: it has spilled much ink, but in reality during these five years of Fascist administration there has only been the collective demonstration over the so-called "soldino", and the appearance of a few armored cars between Messina and Palermo was enough to bring that to an end. Then there was that great circus called the Aventine Secession, in the second half of 1924; but the opposition never left its journalistic trenches, and besides I would have been waiting for them in the other trenches. Then there was the boring series of attempts on my life — boring for you.
The Number of Confined Prisoners
How many of these men under confinement are there? It is time to set the record straight, in view of the fact that abroad there are rumors of 200,000 prisoners (laughter) and in Milan alone 26,000 are alleged to have been rounded up. This is both stupid and despicable. Meanwhile let us divide them into their two categories: common prisoners and political prisoners.
I hope that no one will be moved to compassion for the common prisoners. They are, in general, true scoundrels, thieves, pimps, drug peddlers, loan sharks, etc., who ought to be swiftly removed from society. (Applause). Perhaps the categories of the common prisoners will be increased. These common prisoners in total amount to 1,527. (Shouts of: "Not enough! Not enough!").
Well, this work of confinement only began five months ago. (Laughter and comments).
Let us proceed to the political prisoners. There were 1,541 warned individuals; 959 were admonished; and 698 are on the Islands. I challenge anyone to deny the reliability of these figures, which, as you can see, are modest.
But not a single one of these prisoners claims to be anti-Fascist and some of them seem to be Fascist. In fact, as of May 21st of this year, of the 698 held in detention, 61 have declared that they had carried out no political activity whatsoever; 286 said that they had long since ceased all political activity; 185 said that they had not carried out any subversive activity; 182 said that they had long since ceased subversive activity; 59 said that they did not belong to a political party; 69 said that they had long since resigned from political parties; 29 said that they had made an act of submission to the Regime; 21 said that they remained steadfast in their own political ideas; 52 said that they had not made any declaration of a political nature.
Confidence in the Duce
Here is an interesting correspondence from the humanitarian point of view. I will not reveal the names of those who have sent me these letters, which are interesting. The fact that almost all the prisoners have addressed themselves to me ought to be considered as one of the greatest successes of the Fascist Regime; first of all, because none of these individuals wanted to have the negative reputation of being anti-Fascist, and in the second place, because all of them, notwithstanding their past records, knew that they could turn to me if they merited justice.
"I believe", says one, "that my having professed Maximalist ideas and my having exercised the parliamentary mandate within the boundary of the laws in force can not constitute a legitimate reason for proceedings against me."
"I was a militant of the Communist Party until yesterday", says another, "since the Party is no longer recognized as a political body in the country, I resign." (Laughter).
Mr. X declares having decided to "renounce all political activity". Mr. Y writes that "having followed unorthodox political idealism does not merit sic et simpliciter the adoption of so grave a measure as the one decided in my case". Another promises "to abandon all forms of political activity and to withdraw to Santa Margherita Ligure." It is an excellent town! (Much laughter).
"I preached Marxism," says another, "according to the law of evolution understood dialectically." (Laughter).
Mr. Z "had tried as hard as he could to make the Party change its tactics." He failed! (Laughter).
"I reaffirm my heritage of ideals, but I have long since retired to private life. It was only in these latter days that the corporative system has taken form which has clarified my ideas." (Laughter).
There is another one who loves suspense and says that he will suspend all activity for the entire duration of the Fascist Regime! (Loud laughter).
No General Amnesty
These documents have an acute interest from the humanitarian point of view. Now, these confined prisoners certainly do not find themselves in a brilliant position, but let's not exaggerate. They receive 10 lire per day, revalued. They are separated from the common prisoners. They are concentrated on two islands. Some have spoken of amnesty. No, gentlemen, no amnesty. We will not discuss any amnesty until 1932. And we will discuss it only if, as I hope, it will not be necessary to extend the special laws. But the rejection of a general amnesty does not prevent the granting of individual pardons, especially when they are recommended by Fascists, and sometimes even by entire Fascist directorates.
Upon what basis do I proceed in the matter of pardoning? First of all I take into account the war service record of the prisoner. Obviously, if the man has been wounded, decorated, or is an ex-serviceman, he has a greater right than the others; then I take into account the conditions of the family and health; then I consider also the statements which the petitioner makes.
Is this terror, gentlemen? No, it is not terror, it is just rigor. And maybe not even that. It is social hygiene; it is prophylaxis on a national level. These individuals are being removed from circulation just as a doctor quarantines an infected person. But then, who are those people who impute terror to our most humane revolution? It seems people no longer have any idea of what terror truly is. The terror of other revolutions, for example the terror of that revolution which gave birth to the so-called immortal principles!
Have you forgotten the terror which guillotined an average of twenty heads each morning in the Place de la Madeleine? Have you forgotten the terror which drowned thousands of people in rivers; which slaughtered thousands of people in prison; which sent to the guillotine a chemist like Lavoisier, a poet like Chénier, dozens of jurists; which destroyed whole regions; which everywhere sowed terror and death; which spared neither the young, nor the elderly, nor women, nor children, nor civilians, nor priests; which had as its maxim: "in order to have a revolution it is necessary to lop off many heads"?
Need I give you a bibliography of the Reign of Terror? No, you already know it, but I advise you to read this book; it is a vient de paraître and is entitled: "Le suppligiate del terrore".
It is the history of 2,000 guillotined women, often the mother together with the daughters, often the entire family, and often, which is more striking, they were not aristocrats: they were poor people whose only crime was wearing a crucifix on their chest.
Whited sepulchers! Sepulchers full of fetid waste! Do not dare speak of "terror" when the Fascist revolution is simply doing its duty: defending itself!
On occasion it has happened that some lawyer's study has been wrecked, or some professor's library. I deplore that. But between 1789 and 1793 — and mind you, I do not intend to put the French Revolution on trial, which would be ridiculous; I am merely documenting the historical period, because history always justifies itself — there was a true campaign against intellectuals.
Condorcet, in his draft Constitution, had said that free people know no merits deserving preference other than intellectual ability and virtue: d'Herbois, one of Robespierre's collaborators, replied to this article and said that only intriguers still speak of intellectual ability; Garnier, at Nantes, promised to kill all men of intellectual ability; in the clubs of Paris, anyone who had written a book was treated with suspicion!
The Allegiance of Opponents
It is certain that, since then, all opposition in Italy has collapsed, they have dispersed, they are finished: there remains only dust. An important group like Azione Cattolica has made an act of allegiance to the Regime. Then there was the confederalist movement. Let us speak of this episode. The scope of this happening has been exaggerated. When the circular was published with Rigola's signature, I asked the newspapers not to flaunt it, to accept it at face value, because we obviously do not want to hang all men to their past. There would be too many hooks around. It had to be interpreted as a sign of the times, as a sign of the adhesive strength of the Regime; and so it really is. We may doubt some of those individuals who surround Rigola, but Rigola at least is an honorable man, and he is certainly a man of intellectual ability and culture, and the declaration contained things well worth knowing, even from the Fascist point of view.
Here an objection arises: "But how does one live without opposition? Opposition is necessary, because it looks pretty in the picture." We reject in the most categorical and disdainful manner this line of reasoning. Opposition is not necessary for the functioning of a healthy political regime. Opposition is foolish, superfluous in a totalitarian regime like the the Fascist Regime. Opposition is useful in normal times, as was the case before the War, when they debated in the Chamber if, how and when Socialism would be realized, and a debate took place, which evidently was not serious, in spite of the men who participated in it. But we have opposition within ourselves, dear gentlemen. We are not old nags that have to be spurred. We control ourselves severely. We always find opposition in all affairs, in the objective difficulties of life, which gives us a huge mountain of opposition, which could exhaust spirits even superior to my own.
Therefore let no one hope that after this discourse anti-Fascist newspapers will be seen. No! Nor that the resurrection of anti-Fascist groups will be allowed. Never! Let us now recall my speech delivered before the revolution in a small district club of Milan, the "Antonio Sciesa" Club; in Italy there is no room for anti-Fascists; there is room only for Fascists and for non-Fascists, and only when they are upright and exemplary citizens.
Now, it must not be imagined that the Fascist Revolution — seeing that today even our fiercest enemies are convinced that we are reforming Italy from top to bottom, and we are only just beginning — can coexist with the counter-revolution. What will happen? It will follow that the light of the anti-Fascists will be reduced to a small glimmer; they will live on sainted memories; they cannot do otherwise. Do you know that until 1914 there was a Bourbon group in Naples? Do you know that until 1914 there was even printed a newspaper called Il Neoguelfo? (Laughter). Who were they? They were old functionaries of the Bourbon period, who, every time they saw the crachats of the decorations, or the papyri of their Regime, they were moved to tears. Finally the war came, they met, placed a tombstone on the club, and never spoke of it again. So it will be with all anti-Fascists; at some point or another they will realize that it is stupid to bang their heads against a stone wall.
The Fascist Prefects
I come to another point: the Regime, the prefects and the Party.
Those who remember the Grand Council, the first Grand Council, which was held at the Grand Hotel on January 11, 1923, and which was most important because it created the Grand Council and the Militia, will recall that I said to the Party: give me 76 Fascist prefects and 76 questors. At that time it seemed a heresy to be a prefect and even more so to be a questor. It appeared that I had made an obscene proposal. However, there were some heroes who agreed to be prefects, leaving the Party, and two of these have functioned especially well. I speak of Devita, who is in Turin, and of Guerresi, who is immovable at Cosenza.
Therefore it is not true that only in November are prefects taken from the Party. The experiment was done before, only with a reduced aliquot.
I must say that the prefects taken from the Party are functioning splendidly. I add that when I decide to have a reassignment of the prefects (and by this time you have noticed that movements are rare and infrequent because prefects must not travel continually in post to post transfers, for otherwise they will end by no longer knowing anything about the provincial situation); when I decide, as I was saying, to have a change of prefects, I shall call on the Party for another aliquot of Fascist prefects, possibly selected from those Fascists of the first hour.
Authority to the Prefects
The circular to the prefects is a fundamental document because it has established the exact position of the Party in the Regime in a manner which will not allow further misunderstandings. I say immediately that from the conferences which I have had with at least 90 prefects, I have learned that only in about ten provinces, gentlemen, was the situation unclear, that is to say, there was what I call a sliding of authority, a metayage of power. But in all the other provinces I must solemnly declare that all the federal secretaries were, as they should be, subordinate to the Head of the province.
Just as at the center the Party Secretary comes to me every morning for orders, likewise it is logical, and not simply formal analogy, that in the provinces the same should hold true.
The position thus cleared up, there can still be frictions, since human nature is not easily tamed, but these frictions will diminish, and in any event I will never give the head of a prefect to any federal secretary, especially if this prefect comes from the National Fascist Party, and if he is, as he ought to be, an upright functionary and a devoted servant of the Regime.
The End of Squadrism
Then, in that circular, I occupied myself with another phenomenon. At the present time this discourse has a purely retrospective value, since many of these phenomena are in the process of being exhausted or fave definitively disappeared. I was in charge of squadrism, which was a great thing as an instrument of Fascist activity, but it is simply absurd, ridiculous and stupid to make it something by itself. Squadrism derives from squad; thus one might also call it battalionism or regimentism. Can a simple tactical battle formation furnish the motive for an order, for a theory? No. And furthermore, dear gentlemen, squadrism only existed in one part of Italy. The truly great and heroic squadrist movement extended from Turin to Trieste, in the Po Valley, in Tuscany, and in Umbria; farther south it was not present, except in Puglia and in a few other centers.
Belated squadrism is therefore simply absurd. Fascists ought to be up to speed. I cannot physically stand those who suffer from nostalgia, who every minute are heaving sighs and deep breaths from their chests: "The good old times..." All that is simply idiotic! Life goes on, gentlemen, and continually we are faced with living reality.
Squadrism, when it wears the gray and green colors, is an army which must fight.
Clarifications on Violence
And there is a profound difference as regards lawlessness. Here again the discourse has a retrospective value. I have advocated for violence nearly my entire life; I did so when I was at the head of Italian Socialism, and at that time I struck fear into the sometimes exuberant bellies of my fellow party members, with many warlike forecasts: the "bloodbath", the "historic days". I wanted to test the combat effectiveness of this mythical, intangible entity called the Italian proletariat. But I have always distinguished between good violence and bad violence: from the Congress of Udine to the speeches in the local clubs, I have always said that there is a timely, chivalrous, noble violence of one-against-one, which is better than compromise or negotiation. But that sort of violence which serves personal interests has nothing to do with Fascism. And that came to an end when the Regime united in itself all forces and consolidated authority.
Another point, also retrospective: when a regime or when a party assumes the dreadful and serious responsibility of power, it then becomes fully responsible, and even the lowliest member of the lowliest Fascist League in Italy has his share of responsibility. The Regime is judged by him as it is judged by me, and the people have the right to judge the Regime according to the representatives it offers them. And if those champions are not up to the task, the people have the right to express their severe judgment. Why? Because we are and we boast of being an authoritarian regime and one must never imagine or even think of imagining that we have adopted this severe discipline merely to cover up something that is impure and non-crystalline.
Clarifications on Order
Also in that circular there was a distinction full of doctrine and full of life: a distinction between the moral order and public order. It is not the same thing. There can be perfect public order, and at the same time profound moral disorder.
We must concern ourselves with the moral order, not public order, because in the area of public order — in the sense of police — we have sufficient strength; instead we need to concern ourselves with the moral order and, through hard work, we must ensure that the relationship between the masses and the Regime is ever stronger, ever more solid, ever more conscious.
Peace in the Shadow of the Duce
But in the meantime, what has been the result of this policy? A sense of peace has spread throughout the country; petty local bullying is over, illegalism as well. All the elements are in line: and when they are not, I whip them. Let no one delude himself into thinking that I do not know what is happening in the country, even in the smallest village in Italy. I may find out a little late, but in the end I know about it. And then my sword arrives, just as it recently arrived in one large city, where I distinguished between those Fascists who work and who set a good example, from those who do not know how to set a good example. I will tell you that in these first four months of 1927 there were only 11 incidents in Italy. In four months, last year, there were 99. This demonstrates that a sense of discipline and order is now widespread among all classes of citizens.
The Forces of the Regime
Honorable Colleagues, we are now at the end of the 5th year of the Regime. You know that I am always a little discontented; however, if I look around, if I look at what we have done over the past five years, I have some reasons to be satisfied. I will tell you shortly what is the deepest reason for my satisfaction; you may not have guessed it at this moment.
The Regime's forces are compact, solid, unshakable. What are these forces? First, the Government. There are still some idlers who in every Council of Ministers fall into their old sins — because the force of habit, sometimes, is very dangerous — and speak of cabinet reshuffle. My ears are wounded by this sort of terminology, which reminds me of the era of Charlemagne. No, the Government is compact, solid, close-knit. And you must consider that in the Fascist Government all the ministers and all the undersecretaries of State are soldiers: they go where their leader orders them to go and there they stay, if I order them to stay. We have disposed of the old way of doing things! What we have in the Fascist Regime is strict military discipline!
Alongside the Government, there is the Party. The Party has improved itself in recent times. Meanwhile it has closed its doors: those who were Fascists in 1925, 1924, 1923, very well; but now it allows no more new members. Unfortunately for the latecomers, we will not allow them to board our train!
But how will we feed lifeblood into the Party? Through the youth.
I hope that you have all reflected on the extraordinarily symbolic and profoundly vital meaning of the March 28th ceremony; this mass conscription of youth which entered the Party and received the membership card — which is almost like receiving a rifle — is of infinitely greater value.
The Youth Are the Future
Thus the Party will renew itself every ten years; thus at some point there will be a Council of Ministers in which the President may range from 28 to 30 years old. Because it is not true that one must be old or senile in order to govern well; no. There have been ministers in England who were 20 or 21 years old, and brilliantly ruled what was then and still is the most powerful empire in the world.
We must also have a sense of modesty in old age — and I hope to teach this to the Italians.
Alongside the Party, there is the Militia, which, in recent times, has become an even more important organization than it was in the past and which, in the meantime, has had the satisfaction of guarding the borders, of giving its officers to the Special Tribunal, of establishing political investigation offices, of obtaining 6,000 rifles each month.
The legions have been equipped with the necessary means. They are being trained for use in case of war, since the problem of the Militia is an organic problem. Meanwhile, those over 40 will be entrusted with anti-aircraft defense and coastal defense.
But above all the Militia is entrusted with pre-military training, which has given superb results. It is thus that we form the Fascist army and prepare a generation of warriors: not merely soldiers who obey, but generations of soldiers who fight because it is their desire, because it is their passion, because they feel they are bearers of an idea.
Armies which have won wars have always been armies which carried an idea on their banners. And today we carry the idea of order, hierarchy and the authority of the State against the suicidal theory of disorder, indiscipline and irresponsibility.
Syndical unions are fine. We must not, however, give ourselves over to excessive illusions with regard to the so-called urban proletariat: even if not as opposed as it once was, it is still largely distant and absent. It is evident that we will also be aided by the fatal laws of life. The stubborn generation, the generation of those who did not understand the war and did not understand Fascism, at a certain point will be eliminated by the natural cycle of life. Their place will be taken by the youth, by the workers and peasants that we are recruiting into the Balilla and the Avantgardists. These are powerful institutions, powerful organizations which give us the opportunity to control the life of the Nation from age 6 to 60, to create the New Italian, the Fascist Italian.
The Foundations of the Regime
Then, alongside the Syndicates, today we have all the living forces of culture, of spirit, of the economy, of the banks. The Regime is totalitarian, yet it is the regime that has the largest popular consensus. Do other regimes have this? How is their government formed? Through a majority vote. But how is the majority created? Through electoral consultation. I will talk about electoral consultations later.
Our Regime, instead, is a regime that relies on a Party of one million individuals, on an additional million young people, and on millions upon millions of Italians who are improving, refining and organizing themselves. No other government in any other part of the world has a broader and more profound support base than the Italian Government. We have the consent of the people. Indeed the opposition consists only of some vociferous, eccentric, garish individuals. The ruling class is beginning to come to fruition. There are, in fact, 9,000 podestàs, 20,000 Militia officers, thousands of Fascist organizers, who tomorrow can assume a commanding function.
"My Successor is Not Yet Born"
Five years ago I thought that after five years I would have finished the major part of my work. Gentlemen, I now realize that this is not the case. ... I am convinced that, despite the gradual creation of a ruling class, despite the ever-growing conscious discipline of the people, I must assume the task of governing the Italian Nation for 10 to 15 years. It is necessary. My successor is not yet born. Why? Is it lust for power that keeps me here? No. I believe in conscience that no Italian thinks this. Not even my worst opponent could think this. I must govern because it is my precise duty towards the revolution and towards Italy.
The New Tasks
We still have very great tasks ahead of us. I will mention three. The following are fundamental: the development of all the armed forces of the State; the economic-financial battle; constitutional reform. You recall that I went to Locarno, a town on Lake Maggiore. I went there because it was a matter of carrying out a political and diplomatic act of fundamental importance. Note that I do not want to digress into foreign policy; I will discuss foreign policy in the Senate, but only briefly, because I would consider myself forever dishonored if I inflicted upon the Nation two speeches in the same month.
The agreement made at Locarno was the following: France and Germany undertook a commitment not to attack each other. And on the side there are two carabinieri who are watching to ensure that this commitment is not violated: England and Italy. It was important that Italy, at that moment, placed itself on the same level as England and made itself the guarantor of peace on the Rhine, which, in reality, means peace for Europe.
The Spirit of Locarno
But at Locarno something better was done: it was an operation of pure chemistry, of distillation; the "spirit of Locarno" was manufactured. Gentlemen, the "spirit of Locarno" today, at scarcely two years' distance, is extraordinarily discolored. I mention this here without any intention of starting a polemic... What has happened? The so-called Locarnoist nations are furiously arming themselves by land and sea, indeed some of these Nations have even dared to speak of a doctrinal war which their democracies should wage against this irreducible Fascist Italy which is anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-socialist and anti-Masonic. (Applause).
Besides, there were manifestations which it would be criminal for us to ignore. What I must reproach democracy for is this: that it creates one type of man and really believes that this man exists. This historically leads to atrocious disillusion, tragedies and butcheries.
The Spiked Helmets
Gentlemen, just the other day a great parade of spiked helmets took place in Berlin. They numbered 120,000. This is of mediocre interest for us, but one of the posters they carried bore the following inscription: "From Trieste to Riga". It may sound mad, paradoxical, grotesque, but it is a fact. Therefore the precise, fundamental and preliminary duty of Fascist Italy is to develop all its armed forces on land, sea and air to their maximum strength.
The Armed Forces
Hence we must be able to mobilize 5 million men at any given moment, and we must be able to arm them. We must strengthen our navy and make our air force so numerous and so powerful that the roar of their motors will drown out any other sound in the peninsula and the covering of their wings obscure the sun above our land. Then we will be able, between 1935 and 1940, when I believe there will be a crucial point in European history, we will finally be able to make our voice heard and at last see our rights recognized. This preparation still requires some years.
Lira and Prices
And there is, besides this, the economic and financial battle. I do not wish to anticipate the speech which the Minister of Finance will deliver next Thursday in this assembly; but nevertheless it is necessary that I say something. And here my polemics will become pungent, and here I shall play in six sharps, violin key, of course. (Laughter). You remember that last summer, when the pound sterling — let us speak of the pound as being at parity with the dollar, as this is what England desires, as do all strong peoples — went to 140 and to 150, there were sweet smiles all about. All the anti-Fascists seemed to have a common opinion:
"Fascism is a fine thing; the Duce is a great man; however, nobody knows how, look at the exchange rates: the pound sterling is at 140! Something more, gentlemen, is needed than your dictatorship. The bankers of Wall Street and the City cannot be given castor oil. The bludgeon does not raise the thermometer of exchange!"The Speech in Pesaro
Well, then my speech in Pesaro followed. My speech was impromptu, naturally. I will have to say, however, that I had thought it over for three months and that on August 8th I gave notice of it to the Minister of Finance in a letter at least 16 pages long. My improvisations are of that nature! What did I say? That the Fascist Regime would not accept defeat in the financial sector. It may endure it, if tomorrow its strength will be greater than its desire, but certainly it cannot accept it.
And then, since my speech in Pesaro — which I delivered at Pesaro simply because I happened to be passing through there in the afternoon, because it is a pleasant town which I like, but which I could have delivered also at Sassoferrato, for I have never thought that to make an interesting speech one must mount a grand rostrum —, since then all the ironic and sarcastic smiles have disappeared.
But now, what is happening? When the other day the pound sterling, to my very great pleasure, went to 85, it seemed that a national catastrophe was in sight: one could see even grayer faces all around, as if it were a question of establishing everywhere branch offices of Raveggi. (Loud laughter). "But it is ruin! But it is a national catastrophe!", bemoaned the Stock Exchange elements and the manipulators of securities and exchange rates. I esteem these men enough, but sometimes, when I see them with their distinguishing mark in their buttonhole, they make me sick. And that is not easy, considering my diet. (Laughter). But where, then, is this catastrophe, gentlemen? Do not cry too soon! Do not put the cart before the horse! Patience! Be calm, do not be over-eager...
History of the Lira
As far as I am concerned, history begins in October 1922. If you take the high point of the pound sterling, then yes, we have a gain of 60 points; but if you take the average quotation of 120, the gain is reduced to 30 points, and if you turn to the quotation at the time of the March on Rome the gain is reduced to 15, for at the time of the March on Rome the pound was at 105 and 110. But then, gentlemen, we had a balance showing a deficit, we had unpaid foreign debts, a Regime which was just starting and which thus could not even be assumed to last; we had a passive balance of payments. What is this gain of 15 points, now that we have systematized the national debt and the foreign debt, now that we have struck a balance and have a surplus, now that we have limited the circulation? This is the prize, the modest prize which the Italian people has merited after five years of working like a nigger, or, if you wish, like a hero and like a saint. (Loud applause).
On the other hand, let these preoccupations be calmed; we have not gained anything; we have retaken the positions which we held in 1922. We will call them "quota 90" and on this quota let us await the whole strength of the army. We will remain here the necessary and sufficient time for all the economic forces to level themselves at this quota; which forces, however, did level themselves rapidly and willingly when the rate of exchange, going down, made kangaroo jumps. Today they find insurmountable difficulties because we are proceeding toward improvement at the pace of a grasshopper. All that is miserable! (Loud applause).
We have created the Corporative State. This Corporative State places before us the institutional problem of Parliament. What is happening to this Chamber? This Chamber, which has nobly and constantly served the cause of the Regime very well, will last throughout the Legislature. All those who wanted to liquidate it and suppress it, almost to punish it, will certainly be disappointed. But it is obvious that the Chamber of tomorrow cannot resemble the one of today. Today, on May 26th, we solemnly bury the lie of universal democratic suffrage.
But what is this universal suffrage? We have seen it put to the test. Of the more than 11 million citizens who had the right to vote, there were 6 million who regularly did not even care.
And as for the others, what value could they have when the vote is granted to the citizen simply because he has turned 21, and therefore the discriminative criterion of the citizen's capacity is linked to a question of chronology or civil status?
The New Chamber
Tomorrow there will also be a Chamber, but this Chamber will be elected through the corporative organizations of the State. Many of you will return to this Chamber, many of you will find a natural seat in the Senate, some in the State Council, some in the Prefectures, others will take up a diplomatic and consular career, where the Regime can be admirably served, while some others will retire to private life.
Not everyone can be a hierarch; grunts are also needed. Moreover, does the Nation feel the need for elections? And is it really necessary for us to have an attestation of the consent of the people through a ballot? Permit me to think that this is not absolutely necessary. Towards the end of this year, next year, we will establish the forms with which the Corporative Chamber of Italian State will be elected.
The Unitary State
But in the meantime I come to an essential point of my speech: perhaps the most important. What have we Fascists done in these last five years? We did something huge, monumental, centuries in the making. What have we made? We have created the Italian Unitary State. Consider that from the time of the Empire onward, Italy was no longer a unitary State. Here we solemnly reaffirm our doctrine concerning the State; here I reaffirm my formula in the speech I delivered at La Scala in Milan: "Everything within the State, nothing against the State, nothing outside the State". I do not even think anyone in the 20th century can live outside the State, unless they are in a state of barbarism, a state of savagery.
It is only the State that gives people a consciousness of itself. If the people are not organized, if the people are not a State, they are simply a population that will be at the mercy of the first group of internal adventurers or external invaders. Because, dear gentlemen, only the State with its juridical organization, with its military force, prepared at all times, can defend the national collectivity; but if the human collectivity is broken up and reduced to the mere nucleus of the family, a few hundred Normans will suffice to conquer Puglia.
What was the State — that State which we took over as it was breathing its last breath, gnawed by constitutional crises, debased by its organic impotence? The State which we conquered at the time of the March on Rome was the one which has been handed down from 1860 onward. It was not a State, but a system of badly organized prefectures, in which the prefect had but one preoccupation: that of being an efficient electoral errand boy.
Fascism and Democracy
In that State, until 1922, the proletariat — what shall I say? the entire people — was absent, refractory, hostile. Today we announce to the world the creation of the powerful Unitary Italian State from the Alps to Sicily. And this State expresses itself in a centralized, organized, unitary democracy in which the people move about at ease, because, gentlemen, either you place the people within the citadel of the State, and they will defend it, or they will be outside, and they will assault it.
Gentlemen! A discourse like this will not tolerate perorations. I only say to you that within ten years Italy, our Italy, will be unrecognizable to herself and to foreigners, because we shall have radically transformed her in appearance, but above all in soul!
(Very loud, general, prolonged, reiterated applause in which the tribunes join. The President, the ministers, and the deputies rise to their feet in acclamation. Repeated and enthusiastic cries of "Viva il Duce!")