Friday, March 9, 2012

The Most Common Errors of European Anti-Fascism

(Published in Gerarchia, September 1938)

By Guido Mastracchio

Many individuals in Europe are convinced that Mussolini's corporativism is nothing more than a transitory political movement, destined to end with the disappearance of the mind that directs and sustains it.

Many others firmly believe that it is a simple awakening of the more conservative part of society which aims — in agreement with the Church — to turn back time in order to better combat the Communist danger.

Finally, others see corporativism as an exclusively economic movement; that is to say, a set of rules that serve only to regulate production and relations between producers and the State.

In the interest of European peace, it would be necessary to demonstrate — and if it has been demonstrated, to repeate — that all of these are very big mistakes!

That Mussolinian corporativism is a political movement lasting a few decades is an absurdity that could only be thought up by those who have a totally superficial idea of the Italian revolution. Mussolinian corporativism is by no means an ideological system destined to be supplanted over time by another ideological system, but is a doctrine based on the eternal laws of nature.

In fact, in the article published in the Italian Encyclopedia, Mussolini writes:
"One does not act spiritually as a human will dominating the will of others in the world without a conception of the transient and particular reality under which it is necessary to act, and of the permanent and universal reality in which the first has its being and its life. ... In order to act among men, as in the natural world, it is necessary to enter into the process of reality and to take possession of the already operating forces."
Now what is the permanent and universal reality in which the transient and particular reality lives, if not this: that our present world has gradually developed from a shapeless primitive matter, and that the slow evolution of things and men through the ages has been and always will be governed by laws arranged by God for a purpose which the human mind is not suited to understand?

And what are the forces at work in the process of reality, if not those that have always subjected and still subject the organic world to an evolutionary movement, which goes from the simple to the complex, from the less perfect to the most perfect, from the unconscious to the intelligent?

On the basis of that reality and these forces, Mussolini saw what no statesman had seen before him, namely that the evolution of the organic world — whether one follows the theory of St. Augustine or follows the Darwinian theory — has an evidently ascensional character and consequently: just as it brought men from the cave to the nation conceived as a simple organization, so, slowly but surely, it must lead them to that most perfect form of life which is the nation conceived as a biological organism, endowed with its own conscience, its own will, its own predisposition.

And with the awareness of working for the good of his Fatherland and the world, Mussolini, taking possession of the forces at play, hastened the slow process of nature, transforming the Italian State — which passively and unconsciously suffered the action of social forces, and lived, with a great waste of energy, a confused and aimless life — into a State conscious of the origin and direction of the forces of nature, and therefore capable of regulating their development as, in small way, the expert farmer does when he wants to transform a forest into a park; or as the traffic policeman does, when he transforms the tumultuous movement of the streets of a metropolis into an ordered movement, useful to everyone.

Mussolinian corporativism is therefore anything but an ideology! Instead, it is a doctrine that has a positive scientific basis. A doctrine that arose from a system of historical forces, has remained inserted in it and operates from within it. It has also become a force: a spiritual force that tends to remake not the forms of human life, but the content, the man, the character, the faith.

Such a doctrine which tends to use and polarize all the energies of a people to a precise and noble purpose, thus giving them the greatest chance of winning the struggle for life, is in complete harmony with the laws of nature and cannot last for decades, but centuries. Contrary to what the politicians of the great democracies think, it must, out of necessity of things, be embraced by all the nations that want to be truly strong; and it will fill with itself a whole new period of civilization absolutely different from those which have occurred up to now in six thousand years of history, since it will no longer be men or groups of men who act, but states and groups of states.

No less serious is the error of those who believe that Fascism is a reactionary movement; a return to the time of the Holy Alliance, with the valuable assistance of the Church.

Mussolini has always been very clear in this regard: "If the bourgeoisie" — he said in the first constituent meeting of the Fascist Combat League — "thinks to find in us a lightning-conductor, it is mistaken. We must go forward to meet labour and we will fight technical and spiritual retrogression."

A few years later, in his article Posizioni, published in Il Popolo d'Italia, he wrote:
"If there were anyone thinking of contemplating a return to the conditions of half a century ago, we will take a stand, bearing in mind not the more or less conflicting interests of individuals, but the immediate and future interests of the Nation."

And finally in the article written for the Italian Encyclopedia in 1931, he reiterated:
"The Fascist repudiations of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789... History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet. Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is theocracy."
This is therefore enough to reassure the friends of progress, especially since everything that Mussolini said or wrote has not remained a dead letter, but has been practically translated into numerous social laws and colossal works of renewal and reconstruction whose importance may grow over time, but not diminish.

As for the fear that the Church, with its moderating influence, may delay the development of the revolution, or even neutralize its dynamism, we must not exaggerate. It is not the Church that hinders the triumph of good ideas, but rather the infinite number of selfish and self-interested people. Pope Leo XIII, in fact, in 1891 wrote the Encyclical Rerum novarum, giving the social question a solution that in many points precedes the corporative one of Mussolini, and more recently modern cultural and social problems have been treated with a truly modern and highly human spirit by many priests.

"More than once" — writes, for example, Fr. Semeria — "we have proven our enemies right who accused Christianity of being outdated. More than once we have jealously locked ourselves in the temple singing sacred hymns, while the people outside died of moral exhaustion. ... But the time has come to disprove yesterday's defects, and show people contemporary men. Dear priests, we know that God did not intend for Christianity to be implemented in just one time and one place only; we know that it is Catholic, precisely because in its fertile womb it possesses principles to enlighten and strength to govern every more complicated form of civilization."

However, at the point we are at today, the problem of harmonizing cultural developments with religion, and of giving the world the solid and secure norms of a higher life, has become so difficult and complicated that the Church can no longer — as in the time of St. Thomas — solve it alone. Today we also need the help of the State. Above all we need the help of a man who has the strength to reconstitute the Empire, and to rebuild it in such a way as to realize not the ideal of Boniface VIII, but that of Dante Alighieri, who — as Giovanni Papini writes — "is more intimately and profoundly alive, from the political point of view, than he has ever been since his own day: more modern than many moderns, more alive than many dead who believe themselves to be living."

Finally, corporativism is by no means a mere economic movement. In this respect, Lloyd George's claim that Fascism is a convenient ideological screen that hides materialistic and aggressive aims is as false as Fovel's assertion that homo corporativus is basically a homo economicus which operates hedonistically. The Mussolinian doctrine is characterized by the principle that the world does not operate according to the laws of economics, as Karl Marx claimed, but operate according to the highest and most complex laws of biology. And it is precisely by replacing the materialist conception of history with the biological conception that Mussolini was able to solve the most formidable problem that the human mind can pose: that of finally giving the life of peoples a meaning and a direction that can be recognized as just by everyone. Something which neither the meditations of all philosophers nor the struggles of all statesmen had ever managed to do over the centuries. The truth therefore is that Mussolinian corporativism is neither a simple economic movement nor a simple political movement, but it is a natural totalitarian movement of social classes towards collaboration, towards the most complete solidarity, that is to say, towards a constitution similar to that of the human body, which is the most perfect known to us.

One can discuss the modalities, the order to be given and the step to be taken, but the movement itself — which is inevitable, necessary and inexorable — cannot be discussed. It can be slower or faster according to the nature of the peoples, and it can also have more or less long pauses; but it cannot be stopped. Believing that it can stop is the same as putting oneself, as Mussolini wrote, out of history and life, which is a continuous flow and becoming. In this regard, the French writer M. Zachin, who in his study on Fascism asks, not without a certain irony, whether the left-wing corporativists will be able to practically regulate social life — according to corporative ideals — up to their final and logical consequences, or whether the right-wing corporativists will succeed in reducing Mussolini's doctrine to a mere ideal aspiration, while the world continues to go its way; we will reply that above men and nations there are great truths, and that these truths, once brought to light by genius, are destined to inevitably triumph in the world.

There may well be nations that are retreating — sang Lucretius — but there are others that are marching forward. The world is a continuous story and, like runners, peoples are passed the torch of life and civilization from hand to hand.