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iawdust Caesar 


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iii>i the subject nf v:ok-ncc ^r.d 

( r ) Nineteen Years Ag<' . . - Mus? _. . . .1,- ,j 

nr^est for his speeches demaiwiii^ I iat> > entrance into the \\«.rld 
War. (21 & <7l Benito Mussolini fLared. "No <>ne can pre^rnnc-tw 
dictate to us." (3» Mussolini and Bambin<i Romano, aged six, who 
was called bv II "Uuce. "Not so much my fourth child a> tht first ol 
mi new series'— iV- since Mussolini became Dictator. (4) Musso- 
lini's mother (i> Mussolini as editor in iyi5- '61 r).rnna R.«:heM 
\iussolini. (8) Bust of Mussolini as Caesar by Wildt. (9^ M-jssolmi = 
Li^st in Abvssinia as seen by a Naz^ carto.mist. 1 lO) Bronze 
Mussolini bv Gustinus Ambn^i. Being deaf and dumb, he was px^r- 
inirted to attend secret executive meetings- (ill Recent ptirtrait b} 
AWredo Vaccari. (!2i "To Make Life Difficult" Facsimile 01 :. 
tdesram written bv Mussolini and sent to the Prefect of Turin.; '- 
clt4in.g him to "make it difficult" for Signor Piero Gobetti- The la.- 
siniile was first published in the <Ji"'/i</i>« of Paris. February 10.19^'' 
' The original is in the hands of bignor Fasciolo, Mussolinrs secretary 
- ■T;hcar the Gnbetii.who was recently in now in bicily. Plea-i.- 
kt-ep nie informed, and be vigilant in making life difficult again i^r 
tlifs stupJdnpTHmenr/SfTasci^m. Muss-Jini." Gobetti was beaten and 
(^(1 of iiiiurics- ( 13) Too much castor oil . . . leads to crimes hkc 
'^Wk.- killing -of" Giacomo Matteotti. whom anti-Fascist'^ cherish a-^ 
tiu'ir \o;>i niartvr. 1 14I Mussolini in Kunie— a I'ascist saluti*. 



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Author of "World Panorama," "The Vatican: 
Yesterday — Today — Tomorrow," Etc. 

Netv Yor\ and London 



Copyright, 1935, by George Seldes 

Printed in the United States of America 

All rights in this book, are reserved. 

No part of the book, may be reproduced in any 

manner whatsoever without written permission. 

For information address 

Harper &■ Brothers 




Helen Seldes 

my wife and collaborator 




Foreword: to Americans facing Fascism 

Part I — The Force of Destiny 

I. Tide . . . Ta\en at the Flood 
II. The Romantic Rebel 

III. "Dieu n'existe pas" 

IV. Comrade Angelica and Comrade Benito 
V. A Miracle Is Explained 

VI. A Politician Goes to War 
VII. Fiume or Death! 
VIII. The Secret of ig20 
IX. Fascism Conquers Mussolini 
X. Priest versus Politician 

Part U — The Conquest of Power 

XI. The Glorious March on Rome 
XII. The Victor in Search of a Program 

XIII. Personal Vendetta 

XIV. The Assassination of Matteotti 
XV. Blood and Irony 

XVI. The Sons of Brutus 













viii Contents 

XVIL Purge of the Freemasons 183 

XVIII. Mussolini Conquers the Mafia 196 

XIX. The Che\a — spelled Ceca or Ovra 201 

XX. The Fate of Heroes 2i6 

XXI. " 'Live Dangerously' Is My Motto" 224 

XXII. The Silent Revolution 233 

Part III — Mussolini Victorious 

XXIII. Mussolini versus the Pope 243 

XXIV. Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia 261 
XXV. The Corporate State: People under Fascism 275 

XXVI. Fascist Finance 296 

XXVII. A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 311 

XXVIII. Let There Be Culture! 333 

XXIX. The Imperialist Road to War 349 

XXX. Ave Caesar 366 


I. The First and Second Fascist Programs 385 

II. "Dieu n'existe pas," by Mussolini 387 

III. Mussolini's French Money 399 

IV. Mussolini and the "Bolshevi\ Era" 395 

V. Text of the Pacification Treaty between Fascisti and 

Labor 396 

VI. Fascism: "Reactionary" "Anti-Liberal" by Mus- 
solini 398 

VII. Resolutions Adopted by the Republican, Socialist, 

Contents ix 

Democratic, and Catholic Parties Following the 
Assassination of Matteotti 401 
VIII. Extract from the Law of December j/, 1925, on the 
Press. Royal Decree of July 15, /92J. Decree Sub- 
sidizing Violence Abroad 402 
IX. The Labor Charter 403 
X. The Fascist Decalogue. The Fascist Ten Command- 
ments. The Apocryphal Fascist Cathechism. The 
Balilla Credo 407 
XI. Fascist Finances 410 
XII. Fascism: Its Theory and Philosophy, by Mussolini 412 

XIII. // Duce Tells Fascist Journalists Duty Is to Serve 
Regime 416 

XIV. The Foreign Policies of Fascism, by Mussolini 421 
XV. Capitalism and the Corporate State, by Mussolini 423 

XVI. Volte-face Caesar 427 

Chronology 435 

Bibliography 443 

Index 449 

With astonishing success the Fascisti have not only cut ofl 
true contemporary record of their deeds, but have invented a 
whole history of their past which is usurping the suppressed truth. 

In another five years every scrap of material evidence of the real 
history of Fascism will have disappeared as thoroughly as the dos- 
sier of Mussolini from the Swiss Police Bureau. 

It will be a pity, for instead of a perfecdy logical and fascinating 
story of a human man and his ambitions, the historian will have 
to content himseH with the false epic of romantic heroes that is 
being served up in every language, with photographs, today. 

WnxiAM BoLiTHo, December, 1925. 


To Americans Facing Fascism 

formidable and needs only a Duce, a Fuehrer, an organizer, and 
a loosening of the purse strings of those who gain materially by its 
victory, to become the most powerful force threatening the Republic. 
Those who cannot see the growth of Fascism or deny its existence 
are either the many who do not know what Fascism really is or the 
few who prefer euphemism — a patriotic American name for a dis- 
tinctly European product. 

To understand Fascism it is necessary to know its suppressed his- 
tory and the mind and actions of its spiritual father, and it is the 
purpose of this book to present documented facts, to the best of the 
author's ability, as objectively as possible, so that the reader can com- 
pare the origins of Fascism in Italy with the present situation in our 
own country, the Duce to our own demagogues, the hidden forces 
which subsidized the Italian movement to those just emerging in the 
United States. 

The brilliant William Bolitho never wrote a truer word than his 
prediction that the real record of Mussolini's private and political 
life would disappear within five years. Ten years have passed, the 
suppressed truth has been overwhehned by the myths created by 
public-relations counsel who helped float some $600,000,000 worth of 
Italian bonds in America, and the propaganda of such men as our 
late ambassador to Italy (and later Hearst writer), the Honorable 
Richard Washburn Child, and the ultra-Fascist Italians employed 
by leading American news agencies and newspapers. 

There exist, it is true, some 200 volumes on Mussolini and Fas- 
cism, but reading them all, as I have done, merely confirms Bolitho's 
prediction. With about a dozen exceptions which are frankly anti- 

xiv Voreword 

Fascist but nevertheless honest in their facts and two or three which 
deal with specific phases or problems, there remain some 190 works, 
including the Duce's own autobiography, which unite in a chorus of 
unmitigated hero-worship while they suppress the essential story. 

Many so-called important biographies are written by ladies on 
their knees. "Mussolini is tender and gentle. ... He is so aristocratic 
and natural, and, oh, what eyes ! . . . They are black and powerful 
and remind one of the eyes of a saint. ... He has a wonderful 
sense of justice. ... He has abolished handshaking. . . . When he 
receives ladies he comes around from behind his table and kisses the 
hand gently. . . . Mussolini is extraordinarily young to be the great- 
est man of the present and past. . . . All Italy adores him. . . . 
Forty-four million Italians pray each day and thank God for having 
sent them this wonderful man who has saved Italy. He is the only 
genius the war has produced." 

This is the sort of genuflectual claptrap, romantic moonshine, and 
suggestio falsi written by hand-kissed women, but the gentlemen are 
little better. "MussoHni is the greatest man of our sphere and time," 
reports our late Hon. Mr. Child, making the inevitable comparison 
with Theodore Roosevelt, the Mussolini manque of the generation 

For the benefit of reviewers of a previous book I must state that 
I nurse no grudge against Mussolini or Fascism because of my ex- 
pulsion from Italy in 1925. Quite the contrary. I believe that I owe 
the Duce a note of thanks. In 1923 the Soviet Cheka asked me to 
leave Russia for the same reason on which the Fascist Cheka acted 
two years later: the transmission of news items the truth of which 
was not denied but was held unfavorable to the ruling powers. Both 
expulsions were inevitable, as all writers who do not compromise 
and trim their sails soon learn if they defy the dictators. From the 
Fascist as from the Bolshevik viewpoint the expulsion was abso- 
lutely justified, although it was perhaps stupid. 

In 193 1 I visited Italy secretly; I have had the secret cooperation 
of several of the most prominent American journalists now resident 
in Rome who express their pleasure in smuggling news and docu- 
ments to me. The materials which follow I have collected over a 
period of fifteen years, beginning in the days I first knew Mussolini 

Foreword xv 

as a fellow but rather violent journalist. The first draft, completed in 
1931, was accepted by a British publisher, but suppressed at the 
suggestion of the Foreign Office. The Quai d'Orsay likewise asked a 
French publisher to "delay" publication owing to the diplomatic situa- 
tion. I have tried to recoimt the significant facts in the behef that, 
although history may be "lies agreed upon," there may be some value 
in stating realities at a time they may be useful to those seeking a new 
road out of the present world dilemma. 

Bandol (Var), France, IQSI. 
Woodstock, Vermont, 1935. 

Part I 


Tide . . . Ta^en at the Flood 

to come to America two years later, all the parties of the 
Left, the radicals, the liberals, were joined by the Democrats, the 
Center, and elements of the Right in denouncing the war mongers 
who favored the Triple Entente or the Triple Alliance. So long as 
the powerful Socialist Party remained integrated, intelligent, and 
determined in its opposition to war, so long as its official organ, 
Avanti, and its courageous editor, Benito Mussolini, united the labor- 
ing masses to the policies of the party, the war makers dared not 

On July 27th Mussolini wrote the decisive editorial of the time, 
under the startling headline, "Our Neutrality Must Be Absolute." 
It was more than an abrogation of Italy's contract to fight with 
Germany and Austro-Hungary ; it was a threat of revolution at 
home. The government realized that Avanti had struck the popular 
tune. The Nationalists still raged patriotically about the nation's duty 
to Germany, and Albertini of the Corriere della Sera and Bergamini 
of the Giornale d'ltalia coined pre-Wilsonian phrases about saving 
Democracy and preserving Civilization by joining the Allies, but 
realistic politicians knew Italy was out of the war. 

Officially on the 4th of August the Socialist Party voted neutrality. 
Loudest and most violent of the strict neutralitarians, militant 
pacifists, die-hard Socialists, was the white knight of peace-at-any- 
price and the red Internationale, the editor of Avanti. 

Magnificently he met the challenge. His editorials were heavy 
with sarcasm, his phrases reeked of the Milan political gutters, he 
used words rarely if ever seen except on fences, but his pacifist vio- 
lence was absolutely bloodthirsty. He even mocked the Belgian atrocj- 


4 Sawdust Caesar 

ties which were breaking the heart of the world, and he sneered 
at the pretensions of RepubHcan France, which, he said, was bom in 
revolution, consecrated to the glorious future of humanity in the 
bloody days of the Commune, and had now become a militaristic, 
capitalistic, exploiting, and suppressing nation. Austria he hated with 
a national hatred. Through his months of fury there ran this Leit- 
motif : Revolt! Let the proletarians of all the nations, French, Ger- 
man, and Russian, and Austrian too, arise and smite the bourgeoisie 
of both sides who were bathing the world in blood for their own 
financial profits; smite them, destroy them, and establish the dictator- 
ship of the working-class. Thus he echoed Lenin in nearby Switzer- 

But the German Socialists, with the exception of such men as 
Liebknecht, the French with the exception of the Juares-Rolland 
group, and the liberals and radicals of many other countries, sud- 
denly became patriots, voted war credits, and rallied round flags, 
leaving for Italy and Mussolini only one honorable open road — strict 
neutrality. Late in August, 1914, Mussolini was attacking the "de- 
lirium tremens of the Nationalists" whose "scandalous opportunism" 
favored intervention. "Italy," reiterated the editor of Avanti, "must 
remain neutral. We Socialists, tenacious enemies of war, are par- 
tisans of neutrality." 

He saw the war as the "crisis of capitalist society"; unable to 
exploit it for revolt, he urged sabotage, but at least neutrality. His 
old editor in Italian Austria, Cesare Battisti, who wanted Italy to 
free the Trentino and Venetia Giulia, the irredenta provinces, became 
his enemy. On the 4th of September, under the headline "Italian 
Proletariat, Resist the War Menace," Mussolini continued : "We are 
invited to weep over martyred Belgium. We are in the presence of a 
sentimental farce staged by France, and Belgium herself. These two 
old gossips would exploit the universal credulity. For us Belgium is 
nothing but a belligerent power just like the others ... all the powers 
at war are of the same degree of guilt, and it is our right, our duty, 
to cause a revolution of the working-class against them." 

On the 2ist of September Mussolini arose to new pacifist heights 
of violence. The Socialist Party convened in Bologna under the eyes 
of the belligerent world. The editor of the party organ was given 

Tide . . . Ta\en at the Flood $ 

the floor. He began with an oration for neutrality, which was ex- 
pected, but suddenly launched into an attack on his colleagues, the 
comrades of the party, saying their anti-war effort was infantile, 
useless, they must become revolutionary, follow him, preach and 
work for the new Commune in France and Belgium, in Germany 
and Austria and in Russia, smashing Tsardoms and republics in all 
the countries at war and establishing the Utopian dictatorship of the 
proletarian masses. It was Mussolini at his best. 

On the 25th of September, four days later, this same wild, impas- 
sioned pacifist issued a call for all Italy to come to arms, to join him 
and march to the front, to take the side of ravished France and 
martyred Belgium, and "to drown the war in its own blood." 

What had happened in those four days between the 2ist and 25th 
of September? Nothing short of a miracle, say all the laudatory 
biographers of the present Duce. He "weighed the situation," says 
one; "Illumination came to him," says another; and still a third 
informs this unbelieving world that "he miraculously changed his 
opinion and founded the Popolo d'ltalia as a clarion call to all Italy 
to take up arms on the sides of the Allies." Mussolini himself is 
silent, half-hearted at best, usually mysterious and vague when this 
question of the miracle confronts him. 

But in all the political cafes of the kingdom long-bearded min- 
isters of state, emotional waiters and angry workingmen, discussing 
the situation, asked only one question: "Chi paga?" ("Who has 
paid for it?") The whispers rose; the tumult eventually reached 
the ears of the persons most concerned. 

Mussolini was still editing the Socialist daily. On the lOth of Octo- 
ber his leading editorial was entitled "From absolute neutrality to 
active and operating neutrality." The government took this as a sign 
that the whole Socialist movement was wavering, that it could go 
ahead with its plans, certain that the Mussolini wing would no longer 
make its promised revolutionary troubles. But Mussolini's first as- 
sistant editor, Angelica Balabanoff, said to him : "When you write 
as you do, it seems you go either to a madhouse or to the trenches ; 
you must be prepared to take the consequences ; there is no place in 
Socialism for you now." 

6 Saufdust Caesar 

"You will see/' replied Mussolini, "that the whole executive com- 
mittee will declare its solidarity with me." 

He spoke in such a grandiloquent, theatrical voice that Dr. 
Balabanoff had the feeling he was suffering either from delusions 
of grandeur or actual insanity. She informed him of the table talk 
in all the cafes, asking him for a straight answer. All she got were 
shouts of denial and threats of revenge. 

Then suddenly, early in November, Mussolini resigned as editor of 
Avanti. His associate had begged him to stay and asked him how 
he would make his living. 

"Five lire a day are enough for me," he replied, "and I can earn 
them as a mason. 

"I will never write another word. 

"And of this you can be assured : it is that I will never write a 
word against the Socialist Party." 

Just eight days later, on the 15th of November, 1914, there ap- 
peared a new journal on the streets of Milan. It was called // Popolo 
d'ltalia and underneath the title were the words : QuoHdiano Socia- 
lista (Socialist Daily). In its right ear appeared the quotation "La 
rivolusione k un'idea che ha trovato delel baionette: Napoleone" 
("Revolution is an idea which has obtained bayonets"). In the left 
ear of this new "Socialist" newspaper was the quotation from the 
rebel leader, Blanqui, "Chi ha del ferro ha del pane" ("Whoever 
has a weapon has bread"). 

The feature of the first issue was a large editorial with the heading 
"Audacia." It concluded : 

"I shall produce a daily which shall be independent, liberal in 
the extreme, personal. My own. . , . For I shall be answerable to 
my own conscience and nothing else. I have no aggressive intentions 
towards the Socialist Party, in which I propose to remain. . . . 

"Continuing my march after a brief respite, I fling to you my 
call, O Youth, Youth of Italy, youth of the workshops and universi- 
ties, who have your heart and soul young, who belong to the genera- 
tion which has to make the future according to the command of 
destiny — my call, which will resound into History. 

"This appeal, this cry, is a word that I would never have uttered 
in normal times, but which I give out today clearly and vigorously. 

Tide . . . Ta\en at the Flood 7 

without reservation, and I give it with full confidence — ^that one 
rebellious and terrifying word, WAR!" 

The leading pacifist of Italy now essayed the role of leading inter- 
ventionist. But he still called his a Socialist newspaper and pro- 
claimed his adherence to the Socialist Party and its major doctrines. 
Led by Serrati, Mussolini's boyhood friend and teacher, the Social- 
ist Party now took action. A general assembly was called in Bologna 
for November 25th, at which the former editor accepted the invita- 
tion to defend himself. 

As Mussolini entered the excited hall the congress shouted as one 
man: "Chi paga?" 

The general assembly became a trial for treason. MussoUni ac- 
cepted the challenge. Immediately Serrati and the remaining editorial 
board of Avanti demanded Mussolini's political Hfe. (In time to 
come all men and newspapers which now attacked him were to feel 
the clubs, the bullets, and the flames of an old-fashioned Italian blood 

"Chi paga?" thousands of voices shouted, "Traditore! Venduto! 
Sicario !" 

The assembly, members who participated recount, was tumultuous 
and bellicose. There was difficulty in finding a president, a person- 
ality strong enough to calm the angry accusers and permit the 
defendant to speak, explain. It seemed impossible. The assembly 
became unruly, infuriated, vociferous in its insults. Judging by the 
shouting, one would have believed it wanted to beat the accused to 
death. Serrati arose, begging that he be allowed to speak in perfect 
quiet Utopia ! For a minute the pacifists were pacific. Mussolini was 
called to the platform. Suddenly all his enemies decided to hear him. 
"Louder ! Louder !" The orator's voice was lost in the uproar. 

But it was none the less stirring. "You are more implacable," 
Mussolini cried, "than the bourgeois judges who leave the right to 
the defense. If you have decided that I am unworthy of fighting 
amongst you . . ." 

"Yes, yes !" shrieked the audience. 

"Expel me, then, but I have the right of demanding an act of 
accusation in good form. ... I will not be guillotined with a motion 
that doesn't mean anything. As far as the moral question is con- 


8 Sawdust Caesar 

ceraed, I repeat once more that I am ready to submit to any com- 
mission of inquiry whatsoever. 

"You think you are destroying me, but I tell you that you are 
mistaken. Voi mi odiate perchh ancora mi amate! You hate me today, 
because you still love me. But you will not ruin me. . . . My twelve 
years of party life are or should be a sufficient guarantee of my 
Socialist faith. Socialism is something which is rooted in the blood. 
. . . What separated me from you now is not a petty matter ; it is 
a question which is dividing all of Socialism. Amilcare Cipriani him- 
self has declared in speech and in writing, that if his seventy-five 
years would permit it, he would be in the trenches today, fighting 
against the European militaristic reaction which is stifling our revo- 

"But I tell you," continued Mussolini, "that from now on I shall 
have no mercy, no pity for all those who in this tragic moment do 
not speak their minds, for fear of being either hissed or cried down. 
I shall have no mercy, no pity, for those who are reticent, hypocriti- 
cal, vile. . . . And you shall yet see me at your side. You will not 
have to believe that the bourgeoisie are enthusiastic for our inter- 
vention. They are gnashing their teeth, they are accusing us of 
temerity and are afraid that the proletariat, armed with the bayonet, 
may use it for its own purpose. 

"Don't think that by tearing up my card you will deprive me of 
my Socialist faith, and that you will keep me from fighting for the 
cause of Socialism and the revolution." 

In spite of this stirring self -vindication, Mussolini was struck from 
the party. Thus it is recorded that "the first responsibility for Fas- 
cism falls to Socialism." 

Mussolini, raging, ran to his paper, the Popolo d'ltalia, and between 
shouting and waving his arms wrote the following reply: 


"If I wanted to stand on a question of procedure, I would have 
the right of putting in doubt the legitimacy of the vote, in demanding 
even whether a true and proper vote had taken place, given the man- 
ner in which this discussion evolved from the beginning to the end, 
directed by the shameless partiality of the assessor Schiavi. But I 
accept the fait accompli I consider myself expelled. The history of 

Tide . . . 7a\en at the Flood 9 

Italian Socialism does not have in its more or less glorious pages a 
more summary execution, more Inquisition-like, more bestial than 
the one that trapped me. De Marinis, Bissolati, and the others were 
submitted to exclusion from the big debates of the congress, and 
were accorded very broadly the right of defense ; and their accusa- 
tion was carried to the tribune, documented, exhausting its object. 

"For me, nothing of the sort. The trial was conducted in the 
shortest possible way. Some one presented the most radical motion 
without even sustaining it; after much hesitation, I was allowed to 
expose my thought; then Lazzari [a Socialist], instead of bringing 
up an act of accusation, repeated the usual low insinuation. The polit- 
ical question was not even touched, the moral question not examined. 
If that is Socialist justice, truly one should prefer that of Magistrate 
Allara. But the breed which dominates the party wished to conquer, 
and conquer it did. 

"I am expelled, but not tamed. If they think me dead, they will 
have the terrible surprise of finding me alive, implacable, intent upon 
combating them with all my strength. That is why I have forged for 
myself the weapon with which to enlighten the proletariat and to 
remove it from the sad influence of these false preachers. And I hope 
that in the proletariat of the simple and upright soul, the light will be 
seen promptly. 

"It is not against the proletariat — it is not against the sacred prin- 
ciples of the proletariat — that I am fighting. The proletarians know 
well that when it was a matter of assuming responsibility for the 
uprisings, for the lawsuits in the Court of Assizes, for the campaigns 
of the party, I gave freely of myself out of an incoercible need of 
action, without worrying about the danger, without measuring my 
fatigue. But you, gentlemen, who form the directing elite of the 
party, you who speak when you should be silent, or who are silent 
when you should speak; you with the medals, you who have pre- 
ferred to hide your votes in the amorphous and tempestuous hand- 
raising, you who, however, owe something to the 'Barbarossa' of 
June, you will have to pass under the Caudine forks. I understand 
the hatred, the exasperation of the proletarians, but your reticences 
constitute a document of a baseness which dishonors Italian Socialism 

10 Sawdust Caesar 

to the extreme point. But I am precisely here to spoil your little 

"The Mussolini case is not over, as you think. It is just beginning. 
It is becoming complicated. It is taking on vaster proportions. I am 
openly raising the flag of schism. I am not becoming appeased — I am 
crying out. I do not bend ; I am revolting. 

"All the Socialists who claim for themselves the right to live, and 
to think; the proletarians who refuse to bend to the wishes of a 
coterie which pretends stupidly to stay the course of history and to 
dictate an eternal and universal law, must gather around this paper, 
a free arena for free minds, a pure standard which the infamous 
insinuation of a damaged breed will never succeed in soiling. A party 
which 'carries on' in this fashion is a party into which men worthy of 
the name cannot enter — or, once inscribed, cannot, must not remain. 
I invite them to leave, to seek more liberty, more air, more light, 
more humanity, and more Socialism. 

"And now, driving into the depths of my soul all sadness and all 
complaint, I gather together my weapons, all my weapons. For 
Socialism! and against the obvious enemies, and the occult enemies 
of Socialism!" 

Looking back to that great crisis which was to lead so quickly to 
Fascism and to dictatorship, Mussolini says of his expulsion and of 
his raising the banner of schism: "I felt lighter, fresher, I was free." 

He was free. 

The turn in his life had been taken. Our Caesar had crossed his 
Rubicon. He was now editor and owner of a paper ; he was becom- 
ing feared and respected and followed ; moreover, he was no longer 
held by party lines and rules and the ideas of dead men. He was free ! 

This was the moment for which he had waited. Out of biographies 
and histories he had made a pattern for his own life and built a 
world-empire for himself, which he ruled with appropriate magic 
words. Denying in childhood and youth the power of men and gods, 
he had spoken always of his Star of Destiny, repeating Napoleon's 
favorite phrase until he believed he was its author, and always he 
had cultivated not only the historical but the Shakespearean Julius 
Caesar in word and look. 

In his youth he had announced sententiously his belief in both 

Tide . . . Ta^en at the Flood ii 

Free Will and Predestination, and unlike his fellow men who drifted 
where tide and wind fantastically veered, the young editor of the 
Socialist Avanti felt that a situation would one day arise, that he 
would master it, and then achieve that satisfaction which a magnifi- 
cent egotism, chained in childhood by poverty and misfortune, in 
youth by the dead hand of Karl Marx and the pressure of political 
organization, had made inevitable for him. 

Good European that he was, he realized early in life that the road 
to power led directly through the doors of a newspaper office. He 
had before him the picture of the first and third Napoleons, the 
later Bismarck, the contemporary Northcliffe. He had already tasted 
the surprise and satisfaction in the effects of his amateur writings on 
the mass mind, both in Switzerland and in his native province, and 
the elevation to Avanti had confirmed every thought about the power 
of the press. He was free. He was independent. 

And yet, there was that childhood in Socialism and that manhood 
suffering for "the cause" which could never be forgotten. "Socialism 
is something which is rooted in the blood." It was to appear time and 
time again in the black blood stream of Fascism. 

He had raised the flag of schism, but the old ideals which he had 
absorbed with his mother^s milk and his father's sweaty bread were 
still beneath the banner. He had been horribly wounded, but he still 
believed it was he who was the great hero, the noble patriot, and 
although the Italian world shouted "Traitor" for many years, he tried 
more than once to return to that paternal heaven under which he 
was born and raised to leadership. 

And again the cry "Chi Paga?" would be raised, the charge of 
betrayal, the charge that he had sold the Socialist Party and peace 
for a handful of silver from a foreign country. 




The Romantic Rebel 


Socialist colleagues, young Benito Mussolini earned the imme- 
diate enmity of many million compatriots who, naturally accusing 
him of treason, suspected that the Allies had invested large sums in 
this secret business. Even today, reviewing the entire political career 
of the Duce, there are some who say that "he has raised betrayal to 
a mode of life" and who offer documentary proof of this appraisal. 

As an action, of course, Mussolini's was not without parallels in 
past history, and it recurs in the lives of other notable living men. 
If, however, we accept the philosophy of the Gautama Buddha, if 
we desire to understand all so that we may forgive all, it is necessary 
first to review for a moment the childhood and youth of the man who 
has risen to such worldly eminence by following a course which to 
some may appear nothing but zigzags, retreats, and changes of face, 
but to others the straight and narrow path of a fierce and victorious 
will to power. 

The great students of human behavior agree that a human pattern 
is "set" before the fifth year; the child grows to be a hero or a 
traitor, a racketeer or a statesman ; he becomes an artist, a leader, a 
neurotic, a madman, because of his treatment by his parents, his 
brothers and sisters, his companions; because of his youthful sex 
life; because of these and many other events or influences, and the 
environment of childhood. 

Violence is the keynote of Mussolini's youth. He was whipped and 
bullied by his father, pampered and kissed too much by his mother. 
It was a hard childhood spent largely near a blacksmith's forge and 
in a dirty country saloon. The blows he got from the fist and the 
belt of Alessandro, that towering bulk of a blacksmith, the boy gave 


The 'Romantic Rebel 13 

in turn to weaker boys. The affection of his mother he kept for 
himself, repaid it only to her ; he never loved deeply and he never 
had a true friend. He was condemned, says one who knew him in 
his youth, to either great good or great evil. 

"I was not a good boy." "I was a restless and pugnacious child." 
"I was an audacious ladro campestre" he writes at various times, 
the third confession translatable as "rural thief" according to the 
dictionary, but "young buccaneer" by romantic lady biographers. 
He fought with his hands and with stones, sometimes sharpened, 
and there was blood spilled when young Benito engaged in battle 
with peasant lads and schoolboys. When his younger brother, Arnaldo, 
began to grow up he too was bullied and hit by his senior. "I was a 
little rogue, restless, exacting, passionate, pugnacious, and ever ready 
to fight. Often I came home with my head broken with stones, but 
I knew how to revenge myself." 

The vendetta motif comes early. Life in that hard countryside 
around Varano da Costa, where he was born on July 29, 1S83, was 
for children and men a constant struggle amidst great poverty, and 
where there is poverty and desperation there is always vendetta and 
betrayal and feuds and bloodshed and a more violent outlook on life. 
No wonder, then, that father Alessandro, an excellent man, an hon- 
est man who lived and suffered for his socialistic principles and who 
had spent three years in prison for having associated with the revo- 
lutionist Bakunin, when it came to teaching his own son the rules for 
getting along in a mean world, inculcated the policy of revenge, blow 
for blow, blood for blood. It was the philosophy of survival. 

In his passionate Socialist days when he published his own little 
weekly. La Lotte di Classe (The Class Struggle), Benito wrote of 
Papa Alessandro : 

"My father was born in 1854 in Predappio. ... He became an 
apprentice in a smithy at Dovadola, Then he went to Dovia and there 
opened a forge. I do not know at what time and under what influ- 
ences he became a follower of the Internationale. But it is certain 
that when he arrived at Dovia he was already carrying on a great 
propaganda, and had formed the first organization of the Inter- 
nationale. He was thrown into prison. When he returned he re- 
mained under police supervision for forty-two weeks. 

14 Sawdust Caesar 

"His house always offered shelter and friendship to those pursued 
by the authorities. Later, when the Socialists had come to take part 
in municipal politics, my father became mayor of Predappio. In 
1892 he formed in Predappio the first labor union. ... In 1902 he 
was again arrested. ... The clergy, the police, and the moderates 
persecuted him ceaselessly. . . . 

"He left me no material heritage, but he left me a moral one — 
his treasure : the Ideal, . . . 

"And after this sorrowful burial, I pursue my way, following in 
his footsteps." 

The boy was named after Benito Juarez, liberator of Mexico. Papa 
Alessandro chose the name for two reasons — anti-clericalism and 
rebellion; he taught his firstborn to hate the Catholic Church and 
the Royal State, caUing both the oppressors of the human spirit. 

From his father Benito learned that intelHgence and subtlety 
must be employed by the minority if it was not to be forever sup- 
pressed by those in power. In his father's fate Mussolini saw that 
failure came to those who knew and spoke intelligent plans for the 
remaking of the world but who were weak in action. With every year 
of his childhood his confidence in himself increased. 

Most characteristic of all the incidents which Mussolini himself 
recalled in the first days of his success, concerns his early oratory. 
His mother, terrified by tremendous noises and a locked door, said 
to him one day: 

"Are you mad, my son? Only lunatics talk to themselves. What is 
ailing you ?" 

"Do not worry, dear mother," Benito replied, simply. "I was 
practicing oratory. Believe me, mother, the time will come when 
all Italy will tremble before me." 

Friends and enemies alike have also drawn many morals from 
another youthful incident. Fear, betrayal, perfidy, treason, revenge, 
blows, bloodshed, all enter into it and all are remembered through- 
out a lifetime, and satisfaction comes over the face of the dictator 
as he recounts, time after time, how on his father's advice he 
sharpened a stone, ambushed his enemy, cut open his face, and cursed 
him. He had earlier that day come naively forward to accept the 
other boy's invitation and, if one is to believe the narrator, the 

The Romantic Rebel 15 

neighbor lad, without provocation or warning, had smacked his face. 
That night he had had his revenge. But in the young mind the blow 
on the face remained forever imprinted, warning the coming leader 
never to trust another man, never to surround himself with friends, 
never to put his trust in humanity, but to rely on the ethics of 
Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and above all that MachiaveUi who de- 
spised the mass of human beings. 

He was sent to the cloister of the Salesian Friars at Faenza, his 
mother hoping that the atmosphere of order and piety and the com- 
panionship of a better class of children would have some effect in 
curbing that violent nature. But the boy continued to seek quarrels, 
to insult those smaller and weaker than himself, and to give the 
monks many uneasy moments. 

"Your father is a rebel," they once said to him, "and you, you 
are turning into a young anarchist." If he did not change he would 
be expelled. Then another schoolboy fight and more punishment. 
"Mussolini," the friar said, "your soul is black as hell. Confess 
your sins. Repent before it is too late. Confess or we expel you." 

He fled from the school. He roamed, afraid of shadows, through 
the night, only to be caught and whipped and taken to confession. 
But instead of that being a lesson to him it only hardened him. The 
next time he got into a fight it was with an older boy. But young 
Mussolini knew now how to fight those physically stronger than 
himself. The world was civilized and there were weapons to be used. 
Mussolini gave his enemy what the Italians call a temperinata: he 
got out his penknife and stabbed the older boy. 

Although, fortunately, the wound was not serious, the action 
was. The Salesian monks would stand for much ; they would preach 
and they would use the rod, but they would not have bloodshed in 
their quiet walls. So Benito was sent home. 

He had been a rebel. He had been a solitary. From the first days 
he could not mingle with others, could not accept orders, could not 
follow. He walked alone. He sought trouble and it always led to more 
loneliness. "Who in my whole life" he burst out one day, years 
later, "has shown me tenderness? Nobody! Poor, dreadfully poor, 
was my home, poor and bitter my life. Where could I have learned 
tenderness ? Perhaps at school, in the cloister, or in the world ? No- 

i6 Sawdust Caesar 

where. Then why do people wonder that I am reserved, solitary, 
harsh, and stern?" 

At his next school at Forlimpopoli it is recorded by one named 
Bonavita that Mussolini "got into a fight with three fellow stu- 
dents ; he went beyond legitimate defense and he had to flee from the 
college." The weapon used is not named. But it was always the same. 
From the first days when he pulled the hair of little girls, climbed 
about on the floor pinching bare feet, or bullying the children on 
the playgrounds, to the days he drew a knife, it was always the same 
rebellion to discipline, the rebellion of a spoiled child, a beaten child 
revenging himself upon others for youthful sufferings at home. 

The father passed from blacksmith to tavern-keeper, from tavern- 
keeper to mayor of the district. In the forge he had pounded so- 
ciety as his anvil; his saloon, "I'Agnello," became a political center 
of the countryside, and Alessandro himself was always a politician. 
The young Benito, who had been whipped for not minding the bel- 
lows, was now to receive another sort of education. For now he 
lived in a political cafe. Here was the place men came to drink and 
talk, and to drink more and talk more wildly of the coming revo- 
lution which would assert the rights of man. Socialism, Karl Marx, 
the First Internationale, the Communist Manifesto, syndicalism, di- 
rect action, and anarchism, those were the subjects over which men 
drank and fought and fought over again, night after night, while 
children stood around in adenoidal astonishment. 

Young Mussolini grew up a soap-box orator and a sturdy brawler. 
Throughout his province there are many alive today who fought 
with him, drank with him, gambled with him and sometimes en- 
gaged in bouts which led to police interference. At Tolmezzo and 
later at Pieve Saliceto, province of Reggio Emilia, where he taught 
in the elementary schools, tliere are strange tales about the youth 
with the furious eyes and black temperament. In a quarrel at Tol- 
mezzo with his landlady and her lover who accused Mussolini of 
replacing him, there were blows and a knife wound. Mussolini 
was hit by the lover. The landlady was stabbed. 

At Caneva, where he taught in 1905, an attempt was. made to dis- 
charge him on the ground of blasphemy in the schoolroom ; the 
teacher escaped the charge by protesting he was using the names 

The Romantic Rebel 17 

of Oriental gods only; the reason, however, of the town's dissatis- 
faction was the terror that ruled the children who were the inno- 
cent victims of Mussolini's hatred of the teaching profession. His 
eyes, his hands, his voice were continually in a state of violence ; he 
was impatient, would strike the children and so thoroughly scare 
them they would run home weeping and trembling. 

In a Ziirich beer restaurant, his admirers relate with joy, Mus- 
solini, in an altercation with a waitress over a franc, became so 
angry when some one placed a hand upon his shoulder that he 
called out that now was the time for all good men to come to the 
aid of a compatriot, and accordingly three Italians arose and the 
four thoroughly wrecked the place. 

In Berne there was another case of the boarding-house mistress 
and the handsome black-eyed boarder. "Was it owing to political 
feehng or was it lovers' jealousy. Was it the outcome of theoretical 
conflict or of mere male rivalry?" asks the devoted Signora Sar- 
fatti. Two pistol shots. No bloodshed. 

In Italy Mussolini's first arrest occurred in Oneglia in 1908 when 
he marched at the head of a group of workingmen who insisted on 
their right to work and to strike and who got into a fight with the 
authorities. The sentence was ten days in jail. In his home district, 
in ForH, Mussolini led a mob into the mayor's office : the price of 
milk was too high and the way to cure that was to throw the mayor 
and his staff through the window, to injury or perhaps to death, 
it did not matter; those were moments of direct action for the 
young man who had absorbed so many of his ideas around the 
wine-dripping tables of his father's saloon. The mayor capitulated 
and the man of action was lionized. 

No other leader of violence has led so violent a life. Lenin, 
Trotsky, Kemal Pasha, Pilsudski, in fact most of the modern dic- 
tators, have a long police record, but no history of stabbings, shoot- 
ings, barroom brawls, jealous battles with fellow boarders for the 
affections of a landlady, street fights, as well as political adventures, 
make up the youth of Mussolini's prominent colleagues. It was the 
same in his birthplace, his Swiss exile, his first sojourn in Austria, 
his return to Italy, his editorship in Italia Irredenta, and finally 
his years of power as member of the directorate of the Socialist 

i8 Sawdust Caesar 

Party in Italy, immediately preceding the war. Almost every year 
is marked with a deed of violence. 

It was shortly after his second visit to Austria that Benito, a 
rare visitor at home, noticed the pretty servant whom his father 
had employed for more than a year. Papa Alessandro, lonely 
widower, had found it difficult to manage his cafe. Fortunately, there 
had arrived in town a handsome buxom widow with a pretty grow- 
ing child. They were glad to find employment, the former as house- 
keeper, the latter as scullery maid of the "Agnello," and eventually 
the widow became Alessandro's mistress, while the girl, Rachele 
Guidi, waited on table, washed the wine-glasses, and worshiped the 
achievements of her master's elder son. 

She was young and blond and sweet and innocent. Without co- 
quetry and pretensions, she fell in love with the handsome youth 
with the soulful eyes. But she was only a servant girl, while Benito 
was a man of the world, a man of book learning who had already 
established himself as a person of importance, and who spoke of his 
"will to power" and other things she could not understand. 

In the atmosphere of that political cafe all was rebellion. The 
workingmen who shouted there accepted Papa Alessandro and his 
mistress without a comment or a raised eyebrow. Everyone was anti- 
clerical. Although the majority were legally married, marriage itself 
was frequently discussed and denounced as part of the conventional, 
narrow-minded bourgeois social system which all intelligent men 

To young Mussolini, returned from several years of work and 
travel, with the memory of one love-affair indistinguishable from 
that of many others, the idea of marriage was non-existent when 
he beheld the child he had seen several years before grown into a 
startlingly attractive young woman. He did not fall in love with her, 
but he desired her. And she, who worshiped him and could not 
hope for marriage with such a great personality, believed that "love 
was the pardon for any sin of the flesh," as Mme. Jeanne Bordeux, 
who alone among Mussolini's worshipful admirers mentions the 
romantic episode, says in explanation. 

But Papa Mussolini, learning soon enough that his son was the 
lover of the sweet girl whose mother was his own mistress, shook 

The Romantic Rebel 19 

his head, and said to Rachele Guidi: "Do not let yourself think 
of that young man. Better for you to throw yourself under a train. 
If you marry him you will have neither peace nor happiness." 

But Rachele never regretted her passionate surrender to Benito. 

When they moved from the village to Milan, Rachele and their 
daughter Edda accompanied him and they lived as signor and signora. 
In all those years Rachele was content to love and remain a servant ; 
she never spoke a word of advice or reproach, she sank into ob- 
livion when the leading radicals came to the house to discuss the 
proletarian revolution, she waited on table, was grateful for a kind 
word sometimes, refused to listen to tales of other women in her 
common-law husband's life, and never poisoned it by nagging for a 
few words mumbled by a clerk which would legalize her position. 

At first, it is recorded, Benito had the idea "of transforming her, 
of making her into other than a kind and gentle home body; but 
in every sense of the word she had been a good wife to him and 
she was the mother of his two children, Edda and Vittorio. He 
had recognized her position by living with her, but, unfortunately, 
before the law a common-law wife in Italy is not a wife, and in 
all countries the children of such a liberal union are illegitimate. . . ." 

Although no record has been found of a marriage between Benito 
and Rachele, some admirers of the Duce declare that it took place 
during the war, while others place it much later, on the eve of the 
signature of the treaty with the Pope, and quite a theory of states- 
manship and diplomacy has been built upon this supposedly later 
incident. Mme. Bordeux is authority for the statement that there 
was a marriage, and in explanation of its lateness quotes Mussolini 
saying : 

"Perhaps I never thought of it in the rush of my outside work, 
but I guess I have always had a conscience-stricken feeling regard- 
ing la mia signora, for now that she is my legitimate wife a great 
weight has been lifted from here," and he placed his hand over his 

From the earliest days of his life with Rachele Gmdi, Mussolini 
engaged in his most violent political activities. Frequently he went 
to jail. And it is in this record, perhaps, that the key will be found 
to his decisive action during the war, because it becomes obvious 

20 Sawdust Caesar 

that it was a will to power, and not an idealism disciplined within 
party barriers, that animated the fiery revolutionary in his youth. 

His Lotta di Classe pretended to be a Socialist organ at the time 
Social Democracy in Italy was about as radical as the Socialist Party 
in the United States is now, and even less so than the British Labor 
Party, or the Social Democrats of Germany in the early days of 
the Republic. But Mussolini's paper advocated syndicalism and di- 
rect action. "I understood now," the editor wrote, "that the Gordian 
knot of Italian political life could only be undone by an* act of vio- 
lence." And sadly, "The man who still cherishes ideals in his heart 
is rated an imbecile or a lunatic." It did not matter what the world 
called him, he still chose to belong to the Socialist Party and to 
proclaim ideals which the majority denounced as violent or called 
childish and Utopian. 

The Socialist Party, however, did not know what to make of this 
super-enthusiastic adherent who preached and practiced things it 
could never harbor nor endorse. Mussolini was for direct action and 
sabotage. "When I declare myself in favor of sabotage," he declared 
himself, "I mean in accordance with my theories, economic sabotage, 
which is not to be confused with vandalismo. . . . Sabotage accord- 
ing to me ought to have a moral bearing" — and this led to the July, 
1910, arrest. When Italy made war in Tripoli, Mussolini was leader 
not only of those who opposed that war, but of the pacifists who 
were willing to spill blood in the name of peace at all costs. 

An attempt was made to call a general strike. For three days in 
Romagna the proletariat became master of the streets. At Forii they 
occupied the railroad station, hindered the sending of troops, sabo- 
taged the government in every way. Cavalry was sent. Mussolini 
and Nenni, destined later to be his successor on the Avanti, led the 
mob. Sticks and stones. A fence was destroyed. The strikers armed 
themselves with staves and the women shook them in the face of 
the sabers. 

The cavalry charged. The women threw stones or placed them- 
selves in front of the men, daring the horsemen to run them down 
or cut them with their swords. The cavalry charged again. There 
was confusion. The cavalry charged a third time and there was the 
moaning of the wounded, the weeping of women, and the curses 

The Romantic Rebel 21 

of Mussolini and his men followers. But they won. The strikers 
marched to the railroad station and tore up the tracks. A train had 
just arrived with soldiers, but they would not let it proceed. 

The next day, martial law. Arrests everywhere. The hastily con- 
structed barricades became again nothing but a lot of junk and the 
might of law and order was felt. Mussolini sat in his prison cell 
meditating on the injustice of this world and planning the libera- 
tion of mankind when he had risen to power. But with that feeling 
there was that other view, gained from his books, that distrust and 
disgust with his fellow men. "Only twelve of us here," he said to 
Nenni amidst the dirt and vermin of the prison, "and the cowards, 
they are not going out on a general strike." 

He stayed in jail from that i6th of October to the 23rd of the 
next month, when he was tried on eight serious charges : 

"Opposition to the supreme power and defiance of authorities. 
"Attempt to prevent recruiting. 

"Inciting to strikes and stopping of work at war factories. 
"Violence in stopping street-car communications and damaging 

"Cutting telegraph lines. 

"Destroying a telegraph office. 

"Violent seizure of a railroad locomotive. 

"Laying telegraph poles across railroad to derail an express." 

On November 23, 191 1, he was sentenced to seven months' im- 
prisonment, which term was reduced to five on appeal. His opposi- 
tion to the war, during the war, was almost treasonable. "Every 
honest Socialist must disapprove of this Libyan adventure," he had 
declared. "It means only useless and stupid bloodshed," and thou- 
sands had agreed with him. Were it not for this fact of public 
support his sentence would have been more severe. At the trial he 
denied only those acts which might have resulted in the deaths of 
innocent persons, such as the laying of telegraph poles on the rail- 
road track. Before sentence, he said to the judge : 

"Honorable Court, if you acquit me you make me rejoice; for then 
I can return to work and the community of human society. If you 
sentence me you honor me, for then you will be condemning not a 

2a Sawdust Caesar 

criminal, but a follower of the Ideal, an agitator according to his 
conscience, a Soldier of the Truth." 

This Soldier of the Truth came out of prison the Hero of the 
Truth with the halo of a Socialist martyr about him. He had been 
the leader of a small branch of the party, the editor of only a local 
little weekly, but he had been remarked by the national leaders 
and his trial, related to a war which was going badly and which was 
unpopular, brought him some fame; he stepped out of prison into 
the midst of an intense political campaign which came to a climax 
at the congress of his party in July, 1912, at Reggio Emilia. It was 
this meeting which made Mussolini nationally known as a leader. 

Some months before there had been an unsuccessful attempt on 
the life of the King. Congratulations were in order. Other crowned 
heads sent telegrams and ambassadors ; the President of the United 
States offered his felicitations; the Senate of Italy and the Cham- 
ber of Deputies expressed their joy, and among those who subscribed 
to these sentiments were three Socialist leaders, Bonomi, Bissolati, 
and Cabrini. 

It was the action of these three deputies which caused a crisis 
in the affairs of the Sociahst Party: was it to remain Right and loyal 
and pacifist, or go Left, use violence, prepare for that blood-bath of 
the proletariat which the editor of The Class War was advocating? 
Bissolati was for evolutionary legal progress; Mussolini leaped into 
the discussion, demanding action. 

"On the 14th of March," cried the boyish demagogue, "a Roman 
mason fired a revolver against Victor Savoia" — there was a shout 
of joyful laughter when the orator thus labeled the King. "There 
have been precedents which ought to indicate the line of conduct 
for us Socialists. There has already been strong criticism of the in- 
describable spectacle offered by subversive Italy after the attentat 
of Bresci at Monza. We had reason to hope that after ten years we 
would not again see the flags hung in mourning and the Socialist 
mayors sending telegrams of condolences and congratulations and 
all democratic Italy subversively on its knees at a given moment be- 
fore the throne. 

"It is very difficult to separate the political from the human ques- 
tion. It is very difficult to separate the man and the king. To avoid 

The 'Romantic Rebel 23 

pernicious misunderstanding the Socialists have but one duty after 
the attentat of March 14th : to keep away. 

"Attempted assassinations are the accidents of kings, just as fall- 
ing chimneys are the accidents of masons. If we must weep, let us 
weep for the masons. 

"Why weep for the Kling? Why this sentiment, hysterical, exces- 
sive, when it concerns crowned heads? Who is the King? He is by 
definition a useless citizen. There are peoples who have sent their 
kings for a walk when they did not want to safeguard themselves 
better by sending them to the guillotine, and these peoples are the 
advance guard of civil progress. 

"For us SociaHsts an attentat is a historical act or it pertains to 
the daily news according to the case. Socialists cannot associate them- 
selves in mourning or in deprecation or in monarchist festivities." 

The Socialist congress became a maddened crowd. Mussolini 
called for the expulsion of the three leaders of the moderate, pacifist, 
anti-violence Right wing of the party. Bissolati stood as their spokes- 
man, a Socialist of the old school, an intellectual, a thinker, a man 
of the finest moral fiber and highest ideals of humanitarian philos- 
ophy — and like many others of like character, a victim later of the 
universal war mania which engulfed Europe. 

The Reggio Emilia congress was the prelude to the Milan meet- 
ing which decided Mussolini's lifetime direction. Here, as later, he 
felt la forza del destino, he played opportunism to its utmost, using 
the appeal to emotion to overcome the appeal to reason. 

Ivanoe Bonomi was forced out of the party because he was not 
radical enough, Claudio Treves was dismissed from the editorship 
of Avanti, and his successor, Giovanni Bacci, six months later made 
way for that same Benito Mussolini who had defeated Leonida Bis- 
solati at the Reggio Emilia meeting and who had become, in addi- 
tion to director of the Socialist Party, one of its accepted leaders. 

Direct action, sabotage, revolutionary tactics, the use of violence 
to establish philosophical ideas, in other words, the Mussolini pro- 
gram, was victorious. He became not only the head of the party, but 
one of the men in control of Italian politics. Bonomi said of him, 
he is "a revolutionary in whom the spirit of the barricades is stronger 
than Marxist discipHne," and Georges Sorel, whose disciple Musso- 

24 Sawdust Caesar 

lini had declared himself, wrote^ from Paris: "Our Mussolini is not 
an ordinary Socialist. It is my belief that some day we shall see him 
at the head of a mighty legion saluting the Italian flag with his 
sword. He is a fifteenth-century Italian, a condottiere." 

The Sorel prediction appears in all the early Fascist biographies, 
and in one instance was used as a triumphant book blurb, the pub- 
lishers evidently being unaware that in the days of the free repub- 
lican cities of Italy, in the time of the Renaissance, the condottieri 
were captains who bought and sold themselves and their soldiers to 
princes and were hired for pay to wage the battles of other people. 

Apocryphal or holographic, the Sorel letter and the judgment of 
Bonomi help explain the character of the man and the force driv- 
ing him into a career of power; they forecast the decision of 1914 
and illuminate the historical events of Mussolini's rule as a dictator. 

In 1912, when Bonomi spoke and Sorel prophesied, Mussolini 
was one of the directors of the Socialist Party and all the signs 
pointed toward a Revolution, and towards the editor of the Avanii 
as a duce, or leader, of a victorious proletarian uprising. 

* No proof that the letter is genuine has ever been produced by the Fascist biographers, 
but the contents read more like an accusation than an endorsement. 

***•••••*•••••* •****•••••• 

"2?/>« n'existe pas"^ 

behavior in the critical year 1914, the emigre years in Switzer- 
land provide the key to all actions and decisions of a whole lifetime. 

The little violences of youth were now to be followed by violence 
in the political field, the little treacheries of boyhood, of which proud 
parents had boasted, were now to become a pattern of living, while 
the will to power, demonstrated at first by merely oral declarations, 
drove through opportunities in dynamic fashion. 

Although we are told that love and hate are the opposite poles 
of the same emotion, we find evidences of the second, the harder 
impulse, in this period of the hero's existence. We see him now as 
a complete rebel, but that which has driven him into that position 
was not the usual humanitarian reaction. It was almost purely hatred. 
Mussolini hated the church, religion, the rich; he hated society and 
he hated the State, but his was not the class hatred shared with 
socialist, proletarian friends, it was a personal hatred, a desire for 
revenge, the result of what he himself, not his people, had suf- 
fered. He was not "class" conscious. Whenever he spoke of his 
childhood it was with bitterness; of his hunger years in Switzer- 
land it was with a desire for revenge. 

He joined and passed through anarchist, socialist, republican, and 
other groups which opposed the state of things as they are, not 
with the ideal of hastening the day of Utopia, but for a vendetta 
against elements and persons, the Church, society, individuals he 
believed had wronged him. For the same reason he opposed Free- 
masonry, first as a Socialist and later as a Fascist, because its policy 
was incompatible with his personal program of retaliation. He never 

^Sce appendix with same title. 

26 Sawdust Caesar 

acted from social consciousness, as other radicals, but from indi- 
vidual necessity. 

Now the State, which he had fought with the same fury which 
later was to mark his exaltation of it, was reaching out inexorably 
to subdue him as it for generations had subdued all rebels. The time 
for compulsory military service was coming and the eyes of the po- 
lice were upon him; as in all conscript countries where the military 
age is twenty, the authorities began their watch a year or more be- 
fore. Mussolini fled to Switzerland. Officially, on the loth of April, 
1904, in his home judicial district, he was accordingly listed as reni- 
tente di leva — one who deserts before being called to the colors. 

Switzerland was the second choice, the choice of economic neces- 
sity. He desperately wanted America, the still unrestricted land of 
opportunity where all his countrymen had relatives, where success 
was easy, opportunity more equal, gold and success to be had, where 
class barriers were more easily broken, where liberty and Italian 
dreams came true. Frequently during the exile years he thought of 
America with longing, 

"Yes," he once said to the present writer, "I came very close 
to that decision on several occasions. Once it was in fact a fifty-per- 
cent chance. I was a political exile then, you know, and for us there 
were but two lands of freedom. Times were hard in Switzerland; 
I thought I would try my fortune in America as so many Italians 
did at that time. 

"I knew I could get work in my line. I was a mason. Well, I 
tossed a coin." He was silent, meditating ; he seemed to follow that 
coin spinning in the air, falling, sending him to America, where he 
would have been swallowed, obliterated in the regiments of labor- 
union masons in New York. 

"Youth, youth," he sighed, "a dream. A dream. I wonder what 
would have become of me in America. Had I gone over as an emi- 
grant in 1904 what would I be now?" 

"Why did you go to Switzerland?" I asked. 

"Because my views conflicted with that of the Italian government. 
I was the victim of a love of freedom and individualism." 

He hated the "cramped, confining atmosphere" of Italy ; he yielded 
to "his restless wanderlust"; he decided "to seek his fortune in 

"Dieu n'existe pa/' 27 

Switzerland, as it was the easiest country to be reached" ; say the 
biographers, and he himself declares in writing that "I did not want 
to go back to my family. There was a narrow world for me . . . 
one could neither move nor think without feeling at the end of a 
short rope. I became conscious of myself, sensitive to my future. 
I felt the urge to escape. . . . Courage was my asset. I would be 
an exile. I crossed the frontier. ... It was the milestone which 
marked my maturity." 

He telegraphed home and got the equivalent of nine dollars. At 
the frontier station he read in a Milan newspaper that his father, 
accused with others of smashing ballot-boxes to prevent the CathoHcs 
from winning the local elections from the Socialists, had been ar- 
rested. "This piece of news placed me in a dilemma. Was I to 
return or go on?" He did not hesitate long. He had made his deci- 
sion to escape the army and he took the first train, arriving at Yver- 
don, Switzerland, with just forty-two cents in his pockets and the 
address of some one who might give him a job. 

But it was neither fear nor cowardice, as his political enemies say, 
which drove Mussolini to Switzerland ; it was rather a deep belief 
in pacifism and individual defiance of the power of the State which 
he detested. It is only the fact that later he was to outpatrioteer all 
patriots in militaristic passion, which makes the escape noteworthy. 
At that time thousands of Italians, pacifists who believed in sabo- 
taging militarism, from principle and idealism, were refusing to train 
as soldiers and accepting the refuge which America and Switzer- 
land offered them. 

In those terrible and glorious years of his Swiss exile, those 
honest years of his life, he often boasted of his desertion. That act 
had been his passport into the hearts and homes of all the exiles and 
rebels of all the world, who were grouped in Geneva and Basle 
and Lausanne, reading Karl Marx and plotting revolution and liberty 
for Russia and Finland and for Czechoslovakia, for suppressed na- 
tions and persecuted races. Men starved and struggled in those days, 
but kept alight the red beacon of revolutionary hope. 

Young Benito went to Lausanne. Eyewitness accounts of his ar- 
rival present a human picture of almost irreconcilable contrast. We 
have already seen the violent child bending to the blows of his fa- 

28 Sau/dust Caesar 

ther's leather belt and attacking a weaker youth with a knife; we 
have on more than one occasion had a view of that future leader of 
men, that burning orator who could scatter his fire into weaker 
vessels, that proud, domineering boyish ego. How different he looks 
when hunger and poverty hold him a prisoner. 

It was evening. At the Italian Socialist club of Lausanne which 
housed also the cooperative stores and the communal restaurant, 
many men, all of them rebels, some republicans, a few anarchists, 
a majority revolutionary Socialists and most of them refugees from 
the army and from the law, sat at their coffee and gesticulated about 
the future. 

A colleague entered. "I want to introduce a compatriot who has 
left Italy to escape military service." He indicated a new face, a face 
sad and humble and somewhat starved. 

Serrati, that same Serrati who was later to befriend more pas- 
sionately and to forgive and aid more frequently the young Radical 
Mussolini, and who was afterwards to feel more fully the power 
of the Duce's retaliation to the comrades of his youth, Serrati as 
secretary of the club arose, went to the stranger, gave him his hand, 
made him welcome. 

Mussolini was modestly but somewhat flamboyantly dressed ; with 
his plain, commonplace iron-gray suit he wore an artist's hat of wide 
brim and an artist's large black tie, knotted at his throat, the wide 
silk ends flowing romantically over his bosom. 

"My name is Benito Mussolini," he said in a low voice. "I am a 
school-teacher. Born in Predappio. My father you may know, a 
pure Socialist, councilor of the Socialist minority of our commune." 
He was ingratiating. 

"You may feel yourself at home here," replied Serrati. "Speak 
without shame and fear nothing. You are among your friends. Tell 
me frankly, first of all, have you eaten today, do you want food?" 

Everyone had turned towards the new young man. He was agitated, 
embarrassed, he murmured something about hunger. 

"Allons! Do not blush. We are among comrades," said Serrati, 
smiling encouragingly and taking Mussolini by the arm and calling 
on Francesco Capassi, director of the cooperative restaurant, con- 

"Dieu n'existe pas" 3^ 

ducted the former to the dining-room on the second floor and ordered 
a plate of spaghetti. . . . 

"When you've eaten, descend," said Serrati, "and we will talk. 
We will find a roof for you. We will find something for you." 

To Capassi, Serrati gave the order that the meal should be paid 
for out of the Socialist Party funds. While the hungry man, the 
future Duce who had exactly one cent in his pocket that night, 
gorged himself on spaghetti and bread, the good comrades listened 
to the one who had found the wanderer at the Place Pepinette, where 
he had come after sleeping under a bridge of Lausanne. It was an 
unwritten law of the club that everyone who flew to Switzerland to 
escape military service must be aided because there was perhaps no 
better proof of class solidarity. 

Mussolini descended with a full stomach. He was welcomed to 
a table, offered coffee, a glass of wine ; he asked advice about work 
and something to live on until he foimd it. Serrati, a sweet and senti- 
mental soul, adopted him as a friend. He called on one Marzetto 
to give him a bed or a blanket on the floor, and that night when Karl 
Marx had been exhausted for the hundredth time, the leading old 
radical and the beginner of nineteen went out arm in arm to find 
their roofs. 

What a different man he became when the dictates of his belly 
were satisfied. Within a week from his hesitating entrance into the 
club young Mussolini was arguing theories with other members, 
almost as loud, as cocksure, as vehement as the rest, and in another 
week he was intimidating them with his non-conformist attitude. He 
had claimed he was a Socialist, but now, they said, he had proven 
either that he knew very little about Socialism or that, if he did, he 
was already too individualistic to be a good party member, to belong 
to either the left or the right wing, both of which contending for 
the approval of the masses, agreed, however, on the main Marxian 

So long as MussoHni argued Karl Marx they could understand 
him. But the newcomer had new views almost every week. If the 
book he happened to be reading was by Nietzsche, he was a 
Nietzschean that week, full of phrases about the will to power, 
the revaluation of all values, and the whipping of women; if, on 

30 Sawdust Caesar 

the other hand, he became interested in Sorel, why, it was all syn- 
dicalism that week and the devil take more timid social philosophy. 
Sometimes it was Schopenhauer, when he would enjoy a week of 
misogyny, and again it would be Stirner, when the Ego and its Own 
set him on fire with faith in himself. 

He had a sick man's, a weakling's, belief in strength. (He had 
not yet come upon MachiavelH, who, four or five years later, was 
to make such an impression on him as to rule his thoughts forever 
after.) For him there never arose the question which has troubled 
philosophers from Athens to Harvard, the question of Free Will. 
"I have willed this," "It is my will," are his favorite expressions. 
In his childhood he had not been allowed any freedom, yet he speaks 
of carrying out his "will" on certain occasions, while in Switzer- 
land his daily reference to his own strength, his courage, his power, 
his "clear will" so impressed his colleagues that, not seeking the psy- 
chological reasons which force a sick, unhappy, suppressed individual 
to resort almost daily to such terms, they accepted him at his own 
estimation, as his party and the nation later were to accept him, and 
as propaganda later was to exhibit him to all the weak-willed people 
of a mediocre world. 

New revolutionary vistas opened to Mussolini with every book he 
found in Switzerland. After he had studied Karl Marx's Communist 
Manifesto he became interested in Babeuf, whose ideas Marx had 
studied, and in Blanqui, the political heir of Babeuf, absorbing but 
not digesting all these violent views, one after another. He accepted 
Babeuf 's statement that the French Revolution "is only a forerunner 
of another, a greater, a more majestic revolution which will be the 
last" and "it is our duty to set up a dictatorship of the poor." Babeuf 
"conceived of revolution as an insurrection on the part of well- 
organized and armed plotters,"^ and Mussolini, at Socialist gather- 
ings, where all spoke of peaceful changes, of philosophic progress, 
of the education of the masses in preparation for taking over power, 
advocated activity, not talk. He was young and he was headstrong. 
Blanquism, "a synonym for revolutionary adventuring," was seized 
upon by Mussolini and made his guide ; Blanqui's motto, Chi ha del 
ferro ha del pane, became his motto. 

'Isaac Don Levine, Stalin. 

"Dieu n'existe pas*' 31 

Mussolini was developing into a fine soap-box orator. Although 
he knew little about Socialism, and despite his lack of orthodoxy, he 
had frequent opportunity to exliibit himself on the stage and in pub- 
lic squares. He seemed destined to sway people by words, and just 
as he had astonished his own mother with his speeches to himself 
and the schoolchildren of Forlimpopoli with his extraordinary ges- 
tures, he now began to lead in debates. Once he had a serious rebuff. 
Vandervelde had come to Geneva. It was at the time the Socialists 
had discovered that Jesus Christ had preached the rights of the weak 
and the suppressed, of the under dog against the masters, and Van- 
dervelde, the leading Belgian Socialist, was just the type to expound 
Christian morality as Socialist practice, while Mussolini, brought 
up in an anti-clerical atmosphere, took it upon himself to denounce 
"the milk-and-water revolutionary ideas of Christianity." But when 
Vandervelde, after listening to the youth*s diatribe, remarked that 
Jesus, "this milk-and-water Revolutionist," had preached enough 
Socialism to alarm Rome with such fears of a proletarian rebellion 
that the Crucifixion had been ordered, the disciple of violence, amidst 
the crowd's laughter, fled from the hall. 

He continued to make speeches, mocking the King of Italy, defy- 
ing the ruling powers everywhere, deriding parliaments, and at times 
defying God. Because work was scarce, he had to go from canton 
to canton, and there was no job too humble for him. There were 
times when extreme hunger drove him into the streets to accost some 
well-dressed stranger, to beg for bread and money, and there were 
grand days when he had enough to fill his stomach, and his mind at 
one of the liberal universities. He worked chiefly as a mason's as- 
sistant, but he was also a porter once and a butcher boy, delivering 
packages to the neighboring bourgeoisie and envying their litres of 
wine and their kilos of fresh meat. 

He hated the rich. A murderous hatred. One hungry day he 
crouched outside the iron railing of the Beau Rivage Hotel— which 
later was to be the headquarters of dictators and prime ministers 
of a League of Nations conference— and listened to the orchestra. 
"The music comforts my brain and my stomach. But the intervals are 
terrible, the cramp stabbing into my entrails like red-hot pins. 
The rustle of silks may be heard and the murmur of languages 

32 Sawdust Caesar 

which I do not understand. An elderly couple pass me by. They look 
English. I would like to ask them to give me money for a bed that 
night, but the words die on my lips. The lady glitters with gold and 
precious stones. I have not a cent, I have no bed, I have had no bread. 
I make off, cursing. Ah, that blessed idea of anarchy of thought 
and action. Is it not the right of the man lying on the ground to 
murder him who crushes him?" 

He went again to his dirty resting-place under the Grand Pont, 
that main bridge which breaks the cold wind and shelters other beg- 
gars, where he met a man he recognized as an Italian. He hailed him 
in the native tongue, asking for alms. "He laughs at me. I curse him. 
He puts his hand in his pocket and gives me ten centimes. I thank 
him. I hasten to the shop of a baker and buy a piece of bread. . . . 
For twenty-six hours I had not eaten." 

Occasionally the police clean out the beggars. One morning he 
opened his eyes to find the helmeted face of a pohceman with a 
cynical stare. He is not beaten on the shins nor clubbed on the head, 
his sure fate in the same circumstances had the coin fallen other- 
wise and had the bridge been Brooklyn. In Europe even policemen 
are men. Instead there is a conversation. 

The policeman says, "What are you doing here?" 

Mussolini replies, "I was just thinking of getting up." 

"Then get up quickly, for I have been waiting for you." 

"Very kind of you. Please tell my valet to bring me my clothes 
and toilet requisites." 

"Get up quickly or I'll help you up." 

"Precisely what I want. Give me your hand." 

The policeman gave the beggar his hand: "You are an Italian?" 

"Yes. Of the extradition department" (army refugee). 

"Follow me." 

In this way Mussolini was taken to jail for the first time in his 
life, and locked up for vagabondage. 

Everything he did got him into difficulty with the police. It could 
not be otherwise. With that anomalous upbringing, of whipping and 
pampering and the teaching of violent individualism, he had become 
a complete rebel. He accepted nothing. The gendarmes were forever 
on the trail ; he was always denouncing the law and the petty agents 

"Dteu n'existe pa/' 33 

who served as club-bearing symbols — he who could never conform 
and who was afterwards to organize next to the Russian Cheka 
and Hitler's Gestapo, the most all-invading police force of modern 
times, to destroy all non-conformity in the nation. 

The Protestant evangelist, Alfredo Tagliatela, came to Lausanne 
preaching the goodness of God. But Christianity, too, with its vast 
organization of popes and tikhons and bishops and ceremonials and 
parades, Mussolini placed with all things bourgeois, like the mili- 
tary, the gendarmerie, the regimented passive minds of the masses 
who were not brave enough to accept his style of paradoxical in- 
dividual Socialism. The evangelist challenged one and all to refute 

Mussolini, who with a few workingmen friends was sitting in the 
back of the hall, accepted the challenge. But not for debate. He 
arose and his friends with him. Five or six in number, they rushed 
up the aisle, stormed the platform, and grappled with the speaker. 

"God does not exist," shouted Mussolini. "Religion ! In science it 
is an absurdity; in practice it is an immorality; among men it is 
a malady." 

The good Christian crowd now raised angry fists. While some 
howled down the blasphemers, others ran to the aid of the evangelist. 
Tagliatela was rescued. Turning to Mussolini, he said ; 

"You are the sort of atheistic fanatic who at the age of forty 
will turn reactionary and be a lickspittle of the Vatican." 

Mussolini shouted back : "Bourgeois ! Renegade ! Slave !" 

A few days later, making an atheistic oration, Mussolini drew 
his watch from his pocket, placed it on the table, and defied God 
to strike him dead within five minutes. 

No thunderbolt came. 

This was the proof, the orator told his followers, that there was 
no God. 

When this meeting ended, another Italian radical. Carlo Tresca 
by name, protested this exhibition. He thought it unfair. Mussolini 
began an argument which lasted all night, and in the morning, when 
the two parted, one to return to demagoguery, the other to try his 
fortune in the United States, the former said: 

34 Sawdust Caesar 

"Well, Comrade Tresca, I hope America will make you over 
into a real revolutionary." 

"I hope," replied Tresca, "that you will quit posing and learn how 
to fight. Comrade Mussolini." 

Commenting recently on this episode, Tresca said he had left 
Italy because he had been sentenced to eighteen months in jail or 
ten years in exile for an article he had published in his paper, // 
Germe (The Seed). He found Mussolini "weak-tempered and vain, 
a man who would poosh himself forward so people applaud. He 
says he is very radical man, extreme Socialist, that I am not radical 

"Can you imagine? I am an anarchist now and what is Mussolini, 
who was so radical? A traitor. He remembers that incident; if I 
go anywhere near Italy now I don't live long." 

Within a few months after the Tagliatela encounter Mussolini 
published his first work. It is a pamphlet entitled Dieu n'existe pas, 
and its preface states : 

"Besought by certain comrades, I publish today the development of 
my thesis, 'God does not exist,' and refute the principle arguments 
of the evangelist Tagliatela. 

"The struggle against religious absurdity is more than ever a ne- 
cessity today. Religion has revealed its soul in the full glare of the 
sun. To be still deluded would be cowardice. No matter what the 
adaptations of the Church to the new and inexorable necessities 
of the times may be — alas, it is to weep! — ^they are attempts, gen- 
erally vain, to resuscitate the titles of the 'divine bank' which already 
is on the road to failure. 

"Confronted with the spread of free thought. Pope Sarto,« fear- 
ful of the destinies of his domination, cried out: 

'"Faithful, the Antichrist is bom!' 

"The Antichrist is human reason which rebels against dogma and 
a beaten god." 

Switzerland is a Christian country but it grants religious liberty. 
MussoHni was safe in his heresies. But in June, 1903, Mussohni 

* In those days Mussolini's sense of denunciation found satisfaction in calling kings and 
popes by their born names; be here refers to Pius X. 

"Dieu n'existe pa/' ^ 

organized a strike of some stoneworkers, and the authorities of the 
canton of Berne expelled him with promptness and smug satisfaction. 

"My stay in Switzerland was a welter of difficulties. ... I did 
whatever came to hand. ... I knew hunger, stark hunger, in those 
days. ... I took part in political gatherings. I made speeches. Some 
intemperance in my words made me undesirable to the Swiss authori- 
ties. They expelled me from two cantons. . . ." 

They did more than that. They expelled him, as is the custom of 
the country, from canton after canton for violation of "State rights," 
but finally they expelled him from all of Switzerland. 

When that order came the Socialist Party of the confederated re- 
public thought it time to protest the persecution of one of its least 
important but loudest and most active personalities. In the Grand 
Council of Geneva,* the Socialist deputy Wyss denounced the gov- 

He demanded to know, first of all, why the government's order 
of expulsion indicated Chiasso obligatory as the frontier station; 
Chiasso was an Italian town and Mussolini would find himself in the 
hands of the Italian police — but had the authorities forgotten that 
Switzerland was an asylum for deserters as well as for political 
rebels? Why did the government act with cruelty even if its charge 
was just? Why not send the victim to France or Austria? 

But that was all secondary. Why were the bloodhounds of the 
government driving from canton to canton and finally out of the 
country a man who had committed no crime except that of being 
a Socialist? True, he was more radical than most, he had spoken 
a little too freely, perhaps, he had in moments carried away by his 
own oratory used some violent words, but no laws had been broken 
and the serenity of Swiss existence was untouched. Yet because he 
was a Socialist . . . 

When M. Wyss had emptied himself of all invective, the Minister 
of State, M. Odier, responded to the interpellation : 

"Mussolini had presented himself on the gth of March at the 
office where the permis de sejour [residence permit] is granted and 
demanded an authorization. 

"He supplemented his request with a French matriculation receipt 

* Parliamentary reports, session of May ii, 1904. 

3^ Sawdust Caesar 

which indicated that he had previously used a passport. The officials 
rephed that the matriculation was not enough and Mussolini was re- 
quested to present his passport, which he did and which at first 
sight seemed to be in order. 

"It bore the date December 31, 1905; but traces were visible of 
a modification, and it related to the changing of a 3 into a 5." 

Minister of State Odier further declared that while a provisional 
permis de sejour had been granted Mussolini, a request for informa- 
tion had been made to the Italian consul at Bellinzona, who confirmed 
the fact that the passport had been forged. On the 9th of April, 
therefore, when Mussolini presented himself to receive the permanent 
card, he was arrested. Interrogated, Mussolini replied : 

"I know that the date 1903 has been falsified into 1905, but I am 
not the author of this falsification. I admit that knowingly I have 
made use of a falsified passport." 

In conclusion M. Odier said: 

"Mussolini was a school-teacher in Italy; here he has occupied 
himself with social-revolutionary propaganda. He was arrested in 
Lausanne for vagabondage. In Berne for a political crime. He was 
detained and expelled from the canton of Berne on the 19th of 
June. He has been published by the federal authorities as an anar- 
chist. I believe, however, that he would protest against this qualifica- 
tion as an anarchist and content himself with that of social-revolu- 
tionary. It is in effect in that quality that he has been presented to us. 

"But can anyone make a complaint against the State for having 
asked Mussolini to recross the frontier, when on the one hand, to 
remain among us he seeks to serve himself of dishonest means in 
falsifying an acte de legitimation which has been asked of him, and 
on the other hand he has used words and developed his activity in 
a milieu essentially revolutionary and seeks with all his means to 
destroy the institutions of our Republic?" 

M. Odier said he understood quite well the purpose of the altered 
passport. Bom in 18S3, Mussolini would have had in his twentieth 
year to present himself for military service, and this he had not 
done, therefore he could never have had a passport legitimately pro- 
longed after 1902 — "except by a false act, which has now been dis- 
covered, to his dishonor." 

"Dieu n'existe pas" 37 

In Germany, France, and Austria Mussolini saw the inside of 
prisons ; in Italy and Switzerland many times. "These bars and rail- 
ings, I can't stand them. They torture me. I can't stand the feeling 
of being suffocated. Oh, yes, you others, you may laugh but you 
have never known what it is to have been in prison — eleven times 
in prison, my friends ! It is a feeling you can never get rid of." 

In January 1925 the Popolo d'lialia attacked the "dirty lies of the 
Aventino" which was spreading the report that "Benito Mussolini, 
chief of the Italian government, and Duce of Fascism, had been con- 
demned in Switzerland for a common crime." The paper defied 
Senator Luigi Albertini, owner and editor of the Corriere delta Sera 
to produce the evidence of the sentence. One report said that the 
letter which Mussolini had written asking pardon for the theft of a 
gold watch had been given to a friend of the Premier Giolitti who 
dared not publish it for fear of meeting the same fate (assassination) 
as Matteotti. 

Eugene Chiesa in his book, "The Political, Financial and Economic 
Situation in Italy," Paris, 1929, says: 

"At the police station of Zurich there exists the record of this 
gentleman (Mussolini) with fingerprint chart used only for infamous 
persons. It deals with theft of a watch. The facts are: Mussolini 
took a coat from a comrade ; there was a watch in the coat. After- 
wards the coat was returned, the watch never. The original document 
is at Lausanne, a copy at Geneva and one at Zurich. Naturally at 
present, conforming to orders given by the former president of 
Switzerland, all these have become invisible." 

Of course nothing of this documented history appears in either 
the autobiography or the histories written by the admirers. Musso- 
lini has only this to say : "To remain in Switzerland became impos- 
sible. There was the yearning for home which blossoms in the hearts 
of all Italians. Furthermore, the compulsory service in the army was 
calling me. I came back ... I joined the regiment. . . ." 

But not so fast as all that. 

M. Wyss and the comrades were not without power. They could 
not maintain their request for Mussolini's freedom in the face of 
the charges against him, but they did insist that the Swiss law re- 

38 Sawdust Caesar 

garding Italian deserters apply to Comrade Benito and that the 
government must not deport the undesirable to his own country. 
Thus the frontier to Austria was opened. 

Mussolini went to Tessin. At the frontier he was cheered as a 
Socialist hero and a martyr. 



Comrade Angelica and Comrade Benito 

any other, except his mother, shaped his life. If at one time the 
hero could quote Abraham Lincoln, as he did, that all he was he 
owed to his mother, so at another moment he could have said "and 
all I hope to be I owe to Comrade Angelica." 

She was not the fair-haired, light-eyed goddess, the romantic 
inspiration of youth, which the writers for the popular magazines 
have found in one or another of Mussolini's mistresses of a later 
period and to whom in turn they have given the title "Joan of Arc 
of Fascism," or the more commonplace "the woman who made Mus- 
solini." Angelica Balabanoff was and remains today a true Marxian 
Socialist who naturally enough looks upon her collaboration with 
the Fascist Duce as a regrettable waste of time. 

And yet it was she who picked him out of a dark comer and 
made a man of him. For just ten years she ruled his life. There is 
no mention of her in the Duce's autobiography. 

Described by all as the "soul" and "the moving force" of the 
Russian revolutionary movement in Switzerland, which was in 
reality the mind and spirit of the Russian revolution of 1917, this 
woman, whose life is a book of amazement, occupied the unique 
position of comrade, associate, fellow worker, with the two most 
contradictory dictators of this modern world, Lenin and Mussolini. 

With Lenin and with Trotsky, and with other Red leaders. Dr. 
Balabanoff sat as an equal, sometimes even occupying a higher 
elected position, at conferences, internationales, public meetings. She 
was part of the conspiracy to win freedom in Russia. With the Black 
leader the situation was different, for it was she who took him in 


4° Sawdust Caesar 

hand and began his education as a Red, teaching him the first prin- 
ciples of Karl Marx, whose follower she has always been. 

The contrast between Balabanofi and Mussolini was extreme. He 
was the plainest of proletarians, she the daughter of a rich bourgeois 
merchant, brought up in a house of twenty rooms, surrounded by 
servants and luxury. But she too was born with the soul of a rebel, 
and in that they were alike. As a child Angelica fought her mother 
for mistreating the servants ; sometimes she would take her belong- 
ings and run down the street to give them to beggars who had 
been denied food or money at her home. From childhood her heart 
was filled with a flood of sympathy and pity for the poor and weak 
and oppressed throughout the world, and when she grew up she gave 
away all she inherited and to this day whatever she has above her 
needs, which are plain food and plain clothes, she gives away. A 
hater of property. A lover of humanity. 

Lenin, Trotsky, Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, idealists, radicals, 
exiles, revolutionaries from all of Europe, worked with Comrade 
Balabanoff and loved her. Mussolini could hardly believe his good 
fortune when she offered to help him. She was already famous as 
an international leader, a brilliant mind, a marvelous orator, a great 
force in all movements for freedom and liberation which at that 
time centered in Switzerland, and he was the lowest of nobodies. 
Little did he know the depths of that human heart which his misery 
had sounded. There was terror in his eyes when Balabanoff first 
saw him, that night in the small meeting-room of the Italians of 
Lausanne, more than thirty years ago. There were quite a few there, 
workingmen and workingwomen, all very poor, all eager for the 
riches of a Socialist paradise, all at least washed and clean. But in 
the corner sat a man in filth. His face was unwashed, his clothes, 
which had been slept in, bore the traces of the sand and dirt of 
the little projections of land under the Grand Pont. He had flashing 
black eyes, a bulging jaw as well as bulging eyes, a bellicose bearing 
with a timid, cringing demeanor, nervous and inquiet. It was the 
first time he had come to hear the famous Russian speaker. 

"Who is that strange creature?" Dr. Balabanoff asked a mason 
after she has finished speaking.^ 

* The episode as here related was written by Dr. Balabanoff for this book. 

Comrade Angelica and Comrade Benito 41 

"The most miserable being I ever met," the mason replied. "He 
is an Italian, Hke us, and at home was supposed to be a school- 
teacher, but he was always getting into a scrape, and he drank too 
much. Then when the time came to do his military service he fled 
to Switzerland, and now he is a tramp. But he says he is a Socialist 
and I think he means well." 

"A tramp? Is he so poor?" 

"He sleeps under the bridge. Except when I take him in and give 
him my bed when I am out at work. I feed him when I can." 

Another club member, also a mason, came up to Balabanoff. 'T 
have asked my wife to make him a shirt and a pair of pants out of 
some old cloth," he said; "next time perhaps he will be better 

Others came up and shook the speaker's hands, as was the cus- 
tom, then drifted out. Dr. Balabanoff went to the unhappy vagabond 
and took his hand. 

"I hear you have no job," she said, kindly. "Can I help you in 
any way?" She had given away her fortune; she was always giving 
away every cent she had. 

"No, nobody can help me," Mussolini replied, somewhat dra- 
matically, and most tragically and without lifting his eyes, "I am 
condemned to remain a wretched vagabond all my life." 

"Do not despair. Look at these men here. They are all prole- 
tarians like you, but when they became Socialists they found they 
had a great deal to live for, a great ideal." 

"But / can't. My father was a drunkard, and besides I have a 
congenital sickness for which I have to thank him. I can't work and 
I can't be militant. I will have to die as miserably as I am living." 

"No, no," replied the woman, "I will see that something is done 
for you." 

The man never looked up, never changed his black expression, 
but fidgeted endlessly, twisting his dirty black cap in his hands. 
Later he said, timidly: 

"I have just had an opportunity to earn fifty francs, but I lost 
it, of course. I was not able to do the work. A Socialist editor of- 
fered me fifty francs if I would translate Kautsky's pamphlet, The 

42 Sawdust Caesar 

Coming Revolution. But how could I? I do not know German and 
I do not know the Marxian terminology." 

Dr. Balabanoff offered to help. 

"You, help me?" he exclaimed, surprised, but still not looking up. 

"Why not? I am a Socialist and I find it quite natural. When I 
was young I had opportunities and privileges, while you lived in 
misery and could not study. It is not your fault." 

This was the episode, a stepping-stone which became a turning- 
pomt. Dr. Balabanoff took the unkempt vagabond in hand and made 
a man, a radical, a revolutionary, out of him. She who had asso- 
ciated with Lenin and Trotsky as an equal leader, who was intel- 
lectually miles above the youth of twenty with his weeping self-pity 
and his lackadaisical despair, his gauche manners, his embarrassed 
attitude, his masochistic satisfaction in proclaiming himself a lost 

Dr. Balabanoff resided at that time in Lugano, in the Italian- 
speaking part of Switzerland, but came often to Zurich and Berne, 
now more frequently, not so much for the purpose of helping a 
man earn ten dollars, but to rehabilitate his character. They would 
meet at the railroad station or at the dub. "He worked very hard, 
and although I was young at that time," says Dr. Balabanoff,^ "I 
at once realized that the man*s nature was very susceptible to the 
influence of suggestion. I felt that I had given him confidence in 
himself. I noticed that during the time I worked with him he did 
not again speak of his inability to earn his living. He showed strong 
ambition to complete the task and it seemed to me that his efforts 
were due to a desire for personal success rather than an enthu- 
siasm for our cause. 

"But what surprised me most in him at that epoch was his great 
helplessness ; it was that which had inspired my pity for him. Later 
I had occasion to observe very closely his psychological and political 
development, while he was assimilating some literary culture, initiat- 
ing himself into Socialist doctrine, taking part little by little in 
political action. I was able to follow attentively his anti-militarist 
and anti-clerical expressions. He had set himself to propagate by 
word and by writing the doctrines which came from the depths of 

Anf^lica Balabanoff, Eiinnerungen und Erlcbnissc. 

Comrade Angelica and Comrade Benito 43 

his moral and material misery. I never lost sight of him until the 
moment he betrayed us all." 

After Mussolini's expulsion from Switzerland he wrote to Com- 
rade Angelica frequently from Trento, telling of his activities and 
success as a journalist. He was meeting notable irredenta patriots 
who were to influence his actions in 1914, and a yoimg woman 
named Irene Desler, who was to play a dramatic episode in his Hfe. 
He was also aiming to write a history of philosophy. 

One day in 1905 the King of Italy issued a birthday amnesty. 
Political refugees, provided they had committed no civil crime at 
home, were free to return to the fatherland and so were deserters who 
had fled to escape army service; the latter must, however, come 
back to the colors. 

Mussolini came back. 

He went to Austria again after he had completed his military duty. 
Again he got into trouble with his political expressions which of- 
fended the authorities, and again he returned to Italy. He was now 
noted as both journalist and orator. In 1912, after the Reggio Emilia 
congress, a committee of directors of the Socialist Party, which in- 
cluded Comrades Balabanoff, Serrati, Vella, and Mussolini, was 
appointed to name a new editor for the party's organ, the Avanti. 
Most of Italy's leading journalists lived in Rome; they sought a 
man from the industrial north. One of the central committee mem- 
bers mentioned Mussolini, and Balabanoff seconded the motion. 
With the exception of Vella the committee of directors voted for 
him. Mussolini at first objected, saying he lacked the ability, the 
information on politics, the knowledge of Marxism, the necessary 
background and culture of an editor, and above all he did not want 
to assume such a great responsibility. 

Comrade Balabanoff took Comrade Mussolini to lunch. There 
were hours of talk, argument, persuasion. The woman insisted it was 
the opportunity of a lifetime, and that the man must take it now 
or lose his chance forever. The man wavered. He could not accept 
such a responsibility. Comrade Balabanoff insisted. She said she 
would help. 

In the afternoon Mussolini conferred with other members of 
the committee. They too urged his acceptance. 

44 Sawdtfst Caesar 

"I agree, but with one condition," Mussolini said, that evening. 
"That Comrade Balabanoff must work with me on the newspaper 
as my assistant editor." 

It was then almost ten years from the day Dr. Balabanoff had 
picked the vagabond out of has dark corner and started him on the 
road to dictatorship. She, o£ course, had meant to do nothing of 
the kind. If there was any dictatorship idea in her mind, it was 
that of a class, the mass, the proletariat, the common people, the 
workers, the suppressed, the suffering, the miserable have-nots of 
this world. For ten years she taught Mussolini the doctrines of Karl 
Marx, hoping he would some day join with many others, with her 
colleagues in another part of Switzerland, Lenin and Trotsky, in 
a world-wide economic and political war of the classes. She never 
suspected that this fledgling would one day become the instrument 
and the leader of the very class against which all the revolutionary 
forces everywhere were lifting their voices and their hearts. 

When she won him over to taking the editorship she believed she 
had achieved something of importance for him, and when he replied 
by making her his assistant she was pleased because she believed 
this cooperation would have large results. The entire Socialist Party 
was pleased. The records exist and there is the testimony of tens of 
thousands. Strange it is, therefore (unless due to the jealousy and 
rivalry and hatred which women alone can hold for other women and 
which is beyond strangeness), to find that the ladies who recount this 
so well-known and historic incident fill it with such hatred. Bala- 
banoff "forced herself upon him" after "presenting her card at the 
office." "She imposed herself upon him; he decided to make use of 
her by handing over the less important subjects for her to work on. 
. . . She had no sense of humor." "This was the woman who with 
her perfervid mystic's temperament and with the deficiencies, the 
lack of balance, the excesses that go with it, imposed herself upon 
young Benito Mussolini." 

So some women^ write history. 

It is true that Dr. Balabanoff was surprised when Mussolini made 
her taking the assistant editorship the one condition of his acceptance, 
because during the lunch he had made no conditions. It was only 

' Signora Sarfatti and Mme. Bordeux. 

Comrade Angelica and Comrade Benito 45 

later that she realized the significance of his behavior. He was young 
and afraid of responsibility; all that he knew he got from books 
and from association with her ; she was internationally known, the 
equal associate of the great radical leaders everywhere, and if she 
would stand by him he would have the best chance of success. He 
had not asked her directly, fearing a refusal, but he knew that when 
he made his proposal to Serrati and other directors of the party, and 
the Socialist Party requested it, Balabanoff could not refuse. 

They collaborated for about a year and a half, the greater part 
of which they had desks side by side and worked their editorials 
together. Not a single decision of importance was taken by him 
without consulting his guiding star; to every objection she made he 
quickly acquiesced, recognizing her intellectual and moral superiority. 
Frequently the situation was complicated or dangerous, whereupon 
he would ask her, as one of the oldest and most trusted of socialistic 
comrades, to write the editorial in his stead and to accept full re- 
sponsibility for it. Which she did. 

"Rarely in my life," she records, "have I seen a human being 
depend on others as much as Mussolini did. His characteristics at 
that time were lack of independent courage and incredible physical 
fear. When leaving the headquarters of Avanti at night, or rather 
in the early morning, he would always ask me to accompany him. 
After my own work was finished, I had to wait for him. 

"When he learned that we lived in the same street, he asked me 
to take him to his very door, I was surprised. I asked him what was 
the matter. 

" 'It bores me to go home alone/ he replied. 'One never knows 

" 'What are you afraid of ?' 

" 'What am I afraid of? Myself. A dog. A tree. My own shadow.' 

"He could not ask one of the men of the Avanti to take him 
home because he was proud ; he could not confess his disease to a 
fellow male. 

"In the office he would frequently burst out weeping over the 
trouble his disease was causing him, and the treatment he was going 
through, which required him to visit a specialist at exactly the same 
hour every day. 

46 Sawdust Caesar 

"He had a pathological need to call attention to himself at all 
times, and frequently this took the form of exhibitionism ; he spoke 
openly of a malady which is generally kept secret, thinking he was 
making himself interesting by telling. 

"Seeing him so downcast, and in order to cut short his almost 
daily time of tears, I advised him to visit one of our comrades, a 
renowned doctor, who would make a diagnosis and prescribe a 
regime. He hastened to follow my advice. 

"In my whole life I have never seen a being so lamentable, so 
destroyed, as the man who entered our office some time later, his 
face pale and defeated, his eyes more haggard than usual. With- 
out saying a word he cast himself into a chair, hid his face in his 
hands and began sobbing. His Wassermann test had proved unfavora- 
ble. Accustomed as I was to his excessive impressionability and to his 
exhibitions, I was nevertheless moved by a sentiment of profound 
pity, seeing this unfortunate man who was crying. 

" 'You do not know what has happened to me,' he said in the 
midst of his sobs; 'the doctor made a blood test. He anesthetized 
my thumb with ether. The odor of ether follows me. It is in the 
air. Oh ! I beg you do not leave me alone. I am afraid. I am haunted 
by that odor.' 

"And in truth he passed a whole week under the terror of that 
impression. Every day when the hour approached which reminded 
him of the injection, he was carried away by emotion. He could 
not work. 

" 'It is going to kill me,' he said. 

"To calm him I had the clock secretly advanced an hour. 

" *It is five o'clock, the hour is passed ; calm yourself,' I said to 
him. He looked at the clock, became quiet immediately, and began 
working as if nothing had happened." 

Comrade Balabanoff recounts scores of incidents, from small 
events in the office to large episodes in public squares, from personal 
and domestic difficulties which had a strange way of airing them- 
selves in the Avanti headquarters, to disputes over party policies in 
which Mussolini, who now stands as a symbol of national strength, 
a symbol for the youth of the land, the living superman who ap- 
peals to all the mentally groveling and enslaved of the world, was 

Comrade Angelica and Comrade Benito 47 

not altogether the brave, bold, unhesitating hero which accumulated 
biographies and m3^hs have made him out to be. According to the 
associate editor her chief kept a revolver on his desk, a sharpened 
stiletto handy, was scared when voices were raised in political dis- 
pute, and led the mob only when it was overwhelming in number, 
and stayed discreetly behind when physical danger threatened. 

"Of course," Comrade Angelica recounts today, "I never suspected 
that Mussolini, whom I taught radicalism from his youth to his rise 
to power, would or could betray our ideals. I never in all the years 
of our collaboration was blind to some of his inherent traits, his 
fundamental weaknesses, to his physical cowardice in personal en- 
counters as contrasted with his heroic gestures when surrounded by 
numbers, to his inability to resist temptation for personal power, to 
his unbridled egotism. 

"Naturally he was a strong pacifist in 1914. At one of our edi- 
torial conferences, however, he told us he favored the German 
cause and ridiculed France. But when he was offered the oppor- 
tunity of personal power which a newspaper was sure to give him, 
it was a temptation which a weak will could not resist. We did not 
know then why he went over to the enemy. We could only suspect 
that an offer had been made him by French representatives." 

• ••***•••*••*•*•**•*• **••* 

A Miracle Is Explained 

Caillaux shot M. Calmette, the editor o£ Figaro. In Ireland 
seven hundred years of strife were again accented in a civil war; 
patriots fell in the streets of Dublin and British soldiery prepared 
for fire and blood. The Balkans were enjoying temporary peace, 
armed peace, reeking with plans of revolt and assassination. And 
in Italy there occurred a revolutionary outbreak of national impor- 
tance. All these facts the German general staff noted with utmost 
satisfaction. The omens were good. The Central Powers, whose 
pohcy was Discipline, Order, Hierarchy, goose-stepped to world 

The Settimana Rossa, or Red Week, o£ 1914, was Italy's prelude 
to battle. A decade of strife between workers and employers was 
to have its test in a general strike which began that 7th of June. 
All the elements which were anti-government or anti-ruling-class, 
from the Liberals and Democrats to the Socialists and Radical- 
Socialists, and even the anarchists, were joined against the forces 
of law and order — and oppression. 

This general strike, like the World War, was held inevitable, and 
a simple incident which paralleled the assassination of the Austrian 
archduke at Sarajevo ignited the spirit of Italy. A conscript soldier 
had fired at his colonel. The case became national, a sjfmbol. When 
the government sought the easy way out by declaring the would-be 
assassin insane, condemned to prison for life, the masses screamed 
for his freedom, and Mussolini, in the Avanti, joined. At first it 
was decided that there should be one day of national protest in 
honor of Masetti; later a general strike was declared. Mussolini 

* See appendix "Mussolini's Money," for documentation. 


A Miracle Is Explained 49 

not only participated, but suggested revolution. One of his collabo- 
rators and admirers, Rossato, calls him "the Lenin of the Red Week, 
the originator of the idea of a Romagnole Republic." Mussolini 
hoped to turn the general strike into a national uprising. He made 
speeches, wrote articles, and one day, the loth of June, led his 
followers into the Cathedral Square of Milan as the first move to 
occupy the town and eventually seize power in all of Italy. 

There are two versions of what followed. One, the later Fascist, 
has Mussohni first to arrive and last to go; he stood his ground, 
"heedless of cavalry charges," as his passionate biographer, Mme. 
Sarfatti, more recently has it, "erect, motionless, his arms folded, 
hurling forth his invectives with eyes ablaze," but all contemporary 
reports state merely that "when the mounted police arrived the 
demonstration was broken up" while still other testimony, from 
an eyewitness participant, is that "we acted like human beings, 
we fled." 

It is of little importance. The Settimana Rossa was a fiasco. What 
is important is that it confirmed Mussolini as a revolutionary So- 
cialist, taught him that without violent leadership and organized 
violence there would be no success, and inspired him with the 
idea of armed leadership. 

"The attempt at revolution — the Red Week — ^was not revolution 
as much as it was chaos. No leaders ! The middle class and the 
bourgeoisie gave us another picture of their insipid spirit." But 
the idea itself he defended, likening the event to the French Com- 
mune, "a magnificent insurrection of the Paris populace presenting 
all the characteristics of a revolutionary movement . . . but when 
the Commune was crushed by the bayonets of Thiers, a man, an 
immortal master for us all, arose to defend it. Karl Marx justified 
all the measures taken by the Commune and also many measures 
initiated by persons unknown. He justified the incendiarism and 
also the shooting of hostages; he celebrated the flasne and the blood 
and the deaths; he raised on high the cry, 'Long Live the Com- 
mune !' in the face of that European bourgeoisie which with a ferocity 
made hundredfold by fear, prepared itself for its great revenge." 
Prophetic words ! 

The World War came almost immediately after this attempt at 

50 Sawdust Caesar 

Italian revolution. The Socialist Party on July 29, 1914, issued its 
proclamation ; 

"It is to the interest of the proletariat of all nations to impede, 
circtunscribe, and limit as much as possible the armed conflict, use- 
ful only for the triumph of militarism and parasitical business af- 
fairs of the bourgeoisie. 

"You, the proletariat of Italy, who, in the painful period of 
crisis and unemployment of the recent general strike have given 
proof of your class consciousness, of your spirit of sacrifice, must 
now be ready and not let Italy go down into the abyss of this 
terrible adventure." 

The phrasing of the proclamation was Mussolini's ; his name was 
signed with that of other leaders. One day earlier, he had written 
in Avanti, "The proletariat must no longer temporize, it must ex- 
press immediately its desire for peace. If the government does not 
heed unanimous public opinion but enters into the new adventure, 
the 'truce of arms' declared by us at the close of the Red Week 
will be ended." And another day: "In the case of a European con- 
flagration Italy does not want to precipitate itself into the ultimate 
ruin, but has one attitude to take — neutrality." 

Thus July, 1914, passed into history and August finds all the 
pledged nations of both armed camps, with the exception of Italy, 
at war. 

The Nationalist Party, under Federzoni, who later sat symbolically 
at Mussolini's right hand in the first Fascist triumvirate, demanded 
that the government join Germany and Austria. The patriotic So- 
cialists under the expelled leader, Bissolati, tried to drag the party 
towards the Allies. Mussolini and Bissolati met in furious debates 
which always ended in the triumph of the former. 

Then came the mysterious September when Mussolini made the 
decision of his life and, as first payment on it, surrendered his mem- 
bership in the party. In the new freedom which began for him he 
was better prepared, he wrote later, "to fight my battles than when 
I was bound by the dogmas of any political organization. But I 
understood that I could not use with efficient strength my convic- 
tions if I was without that modern weapon, capable of all possibili- 

A Miracle Is Explained 51 

ties, ready to arm and to help, good for offense and defense — 
the newspaper. 

"I needed a daily paper, I hungered for one. I gathered together 
a few of my political friends who had followed me in the last hard 
struggle, and we held a war council. When money alone is con- 
cerned, I am anything but a wizard. When it is a question of means 
or of capital to start a project, or how to finance a newspaper, I 
grasp only the abstract side, the political value, the spiritual essence 
of the thing. To me money is detestable; what it may do is some- 
times beautiful and sometimes noble." 

While Mussolini sat in the office of the Popolo, writing his 
harangues in favor of the noble Allied cause, the whispers of the 
cafes and the rumors throughout the land were investigated by the 
party he had left. 

It was soon learned that many elements were buying public 
opinion in Italy. The Germans were represented by Prince von 
Biilow, ambassador to Rome, from whose immune offices agents 
operated in much the same manner as they did in neutral America 
at the same time. In New York, it will be remembered, the Ger- 
mans succeeded in buying up only one important newspaper, the 
Evening Mail, whose unfortunate Dr. Rumeley went to prison when 
the United States some time later decided to join the war, but on 
the side opposed to Rumeley's masters. 

In America, in Italy, in Spain, in Switzerland, Holland and Scan- 
dinavian countries the subsidization and purchase of public opinion 
was largely a Franco-British enterprise. In fact, a large part of the 
world was divided into so-called spheres of influence. Despite The 
Secrets of Crewe House and the French Behind the Scenes in War- 
time Journalism, the world still knows little of an effort which com- 
pares relatively with the slaughter at the front. The poisoning of 
the world mind is just as necessary for a successful war as the 
murder of millions of deluded subjects. 

Lord Northcliffe was active in both the French and British spheres. 
Between November, 1914, and May, 1915, when the declaration of 
war abolished the free press of Italy, the Socialist newspapers pub- 
lished considerable news of the efforts of this British publisher in 

52 Sawdust Caesar 

converting, by promises and money, a large number of bourgeois 
journals to the cause of intervention. 

Meantime the charge had been made on the floor of the House 
of Representatives^ in Washington that in March, 1915, the bank- 
ing interests, "the steel, shipbuilding, and powder interests and 
their subsidiary organizations, got together twelve men high up in 
the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influ- 
ential newspapers in the United States. . . . These twelve men 
worked the problem out by selecting 179 newspapers, and then 
began, by an elimination process, to retain only those necessary for 
the purpose of controlling the general policy of the daily press 
throughout the country. They found it was only necessary to pur- 
chase the policy, national and international, of these newspapers; 
an agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, 
to be paid for by the month. . . . The effectiveness of this scheme 
has been conclusively demonstrated by the character of stuff carried 
in the daily press since March, 1915. . . ." 

The charge was also made that while the United States was 
nominally neutral but actually preparing to join the Allies, no less 
than 1,400 British agents were active in propaganda work under 
supervision of Lord Northcliffe. Certainly there is evidence today 
that Allied agents were at work in every country, and Italy was 
no exception. There is evidence that editors and newspapers were 
bought everywhere. Sir Basil Zaharoff bought up practically the en- 
tire press of Athens at this time and founded additional newspapers 
to support Greek cooperation with the British. 

Secret as these efforts were, a few facts became known and 
were published in Italy in 1914 and 1915. The Socialist press 
began to answer the ominous question of the cafes and the party 
congresses — Chi paga? Without fear of libel suits or contradiction, 
the secret of Mussolini's change from advocate of proletarian revo- 
lution against the French government to ally of the French army, 
was soon known throughout Italy. 

The "miracle" of the days between the 21st and 25th of Sep- 
tember, 1914, was manipulated by Filippo Naldi, publisher and edi- 
tor of the Resto del Carlino, who from the first days of the war was 
^Congressional Record, February 7, 1915. 

A Miracle Is Explained 53 

publicly charged with having been subsidized by the French govern- 
ment along with dozens of smaller publishers. 

Naldi prepared the populace for the "conversion" of Mussolini 
with the publication of two articles by Libero Tancredi (Massimo 
Rocca), the first headed Un Uomo di Ferro (A Man of Iron), the 
other Un Uomo di Paglia (A Man of Straw). There was no secrecy 
in the Resto del Carlino office about its being an agency for Italian 
intervention on the side of France. 

Among that nation's foremost agents in this patriotic business 
was a member of the Chamber of Deputies, Marcel Cachin, one of 
that considerable group of Socialist deputies who had been pacifist 
until the first shot was heard on the Alsace-Lorraine frontier, and 
who from that moment became enthusiasts for war, calling upon 
enemies of bloody conflict to support it under the banner of The 
Sacred Union (l' Union Sacree). This is the same Marcel Cachin 
who was later to edit I'Humanite, to become the leader and the in- 
spiration and the occasional martyr of the extensive French post- 
bellum Communism. To Naldi, Cachin confessed his desire to win 
many political leaders and journalists for the French side. He was 
especially anxious to gain the support of men like himself, Socialists 
who had seen the light of nationalist patriotism. Mussolini fitted 
all his requirements. 

In Bologna, one of those mysterious miraculous days, Mussolini 
confessed to Naldi his aforementioned "mortal desire" to edit his 
own newspaper. A newspaper, he said, was a fulcrum on which to 
rest a lever to move the world. He must have his own press. On 
its quick wheels one rode to power. One had to force ideas upon 
the masses ; they were so stupid, such cowards, and the Nationalists, 
the bourgeoisie as well as the Socialists, all of them were doing 
one thing or another, and everything wrong, because one and all 
they were afraid to listen to a bright new intelligence. Yes, the So- 
cialists, too, his own people, they restrained him, they bossed him, 
possessed him; they overpowered him in the central committee, 
issuing orders which he had to carry out in his newspaper office, 
which was their office, and every time he swerved, every time he 
changed a comma, there would be uproar ; his associate editors would 
shout he was betraying the Socialist cause, they would expose him. 

54 Sawdust CaesUr 

drive him out of the party. He was a man bom to live and act 
independently; he hated restraint of any kind; he needed a news- 
paper to show the world what he could do. 

Naldi did not quite understand. He himself had no such ambitions. 
He was the typical continental European newspaper owner, living 
daily in trepidation that no one would try to corrupt him. He was, 
however, ethically on a par with the great Havas news agency and 
the greatest of all French newspapers, Le Temps, and twenty other 
French newspapers, all of which received several millions of gold 
francs from the Tsar for the purpose of propaganda and news sup- 
pression from the time of revolution, 1905, to the Russian collapse 
of 1917.3 Now it was France paying money to editors. Naldi knew 
where the French funds were and the man to be "seen"; when Mus- 
solini was through talking, Naldi made him a promise. But in re- 
turn he demanded of Mussolini an earnest of good faith. 

Returning to Milan, the editor startled Italy with the leading 
article, sensational for the ofificial Socialist paper, the first appeal 
against neutrality. 

Quite sure of his future, no longer caring whether or not the party 
would accuse him of betrayal, nor fearing the criticism of fellow 
editors, Mussolini did not hesitate to gain his end by using as a 
means the very official organ of the pacifist party, and in it proclaim- 
ing a policy which the paper, the fellow editors, and the party stood 
pledged to denounce with all their strength. The office became an 
uproar. There were angry scenes. Day and night iists were shaken 
and loud voices penetrated into the streets to the amazement of 
strangers. What was "relative neutrality"? Nothing but a step to 
"no neutrality, to war." "Who authorized the editorial?" "How dare 
you publish it without consulting?" But Mussolini had made his 
bid to the French representatives, sitting lightly on their money- 
bags, in the hotels of Geneva. He had shown them he was willing 
to be approached. He had taken the first step. 

Then news came from Naldi that the financial negotiations were 

Mussolini rushed from the Avanti, traveled the short distance to 

'Documents from the Russian War Archives published in France as UAbomtnaMe 
VindiU de la Presse. 

A Miracle Is Explained 55 

Switzerland secretly, came back quickly, and just fifteen days later, 
"starting- with empty hands," as his admirers so quaintly put it, 
he produced the first number of the Popolo d'ltalia, a French news- 
paper organ, a long but strong finger of the Quai d'Orsay. Polemic 
after polemic against the Socialist Party, against last month's friends 
on the Avanti, against the atrocities committed by the Central Em- 
pires, filled the new journal. 

A complete volte face. But Mussolini's feet were now on wheels, 
and the wheels were turning out newspapers, and every edition 
was a challenge for power. It filled his own ears, leaving no room 
for the cries of protest. He did not hear, because he did not want 
to hear, the accusation of a former colleague — "if the Kaiser had 
offered you a double sum you would have defended neutrality." 
He immediately made his newspaper the organ of the Fasci, a little 
interventionist group which had been founded in July, 1914, months 
before his "conversion," and which had from its origin been his 
enemy. He became the patron of the Fasci Nazionali per I'lntervento. 

Returning from Geneva, several weeks later. Marcel Cachin took 
into confidence the Chamber of Deputies* and, burning with pure pas- 
sionate patriotism, he spoke of glorious achievements for the French 

"Voyes" he cried, "that which has happened in the Italian sec- 
tion. Voild Mussolini who in the Popolo d'ltalia, today in its fortieth 
number, has had a great success, declaring that the revolution is an 
idea which has found bayonets. We register with joy the happy and 
concordant symptoms. Everything presages the inevitable interven- 
tion of Italy. She will help us finish the war, assuring victory against 
the militarist reactionaries, the Hapsburgs and the Hohenzollerns." 
France applauded Mussolini and Cachin. 

To this very day France remembers, even in times of crisis when 
the Fascist cohorts stand beside their Duce, crying "Ahhasso la 
Francia," that among the many subsidized by the Foreign Office 
there is one who can never be paid in full. To the good patriots, 
French politicians and journaHsts, there is nothing but honor in 
what happened, for that handful of silver also bought historic im- 
portance. Thus, for instance, Louis Roya, remarking the sudden 

* Journal Officiel. 

5^ Sawdust Caesar 

founding of the Popolo, asks "What were his means, who aided 
him?" and replies, "Let us admit that France aided Mussolini. . . . 
She did so and he accepted for the purpose of making triumph the 
Cause of Right," while a lady biographer,^ French patriot but pas- 
sionate devotee of the Italian, reasons that "Admit, then, that France 
had offered Mussolini help. What would the next move be? She 
might have offered and he might have accepted in order to see 
the triumph of right and justice. Certainly not for himself would 
he have made such a move." The cause of right. Right and justice. 
Paul Ronin,^ a Frenchman less given to national patriotism, says 
bluntly that in quitting the Avanti MussoHni was not without re- 
sources, "no matter if he pretends to the contrary. He had in his 
pockets the funds furnished by Filippo Naldi, agent of shady affairs ; 
by the Italian industrialists who manufactured arms, munitions, mili- 
tary equipment ; by Marcel Cachin in the name of the French govern- 
ment," and Deputy Renaudel in writing an editorial in the Qiiotidien 
on the aid which Mussolini had given to France remarks that "Many 
of us well remember that the first issues of the Popolo d'ltalia were 
published, thanks to French money; Cachin knows all this, but he 
does not like it to be talked about." 

The miracle of Mussolini's acceptance of Allied patriotism' was 
finally explained in a famous case in the courts of Paris in 1926. 
The name of Charles Dumas, secretary to Minister Guesdes, as 
the actual bearer of the money was given and the sums specified. It 
was during the trial of one Bonomini for the murder of Buonservizi, 
friend and colleague of Mussolini on the Popolo. Maitre Torres, a 
French lawyer of renown, always the defender of victims of injus- 
tice, personal and political, pleaded for Bonomini. Maitre Gautrand 
represented the partie civile, in the pay of the Italian embassy. The 
Italian government and its newspapers were demanding the guil- 
lotining of Bonomini and were bringing intimidating pressure upon 

Maitre Gautrand resorted to that commonest of all commodities, 
wartime patriotism. Italy, "blood sister of France," had stood by 

■ Jeanne Bordcux. 

'L'Ombrc sur Rome. 

'' Complete documentation has been made by Professor Salvcnuni. 

A Miracle Is Explained 57 

her ; Italy had helped win the war. Fascism was the patriot of Italy. 
Mussolini was the chief of Fascism. Buonservizi was the colleague 
of Mussolini. It was all very simple. A political crime had been com- 
mitted. The victim was a great patriot. Patriotic France and Patriotic 
Italy demanded the death of Bonomini ! 

Maitre Torres arose. 

Italy, he said, it was true, had entered the war on the side of 
the Allies. Italy had done so because the Allies had made a financial 
and territorial deal with Italy. And as for Mussolini, it was the 
pure result of a plain business transaction on the part of the French 
government. It was a matter of dollars and cents, not sentiment. 

Maitre Gautrand was outraged. He demanded instructions from 
the Italian embassy in Paris. The embassy cabled to Rome. But to 
this very day no action has been taken against the accusation. In 
fact, Maitre Torres was willing to amplify his charges in print. In 
Stockholm, and in the Italian newspapers published in Paris, he tells 
the story of how the Allies won Mussolini : 

"There had been a moment, the first moment, in which the 
Italian Socialist Party was unanimous against the intervention of 
Italy in the war. The situation preoccupied the French government. 
The problem was examined at a council of the Ministers. The ques- 
tion was taken up, how to convert some one leader for the war, with 
the aid of money, and the name of Mussolini was suggested. The 
first sum was 15,000 francs ($3,000) and it was followed by monthly 
payments of 10,000 francs. The man who actually carried the money 
was M. Charles Dumas, secretary of the Department of War Propa- 
ganda to Minister Guesdes. Thus was born // Popolo d'ltalia, imme- 
diately interventionist. This is the precise history to which no one 
could dare bring any denial for fear of a documentation more 

There was a time when the history of the "miracle" was common 
knowledge, when the opposition press referred to it as merely one 
of hundreds of similar wartime episodes which fill many a dossier 
in the British and French foreign offices. Today all the documents, 
the books, pamphlets, and the newspapers dealing with this subject, 
have disappeared. 

In 1924, when they were still in circulation, the present writa: 

58 Sawdust Caesar 

asked Mussolini a question touching on this dramatic and decisive 
moment of his life. The Duce replied: 

"The turning-point in my life was the war. The war showed the 
world plainly, I think, the utter bankruptcy of internationalism. 
We had been fighting for a hollow fraud. I had fought for inter- 
nationalism all my life, preached it, gone to prison for that same 
cause, and suddenly the war came and I realized first that interna- 
tionalism was dead because it had never really lived, and that I had 
a real duty in life, and that was to my country." 

But if a man's life story, his childhood, the making of his be- 
havior pattern and the evidences of its fulfillment in youth, mean 
anything at all, they indicate that beyond patriotism and duty, there 
is a stronger force tugging at his vitals. 

Mussolini was "condemned" to march towards power. As he so 
readily admits, he needed most of all a daily newspaper. To the 
shouts of treason and betrayal he can always reply he did no more 
or less than hundreds of other highly respected gentlemen, the 
leading patriots, the numerous editors and publishers throughout the 
world who took up either the side of France and England, or that 
of Germany and Austria, because in some way or another, it paid. 

Luckily for him, he had chosen the winning side. In America, 
in a similar situation, Dr. Rumeley, the editor who chose the loser, 
paid for his error by a term in prison. 

• •*****••**•••***•••*•■**•• 


A Politician Goes to War 

compared with the purchase of nations. Usually the first is 
the necessary prelude. And so it proved in Italy. That nation offi- 
cially renounced the Triple Alliance on the 30th of April, 191 5, and 
amidst the applause of half the world joined the forces of Democ- 
racy, Humanity, Liberty and commercial penetration on the follow- 
ing 15th of May. It was not until the days of the peace-making in 
Versailles that the secret of Italy's noble act became known. 

In April, 1915, according to the treaty signed by France, Britain, 
Russia, and Italy and presented to an incredulous and angry world 
by the Russian Soviet government, which had opened the Tsarist 
archives in 191 7, Italy was bribed by the Allies with a promise of 
plunder equal to that which they themselves as victors had planned 
to share. Italy, too, was to receive lands and populations over which 
she had no moral, ethical, geographical, or ethnological claim. 

In that same April of 191 5 Benito Mussolini was arrested in Rome 
for violation of law and order in his activities in the interventionist 
movement. Thus was the spectacle of strict neutrality maintained 
publicly. Incidentally, on the 29th of the month, Mussolini fought 
a duel with the pacifist anti-interventionalist Socialist leader, Claudio 
Treves, the latter wounding the patriot, but not severely. 

When war was declared amidst public rejoicing the elderly So- 
cialist leader Bissolati joined the immediately created volutiteer corps. 
Mussolini remained in his office, writing enormous editorials urging 
those who through age or youth or other reasons might expect 
exemption, to step forward. He did not reply to the ensuing per- 
sonal taunts of his enemies. 

In September, when Mussolini was called up, there occurred an 


6o Sawdust Caesar 

event of personal and emotional significance, but not unlike the ex- 
perience of many other soldiers in many other countries. Cast-off 
wives, cast-off mistresses, forgotten children, doubtful children, 
began to appear in various parts of the country. The call to arms 
had revealed many men leading double or triple lives, under many 
names in many cities and strange ports. Mussolini the rebel had 
never believed in the sacredness of marriage. But now because he 
was famous as an editor and war-maker, and leaving for the front, 
several women came forward to ask him for a marriage ceremony, 
or to safeguard their common children, or to provide themselves 
with financial security in the form of a pension should the soldier 
fall. It was a matter of finances. 

At the ofHce of the Avanti, these women presented their cases and 
offered their documents, but the Socialist paper refused to give them 
publicity. These were personal, not political, matters in which the 
journal did not care to interest itself. The two most important cases 
brought to the attention of the Avanti editors were those of Signorina 
Rachele Guidi and Signora Irene Desler-Albini, each seeking the 
soldiers' remittance because each was the mother of one or more 
children of whom Mussolini was the common parent. 

"I have seen Irene Desler and read her letters and documents," 
Dr. Balabanoff, associate editor of the Avanti, writes me, "but neither 
Serrati nor I thought it fair at that time, despite Mussolini's betrayal 
of our paper and our cause, to take up her case. Mussolini was still 
claiming to be a Socialist and Fascism still did not exist." 

The widow Desler-Albini, with her son, Benito Mussolini, Jr., ac- 
cording to her sworn statement of birth registration, were soon 
interned in a little village near Florence, awaiting deportation to 
the south of Italy as enemy aliens. The camp was full of persons of 
foreign birth and Italian pacifists or subversives. Many of them 
were border people from the irredenta country and therefore suspect 
by both sides. Some, however, were victims of a vendetta, of a whis- 
per from a personal enemy, for it was easy in those days to utter 
the word "Austrian" and have your revenge on some one you had 
hated many peaceful years. Rivals got rid of rivals that way. It was a 
time of successful enmity. 

One day a rumor reached a group of relief workers that among 

A Politician Goes to War 6i 

tHe refugees was an important lady with a sick child. A committee 
was organized by Armando Borghi, who with some companions at 
great risk broke the regulations in the military zone and came to 
Florence. In a small hotel in the Via Nazionale the victims were 
tfound. To the great surprise of the four men, the "important lady" 
was the common-law wife of Mussolini. The child bore the unmis- 
takable traits of his father, the jaws which in unhappy times were 
tailed protruding but are now called Roman, those wide-open black 
eyes, bulging, sparkling eyes of the father, overemphasized in the 
young large head. 

With Borghi on this visit were Dl Vagno, who later became a mem- 
ber of the Chamber of Deputies and was one of the first Opposition 
poHticians murdered by the Fascist!; the lawyer Mario Trozzi and 
the journalist Armando Aspettati of Florence. Irene Desler, widow 
of Signor Albini, told the committee her story. She had lived with 
Mussolini for several years and was the mother of his child. They 
had been happy together for a little more than a year, when her 
dowry of ten thousand lire was exhausted and quarrels became fre- 
quent. The child was a burden. But foremost, she told the committee, 
was Mussolini's fear that she might reveal all the political secrets 
of the famous editor and easily ruin his reputation and his career. 
She had pleaded with Mussolini for a legal marriage, but he had 
refused. She had then visited the editors of the Avanti with her doc- 
uments, but they would not listen to her; neither would Claudio 
Treves, who said to her that he did not hate any man alive so much 
as Mussolini, but nevertheless he would not interfere in personal 

The police chief of Milan, she continued, was a close friend of 
Mussohni's. One night, shortly after Mussolini had placed her in 
a separate apartment, carabinieri came and arrested her. She and her 
child were taken to prison. She did not know who had denounced 
her as an enemy alien, so she begged the police to inform her "hus- 
band." She sent word and letters. But she never received a reply. 
Several days later a convoy of political prisoners was sent to a con- 
centration camp near Florence and told to prepare for a long journey 
to southern Italy. She was penniless and her child was stricken with 

62 Sawdust Caesar 

fever. The committee gave her money, sent a doctor, and Borghi 
never saw or heard of the unfortunates again. 

The political secret to which Signora Desler refers is most likely 
the following legal document^ signed "Irene Desler del fu Albini, 
nata a Trento e diplomata in Parigi" : 

"I declare that I have lived as the wife of Signor Benito Mussolini 
for about two years and that I have a son with him legally recognized 
by his father and inscribed in the office of the Stato Civile of Milan 
and under my signature. 

"I certify that at the time when Mussolini resigned from the news- 
paper Avanti we were in such poverty that we had planned to leave 
for America, a project which was abandoned on account of what 
followed. In this period I placed at the disposition of our menage the 
little I possessed to suffice our needs. After the foundation of the 
Popolo d'ltalia our situation did not change much and our difficulties 
continued. But suddenly after the return of Mussolini from a voyage 
made to Geneva, our economic situation changed completely. This 
happened during the month of January, 1914, or 191 5, I cannot say 
more precisely." (Note: It could not have been 1914, inasmuch as 
the war did not begin until August of that year.) "Mussolini then 
told me he possessed considerable money and I remember that I saw 
much pass through his hands. 

"After his return from Geneva, Mussolini spoke to me of an offer 
of a million which a French person had made to him, and gave me 
the name, which I have forgotten, on condition that his newspaper take 
up a strong campaign for the intervention of Italy into the war and 
against the enemies of this intervention. On his return I asked him 
if the money he showed me came from the person of whom he had 
spoken. He replied that it came from France. He wanted to make me 
a present of a diamond, which I refused. 

"I remember that Mussolini was much worried over the commen- 
taries which his voyage to Geneva had occasioned in the Socialist cir- 
cles of Milan. He said to me, 'I am lost if they find out anything about 
it.' For that reason Mussolini decided never to go to a foreign country 

^ Registered in the archives of the city o£ Turin by the notary Camillo Tappati; num- 
bered 51413; visible for several years. Copied by Armando Borghi. Document now 
destroyed by Fascist officials. 

A Politician Goes to War 63 

again, because his trips were too much noticed. He sent in his place 
Qerici and Morgagni. Clerici replaced him for the trips to foreign 
countries and Morgagni for exchanging money and other operations. 
I remember that Clerici and Morgagni, who were almost poor before 
knowing Mussolini, at the end of these trips abroad began to live in 
luxury. And Clerici, so Mussolini confided in me, had bought a villa 
in Varese, 

"I repeat that several times Mussolini spoke to me of the French 
origin of the money. I am ready to repeat the declarations at any 
time and before everyone, also under the legal oath." 

The fate of this mysterious woman is known to very few. At 
various times before 1925 American and British journalists were able 
to trace her movements. John Bond learned that in February, 1925, 
Signora Desler, accompanied by her son, appeared at the offices of 
the archi episcopal palace at Trento. Mr. Bond (who gives her name 
as Delsier) describes her as comely and in her thirties, and the child 
unmistakably a Mussolini : . . . "a pair of blazing black eyes, large 
and round," which "made the pallid features all the more conspicu- 
ous." To the princely clerk she made the claim that she had been 
married to Mussolini in the diocese of Trento and that she wanted 
a copy of her marriage certificate. She knew the name of the priest, 
which she gave, and the year, 191 o, the season, which was early spring, 
but not the day or month. 

This claim was investigated by the Archbishop Celestino Endrici. 
He ascertained easily that Mussolini had spent almost all of 1909 in 
Trento, that he had been a frequent speaker at Socialist meetings, 
at one of which Irene Desler claimed she had met him, and that he 
had disappeared as suddenly as he arrived. Signora Desler had stated 
that they had been married just before her son, whom she had bap- 
tized as Benito Jr., was born and she had letters regarding the payment 
of money to support herself and the child. 

The archbishop had the statement written out by his chancellor and 
the woman signed it, then departed after being cautioned to remain 
silent. Mother and son knelt and kissed the archbishop's ring. 

Within a week, according to Mr. Bond, Signora Desler was visited 
by the prefect of police, who advised her to move to a small house on 
the outskirts of the city. It was on the Verona road. There was no 


64 Sawdust Caesar 

secret about that. Mr. Bond is also authority for the statement that the 
marriage records were found and that they bore the signature of 
the present Duce, and that the child, born four months after the mar- 
riage, is registered on the baptismal record of 191 1, a year after his 

The common knowledge of Signora Desler's whereabouts, how- 
ever, led to considerable embarrassment for the authorities. Although 
a relay of carabinieri guarded the house night and day, refusing to 
permit the woman to do even her marketing unaccompanied, she was 
able to communicate her complaint to all she met. Then, in midsum- 
mer, 1927, the police chief Tamburini and several aides arrived with 
the request that this Mussolini family accompany them to another 
town. Signora Desler refused. Neighbors, alarmed by her calls for 
aid, were driven off by the guards. They say they saw the woman 
beaten. At all events, she was forcibly ejected from the house and 
taken to Pergine, where, for all the public knows, she is still an inmate 
of the insane asylum. Benito Mussolini, Jr., when last heard of, which 
was in the same year, 1927, was living in a parochial school at 

The Desler episode,^ however, did not disturb the leading patriot 
of 1915 very much. He left for the front to the accompaniment of 
journalistic fireworks. He was himself made into a patriotic symbol 
for a nation which needed enthusiasm badly. 

Early in December we find him in a hospital suffering from gastro- 
enteritis. In 1916 there is a period of intensive training, another trip 
to the hospital, recovery, a duel with General Count Spingardi, a series 
of articles in his newspaper telling about life near the front, a brief 
period in the trenches. 

'There is a reference to "my unfortunate family" in one of Mussolini's letters of the 
Trento period which has been interpreted to mean Signora Desler and his son. Sarfatti, 
without mentioning names, tells of a jealous Austrian woman apparently living with 
Mussolini who destroyed his notes for the history of philosophy believing they were 
letters to another sweetheart. Domenico Gasparini, labor leader of Trento, writes in the 
Paris Avatiti, June 7, 1931, that it was he who wrote to Scrrati to ask Mussolini to 
accept the secretaryship of the Trento Chamber of Labor; he describes a scene at a 
banquet on June 19, 1926, when Signora Desler, accompanied by Benito Jr., broke into 
the banquet room where Fedele, a cabinet minister, was entertaining. The scandal of 
her arrest and confinement in an insane asylum, concludes Gasparini, was so great that 
Mussolini never visited Trento. 

A Politician Goes to War 6^ 

It was a quiet sector where the enemies had by a routine of action 
estabHshed a code of ethics. Every soldier who has ever kept his 
head down in the trenches knew and respected it. It was simply a live- 
and-let-live system by which firing was done at certain known inter- 
vals and a large part of the training-time was devoted to strictly 
human civilized activities. It made life possible — for a little longer for 
some men, the allotted peaceful span for others. 

The leading editorial warrior came to the trenches full of the fury 
he had preached in print. He demanded, first of all, why the sector 
was so quiet, why the Italian army didn't advance, why the war was 
not being fought as it should be. The replies did not satisfy him. 
One night of his first week at the front he was looking over the 
trenches, himself an easy mark for any Austrian sniper, when he 
beheld a soldier in the enemy line lighting a match. In a flash Corporal 
Mussolini had removed the pin from a hand grenade and thrown 
it in the direction of the smoker opposite him. The crack-boom and a 
small flame broke the quiet monotony of the sector. 

"Why did you do that, my son," the captain, who was making his 
rounds, asked of his corporal. "They were sitting peacefully and not 
doing us any harm. They were smoking their pipes in silence and 
perhaps talking of their brides. Have you no heart? Why was it nec- 
essary to send them to death?" 

"If that is so, my captain," replied Mussolini, in the account which 
his worshiping admirers tell to emphasize his patriotism, "then per- 
haps we had all better go for a little promenade on the Milanese Corso, 
a more agreeable occupation, certainly." 

With great satisfaction the corporal learned the next day that his 
lucky grenade had killed two men and wounded five. But the estab- 
lished code also had been broken, and in retaliation the Austrian 
snipers picked off many Italians during food-delivery time and other 
previously peaceful hours, and the act of heroism resulted in useless 
deaths on both sides. 

Fortunately for our hero, he had little time in the front line, 
although many months at the front. He frequently had his photograph 
taken sitting or standing on top of a parapet which he sent back for 
publication in the illustrated weeklies. They were marked by him 

66 Sawdust Caesar 

"front-line trenches." No British, French, or American soldier in the 
Great War was able to equal this photographic feat. 

In December, 1916, MussoHni recorded in his diary that a cat was 
scratching about in the Italian wire and that, taking advantage of the 
first rainless evening, "I wandered about the battlefield a little." Again, 
no Allied or American soldier can boast of such a deed. A few days 
later he is visited by Fasciolo of the staff of his Popolo, now a captain 
of artillery, and de Ambris, a naval officer, and he reports seeing them 
walking on the road. It must have been indeed a strange front when 
men photographed each other on parapets, strolled for their health 
in No Man's Land, and could see friends coming and going on a 
public road. 

New Year's day our hero was marching; from the loth to the 20th 
of January, 1917, he "rested in the hutments of Santo Stefano." In 
February he notes the formation of a second section of the Eettica 
trench mortars of which he has been placed in command, then "prac- 
tice in the Polygon of Ronchi." 

On the afternoon of February 23rd "we were engaged in trial- 
firing with a trench mortar on Hill 144. . . . The firing went off with- 
out the least incident until the last round but one. But this round — 
and we had fired two casefuls — exploded in the barrel. I was hit by 
a shower of splinters and hurled several yards away. I cannot say 
any more. . . ." 

Thus ended the war career of the hero. 

But not the history of myth and oratory. 

When the senior corporal was taken to the hospital it was found 
that the mortar splinters were imbedded in what the Germans unro- 
mantically call the Sitsfieish. From the bed of pain, on which Mus- 
solini lay on his stomach, rose the deep cry : 

"I shall not die, because I will not to die. 

"I shall not die even if all the doctors explode with fury. 

"No doubt medical science says that I cannot remain alive, but I 
snap my fingers at medical science." 

Thus, and thus only, can a man of destiny speak. 

Many years later journalists seeking biographical details of the 
career of the Duce obtained from the press department of the Italian 
Foreign Office, notably from Baron Valentino and Barone Russo, 

A Politician Goes to War 67 

stories which made of Mussolini the bravest soldier in all the Allied 
and enemy armies. He had been wounded in battle, and no less than 
thirty times. Thirty wound stripes ! This was indeed a record few 
if any soldiers could surpass. Nungesser, the aviator, shot down time 
after time, alone could equal it. 

But in the war histories published before the advent of censorship 
there are other pictures of the event. For instance, there is the story 
written by de Ambris, who later became premier of Fiume, which is 
simply this ; "Mussolini preferred to wait until his class was called. 
Once at the front, he passed almost all his time in the special school, 
the school for officers, and in the hospital. In the trenches he stayed 
a total of thirty-eight days, and never took part in action. The wounds 
on which he prides himself, thanks to which there was an end to the 
brilliant career as warrior, were received during grenade practice, 
in a training-school, miles to the rear. It was an accident, nothing 
heroic. The gravity of the wounds was due to the fact that a disease 
had poisoned his blood. When healed, this thundering warrior stayed 
in Milan until all danger of a return to the front had passed. This 
is the entire glorious history of the participation in the war of Mus- 
solini who had preached intervention with fervor inspired by the 
money of the French government." 

It is really amazing how facts known to so many men can be blurred, 
romanticized, mystified, turned into propaganda in this enlightened 
age of a free press and free opinion. This epiphenoraenal Mussolini 
myth has grown so quickly. We find the London Morning Post say- 
ing: "Signor Mussolini fell on the Italian front with as many wounds 
as Caesar"; the English Review: "He received forty-two wounds"; 
G. M. Godden's biography: "Mussolini, on leaving his hospital bed 
at Ronchi after he had been wounded, literally with a hundred 
wounds"; Jeanne Bordeux: "On the hills of Monte Nero they at last 
took their stand. In the hell-fire of the fighting Mussolini was always 
in the first line, ready and willing to face any and all danger. On Feb- 
ruary 23, 1917, about two o'clock, he was wounded. There were forty 
splinters in his body"; Vladimir Poliakoff in the Fortnightly Review: 
"After months of hard campaigning he was dangerously wounded, 
and carries unto this day in his body splinters of an Austrian shell" ; 
Sir Percival Phillips, K.B.E., of the London DaUy Mail: "Mussolinj 

68 Sawdust Caesar 

fought with conspicuous bravery, was hit by shrapnel which made, 

literally, a hundred wounds." 

The sweetest of all worshipers, Mme. Sarfatti, declares that "he 
took part in a terrific bombardment, overwhelming the enemy with 
a rain of bombs. The trench-mortars became almost red-hot. [The 
mortar burst.] Those around were killed or maimed. Mussolini, ter- 
ribly lacerated, was hurled some distance away and stunned. I remem- 
ber the terrible shock when the news that he was wounded reached 
Milan. What fearful details! Forty-two wounds. He seemed like San 
Sebastian, his flesh pierced as with arrows, scarred with wounds and 
bathed in blood." 

And finally there is the soldier's own story : 

"Almost at once I was, to my great relief, dispatched to the thick 
of the fighting on the high Alps. For a few months I tmderwent the 
hardest trials of my life in mountain trenches. I amused myself by 
joining the most dangerous reconnoitering expeditions. It was my 
Will and my wish. After one week of leave I went back to the trenches, 
where I remained for months. We lived only a few dozen yards from 
the enemy, in a perpetual and, it sometimes seemed, an eternal atmos- 
phere of shell-fire and mortal danger that would be our life forever. 
I was compelled from time to time to give out in the newspapers news 
concerning myself. This was in order to smash the suspicions of 
those persons who thought me hidden in some office, distributing mail 
and entertaining in my mind doubts of the possibility of our winning 
the war. I was then corporal of the Bersaglieri and had been in the 
front line trenches from the beginning of the war up to February, 
1917, always under arms, always facing the enemy without my faith 
being shaken or my convictions wavering an inch. From time to 
time I sent articles to the Popolo d'ltalia exhorting endless re- 
sistance. On the morning of February 22, 1917, during a bombard- 
ment of the enemy trenches in Sector 144 — the sector of the hard- 
pressed Carso under the heaviest shell-fire — ^there happened one of 
those incidents which was a daily occurrence in trench life. One of 
our own grenades burst in our trench among about twenty of us 
soldiers. We were covered with dirt and smoke and torn by metal. 
Four died. Various others were fatally wounded. My wounds were 
serious. The patience and ability of the physicians succeeded in tak- 

A Politician Goes to War G^ 

ing out of my body forty-four pieces of grenade. Flesh was torn, 
bones broken. I faced atrocious pain ; my suffering was indescribable. 
I underwent practically all my operations without the aid of an 
anassthetic. I had twenty-seven operations in one month ; all except 
two were without anEesthetlcs." 

There is, it is evident, less myth in Mussolini's own story than 
in those of his admirers. And no less honor for a soldier in being 
wounded by one of his own shells. How many of our own dead were 
victims of our own guns no one can tell, and an accident at the front 
is no less painful than a sniper's well-directed bullet. The number of 
wounds was forty-four, not thirty, and not an even hundred, and a 
soldier hit by one shell or bullet or burst of gas is entitled to one, not 
forty-four wound stripes. There is no evidence, however, that the 
corporal was ever in a real battle, but that too is of no serious im- 
portance; he was a soldier and he was wounded at the front. 

Mussolini, however, was a politician gone to war. When he left 
Milan he was already well known as a rabid patriot and his officers 
were told to keep him out of real danger, since he was more valuable 
as a journalist writing propaganda good for civilian morale, than 
as a common soldier. In a much smaller degree Mussolini was in the 
position of ex-President Theodore Roosevelt had President Wilson 
permitted him to go to France. The American military establishment, 
it was revealed after the war, had asked Wilson to refuse the request 
because it feared Roosevelt would play the politician in the trenches. 
It thought he would be running for President while fighting the 
Germans, and for like reason General Leonard Wood, another stren- 
uous militarist with political ambitions, was also kept at home. 

When Mussolini was wounded, considerable propaganda was made 
of this unforeseen accident. It is true that his own newspaper, the 
Popolo, on the 24th of February was able to print the comforting 
announcement that the wounds were not serious, but the process of 
creating a hero was well begun. When Mussolini wrote from his 
hospital that "I am proud in the fulfillment of duty, perilous duty, to 
have contributed to the opening of the road to Trieste with my own 
blood," the noble if not quite truthful but nevertheless magical words 
caused a considerable burst of patriotic hysteria to be felt in news- 
paper offices, and the time of the singing of hymns had come. 

70 Sawdust Caesar 

The importance of hero-making: in war time cannot be over-esti- 
mated. From a purely military viewpoint it must be said that Mus- 
solini's wounds, accidental as they were, had a moral value surpassing 
perhaps the capture of a large section of enemy trenches or several 
hundred prisoners. In a manner it was like the battle of Cantigny 
which the American First Division fought, a minor episode in mili- 
tary history, but a tremendously invigorating force throughout France 
because it was the first appearance of Yankee soldiers in a successful 

While Mussolini lay in hospital the King of Italy came to visit 
the little corporal. 

He progressed to crutches, to a cane. He then "asked exemption 
from further military service as being indispensable in the manage- 
ment of the Popolo." 

Returning to Milan, he records, "I took my place as a fighter in 
my newspaper office." 

After Caporetto, that defeat of defeats of the Allies, Mussolini, 
who had played a small part in bringing Italy into the war, exerted 
himself to maintain her there. And so long as the AlHes and the 
Associated Power, which is the United States of America, can believe 
that the World War was justified slaughter, that it helped civilization, 
that it was blessed by Almighty God, as thousands of preachers once 
declared, so long must they confess their gratitude to Benito Mussolini 
for his work in helping the victory. 

General Cadoma did not think the corporal rated elevation to a 
sub -lieutenancy. As for himself, he records in his autobiography, "I 
was a good soldier." 



Fiume or Deathl 

II Generate Cadorna 
Scrive alia Regina: 

Se vuol veder Trieste, 
Compra la cartoUna! 

to the queen : If you want to see Trieste, buy a picture postcard," 
but the soldiers sang it and a volunteer ambulance driver named 
Ernest Hemingway composed another stanza about the regiment 
being decimated, the colonel being decorated, hurrah for the can- 
nonade. The soldiers sang and shouted, "We want peace," and, "Long 
live the Pope," who on the ist of August, 1917, had sent a peace 
plan to all the nations. 

October 17, 1917: Caporetto. The retreat. The Germans announced 
the collapse of Italy. 

Gabriele d'Annunzio suggested to Editor Mussolini that he form 
an organization of all patriots whose work would be to restore 
civilian and military morale. Mussolini and many other patriots did 
so. It was called the Fascio di Resistenza. 

From that day on, through the Vittorio Veneto of the following 
year when Italy triumphed, and in time of armistice and peace con- 
ferences, the two men were joined in many activities. One was the 
leading politician, the other the leading poet. They came back two 
of a triumvirate of acclaimed heroes. Benito Mussolini, Gabriele 
d'Annunzio and Raffaele Rossetti shared many honors. The poli- 
tician had played his part well, even if he was not long at the front ; 
the poet had flown in the back seat of an airplane which bombarded 
Vienna with leaflets of warning, and the third was an engineer who 


72 Sawdust Caesar 

had, single-handed, ridden a torpedo into an Austrian harbor and 
destroyed the flagship of the navy. Rossetti was Italy's Sergeant 
York. Of the three, one rules, another does strange mystic rites on a 
battleship fastened down in his front yard, wearing the collar of 
the Annunziata and answering to the title of Prince, while the third 
is a workingman in Paris, a refugee, a rebel. 

All three were participants in the Fiume adventure. D'Annunzio 
led it; Mussolini gathered the funds, and Rossetti one day, overcome 
by Mussolini's editorials, went into the office of the Popolo and 
presented to the sacred cause a small fortune which the nation had 
given him for his exploits. In exile he has time to think and regret. 

D'Annunzio marched on the 12th of September, 1919, a time of 
chaos and peace conferences. "We had won the war," wrote Musso- 
lini, "but were utterly defeated in the diplomatic battle. We were 
losing — except Zara — the whole of Dalmatia, our land by tradition 
and history, by manners and costumes [sic], by language spoken and 
by the ardent and constant aspirations of the Dalmatians towards the 
mother country. Fiume, most Italian of cities, was contested." 

Mussolini had been appointed "consul-general" by d'Annunzio, 
who gathered about him the Arditi, the ardent young veterans, many 
officers, some peasants, many socialists, some roustabout boys and 
adventurers. The march on Fiume was the forerunner of the march 
on Rome. Both were the poet's ideas. He marched, and he was met by 
General Pittaluga, commander of the port, peacemaker for the Allies. 

"Thus you ruin Italy," he declared. 

"It is you who ruin Italy by opposing Flume's destiny," replied 

"I must obey military orders," countered the general. 

"What? You would fire upon your brothers?" cried the poet. 
"Then fire first upon me." 

With a noble gesture d'Annunzio tore open his military tunic, 
exposing his undershirt. 

Pittaluga was overcome. 

"With you I cry, 'Viva Fiume,' " he cried. 

"Ewiva Pittaluga," cried d'Annunzio. 

So they embraced and, crying together, led the march into Fiume. 
The forty trucks started their motors. The general advanced very 

Fiume or Death! 73 

militarily. D'Annunzio did his best in a bow-legged way. The next 
morning he put on a field-marshal's uniform. 

Comic opera as this may seem today, the attack and its success 
led directly to the making of the Fascist movement and the advent 
of Mussolini in Rome. The poet had suppHed the black shirts, the 
black fezzes, the slogans, the spirit of armed adventure, the ideal of 
force triumphant and the salutes, yells, and claptrap of Rome of the 
time of the Caesars. A shrewder man knew how to employ them on 
a national scale. 

Italy, the people of Italy, cheered the coup d'etat as an act of 
justice. Mussolini editorially proclaimed that "the government of 
Italy is not in Rome, but in Fiume. It is that government which we 
must obey," a declaration of pure patriotic treason which Premier 
Nitti promptly denounced. He also saw with alarm that sedition for 
the first time had entered the Italian army. 

Every evening the victorious poet held an oration and listened 
to the cheers of his men ; several times a week he led parades, and 
again listened to shouts, watched the waving of stilettos, the shaking 
of muskets, and found it all magnificent. He gave Fiume a charter 
full of romantic poetry . . . "to instil into the daily life a sense of 
that virtuous joy wliich ought to revive the spirits of a people lib- 
erated at last from the yoke of restraint and falsehood." He also 
created ten classes of men, in ten corporations, the ninth for seafaring 
men, the tenth for the intelligentsia. "Its coming is expected like that 
of the Tenth Muse. It is reserved to the mysterious forces of the 
people in toil and attainment. It is almost a votive figure ... to 
the complete liberation of the spirit over pain and agony, over blood 
and sweat." The corporations, circumcised of poetry, remain in the 
present Fascist state. 

To the people of Fiume the poet said: *T shall not leave here 
alive nor shall I leave here when I am dead, for I shall be buried 
here, to become one with the sacred soil." 

Always d'Annunzio dramatized himself. One day he strutted about 
like Napoleon, a bow-legged Napoleon it is true; another day he 
was Lenin ; and again he would become Captain Kidd and organize 
expeditions to raid the main, board ships, steal cargoes of food. 
Twice his men raided and annexed islands. Frequently they brought 

74 Sawdust Caesar 

prize ships and much booty into port. Sometimes d'Annunzio would 
play the part of field-marshal in resplendent uniform. Frequently he 
assumed his favorite role, which was that of Prince of the Renaissance. 

Every day he held a ceremony of the Arditi. He concluded by 
asking: "To whom does Italy belong?" 

"A noi (To us) !" shouted the trained Arditi. 

"Who are our enemies ?" 

"They disgust us," replied the Black Shirts, and with a superior 
smile the commandante, field-marshal, Napoleon, and Prince would 
dismiss his cohorts. 

Frequently he called for the Socialists and Communists to come 
to the governor's palace to discuss revolution. In a strange muddled 
way be believed himself a rebel, therefore akin to the Bolshevik!, 
who in those days were enjoying the hatred of the universe. In that, 
too, he felt himself a kindred victim and flooded his emotions with 
self-pity while he made a grandiose gesture of dictatorship. I can 
still hear him talking in dactylic hexameters in answer to my simple 
joumaHstic questions. 

"Our cause is the greatest and the most beautiful that today is 
opposed to the dementia and to the vileness of the world," he said. 
"It extends from Ireland to Egypt, from Russia to America, from 
Rumania to India; it gathers together the white races and colored 
races, reconciles the Gospel and the Koran, Christianity and Islam, 
rivets in one sole will as many peoples as possess in their bones and 
in their arteries salt and iron sufficient to feed action. We shall be 
victorious. All the rebels of all races of mankind will gather under 
our banners. And the weaponless shall be armed. And violence shall 
oppose violence. There shall be a new crusade of all the poor and 
impoverished nations, of all poor men and all free men against the 
nations, against the caste of usurers which yesterday made the profits 
of the war and today profit by the peace ; and we shall reestabhsh 
the true justice which a cold and foolish man with a hammer bor- 
rowed from a former German chancellor, crucified with fourteen 

He demanded an insurrection of the spirit, "against the devourers 
of raw flesh, and against the exploiters of weaponless peoples," and 
he called upon all the victims of their or foreign governments to 

Fiume or Death! 75 

come to him in Fiume and conspire with him for revolt and rebellion 
and violence and insurrection everywhere and at once. As for himself, 
he intended to march on Rome. He had already arranged for that 
with his close associate, Benito Mussolini, the patriotic journalist 
■who in Milan was acting as his "envoy to Italy," and collecting three 
million lire from sympathizers. He would await the troops which 
Mussolini was arming for him, join them to the Arditi, land at 
Rimini or Ravenna, receive the acclaim of liberated Italy, and with 
thousands upon thousands joining him at every footstep, march vic- 
toriously into the streets of Rome, dissolve parliament and declare 
the dictatorship of the patriots. 

Every evening he made an oration. He spoke with poetry and 
fire and beauty against the wrongs of Versailles ; with irony and fire 
he lashed Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson and all the betrayers 
of the cause of Fiume, the Fiume of Italy and d'Annunzio. He spoke 
as if he were not merely the governor of a seized seaport, but Messiah 
of all the downtrodden of the earth, a Messiah in a military uniform, 
but holding aloft a flag which all the unhappy and idealistic could 
see from their unfortunate parts of the world. 

At the end of every evening's oration the same ceremony: 

"For Gabriele d'Annunzio !" 

"Ayah! ayah! ayah! Alala!" 

"For the people of Fiume!" 

"Ayah! ayah! ayah! Alala!" 

"What is our slogan?" 

"Me ne frego! [We don't give a damn!]" 

The Arditi in unison lifted their stilettos and the Prince smiled. 

Twice or three times a week, depending upon the state of morale 
of his own troops, who were not getting enough to eat, and the 
Yugoslav population, who were enemies, there would be a full-dress 
parade of the Fiumian Legion which the commandante would lead 
up to the main square, where he would mount a tribune and review. 
There would be fanfares and loud and continued "Ayahs" and 
"Alalas." Salutes and poses. Frequently there were ceremonials and 
always there were new ribbons, new medals for bravery, new vic- 
tories to be celebrated. It was, in short, a carnival which was to end 
in bloodshed. 

76 Sawdust Caesar 

Among the important factors contributing- to tlie final slaughter 
were the arrangements which the government was able to make with 
Mussolini, which resulted in his withdrawal of support, moral, finan- 
cial, military, and commissary. Starvation and lack of new troops 
defeated d'Annunzio. 

Almost from the first days trouble arose. The thousands of lire 
for Fiume came from all over Italy, but the big sums outside Ros- 
setti's contribution, were sent by Italian- Americans ; it is estimated 
that $50,000 came from the United States in the first three months 
following Mussolini's appeal for funds "to feed the starving babies 
of Fiume" and to aid the poet in other ways. In November, 1919, 
after Mussolini had run for parliament and received almost no votes, 
he was publicly accused and tried by the journalists' association for 
using the starving babies of Fiume fund to run his own election 

This charge Mussolini denied, but admitted "diverting" some of 
d'Annunzio's money.^ He admitted that two of his assistant editors 
resigned after accusing him of helping himself to Fiume money for 
political purposes, he admits he appeared for "trial," and adds that 
"my justification was ample and precise. The board was forced by 
the acts to do me justice. As for the disposition of the funds for 
the Fiume campaign and other unworthy calumnies, I published in 
my newspaper documents and testimony which could never be re- 
futed. The conclusion arrived at then has been and always will be 
the same until I cease to exist: on the score of integrity there is 
no assault to be made upon me. My political work may be valued 
more or less, this way or that, and people may shout me up or howl 
me down, but in the moral field it is another matter. Men must live 
in harmony with the faith by which they are pushed on ; they must 
be inspired by the most absolute disinterestedness. I am proud to 
know myself as one not to be suspected — even by myself — and feel- 
ing that my inmost moral fiber is invincible." 

Against these lovely and noble words we have the testimony of 

the prime minister of Fiume, Alceste De Ambris, the man who was 

the practical strategist of the adventure, who was one of the original 

legionaries of d'Annunzio, who marched and fought, held the highest 

^Popolo ^Italia, February 20, 1920. 


Fiume or Death! 77 

political office, and who later at the risk of his life came to Milan 
as the poet's personal representative to negotiate Mussolini's aid. 

"I was at that time," states De Ambris, "chief of the cabinet of 
the provisional government of Fiume and I recall with what repug- 
nance d'Annunzio received Mussolini's request for aid. 

"D'Annunzio had large ideas, but at that moment the legionaries 
who occupied Fiume suffered literally from hunger and d'Annunzio 
found it strange that Mussolini was taking the bread from the 
mouths of the soldiers and inhabitants of Fiume for the purpose of 
electoral ambitions, and for personal expenses. 

"Nevertheless, d'Annunzio did send a letter which would serve 
Mussolini in making a public denial of the grave charges made 
against him by the Avanti. Later, d'Annunzio was to learn with 
what gratitude Mussolini would repay." 

The two editors of the Popolo who resigned and brought charges 
against their duce were Capodivacca and Rossato ; the trial was begun 
on February 3, 1920; Mussolini wrote: 

"The Fascist election bloc fought with its own money, exclu- 
sively its own and not that of Fiume. Of the sums received, several 
thousands of lire were used to pay the salaries of legionaries com- 
ing to Milan from Fiume and other Italian towns and which formed 
the armed bands, at my orders." 

The accusation declared that these "armed bands" were in fact 
the beginnings of the Fascisti, or Mussolini's private militia, which 
were armed and outfitted by him, to be used by him to help in the 
election, and never to be sent as reinforcements to Fiume. Mus- 
solini replied: 

"We must distinguish two periods, the period of 15 April to 
15 May, and that which is truly the period of the 'bands' of the 
Popolo d'ltalia. It concerns the group of twenty to twenty-five Arditi 
who stood guard of my papers. Now we come to the other 'bands.* 
The fact is, as I have told the judge, during the most important week 
of the election campaign, several dozens of Arditi, officers and sailors, 
came from Fiume. There were in all several hundred men divided 
into squadrons commanded by officers and naturally all obedient to 
me. It is perfectly true that they were paid; they were given 20 
to 25 lire a day." 

^ Sawdust Caesar 

It was this confession, incidentally, which caused Premier Nitti 
to act, because obviously the arming of several hundred men to use 
in an election was the formation of a small professional army by 
a candidate for parliament, was a breach of the constitution; it was 
no concern of the government's whether the men were paid out of 
the Fiume fund or not. It was at this moment that Mussolini was 
taken to the prison of San Fedele for a short sojourn when Nitti 
feared a coup d'etat. 

When Giolitti came into power he devoted himself to two prob- 
lems, the industrial revolution in the north, and the Fiume question. 
At Rapallo, September 20, 1920, he signed a treaty renouncing all 
Dalmatia except Zara, and returned to Yugoslavia a part of the 
port of Fiume. Premier Giolitti and Count Sforza, Minister of For- 
eign Affairs, heard from Mussolini that he would accept this arrange- 
ment although d'Annunzio refused. Mussolini again had turned 
his coat. 

Moreover, d'Annunzio informed Mussolini he knew of a letter 
containing a secret codicil giving the Yugoslavs portuary rights in 
Fiume, but the agent sent with this news to Milan came back to say 
that Mussolini, who was now writing editorials praising the peace- 
ful conclusion of the affair, had refused to change his attitude. 

De Ambris then invited Mussolini to visit Fiume at the end of 
October, where a definitive meeting with d'Annunzio was arranged, 
but at the last hour Mussolini refused, going to Rome instead on 
political errands of his own. D'Annunzio at last began to suspect 
treason. Early in December it was apparent that the loyal royal Italian 
troops were concentrating for a march on Fiume. It was then, ac- 
cording to De Ambris, that d'Annunzio sent his ultimatum to 
Mussolini, asking for "an act of solidarity," and for money and 
more troops which Mussolini had promised for just this emergency. 
Mussolini replied : 

"The commandante wants me to start a revolution. But can he 
be sure that the workmen will work again, twelve hours a day ?" 

D'Annunzio's representative did not understand. 

It is true that the question of a revolution in Italy had been dis- 
cussed by the two leaders of the Fiume adventure. Much later, in 

Fiume or Deatkt yg 

self-defense, accused of betraying d'AnnunzIo, Mussolini in a pub- 
lic speech declared: 

"Let no one reproach me because I have not made that little, easy, 
cheerful, pleasant thing called a revolution. The Fascisti have never 
promised to make a revolution in Italy in the event of Fiume being 
attacked. I personally have never written to d'Annunzio to make 
him believe that a revolution in Italy depended on my inclinations. I 
do not bluif or talk hot air. 

"Revolution is not a surprise packet which can be opened by all. 
I do not carry it in my pocket. Revolution will be accomplished with 
the army, not against the army; with arms, not without them; with 
trained forces, not with undisciplined mobs called together in the 
streets. It will succeed when it is surrounded by a halo of sympathy 
or by the majority, and if it has not all that, it will fail." 

A fine prediction, the confession of a plan, as we shall see after- 
wards. At present the Machiavellian Mussolini, the practical gen- 
tleman who had collected the funds and had armed his own bands 
in Milan, was making cryptic remarks to d'Annunzio, who, however, 
replied he was not asking that the revolution begin at once, but 
that troops and money for food be sent as promised. To this Mus- 
solini did not reply. 

Left alone in Fiume, the poet heard the government troops were 
on the march. General di Caviglia surrounded Fiume and sent an ulti- 
matum to d'Annunzio. This fact was communicated to Mussolini, 
who, however, just before the uhimatum expired and the bombard- 
ment began, was able to write: 

"In the hour in which we find ourselves we cannot know what 
reply Gabriele d'Annunzio has given to the ultimatum sent by Gen- 
eral di Caviglia which expired yesterday at l8 o'clock. On the 
other hand, a declaration made by the Honorable Giolitti to the Hon- 
orable De Nava, president of the parliamentary commission on for- 
eign affairs, signifies that the affair will not have a tragic end. The 
Honorable Giolitti has declared that the Fiume situation is such as 
to give no one any worry. 

"This optimism, veritably olympic, contrasts with the tone of the 
note sent by di Caviglia and with the ultimatum which has already 
expired at this hour." 

8o Sawdust Caesar 

No neutral could have written a more suitable editorial. This 
was from the pen of the man who was the principal backer of 
the movement. 

On the night of December 24th the bombardment began. From 
Christmas Eve through four nights and four days there was small 
but effective shooting from land and sea and blood was spilled in 
the houses and streets of Fiume, while in the Popolo not even a cry 
of indignation was raised by Mussolini. 

When d'Annunzio gave up his command to a committee of citizens 
and left Fiume, only then did the Fascist chief utter a valedictory, 
which he proudly recounts today: 

"Beneath all the verbosity and the shuttle of mere words, the 
drama is perfect; horrible if you choose, but perfect. On one side 
is the cold Reason of the State determined to the very bottom ; on 
the other the warm Reason of the Ideal ready to make desperate, 
supreme sacrifices. Invited to make our choice, we, the uneasy and 
precocious minority, choose calmly the Reason of the Ideal." 

"The Reason of the Ideal," according to De Ambris and to thou- 
sands of other politicians and leaders, was soon apparent: the govern- 
ment and Mussolini had come to an agreement by which Mussolini, 
in return for withdrawing his support from Fiume, would be al- 
lowed free hand with the arming and organizing of the entire Fascist 

"We know now," states the former premier of Fiume, "that the 
new phase of the political fortune of Mussolini, and especially of 
Fascism, dates from the treason to the cause of Fiume, after his 
negotiations with Giolitti. From that moment dates a different atti- 
tude of the government vis-a-vis with Fascism and the rapid trans- 
formation of it into a reactionary movement. From the end of 1920 
the Fascist! were in effect armed by Giolitti and largely paid by him. 
"Giolitti had been called into power to solve two problems, Fiume 
and Bolshevism. To solve the former he obtained Mussolini's pas- 
sive consent to the fratricidal aggression of Christmas 1920; to solve 
the latter Giolitti obtained Mussolini's active consent and engaged 
himself to furnish arms and other material means for the guerilla 
warfare against Socialism. 

"Giolitti believed himself powerful enough to suppress the Fascisti 

Fiume or Death! 8i 

after he had used them as an anti- Socialist reactionary force, with- 
out compromising the hberal state directly in the civil strife. But 
the old fox fooled himself and lived to regret it bitterly. 

"Mussolini turned his treason into profit. I do not know what 
thirty pieces of silver the Fascist Judas got from Giolitti (as he had 
once before gotten from France by becoming an interventionist), but 
it is certain that between Giolitti and Mussolini, after the Treaty 
of Rapallo, there was a pact whereby Mussolini, abandoning Fiume 
to Giolitti, received in compensation the government's aid for the 
Fascist enterprise. And the treason was doubly completed by Mus- 
solini, who, on coming into power, annexed Fiume, instead of letting 
it remain free as specified in the Treaty of Rapallo. Moreover, the 
Treaty of Nettuno which Mussolini later signed with the Yugoslavs, 
surrendered more than specified in the secret letter of Count Sforza. 
When Mussolini was confronted with this fact in the Chamber of 
Deputies, he repHed by calling Sforza a 'traitor' and a 'liar.' 

"But Count Sforza did not He to anyone and betrayed no one; 
he merely executed his program which was inspired by the idea of 
a peaceful understanding with Yugoslavia, even at the cost of grave 

"If there is a traitor and a liar in this affair, it is uniquely Mus- 
solini. That is the truth which I, a legionary of Fiume, can repeat 
even if the other legionaries, now in the service of the traitor, have 

(In January 1924, Italy and Yugoslavia in the hall of victory of 
the Chigi Palace, signed their peace pact. It was announced as a 
great Fascist victory. The terms are almost identical with those pro- 
posed years before by Sforza; the organization of the port, the divi- 
sion of the harbor and docks, the free-port part as designated in 
1921, were approved by Mussolini and remain so to this day. But 
in 1921 he had said to Sforza: 

"You are placing a knife at the throat of Fiume.") 

Both d'Annunzio and Mussolini had floated the banner "Fiume 
Morte" over their ambition and their followers for more than a 
year. D'Annunzio had said: "Until that day when there are only 
three men left standing up there will be one less shame in this world," 
but he had marched out peacefully at the head of thousands. 

82 Sawdust Caesar 

To the new commander, the podesta of Fiume, he said : "I con- 
fide to you my dead, my sorrow, and my victory. Italy is not worth 
dying for." 

There was only one victor at Fiume. It was the man who built 
Fascism upon its sorrow, its ruins, and its dead. 

• •••••••••*•*•**■*•••*•••*• 

The Secret of igio 

perienced the disillusioning sensation of not knowing his own 
child. Born of his furious poetic brain in Fiume, it was a mad, reck- 
less, violent, but romantic and idealistic infant given to heroic pos- 
turings, intriguing clothes, Roman gestures, and semi-communistic 
dialectics. A year later, in Milan, he found it brandishing blackjacks 
and revolvers and castor oil. 

Mussolini, the new foster parent, as well as d'Annunzio, united 
in admitting Fascismo to be the stepchild of still another leader of 
that time. That man was Woodrow Wilson. It was the President 
of the United States who had journeyed to Rome at Christmas time, 
1918, and who in Milan had been worshiped in the streets because 
Italy believed him to be the man who would grant the nation its 
political demands and the people the same "new deal" which Lloyd 
George had just proclaimed in Great Britain. 

But when the Allied nations exposed their secret treaties and asked 
President Wilson to agree to them, he compromised on some, ac- 
cepted others, and remained steadfast in his decision against Italy 
in Fiume. 

It was then that Mussolini in his paper and d'Annunzio among 
the soldiers began the campaign against Wilson. In Rome crowds 
demonstrated against the American embassy crying, "Ridacci la lu-pa 
(Give back our wolf)," the gold wolf of Rome which had been 
Italy's contribution to the trunkloads of presents given the man 
who had saved the world for democracy and the Allied politicians. 
The police charged the mob. D'Annunzio exploited the spirit of the 
nation. He organized the march on Fiume. 

More recently still another stepfather has been added to Musso- 


84 Sawdust Caesar 

lini's Fascismo. Granting that the idea was d'Annunzio's, that the 
inspiration was inversely Wilson's, and that the leadership was suc- 
cessfully Mussolini's, the astute politicians in Rome knew that the 
movement was deathly sick with the loss of blood at Fiume and that 
nothing but a transfusion would save it. And this was supplied by 
the government itself, and more particularly by the "sly fox" of the 
generation, the premier Giolitti who as de Ambris has stated at 
one and the same time liquidated the uprising at Fiume and the 
uprising in the factories in the north, ending social agitation and 
radicalism and the revolutionary strikes and, as he believed, bringing 
about a permanent era of good will in Italy in 1920. 

From the end of the war until the seizure of the factories in 
August of that year, things went from bad to worse in Italy, and 
Mussolini vigorously approved this turn of affairs. 

Every day or every week there was a new strike. There occurred 
the greatest horror which the American tourist has ever experienced 
and about which to this very day he speaks with emotion, thanking 
God and Mussolini — the horror of tourist trains not running on 
time. That Mussolini himself backed the railroad strikers^ and that 
he urged them to seize the railroads are historical facts of no interest 
to those who, armed with a rapid schedule, see the Sistine Chapel 
on Monday, the Pitti and UfHzi on Tuesday morning, St. Mark's 
Wednesday, get romantic in a gondola that night and make the 10:15 
Thursday for somewhere else, as per orders of the clerk in the ex- 
press company ofHce in Paris. The railroad strikes had something 
to do with the social revolution? The Americans did not care to 
hear such things discussed. 

Besides the railroad workers, the ironworkers of Genoa, the post- 
office employees, foundry workers, agricultural workers of Novara, 
street-car men of Genoa and others struck. Soldiers were spat upon 
and officers were followed by crowds who insulted them because 
they still wore the uniform. They were sometimes attacked, forced 
to run, barricade themselves. Honorable wound stripes were torn 
off and even the medals of bravery ripped from brave breasts and 
trampled. The government could do nothing. Parliament was a big 
talking-affair but law and order were paralyzed while in a sort of 

* Sec Appendix, "Mussolini and the Bolshevik Era." 

The Secret of igio 85 

nebulous and oratorical chaos various elements, aiming to restore 
liberty and justice to the masses, muddled around helplessly. 

More strikes. Metal workers, bread workers, waiters, teachers. On 
May 4, 1919, Mussolini wrote: "Convinced that the strikers are 
right and have justice on their side, we are lending them our dis- 
interested support." On June 7, he added : "The nation follows with 
sympathy the strike of the teachers." Almost every day Mussolini 
commented favorably on the moves of the unionists, insulted the 
government, cursed the employers. (Later, on taking office, one of 
the first things this man, great enough to change his mind and politi- 
cal party, said of the strikes was that "they were the low acts of the 
Socialists against which the Fascist patriots had to fight," but before, 
during and after the strike Mussolini not only supported it, but 
urged the semi-Bolshevik idea that the railroad and other unionists 
seize and operate their own industries.) 

Prologue to the seizure of the factories in 1920 was the episode 
at Dalmine, March, 1919, when Fascist agitators caused a strike at 
the Franchi-Gregorini plant, the workers raising the national, instead 
of the red, flag, and demanding participation in the operation of the 
factory which they had seized and refused to leave. 

Mussolini called this a "creative strike." He rushed there to aid 
the Bolsheviki, addressed them, saying : "To protect the interest of 
your class you could have called a strike in the old style, the nega- 
tive and destructive strike ; on the contrary, thinking of the interests 
of the people, you have inaugurated the creative strike which does 
not interrupt production." In another exhortation he exclaimed: 
"You have proven your Will, and I say to you you are on the right 
road. ... I say to you that your gesture is new and dignified, by 
the motives which inspired them, worthy of sympathy. Your rights 
are sacred, and I am with you." 

Meanwhile back in Milan his associate editors wrote: "Today the 
masses at Dalmine have shown a significant action, they have reaf- 
firmed their rights, they have vibrated to the impetuous and incisive 
words of Benito Mussolini." 

"At Dalmine," wrote one of Mussolini's colleagues, "he was the 
Lenin of Italy." 

On March 23 the Fascisti organizing, sent their salutations to 

86 Sawdust Caesar 

the men who had seized the factory, and to the workers of Pavia 
who had gone on a general strike. Said the future Duce: "His- 
torically we are on the grounds of the revolution begun by us in 
1915. We must go ahead of the workers. We must accept the postu- 
lates of the working-class. Do they demand the eight-hour day? And 
the control of the industries? We must support all these demands 
especially because we want little by little to make the working-class 
capable of directing the works. Economic Democracy! That is our 

"The Senate must be abolished. We want to erase from our con- 
stitutional organization this feudal organism. We demand propor- 
tional representation. We want a national assembly which will have 
to decide whether Italy is to be a monarchy or a republic. 

"We reply now: Republic! 

'We are absolutely agaitist all forms of dictatorship." 

Employers associations and the trades unions kept up the war 
for another year. Italian money fell; the cost of living mounted; 
wages were never raised, except once in a while when a strike was 
successful. The war profiteers held on to their money. The workers 
were exploited. All the promises of better times which the govern- 
ment at war had made to the people were studiously forgotten. But 
eventually there were revisions of salaries made individually. Then 
the metal workers association decided for a general revision of wages 
based on the cost of living. The employers objected. On July 29, 
1920, they issued the statement "We cannot admit the possibility of 
fixing salaries in relation to the rising cost of living." 

But public opinion forced the employers to agree to a conference. 
Mussolini backed it. Yet on August 12th the owners crushed the 
conference with the statement : "All discussion is useless. We make 
no concessions." 

This challenge to battle was accepted. A few days later the pro- 
gram of the trades union was announced. It was "Obstructionism." 
But it was not violence, nor was it sabotage. It did mean slowing 
up. There was to be no "good will" in the work; the men were to 
work mechanically, to do just what they were told, never to use 
their judgment, even if work done in accordance with orders from 

The Secret of 1920 87 

the bosses led to the spoiling of goods and tools. The letter of the 
law was obeyed. 

The employers did not like that at all. But they could do nothing 
to obtain healthy cooperation, enthusiasm, good will, from underpaid 
and sometimes starving employees. So they threatened the lock-out. 
The Alfa-Romeo automobile works was the first to drive out its 
workers. The manufacturers association agreed to follow. In reply 
the trades unions then ordered the occupation of the factory and 
the continuance of work, or the "Creative strike" of Dalmine which 
Mussolini had favored, on a large scale. There was no sabotage. On 
August 30, 500,000 men were ordered to occupy factories and they 
did so without any troubles worth recording. Two men were killed 
in Turin, About a million men joined in the movement, which, when 
it reached the bottom of Sicily, was turned into the seizure of land 
by dispossessed peasants. Not a safe was cracked. Nor a skull. 

But from Paris the word was flashed around the world that Italy 
had "gone Bolshevik." The workers had seized the factories. The 
peasants had taken the land. The red flag was flying and the people 
were shouting, "Viva Lenin." If there were no dead, well, there 
should be. So all the journalists of Europe came to Milan and Turin 
to participate in the revolution. 

The excitement in Europe and America was unbounded. Russia 
and Hungary were red, there were communist troubles in the Balkans, 
Germany trembling on the verge — (the German "verge" lasted more 
than a decade and became a Fascist verge in the end) — and now 
Italy was gone, and who knows, perhaps all of Europe would soon 
be engulfed. Foreign offices kept open nights and newspapers 
clamored for lists of dead and wounded. 

Commotion everywhere except in Italy. It is true that day by day 
more and more factories were being occupied by the workers. Soon 
the 500,000 "strikers" were at work building automobiles, steam- 
ships, forging tools, manufacturing a thousand useful things, but 
there was not a shop or factory owner to boss them or to dictate 
letters in the vacant offices. Peace reigned. 

A feeling spread throughout Italy that the great day of libera- 
tion had arrived. 

It was holiday. Crowds came in automobiles and wagons or walked 

88 Sawdust Caesar 

by the thousands to see the great sight. What they saw was pure 
normality, but they got a thrill out of it. Tourists, caught in the 
midst of the revolution, when their first fears were over, and not 
a rifle-shot disturbed the sunny calm, ventured out, too, and saw 
nothing unusual. 

For us of the press it was a terrible disillusion. There was simply 
no story. We did see the red flag waving from the chimneys, but 
there was smoke issuing from them, too, and all the sounds from 
within were those of ordinary industry and progress. Occasionally 
someone shouted, "Viva Lenin," or, "Long live the revolution," and 
sometimes a patrol of workingmen would go by. The police let them 
alone even when they bore arms. There was much joyful singing. 

The nation awaited the outcome hopefully. Everyone was pleased 
that things were going so well. Labriola, Minister of Labor, was 
the first to attempt a conciliation, but it did not succeed. The state 
did nothing. The press was fair. Mussolini's paper applauded. To 
satisfy our own newspapers, which were demanding that something 
happen to justify our presence during the "revolution," we rushed 
around from Milan to Turin and from Turin to Genoa, chasing 
rumors, that some Fascist spies had been caught and burned alive 
in a furnace or that "Mr. Fiat" had been murdered by his employees, 
and other timely lies.^ In order to get Bolshevik pictures we had to 
persuade the workingmen and women to erect barricades, arm them- 
selves, take up menacing positions, and act in a revolutionary manner, 
which they did with laughter and smiles, much to the chagrin of 
the newsreel men. 

From our journalistic point of view the Italian Bolshevik revolu- 
tion was such a complete fiasco that we looked for other news. I 
had arrived with Harry Greenwall of the London Express who had 
a tip that Emir Feisul, later King of Iraq, was stopping incognito 
in the Villa d'Este near Milan, en route for London, where he wanted 
to see Lloyd George about a throne. Accordingly, we went to inter- 

' Charles H. Shcrrill, general, sportsman, author and diplomat, wrote: "At Turin a 
Red Tribunal, composed partly of women, caused men to be thrown alive into the 
blast-furnaces. . . . Some sailors . . . were ambushed by a band of Socialists, men and 
women, and literally torn to pieces, every last one of them, with all the excesses of the 
French revolution — the women ripping off ears with their teeth . . ," etc. In addition 
to being hysterical this account, typical of reports of the time, is absolutely untrue. 

The Secret of igio 89 

view the dark lord and he told us he had made a secret treaty, 
thanks to Lawrence of Arabia, whereby the British government 
promised him a kingdom in return for his aid against the Turks. 
That was a fine news item. Then, journalistically opportune, there 
was an earthquake in Fivizzano, somewhere north of Pisa, and off I 
went with Lieutenant Cleveland, U. S. N., to help pull men and 
women and children out of fallen houses and debris in wrecked towns 
on the vine-clad hillsides. That was a three-day story, too. All these 
news happenings were much more sensational than the peaceful oc- 
cupation of the factories which MussoHni then supported and which 
years later, for political purposes, he was to denounce. 

The whole nation also approved the seizure of the land. Agrarian 
reform had long been promised. When Nitti was Premier he had 
a law passed giving land, paid for by the government, to ex-soldiers. 
During the war the troops were fed on the propaganda all wrongs 
would be righted when they came home victorious, and the land 
workers, who were Httle better than Russian serfs, would be given 
farms. Now they were taking them. In every instance the revolu- 
tionaries who were dividing up the huge estates in the south were led 
by former soldiers, some of whom were Fascists, Mussolini having 
in 1919 declared for land seizure. (In fact, in 1923, nineteen months 
after he came into power, he let the Fascist syndicates seize ten 
properties in the province of Novare for division among war 

Despite the fact that one big bank had offered capital for employers 
and employees to try a communal collective experiment with the fac- 
tories, despite the fact the railroad men refused to transport troops 
when the government one day thought it would end the situation by 
force and bloodshed, what happened in September was stagnation 
and compromise. On the loth and nth the Socialist congress con- 
sidered two proposals, one to retain the original character of the 
occupation, the other to turn it into a movement for political power — ■ 
i.e., to capture the government in Rome. The vote was 591,241 
against 409,569 in favor of the former plan. Syndical control of 
the factories was endorsed. 

Premier GioHtti then called a meeting of both sides, asking the 
employers to recognize the principle of the workers participation in 

90 Sawdust Caesar 

industry. Again there was compromise. Labor accepted a small wage 
rise and employers agreed to the government's plan that henceforth 
labor was to share with capital in the manufacture of the nation's 
goods. Mussolini, declaring himself happy with this ending, said he 
had always favored such a plan, said it was the beginning of a new 
era in social evolution. 

The State triumphed. The revolutionary spirit of the workmen, 
which first flamed under Mussolini at Dalmine, was now smothered 
in compromises and political deals. Dictatorship of the proletariat was 
shown to be a dream. Although there never had been a burst of real 
Bolshevism, it was now recognized that there never would or could 
be a really Russian revolutionary uprising in Italy. 

With the peaceful failure of the occupation movement, called 
Bolshevism abroad, but in fact a real attempt to estabHsh a peaceful 
cooperative industrial commonwealth, came the gradual disintegra- 
tion of radical labor hopes in Italy. This double movement, the build- 
ing up of discipline, the restoration of confidence, reconciliation and 
pacification on one side, and the war against violence on the other, 
was the work of the liberal, democratic parties. It was the crowning 
effort of Premier Giolitti. At least it was so heralded in those for- 
gotten days. 

But time reveals many secrets. 

In the middle of the great crisis of 1920 there was a meeting 
in the Hotel Lombardia, in Milan, between the Honorable Bruno 
Buozzi, secretary-general of the Federazione Italiani Operai Metal- 
lurgica, or Italian federation of metal workers, and the editor of the 
Popolo d'ltalia. Signer Buozzi occupied a place and a reputation equal 
if not superior to that of Samuel Gompers in the American Federa- 
tion of Labor, and the revelations which follow were made by him 
to the present writer and have been confirmed by other Italian 

"I remember," Signor Buozzi says in a statement signed and au- 
thorized by him for publication in this book, "the social revolutionary 
Mussolini studiously and transcendentally dressed the part, with his 
large black hat and his artistic necktie. When we met to talk politics 
in the old days he was always the one to assume studious attitudes 
of mystery, of a conspirator or of an agitator; at a cafe table he 

The Secret of 1920 91 

would speak as if from a tribune haranguing the crowd of thousands 
of listeners, although we sat there four or five. I remember an eve- 
ning in Turin in 1913 where we held a conference on 'The Com- 
mune of Paris' in the hall of the syndicates. Mussolini even then 
spoke as a consummate actor ; his histrionism carried away the least 
intelligent part of the auditors. He had a marvelous mobility in his 
face, he rolled his black eyes, his shoulders were agitated ener- 
getically, he modulated his voice, made long pauses, then suddenly 
burst out in the loudest tones, sweeping the crowd with him. He 
exalted to hyperbole the heroism of the Paris communards, but did 
not spare with his acid criticism their leaders. He denounced, for 
example, the stupidity which ordered the leaders of the armed patrols 
to defend the Banque de France. 

" 'Money makes war,' cried Mussolini. 'If the communards had 
appropriated the gold contained in the vaults of the Bank and utilized 
it for their ends, history might have had another face.' 

"We all went to the hotel then and sat around a table discussing 
the social revolution. It was lively. Some one suggested that the 
social revolution presupposes a knowledge and a mastery of formi- 
dable political and economic problems. MussoUni replied that for the 
true revolutionist such problems were unimportant. To solve all 
problems, 'down with the bureaucracy'. The real political leader, he 
said, needed nothing but action. He had studied the essentials of 
romantic revolution and its prophet, Blanqui. 

"At one turn of the conversation, attacking our social-democracy, 
Mussohni arose, pointing his index finger at us and speaking in a 
cavernous voice, accenting each syllable : 

" 'Italy is the only country,' he said, 'in all Europe which in the 
past hundred years has not had a revolution. L'ltalia ha bisogno di 
un bagno di sangue [Italy has need of a bath of blood], and you, so- 
cial democrats and leaders of the syndicalists, are the major obstacle 
against the accomplishment of such a fact. We ought to barricade 
for ten years the doors of your organizations.' 

"Mussolini had always said and printed in the paper which he di- 
rected, that programs are obstacles under the feet which impede the 
man who would go forward. He said and wrote that the syndicates 
and the cooperatives were developing among the people an unhealthy 

92 Sawdust Caesar 

sense of responsibility, they were checking the people from dedicat- 
ing themselves to the fight on the barricades and to the conquest of 
power. It was for this reason that he participated in every strike, 
trying to turn each into a general strike. 

"At the end of the war he organized the Fascio with an extreme 
radical program, supported strikes and agitation among workingmen, 
denouncing the Socialists for not being sufficiently revolutionary. He 
gave his sympathy to the occupation of the factories by the workmen. 

"The history of that movement is almost unknown. The Federa- 
zione Italiana Operai Metallurgici, the F. I. O. M., of which I was 
secretary-general, had requested the owners to augment wages in 
proportion to the increased cost of Hving. The request was fully 
justified and many industrialists realized this and willingly raised 
wages. But at a certain moment the industrialists' association denied 
the assurances previously given and refused in a bloc to accede to 
the demands of the laborers. The F. I. O. M. rephed by ordering 

"In one of the days which followed, I do not remember whether 
it was the 6th or 7th of September 1920, Mussolini's secretary, a 
certain Manlio Morgagni, came to the headquarters of the Con- 
federazione Generale del Lavoro (the general federation of labor). 
I was busy then. Morgagni sent in his card on which was written 
'My director, Mussolini, desires a conference with you; please let 
me know when and where he can be received.' I replied that by day 
I was almost always at the Confederazione and that I lived at the 
Hotel Lombardia in the via dell' Agnello. 

"The next morning, while I was in my hotel room, washing, a 
waiter came to inform me that two gentlemen were waiting to speak 
to me. I said for them to send up their names and to wait in the 
hall a few minutes. I had hardly finished speaking when the door 
opened and Mussolini entered my room, followed by his secretary. 
There was also present a functionary of the F. I. O. M., Mario 

"Before the war, as I have said, Mussolini and I were on very 
good terms despite the fact that he belonged to the ultra-revolutionary 
left wing of the Socialist Party, and I to the right. For five years. 

The Secret of /920 ^ 

however, we had not met and therefore the salutations which we 
now exchanged were naturally somewhat cold. 

"Mussolini in his usual histrionic voice opened the conversation 
with these words : 

" 'You have seen that my newspaper, the Popolo d'ltdia, while 
not building- itself up as the organ of the occupation of the factories, 
desires to give an objective chronicle and has already published an 
editorial stating it was more favorable to the workers than the in- 

" 'That is true/ I replied, 'and we acknowledge it.' 

" 'But/ continued Mussolini, 'your movement has assiuned a great 
national and international importance and that is why I wish to 
follow it personally and to comment on it in the columns of my 
journal. I desire to have all the information possible on the march 
of events and of the intentions of the F. I. O. M.' 

"I replied that the ideas of the directors of the committee of the 
movement were expressed in the communiques issued daily to the 
press, but that I was ready at all times to reply to special questions 
which he might put to me. Questions and replies followed. But the 
interview remained cold. 

"Now Mussolini tried to animate the conversation in a semi- 
dramatic tone. 'The industrialists/ he said, 'are in a state of imbecile 
intransigence but I recognize that the workers are right. The situa- 
tion in the country verges on the revolutionary, and I am asking 
if you have thought of an eventual political turn to your movement?* 

"I replied coldly with a simple monosyllable, 'Yes.' 

"MussoHni sensed from this interview that he was not just the 
right man to whom to confide such plans, and calming his tone, be- 
coming more insinuating, thought it opportune to close the con- 
versation with these words : 

" 'Listen. To me it is no difference that the factories belong more 
to the workers than to the operators. It is important that work goes 
on. But if it concerns a revolutionary movement, serious, socialistic, 
for the profound transformation of the country, know that you can 
count on my support and that of my friends.' " 

This was Mussolini's offer to return to SociaHsm. He was will- 

94 Sawdust Caesar 

ing to make Fascism, its newspaper and its armed militia, a part of 
the workers' revolutionary movement to capture the country. 

The SociaHsts had torn up his red card in 1914; they had called 
him traitor, "hired assassin of the bourgeoisie," expelled him from 
the party, and he had replied that "you will not deprive me of my 
socialist faith . . . you will not keep me from fighting for the cause 
of Socialism and the revolution." He had cried out that "Socialism 
is something that is rooted in the blood," and now he was to prove 
it by returning to the fold after six years' absence. He believed he 
would be accepted as a hero. 

But although he still called himself a Socialist, he was really more 
of a Bolshevik and a revolutionary opportunist, ready to engage in 
a civil war, to shed any amount of blood, for the establishment of 
a proletarian dictatorship which the occupation of the factories 
seemed to make imminent. He frightened the SociaHsts and the 
trades unionists. The Honorable Euozzi, realising how useless his 
mission, took the proposals of Mussolini's return and the incorpora- 
tion of the Fascist bands, to a congress of the metal workers which, 
on hearing the plan to use an illegal militia, to wage a war, to use 
violence, to burn and to seize, in short to continue the campaign 
which the Fascisti were waging independently, refused indignantly 
to traffic with bloodshed. They, they replied to Mussolini, intended 
to conquer legally; they, they said, had no use for a condottiere or 
a modern captain of racketeers. 

They did not know at that time, however, that Mussolini was 
merely offering Fascism for sale to the best bidder. 

With the same proposal offered to Buozzi, Mussolini approached 
the metal-works owners, the Milan bankers, the large landed pro- 
prietors, the Lega Industriale of Turin, the Associazione fra Indus- 
triale Generale deU' Industria, or the entire ruling industrial and 
financial class of Italy. 

"Several months after our interview," states Buozzi, "speaking 
to one of the captains of industry, Signor Agnelli, head of the 
F. I. A. T. automobile works, I referred to the fact that Mussolini 
had offered to come over to our side. Signor Agnelli informed me 
that Mussolini, at the same time he was making me this offer, had 

The Secret of /920 95 

been dealing with Signor Olivetti, secretary-general of the Con- 
federazione dell' Industria. 

"This is the secret: animated by an unhampered ambition, Mus- 
solini sought to keep one door open, be it the Right or Left, so 
that no matter what would happen after the occupation of the fac- 
tories, he would always be able to emerge, be it at the head of a 
revolutionary movement or of a reactionary movement. If the seizure 
of the factories ended with a victory of the workers in the economic 
field, a prelude to the conquest of power by the Socialist Party, Mus- 
solini would be on the Left. Otherwise, on the Right. When he saw 
that the Socialist Party was torn by internal dissensions, that it could 
not march towards power, Mussolini threw into the sea his offer 
and his Left program and dedicated himself to the arms of reaction. 
There was now no longer a question of a proletarian revolution — 
leadership would be too difficult and dangerous for him ; he realized 
how much easier it would be to arrive in power if he served the 
ultra-nationalistic banner, renounced his past, and betrayed his old 

The industrial and agrarian bourgeoisie, still scared and distrust- 
ful, desperate before the menace of the seizure of factories, and 
failing to reaUze that the collapse of that movement meant the end of 
radical danger, immediately accepted the Fascisti as its military 
weapon. The Confederazione Generale dell' Industria openly began 
paying money, and other organizations secretly subventioned Mus- 
solini and his militia. 

Immediately the deal was made, Mussolini turned the threat of 
the Fascisti away from the warehouses, the factories and the lives 
of the war profiteers, the industrialists, the big-business men whom 
he had been threatening with hanging on lamp-posts, and directed 
them against the Socialists, the workingmen, the cooperatives, the 
clubs, and the newspapers of the proletariat. Just as in 1914 he took 
his revenge on those who did not follow him, so now he began on 
a large scale to accompHsh his vendetta. From that day on blood- 
shed increased throughout Italy. The very same boys and men who 
had been attacking the bourgeoisie were used a day or a week later 
to attack the working-class. 

"The victory of Fascism over the Socialist movement," says the 

96 Sawdust Caesar 

pro-Fascist Prezzolini, "is due to the Fascists not fearing to employ 
violence which the extremist preached but had never succeeded in 
putting into action, and because the Fascists' offensive coincided 
with the disruption of the Sociahst Party which began about this 
time. It was an ill-matched contest. . . . 

"Mussolini realised . . . strikes were no longer a weapon. The 
Russian revolution had proved that armed force alone could secure 
the reins of power. And in this lay the novelty of Fascism — in the 
military organization of a political party." 

So now Mussolini, his militia sold to the ruling class, moral sup- 
port and financial security arranged, marched forward on the road 
to power with an army behind him. 


Fascism Conquers Mussolini 

Flying detachments of Black Shirts, aided by the military sup- 
plies, guns, and transportation of the regularly constituted authori- 
ties, concentrated secretly, rode to given destinations and wrecked 
the Socialist and labor movement in villages or towns by destroying 
its newspapers, cooperative stores, headquarters and meeting-halls. 
Frequently they killed. 

In America the first mention of Fascismo occurs on the i8th of 
October, 1920, when "armed radicals in black shirts" were reported 
attacking the offices of the newspaper II Lavoratore in Trieste with 
bombs, hand grenades, and bludgeons; it was an item worthy of 
publication because it affected the lives of two American citizens. 
Twenty shots were fired at Joseph Emerson Haven, the American 
consul who had his office in the newspaper building, and Lincoln 
Eyre, the representative of the New York World. 

Consul Haven sent an indignant report to the State Department, 
while even more indignant Mr. Eyre cabled that "this outrage is one 
of a long series committed by these bandits, these nationalist hood- 
lums, Fascisti as they call themselves, the word meaning 'nearly 
leaders' (sic) or perhaps with greater precision 'gangsters' who pre- 
tend to be inspired with patriotic devotion to Italian ideals. This 
sentiment translates itself in their strangely warped minds into sys- 
tematic oppression by the most brutal and cowardly means, of all 
who venture to disagree with them. MiHtaristic nationalism is their 
creed and d'Annunzio (sic) is their prophet." 

In November occurred the first large-scale mihtary action of the 
newly armed illegal forces of the monarchy — the sack of Bologna — 
when the Socialist town council was driven out, the Chamber of 


98 Sawdust Caesar 

Labor wrecked, the trades unions and cooperatives burned to the 
ground, the newspaper presses smashed and workingmen found on 
the premises beaten or murdered. 

Between January and May, 1921, the Fascist squads destroyed 
120 labor union headquarters and invaded 243 Socialist centers, kill- 
ing 202 workingmen and wounding 1,144. In 1921 and 1922 they 
burned 500 labor centers and cooperatives and forcibly dissolved 
900 Socialist municipalities. In almost all instances the military, the 
national and the local representatives of law and order, were con- 
federates of the Black Shirts. For 162 Fascist! arrested in the first 
six months of 1921 the authorities jailed 2,240 workingmen. Of this 
period of violence Prezzolini, who at the time was neutral, wrote : 

"They [the Fascist!] could organize themselves in armed camps 
and kill right and left, with the certainty of impunity and with the 
complicity of the police. It is thus no overstatement to recognize 
that the Fascists fought with 99 chances out of 100 of gaining the 

This guerilla warfare was waged chiefly against the cooperative 
movement, the labor unions, the Social Democrats, and the Catholics. 
It was not a war against Bolshevism, because whatever remained 
of Bolshevism after the 1920 factory-occupation episode was unim- 
portant. Despite a milHon repetitions made since 1925, the year pub- 
lic relations counsel were engaged to help float Italian loans, it is 
a historic fact that there was no Bolshevik danger in Italy, and final 
proof can be found in the Popolo d'ltalia of June 2, 1921, when 
Mussolini himself wrote : 

"The Italy of 1921 is fundamentally different from that of 1919. 
... To say that the Bolshevik danger still exists in Italy is equiva- 
lent of trying to exchange, for reasons of self-interest, fear against 
the truth. Bolshevism is conquered. More than that, it has been 
disowned by the leaders and the people." 

Trains, which had not been running on time, improved their sched- 
ules. Strikes, which had been daily occurrences, became less frequent. 
Wages went up a bit. The cost of living went down. Exports and 
imports showed some satisfactory figures, and slowly Italy began 
lifting itself out of its despair. The best proof in the world is the 

Fascism Conquers Mussolini 99 

rate of exchange. The dollar which had gone from 18 to 23 in 1920 
came back to 20.15 for the first half of 1922. 

Throughout Europe a rumor of optimism was spreading. For the 
first time since the war there was a small restoration of good feel- 
ing. In Italy the end of 1920 marking the liquidation of the insur- 
rection of Fiume was followed by the famous January, 1921, So- 
cialist Party congress in Leghorn which drove out the Communists, 
emancipating itself from a program of retaliatory violence and earn- 
ing the support of organized labor throughout the world. Italy felt 
it was now convalescent from the wounds of the war and after-war. 

With Bolshevism officially exiled and actually dying, there was now 
no reason for the continuance of the Fascist movement. But the 
price of the surrender of Fiume had been the semi-official recogni- 
tion of the Black Shirts as collaborators of the forces of the State. 
Fascist! now carried arms openly. Meanwhile the country had grown 
so quiet that a general election was fought bloodlessly. It gave Italy 
a new parliament constituted as follows : 

Democrats 195 

Socialists 126 

Catholics 91 

Nationalists 40 

Fascists 32 

Communists 18 

For the Communists it marked a significant defeat. The Fascisti, 
who in 1919 had fared so badly, got some satisfaction out of their 
32 delegates in 1921, and the Popolari, organized in 1919, with 91 
members, became a national force to be reckoned with in any future 
struggle for the maintenance of the middle road. Most important of 
all is the great victory of the Democrats and the moderate Socialists. 
The election showed the world that Italy was getting well politically 
and would remain a peaceful democratic constitutional nation. 

It was at this moment that Mussolini, as usual without a plat- 
form, but with many promises to draw the sympathy of the masses 
whose psychology he knew so well, began his republican movement. 
But it did not go far. Immediately he played still another trick 
from his inexhaustible sleeve. To the astonishment of his followers, 

100 Sawdust Caesar 

on the 23rd of July, 1921, he announced a proposed truce between 
the Fascist Party and militia and all of its enemies, also close co- 
operation between himself and the Socialist and Catholic Parties, 
both of which represented the working-classes. 

In August this truce was signed "for the realization of the return 
of normal conditions" and for the renunciation of violence. The 
simple yet amazing text of this document, which, if made in good 
faith and capable of being carried out without opposition to Mus- 
solini, would have changed the course of Italian history, is given in 
full in the Appendix. The signatories pledged themselves to end "all 
menaces, all reprisals, all punishments, all vengeances, all personal 
violence" ; they were to respect the political insignias and economic 
organizations and to submit all violations to a college of arbitration, 
and to cooperate for the restoration of peace in the nation. 

The treaty was signed by Mussolini, De Vecchi, and Giuriati for 
the parliamentary Fascist group, by Cesare Rossi and three others 
for the Fasci di Combattimento, by the Socialist Party, the Socialist 
parliamentary group, the General Federation of Labor, and by Enrico 
de Nicola, president of the Chamber of Deputies. 

It may be noted that the first man to sign for the "Fighting 
Fascisti" was Cesare Rossi, he who was later to become head of 
the Cheka, carry out all orders against opposition leaders, finally to 
be implicated in the assassination which almost destroyed Fascism, 
a blow unforeseen by the disciple of Machiavelli. 

With the ink hardly dry on the peace pact, Mussolini, who had, it 
must be truly admitted, initiated the conference, went to his desk and 
wrote the following declaration of reaffirmation and defiance to his 
own followers: 

"I will defend with all my forces this treaty of peace which to 
my view attains the importance of a historic event on account of its 
'singularity' without precedent. 

"For this purpose I will attempt to apply the old and very wise 
proverb, 'Whoever does not employ the rod hates his son.' Well ! 
If Fascism is my son — that which everyone has always known — I 
swear with the rods of my oath, of my courage, of my passion, I 
will either correct him or I will make his Hfe impossible." 

Can anyone doubt the courage, the passion, with which these words 

Fascism Conquers Mussolini lOi 

are written ? Are they the expression of an honest man or can they 
possibly be those of the deepest hypocrite and villain ? History alone 
can tell. Certain it was that in the August of 1921 the nation believed 
whole-heartedly that Mussolini with an outburst of frankness and 
honesty and fearlessness had done a great thing, had accomplished 
more than parliament and the polemics of the party press. This was 
the real peace of the people ! 

August passed in tranquiUity. But there were signs of trouble. All 
the forces of reaction, of private property, the bankers, the pro- 
prietors of the factories which had once been seized, the ship com- 
panies, the hotel keepers, and certain large landowners, who had once 
seen the menacing specter of Bolshevism, now determined that So- 
cialism, liberalism, democracy, despite their legality, their pacifism, 
their disorganization, and their weaknesses, must also be banished. 
These elements were the employers of Mussolini the condottiere. On 
the other hand there were liberals of the same propertied classes who 
expressed their support of the Black Shirt leader orally. 

With tremendous enthusiasm Mussolini, who again saw himself 
as a popular figure, attempted to curb the forces he had originated 
or encouraged. He thundered against the "hot heads," the "irrespon- 
sibles," the "violent elements," and he withdrew the radical pledges 
he had made. But it was useless. The times were out of joint for 
that sort of leadership. Tuscany, Emilia, and his own beloved 
Romagna refused to ratify the peace treaty. 

Within the Fascist Party the movement against its duce grew in 
the cities and in the country. One of the most noteworthy breaches 
of the treaty occurred at Modena September 24th. The Po Valley 
Fascist!, who had refused all attempts at pacification, not only kept 
their squadristi on a war footing, but used their newly acquired guns 
to terrorize the Socialist cooperatives, the Catholic clubs, the labor 
organizations. The prefect of poHce of Modena had adopted measures 
to insure public order. The Fascisti protested this action. They 
marched into the public square opposite the prefecture and began 
their orations. Everyone who passed was forced, with clubs, to take 
off his hat during the speaking. The prefect, hearing the orators 
urge their followers to invade the police station, called for extra 
police, who, however, refused to obey the order. 

102 Sawdust Caesar 

Several excited persons rushed the commissaire of police and his 
men, striking about with clubs. Soon the whole Fascist group in ex- 
citement turned against the poHce, who, believing themselves in 
danger, fired into the crowd. There were seven dead and twenty 

In the same month the Fascist! organized the assassination of the 
Deputy Di Vagno and the anti-French demonstrations of Venice. 

In Bologna the Fascist! sang anti-Mussolini songs. During a meet- 
ing of the local committee practically everyone attacked the leader 
and soon printed signs appeared on the streets : "Who has betrayed 
once will betray again." It was ominous. 

Old friends, leaders, founders of Fascism, deserted. Strangely 
enough, the one who stood steadfast was Cesare Rossi. Mussolini, 
seeing his followers in arms against him, said again: "If Fascism 
does not follow me, no one obliges me to follow Fascism. I am duce, 
a leader, a word which does not especially please me but which 
pleases others. We are numerous : schism is fatal. Let it come. The 
peace pact will have the reaction of precipitating the cleaning out of 
the party." 

Bologna then voted against Mussolini. 

Mussolini resigned} 

For a moment a great change came over Fascism. In all the in- 
dustrial towns now and wherever there were large estates, the owners 
of land and factories became more active, disregarded Mussolini, 
organized their own clubs, rented headquarters, subsidized new 
branches about which Mussolini himself knew nothing. Among the 
more than 100,000 army officers that peace had thrown out of work 

He wrote: "The nation turned to us when our movement appeared as a liberator 
from a tyranny; the nation will turn against us if our movement takes on the guise of 
a fresh tyranny. . . . The nation needs peace in order to recover, to restore itself, to 
fulfiil its highest destinies. You do not understand, you do not wish to understand, that 
the country wishes to work widiout being disturbed. I would enter into an alliance at 
this moment with the devil himself, with Anti-Christ, if that would give this poor 
country five years of tranquillity, of restoration, of peace. 

"From my point of view, the situation is absolutely clear: if Fascism will not follow 
me, no one can oblige me to follow Fascism. I understand and sympathize a little with 
those Fascist! who cannot get away from their own surroundings. ... 1 am a leader 
who leads, not a leader who follows. I go— now and above all— against the current and 
never abandon myself to it and I watch always, above all, for the changing winds to 
swell the sails of my destiny," 

Fascism Conquers Mussolini 103 

many found employment in this new business. Arms were bought 
by the manufacturers and landowners ; when military supplies ar- 
rived, it was the duty of the officers to drill and train and finally 
to lead the Fascist squadristi who were receiving money, guns, and 
orders from their new masters. 

Thus it came about that Mussolini, seeing his life work disintegrat- 
ing, himself disappearing as a national figure, reconsidered his resig- 
nation, and at the congress of the Fascisti in Rome, November, 1921, 
made a complete volte face again. 

The pacifist of August who had sworn to whip Fascism into shape 
as a peaceful legal weapon, was himself whipped by Fascism. At the 
congress of Rome, Mussolini accepted the incorrigibility of his "son" 
and became Fascism's follower, not leader. He declared publicly that 
the peace treaty was dead and buried. Suddenly he announced him- 
self for violence as a holy crusade against the Socialists and liberals. 
He even included the Catholics and Democrats in his speech de- 
manding reprisals, renewal of bloodshed, supremacy of the Fascisti, 
and for the first time in history shouts of "Down with parliament," 
and, "Long live the dictatorship," were heard, shouts which were to 
lead within a year to just the event they presaged. 

Thus passed another great crisis in the life of the child of Destiny. 
He had meant to conquer, had been conquered, and knew how to 
rise again even if his new leadership was for a cause, a program, 
an idea entirely opposed to the one for which he had a few weeks 
earlier announced himself prepared to risk his position, perhaps his 
life. The honest and sincere man of August who swore with "the rods 
of his courage and his passion" became in November an instrument 
for ruthlessness, violence, bloodshed — the program which the pro- 
prietors of Fascism demanded and which he humbly accepted, sud- 
denly trying to make himself appear their leader again by being 
more extremist than the rest. 

Mussolini was conquered by Fascism because more powerful forces 
had taken possession of his movement. In 1920 he had placed his 
forces at the disposal of certain industrialists without realizing that 
in saving them he would make them his masters. 

Shortly after Mussolini's lieutenant (and later ambassador to the 
Vatican) De Vecchi had burned the Rome offices of the Avanti, 

104 Sawdust Caesar 

he, a Torinese, was taken up by Com. de Benedetti and Aw. Ugo 
Gidogni of the Lega Industriale of Turin. Benni and Gino Olivetti, 
the directors of the Confederazione Generale dell'Industria, and 
Director Mazzini of the Associazione fra Industriali Metallurgici 
Meccanici ed Affini who was later to succeed de Benedetti as chair- 
man of the Lega Industriale, were not only collaborating with Mus- 
solini but with more trusted lieutenants who had less radical minds. 
These associations, corresponding to the various manufacturers' as- 
sociations in America and the Stahlverein and other organizations 
which subsidized the Nazi movement in Germany, not only supplied 
the money for the Black Shirts, but succeeded easily in organizing 
the rebellion against Mussolini. 

Whether or not he was previously aware of all the facts, he 
learned, at the Rome congress which ended the schism, that he could 
no longer defy the financial forces of which he was merely the po- 
litical and military spearhead. 

He now was given orders to destroy the labor movement. As the 
correspondent of the Manchester Guardian and New York World 
wrote at the time, "the enemy was not, however, the Communists," 
because they were unimportant: the enemy was the federation of 
labor, social democracy, and the newly arisen Catholic party of 
workingmen and peasants who were led by a priest, Don Sturzo, and 
who were demanding agrarian reform, social justice, and a share in 
the wealth of the nation. 


Priest versus Politician 

^ hind a priest who held a crucifix above their heads, occupied 
the fields of the wealthy landowners in the name of Christ and Chris- 
tian Communism. The soil, rich and poor, was equitably divided 
among workingmen who, like their ancestors for a thousand years, 
had tilled it and built up the fortunes of the landlords while they 
themselves slaved and hungered. To each man was given land ac- 
cording to his ability ; from each was expected a contribution to the 
commonwealth according to his capacity. 

"Avanti o popolo! Con fede franca 
Bandiera hianca trionfera," 

sang the rebel peasants, substituting only one word for the common 
song of the Bolsheviki, the word "bianca" for "rosso" ("white" for 
"red") ; the "white flag of Catholicism will triumph." Throughout 
the south of Italy and notably in Calabria the emancipation of the 
peasantry gained enormously. The masses "hailed Don Sturzo as an 
apostle, obeyed him as a dictator." 

Thus, rudely, Italy's attention was called to a new force in its 
national life, the marching Partite Popolare Italiano, the party or- 
ganized January i8, 1919, by the priest Don Luigi Sturzo for per- 
petuating the ideals of Christian democracy. This was his stirring 
proclamation : 

"To all men free and strong, who, in this grave hour, feel 
the high duty of cooperation for the supreme ends of the Father- 
land. . . . 

". . . We uphold the political and moral program, the patrimony 
of the Christian people. . . . 


io6 Sawdust Caesar 

". . . As the soul of the new society, the true sense of liberty 
responding to the civil maturity of our people and the highest de- 
velopment of its energies; religious liberty not only for the in- 
dividual, but also for the Church, for the unfolding of her spiritual 
mission in the world; liberty of teaching without a state monopoly; 
liberty of class organization without preference or privilege for any 
party; communal and local liberties in accordance with the glorious 
Italian traditions." 

The men who joined the Popolari were mostly peasants and urban 
members of the Azione Cattolica, so it became known as the Catho- 
lic Party, although it was no more affiliated with the Vatican than 
the Centrum in Germany and Catholic parties in many other nations. 
Significant, however, is the fact that the non expedit of February, 
1868, which withdrew good Catholics from participation in elections, 
was canceled ten months after Don Sturzo organized his party. 

The leader in every way, character, appearance, action, appeared 
to be the opposite of Mussolini. He was a man from the south, a 
pacifist, fanatic in his belief in human liberty, a radical social re- 
former like Savonarola, candid and frank and incapable of mak- 
ing compromises, and lacking entirely in the urge to self-advance- 
ment. He was truly the shepherd of his flock and his flock was all 
the poor and oppressed of the country. He loved them like brothers. 
Don Sturzo is an almost emaciated figure, the picture of asceticism, 
his gaunt eager passionate sincere face distinguished by a long nar- 
row nose set between deep brown eyes which seem to be afire with 
his great idea of Christian brotherhood. 

He was forty just after the war when he made his first political 
step by permitting his election as sindaco or mayor of his home town, 
Caltagirone, in Sicily. Here he collected a sum of money, bought 
2,000 acres of land, divided it among the poorest, and demanded 
that the agrarian reform, promised for decades, be accompHshed 
without violent seizure and illegal confiscation. 

"Vogliamo le fahrxcke, vogliamo la terra. 
Ma sensa guerra, ma sensa guerra," 

sang Sturzo's adherents at the time the workingmen had seized the 
factories. "We want the factories; we want the land; but without 

Priest versus Politician 107 

war/' was their song and their policy. On the occasion of the rail- 
road, telegraph and telephone strike, Mussolini urging the men to 
use violent methods, came face to face with Sturzo's party for the 
first time. Sturzo denounced the strike because of its violence, and 
helped the government to win. 

In 1921, 1922, and 1923, as radicaHsm receded in Italy, the Catho- 
lic Party grew in strength in parliament and eventually replaced 
Social Democracy as the chief opponent of Fascism. 

In these years Mussolini was still the anti-clerical of his exile 
in Switzerland. In his public speeches he ridiculed the Pope and 
made jokes about the size of Sturzo's nose. In April, 1921, he wrote: 
"Fascism is the strongest of all the heresies that strike at the doors 
of the churches. Tell the priests, who are more or less whimpering 
old maids: Away with these temples that are doomed to destruc- 
tion; for our triumphant heresy is destined to illuminate all brains 
and hearts." 

Don Sturzo, on the other hand, wrote of his chief opponent : "Of 
mediocre culture and meager political experience, Mussolini has the 
briUiant qualities of the extemporizer and none of the scruples of 
those who, convinced qf an idea, fear to be false to it. . . . He can 
pass from theory to theory, from position to position, rapidly, even 
inconsistently, with neither remorse or regret. . . . 

"Another quality which he possesses is his constant ability to 
seize the moment, to profit by circumstances. . . . 

"His friends and companions he holds in esteem so long as they 
are useful to him ; he fears them when he cannot do without them ; 
he abandons them to their fate when they are in his way." 

In February, 1922, Don Sturzo was the leader of the most power- 
ful party in the Italian parliament. He was also a great influence 
in the Church. In the conclave for the election of a Pope in that 
month it was commonly said in Rome that "Don Sturzo might in 
one day name his Prime Minister and his Pope." But the priest had 
no such ambitions. Recounting the accomplishments of his party early 
in 1922, he summarizes them in this way : 

1. Entry of the Catholic masses into political life after half a 
century of abstention. 

2. Adoption of proportional representation in parliament. 

io8 Sawdust Caesar 

3. Opposition to the Socialists, and to general political strikes. 

4. Collaboration with the Liberals and Democratic-Liberals. 

5. Brought question of freedom of schools to public and parlia- 

6. Contribution to solution agricultural and economic problems. 

7. Support of administrative decentralization. 

8. Support of solutions of Yugoslav problem. 

9. Early realisation of the Fascist peril and stand against armed 

On the debit side Don Sturzo wrote: strength wasted in com- 
promises with opposition and in collaboration with the government; 
lack of courage to take ofHce when a crisis arose. 

The political war of 1922 was over proportional representation. 
"Here," commented Don Sturzo, "was a source of friction between 
the old oligarchic currents and the new wave of democratic life. The 
latter was therefore labeled demagogy, or even, with the Russian 
term, Bolshevism and much was written against the Red Bolshevism 
of the Socialists and the White Bolshevism of the Popolari, and 
against their possible union. 

"Therefore both Democratic Liberals and industrialists and 
agrarians turned to Fascism as the force that could save them. Thus 
was invented the fable that Fascism in 1922 saved Italy from Bol- 
shevism. There was no peril of Bolshevism in Italy nor did Fascism 
save her from it. If by Bolshevism is meant the agitations and dis- 
orders of 1919-20, up till the occupation of the factories, these were 
already past history, and the general elections of May, 1921, were 
evidence of the state of mind of the country and of its constitu- 
tional normality. 

"There does not exist in Italian poHtical life a more insincere 
phenomenon than the fear of Bolshevism on the part of the wealthy 
class in 1922; the latter had taken the offensive against the State by 
the Fascist acts of violence, and had to justify both offensive and 
violence : this they could only do by crying out that there was peril 
of a Bolshevization of Italy in the near future." 

In 1922 the Fascist squads attacked Catholic institutions with 
the same enthusiasm with which they wrecked labor unions and co- 
operatives. The squadristi of Fascism stormed Catholic institutiom 

Priest versus Politician 109 

and murdered more than one parish priest, but the Catholic leader 
insisted that violence should not be answered with violence. 

To conclude the tragic story of Don Sturzo it is necessary here 
to disregard the chronology of the history of Fascism and its Duce. 
In April, 1923, when clubs and headquarters of the Popolari again 
were being looted and wrecked and burned, the party held its fourth 
congress in Turin where it reaffirmed "its will to continue the funda- 
mental battle for Liberty and against any centralizing perversion in 
the name of the pantheistic State or deified nation"; it asserted its 
"solidarity with those who suffer for the idea and for internal peace, 
and invokes for the welfare of Italy respect for human personality 
and the spirit of Christian brotherhood." The party decided to re- 
main independent, to protect individual liberty in Italy, to defend 
religion and the church. 

Shortly afterwards Mussolini proposed a new election law. The 
"reform" as he so brilliantly called it, would give the party which 
obtained 25 per cent of the total votes cast 66 2/3 per cent of the 
seats in the Chamber of Deputies, while the remaining 33 1/3 per 
cent would be divided among all other parties proportionately, thus 
making it possible for the Fascist minority to rule the anti-Fascist 
majority "legally." 

Into the final struggle Don Sturzo put all his force; while other 
parties still proclaimed liberty, his was the only one which dared, 
in the face of Black Shirts armed with rifles, bludgeons, and castor 
oil, openly to resist. But his was passive resistance and his weapon 
chiefly an appeal to reason and Christian morals. 

His followers in hot-headed Calabria got out of control. For every 
Catholic institution attacked they attacked a Fascist institution, and 
in Naples and less important centers the Catholics found that the 
employment of retaliatory violence was the one and only way to 
victory. They beat Fascismo at its own game. 

It was at this moment that Mussolini's envoys went to the Vatican 
with a message which was also a threat. The attention of the Pope 
was called to the fact that St. Peter's and the Vatican were sur- 
rounded by Fascist bayonets and yet had not suffered harm. Unless 
pressure was brought against Don Sturzo the Catholic churches and 
the Catholic religion would suffer great harm. 

no Sawdust Caesar 

On the gth of June, 1923, Don Sturzo sent his resignation to the 
Pope, and on the loth he departed for the monastery of Montecas- 
sino and retirement. Some time later, unsure of his safety, he went 
to London, where he is Hving today, "recommended by Fascist news- 
papers to the special attention of any assassin who happens to be 
idle in England," according to Professor Gilbert Murray, who be- 
friended him. 

That the Pope and the Catholic Church have been threatened 
with attack by Mussolini was admitted more recently when Don 
Sturzo wrote that "at the critical moment the man who was be- 
lieved by the Fascist! and philo-Fascisti alike to be the pivot of the 
situation, the convinced adversary of Mussolini [meaning himself], 
left the leadership of his party because of obscure Fascist threats 
of armed reprisals against the Church. . . ." 

In this way the last and most important poHtical party to dispute 
Mussolini's claim to dictatorship was ehminated from public life. 
The epitaph was written by Don Sturzo: "Fascismo came forward 
as an anti-constitutional and revolutionary movement based on vio- 
lence and direct action. Popolarismo was law-abiding, constitutional, 
and moral. Fascismo considers itself as the absolute and sole mani- 
festation of political life. Popolarismo looks on itself as a political 
party with rights and duties like any other party functioning in the 
plane of the modern state. Fascismo is against liberty, against democ- 
racy, against the parliamentary State. Popolarismo is for liberty, for 
democracy, for the parliamentary State. Fascismo upholds the na- 
tionalist, plutocratic and imperialist State. Popolarismo upholds free 
trade, international cooperation and peace. . . . 

"The Popolari arose in the name of liberty. In the administrative 
and educational, in the social and religious, fields they fought for 
liberty in the teeth of the Democrats, the Liberals and the Socialists 
... for liberty, based on the rights of human personality, is un- 
alienable and cannot be surrendered for any material prosperity or 
alleged national right. . . ." 

The unarmed prophet had failed, and the armed prophet again 
had won, as Machiavelli had informed Mussolini in his exile years. 

Part II 



The Glorious March on Rome 

. September and October of the year 1589, Henry, King of 
France, wrote to the Duke of Crillon: "Hang yourself, brave Cril- 
lon; we have conquered at Arques and you were not there." 

Just three hundred and thirty-three years later, almost to a day, 
occurred another great event, the glorious Fascist march on Rome, 
which has now become in the black-shirted minds of Italy the noblest 
victory in all its history. Only a few years past, and in the memory 
of most men now living, this episode has become a marvelous myth. 
National hymns, popular songs, millions of photographs, hundreds 
of paintings, new sagas, and at least one made-to-order epic tell us 
how Mussolini led the Fascisti into Rome and conquered Bolshevism. 

The books of history are being rewritten. In Russia, Trotsky, the 
hero of the Bolshevik revolution, the military genius of the war with 
Poland, becomes in a decade a minor figure of no importance if not 
an actual villain, while in Germany a similar decade is wiped from 
the public mind to leave room for the inscription of the record of a 
new man. And so it has been done in Italy. 

But if history has any value for the people who are its inheritors, 
it is indeed a simple task to right the record of which we ourselves 
are the witnesses and at times the participants. Was Trotsky a no- 
body? Are a dozen years of the German Republic to be regarded 
solely as the story of Hitler's rise? Did Mussolini really slay the Red 
Dragon, and was he even present at the Arques of 1922? 

That year opened for the European world with another of its 
supplementary conferences which, despite a denial to Russia's claim 
to participation and America's refusal to do so, was hopeful of ac- 
complishing something in righting the wrongs of the Versailles con- 

114 Sawdust Caesar 

gress. Here in Cannes, on the French Riviera, hundreds of journalists 
of many lands were almost as important as the diplomats of the great 

Here Benito Mussolini came as the representative of his own 
newspaper. But neither he nor Fascism were at the time interesting 
enough to warrant attention from the American, British, or other 
noted journalists who had accompanied Lloyd George and Briand 
and the premiers of Belgium and Italy and Czechoslovakia and the 
sensational delegation from Germany under Walther Rathenau. 

Among the Italians, however, Mussolini had an imposing reputa- 
tion. The press conferences which the diplomats of this country held 
were marked by Mussolini's violent outbursts of oratory which 
would divide the assembly into hostile camps, the majority shouting 
the disturber into silence. 

Notable among Italy's journalistic representatives was Pietro 
Nenni, Mussolini's successor as editor of the Avanti. The two had 
not only worked together but, it will be remembered, during the 
anti-Tripoli war demonstration in Forli had spent nights Jn the 
same prison jointly cursing the government which had placed them 

They were friends; they could talk with extreme frankness, and 
this is their conversation during a walk on the seashore as Nenni 
records it: 

Mussolini : Civil war has become a tragic menace. I do not fear 
the responsibility. The kindliness of the State forces the formation 
of a party to smash the Bolshevik menace, reestablish authority, save 
the victory. 

Nenni: To the class of which you have become the instrument, 
the right of the workingmen to organize themselves for the defense 
of their social interest and for the conquest of power, that is now 
called Bolshevism. The police personifies authority and as for vic- 
tory it is conceived only as a form for the survival of the military 
spirit over the civil spirit. 

Mussolini : I know everything about the sentiments of the class 
about which you speak. I am not their instrument. At a given hour 
I have not hesitated to proclaim that one must escape from the bloody 
circle of violence. 

The Glorious March on Rome 115 

Nenni : Your individualism always strays. I do not care what you 
liave become. I am certain that lacking a sentiment of justice, every- 
thing that you will do will be marked with the red iron of arbitrari- 
ness. The peace which you offer from time to time to my friends is 
for them a renunciation of their ideal. At that price the bourgeoisie 
is always ready to act. Moreover, you forget many things. 

Mussolini: What? 

Nenni : You forget the dead ; you forget that you were the chief 
of the Socialist Party; you forget perhaps the workingmen fallen 
under the clubs and the stilettos of the Black Shirts. 

Mussolini: There must be no sentimentalism in life. I know 
that the dead hang heavily. I frequently think about my past with 
a profound melancholy. But it is more than a few dozen deaths 
in a civil war. There were hundreds of thousands dead in the war. 
We must also defend them. 

Nenni : The proletariat against whom you now direct your offen- 
sive, defends the dead by fighting against war and against militar- 
ism. Frequently they are mistaken in details, but they never mistake 
their ideal. 

Mussolini: Your friends must understand. I am as ready for 

war as for peace. 

Nenni: You have lost the possibility of choosing. 

Mussolini : In that case, it will be war. 

Nenni : For the past two years it has been war. 

This dialogue occurred just eight months before the guerilla war- 
fare which Fascism had been waging throughout Italy, was ordered 
turned into a civil war by Mussolini at the national congress which the 
party held in Naples in October. 

"AH armed prophets have conquered and the unarmed have been 
destroyed," Mussolini had read and underlined in his Machiavelli. 
He had no intention of marching on Rome with the few bayonets 
of his own illegal Fascist!. He was not that foolish. 

To take over the Italian government required not only the leader- 
ship of the Fascist squadristi, but the violation of the oath of fidelity 
to the crown on the part of many generals in the regular army, 
because it is quite evident that a regiment or two with their usual 
rifles, a few hand grenades, and machine guns, not to mention some 

ii6 Sawdust Caesar 

gas bombs or perhaps one battery of three-inch guns firing shrapnel, 
could have, in five minutes, made of the "march on Rome" what the 
cautious MussoHni, safe in Milan, feared it would be, a bloody 
fiasco. But not a regular soldier moved. 

The scheming Duke of Aosta, cousin of Victor Emmanuel III, was 
another important part of the Fascist plot. He was a man of great 
ambition who believed himself the most capable of the House of 
Savoy to rule the country. He had great influence in the army. It 
was one of his followers. General Vaccari, who succeeded General 
Badoglio as chief of staff after the latter, who under Giolitti's 
regime had armed the Fascisti, had resigned. It was Badoglio who 
had from time to time made the declaration that the Fascisti were 
not to be feared by the King because he would destroy their pre- 
tensions with one regiment in a few hours. 

While the Fascisti were holding their congress in Naples, on 
October 24th, a secret conference was being held in Florence, where 
Black Shirt leaders, chiefs of the regular army, representatives of 
the nationalists and the imperialists in parliament and a representa- 
tive of the Duke of Aosta, decided that the time had come to take 
over the Facta government. Even at this late date the man chosen as 
representative of the "New Italy" was not Mussohni, but the man 
of heroics, Gabriele d'Annunzio. But the poet refused. The second 
choice was not Mussolini, but General Peppino Garibaldi, who had 
led an Italian legion on the French front from the first days of the 
war. Garibaldi refused. Then it was that Mussohni was chosen, and 
that the Duke of Aosta's intervention with the army was promised 
on the basis of his receiving the regentship. 

The Duke went to Spoleto and put new oil into his motor-car, 
filled up the gasoline-tank, and waited the word to ride into Rome 
and take his cousin's throne. 

Mussolini, on the 24th, made his big speech to the congress at 
Naples. It was a thundering speech. The time had come. The coun- 
try had had enough. It must be saved despite itself. But from what? 
From Bolshevism? From Communism? There is no mention of these 
terrible forces. Mussolini had thundered against them in 1920. Now 
Jove was sending his thunderbolts against — Democracy. 

Under that vague term the following forces were joined : the sev- 

The Glorious March on Rome 117 

eral liberal parties, including the Catholics, Socialists, and Republi- 
cans (but not the Communists who had split from the Socialists and 
drifted weakly away) ; the labor unions with some 2,000,000 mem- 
bers ; and the cooperatives which, despite Fascist fire and sword, 
were flourishing remarkably in city and country. 

The nation in 1922 had recovered from the economic and political 
chaos of 1920. When, some time later, the distinguished journalist, 
Hiram Kelly Motherwell, had charts and graphs prepared of the 
standard of living, exports and imports, rate of exchange, wages, 
unemployment, etc., from figures officially supplied by the Fascist 
government, these showed without exception that every line going 
up or down, all favorable to Italy, had the crucial favorable angle 
sometime between the end of 1921 and the first months of 1922. 

Even the wartime national budget, which caused deficits of scores 
of billions of lire in the first post-bellum years, was now about to 
balance. In fact, the deficit which the liberal premiers cut down to 
about half a billion was to be replaced, thanks to the program of 
economy outlined, with a flattering surplus. 

So much for facts and figures. But the effects of these changes 
were as far reaching. If, as figures prove, the standard of living of 
the Italian masses had gone up, if wages had gone up, if the coopera- 
tives were flourishing, it is evident that some one had to pay for all 
these magnificent national achievements. These wages had been won 
by that series of strikes which so disgusted American tourists and 
bankers ; but they disgusted even more the Italian employers who 
were forced by this demonstration of power and solidarity among 
the workingmen to disgorge some of their war profits. Wages in- 
creased and the chambers of commerce, the association of metal fac- 
tory owners, the national industrial associations, the industrial banks 
and the employers' organizations which were sorely hit in their finan- 
cial plexus, and whose thousands of newspapers could no longer raise 
the shout of "Bolshevism" because this red herring was now a dead 
herring, turned in their last extremity to the use of violence to alter 
an economic situation. 

The cooperatives weje destroying private profits. Therefore the 
cooperatives must be destroyed. The labor unions were becoming 

Ii8 Sawdust Caesar 

arrogant. Therefore the unions must go. The liberal-socialistic regime 
in Rome was nothing but a school of gossips. , . . 

It was to the financial interest of the big-business men of the 
north to encourage the squadristi to plunder and destroy the coopera- 
tives, the labor unions, the Socialist, and the Catholic institutions. 
But for the condottiere of the squadristi, Mussolini, it was the weak 
bombastic parliamentary system which became the objective of attack. 

Italy was recovering. In a little while, perhaps only a few months, 
it would be too late to act. In August armed Fascist bands indulged 
in a general campaign of terror in the large cities, and the labor 
unions, demanding that the government use armed force to smash 
Fascism, called a general strike. This labor union strike, which had 
not one glint of red in its spectrum, was a miserable failure. Times 
were so much better, progress was so rapid, that few heeded the call 
to protest. 

It was then that opportunity, which had knocked at Mussolini's 
door with the noise of cannon in 1914, and practically smashed in his 
door in 1919, again visited him. That same Will to Power of which 
he spoke daily, that same "star of destiny" which he says guided him 
always, informed him that unless he made his bid immediately the 
situation would be forever changed and locked against him. 

"I take a solemn oath," roared Mussolini, "that either the govern- 
ment of the country must be given peacefully to the Fascisti or we 
will take it by force." 

Again, as at Reggio Emilia and in the Socialist congress of Milan, 
the violent enthusiasm of the speaker communicated itself to the 

"A Roma! A Roma!" the Black Shirts shouted, hysterically. 

And again Mussolini became the master. 

He had, as is well known, had no intention of marching on Rome 
in October, 1922. He did not know at first, as did d'Annunzio and 
later Garibaldi, that the military forces were conspiring for a coup 
d'etat and needed a leader. Although the Naples congress was in- 
tended by him to be a test of his power, it surprised him by its 
readiness to risk a civil war. 

On the 19th of the month he had written to his good friend 
De Santo, Italian, Fascist, and Rome correspondent of the Chicago 

The Glorious March on Rome 119 

Tribune — in fact the predecessor of the present writer — the follow- 
ing letter : 

Caro De Santo : 

I thank you for your many kindnesses in presenting the 
Fascist cause to America. I regret deeply that the American 
ambassador, Signor Washburn-Child, does not seem very 
sympathetic to Fascismo and I would esteem it greatly if 
you would take me and introduce me to him, 

I am going to Naples in a few days. I do not think that 
anything of consequence will occur there, and on my way 
back to Milan I will stop in Rome, and hope you will make 
the appointment for me. 



But instead of stopping in Rome to see the American ambassador, 
Richard Washburn Child, Mussolini went from the Naples congress 
directly to Milan to lead his "revolution." 

The secret of this action was a series of telegrams from Florence, 
where the military heads who planned the overthrow had made 
Mussolini their third choice. Among the generals who had betrayed 
their oath to the King and the royal constitution were De Bono, 
Fara, Magiotto, Zamboni, and Tiby. And when they had been in- 
formed from Naples that Mussolini had accepted leadership they 
sent him the following telegram: 

Venite. La pappa e pronta. Le mense sono imbandite. Non" 
aveete che a sedervi a tavola. 

(Come. The gruel is ready. The dinner is served. You have 
only to seat yourself at the table.) 

Thus revolution began. 

On the 26th the Fascisti had sent an ultimatum to the government 
demanding the premiership for their party. Facta, the Prime Min- 
ister, replied by handing his resignation to the King. On the 27th 
Mussolini went back to his newspaper office in Milan and the Fascist 
squadristi got their orders to move. 

Under the command of many generals, they "marched" on Rome 

120 Sawdust Caesar 

in three columns. From Umbria, Romagna, and Tuscany the Black 
Shirts came to Foligno, where General Fara took command and led 
them to Monterotondo, north of Rome. The men from d'Annunzio's 
Abruzzi assembled at Tivoli, under Bottai. Genoa, Milan, Bologna, 
and western seaboard cities and towns, north and south, sent dele- 
gations to meet at Santa Marinella, and as their open trucks went 
slowly along the dusty roads the Fascist civilians praised the adven- 
ture as friendly, while opponents said simply it was child's play. 

But when the concentration began the city of Rome was alarmed 
and the garrison was put to work stringing wartime barbed wire 
around some of the gates. On the morning of the 28th the general 
staff officers had reports there were no more than 8,000 Fascists in 
the neighborhood of Rome, scattered, ill-clad, and ill-fed and list- 
less. Premier Facta, who could have sent a few machine-guns against 
them, or who could merely have surrounded them and starved them 
into jail or dissolution, did what was typically in the character of 
the parliament of that day and in himself — he did nothing but run 
around excitedly, talking, gesturing. 

The King had returned from Pisa on the evening of the 27th. 
Angry with the cabinet and particularly with the weakness of Facta, 
he threatened, "Before I'll give in to them I'll take my wife and 
children and leave." However, the King agreed to declare martial 
law. Facta drew up the proclamation. Certain of the King's promise, 
he informed the prefects everywhere to take the necessary measures 
to crush Fascism. 

Meanwhile the Fascisti who were not "marching" were "storming" 
the public buildings of doubtful cities, occupying and holding the 
railroad stations, post offices, telegraph offices, armories, all upon 
the invitation of the authorities. 

Facta arrived early on the morning of the 28th with the decree 
of martial law. The King weakened. It might cause revolutionary 
bloodshed. Facta, who had a consummate will to surrender, was 
caught in the emotions of the King and did not insist. But when 
Facta tried to spread the emotional contagion to the cabinet, it stood 
firm, and at a few minutes after ten that morning the official news 
agency announced to the papers that the King had declared martial 

The Glorious March on Rome 121 

With this fait accompli, Facta ran back to the King, who now 
firmly refused to sign. While Facta had been trembling, the King 
had been acting. He had received members of the Nationalist Party, 
and other imperialists, who made two declarations, one of which was 
untrue and the other doubtful : they told the King that the Duke of 
Aosta was among the Fascisti outside the walls of Rome, and that he 
had 80,000 men ready to seize the crown, and that the army had 
refused to fight against the Fascisti. The King was frightened. He 
believed. He surrendered. 

At noon the decree of martial law was declared null. The King tele- 
graphed to Mussolini in Milan to come form a government. 

With shouts of joy men who had been scared put on black shirts 
and, jumping into railroad trains, refused to buy tickets, but shouted 
"To Rome! To Rome!" so that by the 31st of October about 20,000 
were assembled outside the walls of the Eternal City. 

But where was our hero all this time? He was at the head of the 
revolution. While the Black Shirts were riding in crowded railroad 
coaches, much to the indignation of American tourists, and com- 
mandeering trucks and even peasant carts, Mussolini spent anxious 
moments waiting for reports from headquarters which the generals 
had established in Perugia. 

One of the generals, Mussolini relates proudly, then appeared in 
Milan with the news that the "offensive" was proceeding excellently 
and that there would be no opposition from the Royal army or in 
fact from any of the forces of law and order. "We know from very 
faithful unforgettable friends," he repeated, "that the army, unless 
exceptional circumstances arise, will maintain itself on the ground 
of amiable neutrality." There was no other organized armed force 
in Italy. The liberals and the radicals had no weapons. 

But the leader knew that there must be bloodshed to have a 
revolution. Somehow or other there must be the blood bath Musso- 
lini had asked first for the proletariat, now for the Fascisti, if the 
thing were to be done properly, successfully, and impressively. But 
not one report that came in of all the street cars occupied and all 
the railroad coaches filled with "marching" Black Shirts, spoke of 
anybody getting killed. 

122 Sawdust Caesar 

Well, if there was going to be no revolution in the open cotintry- 
side, perhaps there would be one in Rome or Milan, 

"To the barricades! On to the barricades!" shouted the future 
Duce, but there being nobody making an attack, and no barricades 
anywhere to defend, he proposed building them around the Popolo 
office in Milan. 

Soon the whole staff, including the women, were busy. Boxes, 
wood, the little carts which had been used for distributing the 
paper, trash of every description, were piled into the street, the 
silent unrevolutionary street, and the barricades arose as in once 
glorious Paris. 

"I put on the black shirt. I barricaded the Popolo d'ltalia. In 
the livid and grey morning, Milan had a new and fantastic appear- 
ance. Pauses and sudden silences gave one the sensation of great 
hours that come and go in the course of history. Frowning battalions 
of royal guards scouted the city and the monotonous rhythm of 
their feet sounded ominous echoes in the almost deserted streets." 

Almost deserted. The police kept away. The enemy kept far away. 
Only the Fascist! were busy running about, building up, moving 
around, shouting instructions, warnings, greetings, getting their guns 
ready, peering about for trace or smell of an enemy. The barricades 
were beehives and bedlam, but on the other side there was nothing 
but sunshine and dead quiet, dead sunshine and pale quiet. Mussolini 
had protected his offices "with everything needful for defense." He 
knew that "if the government authorities desired to give a proof 
of their strength they would have directed their first violent assault 
at the Popolo d'ltalia." One morning he looked out and saw machine- 
guns pointed at him. 

"I had my rifle charged and went down to defend the doors. The 
neighbors had barricaded entrances and windows and were begging 
for protection. During the firing bullets whistled around my ears," 
reports Mussolini. 

The bullets that whistled so melodramatically around the heroic 
ears of "the Duce who precedes" came from behind. All the con- 
fusion, all the hurly-burly of a revolution, was behind the barricades. 
All the shooting was there, too. The entire personnel of the news- 
paper, including the editors, among them Signora Sarfatti, the de- 

The Glorious March on Rome 123 

voted, the hero-worshiping one, were behind the barricades making 
a noise of revolution. It was midday of the 28th of October when 
the first firing was heard, when Mussolini, according to the eye- 
witness lady editor, seized his rifle and rushed down to the barri- 
cade: "At that moment he ran the greatest risk of his life. One 
of the young men who followed behind him, seeing him mount the 
barricade, leveled his rifle in the direction of the enemy and fired, 
the bullet grazing the head of the Chief and whistling through his 
hair just above his ear." 

A frightened Mussolini did not at first know whether the bullet 
which "whistled around my ears" came from the enemy or from 
one of his ardent followers. That shooting, the most memorable of 
the Fascist revolution, which almost caused the death of its leader- 
in-chief, resulted in a terrific uproar behind the barricade. With 
savage anger the staff of the Popolo threw itself upon the unfortu- 
nate Fascist who had fired with good intention and bad aim. It was 
bent on a lynching. For a minute it did look as if there was to be 
some blood in this revolution, after all, as if there was actually to 
be blood upon a revolutionary barricade. 

But Mussolini himself said. No. 

He stepped down from the barricade, rubbing his head. He mixed 
into the fray, shouting down the would-be lynchers, extricating his 
zealous follower and pacifying the others. There was no more 

At midday on the 29th the telephone rang and Mussolini was 
offered the place of Prime Minister of Italy. He had conquered. 

The last attempt to keep him from his goal of power was made by 
some politicians. Just after the horrible episode on the barricades, 
the royal guard had made a peaceful arrangement, a truce, which 
provided for the removal of the machine-guns. "With that sort of 
armistice began for me the day of October 28th." That night the 
politicians proposed a truce and armistice with the government itself. 
Salandra, a nationahst, one time premier, would take the job again 
and conduct Italian policies more to the liking of the Fascist!. Mus- 
solini replied : 

"War is declared. We will carry it to the bitter end. The struggle 
is blazing all over Italy. Youth is in arms. I am rated as a leader who 

124 Sawdust Caesar 

precedes and not one who follows. I will not humiliate with arbitra- 
tion this page of the resurrection of Italian youth. I tell you it is 
the last chapter. It will fulfill the traditions of our country. It can- 
not die in compromise." 

Then came the telephone call. Guido Barella, of the Secolo, and 
also correspondent for my newspaper in Milan, thus vividly describes 
the scene in the office that afternoon. Mussolini still had the receiver 
to his ear. About him was grouped the staff of the paper. 

"I will come to Rome," he repHed without a tremor in his voice, 
"when the charge to form a Ministry is official." He hung up. 

He stood still a second, his expression serene, his eyes far away. 

"My Ministry . . . !" — a hard dry sound like a sob was in his voice. 
"My Ministry will be thus ... ;" half closing his eyes contem- 
platively, he added: 

"If they will not accept my proposition and allow me to put in 
the men I consider suitable for office, then I will have a Ministry 
that is entirely Fascist, from the president to the last office boy." 

That evening he was still at his post in the newspaper office, a gray 
raincoat over the black shirt and uniform, a soft grey hat, as usual, 
down over his eyes. 

More telephoning, more excitement, and we are only a few hours 
before his departure for Rome, in answer to a confirmatory tele- 
gram received from the King's aide-de-camp : 

His Majesty King Victor Emmanuel begs you to come 
to Rome at once. He wishes to offer you the task of form- 
ing a new ministry. General Cittadini. 

(Such was the lamentable state of communications of the execra- 
ble Facta regime that the urgent message from the King had taken 
hours to reach Mussolini, who had not trusted the telephone and 
who had remained torn between doubt and hope and wonder.) 

Notified by telegrams and telephone messages, the legionaries 
cheered and shouted: 

"To Rome ! To Rome !" 

Time seemed to pass with uncanny swiftness. Of a sudden Mus- 

The Glorious March on Rome 125 

solini was running down the stairs and had disappeared in a waiting 

Thousands of people had gathered in and about the station, as he 
slowly passed through the throng, alone, in his gray raincoat, hands 
deep in his pockets, his hat down over his eyes ; the shouting and 
applause increased until it was a mad delirium. 

He was pale, paler than usual. 

Flowers were showered upon him as, tranquil and serene, he 
slowly advanced through the dense crowd to the platform and the 

He arrived at the steps of the special car reserved for him. The 
presidential train was on its way to Rome. The son of the blacksmith 
had become the Dues, and he was going forth to his unending fight. 

Just before he left for the station, Mussolini turned over the 
barricaded Popolo to his brother Arnaldo. He then "asked the as- 
sistance of God." Still earlier in the day he had gone to the Fascist 
main barracks, where he met his faithful friend and henchman, 
Cesare Rossi, and told him the "boys" could now go ahead and burn 
down his old enemy newspaper, the Avanti. "I was in a terrible state 
of nervous tension. Night after night I had been kept awake, giving 
orders, following the compact columns of the Fascisti, restricting 
the battle to the knightly practices of Fascism." 

As the train took him to Rome and power, the Avanti went up in 
flames, the first knightly act of victorious Fascism. 

The Duke of Aosta was kept waiting at Spoleto. He had been 
used as a pawn, and now he was forgotten. 

The Vatican had remained neutral but fearful. It knew that the 
young atheist of Lausanne was coming into power and anything 
might happen to the Church — bloodshed, fire, annihilation. The Pope 
sent emissaries to General De VecchI, member of the quadrumvirate, 
and to Dino Grandi, one of the ruthless politicians who had become 
a power in the north. De Vecchi and Grandi sent back word that 
the Catholic Church had nothing to fear, that, on the other hand, 
Mussolini had realized the necessity of having the cooperation of the 
Vatican in order to establish a successful regime in a country almost 
wholly Catholic. Mussolini gave orders to respect the Church and 
its property. 

126 Sawdust Caesar 

The Fascist! piled out of their trucks, street cars, and trains and 
occupied Monterotondo, not far from Rome. Mussolini speaks of 
100,000, but other reports say there were but 8,000 of them. Both 
may be right. Only a few Black Shirts came to Monterotondo, yet 
when the triumphal parade was reviewed by Mussolini several days 
later, their number had swelled to many tens of thousands. 

Mussolini, some time afterwards, in one of his speeches, when 
he had worked himself up into a fury, mentioned "three thousand 
dead" as the cost of the glorious victory, but James Murphy of 
the British diplomatic service, and Carlton Beals, the author, who 
were both in Rome reporting, say there were no dead. Murphy speaks 
of one boy who succumbed to fatigue as the full casualty list. It is 
most likely that Mussolini was thinking of the Fascist claims that 
they had lost several thousand members in all the years of street 
fighting from the time of first organization until the glorious March 
on Rome. 

As his train approached the Eternal City, Mussolini got out his 
black shirt and put it on. The fog lay thin and cold over the land 
and the thin notes of a military cornet announced the arrival of 
U duce che precede (the leader who precedes) at Civita Vecchia. 
Thousands sang Giovinezza as the engine groaned its last. 

"Where is he," shouted the frenzied multitude. 

Pale, "his large eyes reflecting a soul on fire," he stood in the 
last car, "silently surveying the mob." In the raising of his hand 
for silence "there was a feeling of history." 

"The Naples Congress," he said, "has its logical conclusion in the 
irresistible march on Rome. Friends, his majesty the King has called 
me to Rome to form a government. I will form it. But I demand 
calm, order, discipline. It is necessary that nothing corrupts my 

"Princes, Triaires, Fascists ! Our movement is victorious. We 
have conquered without firing a shot because Fascism has been 
more than ever stirring to the depths the strict and generous inter- 
preter of the national conscience. 

"Italy is in your hands, and we swear to place it on the road of 
its ancient glory, 

"Viva Fascismo ! Viva I'ltalia !" 

the Glorious March on Rome 127 

The crowd : "For Benito Mussolini. Ayah, ayah, ayah. Alala!" 

Fascists, officers, regular soldiers, station hands, women and chil- 
dren cheered. 

Mussolini got off the train, motored to the Quirinal in his black 
shirt, was introduced "without formalities" to the King. "I beg your 
Majesty to forgive me for appearing in your presence in uniform," 
he said after kissing the royal hand. "I have just come from a blood- 
less battle which had to be fought." The King smiled. The next day 
some twenty thousand Fascisti who had arrived by train, truck, and 
horse-carriage, and the many thousands who had arrived after the 
"capture," were reviewed by Premier Mussolini and King Victor 
Emmanuel together. 

The photographs of this event to this very day are labeled "Mus- 
solini leading the March on Rome." But like the Duke of Crillon 
at Arques, the Duce of Fascismo had not been there. 

There was no revolution. No blood was shed. It was a military 
conspiracy! to which the generals and the government were party and 
the industrialists in the north the financial backers. Nevertheless, it 
was a great victory for the student of Machiavelli. "I was triumphant 
in Rome," he wrote, triumphantly. 

^On September 29th, writes the historian Salvcmini, the Fascisti had been assured 
that the army would remain neutral. "This essential fact was divulged by Alessandro 
ChiavoUni, Mussolini's private secretary, in the Popolo d'ltdia for October 27, 1923. 
Mussolini himself in a speech on October 30, 1923, declared that he knew that 'at the 
opportune moment the government machine guns would not fire on the revolution- 
aries.' " Richard Washburn Child, the American ambassador, wrote that he had it on 
good authority that the army secredy favored the movement. 

^ Two weeks before the coup d'etat Mussolini, replying to General Badoglio's exclama- 
tion, "At the first fire, all of Fascism will collapse," said, "General Badoglio fools him- 
self. . . . The national army will not go against the army of the Black Shirts. . . ." 
(Beals, Rome or Death, page 264.) 

Wilbur Forrest, correspondent in Rome and now editor of the New York Herald 
Tribune, was at Civitavecchia during the "march." The commanding regular army 
general informed him he had received orders from Rome not to fire on the Fascisti 
but to place the railroads and other transportation at their disposal. Forrest was given 
a truck; a dozen Fascisti barged in, and so the American journalist also led the march on 


The Victor in Search of a Program 

the loss of a drop of blood. It was a sort of palace revolution, 
a conspiracy within the army — whole regiments wore the black shirts 
under their uniforms — at first a mere change in premiership brought 
about through armed intimidation instead of a plebescite at the polls. 

But a frightened Europe pounded on Mussolini's door, demanding 
whether he intended to suppress the labor unions ; whether he would 
respect Italy's obligations to the Allies; if his policy was peace or 
war; and if he would pay the debts to the United States. 

Much to everyone's surprise. Premier Mussolini announced the 
formation of the conventional parliamentary coalition government. 
Immediately the world breathed regularly again. Then, being a pro- 
fessional journalist and knowing that the press made and unmade 
all the political beds in Europe, the Premier, whose first act had 
been to proclaim a censorship, issued the following statement : "When 
conditions are settled I will restore liberty of the press, but the press 
must prove itself worthy of liberty. Liberty is not only a right, it 
is a duty.*' 

To the Allies he said : "France is dissatisfied with the peace and 
she is right. It is a bad peace. The war was not pushed to its natu- 
ral conclusion. We should have finished it, you at Berlin, we at 
Vienna and Budapest. It is necessary to take the enemy by the throat. 
You have little chance of getting what is owed you. You were de- 
ceived. Germany has the will not to pay. She is dangerous." 

To the masses he said : "The Fascist movement which began as 
bourgeois, now has become syndicalist, but of national syndicalism, 
taking into account the interest of workingmen and those of em- 
ployers and producers. Please emphasize we are not anti-proletariat." 


The Victor in Search of a Program 129 

To the American journalists he gave a special session in the Hotel 
Savoia: "Nothing but good can be said about the United States. 
One always speaks well of his creditor — and we all owe the United 
States money." 

The great day of the new parliament came. In his hand Mus- 
solini held the scepter of semi-legal power. As all the trains out of 
Rome carried the Black Shirt army which had not fired a shot in 
its victory nor enjoyed the deHrium of a revolution, back to its 
homes, the new Prime Minister stood at the head of a government 
in just the same relation as his predecessors, the "cowards," 
"traitors," "incompetents," and "gossips" whom he had denounced. 
The cabinet was a coalition, continuing many democratic and liberal 
elements and policies. There was no dictatorship, only a faint rattling 
of a sword. 

"Gentlemen," the new Premier said on his first day in parliament, 
"that which I have done today, in this room is a formal act of 
deference towards you for which I do not ask any testimony or 
particular recognition. 

"A revolution has its rights. I am here to defend and to strengthen 
to the highest degree the revolution of the Black Shirts in introduc- 
ing profoundly, like a force of evolution, progress and equilibrium 
in the history of the nation. [Applause, Right.] 

"I could abuse my victory, but I refuse to. I am imposing limits. 
With my three hundred thousand young men, armed in every way, 
decided for anything, and so to speak mystically ready to carry out 
my orders, I could chastise all those who have defamed and at- 
tempted to throw Fascism into the mud. 

"I could make of this hall, low and gray, a bivouac of corpses. 

Applause interrupted from the Right benches, where sat all the 
new parliamentarians who had won their seats by knife and gun. 
Murmurs of discontent from the Center. Protests shouted from the 
Left. "Long Hve parliament. Long live parliament," cried Modigliani 
to the cheers of his followers. The speaker's face grew darker. 

"I could close this parliament and establish a government com- 
posed exclusively of Fascists. I could do it, but I have not willed it; 
at least not for the present moment." 

130 Sawdust Caesar 

The Right benches remained silent, but the tumult of the Center 
and Left increased. 

"My adversaries have remained in their hiding-places ; some have 
tranquilly come out and obtained free circulation, profiting thereby 
already by spitting their venom and by attempting their ambushes. 

"I have established a coalition government, not with the intention 
of obtaining a majority in parliament, which today I can very well 
dispense with [Applause, extreme Right], but to unite — to aid this 
suffering nation — all of the shades and parties who would save the 

"Before arriving here we were asked what was our program. 
Alas! it is not programs which are lacking in Italy; it is men and 
the will to apply the programs. All the problems of life in Italy, all, I 
say, have already been solved on paper, but the will to translate them 
into facts is missing. The government, today, represents this will, 
firm and resolved." 

But within a few days the old parliamentary game began. Having 
arrived in power without a program— the ragged ends of several 
old and frequently changed programs having proved inadequate — 
and unable to produce anything new except such words as "dis- 
cipline" and "work" and "patriotism," the new Premier found him- 
self the object of attack of all the Opposition and the neutral. The 
great newspapers kept asking him for a program, and the humorous 
weeklies made him ridiculous, A dog doctor had a big sign painted 
over his clinic with an English bull in the center, a growling like- 
ness of Mussolini, who, as a punster later put it, "hounded" the 
veterinarian out of town. A leading comic sheet published a series 
of articles on a modern, humorless, impotent, bellicose, weak, threat- 
ening, vascillating, furious, unvictorious Napoleon. In Turin a jour- 
nalist, Gobetti, launched irony and sarcasm upon the theatrical con- 
queror. The entire independent as well as the liberal and opposition 
press, still untouched by draconic suppression, joined in exposing the 
falsity of claims, the failure of action, the lack of definite aims, the 
foolishness and fatuity and frustration of the new regime and its 
blundering leader. The Fascist honeymoon was over and again disil- 
lusion gripped the nation. 

The Victor in Search of a Program 131 

Fascism had come into power. It was powerless. So long as legal- 
ity remained, it was still possible to overthrow the government by 
a vote; if the Black Shirt militia were to be mobilized again, it was 
possible that the second time it would be met by armed force, now 
that its regime was proving the same weak and ineffectual debating 
society as its predecessors, and losing the confidence of neutral leaders 
and the vast mass which had hoped for a miracle in a few months. 
The lire, moreover, had continued to fall and the economic situation, 
which for three years of liberal governments had grown better daily 
despite the enormous payment of war debts amounting upwards to 
25,000,000,000 lire in one year, now became worse, approached 
desperation. Perhaps a second "march within Rome" would be a 

From all sides came criticisms and criticism was one thing this 
journalist, who above all others should have realized and appreciated 
and valued, refused to hear. He knew the power of the press and 
feared it. Criticism can crush empires. He decided to smash it. Then 
there was a stream of irony from the speakers of the Opposition 
and from the comic press. This Mussolini could not understand and 
therefore could not forgive. He began planning revenge. In 1923 
he organized the Cheka. 

The chief enemy, of course, was his old party, the Socialist. "Skill- 
ful and astute in every political art, they protracted without end all 
the annoyances they could devise. It was a game played with the 
deliberate aim to destroy and tear down. In this subtle work of 
exasperation Matteotti, the deputy, distinguished himself above all 
others — he reached a degree of absurdity even beyond that attained 
by any other Socialist." 

What Matteotti did was to settle upon Mussolini like a gadfly, 
a gadfly armed with two stings, irony and humor. The wounds 
left were incurable because they required, in the blood of the 
dictator, a prophylactic, a lymph, an antitoxin which he did not 
possess, and unable to heal himself he found he must destroy his 

Day after day Matteotti would hurl at Mussolini the planks of 
the Fascist program of 1919, the written and signed pledges of 

132 Sawdust Caesar 

1920, and conclude with, "Well, what are you going to do about 
it?" "You have written that 'the Italian revolution of 1920 [the 
seizure of the factories by the proletariat] is a phase of the Fascist 
revolution begun by Fascists in May, 1915,' " Matteotti would say, 
holding aloft the Popolo d'ltalia of September 28, 1920. "Do you 
deny it now?" and Mussolini would frown and double his fist and 
keep silent because he could not answer. 

"I see by your own admission that 'Bolshevism is dead,' " Mat- 
teotti would say, "and now you declare that the chief object of your 
party is to fight Bolshevism — ^you would not whip a corpse, would 
you?" and Mussolini would not answer except by a threat and one 
of his favorite words, "coward" or "scoundrel" or "traitor." 

"If, as you said, Italy has saved itself, when the Socialist Party 
expelled, in 1920, all the Communists and the violent enemies, how 
do you intend to save her again, how do you explain the civil war 
which the Fascists have inaugurated, their destructions, their burn- 
ings, their assassinations? How do you explain it? 

"How do you explain that Fascism, playing the adulteress, has 
passed from the bed of the working-class to the bed of the capitalist 
class, betraying turn in turn, at its wish, at its fantasy? 

"You have declared publicly and in writing that 'Fascism will 
never throw itself at the foot of the King because the King has no 
identity with the idea of Fatherland,' and you were the first to throw 
yourself at the foot of the King, you who announced for a Republic. 
How do you explain it? 

"You have proclaimed the moral right of the regicide, you have 
denounced financiers as brigands, you have fought the army, you 
have attacked the clergy, you have denied that God exists, and today 
you are the chief defender of these persons and ideas. How do you 
explain yourself?" 

Mussolini refused to reply publicly. But as he left for Lausanne 
to attend the Allied annual peacemaking congress, he gave Cesare 
Rossi, the one person to whom the word "friend" might be applied 
with any considerable correctness, the order to increase the Black 
Shirt squads to 500,000, a strength superior to the regular army of 
the King, and to organize within it a powerful secret political police 

The Victor in Search of a Program 133 

which he called the "Ceca" and whose counterpart was then known 
in Russia as the Cheka, and now as the Gaypayoo. 

Much to the amusement of those diplomats who knew the secret, 
was the tardy act of the Swiss government which had some seven- 
teen years before expelled an undesirable Italian emigrant, placed 
his name on the consular black list maintained at frontier towns, 
and now was forced to expunge it and change all the police records 
of the new Premier of Italy, about to enter its peaceful borders. 

"What is your foreign program?" asked Lord Curzon. 

"My foreign policy is 'Nothing for nothing.' " 

"Indeed," replied Curzon in his cold British Foreign Office way, 
"very interesting. Very interesting. And what has Italy to offer 
Great Britain?" 


From that day on, for many years, Mussolini trailed Curzon like 
a good little boy and Britain had a lot to say in Fascist diplomacy. 

Returning to Rome, he found parliament protesting, playing the 
old game of talk, and the Italian press, about 80 per cent non- 
Fascist, exposing the assaults and violences the Black Shirts, now 
victoriously ruling, were committing in all parts of the country 
against Sociahsts, Liberals, Laborites, and Catholics alike. 

AH these Opposition parties, their leaders and the press, united 
in shouting one question to the new Premier, "What is your pro- 
gram." Never was a nation more puzzled over the supposed policies 
of a new regime. Fascism, the Opposition said, repeating Matteotti's 
words, had passed from bed to bed, like an adulteress, stopping a 
few months with the Communists, a little while with the Republi- 
cans, a long time with the syndicalists ; it had been liberal and anti- 
liberal; it had proclaimed itself anti-Catholic and apparently had 
made a treaty with the Vatican; it had supported the monarchists 
and the reactionaries, and had at last again proclaimed itself in favor 
of the proletariat. What was its program? What did it intend to do? 

On the eve of the 1919 elections Mussolini had written for cam- 
paign purposes the first program of the Fascio di Combattimento,^ 
helping himself liberally to the ideas of Karl Marx, as the follow- 
ing parallel will show : 

^ Vide Appendix i . 

134 Sawdust Caesar 

Communist Manifesto of 1S48 Original Fascist Program igig 

Abolition of property in land and Extraordinary tax on capital, 

application of all rent of land to progressive, causing partial expro- 

public purposes. priation of all riches, 

A heavy progressive or gradu- Seizure of all property of the re- 

ated income tax. ligious associations. 

Abolition of all right of inher- Seizure up to 85 per cent of the 

itance. war profits. 

Confiscation of property of emi- Formation of technical councils 

grants and rebels. for industry, communications. 

Centralization of the means of Proletarian organizations to man- 
communications and transport in the age public services, 
hands of the State. Realization of the rights of the 

Extension of factories and the railroad workers. ("The railroads 

instruments of production in the for the railroad workers.") 
hands of the State. Participation of the workingmen 

Equal obligation of all to work. in the management of industry. 

And if this original Fascist program was not Karl Marxian 
enough, its author elaborated it in the fall of 1919^ adding: 

The creation of an Italian national assembly to be part of an Interna- 
tional Assembly of All Peoples (i.e., the equivalent of the Communist 

Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, association, press, propaganda, 
individual and collective agitation. 

Creation of a national financial institution {Tnde Karl Marx, point 5, 
the national bank). 

Confiscation of unproductive revenues. 

All landed estates given to the peasants. 

These two Radical-Communistic programs explain the possibility 
of Mussolini's negotiations with Buozzi, the head of the labor unions 
at the time Mussolini planned to make himself theirs and not the 
condottiere of the industrial associations of the North. It was Com- 
rade Angelica who first opened the books of Karl Marx for the 
future Duce and taught him the ten points of the Communist Mani- 
festo of 1848; it was MussoUni who remembered and rewrote them 
in 1919; and today in Italy it costs five years of a man's life to 
reprint the two programs given above. The Liparian Islands give 
the living proof. 

On the loth of November of the same year of the revised pro- 

" Vide Appendix i. 

The Victor in Search of a 'Pro-am 135 

gram Mussolini wrote, "We are preparing not against the working- 
class, but in its favor. 

"We are so little kindly towards the bourgeoisie that we have 
placed at the head of our program expropriation of riches, confis- 
cation of super profits of the war, heavy levy on capital. We will 
accept no dictatorship." 

On the following day, "We are for liberty and against all tyranny." 

And two days later, "The most sacred thing in the world — Lib- 

"In Italy there is no one who would be governed by anyone who 
arises in the name of the Messiah, or a Tsar, or God the Father. We 
want liberty for all. We demand that the Universal Will governs us 
and not the will of any group, or of any man." 

Marching to victory, the Fascisti sang their now famous "Giovi- 

"Youth, Youth, thou lovely thing. 
Time of springtime's blossotning. 

Fascismo brings the promise 
Of Liberty to the People." 

But amidst the shouts of Liberty there were also mingled the 
sounds of the slogan inherited from d'Annunzio of Fiume, "Me ne 
frego (I don't give a damn)." Not a damn for anything but power. 

"They ask us what is our program," exclaimed Mussolini in a 
speech a month before the "march"; "our program is very simple. 
We want to govern Italy." 

More specifically, on the 4th of October he wrote in his Popolo : 
"The imbeciles, Jesuits and Democrats, incessantly demand a pro- 
gram of us. The Democrats of il Mondo, do they desire to know our 
program? To break the bones of the Democrats of il Mondo. And 
the sooner the better." 

It was not until March, 1923, that the new Prime Minister de- 
livered himself of the famous blast against liberalism and liberty 
and announced the first idea of the present Fascism program. He 
wrote :^ 

"Know then, once for all, that Fascism recognizes no idols, adores 

'Appendix, "Fascism: 'Reactionary/ 'Anti-Liberal,'" 

136 Sawdust Caesar 

no fetishes ; it has already passed over the more or less decayed body 
of the Goddess of Liberty, and is prepared, if necessary, to do so 

Order, Discipline, Hierarchy! These three words were Mussolini's 
new program, the substitute for Liberty. 

"Hierarchy," he wrote a little later, "must culminate in a pin- 
point," meaning, of course, without any intention to belittle, no other 
than himself, the Duce. 

Of the original 1919 program, which consists of seventeen points, 
but one or two have been remembered. The rest were immediately 
forgotten. Thus the Commission for Inquiry into the Expenses of the 
War (similar to the Congressional investigation in Washington into 
war profits) which the liberals had created and which would have 
recommended a confiscation of those profits which Mussolini de- 
manded, was immediately dissolved by Decree 487. Moreover, Musso- 
lini threatened to punish severely anyone who dared publish any in- 
formation of the previous results obtained by the commission which 
had already forced the return of several hundred million lire to the 
Italian treasury. 

"Another volte face" cried the Duce's enemies; "he is now the^ 
condottiere of the war profiteers." 

There was no expropriation of the war profiteers, no expropria- 
tion of riches, no seizure of the property of the CathoHc Church or 
other radical fulfillments of the program; there was no proletarian 
participation in industry, no abolition of the Senate, no proclamation 
of free speech and press, no division of land among the peasants. 
Yet the chief official biographer, Signora Sarfatti, writes that "in 
less than two years these demands (quoting the 1919 program, but 
omitting the final third) had been translated into action by the 
Fascist government." 

Chivalry alone prevents comment. 

From Rome the unimpeachable authority, William Bolitho, wrote : 
"The whole baggage of Fascist theory, its nationalism, its royalism, 
its gospel of violence, its anti-parliamentarianism and its denunciations 
of the liberty of the press, its hierarchy and its history of the 
Pelasgian stock [the forerunner of the Hitlerian Aryan myth], are 
not clauses in a social theory, but a sophisticated word-spinning 

The Victor in Search of a Program 137 

around the incidents of an energetic and unscrupulous man's march 
to power." 

But powerful as Mussolini was, he was still not so strong as those 
who made his career possible ; he could not yet throw his financial 
backers overboard, nor could he defy the dangerous element which 
both had used — the army. 

What thoughts were clashing in that egotistical mind in those 
days, what conflicts in his emotions, we can only guess; but we 
know that all those plans for justice for the common people, the 
distribution of land to the enserfed peasantry, the expropriation 
of the universally hated war profiteers, and all the Communistic 
plans out of Karl Marx, were in the early days of Fascism no mere 
word-spinning, no sham demagogic banners to attract the masses. In 
his own muddled way Mussolini had made a compromise between 
Karl Marx and his own Ego, between humanitarianism learned out of 
a book and the inborn Will to Power, a compromise which made 
explanation and program announcement difficult if not impossible. 
He temporized. 

Much less difflcult was the answer he made years afterwards when 
an interviewer asked him, "What is the chief problem of Fascism 

"Its duration," he replied. 



Personal VendeUu 

tion Premier dispersed his enemies. It was good political tactics 
and it also provided the outlet for that powerful spirit of vendetta 
which had ruled his life from childhood. 

He had been taught to trust nobody and he trusts nobody today. 
"If the Eternal Father were to say to me 'I am your friend,' I would 
put up my fists against Him," one of his closest associates sympa- 
thetically quotes the Duce saying, and again, "If my own father 
were to come back to the world I would not place my faith in him." 
It is the confession of a man who has gone through life friendless 
and alone. Mussolini never forgives, never forgets. 

In 1923 he began his personal vendetta. 

It will be remembered that the first to befriend young Benito in 
Switzerland was the Socialist Serrati — Giacinto Menotti Serrati, a 
native of Onegha in Italy, an ardent syndicalist and, like Mussolini, 
an extremist of the Left wing at a time Communism was merely a 

So closely allied were the two that Serrati made Mussolini wel- 
come at his home. There the latter was treated as a child by the mother 
of the former. Signora Serrati not only gave him that motherly 
sympathy which the young man so intensely needed, but she fed 
him and washed his clothes. 

All went well until one day Serrati's sister and her husband ar- 
rived for a visit. Then an unfortunate drunken event occurred. After 
a violent scene. Comrade Benito was asked to leave the house. What- 
ever happened was apparently important enough to be reported in 
the press, where it is stated that "Mussolini played the villain with 




Personal VendeUa 

tion Premier dispersed his enemies. It was good political tactics 
and it also provided the outlet for that powerful spirit of vendetta 
which had ruled his life from childhood. 

He had been taught to trust nobody and he trusts nobody today. 
"If the Eternal Father were to say to me 'I am your friend,' I would 
put up my fists against Him," one of his closest associates sympa- 
thetically quotes the Duce saying, and again, "If my own father 
were to come back to the world I would not place my faith in him.'* 
It is the confession of a man who has gone through Ufe friendless 
and alone. Mussolini never forgives, never forgets. 

In 1923 he began his personal vendetta. 

It will be remembered that the first to befriend young Benito in 
Switzerland was the Socialist Serrati — Giacinto Menotti Serrati, a 
native of Onegha in Italy, an ardent syndicalist and, like Mussolini, 
an extremist of the Left wing at a time Communism was merely a 

So closely allied were the two that Serrati made Mussolini wel- 
come at his home. There the latter was treated as a child by the mother 
of the former. Signora Serrati not only gave him that motherly 
sympathy which the young man so intensely needed, but she fed 
him and washed his clothes. 

All went well until one day Serrati's sister and her husband ar- 
rived for a visit. Then an unfortunate drunken event occurred. After 
a violent scene. Comrade Benito was asked to leave the house. What- 
ever happened was apparently important enough to be reported in 
the press, where it is stated that "Mussolini played the villain with 


Personal Vendetta i^ 

the sister of his benefactor, and the brother-in-law tried to strangle 


Comrade Benito apologized. He wrote the following letter which 
Signora Serrati years later made public : "I beseech you to have pity 
on me and not to forget that I am the son of an alcoholic." The 
Serratis, however, were not impressed, because they knew that Papa 
Alessandro, the cafe-keeper, although a hard drinker, as were many 
in Forli, was not a drunkard. They did not forgive Mussolini and 
he never forgave Serrati. 

The latter had drifted easily into extreme Socialism, had at one time 
been an envoy to Moscow, and at all times true to his radical up- 
bringing. Mussolini had become the archenemy of his own past and 
every man connected with it. Some time after his arrival in power 
the new Cheka spies brought word that there was a radical con- 
spiracy against the regime and that among the leaders was his old 
friend Serrati. Serrati was arrested. But the trial for treason and 
"inciting class hatred" failed and Serrati was freed. Mussolini greeted 
the news with fury. Turning to Cesare Rossi,^ official of both the 
press bureau and the Cheka, he said : 

"The next time an affair like this comes along I will send a patrol 
of national militia to San Vittore to await the liberated prisoners. 
The judicial authorities may liberate him, but I will shoot him. Each 
to his functions." But instead of shooting Serrati, Mussolini set his 
police agents on him, so that his old benefactor spent his remaining 
Italian years in misery. 

The vendetta Mussolini-Nitti began in 1919 when d'Annunzio 
occupied Fiume and when the first conspiracy to seize Rome was 
being organized. With Mussolini, the Futurist revolutionary poet 
Marinetti, and several others were arrested on Nitti's warrants, which 
charged "armed plotting against the security of the nation." 

Mussolini never forgave Nitti for the one night he spent in jail. 

Explaining his action to parliament, Nitti had said : 

"Those who inflame the public betray the interests of the country. 
Italy at present ought to inspire the utmost confidence abroad in 
order to obtain the credits she needs. A policy of adventurers would 
have us fall into anarchy. Workmen and peasants should check this 

* Vi^e Rossi memoranda. 

140 Sawdust Caesar 

dangerous adventure; they should warn us and Italy should push 
forward upon the road of renunciation and duty." 

Mussolini's newspaper replied with broadsides of the most vulgar 
and insulting words outside the dictionary. There was freedom of 
the press in those days. Then one day a Nitti newspaper published 
the report that of the first miUion lire Mussolini had raised for 
Fiume he had used a third for his own armed bands. Mussolini added 
this insult to his memory. In all his writings, including the recent 
Autobiography, he turns again and again to denunciation of the 
former Liberal Premier: 

"Nitti . . . was and remains a personality that is a negation of 
any ideal of life and of manly conflict. He has a fairly good knowl- 
edge of finances. He is impudent in his assertions. He is intensely 
egocentric. ... He never would face Bolshevism . . . {re Fiume) 
he summoned up the dangerous idea of protest by a general strike. 
. . . Nitti thought and acted only as a consequence of physical fear. 
Attacked full front and exasperated in his mad and miserable dream, 
he plotted with every means to overcome the resistance of the Fi- 
umean legionaries. . . . The whole tone of his speech is vile, dread- 
fully vile. . . . One must not forget when considering aviation that 
Nitti had forbidden flight . . . his command was to demobilize the 
nation. ... It was a kind of premeditated murder of a nation which 
really did not want to be strangled. . . ." 

In the autumn of 1923 the Cheka informed Mussolini that Nitti 
had returned to Rome and that Opposition deputies and journalists 
from New York and Manchester were callers at his house. Rossi, 
head of the Cheka, was consulted. According to him, Mussolini 

"It looks as if the Rome Fascio does not exist, but remains inert 
as regarding men of the Opposition, otherwise it would make the 
presence of Nitti impossible in the capital." 

Rossi admits he called upon Polverelli and Foschi, directors of 
the Rome unit, and told them the wishes of the Duce. The three then 
decided to call out some university men and others of the squadristi 
to visit Nitti and sing "Giovinezza" under his windows. 

But the small group soon attracted several hundred more Fascisti, 
and once the mob spirit prevailed it was determined to murder Nitti. 

Personal Vendetta 141 

The house was entered. But Nitti happened to be hidden in an 
upper chamber. Everything in the villa was destroyed, including the 
former Premier's archives and the manuscript of a book on which 
he was working. 

Nitti fled to France. But Mussolini's vendetta did not end at the 
frontier lines. For several years not a month has gone by without 
spies and agents of the Cheka coming to Nitti to attempt involving 
him in an anti-Fascist plot. The purpose is to prove to the French 
government that the former Premier is conspiring while in asylum; 
it is hoped that France will expel him. 

How one of the latest Cheka plots turned out was told me the 
other day by Vincenzo Nitti, son of the Premier. 

"Among the spies who come to our house," said he, "are several 
persons we knew well in Rome and whom we trusted. One of them 
proposed to us that we finance a revolution. Another brought us 
complete plans for large-scale bomb manufacture; if father would 
supply the funds and give his approval, he would make enough in- 
fernal machines to blow up the Fascisti, etc. 

"But the best case is that of Signora B , who arrived with 

clippings from the Rome newspapers saying she had been expelled 
from Italy because she was too anti-Fascist. She was a well-known 
actress, a young and beautiful and talented woman, and a friend 
of Mussolini's. I suspected at once that she was his agent. 

"However, she and I became quite good friends. It was only when 
I noticed that she had a habit of taking papers — from coat pockets, 
too — that I became certain she was a Chekist. So I began planting 
all sorts of letters and documents, all of which she stole. In this way 
I was able to send directly to Signor Mussolini all communications 
I could not otherwise have made. 

"But all the time I knew Signora B she pestered me about our 

underground press system. As you may know, we publish the Becco 
Giallo, the old satirical paper which Mussolini never could abide, 
here in Paris ; we photograph it from the big sheets and print the 
miniature plates on India paper, so that we can send thousands in 
a small package. 

"Well, one day, at a cafe, I pretended I was very drunk and the 
dear lady took advantage of that to ask me again to tell her in 

142 Sawdust Caesar 

deepest confidence how we smuggled the propaganda into Italy. I 
told her we had two ways : whenever one saw a priest with an ex- 
traordinarily large stomach, crossing the frontier, you may be sure 
that under that black cassock there were several thousand copies of 
our publication. But our best way was in sardine-tins. In fact, the 
next day, when she confronted me with my 'confession' and I could 
not deny it, I had a workingman bring me a sample sardine-tin with 
a cover, and in it I placed ten copies of the Becco Giallo. I showed 
this to Signora. 

"What happened? First of all, every fat priest crossing the frontier 
was hit across the stomach with the club of a Fascist militiaman, 
and believe me that did not further relations with the Vatican any. 
But afterwards there was a diplomatic incident you might have read 
about. It seems that at least many thousands of cans of sardines were 
opened at the frontier. And every can contained sardines, and all 
were spoiled, and the French and Italian governments got to making 
nasty remarks to each other about this wastage. 

"Then Signora B arrived one day and told me she had been 

severely admonished by Mussolini and was going away to Buenos 
Aires. 'You've betrayed me' were the last words of this spy. And 
away she sailed to ply her spying trade in the Argentine Italian 
colony. Of course I cabled our friends to beware. But new Cheka 
agents arrive weekly, trying to provoke my father and myself into 
doing something illegal so Mussolini can report it to the French 
Foreign Office and thereby revenge himself on our family." 

Vengeance against his old newspaper and old colleagues on the 
Avanti was carried out through many years. MussoHni's last words 
to Mme. Balabanoff and others of the staff were words of faith in 
Socialism and in its journalistic organ ; he would never forget them, 
the theory was part of his blood, he could never betray them, never 
write against them, always love them. 

But the Avanti, restored to anti-militarist editors, turned against 
Mussolini, calling him every vile name from traitor to "hired as- 
sassin of the bourgeoisie," the latter phrase being attributed to the 
woman who had picked him out of a dark corner and made him a 
great man. After a short campaign of vilification the Avanti de- 
cided upon another course : it would ignore him completely, and a 

Personal Vendetta 143 

rule was posted that his name should never be mentioned in the 

This rule was kept until November 18, 1919, when the Fascist! 
were completely whipped at the general elections and their political 
death, as well as that of its leader, generally (but prematurely) 
conceded. Said the Avanti: 

"A corpse in an a:dvanced state of putrefaction was dragged out 
of the Naviglio yesterday. It was identified as that of Benito 

It was meant to be an obituary. 

Ironic as this incident is, its sequel is tragic. For Mussolini never 
forgives and never forgets. He cannot survive irony. Writing of 
his parliamentary defeat of 1919 he said later : 

"The Avanti wrote on that occasion a short notice about me. 'A 
dead body has been fished up from the Naviglio.' It was said in this 
note that in the night in the modest Naviglio canal which cuts Milan 
in two, a dead body had been picked up. According to the document 
they said it had been identified as the dead body of Benito Musso- 
lini — his political corpse. They did not say that its eyes were gazing 

What Mussolini never forgot was the mock funeral which the 
Socialists and the Avanti crowd held that day. "The procession passed 
under the windows of my house ... I have not forgotten the epi- 
sode, but I always see it. . . ." 

The crowds had gathered in the streets. The Socialist victory had 
been impressive. Placards were printed with just these words : "Turati 
180,000; Mussolini 4000," and given away, to be waved under the 
eyes of the landowners and the factory-owners and the gentlemen 
looking out of big offices and big club windows. Francesco Zanardi, 
mayor of Bologna, came out to salute the masses with a wave of his 
arms. Speeches were not necessary. There was no hatred, because the 
election had proved there was no enemy worth hating. 

The funeral notice of the Avanti thrilled the crowd. Some one 
proposed a funeral procession, and soon a hack was found, a wooden 
cofBn-like box placed on it, black drapings and funereal flowers. 
A man climbed on the shoulders of another and was carried ahead of 
the coffin, imitating a priest, singing a ribald litany, concluding al- 

144 Sawdust Caesar 

ways with his "Requiem Eeternam," to which the mob joyously re- 
sponded "Amen, Amen." Psalms were parodied amidst laughter and 
applause. Numerous candles were lighted and relighted and a sort of 
carmagnole atmosphere filled the city as vast crowds mocking Musso- 
lini paraded before his house, calling, "Come on out to see your own 
funeral," and, "At last we honor you." 

(It was two days later that the Fascisti threw a bomb at another 
Socialist march and the government, searching the Arditi clubrooms, 
found a lot of war material, all of which resulted in Nitti's order for 
many arrests, including Mussolini's.) 

He always saw that ribald funeral. It rankled in his mind, it 
penetrated his subconscious the moment he received the telegram from 
General Cittadini confirming the telephone call from Rome to take 
over the government. The first thing Mussolini did was to fulfill 
his vendetta. Rossi describes what happened that day. "The new 
president of the council, the Honorable Mussolini, in this wise 
began his mission for the restoration of national discipline in Octo- 
ber, 1922: 

"Meeting me at eleven o'clock in the morning at a school situated 
on the bastions of Piazza Nuova and employed those days as a bar- 
racks by the Fascist mobiHzation, he gave to several of his brigades 
news and an order. The news was that he had received a royal 
telegram charging him to form a new Ministry ; the order was 'to 
proceed during the day with the scientific destruction of the buildings 
of the Avanti and the Giustisia, on the San Gregorio road.' " 

The two newspapers were partly destroyed by bands led by 
Negrini and Forni, the latter a Deputy of the national parliament. The 
interiors were wrecked. The men of the Black Shirts, armed with 
gims, clubs, and fire, smashed everything, tore up the books, broke 
the furniture, and becoming frightened that the picture they left 
behind them would be used against them, poured gasoline over 
everything and set the buildings on fire. One old man found in 
hiding was murdered. 

Neither the miUtia nor the police, who were informed that the 
building was being pillaged, made any effort to stop the squadristi 
and the firemen received an order not to intervene until the van- 

Personal Vendetta 145 

dalism was complete and there was danger of fire spreading to other 


To the destruction of the Avanti, Mussolini's assistant editor, 
Signora Sarfatti, points with pride; she recalls the racketeers march- 
ing four abreast, carrying a blood-stained helmet, charred pieces of 
wood of the building, other souvenirs of vandalism. "We had begun 
our offensive," Mrs. Sarfatti bursts out rapturously. 

Mussolini himself defends it: "As an answer to the anti-Fascist 
provocation I ordered another general mobilization of the Fascisti. 
. . . The Fascist technicians were to be brought together to continue 
the work in the public services. The squadristi were to disperse sub- 
versive organizations. The Fascisti of Milan assaulted the Avanti, 
which was considered the lair of our opponents. They burned the 

Another newspaper which Mussolini hated for its fairness, its 
honesty, and' its liberalism was the Corriere delta Sera. It stood in 
Italy as the leading honest newspaper, much like the Manchester 
Guardian :n England, the Frankfurter Zeitimg in pre-Hitler Ger- 
many, and the late lamented New York World. One day Mussolini 
denounced it. 

"The Corriere della Sera'* said the Popolo, "should be treated 
as a Jesuit and as a scoundrel, and above all as a coward." 

The same evening at eleven o'clock a bomb was thrown at the 
Corriere. Similarly when the Fascist Minister Giuriati delivered a 
violent speech in Milan, attacking opposition newspapers, the Fascio 
again invaded and devastated the offices of the socialist Giustisia. 

Mussolini first expressed his hatred for the Corriere on the day 
he founded his Fascisti, when, he admits, only fifty-four persons 
signed "our program which was necessary to lay the foundations for 
a new civilization." The meeting passed almost unnoticed. The Cor- 
riere, however, did in fact mention it, but "that great liberal news- 
paper dedicated to this news about twenty lines in its columns !" The 
exclamation mark, Mussolini's, is the expression of his chagrin and 

It turned into fury when the Corriere accepted Woodrow Wilson's 
proposal for arbitration of the Flume boundaries. Treason, shouted 
d'Annunzio's consul in Milan. 

146 Sawdust Caesar 

In 1923 the Corriere joined with Don Sturzo and all liberal ele- 
ments in supporting the proportional-representation law and oppos- 
ing the Fascist proposal which gave this minority party two-thirds 
of the Chamber of Deputies. As Fascism could not hope for a ma- 
jority and yet desired to appear legal, such opposition was extremely 
dangerous to it. Finally, in 1924, the Corriere published the docu- 
ments implicating Mussolini in political assassination, and since the 
Duce could not suppress his enemy legally, as he had no ground for 
libel and feared popular reaction if he used violence, as in the case 
of the Avanti or the Giustisia, he smashed the great free liberal 
newspaper through an intrigue among the intimidated stockholders. 
When the Corriere passed into Fascist hands the London Times 
said that Mussolini had made Italy suspected and incomprehensible ; 
the disappearance of the independent Corriere delta Sera, it con- 
tinued, editorially, was "a serious loss to European civilization." 


The Assassination of Matteotti 


was strongly anti-Fascist ? Five political parties representing a 
majority of the people, the best part of the press including all the 
great newspapers, the labor unions with their millions of adherents, 
the best minds, including Croce and Ferrero, in fact all Italy except 
the associations of industrialists, the bankers, their commercial allies 
and their Black Shirt militia, opposed the new regime whose military 
conspiracy they had been unable to frustrate. 

The only road from the dilemma was suppression of the press and 
elimination of Opposition political parties. It was the road Moscow 
took after the attempted assassination of Lenin in 1918, but Musso- 
lini, envious of Russian success, was still afraid to emulate its 

Meanwhile he was being attacked by internal enemies. The finan- 
cial backers were demanding payment on their investment. 

One day in the Chamber of Deputies the now acknowledged 
speaker of the five Opposition parties, Matteotti, informed the nation 
that the Fascist State was paying its debts to big business in many 
ways ; it had secretly used public funds to refloat the Ansaldo enter- 
prise, which was near bankruptcy; it had purchased 18,000 shares 
of the Mineral Oil Refinery of Fiume ; it had rescued the Banca di 
Roma and it had permitted the heavy industry Consortium to draw 
upon the banks of issue for credit, in addition to obtaining secret 
subventions. Moreover, the Fascist regime was engaged in a deal 
by which the Sinclair Oil Company of America would obtain a 
monopoly in Italy; although the American corporation was acting 
legitimately, several of the highest members of Mussolini's staff 
were attempting to make millions in graft out of this enterprise. 


148 Sawdust Caesar 

Matteotti's second point of attack was the corruption of academic 
liberty in the universities. 

His third was an exposure of the violence by which the Fascist 
victory at the April 6th elections had been achieved. 

With a hint of these scandals which he intended to document in 
ensuing speeches, Matteotti on the 30th of May, 1924, began his 
campaign against the regime while Italy listened breathlessly and 
with secret satisfaction. 

"In the last election," said Matteotti, "the government, having 
declared it intended to remain in power no matter what the result, 
nevertheless implemented this declaration by employing its armed 
militia. . . ." 

Mussolini interrupted. "Enough. Stick to the question." 

Matteotti : The honorable president perhaps did not hear me. 
I am speaking of the elections. There exists an armed militia whose 
fundamental purpose is to sustain a certain chief of government, 
well known to you, a certain duce of Fascism, and not, as with the 
army, the head of a state. Now while the law says that the militia 
must abstain from all political functions, we saw throughout Italy 
that this militia . . . 

Farinacci: You must have seen the Balilla (the Fascist boy 

Matteotti: In truth, Honorable Farinacci, it was the Balilla 
which in many districts did the voting. 

The orator then began the list of violences. As each shout of 
"liar" and "falsifier" and "prove it" arose from the Fascist benches, 
Matteotti brought out the sworn statements, the Fascist newspapers, 
the Fascist orders for violence. Mussolini squirmed and scowled. 

Matteotti : And at Genoa, when the Honorable Gonzales [mem- 
ber of parliament] came to address a meeting, the hall was invaded 
by Fascisti who blackjacked . . . 

Voice from Fascist benches : "Liar." 

Matteotti: Well, then I will correct myself. If the Honorable 
Gonzales spent eight days in the hospital it means that he had 
wounded himself, that he had not been blackjacked. The Honorable 
Gonzales is a disciple of Saint Francis — perhaps he had flagellated 
himself. . . . 

The Assassination of Matteotti 149 

Mussolini- Honorable colleagues, I deplore what is happening. 
Honorable Matteotti, be brief; conclude. 

Matteotti : I will limit myself to nude and crude exposition of 
facts. . , ." He cited case after case in which members of parlia- 
ment as well as other speakers had been assaulted by Fascist rack- 
eteers. As each new name was added the tumult increased. 

Mussolini: Conclude. Honorable Matteotti, do not provoke 

Matteotti: I protest. If you cannot see that it is the others 
who are stopping me, who are making scenes . . . 

Mussolini : Well, you've finished ! Let the Honorable Rossi speak. 

Matteotti : What's the idea ? It is your duty to protect my right 
to speak, I am merely reciting a list of facts. I have the right to 
be respected. 

Mussolini : Let the Honorable Casertano speak. 

Matteotti: I protest. 

Mussolini: Well, then, speak, but prudently. . . . 

Matteotti: I do not desire to speak prudently nor imprudently, 
only parliamentarily. 

Mussolini (with a gesture of disdain) : Well, speak. 

Matteotti : The Honorable Piccinini was assassinated in his home 
for having accepted candidature against the Fascist list. . . . 

The list of murders and assaults was continued. 

There followed a description of election-day terror — assaults, 
stuffed ballot-boxes, forcible prevention, threats of death to every 
elector not a Fascist. 

"And so," continued Matteotti, with smiling sarcasm, "only a 
small minority of the Italian people was allowed to vote, and these 
citizens can hardly be suspected of being Socialists." 

In a previous speech Mussolini had listed many political crimes 
and acts of violence. He repeated the Fascist propaganda claim that 
Fascist crime was always in self-defense against the criminal provo- 
cation of the Socialists, Matteotti took up the crimes one by one; 
in every case he quoted Mussolini's own newspaper or the impartial 
Corriere delta Sera, the findings of the courts, and the police records ; 
in every case Matteotti proved from Fascist or neutral sources that 
the aggressors were always the police or the Fascist squadristi. 

150 Sawdust Caesar 

Mussolini could not conceal his hatred or his raging anger. Matte- 
otti, like a young apostle, spoke "with inexhaustible energy, in- 
domitable tenacity, with inspired fervor, obstinate, implacable, ac- 
complishing his sacred mission at all costs." 

When the Deputies walked out of the Chamber that evening and 
all the liberal elements clustered around Matteotti, congratulating him, 
he said, laughingly, "And now, my colleagues, you may prepare my 
funeral oration for the Chamber." 

It is a fact that it was that very day that the Fascist Cheka dis- 
cussed the case. On the morning of the ist of June appeared a front- 
page editorial in the Popola d'ltalia, unsigned but written by Musso- 
lini,^ demanding physical violence against Matteotti. The epithets 
and threats in the Chamber were not enough, said the editorial; 
what was needed was a more tangible acknowledgment. 

But the first speech of Matteotti's concerning the fraudulent elec- 
tion and the facts known throughout the country of the two forth- 
coming speeches were having tremendous political reaction. Musso- 
lini felt it necessary to defend himself, and did so with amazing 
Machiavellianism. Suppose it were established, he said, that a million 
and a half votes cast for the Fascist Hst were fraudulent, the Fascist 
Party would still remain in power as rightful representative of 
the nation. 

"You of the Opposition," he continued, "complain that you were 
restrained from holding free election meetings. What of it? Such 
meetings are of no use, anyway." 

But the damning climax came a few days later. Mussolini lost 
his head completely. On the 6th of that crucial June, with Matteotti 
scheduled to make his most dangerous revelations of Fascist vio- 
lence and financial corruption on the loth, when the atmosphere 
throughout Italy had become evidently hostile, the other Opposition 
leaders continued the Matteotti poHcy of irony and iron facts, Musso- 
Hni became almost hysterical with hatred. When one member drew 
a parallel of Fascism and Bolshevism, Mussolini shouted : 

"In Russia they are great masters. We have only to imitate what 
is being done in Russia." 

*Thc anginal holograph was kept by Fasciolo, the Duce's secretary. 

The Assassination of Matteotti 151 

Uproar followed. Approval. Disapproval. Shouts. Waving of fists, 
the Right and Left benches threatening blows. 

"They are magnificent masters," Mussolini repeated. "And we arc 
wrong not to imitate them in full, so you would not now be here— 
you would be in jail." 

Uproar. Applause. "We've just come from there," shouted a 

"You would have a bullet through your spine," roared Musso- 
lini. Another interruption. "We have the courage. We will prove 
it." Applause from the Fascisti. "We are always in time," continued 
Mussolini "and it will be done sooner than you think." 

That same evening a journalist named Carlo Silvestri met Cesare 
Rossi, co-director of the Cheka. Rossi, as Silvestri later at the risk 
of his life testified under oath, said to him : 

"With people like Matteotti the only thing to do is let the re- 
volver speak. . . . 

"If they knew what passes through Mussolini's head at times they 
would lay low. 

"Mussolini is fully determined to carry out his threats. Anyone 
who knows him must know that every now and then Mussolini 
needs bloodshed — and counsels of moderation will not always prevail." 

A boy of twelve, to whom Matteotti had been pointed out fre- 
quently as a "great man" since he was a member of parliament, and 
an old woman dozing in her doorway but suspicious over the actions 
of five men and their automobile, were the two accidental witnesses 
who betrayed the murderers and almost caused the downfall of 
Fascism. The woman noted the number of the automobile. 

"Porca Madonna! Bastava avessero pisciato sulla targa," Musso- 
lini exclaimed to his secretary, Fasciolo, when he heard about this 
old woman. 

The boy testified : 

"I was playing with my companions. Near us was a motor-car 
which had stopped just by Via Antonio Scialoja. Five men got out 
and began walking up and down, up and down. Then I saw Signor 
Matteotti come out. One of the men went forward and when near 
him gave him a violent push, making him fait to the ground. Signor 
Matteotti cried out. Then the other four men came up and one of 

152 Sawdust Caesar 

them struck him a hard blow in the face. Then they took him by 
his head and feet and carried him into the car which came by us. 
So we were able to see that Signer Matteotti was struggling. We saw 
nothing more afterwards, as they rode away." 

Of the five men in the car the ringleader was Amerigo Dumini, 
Rossi's colleague in the Cheka and "household friend" of Mussolini. 
He is American born, his father having emigrated from Italy and 
settled in St. Louis, where he married an American woman, Jessie 
Williams. Returning to Italy, Amerigo followed the calling for which 
he had been trained in American slums ; he was a common gangster. 
In Italy he is first heard of as coming and going in Mussolini's office 
in Milan and in Mussolini's home. After he had committed his 
first murder and the Milan Fascisti under Mussolini's guidance had 
saved him from punishment, Mussolini began to use him for vari- 
ous purposes. Several times a week Dumini called to receive the 
"suggestions" of Mussolini and Rossi. 

Like a bad man in the bad days of the American Wild West, 
Dumini made notches on his revolver for each mortal crime. Just 
before the Matteotti assassination he got into the habit of introducing 
himself boastfully as "Amerigo Dumini — Eleven murders." Con- 
fident he would be freed, he boasted of the death of Matteotti. 

Kidnapped, beaten, stabbed, mutilated, burned, parts of the body 
of Mussolini's great political enemy were buried, disinterred, left for 
the foxes and pariah dogs to worry, then buried again. There is no 
evidence to the report that a part of the body had been sent to 
Mussolini as proof of the death, but there are confessions that blood- 
stained garments, the passport, and other identity papers of the 
murdered man were sent to him. With blood on their hands and 
joy in their voices high officials of the Fascist Cheka came imme- 
diately to Mussolini's office to tell him that the enemy was dead. 

Parliament had waited, some members angrily, some anxiously, 
for Matteotti to deliver the last and most dangerous of his accusa- 
tions ; he had already proven that the election was a fraud ; now he 
was to prove that most of the Fascist mandates were obtained by 
fraud or violence, were invalid, that the Fascist Party, in fact, had 
no right to occupy the majority benches in the Chamber. Such an 
exposure at a time the nation was pretty tired of Fascist pretensions 

The Assassination of Matteotti 153 

and Fascist violence and tlie failure of the regime to redeem its 
radical promises, could have brought on a new election, with the 
probable defeat of Fascism. 

As the hours passed and Matteotti did not appear it became 
rumored that he had been killed. In fact there were such whispers 
hours before the murder had been completed. Because that was the 
mood and circumstance of the nation in those days: when a promi- 
nent liberal somehow failed to keep an appointment, to arrive for 
dinner in time, to show up in his office at his usual hour, it was 
taken for granted that he must have fallen in with some of Musso- 
lini's glorified squadristi, beaten up, forced to take castor oil, or 
murdered. Therefore the Left benches whispered tragedy. 

The next day the whispers became loud. They penetrated the 
inner circle. Turning to faithful Rossi on their way back from Monte- 
citorio, Mussolini said with that heavy sarcasm which his admirers 
call a sense of humor: "The Socialists are disturbed because they 
cannot find Matteotti — he must have gone to a brothel." 

On the morning of the 12th, Rossi not only informed Mussolini 
that Matteotti had been assassinated, but that "the murder can only 
have been the work of people belonging to the Fascist Party Cheka."^ 
Later in the day Filippelli rushed in frantically with the same news : 
Matteotti was dead, the Dumini gang had killed him and buried him. 

That afternoon Signora Matteotti came to parliament seeking 
news from her husband's friends. Mussolini sent a messenger asking 
her to the Foreign Office. 

When the widow arrived in the magnificent hall of the Palazzo 
Chigi, Mussolini sprang to his feet and stood at attention, as before 
a high officer. The effect of this gesture was to cause Madame 
Matteotti's collapse in tears. 

"Signora, I should like to restore your husband alive to you. You 
may be assured that the government will do its utmost duty. We 
know nothing for certain, but there is still some hope." 

The murderers had confessed. The hired assassins had come with 
their proofs, the blood-stained passport and blood-stained clothes; 
the body had been hacked to pieces, burned, buried; the chief of 

' Rossi's memorandum, Salvemini's transladoQ. 

154 Sawdust Caesar 

police had been informed and he had told Mussolini. But, there w^ 
still hope! 

The widow of Matteotti was led to the door by the Duce himself. 
He bowed her out. Returning to his desk, he immediately sent for 

"There is nothing to be done," he said ; "the boys have made too 
many mistakes. I am powerless. De Bono is good for nothing. AH 
under suspicion must be patient. I must have my hands free to make 
the counter-attack. The hour of revenge will come." 

At 7.30 that evening Mussolini, addressing the Chamber, con- 
cluded: "I hope that Honorable Matteotti will shortly be able to 
resume his place in parliament." 

That night Dumini was arrested. 

The next morning there was panic in Italy. 

MussoHni ordered his militia mobilized. In Rome itself only half 
its strength responded; in Milan, birthplace of Fascism, the Duce's 
own bailiwick, only a quarter responded, and no one answered the 
call to the black colors in the industrial city of Turin. 

On that day and following days the pictures of the most photo- 
graphed man in the world were torn from the walls of Italy or 
smeared with the word "Assassin" or "Morte a Mussolini." From 
the liberal printing-presses came a flood of pictures of Matteotti 
which were pasted over that of the Duce with "Viva Matteotti" 
in red paint. The black shirt and the black cap disappeared from 
the streets, the leaders of Fascism were in tremulous hiding, and 
a cry for freedom and liberty arose in the land. 

Cardinal Maffi of Pisa, the most brilliant mind, the most hberal 
thinker in the Catholic Church, telegraphed to Mussolini: "As a 
priest I weep; as an Italian I am ashamed." 

The King considered calling the loyal army, proclaiming martial 
law, abolishing the illegal Fascist militia, restoring democratic gov- 
ernment. But he was afraid. The Opposition parties had only to 
take one decisive action, but for four days they talked and talked 
because they foresaw two or three hundred men killed in the rioting 
which must ensue before Fascism was abolished; despite the fact 
they had already lost four thousand men, dead in fighting with the 

The Assassination of Matteotti 155 

Black Shirts, they decided not to shed more blood but hope for 
peaceful evolution without action. 

Those four days Fascism was a living corpse. But there was no 
one willing to kick it into oblivion. 

The day of the panic Mussolini addressed the Chamber. That 
brave man of the twenty feminine biographies, that soldier-hero who 
loved to taunt the Austrian army by perching himself on the parapet 
of the front-line trenches, that demigod of power who never knew 
fear, the implacable, the pitiless Mussolini, arose, but his body 
slumped; he spoke, but his words trembled, his gestures were pale, 
ineffectual. He was a whipped man. 

"If there is anyone in this hall who, more than any person, should 
be heart-broken, even, exasperated," he said in a voice no one recog- 
nized as Mussolini's, "that person is me. Only one of my enemies 
who would during the long nights consider such a diabolical action 
could have committed the crime which today strikes with horror 
and makes us cry out in indignation. . . . 

"The situation, gentlemen, is extremely delicate . . . one must 
deplore, one must condemn, one must push the inquest for the search 
of all the guilty and all those responsible, and we are here to repeat 
that all this will be done, tranquilly, inexorably. . . . 

"The law will be executed. The police will deliver the guilty to 
the judicial authorities. . . . One must be calm and refuse to amplify 
the terrible and stupid incident into a question of general politics 
and the policy of the government. . . . 

"Justice will be done, must be done, because the crime is a crime 
which is anti-Fascist and anti-nation. It is more than horrible, it is 
of a bestial humanity. One must not hesitate before such an act to 
separate crime from politics." 

Justice, of course, was never done. Dumini, it is true, was in 
prison, but Dumini was a household friend and could be relied upon 
to keep his mouth shut. That very day agents went to the other 
four murderers and gave them money to flee the country. And years 
later Mussolini was able to comment in his autobiography : 

"One day Matteotti disappeared from Rome. Immediately it was 
whispered about that a political crime had been committed. The 
Socialists were looking for a martyr who might be of use for pur- 

156 Sawdust Caesar 

poses of oratory, and at once, before anj^thing definite could possibly 
be Icnown, they accused Fascism. By my orders we began a most 
painstaking and complete investigation. The government was de- 
termined to act with the greatest energy, not only for the sake of 
justice, but also to stop, from the very first moment, the spread 
of any kind of calumny. I threw the prefect and police chief of 
Rome, the Secretary of the Interior, Finzi, and the chief of the 
press office, Cesare Rossi,. into the task of clearing up the mystery. 
Activity on the part of the police for the discovery of the guilty 
persons was ordered without stint. Very soon it was possible to 
identify the guilty. They were of high station. They came from the 
Fascist group, but they were completely outside our responsible 

". . . It seemed hardly possible that only a few days after the 
opening of the twenty-sixth legislature a group of men of position 
could carry through an enterprise which, begun as a jest, was to 
conclude in a tragedy. I always have had harsh and severe words 
for what happened. . . ." 

To this same Cesare Rossi, Mussolini's right-hand man, his most 
intimate friend from Socialist days and the writer of eulogistic 
prefaces to innumerable biographies of Mussolini in days of Fascist 
triumph, all the acts of violence of the two years of Mussolini's rule 
were not jests, they were the bloody realities of successful govern- 
ment. Now on the r4th of June he saw himself made the sacrificial 
goat of the hierarchy. He went into hiding. But before he did so 
he wrote a confession, which he intrusted to his friend Virgili, 
saying it was to be published only if Mussolini betrayed him, and 
he sent a similar threat to Mussolini. 

The Rossi "memoriale" lists criminal acts Rossi charges against 
the dictator in addition to complicity in the Matteotti murder. Rossi 
concludes : 

"All this happened according to the direct will or complicity of 
the Duce. I allude to the clubbing of Deputy Amendola, the order 
given De Bono, commanding general of the Fascist militia and direc- 
tor of the police, by Mussolini, unknown to me and executed by 
Candelori, console of the militia; the beating of Deputy Misuri 
carried out by Balbo, generalissimo of the militia, at the sugges- 

The Assassination of Matteotti 157 

tion of Mussolini ; the aggression upon Forni, candidate in the April 
elections, for which the order was given me personally by Mussolini 
and carried out in agreement with Giunta, secretary-general of the 
Fascist Party; the attack on the villa of ex-Premier Nitti; the re- 
cent demonstrations against the Opposition parties ordered by Mus- 
solini to be undertaken by Foschi, secretary of the party for the 
province of Rome ; the proposal advanced by Mussolini to the Qua- 
drumvirato, the central assembly of the party, in order that the Honor- 
able Ravazolo, Fascist Deputy, should be given a well-earned lesson 
in consequence to his insubordination; the destruction of the Catholic 
clubs in Brianza ordered by Mussolini, carried out by the Fascist 
Deputy Maggi and then complacently repeated to me. I add that 
daily Commendatore Fasciolo, Mussolini's secretary, had the order, 
at the suggestion of Mussolini, to forward to the Fascist locals the 
names of subscribers of the Voce Repuhlicana, Avanti, Ginstida, 
Unitd, Italia Libera, et cetera, so that the subscribers might be 
dosed with castor oil and clubbed." 

In a second memorandum Rossi lists thirty-seven murder and 
clubbing orders or suggestions from Mussolini. Number 13 : "Mus- 
solini expressed his regret that we did not succeed in beating up 
Matteotti on his way home from a convention." Number 21 : "Mus- 
solini ordered the murder of several radicals who had succeeded 
in worming their way into the Milan Fascist local." Number 32: 
"Mussolini ordered the founding of the Cheka." Number 36 : "Mus- 
soHni's ambiguous relation to the assassination of Matteotti. 

"I, Cesare Rossi," he concludes, "who on his order have been 
left in the lurch, accused, viUfied, and made out a liar, have no 
longer any duty to remain faithful to MussoHni or to conceal the 

"I have also lost all faith in the regime and the Fascist Party which 
accepts and approves not only these acts of violence, but also all terri- 
ble crimes. Mussolini, the government and the party, in June made a 
political crime out of a tragic crime; it is due to the blind egotism of 
the Duce, the perfidy of General De Bono, the apathy of the party, 
and the panicky anxiety of the masses. 

"I publish this memorandum to protect my honor. I feel also 
that I am taking a wise and necessary step in the service of my 

158 Sawdust Caesar 

fatherland. With a firm hand and a clear conscience, I sign, Cesare 

But clear as that conscience may be, this same Rossi, as head of 
the Cheka, stands accused by all parties in Italy, Fascists, anti- 
Fascists, Catholics, and Republicans, in many o£ the crimes he 
himself lists, including that against Matteotti. 

Other leaders of Fascism were going into hiding, fleeing the 
country, or protecting themselves against Mussolini by writing 
out confessions to be intrusted to friends or journalists. Filippo 
FilippelH, director of the Fascist Rome organ, Corriere Italimio, 
in his memorandum given to the journalist Naldi and attested by 
him later before a magistrate, accuses not only Mussolini and the 
assassin Dumini, but also Rossi; he speaks of the agreement for 
the murder by these three leading gentlemen and details their com- 
plicity. FilippelH relates the events of the Wednesday, June 11, when, 
alarmed by the news of the disappearance of Matteotti and the 
rumors that the Cheka had acted, he went to Rossi, who, he testi- 
fies, related to him : 

"That Dumini had told him that he had used the car which in 
all good faith I had lent him ; 

"That the matter was serious; 

"That Mussolini knew everything; 

"That Marinelli and he [Rossi] had given the orders after pre- 
viously agreeing with Mussolini ; 

"That the thing must be hushed up, otherwise Mussolini himself 
would be smashed." 

The FiHppelli memorandum continues : 

"I thought it expedient to inform De Bono, Finzi, Marinelli, and 
others. From Finzi and others I learned that : 

"The victim of Dumini's outrage was Matteotti ; 

"That the order to suppress him had been given by the Cheka 
of the National Fascist Party, of which the executioners were Dumini 
and others well known to Mussolini, who knew also of this special 
mission ; 

"That they had had an interview with Mussolini that day [June 
nth] and that they had handed to Mussolini the papers and the 
passport of Matteotti as proof of his disappearance." 

The Assassination of Matteotti 159 

Filippelli fled. Mussolini sent his secretary, Fasciolo, to Rossi 
to make terms with him and to ask him to leave Rome. Finzi, seized 
with the same panic which had driven Rossi and Filippelli to write 
confessions, made a testament which he gave to his friend, Schiff- 
Giorgini, and the journalist Silvestri. Finzi's brother told Guglielmo 
Emmanuel, correspondent of the Corriere delta Sera, the Hearst 
International News Service, and the New York American, the con- 
tents of the confession. 

The search for scapegoats continued; the panic continued, and 
still the Opposition talked and refused to ask the King to outlaw 
the outlaw party. Mussolini had Filippelli dragged out of hiding 
and taken to prison ; he ordered General De Bono to resign as chief 
of police, and he himself made one of the grandiose gestures of his 
career: he gave up one of the many portfolios he, as dictator, had 
accumulated for himself; he resigned as Home Secretary, and as 
a sop to the monarchy and the Vatican, both unfriendly now, he 
named Federzoni, head of the old Nationalist Party, Royalist and 
Catholic, in his place. Throughout Italy members of the Fascist 
Cheka were placed in jail. Rossi was finally arrested. 

Humbly, very humbly, Mussolini began to make amends. To the 
Chamber he said on the 24th : "The crime against the person of the 
Honorable Matteotti has wounded and moved profoundly the Italian 
public opinion which loudly demands justice. 

"The voice has been and will be heard. 

". . . Out of this crime, which has had profound repercussions 
in the national conscience, there may be born a period of concord 
and peace among the Italian people." 

On the 26th of June Mussolini abandoned the dictatorship! 

With tears in his eyes. 

He had in his pocket the letter from Rossi calling him a doomed 
man— the letter smuggled out of jail, saying, "If during the coming 
days you fail to furnish me proof of solidarity, not so much for the 
past and for my position as your collaborator and executor of our 
sometime illegal orders, but of your solidarity for essentially govern- 
mental reasons, I shall put into efTect what I told you. I deem it 
superfluous to warn you that if the revolting cynicism which you 
have displayed up to now, complicated by fear that has seized you 

i6o Sawdust Caesar 

just at the time you should dominate a situation created exclusively 
by you, should advise you to order free violence, while I am in 
jail or in the unfortunate case of my arrest, you will equally be a 
doomed man, and with you will be destroyed the regime. . . ." 

With tears in his eyes the "doomed man" addressed the leaders 
of Fascism in the magnificent gold and brocaded Palazzo Venezia. 

"There is no longer a question that Matteotti was assassinated," 
said Mussolini; "it is no longer a question whether six or fifteen or 
twenty or thirty individuals are In prison, it is no longer a question 
whether the Ministry is to remain or to be transformed, if the party 
is to be cleaned: one sees now clearly the goal of the Opposition, 
it is the regime itself. They propose to annul all that it signifies, from 
the point of view of morals and politics. So you see the game be- 
come most attenuated. I declare to you I do not propose to see an- 
nihilated a state of things which we have created with grand efforts, 
with much pain, with, indeed, much bloodshed. . . . 

"I admit that the militia should be promptly included in the armed 
forces of the State. 

"And because I have been reproached for not having let it take 
the oath of allegiance to the King, I engage myself to have that 
formality executed now. 

"What will be my program ? 

"What I have said before, I repeat. I propose to have the Cham- 
ber, the parliament, function. I repeat: it is my intention in the 
future not to issue decrees, because if the government makes its 
own laws, then the Chamber has nothing to do. 

"We will enter into legality, absolute, and repress illegality; clean 
out the party. ... I am disposed to follow a policy of conciliation 
and to forget the past, to forget all the battles of the past." 

The abolition of the illegal militia, the one element upon which 
Fascism rested, farcing itself upon a mass now no longer willing 
to give it a chance or to accept it at any price, would have meant 
the collapse of dictatorship. "Enter into legality" would have meant 
the collapse of the dictatorship. The moment the five Opposition 
parties could be assured a legal election they would have obtained 
a legal majority reducing Fascism to a third or fourth party. The 
abolition of rule by decrees would have meant the end of dictatorship. 

The Assassination of Matteotti i6i 

All this Mussolini promised the day he was a doomed man and had 
tears in his eyes. 

This abnegation of dictatorship was due to the reaction of the 
press. After two years of Fascism the total number of readers of 
the party papers was 400,000 while the anti-Fascists with their great 
and popular journals and their support by the great majority of 
Italians had at least 4,000,000 readers. 

Scared by the press, Mussolini had, in accordance with its de- 
mands, resigned one office, and rid himself of members of the 
Quadrumvirate, the Pentarchy, the men who made him and his 
party. Among the founders of Fascism who were driven out were 
General De Bono, Undersecretary of the Interior Finzi, Chief of 
the Press Bureau Rossi, Administrative Secretary of the Fascist Party 
Marinelli, Editor of the Fascist Organ Filippelli, Chief Assassin 
Dumini, and "six or fifteen or twenty or thirty individuals," all 
in prison. 

The press almost brought about a revolution. It did in fact in- 
flame the mass mind to the point of rebelling. A word from the 
King or an order from Amendola, the new leader of the five Op- 
position parties, would have ended by small violence the dictatorship 
Mussolini himself had declared abandoned. But no word or order 
ever came. 

The morning after the Premier's confession of a return to legality 
the Opposition parties met at Montecitorio and unanimously voted 
a motion. They talked a lot, and what they did was to sign a paper. 
The document is important because it is the accusation not only 
of Matteotti's party, but also the Republican Party, the Catholic 
Party, and two other non-liberal or non-radical parties, that Musso- 
lini is the responsible accomplice of the assassination. 

The resolutions called international attention to the existence of 
the Fascist Cheka, "grafted on the very organization of the govern- 
ment and by the confidants of the Chief of Government [Musso- 
hni] " ; it placed the blame for the assassinations upon the President 
of the Council [Mussolini] ; and it concluded by announcing the ab- 
stention of the Opposition parties from parliamentary participation. 

In America not a line appeared about the Matteotti case because 
the newspapers were filled to overflowing with news of another 

i62 Sawdust Caesar 

murder, that committed in Chicago by two young neurotic million- 
aires, named Loeb and Leopold. But in England Premier MacDonald 
attended a meeting of the Labor Party at which a resolution was 
passed condemning the assassination and sending the sympathy of 
British labor to the Socialist Party of Italy. 

Pope Pius was terribly shocked. Finzi, whose complicity was 
generally admitted, had married a niece of Cardinal VannutelU, 
dean of the Sacred College and one of the closest associates of the 
Pope. Cardinal Gasparri made visits to both the mother and widow 
of Matteotti, expressing his sjonpathy and horror. 

From New York Luigi Barzini, editor of the Corriere d' America, 
cabled Mussolini, advising him to purge the Fascist Party, drive 
out the Black Hand, see that justice was done and that Fascist 
prestige was restored. 

Italy's leading intellectual, the philosopher Croce, passed the fol- 
lowing verdict upon the regime : "The Fascist movement is incapable 
of setting up a new type of State despite the ostentatious utterances 
of its supporters ; therefore Fascism in my judgment could not and 
should not be anything more than a bridge to lead to the restoration 
of a more strictly liberal regime in the frame of a stronger State. 
. . . Because Fascism cannot create a new constitutional and judicial 
organization as a substitute for that of Liberalism, it finds itself 
forced to move along by the same violent means that accompanied 
its birth, and so it perpetuates what should have been occasional 
and transitory. In this series of violent actions we cannot exactly 
see at what point we are to stop." 

Weeks passed. The five Opposition parties became known as the 
Aventine. They met. They talked. Their one great gesture was 
to withdraw from parliament; after which they did nothing. They 
were sociaHsts and reformists who did not believe in direct action, 
in arms, in violence, legal or illegal. 

Not so Farinacci. "Farinacci the Sadist," as he was frequently 
called, was unaffected by bloodshed or murder or revolutionary 
hysteria. He sneered at weakness. He despised the Socialist pacifists 
and he jeered at MussoHni for acting as timidly as they did. The 
Duce became the meek follower of his assistant ; the desperate, sick 
man accepted the doctor Farinacci's violent remedy, and between 

The Assassination of Matteotti 163 

July 29 and September 30, 1924, he instructed the Cheka and the 
squadron leaders in metropolitan centers to revive the 1922 terror. 
Sixteen anti-Fascists were murdered, 36 seriously wounded, 172 
assaulted; 46 homes and clubs of Socialists, Catholics, and labor 
organizations were destroyed.^ 

Most important of all was the decree abolishing freedom of the 
press. (Freedom here is underlined to distinguish it from a later 
decree abolishing the opposition press ; the first placed it in the hands 
of censors, the latter ended its existence.) Newspapers were burned, 
presses smashed, buildings destroyed. 

As the voices of opposition were stilled in fire and blood, the 
hero-conqueror found his own. He forgot his promise of justice, he 
forgot the "return to legality," he issued nothing but decrees, and 
the militia which he had sworn to disband he used for the purpose 
of destroying his political enemies. And when the time came for 
him to write his autobiography for the Saturday Evening Post he 
forgot even the fact that Matteotti had been murdered. 

"The course of Italian public life from June to December, 1924," 
he wrote, "offered a spectacle absolutely unparalleled in the political 
struggle in any country. It was a mark of shame and infamy which 
would dishonor any political group. The press, the meetings, the 
subversive and anti-Fascist parties of every sort, the false intel- 
lectuals, the defeated candidates, the soft-brained cowards, the rabble, 
the parasites, threw themselves like ravens on the corpse [of Matte- 
otti]. The arrest of the guilty was not enough. The discovery of the 
corpse and the sworn statement of surgeons that death had not been 
due to crime but had been produced by a trauma, was not 
enough. . . . 

"I did not have a moment of doubt or discouragement . . . the 
swelled frogs waited for their triumph . . . this base and pernicious 
crew. . . . The contemptible game lasted six months. . . . 

"I held the Fascist Party firmly in my hand during this period," 
comments the later-day Napoleon. "I curbed the impulse of some 
Fascist who wanted violent reprisals, with a clear order: 'Hands 
in your pockets ! I am the only one who must have his hands free.' 

' The complete documentation for these figures, which apply to North Italy only, 
has been published by Bolitho. 

164 Sawdust Caesar 

In Florence and Bologna, however, there occurred episodes o£ ex- 
treme violence. I understood then that it was time to speak and act." 

The speech came on the 3rd of January, 1925, when the situation 
had so completely reversed itself that Mussolini at last was able to 
accept and to glorify the assassination of his chief rival. 

"On June 10," said Mussolini, addressing- the Black Shirts, "there 
was sequestered in Rome the Honorable Matteotti, who during a ride 

"This event was singularly enveloped in a certain mystery for the 
purpose of shocking public opinion. The Fascist revolution had been 
very gentle. . . . Just the same, the Honorable Matteotti, who during 
the war had affirmed the most dangerous principles of defeatism, 
after having always and everywhere offended Fascism, pronounced 
in the Chamber a terrible and vicious attack upon the regime. . . . 

"Sentimentalism in Latin countries is very dangerous. . . . 

"The sequestration of Matteotti, with its consequences, belongs 
morally, politically, historically to Fascism. It is useless and stupid 
to search for the guilty at the moment when the fact arrives. 
This, only this, can be the language of revolution." 

When the Fascist Deputy Cesare Misuri stepped out of the party 
traces to declare that "Mussolini fell among bad companions," and 
named Rossi, Luigi Freddi, Finzi, Francesco Giunta (to which list 
the press added De Bono and Marinelli, four of these six being 
under charge of complicity in the assassination), Mussolini took 
cognizance and for once — ^that is, for a while at least — stood by his 
colleagues. "The men denounced as 'the bad counselors of the good 
tjTant,' " he said, "are five or six men who reported to me in person 
every morning. I herewith make distinct avowal that I look upon 
them as my closest collaborators and fellow burden-bearers, who 
share with me the salt bread of direct responsibility for the acts 
of the Fascist administration. I declare in your presence that I owe 
them the deepest sentiments of gratitude and affection." 

These early days of 1925 ended the crisis. When the Rossi memo- 
randum was published and there was a last wave of antagonism, 
Mussolini replied by threatening to mobilize the Fascist militia. This 
time it was too late for the King to mobilize the army; it would 
have meant civil war, and Amendola and the other leaders again 

The Assassination of Matteotti 165 

talked about a general strike, which well could have been called were 
it not for the fear that Mussolini would use the militia against 
the workingmen. It became apparent that a psychological moment, 
that of June, could never be revived. From January, 1925, on, Fas- 
cism grew stronger than ever and its course seemed certain so long 
as economic pressure (which shares with violence in shaping his- 
tory) did not militate against it. 
The atmosphere was now clear for the Matteotti trial. 



Blood and Irony 

. crime, it was a blunder," the assassination of Matteotti was in 
fact a necessary step in the consolidation of power. With Matteotti 
alive Mussolini could not be certain of success. The man who sen- 
tenced the leader of the Opposition to death obeyed literally the 
rules for guidance of princely power as written and expounded many 
years ago. 

The Machiavellian Prince was bitter in his victory. Above all 
else it was being spoiled by the wit, the humor, the irony of that 
other young man who, although born bourgeois and grown wealthy, 
stood up as a leader of the proletariat and jested over the story of 
the Socialist blacksmith's son who had become the champion of the 
steamship lines and automobile manufacturers of Milan and Turin 
and the tourist-promotion society of Rome. 

"Remember, Razumof," says one of Conrad's characters in Under 
Western Eyes, "that women, children, and revolutionists hate irony, 
which is the negation of all saving instincts, of all devotion, of all 

Matteotti the revolutionist loved irony; Mussolini the revolutionist 
had neither irony nor humor. Matteotti smiled ; Mussolini frowned. 
Matteotti was irony's gadfly, nipping the dictator, bringing up deeply 
felt hatred and rage in his black glowing eyes. 

He was two years younger than Mussolini. His well-to-do family 
sent him to Rovigo to be educated, then to the University of Bologna, 
where he obtained a doctorate in jurisprudence. His interest in Social- 
ism at first was academic. Unlike Mussolini, he suffered from no 
inferiority complex, no minority complex, no "suppression" by family 
or circumstance. 


Blood and Irony 167 

He was careful, precise, logical ; he had an ordered mind and was 
not swayed easily by emotions. His brother, a physician and Socialist, 
and he discussed liberal ideas as philosophy, not as a course of action. 

In 1914 Matteotti, like Mussolini, spoke for absolute neutrality. 
It was the duty of the proletariat, of all independent minds, of all 
persons having ideals, to oppose this war, any war. For several 
months these two men in far -removed centers preached the same 
thought. But Matteotti never sold out — for wealth or power or 
a seat in congress or a newspaper. He was arrested in June, 1916, 
for a speech denouncing war. After his acquittal he was drafted 
and remained in the army three years. Most of that time, however, 
he was interned in a British camp on account of his pacifist views. 
In 1919 and again in 1921 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, 
where he became an expert in finance and economics. 

He had a fiery face, like Mussolini's, but a cold mind. His appear- 
ance was cold but flashing; he had a sensitive nature which his 
passionate eyes betrayed. 

"Every time I saw Matteotti," says his friend, Giovanni Zibordi, 
"his face and figure full of energy, his movement agile, I would 
think of an 'espada,' a Spanish matador, one with every part of 
his body alert and his muscles of iron, his nerves taut and his heart 
unmoved, who plays with a fine blade, conquering the huge and 
blinded fury of the bull. . . . Such was Matteotti in the parliamen- 
tary arena, alive, prepared, vigilant, a fencer, direct and valiant, al- 
ways armed with documents and with facts, with reason and with 
opportune blows and adequate replies. 

"Irritating ? Yes. He had a thin sharp voice which was not checked 
by sweet inflections, but a manner of speaking in a flow of irony, 
of logical irony — an audacious fighter." 

Matteotti stood in the way of Fascist progress. His words, his pen, 
his activity were a daily reproach to tyranny. He had no fear of the 
Fascisti ; the Fascist: were afraid of him. They could not answer 
him. They assassinated him. 

Mussolini had no moral or intellectual arms to equal Matteotti's. 
And he simply could not live under irony. So he nodded yes to the 
Fascist Cheka plan of assassination. 

But even after death, tragic irony played its part. The trial of 

1 68 Sawdust Caesar 

Dumini and the other four confessed assassins became a trial of 
the dead. 

It was held in March of 1926, almost two years after the murder, 
at a time when Fascism had so intrenched itself that nothing could 
shake it ; it controlled the army as well as the militia now, had sup- 
pressed all the newspapers and corrupted the entire judiciary. Judge 
Giuseppe Danza presided. Chicti was chosen because it was an out- 
of-the-way village where the secret service could control the jour- 
nalists and the proceedings easily. Co-accused with Dumini were: 
Albino Volpi, Amleto Poveromo, August Malacria, and Giuseppe 
Viola, all members of the service and all present in the automobile 
during the murder. Malacria had served a prison term for swindling. 
Poveromo had been sentenced once for robbery. Viola had a record 
of bankruptcy, desertion, and rape. 

Roberto Farinacci, secretary-general of the Fascist Party, was 
appointed by Mussolini to defend the murderers. If there was one 
man in Italy who more than Mussolini himself was an advocate of 
violence in the achievement of power, that man was Farinacci, the 
so-called "left" or extreme hand of the Duce. The trial began with 
Farinacci's attack upon Matteotti. In opposing Fascism, said Fari- 
nacci, Matteotti had proven himself plainly a traitor to his country 
and therefore his death was justifiable. After this declaration the 
trial became a tragic farce. 

One murderer testified that because Matteotti refused to sit quietly 
in the car it became necessary to subdue him. "I kneeled on his 
chest," he testified, "but he kept on resisting. So I pressed my 
knees into his chest until the arteries broke and the blood came out 
of his mouth." 

Dumini, the American gangster, was the star witness, despite his 
numerous contradictions. 

"When we had Matteotti in the car," he testified, "he made us 
all very sore by the way he thrashed about, and as we did not want 
to attract any attention and had determined to take him far away 
in the campagna, I hit him several times with the butt of my re- 

"He then was quiet for a while, but soon started again to strug- 
gle, and when he threw the weight of his body against me while I 

Blood and Irony 169 

was at the wheel, I crushed in his skull with my manganello [black- 

"Then when we saw that he was dead we did not know what to 
do next, for I had not really at first intended to kill him. We drove 
about for many hours and it was getting dark. Then we decided to 
cut up the body and burn it, and this we did in a lonesome byway 
near the Grotta Rossa [about twelve miles out of Rome]. What 
remained of the body we buried in different spots and I don't re- 
member now where that was done." 

The day following this admission the humorist Dumini changed 
his mind. 

"We were riding along peaceably," he testified, "when suddenly 
Matteotti developed tuberculosis and died of a hemorrhage." 

But this was a little too much for even a Fascist judge. 

"Then how do you account for the thirty-six stab wounds," asked 
the court. 

"Who said stab wounds?" demanded Dumini. 

"Doctors — experts," replied the judge. 

"Oh !" replied Dumini. "I thought in these modern days that 'ex- 
perts' were no longer allowed to testify." 

Testimony was offered that Dumini, some months previous, had 
been smuggled out of prison by Fascist agents, given a bag filled 
with 1,000-lire notes, and packed off to France. He had been recog- 
nized at the station of Termini and rearrested. A letter was found 
on him which again implicated Mussolini. This letter from his sister 
Blanche read : 

"Vaselli [Dumini's lawyer] says all will be well, but it will take 
time on account of the judges, who are Freemasons, who war on 
the government and the party. They are trying to get rid of them 
as they did of one before. It takes time, but all will be well. 

"What have you arranged for communicating with Vaselli? 

"Why have you told so much to Vaselli? Why have you come to 
this extreme with the Duce? Do you want Rosati for defense? If 
you do, communicate by letter. Vaselli told us he let Mussolini know 
he had been betrayed. De Bono is already out. Which papers were 
they which concerned De Bono? It is not true what Cesarino [pet 
name for Cesare Rossi] said. Vaselli told mother he will make ar- 

170 Sawdust Caesar 

rangements for your future with Mussolini. Do you agree? Is it 
true that you are taking the whole responsibility ? Do not speak too 
much and remain where you are. Mother says the arrangements will 
be made as quickly as possible and a large sum will be deposited 
for you when you come out. Be calm. We are all interceding for you, 
but it is a terrible moment; nevertheless we will succeed. Kisses. 

This letter, together with the testajnent of Finzi and the confes- 
sions of Rossi, were not allowed in evidence. 

But it is interesting to note that Dumini, the humorist, shortly 
afterwards walked about the streets of Rome, and when occasions 
came or he could make them, smilingly introduced himself : "Dumini, 
twelve murders." In fact, he talked too much. Bragging in the cafes 
of the capital of how easily he got ofF at Chieti and how Mussolini 
had stood by him so nobly, he became the object of Fascist con- 
cern. One day his demands for hush money reached their limit, 
for he addressed to Mussolini a legal summons,^ in which inter alia 
is declared : 

1. that he, Dumini, received 60,000 lire from the Directorate of 
the Fascist Party and 

2. that the expense of the trial, 32,754 lire, was to be paid by the 
Fascist Party, in addition. 

Dumini was arrested, tried, sentenced to a year in jail one day in 
September, 1926, and from that time on he has stayed in jail, in 

Albino Volpi, a professional assassin like Dumini, and likewise 
a member of the Fascist Cheka, testified : 

"While we were beating and stabbing Matteotti he appeared heroic. 
He continued to the end to cry, 'Assassins,' 'Savages,' 'Cowards.* 
But he never had a weak moment and he never asked for mercy. And 
while we were stabbing him he kept repeating, 'Kill me, but the idea 
which is in me you can never kill.' 

"Probably if he had been humble for a moment, and if he had 

asked to be saved and if he had confessed the error of his ideas, 

we perhaps would not have accomplished our work. But no. Just to 

the end, so long as he had breath, he cried out, 'My idea will not 

* Registered in the courts of Rome, Bureau of Private Orders, No. 5555, Vol. 356. 

Blood and Irony 171 

die' and 'My children will be proud of their father' and The work- 
ingmen will bless my corpse.' 

"He died saying, 'Long live Socialism.' " 

This is the chef-d'ceuvre of Fascist crime which the Duce was 
afterwards to call "a practical joke on Matteotti— he should not have 
resisted his jesters." 

Viola and Malacria were acquitted. Dumini, Volpi, and Poveromo 
were found guilty of unintentional homicide, sentenced to five years' 
imprisonment, and freed almost immediately afterwards by Mus- 
solini's amnesty for political offenders which had been issued in 
1925. Rossi and Mussolini had reached an agreement whereby the 
former was to keep quiet; he was accordingly allowed to escape from 
prison, and from his refuge in France he turned against his chief 
and issued another confession and accusation, this second memo- 
randum concluding with the words : 

"All the moral responsibilities of the circle from which came the 
Matteotti crime are on Mussolini." 

But the vendetta of Mussolini followed Rossi unrelentingly year 
after year, to France and Germany and Switzerland. Agents came 
with guns and knives and plots and secrets whispered in his ears. 
Rossi withstood all these. Then, in 1930, a charming lady appeared 
in Paris and Rossi was smitten. The lady proposed a honeymoon 
in lovely Switzerland, and Rossi went. He went too far. One day 
the lovely lady proposed an excursion to the Italian frontier, and 
although Rossi became a little suspicious he took great care never 
to come within a hundred yards of the border. But the lady made a 
signal and several Fascist police ran across the frontier into Switzer- 
land, seized Rossi, and carried him off to jail. The lovely lady 

Just before his trial the representative of Mussolini came to Rossi 
and told him that the death penalty had been ordered; if Rossi 
wanted to save his Hfe he must withdraw all his confessions, espe- 
cially the document commonly known as "The Thirty-seven accusa- 
tions against Mussolini," and must swear never to accuse the Duce 
of the Matteotti murder again. To save his life Rossi withdrew 
everything, promised everything, and began a sentence of thirty 
years in prison for "libeling" Mussolini. 

172 Sawdust Caesar 

Marinelli and Filippelli appeared before the Court of Appeals 
in Rome, where on the ist of December, 1925, the charges were dis- 
missed because it was found that the accused had ordered the kid- 
napping, not the assassination, of Matteotti. General De Bono was 
acquitted of complicity at a trial before the Senate in July, 1925. 
The reason given was "lack of sufficient evidence." 

It was at this time that the campaign for the suppression of the 
liberal press and the intimidation of foreign correspondents reached 
its height in Italy. Detectives followed every American journalist. The 
concierge of the house where the New York World correspondent 
lived was forced to report daily, while around the office of Emmanuel, 
representative of the Hearst Service, numerous spies were stationed. 
All the Italian journalists who acted as assistants in the American 
offices were ordered to report to Grandi's bureau. But special favors 
were shown to all members of the Cortesi family, who, represent- 
ing the Associated Press of America, the London Daily Mail, the 
New York Times, and several other important publications, have 
done Fascist propaganda a greater service than all the paid agents. 
Without a single exception, every journalist who was not a voluntary 
or subsidized propagandist denounced the trial of Chieti. Even friends 
of Fascism did so. But no one resident in Italy dared do so in the 
press. During the trial John Clayton, then representing the Chicago 
Tribune, wrote privately: 

"We are bound by the worst censorship ever imposed. We must 
not write anything that might reflect on the Fascisti. We are confined 
to an apology for political assassination. It broke my heart not to be 
able to report the Matteotti case as it should be done, but it would 
Iiave meant arrest and expulsion from Italy." 

The truth about the Matteotti trial was almost completely sup- 
pressed by the regime. But because he beUeved it a most unusual 
and cruel miscarriage of justice, BoHtho, unable to withstand the 
dictate of his conscience, fled from Italy when the hearings were 
half over and from the first free town, in France, wrote for the 
Manchester Guardian and the New York World a series of dispatches 
which startled public opinion. 

A few liberals in America protested. In England Professor Gil- 
bert Murray wrote that the tragedy at Chieti was "a mock trial in 

Blood and Irony 173 

order ta give absolution and public thanks to the murderers. No 
element of fraud was lacking; . . . the Matteotti trial will probably 
remain for some generations a classic model of the perfect per- 
version of justice." 

As Bolitho, in order to escape arrest on his return to Italy, had 
used a pseudonym which the Fascist Cheka had been unable to 
identify, the head of the press bureau in the Foreign Office called 
in all the Anglo-American journalists for cross-examination. He 
even threatened those in whose papers Bolitho's syndicated articles 
had been used. But to the credit of those who knew the secret it 
must be said none betrayed him. With two exceptions, in fact, the 
Anglo-American press corps in Rome rejoiced over Bolitho's suc- 
cessful publication of the facts they themselves had been unable to 
send. The exceptions were the Italians who represent American and 
British journals and news agencies. 

In defense of Mussolini, Luigi Villari, his chief apologist in Lon- 
don, has written that "the trial was conducted with absolute fairness 
and in an atmosphere free from pressure or outside influences . . . 
not a scrap of real evidence had emerged incriminating the govern- 
ment or the leaders of the Fascist Party, and all the fantastic struc- 
ture erected by the Opposition has crumbled." 

Professor Salvemini of course produced the documents incriminat- 
ing the government, the leaders of the party, the Duce himself. The 
reply of Signor Villari is one of the supreme achievements of the 
Fascist mentality. The prosecution, he wrote, "committed Dumini and 
his companions for unpremeditated murder, which is not the same 
as manslaughter. By rejecting the charge of premeditation the alleged 
complicity in the murder of political personages is evidently knocked 
on the head." 

This is typical of the apologia delivered in foreign countries a year 
after Mussolini, powerful, restored in confidence, accepted "the full 
responsibility" for the assassination. 

The cynical (and not unwelcome to the Duce) viewpoint was that 
of Mr. Bernard Shaw. Comparing Mussolini with Napoleon, he said 
they differed in that the former had no military victories ; they were 
alike in one respect ; for the murder of Matteotti, Napoleon had the 
murder of the Duke of Enghien on his conscience. 


174 Sawdust Caesar 

Contrasted with the Shavian cynicism is the naivete of the lady 
biographers. According to Mnie. Bordeux: "To accuse Mussolini 
openly of the murder of a member of his own parliament was next 
to impossible. . . . No, Mussolini was never openly accused of other 
than instigating the murder of Matteotti. . . . Matteotti's murder was 
premeditated and carried out by his own personal enemies in his own 

Stranger still are the references to Matteotti in the long biography 
by Mussolini's Egeria. Whereas the Duce himself devotes thousands 
of words to denouncing his opponent and defending himself, Sarfatti 
^n 352 pages of joy bells and hosannas of Fascism, slides over the thin 
ice of the greatest crisis in its history with two sidesteps. Page 181 : 
"And after the assassination of Matteotti, MussoHni's first utterances 
in an address to the Grand Council of the Fascists was one of vehe- 
ment impatience with the storm which then broke out, because it 
prevented him from applying himself to the task of 'ordinary ad- 
ministration' — the only task which he regarded as vital and essential, 
that of giving the people what they really wanted and were asking 
for, bridges, water, roads." Page 275 : "He was really very much 
taken up by his dramatic schemes. A short time after the sinister 
Matteotti affair, which caused him such terrible suffering that for a 
while his life seemed completely wrecked, I met him going out one 
day looking more cheerful. He showed me a packet of manuscript, 
which he told me was his new play, with which he had succeeded 
in distracting his mind when in need of relaxation from his worries 
and his troubles. It was a play based on the life of the campagna, 
and this man, tired, exhausted, worn out by his bitter experiences, had 
found refreshment in recalling the incidents of his childhood." 
There are no other references to the assassination, the trial, or the 
vast results from the crisis. 

In the judgment of Louis Roya, a French writer who prefaces his 
opinion by praising Mussolini as a patriot and friend of Latin 
civilization, the responsibility of the assassination "can be inferred 
from imponderable facts, from an ensemble of troubling circum- 
stances, such as the letter to Dumini from his family, and finally 
and above all (this is the thesis of Rossi contre the Duce) from the 
orders for violence given by Mussolini. Seen from that viewpoint, 

Blood and Irony 175 

the culpability of Mussolini is irrefutable in the eyes of the universal 
moral conscience. And, a thing most impressive, all Italians who have 
fled from Italy to escape the Fascist tyranny, unite in recognizing that 
the first and the highest responsibility rests on Mussolini : that too 
is the opinion of the international proletariat. 

"There can be no doubt about it that when the day comes when 
Fascism falls, the Matteotti trial, the real trial, will begin again ; 
and the principal accused will be — Mussolini." 

• •••••••••••••••it********* 

The Sons of Brutus 

Opposition parties commonly known as the Aventine. 

If Matteotti had been the Brutus of the Fascist regime, Amenclola 
was the son of Brutus, He was one of the leading intellectuals of 
Italy, a savant, one of the ideal university men who had given up 
a cloistered career for politics and journalism and yet had found 
time for serious and learned creative work. He was brilliant, and 
like Matteotti he frequently employed irony in his unanswerable at- 
tacks on Fascism and illegal violence. 

Shortly after the assassination of Matteotti many men said that 
Amendola would be the next to die. In fact, the first threat against 
his life had been made by Mussolini a year earlier when he wrote:'- 

"The Deputy Amendola demands why we do not suppress the 
national militia at a time when Fascism has general approval. 

'To this gentleman, who again promenades himself in the streets 
of Rome without annoyances, we reply that the militia is not pre- 
pared against the people, but, on the contrary, against a minority 
of scoundrels, very vicious, without credit, scoundrels who have al- 
ways betrayed Italy. 

"This Amendola who craves liberty, just as if all the pits of 
Italy were full of cadavers, and all the lamp-posts decorated with 
anti-nationalist carcasses, has, up to now, enjoyed too much liberty. 

"Fascism has been too generous to him, as it has been to other de- 
linquents whose names are Nitti, Albertini, Don Sturzo, Treves, 
Modigliani, Serrati, Turati, and others. [Every man mentioned, ex- 
cept Albertini, has either been beaten up, arrested, or forced into 
exile, since then.] 

^Fopoh d'ltalia, August 24, 1923. 


The Sons of Brutus 177 

"Ah, if Fascism, instead of being so good and so naive, had done 
away with all these scoundrels who infest the nation ! Fascism today 
is paying for its fauhs for having made a revolution with the blood 
of its soldiers instead of the blood of its adversaries. 

"But, for this reason, to repair this first omission, the militia must 
remain at its post ; the militia would do well to give a lesson to the 
scoundrels who have not already been nailed to lamp-posts." 

The militia and also the Fascist university students and the squad- 
risti gave Amendola, "this Amendola who craves liberty," not one 
but several lessons. This is the records of the assaults : 

December 26, 1923, in a crowded street in Rome. 
March, 1924, in Naples during a political speech. 
May 30, 1924, on leaving the House of Parliament. 
April 6, 1925, in Rome, after a speech on liberty. 
July 20, 1925, at Montecatini, in Tuscany. 

The first attack occurred in the Via Francesco Crispi while hun- 
dreds were passing. Many noticed that an automobile filled with 
militiamen was slowly following Amendola and they knew that an 
assault was planned. The militiamen finally stopped the car a few 
feet ahead of the Deputy, leaped out, drove the passers-by away, 
and beat Amendola with their clubs, leaving him with his head 
bloody, apparently dying on the sidewalk. Adjutant-major Vico 
Perroni of the 112th Legion of Fascist militia, later testified under 
oath that the order to attack Amendola came from General De 
Bono, who was head both of the militia and of the Rome police. 
He asked whether the order came direct from the Duce. "I was 
impressed with the mention of Amendola's name," reads his signed 
confession, "so I personally made sure that His Excellency Mus- 
solini required this to be done. Discussions followed with His Ex- 
cellency General De Bono, who was particular in directing that 
Signor Amendola was merely to be clubbed." 

The high court of justice which tried De Bono for complicity in 
this and other cases, was the Fascist Senate ; in its findings, it states 
that it is true that the two carabinieri posted to safeguard Amendola 
were mysteriously recalled the day of the attack, that many persons 
saw the miltiamen preparing the attack, that it is a fact that the 

178 Sau/dust Caesar 

attackers fled to the militia barracks at Magnanapoli, and that the 
chauffeur, Zaccagnini, spoke to Colonel Candelori about De Bono 
as the official who had sanctioned the crime. But the court found 
insufficient evidence ; this ground, in Italy, however, is in itself an 
accusation, for the law states that persons so freed must never hold 
government office, but as this was a pre-Fascist law, merely a con- 
stitutional law, Mussolini defied public opinion by appointing De 
Bono governor of Tripoli the night of the verdict. 

The young Fascist squadristi gathered outside the offices of Amen- 
dola's newspaper, // Mondo, and sang: 

"Amendola, Amendola devi morire 
E col pugnale che ahbiamo affilato 
Amendola, Amendola devi morire" 

["Amendola, Amendola you must die 
By the stiletto which we have sharpened 
Am^endola, Amendola you m,ust die."] 

When this Opposition leader planned to speak in the province 
of Caserta, the Fascist Deputy Greco obtained an advance copy of 
the speech and took the text to Rossi, who took it to Mussolini. The 
Duce then told Greco that the Amendola demonstration must be 
stopped at any price. It was. 

Ten days later, on leaving the Chamber, Amendola and his friends 
were again attacked by Fascist militia. As Amendola carried an um- 
brella that day, he defended himself, while the militia, although out- 
numbering the liberal Deputies five to one, ran away. The next 
afternoon the Fascist Deputies offered a resolution asking that parlia- 
mentary immunity be suspended so that Amendola could be arrested 
for assaulting a Fascist militia chief. 

One can well believe that Amendola with an umbrella was the 
equal of five. He was an enormous man, about six feet high, huge 
but not fat, muscular and vivacious. I never spoke to him. Al- 
though I interviewed all the leaders of the Fascist government in 
1925, I particularly refrained from trafficking with the Opposition, 
knowing that the Foreign Office would look upon such action as 
treason. As it was, my telegrams regarding Amendola resulted in 

The Sons of Brutus i79 

Mussolini's protests to our ambassador, our Mr. Fletcher, who in 
Mexico had shaken his fist when Carranza imprisoned an American 
journahst, but who, in Italy, preferred to act "diplomatically." 

What I reported were the circumstances of the attempted assassina- 
tion of July 20, 1925, when Amendola, already a sick man, left 
secretly at midnight for Montecatini for a rest cure. When Amen- 
dola arrived at the Hotel Pace there were one thousand armed 
Fascists waiting to kill him. Some of them had traveled twenty miles. 
All of them, as I learned and cabled, had received an alerte from 
the Rome Cheka headquarters which was in the same building with 
the militia offices, and orders had been given to the squadristi of 
several towns. 

At first the hotel proprietor refused to surrender his guest; the 
Fascists then stormed the building, invading the rooms of Italians 
and foreigners, smashing down resisting doors, threatening with 
death all who stood in their way. Amendola, however, had fled in his 
car. An official offered him protection, but when they had ridden 
several miles, betrayed the chief. Several automobiles filled with 
Fascisti arrived and twenty men clubbed Amendola, leaving him for 
dead in his car. This is what I had reported. Amendola suffered 
agony until April 7, 1926, when he died of his wounds in southern 

To his deathbed he called his friend Campolonghi and said : 

"The Fascisti have abolished parliament, and so I have lost my 
liberty of speech. They have abolished the liberty of the press and 
so I can no longer write. They have assassinated me and so I have 
lost the liberty to live. All this is nothing. The evil is that they will 
end by assassinating Italy." 

The death certificate shows Amendola died of clotting of the blood 
in his lungs, the result of clubbing. As a racketeer's crime it was 
perfect : they do not want to kill outright like their Chicago brethren. 

Mussolini's Popolo d'ltalia congratulated the squadristi. 

In the case of Gobetti, the complicity of the chief Fascist condot- 
tiere is more clearly proven. 

Gobetti was only twenty-five. In Turin he published a periodical 
called The Liberal Revolution, satirizing Mussohni, irritating Mus- 
solini again. But there was not a word in Gobetti's irony which, if 

i8o Sawdust Caesar 

read in court, would sound libelous or insulting and the Duce could 
find absolutely no ground for suppressing the paper. Gobetti was 
ambushed and severely beaten. But he recovered and continued his 
satire. In January, 1924, Mussolini sent the following telegram to 
the prefect of police of Turin :2 

Prefect Turin I am told that Gobetti went to Paris re- 
cently but actually is in Sicily. Please inform me precisely. 
See to it again that life is made difficult for this stupid 
opponent of the Fascist government. 


Gobetti's office was pillaged, his possessions requisitioned, his corre- 
spondence stolen, his paper suppressed, and finally the prefect issued 
an order denying him the right to exercise the profession of jour- 
naHst, his one means of making a living. The Fascist again beat 
up their victim and he fled to France, where, like Araendola, he 
died of lung trouble. 

Further evidence is given by Guido Narbone, former vice-sec- 
retary of the Turin Fascisti, who writes proudly that when he and 
other leaders of Torinese Fascism were received by Mussolini at the 
Palazzo Chigi, the Duce said : 

"You must act fascistically and with the maximum energy. You 
know Professor Gobetti in Turin? He needs a severe Fascist lesson. 
You are charged to give it to him." 

Criticism, humor, irony — Mussolini could not withstand these 
forces, especially when they were employed by men of inteUigence 
and power. The politicians, the scholars, the writers, and the journal- 
ists who attacked Mussolini with words were in turn "eliminated 
from circulation" or, in American slang, "put on the spot" by the 
student of Machiavelli. 

Among the few left who dared use their voices were one or two 
of the great heroes of the war, and most notable among them was 
that same Raffaele Rossetti who, to aid d'Annunzio, had brought to 
Mussolini's ofSice the enormous fund with which the nation had re- 
warded him. 

* The original, in Mussolini's handwriting, was saved by his secretary and afterwards 

The Sons of Brutus i8i 

But Rossetti, Italy's greatest war hero, was made a pacifist by his 
experiences in the war. He was opposed to all bloodshed. And 
as he watched Fascism consolidate its power by that means he be- 
came an anti-Fascist. The story of Mussolini's wrath is told in Part 
XII of Rossi's memorandum : 

"In the spring of 1923 a Fascist ceremony took place at which, 
I think at Rapallo, certainly in the eastern Riviera, General De 
Vecchi was present. Among the onlookers was Signor Rossetti, one 
of the men who were awarded the gold medal for bravery during 
the war. He was a bitter opponent of Fascism. Although not pro- 
voked, he thought it good to arouse the anger of the majority of 
the crowd by calling out, 'Long live free Italy' and 'Down with 
Fascism.' The next day Mussolini complained of the long suffering 
of the Fascists of the region and expressed his astonishment that 
Signor De Vecchi had allowed such provocation to pass without 
prompt punishment. He remarked : 'Signor Rossetti, gold medal or 
no gold medal, was there to give provocation. Therefore, without 
further ado he should have been struck down dead on the spot.' " 

Inasmuch as the Fascist! had failed to strike Rossetti dead, Mus- 
solini ordered them to arrest the hero, and this was done. Rossetti, 
however, managed to escape from Genoa in a rowboat; he was 
wrecked in the Mediterranean, but dragged, more dead than alive, on 
to the beach at Nice, and today he is setting type in a Paris publi- 
cation devoted to attacking the Fascist regime. 

The physical and moral incapability of the Fascisti to tolerate 
criticism is called by Rossi "the fundamental fault" of the party 
in power; "this mentality is the key to the political tragedy of the 
Italian nation." In the view of H. G. Wells "the deadhest thing 
about Fascism is its systematic and ingenious and complete destruc- 
tion of all criticism and critical opposition. It is leaving no alternative 
government in the land. It is destroying all hopes of recovery. The 
King may some day be disinterred, the Vatican may become audible 
again, the Populist Party of Catholic Socialism hangs on; but it is 
hard to imagine any of these three vestiges of the earlier state of 
affairs recovering enough vitality to reconstruct anew the shattered 
and exhausted Italy. Fascism is holding up the whole apparatus of 
thought and education in Italy, killing or driving out of the country 

i82 Sawdust Caesar 

every capable thinker, clearing- out the last nests of independent ex- 
pression in the universities. Meanwhile, its militant gestures alarm 
and estrange every foreign power with which it is in contact." 

Men of good will, like Mr, Wells, may deplore the course of the 
regime and counsel the Duce to other methods. But he remains under 
the influence of the cynic of Realpolitik, the philosopher of dictator- 
ship, Machiavelli, who wrote : "He who creates a tyranny and does 
not kill Brutus and he who creates a Free State and does not kill 
the sons of Brutus, will endure but a short time." 

This is the guide-book to power which Mussolini read and under- 
lined in his youth. It explains his present success. 

• ••••it******************** 

Purge of the Freemasons 

L and the sons of Brutus had been "eliminated from circulation" 
in the brilliant euphemism of the Duce, there still remained, in addi- 
tion to the impotent Opposition parties whose slogan forever was 
"No violence is ever justifiable," one formidable element of danger 
to the consolidation of the Fascist regime. This was Freemasonry. 

In 1925 all the journalists resident in Rome, and notably the Ameri- 
can, British, Scandinavian, and others who came from Protestant 
nations, were collectively and individually lectured by the Fascist 
diplomats concerning a decree Mussolini had prepared which would 
abolish secret organizations. We realized it was an attack on Masonry 
and the Foreign Office admitted it. But in this instance, we were in- 
formed, the Duce was for once doing something consistent with 
his past. Had he not attacked Freemasonry in 1914, when he was a 
Socialist, declaring that membership in both organizations was in- 
compatible? Today it was the same with Fascism. When we asked 
why this was so, the answer was, "Because Masonry is a common 
enemy." When we protested that so far as we knew Masonry did 
not interfere with a man's politics, the spokesman for Mussolini ex- 
plained further. 

"You Americans and British," said he to the group of which 
I was a member, "do not realize that your Masonry and ours are as 
different as the tropics and the poles. Your Freemasons are all of 
the Scottish Rite; ours are all of the Grand Orient. While it may 
be true that these two organizations have relations in common, 
fundamentally they are different. Your Masonry is decent; it keeps 
out of politics, out of dirty intrigue; ours is nothing but an intriguing 
organization, undermining the army and the State; yours does not 


184 Sawdust Caesar 

fight the Catholic Church, ours exists mainly for that purpose. Our 
Masonry is the secret enemy of the government ; it is a plot against 
the government. Mussolini shows his consistency in always attacking 
Masonry, that is, Grand Orient Freemasonry." 

The world press swallowed this propaganda. Every journahst 
cabled the viewpoint of the Fascist! and believed it. Some of them 
were members of the Scottish Rite. Never having had any connection 
with Masonry myself and, at that time, naive enough to accept the 
word of all government officials as authoritative, I did likewise. It 
was a great surprise to me, later, to find in the official expressions of 
leaders and the official publications of the Order in Britain and 
America views completely denying the tenets of the Fascist states- 

However, in 1925, I did learn from the Vatican that Mussolini's 
decree, which did not name the Masons specifically, but abolished all 
secret organizations, had troubled and chagrined the Pope. The 
Catholic Church, I was told, was opposed to the new law. First of 
all, the Church was not fighting Masonry in Italy and was not the 
secret instigator of the decree, as had been hinted by some Fascists; 
secondly, the Pope realized that the law as promulgated in its am- 
biguous manner, could just as easily be used for the destruction of 
the Order of Jesuits. These views I also cabled. 

Of Mussolini's rare consistency in attitude towards the Masons, 
the explanation is now quite simple. The Order, since its foundation, 
has always been a refuge for men who believed in individual and 
political liberty; it has always opposed dictatorship in any form, 
Sociahst or Bolshevist or Fascist ; it has always favored a constitu- 
tional government, and since the day Garibaldi impressed it with his 
great personal seal, it has remained the standard-bearer of freedom. 
That is why the most rabid of radicals, Benito Mussolini of 1914, 
sought to destroy it and why the most reactionary of dictators, 
Benito Mussolini of 1925, finally did so. 

The Duke of Middlesex established the first lodge in Italy in 1773. 
Under warrant of the Grand Lodge of England he came to Florence 
and soon after the foundation, there was considerable papal opposi- 
tion. In 1S62 the Grand Orient of Italy was organized, and upon 
reorganization some eleven years later, it began to be a power. That 

Turge of the Freemasons 185 

there was antagonism between Italian Masonry and the Vatican is 
only too true. A writer in the Masonic News, an American publication, 
states that "owing to rehgious and political conditions in Italy it was 
almost impossible for the Grand Orient to remain outside of politics." 
The reason was simple : "On the one side was the Roman Catholic 
Church, always seeking to destroy it; on the other side was a gov- 
ernment, suspicious of secret societies, which in Europe nearly al- 
ways have a revolutionary purpose and liable at any time to fall under 
the control of the Vatican." 

Garibaldi and Mazzini, founders of the New Italy, were both grand 
masters. The former addressed a letter to a general assembly in 
Naples, June 17, 1867, saying: 

"Masonry being the oldest bulwark of liberty and justice and 
therefore the true antagonist of the papacy, which is the antithesis 
of progress and civilization, I implore all my brothers of all the 
Italian lodges to assist the poor Romans, oppressed by the immoral 
domination of the harsh enemy of Italy and Humanity." And of 
course it was Garibaldi who uttered the exclamation "The Vatican is 
a dagger in the heart of Italy." 

The Freemasons, however, never did ally themselves with the 
radical movement in Italy, despite the anti-Vatican attitude of the 
latter; Masonry was religious and Christian, while the extreme 
radicals, of whom Mussolini, then the apostle of atheism, was the 
leader, were not only anti-papal but Antichrist. 

When Fascism, under the atheist Duce, later began its punitive 
expeditions against its radical enemies, it found unexpected support 
in Freemasonry, and for many years, despite the suppression of the 
facts by the Fascisti, there was a brotherly understanding between 
the two organizations. From the time the first Fasci were formed 
until after the march on Rome Masonic lodges cooperated, went so 
far as to organize Fascist locals and to join the employers in sub- 
sidizing Mussolini. Professor Salvemini states that the amount of 
money they gave the Duce and his generals to assist in the capture of 
Rome was 3,500,000 lire, or $175,000. Signor Domizio Torrigiani, 
then grand master, pubhshed in November, 1922, a few days after 
Mussolini became Prime Minister, a declaration of confidence in 
the new government and in Fascist principles. It was not until the 

i86 Sawdust Caesar 

new party had been in power for almost a year, and when the neces- 
sity of a rapprochment with the Vatican began to impose itself, 
for purely opportunistic reasons, that the estrangement occurred. 

Then events moved quickly— from the passage of laws to actual 

First of all the decree which abolished the freedom of the press, 
the sine qua non of all Fascist repression, was of particular impor- 
tance because many great and liberal papers were owned, edited, 
and supported by Freemasons. The journalist Mussolini realized 
that so long as he could not muzzle them he could not destroy them, 
and the decree which followed the Matteotti assassination silencing 
all opposition, silenced the Masons also. In 1925 the branch of the 
Grand Orient in Florence, the spiritual headquarters of the Order, 
realizing that Mussolini had begun his plans for a treaty with the 
Vatican and that the press muzzle was directed against it as well 
as the five political parties, began a violent campaign in the press. 
The Fascist! replied by seizing the Florence press club. Newspapers 
were suppressed, some were bought, editors were beaten up and all 
precautions taken to hold the massacre with as little publicity and 
opposition as possible. Freemason judges, magistrates, officials, were 
forced to resign, and in some instances bankers were replaced with 
enemies of Masonry. 

Then the whispering began. In the cafes of Florence the Fascisti 
sat around and whispered about coming trouble, while in other 
cafes the Masons gathered to discuss the sinister whispers. At first 
they would not believe that any real danger to their lives was im- 
minent ; there would be the usual Fascist excesses, the burning of 
newspapers, the destruction of clubs, the clubbing of leaders, perhaps 
a few knife wounds and some revolver-shots were probable, but a 
massacre, never. 

Then the atmosphere changed. "We must do all the good we can 
to our friends and must inflict all the harm possible on our enemies," 
said Mussolini. "Now as Masonry has fought us, as it has given us 
trouble, as it has attempted to split and divide us and as it has in 
certain cities succeeded in creating dissensions more than usually 
idiotic because of their underground origins, for all these reasons, 
even if there were no others, we are within our plain and sacrosanct 

Purge of the Freemasons 187 

right to defend ourselves and to proceed to the attack, because, as 
you are teaching me, the best defense consists in an attack." 

These veiled words were followed with a notice to the press from 
the Fascist Directory. It is generally understood to have been 
written by Mussolini himself, but this has never been affirmed or 
denied. As it appeared in the Battaglia FascisH it read: 

"The Fascist Council assumes complete responsibility for the holy 
actions of retaliation and violence, performed by the Fascisti, even 
the slightest, and commands that every Fascist should endeavor to 
identify those unworthy Italians affiliated with Masonry so as to be 
able to know better what are the most useful means in order to ac- 
complish a radical, a decisive punitive action. 

"The fight against Masonry continues with a great intensity. The 
enemy is more ready, more prepared than before. The fight against 
Masonry is a fight to a finish and there is only one possible program : 

"Masonry must be destroyed and Masons should have no right to 
citizenship in Italy. To reach this end all means are good, from the 
club to the gun, from the breaking of windows to the purifying fire. 
In one word, no avenue of escape should be left open to Masonry. 
. . . The Masons must be ostracized. Each and every one of their 
acts or movements must be stopped. Their very life must be made 

The phrases "to render life difficult," to "make life impossible" 
for an enemy and "to remove from circulation," were well under- 
stood. The followers needed no explanation. 

The massacre of the Freemasons of Florence began on the 26th 
of September and lasted until the 4th of October, 1925. There were 
at least 300 casualties and the number of dead has been estimated 
between 50 and 137. The order came from Rome. The massacre 
was not the usual wild debauch of bloodshed which characterized 
other Fascist "reprisals," but a highly organized, carefully planned 
military attack, with its objective in lives and property. "I have the 
names of every man in Italy inscribed on the rolls of Masonry," 
Mussolini had said, and the chief of the Florence Black Shirts had 
a list of the persons marked for death. Eighteen men were sys- 
tematically murdered. 

The Fascist squads, dressed in their uniforms, carrying banners 

i88 Sawdust Caesar 

and singing the "Song of Youth," went rioting in the streets (it is 
so strange that the thousands of our tourists who sing the praises of 
law and order and the trains running on time, these thousands who 
fled from Florence that week, have never said a word about the 
affair) ; the Fascisti looted shops, cracked safes, stopped innocent 
persons and felled them with their blackjacks. 

Thirteen lawyers and notaries had their offices destroyed. All were 
Masons. One clinic was destroyed. The apartments of the Socialist 
Deputies Targetti and Baldesi were looted and burned. The Fascisti 
entered the home of one Eecciolini, and during the riot he killed 
one of them. They returned in force, lynched him, dragged his body 
into the public square, and exposed it there as a warning. Cafes 
were looted, wine and spirits flowed in the streets, eager Fascist 
youth drank itself drunk and staggered. Houses were set on fire. 
In the week of rioting were heard the cries : 

"Viva Mussolini! Viva Dumini! (My name is Dumini, twelve 

One of the most savage incidents was the assassination of the 
SociaHst Deputy Gaetano Pilati, war hero and cripple. Pilati's 
widow tells the tragic story :^ 

"The assassination of my husband had been decided a long time 
in advance. I learned later from the cafe-keeper Pietro Serpieri, 
who Hves opposite us, that during the month of September, 1925, 
my husband had been followed constantly by a young man. This man 
was able to inform himself on the location of our bedroom. 

"The night of October 3rd a Fascist named Lupporim was killed 
when he entered, with a gun in his hand and followed by another 
militiaman, into the home of an old Freemason for the purpose of 
killing him. The Fascists, after having killed Benciolini, the pre- 
sumed murderer of their fallen companion, organized more reprisals. 
Anti-Fascists were tracked down, their studies and their shops were 
sacked, their homes burned. 

"It was almost midnight when several inhabitants of my quarter 

saw a black automobile, lights out, stop about 500 meters from our 

house. A dozen persons descended. One, drawing his revolver, stayed 

to guard the chauffeur. The others went along the Africo, obliging 

*In Uheria, Paris, July 24, 1927. 

Purge of the Freemasons 189 

all whom they met to run. In the street Fratelli Dandolo, where 
our house was, many were at their windows, watching the burning 
of the furniture of the Honorable Baldesi which had been thrown 
into the street. The Fascists fired several shots in the air, summoning 
all to withdraw. This did not stop anyone, the lights being out, to 
follow events in the street and in our house, by looking through 
the shutters. 

"That evening my husband returned late after paying his work- 
men, and after dining, retired, being very weary. We slept so soundly 
neither heard nor perceived what happened in the street. 

"Suddenly we were awakened by a great noise. I lighted the 
room. Before us was a man, small, sinister, with a hat over his 
eyes. He brandished two revolvers. A second person, who had also 
entered our room, approached my husband and in a menacing voice 
said, 'Dress and follow me to Fascist headquarters.' 

" 'I will follow you,' replied my husband, and seated on the bed 
began to put on his trousers on the one leg he had left after the 


Come quickly,' said the Fascist. 'Are you really Pilati?' 

" 'Yes.' 

"Hardly had he said that word when the two bandits discharged 
their revolvers at him. 

"After receiving the first shot in his left shoulder, my husband 
rolled from the bed to the door, either because he wanted to leave 
the bed so as not to expose me to more shots, or to block the door 
to our son's room. 

"Maddened by terror, I screamed. 

"At the open window suddenly appeared the sinister figure of 
a third bandit. 

"I heard another shot, and the man who had already spoken cried, 
'Quick, quick, let us depart.' 

"He had hardly gone when my husband, groaning painfully, said 
to me: 'Look, look, how many wounds. Give me a bandage.' 

"Another tenant saw the bandits flee. One of them, while the 
chauffeur was blowing his horn for all to return, proposed to them: 
'Let's go have a drink on me. I was the one who killed him, you 

190 Sawdust Caesar 

"My husband was taken on a stretcher to the hospital of Santa 
Maria Nuova, To the porter who asked what had happened to him 
he repUed: 

" 'The Austrians have mutilated me ; the Italians have murdered 

"After three days of agony he breathed his last . . . the funeral, 
by order of the poHce, was held secretly. 

"In March, 1926, during the hearing, I was confronted with 
Ermini, who was defended by the attorney Meschiari. I, however, 
was unable to find an attorney to take the case. I recognized without 
hesitation, one of the assassins. 

"When the day came for the trial I was the victim of all sorts of 
pressure and threats for the purpose of making me deny the iden- 
tity of Ermini. I was offered much money, which I refused., with 

"I asked for passports for myself and my son. I was told I would 
get them if I would give up going to the trial. Everyone was organized 
to conquer my resistance, the Attorney Pacchi, the Colonel Lanari, 
the Deputy Delcroix, the prefect. 

"Finally the attorney who had charge of my interests was sum- 
moned by the prefecture and by the Fascio to abandon me. 

"I had to resign myself to do without assistance. 

"The trial began in Chieti at the end of April. I was exhausted, 
sick, I was in bed. But the fear of betraying my dead husband by 
my absence gave me a new strength. 

"At the trial I was veritably attacked by the lawyers. But I re- 
mained firm and confirmed my identification of Ermini. 

"The assassins were acquitted. At Florence they posted police at 
my house. The assassins returned to my quarter, amusing them- 
selves by coming under the windows and insulting me." 

The listing of Masonic leaders and their destruction was partly 
the work of the head of the Florentine Fascio, Luporini, who, as 
fate would have it, was accidentally shot in a scuffle. It was the death 
of Luporini which supplied the immediate reason for holding the 
massacre in September. 

On Sunday, October 4th, so many British, American, and other 
foreign citizens had been clubbed and robbed that the terrified tourists 


Purge of the Freemasons 191 

fled to the consulates for refuge. The American, British, and Swiss 
consuls raised their flags, as if for a hohday or for a war, the 
frightened nationals poured into the diplomatic buildings, and the 
consuls telegraphed their protests directly to Mussolini. It was the 
next day that Farinacci sent word to Florence, "Cease hostilities." 
More than a week of rioting and murder and hardly a word in 
the foreign press about a state of revolution in one of the most 
beautiful and popular tourist centers of Europe. For Fascist cen- 
sorship it was a great success. The cables were stopped in the post- 
offices, telegrams to Paris held up, letters opened, the foreign jour- 
nalists held almost incommunicado. Then the Fascist press bureau 
began issuing statements which the venal Stefani agency, the Italian 
journalists representing the American papers, and some leading but 
betrayed American and British reporters, accepted as true and sent 
out. In these Fascist reports it was stated that the Masons and the 
Socialists had attacked a Fascist without warning and killed him, 
that the mob demanded vengeance and acted without authority. The 
government then pacified the city. 

It was more than a week after the massacre before the honest 
journalists saw that the official reports were not true, but then it was 
too late to send out sensational news ; the matter was now historical 
— and therefore dead. The Ligue des Droits de I'Homme later sent 
its protest: 

"The savage onslaught on Masonry now organized at Mussohni's 
instigation is nothing more than a move to use these artificially pro- 
voked sanguinary upheavals as a plea for indefinitely putting off 
the date of the Matteotti trial: because Mussolini knows that the 
public hearing of the evidence in court it will not be possible for him 
to prevent the disclosure of his own direct personal participation in 
the atrocious crime, as having given the order to the murderers." 

But that was not news, either. 

A correspondent was invited to ask Mussolini questions about the 
massacre of the Freemasons. "Could your Excellency explain the 
reason for the Fascist war on Masonry?" His Excellency could : 

*T am very glad you asked that question because there is a lot of 
misunderstanding in Anglo-Saxon countries over this question. We 
must once and for all make clear the great difference between Eng- 

192 Sawdust Caesar 

lish and American Masonry and the political Masonry of Italy. . . . 
Italian Masons have nothing in common with English Masons ex- 
cept the name. . . . The work of Masonry on behalf of our inde- 
pendence has been much exaggerated. 

"The sect must be absolutely abolished because its influence is 
deleterious to discipline in the army, to the impartiality of the courts, 
and a subversion of order that should obtain in all public offices. 
Masonry has overturned all regulations. . . . 

"Fortunately, Fascism has struck Italian Masonry such a blow 
that it will be difficult for it to regain its legs again for some time. 
. . . The grave attempt on my life on the anniversary of our glorious 
victory, and the plot to throw the whole nation into disorder, show 
what a sinister influence the Masonic sect — which undoubtedly in- 
spired the criminal attempt on my life — has on the minds even of 
Italians who, because of their social position and past military expe- 
rience, ought to he better able to understand the folly and shame of 
this latest exploit." 

This "latest exploit" to which Mussolini refers is the Zaniboni plot 
which will be told in due time. William Bird, the noted journalist 
from Paris where he was free of censorship quoted one of Musso- 
lini's admirers as informing him that "either Mussolini is rapidly 
going mad or else the worst elements among his entourage have so 
completely dominated him that he is longer free to act according to 
his own judgment. This so-called plot is too obviously trumped up 
to deceive anybody. It was intended simply as a pretext for dissolv- 
ing the United Socialist Party and for closing the Masonic lodges." 

The other point emphasized by Mussolini in his interview, the 
difference between the Scottish Rite and the Grand Orient types of 
Masonry is further shot to pieces by John Bond of the Fellowship 
Forum, who tells what happened to the Scottish lodge at the time 
the Fascists were killing the Masons of Florence. He states ; 

"In Rome the Masons of the Scottish Rite had their offices in the 
great palace right opposite the church of the Jesuits. . . . While a 
meeting of the lodge was in progress, Mussolinian thugs armed with 
cudgels broke down the doors, beat the members of the lodge, and 
then set fire to the premises. ... No mention was made in the 
Roman newspapers. 

Purge of the Freemasons 193 

"Commendatore Raoul Palermi, the Grand Master of the Scottish 
Rite, well-known to leading Masons all over the world, a scholar 
and a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, had to give up his 
home in Rome, as several attempts had been made to break in and 
set it on fire. He had been spared in the general massacre because 
he enjoyed the esteem of men who were close to the King. ... He 
was 'advised' by the prefect of the Roman police to leave Rome 
. . . and went to a little town near Palermo. . . . One morning he 
was found unconscious in his writing-room, stabbed. The police gave 
out a statement to his friends (no news of the fact was permitted 
to appear in the press) that the wounds seemed to have been self- 
inflicted. Happily they were not fatal." 

It is an obvious fact that the Scottish Rite was suppressed in 
Italy, and it is another obvious fact that Fascist propaganda has not 
only ignored this, but perverted the news for the press. Mussolini 
frequently has come to his own defense with vast vague attacks. 
Thus on one occasion he links Masonry with Bolshevism when he 
speaks of "Italy's imps, the red dabblers, our organization of so- 
called Freemasons." Again he resorts to his habitual characteristic 
methods of using foul language; thus he cautions us not to forget that 
"this shady institution with its secret nature has always had in 
Italy a character typical of the briber and the blackmailer . . . the 
Masons of Italy have always represented a distortion, not only in 
political life, but in spiritual concepts. ... Its secret character 
throughout the twentieth century, its mysterious meetings, abhorrent 
to our beautiful communities with their sunlight and their love of 
truth, gave to the sect the character of corruption, a crooked con- 
cept of life, without program, without soul, without moral value. 
. . . For my direct, methodical, consistent course of policy the hate 
of the Masonic sect persecutes me even now. . . . This is a war 
without quarter, a war of which I am a veteran. ... I have always 
had against me our Masonry. But that organization, which in other 
times was very powerful, has been beaten by me. Agaii:st me it did 
not and cannot win. Italians won this battle for me. They found 
the cure for this leprosy. ... I obeyed the positive command of 
my conscience, and not any opportunism. My attitude had nothing 
in common with the anti-Masonic spirit of the Jesuits." 

194 Sawdust Caesar 

And finally he speaks of the "corrupting, sinister, tortuous power 
as that of international IMasonry of a political type, as distinguished 
from the Masonry known in the Anglo-Saxon countries." But here 
again a question of veracity arises. For despite all the Duce's efforts 
to distinguish between the two Masonries, an effort which for a 
while deceived the foreign press and aided in the apology for the 
massacre of Florence, we find that the Scottish Rite has everywhere 
stood by the Grand Orient. Thus, in the official organ of the Su- 
preme Council 33° A. & A. Scottish Rite of Freemasonry S. J., 
U. S. A. the blood bath of Florence was denounced in this edi- 
torial opinion: 

"The millions of Masons throughout the world at the present 
can only look on, impotent for the time being, to help their oppressed 
brethren in Italy, but their distress awakens the deepest sympathy. 
Masons of the world, especially the three milHons of the Craft in 
this country, are well aware of the issues involved and their hearts 
vibrate with compassion for their suffering brethren overseas. 

"There can be no doubt of the ultimate result. For the time the 
tyrant prospers. . . . The despot must fall, the wrong be dethroned 
and righteousness come to victory. In that day Freemasonry in Italy 
will be vindicated. It will be seen that the Craft has been the victim 
of malicious slander and that the people of Italy have no better 
friends than the men who wear the apron of the Masonic Order." 

According to an American masonic investigation, the Fascist! 
destroyed i,ooo lodges and clubs, pillaging most of them, throwing 
the emblems into the street or auctioning them off with a ribald cere- 
mony, and burning what they cotdd not dispose of otherwise. 

Grand master of the Grand Orient Domizio Torrigiani was de- 
ported to the isle of Ponza ; General Luigi Capello, once commander 
of the Italian Second Army, was sentenced to thirty years imprison- 
ment and became convict No. 3246; General Roberto Bencivenga, 
former chief of the general staff of General Cadorna, was also de- 
ported to Ponza, 

Whether Masonry was guilty of anti-Fascist activities cannot be 
answered definitely. One fact is certain : from the time the Masons 
of Italy ceased to give money and moral support to Fascism, from 
the time they saw Fascism assume all authority and realized that 

Pttrge of the Freemasons 195 

Mussolini was waging war against the lodges and their leaders, they 
began to draw to themselves all those who hoped for another risorgi- 
mento. Garibaldi had once called Masonry his bulwark of liberty; 
perhaps some new leader, some new Matteotti or Amendola, would 
join with Masonry and under the banner of the Aventine Opposi- 
tion rally all elements for another battle of restoration of personal 
and public rights. So Masons thought in 1925. In destroying Masonry, 
therefore, Mussolini destroyed the one great secret habitat of a pos- 
sible future enemy, an enemy which might prove dangerous to his 
soaring will to maintain himself throughout his lifetime in full and 
absolute power. 


Mussolini Conquers the Mafia 

. Fascism was the Mafia, the secret terroristic organization which 
was particularly active in Sicily and the southern provinces. This 
menace Mussolini met and in his typical way conquered. It is one 
of the achievements most loudly and universally acclaimed in the 

Especially vociferous are the p^ean singers in America, where, 
during the great and golden era of Prohibition, a system closely allied 
to the Mafia flourished in the big cities and took its toll of millions 
if not billions of dollars. Racketeering is not yet dead in America. 
But few realize how closely allied it is to the Italian system. 

In the early 1920's the present writer employed as his assistant in 
Rome an Italian journalist named Camillo Cianfarra, who had for 
many years served in the Italian diplomatic service and who had 
made a survey of Italian emigrant activities in the United States. 
Part of his work was to investigate crime in the United States, to 
watch, study, and report on the number of Italians engaged in 
criminal activities, so that the records in their home towns to which 
they frequently returned could he kept efficiently. 

When Colonel McCormick of the Chicago Tribune asked the Rome 
bureau to investigate the question of Italian predominance in Chicago 
racketeering, Cianfarra naturally undertook this work. His expla- 
nation of Italian criminality in America was simple and frank. In 
Sicily, in the old days, he had found that the judges made it a point 
to encourage habitual criminals, cut-throats, murderers, and bandits 
to emigrate to America. As this was before Mussolini restored capital 
punishment, it was found cheaper to deport murderers and gunmen 
than sentence them to life imprisonment and feed them in Italy. 


Mussolini Conquers the Mafia 197 

When a murderer appeared before a Sicilian judge the latter would 
say, well, it's life imprisonment for you, and the sentence will be pro- 
nounced Thursday morning. That is, if you are here. But there is a 
boat for New York on Wednesday. 

And that is how many of Italy's worst citizens came to America. 
But when American laws were passed aimed most directly at that 
country, and a few American consuls took seriously the State De- 
partment's orders for selective emigration, the result was that bandits 
had a hard time getting to the United States. 

Under these circumstances Mussolini had a brilliant idea. He 
found that in reality there were two big secret terror organizations 
called indiscriminately the Mafia. The one protected the countryside, 
the other the city, the one levied tribute on farmers, the other on 
urban merchants, and among themselves they fought. Everyone was 
a victim. If a peasant wanted to take a bullock-load of vegetables 
into Naples or Palermo he had to pay a small percentage to some 
gangster who would assure him "safety" on the trip both ways and 
his money. Likewise city merchants were mulcted. Sicily saw the 
origin of all the beer and movie and pants-pressing rackets of Chicago 
and it happened generations ago. 

Mussolini soon realized that the urban Mafia was far superior to 
the rural Mafia. S. S. McClure, one of Mussolini's best apologists 
in America, believed that Sicily was "under a tyranny of the worst 
and most powerful criminal oligarchy that ever existed," making 
the American urban system of murder, robbery, blackmail, kid- 
napping, and other forms of violence "mild" in comparison. In the 
province of Palermo there were 1,750 murders in one year: Chicago 
would have to have 7,000 murders a year in place of 300 to equal it. 

These thousands of Mafiosi, who for half a century had become a 
great power in the American underworld, who had established the 
Black Hand system in the Italian colonies in New York, Chicago, 
and other large centers, and who were later to take the leadership in 
bootlegging and racketeering, were now doomed to remain in Italy. 

To meet the situation Mussolini appointed the Honorable Carnazza 
governor of Sicily and sent Cesare Mori to Palermo as prefect. 

Some forty years ago Mori, an artillery officer, entered the police 
department as a delegate, the lowest rank, and began his new career 

igS Sawdust Caesar 

in Trapani, which, with Palermo, shared the reputation of being 
the centers of Mafia activities. His chief work was rounding up the 
cattle-maimers whose specialty was hamstringing the Hvestock of 
landowners who refused to pay their "contributions." It was rack- 
eteering in its purest Chicago form. 

So successful was Mori that he gained advancement and medals 
for courage, military, and civil valor. When Nitti was made Prime 
Minister he gave Mori the highest rank, quaestor in Rome. 

In 1923, when Mussolini had been in power almost a year, the 
leading urban business men of Sicily came to Rome with the request 
that Mori be sent back to command the forces against the Mafia. 
Naturally enough, these prominent gentlemen who had contributed 
liberally to the Fascist cause wanted their business protected by the 
new government, instead of the bandits who were preaching "the 
pernicious doctrine that the police and the law were the enemies of 
the common people," and who were extremely active in levying a tax 
on the wealthy city merchants. 

Mori, who did not play politics, went to work as a soldier; but 
Carnazza, who was a Fascist politician, carried out orders from 

Mussolini, adding a new twist to the axiom, divesa et hnpera, or- 
dered that a distinction be made between the city and the rural 
bandits; the former, which was the larger section, was armed and 
given moral encouragement, while the latter division was proscribed. 
Under these circumstances country banditry soon disappeared. 

Mussolini then incorporated the urban branch of the Mafia into 
the Black Shirt militia. According to Don Sturzo it was the Honor- 
able Carnazza who in addition to all their other weapons added 
the Fascist manganello to the Mafia equipment, and BoHtho, after 
an investigation two years later, found that "Carnazza took into 
his service the celebrated Mafia and the hardly less redoubtable 
'squadra del baltico' for whom he found much employment in the 

The addition of this criminal element to the armed forces of the 
new state made itself felt. According to Gilbert Murray, "many parts 
of Italy have long been accustomed to the rule of private extra-legal 

Mussolini Conquers the Mafia 199 

societies like the Camora, the Mafia, and the Black Hand. The 
Fascist Society is only a Camorra on a grand scale." 

Today there is no longer a vegetable-racket Sicily. The peasants 
come in peace, the merchants haggle in peace, and quiet reigns. Be- 
cause the Mafiosi, the Black-handers, have been transferred 
throughout the kingdom, doing their work on a national scale, levying 
taxation upon men and industries, administering castor oil to small 
offenders, shooting workingmen who attempt to flee into Switzerland 
or France, clubbing critics of the government and generally engaging 
in the old racket. 

Their work is to get the money from the little men and to keep 
the little men in the Fascist line. For big-time work there are more 
important persons, the podestas, the minor dictators of cities and 
provinces. Thus the street-repaving job in Rome in Holy Year 1925 
was found recently to have entailed a graft of $350,000 for the Black 
Camorra, while other municipal improvements so highly praised by 
Holy Year pilgrims netted another big sum. In Milan racketeering 
reached unprecedented heights. In many cities and rural districts 
Fascist Party racketeers levy tribute on their original backers, the 
big banks and industries. Following is a sample instance, a com- 
munique sent by the ras of the province of Pesaro Urbino to the 
wealthy : 

"I have audited recently the amount of subventions given the 
Fascio by the proprietors in this province. 

"It is useless for me to declare that I do not know how to employ 
so much money flowing into our treasury. 

"Certain gentlemen, proprietors of many millions, have offered 
us sums which, in proportion to the capital which Fascism has saved 
them, amounts to almost nothing. On this account, considering that 
by the system we have employed up to now we have taken in prac- 
tically nothing, I warn the proprietors of the province of Pesaro 
Urbino that I will impose upon them taxes in proportion to their 
capital and in such a fashion that I soon will be able to systematize 
definitely the financial situation of our province." 

So it is that today when a black shirt is buttoned over a leading 
Fascist bosom, the fingers frequently are those of an old Black Hand. 
When an automobile sideswiped another, somewhere in New York 

200 Sawdust Caesar 

or Chicago in the old bad days, when a stream of sub-machine gun 
bullets "rubbed out" a gangster, the finger on the trigger very hkely 
was that of an old Mafiosi of Sicily who had been able to get away 
in time. And when a man is put on the spot, whether in Italy or 
America, it is frequently by the same common methods because the 
same type of men from the same native towns are employed. Fascism 
instead of deracinating the Black Hand, Camorra, and Mafia system, 
found a new use for its clever members. 

Instead of terrorizing, extorting money,^ or killing for the purpose 
of private gain, the "totalitarian" Mafiosi are trained to employ their 
talents "for national and patriotic purposes." They are dispersed 
throughout the country and some have important positions in the 
new secret-service organization which the new regime found neces- 
sary for its existence. 

* During the general strike in August, 1922, the following note was employed in 
several provinces; 

National Fascist Party 
Fascist Secret Provincial Committee of Action 
We Fascisti are sacrificing our lives to smash this strike by every means. It is your 
duty to aid our movement financially in order to save the nation. 

Wc therefore ask you to turn over to the bearer of this message — lire, 

(signed) Secret Committee of Action. 



The Che\a — spelled Ceca or Ovra 

erned. The corner policeman still plays a part in our lives. We, 
the fortunate who are governed by a President, a Congress or a 
parliament whom we elect and who are not dictated to by a man 
in absolute power, frequently may protest actions by the forces of 
law and order as terroristic, but we cannot, even when we go touring 
in foreign lands, completely realize the state of fear that exists under 
a political system which employs terror as an instrument. 

Even in time of war, when an enemy occupies a country, the very 
necessary mass terrorism which frees the rulers from the alternative 
of appointing one policeman for every inhabitant is mild in com- 
parison to the dictatorial system. 

Terrorism is the finest and cheapest weapon of the modern tyrant. 
But if he wishes to avoid the ignominious fate of a weakling, a 
Primo de Rivera for example, the tyrant of our day must be ruthless, 
unsentimental, unswerving; he must have little regard for human 
life ; he must be implacable and he must remain fixed on the idea of 

To meet that problem Mussolini found that the methods of his 
predecessors were useless. After he had dispersed all the organized 
elements of opposition, from the political parties to the comparatively 
unimportant Mafia in the south, he realized that he had to employ 
the same terroristic organizations which the rulers of Russia forced 
upon Lenin in 1918 when leniency with enemies of the regime re- 
sulted in many plots and the attempted assassination of the head of 
the government. 

Mussolini already had his bodyguard, his little group of men who 
carried out the secret orders. He now began to build a powerful 


202 Sawdust Caesar 

organization. At the same time he made public and press statements 
denying its existence and one day had the courage to repeat them to 
the Chamber of Deputies. 

"Gentlemen," he said, "I am the one who brings forth in this 
hall the accusations against myself. 

"It has been said that I would have founded a 'Cheka.* 

"Where? When? In what way? Nobody is able to say. Russia 
has executed without trial from 150,000 to 160,000 people, as shown 
by statistics almost official. There has been a Cheka in Russia which 
has exercised terror systematically over all the middle classes and 
over the individual members of those classes, a Cheka which said it 
was the red sword of revolution. But an Italian Cheka never had a 
shadow of existence. 

"Nobody has ever denied that I am possessed of these three quali- 
ties : a discreet intelligence, a lot of courage, and an utter contempt 
for the lure of money. 

"If I had founded a Cheka I would have done it following the 
lines of reasoning that I have always used in defending one kind of 
violence that can never be eliminated from history. 

"I have always said — and those who have always followed me in 
these five years of hard struggle can now remember it — that vio- 
lence, to be useful in settling anything, must be surgical, intelligent, 
and chivalrous. Now, all the exploits of any so-called Cheka have 
always been unintelligent, passionate, and stupid. 

"Can you really think that I could order — on that day following 
the anniversary of Christ's birth when all saintly spirits are hovering 
near — can you think that I could order an assault at ten o'clock in 
the morning? . . . Please do not think me such an idiot." 

Yet despite his calling on all saintly spirits that Christmas day, 
'despite his disavowal of violence, a Cheka which, it is true, still had 
no name or definite organization, was already flourishing in Italy in 
the Year One, Era Fascista. The Saint-Just of the Italian terror 
system was that same Rossi who was so prominent in the Matteotti 
case. He himself was a great admirer of Djerdzinsky of Russia, and 
commonly among themselves, Mussolini, Rossi, Dumini, and the 
others referred to their little group as the "Ceca" which in Italian 
is pronounced Cheka. 

The Cheka— spelled Ceca or Ovra 203 

Following the threatened uprising in 1924 it was nationalized. 
According to its chief, "Several days before the Matteotti tragedy, 
facing the acts, gestures of indisciphne, and nonchalance of Fascist 
Deputies, such as Rocca and Ravazzola, Mussolini before me and 
others of the National Directorate, expressed his astonishment that 
the party police, the famous 'Ceca,' had given no sign of life. On 
that occasion he said in absolute tranquillity, 'Action against these 
parliamentary gentlemen cannot be taken by any legal arm ; we de- 
plore, we expel, we demand the resignations, but they do not give 
a darn. . . . There is nothing to do but beat them without mercy. 
This Ceca, does it function or not?' 

"The mother-idea of this Ceca was Mussolini's alone. . . . The 
necessity of an organ for defense and for vengeance was explained 
by Mussolini as follows: 'The regime does not yet dispose of legal 
means for beating its enemies. Laws which exist represent the 
liberal spirit against which Fascism has arisen. To fill in this gap 
all governments in a state of transition have need of illegal powers 
to put their adversaries in place.' 

"If as a result, in the activity of the Cheka there were committed 
acts which were arbitrary and inopportune, this does not diminish 
the responsibility of its author, Mussolini. To attribute them solely 
to Rossi and MarinelH is the height of audacity and puerility." 

Several years ago, when the Cheka was still a mystery, Paolo 
Valera made the declaration that this organization was a part of 
the Ministry of the Interior and "appears to be a society of criminals 
and assassins. Its chief ... is said to be Cesare Rossi, head of the 
press bureau of the Ministry. ... Its agents are famous for their 
crimes." Prezzolini, one of the rare intellectuals who have spoken 
in favor of the regime, admits that "the Matteotti and preceding 
crimes force the admission that there existed a veritable criminal asso- 
ciation preparing and executing the attacks and destruction inspired 
by Cesare Rossi." 

So long as the censorship flourished and foreign correspondents 
were afraid to write anything which might offend Mussolini or were 
covetous of his good will, the Cheka was never mentioned. But on 
July 13, 1925, came the supreme test for honest journalists. It was 
on that day that of the 140 members of parliament who had seceded 

204 Sawdust Caesar 

more than loo signed an indictment against the Cheka. The signatories 
were not only Socialists who were mourning their secretary-general 
and leader, but also the representatives of the Catholic, Repubhcan, 
Democratic, and Liberal Parties. Said this document : 

"The conclusion is that the inquiry conducted by the High Court 
has brought out evidence more than sufficient to show that under 
the auspices of the Head of the Government (Mussolini), men in 
confidence sharing the functions if not the real and proper respon- 
sibilities of government, organized crimes to punish Deputies for 
their opposition to the regime ; and that for the preparation of these 
crimes there was a special collective organization (Cheka) of which 
several members are known." 

Journalists who cabled the above became persona non grata with 
the Fascist government and were expelled. 

On the 29th of May, 1923, Misuri, member of parliament, who 
had quit the Fascist Party and therefore earned the undying hatred 
of its leader, made a speech of criticism to which the Duce replied 
by a public threat of punishment. Almost immediately Misuri was 
attacked by Cheka men and beaten up. In a statement to the press^ 
Misuri charged Mussolini with giving orders for the assault to sev- 
eral gangsters, but there was no contradiction to this statement, 
no libel suit. 

"The Misuri incident," reported James Murphy, "is a definite 
landmark and probably marks the first official operation of the Cheka 
in its official functioning as a normal organ of the government." 

The complete exposure of the Cheka as a murder organization and 
also as a racket was made before the Senate of Rome by Dr. Donati, 
editor of the Catholic newspaper // Popolo, during the trial of 
General De Bono. The evidence states in part : 

"The criminal association — or the Cheka, as it is more commonly 
called— bound together under a pact of mutual common action in 
crime the highest leaders of Fascism (Rossi, Marinelli, and so forth), 
the professional assassins (Dumini, Volpi, and so forth), and the 
non-official coadjutors {Corriere Italiano, Filippelli, and so forth). 
It had its headquarters in a government building, the Viminal, where 

*// Popolo, Rome, December 3i, 1924. 

The Ckeka — spelled Ceca or Ovra 205 

Senator De Bono also had his dual headquarters, as Director-General 
of Police and Chief of the Militia. 

"The Cheka, which had already existed in embryonic form, was 
endowed with a regular constitution of its own at a meeting held in 
the private residence of the Premier, in the Via Rasella. Among those 
present was General De Bono, who had already been appointed 
Director-General of Police and First Commander-General of the 
Militia. There is explicit mention of this meeting in the affidavit 
drawn up by Finzi, which was submitted to three gentlemen who can 
give evidence as to its contents. These are Signor Schiff Giorgini, 
Commendatore Guglielmo Emmanuel head of the Roman office of 
the Corriere delta Sera, and the journalist Carlo Silvestri. This is 
also borne out by the evidence which these gentlemen have already 
given before the Crown Prosecutor and confirmed by Finzi himself 
in a recent conversation which he had with Silvestri. Therefore the 
Cheka represented a constitutional organ of the Fascist Party and 
the Fascist Government. 

"As we shall see, the Cheka was entrusted with a two-fold task: 
(i) to spy attentively on all movements of political parties and per- 
sons opposed to Fascism, also on lukewarm friends and open dis- 
senters; (2) to suppress the more dangerous adversaries by violence 
in style,^ imder an astute system of protection which ensured the 
immunity of the assassins and their paymasters. 

"The executive of the Cheka is identical with the General Com- 
mand of the militia. The General Command recruited the hired 
assassins, furnished the material and financial means, arranged the 
plans, gathered information, provided — through the office of the 
Premier's press agency (Cesare Rossi) — for the 'working up' of 
public opinion, and made arrangements with the police authorities 
to guarantee the immunity of the direct culprits. 

' "Bastonatura in stile" (bastinadoing in st>'le) is the technical phrase used in the 
orders sent out from the headquarters of the National militia. It stands for a distinct 
type of cudgeling, and those who are entrusted with the task have been specially 
trained in the barracks, where they have a dummy figure on which they practise. The 
weapon used is a specially made bludgeon which is radier heavy towards the end and is 
somewhat flexible. Most of the blows are inflicted on the tower part of the face, for the 
purpose of breaking the jawbone and thus laying up the victim for months. Care is 
taken not to fracture the skull, lest death may ensue. 

2o6 Sawdust Caessr 

"The Cheka was considered as an instrument necessary for the 
government of the country, according to the literal expression used 
by Finzi in his affidavit. To this Cheka organization we are to at- 
tribute the well-known acts of violence committed against the Depu- 
ties Mazzolani, Misuri, Buffoni, Amendola, Forni, Bergamini, Nitti, 
and the journalist Giannini; also the murder of Father Giovanni 
Minzoni at Argenta, the murder of the laborer Antonio Piccinini, 
Socialist candidate in Reggio Emilia, and the murder of Matteotti." 

While the Fascist Senate failed to indict General De Bono for 
complicity in the murder of Matteotti "for lack of sufficient evidence," 
it did not deny Donati's charges that there was a Cheka functioning 
in Italy and even referred to it as "the committee which has been 
organized against the enemies of Fascism." In corroboration of 
Donati's charges there were General Balbo's letter about the Minzoni 
murder, the confessions of Rossi and Filippelli, and other sworn 
statements, most of which the Senate refused to read. Threatened 
with immediate death, the Catholic editor fled to France the day 
the Senate report was issued. 

In January, 1926, the French government discovered how vast 
and international the Fascist Cheka had become when Ricciotti Gari- 
baldi, one of the grandsons of the founder of Italian liberty, who 
seemingly was active in France in the struggle for restoration of 
freedom in his native land, was arrested by the police of Nice. 

At the trial, in November, testimony was given that there was a 
conspiracy in southern France to organize two armies, one of 
Spaniards, the other of Italians, and march against the dictators. 
Garibaldi had involved Colonel Francesco Macia, the ardent Cata- 
lonian patriot (and after the Spanish revolution, governor of Cata- 
lonia) in gun-running to Spain, and had furnished the information 
to Mussolini directly, so that the Italian dictator could retail it to his 
Spanish colleague De Rivera and thus further their secret treaty of 
cooperation and good-will. Moreover, Garibaldi had conspired with 
gunmen in Paris, with leading Freemasons and republicans, and 
with labor leaders and patriots who saw in him the possible liberator 
of Italy. So cleverly did he do his work that even Fascist agents were 
fooled. Thus Luigi Villari at the time wrote that the "neo-Gari- 
baldian movement was being prepared under the leadership of 

The Che\a— spelled Ceca or Ovra 207 

Ricciotti Garibaldi, Junior . . . with the support of Italian and 
French Freemasonry. The aim was actually to attempt an armed in- 
vasion of Italy. . . ." 

Villari indignantly reports meetings between the Paris Freemasons, 
Garibaldi and Torrigiani, head of the Grand Orient of Italy, and 
connects them all with the conspiracy of Tito Zaniboni to assassinate 
Mussolini. The fact is that Garibaldi was sent by Mussolini to do 
several jobs as an agent provocateur, but his main purpose in going 
to France was twofold : to earn 2,000,000 lire for stealing the docu- 
ments signed by Mussolini^ from Signer Fasciolo, one-time secretary 
to the Duce, and to earn another 2,000,000 if he succeeded in put- 
ting Fasciolo "out of circulation." He succeeded in neither of these 
things, but he did earn 645,000 lire for what he did accomplish. 

On November 6th it was reported that "Garibaldi confessed to 
being an agent provocateur, a stool pigeon in the pay of Mussolini. 
Mussolini's government is exposed as deliberately fomenting plots; 
as sending its secret agents to France to play the spy and traitor; 
as paying 100,000 francs in a single sum for a mean piece of work 
done on French territory in violation of the French laws."* 

The official criminal -court record at the Paris trial shows Gari- 
baldi confessing that he had intrigued with a man named Scevoli 
to go on a mission to Rome ; having obtained Scevoli's passport. 
Garibaldi sent it to Lapolla, chief of the Fascist police, who used it 
for secret trips between Garibaldi and Mussolini. 

Of the 645,000 lire received. Garibaldi confessed, 400,000 came 
from Federzoni. Papers and letters from Federzoni and from Gino 
Lucetti, one of the would-be assassins of Mussolini, were introduced 
and read. At the close of the first day's hearings there was more than 
a suspicion that Garibaldi might have been involved in a plot to 
assassinate the Duce for the benefit of dissenting Fascist leaders, 
of whom the most notable in 1926 was Federzoni, the nationalist 
and royalist. 

The second day's hearings, which coincided with reports from 
Rome of 100 dead and 1,000 wounded in the three-day riots which 

'Gobctti telegram, etc., and letters relative to the American oil deal of 1924. 
*Neu/ yor\ World, November 6, 1926. 

2o8 Sawdust Caesar 

the Fascists carried out as reprisals for the Zaniboni shooting, Ric- 
ciotti was confronted by Sante Garibaldi. 

"There is not one among us who would not have gone blindly to 
death at the bidding of this man, because of the name he bears," said 
Sante Garibaldi, pointing at Ricciotti ; and then addressing the latter : 
"If you have the lightest sense of honor left, there is but one thing 
remaining for you to do. What are you waiting for? Why don't you 
beat out your brains against a wall?" 

"I am a victim of fatality," muttered Garibaldi. He had come to 
court wearing his monocle and his Legion of Honor ribbon ; he had 
tried for a few minutes to deny and to brave it out, but now he was 
almost in tears. "It was Mussolini who led me into a trap," he 

"Traitor," shouted Sante Garibaldi ; "you have dragged the name 
of our family, glory, and honor into the mire." 

"I am a victim of an awful fatality," mumbled Ricciotti, "I have 
taken money, it is true, but I have not betrayed the cause of liberty." 
He fell on his knees, clasped the hand of his young brother to his 
lips, and asked forgiveness. 

Macia and Garibaldi were found guilty. Mussolini apologized to 

Altogether there were nineteen conspirators on trial. Maitre Torres 
defended Colonel Macia. 

"It is true. I admit," said the Catalonian patriot to the court. "It 
was my duty as a patriot. When I am free I will begin again." He 
confessed that the Catalonian arms were shipped as "brooms" to 
sweep out Catalonia; bayonets were marked "toothpicks," and rifles 

Garibaldi, Macia, and sixteen others were given short terms in 
prison for possessing firearms; as the seventeen men came up for 
sentence, each in turn dramatically walked past Garibaldi, pointed 
at the chest full of hero medals, and uttered the word "Traitor." 

The trial also brought out the following facts: 

That there existed in Europe and America a large organization 
of spies and agents provocateurs in the pay of Fascism. 

That acts of violence committed in Paris, New York, Buenos 
Aires, and other big Itahan centers against Fascists are frequently 

The Chekji — spelled Ceca or Ovra 209 

instigated by Fascist agents themselves for the purpose o£ furnish- 
ing pretexts for prosecutions and protests from the Italian govern- 

That Itahan state functionaries did not hesitate to "sequester" 
persons, steal documents in foreign countries, and instigate attempts 
at assassination. 

That all such actions were developed with the assistance of the 
Italian embassies, Ricciotti, for example, received his money and in- 
structions in the diplomatic mail-bag to France. 

AH the foregoing is legal testimony; the French government has 
acted upon it, the Italian government has made amends, yet in Mus- 
solini's autobiography there is only this reference : "The maneuver 
of the former Premiers definitely failed and became ridiculous, just 
as did other artificial structures attempted about that time. One was 
a movement inspired by Benelli, under the name of the Italian 
League, to create secession from Fascism, and another an underhand 
maneuver by some short-weight grandchildren of Garibaldi." Ap- 
parently the employee was not worthy of his hire. 

It is of course possible for the head of a government, the founder 
of a secret police, to remain ignorant of its ramifications, its plot- 
tings, and its assassinations. Perhaps Mussolini never knew that 
the "short-weight grandchildren of Garibaldi" were employees of 
his own Cheka. 

That the consulates abroad have been filled with Fascist squadrist 
leaders or former racketeers is generally admitted. Some of these 
young men now occupying diplomatic positions have never been any- 
thing but leaders of the "reprisal" gangs which terrorized small 
towns, administered castor oil, burned, looted, beat up those adver- 
saries pointed out to them by Fascist political leaders. Street fights, 
political assassinations, and espionage trials have proven that every- 
where the Italian embassies and consulates are centers of Fascist 

Several high Fascist officials were some time ago recalled from 
Brazil to explain numerous "incidents." There have been demonstra- 
tions against the embassy and consulates in which not only anti- 
Fascisti, but native Brazilians, have taken part as retaliation for 
Fascist racketeering. In San Paulo the police had to rescue the 

210 Sawdust Caesar 

Fascist consul from an infuriated mob. In Buenos Aires a Fascist 
consul tried by force to shanghai an anti-Fascist engineer who was 
visiting an Italian warship; the result was a fist fight and a public 
scandal ; another consul to Brazil was accused of plotting the murder 
of a rich man in order to marry the widow ; in Argentine a Fascist 
consul was arrested for dealing in obscene post cards. Almost all 
the consuls were members of the former squadristi. 

In a more recent international scandal, in Brussels, it was testi- 
fied in court that the Fascist agent Menapace, who planted the 
dynamite, revolver, and incriminating papers in the home and pockets 
of the anti-Fascist journalist, Cianca, was an employee of the 
Italian embassy. Menapace was exposed by the liberal paper Le 
Soir, but the embassy succeeded in helping him to escape the coun- 
try. Some time later the pro-Fascist newspaper of Switzerland, 
Suisse, demanded the withdrawal of the Italian consul at St. Gall 
and eight other Fascist spies, so flagrant had become the racketeer- 
ing in that canton. The Swiss government easily expelled the eight 
gangsters, but had to negotiate with the Italian ambassador because 
the Fascist gangster-consul claimed diplomatic immunity. 

After four years of officially denying the existence of a Ceca, 
or Cheka, Mussolini, by virtue of Article 8 of the law of Novem- 
ber 25, 1926, "legalized" the organization by establishing exceptional 
tribunals "for the defense of the State," a euphemism which the 
French used during the Commune, and the Soviets in 1918. The 
law provided that it was to remain active until December 6, 1931, 
Mussolini expressing the hope that within five years he would ex- 
tirpate all opposition. Meanwhile a new penal code was written, 
which went into effect July i, 1931. But the Fascist Party, realiz- 
ing that its strength of a little more than 1,500,000 was not enough 
to intimidate the majority, held a special session of the Grand 
Council on March 6, 1931, which decided that "political crimes, 
as comprehended by the new penal code, must be submitted to the 
special tribunal for the defense of the State, whose functions are 
prolonged until 1936." The special tribunal is the O. V. R. A., Or- 
ganizzazione Vigilanza Repressione Antif ascismo ;^ it is the ter- 
roristic arm of Fascism and Mussolini's personal vengeance; it is 

' Also called Opera Volontaria Repressione Antifascista. 

The Cke\a — spelled Ceca or Ovra 211 

the old bastard child of Fascism, the Ceca, grown up and legitima- 
tized by its brilliant father. 

Today the work of the O. V. R. A. is international; it employs 
thousands if not several hundred thousand agents; in fact, Eolitho 
believed that every tenth man in Italy is at least a part-time worker 
of the organization. 

Ever since its emergence from secrecy, the activities of the Cheka 
have received notice in the official press, usually a few lines like 
the following: 

"The special section O. V. R. A. of the department of public 
safety, a part of the Ministry of the Interior, has discovered a 
clandestine organization. . . ." 

"The O. V. R. A. has likewise identified a Communist organiza- 
tion in Emilia and has made arrests, denouncing the chiefs to the 
special tribunal." 

"The O. V. R. A. has discovered in Rome an anti-Fascist group 
developing criminal activity by the clandestine distribution of de- 
famatory literature. The chiefs have been arrested : Mario Vinci- 
guerra, Renzo Rendi, and Madame Widow De Bosis." 

Thus, many years after Mussolini had officially denied that in 
the Ministry of Interior, the Viminale, he had under him a branch 
of government commonly called Cheka, it is officially announced that 
the O. V. R. A. of the Viminale Palace, where Mussolini still pre- 
sides, is functioning excellently. 

It was the third of these announcements which interested America 
because Signora De Bosis was born Lillian Vernon, of Spring- 
field, Missouri. Her father was dean of a college in upper New York 
State, and her son. Dr. Lauro De Bosis, of Columbia University, was 
head of the National Alliance which the O. V. R. A., through an 
agent provocateur, succeeded in crushing. This Alliance had three 
objectives : to tell the news which the press suppressed, to form a 
union of the constitutional parties, and to prepare the "men of order" 
to take over the government when Fascism collapsed and a Bolshevik 
reaction followed. The Alliance sent out circulars written by Lauro 
De Bosis; Vinciguerra and Rendi were sentenced to fifteen years' 
imprisonment on the charge that they mailed the circulars. Both 
are journalists, the former once on the liberal Mondo, the latter 

212 Sawdust Caesar 

occasional and literary correspondent of the New York Evening 
Post and New York Tivnes. 

Another plot netted twenty-four intellectuals. The O. V. R. A. 
always had an able instrument. From the time of Rossi and Dumini, 
Mussolini has always had some important, usually quite intelligent, 
man in his Cheka who carried out personal orders and pursued per- 
sonal enemies. 

This agent was sent by the O. V. R. A. to visit prominent leaders 
abroad who were Mussolini's enemies. In October, 1929, for ex- 
ample, he came to Brussels to interest Count Sforza in a little 
d3Tiamiting. He began by asking the former Minister of Foreign 
Affairs if ideas were enough and whether violence were not better ; 
he had some nice chemical plans for bombs and believed it would be 
a fine gesture to throw one at the Pope, or at least blow up Saint 
Peter's, as a sign to the world that there was anti-Fascist activity. 
Count Sforza asked the agent to leave the house, so the agent went 
after smaller game. 

Returning to Milan, he trafficked with numerous professional men ; 
one of them, the chemist Umberto Ceva, member of the old Repub- 
lican party, liberal and democrat, he tried to interest in his bomb 
schemes. Ceva answered he would not care to play the game of vio- 
lence. However, on leaving the house, he placed a piece of paper with 
the design for a bomb, on Ceva's table, and it was found in the place 
indicated to them, by the O. V. R. A. agents and militia who made 
the arrest the next morning. 

Given the third degree in the prison, Ceva, believing the agent an 
honest if too violent anti-Fascist, refused to admit the origin of the 
paper with the bomb design. He committed suicide rather than be- 
tray the betrayer, A few days later the press officially announced the 
agent of the O. V. R. A. Ceva's suicide was kept secret by the Fascist 
government until a protest from groups of British intellectuals asking 
for a fair trial was sent to Mussolini. 

Another of the agent's victims was Mussolini's personal enemy, 
Ferruccio Parri, who with Carlo Rosselli aided Filippo Turati, for 
many years head of the anti-Fascist movement in France, to escape 
from Italy. Parri, major of the general staff during the war, liberal- 
democrat-republican, was sentenced to a year in prison, then "forced 1 

The Cke\a — spelled Ceca or Ovra 213 

domicile," then to the island of Ponza, then Lipari, and finally, hav- 
ing expiated not only his original crime, but every charge the 
O. V. R. A. could bring, he returned to Milan. Here the agent at- 
tempted to get his consent for a dynamite plot, and despite Parri's 
being declared not guilty by the Special Tribunal, he was in 1931 
sent to an African colony for five years. 

Another personal enemy of Mussolini's, Camillo Berneri, profes- 
sor of philosophy, was the victim of the O. V. R. A. agent Mena- 
pace, who placed a false passport and a quantity of an explosive 
called cheddite in Eerneri's pockets, then informed the Brussels po- 
lice. As this occurred at the time the Italian Crown Prince was shot 
at in Belgium, Berneri was arrested, deported, then arrested in 
France and in Luxembourg and in France again. The professor to 
this day doesn't know what all the political intrigue is about. 

An American journalist of many year's residence in Rome, one 
who is forced by circumstances to send glowing reports via the 
daily cables, and one of many who has smuggled true reports to the 
present writer, thus sums up the situation: 

"The Fascist system has given modem Italy the atmosphere in 
which the Medici and the Borgias would find themselves perfectly 
at home. After years of Fascist rule and consolidation, the Italian 
people are still deprived of all liberties. They accept this as a measure 
of force majeure, silently, but they suffer from a sense of slavery 
to an ohgarchy which does not represent the best elements in Italian 
life. The right to keep silent is practically the only one left. 

"The opposition is watched, tracked down like wild beasts. No 
one can find out how many unfortunates are imprisoned in the un- 
healthy isles or in the prisons of the mainland. The special tribunals 
have condemned wholesale, large groups. One tribunal in one year 
condemned 400 persons to 2,000 years' imprisonment. . . . All these 
events are carefully concealed so that no indignation may be aroused 
abroad. . . . The Duce admits 100,000 professional policemen. 
There are even more in plain clothes. . . . Amateur spies are daily 
denouncing persons they suspect according to the best traditions of 
a reign of terror. Petty and private tyranny takes the most exasperat- 
ing and minor forms. . . . All this is never felt nor suspected by 
^Q yis\\:mg tourists. . . . 

214 Sawdust Caesar 

"All this is accepted supinely and in silence by the Italian people, 
who are waiting for something to happen which will deliver them 
from a domination and a fate which they do not think they deserve 
and from a system which is entirely alien to their civilization and 
behefs. ... It would require too much space to recall the inci- 
dents revealing the miasma of oppression and repression under 
which Italians live. . . . The special revolutionary tribunal func- 
tions with harshness and ferocity. . . . Families of persons sent 
to confino (island exile) and of those who are fuorusciti or exiles, 
are subject to reprisals and held almost as hostages. . . . The secret 
police and system of national espionage penetrate every corner of 
Italian life. Persons are careful in talking to anyone. Everyone, ac- 
cordingly, lives in an atmosphere of submission, without open ex- 

"General Capello, hero of Gorizia and friend of the King, is in 
confino. No one except Mussolini knows how many ItaHans are 
there. The estimate is as high as 200,000, but Mussolini put it at 
1,500 and the truth is somewhere between these two extremes. With 
hundreds of persons being sentenced monthly to the islands, the 
figure is certainly not Mussolini's. Hundreds are in the Mediter- 
ranean Siberia without trial. 

"The regime has gained little hold on the majority of the upper 
and educated classes. . . . The surveillance of Benedetto Croce and 
Professor Ferrero is no longer kept secret. Fascism's hold today is 
sustained by military dominance of the Black Shirts and the secret 

No one knows how many persons have been killed by the Fascisti. 
Labriola, former Minister of Labor, announced that from the time 
Mussolini went into the employ of the employers' associations in 
1920, until he entered Rome in 1922, his squadristi murdered 4,100 
non-Fascists of which full case records exist. There are also lists 
of thousands of victims in the ensuing years of Fascist rule. Mus- 
solini's one reply has been that the Bolsheviki in Russia killed 

Mussolini defends not only violence as his means to power and 
means of maintenance in power, but terrorism as well. "In the crea- 
tion of a new State," he says, "which is authoritarian but not abso- 

The Che\a— spelled Ceca or Ovra 215 

lutist, hierarchial, and organic — namely, open to the people in all 
its classes, categories, and interests — lies the revolutionary original- 
ity of Fascism, and a teaching, perhaps, for the whole modern 
world, oscillating between the authority of the State and that of 
the individual, between the State and the anti-State. Like all other 
revolutions, the Fascist revolution has had a dramatic development, 
but this in itself would not suffice to distinguish it. The reign of 
terror is not a revolution : it is only a necessary instrument in a de- 
termined phase of the revolution." 

This phase of the Fascist revolution has now officially been ex- 
tended for almost ten years. 

• •••**********^t^^t^^^^t***** 

The Fate of Heroes 

nistic compromising minority to absolute dictatorship it was 
necessary to employ methods tested in medieval times, proven in- 
valuable by the Germans when they held enemy Belgium, and more 
recently used with abundant success by Hitler. Sentimentalists and 
idealists alone raised horrified hands against the taking of hostages 
and the shooting of high officials, hut realists and militarists knew 
only too well that it was impossible for Ludendorff in 1914 to with- 
stand the plotters and the snipers unless he used terrorism. 

In Italy Mussolini was ably assisted by his generals. Of the orig- 
inal Quadrumvirate, the Generals De Bono, De Vecchi, Italo Balbo 
and Michele Bianchi, who more or less led the march on Rome, all 
but one shared in the work of establishing the necessary Black 
Terror, and Bianchi died too soon to enjoy its fruits. 

Many of the original minor heroes of Fascism have already been 
mentioned: Dumini, Rossi, Marinelli, Filippelli, Finzi, Volpi. Of 
the major heroes, the most impressive is Italo Balbo. At the age 
of twenty-five he was repaid for his devotion to the Duce by being 
put in command of the Black Shirt militia and given the title of 
ras, or sub-dictator, of the province of Ferrara. Here in the town 
of Argenta he found the leading anti-Fascist to be the veteran 
priest, Minzoni, who remained a follower of Don Sturzo and who 
preached the old Catholic Party ideas of social-reform. On August 
23, 1923, Balbo's militia organized a "punitive expedition" to Ar- 
genta, where they burned and destroyed Catholic institutions and 
murdered the priest. More than a year later pubhc opinion forced 
the government to stage a public trial of the murderers. It was then 
testified that all violence in Ferrara was under the direct leadership 


The Fate of Heroes 217 

of Balbo. The charges were so grave that Mussolini asked him to 
resign. But lieutenants of the Balbo type cannot be replaced easily. 
A year later he was given a higher position. 

During the hearing, in November, the following document was 
published in the Opposition press. It relates to a trial of several 
men accused of anti-Fascist activities, but as no evidence, real or 
falsified, was produced, the Fascist judges were forced to free them. 
Whereupon Balbo wrote: 

"To the commanding general : 

"As far as the men acquitted December 2 are concerned, 
it will be necessary to explain to them that a change of air 
and establishment in another province is necessary. If they 
insist on remaining and consequently causing moral discom- 
fort, it will be necessary to beat them — not too much, but 
as is customary — until they decide to leave. 

"Show only this part of my letter to the prefect and say to 
him in my name that I have sufficient evidence to justify 
my demand that the ruffians should leave the city and prov- 
ince. The questura will do well to persecute them at least 
weekly and let the prefect notify the King's procuratore 
that for a possible beating, which must be in style, a trial is 
not desired. Read this part of the letter to the consiglio 
federale. If I write this from Rome it is certain that I know 
of what I speak. Basta. 

"Italo Balbo." 

Despite the publication of documents which he could not refute 
and which accused him of fomenting violence and being implicated 
in bloodshed, Italo Balbo continued to gain in power. He became 
the commander of the Italian air forces, and led one squadron to 
South America and another to the United States. 

On the occasion of a luncheon given the hero by the Lord Mayor 
of London in December, 1930, the latter read a long series of tele- 
grams of congratulations. Among them this one: 

"Unable to participate at your luncheon in the flesh, I am 
present in spirit. Dom Minzoni." 

2i8 Sawdust Caesar 

There was a fine burst of British applause, but Balbo went as 
white as Macbeth on first seeing Banquo's ghost. After his flight 
to America Balbo was honored with an invitation to the White 
House and thousands of columns of praise, with no mention of his 
racketeering past, were published, nor did the press explain the riot 
in New York or the effigies inscribed "assassino" which greeted the 
hero on arrival. 

But almost immediately upon returning to Rome to receive the 
congratulations of a proud nation, Balbo was surprised to find every 
newspaper publishing an official history of his conquest of the At- 
lantic, a history which gave credit to Mussolini for organizing and 
directing the entire adventure. This surprise was turned into chagrin 
a little later when Balbo was sent to Africa as governor of Libya. 
Again the world understood that there was room for only one Caesar 
in Rome. 

Quadrumvir De Vecchi alone has escaped the Duce's jealous 
wrath. Shortly after the "capture" of Rome, at a time the Opposi- 
tion ridiculed the event which the victors called a "revolution," the 
Fascist! realized that a "blood bath" — to use the exact phrase and 
proposal which Mussolini once made — was necessary to consolidate 
the victory. On December 17, 1922, occurred the Massacre of Turin. 
On that day and the next several hundred anti-Fascists were beaten 
and at least a score murdered. Several more succumbed later. When, 
on the first day of the massacre, the Fascist dictator of Turin, 
Brandimarte, was informed by journalists that only fourteen of the 
men listed for execution had been found dead, he replied, "The 
Po will deliver up the remaining bodies." But the glory of this 
"purge" was not given to Brandimarte. On the ist of January, 
1923, Undersecretary of State De Vecchi said in a public speech: 

"Yes, the reaction of a few days ago was necessary; and though 
I was not there, I accept the responsibility for all that happened." 

In Part XXV of his confession Rossi states that "I must in good 
faith declare that in this case no orders were sent from Rome. The 
responsibility lay entirely with the group of Turin Fascists gathered 
by Deputy De Vecchi. . . . [His] assumption of responsibility was 
easy enough for him, since he enjoyed parliamentary immunity, and 
justice and the police were in acquiescence." 

The Fate of Heroes 219 

The extent of the massacre having surpassed all in Fascist his- 
tory, it caused a tremendous reaction throughout Italy. In Musso- 
lini's cabinet, at the time, there were still several liberals who 
opposed violence and demanded that the guilty be punished. A com- 
mission of inquiry was sent. Gasti, its chief, took testimony which, 
while convicting Brandimarte of the murders, proved the inspiration 
of the action was De Vecchi. 

Mussolini immediately recalled Gasti and dissolved the commis- 
sion. The Grand Fascist Council met ; instead of expelling De Vecchi 
as the nation expected, it sent him out of the country — as governor 
of SomaHland. Later he was named ambassador to the Vatican, 
and today he is a member of the cabinet. 

General De Bono, who actually planned the march on Rome, is 
now Colonial Minister. On one diplomatic visit to London and Paris 
he heard the word "assassin" frequently. In Paris thousands of 
leaflets were distributed and their contents republished in some 
papers : 

"The French government today receives officially the Italian Min- 
ister of Colonies, General De Bono. On this occasion we have the 
duty to faring the following to the knowledge of the French public : 

"i. General De Bono is one of the principle accomplices of the 
assassins of the Deputy Giacomo Matteotti. He aided and favored 
the assassins and MussoHni, saving them from justice. He was then 
chief of police and his responsibility is officially shown in the sentence 
of the Italian Senate, which judged him as a high court. 

"2. General De Bono had in his hands the bloody clothing of 
Matteotti; he hid them and let disappear the traces of the crime 
which led directly up to the Duce. 

"3. On Christmas day, 1923, General De Bono, chief of police, 
organized the bloody attack against the former liberal minister, 
Giovanni Amendola, chief of the Opposition parties. . . ." 

Farinacci of Cremona, a railroad worker who became the chief 
exponent of terrorism, surprising Mussolini himself, devoted his 
home-town newspaper to advocating reprisals, punitive expeditions, 
"making life unbearable" for his opponents. One day his racketeers 
rounded up the small Socialist delegation and chased them ; the lat- 
ter found refuge in a barn of a peasant. Petroneschi was felled 

220 Sawdust Caesar 

with one blow and left for dead. In this way he escaped death, 
but his colleague, Bolderi, president of the workers cooperative 
of Cremona, was clubbed to death. The chief murderer was Giorgio 
Passani, aged sixteen. Although Mussolini later deplored the crime, 
Farinacci declared in an interview with the press of all factions that 
he accepted "on behalf of Fascism the responsibility of the murder 
of Bolderi." 

Farinacci brilliantly and sadistically conducted the trial of the 
corpse of Matteotti at Chieti, but immediately afterwards, instead 
of being rewarded by Mussolini, was permitted to resign his high 
offices. He accepted a provincial secretaryship. The cause of the 
downfall was a mystery for many years, but now it is known that 
Farinacci the sadist was also Farinacci the bank manipulator. He 
had been pardoned several doubtful banking transactions, but the 
list had grown too long and important to save him from political 
disgrace. He did save himself from jail. 

Volpi, one of the confessed murderers of Matteotti, had been sen- 
tenced previously to fifteen years for killing a man during the 
Fascist attack on the Socialist club Foro Bonaparte. As Volpi had 
fled, he did not serve a day. On returning, he was absolved and 
went to work for the Cheka. 

The chief assassin of the Fascist Cheka, Dumini, known every- 
where as "The American," according to the regime's press agent, 
Villari, was "a discredited and disreputable Fascist from Florence, 
born in the United States, who had been mixed up in various acts 
of violence and shady transactions. . . ." For all his crimes Dumini 
had never served time. There are eyewitnesses to a double murder 
in Carrara on June 2, 1922, when Dumini struck a girl for wearing 
a red carnation, the sjmibol of the Socialist Party. The girl's mother 
and brother protested, in fact struck Dumini with their hands, where- 
upon he shot and killed them both. 

Many of the "punitive expeditions" which Mussolini boasts of 
in his autobiography, were led by Dumini. 

He also had a personal reason for assassinating Matteotti. The 
Opposition leader had promised that when he had finished exposing 
the 1924 election frauds in which he claimed 1,500,000 false ballots 
had been counted by the Fascisti (enough to lose them their ma- 

The Fate of Heroes 221 

jority in parliament if there was a true recount) he would take up 
the subject of commercial corruption of Fascist officials, predicting 
he would tell who was to get the graft if the (American) Sinclair 
Oil Company concession was made, and how a "household friend" 
of the Duce's was getting rich betraying Italy by smuggling arms 
to her arch-enemy, Yugoslavia. The smuggler was Dumini. 

Various testimony has been given regarding this record-breaking 
racketeer. Colonel Sacco, ordnance officer and director of the secret 
police-he was forced to resign later for telling this— said that 
just an hour before the kidnapping of Matteotti, Dumini said boast- 
fully "We are about to make a fat expedition; it will be punitive 
and it is I who will lead it." Signor Giurin, vice-president of the 
provincial deputation of Milan, pictures Dumini as fatalistically sad- 
dened when he declared "I now have twelve murders on my con- 
science, but they were done under orders and I am chained and in 
the power of those for whom I am working. Now there is nothing 
I can do but continue in this work. If I refuse there is nothing left 
for me but to be crushed, denounced, taken as a galley slave." 

Prezzolini, defender of Mussolini, says it is difficult to understand 
how the Duce could not only tolerate but actually accept with pleasure 
the friendship of such men as Finzi, Rossi, De Bono and even 
Dumini, "who have dealt a serious blow to both his own prestige 
and to that of Fascism. ... He allowed the most intellectually and 
morally worthless people to group themselves against him. . . . From 
the day when he formed an exclusive Fascist Ministry began his 
conflict with Fascism. His most serious troubles, his most insuper- 
able obstacles, his severest threats, have always come from Fascism." 

But here again there is a counter-picture. The Fascist press not 
only at one time lionized Dumini, but one paper wanted to erect 
a monument to him. Said the Popolo Valtellinese of Sondrio: "It 
appears to us that Dumini and his co-accused are deserving of a 
monument because if they themselves are really the murderers of 
Matteotti they have delivered the nation from a furious calumniator 
of the fatherland, a sabotageur of the World War, in other words, 
a traitor." 

Another hero, "a Fascist from the first hour" in the Duce's 
roll of honor, is Dino Grandi, who for many years was called in 

222 Sawdust Caesar 

the popular press the probable inheritor of Mussolini's toga. Grandi 
began his political career as head of the Bologna squadristi; later 
he headed the local Cheka branch, and in 1926, when there was a 
plot in the Fascist ranks to upset Mussolini, it was he who saved 
the career of his chief. 

In the early days of Fascism the Bolognese ras, Baroncini, ex- 
posed graft amounting to 300,000,000 lire in the building of the 
700,000,000 lire Florence-Bologna railroad tunnel. He accused "the 
Grandi Gang" of taking the money. Grandi was Baroncini's greatest 
personal enemy. The so-called Grandi Gang hired a physician to 
administer disease germs to the ras, but at the critical moment the 
doctor probably remembered the Hippocratic oath, since he repented, 
confessed, and published his confession in the local newspaper. Grandi 
did not sue for libel ; instead, he challenged Baroncini to a duel, the 
latter refusing to cross swords with a man he called a common 

The biggest swindle in Fascist history involved the $30,000,000 
loan to the city of Milan which was floated in America by Dillon, 
Read & Co. Belloni, podesta, or vice-dictator, of Milan, was one of 
the leaders of Fascism and at one time Italy's representative in the 
League of Nations. Yet under his rule almost every cent of the 
thirty millions was stolen. Again the Duce sent a commission of in- 
quiry and again it was disbanded. It obtained evidence not only 
against Belloni, but against Arnaldo Mussolini, with whom the clever 
Belloni had made a business alliance. Belloni was sent to the penal 

Filippelli, one of the Matteotti assassins who escaped punishment 
for that crime, met a similar fate. He was caught in a municipal 
swindle. As long as the gangsters, the former members of the Mafia, 
the high officials of the party, and the members of Mussolini's house- 
hold cabinet limited their activities to enemies of the regime they 
usually escaped all penalties. When, however, they became financial 
embarrassments instead of political assets, the Duce never hesitated 
to treat them as common criminals or anti-Fascists. 

The fate of heroes pursues the new men as well as Fascists of 
the first hour. In 1932 the Stefani agency issued a simple announce- 
ment : "It is reported from Turin that Signer Augusto Turati, for- 

The Fate of Heroes 223 

mer secretary-general of the Fascist Party and former director of 
the Stampa, has been interned in a sanitarium." That was all. It was 
the epitaph on the political grave of the most powerful man in Italy 
next to the Duce. Three years earlier Turati had renamed Mont 
Blanc "Monte Mussolini," despite French protests that the peak lies 
within the French frontiers. The only plausible explanation of the 
break between Mussolini and Turati is the enmity of Farinacci for 
the latter, which translated itself in published charges of immorality. 
The "sanitarium" officially announced as Turati's present residence 
is generally understood to be an insane asylum. 

In August, 1934, Leandro Arpinati, who since the downfall of 
Turati was known as "Mussolini's right hand," was removed as 
Undersecretary of the Interior and sentenced to five years in the 
penal islands. Twenty of Arpinati's Bolognese friends were also dis- 
missed from the party on the charge of "connivance." No explana- 
tion has been given. 

There is the famous fable of the ruler who sent a messenger to 
a colleague asking him how to deal with ambitious men within the 
kingdom. The second ruler, unwilling to commit himself to writing, 
took the messenger walking in the garden, and during the conversa- 
tion knocked off the heads of all the taller flowers. So it has been 
in Fascist Italy. Whatever head has risen above the crowd has in- 
variably fallen. Federzoni, Farinacci, Grandi, Balbo, Turati and Ar- 
pinati each in turn became a power second only to the Duce, and 
each in turn was struck down. 

Arpinati js the only leader within Fascism to whom a suspicion 
of plotting against Mussolini is attached. However, there have been 
many plots inside and without the party against the existence of the 
regime and the life of the Duce. 


'JJve Dangerously' h My Motto' 

L first interview with the new dictator. Lincoln Steffens found 
him with his large eyes sharply scrutinizing everybody and a revolver 
ready. He asked a pertinent question. 

"I was looking for the fellow that is out to shoot me," replied 

"Why that, what for?" 

"To shoot him first." 

"What makes you think you'll be shot?" 

"History," replied Mussolini. 

"History? — Yes, that's right. History says dictators are apt to be 
shot. . . ." 

"Ah," continued Mussolini, "if a dictator knows history, the dic- 
tator can look out and — shoot first." 

In the early days of 1923 a report circulated in Rome that one of 
the guards of the Chigi Palace, then dictatorial headquarters, fired 
on the Premier. There is the record of the arrest of a guard, no 
record of a trial, and the fact that the censorship suppressed all 
cablegrams on the subject. 

That same year Mussolini, returning from an excursion in the 
country, chose to drive his car, placing his chauffeur in his accus- 
tomed seat. As the automobile passed the Colosseum and was slowed 
in traffic an unidentified assassin fired from a window of a neigh- 
boring house. The chauffeur was killed. 

In September, 1924, Mussolini returned to Rome alone from the 
Badia San Salvador, but the entire entourage, which he was sup- 
posed to lead, followed in the evening. It was fired upon. 

No mention of these three attempts on the life of the Duce ap- 


"*Uve Dangerously' Is My Motto" 225 

pears in the world press, but on the 4th of November, 1925, occurred 
an incident which had tremendous repercussions. It was Armistice 
Day in Italy, the national celebration of victory and honor for the 
Unknown Soldier. In the afternoon the foreign journalists were 
informed by the press department that a certain Signor Zaniboni 
had been caught with a rifle in his hand standing at a window fac- 
ing the palace, ready to assassinate the Duce. For once foreign 
correspondents were told they could go as far as they liked without 
fear of censorship. 

Mussolini himself, after referring to Zaniboni as "a vulgar Social- 
ist," the recipient of "two checks for 150,000 francs each from 
Czechoslovakian Socialists to lead an anti-Fascist struggle," and 
"a drug addict," complains that Zaniboni "chose the sacred day of 
the commemoration of victory. He ambushed himself in the Hotel 
Dragoni, just in front of the Palazzo Chigi, from the balcony of 
which I usually review the processions which pass on the way to 
the altar of the Unknown Soldier to offer their flowers, their vows, 
and their homage. Having an Austrian rifle with fine sights, the 
fellow could not miss his aim. ... He was discovered. He had been 
followed for a long time. A few days before. General Capello had 
generously given him money and advice. Masonry had made of him 
its ensign. But by simultaneous action, Zaniboni, General Capello, 
and various less important personages in the plot were arrested one 
hour before they planned the attempt." ~ 

The journalists,^ however, did not cable the sensational news as 
Mussolini himself wrote it. They were too well aware that the 
underlined sentences belied the truth of the information officially 
given them. They could not afford to repeat the statement of the 
supreme journalist of Italy, 

Months later an investigation showed that Zaniboni was a Free- 
mason, one who had suffered injury and desired revenge. But he had 
had no violent intentions until one day he met a man named Quaglia 
who expressed sympathy and suggested a plan for assassination. For 
months Quaglia urged Zaniboni on, ahernately postponed the date, 

^In November, Bolitho wrote, "Zaniboni would have been unable to sec him, much 
lest thoot him. . . ." 

226 Sawdust Caesar 

and finally hired the room in the Hotel Dragon! and supplied the 

The reason for the postponement was simply this : Quaglia was a 
Fascist agent, and the greatest showman in the world wanted the 
attempted assassination staged on the most patriotic of national holi- 
days so that the sympathy of the world would be stirred more easily, 
and the political actions he had planned more easily put into practice. 

However, to make sure that no accident would occur, the Fascist 
secret service arrested Zaniboni in his room an hour before Mussolini 
was scheduled to appear on his balcony for the great oration of the 

And still another precaution was taken. The would-be assassin's 
room, which faced Mussolini's office, was just across the street from 
the Palazzo Colonna, in which, incidentally, was situated the office 
of the present writer. These three buildings and the open square 
of the Piazza Colonna complete the scene. Mussolini, as seen fre- 
quently by the present writer, had to appear on his balcony facing 
the square in order to speak to the multitude, whereas the Dragoni 
faced the other wall of the Chigi. It would therefore have been im- 
possible for an assassin to see Mussolini unless he had, in addition 
to his Austrian rifle and its fine sights, a new invention which 
made it possible to fire around a corner. 

These stone-wall facts explain why the American reporters of the 
Zaniboni affair usually referred to it as an "alleged" attempt at 

At his trial Zaniboni testified that Carlo Quaglia had for eight 
months talked to him about the matter, had lived in his house, had 
reported almost daily to the police, had arranged everything, and 
had in fact offered to do the shooting himself. "I swear by my child, 
the dearest thing I possess," he said, "that you, Quaglia, told me you 
would like to have the honor of shooting Mussolini." 

The Honorable Violet Gibson, sister of Baron Ashbourne, shot 
Mussolini in the nose just as he emerged from the Congress of Sur- 
geons on the 6th of April, 1926. Mussolini went back to the con- 
gress and a piece of sticking-plaster was put across his nostrils. 
He then stood for the photographers. 

The would-be assassin in this case was a recent convert to Catholi- 

"'live Dangerously' Is My Motto" 227 

cism. It was testified by the sister superior at the convent where Miss 
Gibson lived that the Englishwoman was subject to hysteria. There 
was also evidence that she was incensed over Mussolini's professed 
atheism and the treatment given several priests and Catholic institu- 
tions by the Fascist squadristi. "A supernatural force entrusted me 
with a lofty mission," she said. 

The Roman mob smashed the windows of the Soviet Embassy in 
reprisal. The Milan mob smashed and burned the offices of the 
Avanti and the Unita. 

Mussolini ordered an end of violence. "I do not want reprisals," 
he shouted. "It is my Will." 

To the jubilant crowd the dictator said : 

"The episode which provoked your magnificent demonstration, 
whose sincerity I appreciated, has now faded from my memory. If I 
do think of it, it is with a feeling of annoyance, of boredom, as for 
foolish things. 

*'I do not want exaggerations. Mussolini has that in his composi- 
tion which loves to participate in risk, and although I understand a 
certain anxiety, I declare I have not the least intention to hide or 
lose touch with the Fascist masses and the Italian people. ... In no 
case, under no circumstances, will Fascism soften its program. At 
this moment everything is prepared. Let it be known at home and 
abroad, because Fascism will continue to rule the destinies of the 
Italian people with an iron hand." 

To an American journalist the Duce said : "The bullets pass, Mus- 
solini remains." 

It was the first time he used the third-person-royal. 

Almost immediately afterwards he sailed for Africa at the head 
of the Italian war fleet. "We are of the Mediterranean and our 
destiny has been and always will be on the sea," he said to accompany- 
ing journaHsts. The words "Our destiny lies on the sea" appeared 
in thousands of red, white, and green sheets on all the kiosks and 
walls of the country. Landing in Tripoli, the conqueror exclaimed, 
"Rome carried the beacon lamp of strength to the shores of the 
African sea. No one can stop our inexorable Will." 

In Rome, on the nth of September, as Mussolini was motoring 
to the Chigi Palace, a youth named Gino Lucetti threw a bomb which 

228 Sawdust Caesar 

hit the car, bounced back, and exploded, injuring eight persons. It 
so happened that this, the third violent attempt of the year, came 
at a time relations with France were strained and the annual charge 
that France harbored anti-Fascist emigres was made in the daily 
press. To the 50,000 Fascist! frantically gathered in the Colonna 
square Mussolini thundered : "This must end. It would be well for 
responsible governments to take note of this because otherwise their 
friendship for the Italian people may be fatally compromised. 

"Tell the Americans and the Italians of America that neither 
pistols, bombs, nor other instruments of death can make me desist 
from my course. This is the third attempt against me in the brief 
space of several months, but like the others this one has not dis- 
turbed me in the slightest. 

"I consider myself a soldier who has specific orders and is ready 
to confront any risk." 

To Percy Winner of the Rome bureau of the Associated Press, 
who brought him a fifty-pound bundle of American cHppings on the 
Lucetti affair, the Duce said; 

"My star protects me as Italy is protected. I shall die a natural 
death. As I live now there is adventure," 

At the same time he asked the death penalty for assassins and 
would-be assassins. The King of Italy reminded the Premier that 
his father, King Humbert, had been assassinated and that there 
had been a popular clamor for the death penalty for regicide to which 
he, the present King, had refused to listen. 

While press and poHticians debated the question, still another 
attempt at assassination occurred. 

On October 13, 1926, a triumphant procession of automobiles 
headed by the Duce was thrown into disorder by a revolver shot. 
The bullet hit Mussohm's chest but glanced off. Bohtho's report that 
the Premier was wearing a bullet-proof vest was thereby confirmed.^ 

In the next car were high officials of the Fascist Party. Signer 
Arconovaldo Buonaccorsi slit the throat of the boy accused of the 
shooting. Signor Italo Balbo fired his revolver twice into the writh- 
ing body on the ground. The other notables, amidst terrifying shouts 

='In September, 1935, the New ^ork Times published an interview with the Vienna 
manufacturer who had sold Mussolini the steel garment. 


"'Live Dangerously' Is My Motto" 229 

and common frenzy, shot, stabbed, kicked, and rushed at the body 
in such a fury that two of them were so badly injured they were 
taken to the hospital. This fact even the Fascist press recorded. And, 
by a mistake of the censor, the report was also passed that the 
would-be assassin wore a black shirt. The Associated Press sent 
to America a completely false report that a Communist plot had been 
discovered. To this great American news agency the Duce said a 
little later: "To discredit Fascism certain journalists give proof 
of an inventive power which would well be used to write a movie 
scenario. They have not as yet invented — it would be the height of 
absurdity and ridiculousness — that I purposely invent the attacks on 
my life, one after another." 

To the United Press the Duce said : "I don't know what it is that 
protects me from assassins. Certainly it is a mystic something." 

To his townsfolk he declared, "Nothing will happen to me before 
my task is done." 

But in a public address to the inhabitants of Milan, the reinstated 
administrative secretary of the Fascist party, Signor Marinelli, who 
had been sent to jail for the murder of MatteottI and amnestied 
almost immediately, said that "the first words of the Duce yesterday 
after the attempted assassination were these: 'Italy and the whole 
world must know that the criminal has been lynched.' " 

The body was identified as that of Anteo Zamboni, fifteen years 
old, a Fascist belonging to the BaliUa. Inasmuch as Mussolini him- 
self had said to his companions that the man who had fired at him 
"was a man of medium height, in a light suit, who had stepped a pace 
in front of the protective cordon," and the policeman who had 
spoiled a second shot by tearing the revolver from the man's hand 
confirmed Mussolini as to the gray suit, it was quite obvious that 
the wrong man had been lynched. The Cheka thereupon proceeded 
to make a case of it by arresting the entire Zamboni family. 

As it was impossible to contradict Mussolini, the public prosecutor 
then declared that apparently two men had fired simultaneously, but 
the Duce, his four companions, and the policeman had noted only 
one of them — ^the one who got away. As for Zamboni, the prosecutor 
admitted he was a mere boy, "never interested in politics, and his 
association with the young members of the Balilla would certainly 

230 Sawdust Caesar 

not lead him to think of our Duce as a tyrant." Therefore, it was 
argued, he had accomplices, and the man in gray must have been 
Anteo's brother, Ludovico. "The proved innocence of Ludovico would 
destroy the very basis of the charge," continued the prosecutor, and 
in the following day Ludovico proved so satisfactorily that he was 
innocent that the court acquitted him. There was now nothing left 
for the Fascist prosecutor but to accuse the father and aunt of 
the two boys — the mother went insane before they could arrest her. 
It was therefore testified that in 1907 [sic] the aunt had carried a red 
flag in a funeral procession, and that the father had never been 
legally married in a church nor had he had his children baptised. The 
august court thereupon sentenced the father and aunt of the two loyal 
enthusiastic Fascist boys to thirty years' imprisonment for inciting 
to assassination and the press was instructed to drop the matter. 

On the 9th the Fascist Assembly passed the Duce's law making 
it a capital crime to attempt to kill Mussolini. The King, opposed 
to this act, could not do anything about it. In that exciting week the 
Fascist! invaded the home of the philosopher Croce in Naples and 
that of Roberto Bracco, the dramatist, in Caligari. They also smashed 
into the French consulate in Vingtmille and the offices of Nuovo 
Mondo in New York, 

In the two years which followed the passage of the law reinstating 
capital punishment there were no publicly announced plots against 
the Duce, although bombs were exploded in various parts of Rome 
now and then. In June, 1928, the Fascist press made the claim tlmt 
a bomb which went off in Milan was timed to kill the visiting King. 
According to Bolitho many enemies of Fascism were arrested, but 
the authors of the crime were never caught nor were any names 
ever published. Amaldo Mussolini used his newspaper to accuse 
the "intellectuals" generally. Bolitho expressed the opinion the whole 
affair was a little Fascist scheme to make it appear that the Fascist! 
had saved the life of the King; to bind the King closer to the party; 
and at the same time to arrest and imprison the intellectual enemies 
of the regime. 

In November, 1930, there were mass arrests of the former liberal 
and conservative leaders for an alleged conspiracy with certain mili- 
tary chiefs, royalists, to overthrow the regime. In Trieste, numerous 

"'hive Dangerously' Is My Motto" 231 

Yugoslavs were imprisoned. The authorities o£ this former Austrian 
city announced that one Yugoslav prisoner, on trial for "terrorism," 
had given the court a written confession of a plot to kill the Premier. 
Accordingly, four Yugoslav boys were sentenced by General Cristini, 
head of the military Cheka, to be shot. Throughout Yugoslavia there 
were mass demonstrations against Mussolini, based on a report that 
the King of Italy's desire to pardon the youths was negatived by 

In 1931 Michele Schirru, a naturalized American citizen who had 
been a banana-dealer in the Bronx, New York, was found guilty of 
planning Mussolini's death. There was no evidence that the bombs 
which Schirru was accused of owning were intended for that pur- 
pose, but Schirru promptly was shot. In 1932 Angelo Shardellotto, 
who, according to the Fascist press, confessed he had come to Rome 
to avenge Schirru, was killed by a firing-squad. At the same time 
one Domenico Bovone, accused of being the director of the plot, 
was also put to death, although the co-accused, his mistress, Mar- 
gharita Blaha, was sentenced to prison and later reprieved. Bovone, 
according to the Itahan newspapers, was not an anti-Fascist, but 
merely an employee of Mussolini's enemies in Paris who had of- 
fered $50,000 for the death of the Duce and $5,000 for the death 
of the Crown Prince. The obvious contradiction — the Crown Prince 
being notorious for his enmity to Fascism — was not noted in the 
general press. A Swiss newspaper, answering its Italian colleagues 
who accused France of harboring and encouraging would-be assas- 
sins, said that "what is important is the confirmation that the life of 
the Duce of the Black Shirts is continually in danger. That is the 
fate of all tyrants. Zaniboni, Lucetti, Zamboni, Schirru, Shardellotto 
... the series of unfortunate terrorists grows longer. But it is op- 
pression which creates the atmosphere of attempted assassinations; 
it is injustice, atrocities, cruelties of the Fascist regime which they 
seek to avenge. . . . Perhaps Shardellotto wanted to avenge Schirru. 
And tomorrow Shardellotto may in turn find an avenger. The exe- 
cutioner shall find justice ; it is the destiny of regimes based on vio- 

In March, 1934, Leonardo Bucciglioni, Renato Cianca, Claudio 
Cianca, and Pasquale Capasso were accused of firing a bomb in St. 

232 Sawdust Caesar 

Peter's and, as a Fascist corollary, plotting the life of the Duce. 
They were not executed. The press was told this was the best proof 
of the stability of the Fascist regime. 

In Italy today it is said, generally, that Mussolini has escaped 
sixteen attempts on his life. Although the more important were 
probably more theatrical than real, it cannot be denied that he has 
lived dangerously. Ever since he had read Nietzsche in Switzerland 
he had proclaimed the phrase "Live Dangerously" as his motto. And 
in another way his own words have come home to him — ^with a 
vengeance. It was he who said that assassination was the emplojmient 
hazard of rulers. 

But in the time between his Swiss exile and his supreme rule 
he had learned his Machiavelli well. He had become not only the 
philosopher of violence, but the brilliant exponent of the political 
uses to which press-made national hysteria may be put when violence 
in turn was directed against him. 


The Silent Revolution 

life of the Duce were with Machiavellian opportunism exploited 
by him in enforcing a Fascist program on a people whose majority 
was still frankly anti-Fascist. 

If one takes the dates of the passage of the most drastic laws, 
the so-called "Mussolinian reforms" which completely repealed every 
individual and collective liberty which Italy had enjoyed since the 
days of Garibaldi, he will find that they coincide with the days of 
excitement following an attempted assassination, when the emotions 
of the masses were deeply stirred, when the calm, calculating leaders 
could more easily enforce stern decrees. That several of these mo- 
ments were artificially planned is a conviction shared by most of 
the foreign correspondents in Rome and not a few diplomats. 

"All my adversaries," said Mussolini on one of these exciting occa- 
sions, "from the most hateful ones to the most intelligent, from 
the slyest one to the most fanatical, thought that the only way of 
destroying Fascism was to destroy its duce. . . . 

"A policy of force was absolutely necessary. . . . 

"I launched the laws for the defense of the regime. . . . 

"I abolished the subversive press whose only function was to in- 
flame the minds of men." 

The Fascist "revolution" does not date from the bloodless march 
on Rome of 1922; it stems from the murder of Matteotti in 1924 
and really dates from the time Mussolini, no longer trembling with 
fear, could make the "sequestration" one of the victories of Fascism. 
It dates from the era when he could say, truthfully or otherwise : 

"In all that time I credit myself with the fact that I never lost my 
calm nor my sense of balance and justice. Because of the serene 


234 Sawdust Caesar 

judgment that I endeavor to summon to guide my every act, I ordered 
the guilty arrested. I wanted justice to follow its unwavering course. 
Now I have fulfilled my task and my duty as a just man. . . ." 

At the very moment when that change in the mentality of the 
trembling leader came about, the real Fascist revolution began. It 
was to lead to hierarchy, an attempt at a "corporate" state, the 
"totalitarian" idea, and finally "Italianity" as an international cause, 
newer, therefore superior to Pan-Slavism, Pan-Islamism and Pan- 

To achieve "totalitarian" Fascism, it was necessary to destroy the 
entire edifice of liberty begun by Garibaldi and built by many liberal 
leaders in half a century. Press, parliament, the Freemasons, and the 
Liberals all represented the Garibaldian State ; to achieve the Fascist 
State, Mussolini determined to crush them all. Only by this means 
could he assure himself he would never have to face another Matte- 
otti crisis. 

The Fascist revolution's first act was the abolition of the free 

Of the score of decrees by which the dictatorship established itself, 
this is the only one issued in 1924, the year of Matteotti's assassina- 
tion. The others followed, most of them in 1925. But it is important 
to note how powerful Mussolini, "an old newspaper man himself," 
considered the power of the press, because the edict of July, 1924, 
had been prepared by him and signed by the King in 1923 for just 
such an occasion: a national mutiny against the ruling party. The 
decree provides for "warnings" — i.e., suppression — "if any news- 
paper or periodical by false or misleading news causes any inter- 
ference in the diplomatic action of the government in its foreign rela- 
tions or hurts the credit of the nation at home or abroad, causing 
undue alarm among the people, or in any way disturbs the public 
peace. ... If the newspaper or periodical, by editorial articles, notes, 
titles, illustrations, or inserts incites to crime or to class hatred or 
to disobedience of the laws of the established order or upsets the 
discipline of those engaged in public service or favors the interests 
of foreign states, groups, or persons as opposed to Italian interests, 
or insults the nation, the King, the royal family, the Summo Pontifex, 

The Silent Revolution 235 

the religion, the institutions, or the authority of the State or of other 
friendly powers. 

"Newspapers or other periodicals published in violation of the pre- 
ceding provisions shall be suppressed. . . ." 

(This decree was supplemented on December 31, 1925, with a new 
censorship law which suppressed all independent publications and 
forced all journalists into a police docket register. It contained ten 
points of which the last was : 

("Prefects of police are empowered to seize editions of newspapers 
which attack the government press, or which injure the national cause 
at home or abroad, or which alarm the people without justification." 
Any reference to Mussolini and Matteotti was under this decree 
termed an injury to the nation and resulted in the suppression of the 

Under the press law, the first dictate of absolutism, Mussolini 
acted slowly but inexorably. Any criticism of himself or Fascism 
was announced an act of treason, the newspaper confiscated, and fre- 
quently, on orders from the Cheka, the editors beaten and the print- 
ing-plant destroyed. No other violent decrees were issued until the 
press had been so completely subjugated that all danger of it causing 
a serious reaction had passed. Then came laws in quick succession. 

At the end of November, 1925, (the Zaniboni affair), decree 2029 
abolished the right of public association. Freemasonry in Italy was 

Actually the law requires all associations, organisms, or institutes 
functioning in the kingdom or the colonies "to communicate to the 
authorities of public surety their constitutions, their interior regula- 
tions, the complete lists of their membership, their social functions, 
and all other information relative to their organization, their activity, 
everything that may be required by the aforementioned authorities, 
for reasons of public order or surety." 

The police and government are given the fullest power of inter- 
vention so that they can dispose of the Hfe and functions of all 
associations. In addition, Article 3 of the municipal and provincial 
code was interpreted giving the prefects the right to limit and almost 
to suppress the right of individual citizens to join associations. 

The abolition of parliament came next. Again there was no clean 

236 Sawdust Caesar 

direct action, but the first of a series of decrees, each a little stronger, 
until the present state of parliamentary zero was reached. The first 
decree, Christmas Eve, 1925, made the Chamber of Deputies merely 
consultative; it could discuss and ratify, but nothing more. The 
head of the government (Mussolini) was given the right to initiate 
laws, the parliament could initiate nothing but could suggest and 
present only those ideas approved by the Duce ; the Premier was re- 
sponsible only to the King and could no longer be criticized or checked 
or overruled by the Chamber. 

The liberty of teaching and the liberty of the magistracy were abol- 
ished the same evening. The decree, No. 2300, declares that "all 
functionaries, employees, agents of all orders and grades, civil and 
military, those who are in the administration of the state upon which 
they depend, who by any manifestation, in and out of service, do not 
give complete guaranty for the accomplishment of their duties faith- 
fully, or who place themselves in a situation incompatible with the 
political directives of the government" may be removed. 

This law was used almost exclusively to force university teachers 
to be friendly to Fascism and to force the magistrates of Italy to 
free Fascists accused of violence and punish anti-Fascists, guilty or 
not guilty. 

Naturally, free speech was next suppressed. The rights of the 
individual having already been circumscribed in every way, it was 
hardly necessary to pass a new decree, so one day in conferring 
more power on the Duce it was announced that anyone criticizing 
the head of the government was punishable with six to thirty months 
in prison and a fine of three hundred to three thousand lire. Nor 
is anyone under this law allowed to criticize the policies or the pur- 
poses of Mussolini or his government. It is under this law that from 
two thousand to six thousand men, mostly intellectuals, were sent to 
the terror islands in certain years. 

Two decrees stripped King Victor Emmanuel III of all his powers. 
One took the command of the army and navy away from him ; this 
was a mere formality, as the King could not use them in the old 
days without the approval of parliament and premier, but now 
the soldiers and sailors of the nation were placed at the disposal 
of the dictator. The King was denied the right to change Prime 

The Silent Revolution 2^ 

Ministers. The second law placed, above parliament and the crown, 
the Grand Fascist Council as the highest ruling body, a veritable 
"Comite de Salut Public" of the old French Terror. 

Universal suffrage was abolished. It is one of the ironies of history 
that shortly before this decree was passed Mussolini, after listen- 
ing for hours to a debate on the question of enfranchising women, 
banged the table, said, "Basta," enough talk, and ordered parliament 
to vote as he directed, in favor of the law. The Marquesa Piccolomini, 
one of the Duce's first women converts, and an ardent suffragist, was 
in the balcony, beaming upon her hero, who turned his limpid, pas- 
sionate eyes upon her and passed her law for her. Shortly afterwards, 
suffrage for men and women was suppressed. Later, by order of 
the Grand Council, on February 20, 1928, it was decreed that in the 
future the Fascisti would announce a list of candidates, and everyone, 
men and women, would have the right to vote "Yes" or "No," but 
only for these candidates, and woe to the man who dared vote "No." 

In turn the law courts were Fascistized. Article 71 of the Statutes, 
guaranteeing freedom in the courts, was abolished and the clause 
"there must never be created either special tribunals or extraordinary 
commissions" was erased, when Decree 2008 of November 25, 1926 
(following the Lucetti and Zamboni affairs) was put into force. 
A special tribunal "for the defense of the state," a tribunal composed 
with a majority of the Fascist militia, came into being. It denied 
the last of the human liberties (including habeas corpus), and func- 
tioned arbitrarily, sending thousands of persons to the islands, to 
prison on the mainland, and to confine, or enforced domicile, under 
police surveillance. The militia tribunal is commonly known as the 
Fascist Inquisition. 

The inviolability of private homes was abolished. Local police 
authorities, as well as the national militia, were empowered to in- 
vade anyone's domicile at will, search and seize, while all the janitors 
of Italy were registered and made espionage agents of the regime. 

The inviolability of private correspondence was abolished. It is 
very interesting to note that whereas other dictatorships mark let- 
ters "censored," the more modern Fascisti employ numerous agents 
in the main post offices to steam letters open and to seal them as care- 
fully as possible in an effort to hide the fact there is a censorship and 

238 Sawdust Caesar 

to fool as many customers as possible. The present writer not only 
has many such envelopes, but has proof from three journalistic col- 
leagues still in Rome that letters to all persons on the "list of 
suspects," which includes several American and British newspaper 
men, are steamed open and secretly resealed. The government re- 
serves the right to confiscate outgoing and incoming letters, and fre- 
quently does so. 

The right freely to choose and exercise a business or a profession 
was abolished. This was done by a series of legislative and ministerial 
measures dating from the law of April 3, 1926, to the pubhcation 
of the Labor Charter on April 21, 1927. The order of the questore 
(chief of police) of Alexandria illustrates this law. When the time 
came for the new lawyers and students to be registered at the bar, 
those suspected of not being Fascisti received a legal document to 
sign. This document reads : 

"I, the undersigned, Lawyer , who until now have 

remained outside the Fascist Party and regime on account of my 
sectarianism or my views, believe it my duty today to declare : 

"i. I disown my past, in as far as it concerns open or secret dis- 
sension with the action or regime of the Fascist Party. 

"2. That on my own volition I have deemed it necessary to re- 
nounce this apostasy as reparation for conduct politically damnable. 

"3. That from now, with sincerity and conviction, I will give my 
adhesion to everything which the party and regime do in carrying 
out their powers. 

"4. That I recognize that Fascism has saved the country and is 
deserving of that recognition by all Italians. 

"5- That from now on I will exercise my profession and develop 
all my activity, not only without any factious spirit, but with the 
purpose of collaborating to make of Fascism the sacred religion of 
every Italian. 

"In confirming the authenticity of this declaration I sign it and 
authorize the Fascist Party to make what use of it it desires." 

Free movement was abolished. Two classes were caught by this 
law, the peasants who frequently moved from province to province, 
seeking better working conditions, and the victims of the regime 
who sought freedom in Switzerland and France. The workers, by 

The Silent Revolution 239 

this law, came under a sort of serfdom, being required to stay in cer- 
tain localities and work for wages imposed upon them, and under 
unbearable conditions. As for those seeking liberty, they were chased, 
fired upon, and in many instances killed by the frontier guards. 

Liberty of conscience and religion were curtailed by the laws which 
favored the Catholic Church as a State Church. 

The right of an Italian-born subject to choose another nationality 
was denied. Before the war only two semi-civilized countries, Russia 
and Rumania, had such laws; at present Italy is the only country 
which cannot admit that a man may change his nationality. The 
Italian law, moreover, provides for the confiscation of property of 
those abroad who criticize Fascism or change their nationality, and 
although the law does not provide for this, the families of emigrants 
are frequently held as hostages, subjected to terrorism or blackmail. 

Article 30 of the Statutes, containing the consecration and tradi- 
tional guarantee that no unjust taxation shall be levied unless passed 
by the Chambers and sanctioned by the King, was abolished. 

Finally, on February 4, 1926, all municipal liberty was suppressed. 

On more than one occasion one of these decrees was passed a day 
or two after one of the attempts on Mussolini's life ; on more than 
one occasion the publication of a decree led to violent reaction by the 
public and a massacre. Accused of violence, Mussolini in his speech 
on May 26, 1926, assumed all responsibility. 

"It is I," he said, "who have dictated the measures taken : repeal 
and revision of all passports for foreign countries ; the order to shoot 
without warning anyone trying to cross the frontier secretly; sup- 
pression of all anti-Fascist publications, daily and periodical; dis- 
solution of all groups, associations, and organizations which are anti- 
Fascist or suspected of anti-Fascism; deportation (to the islands) of 
those who are anti-Fascists or conduct an anti-revolutionary activity ; 
creation of a special police force; creation of secret bureaus of in- 
vestigation and a special tribunal. 

"All the opposition newspapers have been suppressed, all the anti- 
Fascist parties have been dissolved. The special police already gives 
signal service. The political bureaus of secret investigation have been 
created. The Special Tribunal has been created, it functions in a 
remarkable fashion." 

240 Sawdust Caesar 

The democratic state was destroyed. The monarchial constitution 
was broken. The individual was robbed of all liberty. 

Violence, which from the day of Fascism's coming into power, in 
1922 and throughout 1923 and 1924, had remained actual but illegal, 
was made legal in 1925. 

In 1925 Fascism and the nation became one. 

The revolution, which failed to occur in 1922, came about through 
the passage of decrees in 1925 and 1926. Quietly. 

Fascist absolutism was built over the body of Matteotti. 

Mussolini's revenge for the Matteotti uprising was complete. 

Part III 



Mussolini versus the Pope 

parts : the Church Persecuted, the Church Militant, and the 
Church Triumphant. The first refers to the early days, the second 
includes the centuries of successful establishment and our own times ; 
the third refers to heaven. But with Fascism, as with Communism, 
the three eras are more condensed and the third stage, Triumphant, 
refers to the present. 

Mussolini Victorious asked the people of Italy to endorse his 
regime in the plebescite of March, 1929; for this event the Fascist 
Party published its Hst of achievements, which may be summarized 
as follows: 

Bolshevism and social disorder have been abolished. 

Industry and commerce have been revived. 

The trains run on time; magnificent automobile roads have been 
built; the marshes have been drained. 

Employment has increased. 

Wages and the cost of living have been balanced. 

Order, Disciphne, Hierarchy (the Fascist slogan) have been made 

The budget has been balanced ; the nation's finances have been 
placed in a state of prosperity despite the abohtion of many taxes. 

Agriculture is flourishing. 

The army, navy and air force have been enlarged and restored to 
high efficiency. 

The prestige of the nation has been restored. Italy is now respected 
and feared abroad. 

It is the purpose of the concluding portion of this book to dis- 
cuss these and later claims of Fascist achievements. At various times 


244 Sawdust Caesar 

Mussolini has called the creation of the Corporate State, the stabiliza- 
tion of the lire, the increased grain or child production, the victory 
he prized most, but future historians, who are able to take the long 
view, will most probably place the settlement of the Roman Ques- 
tion first under the name of the Duce. 

And if this truly happens they will have a magnificently ironic cap- 
tion for their chapter; they could call it "The Atheist who liberated 
the Pope." 

We have already witnessed the struggle between Mussolini and 
his chief political opponent of 1922, Don Sturzo, the Catholic leader; 
we have seen the youthful Benito defying God to send a thunder- 
bolt against him, and we have heard him saying bitter things about 
the popes, the priests, Christianity, and all religions. We know he was 
born an atheist. In fact, in the province where he was born the ma- 
jority of the poor and oppressed were Socialists and the majority 
of Socialists were atheists; all the rebels against the social system 
were enemies of the Church ; Socialism was a sufficient religion for 
them and they hated equally the rich, the employers, the monarchist 
politicians, also the priests and the established Church, whom they 
considered the protectors of all the economic forces against which 
they fought. 

The early struggle between the deeply religious mother and the 
agnostic father for little Benito's soul ended in easy victory for Papa 
Alessandro. It was not necessary for him to use his belt or the whip, 
as he did for other corrective purposes. Had he done so it is likely 
that the child would have fled to the consoling dogmas of the Church 
which his mother represented. Atheism, however, was in the air, 
Benito was nourished on it, it became part of his being, and it has 
remained there. In vain did the mother drag the child to church 
where the smell of incense in the vitiated air sickened him; in vain 
did she send him to the Salesian friars, because their moral and 
physical beatings served only to increase the boy's disdain for re- 
ligion and make him swear a revenge against the priests, their 
Church, and their God. 

The Swiss episodes are not the only proof of this vendetta. At 
the time of the execution of Francisco Ferrer in Spain there was 
an outbreak of anti-clericalism in Italy also, and in Forli it was 

Mussolini versus the Pope 245 

Mussolini who led the mob which stormed the central square of the 
town and destroyed the column surmounted by the Virgin Mary. 
In the trenches one day the corporal read one of the King's exhorta- 
tions to the troops which concluded with a call for divine providence 
to aid the noble Allied war. Mussolini sneered. "We shall conquer 
without God," he said. 

After the war, addressing a convention of veterans one day, he 
said, "I love a pagan and warlike people, a people which refuses 
its allegiance to revealed dogma and which is not fooled by miracles." 
At about the same time he wrote, "There is only one possible re- 
vision for the Law of Guarantees [the act that made the Pope the 
"Prisoner of the Vatican"] and that is, its abolition, followed by a 
stern invitation to His Holiness to leave Rome, to reenter Avignon, 
or, in conformity with the taste shown by the Vatican during the 
war, go to the Boches."^ 

Mussolini seemed to have a grudge against the popes. He never 
forgave Benedict XV for calling the war a "useless massacre" ; as 
late as 1928, in his autobiography, he attacks the memory of Europe's 
first pacifist, calling his effort to make peace in 1917 "ambiguous 
conduct," adding that the "Catholic Church had ever been a stranger 
to wars when she did not provoke them herself." He insulted Pius 
XI on more than one occasion. In April, 1924, there was a savage 
attack by the Fascisti upon the Catholic institutions of the district 
of Brianza which had voted the Catholic ticket. The Pope sent 
500,000 lire to restore the buildings and addressed a bitter message 
against Fascist violence. Mussolini replied by dubbing Pius XI "Papa 

But now we must look at the seeming contradictions in the be- 
havior of the Duce towards the Pope. The sending of emissaries to 
the Vatican in preparation for the march on Rome was not a sud- 
den impulse; it was penultimate action in a well-thought-out plan. 
Even before that was done, in June, Mussolini had written that 
"Fascism has nothing to gain by exiling God from the sky and re- 
ligion from the earth," and immediately upon taking office the Duce, 
in the convention of all statesmen and politicians, called upon God 
to direct his endeavors. Such expressions shocked those atheist Fascist 

^ Popolo d'ltalia. November i8, 1919. 

246 Sawdust Caesar 

followers who had understood from the original program that among 
the first actions on gaining power would be a concerted and con- 
tinual attack on the Catholic Church and the Vatican. But they soon 
learned of Mussolini's change of program, if not change of heart 

The first climax in the relationship between Mussolini and the 
Vatican followed the Matteotti affair, when the populace turned 
against Fascism and the Fascisti took off their black shirts and 
removed the lictor's emblem from their buttonholes and pretended 
they had never trafficked with the party which stood accused before 
the world as one of bloodshed and assassination. Mussolini turned 
toward the King, whom he had more than once intimidated with the 
plan to replace him, and toward the Church, which he had spared 
on entering Rome. The Duce's agents called upon Monsignor Piz- 
zardo, the confident of the Pope, and immediately afterwards there 
was a campaign against the Socialists and the Popolari launched in 
certain newspapers. This was the only moral support Mussolini had 
at the time. But it was important. It helped him emerge from his 
pose of remorse, his cringing attitude, and assume his old role of 
superman. It was then that he announced that he was certain the 
Matteotti affair had something to do with Freemasonry, which was 
seeking to ruin his authority, and that he would soon settle that 
matter, too. 

The whole history of the negotiations with the Vatican is a record 
of threats, provocations, and promises. One morning Mussolini would 
write in his Popolo that the Fascisti would tear down the cross from 
St. Peter's and replace it with the lictor's ax if the Pope interfered 
with his regime, and the next day there would be an emissary wait- 
ing on a papal representative. In the spring of 1925 Mussolini ap- 
plauded the production of Pirandello's "Sagra della Nava" in the sub- 
sidized art theater, while the Catholic press denounced the Duce, 
Pirandello, and the theater for producing one of the most subtle 
and dramatic attacks on the Catholic faith. Then in turn Mussolini 
would forbid the American Methodists to build the church they had 
planned on a hill overlooking the Vatican or he would propose a bill 
for outlawing Masonry. 

In July, 1925, and again in August and December, Fascist vio- 
lence against Catholics was especially intense in Florence and Pisa. 

Mussolini versus the Pope 247 

Cardinal MafE, the leading intellectual o£ the Church, who had re- 
ceived the second largest number of votes on several ballots at the 
conclave which elected Pius XI Pope, assiuned the leadership of 
Catholics versus Fascists, And because there was a censorship of 
the press, Cardinal Maffi issued his anathema of Fascism in the form 
of a pastoral letter, which called the Duce and his followers the 
"Race of Cain" and concluded with these words : 

"It is said of murderers that they boast of the number of their 
victories. But the word is merely on the lips, presented rather than 
pronounced, in a moment of confusion and excitement. Other words 
come in the night and ring with a different sound, causing fears to 
arise that are uncontrollable and sometimes even insane. O, Cain! 
O, Judas! O, all ye who shed the blood of your brothers, you lie 
when you speak of security; for we know you have it not. Nor 
could you have it. Do we not see you turn pale and look furtively 
around, as if seeking some way of escape, at a chance sound that 
may strike the ear, at a chance light that may strike the eye, even 
at the murmur of the wind, at the chirping of the birds? . . . 

"War had and has its poison-gas, its liquids of destruction; but 
bear this well in mind : No acid, sulphuric or nitric or prussic and 
no sublimate is so corrosive as one drop of blood criminally shed. 
There is no chemical basis that will resist or neutralize it. There 
are no forces to control it. Armies will not hold it in check. It flows 
on. It corrodes. It destroys. Woe to the hand that sheds blood. Woe 
to the feet that trample on the corpse, O, Dynasty of Cain, carry 
on. But listen to this: where men fail, God is to the rescue — God, 
who gives no quarter to the culprits but incessantly pursues them, 
crying out judgment over them : Accursed. Accursed. Accursed in 
time. Accursed in eternityl" 

Following the publication of this pastoral letter, Cardinal Maffi 
called upon other Catholic leaders to join with him in united and 
continuous action against Fascism. Mussolini then apologized to the 
Pope, and Federzoni, strong nationalist and devout Catholic, again 
made overtures of friendship to the Vatican. 

The objective of the Fascisti was the destruction of the power of 
the Azione Cattolica, the association of elders, and the Catholic Boy 
Scouts, which enrolled children. Fascism, claiming to be the true 

248 Sawdust Caesar 

leader of youth, in 1926 established the Opera Nationale Balilla for 
the political and military education of the young of Italy. "The 
organization," explained the Hon. R. Ricci "requires that its pupils 
at the time that they will have come of age, will be capable of suit- 
ably entering in the higher schools of the army, the navy, and 
aviation. It will try, above all, to develop the sentiment of absolute 
devotion to the country in peace time as in time of war. This prepara- 
tion of young people for military life has properly scandalized faint 
spirits in certain so-called democratic countries. 

"Peace and war are two phases in the life of the people, equally 
necessary to their development, to their greatness and their growth. 
Fascism wants only to realize in Italy what the modern states have 
realized among themselves since the beginning of time, the ability 
to defend with arms, at all times and against whoever threatened 
their existence and their prestige." 

Militarism and nationalism, the ideals of the Balilla, were the exact 
opposites of the ideals of the Catholic organizations. On January 
9, 1927, Mussolini rushed through a royal decree abolishing all 
existing Catholic Boy Scout organizations in localities of less than 
20,000 population. The Pope, in a letter to Cardinal Gasparri, re- 
plied by abolishing the entire organization, explaining he did so 
because he had to yield to force and that the Scouts still remained 
"the apple of my eye." 

The world at that time, however, had only a suspicion that serious 
negotiations were under way for the settlement of the Roman ques- 
tion. Behind the acts of violence and reprisals there were diplomatic 
advances. Actually on the 8th of August, 1926 — as the Marquis 
Francesco Pacelli, brother of Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli and later 
general counselor of the Vatican State, revealed — Domenico Barone 
began the definitive negotiations with representatives of the Pope. 
By autumn of that year there had been considerable progress. Mus- 
solini had asked and received a complete statement of the Vatican's 
terms for peace. Signer Pacelli, in transmitting them, informed the 
Duce that there were two questions on which he could cede nothing : 
the sovereignty of the Pope in a recreated papal state, and the 
recognition of religious marriage on a par with the civil rite. 

In 1927 Mussolini, who had already known that the Pope dis- 

Mussolini versus the Pope 249 

approved of the plan for the Corporate State, announced the Labor 
Charter. The Pope again showed his displeasure. The official Osser- 
vatore Romano said it was "contrary to the Christian conception of 
the State and individual liberty." This and similar declarations by the 
Pope and the official organ, by order of the Duce's press depart- 
ment, were not reprinted in Italy. 

Early in 1929 the rumor of a treaty was confirmed. And then 
arose the question, why is Mussolini making peace with the Pope, 
why is the atheist so anxious to please the head of the Catholic 
Church, why is he making concessions which were not even de- 
manded of previous Prime Ministers, from Cavour to Nitti? 

The reasons were many. First, and most important, Mussolini, 
who had studied his Machiavelli and followed many of the precepts, 
had been convinced, in the course of years, that the dictum which 
he had questioned was, after all, the most logical in Italy : one must 
rule with the aid of the church. Seven years of conflict had con- 
vinced him. But perhaps more important still was the politico- 
economic situation in which Mussolini found himself in the two years 
of negotiations. In 1926 it was already apparent that a crisis was 
imminent: unemployment was increasing, exports were down, emi- 
grant remittances had taken an alarming drop, the officially an- 
nounced balanced budget was in fact not near an equilibrium and 
dissatisfaction was spreading. 

By 1928, despite the flotation of billions of lire in loans in the 
United States, the crisis was on. Wage cuts and increased taxa- 
tion were not the cure. And now the bankers and the large indus- 
trialists, the subsidizers and owners of the Fascist party, as well as 
the general public were aroused against Fascism. While the front 
of the edifice still glittered with decorations and looked imposing, 
the foundations were sinking into economic mud. 

Mussolini was hard pressed. There was even a possibility that at 
this point he would actually revert to his original program, the plan 
for a socialized cooperative State written nine years earlier out of 
Karl Marx, and give the world the seml-Communist regime which 
was obviously his original intention. He did, in fact, begin taking 
over certain industries — those which were in unsolvable financial 

250 Sawdust Caesar 

difficulties— and making the State participate in production and dis- 
tribution. But again he changed his mind. 

Something was needed to restore his prestige, at home and abroad, 
some newer, greater gesture which would unify the masses again, 
rally them in his vanguard against the threatening desertion of the 
business leaders. Politics and economics and Machiavellian oppor- 
tunism dictated the move ; it is a practical masculine world and only 
feminine naivete, as exhibited by female biographers, has Musso- 
lini, like Saul of Tarsus, seeing the great light on the road to Damas- 
cus and becoming a repentant Paul. His was not a gesture of a 
repentant. It was a politico-economic move. 

On February 7, 1929, Cardinal Gasparri, Secretary of State of 
the Holy See, announced to the diplomats accredited to the Vatican 
that the temporal power of the Pope had been restored, the Pontiff 
released from his prison,^ a new state created. 

Behind the present accord stands the figure of Father Tacchi- 
Venturi, who for years has guided Mussolini in his relations to the 
Holy See. It was this powerful Jesuit who had planned to have 
Mussolini make a public confession of faith during the anniversary 
celebration of St. Francis of Assisi, but there was too much ribald 
hilarity over the atheist-politician's proposed action to make it profit- 
able. However, the Duce's children— those he so gallantly calls his 
"first series" — having grown up and noble marriages being proposed, 
Mussolini permitted himself to be married in the Catholic Church,^ 
thereby legalizing their birth, had his "second series" baptized, there- 
by saving their souls, and allowed himself to be photographed in 
dark-eyed prayer before the statue of St. Peter in the Cathedral, 
thereby reaping another harvest of publicity. 

Explaining this treaty to the Senate on the 13th of May, Musso- 
lini began with Cavour's formula "a free Church within a free State," 
adding that the new situation created "a sovereign State within the 
Kingdom of Italy ; the Cathohc Church with a certain preeminence 
loyally and voluntarily recognized ; free admission of other religions." 

"On November i, 1870, the Vatican had anoounccd that "His Holiness declares that 
he is in a state of imprisonment and that he will not partake with Belial." 

' This is the now generally accepted report, but no official document of marriage to 
Rachcle Guidi has ever been found by investigators. 

Mussolini versus the Pope 251 

To a Senator who proposed "free and sovereign Church, free and 
sovereign State," Mussolini said: 

"This formula might create the belief that there are two sovereign- 
ties coexistant, but they do not coexist. One counts as the Vatican 
City, and one counts as the Kingdom of Italy, which is the Italian 
State. It must be understood that between the Italian State and the 
Vatican City there is a distance which can be measured in thou- 
sands of miles, even if it requires only five minutes to go and see 
this State and ten minutes to walk around its confines. 

"There are, then, two sovereignties perfectly distinct and well 
differentiated: perfectly and reciprocally recognized. But within the 
State the Church is not sovereign and is not even free. It is not 
sovereign and is not free because in its institutions and its men it 
is subject to the general laws of the State, and is even subject to 
the special clauses of the Concordat." 

Of Christianity the Duce said, sarcastically, "This religion was 
born in Palestine but became Catholic in Rome. If it had been con- 
fined to Palestine it would in all probability never have been more 
than one of the numerous sects which flourished in that overheated 
environment, like that of the Essenes or the Therapeutse. The chances 
are that it would have perished and left no trace." 

After giving flat denials to several of the Pope's statements, Mus- 
solini exclaimed : 

"We have buried the temporal power of the popes, not resuscitated 


"Any other regime than ours," he continued, "may believe it use- 
ful to renounce the education of the young generations. In this field 
I am intractable. Education must be ours. Our children must be 
educated in our religious faith, but we must round out this educa- 
tion and we need to give our youths a sense of virility and the power 
of conquest." 

The Pope read Mussolini's speech May 14th at eleven in the morn- 
ing, an hour and a half before the first pilgrimage was to visit 
him. To the professors and pupils of the College of Mondragone 
he made the famous reply in which he referred to Mussolini as the 


The Pope began by attacking the Fascist Spartan educational 

^ Sawdust Caesar 

principle that children belong to the State. "The State should interest 
itself in education," said the Pope, "but the State is not made to 
absorb and annihilate the family, which would be absurd and against 
nature, for the family comes before society and before the State. 
The State should perfect the activities of the family in full corre- 
spondence with the desires of the father and mother, and it should 
respect especially the divine right of the Church in education. 

"We cannot admit that in its educational activities the State shall 
try to raise up conquerors or encourage conquests. What one State 
does in this line all the other States can do. What would happen 
if all the States educated their people for conquests? Does such 
education contribute to general world pacification ? 
^ "We can never agree with anything which restricts or denies the 
right which nature and God gave the Church and the family in the 
field of education. On this point we are not merely intractable, but 
we are uncompromising. We are uncompromising just as we would 
be forced to be uncompromising if asked 'How much does two plus 
two make?' Two plus two makes four and it is not our fault if 
it does not make five or six or fifty. When it is a question of saving 
a few souls and impeding the accomplishment of greater damage 
to souls we feel courage to treat with the devil in person. And it was 
exactly with the purpose of preventing greater evil that we nego- 
tiated with the devil some time ago when the fate of our dear Catho- 
lic Scouts was decided." 

Although the Pope's reply was suppressed in the Fascist press, 
some weeks later Mussolini published his speech, retaining all its 
violent language, misquotations, and insults to the Pontiff. The Pope 
addressed a letter to Cardinal Gasparri, published June 5th, calling 
the Duce's words "heretical, and worse than heretical." 

Two years after the signing of the peace treaty the Fascisti were 
again breaking into Catholic clubs and using violence against mem- 
bers; the Pope was reported making plans for leaving Italy, and 
Mussolini's newspapers were again using language such as this : "If 
the Duce orders us to shoot all the priests, we shall not hesitate 
an instant. . . ."* In 1931 Mussolini regretted his surrender to the 

* Gazzetta Fascista, quoted by the French writer. Emmanuel Bourder, 

Mussolini versus the Pope 253 

The two years of peace had not been two years of harmony. The 
Church continued to insist on its right to rule the family and raise 
the children of Italy; the regime continued to enforce the decrees 
making the State the supreme power over the individual and espe- 
cially over youth. A brilliant paragrapher has summed up a situation 
which whole books might expound. "As we understand the con- 
troversy between Church and State in Italy," said Howard Bru- 
baker, "the whole question is who gets the custody of the child." 
As both the Pope and Mussolini rest the future of their regimes 
on the education of the coming generations, the conflict was bound 
to occur, and is bound to occur again and again. 

The Concordat was based on ambiguity. The two parties had 
agreed to collaborate on the following points: nomination of priests, 
status of the religious Orders, recognition of rehgious marriage, 
dogmatic religious instruction in the primary and secondary schools, 
etc. But the grave problems were not definitely settled ; the question 
of the education of youth, the question of the attributes of the Church 
and the question of the State control of the individual, remained 

On these questions Fascism has its own moral thesis completely 
independent of the Church : the State is absolute, it absorbs the 
family, the individual, the new-born babe, the future citizen. The 
thesis of the Church : the family is the original unit, independent 
and fundamental, where the child is to be raised; the individual is 
an atom in the mass, but sacred for society, possessing inviolable 
rights which the State cannot curtail or restrain. 

The theses are opposed ; the treaty, however, could perhaps be 
maintained had there been unbounded good will and no political 
intentions on the Fascist side, because compromises are always pos- 
sible when politics are concerned, much more difficult when religious 
and moral issues are disputed. Here the incompatibility was pro- 
found and fundamental, ancient Christian doctrine clashed with new 
Fascist doctrine, and a retreat by one force became inevitable. 

Meanwhile Catholic institutions had been making unparalleled 
progress. Not only were the youth organizations strengthened, but 
the Azione Cattolica showed from twenty-five to fifty per cent mem- 

254 Sawdust Caesar 

bership increases in a short time. According to the Fascisti the old 
leaders of the Popolari and their followers were swamping the Catho- 
lic organizations for the purpose of using them as political centers. 

The Fascist organ, Lavoro Fascista, accused the Catholic League 
of debating "explicit proposals for supplanting Fascism" ; on May 
26, 1931, it accused Monsignor Pizzardo, diplomat and chaplain- 
general, of declaring that "Catholic Action must be strong enough 
to seize power." "It is time to resort to extreme measures," con- 
cluded the official organ. 

A fortnight of violence throughout Italy, and especially in Rome, 
followed. Fascists attacked priests, plundered the CathoHc dubs, the 
Jesuit house of the Civilta Cattolica, and invaded the palace of the 
chancellory, which is protected by extraterritoriality. In the Piazza 
Colonna, near the Foreign OfHce, they burned copies of a book The 
Pope. One group found an oil-painting of the Pontiff in a Catholic 
club and marched with it through the streets, finally trampling it 
with cries of "Traitor." A bomb was thrown into the Catholic 
headquarters at Imola. 

The Pope replied, on June 29, 1931, with his encyclical Non 
ahhiamo bisogno. Because of the strict Fascist censorship the Pope 
himself was forced to smuggle his encyclical. He called in two notable 
dignitaries, Monsignor F, J. Spellman, who is now assistant to 
Cardinal O'Connell, archbishop of Boston, and Monsignor Vanneuf- 
ville, canon of the Lateran and member of the higher council of 
the Propaganda Fide, also correspondent of the Catholic organ, La 
Croix, in Paris, and published the encyclical in France. 

"They have tried to strike to death all that was and will be 
always dearest to the heart of Our Father and Pastor of Souls," 
wrote the Pope in his encyclical, recounting numerous "brutalities 
and beatings, blows and bloodshed — and all this lamentable accom- 
paniment of disrespect and violence accomplished with such inter- 
vention of members of the [Fascist] party in uniform, with such 
condescension from the authorities and from the forces of public 
safety, that it is necessary to believe that these decisions came from 
above." The Pope then denies the official versions sent from Rome, 
"genuine slander spread by the party press," and the Radio d'ltalia; 

Mussolini versus the Pope 255 

6nally the Pope denounces as ridiculous the statement that the Azione 
had become a "nest" for the Popolari. Of the directors of 250 
diocesan organizations, 4,000 sections of Catholic men's clubs, and 
5,000 groups of Catholic male youth, only four men were connected 
with the old Popolari, "and, we must add, that in the four cases 
in question there are those who are sympathizers with the regime 
and the party which they look upon favorably." 

"And here We find Ourselves," continues Pius XI, "confronted 
by a mass of authentic affirmations and no less authentic facts which 
reveal beyond the slightest possibility of doubt the resolve (already 
in great measure actually put into effect) to monopolize completely 
the young, from their tenderest years up to manhood and woman- 
hood, for the exclusive advantage of a party and of a regime based 
on an ideology which clearly resolves itself into a true, a real pagan 
worship of the State — the Statolatry — ^which is no less in contrast 
with the natural rights of the family than it is in contradiction with 
the supernatural rights of the Church. 

"We have seen, in fact, in action a species of religion which rebels 
against the directions of higher religious authorities, and imposes or 
encourages the nonobservance of these directions ... a religious 
sentiment that goes to extremes, and permits others to indulge in 
insulting words and actions against the person of the Father and of 
all the faithful, even to cry out 'Down with the Pope and death to 
him !' This is real teaching of parricide. It is a semblance of religion 
which cannot in any way be reconciled with Catholic doctrine and 
practice. . . . 

"A conception of the State which makes the young generations 
belong entirely to it, without any exception from the tenderest years 
up to adult life, cannot be reconciled by a Catholic with the Catholic 
doctrine and cannot either be reconciled with the natural right of 
the family. . . . 

"You ask Us, Venerable Brethren, in view of what has taken 
place, what is to be thought about the formula of an oath"* which 
even little boys and girls are obliged to take about executing without 

" "I swear to obey the orders of the Ducc without quesdooing them and to serve the 
cause of the Fascist Revolution with all my force and if necessary with my blood." 

256 Sau/dust Caesar 

discussion orders from an authority which, as we have seen and 
experienced, can give orders against all truth and justice and in dis- 
regard of the rights of the Church and its souls, which are already 
by their very nature sacred and inviolable, and to have them swear 
to serve with all their strength, even to the shedding of blood. The 
cause of a revolution that snatches the youth from the Church and 
from Jesus Christ and which educates its own young forces to hate, 
to deeds of violence, and to irreverence, not excluding the person of 
the Pope himself, as the latest facts have very evidently demon- 
strated. . . . Such an oath as it stands is unlawful." 

This encyclical, suppressed for several days by the Italian press, 
made a great sensation and won worldwide sympathy for the Pope 
from Protestants as well as Catholics. 

On July 9th Mussolini ordered Fascist! to abandon the Azione 
Cattolica. The Pope declared Catholicism and Fascism incompatible ; 
Mussolini declared Fascism and Catholicism incompatible. Both are 
right. After two years of trying to render unto the Duce the things 
which are the Duce's and unto God the things that are God's, the 
real crisis had come and both sides realized that there can be no 
friendship between two opposing ideologies. 

On September 3rd the Vatican and the Chigi Palace announced a 
compromise agreement which made the Azione Cattolica strictly 
diocesan, dependent on the bishops, aloof from politics, foreign to 
trade unions. It was considered as a codicil to the Lateran Pacts. The 
Fascist government restored compatibility between party and Cath- 
olic institutions. On the third anniversary of the Vatican treaty 
Mussolini, accompanied by his ambassador. Count Cesar-Marie de 
Vecchi di Val Cisraon, the same gentleman who voluntarily assumed 
responsibility for the massacre of Turin and who during the Mat- 
teotti uprising proposed "three minutes of shooting to destroy the 
Opposition," paid a grand ceremonial visit to the Vatican. The 
Borghi and neighboring quarters were put in a state of seige and 
several thousand persons were obliged to spend their time in jail 
until the 13th of February. Mussolini was closeted with the Pope 
from 10:45 to 11:15, one of the longest interviews ever given a 

Mussolini versus the Pope 257 

Did Mussolini kiss the Pope's slipper ? European diplomatic circles 
and the whole Catholic world were greatly intrigued by this visit. 
Le Peuple of Bruxelles, which claims editorially it obtained the de- 
scription from one "in close touch with 'the eye of the Vatican/ " 
thus describes the historic occasion : 

"A painful silence reigned. . . . Finally Mussolini precipitated 
himself at the feet of the Pope and kissed the slipper humbly, at the 
same time giving himself great blows on the chest. With infinite 
bountifulness the Successor to Saint Peter raised his visitor and said 
to him : 

" 'Repent, repent, my son. All is not yet lost for you.' 

"A few minutes later the Pope asked Mussolini what time it was. 
Mussolini went pale. He quickly caught the significance. He said: 

" 'I have only a Swiss watch, but it is not the one I placed on the 
table at the time the police of His Majesty the King of Italy, Victor 
Emmanuel, did me the honor of tracking me down as my men now 
track down those who now think as I then did. The cheap nickel 
watch which I placed on the table in addressing an ultimatum to God 
was pawned by me when I was outlawed. In this connection I have 
to confess that I have failed to reimburse those comrades who aided 
me out of their pocketbooks in those regrettable times. 

*' 'But today I no longer deny God by according him five minutes 
in which to strike me dead as proof that he exists. I now know why 
I was not struck by lightning : the Church needed me.' " 

Interviewing the Duce some time later, Emil Ludwig asked him 
whether or not he kissed the Pope's slipper. Mussolini rephed : 

"In general I do as the Romans do. That is to say, I accept the 
custom of the country where I am being entertained. At the Vatican 
I was left to follow my own bent." 

Has Mussolini been converted? In the Fascist Catechism he had 
written "Fascism is not atheistic, but any army of believers. Religion 
alone makes possible the realization of great human ideals. Science 
. . . cannot explain all the phenomena of life; there remains always 
a closed wall on which one word alone should be written: 'God.'" 
To an American woman admirer he was even more outspoken. "I feel 
God deeply," he said, lifting his eyes. "While God protects me no 

258 Sawdust Caesar 

human force can stop me. I live dangerously and God protects me." 
But to the astute Ludwig, whose interviews Mussolini himself cor- 
rected and officially stamped, he admitted frankly that he is still a 
free-thinker. This paragraph, it is not strange to say, was deleted 
from the second ItaUan edition. 

With considerable irony a Catholic newspaper headlined Musso- 
lini's visit to the Vatican "Caesar and Peter have shaken hands." 
It had in mind Mussolini's favorite poet, Carducci, who wrote : 

Quando porge la mano Cesare a Piero 
da quella stretia sangiie umano stilla; 
quando il bacio si dan Chiesa ed Impero, 
un astro di martirio in del sfavilla. 

[When Caesar shakes hands with Peter, human blood flows; 
when the Church and the empire embrace, the star of a martyr 
is lit in the heavens.] 

The press of Italy considered the new accord a Fascist victory. 
It declared that although the encyclical was extremely violent, al- 
though the Pope denounced the "Totalitarian" idea of Fascism, the 
Vatican has come around to the thesis of the regime. Although it need 
not be admitted that the Catholic Action has been engaged in politics, 
it is certain that in the future it is pledged never to do so. By the 
new arrangement, not only must members restrain themselves to 
rehgious and spiritual works, but they cannot engage in social action, 
cannot in any way rival Fascist action, and the youth movement loses 
all its character which was antagonistic to the Fascist or militarist 
youth movement. 

It marks the end of the plan of a vast CathoHc party with a 
Christian as opposed to a Fascist program. 

If the Vatican, through Father Tacchi-Venturi, has obtained as- 
surances that the Totalitarian plan will be changed, that religious 
teachings of youth will be liberalized, that the incompatibility of 
Christianity and Fascism will be compromised, these facts are secret. 
That a tacit understanding of this nature exists has been admitted by 
La Croix, the official French Catholic publication. 

Officially, it must be said, the settlement of the Roman question 

Mussolini versus the Fope 259 

has been a magnificent example of political opportunism. The old 
axiom, Religio instrumentum regnij has taken on new life in Italy. 
"Fascism," in the opinion of the editorial writer of the London 
Times, "respects pietism, bigotry, and superstition so far as they 
serve to keep the peasants, particularly in the south, in ignorance 
and submission, but it does not allow, for instance, the Church to 
take any part in the education of youth (hence the abolition of the 
Catholic Boy Scouts), or to take care of the moral and social wel- 
fare of the faithful (hence the persecution of the Demo-Christians). 
The crucifix is in the schools, but several priests are in the prisons." 

In the first large engagement, 1929, Mussolini had won a Pyrrhic 
victory; in the pitched battle of 1931 Mussolini triumphed. Accord- 
ing to non-Fascists it was a triumph of desperation made necessary 
by the growth of the movement within Catholicism against the 
political regime. It is quite true, as Fascists contend, that all the 
liberal, democratic, and intelligent minority in Italy, driven under 
cover, had taken refuge in the Azione CattoHca, the only institution 
in the country where there was a trace of freedom left. And now the 
Catholic Action has been emasculated as a political body. 

On Mussolini's proud chest today appears, surrounded by the deco- 
rations of a military character, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. 
Good Catholics ask, can this cross over his heart cover the years of 
Fascist violence, the assassination of Matteotti, the bombs sent to 
Cardinal Ferrari with Fascist compliments, the murder of the heroic 
priest of Argenta, the attacks on the Catholic Scouts, the destruction 
of Catholic clubs and cooperatives, the dissolution of the Catholic 
Party, and finally the emasculation of the Azione Cattolica? Good 
Catholics shake their heads doubtfully. 

The Pope, like the King — it is no secret in Rome — remains anti- 
Fascist, He knows that his adversary is acting a part. He knows also 
that a dictatorship can disappear as suddenly as it is born and that 
the Church goes marching on. He watches all the reverences, the 
kneelings, and the professions of faith of the neophyte as that of an 
atheist of yesterday and probably of tomorrow. The Pope's own 
verdict on Fascism is very simple. "Nothing built on violence ever 
endures," he said. The Totalitarian or Corporative State in the opin- 

26o Sawdust Caesar 

ion of Pius XI remains "unchristian." The Pope has not changed his 

For the time being the victory is Caesar's. But the Kingdom of 
the Pale Galilean and the Hierarchy of the heretic of Predappio can- 
not exist forever, morally function, side by side, and one within 
the other. The eventual triumph lies in the future. 


Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia 

occasional interruptions, peace, Mussolini's course has been rather 
helter-skelter : in fact, in this field more than any other he has proven 
himself a zigzag Caesar. 

The record can be divided into three important sections. First 
there was the flamboyant period with the attack on Greece, defiance 
for the League of Nations, loud fulminations in praise of violence, 
demagoguery in international affairs on a par almost with internal 
affairs, imperialistic gestures without corollary actions, all in all the 
manifestations of the same youthful spirit which was first in evidence 
on the Socialist soap-boxes of three countries. The Duce became an 
international figure at the age of thirty-nine. 

But the years of contact, as journalist and colleague, with Lloyd 
George, Curzon, Chamberlain, Simon, Poincare, Barthou, Strese- 
mann and other professional diplomats of the conventional school, 
and the fatality of compromises, softened Mussolini in his second 
phase. He learned quickly and adapted himself to circumstances with 
the unequaled ability which he had demonstrated throughout his 
career. This, then, became the period of the great Anglo-Saxon 
flirtation when the Duce dropped his threats against Britain, whom 
he never forgave for being the possessor of Gibraltar, Malta, and 
Cyprus, and became in turn the chastened follower of Downing 
Street diplomacy, at the same time espousing the cause of the Ger- 
man people and Germany's allies, the Revisionist nations. 

The third, or present, stage of Mussolinism contains many ele- 
ments of the first: instead of Greece the enemy is Ethiopia, and 
the army and navy are again on the road to conquest, and again the 
League of Nations, which Mussolini at one time dominated through 


262 Sawdust Caesar 

the brilliance of his representative, Dino Grandi, is the object of 
scorn ; imperialism again rules his mind, although his utterances lack 
the reckless defiance of a decade ago, and there is more evidence 
today that growing desperation of a broken home economy demands 
foreign recompenses. 

The first test of Mussolini's diplomacy followed an incident on 
the Greek-Albanian border. An Italian general named Tellini and 
his stafT of four were ambushed on August 24, 1923, and assassinated 
by Albanian bandits in the forest near Janina. Without a moment's 
hesitation, in which he might have learned on whose soil the murders 
occurred and the nationality of the murderers, Mussolini, who had 
yet to wage his first war, sent an ultimatum to Greece. He demanded 
(l) an ofHcial apology; (2) a formal memorial service for the dead; 
(3) honors for the Italian flag; (4) an inquiry into the affair within 
five days; (5) capital punishment for the murderers; (6) an in- 
demnity of 50,000,000 lire within five days; (7) military honors for 
the Italian victims, and (8) a reply within twenty-four hours. 

Greece accepted five of these points immediately and asked for a 
compromise on the others, notably the size of the indemnity, which 
Greece could not deHver at once. On the advice of the council of 
ambassadors which was held in Paris on the 30th Greece agreed to 
meet Italy in a conference. 

That same day, however, Mussolini mobilized his fleet with re- 
markable speed and efficiency. The battleships sailed proudly out of 
the harbors of Italy and the nation recaptured the hot transcendental 
feeling of patriotism. At three in the afternoon of the 31st an Italian 
officer visited the prefect of Corfu to inform him of the imminent 
capture of the island. The prefect replied that the old fort was not 
occupied militarily, but was used by refugees. (A later Italian state- 
ment claims the officer did not understand this statement.) The pre- 
fect said he had no troops, that he had no means of fighting, and 
that his only course could be passive resistance. 

The ultimatum having been delivered, the Italian navy began its 
bombardment at five o'clock. Shell after shell crashed down on the 
police barracks and the fort. There was no reply. For an hour the 
bombardment continued, and at six the victorious Fascisti landed 
and stormed the silent fort. From its wreckage came the screams of 

Diplomacy: Corfu to "Ethiopia 263 

wounded and the groans of the dying. Of the hundred victims, 
according to Colonel Bowe of the American Near East Relief, there 
were twenty dead, of whom sixteen were infants, the wards of 
American charity.^ Greece appealed to the League of Nations; the 
American Red Cross buried the dead ; in Rome Fascism celebrated 
its first military victory. 

An astonished and indignant world accused Mussolini of a "brutal 
assault" upon a peaceful and innocent nation. Outside of Italy press 
and public united in sympathy for Greece. Mussolini sent special 
cables to many newspapers. In one of them he explained his actions 
in this way : 

"I ordered the Italian navy to occupy Corfu because I know the 
Greeks and was aware that if I did not take a pledge for their pay- 
ment of reparation I would get nothing out of them. I have now 
taken a pledge and I will retain it until there has been a complete 
and literal fulfillment of the conditions of my ultimatum to them. 
If the Greeks fulfill these and pay up I will withdraw from Corfu, 
but they had better pay soon, for next week the price will be higher. 
These naval operations are expensive. Battleships won't steam on 
songs. If for any reason Greece does not pay I will remain in Corfu 
indefinitely. It was Venetian territory for four centuries, anyway. 
I have no intention of occupying more Greek territory or inflicting 
other penalties, unless, of course, the Greeks are foolish enough to 
attack Italian subjects or property. In that case I shall be forced to 
take immediate military action. 

"Italian public opinion does not like the League of Nations, for 
a very good reason. We respect its aims, but I completely deny its 
authority to intervene in a matter affecting Italian honor. The pres- 
ent affair does not come under the League Covenant, as there is no 
danger of war."^ 

But the League thought otherwise. Lord Robert Cecil on the ist 
of September informed it there was no doubt whatever of its com- 
petency to deal with the conflict nor its duty to do so, and Branting 
of Sweden demanded action against Italy. The Marquis della Tor- 

^U. S. Ambassador R. W. Child, later a Fascist agent, hinted that the Greeks pur- 
posely placed the refugees in the fort. 
*Neu/York Herald. 

264 Sawdust Caesar 

retta stated to Lord Curzon that the League had no business in the 
Corfu affair ; Lord Curzon repHed that the whole weight of British 
prestige was behind the League, and the press began speaking of an 
international boycott and joint naval action against Italy. 

But bravely Mussolini stuck to his guns. "In case the Council of 
the League of Nations declares itself competent/' he said in an 
official statement dated the 4th, three days after the Council had 
already done so, "the question whether to remain or resign from the 
League of Nations arises in Italy. I have already voted for the second 

That week, not for the first and not for the last time, the tension 
at Geneva reached a breaking-point and the collapse of Woodrow 
Wilson's foundation seemed imminent. But, as was to be repeated 
when Japan withdrew, and when Germany withdrew, and when 
Italy again threatened in the summer of 1935 over the Ethiopian 
crisis, the directors of the society of peace capitulated before the 
man of war. As in all diplomacy, a "formula" to save faces had to 
be found, and in this instance it was decided that, although the 
League was not to insist on its competency, the council of ambas- 
sadors in Paris, consisting of the same set of diplomats, should 
make the decision. This decision, naturally enough, was on the side 
of force and possession: the evacuation of Corfu was traded for 
Greek fulfillment of the ultimatum, the 50,000,000 lire in cash having 
been provided, according to report, by Sir Basil Zaharoff. 

From all points of view, military, political, patriotic, the victory 
was Mussolini's. His and Italy's prestige rose. Europe sat up and 
took notice of a new man who would probably have a lot to say in its 
international affairs in the future. The official report of the mission 
headed by a British, a French, and a Japanese colonel, which after 
a month's investigation found that Greece was entirely innocent 
in the Janina affair, made no impression outside of Athens. 

There was, however, one important diplomatic aftermath. "The 
first anniversary of the occupation of Corfu," writes V. Demetrio 
in La Politica estera di Mussolini,^ and neither the Italian nor the 
British Foreign Office has denied it, "was celebrated by Great Britain, 
not by Fascist Italy. 

"MUan, 1925 (before the suppression of the free press), p. 27. 

Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia 265 

"It was exactly twelve months after the ephemeral occupation by 
the Italians that the British admiralty organized large maneuvers 
in the Ionian Sea, and it was on this occasion that the British gov- 
ernment obtained from the Greek government the permission to 
debark heavy artillery in Corfu for the purpose of participating in 
the mock war. 

"A similar permission had never before been asked for nor granted. 

"This was the reply to Mussolini. 

"Unfortunately, on this account, Italy was obliged to watch im- 
potently the making of a wicked precedent on whose account the 
Mediterranean equilibrium has been, without motive, troubled." 

But the Greek adventure, with its sixteen dead children and its 
indemnity of 50,000,000 lire (the expedition cost 288,000,000, a fact 
almost successfully hidden in the budget), and its salute for the 
ItaHan flag, while not the great military success anticipated, still did 
lead to something for Mussolini. In Livorno, on the 30th of Septem- 
ber, 1926, Mussolini and Sir Austen Chamberlain held a Machiavel- 
lian conference, from which came reports that the Italian Premier 
had promised support for an expedition against Turkish Anatolia, 
where territory could be seized for both nations, or, should the adven- 
ture be canceled, Mussolini would be given a free hand in seizing 
Albania, provided, however, that he support the British in intimi- 
dating the Turks, who were claiming Mosul and preparing a descent 
upon Bagdad. 

Whatever arrangements were made between the two great states- 
men is their own affair, and the records, if they exist, remain archive 
secrets. Historically, however, what happened was that after this 
famous meeting of Livorno, Chamberlain without a blow drove the 
Turks from the Iraq frontier and Mussolini without a blow began 
the complete economic, military, and political penetration of Albania. 

The first important nation to adopt Mussolini's brand of Fascism 
was Spain, and the latest is Germany. The universal Fascism of 
which Mussolini speaks also embraces Austria, Hungary, Poland, 
Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Esthonia, while in the Far East the gov- 
ernment of Chiang Kai-Chek may be termed completely Fascist, 
while that of Japan the nearest to Fascism of all reactionary govern- 

266 Sawdust Caesar 

In addition Fascist parties have grown extremely powerful in Ire- 
land, Finland, Rumania, and Spain, and Fascist elements of consider- 
able varying strength have appeared in Portugal, Holland, France, 
and Greece, and there have been initiations in England, Switzerland, 
Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Cuba, and — although leaders and member- 
ship deny and express abhorrence of the name — in the United States. 

In Spain, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, and 
Rumania Mussolini has played a not unimportant part. In September, 
1923, General Miguel Prime de Rivera established a Fascist dictator- 
ship with the approval of the king and the aid of the artillery ofEicers, 
and in November he came to Rome for a consultation. Mussolini 
laid down the principle of Discipline, Order, and Hierarchy ; Primo 
agreed; together they made a secret military pact against France* 
and a commercial pact against the United States — they agreed to ex- 
ploit South America together and undermine the influence of Yankee 
traders — and like two commercial travelers they divided the market 
for spaghetti, oranges, wine, artificial silk, olive oil, and other prod- 
ucts. Commenting on the success of his visit, Dictator Primo uttered 
these exalted words : 

"On Mussolinism has been formed a creed, a doctrine of redemp- 
tion, which is drawing to it an army of recruits throughout the 

In 1926, following Mussolini's example of 1924, Primo held a 
plebiscite to endorse dictatorship, and like his preceptor, he ordered 
that no opposition votes should be cast. Announcing the resultant 
great popular victory, the Spanish dictator declared, "I believe with 
Mussohni that the principle of liberty is pretty as a principle, but is 
no longer effective as a rule of conduct for a nation and must be 
replaced by the principle of authority. 

"Public opinion must be strictly controlled. 

"The masses must not direct the government, but the government 
the masses. 

"The parliamentary system has had its day ... it is no longer 
indispensable ; it is harmful. 

* The contents of which were published by the Spanish diplomat, Santiago Alba, after 
his exile to France. 

Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia ii&^ 

"My system will last, not for my personal convenience, but for 
the good of the country. 

"Mussolini's actions showed me what I had to do to save my coun- 
try. Mussolini is a torch which affords light to nations." 

Two years later de Rivera supplemented his views. "There are few 
who can deny," he said, "that from a material point of view dictator- 
ships in Europe have, on the whole, proved profitable. 

"I condemn noisy and sterile assemblies. It is true that when 
nations and their parliaments reach a high degree of culture they 
escape the peril. Sr. Mussolini has declared that a democratic parlia- 
mentary regime is a luxury for rich nations. He is perfectly correct. 
In rich countries and highly civilized ones, parliament has its uses. 

"As for Italy, everyone is aware that chronic strikes have ceased, 
that the lira has been stabilized, that the provinces of the south are 
making progress, and that regions formerly unhealthful are now 
being developed. 

"As for my own country, dare anyone deny that the dictatorship 
has made considerable material progress, manifest in every branch 
of our economic life?" 

The answer to this question was given by the republican govern- 
ment which followed the resignation of de Rivera on January 28, 
1930, and the collapse of his successor. General Berenguer, on April 
12, 1931 : in 1928, it was announced, the economic system of dicta- 
torial Spain had broken down, but was saved by a loan of 25,000,000 
pesetas from Wall Street; in 1931 the complete collapse was so 
imminent that the dictatorship was negotiating with the banking 
houses of Morgan, Chase, National City, Kuhn Loeb, Guaranty 
Trust, Dillon Read, and Lee Higginson for $38,000,000 and the 
Banque de Paris et des Pays Bas for an additional $22,000,000. 

Tremendous financial scandals were brought to light, proving that 
the business men and militarists behind Primo had made millions of 
dollars' profit, while the dictatorship had falsified the budget for 
years; instead of the officially announced balances there had been 
expenditures of 4,000,000,000 pesetas and a deficit of a quarter of 
a billion; the treasury had only 68,000,000 pesetas on hand instead of 
the officially announced 320,000,000; the Duke of Tetuan blamed the 
dictatorship for the flight of capital, loss of confidence, financial crisis, 

268 Sawdust Caesar 

dishonest elections, suppression of liberty, unparalleled waste, and 
the general distrust of the people of Spain. 

Niceto Alcala Zamora, emerging from the prison where the dic- 
tatorship had placed him, assumed the Presidency, and one of his first 
actions was to send a cablegram to Italian anti-Fascists to make 
Spain their home and look upon the republic as their friend. Fran- 
cesco Macia, once imprisoned in France as a result of a plot by the 
Fascist agent Ricciotti Garibaldi, was proclaimed President of the 
Catalonian Republic. The military treaty between de Rivera and 
Mussohni was denounced. 

Thus, if only temporarily, ended the first of the important Fascist 
dictatorships modeled upon that of Italy. 

In February, 1925, the Grand Council of the Fascist Party under 
the presidency of its duce discussed "Preliminary examination of 
the possibility of a universal understanding between the Fascist and 
similar movements." There was little repercussion in the world press. 
But within the next decade, as Fascism made headway in many 
parts of Europe, journalists questioned the Duce. 

"Fascism is purely Italian," the originator replied to one; "Fas- 
cism is not an article for export," he said to a German, and "America 
has no need for Fascism," he remarked to an American. Then in the 
spring of 1930 he wrote, signed and sold an article recounting seven 
years of the achievements of Fascismo, in which he said : 

"Fascism is a typically Italian product, as Bolshevism is a typically 
Russian product. Neither one nor the other can be transplanted 
and live outside its country of origin."^ 

However, in his tour of northern Italy in May, Mussolini when 
not rattling the sword, defying France and Yugoslavia, extended an 
invitation to other nations to follow his successful methods. "Eu- 
rope, tormented, uneasy and disheartened," he said in Milan, "will 
not find its salvation except through the coming of Fascism." 

(On September 14, 1930, Reichstag elections were held in Ger- 
many, giving the Fascists— the still little known National Socialist 
Labor Party of Adolf Hitler— a considerable victory.) 

Celebrating the eighth anniversary of the taking of Rome, il Duce 
made one of the most important explanations of Fascist diplomacy 
'New Yor\ World. March 3, 1930, magazine section, p. i. 

Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia 269 

of his career: he explained the Spring tour of oratory which had 
offended a large part of the peace-seeking world; announced Italy 
as the champion of the Revisionist bloc which sought to amend or 
destroy the peace treaties upon which the Status Quo nations led by 
France insisted, and announced the universality of Fascism. He said: 

"By the year 1950 Italy will be the only country of young people 
in Europe, while the rest of Europe will be wrinlded and decrepit. 
People will come from over the frontier to see the phenomenon of 
this blooming spring of the Italian people. . . . 

"Only toward the East can our pacific expansion occur. . . . 

"Their phrase [referring to the German press] that 'Fascismo is 
not an article for export' is not mine. It is too banal. It was adopted 
for the readers of newspapers who in order to understand anything 
need to have it translated into terms of commercial jargon. In any 
case it must now be amended. 

"Today I affirm that the idea, doctrine, and spirit of Fascismo 
are universal. It is Italian in its particular institutions, but it is uni- 
versal in spirit; nor could it be otherwise, for spirit is universal 
by its very nature. 

"It is therefore possible to foresee a Fascist Europe which will 
model its institutions on Fascist doctrine and practice, a Europe which 
will solve in the Fascist way the problems of the modern State of 
the twentieth century." 

Then, in 1932, Mussolini and Ludwig engaged in the series of 
interviews already mentioned. Ludwig, mindful of the German press 
report that Mussolini had said, "Fascism is not an article for export," 
and then said it was not his phrase, since it was so banal, asked : 

"Can Fascism be exported to Germany?" 

"To no country," replied Mussolini. "It is an ItaHan growth. . . ." 

Thus ended many years of preaching the gospel of Fascism as an 
indigenous miracle. Up to the end of 1930 Mussolini had had only 
one important follower, Primo de Rivera of Spain, but in 1933 one 
of the really great nations of the world was apparently ready to 
accept the dictatorial, militaristic, big-business State which he had 
created. The pragmatic politician, therefore, felt he was at liberty not 
only to deny his signed statement on the impossibility of Fascism to 

270 Sawdust Caesar 

live transplanted in foreign soil, but to ridicule those who had pub- 
lished the manuscript he had sold them. 

"Fascism," he announced after Hitler came into power, "is a 
religion ; the twentieth century will be known in history as the century 
of Fascism"; and celebrating the anniversary of the founding of 
the party, he said to the Grand Council on March 18, 1934 : "Since 
1929 . . . Fascism has become universal. . . . One need only look 
about him to see that the principles of the past century are dead. 
We admit unreservedly that they had their period of fecundity and 
grandeur! But it is over. 

"Those who would check the course of history, those who would 
arrest its movement or stem its tide, have been overwhelmed. The 
pohtical forces of the last century — Democracy, Socialism, Liberal- 
ism, Freemasonry — are spent. . . . The trend is toward new forms 
of civilization, both in politics and in economics. The State is re- 
suming its right and its prestige as the sole and supreme interpreter 
of the needs of society." 

Pending the years of mere protestations of friendship and declara- 
tions of the indigenousness or universality of Fascism, Mussolini had 
more than platonic relations with Fascist minorities in many coun- 
tries of Europe. He went the Bolsheviki one better. Whereas the 
Third Internationale had been accused by almost every nation in 
the world of spending sums which would total many times more 
billions than the world possesses on propaganda work abroad, the 
Fascisti engaged in the more practical and paying business of smug- 
gling arms to Fascist parties in Europe. 

Thanks to the social consciousness of several Austrian railroad 
workingmen, Italy was caught black-handed in January, 1928, in a 
plot to send twenty-two freight-cars loaded with munitions to 
Rumania and five car-loads of machine-guns, marked for delivery in 
Poland but intended for sidetracking into Hungary. This became 
known as the St. Gothard affair. 

The League of Nations intervened and reported. The Italian diplo- 
mats attempted to have the report suppressed and it might have 
been but for the astuteness of American journalists. Not only was 
the 1928 case reported in full, but evidence was obtained from the 
archives of the League that Italy had been engaged in smuggling 

Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia 271 

arms to Fascist parties from 1922 on. In 1925 the main shipments 
were to Hungary, Bulgaria, and Adolf Hitler in Bavaria. The sender 
of the arms was revealed as the Commercio Universale di Ferramenta 
Ordigni, which Geneva reported a blind under which were hidden 
the factories under control of the Fascist government and whose 
stock was held by Fascist generals. 

It was found that in December, 1925, eleven freight-cars passed 
Bozen, Austrian-Italy, for Rosenheim, the military headquarters of 
the Hitler-Ludendorff movement. The addressee was Marx & Co., 
a commercial house in Rosenheim, the sender Frumenti, a well- 
known Fascist vice-duce in Bozen; the contents were small arms, 
machine-guns and ammunition. Upon seizure by Austrian border 
authorities, the Fascist Frumenti came to the customs-house, paid a 
fine of 27,000 lire for false customs declaration, and the next day 
sent Fascist militiamen to Rosenheim to investigate the report that 
Italian railroad workers had given away the secret. 

The League of Nations in the St. Gothard affair warned Hungary 
to preserve the evidence intact, but the Hungarians sold the 2,000 
machine-guns — a number enough to equip fifty regiments — for junk. 
Mussolini, although failing to deny Fascist complicity, issued an 
order to the press to attack the League for interfering with business 
and to accuse "certain nations" who were afraid of the arming of 
"defenseless Hungary," as "cowards." 

Smuggling continued. Occasionally there was a scandal. Then in 
January, 1933, came the Hirtenberg affair. Italy, Hungary, and Aus- 
trian Fascists were caught in a conspiracy to violate the Trianon and 
St. Germain treaties in the smuggling of 50,000 rifles and 200 
machine-guns to Fascist elements, notably Prince Stahremberg, who 
with M. Mandl operated the arms factories at Steyr and Hirtenberg. 
Prince Stahremberg, friend of Hitler, commanded the Austrian 
Fascists in 1933 with the blessings of Monsignor Seipel, the ex- 
chancellor who planned to make himself dictator. 

Again Socialist workmen exposed the plot, and the Allies, more 
concerned with Austria than with the shipments to Bulgarians, Hun- 
garians, and Hitlerites, sent an "ultimatum" to Dollfuss which, de- 
spite a request for secrecy, was published by the Fascist press bureau. 
Dollfuss, having to choose between a $40,000,000 loan from the 

272 Si^wdust Caesar 

Allies and the support of Stahremberg, was forced to return the 
shipment. The guns, accordingly, were started for Italy. At this 
moment Berthold Koenig, head of the Socialist Railway Workers 
Union of Austria, according to information given by him in the 
Austrian parliament, was offered 150,000 shillings for the association 
if the workmen would permit the shipment to take a wrong switch 
at a point indicated, so that the guns would be delivered at Sopron, 
in Hungary, where, the arms having been removed, the cases would 
be sealed officially and sent on to Italy. 

Upon exposure of the plot by Julius Deutsch, Socialist leader in 
parliament, Doll fuss was forced to dismiss Dr. Egon Seefahlner, 
director of the state railroads, but he did not prosecute the case 
farther. Koenig testified that Seefahlner, although the author of the 
bribe offer, had conspired with the Hungarian government for the 
delivery of the guns and with the Fascist government in furthering 
this scheme and arranging to accept the empty cases in silence. At 
this moment Sir John Simon acted. Britain brought such pressure 
upon Austria that Stahremberg could by no means retain the guns, 
and in July the British Foreign Minister announced the safe return 

to Italy. 

In France this scandal was followed by another involving the de- 
livery of Italian war planes to Hungary in contravention of the peace 
treaty : Eighteen Fiat pursuit and thirty two-seaters and twelve Ca- 
proni bombers, also twenty tons of gas and twelve tons of aerial 
bombs.^ In Prague Mr. Benes informed parhament that "only one or 
two out of a hundred contraband lots are caught" ; he demanded in 
the name of the Little Entente that the League take action to pre- 
vent Fascist smuggling operations in the future. 

At this point Mussolini broke his unusual silence. On his instruc- 
tions to the press there followed a series of articles showing that 
France, Czechoslovakia, and Britain were shipping about a hundred 
times as much arms as Italy. There was one point, however, the 
Fascist press was instructed to overlook : the Allied arms were being 
shipped to Allies, which was legal, whereas the Fascist arms were 
being shipped either to ex-enemy countries in violation of the peace 
treaties, or to extra-legal organizations, in defiance to law and ethics. 

'lournal Offidel, March 10, i933- 

Diplomacy: Corfu to Ethiopia 273 

In all Mussolini's intrigue in Germany, Austria, the Balkans, and 
Africa, his proposed union of dictatorships, his alternate defiance 
and attempted leadership of the League of Nations, the penetration 
of Albania and the various enterprises in Tangiers, Tunis, and 
Ethiopia, the visits to Cyrenaca and Tripolitania, and the final declara- 
tion of the universality of Fascism, there runs the thread of a dream : 
the old Roman dream. Charlemagne was the first of the long series of 
imitation Caesars who attempted to conquer and rule the old empire, 
and the refugee Wilhelm in Doom is not the last to have that dream. 
The son of the Forli blacksmith sitting under the bust of Julius 
cannot escape it. 

World empire through Pan-Fascismo seemed a possibility for a 
little while in 1930, but that dream was torn by shell-fire in the 
battle of Vienna when the impossibility of cooperating with Hitler 
was made evident. But before that event and even now there has 
persisted an idea for a Holy Roman Empire to be divided equally 
with the Pope, wliich would embrace the Catholic countries from 
Italy to the Danube and including the Rhineland, Hungary, Croatia, 
a part of Yugoslavia, and Bavaria. And a third idea of similar na- 
ture was presented to the world in Mussolini's 1932 "Cry of Alarm," 
published universally, in which he suggested himself as a leader of 
a coalition of all the European nations in a holy crusade against 
that Russia which in the face of universal depression was announcing 
the successful completion of the first Five-Year-Plan in four years. 

In one form or another, therefore, the Caesarian idea remains. 
Either as the commander-in-chief of the Revisionist nations against 
the Status Quo nations, or as the leader of Europe against the com- 
mon enemy, the Red Menace, or as the founder of a new African 
empire, or as the directing head of a Danube confederation or a Cath- 
ohc bloc, Mussolini's mind can find the right place for himself. 
When Briand proposed his United States of Europe the loudest 
advocates of nationalism were not opposed ; on the contrary, the 
Fascist viewpoint as shown by one of the semi-official publications 
was an approving one — ^under conditions. If Europe united as one 
super -nation, "it would be necessary," declared the Roman voice, "to 
present a new and formidable political idea, a code of life, which 
could assure the collaboration not only of languages, of nationalities, 

274 Sawdust Caesar 

but also of classes, and provoke a rapid development of equilibrium 
and economics, and envisage at the same time a wise valorization of 
all creative possibilities. It will therefore be a Fascist idea because 
only Fascist Italy has been able to realize that which might serve as 
a model. In organizing the United States of Europe it will be neces- 
sary to name a president, a chief, and a man must be chosen, the 
most genial, the most celebrated, the strongest and the most respected 
on the continent. Evidently it will be Benito Mussolini because he 
combines all these qualities." 

The future may bring Mussolini some realization of the hope of 
world empire ; the past can be summed up as follows : Corfu was a 
failure, but the penetration of Albania a good success ; the intrigue 
with the Bavarian Nazis was at first a success, and now, at least 
temporarily, a failure; the secret cooperation with the dictator of 
Spain was a complete failure ; the role of patron saint of discontent 
is no longer applicable, because Germany, chief of the Revisionist 
nations, has, without MussoHni's aid, destroyed rather than revised 
the Versailles Treaty, and yet vicariously that success, whether pleas- 
ant or not for the Allies and for the world, must go to Mussolini. 

He has made Italy an imperialist nation. Whereas that other 
Caesar of our time said that "Germany, like the spirit of Imperial 
Rome, must expand and impose itself," the Duce exposed his prin- 
cipal objective in a declaration to a German editor when he said : 
"We are obliged to fight on our soil, too small for our overpopula- 
tion, for the smallest grain of nutritive substance. Despite scientific 
effort, Italy cannot nourish its people. We must expand or explode!' 
I do not feel myself authorized to believe in the humanitarian ideal- 
ism of the pacifists." 

For the explosion itself Mussolini then named the year 1935. In 
1935 Italy was at war in Africa. The admitted overpopulation is 
a danger to the peace of the world, intensified by both the encourage- 
ment of the birth rate and the refusal of the colonial nations to cede 
rich land to Italy. And more important than all else is the necessity 
of imperialism to explode because its economic structure makes that, 
instead of peaceful methods, the one way out of its own dilemmas. 

'To Theodore Wolff, editor of the Berliner Tageblatf, January 30, 1930. The Asso- 
ciated Press, whose Rome correspondent was then an Italian, cabled a similar interview 
with the italicized phrase as "Wc must expand or suffocate." 


The Corporate State: People under Fascism 

L Grain, the Battle of the Babies, and many other triumphs have 
been announced by Mussolini as the outstanding event of his reign, 
the Duce is also the author of the statement that his greatest gift to 
civilization and the harassed modern world, the accomplishment for 
which he will be remembered forever, is the Corporate State. 

"There is one battle which I intend to win — the battle for the 
economic restoration of Italy," he declared in July, 1926; "I am 
now giving my earnest attention to the restoration of the balance 
of trade and the stabilization of the lira." That same day the follow- 
ing decrees were also issued : 

Abolition of the eight-hour day. 

Abolition of the right to strike. 

Limitation of newspapers to six pages; crime news must 
be diminished. 

Luxury hotels, cabarets, and the building of luxurious 
homes prohibited. Abolition of luxury imports. 

Potato-raising must replace spaghetti-making. 

A ten-o'clock curfew for tea, coffee, and alcohol. 

This was part of a program of "prosperity by edict" ; in the press 
of the United States and the free nations of Europe labor-leaders 
declared that "Labor's greatest gains in a century of struggle have 
been wiped out." Almost immediately afterwards Mussolini an- 
nounced the completed Corporate State. 

"For the first time in the history of the world a constructive revolu- 
tion like ours realizes peacefully, in the field of production and 


276 Sawdust Caesar 

work, incorporation of all the economic and intellectual forces of 
the nation to direct them today in a common purpose. . . ." 

Simultaneously with the establishment of the Corporate State came 
a series of loans in America and intensification of the propaganda, 
begun the year before, when the $100,000,000 Morgan loan was 
floated, that Fascism was the antithesis of Bolshevism, that Mus- 
solini had saved not only Italy, but perhaps all of Europe, from the 
Red Menace, that the Corporate State was the answer to the uni- 
versal Utopian urge which elsewhere, notably in Russia, was making 
itself known in a manner quite unacceptable to the organized profit- 
making system. 

This new phenomenon, therefore, must be judged from three im- 
portant points: whether it is actually the "salvation" from Com- 
munism; whether it actually functions; whether the people under 
the Corporate State have gone forward or backward. 

To begin with, it must be said that despite the best American public- 
relations counsel employed by the international bankers, despite the 
newspapers and magazines which voluntarily surrendered to the 
Fascist propaganda machine, it is a historic fact that the whole 
Mussolini-Bolshevik story was a pure myth which dates from the 
time of the foreign loans, and the most important historian who 
first admitted that the Bolshevism of 1920 (the worst year, the 
time of the occupation of factories) had disappeared long before 
the victory of Fascism, wrote in 1921 ; 

"The Italy of 1921 is fundamentally different from that of 1919. 
It has been said and demonstrated several times. Fascism must not 
have the air of monopolizing for itself the right of such a profound 
national change. It is enough to count Fascism among the forces, 
the most powerful and the most disciplined, which have operated 
in that direction. After having thus limited our merit, there is no 
man or party which can attack us. 

"To say that the Bolshevik danger still exists in Italy is equivalent 
to trying to exchange, for reasons of self-interest, fear against the 
truth. Bolshevism is conquered. 

"More than that, it has been disowned by the leaders and by the 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 277 

This editorial is signed by Benito Mussolini.^ 

This same statesman who in 1925 and 1926 informed American 
journalists that Fascism rose to destroy Bolshevism is the same 
Mussolini who advocated not only confiscation of wealth, but the 
lynching of the patriotic body of war profiteers, the confiscation of 
land and industries, and in short played the part of the devil's or 
Lenin's advocate in Italy. But in December, 1920, three months after 
the factory seizures, he had also written in his Popolo : 

"It is honest to admit that for the past three months, or precisely 
after the referendum on the occupation of the factories, and after 
the return of the mission to Russia [Serratti and others had brought 
back unfavorable reports on Bolshevism] the psychology of the 
working-masses has profoundly moderated. The famous wave of 
disgust and weakness seems conquered. ... It is indisputable that 
the Italian working-class continues to offer the spectacle of laborious 
activity and discipline ; one cannot refuse them participation more or 
less vast in the government of the nation." 

If Mussolini's statement that Bolshevism had ceased to menace 
Italy after 1920 needs corroboration, he has had it from modern 
historians like H. G. Wells and Professor Salvemini. If hberal and 
anti-Fascist historians are not enough, we have the testimony of 
Professor Aulard of the Sorbonne, who states that long before 
the march on Rome "Bolshevism had been conquered, annihilated 
in Italy by the efforts of the sane democratic elements." Sanford 
Griffith reported in the conservative Wall Street Journal that "it is 
a distortion of fact to picture Itahan business conditions as in a state 
of chaos, and the country on the brink of Red terror, when Mussolini 
and his Fascist! came into power." And Fascism's defender, Prez- 
zolini, wrote that "Fascismo can hardly be called the destroyer of 
Italian Bolshevism, because when Mussolini's movement assumed 
the violent forms which gave it such a spectacular history, Bolshevism 
was already on the decline as a result of discouraging reports brought 
back by the emissaries from Russia. ... In more than one sense 
it [Fascismo] is the heir to Italian Bolshevism." 

But popular opinion — and the bankers — needed a Saint George 
and therefore refused to accept Saint George's own admission there 

^Vide Popolo d'Ualia, July 2, 1921. 

278 Sawdust Caesiff" 

was no Bolshevik dragon for him to kill in 1922. Popular opinion, 
therefore, finds consolation in those American economists, literateurs, 
and philosophers of the daily press and weeklies which boast readers 
by the millions. One of these writers^ states that "Ruin impended. 
Mussolini took the short and unconstitutional cut which is the dic- 
tatorial way. He smashed precedents, turned red terror into white 
fear, and brought order and — ^what was even more important — 
economic revival out of the dust and din of class war and political 
bicker. In the last analysis, Fascism is not only a political force of 
historic moment, but It has been the impetus of an impressive com- 
mercial renaissance as well." This same political economist precedes 
this statement with an unqualified declaration that "the traditional 
parliamentary systems of Europe are failures," and a suggestion that 
France should join the dictatorships. It is true that the same writer 
in 1930 ate all his praise of dictatorships, but he remained the agent 
of the Italian Bolshevik myth. He wrote: 

"Sovietization, with its attendant social and fiscal dislocation im- 
pended. The workers had seized the factories in all the important 
productive centers. Chaos loomed. In the darkest hour a strong man 
rose up and saved the day. The stern will of Mussolini, reinforced 
by the cohort of Black Shirts, imposed a regime that made for his- 
toric rehabihtation. Dictatorship achieved its best." 

Another writer, a more flowery oiie,^ believes that "everybody who 
has looked into the Fascist movement in Italy is agreed that it was 
a greatly needed movement and that it saved the nation from de- 
scending into a chaotic whirlpool of Communism and financial dis- 
aster that would have made Niagara's whirlpool look like a placid 
puddle of rain water in comparison." This is incidentally the same 
historian who glorifies Cesare Rossi as "the hero," who defends the 
castor-oil treatment, and who tells Americans that "in spite of his 
[Mussolini's] many changes, there has never been a word uttered 
against his absolute sincerity and honesty," and that "Mussolini's 
dictatorship is a good dictatorship." 

This version of the Bolshevik myth accepted by such eminent gen- 
tlemen as Isaac Marcosson, Sir Percival PhiUips, Kenneth L. Rob- 

'Mr. Isaac Marcosson. 
'Mr. Kcnaeth L. Robcits. 

The Corporate State: Feople under Fascism ■2'j^ 

erts, Lord Rothermere, Luigi Villari, Lord Beaverbrook, Otto H. 
Kahn, Thomas Lament, and Judge Gary of the United States Steel 
Corporation, eventually was noticed by the superman himself. The 
clever journalist realized that the world of big business was honoring 
him for something which he had denied, and he was opportunist 
enough to seize the tribute. From the time of the American loans 
onward he has been declaring himself the original Bolshevik-fighter 
of Europe. 

"Adversaries of Fascism," he said in an oration in 1927, "have 
for a long time past been attempting to deny the revolutionary char- 
acter of the events which took place towards the end of October, 
1922, bringing the following argument in support of their allega- 
tions. First, that there was no real resistance, and therefore no con- 
flicts, leading to bloodshed ; secondly, that all the anti-Fascist parties 
withdrew, leaving the road open, because — these commentators of 
evil faith add — the Bolshevist danger had already disappeared since 
1920, when the occupation of the factories ended in a bubble of 
soap. ... In the face of these untrue assertions aimed at diminish- 
ing the generous and bloody effort of the Black Shirts we must 
never tire in our work of affirming and riveting the facts which 
led to the Fascist revolution." The Duce concluded by naming his 
facts: Bolshevik danger existed; the march on Rome was a bloody 
battle; etc. Forgotten were the signed editorials of another day, 
forgotten the statement to the King, forgotten everything which the 
opportunist mind wills to forget. 

And so we find Mussolini in 1931 publishing his "Cry of Alarm" 
in which the world is warned that unless economic remedies are 
found for the economic collapse "Bolshevism will break through 
the Vistula"; again he made his bid as the leader of the united 
nations against Russia, and again he recommended in interviews 
that Europe adopt his Totalitarian idea in order to prevent the 
Communist idea from spreading. 

What, then, is this new Corporate State, this substitute for Bol- 
shevism which Mussolini has invented and recommends? It is, to be- 
gin with, philosophically based on Hegel ; from this thinker who also 
influenced Karl Marx is drawn the first article of the Labor Charter 
which defines the new Italian nation as "an organism having aims, 

28o Sawdust Caesar 

life, and means of action superior to those of the single or grouped 
individuals who compose it." 

But after Hegel there came d'Annunzio, who in his Carta delta 
Regensa Italians del Carnaro, in his nineteenth article, created ten 
corporations which were to include all the people of Fiume and its 
dependencies, as follows: salaried workers of industry, agriculture, 
commerce, and transportation, etc.; members of technical and admin- 
istrative bodies of industrial or rural firms ; commercial workers who 
are not laborers; employers; public employees; intellectual flower 
of the people, studious youth, teachers, sculptors, painters, architects, 
musicians, etc.; free professions; cooperative societies of produc- 
tion, labor, and consumption; seamen. . . . 

D'Annunzio put into noble strophes the ideas of his Prime Minister, 
De Ambris ; Mussolini recooked d'Annunzio's poetry and combined 
it with the "philosophy" of nationalist-syndicalism of Alfredo Rocco; 
he was aided in this by Edmondo Rossoni, a former member of the 
American Industrial Workers of the World, whose habitat had been 
Brooklyn, New York, and who proposed the syndicalization of 
workers in vertical unions embracing all parts of an industry. All 
these gentlemen helped themselves from the writings of Georges 
Sorel, the French syndicalist. 

The most important document of the new State is the Labor 
Charter, whose first eight articles were written by Mussolini. These 
provide that : 

Labor, intellectual, teclmical, manual, is a social duty. 

S3mdicates are organized and controlled by the State. 

Collective labor contracts are estabHshed. 

Labor courts are established; the State intervenes and 
settles controversies. 

Each corporation constitutes the organization of one field 
of production, nationally. 

Private initiative is encouraged. 

Wages are paid "as best suited to the needs of employees 
and the undertaking." 

The Labor Charter is a statement of aims, not a series of laws. 
It does emphasize the Totalitarian State idea, that the State is every- 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 281 

thing-, the individual nothing. Although the workingman is called 
a "partner" in industry, he has no voice in it. Although lockouts 
are barred equally with strikes, and although the corporations which 
consist of employers and employees are entitled to elect the political 
directors of the Corporate State, it has surprised no one to find 
that in the hundreds of thousands of cases of labor unrest there are 
few instances in which the arbitration boards have to deal with 
lockouts, and politically the corporations are in the control of either 
the employers or of the Fascist Party. 

The best summary of the corporate idea was made by Giuseppe 
Bottai, who represented it in the Fascist cabinet : 

"The Corporate State idea, which Fascism has conceived and 
enforced, is an absolutely modern idea. The corporations of the 
Middle Ages were closed institutions; Italian corporativism, on the 
contrary, is founded essentially on the idea of syndicates, organiza- 
tions to which access is on the principle freely open to all those who 
ply the same trade. Italian corporativism preserves the syndical 
structure likewise in the workers' syndicates as well as the employers' 
confederations, the two parallel organizations being united in a higher 
state which is the corporation. 

"The directing idea is to integrate the syndical forces within the 
State, to utilize them. We do not deny the existence of the war of 
the classes ; we do not suppress it ; we simply enforce regulations 
by means of collective contracts of which 9,000 have been made, of 
which 300 to 400 apply to all of Italy, the other being of provincial 

"The corporations penetrate all branches of public life. They are 
represented in the Chamber of Deputies by the Deputies, employers 
and employees, and equally in the Grand Council of the party. Fur- 
thermore, there exists a central committee of corporations. 

"The influence of the corporations has produced in Italian industry 
a concentration whose happy results have been felt in its rationaliza- 

When the Labor Charter was published, Rocco called it the Bill 
of Rights of Labor, but Rossoni, admitting it did guarantee minimum 
rights for the employee, said the employers would take advantage of 

'■Prager Presse, January, 1933. 

282 Sawdust Caesar 

its vague terms. Rossoni was asked to resign. Labriola and Buozzi, 
the exiled labor-leaders, said simply it was a charter of slavery. 
But in February, 1929, Mussolini asked Buozzi, who had been head 
of the Italian Federation of Labor, to return from France to head 
the labor syndicates. In his refusal Buozzi said that the Dace's pro- 
posal showed that seven years of Fascism had not reconciled labor 
to the movement; that the workmen still trusted the old leaders; 
that he had once before refused to sell them out or to compromise 
his ideals and would not now. 

The first practical step in the formation of the Corporate State 
was the prohibition of strikes under penalty of fines and imprison- 
ment. In confirmation of Buozzi's views came the confession, at the 
Congress of Fascist Syndicates, June 30, 1929, that labor was not 
getting a new deal. Arnaldo Fioretti and the Hon. Begnotti, Fascist 
syndicate leaders, according to the official publication Lavoro Fascista, 
told the congress that workingmen were not fairly treated by em- 
ployers, that the new labor contracts were not respected by the 
captains of industry, that the workingmen had lost faith in the 
Fascist syndicates, and that the Corporate State cannot be said to 
exist until the hostility and reprisals of employers against workmen 
had been removed and unjust dismissals stopped. No newspaper in 
Italy printed these official statements. 

In May, 1930, Mussolini announced that the National Council of 
Corporations had been inaugurated, "to crown the Corporative State." 
He called it an economic revolution: not only was peace between 
capital and labor enforced, but prices would be regulated, and the 
quantity of production as well. The syndicates were announced as 
complete: six employers' federations in industry, agriculture, com- 
merce, land transport, sea and air transport, and banking; and six 
corresponding employees' confederations. In addition there was a 
federation of all intellectual workers. 

"We have thus created a united Itahan State," said Mussolini. 
"Since the fall of the Roman Empire, Italy has never been a unified 
State. It is the State alone that makes the nation self-conscious." 

In the national council there were fifty-two of Mussolini's picked 
men and thirteen representatives of the corporations. 

In 1932 Fascist official figures showed that 4,181,848 Italians out 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 283 

of some seven or eight million workingmen had become members of 
the syndicates. What is remarkable about this figure is that it is 
comparatively small because employment in Italy, as in Russia, is 
extremely difficult, if not impossible, for those who do not join the 
State organization. But more remarkable is the figure of 995,828 
employers who have joined, out of a possible 3,707,893 who come 
under that classification. 

In 1933, despite the fact that the Rome correspondent of the New 
Y,ork Times and the majority of correspondents of the other im- 
portant newspapers resident in Rome had been announcing from 
two to seven times, in the course of seven years, that the Corporate 
State was functioning, Mr. John Strachey made the statement that 
"No corporations exist except on paper." He was immediately at- 
tacked by unbelieving critics and reviewers. Mr. Strachey's declara- 
tions seemed stupid in the face of unanimous reports in the daily 

Shortly afterwards there appeared the first complete volume deal- 
ing with the problem. It was written by a Fascist with the coopera- 
tion of the officials of the Ministry of Corporations. On page no 
of this study'^ in a chapter entitled "The Corporations in their actual 
working" [ski the author states; "Only a single corporation, viz., 
that of the stage, has so far been established in Italy." 

However, the only important thing for us to consider is whether, 
functioning or not as a Corporative State, the Fascist system of 
planned economy, the substitute for the planned economy of Bol- 
shevism, has or has not achieved anything up to date. It is Mussolini 
who said that the State's ultimate goal is "the well-being of the 
Italian people"; it must be "judged and measured directly by the 
masses as instruments through which these masses may improve 
their standard of living. Some day the worker, the tiller of the soil, 
will say to himself and to others : 'If today I am better off prac- 
tically, I owe it to the institutions which the Fascist revolution has 
created.' " 

In just this manner let the following facts pass judgment. 

In 1926, when the few untrammeled journalists reported that there 
was already a crisis in Fascist economics and that the publicly an- 

* The Italian Corporate State, by Fausto Pidgliani, X^ndon, P. S. King & Sod. 

284 Sawdust Caesar 

nounced balanced budgets were mere jugglery, official figures showed 
that wages were below 1921 and that the cost of living had gone up 
30 per cent. In 1927, with the stabilization of the lira, Mussolini 
found a much more serious economic crisis. He therefore announced 
a reduction in rentals, reduction in the price of manufactured goods, 
and a wage cut throughout the nation of between 5 and 20 per cent. 
He promised that the cuts ordered in the high cost of living would 
more than recompense the reductions in salary. At that time the 
general price index was 670 ; wages stood at 585 ; in real wages the 
workman was 13 per cent worse off than before the war. 

That Fascism had proved a failure so far as the working popula- 
tion of Italy is concerned long before the world crisis of 1929-35 
is openly admitted in the 1932 report of the Secretary of State for 
Corporations, who wrote : 

"Between June, 1927, and December, 1928, tlie wages of indus- 
trial workers have gone down by about 20 per cent, and a fur- 
ther reduction of 10 per cent was made in 1929; during 1930 there 
has been a general reduction, varying for the different categories 
of workers from 18 to 25 per cent. Many other adjustments {sic'\ 
have been realized in 1931.*' 

But that is not all. The decree effective December i, 1930, cut the 
salaries of those earning more than $3,000 a year by 35 per cent and 
those below $2,000 by 12 per cent, and wages of 300 lire ($15.70) 
to 1,000 lire ($52.35) a month 8 per cent, and those above 1,000 lire 
10 per cent. This cut affected 1,000,000 laborers in the industrial 
centers of the north — Milan, Turin, and Genoa. The government an- 
nounced it "hoped" to reduce prices of commodities accordingly. 

Then, on the ist of April, 1931, Mussolini in another of his great 
public orations informed Italy that it need fear no more wage re- 
ductions. Frankly he admitted that "We have reached a limit in 
wage cutting; there is danger that the antidote may become a poison. 
. . . Italy was the first to apply what has now been adopted by 
almost the whole of Europe. . . . On the whole, certain symptoms 
of recovery may be seen, but . . . we are still waiting for the factors 
of recovery — in the first place moral factors — to enter into play 
simultaneously and collectively." 

The Corporate Sme: People under Fascism 285 

By 1932, however, an official of the Fascist syndicates^ figured 
that the wages of glass-workers had declined between 30 and 40 
per cent; signalmen's earnings down 40 per cent; silk-workers, 38 
per cent; bricklayers, 30 per cent; miners, 30 per cent; while the 
cost of living had declined 20 per cent. 

In 1933, moreover, despite the Duce's poison-warning, every Italian 
salary and wage was ordered reduced an average of 10 per cent and 
Mussolini announced a similar reduction in rents, food, manufactured 
goods, etc. 

And again, on April 14, 1934, "the urgent necessity of lightening 
the national budget, which shows an annual deficit of between 3,000,- 
000,000 and 4,000,000,000 hre" — the admission is made by Mr. 
Cortesi of the Times himself — "caused the cabinet council ... to 
apply a general reduction in the salaries of State employees, effec- 
tive April i6th." Twenty per cent was removed from the income 
of high-salaried officials such as cabinet members; 6 per cent, the 
minimum, was the tax on those making more than 500 lire a month ; 
others were exempt. When it is considered that one man in five works 
for the government, the size of this, the sixth reduction since 1927, 
will appear evident. The Fascist apologist, Cortesi, claims that the 
1934 cut brings wages down to the pre-Fascist era and says "the 
general lowering of the cost of living which will ultimately result in 
the lowering of production costs in industry and agriculture, is 
deemed necessary by economists. . . ." The facts, however, are that 
real wages are far below the pre-Fascist era; that living costs have 
never paralleled the decline in wages ; that the buying power of the 
Italian people has decreased rather than increased, and that while the 
philo-Fascist journalists continue to find explanations and publish 
excuses in the New York Times, the official figures of the League 
of Nations and the statements of Mussolini himself and other lesser 
enthusiasts for Fascism than the Times correspondent, have admitted 
the economic degeneration of the Italian people. 

To complete the chronicle, it was announced by Mussolini on 
December 11, 1934, tlmt a nation-wide and simultaneous reduction 
in salaries and the cost of living was being worked out which directly 
affected every person in the kingdom, directly and indirectly, the cut 

* living Age, May, 1934. 

286 Sawdust Caesar 

being- similar to that of October, 1930, and similarly carrying with 
it a reduction in cost o£ rent, light, heat, food, and transport of 
between 10 and 12 per cent. 

But instead of mentioning the obvious collapse of the Fascist econ- 
omy, the American press heralded each of these seven events with 
an appropriate excuse furnished by the Fascist propaganda depart- 
ment. The headlines, for example, said that the 1927 cut was due 
to the success of the stabilization on a gold basis; in 1933 Mr. 
Cortesi of the Times supplied a story which was headed "Italy cuts 
wages to aid recovery"; the first 1934 reduction was linked with one 
in Russia and the joint headUne read "Russia and Italy slash pay- 
rolls in Economy Wave" ; the second 1934 cut was reported by the 
Times as "Italy to slash wages and cost of living to meet competi- 
tion of non-gold nations," 

Before presenting the documentary proofs of failure of Fascist 
economics, it may be interesting, perhaps, to give another sample of 
pro-Fascist journalism, typical of some magazines as contrasted with 
the newspapers. Whereas the daily press is supposed to deal with 
facts, the monthly journals devote themselves largely to opinion and 
interpretation. Here, then, are some extracts from the work of 
Howard R. Marraro''' of the Italian department of Columbia Uni- 
versity : 

"In a world whose troubles are at bottom mainly economic, nations 
are rightly judged according to their success or failure in terms of 
genuine human welfare. What then has Fascism done to bring about 
a happier state of affairs in Italy? . . . 

"The Italian today is much better fed than he was. . . . 

". . . the standards of living of the Italian people have improved 
from 1913 to the present. This improvement is particularly marked 
during the twelve years of the Fascist regime, and it has not been 
interrupted by the world economic crisis. . . . 

"Thanks to the labor legislation of the Fascist regime, there has 
been no important strike or lockout in Italy since 1926. ... Of the 
153 strikes which have come before the courts, a considerable number 
were due to the uncertainties prevailing in the early days as to the 
interpretation of the act. . . . 

' Current History, May, 1935. 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 287 

". . . the economic and social achievements of Fascism are truly 
impressive ... a more prosperous and happy nation." 

So much for opinion and interpretation. The facts are that under 
Fascism, from 1923 to 1932, the cost of living was reduced 5 per 
cent and wages reduced 40 to 50 per cent; if this is not a fact, then 
the League of Nations has been badly fooled. These statements are 
from the Bulletin mensuel de statistique, Geneva, February, 1933, 
page 74. Fascist official figures show a reduction in the cost of living 
of only 10 per cent as compared with 1914.^ In other words, six 
wage cuts averaging 40 to 50 per cent and a cut in living costs of 
5 or 10 per cent. The Fascist Carriere delta Sera (July 27, 1932) 
admitted that in four years the wage cuts totaled 50 per cent. The 
official Lavoro Fascista (November 29, 1931) admitted that in some 
provinces wages had been reduced from 45 to 60 per cent in 1931. 

The International Labor Office of the League of Nations made 
the following report on real wages, in July, 1930: 

United States 190 Poland 61 

Canada 155 Austria 48 

Great Britain 100 Jugoslavia 45 

Holland 82 Spain 40 

Germany 73 Italy 39 

The International Labour Review, March, 1932, gives the daily 
farm labor wage in 1923 as 12.88 lire; 1926, 14.24 lire; 1931, 10.49 
lire. Real wages for agricultural workers stood at 107 in 1923, 89 
in 1926, and 87 in 1931. 

An examination of Fascist official figures shows that the average 
wage in 1928 was two lire an hour ; that it fell to one and three- 
fourths lire in 1932, and one and a half, or eight cents an hour, 
in 1933. In other words, labor is worse paid in Italy than in any 
country in Europe. 

Before Fascism arrived it is true that Italy was not among the 
first of the thirty or more nations which reported to the League, 
but neither was it the very last. It reached that position in a steady 
retrogression from 1926 on. Moreover, the Labor Office in its sta- 
tistics on social welfare of workmen throughout the world also lists 

'BoUetino dci prezzi, January 12, 1933, p. 44, 

288 Sawdust Caesar 

Italy last among the important nations of Europe because it spends 
less per man and because it has not yet (1932) organized a decent 
system of assurance against unemployment. 

If the foregoing facts require an objective interpretation, here is 
one made by Constantine E. McGuire with the cooperation of the 
Institute of Economics :* 

Rents are nearly four times higher than before the war.^** 

The low wages earned by employees and often by professional men 
frequently render it impossible for them to bring up their offspring 
according to the pre-war standard. 

The deduction may fairly be made that the standard of living of 
students living in university dormitories has distinctly fallen. 

The universities and higher institutions of learning are relatively 

One may gather . , . that those who are students today are likely 
to have in the life of tomorrow an efficiency below that of those who 
were students before the war. 

It is evident that a condition of this sort can hardly continue with- 
out progressive decay of the Italian national organism. At this very 
moment that organism is in a pathological condition. ... By a 
pathological condition we mean precisely one which cannot continue 
without bringing about the breakdown of the organism itself.^^ 

When the problem of the high cost of living continues on and 
on and for a greater or less fraction of the population without any 
other fraction thereof being able to realize exceptional profits — which 
is precisely the state of affairs existing in Italy for some time — the 
conviction that living is costly really signifies that at least for some 
categories of the population the national income is insufficient to main- 
tain the standard of living which they have accustomed themselves 
to observe.-^^ 

So low is the standard of living of the Italian workman that it 
could not be lower without impairing his productive powers. The 
wage level ... in Italy ... is the same as in Austria, over whose 

• Italy's International Economic Position (1927). 

'"W., p. 545. 

"^Id., p. 547. 
"W., p. 548. 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 289 

population the world is in the habit of weeping; and Italy's wage 
level is actually lower than that of Spain or that of Poland.-'^' 

The facts are that the standard of living of Italy has fallen dan- 
gerously under Fascism ; the question is whether or not it has fallen 
below the subsistence level. 

In 1932 Professor Bottazzi, physiologist and member of the Fascist 
National Academy, published an academic study of this subject. It 
showed conclusively that the masses were not eating enough to satisfy 
hunger. In 1929 Mussolini had admitted that "there are communes 
in Sardinia and in South Italy where for months at a time the in- 
habitants have to live on wild plants,"^^ and the Deputy Zingali had 
reported to parliament that "I have been collaborating in the prepara- 
tion of the material concerning the American debt. It was my duty 
to ascertain the standard of life in Italy, and I arrived at this dis- 
turbing conclusion: that the food ration per head and per day 
amounted to only 3,100 calories — i.e., to 200 calories less than the 
physiologists consider necessary for adults. Our ration is probably 
lower than that of any other European country."^^ 

And finally, for the benefit of the Cortesis and Marraros, here 
is the original language of the Discorso of the Duce in the Fascist 
Chamber of Deputies December 12, 1930: 

"Fortunamente il popolo italiano non e ancora ambituato a mangiare 
molte volte al giorno e, avendo iin livello di vita modesto sente di meno 
la deficiensa e la sofferensa." "Fortunately," said Mussolini, "the 
Italian people is not yet accustomed to eating several times per day 
and, having a modest standard of Hving, feels want and suffering 

The "modest standard of living" is the lowest standard in Europe, 
one of the lowest standards in the civilized world ; it was reached 
during the Fascist regime and it is one of the chief results of the 
Fascist economic program. In the United States, in 1935, there was 
a serious discussion among the physicians attending their annual 
national convention, whether or not the amounts paid the unem- 

"W.. p. 535. 

"Discourse, Chamber of Deputies, June 22, 1929. 
'"^Parliamentary Reports, Chamber of Deputies, December 5, 1929. 

290 Sawdust Caesar 

ployed and their food ration were sufficient to keep these millions 
above the subsistence level. Yet under Fascism not the unemployed 
on the dole, but the entire working nation, has been reduced to just 
about or below that level. 

And at the same time the burden of taxation has increased. In 
proportion to income, the Italian people pay more taxes than those 
of any other important country. In 1914 the taxation as percentage 
of national income was 13; in 1925 it had already reached 20 per 
cent, and in other Fascist years it has been higher. Concludes Mr. 
McGuire: "Even with much more substantial allowances per capita 
for the minimum of subsistence, it is probable that no other impor- 
tant country would show so great a percentage of income absorbed 
in taxation. Thus, Italy's appearance of vigor and prosperity [in 
1926] cannot cover the fact that from an economic point of view 
her people are poorer, taken on an average, than they were before 
the war."^^ 

Compared with war time, rents increased from two to three times, 
according to testimony given to officials by the Home Owners' Asso- 
ciation^'^ while the purchasing power of money had fallen to one- 
fifth or one-sixth; taxes, on the other hand, had increased four- 
fold and various expenses and dues increased an average of sixfold. 
From these figures the home-owners concluded that the effective 
income has been reduced to one-half. 

In 1932 a study of official figures revealed that taxation had al- 
most doubled under Fascism. The amount was 20,000,000,000 lire 
a year, or 30 per cent of the national income, as compared with 
12,000,000,000 lire or approximately 15 per cent in pre-dictatorial 

Bread is taxed ij^ cents a pound, sugar 13 cents, salt 3 cents, 
and other necessities of life in proportion. Returning to his ancestral 
land, Anthony M. Turano was surprised to have a friend say to 
him, "You are fortunate you can smoke without counting the puffs. 
Smoking has become the privilege of the upper classes." Mr. Turano 
investigated. He found^^ that an assistant stone mason earned one 

"McGuirc, Italy's Internationd Economic Position, p. 103. 

"^^■, P-535. 

^American Mercury, September, 1934. 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 291 

and a quarter lire an hour and the cheapest cigarettes were four lire 
for twenty; in other words, a man must work three hours to half a 
day for his cigarette money. Unemployed who for a time are allowed 
3.70 lire a day cannot, therefore, buy a packet of cigarettes with their 

To Mussolini's declaration, "I am the first to declare that the 
pressure of taxation has attained the limit" — quoted by Mr. Marraro 
— Mr. Turano adds that despite this warning "not to tax the tax- 
payers to death," it continues. Bachelor taxes have been increased, 
but when the desperate bachelor marries he is told he must pay 25 
lire a year as family tax; he is taxed for keeping a hog and he is 
taxed if he slaughters the hog ; and so it goes. 

The latest available figures on the subject show that the working- 
men of Italy have to contribute 160,448,000 hre for the maintenance 
of the embryo corporations. The individual worker pays not only his 
regular dues, but contributes to the unemployment fund, sick benefit 
fund, summer resorts fund, winter insurance, federal secretariat, 
Fascist home fund, and to extraordinary levies, a total of somewhat 
over 216 lire. The American trades-unionist pays about $30 a year; 
the Italian pays less in dollars, but more in real wages, since the 
American gives up about one week's pay, whereas the Italian is legally 
forced to surrender almost one month's pay to the corporations. 

It is true that there has not been one first-class strike since 1926. 
In every instance where workmen threatened or began a strike the 
Fascist militia has suppressed it with violence and bloodshed. And 
this is, of course, one of the great achievements of Fascism — from 
the point of view of the chambers of commerce and industrialist asso- 
ciations. The Labor Charter prohibits strikes. The militia see that 
the charter is enforced. That is about all there is to the struggle 
between capital and labor in Italy. 

And yet in the reports of Fascist officials there is the proud claim 
that of the 142,000 labor disputes in 1932, 37,000 were settled in 
the courts, the balance by the syndicates. The claim to settlement 
is also an admission that disputes exist. But the Italian press has 
been ordered, and the foreign correspondents warned, not to empha- 
size or mention social unrest, labor troubles, tax revolts. Although 
the Manchester Guardian and London Times have frequently re- 

292 Sawdust Caesar 

ported such episodes, there has been almost no mention of them 
in the American press. 

In May, 1927, an armed rebellion against the Fascist! was led by- 
Don Galbiati, the parish priest of Inveruno, and there were other 
uprisings and riots throughout Italy in protest to the wage cut and 
the increased cost of living. At that time the anti-Fascist press, 
secretly printed, still had a circulation of 500,000 copies daily. Early 
in 193 1 the weavers of Parabiago and Legnago walked out. Wages 
had been reduced to 62 cents a day. In the American press this was 
reported as the first strike since the announcement of the Corporate 
State ; it was, in fact, the first of thousands of strikes which was re- 
ported in the foreign press. The Fascist militia soon reduced both 
the Galbiati uprising and the weavers' strike to silence. 

On the 8th of September, 1931, there was a revolt of the peasants 
of Montenero di Basaccia. The podesta, or vice-duce, of the prov- 
ince had imposed taxes the people could not pay. With cries of, 
*'Death to the podesta," and, "Death to the famine-makers," the 
populace stormed and sacked the mayor's office, tearing up the 
pictures of Mussohni and destroying the archives. The officials fled. 
The Fascist militia deserted. 

In the afternoon a commissioner of police arrived from Campobasso 
with regular police (carabineers). He informed the populace the 
Fascist officials had been sacked and a better regime would begin, 
but that night he began arresting the supposed ringleaders. The 
peasants sounded the alarm. In a battle with the police the latter fired 
200 shots, killing three men, Antonio Lonzi, Antonio Suriani (aged 
over seventy) and Pasquale d'Aulero, and wounding thirteen others. 

That same month there was a bloody demonstration of working- 
men of Carrara in which the Fascisti killed two and wounded many. 
On the 27th at Roccacasale in the Abruzzi the angry populace stormed 
the mayor's palace. At Villa Santa the podesta and the municipal sec- 
retary were shot by peasants. At Vereno di Piave, near Treviso, 
during the Vatican-Fascist conflict over the school regime, the popu- 
lation shouted, "Our hour has come," barricaded the provincial route, 
and attempted to surround the Fascist barracks. 

On January 8, 1933, the Chicago Tribune reported that the militia 
and carabinieri were sent to the villages to Monte San Giacomo and 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 293 

Sassano to quell disturbances which followed attempts by the authori- 
ties to collect taxes. On April 19, 1934, the Associated Press carried 
a fifty-word report of "a violent outbreak in protest against provin- 
cial taxes in which one person was killed and fifteen wounded," at 
Pratola in central Italy. "Mountaineers chased the collector to the 
railroad station, cut the telephone and tele^aph lines, and damaged 
public buildings before they were quelled by Fascist militia." 

The plebiscite of 1934, according to Robert Briffault,-^^ was an 
indispensable preliminary "to putting into force the drastic reductions 
of wages and other measures imposing misery and starvation, 
rendered necessary by the economic bankruptcy of the Fascist State, 
was attended by a terrorism not excelled at the time of the 'March 
on Rome,' The balloting was open, and the most violent intimidation 
was exercised by the State forces. Nevertheless, in Turin the nega- 
tive votes have been estimated at between 12,000 and 15,000, and 
those who abstained from voting numbered 40,000. Similar reports 
were forthcoming from Milan. In Venice the 'plebescite' led to vio- 
lent riots, which the militia were unable to control before several of 
the 'Dopolavoro' houses had been wrecked. 

"Open opposition to Fascism, despite all measures of terrorism, 
is assuming ever larger proportions in recent months. Practically the 
whole of Sicily and Calabria is now manifesting openly its anti- 
Fascist spirit. At Bistari, Mussolini was burnt in effigy. At Catanzaro, 
a procession was stopped by masses of rioters shouting anti-Fascist 
slogans. At Udine, in February, large demonstrations, including 
women and children, paraded, crying 'Down with Fascism.' Anti- 
Fascist riots have taken place in Licorno. Everything indicates that 
the opposition to Fascism, which is in reality almost universal among 
the working-classes, is daily becoming bolder." 

So it is apparent that there is unrest and occasional revolt. 

It was said by the late William Bolitho that the Duce's agricul- 
tural program in 1928 was making serfs out of Italian farm labor. 
More recently Professor W. Y. Elliott, of Harvard, summed up the 
situation as follows : "Fascism has succeeded in depriving the laborer 
of the weapon of free association and the right to strike, and has re- 
duced him, at least for the time being, to a condition of State-con- 

^ Forum, October, i934. 

294 Sawdust Caesar 

trolled serfdom," and in October, 1934, the secretary of the British 
Trade Union Congress, Walter M. Citrine, urging the American 
Federation of Labor to declare war on Fascism, declared : 

"The record of Fascism is one of repression, brutaHty, and terror- 
ism. Personal liberty has been destroyed, trade-unionism has been 
crushed, and the status of the citizen has been reduced to that of a 

"Far from being saved by Fascism, Italy has been brought to the 
verge of economic bankruptcy. Since 1922 wages have been reduced 
40 to 50 per cent and are now the lowest in western Europe. Even 
Mussolini admits that the Hving standards of Italian workers can be 
reduced no lower. American money is helping Mussolini to maintain 
his power. 

"Fascism's record in the constructive sphere is one of failure and 
futility. It has contributed more than any other factor to the feeling 
of insecurity which has brought the possibility of widespread war to 
the forefront." 

In 1934 the National Joint Council representing the Trades Union 
Congress, the Labor Party and the Parliamentary Labor Party of 
Britain issued "British Labor's Call to the People," an official declara- 
tion of war on Fascism, Italian as well as German. On October 13th 
of the same year the American Federation of Labor declared a boy- 
cott of goods made in dictatorial countries, including Italy. In Febru- 
ary, 1935, following an investigation of Italian agents' activities 
against the trade unions, President Green of the A. F. of L. publicly 
condemned Italian Fascism. 

Of course the fact that free labor throughout the world is anti- 
Fascist — seeing in Italian, German, and other forms of Fascism 
a return to medieval serfdom — can be interpreted conversely, that 
Fascism would be highly welcomed by the employers of labor. It was, 
in fact, by Judge Gary of the United States Steel Corporation. And 
that leading philosopher and economist of big-business, Mr. Marcos- 
son, glorifying the Corporate State, wrote in 1930 that "under the 
Fascist trade-union law strikes have been outlawed and compulsory 
arbitration is enforced. No Mussolini measure was so fraught with 
constructive possibilities." 

In Britain, America, France, and other free countries labor is 

The Corporate State: People under Fascism 295 

becoming the chief antagonist to the Fascist movement. After all, 
it is labor which is hardest hit. One man's Corporate "constructive 
possibilities" is another man's Helot State. 

The evidence is therefore overwhelming that Mussolini did not 
save Italy from Bolshevism ; that the Corporate State, which may 
or may not be a substitute for Soviet-planned economy, does not 
function; that the standard of living of Italy has gone down with 
six or seven wage cuts ; that under these circumstances "the well- 
being of the Italian people" has not materialized, but their misery 
increased ; that, in short, Fascist economy is a failure. 



Fascist Finance 

by Mussolini himself. 

Addressing the Chamber on the i8th of December, 1930, the dic- 
tator who had stabilized the lira, announced balanced budgets for 
many years, proclaimed the economic viability of Fascism, and in- 
vited other nations to adopt the Corporative instead of the Com- 
munist idea of economic planning, informed Italy and the world 
that: "The situation in Italy was satisfactory until the fall of 1929, 
when the American market crash exploded suddenly like a bomb. 
For us poor European provincials it was a great surprise. We re- 
mained astonished, like the world at the announcement of the death 
of Napoleon, because we had been given to understand that America 
was the country of prosperity, of endless and absolute prosperity, 
without eclipses. Everyone was rich there. 

"Everyone knows the data of American prosperity — ^there was 
one motor-car for every eight inhabitants, one radio set for every 
four, one telephone for every three. Everyone gambled on the stock 
exchange and since stocks rose incessantly, everyone bought at 20, 
sold at ICO, and pocketed the difference, with which he purchased a 
motor-car, radio set, and telephone, or made a trip to Europe, paying 
for it by installments, and built a house in the country. All this was 
fantastic, and we on this side of the Atlantic had a sense of envy. 

"Suddenly the beautiful scene collapsed and we had a series of 
black days. Stocks lost, 30, 40, and 50 per cent of their value. The 
crisis grew deeper. 

"Black days followed black days, and prosperity was replaced by 
long lines of unemployed waiting for soup and bread in the great 
American cities. 


Fascist Finance ^ 

"From that day we also were again pushed into the high seas, and 
from that day navigation has become extremely difficult for us." 

The best American comment on this great explanation was made 
by Howard Brubaker. "Mussolini," he said, "has calmed growling 
Italians with the information that Wall Street is responsible for 
their lower salaries, their unemployment, their low returns on farm 
products. About the only crimes not attributed to Wall Street were 
the earthquakes of last July." 

But shifting the blame on America does not shift the main issue, 
which is simply this : does Fascism offer the world a new and work- 
able economic system; is it merely part of the universally (outside 
Russia) accepted system, and has it succeeded in meeting a crisis 
successfully? By blaming Italy's financial failure on Wall Street's 
failure Mussolini confesses that his is no new or different or inde- 
pendent system, or, if new and different, it is not a better one because 
it, too, has broken down. 

In fact, the making of the Wall Street scapegoat is one of the 
master strokes of the modern Machiavelli, because Fascist economy 
broke down long before Wall Street collapsed. It is the purpose of 
this chapter to discuss the finances of the years 1922 to 1929 and to 
show, from official Fascist figures, that the crisis of Fascism began 
in 1925 and reached an alarming condition in 1927 and 1928. Para- 
doxically, Mussolini was saved the political consequences when the 
rest of the world — outside Russia — also joined in the collapse of 
1929. The world was now in the same boat, and growing discontent 
in Italy was therefore stilled. 

The first economic victory which Mussolini reported was the 
stabilization of the lira. It seems that the whole subject of economics 
first came to his attention in January, 1922, when he as a journalist, 
preparing to attend the annual peace conference (at Cannes, on the 
French Riviera), exchanged some money in Milan. For each one- 
hundred-lira note he was given a fifty-franc note. 

"It was a grave symptom. It was a humiliation. It was a blow to 
the self-respect of a victorious nation, a vexing weather vane; it 
indicated our progress towards bankruptcy: up leaped the thought 
that this situation must be cured by the vital strength of Fascism." 

This emotion engendered in the patriotic breast was not ephemeral. 

298 Sawdust Caesar 

It took root. It was later to flower in a gold stabilization which was 
higher than that of France. What is significant is the behavior of 
"the man of action," the ideas and the procedure of an economist 
like Mussolini, whose nationalistic egotism, whose ItaHan pride, is 
hurt by the financial situation, and who thereupon rules that "Fascism 
must change all that." 

And so, commenting in 1928 on his actions of the past year, Mus- 
solini with pride declares that "in December, 1927, at a meeting of 
the Council of Ministers, I was able to announce to the Italian 
people that the lira was back on a gold basis, on a ratio which tech- 
nicians and profound experts in financial questions have judged 

He flatly makes the statement that "today we have a balanced 
budget. Self-ruling units, the provinces and the communes, have 
balanced their budgets, too. Exports and imports and their relation- 
ship are carried in a precise and definite rhythm — that of our 
stabilized lira." 

He has the pleasant unbelievable surprise of a child which for the 
first time turns an electric light off and on, when he says that he 
had "solved a complex and difficult problem of national finance, such 
a problem as sometimes withdraws itself beyond the will and influ- 
ence of any political man, and becomes subjected to the tyranny and 
mechanism of more material relations under the influences of various 
and infinite factors. Only a profound knowledge of the economic 
life and structure of a people can reach, in such an insidious field, 
conclusions which will be able to satisfy the majority." 

"I felt the pride of a victor," exclaims Mussolini, and well might 
any man feel the pride of a victor who has not only marched into 
Rome, but who had smashed the tyranny of economics, laws which 
rule world finances, and which no other politician or nation has ever 
been able to conquer. 

It was nothing short of a miracle : the sun of economic fatality 
stood still in the heavens at the command of the prophet, and the 
American international bond-floaters sang the epic of the great deed 
as they issued $600,000,000 in loans to Italy. 

Six hundred million American dollars is a sum. It was surely 
worth the employment of public-relations counsel and the aid of the 

Fascist Finance 299 

banking houses in protecting it. Time after time, between 1925 and 
1929, the American public dumped the Italian bonds back on the 
market, and each time the dozen houses which floated them inten- 
sified their campaign which created the Mussolini-balanced-budget 
mj^h while they threatened the banking and brokerage firms which 
represented them with cutting them off from participation in future 
business if they failed to dispose of the Italian goods. 

The Duce, of course, has always been party to the financial myth- 
making. He declared the stabilization at 19 was approved by 
"profound experts in financial questions," but it was later proven 
that Finance Minister Volpi and his good friend, Andrew W. Mellon, 
had advised against that figure. 

It was always the head of the government who struck the note for 
the orchestra of the press to follow. When the bankers and the press 
agents and the Italians who wrote for the Associated Press and the 
American newspapers reported the stabilization at 19 to the dollar 
a victory, that Bolshevism threatened in 1922, that the budgets had 
balanced, that the municipalities were out of the "red" literally and 
iguratively, and that prosperity had crowned the planned economy 
of Fascism up to 1929, they are but playing variations on the tunc 
which the master musician originated. 

This tune, of course, is the only one heard in Italy and America. 
From his exile in England, however. Count Sforza, the former 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, has issued a statement calling it "an 
offense to Italy to give the impression abroad that she wants truth 
to be wrapped in gentle lies." "To pretend today that the present 
difficult financial situation in Italy is due to the American crisis," he 
continues, "simply means that the men now in office in Italy do not 
dare to face their responsibilities, that they slander the brave, thrifty 
Italian nation by showing her up as a sick person to whom only lies 
can be administered. . . . The truth is that the specific present 
Italian crisis has nothing to do with the general world crisis. Indeed, 
the general world crisis is a crisis of over-capitalization, while that 
in Italy is one of lack of capital. . . . But there are more direct 
proofs of my assertion. The Italian crisis began years before the 
American and general crisis — precisely, between 1924 and 1926." 

Count Sforza is one of Mussolini's enemies. But so are the official 

300 Sawdust Caesar 

statistics of the Fascist regime. In 1922 Italy's bankruptcies — com- 
mercial failures, personal bankruptcy, does not exist under that 
country's laws— were 3,858; in 1926, 8,580; in 1929, 11,106. In 
1926 there were 181,000 unemployed in Italy, and in 1928, 439,000 
or more. In fact, it is estimated, non-officially, that there were 800,- 
000 unemployed, including those kept inside the factories by Fascist 
orders and those working a day or two a week for their food. Im- 
ports in 1925 were 26,000,000,000 lire, and exports 18,000,000,000, 
while in 1928 imports were 22,000,000,000 and exports 14,000,- 

The American commercial attache, H. C. MacLean, reported from 
Rome on January 16, 1928, that "the outstanding characteristic of 
Italy's relations with the rest of the world is the large excess of the 
country's merchandise imports over its merchandise exports, a con- 
dition prevailing for many years. To compensate the large adverse 
trade balance invisible terms (notably remittances from Italians 
resident abroad and expenditures of foreign tourists in Italy) must 
be largely depended upon." 

The attache then points out an adverse trade balance of almost 
5,000,000,000 lire for the first ten months of 1927, adding, "Having 
accepted 5,000,000,000 as Italy's adverse trade balance and 1,500,- 
000,000 as its net outgo on financial transactions, we have a total of 
6,500,000,000 lire, for which compensation must be found on the 
credit side of the country's international accounts." 

He then shows that "emigrants' remittances have sharply de- 
clined. Whereas in 1926 the withdrawals from postal saving banks 
were practically compensated by new deposits, during the first ten 
months of 1927 such withdrawals exceeded deposits by no less than 
570,000,000 lire." 

On July 9, 1928, Commercial Attache Mowatt M. Mitchell cabled 
that "Italian industrial and business conditions continue unsatisfac- 
tory and are at present still further depressed by the growing sea- 
sonal slack." 

The continuation of unsatisfactory conditions was confirmed by 
the January 14, 1929, report of Mr. Mitchell, who radioed: "Foreign 
trade suffered from the high stabilization point of the Hra. Imports 
increased and exports decreased, resulting in an adverse trade bal- 

Fascist Finance 301 

ance of nearly 7,000,000,000 lire as compared with 5,000,000,000 
in 1927." 

The American attache was of the opinion, however, that the gov- 
ernment finances were in good shape, with large cash reserves, but 
the Italian treasury report^ showed that the cash reserves had de- 
creased continually until they were half of 1926: cash reserves, 
June 30, 1926, 2,841,000,000; June, 1928, 1,706,000,000; November 
30, 1928, 1,389,000,000. 

In fact it is Mussolini's first economic triumph, the boasted 
stabilization of the lira, which marks the intensification of the 
Fascist economic crisis. It must be remembered that the Italian, as 
well as the French, money had been guaranteed by the Allies during 
the war. When the guarantees were removed both fell ; the lira was 
8 to the dollar in the first half of 1919, and reached its just value 
somewhere above 20; its lowest was 23.91 in the second half of 1920, 
those fatal days of the so-called Bolshevik occupation of the fac- 
tories, after which it improved generally so long as the democratic 
government existed. The lira was back to 20.15 just before Fascism 
in 1922. When, then, did the "humiliation," this "progress toward 
bankruptcy," occur? Under Fascism the lira dropped consistently, 
semester after semester, until it reached 30.53 under the miracle- 
working Duce in August, 1926. These are ofiicial figures. (Yet lady 
biographers of the Duce^ can state without hesitation that "under 
the new government the lira ceased its downward trend.") 

Mussolini stabilized at 19 plus, and the American commercial 
attaches immediately reported bad results, although "experts" writing 
for the million-circulation weeklies applauded. Mr. Marcosson of 
the Saturday Evening Post had to confess in 1930 that "much of the 
disruption is traceable to the stabilization of the Hra at too high a 
price. Despite the advice of the best banking brains of the country, 
Mussolini, with a characteristic imperialistic gesture, decreed the 
figure at 19 to the dollar, which was out of proportion to the exigen- 
cies of the situation. All experts agreed that the lira should have 
been anchored to stability with the French franc ... at 25 to the 
dollar. Instead, the will that has dominated every other activity had 

* Conto del Tesoro, NoTember 30, 1928. 

* Mme. Jeanne Bordeux, Mussolini the Man, 

302 Sawdust Caesar 

its way here, and with the result that industry, because of high price 
of raw materials and inability to meet competition in the world mar- 
kets, has been increasingly handicapped." 

In 1925 the first reports were sent from Rome that jugglery, 
trickery, and distorted official figures and statements have marked 
Fascist finance. The Irish journalist and farmer diplomatic attache 
in Rome, James Murphy, has published in the German, French, 
British, and American magazines numerous articles charging fraud 
which have never been challenged. He states, for instance, that the 
Fascisti, to maintain confidence and good will abroad, especially 
among banking interests, have organized a system of propaganda 
about their economic position, have given to the public "a state 
budget which has little or nor relation to the real financial condition. 
It is simply a piece of propaganda. I should not make such a state- 
ment without being in a position to bring forward proof. Take 
De Stefani's budget for 1923-24. For that year I find that under 
one heading alone there was an expenditure of fourteen billion of 
lire ($700,000,000) not a cent of which is debited in the State 
budget. The expenditure was officially announced in the official 
gazette.^ It figures in the treasury accounts, but it is carefully kept 
out of the budget that has been published. That sum alone would 
practically consume the whole income from taxation for the same 
year. Therefore De Stefani's first budget had really a much heavier 
deficit than those of his predecessors, even if we confine the deficit 
to the above expenditure and say nothing of other treasury debts 
incurred. To keep all such questions dark, the press is muzzled and 
foreign journalists are watched and persecuted lest they begin to 
pry into the question of Italy's finances. By such means and by the 
expenditure of huge sums for propaganda abroad, the Fascists think 
that they will be able to stave off the day when their real economic 
and financial position may become known to foreign bankers and 
foreign industrialists." 

Mr. Murphy likewise questions both Mussolini and American bank- 
ers on the subject of balanced budget by the municipalities. "One of 
the immediate purposes of the dictatorship obtaining control of the 
municipalities," he declares, "is the facilitation of Fascism's shady 

' Gazzetta Uffiaale, June 27, 1924, p. 16. 

Fascist Finance 303 

finance. It is well known that a favorite trick practiced since Musso- 
lini got control of things is to falsify the State budget by transfer- 
ring State expenses to the municipal budgets. All the municipal 
budgets show a deficit ; but this does not appear in public. And there 
will be no chance of its coming into the light now when there will 
be no local supervisors appointed by the people. The system will be 
understood if we imagine all the municipalities as subordinate cor- 
porations grouped under the one parent corporation, which is the 
State. The balance sheets of the subordinate corporations are being 
thrown more and more into a state of insolvency in order to make 
the parent balance sheet look healthy. Yet the parent corporation is 
solely dependent on the solvency of all the subordinated corporations 
taken together. 

"American financiers who have visited Italy have been too simple- 
minded to spot this trick. They have also been too simple-minded 
to ask for the treasury accounts and collate them with the budget. 
And so the Fascist financial bluff has gone ahead triumphantly. 
Mussolini wants to show the unwary Yankee how splendidly every- 
thing is going in Italy, so that he can raise loans in the United 

To such general statements must be added the official figures 
from the Fascist government's publications. The debts of the prov- 
inces as of January i, 1925, are 954,000,000 and January i, 1928, 
1,326,000,000, while the debts of the capital cities of the provinces 
are as follows : 

January i, 1925 .:. . 3,066,000,000 

January i, 1928 5,481,000,000 

Increase in debt 2,415,000,000 

which somehow does not agree with Mussolini's statement that "the 
provinces and the communes have balanced their budgets too." 

Fascist Italy, say European economists, is the only country in the 
world which announces balanced budgets while showing deficits in 
the treasury. 

Strange things have happened. For instance, Mussolini with his 
annual pride announced a credit balance of 2,200,000,000 lire in 

304 Sawdust Caesar 

1925-26, but the announcement of the treasury-audits court added 
that "from this surplus 1,800,000,000 were deducted in order to 
provide for expenses in connection with the economic reconstruction 
of the country for the period of the same fiscal year 1925-26." Only 
Fascist finance has provided this minor miracle of eating one's sur- 
plus and having it too. 

When Count Volpi and Mussolini quarreled about this ultra- 
modern way of dictating to the economic system, the former was 
dismissed and the latter declared that "from now on the data of 
the budget will be of crystaUine cleamess." Immediately afterwards 
1,211,000,000 lire were canceled from the cash items of the treasury 
account published the following month, July 31, 1928. It was de- 
clared that it represented a sum "not liable to be spent." Apparently 
Mussolini was trying to show Volpi was making a slight error of a 
little more than a billion. But the next year the treasury account 
announced that the fiscal year had closed on June 30th with a surplus 
of 2,352,000,000 lire, while a supplement published a month after- 
wards showed a slight correction necessary, a reduction of 2,845,- 
000,000, with an explanation of "crystalline clearness" : "reduction 
of the cash fund for operations to be credited to the preceding fiscal 
year." Next month there was another correction of 83,000,000, so 
that two months after Mussolini had informed the world and par- 
ticularly the American bond holders he had more than two billion 
credit, there was a deficit of 574,000,000 lire. 

In 1930 the budget showed a cash surplus of 2,261,000,000. The 
supplementary account, published a month later^ brought a correc- 
tion of 1,581,000,000, which reduced the surplus to 680,000,000, 
and there was no explanation, crystalline or otherwise. 

One billion lire of national bonds, due the Vatican under the 
Lateran treaty, was taken from the "Cassa depositi e prestiti" under 
agreement to return it in ten years,* but the Cassa enters in its 
assets this billion which the treasury owes it, while the nonchalant 
treasury, which should enter a corresponding liability, enters only 
the annual installment of 85,000,000 and the interest on the rest of 
the principal. 

Although the Bank of Italy lists assets of 1,801,000,000 gold it 
'Decree 851, May 27, 1929. 

Fascist Finance 305 

claims is deposited abroad, due to it from the State, in the treasury 
account no mention is found among the habilities of this State debt. 
The treasury explains that it means to return to the Bank of Italy 
the gold deposited with the Bank of Kngland. Economists, however, 
declare that while the State debt is real, the gold in London is a 
security which will be returned "if and when" Italy pays the fifty- 
eight annuities still due of the sixty-two (or about 30,000,000,000 
lire) under the Volpi settlement. 

The Bank of Italy reserve just before stabilization was 12,516,- 
000,000 lire, but in April, 1929, only 10,004,000,000, at which figure 
it fluctuates only slightly, and this loss of about two and a half 
billion is claimed to be due to the stabilization at 19 instead of a 
reasonable, logical 25. 

Although Count Volpi announced that the new silver currency 
which replaced a billion and a half of small paper notes "have their 
counter-value in pure metal," the value in silver is about one-sixth 
legal value. 

A search through official Fascist figures reveals that in the year 
1928-29 State receipts were 19,447,000,000 lire and pa3mients 
22,741,000,000, or a deficit of 3,294,000,000. More recently the 
regime issued several series of statistics, an explanation of the 
1928-29 budget, the finance Minister Mosconi's revelations to the 
Chamber of Deputies'^ which neutral economists declare "render 
equally unintelligible the real financial situation in Italy." It is said 
that the actual state of the budget cannot be determined from all 
these figures, but the movement of cash reserves (page 33) shows 
that the treasury revenue for 1928-29 was 23,015,000,000 lire and 
expenditures 25,960,000,000, making a deficit of 2,945,000,000. 

Minister Mosconi then attempted by various statements to reduce 
this deficit to 575,000,000 Ure, claiming there were important credits 
abroad, but on page 51 mentions a credit of 6,358,000,000 and a 
debit of 11,829,000,000 in the budget. 

On page y;^ the Minister speaks of the extreme gravity in the 
local financial situation, but having admitted a rotten state of affairs, 
concludes with an oration: "The government of Benito Mussolini 

' Exposizione finanztana fatta all Camera dei depuiati nella seduta del 31 Maggio 
1 930- VIII. 

3o6 Sawdust Caesar 

does not dissimulate the difficulties of the present time, but one 
must not doubt that he has unshakable confidence and profound 
force, which continues with a will of iron, with, a lively energy, 
with an obstinate passion, to march towards the future." 

The apparent fraud of the official announcements of balanced 
budgets, the apparent paradox of tremendous increase in national 
works expenditures without increased public debt and increased 
national income, which was first discovered and reported in 1925 
to 1928 by Messrs. Motherwell, Murphy, and Bolitho, has now been 
completely substantiated and explained by Professor Gaetano Sal- 
vemini, former professor of history of Florence University and 
more recently of Harvard. The time for the expose was extremely 
appropriate. The United States in 1935 was keenly interested in 
substitute systems of national economy; it was watching both the 
Fascist and Communist governmental planning; the American gov- 
ernment was engaging in public works expenditures totaling many 
billions and the national debt was rising proportionally. How then 
was Mussolini able to produce balanced budgets while great land 
reclamation projects were going forward successfully, magnificent 
public buildings were being erected, express auto roads were being 
completed, new ships for commerce and war were built, a modern 
army equipped, the military budget doubled, and a vast list of minor 
Fascist achievements — all costing millions if not billions — were an- 
nounced to a despondent and jealous world? 

The Fascist mystery and miracle play was not easy to explain. 
Italy's budget is unlike Anglo-American budgets, which are integral 
and clear; the Italian consists of two, one showing revenues and 
expenditures legally assessed, the other as they actually resulted. 
Moreover, Professor Salvemini points out* "one set of official fig- 
ures for the four years from July i, 1928, to June 30, 1932, gives 
yearly deficits of, respectively, 2,576 millions, 507 millions, 288 mil- 
lions, and 2,300 millions, a total deficit of 5,671 millions.''' Another 
set of official figures for the same four years gives, respectively, 
surpluses of 555 millions and 170 millions and deficits of 504 mil- 

' Foreign Affatrr, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, April, 1935. 
* Cf. Rcndiconti General! Consuntivi. 

Fascist Finance 3P^ 

lions and 3,867 millions.^ The difference between the figures amounts 
to 2,025 million lire." 

Professor Salvemini examines the infallible index to the nation's 
financial status, the national debt, using the official Fascist statistics, 
the parliamentary reports, and the annual reports of the finance 
ministers. And here he discovers the magnificent modern contribu- 
tion the Duce has made to national economy; the government in- 
stead of paying for its activities out of current revenue and borrow- 
ing from the public as other nations do, has issued promises to pay 
in installments, ranging from ten to fifty years. The list of annuities 
and dates contracted for are: March 29, 1924, 6,546,000,000 lire; 
end of 1928, 26,219,000,000 lire; December 31, 1930, 65,390,000,000 
lire; March 31, 1932, 75,118,000,000 lire and February 28, 1933, 
74,315,000,000 lire.8 

This vast indebtedness incurred from 1924 to 1933. which has 
been hidden from the Italian people and the world, aggregates an 
increase of more than sixty-seven billion lire, as the parliamentary 
finance committee reports show. In plain words Fascism has taken 
up the installment idea somewhat like the American people who 
bought their furniture, cars, radios, and electric refrigerators in the 
boom days, mortgaging their futures at a time salaries were good 
and prospects grand. "One of the remarkable features of this situa- 
tion," continues Professor Salvemini, "is the fact that out of the 
74.315 million lire of annuities outstanding as of February 28, 1933, 
nearly two-thirds, or 51,243 millions, were for ordinary expenses, 
and only one third, or 23,072 millions, for extraordinary expenses." 
Inasmuch as the 74,315.000,000 lire is to be paid out in mstall- 
ments up to 1986-87. Professor Salvemini has taken the present 
capital value of the debt, which is 35,000,000,000 lire and added 
that, instead of a sum more than double, to the national debt, which 
he has compared with the last pre-Fascist statistics. Here follows 
the result : 

'Bollctino Mensile di Statistica, August, I934. P- 746- 

'These figures are from the Conto del Tcsoro, Gazzctta Uffictale. March 29, 1924. 
No 76- the Parliamentary Report on the Budget of 1927-28. Camera del Dcputati, No. 
30 A, and the Reports of the Senate Finance Committee for the years 1931-32, 1932-33 
and 1933-34- 

3o8 Sawdust Caesar 

National Debt of Italy Increase or 

June 30, June 30, June 30, decrease 

1923 1932 1934 over 1922 

Consuls 44,576 71,736 9,892 -34,684 

Redeemables 12,01a 18,907 83,055 +71,045 

Floating debt 28,188 6,657 10,233 — 17,955 

Miscellaneous 5,901 7,554 9,282 + 3,381 

Autonomous authorities 1,184 1.184 -f- 1,184 

Current capital value of State 

annuities 2,700 35,000 35,000 +32,300 

Total , 93,375 141,038 148,646 + 55,271 

Fascist apologists bring up the fact that the liberal regime which 
preceded them raised the national debt by 37 billion lire from July, 
1919, to June, 1922, and while these statistics are a fact, the national 
budgets also show that between 1919 and 1922 the liberal regime 
paid out a war debt of 55 billion lire; it paid out 20 billion in 1921- 
1922 and left the Fascists to pay only 6 billion in the next fiscal 
year, 5 billion in 1923-24 and about a billion and a third in future 
years. In other words, the pre-Fascist deficit and enormous budget 
increase was the result of the World War; the Fascist deficit is the 
result of Fascist economics. It is the equivalent of waging a war. 
Only in the latter instance it is a war against the ItaHan people. 

Naturally enough, the Fascist innovation in hiding the bank- 
ruptcy of its finances has been termed a fraud by leading economists 
the world over. Fascist apologists, however, have tried explanations. 
The leading business magazine of the United States, Fortune, de- 
voting an entire Issue^'' to the glorification of the Duce and Fascism, 
had this to say of the social -economic-financial system: 

"Fascist accounts are not faked: they are merely divided or de- 
layed — on the general principle that solemn news is accepted more 
easily if delivered in parts, and that no news is commonly accepted 
as good news. Thus the Fascists delay payments on budgeted ex- 
penses up to the legal limit, and delay the charge-off of those ex- 
penses to the same limit. . . . But these annuities are not reflected 
in the regular public-debt statement. We have seen how 40 billions 

"July, 1934. 

Fascist Finance yy^ 

of these annuities help to raise the regular debt statement of 98 
billions to the actual debt figure of some 170 billions. 

"And still 170 billions fails to tell the whole story, . , . 

"A great question remains : does Fascist finance pay dividends to 
the Italian people? The long-established poverty of the Italian masses 
has been emphasized elsewhere. . . . Like the Japanese, the Itahans 
have for centuries been used to living on next-to-nothing with a 
smile. In recent years that next-to-nothing has been reduced. The 
average wage of Italian agricultural and industrial workers has 
fallen perhaps 25 per cent in the last five years. The last published 
figure is 1.5 lire (eight cents) per hour. The masses are struck at 
every turn by the indirect tax policy of the State, Unemployment 
has been slowly increasing, with a January official estimate of 
1,160,000. The standard of living of Italian labor has been estimated 
as the lowest of any country in Europe. An indication of the effects 
of Fascist economy of middle-class levels is provided by the gradual 
increase of bankruptcies from 1,800 in 1921 to 14,000 in 1933. The 
conclusion seems inescapable that if Fascism has paid dividends to 
the Italian people, they have been paid in the coinage of patriotic 
excitement. , . . Fascism has paid its people no cash dividends. . . ," 

We can now arrive at objective conclusions : Mussolini announces 
that the budget for many years was balanced : Fortune, typical of 
the apologists for Fascism, states that the budgets are not "faked" ; 
American bankers, on behalf of finance capital, declare that the 
budgets were balanced; official statistics show that annuities totaling 
74 billion lire and having a present capital value of 35 billion have 
been kept out of the budget and from the knowledge of the people; 
the official Italian national debt has been announced annually as 
hovering in the neighborhood of 90 billion lire, only a fractional 
increase from the pre-Fascist figure. It is obvious, therefore, that 
the question revolves about a euphemism. If the budget has not 
been "faked" it has been "tricked" and "juggled," and these are the 
very words used by Messrs. Motherwell, Murphy, Bolitho, and the 
present writer in reporting on Italy from 1925 to date. 

"Since 1925," concludes Salvemini, "the Italian budget has never 
been balanced. The Italian national debt in the last ten years has 
increased, on the average, by a yearly amount of over 5 billion lir^ 

310 Sawdust Caesar 

even though the war claims had been reduced to negligible propor- 
tions. . . . The government is concealing from the public at large 
the true composition and size of the national debt." 

On the 8th of July, 1935, the ace of Fascist apologists^^ was per- 
mitted by the Fascist censorship to report that "The public debt, 
which has increased considerably, now stands at 105 billion lire, 
against 102 billion in May, 1934, and 97 billion in 1933." Appar- 
ently Mussolini at last has decided to show at least a part of the 
148 bilHon lire burden which the Italian people, its children and 
grandchildren, must pay. It means increased taxation, a still lower 
standard of living, and resultant misery and degeneration. 

" The Rome correspondent of the Netv York. Times. 


A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 

been references to Mussolini's decrees and methods dealing with 
the free press of Italy. Here, for once, the dictator has been con- 
sistent and logical. 

The foundation of all free, democratic, enlightened States is 
liberty, and the bulwark of liberty is the free press. Axioms, even 
platitudes, these statements are nevertheless true, and were as well 
known to the Duce as they are to us. But whereas we do little or 
nothing to safeguard the freedom of the press, permitting that phrase 
to be made into a slogan by certain publishers who want to keep 
wages down and their men from organizing for their economic and 
moral freedom, the Duce, who regarded liberty as a "rotten carcass" 
over which Fascism had to pass, devoted a large part of his time to 
destro3ang the first and last bulwark of the Italian people. 

It must be admitted, of course, that the press of Italy, as that of 
practically all continental Europe, with a few notable exceptions in 
Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Holland, has never been nor is it today 
a news press. There are thousands of journals, almost no newspapers. 
The journals are expressions of opinion, the policies of special inter- 
ests which range all the way from the Catholic Church to the 
munitions-makers. There are the publications of capitalist organiza- 
tions and parties, Communist, Socialist and labor organizations and 
parties, personal organs of bankers, politicians, and other men seek- 
ing or holding political, social, and economic power. 

In Italy, with the exception of the Corriere delta Sera and two 
or three smaller liberal journals, there were no real newspapers, in 
the Anglo-American sense; the task for Mussolini was, therefore, 


312 Sawdust Caesar 

the easier. He had simply to order the suppression of all the organs 
of the Opposition, of unfriendly bankers, industrialists, politicians, 
and parties, and encourage the journals of the banks, the industrial 
associations, and the rich individuals who supported Fascism. 

In many respects Mussolini followed the methods of other dicta- 
tors. Lenin had been editor of the Iskra; Trotsky practiced journal- 
ism in Siberia, Switzerland, and Second Avenue, New York, while 
Stalin undermined the Kerensky regime when he edited the Petro- 
grad Pravda. Pilsudki was once a Socialist editor of the Rahotnik, 
The Worker, Kemal Pasha also published a paper to further his 
aims, and Hitler for years raged in his Voelkischer Beohachter. A 
large number of leading dictators gained by experience in journalism 
the knowledge of the power of the press, and all in turn knew 
enough to abolish opposition newspapers as the first and probably 
most important act to insure stability of a regime. Dictatorship and 
a free press can never co-exist. 

The difference between the radical and reactionary dictatorships 
is this; the Bolsheviki have promised Russia a Utopian era of un- 
limited freedom once the various five-year-plans have been successful, 
the nation is economically independent, and the danger of invasion 
from Germany and Japan and perhaps a coalition, of European na- 
tions, is over. They consider themselves in a state of war with the 
capitalistic world. In war time everyone agrees censorship and sup- 
pression of opposition opinion are necessary. In Moscow, therefore, 
there is a censor functioning publicly. 

In Rome, however, Mussolini makes no such admission. Foreign 
correspondents who seek to send true news out of Italy are either 
bribed or intimidated, flattered or censored ; if they are honest they 
make the best of things, trim their sails, smuggle out a little news 
when possible, indulge in almost daily compromises. Numerous cor- 
respondents have been arrested, imprisoned, or expelled. Mean- 
while, with perhaps humorous cynicism Mussolini makes the 
statement that "The press of Italy is free, freer than the press of 
any other country, so long as it supports the regime." He denies 
publicly that he has instituted a censorship, but orders the telegraph 
office to hold up all doubtful cables, submit them to the foreign 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 313 

office, and frequently "lose them through bureaucratic carelessness." 
There is no censorship; the moment a journaHst sends news which 
is factual but which offends the Duce or the regime, he is sent an 
official warning; the second time he is deported. 

In the journalistic situation in Italy control of the Italian press is 
the most important feature for two reasons : because it has succeeded 
in a totalitarian way in making the newspapers the propaganda organ 
of the regime while completely destroying the possibility of getting 
true news to the Italian people, and because, after all, the newspapers 
and the government press bureaus which supply them are the main 
source of news for the rest of the world. 

Mussolini himself, his official press bureau, the local governors, 
and the police departments of cities and provinces give instructions 
to the nation's editors. Here is a verbatim example as set down by 
an editor who has since escaped to Switzerland. The telephone in 
his sanctum rang and the following conversation followed: 

"To whom am I speaking?" 

"The director of the paper." 

"Bene. This is the civil governor." 

"I am Editor Fulano." 

"Very well, Editor Fulano, take note that by order of the Chief 
of the Government (Mussolini) you are prohibited from mention- 
ing the failure of Bank X. . . ." 

"All right." 

"Take note that you are prohibited from mentioning the fact that 
the family of Mussolini is visiting in Rome." 

"Very well." 

"Note that you are not to mention the aviation disaster of yes- 

"Of course not." 

"By order of the secretary of the party you are not to mention 
the violence which occurred yesterday in Savona." 

"All right." 

"And one more thing, refrain from republishing any article from 
yesterday's Osservatore Romano." 

And so it goes day by day. 

3^4 Sawdust Caesar 

Another editor kept a record of the important orders of sup- 
pression received during four months: 

August 5 : It is prohibited to publish any news of the interview 
Rabindranath Tagore gave the Neue Frei Press in Vienna in which 
he denies that he expressed himself as an admirer of Fascism as 
reported in the Italian press. 

August 20: The President of the Council orders that the press 
refrain from discussion of the return of the gold standard, whether 
favorable or critical. 

August 25 : It is prohibited to reproduce the manifesto of a group 
of intellectuals in London against conscription. 

It is prohibited to mention that between Rome and Sant'Ilario an 
automobile in Mussolini's suite upset a wagon. 

August 30 : It is prohibited to publish any information about war 
materials purchased in Italy by foreign countries. 

September 3 : It is prohibited to mention details of the swindle 
of 200,000 lire from the saving bank of Milan. 

September 4: No allusion must be made to the incident in the 
Eden theater (Fascisti invaded the theater and prevented the show- 
ing of a French revue). 

September 12: It is prohibited to mention incidents which fol- 
lowed the Lucetti attentat and especially the hostile demonstration 
against the French consulate. 

September 15: The prefect recommends the greatest prudence in 
the publication of foreign articles, especially on the subject of dif- 
ferences between France and Italy. 

September 16: The order is given by the President (Mussolini) 
that all polemics with the French press cease immediately. 

September 21 : It is prohibited to mention the visit to Rome of the 
Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs for the settlement of the 
Zarabub question. 

September 23: By order of the President (Mussolini) 

1. No mention must be made of the inquest on the death of the 
Fascist Luporini and the anti-Fascist Becciolini in Florence. 

2. It is prohibited to speak of the economic, financial and political 
penetration of Albania. 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 315 

September 24 : No mention must be made of the voyages of Mus- 

October i : No mention must be made of the Greek book by 
Jewos on "The Dodecanese Question." 

October 9 : No mention must be made of the visit of the King to 
Trani last Sunday. 

October 13: It is prohibited to publish anything about the thefts 
committed by Italian soldiers in the hotels of Merano. 

November 6; All discussion of Franco-Italian rapports is pro- 
hibited. It is also prohibited to mention the difficulties of the Por- 
denone Bank. 

November 9 : It is prohibited to publish news of the destruction 
of political clubs following the Zaniboni attentat, or the arrest of 

The range of these prohibitions is all the way from the ludicrous 
and trivial to the influence of international diplomatic relations. But 
even those which appear of no importance may have a bearing on 
world reaction to Fascism. Thus Tagore's visit to Rome was ex- 
ploited by the Fascist press ; naturally British, American, and other 
foreign correspondents, some of whom at times like to do the Duce 
a good turn, sent out columns of praise of Fascism and Mussolini, 
quoting from local papers. But Tagore was not the author of the 
statements attributed to him ; guileless philosopher, he did not know 
what was happening, and when he found out it was too late to ob- 
tain satisfaction from the Fascist press. In Vienna, however, he 
explained his horror of Fascism and Mussolini, denounced the 
Italian press, denied the reports sent to foreign newspapers, and 
concluded with words which of course never found their way into 
Italy, perhaps not even to London or New York. 

"It is absurd," said Tagore, "to imagine that I could ever support 
a movement which ruthlessly suppresses freedom of expression, 
enforces observances that are against individual consciences, and 
walks through a blood-stained path of violence and stealthy crime." 
This is Tagore's true opinion. Yet the Fascist reports of his praise 
linger in the public mind. Thus are explained the beauties of the 

$i6 Sawdust Caesar 

censorship, the making of international opinion, and the astuteness 
of a dictator, himself a journaHst, who knows how to rule the press. 
As proof of the assertion that many Fascist editors are really 
anti-Fascists at heart is the frequent appearance of Mussolini's 
secret orders in the anti-Fascist press. In 1932 an Italian editor 
brought to Paris the following illuminating dossier of Mussolini's 
"Notes and recommendations": 

"It is necessary directors and editors-in-chief of the newspapers 
attentively review the articles and all that is eventually to be pub- 
lished, in order to avoid the appearance in the dailies and the re- 
views, paragraphs or correspondences and articles that are in oppo- 
sition to the interests of Italy and the action of the regime. 

"During the course of the past few days, there appeared, for 
example ; In the Resto del Carlino an article on the fight against flies. 
In the Mattino an article on the damage to the harvest of nearly one 
thousand million, caused by the rotting of the wheat. In the Trihiina, 
finally an article entitled : "Are the Summer Climatic Cures Really 

"But it will have been enough that the director, or at least the 
person in charge of the newspaper, had considered the things that 
we are going to enumerate from the political point of view, to be 
persuaded that they should not in any way allow these things to be 
printed which are in obvious and evident contradiction with the 
action of the regime in the same way as they are with the interests 
of our country. . . . 

"The journals are also formally asked to abstain from all propa- 
ganda in favor of spas and thermal resorts of foreign tourism." 

("Note— Recommendation" by Mussolini, July 25) : 

"(i) The papers are asked to support the summer cruise which 
will go into effect beginning the 28th of August on the steamer 
Giulio Cesare. 

"(2) The papers are asked to recall the general strike in Italy the 
30th and 31st of July, 1922, the principal references to be the trans- 
mission of the powers on the part of the central Committee of the 
Workers Alliance to a secret committee, the threats of Filippo Turati, 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 317 

the revolutionary manifesto : in order to prove one more time an 
evident historic truth, namely that the march on Rome has only been 
the counter blow to destructive forces." 

In a "note" of July 27, 1932, the papers are asked "to write an 
article on the return to the land," calling attention to how the 
regime has since 1922 made an eminently rural policy; "to empha- 
size the words spoken by Gorguloff during the course of his ques- 
tioning and in which he says : 'AH my sympathies go to the social- 
ists' which proves once more that those who attribute the quality 
of Fascism to Gorguloff lie with impudence." 

(Service order of July 29, 1932) : 

"(i) One calls attention to the newspapers of the necessity of 
applying in the strongest possible fashion, the dispositions already 
given to avoid publication in papers and periodicals of pictures of 
thin women. The phenomenon of the slim woman has no other sig- 
nificance than the reduction of the birth rate. 

"In Italy, also, one owes it to the decrease in the birth rate that 
our enemies have not failed to emphasize with apparent pleasure. 

"Now it is absolutely necessary to avoid all that which gives, 
pleasure to our enemies. To this end, the papers should with a 
great deal of tact deplore the phenomenon of the decrease in births, 
by remarking, for example, that it has already been the object of 
satisfaction to our enemies." 

(Service order of August i, 1932) : 

"(i) The newspapers are asked to make no mention of the auto- 
mobile accident which unexpectedly happened to the Minister Di 
Crellalanza, near Montefiascone. 

"(2) They are asked to prominently place the dispatch of the 
Duce for the aqueduct of Monferrate and to do the same for the 
message of Sidky Pacha. 

"(3) They are asked to make outstanding the noticeable affluence 
of travelers in the popular trains in calling attention to the fact that 

3i8 Sawdust Caesar 

a similar initiative has never been realized by past governments and 
that abroad like facilities for the benefit of the working classes 
do not exist to such an extent. 

"(4) Concerning the German elections, they are asked to bring 
out the defeat of the Weimar coalition and the victory of the Hit- 

"August 4 : ( I ) Play up on the first page that one hundred battle- 
ships will participate in the naval maneuvers, and the same holds 
true for thirty submarines. 

"(2) Always, apropos of the next naval maneuver, take into con- 
sideration that, although aviation also participates at the maneuvers, 
the important role is held by the navy. 

"That the papers take account of this fact and that they do not 
make the mistake of a Rome paper, which in a headline gave the 
most prominence to the airplane manifestations. 

"It is further recalled to the papers that, being given the dis- 
positions in power, it is absolutely forbidden to speak of eventual 
trips of the King. This prohibition holds equally for the next naval 

"August 6, 1932 : The big naval maneuvers will be placed in the 
most prominent place possible and on the front page. Publish the 
most extensive reports and each day the photographs of ships and 
submarines. Furthermore, make note of the fact that the Itahan war 
navy is equipped according to the most modern technique and that 
it has been entirely renovated and modernized by the Will of the 
Duce during the course of the ten years of his regime." 

It must be noted that one of the first powerful groups to be thor- 
oughly Fascisticized by Mussolini was composed of editors, reporters, 
and publishers ; nevertheless these confidential instructions from the 
Duce, which are sent with the utmost secrecy to the responsible edi- 
tors of Italian newspapers, all of which support the regime, are 
always being betrayed to the outside world. In December, 1933, 
La Stampa Libera, an Italian-language paper published in New 
York, was able to obtain still another of Mussolini's Hst of do's and 
don't's by which he rules journalism: 

A journalist Suppresses the Free Press 319 

August 4, 1933. Anno XI (Era Fascista) : 

The greatest prominence should be given tomorrow to the inaugu- 
ration of the township of Sabaudia. Meantime, on the first page a 
long article should be published today on the ceremonies to be per- 
formed tomorrow. 

It is earnestly requested that no mistake shall be made in the 
spelling of the name of the Hungarian Secretary of Commerce. 

By the use of large type, great prominence should be given on 
the first page to the orders issued by II Duce for the celebration of 
the Mother and Child's Day. 

Warning is hereby given to abstain from using the words "su- 
preme hierarchies," as the party has only one: II Duce. 

In announcing the celebration to be performed on the arrival of 
the Atlantic fliers in Rome, the Carlino made use, in yesterday's num- 
ber, the word "apotheosis." This adjective [sic'\ is too extravagant, 
because the arrival of the fliers is several days off and also because 
up to that date the event must be kept within reasonable bounds. 

August 7, 1933. 

Small space should be devoted to the preparation for the arrival 
of the fliers in the Azores ; great prominence, instead, should be given 
to the reports of their take-off for America. 

All correspondence appearing in foreign papers on the visit of II 
Duce to the Pontine Reclaimed Land should be quoted at length. 

With regard to the step taken by France and England in Berlin, 
too much stress should not be laid upon it. 

Do not advertise the success of the loan in the United States and 
do not speak of America's inflation policy. 

Feature the acclamations to II Duce by the 2,800 teachers of the 
Opera Nazionale Balilla. 

By an adequate use of italics, stress should be laid upon the im- 
portance of their teaching in the education of the youth. 

Some papers have announced the creation of the new province 
of Littoria in 1936. The news should not be reproduced, for nothing 
has been resolved yet and all decision is reserved to II Duce. 

The following line appeared in the Corriere della Sera: "Instruc- 
tion by H. E. Rossini on motherland and childhood." Bear in mind 
that all circulars by under-secretaries are issued not on their per- 

320 Sawdust Caesar 

sonal initiative, but by II Duce's order, and that at any rate they 
are an emanation from the regime, not from individuals. This in- 
struction should serve as a guide for the future as well. 

August 8, 1933 : 

Of course, the take-off and the arrival at the Azores of the flying 
squad are the most important events of the day, and all news bearing 
on them should be given the most prominent place in the papers under 
headlines running across the page. 

Reprint from this morning's Popolo d'ltalia the Duce's Day and 
add a comment to it. 

Feature: (a) the meeting of the wheat standing committee; (b) 
the reports of the Commanders of the Avanguardista Legions; (c) 
the statistical report on circulation. 

Do not make up the paper in such a way as to have all the reports 
of accidents and crimes follow one another, for it is not desirable 
to fill half pages with catastrophic news. 

Your attention is called once more to the fact that for no reason 
whatever mention should be made of region and regionalism, for the 
policy of the regime is solely unitarian and anti-regionalistic. 

Some papers in their outside editions have extravagantly praised 
prefects and hierarchs on account of certain orders issued by them. 
Such a mistake should never be repeated, for they are but executors 
of orders issuing from the center. 

August 9, 1933 : 

Feature, avoiding all exaggeration, under a two-column head- 
Hne, the visit paid by II Duce to camp Sandro Mussolini. 

Reproduce extensively the comments of the foreign press calling 
attention to the rightness of the course followed by Italy. 

In the out-of-town editions of the Popolo di Roma there appeared 
some accounts of the military maneuvers. You are reminded of the 
order forbidding the pubHcation of news on the subject, unless an 
official communique is issued. 

An article study on the depression has appeared in the Regime. 
It is not timely. The papers should rather concern themselves with 
the signs of recovery. The depression will be examined and studied 
when it has disappeared. 

August 10, 1933: 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 321 

Today, too, the news of Balbo's flight and the comments of the 
foreign press should be given the greatest prominence on the first 

With regard to the news success of the foreign policy of II Duce 
all news appearing in foreign papers on the subject should be re- 
printed without, however, undue exaggeration in the headHnes and 
in commenting. No surprise is to be shown at this recognition by 
foreigners, as this is not the first time II Duce has embarked on 
the right course. 

The Ambrosiano had yesterday a headline on the increase of 
monetary circulation. In this regard it will be advisable to abstain 
from commenting on the constant increase of the gold reserve in 
order to avoid drawing to it the attention of foreign financiers. Em- 
phasize the soundness of the lira as a political-social element, but 
avoid all technical discussion. 

August 17, 1933: 

The comments by foreign papers on the record set by the Rex, and 
also on those that eventually may be set by Balbo's squad, should be 
given prominent display. 

Recall by an article the famous speech made by II Duce at Pesaro, 
August 14, 1926, setting forth its great results in the way of stabiliz- 
ing the lira, which is a mainstay of the social and economic policy 
of the regime, but do not enter into details on the gold reserve, the 
increase of gold, etc. 

Reprint from The Daily Mail the article, "Will France Go Fas- 
cist?" by Huddleston. 

Feature the telegrams sent by II Duce to Balbo in the course of 
the flight, but do not reprint integrally the article published by the 
Popolo d'ltalia. 

September 4, 1933 : 

Give great prominence, by a suitable typographical display, to the 
text of the Italo-Sovietic pact and have it followed by a comment. 

Have a large service ready for the Eastern Fair at Bari, which 
is to be opened September 6. It is better still to send a special cor- 

In an interview with Acerbo published yesterday by the Corriere 
delta Sera there appeared under a showy headline a statement to 

322 Sawdust Caesar 

the effect that the wheat will always be sold at a profit ; this state- 
ment is too bold ; no paper can make such unqualified pledges. . . . 

With great frequency the Duce, with his old-time insouciance, 
reverses himself in his dictates to the press. Thus, for instance, in 
July, 1928, he gave the example to the press for the glorification 
of Nobile, the unfortunate explorer who had been driven by the im- 
patience of the Fascist press to fly over the North Pole on a day 
his experts warned him was meteorologically dangerous. Nobile 
flew, dropped a gigantic crucifix, the Italian flag, the Fascist insignia, 
and nevertheless was wrecked. When the Russians saved the Nobile 
expedition, two stories, one rumor and the other fact, appeared 
in the world press : Nobile, the captain, had been the first rescued — 
that was the fact; two of his associates had committed cannibalism, 
the victim being the Swedish scientist Malmgren — that was the rumor. 
But fact or rumor, it was obvious to every nation except that con- 
trolled by the Duce's press that the expedition had been a sad failure 
and that the only heroism was Bolshevik. 

"The greatest polar explorer in the history of the world." Thus 
the Fascist press under Mussolini's orders. It was a Fascist achieve- 
ment of the first rank. Mussolini struck the note ; the whole Italian 
press responded as a helot orchestra. Meanwhile the press of the 
rest of the civilized world without instructions or censorship poured 
criticism, ridicule, and abuse upon this great Fascist triumph. The 
bitterness of the French press wrecked treaty negotiations and led 
to challenges from Roman journalists to duels. The French govern- 
ment made an official protest asking the Duce to stop the flow of 
billingsgate in the Roman papers. But from the Brenner Pass to 
Milan, from Milan to Rome, the people met Nobile with rejoicings 
ordered by Mussolini and with their hymns of praise were mingled 
the shouts, "Down with the jackal anti-Fascist press of the world." 

Three months later Mussolini ordered the newspapers of Italy 
never to mention the name of Nobile again and threatened the arrest 
of those who went to interview him or those who printed his apology 
or explanation of the North Pole fiasco. (Nobile found refuge in 
Russia until 1935.) 

Similarly with a matter of great political importance. We have al- 

A Jowndisl Suppresses the Free Press ^$ 

ready seen Mussolini order the press to play up Hitlerite victories ; 
in 1933 the reward was close cooperation between the two Fascist 
regimes, and in July 1934, when Hitler again went Mussolini one 
better and instead of the Italian slow method of "purgation" resorted 
to two days and nights of murder and assassination of men and 
women, the Italian press chief again ordered support for his col- 
league. "The ability to put an end to such a situation is an excellent 
example of power," said the keynote article in Mussolini's Popolo 
d'ltalia, . . . "The right to execute traitors and enemies is not a 
new discovery. It is the most legitimate revolutionary reality that 
exists." Courts and trial by jury were all right at times, but there 
are "exceptional occasions when the individual servant of revolu- 
tion has the right to administer justice with his trigger finger." 
(Never had Bolshevism, at the time the Allies were invading from 
all sides and traitors in its own ranks were selling their country to 
the enemy, dared make such an open declaration for bloody violence.) 
The press of the world accused Hitler of murder; Mussolini alone 
supported him. 

But a few weeks later Nazi terrorism broke loose in Austria. 
Dollfuss, who had approved the machine-gun killing of hundreds 
of workingmen, was in turn assassinated. He was the ally of Musso- 
lini and his murderers were Hitlerites. Mussolini immediately gave 
the order to the Fascist press to join the universal chorus of disgust 
and repudiation of the Hitler regime. Expediency, opportunism, as 
usual dictated the dictates of the Duce. The Itahan people were, as 
usual, merely the huge woodwork of the piano upon whose keys, 
the newspapers, the Hierarch was playing his own international 

The chief instrument for the control of public opinion in Italy is 
the official press bureau, Stefani. In the old liberal days this organi- 
zation, which ranked with the American Associated Press, England's 
Reuters and Germany's Wolff, gave its subscribers the news with 
only a natural nationalist tinge; it did not resort to perversion, cen- 
sorship, and falsehood, nor was it ever corrupted by the money of a 
foreign power, as was proven in the case of France's Havas when 
the Russian archives were opened.-^ 

* L' Abominable Vcnalite dc la Prcsse. 

324 Sawdust Caesar 

Fascism has changed all that. That the Stefani issued nothing but 
Fascist propaganda and pro-Fascist news after 1922 is of course 
true, because it had orders from the regime which it could not dis- 
obey. But from 1925 on Stefani began to take liberties with the 
news. Here is an example of how news was changed in the Stefani 

The Official Stefani Agency: Official Record of Speech: 

Lloyd George declared that after I recall how the Fascist revolu- 

the war Socialism in Italy had a tion has caused and is still causing 
disastrous effect on industry. The in the ranks of the Conservative 
nation in desperation accepted Fas- Party, admiration and adulation for 
cist succor. the Fascist movement and for its 

"I recall tlie joy with which the powerful chief. Italy, a terrestrial 
Liberal Party approved the Fascist paradise where the snake of anarchy 
revolution, its admiration for the was chased out by cherubim clad 
Fascist movement, and its powerful in Black Shirts who guarded the 
chief, the honorable Mussolini . . ." garden against a return of the rep- 
said Lloyd George. tile ! That was the picture of a year 


You can see for yourself what 
there is now: Liberty is entirely 
suppressed. Repression, menace, ar- 
son, confiscation, assassination have 
become the instrument of govern- 
ment . . . (Lloyd George). 

And here is another example of how the Fascist press rewrites 
criticism of Mussolini to make it into flattery: 

Statement by Bernard Shaw: The Same in the Italian Press: 

Mussolini has done for Italy what Mussolini, without Napoleon's 

Napoleon did for France, except military prestige, has done for Italy 

that for the Due d'Enghlen [who just what Napoleon did for France. 

was murdered by order of Napo- (From the Gassetta del Popolo, Oc- 

leon] you must read Matteotti. tober 12, 1927, page r, col. 6.) 

But while it must be admitted that Mussolini has had a complete 
success with the press at home, his efforts to influence international 
opinion have not rewarded him as fully. This is due largely to the 
fact that foreign correspondents from free nations, led by the Anglo- 
American group, are the real upholders of freedom of the press in 
Europe. Frequently these journalists, some of whom represent papers 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 325 

friendly to Fascism and other dictatorships, have had opportunities 
to show Mussolini just where they stand. 

A notable example is the Locarno Conference of 1925. When that 
"peace" congress was drawing to an end Mussolini burst into the 
scene in his usual sensational manner — racing motor-car breaking all 
traffic laws and endangering himself and pedestrians, racing motor- 
boat from Stresa to Lake Maggiore to Locarno, shouting and 
bustling entourage, clearing the road for the victor. 

The day after his arrival Mussolini summoned the world press 
for a conference in the Palace Hotel where all the delegations were 
staying. It was hinted by the Fascist attaches that a world-shattering 
pronunciamento was about to be delivered. It behooved every journal- 
ist, and there were between two and four hundred of them at each 
of the peace conferences, to be present. 

But the time was just after the most flagrant suppressions of 
journalistic liberty in Italy and the expulsion of a British, a German, 
and an American newspaper man, all of whom wrote for liberal 
newspapers. In the lobby of the hotel these facts were discussed. A 
Frenchman, a German, and an Englishman, George Slocombe, rep- 
resentative of the London Herald, mouthpiece of the Labor Party 
and Ramsay MacDonald, determined not to assist at the Fascist 
conference. Within a few minutes the word went the round of the 
hotel and other press meeting-places and a spontaneous boycott of 
MussoHni occurred. Slocombe relates the incident: 

"Mussolini descended the stairs of the hotel, swept like Caesar 
at the head of a Roman legion across the hall into the press room, fol- 
lowed by Fascist officials and Fascist journalists. In the conference- 
room there was consternation written large on the faces of the 
Fascists. Only a handful of correspondents, some of them servile, 
a few friendly, to hear Mussolini. The others were with me filling 
the lounge of the hotel. Even the great news agency men boycotted 
the conference. 

"In the almost empty large conference room, I was told after- 
wards, Mussolini asked a Frenchman if all the journalists were there. 
The Frenchman, embarrassed, replied that he thought there must 
be some kind of demonstration elsewhere. But MussoHni sensed the 

326 Sau/dust Caesar 

boycott. He said with his usual jeer, snarl, or sneer, or whatever 
it is: 

'"If they have a protest to make I have a waste-paper basket 

"But he was visibly annoyed. He read abruptly a short statement 
of his policy, refused to entertain any questions, stalked out. When 
he appeared at the entrance of the lobby of the hotel he saw me 
standing at the other end and walked haughtily towards me — after- 
wards he gave out that he had approached me in the most friendly 
manner since we were old friends from the Cannes conference be- 
fore the Fascist coup d'etat, when I met him for the first time. 
Anyhow, he stalked up to me, followed by his Roman cohort, and 
when he was within a few inches of me said: 

'"Eh hien est ce que le comm-unisme' marche toujoursf ('Well, 
how is Communism getting along?') I do not know why he should 
have taken me for a Communist unless it was because we had dis- 
cussed Communism, Socialism, and Sorel's philosophy of violence on 
the Cannes occasion. 

"I stared at him coldly, keeping my hands in my pockets, although 
he had put out his hand, and said, 'Je ne saurais pas vous dire' 
('I am not able to tell you.') 

" 'Eh bien pourquoi?' he asked. 

" 'Parce que je ne suis pas communiste' ('Because I am not a 

■"' 'Alors,' he replied, 'je me trompe' ('Well, I've made a mistake.') 

" 'Out/ I replied, looking him in the eyes, 'vous vous trompes' 
('Yes, you make a mistake.') 

"Then a Dutch journalist who was standing at my elbow made 
the really devastating remark. 

"'Qa vous arrive soiwent,' he said ('That happens often to you.') 

"With that Mussolini almost broke a blood vessel. He looked at 
us speechlessly for a moment and then said 'Peitt-etre' ('Perhaps,') 
in a theatrical voice, and stalked away, followed by his trembling 

"The Fascist headquarters announced later in the day that I had 
misunderstood the attitude of the Duce and that he had meant to 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 327 

be friendly, but there was no mistaking the unfriendly nature of 
our boycott. I think really he had approached me in order to let 
me know he had remarked our abstention from attendance at his 
press conference, but did not intend a little thing like that to affect 
his superb disdain or to affect our own personal relations or ironic 
semi-affectionate understanding. However, we never met again and 
I have heard since that I am on the Fascist blacklist." 

The second important episode occurred in Washington in 1928 
when the board of governors of the National Press Club approved 
Mussolini's application for non-resident membership and the presi- 
dent committed "an impulsive mistake" by sending the Duce a cable- 
gram congratulating him on his election and expressing "the pleasure 
of the members of the club in having him as a member," 

A protest was organized. Those who signed a paper against Mus- 
solini were Charles Ross of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laurence 
Todd of the Federated Press, Leo Sack of the Scripps-Howard 
Newspaper Alliance, Mark Thistlethwaite of the Indianapolis News, 
Roy Roberts of the Kansas City Star, F. W. Wile, H. C. Bryant of 
the New York World and Robert Allen of the Christian Science 

The board held another meeting. President J. Fred Essary of the 
Baltimore Sun, and Edgar Markham of the St. Paul Dispatch and 
Pioneer Press moved and seconded the following resolution, which 
was unanimously adopted : 

"Resolved, that a constitutional protest of more than ten active 
members, assigning reasonable cause, having been filed against the 
nomination of Benito MussoHni for non-resident membership, his 
name is hereby withdrawn from further consideration in accordance 
with the by-laws of the club." 

It is unnecessary here to recount the stormy session of the club 
when the leading Washington correspondents denounced Mussolini 
as "the archenemy of a free press in our time, and perhaps all time." 
Naturally enough, the party press of Italy which printed columns of 
eulogy of the Washington club and congratulated everyone on the 
election of the Duce, emphasizing particularly the supposed fact that 
American journalists are not inimical to the Italian situation, but are, 

328 Sawdust Caesar 

they said, really supporters and lovers of Fascism, printed not a 
word about the Duce's expulsion a few days later. 

At this point the reader may ask how it has come to pass that 
Fascism has enjoyed a tremendous popularity in America and other 
countries when it is evident that the foreign journalists in Rome are 
almost unanimously opposed to the movement and its Fuehrer. There 
are many answers. 

First and most important is the fact that the chief propaganda 
agency of Fascism, the aforementioned Stefani bureau, had and 
still has an exclusive contract with the Associated Press of America. 
And, although this may appear unbelievable to laymen, the Associ- 
ated Press correspondent for the entire first decade of Fascism was 
an Italian journalist who loved Fascism, hated the Opposition, and 
(upon the authority of his American assistants) refused even to read 
the Opposition press, let alone send out Opposition views. If the 
Associated Press had employed Karl Radek, No. i Bolshevik propa- 
gandist in Moscow, the situation would have been paralleled. 

The New York Times, the most powerful and influential news- 
paper in the United States, employed from the beginning of Fas- 
cism, and still employs today, an Italian journalist who has become 
a greater apologist for the Duce and his regime than any of the 
public-relations counsel hired in America. And there are other Italians 
who represent or have represented foreign newspapers, notably the 
London Daily Mail and Reuters. Thus, if one takes the correspond- 
ence of the Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, and 
the London Daily Mail, all friendly to Fascism, it is apparent that 
a body of public opinion in the two countries has been formed 
which the rest of the journalists working (and censored) in Rome 
cannot possibly change. 

By the Fascist decree of February 20, 1928, Article i, a roll of 
professional journalists was created and no Italian is permitted to 
practice journalism unless his name appears on the list. "Professional 
journalist, apprentices, and publicists are minutely controlled. Every 
applicant for admission to the roll must give ample proof of good 
moral and political standing, the latter being judged not only by 
the officials in charge of the roll, but also by the prefects of the 
provinces. Foreigners may practice the profession of journalist pro- 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 329 

vided they fulfill the same requirements. "^ In other words every 
Italian journalist must be a Fascist; if a foreigner he must be pro- 
Fascist. "The Agenzia Stefani, a press agency similar to the Asso- 
ciated Press in America and Havas in France, is still intact and 
furnishes national and international news. . . . By means of this 
agency it is obviously easy to supply uniform, censored, and official 
approved political news to all Italian papers. Official announcements 
and news favorable to Fascism are continually issued by Stefani 
both at home and abroad."* The journalists' syndicate, according to 
an official of the press bureau, Amicucci, has been made into "an 
instrument uniquely political, at the orders of the Duce and the 
Fascist Party." 

One distinction must be made : the foreign correspondent, who is 
forced into almost daily compromises, will suifer merely deportation 
if he offends the government, whereas the Italian who represents 
foreign newspapers faces five years imprisonment on the penal islands 
if he writes news unfavorable to Fascism, 

And yet, under these circumstances, the Associated Press, which 
still claims it is the most honest and truthful organization in Amer- 
ica, employed an Italian for ten years in Rome, and the New York 
Times, for all its declarations of "All the news that's fit to print," 
is still printing news out of Italy which gives only the Fascist view- 
point. For years the house organ of American publishers. Editor & 
Publisher, the liberal weeklies. The Nation and The New Republic, 
and also the weeklies Time and News-Week and the unique New 
Yorker, have remarked upon this amazing situation. It grew even 
more so when a special writer for the New York Times, an Ameri- 
can, in July, 1935, published an uncensored article which made odious 
comparisons inevitable : 

Extracts from cables from the Extract from wireless from the 

"Times" regular correspondent, Si- "Times" special correspondent, 

gnor Arnaldo Cortesi: Anne O'Hare M'Cormick: 

The people have become accus- . . . Mr. Mussolini has not gone 

tomed to the idea that war is not out of his way to make unnecessary 

■ Summary o£ Articles 5, 6, and 7. From Makiftg Pusdsts by Herbert W. Schneider 
and Shepherd B. Clough. 


Sawdust Caesar 

only inevitable, but also necessary 
for a solution of some of Italy's 
most pressing problems. 

Nobody who watched the troops 
leave the cities for embarkation 
points en route to East Africa could 
doubt that they were keen and 
happy to go. 

The present Italian public opin- 
ion was shown during Mr. Mus- 
solini's recent trip to Sardinia. The 
population of that proud, warlike 
island, which supplied the army's 
best divisions during the world 
conflict, gave overwhelming ap- 
proval to the course he has followed. 

The Sardinians were roused to 
great patriotic fervor. . . 

With public opinion in its present 
mood, Mr. Mussolini's truculent 
policy has the support of all Italians. 

enemies. Yet he faces the most dif- 
ficult time since the killing of 
Giacomo Matteotti, Socialist deputy, 
by Fascist!. 

In many years this correspond- 
ent has not heard such widespread 
open grumbling, particularly among 
the peasants. The war boom and 
active building operations keep 
money circulating in the cities, but 
privation pinches in the rural dis- 
tricts. The people everywhere are 
restive under the tightening of po- 
litical, economic, and financial re- 

The Cortesi item is dated July 5th and the M'Cormick item July 
2nd; on June 13th Mussolini had ordered the expulsion of the 
Chicago Tribune correspondent, David Darrah, who arrived in 
Italy to take the present writer's place almost ten years ago. For 
ten years Mr. Darrah had honestly tried to cable all the news about 
Italy, stopping short of facts which he knew would lead to his 
expulsion, and waiting, as most correspondents in Rome wait, for 
a story important enough to risk that eventuality. It came in the 
Ethiopian crisis. 

In the Cortesi cable it will be noted that Sardinia is the happi- 
est of all Italian provinces over the prospects of the bloodshed in 
Africa. In the Darrah correspondence, for which he was deported, 
a different story is told. On the Saturday before his expulsion from 
Italy Darrah had "a story commenting on the situation of a quasi 
'revolt in Sardinia culminating in the sending of the cruiser Zara 
to Cagliari to impress the population with II Duce's visit and his 
distribution of largesse to the suffering Sardinians. He also sent an- 
other story pointing out the catastrophic conditions to which thir- 

A Journalist Suppresses the Free Press 331 

teen years of Fascism had brought the Italian public finances, with 
an incredible increase in the national debt."* Darrah had also cabled 
that there were mass arrests in Italy, a fact which the Manchester 
Guardian had published weeks earlier, and a report that the King 
and several high officials were opposed to adventure in Ethiopia. 

The foregoing episode is the latest in a thirteen-year series of 
deadly parallels which have been^ or might be made between the 
cables from Signor Cortesi and his father, Salvatore Cortesi, who was 
recently retired by the Associated Press, and the cables of the 
majority of the journalists in Rome. For these two gentlemen point 
8 of the Fascist catechism, "Mussolini is always right," has appar- 
ently been the complete code of the ethics of journalism. 

There are three types of correspondents in Rome: the volunteer 
unpaid propagandists, the bribed, the mental lackeys, and the Ital- 
ians; the majority, fundamentally honest, who are realistic enough 
to trim sails and make necessary compromises until a situation arises 
which makes a decision imperative ; and the few who defy the censor- 
ship, smuggle news across the frontier, fight the dictatorship, and 
accept deportation as part of the game. 

The commonest form of bribery is the gift of free use of the 
Italian cables or wireless up to 5,000 words a month. Practically all 
the pro-Fascist press in the United States and other countries apply 
for or accept this bribe. When the present writer took over the 
Chicago Tribune bureau in 1925 he was almost immediately threat- 
ened with the loss of this Fascist gift if he failed to support the Duce. 
Needless to say the owner of the Tribune knew nothing about this 
bribe, but the business manager of the Paris edition of the paper 
not only knew about it, but wrote to my successor suggesting that 
he try to get the free cable restored. 

A handshake from Mussolini has been found to work wonders 
in emotional reaction from leading democrats and self -announced 
exponents of freedom of the press. The only explanation members 
of the New York Times staff have been able to give for the con- 
tinued use of pro-Fascist correspondence is that the late and famous 
owner, Adolph S. Ochs, never got over a visit his representative 

* Cable from Paris to Chicago Daily News, from Edgar Ansel Mowrer. 
*C£. "You Can't Print That" (1929) and "Freedom of the Press' (1935). 

332 Sawdust Caesar 

arranged to the Chigi Palace and the handshake which resulted. There 
are also many American editors and correspondents who take the 
commendatore ribbon as seriously as the ubiquitous French Legion 
d'honneur. And there is of course the annual 5,000,000-lire propa- 
ganda fund for press propaganda abroad. 

All in all, as has been said, Fascism has been a great success in 
the world press, and credit is due almost entirely to the journalist 
who is dictator. Thanks to his efforts, the vast majority of newspaper 
readers throughout the world believe that he led the march on Rome, 
that he saved Italy from Bolshevism, that he balanced the budget, 
that Fascism economy was a success until Wall Street crashed in 
1929, and that Fascism is a social philosophy worth serious consid- 
eration among desperate nations. 

The world may also have been told that freedom of the press 
exists in Italy. In January, 1927, the Duce said to a congress of 
journalists: "You express an error if you suppose I have suppressed 
liberty of the press." On May 26, 1927, he admitted that "all the 
journals of the Opposition have been suppressed," but in 1930 he 
wrote and signed and sold an article in which he stated : 

"Italian journalism is free because it serves only a Cause and a 
regime; it is free because it can, and does, exercise functions of 
control, criticism, and propulsion, within the compass of the laws of 
the regime. I deny absolutely in the most absolute manner that the 
ItaHan press lives in the realm of dullness and umformity."« 

When Marmontel, author of Les Contes Moraux, was a prisoner 
in the Bastille he complained about it to the governor. The gover- 
nor rephed : "It is true you are not allowed to go out of here, but 
inside the Bastille you are as free as any man in the world." 

'Neu^ Yorli World. March 2, 1930, first page, magazine section. 



het There Be Culture! 

With-out Art there is no civilisation. I believe that Art marks the 
dawn of every Civilisation. . . . (Mussolini, address, Accademia 
delle belle Arti, 1926.) 

advance in culture as well as in patriotism and the train sched- 
ule, impressed itself upon the fulminating mind of the dictator. 

Himself a novelist, essayist, student of philosophy, violinist, and 
associate of the Futurist artist Marinetti, Mussolini in the years of 
relative peace which followed the silent revolution felt himself com- 
petent to direct the seven great arts and censor the seven lively arts. 

In politics he had accepted as his hero Machiavelli's prince, who 
was Borgia; he had proclaimed himself a modern "enlightened 
tyrant," but in the arts he thought of other tyrants, one contemporary 
with his hero, Lorenzo the Magnificent, the great patron, and an- 
other who long before Italy gave birth to the Renaissance ruled an 
era of grandeur in Athens. 

The age of Pericles and Plato, the golden age of Greece when cre- 
ative mind reached imequalled fruition, when art and science flour- 
ished, when even everyday workers, stone masons who cut the 
steles for the tombs of the dead, were possessed of a feeling of 
beauty such as has never been felt by a race or a people before or 
after, followed, it is true, closely upon victories at sea and on land, 
Marathon and Salamis. But Athens then did not become, as Kaiser 
Wilhelm once hoped or Mussolini now desires his people to become, 
swollen with military glory, dominating other peoples and spreading 
kultur to all lands considered inferior. All that Athens had after 
her wars was a feeling of safety and freedom : the enemy no longer 


334 Sawdust Caesar 

threatened its gates and the wolf no longer skulked at the doors of 
men who felt the creative instinct. 

Mussolini, writing of tyrants, compliments his predecessor, Per- 
icles. The Greek was considerably a demagogue and somewhat a 
tyrant, the true enlightened tyrant whom Mussolini once called the 
best of governors and whom he wished to emulate. Pericles had the 
breadth of mind of a statesman, a prince, and an artist. Under him 
Athens rallied to rebuild the ravages of war and to make life a 
finer, nobler thing; under the modern tyrant all life becomes a strug- 
gle for survival, a battle for food and clothing and shelter, and 
while the tyrant rebuilds the army there is no rebuilding of the 
human spirit. Pericles emptied the war chests for remaking and en- 
nobling his city-empire; Mussolini spent the national wealth upon 
maintaining himself in power, by creating a private militia, doubling 
the strength of the army, preparing the nation for war. 

Pericles, innately an artist, gathered about him the leaders in 
sculpture, architecture, philosophy, science, art, and learning, while 
he who calls himself an enlightened tyrant today, followed the ex- 
ample by creating a national academy, subsidizing its members, and 
organizing art exhibitions where the painters are given Fascist propa- 
ganda themes before they are allowed to put brush to canvas. 

In April, 1929, when the thirty members of the first Fascist Acad- 
emy were announced, the great men of Italy were conspicuous by 
their absence. D'Annunzio, Croce, Ferrero, Papini, Ugo Ojetti, Sem 
Benelli and Grazia Deledda had either refused membership or had 
not been asked to join. Croce the philosopher and Ferrero the his- 
torian were not asked because they were living under police surveil- 
lance since they were admitted, although inactive, anti-Fascists, and 
Signora Deledda, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1927, 
had two failings — she was not a Fascist and she was disqualified by 
her sex. The absence of d'Annunzio was the most remarked. In 
1930 he had occasion to explain the mystery. He had replied to 
Mussolini's invitation with a short note. 

"A thoroughbred horse," wrote d'Annunzio, "shotdd not mix with 
jackasses. This is not an insult, but an eugenic-artistic fact." 

Notable members of the Academy are Pirandello, Marinetti, and 
Guglielmo Marconi. On accepting the presidency, the inventor of 

het There Be Culture! 335 

the wireless said : "Italy's soul is growing as its body grows. Arts 
never were on a higher plane. Intellectual freedom never was so 
prevalent." (That same month seven professors in almost as many 
universities were arrested for insisting on academic freedom.) 

For the new academicians MussoHni established a new uniform 
consisting of a three-cornered hat reminiscent of the war of 1812, a 
coat similar to that worn by officers of the colored branch of the 
Knights of Pythias, with frogs, epaulets, and gold braid, and trousers 
like those worn by the Louisiana Zouaves in the Civil War but in the 
color of the French spahis ; polo boots, a sword, spurs, and sidearms. 
The Academy was instructed to combat every foreign influence in 
art, notably American motion-picture films, German architecture, and 
French literary style. No artistic work was to receive approval unless 
100 per cent Italian in style and inspiration. 

The education of youth was entrusted to the only philosopher who 
has accepted Fascism, Gentile, whose first occupation was the refor- 
mation of the entire pubhc-school system. The now famous Gentile 
reform is "based on the principle that the State should aim at a 
formative rather than a practical education, seeking to educate in the 
original sense of the word rather than to instruct ; a humanist educa- 
tion would achieve this end."^ 

In practice the system has not been carried out completely ; it has 
come into conflict with the Catholic Church, and it has been thor- 
oughly corrupted by the militarization of youth which Mussohni 
later insisted must be injected into it. 

Gentile aimed at humanitarianism ; Mussolini established rifle prac- 
tice in the high schools and machine-gun shooting in the universities 
of Italy. The one aimed at the ennobling of the character of youth, 
the latter made class hatred an absolute part of the intellectual life 
of the nation's fountains of learning and enlightenment. Mussolini 
has had all the textbooks rewritten so that today there is an actual 
perversion of the facts of world history, and he has banned from 
the public schools and from the universities all those who are not 
adherents of his party or who refuse to remain at least silent and 
docile followers of the course of instruction set down for them by 
the political party of which he is the hierarch. 

336 Sawdust Caesar 

It would indeed be difficult for the Anglo-American mind or even 
the Latin mind in those nations living in a tradition of freedom, to 
comprehend the situation in Italy. It would require an American 
citizen, for example, to imagine such a situation: The Democratic 
Party, let us say, having organized a secret militia and obtained 
arms through conspiracy with the Secretary of War, marches into 
Washington and establishes a party dictatorship. Having pacified the 
country, it proceeds, in due time, to appoint presidents of universities 
who are judged more by their enthusiasm for the party than on 
pedagogical merits, orders every public-school teacher to become a 
politician or quit, then rewrites the history of the nation and gives 
orders regarding painting and science and general culture, all of 
which, in the future, must have a political party bias. 

Under this new regime, then, George Washington and Abraham 
Lincoln, having been classified as Republicans, are pronounced in- 
ferior to say James J. Whiffletree, the man who led the "march on 
Washington," and the Battle of Gettysburg is placed second to that 
event. Eventually the Whiffletree-Democratic Party announces that 
it is the element which won the World War. It is so written in the 
new school books. Militarism is exalted as the rule for success and 
the defeatist words "First in peace" are erased from the remaining 
statues of Washington while "First in war" are underlined. Jeffer- 
son, the Garibaldi of his time, is erased from history books because 
of having been a "radical, traitor, and Bolshevik." Under the new 
regime whatever Whiffletree decrees is art, is Art. 

This is just what Fascist education has done or aims to do. Going 
from the ridiculous to the actual, here is an instance: The govern- 
ment has published a series of "unique" textbooks, one for each 
grade, which are obligatory in private as well as public schools. In 
the reader for the fourth form there is given the life of the greatest 
man who ever lived in Italy, Benito Mussolini, paraphrased like the 
life of Jesus Christ, from the time of birth in the house of his poor 
parents in Nazareth-Predappio, until that day when his spirit con- 
quers Rome. In this book the martyrdom of Christian saints is 
replaced by the history of "Fascist Martyrs," the young men who, 
despite being armed with guns and clubs, sometimes met their death 
in, battles with their usually unarmed and outnumbered opponents. 


Let There Be Culture! «y 

"One can hardly believe that human barbarity had reached such 
depths," comments the textbook. The Fascist militia is exalted in 
many pages and children are taught it is their duty "to love at the 
same time, the book and the gun, the two arms of knowledge." 

In geography, astronomy, and history, Fascist teachers have to 
acknowledge that there is a universe and that a few but less important 
nations exist, but practically all the teachings relate to Rome and 
Italy, to the Caesars who built the past empire and their successor 
who just as capably rules the present. 

The second greatest event in recent history is the World War and 
it was won ahnost single-handed, too, by the Fascisti. I myself am 
not a military genius nor a superpatriot but with some pride I have 
heard from the lips of two men, Hindenburg and Foch, calculated 
statements that the lo or 20 per cent advantage in troops which 
America had at the front broke the stalemate which the French and 
British, outnumbered and outgunned, had succeeded in maintaining, 
and won the war — it is not only historically but militarily true— but 
in Italy some millions of children repeat in the Coue fashion, over 
and over, "At the battle of Vittorio Veneto the ItaUan nation won 
the World War;— at the battle of Vittorio Veneto the Italian na- 
tion won the World War." The Itahan nation, as every well- 
brought-up child ought to know, was the Fascist nation. Mussolini, 
single-handed, had forced the country into the war. He had reor- 
ganized the nation after Caporetto. It is true there were other nations 
involved, but they were merely allies of Italy. 

But in all history the greatest event is the conquest of Rome in 
1922. Much more important to world civilization than the war. Be- 
cause here it was that MussoHni capitalized the war victory and 
gave the victors, the Fascisti, their reward, the rule of the nation. 
Their heirs and assigns, the children-readers of this textbook must 
drink deep of the fountain of militarism. They must repeat: 

"Italy, a hundred years ago divided and enslaved, is today one 
of the greatest powers of the worid, presenting an admirable spec- 
tacle of discipline, work, and faith. The heroes and the martyrs 
of the Risorgimento, of the Great War, and the Fascist Revolution 
have made our country free, united, prosperous, and strong. It is 

33^ Sawdust Caesar 

now your turn to grow up healthy in mind and body, to continue the 
work, so that Italy may once more be a splendid lighthouse of civiliza- 
tion. You must be ready, as were your fathers and grandfathers, if the 
country calls you, to fly to arms and die serenely should the safety 
and greatness of your country exact from you this supreme sacrifice." 

In intellectual centers, today, there is no longer any protest. It is 
the accepted order. A critical date in the history of Italian cultural 
degeneration is March 28, 1926, when the universities held their 
national congress of philosophy in Milan. The subject for discussion 
the opening day was "Culture and Liberty." Both items scared the 
mayor of the city. He ordered the dissolution of the congress the 
very afternoon of the opening day, and the congress closed after 
voting a protest "against an act of violence which pretends, but in 
vain, to limit the domain of philosophy and the thoughtful life." 

But the university men guessed wrong. It is neither a pretension 
nor is it in vain; it is a very real fact that from 1926 to the present 
day the minor inquisition of the universities has brought about their 
complete Fascistization. Today no professor may teach in the higher 
schools unless approved by the Fascist Party and given a card of 
legitimation or tessera. He must declare himself an adherent of 
Mussolini's. As first assistant to the Duce, Augusto Turati, had 
declared that "In my capacity as secretary of the party I assume 
the direct organization of the professors, lecturers, and assistant in- 
structors of Fascist universities, the most important category of 
studies efficaciously operating in the kingdom, with the definite in- 
tention of giving them a solid and harmonic organization according 
to the principles of the necessity of Fascism. . . . [Outside the uni- 
versities] in the Fascist federation, the university professors will 
bring the precious contribution of their wisdom. . . ." 

Every day the Fascist press brings news of how things go under 
this "totalitarian" system which is making Italy a Fascist Utopian 
cultural state. As for example ? 


The Professor Livio Prati is dismissed from the chair of psy- 

" Bulletin of the Italian Institute of Bio-Chemistry, Milan, September 15, 1930, p. 432. 

Let There Be Culture! 339 

chiatry and neuropathology on account of incompatibility with the 
general political directives of the Government. (D.M. 14 July 1930.) 

Professor Joseph Rensi, who for many years had the chair of 
philosophy at the University of Genoa and who is considered one of 
the leading intellects of the kingdom, was arrested, imprisoned, dis- 
missed, because the post-office censor found some remarks derogatory 
to Mussolini in a letter which Rensi's wife sent him. 

In November, 1930, the new secretary-general of the Fascist Party 
addressed a circular to the university students of Italy, asking them 
to spy on their professors and instructors; it was not only their 
right, it was their duty to do so. They could show their fidehty to 
the party best by denouncing their teachers if the latter at any time 
said or did anything offensive to Fascism. "Your judgment," said 
Giuriati's circular, "towards your professors must be free and dic- 
tated by the surest Fascist intransigence ; it must not depend on the 
kindness or the severity of the professor." Students are asked to be 
the instruments, "the most vigorous will of the battle of Fascism 
against the old world of democratico-liberals" with which there could 
be no relations in common. 

And so it goes. 

First to see that culture would die under a political party's control 
of the universities was — Matteotti. He declared there was an in- 
ternal police system at work in the universities, watching both stu- 
dents and professors and reporting to the Fascist Cheka on all 
liberal thought and action. Matteotti said : "With the imposition . . . 
of a State pliilosophy in the secondary schools and with the political 
oath imposed on all teachers, even in the universities, the education 
system has completely lost its lay quality ... the teachers' organi- 
zations have been rendered valueless ... the decrees promulgated 
by the Fascist Minister of Education, profiting by the plenary powers 
of the government, have thrown the education system of the country 
into confusion." 

Education, that is, pure education, has ceased to exist. In Italy as 
in Russia it is now class education, in Russia Communist education, 
in Italy Fascist education, which aims to give a political propaganda 
bias to everything, succeeds in history completely, somewhat in geog- 

340 Sawdust Caesar 

raphy and philosophy and other branches, in almost everything, in 
fact, but mathematics. (It is only in Germany, the present great 
stronghold of anti-Semitism that the universities and their students 
have rejected Einstein, not because they understand or fail to under- 
stand the theory of relativity, but because they know that after all 
its exponent is nothing but a "sau Jude".) 

In Italy, as in Germany, the chief purpose of the ultra-nationalist 
movement is military superiority. The schools are merely primary 
grades for the Fascist militia and the army of the future. Militarism, 
inculcated in youth, will make easy the militarization of the whole 
country. Moreover, the first education in army training is distinctly 
Fascist, as distinguished from royal, or belonging to the King, and 
the spirit of the warrior is a party spirit, which the school-teachers 
are ordered to prepare. 

Every Sunday and every holiday at least 400,000 youths aged 
eighteen to twenty, all too young to be called for the obligatory 
eighteen months' army service — a shorter term, it may be mentioned, 
than the three-year period which the Duce himself escaped by going 
to Switzerland when he reached the age of conscription — are lined 
up on all the army parade-grounds of Italy, which for those days 
become an armed camp, when officers give the first instructions. 
Anyone failing to attend is severely punished. Fearing a protest 
from the Pope, the Fascisti announced that "field masses" would be 
held and the blessing of God called down upon those preparing for 
future bloodshed. 

"The dawn of life," "The hope of the nation," "The army of to- 
morrow," Mussolini calls his Balillas, or militarized youth move- 
ment. Each boy is given a rifle to mark his entrance into full Fascist 
membership. He is promised it in the Baliila booklet: "Youthful 
conscripts of the Fascist revolution receive the rifle as the youth of 
ancient Rome received the toga of virility. It is one of the most beau- 
tiful celebrations of the party and most significant." 

At the age of eight Italian boys are taken into the Baliila and 
militarized until the age of fourteen, when the Avanguardisti take 
them up to eighteen. It was to fill the gap 18 to 20 that the Fascist 
Grand Council made its 1930 law which begins army training on 
Sundays and holidays for that period. The official figures for Baliila 

Let There Be Culture! 341 

vary from 800,000 to 950,000; Avanguardisti from 300,000 to 
400,000; there are, in short, more than a million of them being 
militarized and a little less than a million girls and young women, 
in two similar organizations, Piccole Italiane and Giovani Italiane, 
who also receive some military training. 

Having thus militarized the national culture of the future, the 
"enlightened tyrant-Prince" with one of those grandiose gestures for 
which he is now famous, one day devoted his thoughts to culture. 
Contributing to L'Arte Fascista, he wrote this manifesto: "Let us 
not waste the patrimony that has come down to us from the past, 
and let us further and create a new patrimony which shall be the 
peer of that past. Let us create a new art, an art of our own, a 
Fascist art." 

He then placed the future of painting in the hands of his com- 
panion in early prisons and his colleague in the original fascio, that 
same rebel artist Marinetti who in writing the Futurist Manifesto, 
began with these revolutionary words : 

We intend to destroy the museums and burn the libraries ! 
We hate unto death vulgarity, academic mediocrity, pedantry, 
and the cult of antique and worm-eaten art ! 

We intend to raise love to the sphere of danger ! 
We shall sing the songs of war ! 

In 1930 Fascism was ready to show the world what it had accom- 
plished: it held its first exposition in Paris, where a hundred can- 
vases, reeking with paint in cubes and circles, with words written 
across them, were shown an expectant art world: the show was a 
decided black eye for perspective, a swift kick to harmony in colors, 
and a "morte" for composition, a thumbed nose to significant form, 
altogether a dizzying spectacle, a cry for Fascist freedom. 

It was also a complete return to the modern art — of the spring 
of 1914. It was Marinetti's Futurists back to the very day they 
dropped art for war. On the canvases the Futurist corpse of 1914 
was stretched gaudily dead, with the signatures and dates of the 
living moment. 

In 1933 modern Fascist art repeated its show in the Kronprinzen- 
palast in Berlin. The noted critic, Walter Mehring, saw nothing 

34^ Sawdust Caesar 

modern nor Fascist in it. "Severini, who once painted a turbulent 
chef-d'oeuvre in his 'Bal Tabarin,' " he reported, "shows us today a 
still Hfe in the pure French tradition of Braque. Carra, co-founder 
of the Valori plastici and Futurism, has returned to Impressionism, 
and the canvases of Montarini have nothing modern about them but 
the date 1932. Chirico, in the portrait of his. brother, 'The Black 
Shirt,' alone recalls Fascism in its effect on color. This canvas was 
painted in . . . 1910! Chirico, Carra, Funi have become first in 
Italy in the tradition of classicism. I repeat : the first in Italy. Be- 
cause modern Italian painting has done nothing but imitate Picasso, 
the pioneer in all new styles and also in neo-classicism. 'Us pissent sur 
mes taXons* he says of all his young imitators. And, in fact, it is he 
who has revolutionized classicism." 

But in Italy laws, decrees, orders can be issued regulating art. 
Painters, sculptors, architects, in order to participate in exhibitions, 
work on government orders, and produce statues for the cemeteries, 
the important lucrative outlet for the sculptors, must belong to a 
Fascist syndicate and must therefore imbibe Fascist politics and 
culture, translate them into their work. At the Venice International 
and the Monza decorative arts salons Fascisti are given the promi- 
nent place and almost all the prizes, and the only pictures and statues 
taken by the government are those of syndicate members. The jury 
in all cases receives orders from Rome; the commission of the 
ministries likewise sees to it that only members of the Fascist 
Academy and the party organization are honored by prizes and 

But the Duce's latest stroke of genius concerned the 1930 Venice 
exposition when he gave the order that all the painters must sym- 
bolize Fascism in some manner if only by the title to their canvas. 
Most of the pictures were illustrations; many were symbolic con- 
coctions of the spirit of Fascism ; there were nxnnerous military scenes 
— the Black Shirts charging — could it have been unarmed civilians ? — 
with the bayonet, or Mussolini on a white or black or red horse, 
riding into Rome. (Somehow no one thought of painting him enter- 
ing the Eternal City in a Pullman sleeper.) 

In defense, the authorities offer the fact that from primitives to 
present-day portrait painters, artists took orders from popes, princes. 

Let There Be Culture! 343 

and patrons ; Titian and Michelangelo and the greatest painter of 
all time, El Greco, not excepted. They also hint that the Soviets 
influence writers and painters, but it is nevertheless true that the 
enforcement of politics upon esthetics in Italy is unique in the his- 
tory of the world. Up to now the results, too, are unique. They 
are mostly propaganda and make nice railroad posters. 

Of the making of books there is no end : Fascist books dealing 
with party politics and party philosophy, if such a term can be used; 
the fiction produced in the past thirteen years outside of the works 
of the old writers have not been worth while translating or reading. 
The leaders of the march on Rome, De Bono, De Vecchi, and Italo 
Balbo, two of whom have the upbringing and training of men of 
violence, have written prefaces to books on poetry, and one of 
the new authors, Virgilio Fiorentino of Florence, is called the equal 
of Virgil and Homer, the master of Milton. 

His great Fascist epic is called Le sy Cantate delta Rivolusione, 
the twenty-seven songs of the revolution, in twenty -seven volumes, 
each illustrated in modern art, each bound in sumptuous leather, 
the total costing some $600. Once a month the lucky subscriber 
receives this reminder of Fascist creative genius, richer and thicker 
than has yet come from the mind of mortal man. 

This is the story in Fiorentino's masterpiece: At the beginning 
there is a divine intervention of the Trinity against Satan, who is 
seeking to destroy Holy Rome by means of Russian Bolshevism. 
The Unknown Soldier, Dante, and the Virgin Mary appear before 
Almighty God — this writer has no intention of being sacrilegious, 
he is merely reporting the facts — and ask for aid. God decides to 
invest Benito Mussolini with supernatural power and in consequence 
sends the Archangel Gabriel to visit the offices of the Popolo d'ltalia 
in Milan, to present to the future Duce the lictor's emblem, the 
fascio, as a symbol of Divine Will. 

Hell becomes alarmed and Satan sends one of his worst devils 
to the Versailles Peace Conference, the devil enters into the soul of 
President Woodrow Wilson, takes on the body of Wilson, and sends 
Wilson to the infernal regions. At Versailles, the devil, replacing 
Wilson, persuades the plenipotentiaries to steal the Roman goddess 
of victory and to deliver her enchained to Yugoslavia. 

344 Sawdust Caesar 

This action infuriates Mussolini, who immediately forms the 
Fascist Party and burns the Socialist newspapers of Milan; then 
begins a continual battle with the radical forces, which, however, at 
the general elections of 1919 are able to capture the goddess of victory 
and place her on a rock in Dalmatia, for delivery to Lenin! 

In nick of time d'Annunzio, with the eagles of his aviation, flies 
to the aid of Mussolini and even Satan cannot stop him, although he 
has the aid of Premier Giolitti. Nevertheless, God believes that the 
goddess of victory is still in danger and sends the angels to save 
her and to place her, for permanent safety, in the offices of Benito 
Mussolini in Milan. Mussolini, in a noble strophe, then swears to 
protect her with his life and until his death and to transport her to 
Rome, where she will rest eternally as the defender of the grandeur 
of Latinity. 

There follows a bloody battle, the angels of the Lord and the 
Black Shirts on one side, the devils and the Communists on the other, 
and as the former begin to scent victory, Mussolini, like Saint Paul, 
is carried to heaven by the angels, where God points out the beau- 
tiful future of Fascism. 

In the last chant the doors of the Popolo d'ltalia are burst open 
by the heavenly host and the goddess of victory, alive and in re- 
splendent armor, is led by the Duce into the Eternal City. God 
descends from his throne to contemplate the spectacle, as the chief 
of the Black Shirts presents the goddess to the King. The gates of 
Saint Peter's open and the Sovereign Pontiff advances to bless the 
goddess, and the epic poem terminates with a touching scene in which 
the Pope, the King, and the Duce embrace each other fraternally. 

The author, being poet and politician, does not miss an opportunity 
to say nasty things about America, Britain, Protestantism, and ex- 
Premier Nitti. The great work was chosen from several hundred 
submitted in response to an appeal addressed to "the poets of Fascist 
Italy." Fiorentino compares his style to that of the "Chanson de 
Roland"; he has written 20,000 verses and expressed his purpose 
as aiding in the love feast of the Roman Catholic Church and the 
Fascist Party. (But that was before the break with the Vatican 
of the summer of 1931.) 

The censorship of books was established with the following order : 

Let There Be Culture! 345 

"From now on the publishing-houses are invited to submit the 
proofs of all works which have a political character or content, to 
the Fascist federations, in order to permit a close censorship. In case 
of doubt, uncertainty, or controversy, the federations must transmit 
the proofs to the press office of the National Fascist Party, whose 
decision shall be final."^ In addition, an index expurgatorius is sent 
to all book-dealers. Italy alone among civilized nations banned All 
Quiet on the Western Front. This book was considered dangerous 
to the spirit of militarism. 

Under the circumstances, therefore, of censorship and superna- 
tionalism which Mussolini thought would create an atmosphere 
similar to that in Athens in the time of Plato, culture, instead of 
prospering in Italy, has, in the opinion of most foreign critics, gone 
to its grave. Even Italians admit it is moribund. Similar to the Nazi 
leader's declaration, "When I hear talk about culture, I want to 
draw my revolver," is the explanation the noted theoretician of 
Fascism, Signor Ugo Ojetti, makes for the decrease in book publica- 
tion in Italy. "Reader," he says in his newspaper, "let not the small 
number of books under review amaze you. Ours is an era of action, 
when not books but deeds matter. Instead of reading superfluous 
books, read rather — and reread — the speeches of the leaders." 

Ernest Boyd, reviewing the London Times 1935 special Italian 
number literary supplement, calls it "a frank confession of intellec- 
tual steriUty; no name of any original distinction is mentioned be- 
longing to a newcomer. Many fine writers are ignored, others are 
mentioned and praised in the precise degree of their acceptance of 
Fascism. . . . Italian culture, under Fascism, has nothing to offer 
the world. This may, as everyone assures us, make the trains run 
on time, but it does not interest those of us who heard of Italy 
before Mussolini invented this expensive way of advertising that 
not altogether obscure country." 

In the preparation of the new Italian Encyclopasdia the two Sena- 
tors in charge reported that there was not a single savant among 
the Fascisti, not a single man of letters, not a single intellectual 

■January 29, 1929. Circular issued by the Fascist National Party, signed by Augusto 

3^ Sawdust Caesar 

capable of carrying on the great work, so they employed non- or anti- 
Fascist talent. 

When the party press discovered this act of treason it let loose 
its polemical tirades. Senators replied there would be no encyclo- 
pccdia unless the right men were employed regardless of politics. 
The semiofficial // Tcvere answered that "if there is penury of com- 
petence in the Fascist camp, if Fascism has little in common with 
culture, it is of no great matter. The Fascist! have done and are 
doing more important things than making encyclopsedias. The matter 
might just as well be dropped." 

At the end of the first half-decade of Fascism the Under Secre- 
tary of State, Giuseppe Bottai, admitted that "the sympathies of all 
those who in the academic field still occupy the first places are 
neutral or opposed to us." 

As the years went on and the leaders of Italian culture still re- 
fused to accept dictatorship, the regime tightened its laws and 
decrees and deported a larger number of intellectuals to the Liparian 
Islands, On May 15, 1935, mass arrests of intellectuals took place 
in Turin, Milan, and other cities. Among the victims are noted uni- 
versity professors, including Professors Martinetti, Solari, Cosmo, 
Salvatorelli, and Giua, the scientist, whose wife also is in prison. 
The crime of the Giuas, however, is not intellectual opposition to 
Fascism, but being the parents of a political enemy.* 

Returning from a visit to Italy, Anthony M. Turano wrote that 
"The atmosphere itself is so depressing that no outstanding writer 
has arisen here since the advent of the Dark Age of Fascism. Even 
the novelist is inevitably cramped and self-conscious, for fear he 
picture contemporary life in a manner unsuitable to the Fascist 
idea. The consequence might be imprisonment or exile. . . . Further- 
more, the psychological emphasis has been so completely switched to 
patriotic stupidities, that there is no longer a reading pubHc in the 
older sense. There is only the State and its trembling subjects."^ 

Angel Flores found that the young Fascist intellectuals have at 
last got around to transcendental quarrels over Form versus Content, 

* Manchester Guardian, June 7, 1935. Arrest of intellectuais was apparently not of 
enough importance for the American press. 
" American Mercury. 

Let There Be Culture! 347 

furious hunts for the tnot juste, and an attempt to surpass "the 
perfect beauty of their idol, the fairy-like Wilde," while the "revo- 
lutionary" writers in 1935 discovered James Joyce and immediately 
issued books with interior monologue as the feature. Critics bally- 
hooed Ettori Settani's Who Killed Giovanni Bandonef as a Fascist 
triumph. It is one of history's present ironies that the only important 
novel out of Italy under Fascism is an anti-Fascist novel. Of 
Fontaniara, by Ignazio Silone, one of the large group of intellectuals 
either in prison or exile, Clifton Fadiman says it is Italy's most 
valuable export in some years and adds that Fascism has "destroyed 
the simple, deep-rooted, and organic culture of agricultural Italy." 

The collapse or death of culture under Fascism is probably a 
great surprise to Mussolini. He has willed otherwise. Early in his 
dictatorial career he made the following prediction : "The Italian 
school will again take its deserved place in the world. From our uni- 
versity chairs true scientists and poets will again illuminate Italian 
thought. . . . / have willed that in collaboration with the universi- 
ties, departments of Fascist economics, of corporative law, and a 
whole series of fruitful institutes of Fascist culture, should be cre- 
ated. Thus a purely scholastic and academic world is being per- 
meated by Fascism, which is creating a new culture through the fervid 
and complex activity of real, of theoretical, and of spiritual ex- 

But there is an apparent discrepancy between the will and the 
deed. Mussolini wills art, he wills Fascist economics, he brilliantly 
recognizes that civilization perishes without art, and in practice his 
assistants militarize and stultify, to use redundancy, the national mind. 
To the Duce's glittering generalities must be added the more practical 
expression of the president of the National Fascist Confederation 
of Intellectuals, who announced a goal for the membership : "Of 
journalists and writers we have requested that they engage in 
what may be called 'spiritual imperialism,' in the theater, the book, 
the newspaper, and by means of lectures." 

The figurative donning of the black shirt by Italian culture was 
literally exemplified in November, 1934, when the corps of teachers 
of the nation, by order of the Ministry of Education, put itself into 
Fascist Balilla or Fascist militia uniforms consisting of black top 

34^ Sawdust Caesar 

boots, riding-breeches, tunic, black shirt, black fez. At the same 
time (November 7th) army officers in uniform took the places of 
the professors of the country and began in high schools and colleges 
the compulsory military culture courses announced two months earlier 
by Mussolini. No high school or college student can now pass from 
grade to grade unless he has a qualifying mark in militarism. 

Under these circumstances the "Hberation of the spirit" has no 
future in Italy; the present is best summed up by Professor Horace 
M. Kallen, who made a study of cultural conditions in Italy and 
reported that "What I saw and heard and read there left me with 
the feeling that where art and thought are concerned, Fascist Italy 
is not alive, but drugged and dead. ... In the world of art nothing 
is happening : only the Futurists whipping a dead horse and calling 
him Pegasus." 



The Imperialist Road to War 

porarily, in his dealings with the Vatican, totally victorious 
in suppressing opposition parties and press, totally unsuccessful in 
attempting to create art and culture. 

Economically, the evidence is incontrovertible, Fascism has been 
a failure, and the lowering of the standard of living has been an 
inevitable result. The Fascist hierarchy, the manufacturers, big-busi- 
ness men, the bureaucracy and army may be better off in Italy than 
before the war, but the masses of people, workmen and middle 
class, are decidedly worse off. 

Certain Fascist claims have already been disposed of in preceding 
chapters, notably that "Bolshevism and social disorder have been, 
abolished," that "Industry and commerce have revived," or that 
"employment has increased," a claim which was justified in 1925, 
but which was made in 1927 and 1928, when it was untrue, and 
which is ridiculous today. But there are still propagandists who claim 
that "wages and the cost of living have been balanced," and that 
the budget has been balanced, and many things which official Fascist 
statistics themselves deny. 

The most important of the achievements which Mussolini and 
philo-Fascists have listed, in addition to those discussed previously, 
are the following : 

The trains run on time. 
The marshes have been drained. 
Public works. 

Restoration of the prestige of Italy. 
Rebirth and intensification of Nationalism. 


350 Sawdust Caesar 

"Order, Discipline, Hierarchy" (The Fascist slogan). 
The Authoritarian State. 

Celebrating- the first decade of Fascism, Mussolini in a public 
oration recounted all the material achievements. "And furthermore," 
he continued, "I say that we have accomplished even grander things. 
Because the Fascist idea has become part of the Italian nation, has 
become the Italian nation itself, and is destined to live in the genera- 
tions which follow. 

"Ten years of Fascism have created, as I have said, an epoch. 
The material gains constitute only a part of the work. . . . Fascism 
is destined to live. Fascism is a living spirit and that spirit will live 
even after the death of the pioneers who created it. 

"The great movements which have survived are those which are 
animated with spirit. . . . Ten years of power have given to Fascism 
a spirit which, above the material things which it has constructed, 
is destined to live like the other great movements of the past. The 
material realizations are useful for the nation for years. . . . The 
spirit which created material things will live and will continue even 
after these things themselves have disappeared. 

"Already other nations begin to study us. The people of the entire 
world demand of us: 'What have you accomplished?* The spirit 
of Fascism today is penetrating other nations outside our frontiers 
and will live under other suns. 

"It is not a matter of the simple functioning of a system nor of 
mechanical organizations of a government. Fascism regards itself 
as a living organism, it believes in and develops itself in a measure 
which the years augment in vibrant vitality. ... In ten years its 
virility has been infused into the very existence and the life of the 
Italian people. Fascism has fortified this virility and lias given it 
plenitude of the kind which all nations have which survive, and it 
has given to all humanity its spirit and its benediction. . . . Ten 
years have created a living organism, full of ardent life, promising 
us eternity. Fascism will transmit to posterity its heritage of Power 
and Will." 

Fascism's achievements, according to Mr. Marcosson, "ranged all 
the way from purging the streets of beggars and the elimination of 

The Imperialist Road to War 351 

the once-dreaded Mafia to the stimulation of production, the reorgani- 
zation of governmental departments, the transfer of pubHc utilities 
to private ownership, the conversion of the railway deficit to a 
profit, the checking of currency gambling and the restoration of 
Italian prestige abroad." According to Mr. Cortesi^ "whatever 
opinions anyone may hold concerning spiritual and doctrinal content 
of Fascism, it is almost universally conceded that from a purely 
material standpoint Italy has made great strides under the present 
regime." He then proceeds to sum up the gains under Mussolini: 

The technical equipment of the nation has been greatly improved. 

"The reclamation work covers an area of about 10,000,000,000 
[sic] acres, involving the construction of 830 miles of drainage canals, 
700 miles of irrigation canals, 2,000 miles of new roads, 105 rural 
aqueducts, and 3,500 farmhouses." 

Five thousand miles of road resurfaced in 1932; 3,500 miles of 
new roads built. 

Great improvements in State railroads; 350 new miles opened to 
traffic in ten years ; 300 miles under construction. 

"Especially important is the new Florence-Bologna line which 
has cost more than $70,000,000 and will soon be opened to traffic." 

The gospel of Fascism, according to Howard R. Marraro of the 
Italian Department of Columbia University:^ 

The Italian today is much better fed than he was. 

The standards of living have improved from 1913 to the 
present. This improvement is particularly marked during the 
twelve years of the Fascist regime. 

Thanks to the labor legislation of the Fascist regime, there 
has been no important strike or lockout in Italy since 1926. 

^ New Yor\ Times, August 12, 1933. 

"Columbia University's president, Nicholas Murray Butler, is generally regarded as 
the ace of liberalism in America. With equal thunders President Butler wars against 
Communism and Fascism, while he upholds the best traditions of American democracy. 
At least so he claims. Despite the fact that convincing proof has been given that Fascism 
flourishes at Columbia, that the Casa Italiana is a Fascist agency, dh-ected by Fascists or 
philo-Fascists, spreading propaganda for a policy opposed to the American liberal tradi- 
tion and in violation of academic freedom, nothing has been done by President Buder 
to remedy this situation. 

352 Sawdust Caesar 

The Opera Nasionale Dopolavoro supplies entertainment, 
education, physical exercise, health, and welfare work. 

Increased wheat production. 

Hydroelectric power tells another story of progress under 
the Fascist regime. 

Unemployment kept down by public works . . . costing 24,- 
708,509,497.12 lire, or about $2,148,572,000, to August 31, 
1932 . . . ; road building; land reclamation. 

Gold reserve rose from 5,626,300,000 lire on December 31, 
1931* to 6,838,500,000 in April 1934. 

"Fascism in Italy has thus made genuine progress toward 
solving a series of fundamental economic problems. . . . The 
economic and social achievements of Fascism are truly impres- 
sive. ... A more prosperous and happy nation." 

Least important and most quoted is the argument that the trains 
run on time. The vast American tourist class, which includes bankers, 
editors, senators and representatives, mayors and mayoresses, army 
officers and just plain "folks," returned to its native land, where 
railroading is an accepted institution but not necessarily a yardstick 
for patriotism, and roared in unison, "Great is the Duce; the trains 
now run on time." A poor, simple, naive minority which protested 
that some abstract and old-fashioned American things such as liberty 
of the press, freedom of the individual, equal justice, and the spread 
of culture were being slaughtered by the Corporate State, where 
an institution known as the O. V. R. A. exercised dictatorial ter- 
rorism, was squelched with the complete answer, "But the trains run 
on time." When the unruly minority timidly suggested that the 
Authoritarian State was the complete antithesis of the Magna Charta, 
the Declaration of Independence, and the Rights of Man, millions of 
tourists would leap up to chant the Htany, "The trains run on time." 
The official press agents and the official philosophers of the Fascist 
regime explained to the world that the nmning of trains was the 
symbol of the restoration of law and order — Order, Discipline, 

No one has bothered to explain that the short period of railroad 
disorganization occurred just after the war, when Italy, in order to 

The Imperialist Road to War 353 

keep the troop and supply trains running, tore up the rails in many 
parts of the kingdom and was forced to neglect roadbeds and repair 
work everywhere, and that immediately after the war engaged upon 
a railroad reconstruction program of five years which resulted in 
June, 1922, with enough success to make "the trains run on time," 
a claim of the Liberal regime. (The Liberal regime, thoughtlessly, 
hired no press agent and no international bankers to publicize itself.) 

No one ever denied that there have been disruptions of the Italian 
railroads due to strikes; everyone seems to have forgotten that not 
only did Mussohni advocate the ownership and control of the rail- 
road system by the railroad workingmen, but he editorially sup- 
ported tliem when they struck. 

Do the railroads always run on time under Fascist discipline? 
An investigation during a fortnight in July, 1930, made despite the 
fact the press was forbidden to mention railroad accidents and delays, 
disclosed five cases: the Milan-Chiasso express was derailed at 
Seregano, two of the crew being injured; two days later the train 
carrying the Hon. Minister of Justice Rocco was derailed and ar- 
rived many hours late; on July 22nd the Rome-Milan Pullman was 
derailed at Targuinie; on the 26th a locomotive and fourteen coaches 
fell into the Meduna River near Udine, and there was one other 
derailment of small importance. It is true that the majority of big 
expresses, those carrying eyewitnessing tourists, are usually put 
through on time, but on the smaller lines bad rail and road-bed con- 
ditions frequently cause delays. 

Wrote M. Vandervelde, noted Belgian Foreign Minister, after a 
trip to Italy : "The time is no more when Italian trains run on time. 
We always were kept waiting for more than a quarter of an hour 
at the level crossings because the trains were never there at the 
times they should have been passing."^ 

A word must also be said about the great public works. Musso- 
lini has announced the completion of the aqueduct of Pouilles, the 
Naples-Rome railroad, the Sila hydro-electric works, and many others. 
Mussolini himself made grand orations at the openings. He did not 
state, however, that such public works take ten or fifteen years to 
finish, that ex-Premier Nitti projected the Sila and other works, 
^Le Peuple, Brusseb, April 19, 1932, 

354 Sawdust Caesar 

that the aqueduct was begun in 1915, and that the Naples-Rome rail- 
road was all ready but for the oratory 

And take for another example the famous Florence-Bologna line 
which Mr. Cortesi lists among Fascist triumphs. I have already men- 
tioned the work in Chapter XX, "graft amounting to 300,000,000 
Hre in the Florence-Bologna 700,000,000 lire tunnel project," when 
the ras Baroncini accused "the Grandi gang," and the gang retahated 
by hiring a doctor to poison the ras. On April 22, 1934, the Asso- 
ciated Press reported the opening of the world's longest double- 
track railway tunnel, "a high spot in Premier Mussolini's public- 
works program," but after paying this homage, revealed the fact 
that "work was started on the tunnel approximately twenty years 
B.go"—i.e., in 1913, by a Liberal regime. 

The case of laud reclamation is a similar story. Mr. Cortesi has 
reported that it "covers an area of about 10,000,000,000 acres," 
which is just about two thousand times the area which Mr. Musso- 
lini claims, but this may all be a typographical error or a wish-ful- 
fillment betrayal of the Fascist mentality. 

Before the war the government announced that the total of drained 
marshland was 700,000 hectares, the hectare being 2.47 plus acres ; 
in 1928 the Fascist regime announced that from 1918 to 1927 an 
additional 527,000 hectares had been put into cultivation by the 
Nitti, GioHtti, and Mussolini governments, and that work was being 
done on 568,000 hectares by the Fascist government, leaving some 
589,000 hectares for future operations. 

In fact, the work on the Roman Campagna began in 191 1, when 
9,585 hectares around Rome were reclaimed by government sub- 
sidy; in 1921 the total was 53,000 hectares and the government 
passed an act for further increases. The company for the reclama- 
tion of the Pontine marshes was formed in 1919 and began opera- 
tions on a twenty-year project on May 12, 1922. The Piscinara area 
operations also began in that part of 1922 which the Fascists call 
"chaos and anarchy" — i.e., a few months before they arrived. 

Official statistics for electrification also reveal that the period 
1913-14 produced 2,3 thousand million kilowatts and that in 1918 
it had been increased to 4 thousand million. From 190S to 1915, 
according to Fortune's survey, Italy's hydroelectric capacity increased 

The Imperialist Road to War 355 

an average of 17 per cent per annum; under Fascism, from 1922 
to 1929, it increased 18 per cent per annum, therefore "Fascist policy 
does not score a triumph." But the triumph — without statistics — is 
stressed in all emotional ballyhoo for the regime. 

On the success side of the ledger must be written militarism. Here 
something new under the sun has been accomplished and Sparta 
has been left behind: the Duce has finally militarized the cradles 
of the country. 

From the day of birth until the child is capable of beginning his 
military training the Italian male will be under government super- 
vision merely of a hygienic nature. But at the age of six he begins 
his service by joining the pre-Balilla military order. From now on 
his life belongs to the state. Here is the program as finally completed 
in November, 1934 : 

Ages 6 to 8 : Sons of the Wolf 

Ages 9 to 14: Balilla 

Ages 15 to 18: Avanguardisti 

Ages 19 to 21 : Fascist militia 

Ages 22 to 34: Regular army (18 months) service and active 


Ages 35 to 55: Reserves. 

Fifty years of a man's life under militarization; special training 
for women in the medical, chemical warfare, and allied fields; mo- 
bilization of all citizens from sixteen to seventy in time of war — 
from babes in arms to a nation in arms — this is the undisputed ac- 
complishment of the statesman who never tires of granting official 
interviews in which he declares, "Our policy is peace," but who 
writes for the new encyclopaedia : 

"Fascism rejects pacifism which implies renunciation of struggle 
and cowardness in the face of sacrifice. . . . Only war carries all 
human energies to the height of tension and gives the seal of nobility 
to peoples who have the courage to confront it." 

Weighing the fact that Italy cannot feed its present population and 
the axiom that a superior population imposes itself, the Duce on 
the 26th of May, 1927, inaugurated the "battle of natality," to 
bring the Italian people up 60,000,000. Birth control is a crime; 

35^ Sawdust Caesar 

bachelors have been taxed and the taxes doubled ; exemptions in 
taxes and special privileges are given large families. As a result 
there have been "victorious" years in the Duce's baby war. In 1929, 
however, there was a nation-wide birth strike. Laws were proposed 
"against deserters from the good battle, to make them so strict that 
they are unbearable, that they will compel people to marry and have 
children out of sheer desperation."* In 1930 the 1927 mark was 
reached again. In 1931, however, the rate was 22.4 compared with 
1927's 26.9. In 1932 the Duce ordered the idealization of the fat 
woman, the best breeder of children. But the battle is still on. 

To "free the Italian people from the slavery of foreign bread" 
Mussolini announced the Battaglia del grano, and shortly afterwards 
his victory. That Italy has increased its wheat production cannot be 
questioned. But every year, when nature smiles, the crops of the 
whole world increase and it is only the Fascist press (on instruction 
from the official bureau) which sings the praise of the divine Duce ; 
in those years, however, when the crops throughout the world are 
bad, the Fascist press (on instruction) puts the blame on elements 
over which the Duce still has no control. 

Thus in 1932, when Italy's wheat yield rose from 6"/ to 75 million 
quintals, Fascism rejoiced in. its leader in the battle of the grain. 
It was an increase of 12 per cent. That same year, however, abundant 
nature gave neighboring and still republican France an increase of 
17, and Spain, which had just shaken off dictatorial tyranny, an 
increase of 13 million quintals, respectively, 23 and 34 per cent. Of 
this, no mention in the Fascist press. 

Patriotism, Prestige, Order, Discipline, Hierarchy, the Authori- 
tarian State, remain to be considered. 

Patriotism and ImperiaHsm have been restored. 

Italian prestige has been enhanced. 

Order obtains. In the chapter on the Corporate State there have 
been noted various strikes and uprisings; in the chapter on jour- 
nalism a revolt in Sardinia has been mentioned, but it must be ad- 
mitted that nothing that has happened under Fascism has seriously 
affected the stability of the regime. Wherever men or women have 
tried to strike or even to speak against the regime, the Fascist 

*Thc Fascist leader, Scorza, in Lavoro Fascists, December 31, 1929. 

The Imperialist Road to War - 357 

militia has made short work of them. The prison islands are full of 
political and intellectual opponents. 

Before the war there was a joke known to all the diplomats of 
Europe. It was simply this: "Order reigns in Warsaw." It was a 
reference to the periodical reports made to the Tsar of Russia by 
his governor in Poland, who, after listing the riots, battles, dead, 
and wounded, always concluded his optimistic message with the 
phrase, "Order reigns in Warsaw." 

Order, Discipline, Hierarchy seem secure in Italy. On the last- 
named subject Mr. Percy Winner, one-time Rome correspondent and 
later foreign editor of the New York Evening Post, wrote : "To be 
a potential candidate for the Mussolinian toga is as much a political 
suicide in modern Italy as being a candidate for the Caesarian toga 
was on occasions in ancient Rome." 

Which leaves for consideration the Authoritarian State. 

Just when this conception sprang from the brain of the Duce 
cannot be determined. It was certainly not part of the original 
Fascist program. In 1920, moreover, Mussolini took the occasion of 
Nitti's proposal of the ora legale, or daylight-saving time, to write a 
magnificent exposition of his philosophy of the State : 

"The proletariat detests the ora legale because it is wartime hour. 
I too am against the ora legale because it represents in another form 
the intervention and the coercion by the State. I do not make it a 
question of politics, of nationalism or utilitarianism ; I take the part 
of the individual and against the State. Numerous individuals are 
in potential revolt against the State, not this nor that State, but 
against the State itself. 

"The State, burdened with its enormous bureaucratic machinery, 
to the point of asphyxiation. The State is supportable so long as it 
sticks to soldiery and policing; but today the State does everything, 
it is the banker, the usurer, the shipper, the insurance man, the post- 
office, the railroads, the impresario, the industrialist, the maestro, 
the professor, the tobacconist, and many other things, instead of 
making, as it once did, the policing, the judiciary, and the agency 
for taxation. 

"The State, Moloch with its horrible face, today does everything, 
sees everything, controls everything, and carries everything towards 

35^ Sawdust Caesar 

its ruin; every function of the State is a disaster. Disaster, the art 
of the State, the school of the State, the post-ofhce of the State, 
the navigation of the State, the food supply — alas, of the State this 
litany can be continued into infinity. 

"If only mankind had a vague sense of the abyss which awaits 
them, the number of suicides would increase greatly because it goes 
towards the complete annihilation of all individuality. 

"This, this, is the great malediction which drives the human race 
back to its uncertain beginnings of history. 

"The revolt against the legal hour is the supreme attempt of the 
individual against the coercion of the State, a ray of hope filtering into 
the spirit of our desperate individualists. 

"Down with the State in all its forms of incarnation. The State 
of yesterday, of today, of tomorrow, the Bourgeois State and the 
Socialist State. 

"To us who are about to perish as individualists there remains, in 
the present darkness or in the tenebrous tomorrow but one religion, 
however absurd but always consoling, Anarchism." 

Within a few months Mussolini's entire "philosophy" of the State 
underwent a change. The State became a "hierarchy which must end 
in a pin-point," himself ; several years of functioning as hierarch 
led him to the following conclusion : 

"The sense of Stateship grows in the conscience of the Italians, 
who feel that the State alone forms the indispensable guarantee of 
their unity and independence; that the State alone represents con- 
tinuity in the future of their race and their history. 

"The State is the central idea of our government j it is the politi- 
cal and juridical organization of national societies, and evolves in a 
series of institutions of various kinds. Our formula is this : Every- 
thing in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the 

"The government is the highest expression of the regime. There- 
fore everything which depends on and descends from government is 
Fascist. Fascists must be doubly disciplined, as Fascists and as citi- 
zens. It is wrong to conceive the grotesque and absurd anachronism 
that the Fascist State is an authority which it is possible to dispense 

The Imperialist Road to War 359 

with, thus falling into the foolish and anarchistic demagogy which 
we have cauterized with fire and sword. 

"The Fascist State is the Fascist government, and the head of the 
Fascist government is the head of the revolution." 

(Or, "I'&tatj c'est moi" all over again.) 

We do know that Mussolini, like Marx before him, studied Hegel, 
and just as he never hesitated to rewrite the one in the original 
Fascist manifesto, he helped himself to the older philosopher in his re- 
markable volte face. Not only the idea, but the wording, is Hegel's : 

Mussolini : Hegel : 

The State is a spiritual and moral The State is in and for itself a 

fact. . . . moral whole 

incorporates the political, juristic . . . and realizes itself consciously. 

and economic organization. The State is a spirit which arises 

and such an organization is in its in the world. 

birth and development a manifesta- ... it self-consciously realizes its 
tion of the spirit. independent power, in which sin- 
The State reaches beyond the gle individuals are only passing mo- 
short span of life of the individual, ments. 

The announcement of this Hegelian State — which the Pope was 
later to denounce as Statolatry — came many years after the Fascist 
regime had already established itself. Behind the announcement stands 
one fact: in August, 1920, the State was "Moloch with its horrible 
face . . . the great malediction which drives the human race back 
to its uncertain beginnings in history" ; in September, 1920, Musso- 
lini made his bid to lead a socialistic or communistic army into 
Rome and was rejected ; in 1922 the march was made in the pay of 
the bankers and industrialists, and in 1921 Mussolini asked the 
philosophers of Italy to supply a philosophy for Fascism.'' Hegel 
was the only man out of the past who fitted the present. 

"Unbelievable as this statement may seem, it is a fact. On August 27, 1921, Mussolini 
wrote to Michelc Bianchi on the occasion of the opening of the school for propaganda 
and fascist culture: "Ora, it fascismo italiano, pena la morte o, pcggia, il suicidio, deve 
darsi un 'corpo di dottrine' . . . 

"Im parola e un po' grossa: ma to vorrei che net due mesi . . . si creasse la filosoiia 
del Fascismo italiano. . . ." (Messaggi e proclami. Benito Mussolini, Milan, 1929, pages 
38 and 39.) Not only must the philosophy of Fascism be created, but Mussolini wants it 
in two months' time. 

360 Sawdust Caesar 

And so we have Mussolini's Authoritarian State, a totalitarian 
dictatorship, facing the historical truth that every autocracy such as 
his, from ancient times to that of Napoleon III, has ended in revolu- 
tion or war, and we have a Duce who sits with a revolver on his 
desk, intent on outwitting history. 

Sometime recently Lloyd George, released from the strictures of 
political office, said to an Argentine journalist that "it will be on 
account of the errors and absurdities of its economics that Fascism 
will reach its dissolution." Mussolini replied by caUing Lloyd George 
"only a second-class little lawyer," but the balance sheet of Fascism 
shows one thing surely, and that is that Fascist economics have been 
a record of errors and absurdities. They seem typical of all authori- 
tarian dictatorships. They are or have caused: 

Dangerous decline in the standard of living ; 

Alarming increase in taxation ; 

Financial excesses relatively beyond those of any modern 
state, hidden from the public by budget manipulation and 

Disastrous financial-economic actions, such as stabilization, 
for purely prestige reasons. 

Waste; graft; loss of billions through the necessary multi- 
plied police and espionage and militia systems. 

Suppression of parliament, press, public assembly, and other 
critical or controlling factors. 

War preparations which lead to war. 

Autocratic dictatorships always begin in enthusiasm and end in cor- 
ruption or bloodshed. Dictatorships which make use merely of the 
Hegelian phrases, refusing to consider the "idealistic philosophy" 
which accompanied them; dictatorships which are imposed from 
above, refusing to alter the economic system either by bringing the 
masses of the people into cooperative ownership of the means of 
production or providing economic security for the majority while 
guaranteeing the profit system of the ruling class, always face the 
revenge of social and economic and moral forces which attack the 
weaknesses of absolutism. Dictators in our own time have disappeared, 
or have been dismissed quietly, or have been driven out, or into 

The Imperialist Road to War 361 

exile, or been assassinated ; dictatorships have been dissolved, peace- 
fully altered, or drowned in fraternal blood, and usually for the 
same reasons: 

The financial ruin of the State ; 
The economic anemia of the nation ; 

The strangulation of the people by taxation and the public 
debt burden ; 
The armament race. 

'TTou can do anything with bayonets except sit on them," said 
one of Mussolini's great predecessors, Cavour, and the Fascisti 
celebrating their first decade laughed at the phrase. But Cavour took 
the long view. 

Dictatorships have always proven the most expensive form of 
government and their few achievements have been overbalanced by 
their inefficiencies and errors. The democratic State can commit and 
admit its mistakes. The dictatorship of a class — Russia, for example 
— can and does admit its mistakes, as, for example, Lenin's an- 
nouncement of the New Economic Policy which was a refutation of 
a great part of the Communist program and which the Opposition 
called a reversal to pure capitalism. But the Authoritarian State dare 
not err. 

To hide its errors the Authoritarian State has absolutely refused 
to permit; 

The approval or disapproval of the people by free election; 

The control of finances by the public; 

The controlling criticism by the press ; 

Sharing responsibility by a freely elected parliament. 

All of which, cooperating with a dictator would, while weakening 
the personal ego, the Will, the regime, at least prolong both the 
man and the system in power and eventually lead to a normal free 
government without a violent interregnum. An example of the latter 
type of dictatorship was that of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and 
his successor. But it is difficult to imagine the magnificent ego, the 
transcendental will to power, of the Italian Duce bowing for a mo- 
ment to criticism, control, or indeed any outside influence. This 

3^2 Sawdust Caesar 

born proletarian, this real man of the people, more than any person 
living- today, represents the socially and economically deaf, dumb, 
and blind ruling class, programless, unphilosophical, unideological 
and anti-ideological, but determined at any price including the always 
logical and ultimate one, imperialistic war, to maintain its supremacy. 

We have passed slowly through the centuries of village economy, 
serfdom, and the feudal overlords ; very quickly through the era of 
industrial and commercial expansion, the era of colonization, the 
opening of world markets, the exploitation of "inferior" peoples, 
and we have arrived at the most magnificent smash-up in history in 
the decade and a half of the World War and the economic debacle 
of 1929. 

The rule of capital, big business, commercial penetration, and 
colonial expansion has been a time of democracy and social reform. 
But apparently, as Mussolini himself claims, liberalism is dead and 
the Goddess of Liberty is a rotten carcass: the ruling class can no 
longer make their profits and afford to grant democracy and social 
reforms. The various imperialisms which have divided the world 
have left no new markets to conquer, no inferior people to make 
into slaves and serfs to produce wealth and to absorb the production 
of the superior people. 

In this world emergency Fascism arose to perpetuate the system 
of exploitation of its own people as well as those which it could 
conquer. The Authoritarian State is also the Helot State, the Serf 
State, for the vast majority outside the reigning hierarchy. Year by 
year Italy has been returning to the time of serfdom and the feudal 

The balance sheet of Fascism indicates it plainly. But while it 
must be admitted that the Authoritarian State is a complete success, 
it is also becoming apparent that the return to serfdom is a complete 
solution of the economic problem of Italy or any other State which 
has or may copy this successful plan. Big business imperialism in 
Italy has not been able to continue its rate of profit despite the 
tremendous increase in taxation, the dangerous decrease in wages, 
the most complete denial of the rights of man in post-bellum history. 

Those opponents of Fascism who have always maintained that it 
presented no new philosophy, no new ideology, but was merely a 

The Imperialist Road to War 363 

restatement of a medieval system and that every step taken by 
Mussolini was a step backwards into a dead civilization, had proof of 
their view in the official reasons Italy gave to the League of Nations 
for war in Ethiopia. 

The massacre of Ual-Ual was the first excuse given. But it was 
dropped even before the League's commission absolved both countries 
of guilt. Then came two new reasons : imperialism, or the necessity of 
expansion by powerful nations, and Kultur, or the right of a civiHzed 
country to take over a barbaric country where slavery still flourished. 

Both reasons date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ; it 
is true they were used by Britain in building her empire, and were 
advanced by Wilhelm in an attempt to rule the world, but no nation 
has been hypocritical enough to use them again in our own time. As 
for slavery in Ethiopia, the League has taken actions, the Emperor 
of Ethiopia has done his best, considering the fact the country is a 
loose confederation in which tribal chiefs frequently refuse to listen 
to Addis Ababa, but the hypocrisy of the whole matter is best shown 
in the fact that Fascist Italy has herself admitted that slavery in the 
form of economic servitude still flourishes in her African colony of 

The road to war has been inevitable. Even before John Strachey 
wrote that "Fascism means war," an Italian writer, Mario Carli, 
predicted that "Fascism issued from the war and in war it must find 
its outlet." Fascism means war because imperiaHsm means war, and 
no one has ever denied that Fascism is imperialistic. 

"Imperialism is at the base of the life of every people which desires 
economic and spiritual expansion," MussoHni once wrote, and again, 
"We must have the courage to say that Italy cannot remain forever 
penned up in one sea, even if it is the Adriatic," while in the famous 
June 5, 1923, speech against Yugoslavia, he said that "all Italians of 
my generation understand the lack of territory. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that our spirit is frequently excited as it turns towards 
imperialistic aspirations. This is an expression of immanent historic 
reality, because people who are progressing have their rights against 
people who are declining. These rights are marked with letters of fire 
in the pages of our destiny." 

In justifying his imperiaHsm Mussolini said in a recent speech: 

3^4 Sawdust Caesar 

"Invasion of sovereign rights has been in progress for centuries. 
Where is the nation today which during its history has not invaded 
the sovereign rights of others? Take the United States! How did 
you push your frontiers back?" 

To MussoHni's credit it must be said that he did not, as other 
imperiahst nations have done, resort to euphemism in announcing 
his imperialism, although diplomatic hypocrisy cloaked the Ethiopian 
apologia. Sordid and cold-blooded as a post-belkim world may con- 
sider his scheme to take by violence the only remaining unexploited 
piece of Africa, it must be admitted that the intention to seize and 
conquer land has been frankly stated for a decade. 

Many of the preceding chapters contain the reasons for the Fascist 
road to war. The glorious period of 1922-25 when the industrialists, 
manufacturers, large employers, subsidizcrs of the party, were being 
repaid, was followed by an economic reaction which proved boom 
times artificial. After 1925 it became impossible for the "new" sjstem 
to enrich the few and continue to impoverish the many. One by one 
Mussolini's promises, which once brought thousands of liberals, radi- 
cals, and idealists into his party, were dropped, and instead a program 
of ruthless taxation which took half the national income was en- 
forced. And no nation could continue to flourish under that condi- 
tion, even though the standard of living of the masses was reduced 
dangerously year after year. 

Since the depression Fascism has come to a dead stop. All that it 
has had in the past four or five years is a record of broken promises, 
an unbearable debt burden, and the dynamic oratory of the Duce. 
But one cannot live on oratory alone. 

We have seen the collapse of every financial and economic factor 
in Fascist Italy, exports, imports, emigrants' remittances, tourist 
trade; we have seen the debts grow mountainous, tlae national debt 
increase 15,000,000,000 in four years; we know that the inter- 
national bankers have refused to issue loans, and we know that the 
tremendous population pressure has increased during the ten years 
which now mark the Italian depression. Every economist and every 
intelligent student has been aware of the forces which for a decade 
have been driving the dictator into either war or collapse ; only in the 
New York Times (September i, 1935, magazine section, page 2) is 

The Imperialist Road to War 365 

the opinion expressed that "Mussolini is the first ruler since Napoleon 
by his own will, without external provocation or internal propulsion, 
to lead his people into a campaign o£ conquest." 

The internal propulsion has been progressive for years and now it 
has become headlong. 

Like many a bankrupt business man who takes his last resources 
and plays them on a number in Monte Carlo, Mussolini, rather than 
take the other way out of his dilemma, the fulfillment of the social- 
economic program which he wrote in 1919, must play the game 
of war. 

The prediction of Mussolini's course was made twenty-three cen- 
turies before John Strachey. Aristotle, founder of political science, 
wrote: "The tyrant who, in order to hold his power, suppresses every 
superiority, does away with good men, forbids education and light, 
controls every movement of the citizens, and, keeping them under a 
perpetual servitude, wants them to grow accustomed to baseness and 
cowardice, has his spies everywhere to listen to what is said in the 
meetings, and spreads dissension and calumny among the citizens and 
impoverishes them, is obliged to make war in order to keep his sub- 
jects occupied and impose on them permanent need of a chief," 

The word "chief" in Italian is "duce." 

Many years ago Mussolini wrote that "the proletariat should train 
for that great historic conflict when it will be able to settle accounts 
with its adversaries ; for the Italian proletariat needs a bath of blood 
for its force to be renewed." From 1922 on frequently he claimed 
that Fascism was a real revolution, a bloody revolution, that the 
blood bath was the sine qua non of a great revolutionary change. 
Today the paralysis which has invaded Fascism, its finances, eco- 
nomics, culture, and spirit also demand a blood bath, and to forestall 
it in civil war and at the same time satisfy imperialism, which his- 
torically has advanced from one blood bath to another, Italy must 
take the road to a foreign war. Although black, the Fascist shirts 
have become very dirty, and must be washed in blood. 



Ave Caesar! 

Mussolini the one thing he confesses has worried him most 
has now been won : he has made his mark in history. 

There is, o£ course, nothing strange nor abnormal in the concern 
which a leader of men feels about posterity ; it is merely part of the 
problem of immortality which has confused and inspired mankind 
from its first intelligent beginnings. "I am obsessed with this wild 
desire — it consumes my whole being," said Mussolini to his Egeria ; 
"I want to make a mark on my era with my Will, like a lion with 
its claw." It has been made. The dictator may fall gloriously on an 
African battlefield or pass away peacefully in bed half a century 
from now, but Clio has already provided ample pages for the Duce's 

For almost a quarter of a century he has wooed this muse, acting 
the Hero, posing before men and moviemen, and time and history, 
eagerly watching for the signs of his immortality. Even in his youth- 
ful soap-box speeches he was already conscious of what press and 
public would say, and as he grew to manhood he worked on his 
dipping-books with more enthusiasm than a Hollywood star, but 
always he kept looking ahead, to a place in the future where his 
name would shine on deathless bronze, when statues would be erected 
of his likeness side by side with the Napoleons, and better still, the 
Roman Caesars, and the gods and demi-gods of all recorded time. 

At the Lausanne conference a group of diplomats on an upper 
floor, looking down an elevator shaft, beheld their newest colleague 
with his back to the operator, making faces and gestures before the 
rear mirror. The Napoleonic attitudes were unmistakable. 

In the history of the world no man has been more photographed. 


Ave Caesar! 367 

The paintings, sketches, and busts of the Duce surpass in number 
those of any being to whom deity has not been seriously attributed. 
A great part of the leader's day is spent reading the press of the 
whole world, where every item dealing with him and his activities 
has been marked by subordinates. He reads them with the air of a 
man seeking something. 

Although he never tires of fatalistic remarks about his destiny in 
the stars, he has retained the peasant superstitions of his childhood. 
Twenty centuries earlier analogous rulers, dictators, leaders, tyrants, 
conquerors, strong kings and frightened kings, were sending to the 
Delphic oracle or looking at blood and entrails, watching the flights 
of birds and reading signs in thunder and Hghtning. Mussolini seeks 
sybilhne warnings in the newspapers and the history-books of other 
revolutions. With the same eagerness with which Lenin, Trotsky, and 
Stalin watched the Bolshevik revolution take the course of the tra- 
ditional French Revolution, each acting in his own way to defeat 
the Brumaires and Thermidores and circumvent the Little Corporals, 
so Mussolini, warned that history takes an inexorable course, strives 
to impress his superior will upon it. 

Curious, but not surprising to psychologists, is this mingling of 
the belief in free will, predestination, fatalism, and the commonest 
Forli superstitions. The village "witch," old Giovanna, taught Musso- 
lini her "magic lore"; he became "an adept in interpreting dreams 
and omens and telling fortune by cards. "■■■ He is quoted often saying, 
"My blood tells me" and "I must listen to my blood," and he once 
declared proudly, "Que voules-vous? Je ressemhle aux animaux, 
je renifle le temps qui vient, je suis mon instinct, et je ne me trompe 
jamais" ("What would you? I resemble the animals, I scent the 
times, I follow my instinct, and I never make a mistake"). 

The Duce and the age of dictators have already been explained 
by the scientists. Freud has expressed his belief that nations, hke 
human beings, can suffer a neurosis ; Adler believes that people like 
individuals suffer from inferiority, struggle hard to shake it off and 
to become superior, and in the case of Italy and Mussolini the world 
has its best example. More recently Stekel has presented his authority 
complex to explain the weakness of the masses and the power of 
^ Saif atti. 

368 Sawdust Caesar 

the Mussolinis, the "father-substitutes." The millions of inferiorities 
of the people mass together to become a superiority; the people iden- 
tify themselves with the leader, partaking of his authority, and the 
leaders are usually neurotic, suffering from a "compulsion complex." 
"Dictators in general," continues my colleague, John Gunther, in 
expounding the Stekel theory, "are a sort of regression to childhood. 
Love of a leader is a reversion to infantilism." Stekel concludes that 
"For many generations men fought for democracy, liberty, the right 
of free assembly and free speech. Thousands of good men have died 
for these causes. But now one country after another gives up its 
free institutions, people even vote away their freedom. New dic- 
tatorial revolutions . . . are welcomed with relief, not opposed by 
force. There is a world scramble for authority, for the security of 
leadership. People everywhere, because their parental sense of au- 
thority has disappeared, are looking for a father-substitute, for a 
strong and beloved parental hand." 

Germany in 1933 and Italy in 1922 are the most excellent proofs 
of the contentions of all three psychologists. Although Italy was 
known as one of the victor nations in 1918, it was greatly humbled 
in the peace treaty of 1919 which divided the war spoils among the 
stronger powers and left little more than a dispute over Fiume in 
the lap of their colleague. The Italian people, who bad for a while 
come through the shroud of inferiority when Garibaldi and his Red 
Shirts appeared, were therefore in the psychologically ripe stage to 
accept the man of promises, the man of violence, the demagogue 
who defied the oppressors, gratified the national yearning for su- 
periority, and wore a black shirt. 

One of the seeming paradoxes of the Italian situation which Italy 
has not yet discovered, although it could do so easily by reading 
the officially printed works of the Duce, is that the embodiment of 
their wish-fulfillment neither loves nor respects the masses who fol- 
low him. Time and again Mussolini has quoted Machiavelli's opinion 
of the common people as "mud" and sneered at public opinion. But 
the more the Duce shows that he despises his followers, the more 
they shout their love and loyalty. Unlike the bourgeois gentleman, 
Lenin, who really loved the world-filling proletariat, the oligarch 
of Italy, in origin plebeian, almost hates them. "I do not adore this 

Ave Caesar! 369 

new divinity — ^the masses," writes the Duce, thereby confirming 
Stalin's view that even revolutionary leaders at times despise their 
following and that "an aristocratic attitude of the leaders towards 
the masses" frequently arises, an attitude which Lenin escaped be- 
cause his faith in the nobility of the workingman was never shaken. 

The greatness of Mussolini can only be measured by the lowness 
of his worshipers. 

He stalks through the world like the one man who wears the mantle 
of Zarathustra, possesses the mind of Machiavelli, is the inheritor 
of the power of Caesar, while all the little minds, all the hundreds 
of millions of unimportant, unthinking, weak, and ineffectual human 
beings (whom Sinclair Lewis has both immortalized and crucified 
with a new word) grovel at his feet, proclaiming him the conqueror. 
Emperor or Galilean? The same hundreds of millions go to their 
churches on Sundays and proclaim an unarmed Man who was weak 
and humble, who preached humility and kindness and love and non- 
resistance. The other six days they arm for war and praise violence. 
The mob mind can worship both. 

In all seriousness Mussolini has been compared by his idolaters 
with everyone from Jesus Christ to Theodore Roosevelt. 

After Farinacci's solemn declaration that Mussolini's only logical 
successor as Duce could be Jesus, the official Fascist press proclaimed 
the infallibility of its leader, a political dogma meant also for the 
eyes of the Pope. 

No less a person than an American ambassador'* wrote that "the 
Duce is now the greatest figure of his sphere and time. One closes 
the door when one leaves feeling, as when Roosevelt was left, that 
one could squeeze something of him out of one's clothes." 

Inasmuch as the Duce himself permits painters to draw a lock 
of hair over the forehead in the Napoleonic manner, busts made very 
Caesarian, and a large proportion of the millions of photographs 
show him a la Bonaparte on horseback or assuming other heroic 
poses, it is obvious he invites comparison with the world-conquerors. 

Mussolini would like to uphold the tradition of the "strong, silent 
man," but his passion for oratory prevents him from complete achieve- 
ment. But that he should assume, consciously or unconsciously, the 

' The late Richard Washburn Child. 

370 Sawdust Caesar 

traditions of the world-conquerors, Caesar, Alexander, and Napoleon, 
is quite natural. All men arriving at similar heights, even the catch- 
penny Central American dictators, have been known to succumb to 
the role ; Mussolini steps into it as an actor into his make-up. 

The Caesar pose was most obvious to those who in April, 1926, 
accompanied the Duce to Tripoli — ^to that very same colony the 
annexation of which caused the same Mussolini to attempt an armed 
uprising two decades earlier. Now he had mobilized more warships 
for himself than GioHtti had used for the war on Turkey; on the 
prow of the Cavour he strutted and took attitudes which every mo- 
tion-picture operator worth his pay recorded deathlessly, or he sat 
with folded arms looking dreamily across the Mediterranean. 

He disembarked, he stepped into Africa like a conqueror. The 
Tripolitans — at least those who were not at the time in rebellion — 
the native troops, the Italian army, the civilians and officialdom, made 
a grand uproar. 

An American journalist, overcome with the sense of historic emo- 
tion, raised his hand and cried, "Ave Caesar !" To the Duce he said, 
"It is like the old days when a Roman emperor landed." 

Mussolini, delighted, said, "Yes." 

Others took up the cry. The sun-baked streets of a small African 
port in an unimportant African colony echoed with the shout of 
"Caesar," and that very evening numerous red, white, and green 
posters with the words "Ave Caesar," followed by Mussolini's speech, 
published by the Fascist officials, were placarded throughout the 
colony as the expression of its greeting. 

Julius, the divider of Gaul, shines over Mussolini ; the Duce looks 
into those cold pupil-less eyes every day while his press reminds him 
that he is the pure Roman emperor type in face and will, the true 
successor to the thrice-crown-refusing political ancestor. Even the 
textbooks of Italy have been changed so that today all the Caesars 
are unblemished heroes and the tyranny, corruption, and weaknesses 
of that ruler "who fell an easy victim to the cheap devices of the 
lewd Cleopatra" have been eliminated by the censor. To make their 
own hero greater, the idol of comparison has been cleaned and 

In the year of the Tripoli voyage Mussolini ordered that "within 

Ave Caesar! 37^ 

five years Rome must be restored to the grandeur of the Caesars" ; 
and within a few months he told an interviewer that "we are in the 
process of renewing the glory of the Caesars. I have a bust of 
Julius Caesar always before me." And, although neither glory nor 
grandeur was completely renewed by 1931, in September of the next 
year Mussolini ordered the prefect of his native district to change 
the name of the Fiumicino River to "Rubicon." "Foreign visitors 
ask me where the Rubicon is, and we cannot show them," explained 
Caesar's successor; "Let us find our river." But he had already 
ordered the event. Thus it was shown to the world that a problem 
which harried historians and geographers had disputed violently 
from mediEeval times could be settled only through an act of dic- 

A year later, at ancient Arminium, where Julius Caesar supposedly 
harangued the legions for his — or, as it is now called, the first— 
march on Rome, a statue donated by the successor was unveiled to 
"the great patron of Fascism, the first Black Shirt," whose "mighty 
conception which he gave to Rome and the world exists again in the 
blood of the race," and in Mussolini "the heir to the legacy which 
he bequeathed to Italy." 

So the orators. To the podesta of Rimini Mussolini telegraphed : 
"The statue of Julius Caesar which I have decided to give to your 
city is similar to the statue in bronze which adorns the Route of 
Empire [Via dellTmpero, in Rome] . If possible, you will place high 
on the column the words which Julius Caesar spoke to the militia 
men of the Thirteenth Legion when, the die having been cast and 
the Rubicon having been crossed, he decided upon his march on 
Rome. Every year, on the ides of March, you will take care to be- 
flower the statue of the founder of the Roman Empire." 

Four times in his talks with Ludwig the Duce mentioned the man 
whose bust broods over him: once he confessed that "Jesus was 
greater" ; another time that Shakespeare's play about the hero was "a 
great school for rulers" ; again, "in thrilling tones," "Julius Caesar. 
The greatest man that ever lived. . . . Yes, I have a tremendous 
admiration for Caesar. Still ... I myself belong rather to the class 
of the Bismarcks," and finally, "The assassination of Caesar was a 
misfortune for mankind. I love Caesar. He was unique in that he 

372 Sawdust Caesar 

combined the will of the warrior with the genius of the sage. At 
bottom he was a philosopher who saw everything sub specie ceterni- 
tahs. It is true he had a passion for fame, but his ambition did not 
cut him off from humankind." 

Finally, in the summer of 1935, addressing several thousand former 
grenadiers, at the time of the mobilization for the Italo-Ethiopian 
conflict, he reminded them that "Julius Caesar once dominated the 
world and that every stone surrounding them should recall the fact." 
(They were crowded into the ruins of the Temple of Venus.) 
"Nothing forbids us from believing that what was our destiny yester- 
day may again become our destiny tomorrow." 

From Alexander the Great, who sighed for new lands to conquer, 
and from the time of every prophet and messiah, men have wanted 
to rule the whole world or to make the whole world bow to their 
one idea. The men of power and egotism want to be king of kings 
and many modern rulers use that title. The Ethiopian is not bashful. 
Caesar, Kaiser, and Tsar are variations on the theme. The idea of 
world conquest will probably remain forever, even if it is to be 
eventually democratized into a sort of figurehead, a man of straw 
and sawdust, a super-secretary of a future super League of Nations, 
and appear to this individual only in his serenest daydream of desire. 
The last man to seize a large part of the world, Napoleon, called 
by Wells, an adventurer, a wrecker, a man of egotism and vanity, a 
personality archaic, hard, capable, unscrupulous, imitative, and neatly 
vulgar, is still the hero of the mob. Mussolini has at least this much 
in common with the Corsican : they were both well-whipped children, 
therefore destined to a rebellious manhood. Bonaparte was whipped 
by his mother, Mussolini by his father; the one used a birch rod, 
the other a leather belt. 

The mediocrity of the two minds is amazing. The Code Napoleon, 
which he claimed was a greater monument than his forty victories, 
was written by other men. The plan of the Corporate State is not 
Mussolini's. The "totally uncreative imagination" of Napoleon was 
influenced by Plutarch towards a revival of the Roman Empire; 
Mussolini in all his words and deeds has shown the influence of the 
latest book he has been reading, the last strong-minded poHtician 
who has been advising him. 

Ave Caesar! 373 

Napoleon was not above issuing contradictory and lying' statements, 
as, for example, proclaiming to Italy that he was coming to free it 
from tyranny while he told his soldiers to loot the country and wrote 
to Paris he was going to make the newly conquered State pay an 
indemnity of twenty millions. 

When Napoleon faced the Council of Five Hundred he was as 
frightened as Mussolini the day he stammered about Matteotti and 
promised to "return to legality." Yet both men prided themselves on 
physical courage. 

The Napoleonic plan by which the First Consul had under him 
an appointed Council of State, which had under it a legislative body 
and Tribunate, a Senate, etc., is very much the Mussolinian idea of 
a "hierarchy ending in a pinhead." 

When Napoleon became First Consul the whole world was at his 
feet, there was peace, and any ruler with a first-rate mind would 
have done something creative to astound the centuries. (When Musso- 
lini took office, he had the support of all parties, there was peace, 
and a man whose mind was not warped by egotism and lust for per- 
sonal power could have given Europe a lead in governing well.) 
Napoleon, says Wells, could do no more than "strut upon the crest 
of this great mountain of opportunity like a cockerel on a dunghill. 
The figure he makes in history is one of almost incredible self- 
conceit, of vanity, greed, and a grandiose aping of Caesar, Alexander, 
and Charlemagne which would be purely comic if it were not caked 
over with human blood." If Bonaparte's aping of Caesar was so 
ludicrous and so tragic, what can one say of Mussolini's aping of 
Bonaparte? Perhaps that while he had not a thousandth of Napo- 
leon's success, he has shed but comparatively few drops of human 

Both men denounced religion as "opium for the people," Musso- 
lini, actually quoting Marx's phrase, Napoleon in making the famous 
Concordat saying it was necessary to give the people religion to 
keep them quiet: "how can you have order in a State without 
religion ?*' 

Whether either dictator ever felt remorse is debated by historians 
and chroniclers. It is said that Napoleon, during his fits in St. 
Helena, regretted his order to murder the Due d'Enghien and some- 

374 Sawdust Caesar 

times wept for the dead. Only one person records a sign of regret 
in Mussolini. "The dead weigh heavily," he once said. On the occa- 
sion of the banquet which Italy tendered Ras Taffari, king of 
Ethiopia, the Kin^ and Mussolini found two beautiful envelopes in 
their napkins. Mussohni opened his and read: 

"You are Matteotti's murderer; prepare for the handcuffs." 

The King opened his and read: 

"Majesty, Matteotti's murderer sits next to you. Give him up to 

The King turned pale, but it is reported that Mussolini hid what- 
ever emotions this dramatic reminder provoked under a small laugh. 

It is also said that Mussolini sometimes has fits of terror and plans 
to escape from Italy in an airplane or a yacht. But there is no actual 
evidence that the conqueror regrets anything. 

Napoleon betrayed the French Revolution. Future historians may 
well say that Mussolini betrayed, or at least delayed, the Italian 

Much more appropriate is a comparison between the Duce and 
Louis Napoleon, who, like his uncle, also betrayed his republic. For 
the decret-loi of Louis there are the royal decrees which Mussolini 
forces the King to sign and issues at leisure ; there is the same per- 
version of justice, the liberal magistrates suffering the same fate as 
the French republicans, expulsion ; university professors in the Third 
Napoleon's time were made to obey the pohtical wind, too, and the 
press was censored and corrupted. Louis placed government largely 
in the hands of the omnipotent prefects, and Mussolini appoints sub- 
dictators called podestas. Hierarchy is similarly established. The 
pageants, exhibitions, and sports in France preceding Sedan are 
duplicated in Rome. 

Louis Napoleon was vain, empty, trivial. His writings show small 
culture. He was, like Mussolini, mixed up in liberalism, socialism, 
and Napoleonism and likewise preached nationalist superpatriotism. 

The similarity between the Italian Dux and the last German Rex 
especially in egotistic oratory, has already been noted. 

Of the men who make history today, especially of dictators, one 
expects great, rich personalities. But Stalin is known for his metallic 
colorless voice, the absence of flourish, for the tendency to remain 

Ave Caesar! 375 

inconspicuous, and his inability to sweep an audience with enthusi- 
asm.^ Like Lenin, he has "a sense of compressed energy, of reserved 
will power. He is not magnetic." Lenin and Trotsky I saw at the 
height of their fame; both surprised me because they had nothing 
of the Communist- Socialist-Radical speaker so well known through- 
out the world. Lenin reasoned as Socrates once reasoned in the house 
o£ Cephalus. The only dictator who answers conventional anticipa- 
tions is Mussolini, who is magnetic and dynamic, wild, histrionic, 
who raises and lowers his voice as taught by the best professors of 
drama, becomes cold, waxes hot, erupts like his own Vesuvius and 
uses his hands, eyes, shoulders, and breath for the purpose of hyp- 
notizing the mob. 

Lenin was the only revolutionary who had a deep sense of humor ; 
his successor, Stalin, makes jokes and laughs over them ; frequently 
they are coarse jokes, and in this Stalin and Mussolini are similar, 
except that at times Stalin has been able to show a trace of objective 
humor, while Mussolini has never betrayed it. Intolerance is one 
of the secrets of Mussolini's success. 

In almost every sentence of his speeches, in almost every page 
of his writings, Mussolini curses his opponents. He is always shout- 
ing "scoundrel," "traitor," "egotist" at some one; his enemies are 
"soft-brained cowards," "swelled frogs," and "a base and pernicious 
crew"; he never hesitates to call the man who differs from his 
opinions a liar; with the utmost contempt he speaks of political 
enemies and those who have fought duels with him as weaklings, 
cowards; referring to foreign statesmen and journahsts who have 
said he threatens the peace of the world he repHes these are the 
"accusations of fools"; when he can find nothing evil to say of 
those whom the world honors he calls them "egocentric," he speaks 
of their "unbridled egotism"; he is always attacking those who 
"sell themselves for money, for power," whom he despises — and 
frequently the word "turncoat" comes up and the six four-letter 
words in Joyce's "Ulysses."^ 

The words of attack most frequently heard are "traitor" and 
"physical coward" and "egotist"; with them he disposes of all who 

* Isaac Don Levine, Stalin. 

* All these beautiful phrases are culled from Mussolini's autobiography. 

37^ Sawdust Caesar 

have met him on the field of honor or who write works on philosophy 

which fail to include the newest and greatest of all theories, Fascism; 
everyone who has ideas not in conformity is an egotist and anyone 
who acts non-conformingly is a traitor, while those who oppose him 
are cowards. 

Need one go to a psychologist for the explanation of such behavior, 
or is ordinary intelligence sufficient guide? Proust speaks of "that 
habit of denouncing in other people defects precisely analogous to 
one's own." "For," he says, "it is always of those defects that people 
speak, as though it were a way of speaking about oneself, indirectly, 
which added to the pleasure of absolution that of confession. Besides, 
it seems that our attention, always attracted by what is characteristic 
of ourself, notices that more than anything else in other people . . . 
an unwashed man speaks only of the baths that other people do not 
take ... a cuckold sees cuckolds everywhere, a light woman light 
women, a snob snobs." There can be no better explanation. 

Again, when Mussolini declares: "I have annihilated in myself 
all self-interest; I, like the most devoted of citizens, place upon myself 
and on every beat of my heart, service for the Italian people. I pro- 
claim myself their servant. I feel that all Italians understand and 
love me ; I know that only he is loved who leads without weakness, 
without deviation, and with disinterestedness and full faith," a 
student of his character can find it the great self -confession of what 
he lacks most. 

One thing he has is a blazing hatred. "Not," as one of his com- 
patriots says, "the hatred of a social rebel which is but another facet 
of love, like the hatred of Brutus for Caesar, of Bruno for the 
Papacy, of Mazzini for the tyrants," or the hatred which inspired 
Milton and Byron and Shelley sublimely and which has made heroes 
and martjTs. Mussolini's dominating hatred, which was important 
to his success, was the drop of poison on the swift arrow of his Will. 

Of this man's amazing egotism much has been said. It is the most 
natural trait in human beings who are failures to shout down the 
successful man, no matter who he is or what he does. Napoleon 
and Pericles are equally condemned. No distinction is made between 
the ego which drives a man to lead the world by developing all that 
is great and powerful within him, and the ego which leads another 

Ave Caesarl 377 

man to rise high by destroying others. Mussolini's ego is a com- 
pound. Sometimes it exhibits itself in all its naive crudity. 

Three days after he had seized the government his old friend, 
Paolo Orano, a comrade who could call him by his first name, came 
into Benito's office, saying, jestingly, "I want to see how you are 
preparing to rule Italy." 

"Preparing? I?" replied Mussolini, as Orano afterwards recounted. 
"Why, Fm already in the middle of it. I am ruling. I'll show you 
how I rule." 

Mussolini pressed a button, summoned a secretary, asked that a 
telephone call be put through to one of the leaders of the march and 
of Fascism. 

"Hello. I am talking. Mussolini. Be — ni — to Mus — so — li — ni. 
Listen. You are expecting to receive the field-marshal's baton. Fine. 
But you are not going to get it just yet. You — are — not — going — to 
get — it — ^just — yet. Get yourself a small cane. Good-bye." 

"There," he said to Orano. "I'm not here as a tourist, but to 
give Italy a government and to govern it. That never was before, 
but is now : a government. I am it. And all, mind you, all Italians 
shall and will obey. Italians have never obeyed. The Italians must 
be ruled and shall be ruled." 

Mussolini threw his head high, as if to snap it from his neck and 
shoulders — a movement that Orano saw for the first time in this 
man, but which was to be immortalized later in a million photographs 
and many films. 

When Pieinonte, a newspaper of Turin, printed a questionnaire 
regarding Mussolini's greatness in history, the dictator telegraphed 
to the prefect of pohce: "Call the editor of Piemonte and ask him 
to stop the referendum. Tell him that Mussolini himself does not 
know exactly what he is and therefore it is difficult for others to 
judge him. The referendum can be resumed fifty years hence." 

At another time he declared that "I am convinced that I am 
destined to rule Italy some ten to fifteen years more. My successor 
is not yet born." 

The egotism of the ruler is transmitted to the youth of Italy. The 
Fascist publication for the universities thus informs the coming gen- 
eration : "The Italian of tomorrow, and that means the Balilla and 

37^ Sawdust Caesar 

the Avanguardisti of today, will be the natural heir of the Fascist 
mentahty, and will not need to discuss these four points: 

"i. That Italy deserves to be the biggest and strongest nation in 
the world. 

"2. That Italy will become the biggest and strongest nation in 
the world. 

"3. That the Italian laws are the finest in the world. 

"4. That the men who now rule are the best and that we owe 
them honor and obedience." 

Of the noble traits in Mussolini's character none stand out more 
than his emancipation from the degenerate desire for money, ex- 
ceedingly rare in persons who are born poor and who, on acquiring 
riches, frequently remain miserly through the fear of ever being 
poor again. Mussolini insists six separate times in his autobiography 
that "money has no lure for me." "I ask nothing for myself, nor 
for mine; no material goods, no honors, no testimonials." "I have 
annihilated in myself all self-interest." "In politics I never gained 
a penny. I detest those who live like parasites, sucking away at the 
edges of social struggles. I hate men who grow rich in politics." "To 
me money is detestable; what it may do is sometimes beautiful and 
sometimes noble." 

His enemies say that if all this is true, why did the Fascist official 
press, boasting of the new income-tax law, congratulate the Duce 
on paying his the first day — the sum of 200,000 lire, which would 
indicate an income of 500,000 lire and a capital of 10,000,000. And 
why, ask enemies, does Mussolini insist so much on his contempt 
for the lure of money, why does he mention it at least six times 
in his autobiography? 

The truth is that Mussolini does not care for money — for himself. 
But he does not hesitate to use it as a means to power. The 1914 
episode of the French funds for founding a newspaper, and the 1919 
episode of the "diversion" of Fiume funds, and the 1920 episode of 
subventions from the employers, while exposing the ruthlessness of 
the man, are not, even in the charges of enemies, instances of per- 
sonal greed. Money means power; more so in Europe than in 
America. In Europe a man is born in a class, and imprisoned in that 
class as in a fortress. The peasant begets peasants, the proletarian 

Atfe Caesarl 379 

proletarians, and rare is the case of the youth who breaks the 
caste lines. The workman's son does not go to college and graduate 
into the professions, and the rich man's daughter never marries the 
foreman — a fact that causes a wrong laugh over many an American 
movie. Brains and talent and even genius are wasted in continental 
Europe because of class distinction and lack of money. And Socialism 
flourishes for the same reasons. Mussolini, hating money philosophi- 
cally, has never hesitated to get it and use it to break himself out of 
his class prison. 

Strangely enough, there is a mental parallel. He suffers from 
claustrophobia. All his life he has felt himself tied down, hemmed 
in, suppressed by invisible forces. He hated the confines of the 
schoolroom. He fled. One of the reasons he escaped military service 
was the dreadful appearance of the prison-like military barracks 
of his province, and although he tried to forget the iron bars of 
frequent visits by reading philosophy and politics, prison cells have 
left their lines on his character. 

He cannot stand locked rooms. In the Chigi Palace every inter- 
viewer has remarked the enormous chamber some fifty or sixty feet 
long, which served him as an office. His spirit requires vast spaces. 
He loves to fly in an airplane, enjoying the power, the superiority, 
and the freedom of an unpeopled infinity. He has refused to enter 
the Blue Grotto of Capri. 

In exhibitionism he surpasses all the notable men of our age. 
Chicherin, the timid intellectual, once appeared in a uniform of 
the Red Army and did not cut a brave figure. The Kaiser was mag- 
nificent in shining breastplates, but Mussolini goes in for Central 
American splendor. The first time he addressed the Chamber he 
rigged himself in an operatic gold and spangles which gave the 
foreign ambassadors their first good laugh under Fascism. Short, 
stocky, bulgy, myopic, and fairly bald, he poses so well the world 
believes him heroically tall, with the most magnificent flashing eyes. 

His literary judgments are sententious and weak. He is the author 
of such philosophical gems as "smoking is a distraction" and "the 
Will to Power is a cardinal point in the philosophy of Nietzsche" 
and "The hills and the sea give one the feeling of infinity." He 
has a college freshman's enthusiasm for Nietzsche's "blond beasts" 

380 Sawdust Caesar 

and "the egotism which in men of power does not admit of restric- 
tions" ; he is impressed with Nietzsche's quotation from the Arabian 
sect of Assassins "To see men suffer is good, to make them suffer is 

Few of Mussolini's admirers have anything to say about his twenty- 
year record of changing parties and ideals. Sarfatti, for instance, 
describes her hero as "impulsive and meditative, a realist and an 
idealist perfervid yet wise, a romantic in his aspirations, but a classic 
in his handling of public affairs, Mussolini has a groundwork of 
consistency in him underlying all these seeming incompatibilities." 
But a more worldly, less fascinated person, Mussolini's Cheka agent, 
Rossi, goes deeper into his employer's character. "How," asks Rossi, 
"can certain noble sentiments which Signor Mussolini expresses 
in his speeches, be reconciled with facts which put such grave moral, 
political, and penal responsibility upon his shoulders ? 

"His temperament, unstable by nature, as I am certainly not the 
only one to know full well, has, together with his mania for Machia- 
vellianism, led him in the last few years into numberless acts of 
duplicity and changeableness. 

"By turns he is cynical and sentimental, impulsive and cautious, 
irritable and calm, generous and cruel, quick to decide and slow to 
move, uncompromising and conciliatory. 

"All the qualities of heart and mind have in him contradictory 
aspects, but in his activities as head of the government and of the 
Fascist Party, the tendencies which predominate are duplicity, super- 
ficiality, and improvization." 

An explanation of the seeming incompatibilities in Mussolini's char- 
acter is offered by Adolf Saager : "This is the deeper reason for 
Mussolini's betrayals: His Unconscious always decides in favor of 
his hunger for power and his ruler instinct serves the political re- 
action in the nation; against which his Conscious is always still 
striving to some union with the Radicals. From that moment when 
his Unconscious (which is the unfalsified natural power of the man), 
becomes dominant, his actions gain certainty and continuity, such 
as would delight an aesthetic observer in the actions of a preying 

Ave Caesar! 381 

"This explains Mussolini's periods of trembling and anxiety, be- 
cause his Conscious and Unconscious are at war. 

"Nothing is more ignorant than to understand Mussolini's coat- 
turnings and contradictions, his 'hypocrisy' and his 'betrayals' as 
signs of character weakness ; these things compose his very charac- 
ter, they are his destiny. This is his organic development." 

There remains the question of greatness. 

He is, for instance, a great journalist but a tenth-rate litterateur. 
His eloquence is marvelous — emotionally, not logically. He is a great 
politician, a great leader of the mob, but he is a demagogue and not 
a statesman. 

He is a genius at assimilating the ideas of other persons and 
making them his own. 

He is totally unscrupulous. 

He has never done anj^hing original. 

He has a tremendous will but an inferior mind. 

If achievement is to be measured by such qualifications as strong, 
well-conceived ambition ; difficult struggle to reach the goal ; com- 
plete accomplishment of ambition; and importance, human value of 
the success gained by the man, Mussolini easily passes the first 
three tests. His ambition has been superhuman, his struggle one of 
the most noteworthy in our time, and he has accomplished every- 
thing his heart desired. But whether there is any great significance 
to his work, or any human value whatever, cannot so soon be judged. 

Mussolini may found an African empire. He may in a small way 
emulate Julius Caesar. Or he himself may be destroyed by the 
monstrous State he has created, but he no longer need worry about 
his place in history. He has made his lion's mark. Even Mr. Wells, 
who somehow prefers Jesus and Buddha and King Asoka to the 
Caesars and Napoleons and Wilhelm Seconds, will some day have 
to give more space to the Fascist phenomenon. 

History will say that Mussolini shows the triumph of the 
superiority complex, the triumph of Nietzschean catch-phrases, the 
triumph of the adapter of other people's ideas, the triumph of the 
book-made egotist. 

Reactionary dictators are men of no element of greatness, men 
with no philosophy, no burning humanitarian ideal, nor even an eco- 

382 Sawdust Caesar 

nomic program of any value to their nation or to the world. Grand 
and imposing as they look in their flaming uniforms and shirts in 
nationalist colors on marching days, they are almost forgotten the 
hour a change is made. Who now remembers Waldemiras? What 
country did he rule? What became of Pangalos? How many 
Bratianus were there and what happened to them? And how ignoble 
became that same Primo de Rivera who one day before had stood 
arm in arm with Mussolini, his treaty- friend, his proud disciple? But 
it is not too fantastic to imagine a time after Mussolini's disappear- 
ance, when the commentators will say that after all he was only 
a renegade Socialist who could never be trusted, a puny, sententious 
imitator of Lenin, a rather foolish repeater of Kaiser Wilhelm's fool- 
ish phrases, a man mentally^ and physically ill, a megalomaniac who 
thought he could change the course of economic forces by the use 
of magnificent phrases taken from Karl Marx, Nietzsche, Hegel, 
Vilfredo Pareto, and his former colleagues in the Socialist move- 
ment — and nevertheless a person worthy of statues. After all, he is 
the original Duce of Fascismo, and all the others are merely imitators. 

All of Mussolini's monuments will be monuments to the strength 
of a weakling, monuments to the weakness of his opposition, to the 
cowardice of the masses, but, above all, monuments to an Ego and 
a Will. 

Mussolini has made his mark in history, but history records the 
marks of warriors, suppressors, and vandals as well as saviors and 

History and monuments will recall Benito Mussolini as a Caesar — 
not a Julius but perhaps a Caesar Borgia or perhaps a Kaiser Wil- 
helm. If not a Napoleon Bonaparte, then at least a Louis Napoleon. 

Everywhere new statues appear of Benito Mussolini today and 
more will be erected in his hfetime. The statues of Julius Caesar will 
probably remain forever in Eternal Rome — but the day will surely 
come when in all the noble cities of Italy there will arise the statue of 
Giacomo Matteotti. A free people will then decide if there will be 
room also for those of our Sawdust Caesar, 

'In September 1935 the respectable New Statesman and "Nation of London in an 
editorial suggested "official recognition o£ what is ah-cady common gossip in political 
circles in Rome — namely, that II Duce's notorious paranoia is nearing the pitch of 
certifiable insanity." 




The First and Second Fascist Programs 
Original Fascist Program (March 1919) 

Fasci italiani di Combattimento 

Comitate Centrale 
Milano, Via Paolo da Cannobio 

Italians ! 

This is the national program of a movement sanely and integrally 
Italian: revolutionary because it is antidogmatic and antidemagogic ; 
strongly innovating because it has passed through all prejudicial 
objections. . . . 

For the political problem: 

a) Universal suffrage 

b) Lowering of electoral age to 18 

c) AboHtion of the Senate 

d) Convocation of a national assembly which is to function three 
years, to which will be confided the power of establishing the new 
constitutional regime of the state 

e) Formation of technical councils for industry, labor, communi- 
cations, social hygiene. . . . , elected by Corporations of professions 
or trades. . . . 

For the social problem: 

a) The eight hour day legal and compulsory 

b) Minimum wage law 

c) Participation of the workingmen in the management of industry 

d) Proletarian organizations to manage public industries and 
public services 

e) Realization of the rights of the railroad workers 

f) Reform of the law of social insurance 


386 Sawdust Caesar 

For the military problem: 

a) Creation of a national militia for defensive purposes 

b) Nationalization of war works 

c) External policy to valorize the Italian nation in the work of 

For the financial problem : 

a) Heavy extraordinary tax on capital, progressive, for the pur- 
pose of causing a partial expropriation of all wealth. 

b) Seizure of all property of the religious associations and sup- 
pression of the religious taxes [menses episcopales]. 

c) Revision of all contracts for war supplies and the seizure of 
up to 85% of the war profits. 

Official Fascist Program Published October 1919 

(i) National Assembly, intended as Italian Section of the Inter- 
national Assembly of all Peoples, in order to proceed with the radical 
transformation of the political and economic basis of society. 

(2) Proclamation of the Republic. Decentralization of the execu- 
tive power. Administrative autonomy of regions and communes 
through their own legislative bodies. Popular sovereignty exercised 
by means of universal, equal, and direct popular vote of all citizens 
of both sexes, with right to the people of initiative, of referendum, 
and of veto. Reorganization, ex-novo, of the administrative bodies of 
the State. The function of the State to be limited to the civic and 
poHtical direction of national life. 

(3) Abolition of the Senate and of every artificial and arbitrary 
limitation of popular sovereignty. Abolition of political police. Estab- 
lishment of a municipal and national civic guard. Elective magistrates 
independent of the executive power, 

(4) Abolition of all caste-titles, of princes, dukes, marquis, "com- 
mendatori," "cavalieri," etc. Only titles of honor, those of talent and 
of honesty in work. 

(5) Abolition of compulsory conscription. General disarmament 
and veto to all nations forbidding the manufacture of armaments. 

Appendices ^ 

(6) Freedom of thought and of conscience, of religion, of asso- 
ciation, of press, of propaganda, of individual and collective agitation. 

(7) System of education with both cultural and vocational schools 
open to all. 

(8) Maximum care and perfection of the social hygiene system. 

(9) Abolition of stock-companies. Suppression of every kind of 
speculation of Banks and of the Stock Exchange. Creation of a 
national financial institution with regional sections for the distribution 
of credit. 

(10) Census and reduction of personal wealth. Confiscation of 
unproductive revenues. Payment of the debt of the old State by the 
wealthy classes. Suppression of church revenues. 

(11) Eight hours' work on a legal basis. 

(12) Reorganization of production based on insurance principles 
and on direct participation of profits by the workers. All landed estates 
to be given over to the peasants. The management of transportation 
industries and of public services to be entrusted to syndicates com- 
prised of technical experts and workmen. 

(13) Abolition of secret diplomacy. 

(14) Open international policy dedicated by the solidarity and 
independence of peoples in the confederation of states. 

DiEU n'existe pas^ 


When we claim that "God does not exist," we mean to deny by 
this declaration the personal God of theology, the God worshiped 
in various ways and divers modes by believers the world over, that 
God who from nothing created the universe, from chaos matter, that 
God of absurd attributes who is an affront to human reason. 

With each new discovery of chemistry, physics, biology, the an- 
thropological sciences, of the practical application of sound prin- 

^ "God Does Not Exist," from "L'Homme et la Divinite" par Mussolini, Benito; 
Bibliothfequc Internationale de propagande rationalistc; Chenc-Bourg, Geneve; Juillct, 
1904. This is Mussolini's first published work; the translation, such as it is, is my own. 

3^8 Sawdust Caesar 

ciples, dogma collapses. It is a part of that old edifice of religion 
which crumbles and falls in ruins. The continuous progress of the 
natural sciences now extending from city to country, disperses the 
darkness of the Middle Ages, and the multitudes desert the churches 
where from generation to generation they betook themselves to pray 
to God — that monstrous product of human ignorance. 

Let us examine the nature of God. We force ourselves, therefore, 
to reason in a vacuum, the God of religions being their own image 
of their mental vacuum, the proof of the complete absence of any 
activity in reasoning. 

How can the idea of a creator be reconciled with the existence 
of dwarfed and atrophied organs, with anomalies and monstrosities, 
with the existence of pain, perpetual and universal, with the struggle 
and the inequalities among human beings? 

Epicurus, the philosopher who lived in Rome in the time of the 
decadence of the Republic, posed the f olloA'ing questions : 

"Either God wishes to do away with evil in this world and cannot 
succeed ; or he can do away with it and does not wish to ; or he can- 
not and does not wish to; or finally, he wishes to and can. If he 
wishes to but has not the power, he is not all-powerful. If he has the 
power to do away with evil and does not wish to, he is not infinitely 
good. If, as affirm the deists, he can and wants to, tell me, then, 
why does evil exist on earth, and why does not God make it im- 
possible ?" 

That which affronts human reason most is the inconceivable fact of 
the creative power of a God who from nothingness created every- 
thing, from chaos the universe. . . , 

One would have to be completely without knowledge of physiology, 
botany, and psychology to claim today the existence of a "soul" 
independent of the body; on the contrary, one which does not form 
one of the two distinct aspects of the unique human nature. 

Dogma is absurd because it presupposes immobility and the abso- 
lute. Nothing in the world is absolute, everything is relative. Nothing 
is entirely changeless, but there is a continual transformation, a per- 
petual movement of forces. 

Dogma presents to human reason an obstacle to progress because 
it imposes limitations to the painful but salutary impulses towards 

Appendices ^9 

the search for truth, because it checks the free expansion of all 
intellectual energy. 

Science is now in the process of destroying religious dogma. The 
dogma of the divine creation is recognized as absurd. 

"Religion is the opium of the people." — Karl Marx. 

It being demonstrated that religious dogma presents itself to the 
human spirit and to rational criticism as "the absolute consecration 
of the absurd," let us see why moral religion is "immoral." 

The evangelists are ridiculous when, instead of studying the Bible 
as a document of a certain historic interest, they try to credit it with 
real life and bring to the masses the principles of Christ (who per- 
haps never existed) as the ethical principles of a morality everlast- 
ingly young, permanent, modern, in complete accord with the present 
age. The Bible and morals called Christian are two cadavers which 
the evangelists attempt to galvanize into life with, it must be agreed, 
small enough success. 

It is, therefore, clear that religious morality is one of resignation 
and sacrifice, a morality which may be dear to the weak, to the 
degenerate, to slaves, but which results in the diminution of reason 
and human personality. It bends man toward the earth, making him 
a slave to divinity. It favors the conservation of those primitive 
sentiments which belong to that period of animal life long left 
behind, and transforms the "thinking being" into a "passive sheep" 
who lives in the fear of the universal judgment. 

Religious morality shows the original stigmata of authoritarianism 
precisely because it pretends to be the revelation of divine authority. 
In order to translate this authoritarianism into action and impose it 
upon humanity, the priestly caste of revealers has sprung up and 
with it the most atrocious intolerance. 

Certain it is that religion is a psychic disease of the brain, a con- 
traction, a tightening up of the individual who, if he is profoundly 
religious, appears to us as abnormal. 

The history of many saints, beatified by the church, is repugnant. 
It shows nothing more than a profound aberration of the human 
spirit in search of ultra-terrestrial chimeras; it is a dehrium which 
can attain the state of spasms of passion and which ends in madness. 

Therefore, many of those who today hover over the altars of the 

390 Sawdust Caesar 

Catholic Church are pathological cases, hysterics, deontanes and 

Even today in the more remote parts of Italy and Spain we can 
witness similar phenomena. Saint January for the people of Naples, 
and the Madonna of Lourdes for French bigotry. Are they not 
analogous aberrations? 

If we read the history of religions, we find that it deals with the 
pathology of the human brain. If today the Middle Ages are retiring 
into the thick shadows of convents, it is due to triumphant skep- 
ticism; and if the epidemic disease of religion no longer appears with 
the terrible intensity of former times, it is due to the diminution 
of the political power of the Church which formerly placed on the 
heads of people its cap of lead. 

Religion presents itself to our eyes in another characteristic: the 
atrophy of reason. The faculty by which man is differentiated from 
the lower animals is his reasoning power. But the devout believer 
renounces reason, refuses to explain the things which surround him, 
the innumerable natural phenomena, because his religious faith is 
enough for him. The brain loses the habit of thinking; and this re- 
ligious sottishness hurls mankind back into animalism. 

In concluding we say that "religious man" is an abnormality, and 
that "religion" is the certain cause of epidemic diseases of the mind 
which require the care of alienists. 

Religion has shown itself in the open as the institution whose 
aim is political power by which to externalize the exploitation and 
the ignorance of the people. 


(Supplement to Chapter V) 
Mussolini's French Money 

MussoHni's money, or the betrayal of 1914, is an apt illustration 
of the fact that an ethical or moral problem depends on time as 
well as geography and circumstances. The heroic deed of one day 
becomes the treason of the next. 

Appendices 39^ 

Even now the millions of persons who believe that every means 
was justifiable in winning the war for the Allies will be unable to 
see anything but nobility in Mussolini's accepting French funds for 
establishing a pro-Ally newspaper. 

The most interesting fact about the matter is that Mussolini him- 
self was proud of his actions in 1914. Accused of becoming an inter- 
ventionist for money he wrote in his Popolo d'ltalia : 

"I am proud of the beauty, of the holiness of my sin and will kneel 
before no Jesus Christ to beg forgiveness." 

In the great year of disillusion, 1919, when Mussolini was attempt- 
ing to return to the Socialist movement, the press took up the matter 
of the French funds. On May 3, 1919, the Italia del Popolo wrote : 
"Mussolini accepted checks from the French government; we have 
the proofs ; we defy him to sue for libel." 

In 1919, it must be remembered, Italy was still a free country and 
men had equality before the law. The Opposition was accusing Mus- 
solini of the lowest crime a man is capable of, betraying his cause 
and fellow men for money, and the Italia del Popolo had made a 
national scandal out of the matter. It offered to place its docu- 
ments before the courts. Mussolini did not sue. In fact he offered 
no answer. 

In November, 1926, Deputy Renaudal said in the French Chamber : 
"Mussolini established his paper, the Popolo d'ltalia, with French 
money." Asked for details, he published them in the Quotidien of 
November 9th, mentioning Marcel Cachin as the agent who carried 
the checks. 

In the Chamber of Deputies, M. Paul Faure in 1928 stated that 
"Jules Guesde, then [1914] member of the cabinet, confided to us 
that we had a man down below, Mussolini, whom he had sent 100,000 
francs to start a paper." Deputy Faure also enlarged upon his 
charge in the Popolaire, January 9, 1928, adding: "I do not know 
more precisely who was the material carrier of the money, but 
Cachin, if it pleases him, could inform his readers in Humanite." 

Jules Guesde was an ultra-radical leader in France, sometimes 
called the founder of the French Socialist movement. In 1914, how- 
ever, he joined the Premier, Viviani, in upholding the war. Viviani 
was an ex-Socialist. Cachin was then a Socialist, one of the many 

392 Sawdust Caesar 

who believed in the war and joined in the Sacred Union, the Union 
Sacre, and opposed the Juares-RoUand group who opposed war, 
Guesde chose Cachin, therefore, to visit Mussolini, since both were 
Socialists who had gone over to militarism. 

Cachin, however, repented. In fact he went to the extreme Left 
and became the leader of the Communist movement in France. He 
has left his past behind; he does not want to be reminded ever 
of the Union Sacre, and for this reason he never mentions the Mus- 
solini mission. 

Before the suppression of the press numerous political writers In 
Italy explained the "conversion" of Mussolini and were never sued 
for libel, nor were their books or newspapers suppressed. Massimo 
Rocca, in Quaderni del Nnovo Paese, wrote: 

"Mussolini . . . preached with great violence the absolute neu- 
trality of Italy. . . . Mussolini went to see the Bolognese editor, 
Filippo Naldi, and promised him to change his views if he could get 
his own newspaper. This promise obtained, he wrote in Avanti an 
article on relative neutrality while awaiting intervention. . . . Once 
his object obtained, Mussolini . . . rushed to Geneva to collect the 
first funds for the Popolo. . . . 

"If the Kaiser had offered him a double sum he would have de- 
fended neutrahty. . . .*' 

Throughout Europe scores of post-bellum investigators mention 
the French funds which Mussolini used. Paul Renin (French) says: 
"The editor-in-chief of the Avanti ... at Geneva met Marcel Cachin 
. . . who gave him an important sum in the name of the French 
government to aid a favorable campaign of intervention and to create 
a daily newspaper for that purpose. 

"Completely overjoyed, several weeks later, Marcel Cachin took 
into his confidence the Chamber [of Deputies] in terms vibrant with 
patriotism, pure and authentic. 

" 'Voyez,' he said, 'that which has happened in the Italian section. 
Voild, Mussolini, who in the Popolo d'ltalia, today in its fortieth 
number, has had a lively success, declaring that revolution is an idea 
which has found bayonets. We register with joy the happy and con- 
cordant symptoms. Everything presages the inevitable intervention 
of Italy. She will help us finish the war, assuring victory against 
the militarist reactionaries, the Hapsburgs and the HohenzoIIerns.' " 

Appendices 393 

William Elwin (British) says: "Mussolini attempted to explain 
his support of Italian intervention on the side of the Allies as the 
direct outcome of his conscience as a Socialist. He was less ready to 
mention the sums of money received from the agents of the French 
government in order to launch and maintain the Popolo d'ltalia. . . . 
The amount of money sums received by Mussolini, as always In 
official bribery, cannot be ascertained exactly, for those concerned will 
not speak; the fact remains, however, that he cashed 'patriotic 
checques* from the French government. Incidentally he admits to this 
in his autobiography. . . ." 

L. Kemechey (Hungarian) asks where had Mussolini obtained the 
money for the Popolo, and answers: "From the French, wrote the 
Socialists on the first day. Others pretended to know that Lord 
Northcliffe, the powerful press king, had backed him up. There 
was not a day on which the Socialist press did not publish constantly 
fresh details of the bribing of Mussolini and particulars of his 
treason. He did not bother about them ... it did not matter what 
they were shouting about; he was done with them. . . ." 

De Ambris (Italian), ex-Prime Minister of Fiume: "Certain per- 
sons find that Mussolini is guilty because he took the money of the 
French government to found the Popolo d'ltalia. But that is not the 
crime of Mussolini. If Mussolini had been an interventionist from 
the beginning ... he could not be blamed. When a man sees his 
course traced out by his conscience, he may even accept money offered 
to aid him. The profound immorality consists in changing one's views 
for a personal advantage." 

It is also extremely interesting to note the skill of the lady biog- 
raphers. Says Mme. Bordeux: "It was insinuated in a few French 
papers of that time that Marcel Cachin and Charles Dumas had been 
the intermediaries charged to buy Mussolini for France— but an 
honest Frenchman considers it rather broadly calumniating the probity 
of Cochin [sic] who had the reputation for respecting even his ad- 
versaries. On the other hand Mussolini is not a man to sell himself ; 
in fact, if there is one man in the world who is not for sale, that 
man is, was, and always will be Mussolini. . . . 

"Admit, then, that France had offered Mussolini help. What would 

394 Sawdust Caesar 

the next move be? She might have offered, and he might have ac- 
cepted, in order to be able to see the triumph of right and jus- 
tice. . . ." 

And the untiring Sarfatti : "Strange rumors were set afloat. . . . 
The ex-editor of the Avanti was declared to have accepted money 
from France. . . . We knew him, of course, to be incapable of taking 
a sou for himself ; but men afire with a great project and with the 
sense of an imperative call to fulfill it ! — who could say but that in a 
moment of excitement he might feel justified in availing himself of 
any means to his hand for the purpose? It was decided to acquaint 
him with what was being said, for the slanders were calculated to 
damage seriously both Mussolini himself and the cause dear to us 
all. What was my surprise when I saw the two tiny rooms furnished 
with only four tumble-down chairs and a rickety table. . . ." 

Signora Sarfatti then completes her complete refutation of the 
most important charge against Mussolini's probity by a long descrip- 
tion of the poverty of the apartment in which the hero Hved, and 
concludes by mentioning an advertising contract for 4,000 Hre. 
"Such," she says, "was the 'capital' available ! Quite enough, Musso- 
lini felt." 

The irrefutable evidence in I'affaire Mussolini is that compiled by 
Maitre Torres, the Clarence Darrow of the French bar, and pro- 
duced in open court in the trial of Bonomini for the murder of the 
Fascist Buonservizi. Part of it is given in the text. Maitre Torres 
has published his findings several times, and although the present 
Italian government has intervened into French journalistic affairs 
scores of times, it was silent in the most important of all incidents 
disturbing international relations. 

After 1919 the French government withdrew its subsidy of foreign 
newspapers and Mussolini had to shift for himself. The Popolo 
now existed on the advertising of the members of the League of 
Manufacturers, chambers of commerce, members and others who 
were financing the Fascist movement. It was a legal matter but 
nevertheless a form of subsidy equaling exactly the purchase of the 
good will of thousands of newspapers in America by the National 
Electric Light Association, of which the first ten volumes of the 
Federal Trade Commission investigation reports contain the evidence. 

Appendices 395 

In addition to the joyful announcement in the official Fascist press 
that Mussolini paid 200,000 lire income tax, indicating that he had 
amassed a fortune of ten millions, there is the press account that he 
was able to give his daughter Edda a dowry of 5,000,000 lire when 
she married Count Galeazzo Ciano, head of the press and propa- 
ganda department of the Fascist government. 


Mussolini and the "Bolshevik Era" 

Writings and public speeches by the head of the Fascisti during the 
labor troubles, strikes, and uprisings of 1919 and 1920. Most of 
these quotations are from the Popolo d'ltalia of June and July 

(Editorial on the strike at Genoa) : "We need a firing-squad to 
execute the sharks who are starving the people" (June 16) . 

(Uprising in Spezia) : "The demonstration is violent but sponta- 
neous, and, moreover, anticipated, against that ignoble race, those 
who speculate in the blood of a suffering people" (June 16). 

(Uprising in Livorno) : "The revolt is an absolute necessity to 
extinguish the voracity of those who starve us." 

(Looting of the stores in Bergamo) : "At Bergamo they have at- 
tacked the men [who raised the price of food] and we cannot do 
otherwise than approve that which has been done" (June 20). 

(Riots at Imola and other towns in the Romagna, five dead) : 
"In the Romagna the people have revolted against the venality of 
the speculators. ... I recognize, without reticences, the fundamental 
legitimacy of the popular protest. It is proportionate to the actions 
of the speculators" (July 4). 

Under Mussolini's guidance the central committee of the newly 
formed Fascist Party passed the resolution, July 5, 1919, proclaim- 
ing "our absolute solidarity with the people who have revolted 
against the speculators, and we applaud the seizures" (i.e., food riots, 
looting, etc., later called "Bolshevism"). 

Demonstration by the metal workers of Genoa and railroad men 
approved by Popolo d'ltalia, January 8, 1919. 

396 Sawdust Caesar 

Strike of Post-office employees, approved by Mussolini January 15. 

Strike of street-car men of Genoa, approved January 25. 

Uprising of the rural workers of the province of Novara, approved 
in the Popolo of March 30th. 

Strike of the railroad workers on branch lines. Signed editorial 
by Mussolini : "Convinced that the strikers are in the right, we 
promise them our disinterested support . . ." May 4, 1919. 

The Seizure of the Factories 

(i) "I fear no social change, provided that it appears necessary 
to me. That is why I accept, not only the control of the factories, but 
also their social-cooperative operation" — Mussolini, speech, "PoH- 
teama Rossetti," Trieste, September 20, 1920. 

(2) "It is a veritable revolution which we are having in Italy; 
moreover, it is a phase of the revolution which we began in May, 
191 5" — Popolo d' Italia, September 28, 1920. 


Text of Pacification Treaty between Fascisti and Labor 

For the reahzation of the return of normal conditions in the rela- 
tions between the Italian parties and economic organizations, are met 
today, under the presidency of the honorable attorney Signor Enrico 
de Nicola, president of the Chamber of Deputies, the representatives 
of the national council of the Fasci di Combattimento, the Fascist 
parliamentary group and the General Federation of Labor. 

To this congress were also invited the directorate of the Com- 
munist parliamentary group, the representatives of the Catholic par- 
liamentary group and the Republican deputies. 

The directorate of the Communist parHamentary group declared 
verbally to the president that the group in conformity with the decla- 
rations already published by the Italian Communist Party could not 
participate in the pourparlers. 

The representative of the Catholic parliamentary group, the Honor- 
ables De Gasperi and Cingolani replied with thanks for the invita- 
tion and the wishes that the conference have a successful termination. 

Appendices 3^ 

They stated however that doubting if the intervention of parties 
which do not find themselves in the same line of fighting as the 
Socialists and Fascists might prejudice in some way the efficacity 
of the accords to be arrived at, the group preferred to renounce its 
official adherence. However it engaged itself to collaborate for the 
realization of the goal so nobly pursued by the president in guarding 
scrupulously be it in the Chamber or in the country, its attitude of 
strict legality from which it has never wavered. 

In the name of the Republican deputies the Honorables Chiesa, 
Mazzolani, Conti and Macrelli replied likewise they judged their 
intervention inopportune; the Republican party desired to remain 
neutral in the sad battle between factions. 

1. First under consideration is the official communique of July 28 
last to solve a prejudicial question, a proposal of the Fascist party, 
which desires the determination of relationship between the Socialist 
party and the Communist party. 

2. The parties engage themselves to do all in their power to pre- 
vent all menaces, all reprisals, all punishments, all vengeances, all 
personal violence. 

3. The emblems and ensigns of all parties will be respected. 

4. The parties engage themselves reciprocally to respect the eco- 
nomic organizations. 

5. All attitudes or all deeds which countervene said engagements 
are from now on disavowed and deplored by both representatives. 

6. All violations of the regulations mentioned in this present 
act will be submitted to the judgment of a college of arbitration which 
will determine the responsibility. 

7. For this purpose the organizations, political and economic will 
collaborate in each province for the formation of a college of arbitra- 
tion composed of two Socialist members and two Fascist members 
and presided over by a third who will be named by the contending 
parties, failing which, by the president of the tribunal. 

8. All accords signed in the provinces outside of the aforemen- 
tioned agreement, shall be considered as of no value. 

9. The organizations pledge themselves not to oppose by violence 
the reintegration of those who have been previously shorn of their 
powers by force. 

398 Sawdust Caesar 

10. The parties engage themselves reciprocally to restore all objects 
having a patrimonial value which have been carried away without 
any justice by the organizations and by private persons. 

11. The undersigned representatives address a warm invitation to 
the press of both parties to align themselves with the accords con- 
cluded by them. 

Of the preceding compromise, communication is given the public 
through the agency of the press in the hope that each citizen will 
understand at last all the gravity of the present hour and compre- 
hend also the value and the force of the words of peace which have 
been pronounced. 

Rome. Cabinet of the President of the Chamber. August 3, 1921. 
For the parliamentary Fascist group : 

Benito Mussolini, Cesare Maria De Vecchi, Giovanni Giuriati. 
For the national council of the Fasci di Combattimento : 
Cesare Rossi, Umberto Pasella, Gaetano Polverelli, Nicola 

For the directorate of the Socialist Party: 
Giovanni Baccl, Emilio Zannerini. 
For the Socialist Parliamentary group: 
Elia Musatti, Oddino Morgari. 
For the General Federation of Labor: 
Gino Baldesi, Alessandro Galli, Ernesto Caporali. 
Enrico De Nicola, President of the Chamber of Deputies. 


Fascism: "Reactionary," "Anti-Liberal" 
by benito mussolini 

(The famous pronunciamento against liberty by the Duce in the 
March, 1923, issue of his magazine, Hierarchy) 

Force and Consent 

Certain Italian Liberalism, which holds itself to be the one and 
only depository of true and immortal principles, is uncommonly Hke 

Appendices 399 

that moribund socialism, because it, too, as the latter, thinks it has 
"scientifically," an indisputable truth, good for all times, places and 
situations. Here is absurdity. Liberalism js not the last word, nor 
does it represent the definite formula in the theme of the art of 
Government. In this difficult and delicate art, which has to work with 
the most refractory materials and in a state of movement, since it 
works on living and not on dead things ; in this art, there is not the 
aristotelian unity of time, of place and of action. Mankind has been 
more or less well governed in a thousand different ways. 

Liberalism is the sun and the method of the nineteenth century, 
which is not stupid, as Daudet thinks, because there are not stupid 
centuries nor clever centuries, but there are alternate times of clever- 
ness and stupidity in larger or smaller proportions, in every century. 
It is not said that the liberal method of government, good for the 
nineteenth century, for a century that is dominated by two essen- 
tial phenomena like the development of capitalism, and the affirma- 
tion of the sentiment of nationality, must necessarily be fitted for the 
twentieth century, which already promises to have very different char- 
acteristics from those which marked the preceding century. Facts are 
worth more than books; experience more than doctrines. 

Now, the greatest experience which has come to us after the 
World War in a state of motion under our very eyes — is the defeat 
of liberalism. In Russia and in Italy it has been shown that it is pos- 
sible to govern outside, above and against the whole of liberaHsm's 
idealogy. Both Communism and Fascism are outside the bounds of 

But after all is said and done, what does this liberalism, for which 
all the foes of Fascism today more or less obliquely get excited, 
consist ? Does liberalism mean universal suffrage and such hke things ? 
Does it mean to have the Chamber always open, in order that it may 
present that indecent spectacle which made everybody feel sick? 
Does it mean to leave, in the name of liberty, to a few the liberty 
to crush the liberty of all ? Does it mean to give a free hand to those 
who proclaim their hostility against the State and work actively for 
its destruction? Is this liberalism? Well, if this is liberalism it is a 
theory and a practice of aberration and of ruin. Liberty is not an 

400 Sawdust Caesar 

end ; it is a means. As a means it ought to be controlled and domi- 
nated. Here fails this talk of "force." 

The liberal gentlemen are asked to tell me if there ever was in 
history a Government based exclusively on the consent of the people 
and renouncing the employment of any kind of force. Such a Gov- 
ernment has never existed and it never will exist. Consent is as 
changeable as the sands on the seashore. It cannot always exist. 
Nor can it ever be entire. No Government has ever existed which 
has managed to make everybody it governed happy. Whatever solu- 
tion you happen to give to any problem whatever, you — even were 
you participants of divine wisdom — must inevitably create a class 
of malcontents. If so far geometry has not succeeded in squaring 
the circle, still less have politics managed to do it. Allowing as an 
axiom that any governmental decision creates discontented people, 
how are you to prevent this discontent from growing and becoming 
a danger for the safety of the State? You prevent it by means of 
force ; by surrounding the mass with force ; by employing this force 
without pity when it is necessary to do so. Take away force from 
any Government whatever — and physical armed force is meant here 
— and leave only its immortal principles — and that Government will 
be at the mercy of the first organized group which has made up its 
mind to beat it. 

Now Fascism throws all these anti-vital theories to the scrap heap. 
When a group or a party is in power it is obliged to fortify itself 
and to defend itself against all comers. The truth, plain to the eyes 
of all who are not blinded by dogmatism, is that men are tired, per- 
haps, of liberty. They have had an orgy of it. Today liberty is no 
longer the severe and chaste virgin for which generations of the first 
part of the last century fought and died. For the intrepid youth who, 
uneasy and alert, face the dawn of new history there are other words 
which have greater fascination ; these are, order, hierarchy, discipline. 

This poor Italian liberalism, which goes in search of a greater lib- 
erty, groaning and struggling, is very much behind. It is quite outside 
all understanding and possibility. They talk of seeds which spring will 
find. Nonsense ! Some seeds die under the coat of winter. Fascism, 
which did not fear to call itself reactionary when many liberals of 
today were prone before the triumphant beast, has not today any 

Appendices 401 

impediment against declaring itself illiberal and anti-liberal. Fascism 
does not fall a victim to certain commonplace tricks. 

Let it be known then, once and for all, that Fascism knows no 
idol, worships no faith; it has once passed, and, if needful, will 
turn to pass again, over the more or less decomposed body of the 
Goddess of Liberty. 

Benito Mussolini 


Resolutions Adopted by the Republican, Socialist, Demo- 
cratic, AND Catholic Parties, Following the Assassination of 

Matteotti : 

"To send greetings to the memory of Giacomo Matteotti, who, 
above party divergences, has become by his tragic destiny the symbol 
of the aspiration of liberty and civil order, in the service of which 
he was killed in a cowardly manner. 

"The horrible character of this crime, so different from other 
political crimes because it was the result of a plot born in the pro- 
tection of the high powers of the State, has shocked the public con- 
science, revealing the existence of a political mentality which cannot 
be compatible with the state of civilization of the present cen- 
tury. . . . 

"Now, in the light of testimony made by the judicial authorities, 
forced by the pressure of public opinion despite the opposition of the 
police authorities, we know of the organization, outside the law, called 
upon to execute the condemnations against political opponents. This 
organization (Cheka) is grafted on the very organization of the gov- 
ernment and directed by the confidants of the Chief of Government 

"In face with these troubling affairs, the assembly . . . serves the 
supreme interests of the State, unable to distinguish logically and 
morally the close or distant responsibility of the government. This 
responsibility is irremediably proven by the solidarity, paid and main- 
tained, between the collaborators, who today have been demaskcd 
as the veritable mandatories of the ignoble crime and the constitu- 

402 Sawdust Caesar 

tional regulation which makes the President of the Council (Musso- 
lini) responsible before Parliament and before the country for the 
work of his coadjutators. . . , 

"The government promises for the future, the work of normaliza- 
tion. . . . The Opposition cannot believe in the efficacy or the sin- 
cerity of this promise. They are contradictory, carried out by a party 
which maintains the intolerable privilege of defending with arms its 
place in politics. 

"The circumstances of the assassination . . . oblige the Opposi- 
tion to abstain, for the moment, from all parliamentary participation." 

Extracts from Law of December 31, 1925, on the Press 

1. Every newspaper or periodical pubhcation shall have a re- 
sponsible director who . . . must be approved by the Procurator- 
General attached to the Court of Appeal of the district. 

3. The printer and editor must furnish a list of the titles and 
addresses of all the proprietors. 

7. In every town where there is a Court of Appeal there shall be 
an order of journalists. . . . Those journalists only who are in- 
scribed on the registers of the order may exercise their profession. 

Royal Decree of July 15, 1923 

2. The Prefect of a province is empowered ... to address a warn- 
ing to the manager of a newspaper or periodical publication : 

(i) if by means of false or tendentious news it impedes the diplo- 
matic action of the Government in its foreign relations, or 
injures the national credit at home or abroad, or creates un- 
justifiable alarm in the population, or disturbs public order; 

(2) if by means of articles, comments, notes, headlines, or illus- 
trations it incites to crime or excites class hatred or dis- 
obedience to the laws and orders of the public authorities, or 
compromises the discipline of public servants, or favours the 
interests of foreign states, societies, or individuals to the 
prejudice of Italian interests, or holds up to opprobrium the 

Appendices 403 

King, the Koyal Family, the Sovereign Pontiff [the Pope], 
the religion of the state, or the institutions and organs of the 
state or friendly Powers. . . . 

3. On the advice of the Commission referred to in the preceding 
Article the Prefect may cancel the recognition of a responsible man- 
ager to whom two warnings have been addressed in one year. 

4. Newspapers or other periodical literature published in contra- 
vention of the preceding dispositions may be sequestrated. 

Subsidization of Violence in Foreign Countries 

Under a Fascist law "for the compensation of protagonists in In- 
ternal civil strife" party members injured in disputes with anti- 
Fascists were indemnified by the State. To insure the same benefits 
the Fascist! abroad, notably in France, the United States and South 
America, the following law, No. 1519, was passed on August 10, 
1927, and published in the Gazsetta ufficiale, August 30, 1927 : 

"That the benefits of the law of 1925 are extended, without limit of 
time, to citizens who beginning on the 23rd of July, 1919, have, in 
foreign lands, in time of conflicts or aggressions, received bodily 
harm, etc. . . . provided that they have acted, calculatedly or spon- 
taneously, in a nationalistic manner." 

On the initiative of Minister of Justice Rocco the following 
decree was published October 27, 1927 : 

"Condemnations for crimes committed for a nationalistic purpose 
must not be inscribed on the judicial docket." 


The Labor Charter 

Art. I. The Italian nation is an organism, having aims, life, and 
means of action superior to those of the single or grouped individuals 
who compose it. It is a moral, political and economic unity which is 
completely reaUzed in the Fascist State. 

Art. 2. Labor in all forms, intellectual, technical and manual, is 

404 Sawdust Caesar 

a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by 
the State. From the national point of view all production is a unit; 
its objects are unitary and can be defined as the wellbeing of the 
producers and the development of national strength. 

Art. 3. Trade or syndicate organization is free. But only the syn- 
dicate regularly recognized and placed under the control of the State 
has the legal right to represent the entire group of employers or of 
workers for which it is constituted, to guard their interests before 
the state or other organized economic groups, to draw up collective 
labor contracts, obligatory on all those belonging to the same group, 
to impose contributions (taxes) on them and exercise delegated 
functions of public interest relating to them. 

Art. 4. In collective labor contracts, the solidarity of the various 
factors of production finds its concrete expression in the reconciHa- 
tion of the opposing interests of employers and workers, and in their 
subordination to the superior interests of production. 

Art. 5. The labor court is the organ through which the State inter- 
venes to solve labor controversies, whether they deal with the ob- 
servance of contracts or other existing standards, or with the deter- 
mination of new labor conditions. 

Art. 6. Legally organized trade organizations assure legal equality 
between employers and workers, maintain the discipline of production 
and labor, and promote its perfection. A corporation constitutes the 
organization of one field of production and represents its interests 
as a whole. Since the interests of production are national interests, 
the corporations are recognized by law as state organizations by 
virtue of this representation. 

Art. 7. The Corporate State considers private initiative in the 
field of production the most efficacious and most useful instrument 
in the interest of the nation. Private organization of production being 
a function of national interest, the organization of the enterprise 
is responsible to the State for the direction of its production. Reci- 
procity of the rights and duties is derived from the collaboration 
of the productive forces. The technician, office employee and worker 
is an active collaborator in the economic undertaking, the direction 
of which is the right of the employer, who has the responsibility for it. 

Appendices 4fy^ 

Art. 8. Trade associations of employers are obliged to promote in 
every way the increase and perfection of products and a reduction in 
costs. The representatives of those who exercise a liberal profession 
or an art, and the associations of public employees, join in the 
guardianship of the interests of art, science and letters, in the per- 
fection of production and in the attainment of temporal aims of 
the corporate system. 

Art. 9. The intervention of the State in economic production takes 
place only when private initiative is lacking or is insulificient, or when 
the political interests of the State are involved. Such intervention may 
assume the form of outside control, encouragement or direct man- 

Art. 10. Labor disputes which involve groups can have no resort 
to the Labor Court until the corporation has exhausted its efforts 
for reconciliation. When individuals are involved in relation to the 
interpretation of collective contracts, the workers associations are 
empowered to attempt settlement. . . . 

Art. II. The trade associations are obliged to regulate by means of 
collective contracts the labor relations between the employers and 
employees. . . . Every collective labor contract, under penalty of 
nullification, must contain precise statements ... of the amount and 
manner of payment of wages, and the hours of labor. 

Art. 12. The syndicate operation, the corporations' mediation and 
the labor court decisions shall guarantee the relation between wages 
and normal living costs. . . . 

Art. 13. Losses due to crises in business and the fluctuations in 
exchange must be equally divided between the two elements (capital 
and labor). . . . 

Art. 14. Wages should be paid as best suited to the needs of em- 
ployee and the undertaking. When payment is by piece-work . . . 
suitable weekly or fortnightly accountings must be furnished. Night 
work . . . must be paid at higher rates than day work. . . . 

Art. 15. Employees have the right of a weekly rest day, Sunday. 
. . . Collective contracts . . . shall ensure respect for civil and re- 
ligious holidays. Employees must scrupulously and earnestly observe 
working hours. 

4o6 Sawdust Caesar 

Art. i6. After a year's uninterrupted service in a concern doing 
continuous work, the employee has the right to an annual holiday with 

Art. 17. In companies functioning the year round the employee 
has the right in case of discharge through no fault of his own to 
compensation based on the years of service. Likewise, in case of 

Art. 18. The transfer of a firm into new hands shall not affect the 
labor contracts. . . . Illness of an employee does not cancel his 
contract. Call to service in the army or navy or Fascist militia shall 
not cause the dismissal of an employee. 

Art. 19. Infractions of discipline, and acts disturbing the normal 
functioning of a concern shall he punished by fine, suspension, or 
immediate discharge without compensation. . . . 

Art. 20. Newly hired employees shall have a period of trial in 
which the right to cancel the contract is reciprocal and payment only 
for actual time of work. 

Art. 21. Collective labor contracts extends its benefits to workers 
at home. . . . 

Art. 22. The State shall ascertain and control employment and 
unemployment since these are the indices of production and labor. 

Art. 23. Labor exchanges (employment bureaus) shall be con- 
trolled by the Corporations. Employers shall be required to engage 
workers through these exchanges, with freedom of choice among 
names inscribed except that other things being equal, preference must 
be given to members of the Fascist Party and of Fascist syndicates 
in order of seniority of registration. 

Art. 24. Professional trades associations must practice selective 
action among members for the purpose of increasing technical skill 
and moral value. 

Art. 25. The corporations must see that the laws are observed 
governing safety, preventing accidents, sanitation. 

Art. 26. Insurance is an excellent example of the spirit of col- 
laboration between classes. Employers and employees contribute to 
the cost proportionately. . . . 

Art 27. The Fascist State proposes to bring about 

Appendices 4^ 

1. Improvement in accident insurance. 

2. Improvement in extension of maternity assurance. 

3. Compulsory insurance against occupational diseases and 
tuberculosis, first step towards compulsory insurance against 
all disease. 

4. Improvement in unemplo3nnent insurance. 

5. Adoption of special marriage endowment for young workers. 

Art. 28. It is the duty of the employees associations to protect 
members administratively and legally in problems arising in connec- 
tion with accidents or other form of social insurance. , . . 

Art. 29. The associations must provide relief for workers they 
represent whether they be members or non-members. . . . 

Art. 30. Education and training, especially technical training, shall 
be one of the chief duties of the professional trade associations 
towards members and non-members. They shall support the 
Dopolavoro (recreational institution) and other national educational 


The Fascist Decalogue 

I. Know thou that the Fascist, and especially the militiaman, 
should not believe in perpetual peace. 

II. Days spent in prison are always merited. 

III. One serves his fatherland even by standing guard at a gaso- 
line tank. 

IV. A companion must be a brother, first because he lives with 
you, and second because he thinks like you. 

V. A rifle, the munitions belt, etc., are not intrusted you to be 
worn at your ease, but to be preserved for war. 

VI. Never say "the government will pay," because it is you who 
pays and the government is that for which you wished and for which 
you put on the uniform. 

VII. Discipline is the sun of the armies; without it there are no 
soldiers, only confusion and defeat. 

VIII. Mussolini is always right. 

4o8 Sawdust Caesar 

IX. The volunteer profits by no extenuating circumstances if he 

X. One thing must be dear to you above all — ^the life of the Duce. 

The Fascist Ten Commandments^ 

1 . God and cotmtry first : all other aif ections come after love for 

2. He who is not ready to sacrifice body and soul to Italy and 
to serve Mussolini without question is unworthy to wear the black 
shirt, symbol of Fascism. 

3. Use all your intelligence to understand the orders you receive 
and all your enthusiasm to obey them and carry them out. 

4. Discipline is not only a virtue for a soldier in the ranks. It 
should be a daily and hourly habit. 

5. A bad son and a lazy scholar cannot be good Fascists. 

6. Employ your time and talents so that work becomes a pleasure 
and pleasure becomes work. 

7. Learn to suffer without grumbling, to be generous without ex- 
pecting a reward. 

8. Carry out good actions to their end; do not leave them only 
half accomplished. 

9. Be daring and courageous in moments of difficulty and despera- 

10. Thank God every day that he has made you an Italian Fascist. 

The Apocryphal Fascist Catechism 

Five years in the penal islands is the usual punishment for political 
activity against Fascism. For smaller offenses, one to three years. 
Thus, one year in prison is the penalty for everyone found possessing 
the following satire which is' being secretly circulated by the many 
thousands in Italy. It is called the "Catechismo fascista," the ten ques- 
tions and answers being: 

1. Who has created you? 
Mussolini created me. 

2. Who is Mussolini? 

He is the eternal father. 

'Issued by GiovanQi Giuriati, Secretary of the Fascist Party, October, 1931. 

Appendices 409 

3. Where is Mussolini? 

Mussolini is in heaven, on the earth, in every part, and he resides in 

the Viminale. 

4. Does Mussolini know everything ? 
Mussolini knows everything. He is omniscient, 

5. Can Mussolini do everything? 

He can do everj-thing. He is omnipotent. 

6. For what purpose did Mussolini create you? 
Mussolini has created nie to fight the Bolsheviki. 

7. What are the verities revealed by Mussolini? 
They are comprised in the Credo. 

8. Do you know the Fascist Credo? 
May I be damned if I don't. 

9. Recite it. 

"I believe in Mussolini, the almighty father, creator of Fascism and 
the Black Shirts, conceived post-bellum, born of Karl Marx and 
Gabriele d'Annunzio, came into this world under the Red Flag, was 
crucified, died and was buried, descended into hell, but on the third 
day was resurrected with a blackjack (manganello) in his right hand 
and a bottle of castor oil in his left. He conquered Rome and now sits 
on the Viminale to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the holy 
ghost Michele Bianchi, in the holy church of the seat of Fascism, and 
in the remission of the blackjack on the heads of the Bolsheviki, in 
the resurrection of the ax in the heads of the Socialists. I believe in 
the eternal life of Fascism. Amen." 
10. Recite the Fascist paternoster. 

"Our Mussolini who is on the Viminale, thy Will be done in the 
Montecitorio as in the Quirinal. Give us this day our daily squadristi 
and remit us our blackjacks as we remit them on the heads of our 
enemies. So be it. 

"Blessed be the squadristi because theirs is the kingdom of Monte- 
citorio. Blessed be the Fascisti, because theirs is the kingdom of the 
manganello. Blessed be those who accept Fascism because theirs is 
the kingdom of castor oil. Blessed be those who do not mingle in poli- 
tics because they will never see the hospitals." 

The Balilla Credo' 

Question: What does it mean to be a Fascist? 

Answer : It means that the commandments, precepts, and sacraments 

of Italy must be obsen/ed. 
Q. What is its creed ? 

'Denounced in 1926 as sacrilegious by the Bishop of Brescia, with the approval of 

the Vatican. 

4^0 Sawdust Caesar 

A. It is the creed given by the Apostles of Italy and of Fascism. 
Q. Of how many articles does it consist? 
A. Of twelve articles, as follows : 

1. I believe in Rome Eternal, mother of my fatherland 

2. And in Italy, her firstborn, 

3. Who was born of her virgin womb by the grace of God; 

4. Who suffered under the barbarian invader, was crucified, slain 
and buried; 

5. Who descended into the scpulcher, and rose again from the 
dead in the nineteenth century; 

6. Who ascended to Heaven in her glory in 1918 and in 1922 
(by the March on Rome) ; 

7. Who is seated at the right hand of Mother Rome; 

8. Who will come thence to judge the quick and the dead. 

9. I believe in the genius of Mussohni; 

10. In our Holy Father Fascism and in the communion of martyrs ; 

11. In the conversion of the Italians; and 

12. In the resurrection of the Empire. Amen! 


Fascist Finances 

(in millions of lire) 

June 30, 1926 1927 1928 1929 April 30, 1930 
82,537 86,666 89,271 91,015 92,242 


The 93 principal communes Dec. 31, 1925 3,066,000,000 

The 93 principal communes Dec. 31, 1927 5,481,000,000 


(From Annuario Statistico Italiano ipso, p. 572, and the 
BoUettino Mensile di Statistica, May, 1930, p. 499) 

1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 192S 1929 1931* 1933* 
Sf353 6,951 7,095 7,631 10,366 10,946 11,478 12,500 14,000 

* press report 

Appendices 411 

The Pre-War Decade and the Fascist Decade 

In percentages of increase or decrease 

1904-13 1922-32 

Foreign commerce 86% —12% 

Steel production 477% 46% 

Exports of fabricated goods . . .,., I94% 34% 

Exports of cotton fabrics 1 18% 36% 

Mercantile steamship tonnage 89% ^6% 

Railroad tonnage 54% 23% 

Gold reserve 95% —40% 

(Note: 1913 was a year of crisis comparable to 1929) 


On October 9, 1927, two years before the collapse in Wall Street, 
Mussolini, addressing parliament, said : "Let us speak frankly, with- 
out pious euphemism. There is a crisis. The crisis is grave." Objective 
economists date the Fascist crisis from 1926; it became intense fol- 
lowing the stabilization of the lira. The following official statistics 
prove these statements : 

1926 1927 1931 

Failures 7,631 10,366 12,500 

Foreign commerce (billions) 44 36 21 

Unemployment (maximums) 181,493 414,283 982,321 

Wholesale price index 708 495 328 

Gold Reserve, 1927 12,100,000,000 (after stabilization) 

Gold Reserve, Sept., 1932 7,100,000,000 

1925-6 1931-2 

National Income (billions) 100* 68* 

Total taxes 20 22,5 

Percentage 20 30 

* Official. 

' Mortara, Prospective economickt. 

4^2 Sawdust Caesar 

Fascism : Its Theory and PniLosopgY 


(Written for the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia) 

Like all sound political concepts, Fascism is both practice and 
thought, action in which one doctrine is inherent, and a doctrine 
which, rising from a given system of historical forces, remains bound 
with it, and works from the inside of this system. There is no con- 
cept of the State that is not fundamentally a concept of life : philoso- 
phy or intuition, a system of ideas that moves within a logical con- 
struction, or is gathered in a vision or in a faith, whatever it is, it 
is always, at least virtually always, an organic conception of the 

Thus Fascism would not be understood in many of its practical 
attitudes, as a party organization, as a system of education, as dis- 
cipline, if it were not looked at in the light of its general way of con- 
ceiving life. It is a spiritual way. The world, for Fascism, is not 
this material world that appears superficially, in which man is an 
individual separated from all others, and is governed by a natural 
law which instinctively leads him to live a life of egoistic and mo- 
mentary pleasure. The man of Fascism is an individual who is the 
nation and the motherland, a moral law which brings together indi- 
viduals and generations in a tradition and a mission, which suppresses 
the instinct for the closed life in a short round of pleasure, so as to 
initiate as a duty a superior life free from the limits of time and 
space: a life in which the individual, through self-abnegation, the 
sacrifice of his own interests, death itself, realizes that totally spiritual 
existence in which is the worth of man. 

Fascism demands the man active, and engaged in action with all 
his energies : it demands him vigorously conscious of difficulties, and 
ready to face them. It conceives of life as a struggle, and that it is 
up to man to conquer for himself that which is really worthy of him, 
creating first of all within himself the instrument (physical, moral, 

Appendices 413 

intellectual) with which to build himself up. Thus with the indi- 
vidual, thus with the nation, thus with humanity. Hence the high 
value of culture in all its forms (art, religion, science) and the tre- 
mendous importance of education. Hence also the essential value 
of work, with which man overcomes nature and creates the human 
world (economic, political, moral and intellectual). 

This positive conception of Hfe is evidently an ethical conception. 
Life, then, as conceived by the Fascist, is serious, austere, religious : 
poised in a world supported by the moral and responsible forces of 
the spirit. The Fascist disdains the comfortable life. Fascism is a 
religious conception, in which the man is viewed in his inherent 
relationship with a superior law, with an objective will that transcends 
the particular individual and elevates him to the position of a con- 
scious member of a spiritual society. Those who, in the religious 
poHcy of the Fascist regime, have stopped at considerations of mere 
opportunism, have not understood that Fascism, in addition to being 
a system of government, is also and first of all a system of thought 

Fascism is an historical conception, in which man is not what he 
is if he is not functioning fully in the spiritual faith to which he 
adheres, in the family and social group, in the nation and in that 
history in which all nations participate. Hence the great value of tra- 
dition in the memories, the language, the customs, and the standards 
of social life. Outside of history, man is nothing. For this reason 
Fascism is opposed to all individualistic abstractions on materialistic 
bases of the iSth Century type; and it is opposed to all Jacobin 
Utopias and innovations. It does not believe real happiness to be 
possible on earth, as it was in the desire of the economic literature 
of the Settecento, and therefore rejects all conceptions by which, at 
a certain period in history, there will be a definitive apotheosis of the 
human race. This means putting oneself outside of history and Hfe, 
which is a continuous flux and reflux. 

Politically, Fascism is a realistic doctrine ; practically, it aspires to 
solve only the problems which are posed historically by themselves 
and which by themselves find or suggest their own solutions. To act 
among men, as in nature, one must enter into the process of reality 
and avail oneself of the forces at the moment. 

Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception is for the State; and 

414 Sawdust Caesar 

it is for the individual (insofar as he coincides with the State) the 
universal conscience and will of man in his historic existence. 

Fascism is against dassic liberalism, whicli rose from the need to 
react against absolutism, and which has exhausted its historical func- 
tion since the State was transformed in its own popular conscience 
and will. 

Liberalism denied the State in the interest of the particular indi- 
vidual ; Fascism re-affirms the State as the true reality of the indi- 
vidual. And if liberty must be the attribute of the real man, and 
not of that abstract puppet about which individuaHstic liberalism 
thought, Fascism is for liberty. It stands for the liberty which can 
be a serious matter, the liberty of the State, and of the individual in 
the State. 

For the Fascist, everything is within the State, and nothing human 
or spiritual exists, and much less has worth, outside of the State. It is 
in this sense that Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, syn- 
thesized and united by every value and worth, interprets, develops 
and strengthens the whole life of the people. 

Neither individuals outside of the State, nor groups (political par- 
ties, associations, syndicates, classes) . For this reason Fascism is 
against socialism, which hardens the historic class struggle and ig- 
nores the unity of State which casts the classes in a single economic 
and moral reality; and, analogously, it is against class syndicalism. 
But within the orbit of the regulating State, the real needs from 
which originate socialist and syndicalist movements, are recognized 
by Fascism and made to count in the corporative system of interests, 
conciliated within the unity of the State. 

Individuals are classed according to the categories of their in- 
terests ; they are syndicates according to their differentiated but 
co-interested economic activities ; but they are first of all and above 
all the State. The latter is not a number, like a sum of individuals 
forming the majority of a people. For that reason Fascism is against 
the democracy that equalizes a people to its greater number, lower- 
ing it to the level of the majority; yet Fascism itself is the purest 
form of democracy. The people is conceived as it should be, quali- 
tatively, as the most potent idea because it is more moral, more 
coherent, truer, an idea which in the people is realized as the con- 

Appendices 415 

science and will of the few, even o£ One, and, as an ideal, tends to 
be realized in the conscience and will of all : of all those who from 
nature and history, ethnically, find reason to form a nation, bound 
in the same direction of development and spiritual formation, like a 
single conscience and will. Not race nor region geographically indi- 
vidualized, but progeny historically perpetuating themselves, multi- 
tudes unified by one idea: a will to existence and power, knowledge 
of self, personality. 

This superior personality is, however, a nation only insofar as it 
is a State. It is not the nation that engenders the State, according 
to the obsolete naturalistic concept which served as the basis for the 
publicists of the national States in the 19th Century. On the other 
hand, the nation is created by the State, which gives the people, 
conscious of their own moral unity, a will, and therefore an effective 
existence. The right of a nation to independence derives not from a 
situation of fact more or less unconscious and inert, but from an 
active consciousness, from a pc^itical will of the moment tending 
to lay down its own law. The State, in fact, like universal ethical 
will, is the creator of law. 

The nation as State is an ethical reality that exists and lives insofar 
only as it develops itself. Its halting is its death. Therefore the State 
not only is the authority that governs and gives form to laws and 
values to the spiritual life of the individual will but it is also the 
power that makes its will mean something abroad, making it recog- 
nized and respected, or rather, demonstrating with fact its univer- 
sality in all the necessary determinations of its development. It is 
thus organization and expansion, at least virtually so. Thus it can be 
compared with the nature of the human will, which in its development 
does not recognize barriers, and which realizes itself by testing its 
own infinity. 

The Fascist State, the most potent and highest form of the per- 
sonality, is a force, but a spiritual one, which sums up all the forms 
of man's moral and intellectual life. It cannot therefore be limited to 
simple governmental functions of order and protection, as liberalism 
used to desire. Fascism is not a simple mechanism which limits the 
sphere of supposed individual liberty. It is an interior form and 
norm and a discipline of the whole person ; it permeates the will like 

4i6 Sawdust Caesar 

the intelligence. Its principle, a central inspiration of the human 
personality living in the civic community, descends deeply and lodges 
in the heart of the man of action as well as the thinker, of the artist 
as well as the scientist : it is the soul of the soul. 

Fascism, then, is not only a giver of laws and a foimder of insti- 
tutions, but an educator and promoter of spiritual life. It demands 
to remake not the forms of human life, but the contents : man, char- 
acter, faith. And to this end it demands a discipline and authority 
which descends within the spirit and there dominates unchallenged. 
Hence its sign is the Lictor "fasdo," the symbol of unity, strength, 
and justice. 


II Duce Tells Fascist Journalists Duty Is to Serve Regime; 

calls italian press freest in the world and tells editors to 

avoid publication of crimes and deal with national 


by benito mussolini 

Premier Mussolini expressed his conception of the Fascist journal- 
ist's duty in the following speech delivered before the editors of 
seventy Italian newspapers who met in Rome on Oct. 10, 1928, for 
the first time in six years. 

Comrades and Gentlemen: This important meeting of the jour- 
nalists of the regime takes place only at the end of the sixth year 
thereof. You understand it could not have taken place before because 
it is only since January, 1925, and more particularly during the past 
two years that the problem of the Fascist press has been faced and 
almost entirely settled. In a regime which embraces everything, as any 
regime arising from a triumphant revolution should, the press is an 
element of that regime, a force at the service of that regime. 

In a unitarian regime the press cannot be extraneous from the 
whole. This is why the whole Italian press is Fascist and should feel 
proud to mihtate compactly under the emblem of the lictor's rods. 
Starting with this undeniable fact, we immediately have a compass 

Appendices 417 

to guide the practical activity of Fascist journalism. We avoid that 
which is harmful to the regime and do that which helps it. Above 
all, and we may say it of Italy exclusively and apart from other coun- 
tries, journalism, rather than a profession, or trade, beco^nes a mission 
of great delicacy and importance, because nowadays it is journalism 
which circulates among the masses. After the school has instructed 
the rising generations, it is journalism which carries on the task of 
information and formation. 

Therefore, it is not absurd that, since we must continue the forma- 
tive education of the multitude, journalists should be morally and 
technically trained. It is evident that journalists are not made in 
schools any more than poets. Nevertheless, nobody can deny the use- 
fulness of schools. 

This first meeting of the journalists of the regime is meant to be 
an honor and recognition. Those old accusations that Fascist tyranny 
suffocates the freedom of the press are now entirely discredited. The 
Fascist press is the freest in the whole world. Elsewhere newspapers 
are under orders from plutocratic groups, from parties, from indi- 
viduals ; elsewhere they have been reduced to the melancholy state of 
exchanging exciting news, the perpetual reading whereof saturates 
the public mind with a kind of stupefaction, with signs of atony and 
imbecility; elsewhere journals are grouped in the hands of a very 
few individuals who consider newspapers as true and personal in- 
dustry like that of iron or leather. 

Italian journalism is free because it serves but one cause and 
regime; it is free because within the laws of the regime it can and does 
exercise functions of control, criticism, propulsion. I most absolutely 
deny that the Italian press is the realm of boredom and uniformity^ 
All who read foreign journals of all countries in the world know 
how gray, uniform, stereotyped, even to details, is their press. I affirm 
that Italian Fascist journalism must always and in greater measure 
differ clearly from that of other countries so as not only to build 
for the flag which it defends but also be a resolute, visible, very 
radical antithesis to the press of other lands. 

This difference does not exclude another one equally important. 
Let me use a musical simile. I consider Italian Fascist journalism as 
an orchestra. The — la — is common to all instruments. This — la — is not 

41 8 Sawdust Caesar 

given out by the Government through its press bureaus under some 
sort of inspiration and suggestion made according to daily contin- 
gencies; this — la — is given by Fascist journalism itself. It knows how 
to serve the regime. It does not wait the word of command every day. 
It has it in its conscience. 

Once given the — la — there remains diversity of instruments and 
it is precisely their diversity which prevents cacophony and brings 
instead full, divine harmony. There is, besides, the diversity of the 
musicians' temperament, a necessary diversity because this impon- 
derable but vital element makes execution ever more perfect. Each 
journal should become a well defined, that is, individualized instru- 
ment recognizable in the great orchestra. In a modern orchestra 
stringed instruments do not exclude wind instruments of unusual 
shape. There can be Fascist journals of serious aspect with perhaps 
an official tinge, and journals for assault, warlike, headstrong. There 
can be journals partial to certain problems; those which are big 
enough to be national, others which must be content as excellent 
regional or provincial journals. 

For instance, it is absurd for a provincial newspaper to soak its 
readers with whole pages on world foreign policy. Their difference 
must be bound up with true and proper division of labor based upon 
Fascist journalism's common sense rather than upon instructions 
from above. 

The national, regional, provincial press serves the regime by report- 
ing its daily task, creating, maintaining an atmosphere and approval 
of its work. 

It is a great adventure to live in this first extraordinary quarter 
century, a great adventure for you to be able to follow Fascist revolu- 
tion in its progressive stages. Destiny has been particularly kind to 
you, permitting you to be journalists during a war and revolution, 
both rare, memorable events in the history of nations. 

Now, do all those who think they serve the regime, serve it effec- 
tively, usefully? Not always. Those do not serve it who abandon 
themselves to laudatory adjectives, singing some obligatory rhyme 
for conventional purposes about every act and fact, even of small 
import, or every man even of modest stature. You must deflate and 
keep your distance. Six years of Fascist revolution are greater than 

Appendices 419 

any words, especially than many words. Nouns make adjectives super- 

Nor do those who give excessive space to crimes, featuring them 
for copy, serve the regime, nor those who neglect their joumal's 
make-up, who should take great pains over headlines and text, espe- 
cially headlines. I read, for instance, of rewards given to the re- 
porter who spends his time between prison and hospital for the 
headline "Genius and Madness," as though genius inevitably dwelt 
in madhouses. Accidents during work become terrifying catastrophes. 
You feel bound to report that some young professor shoots his wife, 
as if it interested anybody but the janitor and their nearest relations. 
For the thousandth time you rehash the mystery of Rudolph at 
Mayerling and reprint to boredom the story of Baker, the self- 
styled Black Venus. All this is uneducative journalism of old regimes. 

The new regime that is Fascist journalism must get off the rocks 
of this mentality and set out in search of and write about all other 
varied grand aspects, problems of individual and national life. Copy 
about crime must be left to police reports, except in those exceptional 
cases where great social, human or political Interest prevails. 

Those do not serve the regime who fail to keep their dignity before 
foreigners who are enjoying Italian hospitality, even when they ex- 
press their opinion about the regime or Mussolini. I repeat that the 
highest marks assigned to me, with or without praise by any of these 
illustrious personages, leave me entirely indifferent. 

Exalt big men, all those who render service to their motherland 
and humanity, not those vain ones who like to see themselves pictured 
in the act of saluting the unknown warrior. Nor do those serve the 
regime who lack discretion, especially in matters of foreign policy 
or finance; who are inexact; who go in for Barzlnism late in the day; 
who cover themselves with incense or, in the heat of argument, stoop 
to defamatory remarks and cannibalism. Nor do those who indulge 
in the luxury of generic censorlousness and irresponsible moralizing, 
who look at all and nobody when precise facts and names are needed 
to correct evils betimes; nor those who fail to check facts and judg- 
ment passed upon people in their articles, thereby serving their ad- 
versaries with evidence against them. 

This list of how to serve, or not to serve, the regime could be 

420 Sawdust Caesar 

prolonged, but you already understand me and how to serve the 

/ wish to stress that, apart from strictly political questions or those 
fundamentally embedded in the revolution, criticism can, with limi- 
tations, be exercised for all other questions. Before monetary reform 
was introduced I allowed polemics between those favoring and those 
against revaluation, not only in academic chairs but in reviews and 
dailies. In part, science, philosophy, a man's Fascist membership 
ticket must not give him privileges or immunity. Just as it should 
be permissible to say that Mussolini as a violin player is a very mod- 
est amateur, so it should be permissible to criticise objectively art, 
prose, poetry or the theatre without any veto. Here party discipline 
is not at stake nor does revolution come into play. When a man asks 
to be judged as poet, playwright, painter, novelist, he has no right 
to fall back on his party membership when judgment is unfavorable. 

Jones or Smith may be a brave Fascist but a deficient poet. You 
must never give the public the alternative of being anti-Fascist be- 
cause it hisses, or cowardly because it applauds all literary abortions, 
all bad poetry, all pictures which are daubs. The membership card 
gives no talent to those who lack it. I have not said all I could, but I 
think I have said the essentials. Above all this, your task will grow 
ever more important, nationally and internationally. Nationally be- 
cause among other things the Italian people will within a few months' 
time be summoned to a plebiscite whereby it will record its effective 
consent to the regime in the eyes of the whole world. You must 
prepare this great manifestation and you have in your journals a 
means of doing so worthily. 

In international spheres we are not marching toward easy times. 
The more Italy grows in political, economic, moral stature the more 
durable Fascist Italy becomes and the greater will be those inevitable 
reactions in anti-Fascist spheres which seem offended at having a 
new word of command in political and social camps. For this our 
press was vigilant, ready, equipped modernly with men who know 
how to argue with adversaries beyond our frontiers, who above all, 
are moved not by material but by ideal aims. 

I hope that when I again convoke you I shall be able to see that 
you have always more decidedly, proudly served the cause of revo- 

Appendices 421 

lution. With this hope, accept my cordial greeting, in which there 
is a little reminiscence and homesickness. 


The Foreign Policies of Fascism 
Speech by Premier Mussolini 

"Do you remember my speeches last May at Leghorn, Florence, 
and Milan? I will comment on them long after the event now that 
the tumult of others' comment appears to have abated. With these 
speeches I intended to tear the mask from the face of hypocritical 
Europe, which stammers of peace at Geneva hut prepares for war 

"Naturally, those whose mask was torn off tried to invert the 
situation by representing Italy as the only wolf amid a bleating flock 
of peaceful lambs. But that trick is puerile. Italy arms relatively he- 
cause others arm. She will disarm 'when all disarm. 

"I repeat that as long as there are cannon they will always be more 
beautiful than beautiful, but often false, words. When words will 
be sufficient to regulate relations between peoples then I will say that 
words are divine. 

"Let it be clear, however, that we are arming ourselves spiritually 
and materially in order to defend ourselves, not in order to attack. 
Fascist Italy will never take the initiative of war. 

"As for Italy's policy on the Danube and in the East, it is dictated 
by reasons of life. We are trying to utilize the last square inch of 
our territory. What we are doing is gigantic. But soon our territory 
will be saturated by our growing population. We wish this and we 
are proud of this, because life produces life. 

"By the year 1950 Italy will be the only country of young people in 
Europe, while the rest of Europe will be wrinkled and decrepit. 
People will come from over the frontier to see the phenomenon of 
this blooming Spring of the Italian people. 

"Only toward the East can our pacific expansion occur. This ex- 
plains our friendships and our alliances. The dilemma propounded 

422 Sawdust Caesar 

at Florence still holds good. It goes hard with our enemies already, 
but we are marching side by side with our friends. 

"Our foreign policy is sincere, without evasion or mental reserva- 
tions. A written agreement is sacred for us whatever may happen. 
Nor do we know of any other means whereby a people can increase 
its prestige and the confidence others have in it. 

"The longer our regime lasts the more the anti-Fascist coalition 
has recourse to expedients dictated by desperation. The struggle 
between the two worlds can permit no compromises. The new cycle 
which begins with the ninth year of the Fascist regime places the 
alternative in even greater reUef — either we or they, cither their 
ideas or ours, either our State or theirs ! 

"The new cycle must be of greater harshness, not of greater in- 
dulgence. Whoever has interpreted it differently has fallen into a 
grave error of interpretation. This explains why the struggle has 
now become world-wide and why Fascismo has become the subject 
of debate in all countries, here feared, there hated, elsewhere ardently 

"The phrase that Fascismo is not an article for exportation is not 
mine. It is too banal. It was adopted for the readers of newspapers 
who in order to understand anything need to have it translated into 
terms of commercial jargon. In any case it must now be amended. 

"Today I affirm that the idea, doctrine and spirit of Fascismo are 
universal. It is Italian in its particular institutions, but it is universal 
in spirit ; nor could it be otherwise, for spirit is universal by its very 
nature. It is therefore possible to foresee a Fascist Europe which 
will model its institutions on Fascist doctrine and practice, a Europe 
which will solve in the Fascist way the problems of the modern State 
of the twentieth century, a State very different from the States which 
existed before 1789, or which were formed afterward. 

"Today even as yesterday the prestige of nations is determined 
absolutely by their military glories and armed power. 

"Fascism is an army on the march. Its well-being, therefore, must 
be guaranteed by methods of safety. The Masons, who are sleeping, 
may reawaken. By eliminating them we can be sure that they will 
sleep forever." 

"Italy is an immense legion which marches under the Fascist sym- 

Appendices 4^3 

bols toward a greater future. Nobody can stop her. Nobody will 
stop her." 

(Rome, Oct. 27, 1930, Palazzo Venezia, 8th anniversary eve 
celebration. ) 


Capitalism and the Corporate State 

by benito mussolini 

(November, 1933) 

Is this crisis which has afflicted us lor four years a crisis in the 
system or of the system ? This is a serious question. I answer : 
The crisis has so deeply penetrated the system that it has become a 
crisis of the system. It is no longer an ailment; it is a constitutional 

Today we are able to say that the method of capitalistic production 
is vanquished, and with it the theory of economic liberalism which 
has illustrated and excused it. I want to outline in a general way the 
history of capitaUsm in the last century, which may be called the 
capitalistic century. But first of all, what is capitalism? 

Capitalism is ... a method of industrial production. To employ 
the most comprehensive definition : Capitalism is a method of mass 
production for mass consumption, financed en masse by the emission 
of private, national and international capital. Capitalism is therefore 
industrial and has not had in the field of agriculture any manifesta- 
tion of great bearing. 

I would mark in the history of capitalism three periods : the dy- 
namic period, the static period and the period of decline. 

The dynamic period was that from 1830 to 1870. It coincided with 
the introduction of weaving by machinery and with the appearance 
of the locomotive. Manufacturing, the typical manifestation of indus- 
trial capitalism, expanded. This was the epoch of great expansion and 
hence of the law of free competition ; the struggle of all against all 
had full play. 

In this period there were crises, but they were cyclical crises, 
neither long nor universal. Capitalism still had such vitality and such 
power of recovery that it could brilliantly prevail. 

424 Sawdust Caesar 

There were also wars. They cannot be compared with the World 
War. They were brief. Even the War of 1870, with its tragic days 
at Sedan, took no more than a couple of seasons. 

During the forty years of the dynamic period the State was watch- 
ing; it was remote, and the theorists of liberalism could say: "You, 
the State, have a single duty. It is to see to it that your administra- 
tion does not in the least turn toward the economic sector. The better 
you govern the less you will occupy yourself with the problems of 
the economic realm." We find, therefore, that economy in all its 
forms was limited only by the penal and commercial codes. 

But after 1870, this epoch underwent a change. There was no 
longer the struggle for life, free competition, the selection of the 
strongest. There became manifest the first symptoms of the fatigue 
and the devolution of the capitalistic method. There began to be 
agreements, syndicates, corporations, trusts. One may say that there 
was not a sector of economic life in the countries of Europe and 
America where these forces which characterize capitalism did not 

What was the result ? The end of free competition. Restricted as to 
its borders, capitalistic enterprise found that, rather than fight, it 
was better to concede, to ally, to unite by dividing the markets and 
sharing the profits. The very law of demand and supply was now no 
longer a dogma, because through the combines and the trusts it was 
possible to control demand and supply. 

Finally, this capitalistic economy, unified, "trustified," turned to- 
ward the State. What inspired it to do so? Tariff protection. 

Liberalism, which is nothing but a wider form of the doctrine of 
economic liberalism, received a death blow. The nation which, from 
the first, raised almost insurmountable trade barriers was the United 
States, but today even England has renounced all that seemed tra- 
ditional in her political, economic and moral life, and has surrendered 
herself to a constantly increasing protectionism. 

After the World War, and because of it, capitalistic enterprise be- 
came inflated. Enterprises grew in size from miUions to billions. Seen 
from a distance, this vertical sweep of things appeared as something 
monstrous, babel-like. Once, the spirit had dominated the material; 

Appendices 425 

now it was the material which bent and joined the spirit. Whatever 
had been physiological was now pathological ; all became abnormal. 

At this stage, super-capitaHsm draws its inspiration and its justifi- 
cation from this Utopian theory : the theory of unlimited consumers. 
The ideal of super-capitalism would be the standardization of the 
human race from the cradle to the coffin. Super-capitalism would have 
all men born of the same length, so that all cradles could be standard- 
ized ; it would have babies divert themselves with the same playthings, 
men clothed according to the same pattern, all reading the same book 
and having the same taste for the movies — in other words, it would 
have everybody desiring a single utilitarian machine. This is in the 
logic of things, because only in this way can super-capitalism do what 
it wishes. 

When does capitalistic enterprise cease to be an economic factor? 
When its size compels it to be a social factor. And that, precisely, 
is the moment when capitalistic enterprise, finding itself in difficulty, 
throws itself into the very arms of the State; It is the moment when 
the intervention of the State begins, rendering itself ever more neces- 

We are at this point : that, if in all the nations of Europe the State 
were to go to sleep for twenty-four hours, such an interval would be 
sufficient to cause a disaster. Now, there is no economic field in 
which the State is not called upon to intervene. Were we to surrender 
— just as a matter of hypothesis — ^to this capitalism of the eleventh 
hour, we should arrive at State capitalism, which is nothing but State 
socialism inverted. 

This is the crisis of the capitalist system, taken in its universal 
significance. . . . 

Last evening I presented an order in which I defined the new cor- 
poration system as we understand it and wish to make it. 

I should like to fix your attention on what was called the object: 
the well-being of the Italian people. It is necessary that, at a certain 
time, these institutions, which we have created, be judged and meas- 
ured directly by the masses as instruments through which these masses 
may improve their standard of living. Some day the worker, the tiller 
of the soil, will say to himself and to others : "If today I am better 

426 Sawdust Caesctr 

off practically, I owe it to the institutions which the Fascist revolu- 
tion has created." 

We want the Italian workers, those who are interested in their 
status as Italians, as workers, as Fascists, to feel that we have not 
created institutions solely to give form to our doctrinal schemes, but 
in order, at a certain moment, to give positive, concrete, practical and 
tangible results. 

Our State is not an absolute State. Still less is it an absolutory 
State, remote from men and armed only with inflexible laws, as laws 
ought to be. Our State is one organic, human State which wishes to 
adhere to the realities of life. . . . 

Today we bury economic liberalism. The corporation plays on the 
economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on 
the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from 
that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without 
a director. 

Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new 
synthesis is created. It is a symptomatic fact that the decadence of 
capitalism coincides with the decadence of socialism. All the Socialist 
parties of Europe are in fragments. 

Evidently the two phenomena — I will not say conditions — present a 
point of view which is strictly logical : there is between them a his- 
torical parallel. Corporative economy arises at the historic moment 
when both the militant phenomena, capitalism and socialism, have al- 
ready given all that they could give. From one and from the other we 
inherit what they have of vitality. 

We have rejected the theory of the economic man, the Liberal 
theory, and we are, at the same time, emancipated from what we have 
heard said about work being a business. The economic man does 
not exist; the integral man, who is political, who is economic, who 
is religious, who is holy, who is combative, does exist. 

Today we take again a decisive step on the road of the revolution. 

Let us ask a final question: Can corporationism be applied to 
other countries ? We are obliged to ask this question because it will 
be asked in all countries where people are studying and trying to 
understand us. There is no doubt that, given the general crisis of 
capitalism, corporative solutions can be applied anywhere. But in order 

Appendices AP^ 

to make corporationism full and complete, integral, revolutionary, 
certain conditions are required. 

There must be a single party through which, aside from economic 
discipline, enters into action also political discipline, which shall serve 
as a chain to bind the opposing factions together, and a common 

But this is not enough. There must be the supremacy of the State, 
so that the State may absorb, transform and embody all the energy, 
all the interests, all the hopes of a people. 

Still, not enough. The third and last and the most important con- 
dition is that there must be lived a period of the highest ideal tension. 

We are now living in this period of high, ideal tension. It is be- 
cause step by step we give force and consistency to all our acts ; we 
translate in part all our doctrine. How can we deny that this, our 
Fascista, is a period of exalted, ideal tension? 

No one can deny it. This is the time in which arms are crowned 
with victory. Institutions are remade, the land is redeemed, cities 
are founded. 


Volte-face Caesar 

If consistency in these pragmatic realistic days can still be re- 
garded as a jewel, then our present Caesar should well crown himself 
with the largest and finest diadems of India and the Rand. For, 
mirahile dictu, the man who has belonged to every party and to many 
creeds, who has changed his coat and his face, his religion and his 
policies more often than any statesman of our time if not in history, 
is by this very virtue, the consistency of living a lifetime of almost 
annual inconsistencies, entitled to the jeweled honors. 

It was Talleyrand who changed his parties often but never his 
opinions — at least we have his word for that — ^but it is our present 
Duce who has changed his opinions and never his party. For his party 
has never been the Socialist or Communist or Anarchist or Clerical 
or Republican or Fascist ; it has been his own. He was true to one 
party — and that was himself, said Mr. Lowell of another older 


Sawdust Caesar 

politician, and in our case the party has no officially registered name, 
but is the driving ego and the oft-announced inscrutable will of the 
demigod. Fascism is Mussolini; MussoHni is Fascism, cry the fol- 
lowers and worshipers, and that explains everything. 

It is also Lowell who claims that the foolish and the dead alone 
never change their opinions ; and herewith follow many opinions and 
also certain unchangeable facts. (The letter A or a number refers to 
the Duce's Autobiography. Documentation for all the other quotations 
is on hand.) 

War and Peace 

"Fascism believes neither in 
the possibihty nor the utility of 
permanent peace. . . . War alone 
brings up to its highest tension 
all human energy and puts the 
stamp of nobility upon the peo- 
ples who have the courage to face 
it."— Written for the new Italian 

"Three cheers for war ! May I 
be permitted to raise this cry? 
Three cheers for Italy's war, 
noble and beautiful above all, 
with its 500,000 dead who are 
our surest wealth. And three 
cheers for war in general." 

"I repeat that so long as there 
are cannon they will always be 
more beautiful than beautiful and 
often false words." 

"Italy will never take the 
initiative of starting a war. Italy 
needs peace." — Christmas 1931 
broadcast to the United States. 

"We are arming ourselves spir- 
itually and materially in order to 
defend ourselves, not in order to 
attack. Fascist Italy will never 
take the initiative of war." 

"I should like to contradict tfae 
many rumors spread abroad 
about Fascism and the danger it 
is supposed to represent for the 
peace of the world. Such accusa- 
tions are groundless. Neither I 
nor my government nor the Ital- 
ian people desire to bring about a 
war." — Christmas broadcast. 


'Mine is a policy of peace." 



The League of Nations 

"A congress of laymen, fan- Mussolini in 1919 spoke in 

tastics, impotents, and by these favor of Wilson and the League, 
very facts dangerous." Cf. first edition of Discorsi, pp. 

S3 and 147. 

"Fascism does not believe in 
the principles which inspire the 
pretended League of Nations. In 
that League the nations are not 
on an equal footing ; it is a sort 
of Holy Alliance of the pluto- 
cratic nations, made to give the 
French- Anglo-Saxon group, de- 
spite their diverse interests, the 
exploitation of the largest part of 
the world." — October 1919, at 
Fascist Congress, Florence. 

"The League of Nations — a 
sort of monstrous idealistic-pluto- 
cratic abortion. . . ." 

"We must stay in the League 
of Nations for the reason that 
others are in it, others who might 
be glad if we were to withdraw 
and who would arrange their af- 
fairs and protect their interests 
without us and possibly at our 

"We shall remain in the 
League of Nations especially as 
today the League is very sick and 
we must not abandon it." — 
Fascist anniversary discourse, 
October 1932. 

"The League of Nations de- 
clared itself incompetent to solve 
the [bombardment of Corfu] in- 
cident." — Autobiography, p. 25. 

The League immediately de- 
clared its competence; Mussolini 
threatened to withdraw. 

Finance and Economics 

(The budget deficit of six bil- 
lions) "had come down to me as 
a legacy from the errors and 

Preceding premiers had cut the 
deficit of 25 billions to six and 
prepared a balanced budget for 


Sawdust Caesar 

weaknesses of those who had pre- 
ceded me." (261) 

1922-23, according to the official 
report of the first Fascist Finance 

"I would never approve of 
subjecting inheritance to a taxa- 
tion which had almost assumed a 
Sociahstic character of expropri- 
ation." (263) 

"In December, 1927, at a meet- 
ing of the council of ministers, I 
was able to announce . . . the 
lire on a gold basis, on a ratio 
which technicians and profound 
experts in financial questions 
have judged sound." (271) 

"I had not only led the Black 
Shirts and poHtical forces, but I 
had solved a complex and difficult 
problem of national finance." 

"Today (1928) we have a bal- 
anced budget." (271) 

"The provinces and communes 
have balanced their budgets." 

"Confiscation of the super- 
profits of war ; heavy taxation on 
inheritance ; partial expropriation 
of capital." — Original Fascist 
program and editorial, Popolo, 
April 20, 1921. 

Secretary of the Treasury An- 
drew W. Mellon, friend of Fi- 
nance Minister Volpi, and nu- 
merous experts advised Mussolini 
against the ratio. 

The loss through this artificial 
stabilization was 3,500,000,000 
lire according to neutral econ- 
omists ; the stupidity of the ges- 
ture has now been recognized 
even by Rome correspondents. 

(This is not true; see text.) 

Fascist Senator Ricci, May 
30, 1930, announced the increase 
in deficit from 1926 to 1928 as 
50 per cent for the 17 largest 

"We needed a strong capitalist 
tradition." (147) 

"I do not intend to defend 
capitalism or capitalists." — Ad- 

Appendices 431 

dress to first meeting of Fascist! 
(quoted by Sarfatti). 

October, 1926, Mussolini offi- 
cially announced the successful 
Littorio bond issue of five billion 
lire as oversubscribed. 

January, 1 927, Ex- Finance 
Minister De Stefani in speech in- 
cidentally mentioned the Littorio 
bond issue as reaching 2,500,000,- 
000 lire. 


"My deep religious beliefs." 

"A Catholic, like myself." 

"I asked the assistance of 

God." (185) 

"There is no God." — Musso- 
lini's first published work. "Reli- 
gion is an absurdity . . . im- 
moral ... a malady. "^Speech 
in Lausanne. 

The Press 

"Italian journalism is free." — 

"All the journals of the Op- 

Signed article in A'^. Y. World. 

position have been suppressed." 

"You express an error if you 

— Chamber of Deputies declara- 

suppose that I have suppressed 

tion. May 26, 1927, referring to 

the liberty of the press. All news- 

events of November, 1926. 

papers are free. . . ." — Mass in- 

terview with the press, January, 



"To me money is detestable." 

Congratulating Mussolini on 


being the first to pay the new 

"Money has no lure for me." 

income taxes, the official Fascist 


press announced the amount as 

And four more similar refer- 

200,000 lire, indicating an in- 


come of 500,000 lire, or a capital 

of 10,000,000. 

"I have always had against me 

In 1922 Freemasonry helped 



our Masonry 

Sawdust Caesar 

this leprosy." 

"Fiume, most Italian of cities." 

"Fascism will never throw it- 
self at the feet of the king." — 
Popolo d'ltalia. 

"Our formula is this : every- 
thing within the State, nothing 
outside the State, nothing against 
the State." 

"It is false that the danger 
menacing our country, Bolshev- 
ism . . . had disappeared. , . . 
Bolshevik activity was most in- 
tense (in 1921)." — Signed ar- 
ticle, written for the United 

"The death punishment? But 
that is a joke. Gentlemen . . . 
capital punishment cannot be the 
reprisal of a Government." (229) 

subsidize Fascism and cooperated 

with it until the Matteotti assas- 
sination in 1924. 

Grossisch, d'Annunzio's presi- 
dent of Fiume, admitted expel- 
ling 5,000 before the plebiscite 
which Italy won by two hundred 
or so. 

"From today, intrusted with 
the confidence of His Majesty 
the King. . . ." — Proclamation 
by Mussolini after kissing the 
King's hand and taking office. 

"Down with the State, the 
State of yesterday, today, and to- 
morrow. . . . There remains for 
me nothing but the consoling reli- 
gion of Anarchism." — Popolo 
d'ltalia, April 6, 1920. 

"Bolshevism is conquered." — 
Popolo, July 2, 1921. 

Over the objection of the King, 
MussoHni restored the death pen- 
alty following one of the attempts 
at assassination. 

"An underhand manoeuvre by Ricciotti Garibaldi, grandchild. 

Appendices 433 

some short-weight grandchildren arrested in France, confessed 
of Garibaldi." (234) being a Fascist spy in the service 

of the Duce. 

"He [Zaniboni, would-be assas- 
sin] . . . having an Austrian 
rifle with fine sights, the fellow 
could not miss his aim." (237) 

"A Fascist agent worked with 
Zaniboni for months and chose 
the day. Being on the wrong side 
of the building, Zaniboni could 
not have seen, much less shot, 
Mussolini." — William Bolitho, 
New York World. 

Assassination of Matteotti 

"I did not have a moment of 
doubt or discouragement." (223) 

"I never lost my calm nor my 
sense of balance and justice. . . . 
I ordered the guilty to be ar- 
rested. I wanted justice to follow 
its unwavering course. Now I 
have fulfilled my task as a just 

"It has been said that I have 
founded a Cheka. Where? 
When? In what way? Nobody 
is able to say. ... An Italian 
Cheka never has had the shadow 
of existence." (227) 




"The Matteotti affair caused 
him such terrible suffering that 
for a while his life seemed 
wrecked." — Sarfatti. 

"The sequestration of 
teotti belongs morally to 
cism." — Speech, January, 
Most of the murderers 
freed and restored to positions in 
the Fascist party ; Filippelli went 
to jail in 1931 for swindling. 

"On September i, 1922, Cesare 
Rossi, the political secretary, an- 
nounced the formation of the 
Corpo di Pohzia Fascist! in 
Milan to 'purify' the Fascist 
ranks by eliminating all half- 
hearted elements." — Heals. 

"The mother idea of the Cheka 
was Mussolini's." — Rossi mem- 

In 1931 the Fascist govern- 
ment officially announced that its 


Sawdust Caesar 

Cheka— the O.V.R.A.— had been 
extended for a second period of 
five years. 

The World War 

"I had been the most tenacious 
behever in the war." (A) 

"Germany began to influence 
Italian public opinion with meth- 
ods of propaganda that irritated 
the sensitiveness of our race. 
They enraged me." (A) 

"The tragic rape of Belgium." 

For almost three months every 
editorial signed by MussoHni in 
Avanti denounced the war. One 
was headlined, "Absolute neu- 

Addressing Milan Socialists in 
August, 1914, Mussolini asked 
support for Germany, saying 
Socialism was strongest there and 
would triumph after the war. He 
also said, "Why become excited 
over the fate of a little nation? 
It is right that the small go down 
and that German Imperialism 

"I created the Fascisti — a 
group of daring youths who be- 
lieved that intervention could be 
forced. ... I was their leader." 

This is absolutely untrue. The 
original Fascio of Intervention 
was founded by enemies of 
Mussolini and were frequently 
attacked by him in July to Sep- 
tember, 1914. He joined them in 
October or later that year. 

• ••••••••■A-**************** 



July 29 

Mussolini born at Dovia, commune of Predappio, 
province of Forli. 


Obtains teacher's license ; first post at Gualtieri, 
in Reggio Emilia. 


Jan. 3 

Went to Switzerland in search of work and to es- 
cape military service. 


Arrested at Lausanne for vagabondage. 



Expelled from Berne. Went to Geneva. Called for 
military service. 


March 6 

Debate with Tagliatela : "God does not exist." 


Declared deserter at Forli. 

Arrested in Geneva for falsifying passport; ex- 

Dec. 31 

Presented himself at Forli for military service in 
the loth Bersaglieri regiment. 


Nov. 27 

Schoolmaster at Tolmezzo. 


Feb. 25 

Schoolmaster at Oneglia. 

July 22 

Sentenced at Predappio to 8 months imprison- 
ment and 200-lire fine for "armed revolt." 

Sept. 10 

Sentenced by the municipal judge of Mendola to 
lOO-lire fine for revolutionary expression. 



Went to Trento, Austria, to work on the Awen- 
ire; secretary of the Socialist Party local. 


Expelled from Austria for revolutionary writing. 


Became leading Socialist at Forli. 

Nov. 10 

Arrested and imprisoned ten days for radicalism. 


Jan. 2 

Published La Lotta di Classe (The Class Strug- 
_ gle). 

April 14 

Paid secretary of Forli Socialist local. 

Sept. 17 

Represented local at Florence Socialist congress. 

191 1 

Sept. 25 

Organized armed uprising against Tripoli war. 

Sept. 28 

Sentenced to five months' imprisonment. 


Sawdust Caesar 


March 14 

Approved the attempted assassination of the King. 


Socialist Congress at Reggio Emilia; Mussolini 
becomes nationally known; becomes director 
of Socialist Party. 

Dec. I 

Editor of Avanti; extreme radical Socialist. 


Publishes John Huss, with preface attacking 
Catholic Church. 


Defeated candidate for the electoral college. 



Ancona congress; proposes expulsion of Free- 
masons from Socialist Party. 

June 7 

Mussolini "patron saint" of the Red Week, revo- 
lutionary attempt to seize and occupy the fac- 

Aug. 4 

Socialist Party declares for Italian neutrality. 

Sept. 9 

Mussolini denounces Belgian sentimentality. 

Oct. 13 

Prezzolini in La Voce notes Mussohni has 
changed his anti-interventionist policy. 

Oct. 25 

Socialist Party accuses Mussolini of treason. 
Deputy Treves accuses Mussolini of selling 
out to France. 

Nov. 15 

Mussolini issues the Popolo d'ltalia with funds 
supplied by the French propaganda depart- 

Nov. 23 

Mussolini expelled from the Socialist Party "for 
moral and political betrayal." 

191 5 

April 19 

Arrested in Rome for organizing interventionists. 


April 29 

Wounded by Treves in duel. 

May 15 

Italy declares war on Austro-Hungary. 

Sept. I 

Mussolini called to the colors. 

Dec. 9 

Taken to hospital, suffering from gastro-enteritis. 


March lo 

Fights duel with General Count Spingardi. 


Feb. 23 

Taken to hospital for removal of shell splinters. 


"I took my place as a fighter in my newspaper 


Italy defeated at Caporetto. 


Organization of Fasci di Resistenza. 



Victory of Vittorio Veneto. 


191 9 Jan. 

March 23 

March 24 
Sept. 12 

Nov. 10 

1920 April 20 

Sept. I- 19 

Dec. 22-26 
Dec. 29 
Dec. 31 

1921 Jan. 
May 15 
Aug. 3 

1922 Aug. 3 

Oct. 24 
Oct. 27 
Oct. 27-29 

Oct. 29 
Oct. 30 

Nov. 16 
Nov. 19 


Chronology 437 


Organization of Partito Popolare (Catholic 

Mussolini, Marinetti, Cesare Rossi and others 
found the Fascio Italiani di Combattimento 
in accordance with the suggestions of d'An- 

"We are for a Republic ; we are absolutely against 

D'Annunzio occupies Fiume. 

Mussolini defeated for Chamber of Deputies. 

"We will accept no dictatorship." 

Fascist program includes confiscation of war 
profits; confiscation of lands, etc. 

Occupation of the factories by workmen; ap- 
proved by Mussolini. 

Allies bombard d'Annunzio. 

D'Annunzio quits Fiume. 

Mussolini writes "Bolshevism has been dyked." 

Socialist Congress at Livorno expells Communists. 

Mussolini elected Fascist deputy. 

Makes peace pact with labor and Socialists. 

Partito Nazionale Fascista formed. 

Fascist armed mobilization and violence destroys 
attempt at general strike protesting Fascist 

Fascist congress at Naples. 

Mussolini returns to Milan. 

Mussolini barricades his office while Fascisti 
"march" on Rome. 

King calls Mussolini to premiership. 

Mussolini arrives in Rome via Pullman train; re- 
views victorious Fascisti with King. 

Mussolini demands dictatorial powers. 

Abolishes commission exposing war profiteers 
(Decree No. 487). 

Massacre of workingmen in Turin. 

438 Sawdust Caesar 

Creation of Fascist militia. 

Murder of Father Minzom. 

Five members of Italian delegation assassinated 
on Albanian side of Albano-Greek border. 

Mussolini occupies Corfu ; massacre of children in 
American orphanage. 

Mussolini refuses League of Nations intervention. 

Treaty with Yugoslavia. 

Democrats and Socialists quit government. 

Fascisti win elections through terrorism ; Brianza 

Assassination of Matteotti. 

Abolition of free press. 

Augusteo speech: "Violence is profoundly moral." 

Attempted assassination by Zaniboni ; abolition of 

Attempted assassination by Miss Gibson, 

Fodesta system ; municipal elections abolished. 

Attempted assassination by Lucetti. 

Bullet fired at Mussolini ; Zamboni, Fascist youth 
in uniform, lynched by Mussolini's entour- 
Nov. 4 General Ricciotti Garibaldi and Colonel Macia 

arrested in France; Garibaldi confesses re- 
ceiving large sums as Fascist agent provoca- 
1927 Jan, 5 Mussolini announces "end of epoch of reprisals, 

devastations, and violence. Squadrismo must 
Jan, 24 Pope dissolves Catholic Boy Scouts and protests 

Fascist monopolization of youth. 
April 21 Fascist Labor Charter abolishes strikes. 
July 2 Mont Blanc christened Monte Mussolini by Fas- 

Oct. 22 Manhood suffrage abolished by decree, 

Oct. 27 Decree justifying crimes committed for national- 

istic purposes. 



Aug. 23 

Aug, 27 

Aug. 31 

Sept. 3 




April 4 

June 1 1 




Nov. 4 


April 7 

Aug. 30 

Sept. 1 1 

Oct. 31 



Dec. 21 

Stabilization of lira on gold basis announced. 

1928 Jan. 23 

Fascist arms for Hungary and Hitler found at 

St. Gothard. 

March 30 

Mussolini abolishes Catholic Boy Scouts and other 

non-Fascist youth organizations. 

Fascism celebrates first anniversary of Corporate 


April 14 

Mussolini tells peasants price outlay not equaled 

by crop in "Battle of the Grain." 

June 2 

Mussolini expelled from National Press Qub, 

Washington, in resolution charging suppres- 

sion of the press and denial of personal lib- 


Sept. 21 

Fascism made permanent government; Grand 

Council, not King, to appoint future pre- 


1929 Feb. II 

Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri sign Vatican 

peace treaty. 

March 24 

Italy votes Fascist majority; opposition parties 

not permitted to name candidates. 

April 10 

Corporate State announced in force. 

June 7 

Pope becomes ruler of Vatican State. 

1930 June 

Mussolini tours North Italy, making militaristic 

speeches against France. 

July 23 

Writes article favoring revision Versailles Treaty 

in favor of Germany and Hungary. 


New Fascist criminal code abolishes jury system. 

Nov. 20 

Military training for youth extended. 


In Christmas broadcast Mussolini says, "Italy will 

never take the initiative of starting a war. 

Italy needs peace." 

I 93 I Jan. 26 

Major-General Butler, U. S. Marines, tells Con- 

temporary Club, Philadelphia, Mussolini ran 

over child ; Ambassador de Martino protests. 


International Committee for Political Prisoners, 

Civil Liberties Union, Ligue des Droits 

440 Sawdust Caesar 

d'Hommes, Oxford and Cambridge pro- 
fessors protest arrest of intellectuals in Italy. 
March 6 Grand Council extends O. V. R. A. (Fascist 

Cheka) for another five years. 
April 27 Zamora, President Spanish Republic, cables anti- 
Fascist organizations offering Spain as ref- 
June 29 To avoid censorship, Pope smuggles encyclical to 
Paris denouncing Fascist "irreverencies, in- 
decencies, destruction, confiscation, and van- 
dalism . . ."; declares Fascism and Catholi- 
cism incompatible. 

1932 June 30 Mussolini announces Fascism has support of en- 

tire population ; secret tribunal announces re- 
sults February, 1927, to date : 9 sentenced to 
death, 257 to 6,076 years' imprisonment; 
1,391 to 4,040 years; 584 awaiting trial; 
total arrests and tried, 12,000 — for political 

Aug. Marriage and birth rate reach lowest point. 

Oct Domenico Bovone and his mistress charged with 

plotting assassination of Mussolini. Angelo 
Sbardellotto accused of attempting assas- 
sination, admits plot as revenge for execution 
of Michele Schirru, recently executed for 
similar offense. Bovone and Sbardellotto 

1933 Jan. Preliminary budget report, 1933-1934, shows defi- 

cit 2,900,000,000 lire; with losses in move- 
ment of capital, deficit of 3,088,000,000 lire 
foreseen, or double deficit current year. 

Feb. II Italian army planes sold Hungary in violation of 


Sept. 19 Mussolini announces for German rearmament. 

1934 March Mussolini announces "a plan, not for five years or 

ten years, but for sixty years ... at which 
time Italy will have the primacy of the 

Chronology 441 

world. . . . Our future lies in Asia and 
Africa. . . ." 
June Corporative State voted. 

Italians kill ten Greeks in Rhodes uprising. 
1935 Encounter at Ual-Ual ; Mussolini refuses arbitra- 

tion by League of Nations, and moves troops 
to Ethiopia for war of conquest. 



• * • 



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Ce qui j'ai vu a Rome. 

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Italy under Mussolini. 

Bordeux, Jeanne 

Benito Mussolini the Man. 

Borghi, Armando 

Mussolini in camicia. 

Buozzi, Bruno and Nitti, 

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Child, Richard Washburn 

A Diplomat Looks at Europe. 

Einzig, Paul 

Economic Foundations of Fascism. 

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Fascism at Work. 

Ferrero, Guglielmo 

Four Years of Fascism. 

Fiori, Vittorio 

Mussolini the Man of Destiny. 

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Fascism in Italy. 

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Le Prince. Preface de Benito Musso- 



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Nenni, P. 
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Nitti, Francesco 
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Per, Odon 
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Articles on Duce, 53, 64-67, 72, 76, 84, 88, 

Adler, Felix, 367 

102, 127, 191, 221, 277, 280, 289, 319 

"Agenzia Ste£ani, The," 339 

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323. 328, 329, 354 

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195, 206 

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23, 24, 43, 45. 48, 54. 60. i03> "4i 

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125, 142, 143, 157,227,394 

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American Red Cross, 263 

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Ansoldo enterprise, 147 

Balbo, Gen. Italo, aviator, 206, 216-218, 

Anti-Fascists, deported, 339, 292, 293 

223, 228, 321, 343 

Anti-Semitism, 340 

Baldesi, 188, 189 

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Balilla, 148, 340, 347, 409 

Arditi, 74, 75 

Balkans, trouble in, 87 

Aristotle, scientist, 362 

Baltimore Sun, 327 

Armistice Day in Italy, 225 

Banca di Roma, 147 

Arms, sending of, 271 

Banking houses, 267, 305 

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Banking interests, 52, 267 




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Baroncini, 222 

177, 178, 204, 206, 216, 219, 221, 343 

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Barzini, Luigi, i6a 

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Basle, 27 

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301. 393 

Battisti, CesarCj 4 

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Beals, Carlton, 126, 127 

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Beaverbrook, Lord, 279 

Bosis, de, 211 

Becciolini, 188 

Eottai, 120, 281, 346 

Bccco Giallo, 141, 142 

Bottazzi, Prof., 289 

Begnotti, Hon., 282 

Bourcier, Emmanuel, 252 

Belgian atrocities, 3 

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Belgian Socialists, 31 

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Bellinzona, 36 

Boys, military training, 355 

Belloni, 222 

Brandimarte, 218, 219 

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Branting of Sweden, 263 

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Brescc, 22 

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Brian d, 114 

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Buddha, 381 

Bill of Rights, 281 

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Biographers, xiv, 24, 27, 44, 49, 56, 66, 


Budget, wartime, 117 

Birth Control, forbidden, 355 

Buenos Aires, 142 

Bismarck, 11, 371 

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Buffoni, 206 

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BiJlow, Prince von, 51 

Black Shirts, army of, 120, 129-132, 


Buonaccorsi, A., 228 

198, 214, 216 

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Buozzi, Hon. Bruno, 90, 94, :34, 282 

342, 371 

Butler, Nicholas Murray, 351 

Black Terror, 216 

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Candgny, 70 

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Caporctto, 70, 71, 337 

Civita, Vecchia, 126 

Carducci, 258 

Civitavecchia, 127 

Carli, Mario, 363 

Class War, The, 22 

Carnazza, 197, 198 

Clayton, John, trial of, 17a 

Cairanza, 179 

Clemenccau, 75 

Casa Italiana, 351 

Clerici, 63 

Cascrtano, 149 

Cleveland, Lieut., U.S.N., 89 

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Code, penal, 210 

125, 136, 251, 390 

Conferences, 86 

Catholic Boy Scouts, 247, 248 

Colonna, Palazzo, 226 

Catholic Party, 107, 347 

Columbia University, 286, 351 

Cattolica, Azionc, 247, 253 

Coming Revolution, The, 43 

Caviglia, Gen. di, 79 

Commission of Inquiry, 136 

Cavour, 249, 250, 361, 370 

Commune, days of, 4, 5, 49 

Cecil, Lord Robert, 263 

Communism, 16, 30, 53, 99, 105, 137 

Central Empires, atrocities, 55 

Communism, expulsion of, 133 

Central Powers, 48 

Communism, manifesto, 134 

Ccva, Umberta, chemist, 212 

Communist Internationale, 134 

Chamberlain, 261, 265 

Concordat, 253 

Charlemagne, 272 

Congress, Fascist, 282 

Chase National Bank, 267, 373 

Congressional investigation, 136 

Chcka, Fascist, xiv, 100, 131-133, 139, 14!) 

Conti, 397 

151, 157-159) 163, 167, 173, 201, 306, 

Controversy, Church & State, 253 

210. 339. 380, 401 

Cooperative industry, 90 

Cheka, Soviet, xiv, 33, 133 

Corfu, capture of, 262, 264, 274 

Chiang Kai-Chek, 265 

"Corporate" State, 234, 244, 275-395, 356, 

Chiasso, 35 

372, 426 

Chiavolini, Alessandro, 127 

Cortesi, 172, 285, 289, 329, 351, 354 

Chicago Tribune, 118, 172, 196, 292, 330, 

Corriere d' America, 162 


Corriere delta Sera, 3, 145-149, 158, 159, 

Chicherin, 379 

163, 319, 321 

Chicsa, Eugene, writer, 37, 397 

Cosmo, Professor, 346 

Chigi, Palazzo, 180 

Council of Ministers, 298 

Child, Richard Washburn, xiii, 119, 127, 

Crellalanza, Minister, 317 

363, 369 

Crillon, Duke of, 127 

Christianity, 33, 105 

Crisis, end of, 164 

Christian morality, 31 

Cristini, General, 231 

Christian Science Monitor, 327 

Crocc, philosopher, 147, 162, 214, 334 

Chronology, 435 

"Cry of Alarm," 273, 279 

Church, division of, 243 

Current history, 286 

Catholic, 243, 24s 

Curzon, Lord, 133, 261 

Militant, 243 

Czechoslovakia, 27, 114 

Persecuted, 243 

Triumphant, 243 

Daily Mail, 321 

Cianca, Claudia, 231: 

D'Ambris, 280 



Dandola, FratclU, 189 

England, Bank of, 305 

D'Annunzio, Gabricle, 71-75, 79-83, 


Epicurus, 388 

116, 118, 130, 135, 139, : 



Equipment, technical, 351 

280, 334, 344 

Ermini, 190 

Danza, Giuseppe, 168 

Eternal City, 126 

Darrah, David, 330 

Ethiopia, crisis, 264 

Darrow, Clarence, 394 

Ethiopia, enemy, 261, 364 

Dates, important, 3-7, 50, 52, 57, 59, 


European War crisis, 3 

63, 68-85, 89, 94, 97, 98, 



Evening Mail, The, 51 

106, 119, 135, 138, 140, : 



Eyre, Lincoln, shot, 97 

228, 234-236, 262, 267, 275, 



319, 349, 391 

Facta, Prime Minister, 119, 120 

Decrees, 136, 235, 236, 402 

Fadiman, Clifton, 347 

Delacroix, 190 

Fara, General, 119, 120 

Delcdda, Grazta, 334 

Farinacci the Sadist, 162, 168, 223 

Delphic oracle, 367 

Fascio di Combattimeoto, 133, 396 

Dcmetrjo, V., writer, 264 

Fascio di Resistenza, 71 

Democrats of iV Mondo, 135 

Fasciola, writer, 66, 150, 159 

Dcsler, Irene, 43, 60-64 

Fascism, 37, 49, 61, 219, 268, 281, 398, 

Destiny, force of, 3 


Deutsch, Julius, 272 

Fascism, agitators, 85 

Dc Vccchi, 100, 103, 125, i8i, 



Fascism, catechism 8c commandments, 408 


Fascism, growth of, xiii, 95, 98, 103, 125, 

Dictatorship, establish, 4, 5, 24, 

. 30, 


200, 234 

138, 182,267 

Fascism in America, xiii, 97 

Dictatorship, fight against, 89, 90 

. 135 

Fascism in Italy, xiii, 11, 55, 73, 81, 85, 

Dillon, Reed & Co., loan, 222 

108, 120, 143 
Fascism policies, 421 

Discorso, 289 

Di Vagno, 61 
Djcrdzinsky, 20a 
Documents, 54, 56, 57, 62 
Dodccannessc question, 313 
DoIIfuss, 271, 323 

Fascism, threat to, 164 

Fascism, victory of, 126 
Fascism, violence of, 237-240 
Fascista Lavoro, press, 252, 254 

Dopolavoro, 293 

Fascist crisis, 411 

Downing Street diplomacy, 261 

Fascist economy, 297, 301, 332 

Dumas, Charles, secretary, 56, 57, 

. 393 

Fascist finance, 296-310, 411, 429 

EKimini, Amerigo, gangster, 152, 



"Fascist Martyrs," 336 

161, 168-174, 188, 202, 2l6, 


Fascist National Academy, 289 
Fascist Trade Union, 294 

Eastero Fair at Ban, 321 

Faure, Paul, 391 

Economic program, 289 

Federal Trade Commission, 394 

Egeria, 174 

Federzoni, 159, 207, 223, 247 

Einstein, rejection of, 340 

Feisul, Emir, 88 

Elections, 148 

Fcrrcro, Professor, 147, 214, 334 

Elliott, Prof. W. y. of Harvard, 293 

Figaro, 48 

Elwin, William, 393 

Filippelli, Filippo, 158-161, 172, 206, 216, 

Emmanuel, Guglielmo, 172, 205 


Endrici, Cclcstino, Archbishop, 63 

Financial scandals, 267 

Enghien, Duke of, murdered, 173 

Rnknd, 27 



Finzi, Sec. of Interior, 156, 158-162, 164, 

170, 205, 216, 221 
Fiorcntino, Virgil io, 343 
Fiorette, Arnaldo, 282 
Fiume, 67, 72-76, 80, 82, 99, 147 
Rvc-Year-PIan, 273 
Fivizzano, earthquake in, 89 
Fletcher, Ambassador, 179 
Florence-Bologna tunnel, 22, 354 
Flores, Angel, 346 
Fontamara, 347 
Foreign Office, 55, 57, 6S, 79, 87, 142, 254, 

265, 306 
Forli, 17, 20 
Forlimpopoli, 31 
Forni, 206 
Forrest, Wilbur, 127 
Fortnightly Review, 67 
Fortune, survey by, 354 
Forum, 293 
Foschi, 140, 157 
France, 35, 37, 53, 57 
France, Commune in, 5 
France, dissatisfaction of, 12S 
France, King of, 113 
France, pretensions of, 4 
Franco-British enterprise, 51 
Franhjurter Zeitung, 145 
Freddi, Luigi, 164 
"Freedom of the Press," 331 
Freemasonry, 183-188, 207, 234 
Free press, abolished, 51 
French money, 390 
French Revolution, 30, 367, 374 
Freud, 367 
Frumenti, 371 

Genoa, strikes in, 84, 88 

George, Lloyd, 83, 88, 114, 261, 324, 360 

German elections, 318 

Germany, 3-5, 20, 37, 48, 50, 1Z3, 340 

Germe, U, 33 

Gestapo, Hitler's, 33 

Gibson, Violet, 226, 237 

Gina, Prof., scientist, 346 

Giolitti, Premier, 37, 79-81, 84, 89, 90, 

116. 354. 370 
Giorgini, Schiff, 205 
Giornale d 'Italia, 3 
Giunta, Sec-Gen., 157, 164 
Giuriati, Fascist minister, 100, 145 
Giuriati, Giovanni, 40 8 
Giurin, Signor, 221 
Giustizia, 145, 146, 157 
Gobetti, 130, 179, 180, 207 
Goddess of Liberty, 362, 401 
Gompers, Samuel, 90 
Gonzales, of parliament, 148 
Gorguloff, 317 
Graft, exposed, 222 

Grand Council, 268, 270, 281, 340, 426 
Grandi, Dino, 125, 221-223, ^^^' 354 
Grant Orient, 184, 186, 187, 207 
Greco, Fascist, 178 
Green, Pres. of A. F. of L., 394 
Grecnwall, Harry, writer, 88 
Griffith, Sanford, 277 
Guaranty Trust Co., 267 
Guarnieri, Mario, 92 
Guesdes, Minister, 56, 57, 391 
Guglielmo, Emmanuel, 159, 172, 205 
Guidi, Rachele, 18, 250 
Gunthcr, John, 368 

Galbiati, priest, 292 

Garibaldi, Gen. Pcppino, 116, 118, 195, 

Garibaldi, Ricctotti, 206-210, 234, 268, 336, 

368, 369 
Gasparri, Cardinal, 162, 24S, 249, 253 
Gasti, chief 219 
Gautrand, Maitre, 56, 57 
Gazetta Fascists, 252 
Gazzetta Vfficiale, 302, 307, 403 
Genera! Federation of Labor, 396 
Geneva, 31, 35. 37. 55 

Hapsburgs, 55, 392 

Haven, Joseph Emerson, shot, 97 

Hegel, 280, 359, 382 

Hemingway, Ernest, 71 

Hierarchy, 398 

Hindenburg, 337 

Hitler, Adolf, 33, 113, 136, 216, 268, 270, 

271. 312, 323 
Hitler-Ludendorff movement, 271 
Hirtcnberg affair, 271 
HohenzoUerns, 55, 392 
Holliind, 51 

454 Index 

Holy Roman Empire, 273 

Kcrcnsky ri^gime, 313 

Home Owners' Assn., 290 

King, aide-de-camp, 124 

House of Representatives, 51 

King & Son, P. S., 283 

Huddicston, 321 

King of Italy, 31, 43, 70, 119, 130, 127, 

Humanite, 391 

132, 154, 228, 231, 236, 257, 344 

Humbert, King, 228 

King of Italy, attempt on his life, 22 

Koenig, Bcrthold, 272 

// Tevere, 346 

Kuhn, Loeb, bankers, 267 

Index expurgatorius, 345 

Kultar, 363 

Institute of Economics, 288 

International Labor Office, 287 

Labor, charter, 238, 279, 280, 291, 403 

"International Labor Review," 287 

Labor, Italian, 309 

Internationale, 13, i6 

Labor Party, 162, 294 

Ireland, 48 

Labor trouble, 84-90, 98 

l^h^a. 312 

Labriola, Minister of Labor, 88, 214, 282 

Italian bonds, xiii 

La Croix, 254, 258 

Italian culture, 338 

"rAgncIlo," 16 

Italian encyclopaedia, 345 

La Lotle di Classc, 13, 20 

Italian federation, 90 

Lamont, Thomas, 279 

Italian history, change of, 100, 123, 185 

Lanari, Colonel, 190 

Italian military training, 353 

Lapolla, Fascist chief, 207 

Italian Socialist Club, 28 

L'Arle Fascista, 341 

"Italianity," international cause, 234, 288 

La Stampe Libera, 318 

Italy. 35-37. 51. 91. 185, 396 

Lausanne, 27, 33, 37, 40, 125 

Italy, Bank of, 305 

conference at, 224, 366 

Italy, hostile, 150 

Lavoratore, 11, 97 

Italy, Press, 256 

Lavoro Fascista, Fascist organ, 254, 282, 

'Italy, Prime Minister of, 123 


Italy's International Economic Position, 

Lavoro, Gen., 92 

290, 308 

League of Nations, 31, 222, 261-263, 270, 

Italy's War crisis, 3 

271, 285, 287, 361, 429 

Legion of Honor, 208 

fanina affair, 264 

Lenin, 4, 17, 39-42, 44, 87, 147, 201, 277, 

Japan, reactionary, 265 

312, 344, 361, 367, 368, 375, 382 

Journal Official, 272 

Leopold, criminal, 161 

Journalists, American, xiv, 129, 311-332 

Les Contes Moraux, 332 

Journalists, European, 53-55, 66, 87, 114, 

Lcvine, Isaac Don, 375 

151, 204 

Lewis, Sinclair, 369 

Joyce, James, 347 

Liberal Regime, 354 

Juarcs-Rolland, 4, 392 

Liberal Revolution, The, 179 

Juarez, Benito, 14 

Liberty, suppression of, 239 

Libyan adventure, 21 

Kahn, Otto H., 279 

Liebknecht, 4, 40 

Kaiser Wilhclm, 379, 382 

Lincoln, Abraham, quoted, 39, 336 

Kallcn, Horace M., 348 

Liparian Islands, 134 

Kansas City Star, 327 

Lira, stabilization of, 301 

Kautsky, writer, 41 

Living, standard of, 288 

Kemal Pasha, 17, 31a 

Living Age, 285 

Kcmecbey, L., 393 

Lloyd George, 83, 88, 114, 261, 324, 360 



Loans to Italy, 267, 298 

Loeb, criminal, 162 

London Daily Mail, 67, 328 

Lofidon Express, 83 

London Morning Post, 67 

London Times, 145, 259, 291, 345 

Lonzi, Antonio, 292 

Lorenzo the Magnificent, 333 

Lowell, 427 

Lucetti, Gino, 207, 227 

Ludendorfl, 216 

Ludwig, Emil, 257, 258, 269, 371 

Lugano, 42 

Lupocini, 190 

Luxemburg, Rosa, 40 

MacDonaH, Premier, 162 

Machiavelli, 15, 30, 100, 127, 166, 182, 

232, 249, 265, 297, 368, 369 
Macio, Col. Francesco, 206, 208, 268 
MacLeon, H. C, report of, 300 
Macrelli, 397 
Maffi, Cardinal, 154, 247 
Mafia, 196-200, 351 
Maggi, deputy, 157 
Magiotto, 119 
Magnanapoli, 178 
Making Fascists, 329 
Malacria, August, i58, 171 
Malmgre, Swedish scientist, 322 
Manchester Guardian, 104, 145, 172, 291, 

331. 346 
Manifesto, 16 
Marconi, Guglidmo, 334 
Marcosson, Isaac, 278, 294, 301, 350 
Marinelli, 158, 161, 164, 172, 204, 216, 

Marinetti, poet, 139, 334, 341 
Marmontel, 332 

Marraro, Howard, 286, 289, 351 
Martial Law, declaradon of, 120 
Marx, Karl, 11, 16, 27-30, 40, 44, 49, 133, 

134, 137, 249, 279- 359. 382, 389 
Marx & Co., 271 
Marxism, 23, 29, 42 
Masetti, 48 
Masonic News, 185 
Masonry, destruction of, 183-188, 192-194 

Matteotti, 131-133- 148, i49> I53- 158. 
163-165, 167, 171, 191, 195, 204, 339, 

373. 382 
Matteotd, assassination of, 37, 147, i5i< 

152, 155, 157, 160, 172, 174, 206, 

221, 229, 233, 401. 433 
Mattina, 316 

Mazzini, Director, 104, 185, 376 
Mazzolani, 206, 397 
McCiurc, S. S., 197 
McCormick, Anne O'Hare, 329 
McCormick, Colonel, 196 
McGuire, Constandne, 288, 290 
Mehring, Walter, 341 
Mellon, Andrew, 299 
Menapace, Fascist agent, 210 
Meschiarj, 190 
Michelangelo, 343 
Middlesex, Duke of, 184 
Milan, 19, 27, 49, 85, 94, 119. 166 
Milan, politics, 3, 61, 83, 87 
Military secrets, 119 
Ministry, form a, 124, 283 
Minzoni, Father, 206, 216, 217 
Misuri, deputy, 156, 164, 204, 206 
Mitchell, Mowatt, 300 
Mobilizadon of fleet, 26a 
Modigliani, 129, 176 
Mondo, liberal, 21I 
Montarini, 342 
Monterotondo, 126 
Morgagni, 63 

Morgan, bankers, loan, 267, 276 
Mori, Cesari, 197, 198 
Mosconi, finance minister, 305 
Motherwell, Hiram K., journalist, 117, 306, 


Movements in Italy, 92 
Mulcting of merchants, 197 
Murders, political, 170-174 
Murphy, James, 126, 204, 302, 309 
Murray, Prof. Gilbert, 172, 198 
Mussolini, Arnaldo, 222, 230 
Mussolini, arrests of, 17-21. 3^. 59. 114 

accusations against, 157, 171 

autobiography, xiv, 39, 140, 163, 378, 

childhood of, 12-18, 25 

children of, 19, 60, 64 



Mussolini — {Continued) 

Ochs, Adolph S., 331 

cultural address, 333 

O'Connell, Cardinal, 254 

defense of, 7-10 

Odier, M., Minister of State, 35, 36 

exile of, 17, 25, 27, 35, 72 

Official Records of Speech, 324 

journalist, xv, 3, 4, 43 

OJetti, Ugo, 334, 345 

rising of, 4, 45-49, 58, 70, 125 

Oneglia, 17 

victorious, 243 

Opera Nationale Balilla, 248, 319, 352 
Opposition Party, 131, 133 

N^ldi, Filippo, publisher, 32, 53 

Orano, Paola, 377 

Naples, congress, 118, 126 

Osservatore Romano, 249 

Napoleon, reference to, 10, 11, 130, 


0. V.R. A., 210-213 

173. 296. 365. 370. 372. 382 

Narbone, Guido, 1 80 

Pacchi, 190 

Nation, The, 329 

Pacclli, Francesco, 248 

National Budget, 285, 306 

Pacha, Sidky, 317 

National City Bank, 267 

Palazzo Chigi, 153 

National Council Corp., 282, 294 

Pangalos, 382 

National Fascist Party, 345, 347 

Papini, 334 

National Light Assn., 394 

Pareto, Vilfredo, 382 

National Press Club, 327 

Paris, 49, 56 

National Socialist Labor Party, 268 

Parliamentary Labor Party, 294 

Nava, dc, 79 

Parliaments, 31, 129, 278, 289, 307 

Nazi Movement, 104, 274 

Parri, Ferruccio, victim, 212 

Nazionalc, Via, 61 

Parties, political, 3, 5, 20, 95, 100, 106, 

Ncnni, Pietro, 20, 114 

107, 117, 121, 129, 133, 151 

Ncttuno, treaty of, 81 

Pasha, Kemal, 17 

New Republic, 329 

Peace, restoring of, 100, loi 

Neu/S'Wee\, 329 

Pentarchy, 161 

Newspapers mentioned, 3-7, 11, 13, 22 


Pericles, 334, 376 

37. 48, 51. 52, 55. 56, 62, 67, 93, 

. 97, 

Perroni, Vico, 177 

104, 118, 127, 142, 157, 210, 316, 


Perugia, established in, 121 

NeuA Yor^ American, 159 

Petroneschi, 219 

New Yorker, 329 

New York Evening Post, 212, 357 

Phillips, Sir Percival, 67, 278 
Picasso, 342 
Piccinini, 149 
Piemonte, 377 
Pilati, Gaetano, 188 

New York Herald Tribune, 127, 263 
New York Times, 172, 212, 228, 283, 


310,328,331, 351 

Pilsudski, 17 

New York World, 97, 104, 145, 172, 


Pirandello, 246, 334 

269. 327. 332 

PitigHani, Fausto, 283 

Nicola, Enrico de, 100, 396 

Pittaluga, General, 72 

Nietzsche, 15, 29, 232, 379, 381, 382 

Pizzardo, confidant of Pope, 246, 254 

Nitti, premier, 89, 139-141, 198, 249, 


Plutarch, 372 

Nobile expedition, 322 

Poidcnone Bank, 315 

No Man's Land, 66 

Poincar6, 261 

Northcliffe, Lord, 11, 51, 393 

Poliakoff, Vladimir, 67 

North Pole, 322 

Policies, criticism of, 236 

Novare, seizure of property, 89 

Political devcloDment, 42. 83, 99 

Nungesser, aviator, 67 

Politicians, 3 



PoIvcrelH, 140 

Pontine, reclaimed land, 319 

Pope Pius X, 34, 125, 162, 245, 247, 251, 

255. 259 

Pope, Treaty with, 19 

Popolo d'ltalia, 5, 6, 37, 51, 55, 56, 62, 66, 
691 93i 98, 122, 125, 132, 135, 150, 
176, 179, 204, 245, 277, 320, 321, 344, 

Populare, organization, 99, 108-110 
Poveromo, Amieto, 168, 171 
Powers, associated, 70 
Powers, Central, 48 
Powers, conquest of, 113 
Predappio, 14, 28, 260 
Predestination, 11 
Press of Italy, 312 

Prezzolini, writer, 96, 203, 221, 277, 335 
Primo de Rivera, 383 
Program of igig, 136 
Progress, philosophic, 30 
Proletarians, 4, 5, 30, 31, 40, 44, 50, 90, 

Propaganda, xiii, 254 
Public debt, 310 
Publishers, British, xv 
Publishers, French, xv 

Quaderni del Nuovo, 392 

Quadrumv irate, 161 
Quaglia, Carlo, 225, 226 
Quai d'Orsay, xv, 55 
Quotidien, 391 

Regime, 320 

Regime, frustration of, 130 
Rcnaissauce, time of, 24 
Renaudal, 391 
Rendi, Renzo, zii 
Rensi, Prof, Joseph, 339 
Reports on labor wage, 287 
Reports, financial, 301-310 
Republic, 20 

"Requiem acrternam," 144 
"Resolution against Mussolini," 327 
Rcsto del Carlino, 52, 316 
Reuter of England, 323 
Revolution, Fascist, 123, 132, 164, 215 
Revolution, Italian, 132, 233 
Revolution, threat of, 3, 49, 78, 79, 119 
Revolution of workers, 4, 31, 88 
Ricciotti, 209 

Rivera, Primo de, 206, 269 
Roberts, Kenneth L., 278 
Roberts, Roy, 327 
Rocco, Alfred, 280, 281, 403 
Romagna, 20 
Rome, arrest in, 59 
Rome, march on, 113 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 69, 369 
Rosati, 169 

Ross, Charles, protest of, 327 
Rossato, 49 
Rosselli, Carlo, 212 
Rossetti, Raffacle, 71, 72, 180, 181 
Rossi, Ccsarc, 100, 102, 125, 139, 149, 151; 
153. 156. 158, 159, 164, 169, 171, 202, 

204, 216, 218, 221, 278 

Rabotnik, 312 

Rossoni, Edmonda, 280, 281 

"Race of Cain," 247 

Rotherracre, Lord, 279 

Radicahsm, 28, 33, 48 

Rovigo, 166 

Radicahsm, accidents, 353 

Roya, Louis, 55, 174 

Railroads, improved, 351 

"Rubicon," 371 

Rapallo, treaty of, 81 

Rumeley, Dr., 51, 58 

Ras Taffari, 374 

Russia, 4, 5, 27, 39, 113, 202 

Rathenau, Walter, 114 

RussD, Baronc, 66 

Ravazola, 157, 203 

Razumof, 166 

Saager, Adolf, 380 

Rebellion, armed, 292 

Sabotage, 20, 27 

Red Menace, 273, 276, 277 

Sacco, Co!., 221 

Red Week. 48, 49 

Saint Francis of Assisi, 250 

Reggio Emilia, province, 16, 22, 23 

;, 43, Saint Germain Treaty, 271 


Saint Gotbard afiair, 271 



Saint-Just, 202 

Solidarity, declaration of, 6 

Saint Louis Post-Despatch, 327 

Sorel, Georges, 23, 24, 30, 280 

Saint Paul Despatch, 327 

Soviet, xiv, 59, 295 

Salesian Friars, 15 

Spain, 51 

Salvatorclli, 346 

Spingardi, Gen. Count, 64 

Salvemini, Prof., 56, 127, 173, 185, 


Stahremberg, Prince, 271, 272 


Stalin, 30, 312, 367, 374 

Santa Maria Nuova, hospital, 190 

Stefani agency, 222, 302, 323, 324 

Santo, de. Fascist, 118 

Steffens, Lincoln, 224 

Sarfatti, Signora, 17, 44, 49, 68, i32, 


Stirner, 30 

145, 174, 394 

Stocks, collapse of, 296 

Saturday Evening Post, 163, 301 

Strachey, John, 283, 363, 365 

Saul of Tarsus, 250 

Strcsemaim, 261 

Savoia, Victor, 22 

Strikes, 84, 85, 87, 89, 98, 117, 286 

Savonarola, 106 

Sturzo, Don, 104-110, 146, 176, 216 

Scandals, financial, 267 

Suisse, aio 

Schirru, Michele, shot, 231 

Suppression in Italy, 239, 313, 314 

Schopeniiauer, 15, 30 

Suriani, Antonio, 292 

Scottish Rite, 192, 193, 194 

Switzerland, 4, 26, 29, 30, 34, 42, 51, 133, 

Scripps-Howard Newspapers, 327 

210} 344 

Secolo, 124 

Secrets of Crewe House, 51 

Tacchi-Vcnturi, Father, 258 

Secfahlner, Dr. Egon, 272 

Tagliatela, Alfredo, 33, 34 

Seipel, M., 271 

Tagorc, Rabindranath, visit of, 314, 315 

Serpieri, Pietro, 188 

Talleyrand, 427 

Serrati, Giacinto, leader, 7, 28, 43, 


Tamburini, chief of police, 64 

176, 277 

Tancredi, Libero, 53 

Settiniana, Rossa, 48, 49 

Targetti, deputy, 188 

Severini, 342 

Terror in Italy, 163 

Sforza, Count, 81, 212, 299 

Tessin, 38 

Shakespeare, 37 

Tctuan, Duke of, 267 

' Shardellotto, terrorist, 231 

Thiers, 49 

Shaw, Bernard, 173, 324 

Third Internationale, 270 

Sherrill, Charles H., author, 88 

Thistlethwaite, Mark, 327 

Sicily, election in, 106 

Titian, 343 

Sicily, seizure of land, 87 

Todd, Laurence, 327 

Silvestri, Carlo, journaliEt, 151, 159 

Tolmezzo, 16 

Simon, 261 

Torres, Maitrc, 56, 208, 394 

Sinclair Oil Co., deal, 147, 221 

Torretta, Marquis, 263 

Smuggling, arms, 271 

Torrigiani, Domizio, 185, 194, 207 

Smuggling, documents, xiv 

"Totalitarian" idea, 258, 279, 280 

Smuggling, news, xiv 

Trades Union Council, 294 

Socialist party, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 16, il 

3, 20, 

Treaties, 81, 304 

loS, 143-145, 192, 220 

Trcnuno, 4 

Socialist Party, proclamation of, 50 

Trento, 43 

Socialist Union, 272 

Tresca, Carlo, 33 

Socrates, 375 

Treves, Claudio, 23, 61, 176 

Solari, 346 

Trianon, treaty, 271 

Soldiers, insults of, 84 

Tribuna, 316 



Tripoli, 20, 178 

Vittorio, Veneto, 71 

Triumvirate, 50 

Voce Republican Da, 157 

Trotsky, 17, 39. 40, 42, 44, 113, 312, 367, 

Voclkischer Beobachter, 313 


Volpi, Albino, 168, 170, 171, 304, 320, 

Trozzi, Mario, 61 

299, 304 

Turano, Anthony M., 290, 291 

Vorricri della Sera, 37 

Turati, 176, 212, 323, 316, 338 

Turin, massacre of, 218 

Waldemira, 382 

Turin, strikes in, 87, 166 

Wall Street, responsibility of, 397, 33a 

Wall Street Journal, 277 

Ual-Ual, massacre of, 363 

War, crisis of, 3 

Ulysses, 375 

War debts, 131 

Under Western Eyes, 166 

War, European, 3 

Unita, 327 

Wars, 3, 20, 48, 54. 66. 7°. 126, 275. 335. 

United Press, 329 

349. 424 

United Socialist Party, 192 

Wars, opposition to, 3 

United States, neutrality of, 53 

Wars, ravages of, 334 

United States Steel Corp., 279, 294 

War, World, 48, 49. 66, 70, 89, 115, 424. 

Utopian era, 312 


Washington, George, 336 

Vaccari, General, 116 

Weimar coalition, 318 

Vagno, Di, 61, 103 

Wells, H. G., 181, 277, 373, 381 

Valentino, Baron, 66 

Whifflctree, James J., 336 

Valera, 203 

Wilhclm, in Doom, 273 

Valori, Plastici, 343 

Wilson, Woodrow, 69, 75, 83, 145, 364, 343 

Vandervelde, 31, 353 

Winner, Percy, 228, 357 

Vanneufvillc, M., 354 

Wolff, Theodore, 274, 333 

Vannutelli, Cardinal, 162 

Wood, Gen. Leonard, 69 

Varano da Costa, 13 

Worker, The, 312 

Vaselli, lawyer, 169 

Workers alliance, 316 

Vatican, 33, 125, 245, 350, 257, 358, 304, 

Wyss, M., 35, 37 


Vecchi, dc. General, 100, 103, 125, 181, 

Yugoslav, 8i, 108 

318, 219, 343 

Yugoslav boys, sentence of, 231 

Vella, 43 

Yugoslav, King of, 361 

Vendetta, 7, 13, 25, 142, 244 

Vcnetia, Giulia, 4 

Zaccagnini, 178 

Vengeance, 142 

Zaharoff, Sir Basil, 52, 264 

Venice, 102 

Zamboni, Anteo, 208, 229, 231 

Vernon, Lillian, 311 
Versailles, 75, 113, 374, 343 

Zamora, Niceto Alcala, 368 
Zanardi, Francesco, 143 

Villari, Luigi, 173, 307 
Viola, Giuseppe, 168, 171 

Zaniboni, plot, 192, 207, 225, 226, 231, 315 

Violence, subsidization of, 403 

Zibordi, Giovanni, 167 

Virgil, 343 

Zingali, deputy, 289 

Virgili, 156 

Zouaves, Louisiana, 335 

Vittore, Sao, 139 

Zurich, 17, 37, 42 

: liL-ad 'if Fascism and iiis elder -^ons, Bruno and 
V'ittori. (2) Mussolini, volunteer. Photograph taken in 
igi6. (3) Mussolini's grin. A flashlight in 1919 while 
founding the party that was to give Adolf Hitler his Big 
Idea. (4) "Parla Mussolini" ("Mussolini speaks") (5) 
Dr. Angelica Balabanoff, the real woman behind Mus- 
solini's career. (6) Portrait bust. (7) "The noblest Roman 
of them all !" (8) "The Eagle" — equestrian portrait of 
Benito Mussolini by Joseph Palanti of Milan. (g> "But, 
dear, I only want to civilize you !" { 10) Mussolini— a 
photostat of picture sent to Jean Drury (Mrs. Peter A. 
Drury, Jr.) by Mussolini, July 15, 1932. (il) Not the 
March on Rome, in which II Duce marched not — but the 
March in Naples four days earlier. Trusting his Quadrum- 
virs to take Rome with 50,000 Black Shirts, Editor Mus- 
solini stayed safely in Milan. 






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