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The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle

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The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle

The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (Italian: Il manifesto dei fasci italiani di combattimento) was the initial declaration of the political stance of the founders of Italian Fascism. The Manifesto that was written by national syndicalist Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.[1]

Contents of the Fascist Manifesto

The manifesto (published in "Il Popolo d'Italia" on June 6, 1919) is divided into four sections, describing Fascist objectives in political, social, military and financial fields.[2]

Politically, the manifesto calls for:

  • Universal suffrage with a lowered voting age to 18 years, and voting and electoral office eligibility for all age 25 and more, including women;
  • Proportional representation on a regional basis;
  • Voting for women (which was opposed by most other European nations);
  • Representation at government level of newly created national councils by economic sector;
  • The abolition of the Italian Senate (at the time, the senate, as the upper house of parliament, was by process elected by the wealthier citizens, but were in reality direct appointments by the king. It has been described as a sort of extended council of the crown);
  • The formation of a national council of experts for labor, for industry, for transportation, for the public health, for communications, etc. Selections to be made of professionals or of tradesmen with legislative powers, and elected directly to a general commission with ministerial powers.

In labour and social policy, the manifesto calls for:

  • The quick enactment of a law of the state that sanctions an eight-hour workday for all workers;
  • A minimum wage;
  • The participation of workers' representatives in the functions of industry commissions;
  • To show the same confidence in the labor unions (that prove to be technically and morally worthy) as is given to industry executives or public servants;
  • Reorganisation of the railways and the transport sector;
  • Revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance;
  • Reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55.

In military affairs, the manifesto advocates:

  • Creation of a short-service national militia with specifically defensive responsibilities;
  • Armaments factories are to be nationalised;
  • A peaceful but competitive foreign policy.

In finance, the manifesto advocates:

  • A strong progressive tax on capital (envisaging a “partial expropriation” of concentrated wealth);
  • The seizure of all the possessions of the religious congregations and the abolition of all the bishoprics, which constitute an enormous liability on the Nation and on the privileges of the poor;
  • Revision of all contracts for military provisions;
  • The revision of all military contracts and the seizure of 85 percent of the profits therein.

The manifesto thus reflected the early positions on what would later be characterized by Mussolini [3] as progressive movement that, in his view, should surpass the economic and political liberalization of the 19th century. It emphasized major elements of contemporary progressive thought (franchise reform, labour reform, nationalization, taxes on wealth and war profits, and economic controls for the sake of national interests, etc.) and laid out some of the ideas of state-control that the Fascist movement embodied, along with some ideas that are widely accepted today. As an ideology founded on the principle of the subordination of individualism to the state, with the fasces as its symbolism, Fascism's early manifesto was the progressive foundation for what would become a totalitarian regime.

The Manifesto in practice

Of the manifesto’s proposals, the commitment to corporative organisation of economic interests was to be the longest lasting. Far from becoming a medium of extended democracy, parliament became by law an exclusively Fascist-picked body in 1929; being replaced by the “chamber of corporations” a decade later.

Fascism’s pacifist foreign policy ceased during its first year of Italian government. In September 1923, the Corfu crisis demonstrated the regime’s willingness to use force internationally. Perhaps the greatest success of Fascist diplomacy was the Lateran Treaty of February 1929: which accepted the principle of non-interference in the affairs of the Church. This ended the 59 year old dispute between Italy and the Papacy.

See also

References

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