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Editorial: Fascism and the State

 When we urge the supreme importance of the working class capturing Parliament, with the administrative departments and local councils which it controls, we are often met with the argument that the Fascists came to power in defiance of the then constitutionally elected Italian Government. Even if this were true it would still not necessarily follow that the overthrow of capitalism could be achieved, or could best be achieved by methods which succeeded well enough in a quite opposite object, i.e., the strengthening of the capitalist state in the interests of a section of the ruling class.

 But, as we have pointed out before, the Fascist seizure of power took place not in defiance of, but with the approval and active assistance of, the democratically elected Italian Government. But for that active assistance Mussolini and his followers would have been helpless. Then, as before and since, the possession of the State machinery proved to be the deciding factor.

 Our view has received interesting confirmation from three sources—the Italian Communist, Bordiga; Professor Salvemini, a Liberal; and Modigliani, of the Italian Socialist Party.

Bordiga says (Labour Magazine, February and March, 1923):

      After the Nitti, Giolitti, and Bonomi Governments, we had the Facta Cabinet. This type of Government was intended to cover up the complete liberty of action of Fascism in its expansion over the whole country. During the strike in August, 1922, several conflicts took place between the workers and the Fascisti, who were openly aided by the Government. One can quote the example of Bari. During a whole week of fighting, the Fascisti in full force were unable to defeat the Bari workers, who had retired to the working-class quarters of the city, and defended themselves by armed force. The Fascisti were forced to retreat, leaving several of their number on the field. But what aid the Facta Government do? During the night they surrounded the old town with thousands of soldiers and hundreds of carabineers of the Royal Guard. In the harbour a torpedo boat trained its guns on the workers. Armoured cars and guns were brought up. The workers were taken by surprise during their sleep, the Proletarian leaders were arrested, and the Labour headquarters were occupied. This was the same throughout the country. Wherever Fascism had been beaten back by the workers the power of the State intervened; workers who resisted were shot down; workers who were guilty of nothing but self-defence were arrested and sentenced; while the magistrates systematically acquitted the Fascisti, who were generally known to have committed innumerable crimes. Thus the State was the main factor in the development of Fascism.

Professor Salvemini gives similar testimony (Manchester Guardian, October 19th, 1927):—

      Mussolini was assisted in the civil war (1921- 1922) by the money of the banks, the big industrialists and landowners. His Black-shirts were equipped with rifles, bombs, machine guns and motor lorries by the military authorities, and assured of impunity by the police and the magistracy; while their adversaries were disarmed and severely punished if they attempted resistance.

 And lastly Modigliani tells us (Daily Herald, October 27th, 1927):—
  It was by their (the Italian Cabinet's) contrivance and with the help of military forces of the State that Mussolini and his gangs were able not only to administer Castor Oil, but to murder and burn for two years. And it is in that way that they finally reached the point of the march on Rome, in face of which the King openly and personally sided with the anti-Labour onslaught.