1920s >> 1927 >> no-270-february-1927

Mussolini and Parliament

W. H. Kett (Kilburn) sends us the following inquiry. Our reply follows :—

“Does Mussolini rule as a dictator? Again has all opposition in Italy been squashed? I have Engels’ Socialism, Utopian and Scientific before me and on page 38, paragraph 2, of the introduction he, speaking of the working class movement of England, France and Germany, says, “In both the latter countries (France and Germany) the working class movement is well ahead of England. In Germany it is even within measurable distance of success.” Was Engels right when he stated that? Even now I don’t think there are any Socialists in the German Parliament. At least as far as I know. If Engels’ statement was correct Germany by now should have a very strong Socialist Party, but it is not the case.


Mussolini obtained power by being returned to Parliament with a majority of his supporters. This majority, with Mussolini at its head and as its leader, has ruled through Parliament by passing the various laws that have so severely repressed open opposition, and driven the more reckless of his foes into secret societies and intrigues.

But it is significant to note that, despite all his bluster and bounce, he is intensely uneasy about this majority continuing to support him. This is shown more particularly in his alterations of the constitution, designed to retain power in the hands of a minority. Such an act is a policy of despair. The fact that Italy is less developed industrially than the leading capitalist countries may enable Mussolini to hold office for a while, but the rise of any serious crisis will see the collapse of his present support and his overthrow. In certain respects his position is similar to that of Napoleon III. before the coup d’etat—a position splendidly analysed in Marx’s “Eighteenth Brumaire.”

The Statement in Engels’ book must be considered in relation to the circumstances of the time when it was written. Socialist propaganda was making more headway in Germany than in France or England, while the less stable political conditions in France allowed Socialist propaganda there to move ahead of England. “Revisionism” was of very small account, and the German movement had dealt sucessfully with its anarchists. It was not until after Engels’ death that the paralysing policy of capitalist reform, followed by the absurd colonial policy, side-tracked the German Social Democratic Party into what was mere Liberalism.

Unfortunately there is no country with a “strong Socialist Party” but the progress in England at the present stage compares favourably with any other nation.

Ed. Com.

(Socialist Standard, February 1927)

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