Benito Mussolini on Fascist Syndicalism

Dear friends! With great enthusiasm, I carry out the task entrusted to me by the leadership of the National Party and the Milanese Fascist League, namely, I convey a cordial and brotherly greeting from all fascists to the “First National Assembly of syndical guilds”. All the words I have said today also represent my personal thoughts and feelings. I will remind you that I was one of those people in Italy in the postwar period who tried and even succeeded in spreading the principles of national-syndicalism (or fascist syndicalism). The effort was not in vain, because today, after such a short period of time, we have the honor to observe this impressive gathering of forces of real Italian workers. Now we are no longer faced with the question of whether we should apply syndicalism, because this question has already been solved by the practical needs of life, leaving no time for theories. Gentlemen! As you know, when someone wants to win, it is necessary to sabotage and destroy the enemy in all his shelters, in all his trenches. While fascism dealt mainly with foreign policy issues, the socialists remained hostile to us because they portrayed us as imperialists and warmongers eager for new wars, but in reality they knew that these accusations were false. When we went directly to their backyard, that is, when we tried to gather the working masses and when we created trade unions and cooperatives, the socialists were furious because they felt that we were violating the alleged “borders of their territory” and threatening to take away their most sensitive and vital support bases — the workers. But there is a simpler and deeper reason for all this, dear friends, and it is this: the workers are also – and above all – part of the Nation. Intellectual and manual workers. Our syndicalism includes all of them and establishes the necessary rules of hierarchy between them. (Obviously, an engineer needs to pay more than a manual worker) As I said, there are twenty million physical and intellectual workers. Can we ignore them? Should we consider them a vile and unprincipled class? Should we abandon this class, which is in fact neither vile nor unprincipled, and allow them to continue to be exploited by the red demagogues? No, we can’t let that happen! If we really want to make a great Nation, we cannot ignore the workers. Workers – calm, orderly, conscious – are a guarantee of the greatness of the Fatherland, not a hindrance. That is why we must implement syndicalist theory. But what is syndicalism? It is at this point that I want to draw your attention. The people who lead the “National syndicate guilds” place their greatest hopes on me that fascist syndicalism will never be a copy of socialist syndicalism. Our syndicalism should be qualitative, not quantitative. We cannot reject the masses, but at the same time we must not look at them, flatter them, and promise them things that cannot be really given. Just as political fascism represents the aristocracy in Italian national society – the aristocracy of courage, will and faith – so fascist syndicalism must gather the aristocracy of the proletariat, because those who possess quality will eventually shift the quantity if they really wish and want to do so. My friend [Edmondo] Rossoni, whose work I have followed for ten years, is inspired by this thesis. He was one of the first syndicalists in the world to announce in his newspaper that the Fatherland should not be denied and made secondary. Having lived abroad for a long time, he was convinced that classes – not two, but two hundred – are certainly a reality, but the same reality consists of an irrepressible historical, physiological and moral fact: the nation. On this basis, we must reconcile these three elements in fascist syndicalism: nation, production and the interests of the working class. It is necessary that fascist syndicalism be the result, the harmonious fusion of the past, which teaches us and gives us great ideals and the future to which we strive with all our might, laws and duties, the experience gained. All this must be reduced to fascist syndicalism. And next to political fascism (which, of course, is the most interesting and rich phenomenon that emerged in post-war Europe) needs to occur fascist syndicalism, which eliminates all the consequences of the established socialist order. Fascist syndicalism must absorb the impulsive youth of the Italian proletariat, who has rediscovered the Fatherland and who want to make it prosperous, great and free. So it must be open to fascist workers who have proven to be the case, how many sacrifices their souls! But at the same time, fascist syndicalism is open to the entire working aristocracy, because it must prepare the ground for new and broader ways of developing the Fatherland.

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