*And that was in just some of Britain’s newspapers over only 16 months.
Includes a list of quotations of 200 astonishing British press eulogies to fascism
British press coverage of fascism in Italy, June 1922- October1923.
Britain’s newspapers, almost without exception, were either strongly sympathetic to or openly euphoric over Italy’s fascist coup in 1922, which brought Mussolini and his Blackshirts to power. They deliberately deluded the British public into believing, as the Reuters Rome correspondent reported, that ‘the Fascisti movement is proceeding peacefully,’ adding gleefully, though falsely, that ‘the whole nation… sympathises with the determination of the Fascisti to affirm the national spirit, and to purify and strengthen public life and the Government.’1
The Daily Telegraph asserted triumphally that fascism ‘has attracted to itself the best elements of Italy‘, while the Observer correspondent crowed that ‘Italy, old and young, sighs with relief that they have a strong man in charge of affairs.’ Equally elated, the Yorkshire Post trumpeted that ‘the whole city (of Rome) has been on the tiptoe of expectation since the early morning, everyone wishing to see and cheer Signor Mussolini,’ and the man from the Daily Mail gushed that ‘many of the onlookers, especially the women, cannot restrain their tears.’2
In contrast, on the other side of the Atlantic, the readers of the New York Herald were not so grossly misled. The paper’s Rome correspondent observed that the crowds greeting the Blackshirt fascist militia ‘were made up entirely of citizens of the higher class, and (that) even amid the most frenzied cheering one felt the sullen silence of the absent workers,’ adding that ‘conflicts between Fascisti and Socialists have been renewed in many towns of the North,’ and that ‘Labour clubs are being destroyed, Socialists and Comunists hunted down and maltreated, and the Milan offices of the Socialist organ Avanti have been burnt for the third time.’3
While one might question whether the use of the word ‘maltreated’ was adequate to describe the savage beatings, torture and assassinations inflicted on the victims, at least the Herald gave its readers a far more sober account of the actual situation. Shamefully, not one major British newspaper attempted even to hint at such widespread resistance and violence, let alone explain, in an honest, regretful and explicit way, the full extent to which in the previous three years Mussolini’s fascist thugs, financed and armed by wealthy industrialists and landowners, had been responsible for a merciless orgy of murder and mayhem.
From 1919, well-armed fascists had attacked striking workers, labour activists, socialists, communists and anarchists, as well as Slovenes, Germans and other ethnic minorities, shopkeepers stocking ‘immoral’ books and anyone who, perhaps by wearing a red-tie or some other accident of fate, looked like a socialist and all those who failed to show them due deference or, worse, dared to speak out against them or their wealthy patrons, focusing in particular on critical journalists and newspaper editors; their victims sometimes shot in busy cafes or mercilessly beaten with clubs in narrow alleyways.
By the autumn of 1922, the fascists had already murdered over 2,000 men and women, beaten-up tens of thousands more and burned down or ransacked hundreds of buildings, including almost all socialist and leftist newspaper offices and printing presses. They also targeted and torched hundreds of workers clubs, cultural centres, union branches and cooperative societies and stores, including the Byron Hotel in Ravenna, a beautiful Renaissance landmark where Byron had once lived but which had become a cooperative store for workers.4
In late October 1922, with his self-confidence enhanced by the willing support of big business, the army and reactionary politicians, Mussolini staged his soon to be legendary ‘March on Rome.’ On 28 October, around 14,000 of his Blackshirt thugs, armed with cudgels, revolvers and a few machine guns, arrived in the Eternal City, most of them by train or in open topped Fiat lorries.5 As better equipped and trained army soldiers stood by, the Blackshirts paraded through the city’s streets, cheered on by many of the middle classes and beating up any man who dared not to immediately doff his cap. The violence of the day, however, was mercifully limited to a few fatalities and a few dozen more injured in assaults, as the fascists found the streets of the working-class neighbourhoods largely empty.
Mussolini was elated at the ease with which this bold act of theatre had persuaded the establishment he was the right man for the moment. ‘A million sheep,’ he had once declared, ‘will always be dispersed by the roar of a single lion.’6 At 11.45 am on the 29th he arrived at the Quirinal Palace for a prearranged meeting with King Victor Emanuele III to be appointed head of all three of the most important ministries, as the new prime minister, interior minister and foreign secretary.
On greeting His Majesty, Mussolini modestly apologised for his wearing a black shirt under his morning coat, before declaring, somewhat less modestly, that it was because he had ‘come from the battlefield.’7 An imaginative explanation, since he had spent the preceding day making telephone calls from the comfort of the editorial desk at his newspaper office, Il Popolo d’ltalia, which had been heavily protected both by the Milanese police and what the Daily Telegraph reported as ‘a strong Fascisti guard, all armed with rifles.’8
Mussolini’s coup d’état successfully toppled the parliamentary government of Prime Minister Luigi Facta. It and its predecessors were seen by the establishment, both in Italy and in Britain, as having been too cautious and legalistic in their approach, during the previous three years, by refusing to use the army to crush a wave of successful labour dissent and strikes following the end of the First World War. Actions which had advanced wages and greatly improved working conditions.
In 1918, real wages had fallen to just 65% of their pre-war level, but as the result of a succession of factory occupations and strikes, they rose to 114% in 1920 and to 127% by 1921. Nor were the strikes confined to traditional industries and factories.9 The bourgeois commentariat were horrified when a strike in Venice was joined by not only the gondoliers, but also by the waiters at Florian’s Caffe in the Piazza San Marco.10
As we shall soon see, one of the main themes of the British press coverage was that Mussolini saved Italy from chaos and a bloody Bolshevik revolution. It is true that a few communist intellectuals occasionally met to discuss the idea of revolution, but no significant attempt was ever made to organize or plan for one, no government buildings were seized, and even many communists didn’t have any faith in the method of violent revolution as advocated by Moscow. The few hard-line communists who did had no support from the trade unions, let alone Italy’s police and soldiers, and very little popular support.
When the Fascists seized power, there were only 16 communist deputies who had won seats out of the 535 in the Italian parliament. The far more moderate socialists, who did not believe in revolution 1917 style, held 122 seats.11 While it is true, that the Fascists themselves only had 38 deputies, they enjoyed the financial and political backing of the establishment, of the army and police, and had an organisation of some 300,000-armed men, at least half of whom were army veterans.12
The British press also insisted that labour activists had plunged Italy into a state of near anarchy from which it needed to be saved, but this was both an exaggeration and an attempt to blame the victims for what was fascist engineered violence. The number of days lost to factory strikes peaked in 1919 at 18.9 million, but had fallen to 7.8 million by 1921, while the number of days lost to strikes by agricultural workers peaked at 14.2 million in 1920 but had fallen to just 0.4 million by 1921. By the summer of 1922, even the red-baiting Daily Telegraph conceded, while reporting on the ‘disturbances in various parts of the country (Italy),’ that ‘there is little left of the Red spirit of three years ago, and the phenomenon known as “Bolshevism of the Right” is the central problem that confronts the authority of the State today.’13
Unfortunately, this interesting admission was quickly forgotten. Just three weeks later, the same newspaper was eulogising ‘Mussolini and his gallant brigades of Fascisti,’ and declaring that ‘there is no country that has met revolutionary propaganda and subversive agitation with a more unselfish, self-sacrificing spirit than the Fascisti youth of Italy, under the guidance and inspiration of Mussolini.’ In the following months, as Fascist violence escalated, The Telegraph continued to heap praise on the fascists and their leader, who, though ‘a lion when fighting,’ was ‘as gentle as a child in his ordinary moods, gentlemanly, courteous and an eloquent speaker.’14
It is also worth noting that many of the factory strikes were in response to lockouts by their owners, while the general strike called on 1 August 1922 was to support a demand for the police and army to step in and prevent the widespread terror and violence being inflicted by the Blackshirts across Italy. The factory occupations were also far from chaotic, with Giovanni Agnelli, the boss of Fiat, admitting to the decorum and efficiency of the way workers organised and managed production. Moreover, once the workers had attained their demands for improved wages and conditions, they meekly surrendered their workplaces back to their owners.15 Two months prior to Mussolini’s coup, The Times had reflected on this ‘illogical’ but ‘comforting’ event –
‘No student of Italian politics will forget, how, two years ago, the Communists and Socialists, after shouting red revolution and occupying the factories to show that they meant business, found that they were complete masters of the country, grew alarmed at their own power, handed the factories back to Signor Giolitti (the prime minister), and returned to work under the hated capitalistic system. Nothing could have been more illogical, but more comforting in this present period of crisis.’16
As soon as Mussolini took power, he immediately embarked of crushing the trade unions, deregulating business, privatising railways, sacking 50,000 railway workers, forcing agricultural labourers to work longer hours on reduced pay and ending the years of strict rent controls, which until then had given many Italian workers some sense of security. Suddenly, as a report in a small regional British newspaper noted, the landlords discovered they could ‘now let their houses at any price they please to demand. The dismay of those who do not possess a house of their own is great.’17 More typically, the Pall Mall Gazette, described it merely as a ‘decree restoring freedom of contract between landlord and tenant.’18
In the meantime, Mussolini’s army of fascists did not put away their weapons. As Mussolini himself explained to parliament, ‘I have come to stay, with no mandate from the electorate, but by virtue of 100,000 cudgels and revolvers.’19 Fascist attacks against trade union organisers, socialists, communists, cooperatives and journalists as well as the Slavic and Austrian minorities in northern Italy, all intensified, and as the mostly pro-fascist Westminster Gazette, conceded, ‘even the families of the communists are not spared.’20
A vicious colonial counter insurgency campaign against the local population of Cyrenaica (eastern Libya) was also waged during Mussolini’s first year in power, but the Daily Telegraph still thought that the Italian government was being ‘too lenient,’ suggesting that ‘energetic measures should be applied.’ Before the end of the decade, Mussolini dispatched leading fascists to begin to organise and implement the first inter-war genocide, savage ethnic cleansing which would expel an estimated 100,000 from their homes and into camps, and of whom as many as two thirds died.21
Later, in 1935, Mussolini ordered the invasion and occupation of Ethiopia, which suffered a similar fate to Libya, though here Mussolini deployed poison gas on a massive scale and in 1940, Mussolini dragged Italy into the Second World War, which would result in the deaths of nearly half a million Italians. Many of them, miserably equipped, perished in artic conditions on the Russian front.
The extreme authoritarianism and violence inherent in fascist ideology was already clearly evident within Italy during Mussolini’s first year in power, but as the citations from British newspapers which follow will show, it was either ignored, minimized or even in some instances praised by Britain’s press, and to the limited extent that the human cost was sometimes considered regrettable, it was held to be a price worth paying for the stability and the bulwark against a communist takeover that Mussolini supposedly assured.
THE BRITISH PRESS ON MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM – QUOTATIONS – JUNE TO 28 OCTOBER 1922
These lists of quotations from the British press cover only a fraction of the pro-fascist articles published between June 1922 and October 1923. This is partly because I did not have time to research all major British newspapers and periodicals. For instance, none of the coverage from the Daily Express, the Daily Chronicle or the Spectator is included below. Also, some of the articles included here, have sometimes been attributed only to one newspaper, when they may also have been carried by several others. Finally, a lot of articles were obviously pro-fascist, but in a way which couldn't easily be shown in a concise quotation from them - they did this either by lengthy uncritical quotations from Mussolini's speeches or official Italian government statements, or by focusing on issues in such a way which benefited the regime, either by omitting or minimizing references to fascist violence or by greatly exaggerating the supposed threat from communist revolutionaries.
‘The city of Bologna is the scene of a singular conflict between the Italian Government and the Fascisti, who are the voluntary protectors of public order against Socialist incendiarism. The Prefect of Bologna had forbidden armed assemblies of any type, but the Fascisti, (convinced) on the ground that the Socialists pay no heed to such proclamations, have collected some 20,000 men and sent them to keep the peace upon their own lines.’ 'Rival Friends of Peace,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 2 June 1922, p.8.
‘The Fascisti, so far (referring to a local power grab in Bologna), have committed relatively few excesses, but they have sacked some Socialist and Communist meeting-places, set fire to some Labour Exchanges, and prevented the firemen from doing their duty.’ 'Amazing Scenes in Italian City - Seized by Fascisti,' The Daily Telegraph, 2 June 1922, p. 11. The report also carried in 'Italian Scenes,' The Lancashire Daily Post, 2 June 1922, p.5.
‘In Italy the Fascisti have narrowly saved their country from an orgy of communist violence and spoilation surpassing Moscow at its worst.’ 'Make-Believe War,' The Londonderry Sentinel, 3 August 1922, p. 8.
‘We were fortunate to get to Rome at last, only to find the capital of Italy without tram service, cabs, or taxis, and the streets dirty with yesterday’s rubbish lying about it picturesque heaps… By noon some trams began running, driven by brave Fascisti, who defied the strike order, and the people expected the strike to end this evening or tomorrow morning, thanks to the Fascisti intervention.’ 'Labour in Italy - The "General" Strike,' The Daily Telegraph, 3 August 1922, p. 9.
‘The Socialist leaders have all fled from Florence and the Fascisti have occupied the Chamber of Labour. The prefect has given an assurance that it shall not be given back to the Socialists. Flags are flying all over the town and the workmen who have stuck to their posts are wearing tricolour ribbon to show their nationalist feeling. The public-spirited conduct of the Fascisti has made them extremely popular.’ 'Popular Fascisti,' The Daily Mail, 5 August 1922, p. 7.
‘No Government loves the Fascisti, whose lawless methods are bound to offend respectable politicians; but for all that, these young men are Italy’s surest safeguard against revolution, they uphold the Italian State, with a resoluteness that orthodox politicians dare not show, and Government profit by their deeds even while ostensibly discountenancing them.’ 'The Fascisti,' The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 5 August 1922, p. 4.
‘The total failure as a whole of the general strike is a favourable symptom of the state of public feeling in Italy. All the large towns are gay with flags and (the) Fascisti, who have the situation well in hand, are everywhere welcomed and applauded. Trains have run almost as usual, and trams have worked, manned by soldiers and Fascisti… According to the latest news this morning the worst is over, and Fascisti are now masters of Ancona… The energetic and patriotic conduct of the Fascisti during the strike has raised them very high in the public estimation.’ ‘The Fascisti in Action - Public Gratitude,' The Observer, 6 August 1922, p. 6.
‘The Fascisti of Italy, however unceremonious their methods, have proved that a whole nation need not be intimidated by the threats of a few Socialist extremists. The Fascisti who are composed of law-abiding and patriotic workmen and members of the middle classes quickly brought to an end the general strike engineered by a minority of hotheads by a few reprisals that showed they were in no mood to stand any nonsense. Otherwise, the whole country might have been thrown out of gear for weeks.’ 'Fascisti to the Rescue,' The Sunday Mirror, 6 August 1922, p. 10.
‘The state of Italy is such that the Fascisti, who are a kind of Citizen’s Union, have had to take the protection of many cities into their own hands, the ordinary political parties being scarcely able to provide even a nominal Government.’ 'The Ferment of Europe,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 7 August 1922, p. 6.
‘The Fascisti, by their courage, and especially by their efforts to conduct the public services in many of the towns, have acquired a large accession of sympathy throughout the country.’ 'Italy's Crisis,' The Daily Telegraph, 8 August 1922, p. 8.
‘Suddenly a number of youths board our tram, springing in with wonderful agility while it is running at full speed… They break into a stirring patriotic song… I turn to the man beside me. “Who are these young men?” I ask. “The Fascisti,’ he replies… I look at them now with interest. These jolly, refined-looking boys the Fascisti! I had always imagined that the members of this movement were lawless roughs… (but) judging from their appearance and tones of voice they apparently belong to the cultured classes. Fine-looking young fellows they are tall, lithe and athletic. Most of them between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four years, though their leaders are evidently much older. My companion tells me that many of them are university men and idealists. They hope to be the saviours of the country.’ G.A. Maxwell, 'The Fascisti,' The (London) Daily News, 8 August 1922, p. 4.
‘The object of the Fascisti may be summed up in a few words. The Socialists and Communists after the Armistice had sought to bring discredit on the national flag and the national victory… The Fascisti led the reaction, and their whole doctrine may be summed up in “Respect the flag.” When the military in the heat of the fighting received orders to fire on them, the brave Fascisti stood under the fire without flinching. They bravely watched their comrades fall, suffering it stoically for the sake of the flag. After the heat of conflict was over, they went and collected their dead, and such respect was shown for them that the entire population turned out to honour them. Milan was the scene of one of these touching Fascisti funerals.’ 'Italy's Crisis,' The Daily Telegraph, 9 August 1922, p. 10.
‘The Fascisti are a strange organization of mixed origin. They are obviously not reactionaries, otherwise they could not have succeeded in withdrawing from Socialist influence such a considerable body of working men. They are intensely patriotic and at the same time, in their poplar appeal, they stand for a return to the older creative ideals of Italian Liberalism. Their violence may too easily degenerate into excess, but it can be only understood as a reaction against the subversive forces which are undermining the independent existence of the nation.’ 'The Government of Italy,' The Times, 12 August 1922, p. 13.
‘Communism, with all that it portends, had got a grip on the country not paralleled anywhere else except in Russia. The Government itself existed by its kind permission. This fact, and this only, created the Fascisti, who are a sort of citizens’ union pledged to resist the Communists at every corner and by every means. Naturally, the law-abiding citizen is disposed to applaud this objective.’ 'Violent Measures,' The Fife Free Press, 12 August 1922, p. 4 and 'Violent Measures,' The Middlesex County Times, 12 August 1922, p. 4.
‘Originally, they (the fascists) were a sort of middle-class union against the disruptive forces which were eating into Italian State and economic life; the bundle of sticks, middle-class sticks, the fasces of law and order. But it was something much more alive than a middle-class union, for it grew and penetrated, with innumerable local branches, everywhere in the country, and became, not only the political, but the physical, enemy of all disruptive organizations… The Fascisti movement spread into all classes and split Labour in twain. All that stood for Italy one and undivided, for the Italy of the Risorgimento, joined up with the Fascisti. It is no secret society.’ 'The Broken Strike - Fascisti at Work,' The Times, 14 August 1922, p. 7. Also published under the same title in the (London Evening) Mail, 16 August 1922, p. 11.
‘The Fascisti carry on the brilliant tradition of Italian patriotism and seek their inspiration in memories of Mazzini and Garibaldi… The simple and determined patriotism of the Fascisti is certainly the dominant factor in Italian politics today and is a factor that we believe to be wholly for Italy’s good.‘ 'The Italian Situation,' The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 15 August 1922, p. 4.
‘It is customary in the Labour press to represent the Fascisti as a lawless association, recruited from the capitalist classes, the object of which is anti-labour. The fact is that the Fascisti are drawn from all classes, and that their purpose is not to injure the interests of Labour, but simply to assist the Government in the maintenance of public order and the economic activities upon which the life of the country depends. The Fascisti came into existence a few years ago because the Government failed to combat the Anarchists, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Communists: the Fascisti took up the gage of battle on behalf of the citizens at large, and the Fascisti won.’ 'Mr. Tillett's Strike Talk,' The Western Mail, 19 August 1922, p. 6.
‘About eighteen months ago, alarmed and angered by the wave of Bolshevistic and Communistic agitation sweeping over Italy, and threatening the whole social and political fabric of the country, the patriotic youth of the nation banded themselves together in an organisation, which they called the Fascisti to fight these subversive elements and oppose force by force.’ …. (Then the correspondent, commenting on what he called “Bolshevik agitation,” added) ‘I saw half-drunken workmen break into first-class carriages and spit on the dresses of ladies because they were of fine silk. All this is now past and gone, thanks to Mussolini and his gallant brigades of Fascisti… One of the most distinctive and characteristic features of the Fascisti movement is that it is unselfish. It is not subventioned by any money from abroad or at home.’ Bolshevik Anarchy - The Fascisti Movement - A Talk with Its Founder,' The Daily Telegraph, 25 August 1922, p. 11.
‘”(citing Mussolini) Many have the conviction that the Italian Fascisti form an organisation of young men who carry big sticks with which to smash in the heads of their political antagonists…” (Correspondent) The Socialist Press of the whole world has slandered and misrepresented the Fascisti movement. This movement, on the contrary, has proved itself the most genial, generous, and chivalrous manifestation of the idealistic aspirations of Italian youth and patriotism after the war. There is no country that has met revolutionary propaganda and subversive agitation with a more unselfish, self-sacrificing spirit than the Fascisti youth of Italy, under the guidance and inspiration of Mussolini. This I can say from my own observation of events and of Mussolini’s activity during the past four years.’ 'Bolshevik Anarchy - The Fascisti Movement - A Talk with Its Founder,' The Daily Telegraph, 25 August 1922, p. 11.
‘It is upon entirely erroneous information that the leaders of the Transport Workers’ Federation have issued a recommendation as to the Italian steamship Emanuele Accame which is en route from Italy to Cardiff. The ship is manned by a Fascist crew, members of an organisation which exists throughout Italy, and which has for its object the suppression of disorders organised by the Communists… The Fascisti are today the most powerful organisation in the country. They are, however, a purely defensive body. They do not interfere with any industrial or commercial interest, or with any political policy: their policy is merely to support the guardians of public order, and to resist the attempts, in which the Communists are constantly engaging, to throw the country into the horrors of a bloody revolution, and to repeat in Italy the misery and the devastation which the Bolsheviks have inflicted upon Russia.’ 'The Fascist Sailors,' The Western Mail, 26 August 1922, p. 6.
‘The Fascisti, formed to oppose the Socialists, and to save Italy, though the weakest in the Chamber (38 out of 535 elected deputies), are, as we might expect, strongest in the country as a whole… The Fascisti, wearing black shirts, are the best organised (political organisation) and the best disciplined, and they have the honour of possessing as leader the one strong man of Italy, Mussolini, a journalist and former socialist, who saw the spread of Bolshevism after the disaster of Caporetto, with regret, and who since then has devoted his life to combating it. There have been occasions in the past two years when the Fascisti have been the aggressors in the many political riots, but, on the whole, they have done well for their country.’ Leslie Cosgrove, 'Comic Opera Politics,' 'The Middlesex County Times, 26 August 1922, p. 4.
‘Serious complications are likely to follow the foolish haste of the leaders of the transport and railway workers in proposing a boycott of the Italian ship Emanuele Accame… It goes without saying that the people who have inspired the anti-Fascist action of the trade union leaders here are persons who have no interest in trade unionism as such, but who are against the Fascisti because the Fascisti are against the Communists. Once more, then, the labour leaders of this country have been stampeded into foolish courses by the underground intriguers who take their instructions and their pay, from Moscow… It must be pointed out that the Fascisti are not an anti-trade union organisation, that they exist to combat the Communists and other revolutionaries in Italy, and that workmen and trade unionists form the bulk of the membership of the Fascisti.’ 'Cardiff Ship Boycott,' The Western Mail, 29 August 1922, p. 4.
‘when the Labour Alliance declared the recent strike the Mayor and councillors (of Milan), instead of taking measures to maintain public services, deserted their posts purposely, and actually took part in promoting disorder and encouraging workers on electric plans, water supply, trams and burial services to strike, so that, after the third day, the Fascisti were justified in taking possession of the Town Hall and municipal administration which they did with the applause and support of the greater part of the population. The supersession of the municipal authorities is therefore fully justified and has met with general public approval.’ 'Socialists in Milan - Expelled from Office - Chaos and Waste,' The Daily Telegraph, 1 September 1922, p. 8.
‘When the Socialist Mayor and Councillors joined the general strike, instead of safeguarding their citizens from its effects, we can well understand Milan being ready to welcome the Fascisti– or anybody else.’ 'Socialism in Italy A Failure - Denouncing Communism,' The (Nottingham and Midland) Catholic News, 9 September 1922, p. 12.
‘More royalist than the King, more governmental than the Government, they (the Fascists) keep order where the Government fails. When the revolutionaries shout “Down with Law and Order!” they reply, “By all means-we’ll begin with you!”‘ 'Harold Owen, 'A Game for Two,' John Bull, 9 September 1922, p. 15.
‘Though a lion when fighting, he (Mussolini) is as gentle as a child in his ordinary moods, gentlemanly, courteous and an eloquent speaker… Now that the Fascisti have won their battle and form a Parliamentary party, he continues to be their guide and mentor. Among his many qualities, no suspected by his enemies, is that of prudence and cool judgement. Moderation and calm are the things he preaches mostly to his followers.‘ 'Italy's War on Bolshevik Anarchy - II - The Fascist Movement,' The Daily Telegraph, 12 September 1922, p. 12.
‘A friend who has recently returned from a close study of the Italy of today gives me a vivid account of the transformation that is affecting that country. After the war and during the Versailles Conference, Italy was seized by the Communists, who controlled much of her local government and threatened the stability of the State. Then arose Mussolini, as romantic a patriot as Mazzini and infinitely more practical. Himself a reformed Socialist, he saw the futility of vague theories and created the Fascisti – a body of ex-soldiers who loved their country and were prepared to go any lengths to reinstate her. By force of arms, they routed the Communists in street fighting; turned them bodily out of the Council Chambers; suppressed all attempts at a national strike by running the public services themselves… My informant, who travelled in trains manned by these confident patriots, is enthusiastic in his praise of their accomplishments, and has suggested that some movement of the sort might not be amiss in our own troubled land.’ 'Fascism,' The Devon and Exeter Gazette, 17 October 1922, p. 8.
‘The real battle is between Communism and Fascism. Italy has not forgotten the events of two years ago, when the advanced Socialists trampled on the national flag, wrecked factories, looted private houses, bombed trains, and taught the city children to sing hymns to Lenin instead of to the Madonna; and if the Fascists can help it, Italy never will forget. The promoters of this remarkable movement, which was born in Milan in March 1919, and in a few months had several million adherents pledged to give the Communists “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” are to embark today on a great campaign to rouse the south of Italy.’ ‘Italy's Political Crisis,' The Aberdeen Press and Journal, 24 October 1922, p. 4.
‘Italy has troubles of her own, but, thanks to the Fascisti, who have restored law and order, there is peace. How much this state of affairs is due to the Fascisti is perhaps not fully realised… In the opinion of most enlightened Italians, they have not only been instrumental in repressing Socialist risings, but have saved the country from complete chaos, if not ruin!‘ Auriol Barran, 'Conditions in Italy - Cheapness of Living,' The Daily Telegraph, 24 October 1922, p. 15.
‘Fascismo was formed in 1920 to support the Nationalist Party and restrain the Communists and Extremists generally from committing excesses. From a small beginning it has gained a tremendous following and recently severed itself from the Nationalists.’ 'Black-Shirted Legions - Massing of 90,000 Fascisti - Plans to Rule Italy,' The Daily Mail, 25 October 1922, p. 10.
‘The general impression is that Signor Mussolini in spite of his usual violence of language, is rather in a conciliatory mood, and there is no fear of the threatened insurrection, at least for the present.’ 'Fascisti Demands,' The Times, 25 October 1922, p. 11.
THE BRITISH PRESS ON MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM – QUOTATIONS LATE OCTOBER 1922 – THE MARCH ON ROME
‘A government of Fascisti might not be the worst thing for Italy. In office, it is thought they would have to disband their private army; and if there is to be a reaction, it had better be carried out by a government than by a faction.’ – 'Fascismo,' The Times, 28 October 1022, p. 11.
‘A hard worker, morally and physically courageous, with amazing driving power, he (Mussolini) commands respect.’ 'Mussolini,' The Observer, 29 October 1922. p. 9.
‘So far, the rising of the Fascisti has been distinguished by its bloodless character and its widespread success. The immense momentum of the movement is due to the fact that practically the whole nation, including the greater part of the Army and Navy, sympathises with the determination of the Fascisti to affirm the national spirit, and to purify and strengthen public life and the Government.‘ [Reuter] 'Success of Movement, The Scotsman, 30 October 1922, p.6,'Two days' events in Rome,' The Belfast News-Letter, 30 October 1922, p.5., 'The Course of Events,' The Yorkshire Evening Post, 30 October 1922, p.8 and 'Popular Sympathy,' The Western Daily Press, 30 October 1922, p10.
‘If you cannot make revolutions with rosewater, neither can you resist them so, and in any case it is not for the Socialist bully to complain that he has been ill-treated by his intended victim. What Signor Mussolini and his Fascist legions have proved is that, if the necessary public spirit is not lacking, a nation can protect itself against the foes of its own household.’ The Morning Post, 30 October 1922, cited in The Belfast Telegraph, 30 October 1922, p.7.
‘…The Fascisti are more Liberal than Tory… Their commonest quality is youthful fervour for a better Italy; they are young and disciplined.’ 'The Fascisti,' The Birmingham Daily Gazette, 30 October 1922, p.4.
‘Two years ago Lenin announced that the Italian social revolution was an accomplished fact. It looked like it. More than 2,000 municipalities flew the red Soviet flag… Today the state of things has vanished like a bad dream. The young men of Italy resolved to have done with it. They organised themselves. They met violence by violence – they out-terrorised the Terrorists. Communism was extirpated by fire and extinguished in blood.’ 'Young Men Take Charge in Italy,' The Daily Mail, 30 October 1922, p.8.
‘It (Fascismo) began, as we have said, as a reaction, an inevitable and, in origin, a wholesome reaction against the Bolsheviks, who seized factories, organised continual strikes, and produced anarchy in Italy in the years after the Armistice. The younger men of the educated classes banded together to put an end to this intolerable regime…. Fascismo naturally had the sympathy of the army and the police and the Civil Service, who found themselves suddenly provided with potent allies in the struggle against disorder; of the employers of labour, who saw deliverance from the tyranny which was destroying every industrial enterprise; and, finally, of the shopkeeper and the middle-class in general, who were being crushed out of existence by Socialist exactions, legal and illegal.’ Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 1922, p.10.
‘Now the Fascisti have become a power in Parliament… Their policy, as Mussolini is never tired of declaring, is one of construction, with the object of restoring peace, order, and discipline and abolishing the stupid campaign of class hatred. To his followers he (Mussolini) preaches moderation and unquestioning obedience, and they have frequently shown that they know how to obey.’ 'Fascisti Movement,' The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 1922, p.12.
‘Reuters learns that according to information from British sources in Italy, the Fascisti movement is proceeding peacefully. The Fascisti have proved well disciplined.’ 'Fascisti Leader's Great Reception in Rome,' The Dundee Evening Telegraph, 30 October 1922, p.7 and 'A Bloodless Revolution,' The Western Evening Herald, 30 October 1922, p.1.
‘The Fascisti, who sprang into prominence in 1920 when Bolshevism was making rapid and dangerous strides in the country, are Italy’s young men… Ardent nationalists and patriots, the Fascisti fight Bolshevism and Socialism in all their varying forms.’ 'A Young Man's Movement,' The Edinburgh Evening News, 30 October 1922, p. 7.
‘The avowed object of the (fascist) movement was to fight the Bolshevism that was eating into Italy… Will Signor Mussolini be able to bring tranquillity to a much disturbed land? Time will tell.’ 'Italy's Ordeal,' The Evening Despatch (Birmingham), 30 October 1922, p. 4.
‘Everywhere the Fascist movement is proceeding with the utmost discipline… So far the rising of the Fascisti has been distinguished by its bloodless character and its widespread success.” 'Revolution in Italy,' The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 30 October 1922, p.1.
‘Stepping where weak government feared to tread, they (the fascists) smashed the Red Terror and saved Italy from a taste of Bolshevism.’ ‘Fascism at Work,’ The Pall Mall Gazette, 30 October 1922, p.4.
‘The (fascist) revolution… has been an extremely peaceful operation, and only in a few local disturbances have any lives been lost.’ 'A Peaceful Revolt,' The Portsmouth Evening News, 30 October 1922, p.10.
‘The city (Rome) is absolutely quiet, Fascisti activity being confined to burning copies of the anti-Fascisti papers.’ 'Fascisti Cabinet Formed,' The Portsmouth Evening News, 30 October 1922, p10.
‘…It must be remembered that Mussolini has again and again restrained the ardour of his impatient followers.’ 'Mussolini: A Character Sketch,' The Times, 30 October 1922, p.11.
‘When, a couple of years ago, a wave of Communistic agitation was threatening to destroy the whole social and political organisation of Italy, and when the Government of the day seemed powerless to control the agitation, the patriotic youth of the country, under the leadership of Benito Mussolini, banded together to take matters into their own hands.’ 'A Bloodless Revolution in Italy - Political Upheaval Quietly Managed,' The Yorkshire Evening Post, 30 October 1922, p.7.
‘He (Mussolini) is of humble origin; he has a fierce and resting vigour of body and mind; and like many another leader from Paul of Tarsus (St. Paul) onwards, he spent the earlier part of his life in bitterly attacking the creed of which he has become the most remarkable exponent.’ 'Blacksmith's Son as Prime Minister,' The Aberdeen Press and Journal, 30 October 1922, p.4.
‘Telegrams from all parts of Italy indicate that while isolated clashes and occupations have occurred in various cities, the Fascisti operated their coup with a minimum of violence.’ 'Fascisti Coup Effected with Minimum of Violence,' The Birmingham Gazette, 31 October 1922, p.1. and 'Rebels Hold Italy - Enthusiastic Reception in Rome,' The Sheffield Independent, 31 October 1922, p.1.
‘Italy’s Bright Future – Loyalty to Allies – Fascisti Leader Forms His Cabinet – End of Communism’ Headlines, Belfast News-Letter, 31 October 1922.
‘Italy’s Cabinet of Patriots – Mussolini’s Call for Order – Break-up of Communists –Enthusiasm for the New Premier.’ Headlines -The Daily Mail, 31 October 1922, p.9.
‘As each group (of Blackshirts) comes within sight of the city it solemnly salutes it, raising the extended right arm in ancient Roman fashion. Many of the onlookers, especially the women, cannot restrain their tears.’ 'Italy's Cabinet of Patriots,' The Daily Mail, 31 October 1922, p.9.
‘Black Shirt Entry into Rome – Fascisti Cabinet Completed – Nation Pleased – Capital’s Big Welcome to Mussolini.’ Headlines - The (London) Daily News, 31 October 1922, p.1.
‘Thousands of Fascisti and citizens welcomed Signor Mussolini on his arrival at Civita Vecchia on his way to Rome. The Fascist leader addressed the assembled crowds and exhorted them all to calm. Patriotic airs were sung. He met with an even more enthusiastic welcome on his arrival at the station at Rome, and the immediate neighbourhood of the terminus was thronged – Reuter. 'Greeting to New Premier,' The Western Daily Press (Bristol), 31 October 1922, p.10.
‘Signor Mussolini went to the Quirinal, where he was received by the King. There were huge crowds outside, and it is said that 20,000 Fascisti are within three miles of the city. They (the Fascists) are maintaining excellent order.’ 'A King in Tears - Orderly Revolt,' The Westminster Gazette, 31 October 1922, p.1.
‘Organisation, discipline, and the youthful enthusiasm of the whole nation are the main factors of this revolution…. An iron discipline and powerful military organisation gave the Fascismo the upper hand in the very difficult situation. And they led the national reaction to the triumphal victory, which is being celebrated throughout Italy in these days. It has been a victory of common-sense and of individual values over the brute force of international collectivism.’ Dr. Antonio Cippico, 'Mussolini and England - Italy's Unfulfilled Hopes,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 31 October 1922, p. 4.
‘Crowds cheered (Mussolini’s) train along its route and at the terminus in Rome a huge throng acclaimed the head of a patriotic revolt intended to strengthen Italy at home and abroad while maintaining unswerving loyalty to the reigning House.’ 'Italy's New Chief,' The Edinburgh Evening News, 31 October 1922. p.5.
‘The whole city (of Rome) has been on the tiptoe of expectation since the early morning, everyone wishing to see and cheer Signor Mussolini, whose fiery enthusiasm and passionate patriotism have built up so quickly an organisation which has renewed the national spirit of the Italians and swept away entirely the old political system. He has given the Italians hope and faith in the future and has made them ready for any sacrifice necessary to restore their country, spiritually, politically and economically.’ 'Entry of the Fascisti into Rome,' The Yorkshire Post, 31 October 1922, p.7.
‘Italy is thus on the threshold of a new period in its history which, it is hoped, will lead her on to greater destinies. Mussolini, the man of iron nerve, of dauntless courage, of striking initiative, and patriotic ardour, has imposed his will and personality on the entire nation.’ 'King and Mussolini,' The Daily Telegraph, 31 October 1922, p.11.
‘Although there are plenty of perils about the situation, we feel very hopeful in regard to it. It has to be remembered that the Fascisti, however irregular their methods, are thoroughly patriotic at heart; they have no ill-will towards either the Throne or the Constitution.’ 'Italy's Government,' The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 31 October 1922, p.6.
‘We may congratulate Italy that she has so far escaped bloodshed. The discipline of the Fascists has been good, their success in the occupation of important towns was immediate, and the action of the King perhaps averted what chance there was of civil war. Office and responsibility are apt to exercise a sobering influence on unsober minds, and some utterances are already attributed to the new Premier which suggest that he may pursue a policy more moderate than the speeches he has sometimes made.’ 'A Bloodless Revolution,' The Manchester Guardian, 31 October 1922, p. 8.
‘Fortunately, in the educated young men and the more orderly of the working men of Italy there was a higher spirit than in their Russian contemporaries. They organized themselves in bands – hence the name Fascisti – armed themselves with revolvers, and wherever the Communists broke out into violence they responded with still greater violence, and drove the Communists to their lairs, until at length the inclination of the latter for “direction action” was effectually tamed.’ 'The Fascisti Triumph in Italy,' The Western Morning News, 31 October 1922, p.4.
THE BRITISH PRESS ON MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM – QUOTATIONS – NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER 1922
‘Italy’s New Regime – Fascism and Foreign Policy – Hope in Mussolini’s Moderation.’ Headlines - The Manchester Guardian, 1 November 1922.
‘This revolution in Italian affairs has been effected with but little bloodshed or violence, so far as we can judge from the accounts at present available… It is quite evident that the new Government of Italy depends upon something much stronger than the terrorist side of Fascist activity… No one, perhaps, who was not actually living in Italy two years ago can fully understand the general feeling in regard to revolutionary Socialism, and to everything that had even the appearance of being connected with it. What was practically a Bolshevik terror was then in unchecked activity in many parts of the country.’ 'Fascism in Office,' The Daily Telegraph, 1 November 1922, p.10.
‘The victory of the Fascisti, obtained with an impetus truly Garibaldian, has been saluted with enthusiasm in all Italy. It is the first time in the history of United Italy that a change of government has come about through an armed party taking possession of power, but it cannot be asserted that Mussolini has abused his victory. He sums up his programme in the words, “Work, Economy and Peace,” and his foreign policy will certainly prove more temperate than was expected.’ 'Orders from Fascist Chiefs,' The Westminster Gazette, 1 November 1922, p.1.
‘Peaceful Revolution in Italy,’ Headline in the Warwickshire Advertiser, 4 November 1922, p.8.
‘Whether the Italian Fascisti are enemies to the point of view of the workers in this country is not very clear… It is impossible not to feel a certain amount of admiration for this man who has organised what he calls a bloodless revolution… It is possible that they may show themselves more open-minded and foward-looking than they have seemed hitherto.’ Hamilton Fyfe (editor of the supposedly leftist Daily Herald, cited in the Workers' Dreadnought, 4 November 1922, p.1.)
‘Youth rules and Italians acclaim the victory of their sons. Mussolini, who personifies young Italy, has given the country a national Government after four years of suffering and shame. That is why Fascists all over Italy are being smothered in flowers: and as they return from “the taking of Rome” with the words, “Evviva Rome and the King!” scrawled on their fezes and helmets, they are treated like victors and heroes by the deliriously happy crowds.’ 'Mussolini in Office - The Story of the Italian Revolution,' The Observer, 5 November 1922, p.10.
‘Fascismo is not reactionary. Thousands of Socialists have joined it because it is something new in politics; a constructive movement, neither reactionary nor Bolshevist, which, when it is properly understood here, will have a great and a creative influence.’ Amelia Defries, The Royal Institution, letter in The Sunday Times, 5 November 1922, p.10.
‘Why have the Fascisti been able to sweep Italy and achieve a wonderful bloodless revolution? There are several causes, the first of which began to operate immediately after the war. Socialism then seemed about to carry all before it… A proletarian dictatorship seemed certain. Fascismo came into existence to resist this movement. Mussolini, the chief, carried the same ardent spirit into civil warfare that he had shown when he volunteered for service against Austria… In an incredibly short time Socialism and Communism were defeated in a war of no quarter. The revolutionary peril had passed away.’ 'Why Fascisti Won - Mussolini Backed by The Workers,' The Westminster Gazette, 6 November 1922, p12.
‘The Fascisti… who have for years been fighting nobly, but illegally, for King and country against Italy’s internal enemies, the Socialists, Communists, and Bolshevists, have at last come to their own. They are now the constitutional rulers of Italy. Benito Mussolini, their head, is now the head of Government… He is but 39 years of age, the youngest Prime Minister Italy has ever had, but he is well qualified for the post, being, like Lloyd George, courageous, energetic, optimistic, of iron will, yet knowing how to give and take… The hope of Italy is centred in Mussolini.’ 'The Fascisti Come to Their Own - A Bloodless Revolution,' The Scotsman, 7 November 1922, p.6.
‘Dramatic political events have taken place in Italy resulting in King Victor’s asking the Fascist leader, Signor Benito Mussolini, to form a Cabinet. It is one of the most remarkable forms of peaceful revolution in history… Two years ago, Lenin announced that the Italian social revolution was an accomplished fact. It looked like it. More than 2000 municipalities flew the red Soviet flag. To show the Italian national colours almost anywhere in North Italy meant death. The factories were in the occupation of the Communists. The railwaymen revolted and refused to move troops. To-day that state of things has vanished like a bad dream.’ F. Britten Austin (author) in The Northern Ensign, 8 November 1922, p.2.
‘Fascism may be found to have furnished a renascence not only for Italy, but for mankind… Even the new Boadiceas, now painting themselves blue and buff to decide the destinies of Britain, may come to believe and tremble before the new gospel of patriotism and common-sense. When footling mayors of the late Italian regime were overpowered, the Fascists gave them a strong dose of castor oil and let them go. Shall we take this comic incident as the symbol of the purge which Italy’s renascence offers to a tired world, constipated with parliamentism (sic) and Bolshevism, and all the horrid humours of racial arteriosclerosis?’ 'The New Italian Renascence,' Truth, 8 November 1922, p776.
‘Arab hostility in the Italian colony of Cyrenaica, adjoining Tripoli, is causing some concern to Italy… The danger is daily increasing, and energetic measures should be applied. The difficulties come from the fact that for the past three years the Italian Government, in trying to conciliate the good will of the Senussites, has been too lenient with them… The danger may spread to Tripoli… The hostility is evidently encouraged by the success of the Turks and by the general Islamic agitation.’ The Fascist government was soon to orchestrate the first interwar genocide in Cyrenaica. 'Moslems and Italy -Grave Trouble in Africa,' The Daily Telegraph, 9 November 1922, p.11.
‘I have received a message from the new head of the Italian Government, a friendly message, and I need not say that I have replied on behalf of this country reciprocating that friendly message.‘ Prime Minister Bonar Law addressing a meeting in Drury Lane and cited in The Workers' Dreadnought, 11 November 1922, p.4.
‘I can confirm the report, which is much discussed in good quarters in the City, that the new Italian Government has decided upon the important policy of disposing to private enterprise such import State-controlled institutions in the country as are losing money. The departure is obviously of the utmost moment, especially as among the institutions concerned are the railways, the telegraph service and the telephone service. The policy is distinctly sound, and even sets an example to greater countries much nearer home… With a sound financial and commercial policy which the new departure indicates, Italy may very soon become a most interesting country economically.’ 'Italy's New Financial Departure,' The Observer, 12 November 1922, p.2.
‘Fascismo – or should we not say Youth?- is on its trial today, and Italy is watching-full of anxiety, it is true, but fuller still of hope in the near future.… Fascists are as weary as the rest of their countrymen of civil warfare; and now that they have “redeemed Rome,” as they express it, and have placed their own strong Government (not merely a Ministry) in the City of the Seven Hills, their one desire is to reinstate Italy’s obscured prestige abroad and to build up her economic life.’ 'The New Policy in Rome,' The Observer, 12 November 1922, p.8.
‘The new Government is not desirous of adventures likely to provoke new wars; but it is cerain that all Mussolini’s acts will be inspired by the conviction that Italy must rank as a first-class Power and be acknowledged a such by the other Powers. His policy, both at home and broad, will be one of dignity and firmness, unlike that of some of his predecessors.’ 'The Fascists in Power,' The Manchester Guardian, 13 November 1922, p.13,
‘It (Fascism) is a movement that has attracted to itself some of the best elements of Italy, and has grown to be a serious semi-military organisation, formidable by the number and quality of its adherents, and still more so by the vigour and decision with which it has been directed. It is at the same time revolutionary in character… even though it is in office on the invitation of the King, and has the bulk of the better elements of the Italian people behind it… There is a very great vitality in the Italian people, and a desire for many things which parliamentarism of the Italian pattern fails to provide.’ 'Fascist Ministry,' The Daily Telegraph, 14 November 1922, p.12.
‘The policy of the past, under Socialist and demagogic instigation, has been to handicap, embarrass, and annoy capital and industry in every form, imposing tax levies, restrictions, and absurd obligations, which eventually threatened industrial ruin… A contrary policy was to be adopted by the Fascisti Government. The less State intervention the better… employees must do their work, useless hands must be dismissed, and rigid economy enforced… Mussolini’s ideas, preached with such vehemence and conviction for the last eight years, are beginning to produce wonderful results.’ 'Labour in Italy - Fascisti Activity,' The Daily Telegraph, 15 November 1922, p.7.
‘It (the fascist movement) has succeeded in planting a vigorous government, animated by a spirit of the most determined reform, on the benches lately occupied by a vacillating and incompetent cabinet, the last of a series which has brought Italy near to economic ruin. The victory of the “Fascisti” in Rome has something fantastic about it.’ ‘Fascismo and Fascisti,’ The Catholic News, 18 November 1922, p.7.
‘A little episode is worth relating, to the praise both of Fascisti and Fascism. Three days ago, some out-of-work cinematograph operators hired a hall in an unfrequented part of Rome, and organised a “secret” spectacle of indecency for which tickets were sold at the usual price. At the moment when the entertainment began, the hall was invaded by a group of Fascisti, who commandeered the filthy film, and dispensed the morbid gathering. Sit Augur (Let it be an omen)!’ 'Fascismo and Fascisti,' The Catholic News, 18 November 1922, p.7.
‘It is, perhaps, only those who have lived through the time when a few young men saved Italy from ruin who can appreciate, as it should be appreciated, the heroism of those who had courage enough to stand up against violence, bullying, and cowardly murder- and over 2,200 Fascisti have died in this cause.’ ‘The New Risorgimento - an Appreciation of the Movement for which 2,200 Fascisti have Laid Down their Lives,' The Sphere, 18 November 1922, p. 160.
‘In 1920 Italy was in the hands or revolutionaries… Anyone walking about tidily dressed was liable to be roughly treated, and children threw stones at any child they thought did not belong to the working classes. It seemed as if the dirt of the whole world had risen up to cover with a tide of filth all that was morally and physically clean. At this moment Mussolini, son of a working man and an ex-socialist, collected round him a number of enthusiastic ex-combatants of the younger generation and organised, what the Government was quite unable to do, a Patriotic League of Defence. This was the beginning of Fascism.’ ‘The New Risorgimento - an Appreciation of the Movement for which 2,200 Fascisti have Laid Down their Lives,' The Sphere, 18 November 1922, p. 160.
‘As a general phenomenon Fascism corresponds to the awakening of the better classes to the importance of politics, in which, for a long time, they have taken very little interest. In this way it renews the movement of the Risorgimento, which was started by a minority belonging to the more cultured classes.’ 'The New Risorgimento - an Appreciation of the Movement for which 2,200 Fascisti have Laid Down their Lives,' The Sphere, 18 November 1922, p. 160.
‘So far Italy, old and young, sighs with relief that they have a strong man in charge of affairs.’ 'Mussolini's Day,' The observer, 19 November 1922, p. 8.
‘For the first time since Italy formally became a kingdom a Government has arisen which is in a position to speak and act for the whole nation of forty millions, without fear of the Socialists or the Vatican; and the mainspring of this government is Benito Mussolini.’ 'Mussolini, Dictator and Man of the Hour,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 21 November 1922, p. 9.
‘He (Mussolini) is working eighteen hours a day. He is tackling fifty different problems that Giolitti, Salandra, Nitti, Sonnino and the rest never dared to tackle. He confers with the heads of every Department. He is doing the work of ten men. How long he can keep up this pace is a matter of physique. But at present he declares he is not in the least tired. He does not look tired. He knows when he contemplates the prevalent abuses the scope of the task he has begun, and quotes with gusto the saying of the old Italian patriot, Massino d’Azeglio: “Italy is Made; we must now make the Italians !”‘ 'Mussolini, Dictator and Man of the Hour,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 21 November 1922, p. 9.
‘…You can spot a Fascist without his shirt, and if there is anything to be done quickly, you are very glad to meet him. At Arezzo, the other day, we unhappy passengers were plunged into semi-darkness while eating our dinners… Driven to action by despair, I addressed an alert-looking young man opposite me, with a row of ribbons on the lapel of his coat… “Only one thing to be done,” he murmured as he dived out of the carriage on to the railway line. What his secret was for action I never learnt: I only knew that the train, which was about to start in darkness, was delayed a few minutes, after which our journey was continued in brilliant light.’ 'Fascisti Without Their Shirts - The People Who Get Things Done,' The Observer, 26 November 1922, p. 8.
‘The Italians were getting rid of an effete constitutional system which had become, in effect, the ally of subversive and disruptive revolution… The constitutional cause was tumbling into the abyss, roped to the whole idea of governmental authority. From that plunge Mussolini saved both, and he saved them in the only way possible in the time allowed him. Seeing the State was being destroyed by revolution, he determined to save it by revolution, forging a greater instrument out of the national spirit than destructive revolution could forge out of national decadence.’ Harold Owen 'For the Defence - "Ruthlessness",' The Yorkshire Post, 2 December 1922, p. 8.
‘When one asks oneself what he has done – apart from the spectacular side of the events of the last three weeks – an answer presents itself at once. He (Mussolini) has awakened the country… He stopped the political drift which had made stable government impossible. Mussolini has been able to secure a complete vote of confidence and the passing of the provisional estimates, and to force everyone to do his bidding, because it is recognised that he has the whole strength of the Fascist movement behind him, together with the support of the country generally, which is content to follow the King’s lead, conscious of the necessity of waking up and hopeful of better times under the new regime.’ 'Mussolini Wakes Up Italy - How Political Drift Was Stopped - Stable Government,' The Sunday Times, 3 December 1922, p. 18.
‘The Fascisti movement has undesirable and dangerous elements, but its inspiration is undoubtedly sound. It is a reaction against weak government which was allowing Italy to fall into a state of anarchy. As no Government could be found prepared to vindicate authority, the Fascisti met the Communists with their own weapons, and bettered the instruction, and the inevitable sequel was a revolution which placed the Fascisti leader at the head of a new Government based on the physical force of a disciplined body of Italians who knew their own minds and were firmly convinced that their policy was the only means of saving the country.’ 'The Fascisti Way,' The Yorkshire Post, 7 December 1922, p. 6.
‘The country’s feelings of soreness over the diminution of her prestige abroad since the war is very greatly eased, and it is felt that in Signor Mussolini’s hands it is in safe keeping.’ 'Through Italian Eyes,' The Yorkshire Post, 7 December 1922, p. 4.
‘Remarkable scenes were witnessed at Victoria Station last night when the Italian Prime Minister, Signor Mussolini, arrived, a few moments before eleven. On the platform were hundreds of black-bloused Fascisti, with the Italian flag. The saloon in which the Premier travelled drew up opposite the flag, and Signor Mussolini, immaculately attired, stepped on to the platform and saluted the flag. Immediately the Fascisti replied by giving the Roman warriors’ salute – the raising of the right arm – and a ringing cheer was heard. They also sang the Fascisti hymn.’ 'Signor Mussolini - Reception in London - Remarkable Scenes,' The Daily Telegraph, 9 December 1922, p. 10.
‘If Signor Mussolini, the Fascist Premier of Italy, succeeds in his avowed object of crushing the deadly Camorra, he will prove to be not only the greatest Italian of all time, but one of the greatest benefactors the world has known.’ 'The Power of The Camorra,' Reynolds News, 10 December 1922, p. 2.
‘Italy was ripe for any movement that would rid her of a series of spineless politicians, restore the national prestige abroad, and, incidentally, promise more work, less taxation, and generally shake things up at home… Time and again, and never more than now in the hour of victory, he (Mussolini) has restrained his impatient followers, adding the wisdom of caution to their enthusiasm.’ 'Benito Mussolini,' The Sunday Times, 10 December 1922, p. 12.
‘The rescue of Italy from the Bolsheviks by the unselfish devotion of the Fascisti is not only a romance in itself; it is also one of the most important events of our time.’ 'The Saviours of Italy,' The Daily Mail, 19 December 1922, p. 6.
‘In Russia, when Lenin and Trotsky began their course of crime, the Russian people had not the courage or energy to resist them. But the Italian people are among the most vigorous in the world; and, so soon as Communism became an intolerable danger, they looked for a leader against it and found one in the person of Signor Benito Mussolini, the son of a simple Italian peasant, who had served with great honour in the war… The task was not an easy one. The Fascisti suffered cruel losses in their struggle with the Reds. Over 2,000 young men fell in their ranks. But they triumphed because they were young and brave and earnest.’ 'The Saviours of Italy,' The Daily Mail, 19 December 1922, p. 6.
‘The revolt of Italy’s young manhood against the tyranny of Red Socialism will be set down by historians as the most important movement of our time… It (Fascismo) has fought a holy war. A nation has suddenly risen from its lethargy and made anew its profession of faith in principles which are the bedrock of our civilisation. Christianity, patriotism, loyalty to the State, liberty of the individual, recognition of the rights and duties of all classes of society, cooperation of all classes for the good of the country, obedience to established authority, social morality – all these tenets of national life which Bolshevism would consign to the dust-heap have again been embraced by the people of Italy, high and low alike, in a spirit of enthusiasm which is nothing less than sublime.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - The True Story of a Great Movement - How Italy Found Her Soul,' The Daily Mail, 19 December 1922, p. 7.
‘You have a valiant knight (Mussolini) going forth almost single-handed, jeered at by enemies and despaired of by faint-hearted friends, to fight a Red Dragon which is steadily increasing in size and strength. The entire country is in danger. The struggle is long and painful, and at times, the dragon seems well-nigh victorious. Gradually the knight’s band of followers increases, and when the people see that their rescue is possible, they flock to his banner. And so the dragon is slain and the valiant knight – who was no more than the son of a village blacksmith – becomes the King’s first minister.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - The True Story of a Great Movement - How Italy Found Her Soul,' The Daily Mail, 19 December 1922, p. 7.
‘A spiritual awakening has taken place throughout the country. Patriotism has become a sacred thing, and self-sacrifice the noblest of virtues. Party creeds have been put aside. The doctrine of the Fascisti, “Our country and not ourselves,” is being practised as well as preached in a way that people of other countries may well contemplate and profit by.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - The True Story of a Great Movement - How Italy Found Her Soul,' The Daily Mail, 19 December 1922, p. 8.
‘The disease (a supposed outbreak of communist anarchy) was first manifested in familiar, seemingly harmless symptoms. We have seen them elsewhere and passed them by. Red flags flaunted in street processions; Communist songs sung at public meetings; virulent attacks- printed and shouted- on Parliament and the Throne; appeals to class hatred; incitement to mob violence. This was the beginning of Italy’s sickness. Government looked on deprecatingly, and when goaded into action tried conciliation. Which was like petrol thrown on a fire… Since the war there had never been a Government in Italy with the courage to tell the police to shoot if the occasion demanded it.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - Italy under Communist Rule,' The Daily Mail, 20 December 1922, p. 7.
‘A worker who dared show the national colours or salute his country’s flag in a Communist centre was liable to be beaten to death. Religion was decried, and the extremists boasted of what they would do when they had captured the capital as they had captured the people. All these things the Crusaders of the Black Shirt saw with rage in their hearts and a vow on their lips not to rest until they had purged Italy of the poison of Bolshevism.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - Italy under Communist Rule,' The Daily Mail, 20 December 1922, p. 8.
‘Young Mussolini was imbued by his father with the ideals of love and justice.‘ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - Mussolini's Conversion - When Patriotism Was Out of Fashion,' The Daily Mail, 20 December 1922, p. 8.
‘Their (the fascists’) high ideals and unselfish devotion to duty were not fully realised in those early days of the struggle against Bolshevism. Yet they kept stoutly on the rocky road to freedom, content to let the world judge them by results. It was a battle of a pygmy against a giant.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - Birth of Fascismo - Battle of the Pygmy and the Giant,' The Daily Mail, 22 December 1922, p. 8.
‘As the Government had failed to perform its essential function of governing, moderate thinking citizens who wanted to maintain order and security for life and property organised themselves into military units. So, the Fascist movement came into being. It killed the Communist revolution, restored order, and established its leader as head of the Government in Rome. Signor Mussolini’s Administration bears the autocratic marks of the circumstances which brought it to power. But at least it has saved Italy from chaos.’ 'Extremism and the Penalty - Community's Interests Must Come First,' The Dundee Courier, 22 December 1922, p. 4.
‘The city of Alessandria, in Northern Italy, has been undergoing a swift social reformation. In less than a couple of weeks, it is claimed, drunkenness and all sorts of crime and evil ways have been abolished. Now Alessandria, conscious of virtue, is calling upon other cities to copy it, and some may do so… The reformers, it appears, are the Fascisti of Alessandria. They act above the heads of courts, magistrates, and judges. They have no time to worry about such a thing as the law, and their methods are simple, uniform and direct. They accomplish “uplift” by force; with the aid of castor-oil they lure people away from crime, and they cudgel good citizenship into them.’ 'Castor Oil and Cudgels Reform A City,' 'Facisti(sic) As Moralists - Mass Meeting of Criminals to Hear Orders,' The Yorkshire Evening Post, 22 December 1922, p. 8. [ appears to be based partly or wholly on a report in the Daily Chronicle. ]
‘In the rural districts the (fascist) Crusade assumed a definite form against the Bolshevist seizure of land. The peasants had become infected with the creed that they owned the earth and that the landlords should starve… They (the fascists) had fierce encounters with bands of peasants who opposed their humane efforts with knives and pitchforks.’ Sir Percival Phillips, 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - How the Fascisti Saved the Farmers - Youths Tortured by Bolsheviks,' The Daily Mail, 23 December 1922, p. 5-6.
‘How the Fascisti crushed the great Bolshevist strike in Italy is described below by Sir Percival Phillips, who, as Special Correspondent of The Daily Mail has been in that country investigating the development of Fascismo. He tells of the gallantry of the Fascisti, individually and as a body, against heavy odds and of the manner in which they seized power in Red-infested areas and supplied the people with food, which the Bolsheviks refused to do.’ 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - How A Great Strike Was Crushed,' The Daily Mail, 30 December 1922, p. 5.
‘What could be more touching and beautiful than the scene which was witnessed in every Red-infested town when it had been cleansed by the Crusaders of the Black Shirt? There were drawn up in a hollow square with their battle flags, and the commander called the roll. It included the names of all the Fascisti who had died in action. At the name of each fallen hero was spoken all the Crusaders answered “Here!”… In their comrades the dead yet live, and by their example keep steadfast the faith which has brought Italy out of bondage.‘ 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - How A Great Strike Was Crushed,' The Daily Mail, 30 December 1922, p. 6.
‘Mussolini has a great gift to make to his countrymen; he has it in his power to lead Italy back to normal life and show the world that his means justified his ends. The coming year will prove whether Mussolini is really on of the great men of history, of whether he is only entitled to rank among the second-best.’ 'Mussolini's Choice,' The Observer, 31 December 1922, p. 8.
THE BRITISH PRESS ON MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM – QUOTATIONS – JANUARY TO MARCH 1923.
‘The triumph of Fascism has certainly done much to revive manners and hospitality, the cleansing of bureaucratic stables is rendering life and luggage and correspondence safer, and the Italian exchange, though improving against us, still leaves a sovereign worth nearly £4.’ 'Retreats for the New Poor,' Truth, 3 January 1923, p.15.
‘The liberty of the lawbreaker is seriously menaced. The police have been shown more than once that the Fascisti can find criminals where they have failed… Who can quarrel with the recently declared policy of the Fascisti at Alessandria: “Criminals must take up honest work or be punished.”?’ 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - Cures for Crime,' The Daily Mail, 3 January 1923, p. 7.
‘The social evil (of drunkenness) is being fought by the Fascisti. Though as yet there has been no open crusade against it, you can see a change in the aspect of the streets of Rome at night, due to the police having received a powerful hint from Signor Mussolini that it would be better if disreputable characters were banished. The police now look sternly at them instead of looking the other way, and the moral effect is very marked.’ 'The "Red" Dragon and the Black Shirts - Cures for Crime,' The Daily Mail, 3 January 1923, p. 8.
[Even before 1922, Italian colonial forces in Libya had acted brutally, but the fascist government began to impose even more murderous tactics and methods of collective punishment which within ten years would see tens of thousands killed – this is how The Times reported the situation at the beginning of that transition –] ‘The report that the Arabs of Cyrenaica and Tripoli have united under the leadership of the Senussi Sheikh is not confirmed, but the situation in Libya, it is admitted, demands the greatest attention. Large reinforcements of troops have recently been dispatched to Tripoli. With the advent of the Fascisti to power the weak policy adopted by former Governments in regard to the Arabs has been entirely abandoned.’ 'Tripoli Arabs Restive,' The Times, 4 January 1923, p. 9.
‘A first-rate Italian authority assures me that, under the energetically inexorable Fascisto(sic) regime things are getting done in Italy. The Mussolini Ministry has been by no means a merely theatrical parade of Black Shirts and old Roman gestures. Mussolini has been his own Sir Eric Geddes, only the Mussolini axe has been applied remorselessly. It is a fact that scores of thousands of surperfluous Government employees has been turned adrift, huge economies affected in the cost of a far more efficient Administration than Italy has known for decades, and all sorts of effete systems knocked on the head decisively. 'Mussolini's Government,' The Hull Daily Mail, 5 January 1923.
‘We do not seem as yet to realise in this country how big a man Mussolini is. Nobody in modern times, except Lenin, has made history so quickly; and had it not been for Mussolini, Lenin might have made history faster still. Mussolini and his Fascisti have saved their country from ruin by a movement which in valour and inspiration is comparable with the movement that two generations ago achieved Italian unity. Now he is preparing Italy for a future as splendid as her past, and the least we can do it to let him get on with it.’ 'Mussolini,' The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 5 January 1923, p. 6.
‘In two weeks, drunkenness and crime have been banished from the Lombardy town of Alessandria by the reforming zeal of the Fascisti or “Black Shirts.” They wrought the miracle by cudgels and compulsory medicine says the Rome “Daily Chronicle” correspondent.’ 'By Cudgel - How Fascisti Banished Crime,' The Motherwell Times, 5 January 1923, p. 6.
‘The revolution in Italy is one of the most remarkable events of modern times. The country was permeated by Bolshevism, Communism and Corruption. But the better sense of the people arose under the guidance of Mussolini and his Fascisti, known as the “Black Shirts.” They have made a clean sweep of Communism and restored the country to order on new and drastic lines. Some of their methods are highly amusing. They don’t kill their opponents – unless necessary – but give them doses of castor oil!’ Editorial, The Torquay Times, 5 January 1923, p. 5.
‘Still, as the M.P. (one of the Naples M.P.s) said, there was no golf (course), and so there was a sense of vacancy at Naples. Perhaps the patriotic, the energetic, the reforming Mussolini will go into this matter as he is doing into so many others that need attention, and he might remember Florence (also without a golf club or course) at the same time.’ Henry Leach, 'The Golfer's Progress,' The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 6 January 1923, p. 69.
‘But, if all this is consoling (referring to Mussolini’s statement that “Italy will be reformed politically, yes, but not religiously,’) and more than consoling, to all right-thinking men, there is more and better to follow. This week a great notice has made glad the hearts of all Catholics – a notice such as few people dared hope for, less still ventured to expect, and certainly, no one could have foreseen ten years ago. This notice is nothing less than that “religious instruction is to be restored in the State schools of Italy.”‘ 'Independent Religion,' The (Nottingham and Midland) Catholic News, 6 January 1923, p. 3.
‘Every city and town has its (fascist) squadron, with a captain and under officers. Their arms are clubs and revolvers, and the scope of their existence is the defence of King and country against Italy’s internal revolutionary enemies, Bolshevists, Communists, and Socialists. There is no corporal punishment and no death-penalty in Italy, so the Fascisti, probably realising that these are the two great deterrents from crime, make use of them, almost exclusively, for punishment… Of course, their actions are illegal, but the late Government winked at them, either realising that, upon the whole, they were for the good of the country, or feeling themselves too weak to stop them.’ 'Italy A Fascista State - The New National Militia,' The Scotsman, 9 January 1923.
It is a thoroughly good thing for Italy that she has someone who can speak for her, not merely stutter, and who has come into power determined to do very definite things, the most important of which is to restore the prestige of the Government. Mussolini has won by an extraordinary feat of organization. Not only has he demonstrated talent himself, but he has been able to inspire it in others.’ 'Fascismo - Its Position and Prospects,' The Times, 12 January 1923, p. 9.
‘Until Sir Percival Phillips in the Daily Mail told the story of the amazing Fascisti movement, it was not generally realised that Italy was so honeycombed with organised Bolshevism that she would have “gone Red” had not Signor Mussolini’s black-shirted patriots saved her. Sir Percival Phillips’s vivid record of this, the most romantic crusade of modern times, is to be published shortly in the form of a shilling book.’ 'Red Dragon and the Black Shirts,' The Daily Mail, 16 January 1923, p. 7.
‘How the red dragon of Bolshevism was scotched in Italy by the patriotic Fascisti movement is one of the most wonderful stories of modern times.’ 'Red Dragon and the Black Shirts,' The Daily Mail, 17 January, p. 5.
‘Signor Mussolini and his Government seem determined to prove to the world that their administration is to be on the lines of Christian liberty. The public elementary schools throughout Italy have for long been officially non-religious, and any parents desiring religious education for their children have been required to present a written petition to this effect. This disgraceful insult to Italian Catholicity is now to be remedied.’ 'Religious Instruction in Italian Schools,' The (Nottinghamshire and Midland) Catholic News, 20 January 1923, p. 6.
‘However we may doubt the wisdom or defensibility of the means by which the Fascisti attained political success, they are undoubtedly appealing to all that is best and soundest in their country. Italians have had enough of materialistic anti-Christians, as shallow as they are tyrannical. Their present Government gives prospect of peace and progress, and this is the secret of its sudden rise to power. May it continue as it has begun.’ 'Religious Instruction in Italian Schools,' The (Nottinghamshire and Midland) Catholic News, 20 January 1923, p. 6.
‘The difficulties are, therefore, tremendous, and all that can be said is that Mussolini possesses more strength to grapple with them than anyone else in Italy; that he has begun well, and that he has no reason to hesitate before taking drastic steps. The whole success or failure of his experiment seems to depend on whether or not the Italian people have the good sense to give him plenty of time. Mussolini deserves the thanks of the world for his exposure of the weakness of revolutionary Socialism. Events in Italy have proved once again its disastrous stupidity. But those who have tried Socialism and found it wanting are waiting still for the better world which the war was fought to win.’ 'Fascism - The Tasks Before Mussolini,' The Times, 23 January 1923, p. 11.
‘Three and a half years’ struggle against the Red Terror – that is the story which Sir Percival Phillips tell in his book, “The Red Dragon and the Black Shirts.” The work, which originally appeared in The Daily Mail, also described the birth and the struggle for life of that truly inspired movement known as the Fascisti. Here is given a clear, strong portrait of Signor Mussolini, blacksmith’s son and erstwhile Socialist, who, disguised and appalled by the practices of Socialism, founded the Fascisti, forging a weapon whereby he achieved the salvation of Italy.’ 'Fighting "Red Dragon - Thrilling Story of Black Shirts' Desperate Struggle to Save Italy.', The Daily Mirror, 29 January 1923, p. 16.
‘I thoroughly believe that Benito Mussolini, as Premier of Italy, is the right man in the right place. It would be difficult, probably impossible, to find another as well fitted as he is to guide Italy in the present crisis of her history. More than that, I thoroughly believe that he is the man who best deserves that high position to which King Victor Emmanuel III called him three months ago.’ Alexander Robertson, 'Benito Mussolini - Italy's Youngest Premier,' The Scotsman, 29 January 1923.
‘Even after the victory of the Allies, Italy continued to be in a deplorable condition, indeed in a worse condition than before, and I believe that but for Mussolini and his Fascisti she would have become another Russia… All young men, and women too, who were proud of their Italianism, and who lived their country better than all others, which is true patriotism, became members of the Order, swearing allegiance to their Duce (chief), Mussolini, and receiving their tesserae.’ Alexander Robertson, 'Benito Mussolini - Italy's Youngest Premier - His Arrest by Nitti' The Scotsman, 30 January 1923.
‘In itself the salvation of Italy is an event of commanding importance, far more important than anything that has happened since the armistice. It is full of hope and instruction for the world. The Fascisti have proved that, if everything else fails, if a cowardly Government abdicates before disorder and crime, and if democracy goes to pieces, a nation with any virility can yet be saved by its able-bodied youth and patriots, acting under a man… Sir Percival Phillips shows how great the Communist peril was, and how great was the bravery needed to face it when Signor Mussolini, despite his hundred wounds received in the war, stepped forth like a new David to challenge the Bolshevik Goliath.’ H. W. Wilson cited in 'Purging Italy of Communism,' The Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph, 31 January 1923, p. 4.
‘The Fascisti have grown to immense strength because they obey what is really a religion of duty and love. Lenin has said that Fascism and Bolshevism cannot to0exist in the world; one must kill the other. He is right. Fascism must win if only because it is founded on love, while Communism is founded on hatred; and so stern is its discipline, that it will be difficult for mere men to live up to it when the strain has passed. But that is for the future; today, adapting Pitt’s famous words, it can be said that Italy has saved herself by her Fascisti’s exertions, and she is saving Europe by their unselfish and heroic example.’ H. W. Wilson cited in 'Purging Italy of Communism,' The Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph, 31 January 1923, p. 4.
‘Mr Adeney then gave his address (at Hendon), based on the impressions he gathered during his recent tour in Italy. He pointed out how rapidly Italy declined under the reign of Communism after the Armistice, and said the situation became so chaotic that some drastic step had to be taken to save Italy from becoming “Red” as Russia. It was hopeless to expect the Government to stop the “rot,” and the remedy was found in the institution of the Fascisti movement, all members of which were bound to unswerving devotion to God and Italy.’ 'The Fascisti Movement,' The Hendon and Finchley Times, 2 February 1923, p. 9.
‘Among the early achievements of the Fascist Government were the reintroduction of the crucifix into schools and the cancellation of the law prohibiting bearer bonds – a law which, had it ever been effectually put into execution, would have hit the Church properties very hard, as ecclesiastical investments would then have had to be registered in the name of some individual, on whose death succession duties would have been exacted.’ 'Fascism, Freemasonry, and Freedom,' The Manchester Guardian, 23 February 1923, p. 6.
‘The entire Catholic world will probably learn with satisfaction that a new state of relations of a far more cordial character than have subsisted since 1870 has been established between the Italian (fascist) Government and the “Prisoner of the Vatican” by Signor Mussolini. It is one of the necessary evolutions of the Fascisti reaction which tended to reaffirm loyalty to the monarchy on the one hand and respect for the Church and religion on the other… On various solemn occasions he (Mussolini) attended ceremonies in church and religious commemoration of the dead, and gave a personal example of respect and reverence for religion. For the first time in fifty years an Italian Premier concluded his declaration in the Chamber with the solemn words, “So help me, God.”‘ 'Important Developments,' The Daily Telegraph, 24 February 1923, p. 5.
‘I pass to Italy, which during the last four years has more than once been threatened with riots and revolution. There has arisen there a strong man of whom I saw a great deal at Lausanne. I speak of Signor Mussolini. He is a man of astonishing energy and with an iron grip. In a few months he has crushed internal disorder, has aroused the enthusiasm and enhanced the prestige of his country, and has had the wisdom to make peace with Yugo-Slavia. The clouds are lifting over Italy at this moment.‘ Lord Curzon (Foreign Secretary) cited in 'Progress in Central Europe,' The Times, 28 February 1923, p. 14.
(The following report clearly sympathises with the fascists for their arrest of the editor of Italy's leading Socialist newspaper, Avanti, on spurious charges of acting as an agent of a foreign power against and spreading seditious propaganda, including supposedly insulting comparisons between the situation of the Italian worker and the Chinese Coolie or the Egyptian fellah.) ‘Late this evening news was received from Milan of the arrest of Signor Serrati, editor of the Avanti, in Milan, who, as I wired yesterday, had just returned from Moscow, and had attempted to dismiss five members of the staff of the Socialist newspaper because during his absence they had shown themselves too moderate. He evidently followed orders from Moscow, which are to intensify Communist propaganda in Italy… the accusation against him is that of conspiring against public order at the instigation of a foreign power. There is a strong suspicion also that Bolshevik money was accepted for propaganda in Italy, and this thing the Fascisti Government will no longer tolerate… the energetic action of the Government is generally approved.’ 'Socialist Editor's Arrest - Italy and Soviet Agent,' The Daily Telegraph, 2 March 1923, p. 11.
‘Italy was a great country, and it has been nearly ruined by extreme Communists on the one hand and selfish financiers on the other. The former had discredited and all but quenched the spirit of honest work; the latter had so manipulated the symbols of wealth in the country’s currency so as to destroy the fruits of work and production. The saviour of Italy had arisen with a single gospel: the love of Italy, and a practical determination to prove that love in work and honesty. Mussolini was the greatest lover of Italy; he had spoken the word “Italy,” and they had all heard the word in their souls. Mussolini asked for work, and he asked for honesty in the national life.’ 'The Englishman in Italy - Changes He Sees for the Better,' The Pall Mall Gazette, 10 March 1923, p. 5.
‘But it is doubtful whether any (fascist) programme (in Spain) is capable of uniting even a large section of the disjointed and disillusioned Spanish population, as Signor Mussolini’s call to free the country (Italy) from the tyranny of the Communists and the incompetence of the Liberals united, for the time being at least, the more energetic half of young Italy.’ 'Fascists and Tracists,' The Manchester Guardian, 28 March 1923, p. 8.
‘It is a comforting fact that Italy is the one country, apart from our own, which is making a real effort towards putting its house in order. What was termed a bloodless revolution, and which I should prefer to call a violent evolution or even reaction, is really worthy of admiration. It is one of those historical facts which can only occur and succeed under the leadership of one really strong and courageous man. These qualifications undoubtedly apply to Signor Mussolini, who, sprung from comparative obscurity, was proclaimed by the King Prime Minister of Italy in October last. The power which he is able to display would entitle him to less mild a title than the one has chosen, if it were not apparent that he has really gained for himself the support of a vast majority, of the best of his countrymen. What he has achieved for the welfare of his country in a few months of constitutional dictatorship is remarkable.’ Mr. J.W.B. Pease (Chairman) – 'The British Italian Corporation Ltd. - Review of the Year's Operations,' The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 1923, p 4., Mr. J.W. Beaumont Pease (chairman), 'British Italian Corporation Ltd - Italy's Progress Under Signor Mussolini,' The Manchester Guardian, 29 March 1923, p. 15. and J.W. Beaumont Pease cited in 'Tribute to Signor Mussolini,' The Times, 29 March 1923, p. 21.
‘The rapid spread of Bolshevist propaganda in Italy was met by the coming into being of the Fascisti, a body of volunteers with Mussolini as their leader… Few realise until they travel there today how far-reaching and how beneficent are the services of this volunteer body, recruited as it is from the best of the youth of the country. Almost imperceptibly these young men have revolutionised the habits of centuries. Thanks to their ubiquitous espionage, travellers have come to realise that the petty thefts at railway stations and in trains which made travelling a constant anxiety are now impossible, and that the eternal socialistic disturbances which were paralysing the country’s industries are almost at an end. Bolshevism in Italy is dead and done for.’ 'Good Work of The Fascisti in Italy,' The Aberdeen Press and Journal, 30 March 1929, p. 4.
‘The French revolution and the revolution in Russia were run by small minorities of people forcing their opinions by force on an apathetic majority, but in Italy the majority of the people, although afraid, were behind the revolution and backing up Mussolini in their thoughts although they did not dare to say so. The revolution in Italy although started by a few people represented the point of view of the majority… The Fascisti came forward in a time of peril to save Italy from the Bolshevists.’ Mrs Pemberton's address to the Whitstable Conservative Association cited in 'Italy and the Facisti (sic),' The Whitstable Times and Tankerton Press, 31 March 1923, p. 2.
THE BRITISH PRESS ON MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM – QUOTATIONS – APRIL TO JUNE 1923.
‘The second Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce, held in Rome last week, was remarkable for the number of important American delegates who were present, and for the interest they displayed in the reconstruction of Italy. Mussolini’s rugged strength and plain speaking – different from the average Italian type – has made an excellent impression on the magnates of American commerce and finance… Mr. L. Lee, the representative of several important American industrial corporations, said that he had visited Italy three or four times during the last five years, and had always found the country restless and unhappy, in the throes of some crisis of strikes and general disorder. “This time I note, with the greatest pleasure, the almost miraculous transformation due to the advent of the Fascist Government. Everybody looks happy and, better still, everybody is working.” 'Mussolini and Business Men(sic) - An Excellent Impression,' The Observer, 1 April 1923, p. 6.
‘Into that sunny and pleasant land (Italy) the Communists were advancing with what appeared to be invincible strides. The rotten ramparts of Liberalism offered no defence… Then when all seemed lost came a wonderful and shining portent, the National leader Mussolini, with his saving gospel of Fascismo. Mussolini cast all constitutional figments to the winds. To the insane and sanguinary power of Communism he opposed another power, sane, healthy, joyous and life-giving, the power of patriotism. Mussolini, it must be remembered, was an Italian Nationalist, and he mobilised all the true instincts of a great and civilised nation against the foul invasion from the East. He saved Italy, and let us hope that he saved also Christendom, but Liberalism was killed in the crush. We cannot disguise from ourselves the fact that Liberalism and its fictions have destroyed the happiness of Ireland, and have allowed great inroads, even into the peace and security of Great Britain.’ 'Conservatism on Trial,' The Morning Post, 4 April 1923 cited in The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 4 April 1923, p. 10.
‘Lord Armstrong, speaking at Bradford on Saturday on Socialist and Communist propaganda, said it only needed a strong anti-Socialist propaganda, confidence, and determination such as the Fascisti showed in Italy to convince our people of the futility of Socialism and to counter-act their join activities. The Fascisti, he said, having completely crushed Socialism in Italy, could truly be called the saviours of their country.’ 'The Fascisti Example,' The Daily Mail, 16 April 1923, p. 10.
‘Two years ago, said the Directing Brain of Commerce (rubber, railways, water, tramways and insurance) Italy was a hotbed of Communism and Socialism. “So much so that any man who had served in the war dare not show himself in the street… A body of men gathered together under Mussolini, men full of high ideals and patriotic fervour, and decided that this state of things should go on no longer. Taking their courage in both hands,” (wow!), “they went out at the sacrifice of many of their lives, and in great peril and danger they succeeded in completely crushing Socialism in Italy.’ William Watson-Armstrong, first Baron Armstrong speaking to Primrose Leaguers at Bradford, cited in 'Border Baron Boosts Mussolini,' The Daily Herald, 17 April 1923, p. 5.
The Cornishman described Mussolini as ‘the Italian patriot, son of a blacksmith, who rescued Italy from the grip of a demoralising Communism which was destroying its industries, the patriotism of the people and the stamina of the youth of Italy. He (Mussolini) saw that Italy had first to fight against German aggression; then she had to re-establish her commercial prosperity; and that she must be governed, not by flaccid and invertebrate politicians, but by leaders who were not afraid to lead nor to risk their lives for the salvation of their country. Hence his army of Black Shirts; the march to Rome, the seizure of the reins of Government, and drastic measures to cure drunkenness, indolence, individual greed and official corruption.’ 'Dictator of Italy,' The Cornishman, 18 April 1923, p. 4.
‘It is the happiest of circumstances that our King and Queen, standing and speaking for the British Commonwealth of nations, should be going to give their greetings and blessings to New Italy as this fateful juncture. We are not writing in glory of Fascismo, although that has been a potent force in bringing about the resurrection of the Roman spirit, and the creation of a proper pride in the national history, achievements, and destiny… The core of the whole matter is the establishment of sane, sound, orderly, economical, and patriotic Government in a country which has been cursed with a tradition of political timeserving and back-scratching by all the old, historical parties, as a sequel to which there had been crude but formidable and widespread attempt to put Communism into practice in the workshop and the factory… The justification of Mussolini was, as we have indicated, that the country was on the verge of chaos and ruin, that the old machinery of the inter-play of parties was utterly discredited, and that a beneficent dictatorship was the only alternative to a Red Republic.’ Editorial, The Hull Daily Mail, 2 May 1923, p. 4.
‘Italy is moving swiftly from the abyss, the same sort of abyss into which Mr. Snowden (Labour MP for Blackburn) and his friends would like to precipitate us. This political situation in Italy has therefore a peculiar interest for us. Signor Mussolini’s success has not been won through the ballot-box. This would make me despair of democracy if I were not convinced that his action is but the forceful expression of a national need… Mussolini’s activities are based on two sound democratic principles. The first is that the living generation in a nation owes respect to the traditions of the generations who have passed away, and that at the same time it must preserve its inheritance for those who will come after. This implies placing the interests of Italy before those of living Italians, an upholding of the cause of pure patriotism, which in modern Europe is too often allowed to be overshadowed by the material interests of the day. The application of this principle gives Mussolini the moral right to demand sacrifices on the part of his fellow-citizens; also, the right to refuse them material advantages because of patriotic considerations for the future welfare of the State.’ Special Correspondent, 'Letters from Italy - 1. Signor Mussolini,' The Daily Telegraph, 3 May 1923, p. 10.
‘As so often before, Italy has been just on the brink of the precipice, and once more she has escaped by the skin of her teeth. The nation has been faced by destruction, and in a moment of anguish has produced Fascism to snatch life from death… The whole of Italy is now shuddering at what might have been the country’s fate, and Fascism has been given the mission to make the future safe… Mussolini has claimed and taken from Parliament a year of plenary uncontrolled power. He is using it to drive full steam ahead so as to confront political parties with a fait accompli. But he knows that after a period of heroics will come a longer period of calm constitutional work… To our sophisticated minds there is much in the heroic period, in the Fascist period of today, which appears unreal and even grotesque. But let not Latin exuberance and the exaggerations of a revolutionary moment hide from us the healthy, vigorous construction of national life that is going on.‘ Special Correspondent, 'Letters from Italy - ii. The Heroic Period,' The Daily Telegraph, 3 May 1923, p. 10.
‘He (Mussolini) assures us of the anxiety of all Italians to preserve the friendship of the British peoples, which is founded on the relations- traditional and recent- which have linked England and Italy together, and he declares it to be the desire of his countrymen to make this friendship more inrense and more complete. The desire is warmly reciprocated by Englishmen, and few things can contribute so much to its realization as the fact that Italy should be “steadily” and “solidly governed” at home, while her just claims in foreign affairs are asserted with a moderation that is at once prudent and firm, and with a large and sagacious comprehension of the real situation of the world. All of us hope and believe with her Prime Minister (Mussolini) that the visit of the King and Queen will produce a happy and lasting effect on the history of the two countries, who, in the past and in the present, owe each other so very much. 'The King's Visit to Italy,' The Times, 5 May 1923, p. 13.
‘Signor Mussolini himself is a striking proof of the continuity of Italian ideas and methods from the days of early Rome. For nearly five hundred years before Christ Rome was a Republic. In times of national danger and crisis the authority of the Consuls was set aside, and a Dictator was appointed to save the Republic. Similarly in our time when Italy is a constitutional monarchy, like our own, the Italian people have turned to the same expedient of a dictator to save the country. That is an Italian affair. The Italians know best what suits their purpose. The concern of the British people is to strengthen the bonds of Italo-British friendship and thus to make a common stand against the disruptive tendencies which are the curse of our time.’ 'The Royal Visit to Italy,' The Observer, 6 May 1923, p. 12.
‘King George and Queen Mary left England yesterday for Italy… At Victoria (Station) a party of Fascisti were drawn up at the far end of the departure platform, and as the royal saloon passed them, they saluted in picturesque Italian style (the one-armed fascist salute). The King acknowledged the compliment.’ 'King and Queen on The Way to Italy,' The Sunday Illustrated, 6 May 1923, p. 2. A near identical report with the same headline also appeared on the front page of The People, 6 May 1923.
‘The closer the unity of England, France, and Italy, the greater the prospect of continued peace in Europe… Their Alliance can menace none. Their traditions are those of freedom and sane self-control as Italy has proved once more since the war, when under that courageous leader, Signor Mussolini, she has combated and overthrown anarchy in her midst. Of her many extraordinary contributions to the cause of civilisation this is not the least that she has found men who have known how to replace the dismal gospel of class war and tyranny by a discipline of courage and duty. That Italy will continue to advance towards material prosperity the world may rest assured. Her worst days and years are over. She has the right to look forward to a future as grand as her immense and historic past.’ 'Our King and Queen in Italy,' The Daily Mail, 7 May 1923, p. 8.
‘An unexpected and pretty incident marked the departure of the Royal train (leaving London’s Victoria Station for Rome) at half-past four. A small company of the London representatives of the Fascisti was lined up just outside the wooden barrier of the reserved platform. At a signal from their young leader, Dr. C. Pellizzi, the Fascisti gave the Roman salute, throwing out their right arms towards the Pullman car where their Majesties sat.’ 'King and Queen Leave London for Rome - Fascist Detachment Salutes at Victoria Station,' The Sheffield Independent, 7 May 1923, p. 1.
‘To what a people and to what a country are they (the British king and queen) coming? The crop of national birthdays which sprang from the war makes the Italian nation appear almost venerably old. But, in truth, it is a new nation, still in the age of experiment (presumably a reference to the fascist coup and government), with the quick intelligence, the passionate enthusiasms, and the loosely knit limbs of a child. It is a nation making, with all the fire of adolescence, a desperate effort to compete in the industrial race. Above all, it is the first nation in Europe to be genuinely seized with a Crusading (implying fascist) spirit after the war, a spirit directed not against the foreign infidel but against the national infidelities to great economic and political truths… They will find a people which has shaken off the fever of incipient general paralysis (presumably a reference to the earlier labour strikes), and whose muscles are flexing with healthy energy in the service of a definite objective- national revival and recovery… Their Majesties are sure of a warm welcome.’ 'The Royal Visit to Rome - Arrival Today,' The Times, 7 May 1923, p. 13.
‘Whatever the precise future development of Fascism may be, it is certain that Italy, under Signor Mussolini’s forceful leadership, is making a great effort to reorganise and reinvigorate her public life, and at such a moment the strengthening of her ancient ties with this country is particularly valuable.’ Editorial, The Yorkshire Post, 7 May 1923, p. 6.
‘Yesterday, soon after their arrival in the most historic city of the Old World (Rome), they (the king and queen) received Signor Mussolini, the patriot Premier of Italy, whose swift ascent to political supremacy last year is one of the most remarkable romances in history. He has given the world several noteworthy ideas of self-help since he quitted the Communist-ruled camp of Socialism and organised the youth of Italy in their fight against the domination of a few theorists and anarchists. He has proved that Bolshevism, courageously grappled and fought after its own particular fashion, is not a very formidable enemy: all that is required, in the long run, is confidence and a consistent policy. Since forming his Ministry, too, Signor Mussolini has set a salutary example of economy to the rest of the nations of Europe.’ 'The Royal Visit to Italy,' The Aberdeen Press and Journal, 8 May 1923, p. 4.
‘King George V arrived yesterday in Rome on his visit to King Victor and to the Pope. He has conferred decorations upon Signor (now Sir Benito) Mussolini and several other Fascist dignitaries… They have bunged the Bath on Benito! That successful apostle of Direct Action is now entitled (writes “Gadfly”) to figure in Debrett, to say nothing of Ruff’s Guide, as a “distinguished foreigner” and all, no doubt, is good humour and jollity. By way of celebrating his arrival in Rome yesterday, King George the Fifth conferred the Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (with extra towel, presumably) on Signor Mussolini.’ 'Mussolini Gets the Bath,' The Daily Herald, 8 May 1923, p. 3.
‘The Fascisti movement is undoubtedly viewed with suspicion by some strict British Constitutionalists as well as by the Labour-Socialists, who make no secret of their fear that the Italian example may be followed in Great Britain. No one who understands the real nature of the danger from which Italy was saved can be disposed to assume an attitude of pedantic legality towards the organisation which so signally defeated the Red revolutionists, at the moment when, as they fondly thought, the peninsular kingdom was about to be delivered into their hands. The remedy that Mussolini and his followers applied certainly appeared to be rather a desperate one. It violated all the traditions and precepts of the orthodox political practitioners. But the proved feebleness and futility of the latter gave Mussolini his opportunity; something had to be done, if Italy was not to go the way of Russia, and of Hungary under the brief but ruinous regime of Bela Kun. Mussolini acted while men of less initiative and inferior capacity for prompt and decisive action were wringing their hands and lamenting over the impending end of all things.’ ‘Britain and Italy,’ The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 8 May 1923, p. 6.
‘Of such cooperation between the Italian and British peoples I feel assured. Knowing, as I do, the traditional qualities of the Italian race, their loyalty, their valour, and their determination; recollecting, as I do, the crisis from which they have recently emerged under the wise leadership of a powerful statesman (Mussolini), I look forward with confidence not only to the future association of our two peoples in the cause of peace and progress, but to the continued triumph of the high intellectual and spiritual ideals which they jointly represent.’ King George V - speech in Rome - cited in 'Royal Visit to Rome,' The Times, 12 May 1923, p. 12. Also quoted in many other newspapers.
‘No photograph of Signor Mussolini does justice to the original, writes a correspondent recently returned from Rome. Italian photographers are fond of representing him as a “Man of destiny,” with a scowl on his face and looming mysteriously from a dark background; but in the flesh the dictator of Italy is a very genial Napoleon, and when his face lights up with a smile he kindles sympathy at once. His salient characteristics are determination, fearlessness, and a love of justice. English businessmen in Italy speak of him as “the man who gets things done,” and his Northern energy was badly wanted in the land whose motto was dolce far niente (pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness). '"The Town": Men and Intimacies,' The Sunday Times, 13 May 1923, p. 11.
‘The Mussolini Administration has passed out of the experimental stage. Our Rome Correspondent has said in a recent message that it is much more popular now than it was on the morrow of its surprising triumph six months ago. It stands for the regeneration of Italian public life, for a noble national ideal, for hard work, for reform, for progress, and History will look at the results achieved more closely than at the methods by which the achievement became possible. Signor Mussolini’s decoration at the hands of King George has given special satisfaction to those who have been taught most vividly by Rome’s own history.’ 'Their Majesties' Italian Visit,' The Daily Telegraph, 14 May 1923, p. 10.
‘The Prince of Wales, Lord Curzon, Lord Derby, and the Home Secretary were waiting for their Majesties’ arrival (at London’s Victoria Station). There were also present on the platform a number of Italian representatives, including a lady, who presented a bouquet of carnations to the Queen from the London Fascists, and a little girl, who presented a bouquet of roses from the Italian Legion. There were many other Italians outside the platform barrier, including Fascists with banners who gave their shout of salutation and the Fascist salute with the arm extended.’ 'The King and Queen Return to London - Greeted by Fascists,' The Manchester Guardian, 15 May 1923, p. 15.
‘A special delegation of Italians had seats reserved from them on one side of the enclosure (at London’s Victoria Station), while some fifty London members of the Fascisti, in their black shirts, were drawn up in another reserved portion. As the Royal train arrived, some six minutes late, they stood to attention and gave the Roman salute. Both the King (George V) and Queen, despite their long journey, looked well… A delightful touch was given to the homecoming by the presentation of two beautiful bouquets of flowers to the Queen. The first, consisting of roses, was presented by Maria Labadini, the twelve-year-old daughter of an Italian who lost his life in the war… The other bouquet, consisting of carnations and roses and decorated with the Italian colours, was presented by Signora Rinia Cittadini on behalf of the Fascisti of London. The King shook hands with the leader of the Fascisti and desired him to thank all his comrades for their welcome. With the Fascisti leader the Prince of Wales also had a conversation. After explaining that he had been about a year in Italy, the Prince discussed aviation there during the war.’ 'The King and Queen - Return Home - Hearty Greeting in London,' The Times, 15 May 1923, p. 13.
‘”The OBSERVER has always spoken with appreciation of your work,'” I said.’ 'A Visit to Mussolini - Message to England - Interview at the Palazzo Chigi,' The Observer, 20 May 1923, p. 8.
‘Signor Mussolini is still a dictator, and in the general opinion of Italians his dictatorship is, for the present, a national necessity. He has exercised his powers with moderation, for all his firmness, and with a judgment and a success which are really wonderful.’ 'Fascismo on its Trial,' The Times, 1 June 1923, p. 15.
‘Mussolini more than anyone else represents the effort towards cohesion, both in the (fascist) party and in the country. Any diminution of his authority would be a step towards worse disorder. The Liberals seem inclined to repeat their errors of last October, and to attach greater importance to personal considerations and to old grievances than to the desirability of cooperating with Mussolini.‘ 'The Fascist Party Dissensions,' The Manchester Guardian, 4 June 1923, p. 8.
‘Fascismo has always started from the assumption that the present system of rigid PR (proportional representation) would have to be changed… Under any electoral system, a friend of Italy must heartily wish for Signor Mussolini’s victory, but his satisfaction would be greater if that victory were won under a system which contained some elements of practicability and durability.’ 'The Task of Fascismo - Sgr. Mussolini's Dilemma,' The Times, 9 June 1923, p. 9.
‘The overwhelming trend of Italian opinion is now with us on the great European questions, as any Englishman may gratefully observe when talking with friends old and new in Italy. The government of Fascismo, though in many ways a phenomenon running counter to English preconceptions, has yet saved Italy from a terrible crisis and given her self-respect at home and prestige abroad.’ 'Britain and Italy,' The Observer, 10 June 1923, p. 6.
‘Signor Mussolini’s speech amounts to an appeal to all parties to give him more time to accomplish the task he has set himself, a task in which not even his most bitter opponents can deny that during the last seven months he has made amazing progress.’ 'Mussolini's Home Policy,' The Times, 11 June 1923, p. 11.
‘There is no doubt that Italy has a full moral right to colonial expansion and that Jubaland affords her reasonable scope. The problem of giving Italy satisfaction and yet of preventing inter-tribal conflict at the frontier over the waterholes is capable of adjustment by friendly negotiation.’ (Jubaland was located between Kenya and Italian Somaliland. In 1924 British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald agreed to Mussolini's demands to cede Jubaland to Italian colonial rule.) The Observer, 17 June 1923, p. 13.
(The Daily Herald citing 'an Englishwoman resident in Italy') ‘There is unquestionably, she writes, a great revival of energy, vitality and discipline among the Italians generally, which seems all derived from that strangely magnetic personality of iron resolution, Mussolini. The very street sweepers wield their brooms with alertness. Trains that were never punctual before are punctual now, and the blackboard on the platform that gave the number of minutes, not to say hours, delay of each train, and that used to be such painfully exciting reading, is now absolutely monotonous – every train “to time.” The frequent luggage robberies, that made travelling a nightmare, and caused one to boast of one’s good luck if one trunk arrived intact, while complaint if it had been rifled was quite useless, have now nearly ceased. When there is a sporadic outbreak of robbery it is energetically examined and generally punished. Fascisti police travel on the trains on the alert, and also examine tickets to oblige people to occupy a seat in the class they pay for.’ 'A More Orderly Italy,' The Daily Herald, 19 June 1923, p 5.
‘I was in Florence on Tuesday, on the occasion of Mussolini’s official visit… What was striking was the extraordinary unanimous enthusiasm of the welcome given to the Fascist Premier by all classes of the population… Working men and women covered his hand with kisses, invoking blessings on “il nostro duce,” “il nostro salvatore.” I have never seen such a sight. It spoke eloquently of changed times and a new Italy. I remember the days, just after the war, when to attend a patriotic ceremony in Florence argued a certain amount of courage, as one never knew when a Communist bomb might not bring the proceedings to a hasty and unpleasant end.’ 'Fascism in Florence,' The Sunday Times, 24 June 1923, p. 5.
THE BRITISH PRESS ON MUSSOLINI AND FASCISM – QUOTATIONS – JULY TO OCTOBER 1923
‘Like a wise leader, Mussolini is even now training on his young men. Materially, Fascismo is merely an anti-waste Government which has secured more than a bourgeois backing, and as such its task is measurable by time. But morally it is “discipline, order, work,” and these things call for permanence.’ 'Fascismo - The Lesser Lights - Signor Mussolini's Lieutenants,' The Times, 2 July 1923, p. 13.
‘The Italian Chamber is convoked for next Monday to discuss the new Electoral Bill, the report on which is now ready. This bill represents the most radical political reform proposed by the Fascisti Government. If passed, it will completely transform the traditional electoral system in Italy, and is meant, in default of strong Governmental parties in the past, to prepare for the organisation of a powerful national party or parties in the future. The bill naturally encounters violent opposition in certain circles that have benefited by the old desultory methods and loose groupings that provided a fertile field for obscure cliques and district favouritism. Signor Mussolini is determined to sweep away all the old evils of occult political practices and combinations, and to ensure that parties will stand out openly and propose principles and programmes on which the whole nation can vote.’ 'Italian Electoral Reform,' The Daily Telegraph, 6 July 1923, p. 10.
(Reviewing) ‘Dr. Pietro Gorgoli’s excellent work “The Fascist Movement in Italian life,”… Of Signor Mussolini there is an admirable sketch: “He is a man of action, a logical and acute thinker; his intuitions are rapid, his temperament is exuberant, argumentative, passionate, wilful and modern. He is a powerful orator, an eloquent tribune, a resourceful agitator. He hates mere rhetoric and dislikes chatterers, wiseacres, pessimists, braggarts, and people of bad faith. He is an inexorable avenger. He has never been intoxicated by triumph, never cast down by defeat. He is indefatigable and of volcanic energy.” Possibly posterity will rate him far above Mazzini, whom in some characteristics he signally resembles. His greatest strength is that he is not only a man of action, but also knows when to pause; he advocates “moderation as the virtue of virtues,” and is prepared to allow even Communists to talk, so long as they behave themselves.‘ 'Fascism From Within,' the Daily Mail Atlantic Edition, 19 July 1923, p. 6.
‘(Fascist) Italy is with us at this moment. If we wipe out the debt which she owes us, we shall keep her with us. If we offer to wipe out the debt of Belgium also, we shall detach the Belgians from an adventure (the occupation of the Ruhr alongside the French) which they never much liked, and of which they now acknowledge the failure… (But) having forgiven Italy and Belgium their debts to us, we should press the French for payment of the enormous sum they owe us.’ Leading Article, the Daily Herald, 16 July 1923 cited in the Workers Dreadnought, 21 July 1923, p. 2.
‘Signor Mussolini’s position remains strong. Neither the nation nor any party in the Chamber desires his fall. The vote on the principle of the Electoral Reform Bill is complete evidence of that, and so is the new approach to him, which we record this morning, of the General Confederation of Labour. He is recognized, in fact, as the one man who stands between the country and chaos, and the only man who is able to stand between them… We believe that many of the best men in Italy would gladly accept his leadership and place their abilities at his service.’ 'The Path of Italy,' The Times, 20 July 1923, p. 13.
‘Their Majesties (referring to King George V and Queen Mary’s visit) found Rome basking in the sunshine of Fascismo. There was no fear of strikes or disturbances of any kind. The people are contented and prosperous.’ Oscar Browning, 'Dawn of a New Rome,' The Daily Mail Atlantic Edition, 23 July 1923, p. 14.
‘Deputy Farinacci, a trusted collaborator of Mussolini, has been appointed head of the Fascisti in the district of Rome. This shows that the Fascisti are trying to root out all the disturbing elements, while at the same time their organisations are growing by leaps and bounds. The reports to the Fascisti High Council of Organisations in Tuscany and Lombardy are astounding. To give only a few figures, there are in the Province of Carrara 143 Fascisti sections; in Siena 103, with 10,000 labouring men inscribed on the rolls of the Fascisti labour exchanges; 108 Fascisti sections in the Province of Arezzo, 131 in Pisa, 107 in Lucca, 92 in Grosseto, and 300 in the Province of Florence. It may be remembered that two or three years ago this part of Tuscany was simply swarming with Socialists and Communists, who today have almost entirely disappeared. The whole Province of Mantua, once a stronghold of Communism, where there were such disastrous riots four years ago, is now Fascisti.’ 'Fascisti Discipline,' The Daily Telegraph, 23 July 1923, p. 10.
‘By the passing of the Electoral Reform Bill last evening by 225 votes against 123 (serving to make a fascist majority in the chamber far more likely) an important period of Parliamentary work has been brought to a close… While the result of the vote may not be agreeable to those who think that Italy can be governed by a true democracy, there is now no doubt whatever that it is the duty of all to work so that the new system shall give good results… I think the Fascists are satisfied with their parliamentary victory and intend to fight with ardour, but with discipline, in the electoral field they have chosen. Even Signor Mussolini’s most obstinate adversaries admit that during the parliamentary struggle he gave proof of honesty, patience, and sound political sense.’ 'Signor Mussolini's Success,' The Times, 23 July 1923, p. 12.
‘The march on Rome gave the Government and the whole power of the State into Fascist hands, but the question is how to consolidate that power, how to maintain the position acquired for the good of the country and make Fascismo the permanent force of national stability and progress. Whilst Signor Mussolini is making laudable efforts in many directions, and whilst he and his government have attained magnificent results in the first eight months in reducing public expenditure, rendering public services more efficient, and satisfying the national aspirations towards peace and order, other elements occasionally work to produce the very contrary effect. On the one hand there is the element of the secret opposition of the dispossessed malcontents who had lived on graft and prospered and profited by the period of disorder which preceded the Fascisti revolution, and on the other hand there is the vast public which is neither Fascisti nor anti-Fascisti, and which looks to Signor Mussolini for the protection of its rights to peace and tranquillity, and it is this element which is occasionally disturbed and irritated by what seem measures of unnecessary rigour and vexation.’ 'Fascisti Crisis,' The Daily Telegraph, 30 July 1923, p. 7.
‘No prudent man would predict his (Mussolini’s) success, for no prudent man who knows Italy would venture to predict anything of the way in which the present situation may develop. But Mussolini may justly claim that in nine months he has rescued her from deadly domestic peril, that he has ended or abated many inveterate abuses, that he has laid the foundations of extensive reforms, that he has raised her position in Europe, that he has filled her with a new spirit, and that, so far, he has known how to moderate and guide that spirit to ends that are practical and safe.’ 'The Development of Fascism,' The Times, 2 August 1923, p. 11.
‘Mussolini is, just now, the ablest statesman in Europe. He hates the let-alone policy of Liberalism, he hates bureaucracy, the pitfall of State Socialism, but, more than all, he hates Plutocracy, the rule of the financier. His professed aim is to build up a true and living democracy in place of a sham political democracy.’ Letter from E. Townshend, 'A Plea for Mussolini,' The Daily Herald, 8 August 1923, p. 7.
‘The first anniversary of the Fascist conquest of Italy is being celebrated in many parts of the country, especially in those places where the Fascists had encountered strong Communist opposition. It may be remembered that an energetic impulse to the Fascist movement, culminating in their seizure of power, was given by the unjustifiable declaration of a general strike by the irresponsible Labour Confederation leaders on Aug. 1 last year, which threated to paralyse public life and activity throughout the country. A vigorous reaction began immediately, by word of command from Signor Mussolini, in Rome, Milan, Bologna, Turin, Genoa, Leghorn, Florence, Parma, and numerous other important places… The delight of the labouring masses when delivered from the cruel yoke of the Muscovite fanatics at Leghorn and other places in Italy might well serve as an object lesson to misguided Labour leaders in other countries who promise a paradise to the working men, and instead give them only disorder, tyranny and famine.’ 'Fascist Victory - First Anniversary,' The Daily Telegraph, 8 August 1923, p. 10.
‘Italy is celebrating with exuberant joy the first anniversary of her rescue by the Fascisti movement from the danger and tyranny of Communist domination… On August 1 of last year, the Labour Federation leaders declared a general strike, with the intent to establish the final triumph of Communist principles in Italy. What would have been the consequences if these mischievous and unscrupulous idealists had prevailed it is bootless now to conjecture. Presumably Italy would have travelled much the same road as Russia. But the Italians, happily, are not Russians… (and) when Mussolini, himself a worker and at one time a Socialist leader, raised the banner of revolt against Bolshevist tyranny not merely the middle class, but large numbers of the workers, rallied to his call… Signor Mussolini appealed to the pride of the Italians in the illustrious history of their race and placed before them an ideal of self-sacrifice for the public good… (and) set an example of courage and resolution which those who are threatened by the forces of anarchy may well lay to heart when they are tempted to despair for the future.’ 'The Fascist Anniversary,' Editorial, The Western Morning News and Mercury, 9 August 1923.
Please note this page is still under construction (24.10.22)
- For the Reuters report see – ‘Fascisti Leader’s Great Reception in Rome,’ The Dundee Evening Telegraph, 30 October 1922, p7, ‘A Bloodless Revolution,’ The Western Evening Herald, 30 October 1922, p.1., ‘Success of Movement,’ The Scotsman, 30 October 1922, p.6., ‘Two Days’ Events in Rome,’ The Belfast News-Letter, 30 October 1922, p.5., ‘The Course of Events’ The Yorkshire Evening Post, 30 October 1922, p.8 and ‘Popular Sympathy,’ The Western Daily Press, 30 October 1922, p.10.
- ‘Fascist Ministry,’ The Daily Telegraph, 14 November 1922, p. 12., ‘Mussolini’s Day,’ The Observer, 19 November 1922, p. 8., ‘Entry of the Fascisti into Rome,’ The Yorkshire Post, 31 October 1922, p. 7 and ‘Italy’s Cabinet of Patriots,’ The Daily Mail, 31 October 1922, p. 9.
- The New York Herald cited in The Workers’ Dreadnought, 11 November 1922, p.1.
- For an estimate of the number of fatalities by Fascists prior to the 1922 coup see R. J. B. Bosworth, Mussolini’s Italy, Allen Lane, London, 2005, p. 109 and The Workers Dreadnought, 8 February 1923, p. 5. On the burning of the former Byron Hotel see ‘Byron’s House – Burned in Fascisti Fight,’ The Daily Mail, 31 July 1922, p. 8.
- Tom Behan, The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini, Bath Press, London, 2003 p.88 and p.90.
- Ibid. p. 43.
- Christopher Hibbert, Benito Mussolini: A Biography, Longmans, London, 1962, p. 34. The Times reported a similar quotation. ‘Your Majesty will excuse me if I come here in my black shirt, as I am returning from a battle, fortunately bloodless, which I was obliged to engage in,’ ‘New Italy,’ The Times, 1 November 1922, p. 10.
- ‘Scene at a Newspaper Office,’ The Daily Telegraph, 1 November 1922, p12. See also ‘Books: De-Caesarizing Benito,’ Time Magazine, 23 August 1954, now online at Books: De-Caesarizing Benito – TIME
- Tom Behan, Op. cit., p. 31.
- R. J. B. Bosworth, Op. cit., p105 and p.121.
- Jasper Ridley, Mussolini, Constable, London, 1997, p. 110 and p. 139.
- Ibid., p. 139.
- R.J. Bosworth, Op. cit., p124 and Tom Behan, Op. cit., p. 31. ‘Italian Ministry’s Fall,’ The Daily Telegraph, 22 July 1922, p. 8.
- ‘Italy’s War on Bolshevik Anarchy,’ The Daily Telegraph, 25 August 1922, p.11 and ‘Italy’s War on Bolshevik Anarchy – II – The Fascisti Movement,’ The Daily Telegraph, 12 September 1922, p. 12.
- R.J. Bosworth, Op. cit., pp. 256-126.
- ‘Italy’s Chance of Peace – Fascisti’s Choice,’ The Times, 16 August 1922, p. 7.
- ‘Rents Problem in Italy,’ The Evesham Standard, 3 February 1923.
- ‘Italy’s Rent Act to Go,’ The Pall Mall Gazette, 8 January 1923, p7.
- ‘Mussolini’s Rod of Iron,’ The Dundee Evening Telegraph, 15 January 1923, p. 10.
- ‘Mussolini v Lenin. Fascist Alarm,’ The Westminster Gazette, 12 February 1923, p. 6.
- ‘Moslems and Italy – Grave Trouble in Africa,’ The Daily Telegraph, 9 November 1922, p.11. See also Ali Abdullatif Ahmida and Jacob Mundy, Genocide, Historical Amnesia and Italian Settler Colonialism in Libya—An Interview with Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, MERIP, 5 April 2022, available online at Genocide, Historical Amnesia and Italian Settler Colonialism in Libya—An Interview with Ali Abdullatif Ahmida – MERIP