Commentary On The 1921 Program Of The National Fascist Party


The root of fascism can be traced back to the 18th century Jacobin Movement when the society in general adopted the theme of Fin de siècle which in large scale posed a revolt against materialism, positivism, democracy and the bourgeois society. The eminent historian G. Mosse, regarded the concept of fascism to be rooted in the concept of the French Revolution civil religion in the year of 1914. However, the true nature of fascism in a totalitarian nature was first discovered in the midst of First World War when Italian Socialist Party opposed the war against Germany. Benito Mussolini, being the ex-editor of the Italian newspaper Avanti! Used the term ‘Fascism’ in the year of 1915 and the majority German hate in Italy supported him in establishing the Italian Fascist party during this period.

Thus, in this critical commentary, we shall discuss several excerpts from the 1921 Program of the National Fascist Party herein and critically discuss how the excerpts that dictated the foundation and the ideals of the Italian Fascist party was upheld later in history and how the difference between ‘preaching and practising’ has established the primary nature of fascism in the world as well.

Identification of the background and theme of the given extract


Eminent Historian Adolph Case has identified the idea of fascism in the pre World War era as an urban movement that involved about few members from the Italian towns and the movement of fascism was perceived almost as a fancy hobby of the small northern Italian herein. However, the scenario soon changed after Benito Mussolini started a revolution through the Italian newspaper Avanti and in the midst of the First World War, the Italian Fascist Party was first established as the national party of Italy. Also, in the same year the concept of fascism was made official through Program of the National Fascist Party, 1921.

As it can be identified from the given extract herein, The National Fascist Party of Italy is often identified as the ‘Classic Fascism’. Contradictory to the popular belief, the theme of the National Fascist Party did not explicitly revolved around discriminating people on the basis of race. The official theme of the National Fascist Party herein resembled a strict opposition to the parliamentary form of democracy or liberal democracy and the extracts herein speaks strictly about the influence of the Church on the State as well. As it has been postulated by Historian G. Payne that the concept of nation has been strictly assigned to the juridical organ of the State and the judicial system of the State was largely “left intact and untouched and the Law and order of the State worked on its own”. Also, it is notable from the given extract of the 1921 Program of the National Fascist Party that the theme of the Italian fascism kept right of voting to the citizens of Italy in the National Technical Councils.

The theme of the 1921 Program of the National Fascist Party under the headline of ‘Fundamental Elements’ herein, supports the formation of corporations, be independent or under the reign of the Nation herein. As it has been enshrined in the extract, the official founding statement herein essentially states that “Nation stands above all social classes.” The extract also held that the concept of National Society shall be regarded as the ultimately society of a country and no other social classes should be regarded as a valid one. Thus, it is to be identified from this extract that the Italian Fascist party essentially had the concept of nationalism within.

Also, as per the extract under the headline of ‘Cornerstone of Foreign Policy’, Italian Fascist party has held a view of keeping friendly relationship with the foreign nationals herein. However, it also speaks of how this party resorts to take care of the ‘Italian colonies in the Mediterranean’ and detects that a distribution of Italian ideology throughout the world is one of the commercial goals of the party herein.

A comparison between 1921 Program of the National Fascist Party and the Nature of Italian Fascism – A Critical Analysis

As it has been understood from the abovementioned dictation on the theme of the given extract, the nature of the Italian Fascism was essentially nationalist and against liberal democracy with a hint to control the spectrum of the Church or the Pope. Also, it can be also deducted that Italian Fascism is a textbook example of how a nation strives to be based on the corporatist economy as well. Thus, with the help of this critical commentary, we shall critically discuss and assess how the nature of Italian Fascism as the classical fascism was upheld by the given extract and how the theoretical preaching of the fascist party affected the practical approach herein. For the purpose of this critical commentary, we shall choose four specific aspects that capture the essence of the given extract and the structure of the critical commentary shall be based on those four specific aspects of the given extract herein.

Italian Fascism and Catholic Church

In the given extract as has been mentioned above, it can be seen that foundation of Italian Fascism essentially based on the controlled power of the Church. Under the headline of ‘State’, it has been mentioned that the sovereignty of Italy shall not be subjected to the Church power and such sovereignty shall exist irrespective of the Church. However, the Catholic Church has been given the freedom to profess their own spiritual ministry.

However, such preaching of the Catholic Church does not hold true if we carefully dissect the work of the eminent historian G. Payne. The Catholic Church signed the Lateran Treaty with the State in order to keep the dispute between the State and the Church under control. However, after 1929, the Church denounced the reign of fascism and warned Benito Mussolini to be excommunicated. The dispute between the two institutions became more of a violent dispute where Mussolini wanted to depose the pope as he termed the existence of Catholic Church as a “Tumor to Italy”. As per Mussolini’s widow Rachel, Benito Mussolini always held the view of an atheist and he was always a person who opposed the concept of religious.

Hence, if we critically comment on the personal approach reserved by Benito Mussolini which measured the standard of Italian Fascism, it can be held that the fascism essentially opposed the controlled version of the Catholic Church and the same has been enumerated under the given extract herein. Given the narrative that “sovereignty cannot and ought not to be damaged or diminished by the Church, to which ample freedom must be granted so that it may carry out its spiritual ministry”, it has been clearly mentioned that the Catholic Church has reserve their right to profess their spiritual journey as long as they do not interfere with the sovereignty of the State. Thus, the 1921 Program of the National Fascist Party essentially discarded any unnecessary interference by the Catholic Church which shows the true essence of the classical fascism as we understood from Italy. While the nature of anti-clerical, which led to the horrifying history of holocaust in Germany, has been extremely vague in the given extract, Mussolini was a believer of the anti-clerical approach towards religious extremism. The program extracted essentially provided us with a vague welfare structure of how Mussolini does not interfere control of the religious centre, it also gave us the essence of anti-clerical characteristics of fascism in the later years herein.

Italian Fascism and Foreign Policy

The context of the foreign policy has been vaguely presented in the program extract with apparent friendly approach of Italy towards its neighboring country. Under the headline of the Cornerstones of Foreign Policy, it has been stated that “National Fascist Party openly supports a policy of friendly contacts with the peoples of the near and Far East.” However, they have a conditional term on keeping such friendly term as well. It has been enshrined in the program extracted that the Italian Fascist party shall keep the Italian colonies under control and shall diffuse the ideology of Italy across the world.

In the year of 1922, Italy exercised an aggressive foreign policy that arranged an attack on the Greek Island Corfu. They also had the idea of capturing Balkan and wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia. Also, Italy Fascist party adopted the plan to push Yugoslavia for a civil war by supporting Macedonia herein. Italian Fascist party had an aggressive policy for the colonies as well. One of the Italian Colonies, Libya, revolted against Italy in the year of 1927 and Italian Fascism left their previous agreement of cooperation with the local leaders of Libya and applied racism in their governance. As it has been stated by the historian Cardoza and Donald Bloxhom, Italy essentially committed an ‘ethnic cleansing’ by forcing out more than 10 million Bedouin from Libya owning to the abovementioned colonial dispute. Also, as it has been mentioned under the book of Bloxhom herein, the revolt in Libya only landed them with Italian approach of military campaign in Libya that essentially set up a concentration camp and a mass killing was conducted by Benito Mussolini in order to keep the peace of Libya. While the mass killing by Benito Mussolini in Libya does not attract attention as much as the holocaust, it has been mentioned by eminent historian Kershaw that Adolf Hitler adopted the idea of fascism and concentration camp and the anti-clerical approach towards a particular religion only from Italian Fascism.

Thus, in critical assessing the abovementioned foreign policy of Italisn Fascism, it can be said that the extracted program vaguely held an aggressive foreign policy that was disguised under th sentence “The diffusion of Italianness throughout the world must be the aim of Italy’s commercial growth and of the international treatises through which it asserts its influence.” From the aspect of critical commentary, the approach of having a friendly relation with foreign countries only held true the abovementioned approach of Italy is to be accepted. Hence, if the ideology of Italy is to be accepted by the colonies and other countries unconditionally, Italy shall keep an alliance to such countries herein. Italian fascism did not care about the ethnicity difference or the race difference as it has been subtly and vaguely under the column of ‘Fundamental Element’ in the extracted program of National Fascist Party, 1921, Italian Fascism essentially practices racism as it can be seen from their approach towards Libya herein.

Italian Fascism and Democracy

The parliamentary form of democracy or the concept of liberal democracy has been completely barred from the given extract of the program of the National Fascist Party, 1921. In the given extract, it has been mentioned that the citizens shall retain their right to vote in National Technical Council and not in the Parliament. Also, it has been essentially mentioned in the given extract that parliamentary rights and duties must be curtailed under the reign of Italian fascism.

In the year of 1925, Mussolini announced Italy to be a totalitarian nation but defined totalitarian from a positive aspect. As per him and the 1921 Program of the National Fascist Party, Mussolini strived to establish a fascist Italy that will be an authoritative national state with limited power and function of the parliament to achieve fast dispute resolution system within the nation. However, as per journalist Knickerbocker, the Italian fascism only had a mild approach to totalitarian state if it is compared to the Soviet Russia and Germany herein. In Italy, if someone opposed to being a fascist, the highest punishment he used to get is to be fired from his job and that is considered to be the less aggressive approach towards totalitarian state.

Thus, if we critically analysis the above given information, it can be stated that Italian Fascism was essentially against the liberal democracy and adopted the approach of totalitarian state or dictatorship in paper, the seemingly effect on reality was much less aggressive than other countries who adopted the same approach herein.

Italian Fascism and Socialism

It has been explicitly mentioned in the given extract that Italian fascism strived to become a corporatist economy and the same approach was adopted by the program of 1921 where the establishment of big corporations were given extra emphasis.

In the year of 1922, the fascist militia of Italy attacked the socialist unions of Italy and destroyed several socialist offices and captured the socialist officers herein. In this way, Benito Mussolini paved his way to become the Prime Minister of Italy.

Thus, if we critically analyze the correlation between the two, it can be held that socialism necessarily opposed the establishment of capitalism and the means of production to be concentrated in the hands of the elite class. On the other hand, it was the main agenda of the fascism to strive for a corporatist economy where big corporations would be base. Hence, Italian Fascism essentially opposes the concept of Socialism and the failure of socialism is one of the reasons why Italy saw the surge of fascism herein.

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Thus, from the abovementioned critical commentary on the given extract of the Program of 1921, it can be said that the manifestation of the Italian fascism truly lived up to its words and the significance of the classical fascism was followed by the ruling of Benito Mussolini. However, Italian fascism is essentially called the classical fascism which did not go to the extreme fascism of Germany or Soviet Russia herein. The individual votes and opinions were still counted and not shut down completely in Italy herein.



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Translated by Maria G. Stampino and Jeffrey T. Schnapp. Reproduced in A Primer of Italian Fascism, ed. by Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Olivia E. Sears, and Maria G. Stampino (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), excerpts taken from pp.10-13, 15,18.


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