"There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it." ~ William James
Fixing Historical Sabotage
Column by L.K. Samuels.
Exclusive to STR
Being something of an amateur historian, I find it reprehensible that there are so-called historians willing to rewrite history to suit their own ideological narrative. But then again, as George Orwell wrote in Nineteen Eighty-Four, he “who controls the past, controls the future” and he “who controls the present controls the past.” And this is where my story begins.
While researching for a new book—Government: A State of Deception—I ran across a curious mystery. The confusion started when my skeptical eyes turned their attention to the political placement of German National Socialism (NAZIS) and Italian Fascism. I had already done a fair amount of research on the origins of the left-right political spectrum, which emerged from the seating arrangement of French parliament after the French Revolution (1789–1799). Those who sat on the left side of the aisle represented John Lockean classical liberals, merchants, laissez-faire capitalists, artisans and bourgeois middle class. The seating on the right was occupied by the autocratic elite—the Monarchy and the Church.
With this knowledge firmly established, I felt compelled to investigate the various claims that the National Socialist of German and the Fascist of Italy were somehow pegged on the right. Those claims began to unravel when I discovered that Mussolini was a self-avowed atheist who wanted to plow over the Vatican and seize all of the Church’s property. In fact, Mussolini said he wished death upon the Pope and that “papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must 'be rooted out once and for all.’”
Next, I ran across a number of famous historians who documented Mussolini’s hatred for the monarchy, especially the Hapsburg, often threatening to abolish the almost powerless Italian monarchy during his reign. Red flags were popping up like crazy. Mussolini and Italian fascism seemed to fit a pattern mostly associated with the left side of the political spectrum. When I discovered that Mussolini had been a self-avowed Marxist, revolutionary syndicalist (labor union activist) and an influential leader in the Italian Socialist Party, I knew something was terribly amiss.
Upon further research, I came across Mussolini’s “Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism.” Written in 1927 and mostly ghostwritten by Giovanni Gentile, the doctrine was published in 1932 in Italian in the Enciclopedia Italiana, and then finally put into English through Jane Soames’ 1933 authorized translation. But the trouble was that there seemed to be two versions of this doctrine, differing radically in one particular sentence. In one version, Mussolini supposedly writes: “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century.” But in Jane Soames’s authorized version of “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism”, Mussolini writes: “. . . it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism.” So who is correct?
The first important source that allegedly had Jane Soames’s version was President Herbert Hoover’s 1934 book The Challenge to Liberty, which I bought. Thumbing through the book, I finally found a section quoting Mussolini’s “Doctrine of Fascism.” It had Jane Soames’s exact verbiage that proclaimed Mussolini’s allegiance to the “Left” with a footnote referencing “The Political Quarterly,” out of London, 1933. So, the question was getting cloudier. Which version was correct? What had Mussolini actually written?
Meanwhile in 2013, I had a web designer post Jane Soames’ controversial sentence on the Wikipedia page for Fascism, along with President Hoover’s book as a reference. The material was removed within days. The Wikipedia page editors on Fascism argued that Mussolini was not a leftist, despite my research material. They pooh-poohed President Hoover, but thought that Jane Soames’ might have mistranslated the Italian word for “Left.” They probably also thought that Jane Soames’ version had been simply altered on the web. Whatever the case, they saw the sentence as too controversial to let stand. Determined to let the public know, I asked my web designer friend to resubmit it along with more documentation, but my friend soon found himself locked out.
I was in a quandary. Was it true or not? Did someone alter Jane Soames’ translation, changing “Right” to “Left”? Did the Wikipedia editors know something I did not? Finally, I had to see for myself if Jane Soames 26-page booklet actually had Mussolini writing that fascism was on the Left. To satisfy my desire to take the historical high road, I paid over $50 to acquire Jane Soames’s original booklet from a private collection in Ireland. When it arrived, I was at first hesitant to peer inside. But I was not disappointed. Indeed, she used the word “Left.” Then I found more evidence, reprints of her translation in “The Political Quarterly” (London on July, 1933), and “The Living Age” journal published in November, 1933 and in a number of books, all saying the same thing. In fact, none of her later re-publishing of her translation changed, meaning that the Italian Fascists and Mussolini had no complaint over the wording.
So, armed with irrefutable proof, I attempted to let the world know of my discovery. But again, the editors of the Wikipedia page on Fascism not only took her translation of the controversial sentence, but her very existence, as if she had never lived. I had even tried to have her mentioned simply as the journalist who translated Mussolini’s “Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” with no reference to the controversial sentence. Even that was too much for the Wikipedia page editors of Fascism.
Other attempts proved futile. The Wikipedia page on the Doctrine of Fascism also took out Mussolini’s quote. Actually, two were posted from her booklet. The one citing Mussolini’s fascist movement as leftwing was removed, but the other sentence was kept which read: “For if the 19th century was the century of individualism (Liberalism always signifying individualism) it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State.” Somehow referring to fascism as collectivistic was deemed permissible, although collectivism is considered on the left side of the political spectrum.
Anyway, I still plan to continue to strive to keep history actuate. There are reams of evidence to show that Mussolini considered his fascist movement both socialist and leftist. Luckily, a Wikipedia page has been posted that provides a slew of historical evidence that Mussolini was advancing a hardcore socialist agenda, while often claiming that socialism was dead, which was just fancy doublespeak so commonly used among the political elite. See the Wikipedia page “Controversies Over Italian Fascism’s Political Placement”, and examine the evidence for yourself. Much of the data already comes from other Wikipedia pages.
For classical liberals and libertarians, this issue is important. Accurate history is vital to understand political theory and its relationship to current day issues. We need to know the meaning behind historical Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, and Communism. How can we oppose such authoritarian ideologies if we don’t know their similarities and differences? Accurate history can set us free, but historical sabotage can easily enslave us to a false past.