Historical Sabotage of Italian Fascism and Liberalism

Column by L.K. Samuels.

Exclusive to STR

One of history’s dirtiest secrets of the 20th Century is the cover-up and sabotage of Italian Fascism as a Marxist-inspired ideology that clings to the statist Left. At various times, Benito Mussolini was an avowed Marxist, socialist, Revolutionary Syndicalist, and atheist, who sought to abolish the Italian monarchy. So, as an anti-church, anti-monarchy and pro-socialist movement, how could Italian Fascism be classified as anything other than left-wing?

But this Fascist-Marxist narrative of Mussolini’s socialist movement was not the historical account disclosed to the public after World War II. The obvious question is why. The answer appears to be that those on the extreme Left felt compelled to commit acts of historical sabotage in order to hide Mussolini’s true history. They needed an elaborate cover-up of Mussolini’s Marxist and pro-trade union roots in order to protect the purity of their socialist cause. Very Machiavellian.

Why is this important to libertarians and classical liberals? First and foremost, it should be noted that Mussolini and his heretic Marxist ideology represents the direct opposite of the libertarian and individualist philosophy. But that was not what was originally told to the public. Somehow, this distorted and falsified history of fascism caused fingers to be pointing at market capitalism and classical liberals as Mussolini’s partners in crime. Almost every day one can hear the statist Left accusing libertarians of being the ideological virus that hides behind Mussolini’s coat tails.

Historically, this is rubbish. At various stages of his life, Benito Mussolini was everything mentioned above, but never admitted to being a liberal — a classical liberal. In fact, he despised liberals beyond anything else because they believe in individualism, economic liberty and limited government. Mussolini made this point clear in the 1935 version of his “Doctrine of Fascism”, writing: “Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State . . . . It is opposed to classical Liberalism . . . . Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual.”

In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made similar claims against classical liberalism and free-market capitalism, writing: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”

Of course, left-wing propagandists spun Mussolini’s background differently. They falsely argued that the type of liberalism that Mussolini opposed was the modern, social liberalism. Although Mussolini had used the term “classical liberal” and “individualism” to identify his opponents, this evidence was either hidden or ignored. In truth, Mussolini was a big supporter of the tax, spend, and regulate economics of welfarism associated with John Maynard Keynes.

In fact, Mussolini claimed that Keynes’s economic theories were identical to Italian Fascism, writing: “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”

Of course, the statist Left had to cover up the connection of modern social liberalism to Italian Fascism. They again had to resort to historical sabotage to fool the public. They purposely concealed the fact that the meaning of liberalism was slowly being taken over by the ideals of socialism, paternalism and governmentalism. Mussolini recognized this altering of liberalism’s meaning in his well-known quote: “If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” Here, Mussolini was acknowledging that the new liberalism of Keynes was beholden to the totalitarian governmentalism found in Italian Fascism.

What makes this so maddening is that despite Italian Fascism’s left-wing and socialist history, the statist Left constantly blames Mussolini’s atrocities on free-market capitalism in order to tarnish libertarians. Of course, such accusations are completely ridiculous, since Mussolini had nationalized much of Italy’s industrial base by the mid-1930s. How do we know? Because Mussolini acknowledged this fact in his famous 1934 speech in front of his Chamber of Deputies, boasting: “Three-fourths of Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.” According to historians, by 1939 Italy had the highest rate of state–owned enterprises in the entire world outside of the Soviet Union.

The socialization of Italy’s economy is just one reason why many modern historians now depict Italian fascism as one of the numerous branches of heretical Marxism that evolved into dictatorial socialism. In other words, Italian Fascism came out of various interpretations of Marxism, especially those associated with French Marxist and fascist Georges Sorel.

Despite many books by major historians who have documented Mussolini’s transformation from hard-core Marxism into a softer Marxism (or Marxist-lite), many leftwing writers and editors found it necessary to coordinated cover-ups. This is why the left-wing editors of Wikipedia took down the “Controversies over Italian Fascism’s Political Placement” page which had over 100 footnotes by many historians. But what got them really riled was revealing Mussolini’s claim in “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” that Fascism was a movement of the “Left.”

I bought a copy of the 26-page 1933 authorized edition of Mussolini’s booklet, translated by Jane Soames, a journalist at the Times of London. I wanted to make sure I was historically correct. I was, but the Wikipedia editors keep taking out the correct version until the entire Wikipedia page — “Controversies over Italian Fascism’s Political Placement” — was deleted. I provided evidence from other sources. The sentence was reprinted in President Hoover’s 1934 book The Challenge to Liberty. Other publications of the time reprinted Mussolini’s doctrine of Fascism, including the New York-city based The Living Age (1933), and the London-based Political Quarterly (1933). See these documents here.

One Wikipedia editor complained that to label Mussolini left-wing and a socialist would change 80 years of historiography. Finally, another editor acknowledged that the 1933 doctrine of fascism did indeed read “Left,” but that it must be a “mistranslation.” The editor contended that the translator, Jane Soames, did not know the correct Italian word for “Right.” But she did. On the first page of Mussolini’s doctrine of fascism, she translated a line that states, “a Left Revolutionary movement also appeared . . . .” which proves that Soames was not confused about the Italian words Right and Left. This is obvious since the political Right is considered “reactionary” and the political Left is considered “revolutionary.” Besides, in order to be an authorized version, Jane Soames’s translation had to be proofread by Mussolini himself or other fascist leaders.

With proof in hand and scanned copies, I and others decided to post Mussolini’s quote on other Wikipedia pages. It is a historical document and should carry some weight. But Wikipedia editors would not allow the quote despite providing documentation. They deleted the quote from every Wikipedia page that focused on Italian Fascism. It was a deliberate attempt to hide the truth.

After the deletion, I was involved with another Wikipedia page which was concerned with the political placement of Italian Fascism. This page had over 350 footnotes by a slew of well-known historians, political scientists and scholars in order to provide overwhelming evidence that Italian Fascism was Marxist, trade union and socialist-inspired. It was rejected without much discussion. Again, these Wikipedia editors were trying to conceal Italian Fascism’s left-wing and Marxist history.

This longer and more scholarly material will eventually be printed in a book on the political spectrum, and then posted on the Internet.

My next project was to get the accurate copy posted on the web. Since almost every website had conveniently left out the words “a century of the Left” from Jane Soames’s 1933 translation, I decided to type it up from the booklet I bought. Of course, such a task is rather tedious. So, I simply copied the material from other websites, believing that only a few words had been deleted or changed to make it accurate. I was wrong. Checking the copy word for word, I found many errors all over the place. This was an eye opener.

As it turned out, I could not find a website that matched the exact copy found in Mussolini’s 1933 booklet. It was as if the wording had come from another universe. All of the 1933 versions I found on the web were either abridged or altered. These postings not only took out the word “Left” or replaced it with “right” or “tendency to the right” but deleted other embarrassing words or phrases.

For instance, most of the postings censored the name of Mussolini’s first fascist political party — “the Fascist Revolutionary Party.” Again, left-wingers had to delete these words since “Revolutionary” in Europe is usually associated with communism or radical socialism. If this fact became widely known, leftists might be forced to reveal that Mussolini’s Fascist Revolutionary Party ran with the leftist pack in the 1919 election. As historian Pamela D. Toler wrote: “fascist candidates presented themselves as part of the Left not only in their beliefs, but also in their willingness to ally with other leftist parties.”

Others censored words included “Syndicalist” which refers to those who support a socialist revolution via the trade union movement. Mussolini was an ardent Revoluntionary Syndicalist, a movement that later became known as National Syndicalism. In fact, Mussolini was so pro-trade union, that he ordered and enforced mandatory unionism throughout Italy. Every Italian worker had to join the union. Of course, the union was tied to the government, but Lenin had done the same in the Soviet Union.

As for the controversial sentence — “. . . this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism”— the censors used a number of tactics to hide this inconvenient verbiage. The most common one was to simply ignore it by displaying the passage as “. . . a century of Fascism.” Other postings took the entire sentence out of the paragraph without indicating any abridgement. The more historically deceitful ones actually inserted the word “right” or the phrase “tendency to the right.” This is deception at its worst. This tactic shows their utter desperation and disregard for the truth. They apparently felt compelled to commit historical sabotage so as to preserve the illusion that fascism was not associated with left-wing movements of unionism, Marxism and socialism.

Obviously, no left-wing intellectual wants to be associated with Mussolini, but to alter historical artifacts is to be guilty of sabotaging and censoring history: something that Italian Fascists and Mussolini were also well-accomplished at doing.

The deleted Wikipedia page “Controversies over Italian Fascism’s Political Placement” can be found here.  Another article on the left-wing/socialist roots of Italian Fascism and German National Socialism can be found here.

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Lawrence Samuels's picture
Columns on STR: 10

L.K. Samuels is the editor and contributing author of Facets of Liberty: A Libertarian Primer, first published in 1985. His new book, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, was published in 2013. All of his books are available at www.lksamuels.com.