August 24, 2018

1934. Mussolini Claims 21st Century Will Be "Blackshirt Era"

Mussolini's Long-Term Plan for Italy
Benito Mussolini delivering a speech in the 1930s (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism.

From The New York Times, March 19, 1934:
Mussolini Says 21st Century Will Be 'Blackshirt Era'
ROME, March 18 (AP) — A sixty-year program of internal expansion which in the twenty-first century will give Italy the "primacy of the world" was outlined today by Premier Benito Mussolini. That century, he said, would be a "Black Shirt era."

"In this age of plans," he said, "I want to lay before you a plan not for five years or ten years but for 60 years, carrying on to the twenty-first century, at which time Italy will have the primacy of the world.

"Italy has no future in the west and north. Her future lies to the east and south in Asia and Africa. The vast resources of Africa must be valorized and Africa brought within the civilized circle. We demand that nations which have already arrived in Africa do not block Italian expansion at every step."

Here, it was said, he was referring particularly to France.

Internally, Premier Mussolini said, the immediate objectives were the completion of swamp reclamation by 1940, new aqueducts and highways, plans to re-create Italian municipalities, complete rebuilding of 500,000 rural houses and repairs to 930,000 rural houses, a work of thirty years.

"Every rural person will have a clean and healthful house," he asserted. "Only in this way can the rush to the city be combated."

In the midst of great applause he said fascism "became universal in 1929."

"But in this phenomenon," he continued, "it is necessary to distinguish positive from negative fascism. Positive fascism knows how to destroy the old and rebuild the new, whereas negative fascism knows only how to destroy."

Significantly absent was any reference to relations with Germany, which have cooled over the question of Austrian independence. Regarding Germany's demands for arms he said:

"To pretend to eternally keep a nation like Germany disarmed is pure illusion, unless one has the objective of preventing by force of arms Germany's eventual rearmament. This game has a supreme stake, the lives of millions of men and the destiny of Europe. We have advanced the thesis that, without looking into infinity, one must recognize German rearmament."

"Reform of the League of Nations (demanded by Mussolini) has been almost universally accepted," he asserted, "and will be made when disarmament is settled.

"Heavily armed States will not disarm. An Italian memorandum states the problem in all of its reality. Europe has need of mutual comprehension or it is heading for its twilight."

Parliamentarism, he declared, could not fall lower than it has. Countries where it exists, he said, are in agony, and it is inevitable that the "corporative system" should supersede it.

The Premier concluded his speech with a stirring appeal to his followers to retain their faith and enthusiasm, saying "the creed of the bourgeoisie is egoism, while that of fascism is heroism."

An ovation lasting many minutes, during which the assembly sang the Fascist hymn, followed his speech.