Birth of the National Fascist Party

The official program of the National Fascist Party, adopted November 7-10, 1921, at the Fasci di Combattimento’s Third Congress in Rome

Two years after the Fasci di Combattimento’s publication of the official manifesto of the fascist movement, in Milan’s Via Paolo da Cannobbio in 1919, the organization met again in Rome to adopt a new, revised program. What precipitated this change of course was a serious factional rift within the fascist movement, with Mussolini and the labor-oriented syndicalist wing on the one side, and the more conservative, integral-nationalist squadristi of Italo Balbo and Dino Grandi locking horns with them on the other. While not anti-syndicalist themselves, Balbo and Grandi were resolutely anti-socialist, rejecting Mussolini’s attempts to offer an olive branch to the Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labor. Instead Balbo and Grandi directed their syndicalist labor organization (and the violent raids of their Blackshirt squadrons) towards advancing the interests of agrarian land-owners, a tactical choice that, while it may have distressed those fascists with national-syndicalist roots, nonetheless precipitated a dramatic nation-wide expansion in growth and support for the movement. To resolve these tensions, and to give the growing movement a more sound organizational footing, the fascists convened their third congress in early November 1921, drafting the following political program and officially founding the National Fascist Party as the new political replacement for the Fasci di Combattimento.

BASES

Fascism has now become a political party in order to tighten its discipline and clarify its “creed.”

The Nation is not simply a sum of individual beings, nor is it an instrumentality of parties for attaining their own goals. It is rather an organism made up of an endless series of generations whose individual members are but transient elements. It is the supreme synthesis of the material and immaterial values of the race. 

The State is the juridical incarnation of the Nation. Political institutions are effective instrumentalities to the extent that national values find expression and security therein. 

The autonomous values of the individual and those that are common to most individuals – expressed through such organized collective personalities as families, towns, corporations, etc. – are to be promoted, developed, and defended, but always within the context of the Nation, to which they occupy a subordinate place. 

The National Fascist Party declares that at this moment in history the dominant form of social organization in the world is national society; and the essential law of life in the world is not the consolidation of different societies into one single, immense society called “Humanity,” as internationalist-minded theoreticians believe, but is rather a fruitful and, let us hope, peaceful competition among different national societies. 

THE STATE

The State should be reduced to its essential function of preserving the political and juridical order. 

The State must grant legal powers and responsibility to a variety of Associations, and must also confer upon such professional and economic corporations the right to elect representatives to the National Technical Councils. 

Consequently, the powers and functions that now appertain to Parliament must be restricted. Problems that concern the individual as a citizen of the State, and concern the State as the organism for achieving and defending the supreme national interests, fall within the competence of Parliament; but problems that affect various kinds of activity by individuals in their role as producers lie within the competence of the National Technical Councils. 

The State is sovereign. Such sovereignty cannot and must not be infringed or diminished by the Church, and the latter, for its part, must be guaranteed the broadest freedom in the exercise of its spiritual mission. 

With respect to the specific form of political institutions, the National Fascist Party subordinates its own attitude to the moral and material interests of the Nation as understood in all aspects of its historic destiny. 

THE CORPORATIONS

Fascism does not deny the historic fact of the development of corporations, and it intends to co-ordinate this development in the best national interest. 

Corporations must be promoted for two basic purposes – as the expression of national solidarity, and as the means for increasing production. 

Corporations should not submerge the individual within the collectivity. They should not arbitrarily level his opportunities and strength, but should instead develop and maximize these qualities. 

The National Fascist Party intends to fight for the following principles on behalf of the working and white-collar class:

  1. The promulgation of a national law that specifies the eight-hour day as the average legal working day for all wage earners (salariati), with such possible exceptions as may be deemed advisable as a result of either agricultural or industrial requirements. 
  2. Social legislation that is brought up to date to conform to present-day needs, and especially in order to give agricultural, industrial, and white-collar workers protection against accidents, sickness, and old age, so long as this does not hamper productivity. 
  3. Labor representation in the management of all industries, but restricted to personnel matters. 
  4. Assignment of managerial responsibilities in industries and public services to those syndical organizations that are morally worthy and technically qualified. 
  5. Encouragement of the system of ownership of small farms wherever this is economically beneficial. 

CARDINAL PRINCIPLES OF DOMESTIC POLICY

The National Fascist Party intends to improve and dignify the level of political behavior so that public and private morality will cease to be at odds in our national life. 

The Party aspires to the supreme honor of becoming the Government of the Nation; and of restoring the ethical concept that Government should administer public affairs not in the selfish interests of parties and clienteles but in the supreme interests of the Nation. 

The prestige of the Nation-State must be restored. Therefore, the State must not watch with indifference the unleashing of arrogant forces that attack and otherwise threaten to weaken the material and spiritual qualities of our national life. Instead, it must act scrupulously as the custodian, defender, and promoter of our national traditions, national feeling, and national will. 

The citizen’s freedom is limited in two ways. It must take into account the freedom of other juridical persons, and it must recognize the sovereign right of the Nation to live and develop itself. 

The State must encourage the development of the Nation, not by monopolizing but by promoting every activity that seeks to bring about the ethical, intellectual, religious, artistic, juridical, social, economic, and physical progress of the national collectivity. 

CARDINAL PRINCIPLES OF FOREIGN POLICY

Let Italy reaffirm its right to complete historic and geographic unification, even where this has not yet been achieved. Let it carry out its role as a bulwark of Latin civilization in the Mediterranean. Let it impose firmly and resolutely the authority of its law over the peoples of various nationalities who have been annexed to Italy. Let it give effective support to those Italians abroad to whom right of political representation should be granted. 

Fascism does not believe in the validity of the principles that inspire the so-called League of Nations, because not every nation is represented in it, and those that are in it do not enjoy equal status. 

Fascism does not believe in either the validity or the usefulness of a Red International, or a White one, or any other kind, since these are artificial creations that attract small minorities of more or less committed individuals in contrast to the great mass of people who, in the course of the progress and setbacks in their lives, finally bring about the kind of realignment of interest groups against which all internationalist-type contrivances are doomed to failure, as recent historical experiences have proved. 

Our international treaties should seek through commercial expansion and political influence to bring about a greater diffusion of italianità in the world. International treaties should be revised and modified whenever they become clearly inapplicable, and they should be regulated according to the needs of the economy of the nation and the world. 

The State must develop Italy’s colonies in the Mediterranean and overseas by means of economic and cultural institutions and in a system of rapid communications. 

The National Fascist Party proclaims its support of a policy of friendly relations with all the peoples of the Near East and the Far East. 

The defense and development of Italy overseas should be assigned to an Army and a Navy that are adequate to the needs of this policy and sufficiently strong in comparison to other nations. Our diplomatic service should also be made aware of its responsibilities and endowed with the requisite training, attitudes, and facilities for expressing in both a symbolic and a material way Italy’s grandeur in the world. 

CARDINAL PRINCIPLES OF FINANCIAL POLICY AND OF A NATIONAL ECONOMIC RECONSTRUCTION 

The National Fascist Party will take steps to bring about the following things:

  1. The true responsibility of either individuals or corporations will be clearly publicized in cases of violations of labor agreements that have been freely negotiated. 
  2. Officials in public administration will bear civil responsibility for any acts of negligence on their part that cause injury to others. 
  3. Publicity will be given to incomes that are subject to taxation as well as to the appraised value of inherited property, so that a control will exist over the financial obligations of all citizens to the State. 
  4. State intervention, which may be absolutely necessary to protect certain branches of agriculture and manufacturing from excessively dangerous foreign competition, will be of such a nature as to stimulate the productive forces of the country rather than to ensure parasitical exploitation of the national economy by plutocratic groups. 

The immediate objectives of the National Fascist Party include the following: 

  1. Balancing the budgets of  State and local public agencies, to be achieved through rigorous economies in all parasitical and superfluous bodies, and through paring of expenditures that are not absolutely necessary for the well-being of the recipients or for the needs of society as a whole. 
  2. Administrative decentralization in order to simplify services and facilitate reduction of the size of the bureaucracy – but we resolutely oppose any form of political regionalism. 
  3. Rigid safeguarding of taxpayers’ money, eliminating every subsidy or special favor on the part of the State or any other public agency to consortiums, co-operatives, industries, clienteles, and other entities which even though they may be incapable of managing their own affairs are not indispensable to the nation. 
  4. Simplification of machinery for collecting taxes and distributing revenues. Instead of progressive and confiscatory taxation, the principle of proportionality must apply, with no preference being shown either for or against particular categories of citizens. 
  5. Opposition to the kind of financial and tax demagoguery that discourages initiative and sterilizes the very sources of saving and of national productivity. 
  6. Halting of the political practice of ill-conceived, “pork-barrel” public works projects that are undertaken either for vote-getting purposes or for alleged reasons of public need, and are often unproductive because of their hit-or-miss location. 
  7. Preparation of an organic plan for public works to conform to the nation’s new economic, technical, and military needs, a plan that will be undertaken primarily for the purpose of:

a.) Completion and reorganization of the Italian railroad network in such a way as better to link the newly redeemed regions to the trunk lines of the peninsula, as well as to improve communications within the peninsula itself, and particularly those lines that are run north and south over the Apennines. 

b.) Acceleration insofar as possible of the electrification of the railways, and the general development of the country’s water resources by means of mountain reservoirs, which will also be of help to industry and agriculture. 

c.) Systematization and extension of the network of highways, especially in the south, where this is the prerequisite to solving innumerable economic and social problems. 

d.) Establishment and enlargement of the system of maritime communications between the peninsula, the islands, the eastern shore of the Adriatic, and our Mediterranean colonies, as well as between the northern and southern halves of the peninsula itself – for the dual purpose of providing a supplement to our railroad network and of encouraging Italians in the art of navigation. 

e.) Concentration of expenditures and efforts in just a few ports on the three seas, installing the most modern equipment in them. 

f.) Opposition and resistance to local particularisms, which lead to dispersion of efforts especially in the field of public works and are an obstacle to really great undertakings of national interest. 

8. The return to private enterprise of those industrial plants whose management by the State has proved unsatisfactory – especially the telephone and railway systems. In the case of the railroads, competition should be encouraged among the major lines, in contrast to local lines which can be operated in a variety of ways. 

9. The termination of the monopoly for the post and telegraph system so that private initiative can move into this field and eventually replace state control. 

CARDINAL PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL POLICY

Fascism recognizes the social utility of private property, which involves both a right and a duty. This is the form of administration that society historically has assigned to the individual for the increment of his patrimony. 

In contrast to socialist proposals for reconstructing the economy along purely collectivist lines, the National Fascist Party takes the position, based on historic and national realism, that there is no single ideal form of agricultural and industrial economy. Instead it declares its support of whatever economic pattern – individualistic or otherwise – guarantees maximum production and prosperity. 

The National Fascist Party is in favor of a regime that encourages the growth of national wealth by spurring individual initiative and energy (which constitute) the most powerful and fruitful element in economic production), and it absolutely repudiates the motley, costly, and uneconomic machinery of state control, socialization, and municipilization. The National Fascist Party will therefore support any undertaking that seeks to improve productivity and aims at eliminating all forms of individual and group parasitism. 

The National Fascist Party will take steps:

a.) To discipline the disorderly struggles between classes and occupational interests. It favors therefore the juridical recognition of and the assignment of responsibility to the various organizations of workers and employers. 

b.) To enact and enforce in every way a law prohibiting strikes in the public services. At the same time, arbitrational courts must be organized, to consist of one representative for management, one representative from the category of workers and white-collar employees, and one representative of the general public, since it is they who pay the bill. 

EDUCATIONAL POLICY

The general goal of schools must be the education of those persons who will be capable of guaranteeing the Nation’s economic and historic progress; of raising the moral and cultural level of the masses, and of training the best elements in all the various classes so as to ensure a continuous renewal of the governing groups. 

To this end we urge the following measures: 

  1. Intensify the struggle against illiteracy through the construction of schools and access roads. Let the State take responsibility for whatever measures are necessary. 
  2. Extend compulsory education through and including the sixth elementary grade in those communes that are in a position to provide the necessary schools, and for all those who, after taking the “maturity examination,” do not enter the middle school (scuola media); compulsory education through and including the fourth elementary grade in all the other communes. 
  3. Introduce a rigorously national character into the elementary schools so that they will also provide Italy’s future soldiers with physical and moral training. Thus there must be rigid State control over the curricula, the hiring of teachers, and the supervision of their work, especially in those communes that are dominated by antinationalist parties. 
  4. Freely operated middle schools (scuole medie) and universities, except for State control over the programs and the spirit of instruction, and the State’s duty to provide premilitary instruction for the purpose of training officers. 
  5. Normal schools should be guided by the same criteria that have been established for the schools to which the future teachers are going to be sent. This implies a rigorously national program, even in the institutes which train elementary teachers. 
  6. Professional schools and industrial and agricultural institutes should be placed under an organic plan that will make use of the financial contribution and experience of industrialists and agriculturalists, and that will exist for the purpose of increasing national productivity and of creating a class of technicians standing midway between the executors and the directors of production. To this end, the State will have to integrate and co-ordinate various private initiatives, and wherever these are lacking, substitute itself for them. 
  7. A predominately classical type of curriculum should be offered in the lower and upper middle schools (scuole medie inferiori e superiori). In the case of the lower ones, there should be consolidations and reforms so that all students must study Latin. French is no longer to be the only possible secondary language to Italian. Instead, the possibility shall exist of choosing and adapting the secondary language requirement in accordance with the needs of specific regions, especially those along the frontiers. 
  8. Consolidate all forms of financial assistance for education, scholarships, and the like, into one institute which will be controlled and organized by the State and have the power to select the most intelligent and ambitious pupils from the elementary grades upward and assure them a superior education, and which may overrule parental selfishness, if need be, and make available an appropriate subsidy wherever this is necessary. 
  9. Financial and moral rewards should be given to teachers and professors and also to Army officers (who are the military educators of the Nation) so as to ensure them self-respect and opportunities for improving their own skills, and to inspire them and the public with a consciousness of the national importance of their mission. 

JUSTICE

There must be intensive support for both preventive and reformatory measures in handling delinquency (reformatories, training schools, mental hospitals for the criminally insane, etc.). Penalties – which are the means whereby National Society defends itself against lawbreakers – should have both a punitive and a corrective function. With respect to the second of these, the penitentiary system must be improved hygienically and renovated in a socially useful manner – for example, by developing prison workshops.   

Special magistracies must be abolished. The National Fascist Party favors revision of the military penal code. 

Court procedures must be expedited. 

NATIONAL DEFENSE

Every citizen has the obligation of military service. Steps must be taken to convert the Army into a kind of Nation in Arms, wherein all individual, collective, economic, industrial, and agricultural forces will be fully integrated for the supreme purpose of defending our national interests. 

To this end, the National Fascist Party proposes the immediate recruitment of an Army which, as the result of a fully perfected system of training, will vigilantly exercise surveillance over our newly won frontiers. And simultaneously, in hours of danger and of glory, it will make sure that the men, means, and will power which our Nation can draw from its unlimited resources will be kept ready, properly trained, and organized. 

To these same ends, the Army, together with the school system and various sports organizations, must seek to develop in the bodies and minds of citizens, from childhood on, an aptitude and habit for combat and sacrifice on behalf of the fatherland (i.e., premilitary training). 

ORGANIZATION

Present-day Fascism is:

a.) a political organism; 

b.) an economic organism; 

c.) a combat organism. 

In the political field, it welcomes without sectarianism all those who sincerely subscribe to its principles and obey its discipline. It stimulates and develops individual talents and brings them together in appropriate groups according to their aptitudes. It participates intensely and constantly in every manifestation of political life, thereby putting into effect whatever can properly be extracted from its theories, while simultaneously reaffirming the integral nature of all of them. 

In the economic sector, it promotes the formation of professional corporations – some purely Fascist, some autonomous – in accordance with the requirements of time and place, so long as these are in essential agreement with the Party’s national policy that the Nation must always stand above classes. 

As regards organization for combat, the National Fascist Party forms a single entity with its own squads, and these constitute a voluntary militia in the service of the Nation-State, a living force embodying and defending the Fascist Idea. 

Document sourced from Charles F. Delzell’s Mediterranean Fascism, 1919-1945 (1970), Walker & Co.

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