The founding 1919 programme of Benito Mussolini’s Fasci di Combattimento and the revised postulates adopted at its 2nd Congress of May 1920
Following on from the formal founding of the Fasci di Combattimento at San Sepolcro in March 1919, the nascent Fascist movement began to come into its own, beginning its first organized attempts at street activism and engaging in its first violent raids against the Milan offices of Socialist newspaper Avanti! (of which Mussolini had previously been editor). At this point the closest thing the Fasci had to an official platform was contained in Mussolini’s San Sepolcro speeches; there was thus a need to publish a proper statement, an actual organized platform which would clearly spell out the Fascists’ goals and worldview. The result was the famous 1919 programme, first published in Mussolini’s newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia on June 6 and later distributed to the membership in manifesto format. This programme is fairly well-known today, mostly for its more moderate and ‘left-wing’ demands – as with the San Sepolcro speeches, its content reflected that Fascism was still for all intents and purposes mostly just a political expression of national-syndicalist ideals. Two events helped shift this stance further ‘right’ over the next year: the collapse of d’Annunzio’s rule in Fiume (transferring many of his supporters to Mussolini), and most especially the devastating results of the 1919 general election, where the Fascists were almost crippled as a result of their embarrassing rout by the Socialists and the Catholic Popolari. When the Fasci met in Milan for their 2nd Congress in May, 1920, there was thus an identified need to address and refine their existing programme in recognition of its inability to garner support. While Mussolini warned the delegates in a speech against drifting into conservatism and alienation from the workers, he and the other Fascists nonetheless voted in favor of adopting the Postulates outlined further below, with the movement adopting a more ‘flexible’ stance on issues such as republicanism, the Church, and industry. As Mussolini put it in a speech to the Congress: “We must not sink the bourgeois ship, but get inside it and expel its parasitic elements.” This new approach would prove a tactical success – by the end of 1921 a movement which had been almost wiped out by the 1919 election loss had swelled to a vital 250,000 members.
Italian Fasci di Combattimento
MILAN – Via Paolo da Cannobbio, 37 – Telephone 7156
First published in Il Popolo d’Italia, June 6, 1919
This is the national program of a movement that is soundly Italian.
Revolutionary, because it is antidogmatic and antidemagogic; strongly innovative, because it ignores a priori objections.
We regard the success of the revolutionary war as standing above everything and everybody.
The other problems – bureaucracy, administration, judiciary, school system, colonies, etc. – we shall consider after we have created a new ruling class.
Consequently, WE INSIST UPON:
For the political problem:
(a) Universal suffrage with a system of voting by list, with proportional representation, and woman suffrage and eligibility for office.
(b) Reduction of the age of voters to eighteen years; and that of eligibility for membership in the Chamber of Deputies to twenty-five years.
(c) Abolition of the Senate.
(d) Convocation of a National Assembly to sit for three years, its primary task to be the establishment of a new constitutional structure for the state.
(e) Formation of National Technical Councils for labor, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc., to be elected by either professional or trades collectivities, and provided with legislative powers and the right to elect a Commissioner General who shall have the powers of a Minister. Continue reading