Friday, February 3, 2017

A Needed History Lesson From Michael Parenti

"Before World War I, Benito Mussolini was a socialist, but the minute the wealthy classes in Italy offered him financial support and power, he didn’t hesitate to switch sides. (We know about people who switch sides, don’t we?) And with the huge sums he got from wealthy interests, Mussolini was able to project himself onto the national scene as the leader of a movement that specialized in attacking unions, peasant farm cooperatives, socialists, communists, and anarchists.

"After World War I, to maintain profit levels, the large industrialists and big land owners had to slash wages and raise prices. The state, in turn, had to provide the big owners with massive subsidies and tax exemptions. To finance this corporate welfarism, the populists had to be taxed more heavily, and social welfare expenditures drastically cut. (Does all of this sound familiar?) But the government wasn’t completely free to apply harsh measures because many Italian workers and peasants had their own unions and fairly strong political organizations. With demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, factory takeovers, they won substantial concessions in wages and work conditions and the right to organize and were able to defend their standard of living.

"To roll back that standard of living and to get the economic changes that the plutocrats and tycoons wanted, the ruling interests had to abolish the democratic rights that helped workers and peasants defend that standard. The solution was to smash their organizations and their political liberties. The leaders of industry, along with top bankers and agribusiness associations, met with Mussolini to plan and finance the so-called “Fascist Revolution.” Within two years after seizing state power, Mussolini had shut down all opposition newspapers and crushed the socialist, liberal, Catholic, democratic, and republican parties, which together had commanded about 80% of the vote."


  1. Everyone should read more Parenti. I think this is a shortened version of a passage from 'Blackshirts and Reds' which is a great read and particularly relevant today.

  2. "Blackshirts and Reds" was indeed a great read. When I think of Parenti, I am reminded of his insistence do not think the real powers in control are stupid, they know exactly what they are doing.