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There is in the Fascist mentality a strange mixture of megalomania and persecution mania. On the one hand, they are convinced that all neighbors are threatening Italy; on the other, they are ever threatening all their neighbors to prevent them from threatening Italy. On the one hand, they are angry because Italy is not possessed of raw materials, and is under the control of Great Britain, which holds the gates of the Mediterranean, at Gibraltar and Suez; on the other, they threaten to make war to acquire the territories which contain raw materials and to break down those gates. But how can they make war without raw materials? How can they break down those gates if the British Empire is stronger than Fascism? At one moment they aspire to lift the Italian nation to greatness and to glory; at the next they maintain that in an anarchical country such as Italy a dictator is necessary, to impose discipline on the people by means of terrorism. They do not ask themselves: “If to-morrow the dictator calls this people to the colors for a war, will he be able to send them to death by means of castor-oil? In a war against nations, which are trained by the spontaneous discipline of liberty, could victory ever go to a country, like Italy to-day, split up by the Fascists into a minority of masters to whom everything is permitted, and a minority of slaves, deprived of all rights and protected by no moral law?" The experience of the World War showed that czarist Russia, kaiserist Germany, the Austria of Francis Joseph, all of them autocratically or almost autocratically ruled countries, collapsed; while
the free and democratic countries, among which Italy then stood, emerged victorious from the awful ordeal.
All these contradictions and questions have no importance for the Fascists. In the state of apocalyptic expectation in which they are plunged, they are thoroughly sure that Mussolini will solve all problems, will overcome all contradictions, will answer all questions.
This fanaticism is a great danger for Italy and for world peace. Even if the leaders of the Fascist party are not fanatics but merely wish to arouse fanaticism among their followers, they arouse at least a dangerous fanaticism. One day these followers will break away from the control of the men who exploited their fanaticism, and will demand deeds, not words.
They hold the government without opposition, since they have suppressed by force every opposition in the press, in associations, in the Chamber. The root of the danger lies precisely in this. The Fascists, having demolished every opposition in the internal polity, have to find other obstacles against which to discharge their excitement. And not finding these obstacles in their own country, they have to seek them abroad. Dictatorship and war, as history shows, always go together. Dictatorship results in war—as an outlet for internal troubles, if for no other reason.
But when an international crisis arises, fair-minded men throughout the world must not charge the Italian nation with the responsibility, which is the burden only of the armed minority that gags and stifles
the Italian nation. When Mussolini is pushed by domestic difficulties to make in his foreign policy a blunder bigger than the blunder of Corfu, bigger than the shameful Garibaldi blunder, then all other governments will be compelled to preserve the peace of the world. Then they will deal with Mussolini, and with the Fascist militia likewise, as they did with Wilhelm II and the German army in November, 1918. They will declare that they refuse to have anything to do with Mussolini and that they wish to deal only with the Italian people after it has been restored to liberty. War will not be needed in order to make this step successful. This impulse, of an emotional origin, will set in motion against the dictatorship the whole of the Italian people, and the dictatorship will collapse.
I hope with all the strength of my heart that Mussolini is still alive and still in power when the crisis comes.
If Mussolini were removed from the scene before the failure of the whole Fascist régime, Fascism would lose its great propagandist. Among his possible successors none will ever equal him in dramatic instinct and theatrical inventiveness. None will ever hold such immense sway over the hosts of militiamen and Black Shirts. No one else would be in a position to hold at one time the posts of minister of the interior, minister of war, and commander of the militia. The attempts at disorder, which would follow the death of the Duce, would give the king more than sufficient reason to declare martial law throughout Italy. A ministry of generals would take the place of Mussolini's cabinet.
And the new man to whom the militarist-capitalist alliance would pin their faith is even now ready and waiting. He is Signor Federzoni, minister of the colonies in the Mussolini cabinet from November, 1922, to June, 1924, and minister of the interior from June, 1924, till November, 1926, when Mussolini forced him to leave the Ministry of the Interior and return to the Colonial Ministry. As early as 1910, Signor Federzoni was the spokesman of the iron industry and the military and naval staffs. At this time Mussolini was preaching the wildest revolutionary anti-militarism. In the new political situation the militia, without Mussolini, would have to accept subordination to the regular military authorities and would be easily kept in check. The press would have a little more freedom to breathe. Fresh elections, duly controlled, would allow the Chamber of Deputies to regain a certain appearance of working. And this diminution of illegal violence and legal pressure would be trumpeted on all sides as the end of Fascism. Victor Emmanuel III would pass down to history as "the restorer of Italian liberties."
But all this would be nothing but deception and mockery. Fascism would not have ended, but only those more brutal forms of violence which do Fascism more harm than good.
Mussolini-as cannot be too often repeated-was not the creator of the Fascist régime. The Fascist régime is an alliance of big capitalists and high military authorities of which Mussolini is the figurehead and propagandist, even though, as chief
of the militia, he has succeeded in creating a force of his own with which capitalists and military authorities have to reckon. If Mussolini passed from the scene, the militarist-capitalist machine, at the heart of the Fascist system, would continue to function, because it was not made by him, and has always gone its own. way, while taking advantage of his propaganda.
An interesting legend-but a legend and nothing more-began to circulate in 1926, to the effect that Signor Federzoni is a "moderate Fascist," a "reasonable Fascist."
The "moderation" and "reasonableness" of Signor Federzoni and his friends consist precisely of this: they have no love for useless violence, but admit useful violence, which they allow others to commit while turning the results to their own profit. The "moderation" of Signor Federzoni and his friends is the "moderation" of the receiver of stolen goods, one who does not participate in the actual theft. Signor Federzoni is more prudent, more balanced, averse to those sudden impulses that sometimes drive Mussolini to acts of ferocity. But all the "normalizing" legislation has been framed, not by Mussolini, but by Federzoni and his associate, Signor Rocco, minister of justice.
The fact, however, that some one has been spreading the legend of a Signor Federzoni who is a "reasonable Fascist" is most significant. For it proves that some one is already thinking of the need to prepare the way for Mussolini's successor.
The alliance of big landowners, big industrialists, bankers, and high military bureaucrats, which forms
the dominant section of the Fascist system, has already succeeded in setting up a legislation that gives it complete control of public administration, and thus of the country at large. The Fascist crimes created the terror without which such legislation would have met with insuperable opposition. Now that it is in force, crime is no longer necessary. But the memory of the crimes persists, and every one holds Mussolini responsible for them. He inspires fanatical worship in his followers, but he excites also the implacable hatred of his enemies. To the minds of the Italian people he will always be "the murderer of Matteotti." Worse, still, as long as Mussolini remains in power, there is always the risk of fresh crimes, which disturb the public conscience and keep Italy in a continual state of dangerous unrest, whether they are commanded by the Duce, in a moment of unbalanced excitement, or committed by his followers, roused by his bloodthirsty eloquence. To-day Mussolini is no longer a force but a dead-weight for the capitalist-militarist alliance. Were he to vanish, his successor could present himself to the Italian people with bloodless hands, and to all accusations could reply: "Am I to blame? What is done is done! Let us forget the past and adapt ourselves to the requirements of the future."
While the disappearance of Mussolini would be an inestimable boon to the Fascist régime, it would be a calamity for liberal politics in Italy and abroad. The state of hysterical excitement in which the Fascists have been living for six years must sooner or later give place to disappointment. Mussolini's histrionic skill may take
them in for a time, but not forever, and when their frenzy begins to subside the Fascist dictatorship will no longer be able to stand. Sooner or later and perhaps sooner rather than later-the Fascists will be faced by insurmountable difficulties. They cannot see these difficulties now, because they violently suppress all symptoms of them. But the difficulties are growing day by day, and when these difficulties are so formidable that no human force can overcome them, Mussolini, if he is still at the head of the govern
ment, will be hurled to ruin, and his party and its ideals with him. If, on the contrary, Mussolini disappears, there will always be a certain number of old ladies and retired generals in the world who will say: "The ruin of Fascism is a consequence of Mussolini's disappearance. If Mussolini were still here, Fascism would be invincible." The collective failure of the dictatorship would teach little or nothing because it would not be a personal failure of the dictator. Fascism would be robbed of its value as an experiment.
High in some drowsy attic, now, her dream
And roof and gable, wainscoting and beam
And no one knows how the blurred line might tell The misadventure of an old romance;
These ancient walls keep Phoebe's secret well,
And seeing Phoebe now, aged fifty-three,
You knew Alicia Rayleigh, as most people did, you probably called her That Dreadful Person. If you called her something more amiable, such as the Dash of Bitters, it was proof that you had never felt the sting of her barbed and restless tongue. Alicia wrote-news for a musical weekly, snappy personalities for a magazine that distilled the flavor of the metropolis for inland subscribers; she wrote right up to the twelve-mile limit, and what the libel laws wouldn't let her print she said at lunch.
THE RUINOUS WOMAN
bly arithmetical. I'm thirty-three. Ask the election clerk, if you don't believe me."
"Let's see," he computed. "Eight years married, six years a widow, two years out of college before you married-"
"Only the idle rich," said Alicia, "have time for mental arithmetic. Only you, in fact."
"Only I am seeking you in marriage.'
"Well! How do you know?" "Your manner," he said critically. "Ladies of a certain age have an uncertain air, unless they're being pursued. They may still hope they're attractive, but they need somebody to second the motion. I don't count, of course. I've always been around. But I've seen you when you were being pursued— by others. You looked reassured, Alicia-reassured and wistful. The wistfulness of a poor frail woman helpless in the hands of Fate. That always tells me that you're about to dash somebody's hopes hopes that you've planted and raised by hand, till they grew up to the dashingpoint."
"Edward, you're perfectly insufferable!" His gray eyes were immovable behind the rimless glasses; her black eyes stared into them sullenly, then roved about the dining-room.