I

TO pass an impartial judgment on the results obtained by two years and a half of Fascist government in Italy is not an easy matter. The difficulties that beset an Italian in such an effort are quite apparent; but even the foreigner is hardly better off. Fascism has awakened great interest beyond the confines of Italy, winning popularity in certain circles, arousing animosity in others. Almost everywhere various political connotations are attached to the word "Fascism" which provoke now admiration and now hostility, now emulation and now mistrust, but which inevitably leave little room for cool appraisal. Perhaps we may best clear the ground of preconceptions, if we avoid regarding Fascism as a new dispensation, as the beginning of a new era in our modern civilization (so it is represented by its best accredited leaders), and take it simply for what it is, as the most recent phase of the struggle to achieve Italian unity -- as an Italian and not as an universal movement.

Fascism, as is well known, sprang from a reaction against the threat of Bolshevism, and from an uprising of national sentiment against the humiliation of prolonged policies of weakness in domestic as well as in foreign affairs. It was, in its beginnings, only the impulsive manifestation of a need for strengthening the power of the state in the face of social and political disintegration. The same need was felt in other countries after the war, but in Italy much more strongly than elsewhere. The realization of national unity is a very recent episode in Italian history: it was scarcely more than half a century ago that the House of Savoy gathered the dismembered provinces of Italy under one sceptre. Various forces tending toward disunion still remained strong in the country, all the more since the Italian war, which was declared without enthusiasm and proved fruitful of sacrifices, left many Italians with more reason for disappointment and bitterness than for satisfaction. The demand for "strong" policies, both domestic and foreign, was most articulate in the higher bourgeoisie (manufacturers, land owners, and civil servants) and especially among the more conservative portions of the middle classes.

Though these elements were unable to impose their views upon the country, they constituted, through the resources at their disposal, an important factor in politics. They had the money and the leadership; what they lacked was troops. These they found in certain gangs of former socialists or anarchists who had abruptly passed from the extreme left to the extreme right during the war -- a development not uncommon during that period in many countries. As the army was demobilized, these gangs were enlarged by numbers of unemployed and by returned soldiers irritated at finding themselves handicapped rather than helped by their service in the war, all of them tingling with patriotic enthusiasms, all ravenous from personal appetites and ambitions.

Fascism was born of the union between the conservative elements mentioned above and these popular revolutionary forces, a partnership to which the former contributed something more than their financial resources: at the critical moment of the "March on Rome," they paralyzed any inclinations toward spasmodic repression that the government may have nourished. It was with the complicity and in the pay of the conservative bourgeoisie that the Fascists made their conquest of power at a time when the country at large, weary of communist nagging and eager for peace and a chance to work, was slowly regaining its balance. The Fascists bore the brunt of the struggle and naturally intended to pocket the profits. It is just here that the personality of Mussolini begins to count.

Of humble origin, having lived an adventurous life as emigrant, student, exile, newspaperman, and soldier, a born orator, furthermore, master of the lurid violent language that catches the imagination of a crowd, Mussolini was just the man to understand and lead the Italian masses. An eagerly acquisitive mind, a varied experience derived from his wanderings, the deeply realistic point of view so characteristic of his race, united to make him foremost among Fascist chiefs. His many-sided gifts enabled him to dominate both the movements from which Fascism arose, and to show himself under a double guise -- to the populace as a revolutionist, to the conservatives as a guarantor of social order and of private property.

The history of Fascism since the "March on Rome" revolves around the deft maneuvers of the Fascist chieftain to drive with his one whip the two horses hitched to his chariot. Mussolini must be credited with one virtue: a sincere intent, on attaining power, to apply the strength of Fascism to the reëstablishment of the principle of order and authority without doing further violence to constitutional procedure. His policy was to restore the prestige of the state in the name of a party representing the majority of the country. This moderation gained him for some time the benevolent neutrality of a portion of public opinion. As late as May, 1923, the liberal leader, Amendola, declared that he was reserving decision as to Fascism and was willing to judge the latter by its works.

Unfortunately, however, the Fascist troops, whom Mussolini hesitated to dissolve, were not at all disposed to follow their leader. They remained loyal to him but kept calling insistently for a division of the spoils. They had a very plain and simple conception of Fascism: to put the state at the mercy of the party. It was the case of Russian communism over again. Farinacci saw no salvation outside of Fascism, just as Zinoviev could see no salvation outside of Marxian communism.

The evil effects of introducing violence into political life became apparent during the months following the advent of Fascism, when actual power for a time resided -- if not in Rome and the large towns, at least in the country districts -- less with Mussolini than with the local Fascist chiefs (so picturesquely called "ras" after the tribal leaders of Abyssinia). Unscrupulous individuals hungry for enjoyments, more concerned with their appetites and personal hatreds than with the public interest, ever ready to flatter the worst instincts of the mob, these gang leaders would have thrown Italy into worse anarchy than had prevailed under the preceding régime had it not been for Mussolini's personal popularity among them that made him a restraining influence, and for the growing resistance of the opposition.

The latter, organized by a hastily formed alliance of the old parties which had been rudely jostled by the brutal advance of Fascism to power, felt encouraged by growing popular disapproval of the excesses of the "ras" and by the internal quarrels of which the Fascists were now making public exhibition. Powerless to agree on a common program, the adversaries of Fascism were still dangerous through their ability at any moment to put the government in the minority in Parliament.

Mussolini's great resource, in these circumstances, was this same personal popularity which the conservatives hoped would permit him gradually to discipline the Fascist cohorts and reestablish normal life in the nation. To strengthen the foundations of his popularity, Mussolini, shortly after assuming the premiership, granted the eight hour day to labor -- a concession which rallied workingmen in large numbers to his support and helped also to temper the virulence of the social struggle. To capital, on the other hand, he offered a balanced national budget and reforms, feverishly prosecuted, in public administration -- excellent measures all, which had long been vainly promised by the preceding régimes and which he was able to put through only with the coöperation of his conservative allies and of certain individuals of great ability among whom di Stefani, his Minister of Finance, should be accorded a distinguished place. Reënforcing his personal prestige by service actually rendered, gradually giving authority to such cooler heads among the Fascists as disapproved of the violence of the "ras," Mussolini hoped he could finally reduce his troops to order and make of them a great constitutional party which would be the normal and permanent support of his government.

With this in view he drew up an election bill calculated to assure him a majority in Parliament and to enable him to govern the country still keeping within the law. Something may be said for his idea. Political education is a new thing in Italy -- universal manhood suffrage dates only from 1913. Down to the World War power usually had been exercised by strong personalities such as Cavour, Depretis, Crispi, Giolitti -- all skillful ring-masters, adepts at hiding their real intentions under the votes of subservient parliamentary majorities. The art of creating such majorities by manipulating the electoral machinery, and of controlling deputies in the Chamber by concessions of all kinds was a commonplace attainment with these statesmen.

However, Mussolini may have underestimated the importance of the parallel development, during the years after the war, of the Italian Socialist and the Italian Popular parties, both floating on strong currents in public opinion and less submissive than the pre-war cliques to individual influences. He overestimated, at any rate, his own strength. Careful examination of the elections in 1924 shows that Fascism, despite high-handed measures adopted in the rural districts, had not won the country. Mussolini carried central Italy, but by a small margin. In the north where industrialism is best developed he was beaten. If he held the south he owed his victory there to the timely support of a few strong politicians with large following at the polls -- Salandra, Orlando, de Nicola, and others.

In spite of appearances, in spite of the unquestioned personal prestige of Mussolini, Fascism was far from holding the ascendancy in Italy at the time when the assassination of Matteotti supervened. This murky drama, which recalls the darkest episodes of Italian medieval history, had a prodigious effect on public opinion both at home and abroad. Its immediate effect was to unite the hitherto divided parties of opposition into one bloc. By raising the so-called "moral question," by declining to cooperate in any manner with the government, even by absenting themselves from the Chamber, they sought to put Fascism, so to speak, outside the law. Certain statesmen who thus far had been sitting prudently on the fence (Giolitti, Salandra, Orlando) without taking decisive attitudes, now frankly turned away from Fascism. The conservative middle class itself, the land-owners, the manufacturers, and the business men (weary moreover of the tyranny of the "ras," and suspicious of the labor policies of Fascism), withdrew its support from the government. Italy fell into two camps, the one angrily facing the other under menace of civil war. Abandoned by his allies on the right, forced back step by step upon the more violent elements in his party Mussolini, to conserve what little support he had, found himself obliged to throw in his lot with the latter and to give them a larger share in the direction of affairs.

Such was the process by which, during the last months of 1924 and during the whole of 1925, the dictatorship to which Italy is still subject came into being. Distinguished by a methodical destruction and persecution of an opposition hitherto tolerated, by a gradual muzzling of the press and of all independent thought, by a succession of violences aimed at persons, this régime has been able to survive only through a terror imposed by the "big sticks," the manganelli, of the Black Shirts. Farinacci's ideal had been realized: the state was at the service of the party.

However, once the first moment of alarm had passed, Mussolini regained his composure; he saw the danger of abdicating before his own troops. Resolved to keep in power by force and to drop the mask of constitutionality, he determined also to take advantage of the dictatorship thrust by events upon him gradually to assemble around himself the living forces of the country. Things played into his hands: the opposition continued divided; his popularity, though diminished, had survived the test. Moreover his very enemies quailed at the thought that Mussolini's power might fall into the hands of men like Farinacci. While consolidating the ranks of his own partisans by material favors and by an aggressive policy toward the opposition, the Dictator went looking for ways and means to restore the confidence of his old allies. He fell back once more on the see-saw tactic on which he had depended from the beginning. To wriggle out from under the thumb of Farinacci, he decided to win over the army, the peasantry, and labor to himself.

The army had always been mistrustful of Fascism; professional officers especially had been piqued at the advantages given to the upstart commanders of the Fascist militia. The clique of generals in the Senate had said sharp things of the régime after the murder of Matteotti. Mussolini set out to eradicate all this uneasiness. He raised salaries in the army all along the line. He gave better organization to the militia so as to eliminate all friction between regular officers and Fascist officers. He reformed the army law so as to restore much of the prestige in the state of which the military had been shorn in the period just following the war. And these moves were successful; Mussolini could feel that for the first time he had the army securely under his banner.

As for labor, Mussolini had recourse to the Fascist syndicates (trade unions). By offering governmental support to the Fascist unions and by simple suppression of Catholic and socialist unions, he soon made his own organizations the only ones capable of offering adequate tutelage to labor aspirations. This action he justified by evolving a theory of forced coöperation, under state control, of labor and capital; and the theory was reduced to practice by establishing mixed unions of workers and employers. This enabled him to exert pressure on capital in case of need, by threat of strike, and to leave labor with the feeling that it was being better protected against exploitation by the employer than it had ever been by the old unions. These Fascist corporations are soon to be provided with official recognition through the admission to the Senate of delegates chosen in equal numbers from labor and capital.

The Duce sought support in the peasantry by the most varied maneuvers. In the south, where loss of power had weakened the control of the older political leaders, he promised to extirpate the last traces of brigandage and to import new wealth through appropriations for great public works. To the Catholic peasantry, of all the Italian masses the most deeply and consistently hostile to the Fascist régime, he offered the sop of a conciliatory policy toward the Vatican. Ever since his rise to power, Mussolini has multiplied concession to the Holy See for the most part without success since the Vatican could only react by indignant protest against the violences daily used upon the priests by the more uncompromising Fascists. Gradually, however, tension between the two parties has slackened in proportion as the Duce has been able to consolidate his power and restore order in the rural districts.

The removal of Dom Sturzo in 1924, the progressive wrecking of all the foundations of the Popular party, a careful cultivation of dissensions in Parliament between Catholic conservatives and Catholic socialists, an attentive regard in Italian foreign policy for the interests of the Vatican, persistent and generous flattery of the higher clergy (extending even to increases in emoluments) -- everything Mussolini has used to disarm the Catholics. It is interesting to note that the moment when Mussolini felt himself strong enough to dispense with the extreme Fascists who were still determined to bivouac under arms in a conquered country he did so in such fashion as to sooth Catholic sensibilities: he availed himself of an attack by Farinacci upon Cardinal Gasparri to push the former out of the picture.

No surer evidence of the growth of Mussolini's personal power -- the most recent phase, this last, in the evolution of Fascism -- could be cited than his intention, more and more clearly revealed, to reduce his more turbulent partisans to a strict discipline. He has now set out to rule the Fascist party as he rules the country, with no brook of resistance. It is to control the Fascists rather than the opposition that he has just established the podestas in all the little towns. If public opinion was grieved at this new attack upon municipal liberty, it was also consoled by the thought of at last being free from the long detested tyranny of the "ras." This measure of Fascism has increased Mussolini's popularity among all the conservative elements in the country.

From the political point of view the situation in Italy today is this: His Excellency, the Chevalier President Benito Mussolini, Head of the Government, Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, for War, for the Navy, and for Aviation -- thus his titles were detailed in a royal decree of January 3, 1926 -- is absolute master of the kingdom. Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Commander-in-Chief of the Militia, leader of the only existing political party except the Communist party (diligently supervised and contemptuously tolerated) Mussolini holds, de facto et de jure, the powers that Napoleon Bonaparte held under the First-Consulate. The fasces of the Lictors (the emblem of Fascism) openly figure on public monuments with the arms of the House of Savoy. After a first period of effort to bring the Fascist government within the constitutional orbit, and a second period of progressive tendency toward a dictatorship, Fascism has reached its logical term: the fate of Italy hangs on one man!

Such a régime may have its grandeurs, and it may offer certain material advantages. But even admitting that the country likes it -- which cannot be guaranteed since all voice from the opposition is silenced -- it has at least one defect: that this one man cannot live forever. If Lady Gibson's bullet had gone in another direction by the fraction of an inch, one may well ask what would have become of Italy. In a land stripped of all political liberty, where the hatreds born of continued violence must incubate in secret, we cannot be surprised if assassination becomes the supreme recourse of the more exasperated animosities. The abscess that is not allowed to break is the most infectious. Of this, moreover, the Duce is well aware: "Live dangerously," says he!

II

Only by bearing in mind the development which we have just sketched, and with due regard to the two currents which have borne Fascism on its course, may we adequately appraise the results achieved by three years of Fascist rule, results which we may roughly classify as internal and external.

Among the former Fascism is wont to boast of three things: the restoration of order, a successful financial policy, and a period of national prosperity.

The boast would seem to have a considerable foundation in fact as regards the mechanics of administration. Under the ferule of the task-master, the ministries of state and particularly the railroads, give an impression of regular functioning and daily application to duty. This new efficiency, of Napoleonic flavor, Italy owes to the skilled technicians whom Fascism has recruited from its own right wing; and Mussolini must share the credit for it with the Ministers he has chosen from the Nationalist party -- Rocco, for instance, and Federzoni.

As for the class struggle, a few reserves at least must be made. To bundle employees and employers together in the same corporations would perhaps be the best theoretical solution of the problem of avoiding social conflicts, but only so provided the association were voluntary. As a matter of fact, the workers have been accepting the new unions, not because they like them, but because it is to their advantage for the moment. That they are far from waiving the right to strike is evidenced by the conduct of the Sicilian orange pickers last January at Messina -- all full-fledged Fascists. For that matter, it could hardly be otherwise. The Fascist unions have taken into their membership all the turbulent elements of the old syndicates. The employers for their part occasionally grumble though as a class they are more practiced in diplomacy and know how to bow their heads.

Of order in the political field we have said enough already. It is well known how and through whom such order has been obtained. One may still ask whether orderliness is best guaranteed by the suppression of all freedom and under threat of violence, and whether the public peace is really maintained so long as only Fascists break it! But these are matters of opinion.

That Italian finance has been placed on a sound basis cannot be denied, and this happy outcome has been realized by a most fortunate coöperation of the Nationalists with the Duce. The case of France bears witness to the difficulty which a parliamentary system, at the mercy of political cliques and political influences, encounters in balancing a national budget in time of crisis. Mussolini's Parliament, on the other hand, had a healthy respect and a wholesome fear of him, and he found the task much easier. He cannot be refused the credit of having resisted pressure from his lower class partisans who were only too ready to pillage the state; and he has found means, even against his own troops, to support his Ministers in their difficult labors which, to judge by official reports, would seem now to be drawing to a close. In 1925 state income was about 475,000,000 lire greater than state expenditure. Not only has monetary inflation been reduced by 1,000,000,000 lire, but the fiduciary paper now in circulation -- 20,700,000,000 lire -- does not seem excessive for a country of 42,000,000 people. In these circumstances, the sum of $850,000,000 that Italy has undertaken to pay toward the settlement of her war debts Italian experts themselves do not regard as overburdensome provided the economic situation continues favorable.

Whether and to what extent Fascism may claim responsibility for the present prosperity in Italy is a question that can be objectively answered only with great difficulty. That the country has been thriving economically for the last few months is beyond dispute. It may be argued that the political and social stability created by the Fascist régime has engendered an atmosphere of confidence and stimulated initiative, and that to these the wave of prosperity is due. Certainly the nation's capacity for internal absorption of goods has notably increased and while emigration has been falling off the figures for unemployment remain exceptionally low. All these considerations speak in favor of the government now in power. But there are plenty of Italians who still lament their low wage level--the lowest in Europe--the high cost of living which reduces the purchasing power of the Italian masses to very little, and the small earnings of manufacturing enterprise which limit capital and permit borrowing only at prohibitive rates of interest.

One fact, especially, is a cause for concern: the Italian trade balance still shows a considerable deficit -- 5,000,000,000 lire in 1924, 7,000,000,000 in 1925, both larger than the deficits of 1922 and 1923. In many respects the Italian economic thrust of the moment seems out of proportion, since the increased importation of raw materials incident to increased production and exportation must be accounted for in the end in a correspondingly unfavorable balance of trade. To be sure this deficit is reduced to a greater or lesser extent each year by remissions of money from emigrants and by the expenditures of tourists in Italy; but it nevertheless remains as a constant danger to the country.

Mussolini is conscious of this and he has determined to devote his best energies to removing the deficit this year through a systematic organization of Italy's policies of commercial expansion. Since the merchant marine plays an important part in these policies, the government is doing everything possible to encourage it. At the beginning of this year Italy already ranked second among the nations of the world in ship-building. Subsidies will now be offered to new lines in order not only to free the country from the burden of foreign freight charges but to open new outlets to commerce as well. The Italian flag already is dominant in trade in the eastern Mediterranean.

Mussolini's policies are based on the following objectives: to bring Italian industry to the point of its maximum potential production in order to reduce purchases of all kinds abroad; to utilize such native raw materials as hitherto have lain neglected or been exported; to reduce imports of raw materials, or at least to increase exports of finished products. To study and to execute these various measures a National Institute of Foreign Commerce is being organized, and the Duce is wisely turning his entire attention to them. If he succeeds in solving the problem of the trade balance, Italy will owe him a debt of gratitude indeed.

Unfortunately a program for commercial expansion on a large scale requires a great outlay of ready money, and money is lamentably scarce in Italy. One may guess that it was in order to find money where money abounds that the Duce forced through his settlements of the war debts, dealing rigorously with any opposition likely to compromise Fascist credit abroad. To American capital he is trying today to offer attractive propositions for participating in Italian industry through investments in the agricultural development of the south and in the new electrical plants of the Alps. Certain Fascists go farther still. They would put Italian labor, so abundant and so cheap, at the service of foreign capital and especially of American capital, which would provide raw materials or half-finished products to be further worked at low cost in Italy, whence they would be transported under the Italian flag to Russia and the Near East.

The results which Fascism claims to have obtained in what may be called the external sphere require much more careful scrutiny.

More than ever since the war, Italian foreign policy has revolved around the necessity of providing a means of livelihood for an overpopulated country. The Treaties of Peace, while giving satisfaction to the more legitimate aspirations of the nation to be possessed of its natural frontiers and of its "unredeemed" territories, offered no solution for this fundamental problem. Italian insistence secured no colonies, no mandates, for Italy. With a territory insufficient to support its population (today in excess of 42,000,000), with limited natural resources in the fuel and raw materials necessary for the development of industry, Italy could still depend on emigration. But the countries that have been receiving Italian immigrants are tending more and more to control and reduce the numbers of these. The absence of outlets for their excess population is today an object of irritation and concern to all Italians; and that is why they speak so readily of the injustice wrought upon them at Versailles and why they think of themselves as victims of the war.

Such was the situation, such the national state of mind, which Fascism found on arriving in power. As was the case with preceding governments, the principal goal of Fascist foreign policy had to be the discovery of avenues of escape for Italy's surplus population, either directly through new territories or new facilities for emigration, or indirectly through new markets for industry to provide employment for more workers at home.

Fascism also had things of its own to worry about. A superheated patriotism had brought the party into being and still remained its best argument with the masses at large and the one solid bond between the two antithetical factions whose support had given it ascendancy. Even before the "March on Rome," the Fascist leaders had proclaimed a foreign policy aimed at flattering Italian national pride, at exalting the enthusiasms of victory in war, and at asserting before the world that Italy could henceforth be counted on to play the role of a Great Power.

The foreign policy of Fascism is, in point of fact, a subtle blend of cold realism and warm sentimentality such as only a genius like Mussolini could concoct. Proceeding practically toward the conquests of the outlets regarded as indispensable, it likes to cover its tracks, both at home and abroad, by demonstrations of a noisy and at times aggressive nationalism. On arriving in Rome, Mussolini had the good fortune to find Signore Contarini, a very shrewd diplomat, installed at the Consulta, and he also had the good sense to place full trust in this man. To the Contarini-Mussolini combination Italy owes a certain number of diplomatic successes which are definite if not actually brilliant.

Unquestionably the most important of these was the Fiume settlement. Through a few concessions which no one thought of checking up against a professedly patriotic régime, Italy managed to annex this Adriatic city so long the object of bitter controversy. Mussolini's great contribution in this connection was his foresight in taking advantage of the agreement to inaugurate a policy of durable understanding with the Jugoslavs. A hostile Jugoslavia is not only a military danger to Italy by virtue of her strong army and her geographical position but she can also bar Italian products from the Balkans. Overlooking past unpleasantness, Mussolini smoothed the path for a commercial treaty which was later to be followed by a political entente. This accord with Belgrade has a significance of the first order for Rome. It guarantees the maintenance in Central Europe of the results earned in the war, while it allows Italian industry to compete with Austro-German goods in Balkan markets on an equal footing. At the moment Italian public opinion saw in the Fiume settlement the final acquisition of a disputed city the possession of which it had made a point of national honor. But gradually the deeper significance of Mussolini's triumph has been realized, especially abroad, and it surely constitutes so far the chief title of Fascism to Italian gratitude.

Among the durable successes so notably represented by the annexation of Fiume and the agreement with Jugoslavia must be counted also certain developments in Italian colonial policy. Though only recently acquired and despite their scant economic value, the Italian colonies have been an object of serious thought to all Ministries since the war, and especially to the present régime. Vast improvements in irrigation have been undertaken in Eritrea with a view to intensifying the growth of cotton. Cyrenaica and Tripolitania have been pacified and are beginning to receive Italian settlers. In the diplomatic sphere the outstanding success of the Fascist régime has been a favorable solution of the question of Jubaland. England had long since promised to hand this province over to Italy since it was essential to the economic development of the desert shores of Somaliland. In bringing the longstanding negotiations to a successful conclusion Fascism has not only scored a victory helpful to its prestige at home but gained positive and permanent advantages for the country it has been serving. The cession of the Jarabub oasis by the government of Egypt is hardly of the same importance. The oasis has little economic value, though it may tend to give greater security to Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.

The most interesting aspect of all these dealings has been the manner in which the results were obtained. They have been wholly matters of diplomatic exchange without any trace of political conflict, and this fact is a distinct credit to the present Italian Government.

The achievements of Fascist diplomacy have been really more significant in the domain of commerce. Besides the treaty with Jugoslavia, the accord between Italy and Russia merits special notice. Here the object on the Italian side was to drain Russian wheat and Russian oil toward the Black Sea to the profit of the Italian merchant marine, and to open south Russia to Italian industrial products. So far results have not come up to expectations. Circumstances in Russia, particularly the shortage of capital, have prevented that country from developing enough production to sustain a regular export service. Italy, likewise short of money, has not been able to back her commercial policy with the long term credits essential to the rapid sale of her manufactures in Russia. Nevertheless this realistic Italian policy was soundly conceived and as conditions become more favorable will yet bring Italy great economic profits.

Italy, furthermore, was the first Great Power among the Allies of the war to reëstablish commercial relations with Germany. She has also come to satisfactory arrangements with France. But for the most part, she is tending with good reason to seek the outlets she needs in Central and Eastern Europe, where competition is less severe, and where she has an opportunity to be of service to new countries of insufficient technical equipment. Thus she can ground her political influence on firm bases of interest.

To these successes in diplomatic, colonial, or economic policy, should be added the happy outcome of the financial negotiations conducted at London and Washington. The beneficial effects of the debt settlements on Italian economic life we have noted.

Much more debatable seems the policy that Italian diplomacy has been following in the eastern Mediterranean. Fascism, it is true, is not responsible for this policy which it inherited from others and has merely pursued, giving it however a much more hazardous character. To satisfy Italy's territorial aspirations, a sphere of influence in Asia Minor was promised her by the Allies during the war. The Italians looked with favor on this arrangement because Asia Minor seemed to be an ideal region for settlers from Italy and a splendid avenue of approach to eastern markets for Italian commerce. However, Italy was sacrificed to Greece and long harbored keen resentment against that country in consequence. The expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor was openly hailed in Italy, though the rise of a strong Turkey under Mustapha Kemal, while consoling Italians for past disappointments, ruined their future prospects in other regards.

Mussolini has nevertheless gone on developing Italian influence in the Near East in most varied guises. Groups of Italian colonists are prosperously located in Egypt, in Palestine, and in Syria. Italy is trying to establish her prestige in these regions at the expense of France by adroitly seconding the interests of the Holy See. The annexation of the Dodecanese is the most visible evidence of patient Italian pressure in the Mediterranean.

Yet Italian policy can hardly win any substantial success at the eastern end of the Mediterranean basin. Neither England nor France seems disposed to facilitate any expansion of Italy between Egypt and the Gulf of Alexandretta. The suspicions of the Greek and the Turks have been increased, and Turkey is watching every Italian move. A sense of this helplessness may have inspired Mussolini in his recent conversations with Sir Austen Chamberlain, in which, as has plausibly been guessed, the Italian Government may have offered England the support of its army and navy in case a Turko-British conflict occurred over Mosul.

Regardless, however, of the results which Fascism may or may not achieve in the Near East, its policies are understandable and may in some respects be justified. On the other hand, the awkward and brutal manifestations of nationalism which creep into those policies are deeply injurious to Italian influence. In view of the intimate dependence of Fascism on national feeling, what is surprising is not that such manifestations occur but that Mussolini has succeeded in evading their disastrous effects. The most celebrated of all these outbreaks was the affair at Corfu. The bombardment of this undefended town in time of peace by an Italian fleet made almost as bad an impression abroad as the assassination of Matteotti. It isolated Italy in world opinion and discredited the whole foreign policy of Fascism. Untimely expressions of the same nationalistic feeling have been frequent since that time without any appreciable gains. The most recent example was the campaign conducted against Germany on the occasion of certain events in the Upper Adige. This episode provoked enduring resentment between the two countries and Mussolini has had to do his utmost to attenuate them.

This same orgy of nationalism determines the attitude of Italy toward the League of Nations. Everything of an international savor has long since become anathema to the Fascists, who will see nothing good in anything except "sacred selfishness" and national aggressiveness. Peace, in their view, can be guaranteed only by a balance of power. They look not to Geneva but to the Italian army and the Italian navy to preserve their security. This complete return to a state of mind that prevailed in Italy before the war becomes evident in the press through intemperate insistence on Italian national aspirations. Italians think of themselves as a proletarian nation which has come on the scene too late to partake of the riches of the world. Mussolini himself is constantly proclaiming this idea. The result is that the notion of force gradually imposes itself upon the Italian mind much as the notion of revolution comes to appeal to exploited workingmen.

Mussolini was the first to turn his country's gaze upon the glories of an Italian empire, based on an indomitable army, a vigilant navy, and a daring aviation corps. A potential empire, it may be, made up rather of covetousness and imagination than of sound realities, but an empire, nevertheless, by virtue of the grand memories it arouses of the ancient Roman world. Contarini's resignation early in the present year was held abroad to stand in close relationship to this progressive infiltration of nationalistic sentimentalism into Italy's foreign outlook.

Statesmen throughout Europe have come to feel that Mussolini, whether by temperament or by necessity, is tending rather to flatter the patriotic vanities of his people than to seek more deep lying advantages; and disquieting parallels between Italian policies of 1926 and German policies of 1913, and between the two leaders-in-chief, Mussolini and William II, inevitably present themselves to the mind. Italian laments today recall the "iron circle" of which Germany complained before the war. For all of the Duce's protestations that Italy has no designs in conflict with existing treaties, and that she will remain a peaceful power, Italian policies create an atmosphere of restiveness and constraint. And this reputation, deserved or undeserved, does Italy no good.

To cite only one example, we may suspect that present-day Italian attitudes are not strengthening the desire for independence in Austria, that, in fact, they are forcing Austria and Germany closer together.

A war-torn Europe, repentant for past mistakes, is now blindly groping through the haze of uncertain economic formulas to find a way to unity as the solution of her material problems. Germany has been giving most tangible demonstrations of good will. The Franco-German menace has all but vanished. But the imperialistic aims of Italy, and her adventurous policies in the Near East, make her, whatever her statesmen may say to the contrary, exactly what Russia is in the Far East: a source of instability and disquietude.

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