FOR over two years the people of the United States have been collaborating with President Roosevelt in his effort to solve American economic and social difficulties. They are aware that the President is concerned not with immediate economic reconstruction only, but with lasting social and economic reform as well. This is why I believe that the American people are in a particularly favorable position to understand the efforts of Premier Mussolini to solve urgent economic problems in Italy and to establish at the same time a new and improved social and economic system.
Fascism came to power in Italy in a moment of profound and violent friction between capital and labor. The conflict threatened not only the country's economic stability but also its political stability. Radical organizations, especially those of the socialists, had obtained a strong hold over the laboring classes and were beginning to give the struggle for economic advancement a decidedly political turn. In addition to the serious economic losses caused by an ever-increasing number of strikes and lock-outs, there was imminent danger of a complete transformation of the political bases of the whole structure of the Italian state. It was primarily to meet and deal with this danger that the fascist movement arose.
Anyone familiar with the history of Europe knows that the associative tendency in human nature has been influenced by two fundamentally opposite forces. There is on the one hand a tendency to combine with other men of similar occupation, either for purposes of protection or achievement. But on the other there is a tendency toward emancipation from these occupational groups and consequently toward individual freedom (as when the French Revolution overthrew the mediæval corporations and proclaimed the freedom of labor).
But the new freedom could not thrive within the narrow geographical limits of European countries. Even today there is an enormous difference between the flexible political and social structure of the United States, a country of vast open spaces, and the comparative rigidity
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