THE gigantic strides towards autarchy taken by Italy in the last few years have aroused widespread interest, but also many misapprehensions both as to general objectives and as to practical achievements thus far.
The meaning of the word "autarchy" is evident enough from its etymology. Yet it would be a mistake to describe Italian autarchy as an attempt to achieve a condition of totalitarian economic independence in which no goods whatsoever are imported from other countries. The best definition of autarchy is the one given by the Duce in his historic speech delivered on the Capitol, March 23, 1936: "The dominating problem in this new phase of Italian history will be that of securing, in the shortest possible time, the maximum degree of economic independence for the nation. No nation can secure on its own territory the ideal of complete, one hundred percent economic self-sufficiency, and even if this were possible it would probably not be desirable. But all nations strive to free themselves as far as possible from economic dependence on foreign countries." The Duce pointed out that there was only one field in which autonomy should be striven for in the most absolute sense -- national defense. In other fields, he declared, autarchy should not mean the abolition of all importations or the suppression of all commercial relations with other countries, but rather a systematic and careful organization of those relations. In fact, it is even possible that under an autarchic régime existing relations might be extended and improved or new ones might be created. There is only one basic criterion -- attainment of the greatest possible general economic advantage.
In some cases Italy may wish to balance her trade with specified countries by buying from them the raw materials which she needs in her economic life. In some cases her exports may serve merely to create credits or foreign currency reserves which will enable her to purchase on the world market the consumption goods which she needs but cannot
Loading, please wait...