Read here an interesting article about English Catholics and Fascism.
This is a beautiful reinforcement of the points I have made very often on this blog: Fascism was good for Catholicism, it was good for Italy and it was, in fact, so successful as a model for 15 years that many English Catholics were quite impressed. The mutual admiration and pen friendship between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini will, here, remain unmentioned.
Now, a couple of things must be clear, and I have also made them clear several times here: the Fascist experience was a (brilliant) reaction to particularly troubled times, but cannot and should not be taken as example of what should happen today. Whether we discuss Putin or Napoleon, Caesar or Pinochet, Franco or Mussolini, we must put things in their own historic , religious and cultural context, without which we are guaranteed to not understand anything of anything.
The Italy going out of the First World War was an Italy not only ravaged by an extremely taxing war, but deeply wounded in its social structure. For two years (which are remembered as the biennio rosso, the “two red years”) the Communist made a factual bid for a revolution, ultimately not succeeding but certainly managing to complete a stage rehearsal for it. Up to one thousand violent deaths a month witness a situation of creeping civil war.
The creeping, slowly mounting civil unrest was finally stopped by the inept, indecisive, politically correct, cowardly and sheer incompetent Liberal government in the Summer of 1921, as it became clear even to them that the time of posturing and positioning for political advantage had gone and decisive action was now urgently required. Calm came back in the Country.
But at that point, something had been irremediably broken. The relationship of trust between many Italians (particularly the “haves”) and their elected rulers had been broken, even as the recently introduced universal suffrage showed the devastating potential of giving the vote to masses of angry “have nots”.
When a new, very violent, at that time clearly anti-clerical, but fiercely anticommunist force began to emerge, they met the approval of great part of the middle class, who understood that they might not escape so well a second attempt of the Communists to get in power and simply did not trust the State to protect them against it. Suddenly, the very efficient Fascist cudgel appealed to teachers, lawyers, managers, army and police officers, even little employees. The Italian Democracy died not of violence, but of moral and political bankruptcy.
The successful end of the March on Rome was, also, certainly not the start of the dictatorship. Mussolini’s power after becoming Prime Minister was rapidly consolidated by his decisive action, the rapid liquidation of the Communist menace, and a clear sense of accomplishment as the Italians gradually noticed that these guys could deliver. The events from Summer 1924 to January 1925, which led to the start of the proper dictatorship, once again showed the Italian people that between Fascists and Liberals it was, really, a no-brainer. The rest is, as they say, history, and gave us a wonderful social, economic, and religious run.
Knowing what I know of Italy, I can see parallelisms with modern Russia. In both cases, an inept democracy followed by a strong man gradually persuaded people that a failed democracy isn’t worth renouncing to a brilliant autocrat; and in both cases, the new guy united a very sensible economic policy with an even more sensible religious one, amassing more and more support as the years go by.
Most of my readers come from the Anglo-Saxon space, where democracy is simply ingrained and every other form of government considered evil. But the rest of the world does not have such robust democratic traditions, and I fully understand them. Democracy is not my religion, Catholicism is.
Give me Putin over Yeltsin, and Benito Mussolini over Luigi Facta (who wasn’t even the worse of them) every day.
The way language influences the political discourse is always a fascinating thing to behold.
I grew up in Italy, where the adjective fascista was considered the height of the offence if you were a leftist and, as a reaction, a statement of coolness for young people who were conservatively oriented. “Fascist, that new sweater of yours!” we would say to congratulate his or her owner; “Is this your new car? Fascist!” [the car]; “where do you go today, all beautifully fascist?” (“where are you going today, as you are so well-dressed and all trimmed?”). The same word was used, even if deprived of a political connotation – there was no implication whatsoever that the owner of the sweater was, politically, a Fascist – as an insult or a compliment.
The same happens, I think, with the word “gay”, used by a tiny minority of perverts and leftist to refer to homosexuals, and from a much larger percentage of the population – which, incidentally, tells you something about the lay of the land on the matter – as a synonymous of either disgraceful effeminacy, or outright dumbness and stupidity. As in Italy, the expression “did you really buy a Prius? Oh, this is so gay!” does certainly not imply that the unfortunate buyer of such a (say) crappy, useless, inefficient, PC vehicle is a troubled soul; but one gets the message anyway.
True battles are fought around the use of such words, because words are powerful weapons. The word “gay” was once a way homosexuals referred to each other, but has now become their flag. They want to decide whether the word “gay” was used in a way they approve; they refuse to be called in any other way that has not been officially approved by them (the one with the many initials is an example). They want to control the way they are called, because this in turn defines the way they are perceived. Therefore, not even homosexual is good enough nowadays; whilst perfectly correct, traditionally used words like “pervert”, “sexually deviant” and “sodomite” are clearly taboo.
The Conservatives have acquiesced to this for too long, and this subservience must stop.
It is time to admit that the liberals have been much better at playing the language game than the conservatives; that too much ground has been given away and it is now the time to take it back; that the use of words is an important battleground in the wars about social issues. That if you stop calling one what he is, you’ll allow him to cover the issue. Once again: would you call zoophiles “smart” because they insist on you doing so and claim to be oh so horribly, horribly hurt if you don’t? Nor would I….
A litmus test for this is Italy. Italy is a country blessed with a strong resistance to political correctness and language manipulation. As I have stated, the attempt of the left to demonise Fascism has been countered by applying the adjective to cool things and people; the word “gay” is used in an extremely ironic way; very few people (only the reddest around) shun from the use of very clear words to define sexual perverts, from the educated “invertito” and “omosessuale” to the fairly coarse “frocio” to the very common “checca” (a diminutive of Francesca, a female name) to the even more subtle “Marisa”; and attempts to change the reality of things (“non seer” instead of “blind”, “alternatively able” instead of “disabled”, and others) have been already abandoned, sunk by the loud laugh of the entire country. In short, the resistance of the Italians to language manipulation makes it more difficult to proceed to opinion manipulation, and vice versa.
It is high time that the Italian example is followed abroad. No more acquiescence to the homos’ language terrorism. No more calling them the way they want to be called, but rather calling them what they are. Language is powerful. You can almost completely sanitise the idea of abortion by calling it “planned parenthood”, or of contraception by calling it “family planning”. The very word euthanasia is un-Christian (actually, pre-Christian). If we let the perverts have their way, soon we’ll say “gender” as if it had nothing to do with one’s own sex!
Fortunately, things are slowly changing. The general population does tend to react to unnatural politically correct nuEnglish (the word “gay” used as a pejorative was certainly not planned by the homos, and was heavily fought by the BBC before having to admit defeat in the face of reality), and I even seem to sense a shift to a more aggressive language here and there, with for example Michael Voris now openly and assertively saying “homos” where he would once have said “gays” or “homosexuals”. But we must persevere on this. We must become more assertive. We must free the language from liberal distortions and go back to the proper use of words.
Chi parla male, pensa male. He who talks badly, thinks badly. (Nanni Moretti)
The capture of Ratko Mladic, the notorious bastard of the Bosnian War, once again reminded me of a similar Italian situation, how Italians dealt with it, and why.
The Italy of the post WW I years was extremely explosive, and during the “biennio rosso” (1919-1921) it seemed that an outright civil war was in the cards. As it is well-known, a de-facto alliance of liberals, landowners, industrialists, conservative Catholics and Fascists put an end to this danger.
When it was clear that the Fascists had got the upper hand, they had to deal with the opposition. But they weren’t Serbians, or Spanish commies. In the end, everyone wanted to live peacefully, and leave adversaries alone as much as this could be reasonably done. The most used device to “pacify” the country was typically Italian: castor oil.
In two words, a small troop of Fascist activist would present themselves to the home of the relevant chap (a socialist, or an anti-fascist liberal or Catholic) and invite him to drink the castor oil. The refusal to drink obviously meant open war, but the acceptance of the “medical aid”a sort of token: one would abstain from anti-fascist activity and would, henceforth, be left alone. No blood, no murders, no widows, no orphans. Not even physical violence. You can call this fascist oppression and I won’t say it was pleasant. But given the circumstances I call it absolutely genial, very Italian, and very Catholic.
This praxis, savagely criticised in the following decades, was in my eyes extremely civilised, and I don’t know any other country where such limitless hate was set aside in such a bloodless way. Humiliating as the drinking of the castor oil was, it was a humiliation meant to consolidate Fascism in power without tragedies, and keeping even one’s adversaries totally unscathed.
I must honestly say that, whilst the civil war phase at the end of WW II was much bloodier than the Fascists ever dreamt to be, most anti-Fascists were honest and decent enough to remember the wisdom of the treatment and, when their hour struck, caused many bottles of castor oil to go over the pharmacy counter and, from there, down different throats. Again, I see in this the way of a country where even the strongest hatred very rarely causes people to forget a sense of humanity and Christian piety; not even then, when those now in the commanding position wouldn’t even define themselves as Christians. Such is the power of an all-pervading Catholic attitude.
The most humorous way to describe in very visual terms the difference between the Serbian and the Italian attitude can be seen in this fragment of a Don Camillo/Peppone film, so popular at the time because so adherent to the Italian reality.
Unfortunately there are no subtitles, but the story is easily told.
1) An old fascist (the great Paolo Stoppa, dressed as a Redskin) has profited from the Carnival to come back to his old village; but he has been recognised from Peppone’s commies and is now very afraid something truly bad may happen to him. He takes refuge by Don Camillo.
2) Don Camillo reminds him that he would feel “safer” if it wasn’t for the castor oil the other had made him drink many yeasr before. The other has the usual excuses: come on, we were mere boys then…
3) Don Peppone, the commie mayor, intervenes after having gone in from the window. He carries a bottle of…. castor oil. Doctor’s orders, he says. “It will do you good”. An iron bar strenghtens the doctor’s advice considerably.
4) The Fascist chap makes a first attempt at escaping, but is stopped. He frees himself a second time, reaches for Don Camillo’s gun, threatens Peppone. “Don’t be stupid, it’s loaded”, says Don Camillo.
5) Now it’s iron bar against gun. Peppone must drink.
6) Triumphant, the fascist chap sends him away. “Now go and call your reds. Perhaps it will cost me my skin, but I won’t go to hell alone”.
7) Don Camillo smiles. He fills a glass. He remarks about how good the oil’s quality is. “You’ll like it”, he says. When the chap threatens him, he informs him that the gun is not loaded, and overcomes him with sheer physical strenght. “I’ll count up to three, then I’ll pulverise you by mere force of slaps”. The chap has no choice but to drink. He is then sent away with the advice of “dressing as a hare” before he is found by Peppone’s boys.
8) Everything seems fine, but Jesus now talks to Peppone: he has lied. “If I had told that the gun wasn’t loaded, Peppone would have massacred him”, tries Don Camillo. “You could have spoken when the redskin forced Peppone to drink the oil!”, says Jesus. “But then Peppone wouldn’t have drunk!”, answers the cheeky priest feigning indifference whilst lighting a cigar.
9) Jesus calls this “vengeance”, Camillo replies with “Justice”. When Jesus insists on him having a “profound sense of justice”, his words are clear: “justice demands that violence and lie be punished”. Camillo’s eyes fall on the castor oil bottle. “Ah, you understood me well!”, says Jesus.
10) At this point, resistance is futile. Camillo tries to cheat, but then fills the glass properly. Before he drinks, he movingly says: “in the end, my Lord, this will remind me of my youth”.
I hope that this little, delightful sketch has added some sun to your Sunday, and that it has explained to you the difference between mad fanaticism, and a Catholic approach to the enemy.
From the treasure trove of Lux Occulta, another interesting vintage booklet in economic and social matters, “A Christian Alternative to Communism and Fascism”.
The book has his own little faults and read with today’s mentality, calls for administered prices and a minute description of the corporative structure do seem more than a bit naive. Still, the booklet makes a good job of explaining the basic idea of Catholic corporatism and whilst the preoccupation of separating it from Fascist corporatism – unjustly vilified and actually much more similar in his day-to-day reality to the model herein described than to the nazi-ish, totalitarian apparatus described – is evident and clearly due to the openly stated necessity of avoiding any identification with the Fascist experience, there is no denying that a lot of sound and easily doable ideas transpire from this little work.
The first is that the omnipresent State activity must be controlled if it is not to stifle the freedom of the citizen. These words were prophetic many decades ago but are tragically true today, after the advent of the “social state” (better said: socialist state) has created the idea that it be not only normal, but good that state nannyism should put its dirty nose in every activity of its citizens.
The second is the concept of subsidiarity: that the citizens should come together and create organisations meant to deal with those matters by which the citizens cannot adequately provide autonomously but do not want to leave to a pachydermic, bureaucratic, wasteful, invading State. Matters like wages, hours of work, regulation of competition, pension contribution, social care for the ill and disabled come to mind. This is a very modern concept, some aspects of which are highly developed and highly efficient in countries like Germany, and that should be given much bigger consideration today.
The third one (closely linked to the second) is the concept of proper corporativism: that such activities should be regulated by professional organisations similar to the guilds of old (and actually very similar to the corporazioni of Fascist memory), left free to regulate their own matters in a way able to make their industry at the same time competitive and worthwhile to work in. The bakers have different hours than the transport industry, but as they are all interested in the prosperity of their respective sector they will decide within their own professional guild how they want to have their own wages, working hours, pension, social security & Co. regulated, with a fair sharing of the burdens and profits making the industry attractive for both employers and employees and able to withstand the competition for skilled workforce aspiring to a decent wage and to a decent life.
All this – and this is the basic message – can be regulated and decided within the relevant guilds much more efficiently than through an all-pervasive State intervention imposing rules and obstacles (as the Italians beautifully say: lacci e lacciuoli) which are burdensome and counterproductive. If we think of Blighty, the recent proliferation of asphyxiating health and safety regulations and the even more recent tsunami of “equality” legislation are the best example of a self-serving, ever-expanding State apparatus only interested in creating jobs for their own protegees at the expense of the working – and risking – businesses of the country.
There is much to say for a wise, gradual delegation of powers to the professional organisations and to the local communities. When such systems are implemented, they tend to work well. The German health care system is broadly based on such principles and is infinitely more efficient and less expensive than the NHS Behemoth; so was the Italian health care system until the Sixties, when the cooperative-based, corporative health care system was replaced by a state monster of NHS inspiration. Professional bodies (say: for lawyers, chartered accountants & Co) have a good track record of being able to regulate themselves in a rather effective and efficient manner. Mutual help organisations like the Knights of Columbus in the United States show with what success individuals can organise themselves to provide for self-regulated social services. All this with a degree of efficiency and social justice unknown to Western European bureaucracies purely bent on creating consensus and job for potential voters who are, interestingly enough, never the ones who have to foot the bill.
There is a lot to say for this kind of Catholic corporatism. Not only from a moral and christian point of view, but also from a practical one. The reason that such a model is neglected is that – in this country as elsewhere – the citizens have been brainwashed into thinking that there is no alternative to a huge nosy aunt wanting to regulate your life and matters in the most minute details, allegedly for your good but in reality to procure jobs and favours for her own friends.