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World Association of International Studies

PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Fascism is Historically and Culturally Specific
Created by John Eipper on 10/20/17 1:13 PM

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Fascism is Historically and Culturally Specific (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 10/20/17 1:13 pm)

A few comments in response to Ric Mauricio (18 October):

The characterization of various dictatorships as "fascist" is a derogatory political catchword devoid of scientific precision. It tends to be used among so-called democrats to refer to any system which displaces popular representation.

It is only when viewed as peculiarly Italian phenomenon that the essence of Fascism become clear. The ideology of Fascism viewed historically is a peculiar fusion of syndicalist theory and Italian nationalism.

The nation becomes transfigured into a "corpus mysticum," an unbroken chain of generations, armed with a mission which is fulfilled through the course of the historical process. The duty of the individual is to elevate himself or herself to the heights of the national consciousness, and individual rights shall not conflict with the needs of the sovereign state--meaning, the nation.

The historical beginnings of the Fascist movement are comprehensible only in the light of the severe political and economic crisis which Italy faced after WWI.

The corporate state, later completed or "corrected" by the Socializzazione, joins state administration and private enterprise while preserving the capitalist order. The former (state administration) is understood to be the most practicable and feasible means of serving national interests, the latter (capitalism) the best adapted method of production. In a striking contrast to the laissez-faire doctrine of economic liberalism, Fascism set forth the right of the state to intervene in the process of production whenever private initiative was not up to the task at hand. The emphasis on the supremacy of the state was an effort to transcend the disastrous economic and political effects of class conflicts by focusing on the solidarity of capital and labor in the production process.

Corporations were entrusted with the important functions of drawing up a list of candidates for the second chamber of Parliament, which would be submitted to a vote of the entire population. And since the majority of deputies came from the vocational associations, the body of popular representatives was capable of providing expert support to the work of economic legislation.

The cultural reforms of Giovanni Gentile with his philosophy of actualism strove for the development of youth personality according to Socratic precepts, which at the same time emphasized tradition as one of the great cultural forces. Fascist educational legislation made religious education obligatory in the schools. International relations were guided by geographical location and historical traditions. Diplomacy revealed few changes from previous governments and remained empirical and realistic; what changed was the vigor with which Fascist Italy made her diplomatic claims into action.

Fascist Italy attempted to continue and deepen the traditional friendship with England and also with France. However, the attempt to denationalize the 100,000 Italian settlers in Tunisia proved to be a serious problem complicated by sanctions from the great colonial empires against a relatively minor colonial Italian action.

The above is a free elaboration from an article in the pre-WWII American Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.

JE comments: Whenever a WAISer blurts out the "fascist" label for an unpleasant or authoritarian regime, we get chastised by Eugenio Battaglia, who reminds us of the historical and cultural specificity of Italian Fascism. I hope Eugenio doesn't mind my quoting one of his off-Forum comments: "I write so that WAISers will understand Fascism better and stop calling 'fascist' any damned fool from Mao to Stalin, from Pinochet to Idi Amin Dada...and why not Donald Trump?"

Many (not Eugenio!) would include Mussolini on the "damned fool" list, but Eugenio's point is well taken. Why has "fascist" become a catch-all epithet? Think of the "Antifa" movement rising at present in the US.

If we read Eugenio's description literally, couldn't we call a state like South Korea "fascist"--corporatist, strongly nationalist, with a strong alignment of government, labor, and capital?

Be warned, WAISers: Misuse the fascist label, and Eugenio will hold you accountable.


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  • Economics of Fascism; From Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/25/17 3:34 AM)

    Ric Mauricio writes:



    Eugenio Battaglia (October 20) wrote, "In a striking contrast to the laissez-faire doctrine of economic liberalism, Fascism set forth the right of the state to intervene in the process of production whenever private initiative was not up to the task at hand. The emphasis on the supremacy of the state was an effort to transcend the disastrous economic and political effects of class conflicts by focusing on the solidarity of capital and labor in the production process."


    I would like to thank Eugenio for his clarification on what Fascism is. But I believe he unfairly chastises me for my use of the word "fascism" and equating it with Mao, Hitler and Stalin. If you look at my post, I stated "extreme fascism." The opposite would be "extreme democracy" or anarchy, which leads to the tyranny of the masses. The problem, of course, is who decides that "private initiative is not up to the task at hand." And who focuses on the "solidarity of capital and labor in the production process."


    If I read Eugenio's definition correctly, that definition fits the founding of the People's Republic of China to a T. Because of the failures of laissez-faire economics and the imbalance of wealth amongst its citizens, Mao instituted the Marxist government to intervene in the process of production. There was an emphasis on the supremacy of the state over the individual. And in order to do that, he had to purge (yes, murder) millions of his own people and attempt to destroy the cultural history of China. I call this extreme fascism. Today, the Communist Party does use censorship and a heavy hand in governing its citizens, and the largest companies in China are SOEs (State-Owned Enterprises), so they do still practice, if I am not mistaken, the definition that Eugenio provides, "fascism." That is not being derogatory, it is just stating a fact.


    Here in California, we have the opposite. We border on extreme democracy. But is it really democracy? For example, Governor Brown just made California a "sanctuary" state, meaning that our law enforcement does not have to comply with ICE. I do not recall ever being asked to vote on this or my opinion on this. Is this an emphasis on the supremacy of the state over the individual? Wait, that's not democracy. What is it? Is Governor Brown deciding on his own that private citizens are not up to the task?


    JE comments:  Eureka, therein lies the rub.  Who decides when private initiative is "not up to the task"?  And perhaps more importantly, how do you ensure "solidarity" from the top down?  Coercive solidarity?


    In practice if not in theory, is today's China the ultimate fascist state?  Discuss.


    It's shaping up to be Fascism Wednesday.  Next on the subject:  Istvan Simon.


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    • China as a Fascist State? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/26/17 4:11 AM)
      Eugenio Battaglia, who sometimes apologizes for his English (although he obviously speaks it better than most of us native speakers), has produced a superb formulation of Fascist economics, actually one of the clearest and best I've ever seen.

      This formulation underlines the fact that Fascism, in economics, as in other things, is the opposite of liberalism. It is the State unbound and freed from any subordination to liberty. The State so unbound becomes Total--and that's Totalitarianism; the total subordination of the individual to the State.


      I think we can all agree that extreme degrees of economic liberty do not produce ideal results--even most libertarians agree that some degree of regulation, including taxation, of some kinds of economic activity, is necessary. But the absence of any economic freedom has also been shown, by extensive experimentation during the 20th century, to produce poor results. The lack of liberty, in the economic sphere too, degrades the quality of human life in non-material ways, and illiberal economies don't work economically. The market, in some role or another, is essential to economic progress and growth--to the creation of wealth in the first place, which we now know pretty well can't be produced by decree, by central planning, by top-down organization by the State.


      China is not at all an example of Fascism--China has extremely illiberal politics, and is a quite oppressive state in my respects, but economic freedom is probably greater than in the US, and the Chinese (and the world) are reaping the rewards of this.


      Of course there are different definitions of "economic freedom," and I am using the term strictly defined--the right to engage in economic activity, negotiate prices, and to reap the rewards of that activity, with minimal interference by the State.*


      *I disagree with the Heritage Foundation's definition of economic freedom which includes many non-economic factors like freedom of expression, environmental problems, etc., all of which are important issues but not part of economic freedom per se.


      JE comments:  With China's heavy reliance on SOEs (state-owned enterprises) and the ubiquitous cronyism and graft of the 10 million party members who run them, can we really call its economic system liberal or "free"?


      Has anyone in WAISworld done business in China?  I'd love to hear an anecdote or two.


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      • Doing Business in China: A Friend's Saga (Nigel Jones, UK 10/26/17 6:10 PM)
        It's a while back now, but a Californian friend in the mortgage business saw the crash of 2008 coming and while standing by the Pacific one day decided to relocate to China.

        He went to live in a provincial Chinese city, and before succumbing to a fatal heart attack, experienced a mix of personal freedom and business frustration. On the one hand he acquired two Chinese girlfriends and roared about the country on a vintage WWII Nazi motorbike, proudly sporting Iron Cross livery; on the other, he found it impossible for a Westerner to get a business off the ground.


        His conclusion was that the Chinese are great at business..but only for the Chinese.


        JE comments:  What a sad ending for an intrepid soul.  The chutzpah required to pilot a 70-year-old motorcycle in Chinese traffic speaks volumes.  Nigel's friend experienced personal freedom and business frustration; the stereotypical image for China is the other way around.


        Did you friend ever write about his adventures, Nigel?


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      • Doing Business in China (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/27/17 10:15 AM)
        John E asked, "Has anyone in WAISworld done business in China? I'd love to hear an anecdote or two."

        I visited China twice in the last year, and have done some business there.


        I think it's fair to say that corruption degrades economic freedom, and significantly. But conditions for entrepreneurship in China are amazing.


        Here is a good article on it: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tseedward/2016/04/05/the-rise-of-entrepreneurship-in-china/#498b9eff3efc


        State-owned enterprises (SOEs) employ only 16% of Chinese workers, and their role in the Chinese economy is shrinking.


        JE comments:  Istvan Simon has also written on business and entrepreneurship in China.  His take is less sanguine.  I'll try to post Istvan's comment before the end of today.


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      • Doing Business in China: Frustrating (Istvan Simon, USA 10/28/17 7:55 AM)
        I have done business in China, and given that I have lived in China and that my wife is Chinese, I could probably say that I am fairly well informed about the country. Though I am sure that Cameron Sawyer is well informed about China as well, I'd have to say that I disagree with Cameron (October 26th) that China is a freer market than the United States. That is not even close to the truth in my opinion.

        The Chinese economy is a mixture of statism and free enterprise. The government reserves to itself large sectors of the economy which it considers strategic assets. Thus all communications in China are under government control, including telephones, the generation and distribution of energy, roads, the famous disgraceful attempt to censor the Internet, and all banking.  Together that must be more than 50% of the economy I'd say, though I do not have exact statistics at the moment. This is a subjective but well-informed personal assessment.


        The fact that all banking is in the government's control is particularly disastrous to the Chinese economy. That is because small businesses do not have access to capital, which is dispensed by political influence, and is essentially a corrupt system. Those who have access to the Communist Party bigwigs, have everything. Those that do not, are up the famous Sh*t Creek.


        As WAISers who have followed my activities know, I have researched renewable energy for the past 15 years or so. I had a supplier in China that made the prototypes of my Solar Collecting Panels, which was a very high technology contraption, that followed the sun, and had 1 cm square "panels" which worked with highly concentrated solar radiation at 1000 suns. A 1 cm square "panel" would produce 25 watts of energy all day long, from sunrise to sunset, as long as it received direct sunlight. The company that made my prototypes was a small company that made Chinese telescope parts. The technology for telescopes is the same as what I needed for my panels, because to watch a star one needs to compensate also for the rotation and movement of the Earth in its orbit.


        This company is everything that proves how wrong Cameron Sawyer is in his assessment. Because there is no venture capital in China, and because the banking system is corrupt, as I explained above, this small company struggled against incredible odds. They succeeded, but their survival is hardly an advertisement for the Chinese economic model and system.  Much to the contrary.


        I'd like to add a few more observations about China. After Deng Xiaoping started the ground-shaking capitalist reform that ended the disastrous reign of Mao Zedong, Chinese universities recovered from the terrible depredations of Mao's criminal cultural revolution which destroyed a whole generation. Chinese universities are very good at some things, but not so good at other things. The Chinese are practical people. So they educate fabulous engineers, but not-so-fabulous scientists. Considering that China has 1/5 of the world's population, one could expect about 1/5 of the World's Nobel Prizes to go to Chinese scientists. Yet that is not at all the case, almost all Chinese Nobel Prize winning scientists live in the West. I think that this is due to the cultural character of the Chinese. The Chinese are not curious, and they do not routinely ask why something works the way it does. They are happy that it works and do not usually ask the question why. This leads to great engineers but lousy scientists.


        Russia is almost the exact opposite of the Chinese. Russian scientists are great, but Russian engineers are usually lousy.


        Finally, I enclose the following reference that has some interesting commentary on what has been happening with China's economy in recent years, and sheds further light on my qualitative comments above. It includes some statistical data relevant to our discussions. In particular it points out falling growth, problems of the banking sector with bad loans, and an excess in real estate inventory.


        https://www.americanfunds.com/individual/insights/investment-insights/spg-andd-china-slow-growth.html?cid=ps_ggl_32589384942


        Cumulatively these problems are very significant, because China's economy since Deng Xiaoping has used a model of economic growth primarily fueled by taking land away from peasants and building real estate on it, apartments, offices, etc., coupled with enormous investments in infrastructure. This model has reached its limits which points to the need for a major change in China's economic model of development. At this point this is not yet happening. Xi Jinping has used an anti-corruption crackdown within the Communist party as an excuse to consolidate his powers. There is a danger that China will revert to an even more authoritarian government than in recent years. Xi Jinping might change the healthy major reform first introduced by Deng Xiaoping that limited the term in office of the top leader, and established procedures on how the next leader was to be chosen.


        JE comments:  Istvan Simon raises a point for further discussion:  is the Chinese development model at its limits?  Even more fundamentally, is Istvan's description of this model (confiscate land, build stuff) accurate?


        (Istvan, one of my best friends is a Russian engineer.  And he's really good at it!  He probably designed the seating in your car.  Maybe it's because of his 20 years in the US?)


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        • Attempting to Do Business in China; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/29/17 8:17 AM)

          Ric Mauricio writes:



          I too have attempted to do business in China. My clients have done or attempted to do business in China. However, not being a good little Communist, I found it to be extremely challenging. Like Istvan, my wife is Chinese, but that did not help at all, since she is as American as one can be (San Francisco-born). I guess since I am also as American as one can be, it would in itself be challenging.


          My client shared with me the nuances of owning property in the PRC. Unlike the US (which is why many PRC citizens love to buy US real estate), you cannot own the land. You just own the property on the land. The land belongs to the "people." She told me that the escrow process is fraught with danger, with escrow officers taking the funds and investing elsewhere while waiting for the sale to close.


          By the way, in a previous post, someone stated that China has no venture capitalists. Ah, but there are. You see, China's VCs are based in Taiwan. So the saber-rattling that you see is just that--all show, no substance.


          The PRC, although Communist in government, is one of the most capitalistic societies today. When I was last in Beijing, in 2012, my tour group was approached by a gentleman selling doodads, and I blurted out, "Good ole capitalism." Oops.


          It is possible to do business in China, but you must have a trustworthy Chinese partner. Hmm.  It is easier to just buy Alibaba.


          BTW, 67% of China's GDP is attributed to the SOEs (State Owned Enterprises).


          JE comments:  Cameron Sawyer recently wrote that the SOEs employ just 16% of China's population.  Are both numbers correct--meaning, do 16% of the Chinese produce 67% of the GDP?  This doesn't make sense, especially given the assumption that the SOEs are less productive than their private-sector counterparts.

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  • Fascist as "Catch-All Epithet" (Istvan Simon, USA 10/25/17 4:05 AM)
    When commenting on Eugenio Battaglia's post of October 20th, John E asked: "Why has 'fascist' become a catch-all epithet?"

    Here's a quote from Eugenio:


    EB: "I write so that WAISers will understand Fascism better and stop calling 'fascist' any damned fool from Mao to Stalin, from Pinochet to Idi Amin Dada...and why not Donald Trump?"


    This came after Eugenio reproduced an article from an encyclopedia explaining the specific characteristics of Italian fascism under Mussolini. I'd like to have a crack at both of these questions.


    Fascism came to represent murderous dictatorships in general because in most people's minds the particular characteristics of Italian Fascism that Eugenio so stubbornly clings to do not matter. There is in fact not that much that distinguishes Pinochet's regime from Mussolini, except perhaps the number of victims, which is much much larger for Mussolini than it is for Pinochet. Clearly, if we are meticulous, we can point to differences. But the general flavor of Pinochet's regime was similar to that of Mussolini. The commonality is much greater than the differences, and the differences much less important to the average citizen than the commonality.


    The key commonality is the belief that the state is more important than the individual, that an individual's life is unimportant, and that the state can in fact take his/her life at will, if the individual becomes a nuisance to the state. Thus neither Mussolini nor Pinochet would blink at murder if that was in their interest. Orlando Letelier was murdered by Pinochet's regime in Washington, DC, much like Anna Politskovskaya or Alexander Litvinenko were murdered by Putin's regime, much like over 100,000 people were murdered by Mussolini's regime, more than 30,000 Ethiopians murdered during the occupation of Ethiopia. Pinochet's victims were of course merely about 3,000. The Ayatollah Khomeini, an Islamic fascist in my view, murdered 30,000 Iranians during a two-month period.  He declared them enemies of "God," and ordered them murdered, and murdered they were.


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/1321090/Khomeini-fatwa-led-to-killing-of-30000-in-Iran.html


    http://www.moreorless.net.au/killers/mussolini.html


    Eugenio might ask in response about the difference between the United States and Mussolini's regime. Did not we kill Anwar al-Awlaki? And I answer, yes we did kill Anwar al-Awlaki, but he was waging war on the United States, and was responsible for the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of innocent Americans, whereas Orlando Letelier to my knowledge did not kill anyone, nor was inciting others to kill anyone. Nor were the 30,000 Ethiopians killed by Mussolini's regime waging war on Italy, nor the other countless thousands of Italians murdered victims of Mussolini's bloodthirsty rage. Nor was Anna Politskovskaya nor Alexander Litvinenko waging war on Russia or inciting others to kill and maim Russians. One could say that al-Awlaki was executed, not murdered, whereas Orlando Letelier, Anna Polistkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, the more than 100,00 Italians, more than 30,000 Ethiopians, more than 30,000 Iranians, were all simply murdered.


    Of course if we are talking about really big murderers, we should add to the list Hitler, Stalin, Mao ZeDong, and Pol Pot, for their victims were in the millions, or tens of millions.


    JE comments:  A regime can be murderous without being fascist, but can a fascist regime exist without being murderous?  I can't answer that.  In my view Iran is an oppressive theocracy, not a fascist state.  But do these distinctions ultimately matter?


    Let's discuss the first link, above, about the 30,000 prisoners allegedly executed by Khomeini in the wake of the Iran-Iraq war (1988).  Some of the victims were as young as 13.  Can our Iran-watchers give us more details?

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    • How Many did Mussolini Kill? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/26/17 12:24 PM)
      Where on earth did Istvan Simon (25 October) arrive at the figure of 100,000 people murdered by Mussolini?

      According to authorities in postwar, antifascist Italy, the killing of only three men is attributed to Mussolini:


      Matteotti, murdered by some fascist men who were caught and sentenced to jail.  The order may have come from many, including some Socialist extremists (and Fascist extremists?) who did not want the realization of Mussolini's idea to form a government with the Socialists.


      Matteotti's son later said it was not Mussolini's fault, and the same Socialist leader Silvestri who at first accused Mussolini, after the war and therefore in completely free conditions, said that Mussolini was not culpable.


      The Rosselli brothers were killed by the French Cagoule group.  It is said that Ciano asked for the favor of the French extremists, but the Communists may also have been involved, as the Rossellis were apparently returning to Italy from Spain to denounce the useless massacres carried out by Communists and Anarchists.


      The Ethiopians were killed in a war that could have been avoided if the regime of the Negus acted differently and if some European countries had not pushed him to antagonize Italy.


      During the "Biennio Rosso" (the Red Biennium) in Italy there was a civil war in which Bolsheviks, Fascists and civilians were all killed, and then we had WWII and the Civil War, but nowhere you can find the figure of 100,000 murdered.


      Of course if you base your information only on biased propaganda, it is useless to debate the subject.


      JE comments:  On a whim I Googled "How many people did Mussolini kill?"  Quora.com is far from definitive or scientific, but the first response claims 900,000--over 600,000 in Ethiopia alone.  Add to this the mass deportations to Hitler's extermination camps.  The grim semantics of death, as Gary Moore reminded us yesterday, complicate any kill tally.  By the same calculus, Truman killed 220,000 Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


      https://www.quora.com/How-many-people-did-Mussolini-kill


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      • How Many did Mussolini Kill? (Carmen Negrin, France 10/27/17 3:20 AM)
        To JE's numbers of those killed by Mussolini (26 October), add the forgotten ones of Spain, in particular those killed by the aerial bombing of civilians.

        If I read Eugenio Battaglia's argument carefully, I could summarize by saying that poor Mussolini was a victim of all those who forced him, by provocation or other means, to do what he really didn't mean to do!


        I have to admit that this gives a truly new perception of the Duce!


        JE comments:  Eugenio has argued many times that Mussolini was manipulated and unfairly maligned by his enemies, not to mention his underlings and supposed "friends"...Il Dupe?


        Unsurprisingly, Eugenio's post has inspired some forceful rebuttals.  Next, Istvan Simon.


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      • How Many did Mussolini Kill? (Istvan Simon, USA 10/27/17 3:59 AM)
        Now come on, Eugenio. I did provide sources for my post of October 26th. Your saying that something is propaganda does not make it so. WAIS is full of serious, professional historians. They can correct me if I am wrong.

        But as John Eipper noted, I am not wrong about Mussolini's death toll. You're the one who is mistaken, with your rose-colored glasses about a bloody dictator.


        By the way, Mussolini in the Salò Republic was just a puppet of Hitler. And he allowed Hitler to deport and kill Italian Jews. How can you excuse such a murderer and justify all the fascist propaganda that you have been sending to WAIS?


        JE comments:  My first "encounter" with the Salò era was Pasolini's vile film 120 Days of Sodom, so it's been an eye-opener to read Eugenio Battaglia's praise of the short-lived Social Republic.  Little facts stick in my mind from Eugenio's posts, such as the Republic's extensive laws in defense of workers' rights, and the balanced budget.  How could such things happen in a stillborn country at war and largely under occupation?  Still, how can the Socializzazione ever be justified, given the deportations and its prolonging a war already lost?


        The "W" of WAIS could, or perhaps should, stand for "wide tent."  I recently rediscovered a quip I first made in 2010, and it's truer now than ever:  if you agree with every posting you read on WAIS, you must be at some other website.


        http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=58316&objectTypeId=52566&topicId=131


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        • Mussolini's Death Toll (Nigel Jones, UK 10/28/17 8:48 AM)
          As someone who has devised and will lead a tour next year on the rise and fall of Italian fascism (details on www.historicaltrips.com), can I contribute my bit to the debate on the number of deaths Mussolini caused?

          I find myself, as I will try to explain, somewhere midway between Eugenio Battaglia's low "score" of three and Istvan Simon's hundreds of thousands.


          During Fascism's rise to power in 1919-22, scores of Italians died in brawls between Fascists and their equally violent Socialist opponents. This was par for the course in political battles in many European states between the wars--e. g. Germany and Spain.


          Mussolini, before he became disastrously entangled with Hitler, was a relatively benign dictator by Latin standards. It is true, as even Eugene admits, that Fascist thugs murdered the prominent Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti, but it is unlikely that Mussolini ordered the killing as it nearly caused his downfall.


          Significantly, and typically for the regime, Fascism's internal enemies were not killed, or sent to concentration camps, but were exiled to Italian islands where they lived fairly comfortably. Prominent post-war Italians who experienced this and lived to tell the tale included later Premier Pietro Nenni, later President Sandro Pertini, and the poet Cesare Pavese. The Communist theorist Antonio Gramsci was even allowed to write his most important works from a Fascist jail cell. (Unfortunately, given the disastrous current influence of his Cultural Marxism.)


          The Rosselli brothers, one of whom led the main anti-fascist movement abroad, Justice and Liberty, were murdered in France in 1937 by the French fascist Cagoule group, but on the orders of Count Ciano, Mussolini's foreign minister and son-in-law, rather than the Duce himself.


          It was only when Mussolini let himself fall under the baleful influence of Hitler that the body count started to mount, but the thousands of dead in the Ethiopian, Spanish, Albanian, Greek and WWII conflicts occurred in war; they were not ordered by Mussolini, though his policies undoubtedly caused or contributed to them.


          As Istvan says, Mussolini's greatest crime was to allow the deportation to their deaths in German camps of some 9,000 Italian Jews. Though this was done under Nazi influence when Mussolini was little more than a puppet, this is no excuse for such a crime.


          To get a second opinion I phoned a friend who wrote a biography of Mussolini and lives in Italy.  He opined that Il Duce was directly responsible for the deaths of 17 opponents--including his own son-in-law Ciano: bad enough, but low on the genocidal scale of other 20th-century tyrants. Among them, Communist dictators like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Mengistu & Co. killed 100 million people.


          JE comments:  Nigel Jones's characterization of a "relatively benign dictator" sounds about right for Mussolini--at least for inside Italy.  Ethiopia and Spain certainly missed the "benign" part.


          Thank you for phoning your biographer friend, Nigel!   This is WAIS investigative prowess at its best.  Next up:  Eugenio Battaglia responds.


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        • Mussolini's Death Toll, and Deportation of Jews (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/27/17 5:00 PM)
          In response to Istvan Simon (27 October), first of all we cannot consider killing in war murder. Otherwise, what should we say about the US killings during the 93% of its history that it has been at war? How many millions of deaths have been caused?

          The Repubblica Sociale Italiana (John, please do not use the ridiculous name Salò Repubblica) continued the war, because a people with dignity cannot accept a shameful change of sides, even if historically this was a practice for the Savoys. Furthermore the RSI returning as an ally of the Axis prevented, as far as possible, a German occupation of Italy.


          Mussolini never allowed the deportation of Jews. The infamous and terrible deportation of 1023 Jews from Rome on 16 October 1943 happened when the rule of the RSI was not yet in full force. Only 17 of those deported returned alive. We may say the same thing about the deportations from Fossoli, among whom was the writer Primo Levi (1919-1987).


          The total of Italian Jews who died, included those who joined the partisans and those deported to Germany, were about 8000. This was from a population of 58,500 Jewish Italians, plus several thousand foreign Jews who arrived in Italy before the war and the closing of borders.


          On Mussolini's orders, the Italian troops in Greece, France, Tunisia and Yugoslavia were ordered to protect the Jews. None were handed over to the Germans, the Vichy collaborators or the Croatian Ustasha, in spite of various notes of protest from the Germans authorities and actions of the German Ambassador.


          On 21 March 1943 the High Italian Command confirmed to all troops, "As per order of Il Duce, the Action No. 1 is to save the Jews who live in the area of Italian occupation, whatever nationality they may be."


          You may refer to the accounts of Simone Veil plus Professor Robert Paxton and Michael Marrus in their book Vichy, France and the Jews, and the books of Leon Poliakov. The British historian Nicholas Farrel wrote that the Italians under Mussolini did much more than the British of Churchill in saving Jews. Furthermore, you may consult the books of Renèe Poxzanski, and articles by Yehoshua Porat. Let me also mention Menachem Shelac in his book A Debt of Gratitude:  History of the Relations between the Italian Army and the Jews in Dalmatia 1941-43.


          I could go on.


          Finally about the numbers we use, how accurate are they? For instance, how many Germans were killed at Dresden by the Allied bombing--25,000 or 200,000? Sources give conflicting numbers.


          JE comments:  I'll avoid calling the RSI the Salò Republic.  I thought this was a neutral term, like Vichy France.  A curiosity:  beyond Salò and Vichy, can WAISers think of any other minor cities that became infamous as capitals of failed or unsavory regimes?  Weimar, sort of, but it was never a capital.

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          • Top-Ten Genocidal Demons; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 10/30/17 2:33 PM)

            Ric Mauricio writes:



            This string on Mussolini's "death toll" is getting "Curiouser and curiouser!"



            I find Eugenio's response to Istvan (October 28) that "we cannot consider killing in war murder" quite intriguing.



            I beg to differ. I would define murder as the taking of lives not in defense of your own life.  When the Japanese killed captured Filipino POWs in Bataan, beheading them to make a point, that I call murder.

            When someone knowingly sends people to camps where they will be exterminated, that I call murder.


            But looking at the list of dictators, Mussolini doesn't even make the Top Ten.


            Kim Il Sung of North Korea, the father of the current crazy one, killed 1.6M of his own people. That is murder.


            Ismail Pasha of Turkey killed 800,000 to 1.8M in the Armenian genocide. Murder.


            Vladimir Lenin, through his war killed 7 to 12M, but according to Eugenio, that is not murder.


            Hideki Tojo killed 5M Japanese, millions in China and thousands of POWs. That is murder.


            Emperor Hirohito killed 8 million, although part of that is a war that he started. The Rape of Nanking is part of that. I classify these events as murder.


            Chiang Kai-Shek, leader of the Kuomintang that lost to Mao and went to Taiwan and committed genocide there is responsible for 10M Chinese deaths. I would say that is murder.


            King Leopold II of Belgium is responsible for working to death 8M in the Congo and 15M total in Africa. Absolutely murder.


            Then, of course, there is Adolf Hitler, who started WWII and was then responsible for millions of deaths. Taking Jews and their protectors to extermination camps is murder, plain and simple. 6M murdered. Lesser known is his genocide of Slavs, whom he felt were inferior. 4.5 to 13.7M. Overall, 30M deaths due to his insanity.


            Josef Stalin, committed genocide of his own people, sending them the Gulags. He is responsible for 40 - 62M deaths. Murder.


            But numero uno is Mao, responsible for 80M Chinese deaths. Definitely murder. And yet, his visage is plastered all over China and to the entrance to the Forbidden City. My wife, when we were in Beijing, asked me if I was going to buy anything with Mao on it. I told her the only I will have with his picture is the yuan. I could never be a good Communist.


            If one studies the history of the rise of any of the above, one is sure to spot certain characteristics of why these men came to power. There is a commonality. Can anyone spot it?


            JE comments:  We shouldn't overlook Pol Pot and his 1 to 3 million killed out of Cambodia's small population of 8 million.  WAISers will certainly have others to add to our List of Infamy.


            So what is it that makes the genocidal demon "click"?  Extreme paranoia?  Some sort of messianic complex?  I hope Leo Goldberger, WAISdom's dean of psychologists, will weigh in.

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            • Death Tolls and War Crimes (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/31/17 7:39 AM)
              Responding to Ric Mauricio (30 October), I have clearly stated in previous WAIS posts that all acts in war contrary

              to the international Conventions of Geneva and The Hague are crimes.

              These criteria are much more important then the various a posteriori calculations of death tolls. No country is innocent.


              JE comments:  For his part, Ed Jajko forwarded this quote from Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen: “The murder of a man even in wartime, is still murder."


              Who is versed on the Red Baron?  Does the quote come from Christian convictions, or some other perspective?

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            • Visiting Mao's Tomb (Istvan Simon, USA 11/02/17 5:00 PM)
              I enjoyed Ric Mauricio's list (30 October) of genocidal maniacs of the 20th century, a terrible century by any human standards.

              Though I believe some of Ric's numbers may be a bit on the higher end of the true figure, his general ideas are absolutely right. He forgot Pol Pot, Idi Amin Dada, the Rwanda horrors, the Ibos in Nigeria, the current terrible persecution of Rohynga, the horror story and terrible tragedy of the Yazidis whose persecution by ISIS, but also previously by Iraq's Sunnis, should weigh on any decent person's conscience. Though their numbers may be small because their overall numbers are small, yet percent-wise this qualifies as a terrible genocide.


              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_of_Yazidis_by_ISIL


              Regarding the arch murderer Mao Zedong, I may have already mentioned in WAIS my experience in 2004, but perhaps it is worth repeating.


              I went to see Mao's rotten corpse in his Mausoleum on Tiananmen square. The Mausoleum itself sticks out as an ugly sore thumb and an intrusion on the beautiful buildings on this immense square in Beijing. I went to see the Chairman not because of any morbid interest on his rotten corpse, but to observe the people, and how they would react to this terrible murderer. I had a fanny pack that I had to leave behind with my wife, for obviously the Chinese authorities are afraid that someone will blow this arch murderer to smithereens. There is a kind of marked path on the pavement, where people can walk to their encounter with the Chairman in rows of four people. When one enters the complex, there is a place to buy flowers. First observation post for me of the people. About half of them bought flowers. One man, was trying to be nice to me and he bought two bunches of white flowers, and offered one to me. It was a nice gesture, and I felt bad that I had to refuse it, because under no circumstances I would ever put flowers on this mass murderer's site, so though I felt bad for having to refuse such a nice and undoubtedly friendly gesture, I did refuse it. One continues to the next stop, which is an immense counter where the people deposit the flowers in front of a giant statue of the mass murderer. Then the people are divided in two rows to file past the corpse in a glass casket, and immediately they are ushered out between 2 machine-gun armed soldiers back to Tiananmen square.


              Later when we traveled back to Nanning and I resumed my daily routine of walking a 6-mile circuit from our apartment to a park and back every early morning, I met many of the regulars who also exercised in the park. They greeted me with glee, and one that spoke English much better than the others asked me where had I been. I told him we were in Beijing and that I had visited the Mausoleum of Mao. He contorted his face, and said to me "a terrible man, a Saddam Hussein."


              A few days later, in the same park, I was approached by a man holding the hand of his 2-year-old little son. He was an economist and we started to chat. At one point he looked at his son sadly and movingly said: "I'd like him to grow up in a free country." I said I thought he would grow up in a free country. He asked why I thought so. I said, look at the tremendous progress that has been made since Mao's time. He said, yes true, but the same way the government gave these freedoms, they can take them away. I said I did not think that would happen.


              He asked why I thought so. I said for 2 reasons: as the economy grows and diversifies, to continue the economic progress would require the government to grant more and more freedoms; and the second reason was the Internet. The Internet cannot be successfully censored, and so it would become kind of like the free press in China. He looked at me admiringly and said: China needs people like you who can think. I thanked him for his compliment and we parted. That young boy should be now 15 years old, and I am sorry to say that he is growing up in a country no freer today than in 2004. I had grossly under-estimated the time it would take for China to become a multi-party democratic society. In spite of the fact that the two reasons I gave were both correct, even if Beijing tries to censor the Internet, it is truly unable to do so very effectively, just as I predicted that it would not. But the Communist Party is still entrenched as ever before on maintaining by hook or crook its monopoly grip on power.


              JE comments:  I do not recall Istvan Simon telling us this story before.  But even if he did, it deserves a replay.


              What can our China-watchers tell us about the recently concluded Party Congress?

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