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PostPraising Mussolini (Massoud Malek, USA, 08/13/14 6:37 am)
In his post of 12 August, Eugenio Battaglia wrote: "I would have expected more indulgence from Massoud Malek toward Mussolini."
I therefore hope Eugenio is going to be pleased with this post.
In 1910, long before the Bolshevik Revolution, Mussolini became the editor of a socialist newspaper, with a picture of Marx on his office wall. The paper was anti-military (he was jailed for calling on soldiers to disobey their officers), and anti-church (the priests were "black microbes," and the church was an authoritarian opponent of free thought). After World War I, Mussolini distanced himself from the Socialist Party; however the first fascist party platform (1919) was quite progressive with demands for a minimum wage, voting rights for women, worker participation in industrial management, an 8-hour workday, progressive taxation, confiscation of church property, and reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55. Later, when in power, the Pope claimed Mussolini had been sent by Providence to deliver Italy from liberalism and religious error. And after he came to power, copies of his socialist writings disappeared from libraries.
In late 1931, Gandhi accepted an invitation to visit Mussolini in Rome while he was touring Europe. After visiting Il Duce, Gandhi wrote in a letter to a friend: "Mussolini is a riddle to me. Many of his reforms attract me. He seems to have done much for the peasant class. I admit an iron hand is there. But as violence is the basis of Western society, Mussolini's reforms deserve an impartial study." Gandhi continued: "Mussolini's care of the poor, his opposition to super-urbanization, his efforts to bring about coordination between capital and labor, seem to me to demand special attention ... My own fundamental objection is that these reforms are compulsory. But it is the same in all democratic institutions. What strikes me is that behind Mussolini's implacability is a desire to serve his people. Even behind his emphatic speeches there is a nucleus of sincerity and of passionate love for his people. It seems to me that the majority of the Italian people love the iron government of Mussolini ... One of the great statesmen of our time.... Unfortunately, I am no superman like Mussolini."
After a general strike in 1926, Churchill argued that "either the country will break the General Strike, or the General Strike will break the country," claiming that the fascism of Benito Mussolini "rendered a service to the whole world," showing "a way to combat subversive forces." In 1927, Winston Churchill met Mussolini. In a letter to Mussolini, he wrote: "What a man! I have lost my heart! ... Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world ... If I had been an Italian, I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism." In 1933, Churchill went as far as to call Mussolini the "Roman genius ... the greatest legislator among men."
Franklin D. Roosevelt called Mussolini "admirable." He told the US Ambassador to Italy: "There seems to be no question that Mussolini is really interested in what we are doing, and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy." Here is another quote by Roosevelt: "I don't mind telling you in confidence that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman."
Ronald Reagan believed that in 1933, New Dealers as well as much of the world admired Mussolini's success in avoiding the Great Depression. In 1976, he said: "Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini's success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say 'But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time.'"
On the myth of "Mussolini keeps the trains running on time": http://www.snopes.com/history/govern/trains.asp
Addressing a delegation of Italian socialists in Moscow after Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922, Vladimir Lenin told the delegates: "What a waste that we lost Mussolini. He is a first-rate man who would have led our party to power in Italy."
In 1933, Sigmund Freud, sent a copy of the book Warum Krieg? (Why War?) which he had co-written with Albert Einstein to Mussolini; he wrote: "To Benito Mussolini, from an old man who greets in the ruler, the Hero of Culture."
Thomas Edison called Mussolini "the greatest genius of the modern age."
The popular Broadway composer Cole Porter reflected on Il Duce's international image in his new song "You're The Top" from 1934 Broadway musical Anything Goes with the lyrics:
You're the top!
You're the Great Houdini!
You're the top!
You are Mussolini!
These lines were later omitted.
To his son-in-law, Count Ciano, Mussolini suggested that the Jews might be dispatched to a concession in Somalia, where they could enjoy the natural resources, among the rest, a shark-fishing industry which would be especially good because a lot of Jews could be eaten up.
Mussolini's last words were: "Shoot me in the chest."
Sources: Wikipedia, and:
JE comments: Eugenio Battaglia would be the last person to deny Il Duce's origins in socialism. Eugenio even argues that Mussolini's last effort at governance, the RSI of 1943-'45, was a return to these socialist roots.
Wow, I didn't know that about the original lyrics to Anything Goes. Too bad that Houdini also had to go. (Trivia: Houdini died in my home city of Detroit.)