The Manifesto of the Fasci of Combat (Italian: Il manifesto dei fasci di combattimento) was the initial declaration of the political stance of the founders of Italian Fascism. The Manifesto that was written by national syndicalist Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.
Origins of Italian Fascism
The classic definition of Italian Fascism applies to the latter part of the history of the movement in power, when Italy was firmly under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. Its initial political stance–in the June 1919 Manifesto–includes, however, many elements that would not be normally associated with fascism in the classic definition, including support for democracy (indeed, the fascist manifesto actually called for greater democratic rights) and a limited number of social ideas. All these were slowly abandoned over the following years, as fascism took its recognizable, anti-democratic form.
Originally, the leading committee of the Fascist Movement included both former Socialist Party members (among them Mussolini himself) and nationalists. The resulting Manifesto, united in the common aim of overturning the existing system, reflects a clear compromise between these strands. Only subsequently did Mussolini establish outright leadership of the movement.
Given that Fascism is recognised (with a few exceptions) as being dictatorial, it is noteworthy that elements of the Manifesto call for wider democracy. What was enacted during two decades of Fascist government was quite contrary in substance to the demands of the Manifesto. During 21 years of Fascist government, not all Manifesto pledges were achieved, and many were simply ignored; forgotten by the system. Interestingly, many elements were subsequently imposed by the Italian Republic during the post-Fascist era.
Contents of the Fascist Manifesto
The Manifesto (published in "Il Popolo d'Italia" on June 6, 1919) is divided into four sections, describing Fascist objectives in political, social, military and financial fields.
Politically, the Manifesto calls for:
- Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women;
- Proportional representation on a regional basis;
- Voting for women (which was opposed by most other European nations);
- Representation at government level of newly created National Councils by economic sector;
- The abolition of the Italian Senate (at the time, the Senate, as the upper house of parliament, was by process elected by the wealthier citizens, but were in reality direct appointments by the King. It has been described as a sort of extended council of the Crown);
- The formation of a National Council of experts for labor, for industry, for transportation, for the public health, for communications, etc. Selections to be made of professionals or of tradesmen with legislative powers, and elected directly to a General Commission with ministerial powers (this concept was rooted in corporatist ideology and derived in part from Catholic social doctrine).
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