Joseph Hansen

Stop Fascism in America!

Will Father Coughlin Become Dictator of the United States?

(August 1939)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 60, 18 August 1939, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2016 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2016; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

(Third Installment)
Mussolini Assassinates Labor

When it became clear that Mussolini had managed to ensnare a large section of the population behind him, the big stockholders gave the word, and King Victor called Il Duce to Rome to take power.

Il Duce began immediately to put his real program into effect.

With the army, the police department, and the National Treasury at his disposal, he mopped up all the working class organisations. Not one escaped him.

Not a single one.

The heads of the working class who had derided the idea of organizing Trade Union Defense Guards were among the first to fall victim. Those who did not succeed in utilizing their passports in time were thrown into concentration camps and prisons. Many died of torture. Many were murdered outright. Those of the militant rank and file who were not executed were herded behind barbed wire and set to breaking rock under Black Shirt rifles.

Mussolini stepped up the mass production of laws to full capacity in accordance with his promises.

He had promised a militant policy against the capitalists – Il Duce broke that promise by smashing every trade union in Italy. He did not spare even the Catholic trade unions (whose members were workers, not priestsreligious workers, not non-religious workers).

In place of the militant unions which had existed previously Il Duce set up Fascist “unions.” He appointed Black Shirt commissioners in charge of these “unions.” He made it compulsory for every worker to join. These “unions” were capitalist dreams of company unions done up in bullet-proof glass.

When the employer wants to lower wages, say 30 per cent, he informs the commissioner in charge of the Fascist union. The commissioner as “representative” of the workers demands in return not more than a 28 per cent cut.

Since strikes are illegal in Italy, a Labor Court composed of employers and Mussolini appointees judges the merits of the conflicting claims. They may decide for the employer of the workers or they may decide for the commissioner in charge of the Fascist union, but generally they arrive at a compromise, which would make it a 29 per cent wage slash.

In this way Il Duce has done away with “costly” strikes and composed the differences between capital and labor through mutual agreement and amicable discussion among the employers.

When an employer wants a Fascist union contract, he dictates it from beginning to end. It is then submitted to the commissioner of the Fascist union as the “representative” of the workers. He signs it, thus making it lawful and binding on the workers.

The contract is flexible in that it may be violated by the employer without penalty. He had promised to confiscate church property. On that promise Il Duce turned coat in a hurry. In 1927 he agreed piously that Fascism had no fight with the Church of Rome. The small farmers who had been deluded into believing Mussolini would divide up the enormous church holdings in land for their benefit received not a single thing except an increase in taxes.

“Fascism is not incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church, nay more, ... the fundamental principles laid down by the Church with regard to the nature and purpose of the State entirely square with those embraced by that body of fascists who do in fact represent the main current of the movement.” (Preface to The Universal Aspects of Fascism, p. xviii, approved by Benito Mussolini.)

On June 11, 1929, Il Duce paid the Pope 1,750,000,000 lire for the occupation of Rome in 1870. This apparently settled matters very satisfactorily with the Holy Roman See to judge from the enormous enthusiasm certain Catholic priests in the public eye display toward fascism and the corporate state.

It is interesting to note that Mussolini is not the only fascist dictator on speaking terms with the Holy Roman See. Hitler is a member of the Catholic Church, the fascist butcher Franco of Spain is a devout Catholic, as is fascist dictator Salazar of Portugal whose corporate state Father Charles E. Coughlin, a Catholic priest, lauds in his Social Justice magazine. Dollfuss the Austrian fascist dictator was a devout Catholic too before he was assassinated in a faction fight with Hitler.

Mussolini had promised seizure of war-time superprofits and high taxation of private fortunes – he broke that promise. Il Duce decided that such a promise must have come from a padded cell. “A financial policy based on the persecution of capital is infected with madness.” He raised taxes immediately on all the lower income groups and appeased Big Business by slashing such taxes as had been placed upon it by previous governments.

He had promised the Abolition of the Royal House and the Nobility. Il Duce broke that promise with an imperious command to the workers to fall down on their knees in worship before His Royal Highness.

“... you will welcome him with your most impetuous enthusiasm and you will repeat to him your oath of unfailing devotion to the Monarchy and to the Dynasty of the House of Savoy.” (The crowd bursts out in a great ovation to H.M. The King and to H.R.H. The Prince of Piedmont.) (Speech of B. Mussolini, Oct. 15, 1931. Quoted in Speeches of B. Mussolini, official publication of the Italian government, p. 142)

He had promised to expropriate the land owners – Il Duce broke that promise with a harsh command to the slaves of the landowners to buckle down in their harness.

“The landowners have not only the right, but also the Fascist duty, of remaining in their superior positions against all challengers ... and they must be INTRANSIGENT in matters of discipline, respect, obedience, esteem ...” (Pesce, Contadini d’Italia, p. 87. Quoted in The Plough and the Sword, p. 138)

He had promised jobs – Il Duce broke that promise. He covered up the actual increase in unemployment with faked statistics and listed all those he threw into his prison concentration camps as “job-holders.”

“The GROWTH OF UNEMPLOYMENT, particularly, has been attended by increasing violations on the part of employers (of Fascist “union” contracts – J.H.) This is admitted by the Fascist press. For example, workers are obliged by the scarcity of jobs to compete with one another to the extent of making contract terms meaningless.” (The Plough and the Sword, quoting from Lavoro Fascista, May 21, 1929, p. 116)

He had promised a living wage – Il Duce broke that promise by slashing wages and lengthening hours.

“According to the figures supplied by the Italian press itself, between 1927 and 1932 nominal wages were REDUCED BY HALF, and as the cuts have continued since 1932, it would be no exaggeration to say that wages have been reduced from the 1927 level by from 60 to 75 per cent. Wages in 1935 were rarely as high as those before the war. Although they have been twice raised by 10 per cent since 1935, the cost of living in the meantime has risen 30 per cent.” (Fascism and Big Business, p. 192)

The length of the working day is variable according to the whim of the employer. He may make it anything from eight to twenty hours without extra pay.

It is impossible to get a job without a labor passport. The employer enters his opinion of the worker on the labor passport when the worker wishes to leave to look for other employment.

He had promised three square meals a day – Il Duce gave the Italian workers starvation.

“Fortunately the Italian people is not yet accustomed to eating several times a day, and having a modest level of living, feels less deficiency and suffering.” (Benito Mussolini in Corriere della Sera, December 19, 1930. Quoted in The Plough and The Sword, p. 165)

As one of the main points on his program he had promised: “International Disarmament and Abolition of Compulsory Military Service.” – Il Duce fulfilled this promise by lowering the limit for military training down to the age of eight and launching the biggest armament building program ever saddled on the Italian working people. But Mussolini did keep one point of his program. He preserved PRIVATE PROPERTY.

“The fact that from 1922 to now joint stock companies have increased from 6,850 to 17,424 and their capital from 21,395 millions to over 52 milliards, is not this the most definite and eloquent denial in front of those who accuse the fascist regime of ‘harrassing’ private enterprise?” (Speech of Benito Mussolini, April 2, 1931. Quoted in Speeches of B. Mussolini, pp. 136–7)

Mussolini Chops Down His Own Ranks

When the Black Shirts, especially those who had joined after the Fascist movement began to gain momentum, saw that the profits of the capitalists were leaping upward at new and dizzy rates, that the cost of living was shooting to fantastic levels, that the big landowners were becoming so arrogant as to take over even land that had been community property for hundreds of years, they were filled with a frenzy of despair and disappointment.

They cursed Mussolini and clamored for him to put into effect the program which had won them to his camp. They accused him of selling out to the very bankers he had promised to fight.

But Mussolini used the same tactics on them that he had used on the working class organizations. First he made sure that the Black Shirts were disarmed. He took away their guns. Then he ordered the armed police and the armed legions of the king’s army to fix bayonets and put an end to the complaints of his followers.

To prevent any more complaints from becoming annoying, he organized a vast internal spy system called the OVRA. In every shop, on every job, in every apartment house, in the theaters, in the crowded districts, these agents are planted. They make regular reports to their superiors and if there is one word of complaint from anyone, he is silenced. Generally he serves a long prison term. Sometimes he is never seen again.

FASCISM rules in Italy

A CORPORATE STATE governs for the capitalists.

The Italian workers stifle under a vast oppression with not even a tombstone for their once powerful labor movement.

The Italian workers failed to organize Trade Union Defense Guards.

(Continued in Next Issue)


Last updated on: 12 March 2016