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The Militant, 28 September 1946

Carlo Bivanco

Italy 3 Years After Downfall of Mussolini

(3 September 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 39, 28 September 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


ITALY, Sept. 3 – Three years after the fall of Mussolini, Italy presents a picture of ever-increasing misery. Hunger is prevalent. Unemployment is estimated at three millions. The black market rages. Barter is at a premium because no one has any faith in the huge quantity of paper lire in circulation. (Today there are 285 billion lire in circulation, compared with 22.5 billion in 1938.)

Under the De Gasperi government the basic bread ration for the masses is 200 grams (about 7 ounces) a day. The ration of spaghetti and rice, both staples in the Italian diet, was cut from two kilograms to 500 grams (17 ounces)' a month. Fats, oils and butter are virtually not available, except in the black market.

Because of the chaotic system of distribution, and outright racketeering, even rationed goods are not always obtainable. Children under three years of age are allowed about half a pint of milk a day. The rest of the population gets only one fluid ounce. But In parts of Italy, milk can only be had on two or three days of the month. There are days when it is even impossible to buy bread – except on the black market.

Luxury for Few

There are no shortages on the black market. Here everything can be bought – for a price. The windows of the more exclusive shops are filled with the necessities of life and even “luxury items’’ such as butter or cheese. Thus, while the poor starve, the rich, the war profiteers and fascist racketeers live in comparative luxury.

The peasant is no better off than the worker in the town. The extra money he makes by selling his produce to the black marketeers is absorbed by the inflationary prices he has to pay for the goods he buys from the towns. Lack of fertilizers, the thousands of acres rendered useless by still-existing mine fields, the extortions of the landlords and money-lenders keep the peasant in effective poverty.

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