Mussolini on the Corporate State

by Chip Berlet

A Google(tm) search on January 12, 2005 turned up some 5,000 hits on the following quote:

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

It is generally attrributed to an article written by Mussolini in the 1932 Enciclopedia Italiana with the assistance of Giovanni Gentile, the editor.

The quote, however, does not appear in the Enciclopedia Italiana in the original Italian.

It does not appear in the official English translation of that article:

Benito Mussolini, 1935, "The Doctrine of Fascism," Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

And it does not appear in the longer treatment of the subject by Mussolini in:

Benito Mussolini, 1935, "Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions," Rome: 'Ardita' Publishers.

Where the quote comes from remains a mystery, and while it is possible Mussolini said it someplace at some time, a number of researchers have been unable to find it after months of research.

(If you have a source for the quote based on an actual original document that you copy and mail us, please let us know, and you will receive a free 3-year subscription to the Public Eye magazine)

It is unlikely that Mussolini ever made this statement because it contradicts most of the other writing he did on the subject of corporatism and corporations. When Mussolini wrote about corporatism, he was not writing about modern commercial corporations. He was writing about a form of vertical syndicalist corporatism based on early guilds. The article on Wikipedia on Corporatism explains this rather well.

Here are some typical Mussolini quotes from original documents:

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State--a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values--interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people. (p. 14)

Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which diverent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State. (p.15)

Yet if anyone cares to read over the now crumbling minutes giving an account of the meetings at which the Italian Fasci di Combattimento were founded, he will find not a doctrine but a series of pointers… (p. 23)

"It may be objected that this program implies a return to the guilds (corporazioni). No matter!... I therefore hope this assembly will accept the economic claims advanced by national syndicalism." (p. 24)

Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere. (p. 32)

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organised in their respective associations, circulate within the State. (p. 41).

Benito Mussolini, 1935, The Doctrine of Fascism, Firenze: Vallecchi Editore.

The Labour Charter (Promulgated by the Grand Council ofr Fascism on April 21, 1927)—(published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale, April 3, 1927) [sic] (p. 133)

The Corporate State and its Organization (p. 133)

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and usefu [sic] [typo-should be: useful] instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.

State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. (pp. 135-136)

Benito Mussolini, 1935, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Rome: 'Ardita' Publishers.


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