Against the war – Benito Mussolini (1912)

Contro la guerra 

DATE: 17 novembre 1912

But let’s go back to the war. War of peoples? But no; peoples suffer it. No one is allowed to say that the peoples applaud the watchful robbery of governments. When were they ever questioned about their willingness to go and kill or die? There are millions and millions of men who live a purely economic life: they eat, drink, reproduce; but all that is civil, political, cultural life is completely unknown to them. They do not even have in embryo a principle of moral autonomy: this is the flock that undergoes war and goes to the slaughter without even asking why.

The bourgeois, on the other hand, are in their place when they praise war. War for war, they want. And this is the arrière pensée of their lords. The war that frees them from socialism, while it is an easy shoot to be crushed.

In fact, the Vaterland , the Austrian clerical body that wanted to call itself Patria, he clearly wrote that a European war “would free us for 50 years from socialism”. But let us specify: we are not against war out of cowardice. If we were fainthearted we wouldn’t be in this place. And then we do not believe that the true courage is that of the soldier who, drunk with brandy, runs to the slaughter of himself and others. It is a courage of an inferior, low, primordial kind; it is an unconscious courage. Moreover, socialism is also a better opponent of war than bourgeois and democratic pacifism is. We are against it because it represents the maximum exploitation of the worker. The proletarian, with the war, is called to shed his blood, after having given all his sweat in the workshops.

And if it were true, at least, that the war precedes, prepares the revolution. It is an illusion, a sophism. We read in history. The relationship between the US Civil War and the French Revolution is distant. Moreover, Lafayette, who participated in it, held an ambiguous and uncertain demeanor at the beginning of the Revolution. It was the people of Paris who demolished the Bastille, it was the people who in three days and three nights made 50,000 spades and, encouraged by Camillo Desmoulins, threw themselves on the fortress that represented and symbolized the ancien régime . Are the bloody days of ’48 in Paris perhaps related to some war? Ah! the Commune! It was born of an unfortunate war, and it is this original vice that killed it.

We come to the closest wars. That of ’97 between Greece and Turkey, that of ’98 between Spain and the United States did not provoke revolutionary movements. It seemed that the Russo-Japanese war should fuel the Russian revolutionary fire, but instead after the very bloody Red Sunday, it is the most ferocious reaction that triumphs and official Russia – with the manifest protection of the Slavs of the Quadruple – takes up that he had lost in the plans of Manchuria under the deadly blows of the little men of Japan. On the other hand, the latest political revolutions of some importance in Portugal and China are not related to any war. To make the revolution you need citizens, that is, soldiers who remain citizens, intelligent rifles, but war barbarizes,

In fact, the most ferocious massacres of the Communards were the soldiers who had waged the colonial wars in Algeria and had become accustomed to all kinds of atrocities. Have not the Italian soldiers returned from the glorious Libyan deed with the ears of the Bedouins cut and preserved as precious relics? War does not create revolutionary sentiment where it does not exist; indeed it depresses him and when he is weak it knocks him down. We are a minority, it is true, but what does it matter? This requires us to continue our battle. It is a question of creating the moral autonomy of the working class which has hitherto been a passive instrument in the hands of all the bourgeois hierarchies. The danger of European conflagrations will return. But then we hope to be ready. One of two. It is a question of creating the moral autonomy of the proletariat to prevent war. And if the bourgeoisie still wants to try the supreme game, the proletariat will know how to take advantage of it for its specific demands and then the bourgeois domination – already corroded, undermined and worn out – will be shattered. On that day the question of mankind will be united. The new story will begin.

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