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Three-fourths of the Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state. And if I dare to introduce to Italy state capitalism or state socialism, which is the reverse side of the medal, I will have the necessary subjective and objective conditions to do it.

I found this on 4chan. It is attributed to Mussolini.

Is this a genuine quote?

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    Welcome to Skeptics! We have a rule that only widely-held beliefs are in scope for this site (or at least, claims made by notable people and organisations that are widely seen). Please provide some references to places where this claim is being made. – Oddthinking May 24 at 8:29
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    I fail to understand the quote. Conditions to do what? Is this quote supposed to be relevatory of something? Is it something that Mussolini should have not said? – fredsbend May 24 at 17:16
  • @fredsbend My guess would be that the revelation is that fascism is supposedly close to socialism (either to discredit socialism, or to distance far-right politics from historical fascism). I think a good answer should look at the context of the quote, and determine if Mussolini did express a desire to introduce state socialism to Italy when he said this (translating is difficult, as the answer by Fizz shows). – tim May 25 at 11:07
  • @tim Well, that's the obvious thing, fascism being a boogeyman that most people can't accurately describe. But the quote ends "conditions to do x" where x is undefined. My point is leading to a close vote. One of these: off-topic (belongs somewhere else like politics se), unclear, or not notable. I've been trying to put together a meta proposal that such questions as this should usually be closed, but I'm having trouble with the details. – fredsbend May 25 at 16:58
  • Isn't it more important whether this was a true statement than whether Mussolini actually said it? I mean, he could have said whatever he liked, it's not like he would get impeached for inaccurate statistical summaries. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 13:30
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From Wikiquotes

Three-fourths of the Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state. And if I dare to introduce to Italy state capitalism or state socialism, which is the reverse side of the medal, I will have the necessary subjective and objective conditions to do it.

Benito Mussolini, quoted in The Oxford Handbook of the Italian Economy Since Unification, by Gianni Toniolo, editor, Oxford University Press (2013) p. 59. Mussolini’s speech to the Chamber of Deputies on May 26, 1934.

That handbook can be found here but I don't have an Oxford handbooks subscription to actually view the book. Page 59 seems to be in the chapter Italy and the First Age of Globalization, 1861–1940 by Harold James and Kevin H. O’Rourke.

These authors presented a paper with the same title at the Conference “Italy and the World Economy, 1861-2011” in October 2011, in which they quote:

In May 1934, as the process of IRI’s takeover of bank assets was being worked out, Mussolini announced that: “Those who still speak of a liberal economy make me laugh – laugh or weep, both at the same time. But three quarters of the Italian industrial and agricultural economy is in the hands of the state. And if I dare to introduce to Italy state capitalism or state socialism, which is the reverse side of the medal, I will have the necessary subjective and objective conditions to do it” (Giordano 2007, p. 35).

That last reference is:

Giordano, F. (2007), Storia del sistema bancario italiano, Roma: Donzelli
e.g. available at Amazon, or you can use Worldcat.org to look up where it is available for reading.
Better still, you can search through this book in Google books. -> Google translate converts

Those who still speak of a liberal economy make me laugh

into

(Coloro) che parlano ancora di un'economia liberale mi fanno ridere

then searching the book for mi fanno ridere indeed finds the quote on page 35:

enter image description here

Mi fanno ridere quelli che parlano ancora - ridere e piangere, tutt'e due le cose insieme - quelli che parlano ancora di una economia liberale! [commenti] Ma i tre quarti dell'economia italiana industriale e agricola, sone sulle braccia dell Stato!
E se io fossi vago (il che non é) di introdurre in Italia...

Strictly speaking this does not prove that it was Mussolini saying this, but

  • other authors who reference this book quote this as Mussolini's statement; and
  • you can repeat the search with sentence parts from the top and bottom lines of this snippet (e.g. compiacuti risolini dei deputati and E se io fossi vago) to see more context,

so I rest my case.

  • The same quote is found in other academic italian books e.g., which alas is citing an older book E Cianci. Nascita dello Stato imprenditore in Italia, Milano 1977, p. 269 The speech is said to have been given on 26 May 1934 "alla Camera", which I think it means in their parliament. – Fizz May 24 at 19:17
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    Jannazzo (the author of that book) says the claim of Mussolini was factually false however. The true percentage was only 17.8% according to Jannazzo, citing a 1995 study by someone else. The state participated in more enterprises (44.15% of them), but in most of these it did not have a controlling share. – Fizz May 24 at 19:23
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    It's a bit unclear to me what your case actually is. Why don't you highlight that the English version leaves out the crucial part? He writes "And if I dare (which I will not do)…" Meaning he is just boasting about his might and power over a hypothetical that he denies! – LаngLаngС Oct 17 at 15:51
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By several accounts Mussolini gave that speech, but it's not clear that the translation/interpretation is correct though:

A 1938 English book by (anti-fascist author) Gaetano Salvemini translated & interpreted the meaning of that as

In March 1934 Mussolini had to admit that "three-quarters of the Italian economic system, both industrial and agricultural," required support from the Government if it was not to undergo a general collapse.

Salvemini was teaching at Harvard by 1934 so he was probably fluent enough in English to express what he meant/underwood.

The Economist also commented/paraphrased in 1934 (June 9) on this speech/claim saying:

At the present moment, the State is giving aid, through the I.R.I., to three-fourths of the Italian industrial and agricultural economy. Signor Mussolini here refers to the big banks and big businesses, not to medium or small-sized firms. If he chose, he adds, he could turn State capitalist or State Socialist. But it would be the fault of the capitalists and bankers and financiers, not the fruit of his own will.

The Italian correspondent for The Economist at the time was Luigi Einaudi.

Some Italian authors did interpret the Mussolini speech as claim of actually control (at the time) by the state, but also say that this was factually far from the truth; Antonio Jannazzo in Il liberalismo italiano del Novecento, pp. 148-149 gives the Mussolini claim that interpretation (of actual control) but only to disprove it, saying that while the state was involved in 44.15% of enterprises, it only had a controlling share in 17.8% of them. (These percentages are the capital share of these enterprises of the total economy rather than number of enterprises.) For this fact Jannazzo is citing a 1995 study by S. La Francesa on the Italian interwar economy.

Roberto Bonuglia in Tra economia e politica (p. 92) also gives the Mussolini speech the interpretation of actual state control, but also says Mussolini was exaggerating. Actually Bonuglia is not saying that himself, but quoting (approvingly) an analysis from R. de Felice, Mussolini il duce, vol I, p. 179.

So I think a more metaphoric interpretation of "are on the arms of the state" (the literal translation of "sono sulle braccia dello Stato") is warranted. Or if we take that expression to mean state control ("in the arms" should be "nelle braccia", FWIW) then Mussolini had a major case of truthiness as far as the actual percentage, according to the analyses I found.

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As this is an often used quote to supposedly 'prove' how 'left-wing' or 'socialist' Mussolini was, it is indeed noteworthy to look at the actual text.

His own words from La situazione economica (26 maggio 1934) with some context:

Viceversa le banche in Italia, forse per aiutare anche le industrie, avevano fatto una formidabile indigestione di titoli industriali, titoli il cui corso in borsa era precipitato.

Allora che cosa è accaduto? Questa indigestione di titoli è stata scaricata sopra un istituto che prima si chiamava di liquidazione e adesso si chiama di Ricostruzione Industriale, che ha però due sezioni, una dell'ospedale e l'altra del convalescenziario, misura con la quale tutte le banche oggi possono ritornare a fare le banche.

Ma tutto questo è costato: tutto questo figurerà nelle voci del Bilancio dello Stato. È scaglionato nel tempo. Lo abbiamo alleggerito, scaglionato nel tempo, ma ne avremo fino al 1953.

Vedete che l'operazione era importante e delicata, ma necessaria perché risanatrice.

Oggi questa è una partita chiusa. Siamo a posto. Mi fanno ridere quelli che parlano ancora — ridere e piangere, tutt'e due le cose insieme — quelli che parlano ancora di un'economia liberale! (Commenti). Ma i tre quarti dell'economia italiana industriale e agricola, sono sulle braccia dello Stato! E se io fossi vago (il che non è), di introdurre in Italia il capitalismo di Stato o il socialismo di Stato, che è il rovescio della medaglia, io avrei oggi le condizioni necessarie sufficienti e obiettive per farlo.

Un'altra voce grava sul bilancio: gli interventi! Si dovevano fare? Certamente. Volevate far fallire tutti i consorzi agrari d'Italia? No. E questa cosa ha voluto dire 180 milioni.

E ai solfatai? e all'industria? all'agricoltura?

Tutto questo costa e si traduce in impostazioni di bilancio. È necessario. Perché è necessario? Perché oggi siamo in uno stato di vera e propria guerra economica, per cui certe formule che andavano prima di oggi, nelle condizioni attuali non funzionano più.

–– Benito Mussolini: "La situazione economica dell'Italia – Discorso Pronunciato Alla Camera – Il 26 Maggio 1934 XII" Direzione del Partito Nazionale Fascista, 1934.
enter image description here

That would roughly translate to:

On the other hand, the banks in Italy, perhaps to help the industries, had made a formidable indigestion of industrial securities, securities whose stock exchange prices had plummeted.

So what happened? This indigestion of securities has been dumped on an institution that was formerly called a liquidation institution and is now called Industrial Reconstruction, which however has two sections, one of the hospital and the other of the convalescent home, a measure with which all banks can now return to make banks.

But all this has cost money: all this will appear in the items of the State Budget. It is staggered over time. We have lightened it, staggered it over time, but we will have it until 1953.

You can see that the operation was important and delicate, but necessary because it was a healing operation.

Today this is a finished game. We're good. It makes me laugh at those who are still talking – laughing and crying, both things at the same time – those who are still talking about a liberal economy! (Comments). But three quarters of the Italian industrial and agricultural economy are in the arms of the State! And if I had the desire (which I don't), to introduce state capitalism or state socialism in Italy, which is the other side of the coin, I would today have sufficient and objective conditions to do so.

Another item weighs on the budget: interventions! Should they have been done? Certainly. Did you want to bankrupt all the agricultural consortia in Italy? No. And this thing meant 180 million.

And to the solfatai? and to industry? and to agriculture?

All of this costs money and translates into budgetary approaches. It's necessary. Why is it necessary? Because today we are in a state of real economic war, so certain formulas that went before today, in the current conditions no longer work.

He said/wrote that three quarters of the economy of Italy were "in the arms" of the state. Meaning more that the state was protecting these quarters, in analogy to modern day bail-outs! Not commando-style total control like in a planned economy. Without state subsidies more enterprises would go belly up.

Whether that – the ratio – was objectively the case, true or not, is another question. But he also claimed that that was no longer a classical liberal economy, and not socialist nor a state capitalist economy either.

It seems quite clear that the English version leaves out a crucial part? He writes "And if I had the desire (which I don't)…" Meaning he is just boasting about his might and power over a hypothetical that he most explicitly denies! In his own words the economy of Italy was in 1934 characterised not as a form state capitalism or state socialism, and he had no plans to develop it into either said forms.

In this way, the corporative economy would be an alternative to socialism and a model for surpassing both liberal economics and the ‘Marxist class struggle’; in addition, the greater good of the nation would determine the economic decisions and actions of the players of the economic system: ‘This is the core of corporatism: the transformation of property and private initiative in a direction inspired by public-goals’
–– Lino Cinquini : "Fascist Corporative Economy and Accounting in Italy during the Thirties: Exploring the Relations between a Totalitarian Ideology and Business Studies", Accounting, Business & Financial History, Volume 17, 2007 - Issue 2

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