After the opening speech of the secretary, the congress continues in a fast and singular way. There is a lot of, a lot of applause, little is said, briefly, the already registered speakers renounce their interventions, all the items on the agenda are approved unanimously. There is no mention, not even vague, of internal disputes. It is rumored through the corridors that Mussolini seems to have said: “I am with the battle of the wheat and the battle of the lira, I have to solve international questions, I am preparing the laws for fascist reconstruction, do not touch my balls with party issues” . And the party does not seem to want to disappoint him on this occasion either, it agrees, gives way and in the Augusteo a congress is held in pure fascist style: the fait accompli always precedes doctrine. The program announced to the press is cut in half during the day.
In this way, Benito Mussolini can go up to the rostrum for his final speech on the same afternoon on June 22. He is in excellent shape and in excellent humor, almost talkative. He promises his audience “an hour of great merriment.” He is still thin, it is true, but in appearance healthy and strong. There appears to be no trace of duodenal ulceration on him. It also seems, unmattheotized, as the secretary would say.
“I knew none of you had aged.” However, I was afraid that four years of time had given your complexion that excess of fat that accompanies the sad passage of forty years. On the other hand, you are still agile, very agile, muscular, truly worthy of continuing to embody the youth of Italy.
Applause. Shouts of joy. More applause. Then, after the pride, after the greetings, after the taunt to the “mysterious divinity of public opinion that the fascists can no longer bring us to the pairo”, the first political word is for violence:
“You know what I think about violence.” For me it is deeply moral, more moral than compromise and compromise –Very well! Shouts of approval. Warm applause.
He takes just a moment to clarify that violence must always be guided by the ideal and then the comic interlude is over. The speaker pauses, slyly scrutinizes the audience, and then continues:
“Now I’m going to make a confession to you that will leave your soul completely shocked.” Another pause. I have never read a single page of Benedetto Croce! “Laughter, applause, hilarious hilarity.”
Also the mockery of the human type of the intellectual is brief, agile, airy, free of adiposity. This Mussolini does not have time to linger in that race of men who have the merit of always saying something true and the privilege of never seeing the truth. A little intelligence is fine, but only enough to criticize the adversary.
“University culture has to be assimilated quickly and expelled just as quickly!” –vivid hilarity-. Let us say it frankly: rather than the impotent professor I prefer the squadron who acts!
As exalted when seeing the corpse of the enemy, dejected in the mockery, the Duce of fascism takes off. It barely touches the much debated issue of compliance with the Statute, striking it down (“the Statute, my gentlemen, cannot be a hook to which all Italian generations are condemned to hang themselves”) and then takes flight into the future. “What we want? Something superb: we want Italians to choose, we want the fascism of the country, we want to create a new type of Italian, the fascist man ”, just as there was the man of the Renaissance and the man of Latinity, a brave, intrepid, frank Italian, hardworking, respectful, a new Italian.
In recent weeks, the Prime Minister has presented a bill that provides for the purge of non-fascist personnel in the public administration, another that annuls what little remains of freedom of the press, a third that further reinforces the power of the Executive, he has outlawed the secret associations that resist his power and, taking over the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Navy, accumulates in his hands all the power of the armed forces. So now, perceiving the clear field in front of him to contest the pallium of the dictatorship, in a crescendo of delirious enthusiasm and generous refusal to settle for the mean present, Benito Mussolini has a vision of the future, sees the dawn of a new world. From the rostrum of the Augusteo Theater in Rome, already cured of the duodenal ulcer that made him vomit blood, the Duce of Fascism sees the new generations:
Sometimes I smile at the idea of generations of laboratories, that is, of creating the class of warriors, who are always ready to die; the class of inventors, who pursue the secret of the mystery; the class of judges, that of the great captains of industry, that of great explorers, that of the great rulers …
Even this is driven by his passion for tomorrow: Benito Mussolini dares to dream of castes. The goal is always the same: empire. Founding a city, discovering a colony, creating an empire, these are the wonders of the human spirit.
The last word, like the first, is again reserved for violence. “The flag of fascism has been entrusted to my hands and I am ready to defend it against anyone, even at the cost of my blood.”
Like a miasma, the sweet smell of blood spreads, vaporous, over the audience, shaken by endless applause, while the Augusto Theater acclaims the president’s speech.
Jumping to his feet from his golden throne, Roberto Farinacci flakes his hands, bursts into laughter, cheers. It is the portrait of a happy man.
Fragment of ‘M. The man of providence ‘, by Antonio Scurati. Translation by Carlos Gumpert. Alfaguara, 2021. 592 pages. 22.90 euros. It is published on May 6.
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