Making Ourselves Understood
From Il Socialista No. 28, 3 December 1914
This text from the same Naples newspaper, Il Socialista, is written when it was well understood that Mussolini had entirely crossed the Rubicon. But more than him, the controversy between the opposing camps continues burning, and the most dangerous side is that which concerns the false leftists, wannabe barricade fighters or anarchoids, who deride the neutralists as cowards, and quietists faced by the historic explosion of violence. The article is very clear, showing how the socialists’ campaign for Italian neutrality is entirely consistent with “the revolutionary soul of socialism”.
The essential concept of the Neapolitan newspaper’s propaganda is reiterated, that it is not a matter of “advising” the bourgeois State, but of acting in all circumstances, against it, in the most effective way to lead it to ruin. Quick mention is made of the contradictory position of the Italian political currents in the face of the world war, and the then-emerging "fasci di azione rivoluzionaria" are denounced as future instruments of the ferocious antiproletarian reaction.
We write – for those who don’t want to hear. We want once again to pause to refute certain mistaken analyses of the meaning and value of the political attitude of the Socialist Party, stubbornly believing that among our opponents and accusers there are still those in good faith.
Especially since the one who appeared to be the standard bearer of Italian revolutionary socialism has become an angry and exalted advocate of military intervention, people continue to confuse our aversion to war with the cowardly and petty quietism that is proper to the reformist conception and tactics of socialism. Neutrality has become an easy synonym for impotence, and many take pleasure in looking for the intimate motives of our party’s current direction, such as a desire to escape personal danger or responsibility, or worry over losing electoral prestige among the masses. Thus, instead of criticizing our reasons, of making solid arguments in favor of intervention, many of our adversaries simply attack us with loud insulting epithets about us being inept and cowardly.
Instead, it is precisely to the intimately revolutionary soul of socialism that one connects its current position and its campaign in favor of neutrality.
We have already said how a facile and illogical interpretation of this word lends itself to entirely reversing the meaning of our attitude.
Saying that we’re neutralists, which is just a way of making ourselves clearly understood, doesn’t mean anyone can empirically infer that the Italian Socialist Party today intends to give up any of its specific functions and responsible activities. We said that neutrality must mean the attitude of the monarchical and bourgeois State under pressure from the proletarian masses and socialist currents that do not want war.
That stance of the bourgeois State can, in its regard, be…unseemly. And so what? By agitating, for example, for political prisoners, are we not attempting to force the State to perform an act that will undermine its prestige?
Neutrality thus means for us intensified socialist fervor in the struggle against the bourgeois State, accentuation of the class antagonism that is the true source of every revolutionary tendency, and the socialist party adhering to the war waged by the State would be the death of such a tendency, much to the rejoicing of the conservative classes.
That other currents agree with us on the point of neutrality, and that this doesn’t displease the church, the conservative parties, and the monarchy itself, does not at all change the character of the socialist attitude, for those tendencies would disarm before the proclamation of any war, while ours will instead remain, alone tomorrow as today, unchanged in its meaning of opposition to bourgeois politics, of revolutionary denial of the present institutions and their pernicious and barbaric consequences.
The revolutionary phraseology of some interventionists don’t go beyond the surface layer. At the present degree of development of society, keeping well in mind the characteristics of modern wars, one cannot discern any coincidence between war made and waged by the bourgeois State and revolutionary action, without resorting to comparisons that have an exclusively… futurist character.
It should be kept in mind that the political currents that want to push the State to war today are overwhelmingly made up of reformists and democrats, and they belong to parties that have a distinctly anti-revolutionary psychology. Indeed, these parties have always despised the escalation of the class struggle, have opposed socialist intransigence, and have disavowed the necessity of the use of violence in social fights
If today these parties are advocates of the most bitter and extreme violence, which is expressed in war, it isn’t because they have been converted by a sudden revolutionary breath (for in that case the most genuine revolutionaries would be the nationalists), but because precisely war does not imply the negation of existing institutions, it does not have a content of subversive demolition but it places violence under the official sanction of military bodies and constituted authorities, and the gesture of the militarized citizen, even having its epilogue in the shedding of blood, is not the fruit of the rebellious psychology of man rising up against an oppression, but is the explication of an obedience that brings him closer to the slave and the brute.
War is conservative! The “Fasces of Revolutionary Action” that the few
transfugal interventionists of the socialist movement would like to
establish will move in the field of perpetual contradiction, they will not
achieve the aim of raising an echo of heroic enthusiasm in the masses, but
will only serve to make the action of bourgeois militarism easier, when
it, converted earlier or later to war, sees fit to drag those masses,
repressing their protests under its iron fist, into the bloody whirlpool
of tyrannical communion in useless sacrifice and infecund crime.