A portrait of President Roosevelt in 1944. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution. Author:Photograph: Leon A. Perskie digitization: FDR Presidential Library & Museum - CT 09-109(1). License:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Dear Readers,

Our National Elections will take place in a few days, so I thought I would share a little political gossip with you from days gone by.

Back in 1934 a piece titled Roosevelt and I by Benito Mussoliniappeared in the World Digest Magazine. Originally written for Mirror du Monde of Paris, it was translated into English as evidence of the “dispassionate rationality of Italy’s leader.” Through the years, most essays with the Mussolini by line printed in the world press were by Margherita Sarfatti an ardent Jewish feminist. The voluptuous Venetian Jewess Margherita, supplied Benito with the intellectual and moral underpinnings of Fascism, suggest Phillip Cannistraro and Brian Sullivan in their book Il Duce’s Other Woman, published in 1944. Margherita, a delicate yet determined art critic, molded the fiery revolutionary passions that raged within Mussolini. Benito conquered her heart and body and she provided coherence to his inchoate patriotic urges. Although Duce was an inveterate bed hopper, Margherita Sarfatti may have been the woman he truly loved.

Il Duce’s Other Woman provides a full-bodied portrait of Mussolini. Benito as an ink-stained editor of a struggling newspaper. Benito’s political opportunism in his relations with D’Annunzio and Balbo.

Mussolini’s trials and tribulations as his political creed evolves from radical left wing socialism to an ardent Italian nationalism. Mussolini’s valor in the First World War, his compassion toward Margherita and cuckolded husband Cesare after the loss of their son Roberto in combat. It is against the backdrop of World War I that the bond between Mussolini and Sarfattii deepened. 

Italy’s victory in the war to end all wars and the widespread disillusionment following the betrayal at Versailles, caused both Margherita Sarfatti and Benito Mussolini to yearn for a new Italy based on Roman ideals and helped create Fascism and Duce. They never envisioned the tumult that toppled those dreams.


Roosevelt and I

by Benito Mussolini


Mussolini in 1922.Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution. Author:Wikicommons/ Public Domain

That which causes me to admire President Roosevelt and his aides so greatly is their courage. A tremendous iron tradition had to be broken in America to make way for the President’s brave steps.  And that tradition is the theory of the basic rights of capital and industry to pursue their profit-making motives without reference to the welfare of the people as a whole.

My task was easier than Mr. Roosevelt’s. Where America had been built up in the Nineteenth Century by the rule of  free competition and “laissez-faire,” we Italians still remembered  somewhat the motto of the Republic of Venice: “The Authority of the State.”

Mr. Roosevelt’s task has been, and continues to be, to replace the non-human and non-living machinery of the great industrial units with a humanised economy planned for  the benefit of the whole.

I had the same task when I assumed power in Italy and I make bold to avow that what Mr. Roosevelt is doing is the same thing that I am doing in Italy under another name.

Our industries are today run under a Minister of Corporations. Nothing is done or attempted without reference to the mutual welfare of both the workers and the managers of each industry and the ultimate benefit of the Italian people as a whole.

Since the appointment of our Minister of Corporations in 1926, we have had no strikes. Of what use or point is it for the workers’ organizations to strike? They can have what they want by simply applying to their representative in the cabinet, if what they want is available. If it isn’t available, or if it isn’t just with regard to the interests of other groups the strike would be useless anyway.

We have had no debacles of our currency in Italy. The lira is stabilized at a sane and low level in comparison with other moneys. If our money were to fall in the world exchanges, it would not have far to fall; a fall from the ground floor is not as harmful as a tumble from a skyscraper.

We have had no violent alternations of boom and depression in Italy; we wouldn’t allow it. The government has control, not the speculators. 

So Mr. Roosevelt’s job and mine are very similar after all.

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