Mussolini Vs. the Banksters

Mussolini was a thug and a mass murderer, who took a nation of poets, thinkers, writers, musicians, scientists and philosophers and tried to turn them into goose-stepping butchers like himself, and their country into a cross between a vast open-air prison and an army camp. Ultimately he failed, and the best thing that happened to his regime was that it more or less completely evaporated after he was overthrown by his own Fascist Grand Council.

But he knew how to handle the banks. After the Great Crash of 1929, he nationalised them. New Labour bailed them out, and then both New Labour and the Tories have allowed the bankers to go on as before, making the same kind of dodgy financial deals and awarding themselves massive pay rises and bonuses far beyond the percentages given to ordinary workers. When these workers are given pay rises at all, thanks to the government’s austerity programme and the repeated insistence on fiscal responsibility, combatting inflation and all the other rubbish.

This is a post that would shock American Republicans. Glen Beck, one of the loonier characters in right-wing broadcasting, cried on his show about Obama’s totalitarian Nazi oppression of the banksters. He really did carry on as if he believed that the heads of Lehmann Brothers, Goldman Sachs and the like had been carried off to some gulag in the wilds of Alaska or somewhere. He made a speech in which he paraphrased, yet again, the Martin Niemoller poem, ‘First they came for…’. He altered it to, ‘First the came for the bankers’. Tears and histrionics followed.

But Obama didn’t imprison or even punish the bankers. He bailed them out, and the world has effectively continued to bail them out, and has been subsidising their profligacy and lavish lifestyle ever since.

This attitude comes from the deliberate Republican and Conservative conflation of Fascism with Socialism, in which any criticisms of financial capitalism are automatically equated with Hitler’s attacks on Jewish bankers. Hitler did indeed make speeches attacking Jewish capitalists and bankers, including one in which he said that when he came to power, he would throw their coffers into the street. It’s vile stuff, and Hitler did carry out his threat. Jewish shops and businesses were smashed during Kristallnacht, and signs were put up ordering gentiles to boycott their businesses. They were watched, and any gentile going into one was photographed. And then during the Holocaust they seized the property of the people they murdered, though they continued to exploit skilled Jewish artisans to produce luxury items in a grotesque merchandising operation in the concentration camps. The SS even produced a catalogue of goods available from them, which were made by the Jewish artisans they had imprisoned and were working to death.

But Hitler wasn’t against capitalism or the banks per se. Indeed, in the next part of his speech he went on to declare how he would not treat good gentile German capitalists and employers the same way, as they treated their German employees well and worked for the good of Germany as true members of the Volksgemeinschaft – the racial community. The head of the Nazi big business organisation was the head of Allianz Insurance, and Hitler himself was very careful when on the verge of power to win over big business. And Hjalmar Schacht, a banker, who was at one time the Nazis’ economics minister, told Hitler to tone the rhetoric down about attacking big business and the capitalists.

Mussolini was also a vile anti-Semite. He wasn’t originally. When he started his career on the Right, he was merely ultra-nationalist. This was bad enough. It led the Italians to commit terrible atrocities in Africa, where they gassed and bombed civilians in Libya and Ethiopia. In Libya they also used massacres of the civilian population and mass rapes to terrorise the population. My guess is that memories of these war-time atrocities were responsible for Gaddafi’s expulsion of the Italian population after he seized power. I don’t know, but I strongly suspect that they’re still being used by the Islamists to whip up hatred against Europe. But it was only after the rise of Hitler that he became anti-Semitic. In 1937 he passed anti-Semitic legislation that was modelled on, but rather weaker, than those in Nazi Germany. At the end of his career, when he was ostensibly keep to introduce a quasi-Socialist regime in the Nazi puppet republic of Salo, he still insisted on keeping anti-Semitism as a key component of Fascist ideology. Because the Italian anti-Semitic legislation was weaker than that of Germany, however, 80 per cent of Italian Jews were able to survive, though this should not detract from the fact that 20 per cent were still murdered, along with all the other Italians the regime butchered.

Mussolini’s nationalisation of the Italian banks, however, wasn’t based on racial theory. It was based on the same entirely practically considerations that also led the Labour government to nationalise the Royal Bank of Scotland. This, however, has since been privatised in what I think was another deal that left the tax-payer out of pocket.

Musso was a tyrant and butcher, but in this instance, he was right. Unlike the New Labour and the Tories, who prefer to bail the banks out, let them continue as before, and then punish the country’s working people for their failings, under the guise of necessary financial restructuring, and the idiotic mantra ‘we’re all in this together’. They fact that the bankers and big businessmen are still giving themselves massive bonuses makes it very clear that we aren’t.

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