Antonio Gramsci 1891-1937

Antonio Gramsci 1921

The development of fascism


Unsigned, L'Ordine Nuovo, 21 July 1921.


Text from Antonio Gramsci "Selections from political writings (1921-1926)", translated and edited by Quintin Hoare (Lawrence and Wishart, London 1978). Transcribed to the www with the kind permission of Quintin Hoare.


The events of Grosseto, Viterbo and Treviso are the initial phase of a new and definitive development of fascism. Punitive expeditions by small bands are giving way to actions by veritable army units, armed with machine-guns. In some areas fascist cavalry is making its appearance. In Siena, thousands upon thousands of fascists assembled, on the pretext of a provincial congress, to parade in military order with their own cavalry.

It would be foolish to believe that all this has only a choreographic significance. It is clear, in fact, that the local fascist formations are obeying a central directive and applying a minutely prearranged plan. Before long the Treviso episode, which so greatly stirred public opinion, will be surpassed by quite other sensational events. It seems that Turin is to be the scene of the next grandiose fascist exploit. It is said that between ten and fifteen thousand fascists will be demobilized, from all over the Po valley, to attack Turin and definitively crush its proletarian movement. Those in charge of public security allegedly know something about it: the Milan chief of police, Commander Gasti, who concerns himself so "lovingly" with L'Ordine Nuovo, allegedly knows something very definite about it.

There is every guarantee that these rumours are serious, and the working masses must be seriously concerned. The revolts against fascism which are now multiplying throughout the country contain the hope of a rebirth of popular energies; but they should also cause the weight of responsibility to be more keenly felt. The more it is shown that the people are not prepared to submit to white terror, the more it is necessary to foresee that fascism will extend, intensify and organize its activity. The very probability of socialist collaboration with the government increases the danger of a fascist coup de main. It is certain that the socialists will give their support to the government only if the government gives assurances that it will repress fascism. And it is also certain that fascism will not want to lose the position of predominance which it occupies in so many regions today. "Pacification 1136 is only a thin mask designed to allow them to continue with impunity the preparation and military organization of veritable armies to counterpose to the government and to the socialists.

After the episodes of Grosseto and Treviso, which have remained unpunished, a fascist attack on the great working-class cities is to be expected. We once again ask the General Confederation of Labour whether it hag prepared a plan of defence, that will permit the local populations to be aided and assisted in any efforts they may make to resist the reactionary offensive - which undoubtedly also has "tradeunion" consequences and implications. We ask the same question of the Railwaymen's Union.

The local populations, however, do not have much to hope for from these bodies, which have completely lost any sense of historical reality. It is up to the local forces to give thought to their own defence. Viterbo and Sarzana have given the example of what must be done. 37 We hope that in the big cities, another force too will come into play: the soldiers, who have everything to fear from a fascist government. A fascist coup d'état would mean a war, and not only in the East. The popular masses who want peace, freedom and bread must, in this period of dark onrush of events, always hold themselves ready to spring up as one man against every danger of new carnage and suffering threatened by the so heroic exploits of fascism.