Economic autarchy, suppression of the Chamber of Deputies, fascism of culture. – All the internal politics of the regime was increasingly concentrated towards the objective of gathering all the authority and forces of the nation into the hands of the government, with the final aim of the victorious war. The autarchic, the demographic and the integral reclamation policies tended to this jointly. On November 11, 1938, the higher commission for autarchy closed its meetings with a speech by the Duce which outlined directions for the future development of the autarchic battle. An inter-ministerial committee for autarchy followed at the end of the year. Previously, on 24 October, Mussolini had inaugurated an exhibition in Turin to illustrate the progress made by Piedmont in the field of autarchy. On December 22, another inauguration in Rome, also performed by Mussolini, the exhibition of the complete reclamation; previously, on the 16th, he had inaugurated the municipality of Carbonia in Sardinia; on 30 October 1939 he inaugurated, with Pomezia, the fifth municipality of the Pontine countryside. The reclamation and colonization work was now intended to be extended to Sicily: on 20 July 1939 Mussolini, in a report to the Sicilian hierarchies, announced a plan for the cessation of the Sicilian latifundium, with a reclamation and colonization work of a decade. The first 2000 farmhouses were to be inaugurated on October 28, 1940. The Libyan colonization was intensely pushed, regardless of the cost of the enterprise. On 25 October 1938 the Grand Council declared Libya “part of the national territory” and on the 29th twenty thousand settlers (1800 families, with a minimum number of five people) recruited in thirty-six provinces, they left for Libya. A year later, on 28 October 1939 – the war had already broken out – another 820 colonial families left Venice for Libya, on 29 October 367 from Naples; on the 30th, from Palermo, 165; together the results of the “demographic colonization in Ethiopia” were published.
From the speeches of the Duce appeared on every occasion the spirit of aversion to the “great democracies” and the thought of military preparation and war. The undersecretary for war A. Pariani, in a magazine article of 1938, declared that Italy could mobilize 9,800,000 men, to which were added another 2,300,000 acts of arms, residing in the lands of the empire and in the provinces of northern Africa. Figures condensed by Mussolini in the famous phrase of the “eight million bayonets”; except that it remained to provide adequate armament, which was not there, as was later seen by everyone, and as some already knew even then when they were familiar with secret things.
An internal political reform crowning the fascist authoritarian edifice was the suppression of the Chamber of Deputies, replaced by that of “fasces and corporations”, with which the last trace of statutory freedoms vanished. It was voted by acclamation (a new use introduced, eminently anti-parliamentary) by the Chamber in its last session on December 14, 1938, at the same time as the set of provisions “for the defense of the Italian race”.
The new Chamber was formed by the merger of two already existing assemblies, the National Council of the party and the National Council of Corporations: however, the two councils each continued to have their own individuality for their respective specific functions. Part of the members of the second council did not enter the Chamber, as mere technical advisers to the corporations. Overall, the members of the new Chamber were 600; there were no more elections, the seats being assigned by reason of the place held in the two councils; but there was a continuous renewal, with changes in the roles of the councils themselves. however (without any meaning) the division into legislatures was maintained. Only the most important measures were discussed in the plenary meeting, hurrying the others (even if it was about laws) in the commissions. The new Chamber was inaugurated by the king on March 23, 1939, with a speech from the crown containing a complete picture of fascist politics. Costanzo Ciano was its president, as of the previous Chamber of Deputies, while the presidency of the Senate was given to Giacomo Sualdo, taking it away from Luigi Federzoni; this consumed the “retirement” of the head of Italian nationalism.
Federzoni was given the presidency of the Academy of Italy, in which the Accademia dei Lincei, one of the oldest in the world, was absorbed (with a bill approved by the Council of Ministers on May 31, 1939). This act had the value of a symbol for the fascism of Italian culture.
The School Charter, approved by the Grand Council of Fascism on February 15, 1939 and proclaimed a collection of the “principles necessary for a revolutionary renewal of the school” was also to serve this fascistization. In his report to the Grand Council, the Minister of National Education G. Bottai emphasized the sociality and political nature of the school and its necessary insertion into the productive activity of the people. These last words could indicate an intention of linking the school and “autarchic” economic policy. The political training center, or Ateneo, announced by the secretary of the fascist party A. Starace on July 28, 1939 was also intended for the politicization and fascistization of culture: it was based in the Foro Mussolini and the courses lasted two years. Teaching subjects: speeches of the Duce, fascist doctrine and history, the party and its structures: organization of the fascist state; political and corporate economics; race policy, etc.
At the same time, cultural exchanges with Hitlerite Germany intensified. On November 23, 1938 Ciano and the ambassador GV Mackensen signed an agreement in Rome to regulate scientific and artistic relations, the teaching of the language, literature and history of each country in the other, the dissemination of knowledge of the respective political institutions. Previously, in June, a “convention for Italian-German juridical relations” was held in Rome, proposing the elaboration of the juridical principles intended to reform the positive legislation of the two countries. It was said unofficially, at the conclusion of the conference, that “an identity of views was recognized, without reaching any reciprocal concession”. The task of the congressmen had not been to make concrete law, but the politics of law. From these ambiguous phrases a certain hint ofGleichschaltung of Roman law with Germanic-Hitler law (which opposed the former expressly and proudly). A year later, precisely in July 1939, collaboration agreements were concluded between the Italian ambassador D. Alfieri and the Reich minister PJ Goebbels, particularly as regards the press, the theater, the cinema: an announcement that suggested a coordination of directives between the German Ministry of Propaganda and the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture.