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Post Workers' Rights in the RSI
Created by John Eipper on 05/15/19 7:26 AM

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Workers' Rights in the RSI (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 05/15/19 7:26 am)

Our esteemed moderator seems to enjoy making easy predictions about my views on labor relations, when he commented on my post of 13 May: "I predict [Eugenio will] take us back to 1922-'45."


My views on labor relations are completely in accordance with the "Socializzazione Law" promulgated by the Italian Social Republic on 12 February 1944. By this law, both labor and capital had same rights and duties and both, in equal numbers on the boards, directed the enterprise.  But these laws were a long way in coming.

Mussolini wrote in his newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia as early as 1919: "We want to empower the workers in the directorship of a firm, also to convince them that it is not easy to run commerce or a specific industry."

Unfortunately Mussolini had to reach his goal step by step over 25 years, going through a lot of compromises. The poor guy until the very end tried to govern by consent. In fact the period 1928-38 is called by practically all historians the "Decade of Consent."

But also in 1944 it was not easy, as the Italian capitalists did not like the idea. They were making a lot of money working for the German war industry and tried to use General Hans Leyers, director of Albert Speer's Ruk, Rustung und Kriegsproduction, to stop the law. The quarrel between the Italian Government and the Germans was very serious but in the end Hitler told his men to shut up and respect the Italian decision. Generally the Italian capitalists in the North very closely cooperated with the Germans while at the same time they were supplying the partisans, just to be in the safe side, but on the surface they also showed loyalty to the RSI. Very despicable.

By the way the Germans were also foolish not to favour the efforts of the RSI to have a powerful army. Instead they preferred to have Italian soldiers directly in the Wermacht or the Waffen SS. This was unacceptable for Italy and it was able to mobilize 800,000 men and thousands of women "Ausiliarie."

The relations were never very easy.

However, I knew a fellow who joined the 29th Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (Italianish n° 1) and he was very enthusiastic about the German-Italian relations within the division. He then joined the French Foreign Legion to escape slaughter by the "Reds." He was at Dien Bien Phu and after the defeat, he together with comrades from the RSI were the last remaining in Saigon.

Those who never betray anyone can always be trusted. He had a Vietnamese wife who died to save him in a Viet Cong ambush.

Sorry to have wandered somewhat in this comment.

JE comments: Regarding the RSI, I've suggested before that you can never truly determine the success of a social or economic model when it's short-lived (19 months) and set up in the final months of a lost war.

Yet Mussolini was a dictator:  why couldn't he have dictated his progressive labor policies in the 18 years prior to joining the Axis war in 1940?

Eugenio, I'd like to know more about former RSI combatants in the French Foreign Legion, and in particular the sad and dramatic story of your friend's wife's sacrifice.

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  • Why Mussolini's Delay with Socializzazione? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/17/19 1:30 PM)
    I will try to answer John E's three follow-up questions to my post of May 15th:

    1) Socializzazione. I am convinced of the validity of this model, in part because the first thing the partisans did on their first day in power, beside slaughtering fascists and accused fascists, was to abolish the Socializzazione.

    Furthermore both capitalism and communism, the two failing faces of homo oeconomicus, wanted its destruction by any means. Anyway some points of the Socializzazione once in a while continue to come out in labor relations in Germany and with great success.

    2) Mussolini achieved Socializzazione step by step.  First he built a Social State (now being destroyed). In his very first year as PM, 1923, he promulgated laws for the protection of children and maternity, medical assistance for the poor, insurance against unemployment, injury, and old age. Then came many other steps including the work week of 40 hours, annual compulsory vacation, etc.  In 1926-27 Mussolini promulgated the "Corporativismo" (Corporatism) and the "Carta del Lavoro" (Labour Charter), which were initiatives towards Socializzazione. In 1934 the 22 Corporations were created, while in 1939 the Chamber of the Fasci and Corporation replaced the old Parliament (the real producers could govern). Finally, Socializzazione arrived in 1944.

    About the delay in reaching the Socializzazione, please consider that Mussolini was a "dictator sui generis," as he was the Prime Minister in a monarchy where the king was the Chief of State, and any law had to be approved by him. Unfortunately Mussolini was very respectful of the lousy king instead of kicking him out and proclaiming a republic, but to be honest the victorious king of WWI was popular in Italy.

    3) I am sorry, but the former RSI combatant in the French Foreign Legion did not want to speak much about his wife's sacrifice to save his life in Vietnam. I know only that it happened during a Viet Cong ambush and the remembrance of this fact prevented him from later approaching other women more interested in silly normal things.

    JE comments:  Eugenio, do you see similarities between Socializzazione and Peronism in Argentina?  Perón admired Mussolini, and he was careful to describe his system as the "third path" combining the best traits of capitalism and communism (or more precisely, rejecting both).  Peronism did enjoy a long honeymoon period, but it too collapsed on History's unforgiving ash heap.

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