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ITALY: Cannon Speech

3 minute read

To the despair of his best friends, Benito Mussolini has a penchant for crowning with a touch of the ridiculous even his greatest achievements. Last week, having created an entire new province for Italy by ditching, draining and damming the once pestilential Pontine Marshes, II Duce pronounced an oration niftily punctuated by cannon shots.

“Today, Blackshirts,” he began, “I inaugurate the ninety-third province of Italy. (BANG!) So that this gigantic work shall not be disturbed (BANG!) it is necessary, Blackshirts and soldiers, that the nation be strong in armed force (BANG!). . . .

“The plow has made the furrow (BANG!) but the sword defends it (BANG!). . . . To us Fascists fighting is more important than victory itself (BANG!), for when fighting is surcharged with mighty will-power then victory cannot fail (BANG!).”

To excited peasants from all of Italy’s 93 provinces who surrounded him the Dictator finally exclaimed: “Now you understand what the cannon’s voice has thundered in unison with mine! Both the plowshare and the sword are made of sharpened steel, similar to the faith that burns in our hearts.”

Lasting monuments to the Dictator’s greatness are trim, healthful, brand new homes now occupied by 60,000 War veterans on the former Pontine Marshes. So persistent was local belief that it was Death to live on these once malarial lands, that II Duce had to recruit his colonists in distant parts of Italy where the legend of Death was but dimly known. Today middle-class Romans are scrambling for plots on which to build summer homes bordering a pretty lake near one of the new cities in Litoria. The whole project is Benito Mussolini’s particular pet, enjoys the enviable status of being operated as a “direct dependency” of the Head of the State. Thus a peasant of Litoria with a grievance may appeal straight to IlCapo del Governo, will almost certainly get instant action.

Another monument to Il Duce on which Italians had their eyes last week was the so-called Lira Monument in the little town of Pesaro. There, eight years ago, when statesmen of the world were unanimously convinced that the gold standard is the only honest monetary standard and must be defended as such, Benito Mussolini uttered the words now cut deep into the marble slab of Pesaro’s monument: I SAY TO THE WHOLE CIVILIZED WORLD THAT WE WILL DEFEND THE LIRA TO THE LAST BREATH, TO THE LAST DROP OF BLOOD.

Last week, with Rooseveltism rife, II Duce was attempting to keep his promise with a spate of drastic measures in defense of the lira. For a member of the Fascist Party even to discuss the advisability of devaluing or inflating the lira was made grounds for instant dismissal from the Party, with consequent loss of all Government posts held.

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