American in Italy
American in Italy
Italy is the land of human nature. Italians are an undistorted people rich in soul and wise in the mysteries of the human heart. They have produced an unusually large proportion of the world's great saints and more than their share of great sinners.
In America we are extremely communication-minded. Books are written about communication; universities offer courses in it. American industry spends upward of a hundred million dollars a year to communicate the virtues of free enterprise, and Congress appropriates almost two hundred million dollars a year to spread American good will abroad. In Italy, through the Economic Co-operation Administration and other agencies, the United States has invested three and one half billion dollars in Italian friendship.
What are the returns on our investment?
In the Italian general election of 1948, an important test between Communism and friendship for the United States, the Communists were defeated by the pro-American Christian Democrats. Since then the influence of the Christian Democrats has declined steadily. The Communist block has gained more than one and a half million supporters, most of them youths from twenty-one to twenty-five years old voting for the first time. Neo-Fascists have gained two million votes. In Rome the Fascists gather on each anniversary of Mussolini's death in the Piazza del Popolo to give their salute and shout, "Long live the Duce!"
In other words, the biggest and most expensive public-relations campaign in American history is failing. The rise in Italian Communism and Fascism is indirect proportion to the decline in American prestige. We are not convincing the people of Europe that we are a leader worth following.
W. H. Whyte, Jr., in his alarming book, Is Anybody Listening? speaks . . .