Town and Country under Fascism: The Transformation of Brescia, 1915-1926

By Alice A. Kelikian | Go to book overview

3
Political Alignments in Post-War Brescia

THE collapse of the Austro-Hungarian army in Venetia brought hostilities to an end during the early days of November 1918. The defeat of the Dual Monarchy moved the Italian frontier north to the Brenner, completing unification. Yet despite the demise of an old foe and the conquest of new territory, the fruits of three and a half years of human suffering and material destruction seemed slight. Trent and Trieste had been reclaimed, but Fiume stayed in foreign hands. The sacrifice of the Adriatic showed that the tricolour remained a minor power. Economic exhaustion, political impoverishment, and social strife figured as the domestic costs of the Allied campaign, a price that developing nation-states could ill afford.1

News of the Bolshevik success in Russia and rumours of socialist revolution in Central Europe gave the general instability of government in Rome a universal significance. Influenced by stirrings of rebellion throughout the continent, proletarians and peasants on the peninsula came to expect radical change in Italian political life. As the country switched from military to civilian rule, demands for democratic legitimacy, social justice, workers' control, and agrarian reform dominated public opinion. Collective bargaining during the mobilization suggested alternatives to traditional hierarchies and solidarities in the factory, and those engaged in war industry looked to the trade union movement to organize their interests. Active duty in the name of national allegiance did away with the inertia and isolation which had once accounted for rural indifference, so constituents in the country- side grew difficult to manipulate and to confuse. Infantrymen returned from the front lines to promises of land reform and resettlement; they waited for the Opera Nazionale per i Combattenti to make them smallholders of formerly state-owned properties. The programme, founded in 1917 with a capital of 300 million lire, proved a bitter disappointment to most, simply because the agency had too few plots to

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1
R. Vivarelli, Il dopoguerra in Italia e l'avvento del fascismo (1918-1922). I: Dalla fine della guerra all'impresa di Fiume ( Naples, 1967), pp. 169-218, 385-435.

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Town and Country under Fascism: The Transformation of Brescia, 1915-1926
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Silk, Steel, and Society 7
  • 2 - Workers and Warriors 45
  • 3 - Political Alignments in Post-War Brescia 70
  • 4 - Labours of the Left 96
  • 5 - Conservative Revival in the Search for Order 117
  • 6 - Lamentations and Recriminations 137
  • 7 - The Brescian Road to Fascism 161
  • 8 - Strike and Stabilization 181
  • Conclusion 201
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 221
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