The Factory Occupations and the Rise of Mussolini

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

In September 1920, over half a million workers seized factories throughout Italy. A revolutionary situation was unfolding. But the Italian Socialist Party, and the main trade union federation under its influence, struck a deal with the employers. Italian working people, who had hoped and expected that the end of capitalist rule were near, abandoned the factories in dejection and demoralization. Soon, fascist gangs under Mussolini stepped up recruitment, carrying out an escalating wave of attacks against the labor movement, receiving growing financial support from leading capitalists and sectors of the Italian state. Several thousands workers and peasants were murdered in fascist “punitive expeditions” leading up to Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922. This presentation will present the way in which the question of socialism or barbarism was concretely posed in Italy in this period.

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