While thousands of internationally-minded American citizens back in 1925 were voicing their admiration of "what that fellow Mussolini has done for Italy," a little grey-bearded professor named Gaetano Salvemini was fighting a personal duel with II Duce and warning the world of Fascism.
Today, 15 years later, Gaetano Salvemini is a member of the Harvard Faculty. His prophecies concerning the danger of totalitarianism have been brought home to an American public which once spoke in tolerant fashion of European Fascists. As a result, Dr. Salvemini has gained the reputation of knowing whereof he speaks.
Big Business Fascist
And yesterday, Dr. Salvemini spoke out concerning a new brand of Fascism which he feels may threaten America. It is the Fascism of corporate business enterprise in this country.
The stubby Italian scholar is of the definite opinion that almost 100 per cent of American big business is in sympathy with the philosophy of government behind Hitler and Mussolini totalitarianism.
The bond of sympathy between big business and the Axis lies in the respect of American industrialists for the Axis methods of coercing labor, Dr. Salvemini declared.
There are two means which the industrialist can employ to crush labor, the professor said. One way is to hire strike-breakers to "crack the workers' skulls." The other way is to pass a law outlawing strikes.
"Mussolini has used both methods in Italy," Dr. Salvemini asserted. "In America, big business has only been able to use the first." But business is definitely sympathetic to antistrike legislation, he added.
The automobile plant of Henry Ford at River Rouge is organized along almost purely Fascist lines, the professor stated. The strike-breaking methods used by Ford are similar to those used by Italian industry to crush the workers' strike years ago on the eve of Mussolini's rise to power.