The Crimson Bookshelf

UNDER THE AXE OF FASCISM, Gaetano Salvemini, The Viking Press, New York. $3.00.

PROFESSOR SALVEMINI has written an economic study of Italian Fascism that is deeply convincing and sparkling with enthusiasm. From the first page he leaps onto the trail of Mussolini's "corporate state" and runs it down, point for point, with a vigor and venom that make his scholarly work one of the most fascinating treatments of modern Italy.

"Under the Axe of Fascism" is concerned only with one aspect of Fascism, "those institutions through which Fascism claims to have solved the problem of the relations between capital and labor." Professor Salvemini has not relied upon the observations of contemporary historians, but has drawn his information almost exclusively from Fascist sources--Italian newspapers, political speeches, and the like. There is no limit to his poignant ridicule of Mussolini's defenders. He takes delight in combusting the wild assumptions and vague generalities of British critics, notably Mr. Goad and Major Barnes, two superficial students of the new "revolution.

The book is divided into three parts: a brief, yet clear, history of the development of the "corporate" myth, an excellent discussion of Fascist economic accomplishments, and a conclusion which estimates the relative power of the forces in the Italian government today. Professor Salvemini has spared no footnotes, and his conclusions are supported not by one casual quotation, but by pages of them. Despite these necessary appendages to a thorough work of scholarship, he has written no dull government text. "Under the Axe of Fascism" has just enough unrelenting prejudice, just enough biting sarcasm to give the books a lively, absorbing interest without distorting facts or disturbing its value.

Professor Salvemini leaves his reader with very definite conclusions. As a philosophy, the "corporate state" does not exist in Italy today. It is a myth, a sham, a sop to the gullible people. Mussolini does not believe in the crude methods of the Nazi purge. He sends his party opponents to the front in the Ethiopian war. It is not capital, large and small, that influences the Italian Government, but only "big business."

"Under the Axe of Fascism" deserves a niche in the library beside the worthy volumes of Mr. Finer, Mr. Elwin, and Miss Haider. It is a distinct contribution to the enlightened understanding of present day Italy.


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