The Socialists and the Colonies (XIII)


The colonial enterprises of bourgeois Italy, which came to this good end among the capitalist powers, have always had violent reflections in the internal politics of the country and raised contrasts between the parties, a fact that in other states of more powerful productive industrialism has not occurred so clearly. But it is not the economic and social analysis of modern imperialism that we want to follow here.

The first weapons of the Italian oltremarists were issued around 1880 with concessions of bases in the Red Sea from the other powers, and the first military events took place in 1886-87 in Dogali and elsewhere and it was discovered that the Abyssinians were warlike and modernly supplied by European industries, and therefore to obtain colonies there would require armed expeditions and tributes of money and blood.

The name Crispi stands out among the precursors of these enterprises and is linked to the first war against the Abyssinian Negus with the serious reversal at Adwa. While the foreign bourgeoisie were pleased with the disaster and the illustrated magazines of London and Paris showed in wide colour pages the askari fleeing in vain, besieged and caged in with their weapons in their fists on Amba Alagi with their Italian officers, the left-wing currents of internal politics revolted violently against Crispi and Umberto's ambitions to crown himself emperor, and unreservedly demanded the abandonment of Eritrea. "Via dall'Africa!" has been the battle cry ever since, but it should be noted that it was not only used by workers' parties and socialists. Radical Republicans and left-wing democrats participated in the struggle, which culminated outside parliament with the days of unrest in 1898, with the repression of Pelloux and the state of siege emerged, with the political trials of socialists and democrats, of Turati and Cavallotti and even the famous priest Don Albertario, and finally with the ministries of the right and the new sinister policy of the Savoy monarchy collapsed, especially after Umberto I fell in Monza in 1900 under the revolvers of Bresci .

With Giolitti in 1911 the Italian bourgeoisie regained their African colonial pretensions, while a new party made it its open flag, the nationalist one, directly linked to heavy industry. Turkey was beaten in the Balkan war and it was easy to attack it and land in Tripoli, but even here the enterprise proved to be hard and expensive, and some battalions of Bersaglieri were massacred by the Arabs, who always well equipped with European weapons of allied or friendly countries thanks to skilful Italian diplomacy, in Sciara-Sciat [Shar al-Shatt]. Having taken advice from its major imperialist brothers, the free, parliamentary and "pre-fascist" regime of Rome raised the famous gallows in Piazza del Pane in Tripoli, considering the Arabs who opposed the occupation as "irregular" rebels and therefore traitors. This technique of suggestion was refined: the Muslim fighter believes that the soul of the dead in battle escapes from the wounds received in battle and is directly accepted by Allah, and thus they fight with fanaticism: if the soul is forced to go out by another way, Allah considers it unpleasant and refuses it, hence the intelligent procedure of applying the noose to the throat.

Lets leave this and go: Togliatti, after ponderous research, arrived at the equation: democracy = war; he will arrive at the other: democracy = gallows, which for a hundred years history has been trying to demonstrate to the sages of the species. A discreet student.

In Italy, a new and more powerful opposition rose up against the Giolittian and nationalist politics of Africa. The socialist party threw itself together, with the defection of only the famous specialist of anti-Papism Podrecca, and of some independents such as Labriola, struggling to demonstrate the "Marxist" thesis of capitalism that, by colonising the world, it spreads the basis for worker socialism. But even on that occasion it should be noted that in addition to the clear opposition from the proletarian class - one then began to hear of Mussolini, imprisoned for anti-Tripolesque articles in Lotta di Classe of Forlì - there was strong resistance in the democratic parties, intransigent and radical republicans; a very fierce opponent, also for technical reasons, was the snarling Sicilian economist Napoleone Colajanni, and with him many others not enfeoffed to Giolitti and adverse to the influence of the sidero-nationalists (spiritual fathers of later fascism).

The European war came (every time that the small minded provincial Italian goes spawning the African grumbles like the thunder of a general storm) and during and after it the maintenance of the conquered possessions in Africa required huge sacrifices of men and means; the Italians, in the years of European war, were reduced almost to the northern coast by the Senussi offensives . The Socialists never ceased, in aversion to the war of nations, to fight and mock even the imperial pretensions of bourgeois Italy and point out that among other things, the colonial possessions brought to the working class, even contingently, greater misery.

It is not necessary to remember that one of the central points of the policy of fascism, which was affirmed not only against the workers' parties but also to the detriment of all Italian "democracy", was colonialism, and in a very great way. This policy culminated in the conquest of the Abyssinian Empire in the victorious campaign of 1935-36.

International and Italian democracy fiercely screamed and penalised, and all Italian anti-fascists of all shades have a duty to consider themselves signatories of a bill of exchange to the refugee Ailé Selassié on the line of the Via dall'Africa! classic. The truth is that at the time of the great buffoonery of the colli fatali of Rome , and not foreseeing the subsequent powerful blows, nine and a half Italians out of ten applauded the Duce founder of the empire, then nine and three quarters proudly denied him, and today nine and a quarter regret if not the Duce, then the situation of that time, especially if we refer to the ineffable middle class who went on to launch the new great campaigns for the Freedom of Peoples.


Losing the 1940 war the only way to get Mussolini out and open up the succession to power to those who were fasting during the twenty years, and it was clear that the price paid went to the colonies. It is completely logical to maintain, on the tradition of the socialist party, and even of advanced democracy, that this was another "excellent bargain" for the Italian proletariat. It is no less consistent for Soviet communism to support the renunciation of colonies, as the struggle to free black peoples from European oppressors is an integral part of its political agenda. We do not now marxistically focus on all this, but we continue to see the political renditions of others. "Oh, Agnello, how you change!" . Even an anti-fascist not opposed to colonialism should have understood that when the imperialist war, the content of which is the dispute of the overseas markets, is fully lost, the colonies are fried. Germany said in 1914 what Italy repeated and Japan in 1939: that in relation to its production possibilities, its population and the division in action of the backward continents there was a very strong imbalance. A theses that is, very strong gentlemen in concretism, unquestionably exact. In response, after beating her, they removed every colony. Therefore, those who were not completely fooled should have known that the policy of asking for foreign armies against the fascist militia, considered politically as a foreign army and worse, involved the bartering of the Italian colonies.

The spectacle that offers today the opportunism of the Italian anti and post-fascist parties is also for this truly suggestive problem. Everyone wants colonies. In fact, nobody gives a damn about it, because they are intriguing groups that do not know how to want to go beyond their influence and success and the protection of the strongest foreign masters to whom they are enslaved. They are completely incapable of setting up this problem in an administrative or "technical" way like all the others: of possible advantages for the Italian State in the management of the African colonies - a problem that is resolved, placing it correctly, in the sense that the Italian State is another colony and any advantage for it or in reflection for the internal social classes does not come out of the framework of foreign control, whether or not it has the colonies. It is not the legal formula that counts, but the handling of the key military and commercial forces.

What interests the groups of our politicians for the purposes of the service to which they are attached is to be able to demagogically pour on their opponents the blame, the responsibility, the failure of the loss of colonies, where as we have said it is quite clear that - if it is a question of blame - this was a responsibility already taken for granted and parallel for them all. As it is quite clear that if they compete in being all on the tradition of Italian democracy they should all say they are anti-African.

Full of this empty abstract mouthing that is Italy or the Italian people, believing, after so many bad words spoken about nationalism directly carried out in Fascism, that in the general public there is still a direct generic tricolour susceptibility, worry about being able to work against the popularity of the foreign group against demonstrating that it has taken away the colonies from our country.

The same comedy was carried on about the warships that were shared among the victors in the peace treaty. History counts little for all of them. The winner would like to be left the weapons as a reward for demonstrating that he knows how to betray and change flag. But it is precisely in this case that the winner does not need to be an armed ally.

To get rid of Him we have to pay a long bill, since it was such a deep need: in the account we are fine with the dreadnoughts of 35 thousand tons as new, so must reason the Italian national and therefore bourgeois: the well-understood workers must take pride in Him and them.

Perhaps the most indigestible type of anti-fascism, the Count Sforza with some fake balls and a dragoman in a Phrygian cap, is ready to prove that the blame for the failure of returning the colonies to Italy lies with the Russians. In his high level of competence, he replied to the request for the transfer of Eritrea to Ethiopia with the ethnographic survey that the Eritreans were "of a different race" from the Amharas. Science has in fact established clear coincidences between the dialects of Keren and Asmara with those of Frascati and Torre Pellice, and therefore for the right of the Eritreans to be Italian and not Ethiopian... The Stalinists then, instead of saying that by giving us the colonies they would do yet another denial of proclaimed princes, are only concerned with establishing that it is the British and Americans who refuse them.

Communist-Italian journalists find no better than to illustrate that Russia is opposed to the partitioning of our colonies. Already, but it is a division that would leave a slice of it to Italy, even if a "pre-fascist" slice, then in its time conquered as they conquered our cities on the coast: with candy.

Gromyko was more right. First of all, it wants all the colonies to be made independent in ten years, thus leaving Italy without any colony. But in essence he says that in Libya and Cyrenaica, pre-fascist if you like, there will be excellent Atlantic military bases and therefore also Russian. To this end, he is well aware that Russia is sham. He is right to oppose it. Demagoguery leaves it to the servants. May Allah be thanked.


[1] Capitalists with "outremer" business, overseas, i.e. in the other continents.

[2] Negus is a royal title in the Ethiopian Semitic languages.

[3] An askari was a local soldier serving in the armies of the European colonial powers in Africa.

[4] Bresci was an anarchist who had assassinated Umberto I, the King of Italy, in Manzo in 1900 after Bava-Beccaris massacred protestors during a food riot.

[5] The Senussi, or Sanussi, a Muslim political-religious tariqa (Sufi order) and clan in colonial Libya. From 1902 to 1913, the Senussi fought French colonial expansion in the Sahara and the Kingdom of Italy's colonisation of Libya beginning in 1911.

[6] Reference to a mass rally, "The proclamation of the empire", held by Mussolini in 1936.

[7] Dante's Inferno Canto XXV - The Thieves Transformed

Battaglia Comunista, No. 15, 13-20 April 1949
Translation by Libri Incogniti

(Italian Version)


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