Giovanni Boine (1887-1917): Class struggle is gangrene and war is the drug
Among the most authoritative writings in magazines before the war are those of Boine. In the aftermath of Italy's entry into the First World War, he published a sort of "bible" of the good soldier as part of the Voce movement. In the text, the writer expressed his distaste for socialism, class struggle and liberal democracy, while supporting the need for war as a drug for the rebirth of the nation.
“Extreme precept of the extinction of patriotism. (…) The social struggle has taken over the reins of souls, it has moved them in the context of the right of each one, it has formed compact parties such as armies and has flung clashes against each other (…) it is useless saying how and why, to make a fuss and render blow-by-blow accounts: the social struggle has educated the children of the patriots of the resurgence to think of life as a struggle to live materially better and to consider as the enemy that which opposes or obstructs our best. War is like waking up from the selfish torpor. This means that which usually heals a nation from protracted gangrenes (…); that which heals from these materialistic and selfish dispersions is a common enthusiasm that rips violently into each other and which transforms every individual, who is at most gregarious in small groups or in his family, into a true citizen. And it can be a common pain, it can be a great event, a new religion, something that really excites and shakes up ... And more often than not, as with cosmic law, it is WAR. War arrives and any other voice of the nation is silent; the divided nation melts, hangs all to one thing only, (…) THE NATION RECOGNISES. The Libyan war and its moral results. Here it is: the war has taught us or re-taught us tangibly two things: THAT WE ARE A NATION AND THAT, ABOVE ALL ELSE, WE MUST PROTECT THE INTERESTS OF THIS NATION. And it has taught us a third thing which we willingly forget: that THERE IS AN ARMY AND THAT IT MAY BE MORE IMPORTANT FOR THE LIFE OF OUR NATION THAN WE THINK. (…) In the midst of the anarchistic social passion, in the midst of the struggles of interests and class that make us lose a sense of ideal directions, THE ARMY IS MOREOVER A SPECIES IN A MODERN NATION, AS A GENERATOR OF ORDER. Every part demands rule and order; you sense the need of order; you try in vain in schools and workshops to infuse the flavour of order. (…) But the kind of order craved by society, of which our times are still capable of, can only be generated by a superior idea: that of the HOMELAND (…)"
Benito Mussolini (1883-1945): The Popolo d’Italia (The People of Italy) as a voice of interventionism
An interventionist socialist, Mussolini was forced to resign from the newspaper Avanti! on 20 October 1914 following the publication of an article in which he predicted Italy’s intervention in the war. Having quickly collected the funds needed to launch a new daily newspaper, on 20 November 1914 the first issue of Popolo d’Italia was published, which Mussolini used to violently attack his old colleagues. On the 29th of the same month, he was expelled from the Italian Socialist Party (PSI).
"In such an era of general liquidation as the present, not only the dead must be in a hurry (…), but the living must be even more in a hurry than the dead. Waiting could mean arriving late and finding themselves facing the inevitable accomplished fact. (…) If it were a question or an issue of secondary importance, I would not have felt the need, or better, the duty to create a newspaper: but now whatever is said by the neutralists, a formidable question is about to be resolved: the destinies of Europe are in very close relationship with the possible results of this war; disinterest means detaching oneself from history and from life. Ah no! We are not, we do not want to be mummies perennially immobile with our face turned to the same horizon, or confine ourselves between the cramped hedges of the subversive bigotry (…); but we are men, and living men who want to give our contribution, albeit modest, for the creation of history. (…) If tomorrow there will be a little more freedom in Europe, an environment politically more suitable to the training of the skills of the proletariat class, will deserters and apostates not have been all those who, when the moment for action arrived, watched on lazily from the sidelines? If instead tomorrow the Prussian reaction will triumph over Europe, after the destruction of Belgium, with the planned annihilation of France, human civilisation will have suffered, deserters and apostates will have been all those who have not attempted to prevent the catastrophe. This dilemma cannot be resolved by resorting to the subtle ponderings of absolute neutrality. (…) Today, I proclaim that anti-war propaganda is the propaganda of cowardice. It succeeds because it tickles and exasperates the instinct of self-preservation. But this in itself is anti-revolutionary propaganda. (…) Should the task of revolutionary socialists not be to awaken the sleeping consciences of the masses and to throw shovelfuls of quicklime in the face to the dead, and there are many in Italy, that persist in the illusion of living? Under the circumstances, how can shouting "We want war!" be much more revolutionary than shouting “thumbs down”?”
Giovanni Papini (1881-1956): The war as a Malthusian operation
Writer, poet and essayist, Papini was a controversial intellectual, representative of the most subversive Italian middle class. From the columns of Lacerba he began a massive campaign with cynical and nihilist tones in favour of intervention. We love war is one of the most successful examples of Papini’s theories.
“Finally came the day of wrath after the long twilight of fear. Finally they are paying a tithe of souls for the cleaning up of the earth. (…) The siesta of cowardice, diplomacy, hypocrisy and pacifism is over. Brothers are always good at killing brothers! Civilians are ready to go wild, men do not repudiate mother beasts. (…) We are too many. War is a Malthusian operation. There are too many here and too many there and pressure builds. War rebalances the game. It leaves emptiness so that they can breathe better. It leaves fewer mouths around the same table. And it gives purpose to an infinite number of men who lived because they were born; who ate to live, who worked to eat and who cursed work without the courage to deny life. (…) The focus of the raiders and destruction of mortars make a clean sweep of the old houses and the old things. Those grimy villages that troops burned will be remade more beautiful and cleaner. And too many gothic cathedrals will remain and too many churches and too many libraries and too many castles for the degradations and abductions and pains of travellers and professors. After the act of the barbarians, new art is born among the ruins, and every war of extermination makes way for a different trend. There will always be something to do for everyone if the desire to create will be, as always, energised and reinvigorated from destruction. We love the war and savour it as experts while it lasts. War is horrendous, and it is precisely because it is horrendous, awful and terrible and destructive that we must love it with all our male heart."