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Carl Davis

Badoglio Tells His Thoughts on Democracy

(November 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 44, 1 November 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

These are the days of the bandwagon jumpers. Since the turn in the war and the general improvement of the military position of the Allies, fascists, semi-fascists and hangers-on of the totalitarian regimes have suddenly blossomed forth as lovers of democracy.

Fighting a purely military war, which is the only kind of war the capitalist regimes of Britain and America are able to fight, they employ or make use, of every scoundrel, fascist or semi-fascist they can lay their hands on.

Thus Darlan became a useful person. France has his “merits,” The dictator Salazar of Portugal is enlisted in the “democratic” cause. King George of Greece and his fascist gang join this ”democratic” camp. And so do a host of other reactionaries, anti-Semites and totalitarians.

What Made Badoglio Jump?

This policy reached its full bloom in the enlistment of Marshal Badoglio on the side of the Allies.

Who is Badoglio? He is a “cousin of the King” and a general who earned his highest laurels under Mussolini’s regime. He had heretofore subscribed to all the murderous deeds of the fascist dictatorship, He became the leader of the war against Ethiopia and for some time commanded important sectors of the erstwhile Italian war front.

The steadily accumulating defeats of Italian arms, the worsening conditions at home ond the public opposition of the Italian masses led to the downfall of Mussolini, But Mussolini’s downfall gave Badoglio his great opportunity. Appointed by the King as the head of the new government, the marshal still sought to continue the war on the side of Germany. He jumped to the Allied cause only when it became clear that nothing could stop the Anglo-American invasion of Italy.

The “Democrat” at Work

Now the man who was appointed a marshal by Mussolini has blossomed into a “democrat,” according to an interview with the New York Times correspondent, Herbert L. Matthews. In this interview, Badoglio promised the restoration of democracy—after the war!

Yet, only a couple of weeks ago, he issued e statement justifying his dictatorial rule in Allied occupied Italy on the ground that the danger of communism was still great. Two liberals who attempted to issue a democratic newspaper were clamped into jail. There is still no sign that there is any real freedom for the people in that part of Italy which he has controlled since Italy’s declaration of war against Germany.

Faced with direct questions as to his intentions, the marshal announced that he will retire when the war ends and turn his tasks over to a “political body.” When asked what program he had in mind to bring about internal reform, Badoglio replied that he would be “violating precisely those democratic principles that were being established if he undertook a plan of reform that had not been submitted to a legislative body.” Nice trick, this one, since it avoided all discussion of how any legislative body will come into existence, or how soon free speech, free press, free organization and free elections will become a fact before such a legislative body is formed.

”Those Were Better Times”

Everything else in this interview was sham and evasion.

The marshal insisted on conveying to America and England that he had always wanted to fight on their side, and that the Italian people were always anti-German. It was all Mussolini’s fault—not the King’s, not his own, and not the Italian ruling class’s!

But he gave himself away, this gentleman did, when Matthews reminded him of their meeting during the war on Ethiopia. Here the marshal perked up and said “Those were better times for Italy!”

“Do you remember Termaber Pass,” he asked eagerly, “and those three days we waited while the road was being repaired and the Negus (Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia) fled?”

It must have warmed his democratic heart to think of how he led the slaughter of half-armed, spear-throwing native warriors in behalf of Italian imperialism. In this one reference, we have a picture of the real Badoglio—a blood-thirsty imperialist!

A Word About Territories

It was again revealed when he discussed the disposition of ”Italian territory.” Here the marshal acknowledged that Italy would have no claims on territories won from France, Yugoslavia and Greece. “These claims were a purely fascist conception.” (They are also allies of Britain and America.)

The marshall avoided mention of Albania, Ethiopia and the other African possessions. Were these perchance not the product of “purely fascist conception”? Or are they different because the marshal had a hand in the conquest of some of them?

Isn’t it clear that this leopard hasn’t changed a spot?

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