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Italian Fascism, German Nazism, And Argentine Peronism
A new kind of authoritarianism was born in Europe at the end of the nineteenth
century. It built on strong nationalism but added a greater hostility to liberal ideas
and institutions. Authoritarians resented the divisions and bickering of
parliamentary systems. They disliked individualism and the consumer society,
believing that people should find a higher purpose in the nation and its state. Most
feared the rise of socialism, seeking to cure social ills by other, state-sponsored
means. Authoritarianism was a noisy but also a small force in Europe until the huge
disruptions of World War I. Then additional nationalist discontents, the fear of
Communism in Russia, and sheer confusion gave the authoritarian movements
additional support. First in Italy, then in other countries, the movements were able
to gain power, usually by legal means, though none ever obtained an outright
majority in any free election.
Authoritarianism also grew outside Europe. In Latin America many authoritarian
dictators had flourished at times during the nineteenth century; they were called
caudillos, the Spanish word for leader. Most authoritarians defended existing
institutions—property owners, the army, the church. They gained power because of
the difficulty of establishing stable governments after the independence wars earlier
in the century. Some caudillos added a populist twist, wooing elements of the
common people by programs of public works and state jobs. Authoritarianism
continued in the twentieth century, off and on, and it picked up some of the
trappings of European fascism, from grandiose principles of state power and
nationalism to the uniformed movements, whose members were taught to march in
military style, a tactic designed to whip up loyalty and discipline. Authoritarian
leaders sprang up in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia after World War II,
again in part because some newly independent states found it hard to generate
effective political institutions in any other way. Some of these leaders, too, took on
certain fascist overtones.
A comparison of European fascism and a significant adaptation of
authoritarianism in Latin America allows consideration of one of the vital political
currents of the twentieth century. Authoritarian movements, after the fascist
example, undoubtedly shared certain features and imitated each other, but they were
not all alike. Ideas varied, and contexts varied as well; a full Nazi-style state was
possible only in an industrialized society, for example. Even in Europe, Italian
fascism and German Nazism clearly differed, despite some shared causes and shared
Mussolini’s movement came first, among the modern versions of authoritarianism;
Mussolini came into power in 1923. A former socialist, Mussolini developed a fascist
ideology amid the social strife and disappointed nationalism of post–World War I
Italy. Italian liberal democracy was a rather new creation, and it was not
functioning well.
Hitler, an ardent nationalist and anti-Semite and a disgruntled war veteran,
struggled through the 1920s. Many Germans deeply resented their loss in World War
I and the harsh peace imposed on their country. But Hitler got his chance only when
economic depression, in 1929, fueled the discontent; he came to power in 1933.
But by the late nineteenth century some Latin American Caudillos were
embellishing their dictatorships by working for greater economic development and
reaching out for more active popular support. Juan Peron was in this newer
tradition. When he came to power in 1946, he also had the example of European
fascism before him—Argentina was one of the more Europeanized Latin American
countries, with a large minority of Italian origin.
A key analytical problem, as sources from fascism, Nazism, and Peronism readily
attest, is that leaders of those movements were not interested in careful statements
of principle or even in complete consistency. They talked of subordinating the
individual to higher purposes, but they also praised human freedom. They were
hostile to Marxism, but they often talked about social justice and sometimes (as with
Peron) established themselves as friends of the working class in order to gain
extensive working-class support.
A final question must be applied to Mussolini, to Hitler, and to Peron alike: why
did they gain so much popularity? Do their ideas help explain the appeal of
authoritarian movements in many different countries from the 1920s onward?
1. Why was fascism opposed to socialism? to democracy? to liberalism? What was
the fascist alternative, according to Mussolini? What were the principles and goals
of a fascist state?
2. How did the fascist state contrast with the liberal idea of the state? What was the
fascist alternative to individualism?
3. What was Hitler’s definition of a folkish state? How do Hitler’s ideas show the
bases of the launching of World War II and the Holocaust?
4. What ideas did Mussolini and Hitler share concerning methods for their
movements? Did they have similar ideas about the state? Did Mussolini anticipate
Hitler’s ideas of a folkish state?
5. Why did Hitler, Mussolini, and Peron all claim to be revolutionary?
6. How do Mussolini, Hitler, and Peron suggest some of the political and social
problems that gave rise to their movements?
7. How did Peron learn what not to say, from the fates and international reputations
of Italian and German fascism?
8. How did Peron’s ideas of the nation compare with Hitler’s? How did his idea of
individualism compare with the fascist approach? Judging by his stated goals, is it
useful to think of Peron as a fascist? as a Nazi?
9. How did Peron distinguish himself from traditional Latin American caudillos?
10. If Peron should not be called a fascist, how are his political movement and beliefs
best described?
For Further Discussion
1. Why might elements of European fascism prove attractive in the Latin American
political context after World War II?
2. Why was it unlikely that a leader like Peron could set up a full Nazi state?
3. What was the relationship between fascistlike movements and nationalism? What
kinds of nationalism avoided some kind of fascist outgrowth, and why?
4. Do conditions for fascism still exist in the world today? What societies, currently,
would seem the most likely potential centers of serious fascist movements?
Mussolini (1883–1945) came to power in 1923, following a famous “march on
Rome” when armed bands (Squadriste), which had been violently disrupting
democratic political meetings, mounted a largely peaceful, symbolic protest surge on
the national capital. Mussolini spelled out his fascist doctrine (the name fascist came
from the movement’s symbol, a bundle or fascio) at various points in his career. The
following selection comes from a 1932 article, “Doctrine of Fascism,” written at a
time when he was already well established as dictator. During the 1920s Mussolini
had suppressed political opposition and had developed extensive public works
projects, while dismantling the previous liberal state and turning parliament into a
rubber stamp. Mussolini was toppled by the allied invasion of Italy during World
War II and killed by resistance fighters.
From Benito Mussolini, The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism, trans. Jane
Soames (London: Hogarth Press, 1933), 8–14, 16–26.
Fascism was not the nursling of a doctrine worked out beforehand with detailed
elaboration; it was born of the need for action and was itself from the beginning
practical rather than theoretical; it was not merely another political party but, even
in the first two years, in opposition to all political parties as such, and itself a living
movement. The name which I then (1919) gave the organization fixed its character.
And yet, if one were to re-read, in the now dusty columns of that date, the report of
the meeting in which the Fasci Italiani di combattimento were constituted, one
would there find no ordered expression of doctrine, but a series of aphorisms,
anticipations and aspirations which, when refined by time from the original ore,
were destined after some years to develop into an ordered series of doctrinal
concepts, forming the Fascist political doctrine—different from all others either of
the past or the present day.…
The years which preceded the march to Rome were years of great difficulty,
during which the necessity for action did not permit of research or any complete
elaboration of doctrine. The battle had to be fought in the towns and villages. There
was much discussion, but—what was more important and more sacred—men died.
They knew how to die. Doctrine, beautifully defined and carefully elucidated…
might be lacking; but there was to take its place something more decisive—Faith.
Even so, anyone… will find that the fundamentals of doctrine were cast during the
years of conflict. It was precisely in those years that Fascist thought armed itself,
was refined, and began the great task of organization. The problem of the relation
between the individual citizen and the State; the allied problems of authority and
liberty; political and social problems as well as those specifically national—a
solution was being sought for all these while at the same time the struggle against
Liberalism, Democracy, Socialism and the Masonic bodies was being carried on.…
And above all, Fascism… believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of
perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism—born of a renunciation
of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up
to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the
peoples who have the courage to meet it.… This anti-Pacifist spirit is carried by
Fascism even into the life of the individual; the proud motto of the Squadrista, “Me
ne frego” [“We don’t give a damn”]…is an act of philosophy not only stoic, the
summary of a doctrine not only political—it is the education to combat, the
acceptation of the risks which combat implies, and a new way of life for Italy. Thus
the Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he
rather conceives of life as a duty and struggle and conquest, life which should be
high and full, lived for oneself, but above all for others.…
Such a conception of life makes Fascism the complete opposition of that doctrine,
the base of so-called scientific and Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of
history; according to which the history of human civilization can be explained
simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the
change and development in the means and instruments of production. … Fascism,
now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions
influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. … It follows that the existence
of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied—the natural progeny of
the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that classwar can
be the preponderant force in the transformation of society. These two fundamental
concepts of Socialism being thus refuted, nothing is left of it but the sentimental
aspiration … towards a social convention in which the sorrows and sufferings of the
humblest shall be alleviated. … Fascism denies the validity of the equation, wellbeing=happiness, which would reduce men to the level of animals, caring for one
thing only—to be fat and well-fed—and would thus degrade humanity to a purely
physical existence.
After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic
ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical
application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority,
can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a
periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial and fruitful
inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere
operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage. The democratic regime
may be defined as from time to time giving the people the illusion of sovereignty,
while the real effective sovereignty lies in the hands of other concealed and
irresponsible forces.…
Fascism has taken up an attitude of complete opposition to the doctrines of
Liberalism, both in the political field and the field of economics.… Liberalism only
flourished for half a century.…
The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty,
and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which
all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the
State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the
play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely
a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist
State is itself conscious, and has itself a will and a personality—thus it may be called
the “ethic” State. In 1929… I said:
“For us Fascists, the State is not merely a guardian… nor is it an organization
with purely material aims. … Nor is it a purely political creation. … The State, as
conceived of and as created by Fascism, is a spiritual and moral fact in itself, since
its political, juridical and economic organization of the nation is a concrete thing;
and such an organization must be in its origins and development a manifestation of
the spirit. The State is the guarantor of security both internal and external, but it is
also the custodian and transmitter of the spirit of the people, as it has grown up
through the centuries in language, in customs and in faith. And the State is not only
a living reality of the present, it is also linked with the past and above all with the
future, and thus transcending the brief limits of individual life, it represents the
immanent spirit of the nation.…”
From 1929 until today [1932], evolution, both political and economic, has
everywhere gone to prove the validity of these doctrinal premises. Of such gigantic
importance is the State. It is the force which alone can provide a solution to the
dramatic contradictions of capitalism, and that state of affairs which we call the
crisis can only be dealt with by the State, as between other States. … Yet the Fascist
State is unique, and an original creation. It is not reactionary, but revolutionary, in
that it anticipates the solution of the universal political problems which elsewhere
have to be settled in the political field by the rivalry of parties, the excessive power
of the Parliamentary regime and the irresponsibility of political assemblies; while it
meets the problems of the economic field by a system of syndicalism* which is
continually increasing in importance, as much in the sphere of labour as of industry:
and in the moral field enforces order, discipline, and obedience to that which is the
determined moral code of the country. Fascism desires the State to be a strong and
organic body, at the same time reposing upon broad and popular support. The
Fascist State has drawn into itself even the economic activities of the nation, and,
through the corporative social and educational institutions created by it, its
influence reaches every aspect of the national life and includes, framed in their
respective organizations, all the political, economic and spiritual forces of the
nation. A State which reposes upon the support of millions of individuals who
recognize its authority, are continually conscious of its power and are ready at once
to serve it, is not the old tyrannical State. … The individual in the Fascist State is not
annulled but rather multiplied, just in the same way that a soldier in a regiment is
not diminished but rather increased by the number of his comrades. The Fascist
State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual;
the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is
essential; the deciding power in the question cannot be the individual, but the State
According to Fascism, government is not so much a thing to be expressed in
territorial or military terms as in terms of morality and the spirit. It must be thought
of as an Empire—that is to say, a nation which directly or indirectly rules other
nations, without the need for conquering a single square yard of territory. For
Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an
essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples
which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist;
any renunciation is a sign of decay and death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted
to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy,
who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But
Empire demands discipline, the co-ordination of all forces and a deeply-felt sense of
duty and sacrifice: this fact explains … the necessarily severe measures which must
be taken against those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement
of Italy in the twentieth century.
*Mussolini meant this as an alternative to class-based unions. He installed statedominated employer-worker boards, outlawing other unions and strikes.
The following passage comes from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which outlined his goals for
a Nazi state with suprising frankness. Hitler wrote the book after he was jailed for
an attempted revolt in a Munich beer hall in 1923. He was released in less than a
year and resumed his propaganda activities, though his movement was foundering
until the Depression hit Germany at the end of the decade. Then, votes for Nazism
began to soar, reaching more than a third of the total in a 1932 election. Once he
was in power in 1933, Hitler constructed a dictatorship; actively promoted
economic development, particularly toward building up German armaments;
attacked and ultimately killed most Jews in Germany and Europe (the Holocaust);
and launched a series of aggressive moves that led to World War II, committing
suicide in 1945 as Soviet armies invaded Berlin.
For the realization of philosophical ideals and of the demands derived from them no
more occurs through men’s pure feeling or inner will in themselves than the
achievement of freedom through the general longing for it. No, only when the ideal
urge for independence gets a fighting organization in the form of military
instruments of power can the pressing desire of a people be transformed into
glorious reality.
Every philosophy of life, even if it is a thousand times correct and of highest
benefit to humanity, will remain without significance for the practical shaping of a
people’s life, as long as its principles have not become the banner of a fighting
movement which for its part in turn will be a party as long as its activity has not
found completion in the victory of its ideas and its party dogmas have not become
the new state principles of a people’s community.…
This transformation of a general, philosophical, ideal conception of the highest
truth into a definitely delimited, tightly organized political community of faith and
struggle, unified in spirit and will, is the most significant achievement, since on its
happy solution alone the possibility of the victory of an idea depends. From the
army of often millions of men, who as individuals more or less clearly and definitely
sense these truths, and in part perhaps comprehend them, one man must step
forward who with apodictic force will form granite principles from the wavering
idea-world of the broad masses and take up the struggle for their sole correctness,
until from the shifting waves of a free thought-world there will arise a brazen cliff of
solid unity in faith and will.
From Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1971), 380, 390–95. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
The general right for such an activity is based on necessity, the personal right on
What has been profitably Germanized in history is the soil which our ancestors
acquired by the sword and settled with German peasants. In so far as they directed
foreign blood into our national body in this process, they contributed to that
catastrophic splintering of our inner being which is expressed in German superindividualism—a phenomenon, I am sorry to say, which is praised in many quarters.
… [T]he state must, therefore, in the light of reason, regard its highest task as the
preservation and intensification of the race, this fundamental condition of all human
cultural development.
It was the Jew, Karl Marx, who was able to draw the extreme inference from
those false conceptions and views concerning the nature and purpose of a state: by
detaching the state concept from racial obligations without being able to arrive at
any other equally acknowledged formulation, the bourgeois world even paved the
way for a doctrine which denies the state as such.…
It is, therefore, the first obligation of a new movement, standing on the ground of
a folkish world view, to make sure that its conception of the nature and purpose of
the state attains a uniform and clear character.
Thus the basic realization is: that the state represents no end, but a means. It is, to
be sure, the premise for the formation of a higher human culture, but not its cause,
which lies exclusively in the existence of a race capable of culture. Hundreds of
exemplary states might exist on earth, but if the Aryan* culture-bearer died out,
there would be no culture corresponding to the spiritual level of the highest peoples
of today. We can go even farther and say that the fact of human state formation
would not in the least exclude the possibility of the destruction of the human race,
provided that superior intellectual ability and elasticity would be lost due to the
absence of their racial bearers.…
The state in itself does not create a specific cultural level; it can only preserve the
race which conditions this level. Otherwise the state as such may continue to exist
unchanged for centuries while, in consequence of a racial mixture which it has not
prevented, the cultural capacity of a people and the general aspect of its life
conditioned by it have long since suffered a profound change. The present-day state,
for example, may very well simulate its existence as a formal mechanism for a
certain length of time, but the racial poisoning of our national body creates a
cultural decline which even now is terrifyingly manifest.
*Hitler used the term Aryan to designate the Germanic “race.”
Thus, the precondition for the existence of a higher humanity is not the state, but
the nation possessing the necessary ability.…
The state is a means to an end. Its end lies in the preservation and advancement
of a community of physically and psychically homogeneous creatures. This
preservation itself comprises first of all existence as a race and thereby permits the
free development of all the forces dormant in this race. Of them a part will always
primarily serve the preservation of physical life, and only the remaining part the
promotion of a further spiritual development. Actually the one always creates the
precondition for the other.
States which do not serve this purpose are misbegotten, monstrosities in fact. The
fact of their existence changes this no more than the success of a gang of bandits can
justify robbery.
We National Socialists as champions of a new philosophy of life must never base
ourselves on so-called ‘accepted facts’—and false ones at that. If we did, we would
not be the champions of a new great idea, but the coolies of the present-day lie. We
must distinguish in the sharpest way between the state as a vessel and the race as its
content. This vessel has meaning only if it can preserve and protect the content;
otherwise it is useless.
Thus, the highest purpose of a folkish state is concern for the preservation of
those original racial elements which bestow culture and create the beauty and
dignity of a higher mankind. We, as Aryans, can conceive of the state only as the
living organism of a nationality which not only assures the preservation of this
nationality, but by the development of its spiritual and ideal abilities leads it to the
highest freedom.
But what they try to palm off on us as a state today is usually nothing but a
monstrosity born of deepest human error, with untold misery as a consequence.
We National Socialists know that with this conception we stand as revolutionaries
in the world of today and are also branded as such. But our thoughts and actions
must in no way be determined by the approval or disapproval of our time, but by
the binding obligation to a truth which we have recognized. Then we may be
convinced that the higher insight of posterity will not only understand our actions of
today, but will also confirm their correctness and exalt them.…
A state can be designated as exemplary if it is not only compatible with the living
conditions of the nationality it is intended to represent, but if in practice it keeps
this nationality alive by its own very existence—quite regardless of the importance
of this state formation within the framework of the outside world. For the function
of the state is not to create abilities, but only to open the road for those forces
which are present. Thus, conversely, a state can be designated as bad if, despite a
high cultural level, it dooms the bearer of this culture in his racial composition. For
thus it destroys to all intents and purposes the premise for the survival of this
culture which it did not create, but which is the fruit of a culture-creating
nationality safeguarded by a living integration through the state. The state does not
represent the content, but a form. A people’s cultural level at any time does not,
therefore, provide a standard for measuring the quality of the state in which it lives.
It is easily understandable that a people highly endowed with culture offers a more
valuable picture than a Negro tribe; nevertheless, the state organism of the former,
viewed according to its fulfillment of purpose, can be inferior to that of the Negro.
Though the best state and the best state form are not able to extract from a people
abilities which are simply lacking and never did exist, a bad state is assuredly able to
kill originally existing abilities by permitting or even promoting the destruction of
the racial culture-bearer.
Hence our judgment concerning the quality of a state can primarily be
determined only by the relative utility it possesses for a definite nationality, and in
no event by the intrinsic importance attributable to it in the world.…
If, therefore, we speak of a higher mission of the state, we must not forget that
the higher mission lies essentially in the nationality whose free development the
state must merely make possible by the organic force of its being.
The following materials are excerpts from speeches given by the Argentine dictator
between 1946 and 1949, when he was head of state. Peron (1896–1973) entered the
Argentine government as a result of a coup in 1943 and became president in 1946.
Developing an ardent following, particularly among urban workers, he launched
extensive building projects and welfare programs. He was ousted in 1956, returning
briefly thereafter, but a Peronist political movement remained an important force in
Argentine politics for some time.
1. 1946
The Argentine Republic was born as a country of peace and work, endowed by
nature with everything people may hope for to live happily and in peace; on this
fact our international policy is based, we are inevitably heading for prosperity and
greatness achieved partly by reason of our geographical situation and by our
historical destiny.
There is nothing we can envy others, since God gave us whatever we may wish
for. Our policy is born of this aspect of our own natural greatness. We can never
seek to take something from someone since we are surrounded on this earth by
countries less fortunate than ours. For this reason, our international policy is a
policy of peace, friendship, and the desire to trade honestly and freely, whenever we
are offered the same freedom we grant, for in a world where absolute freedom of
trade does not exist, it would be suicidal to profess this absolute liberty.
From Juan Peron, The Voice of Peron (Buenos Aires: Argentine Government, 1950),
22, 36–37, 59, 64, 69–70, 71, 94, 110–11.
2. 1946
Social conscience has banished for ever the selfish individualism that looked only for
personal advantages, to seek the welfare of all through the collective action of
unions. Without that social conscience modern peoples are driven to struggle and
despair dragging their country to misery, war and distress.
This magnificent spectacle of the awakening of a social conscience is condemned
by men maintaining old standards, but they must not be blamed for they are the
product of an unhappy era already surpassed by the Argentine Republic. They are
the product of that individualistic and selfish age. They were born when gold was
the only thing that mattered, when gold was handled without consulting the heart
and therefore without understanding and realising that gold is not everything on this
earth, that dividends are not of paramount importance.
3. 1946
The Five-Year Plan, as we have drawn it up, is simply the result of a careful study of
all the Argentine problems, in the institutional order, in the field of national
defence, and also in the field of national economy. We have considered each of these
Argentine problems in detail, trying to discover their roots in order to find an
adequate solution.
Only a plan of vast proportions is in keeping with a great nation such as the
Argentine Republic. The mediocre, those who lack courage and faith, always prefer
small plans. Great nations, such as our own, with lofty ambitions and aspirations,
must also envisage great plans. Nothing valuable can be achieved by planning
4. 1946
Nowadays policy has changed: each person is at his post, working for the common
patrimony. When something is achieved, it must benefit everyone; when suffering
awaits us, all must share the sorrow. But let us advise those who still uphold ideas of
the old politicians that today, Argentine men and Argentine women are aware of the
existence of a movement supported by the whole country; that we all work and
struggle for this joint movement; therefore, that any personal or group policy will be
destroyed by us and also that our policy originates in this movement of union.
5. 1947
Encouraged by an overwhelming spirit of patriotism and steadily following the
principles and standards of conduct set by precedent, an officer must apply all his
strength of character and bring into play all his stalwart personality so that
whatever may be the circumstances in which they find themselves, the Armed Forces
will never cease to be an orderly and disciplined institution at the exclusive service
of the Nation. He must be sure that they are never transformed into a constant
danger which undervalues and hampers the will of a sovereign people.
6. 1948
To guide the masses one must first instruct and educate them, which can be done at
meetings or at lectures on politics, to be given in our centres, not to tell them to
vote for us, or that they must do this or that so that Peter or James will be elected to
represent them. No, we must speak to them of what are their obligations, because in
our country there is much talk of rights and little of moral obligations. We must talk
somewhat more about the obligations of each citizen towards his country and
towards his fellow countrymen, and forget for a time their rights since we have
mentioned them often enough.
7. 1949
The Peronistic doctrine has to go forward with its fundamental idea; to free the
people to prepare them to make the right use of this freedom. Neither can any
Argentine, and still less a Peronist, use unfairly the individual freedom which the
Magna Charter of the Republic offers him as a man of honour and not as a criminal.
A Peronist must be a slave to the law because that is the only way in which he can
eventually obtain his freedom. But it is not enough for a Peronist to be a slave of the
law. He must also observe the Peronist code of ethics, because those who break laws
are not the only criminals, those who abuse their freedom and who break the
community laws of the land they live in to the detriment of their fellow beings, are
also guilty.
8. 1949
Liberal Democracy, flexible in matters of political or economic retrocession, or
apparent discretion, was not equally flexible where social problems were concerned.
And the bourgeoisie after breaking their lines, have presented the spectacle of
peoples who all rise at once so as to measure the might of their presence, the volume
of their clamour, and the fairness of their claims. Popular expectation is followed by
discontent. Hope placed in the power of law is transformed into resentment if these
laws tolerate injustice. The State looks on impotently at a growing loss of prestige.
Its institutions prevent it from taking adequate measures and there are signs of a
divorce between its interpretation and that of the nation which it professes to
represent. Having lost prestige it becomes ineffectual, and is threatened by rebellion,
because if society does not find in the ruling powers the instrument with which to
achieve its happiness it will devise in its unprotected state, the instrument with
which to overthrow them.
9. 1949
The ambition for social progress has nothing to do with its noisy partisan
exploitation, neither can it be achieved by reviling and lowering the different types
of men. Mankind needs faith in his destiny and in what he is doing and to possess
sufficient insight to realise that the transition from the “I” to the “we” does not take
place in a flash as the extermination of the individual, but as a renewed avowal of
the existence of the individual functioning in the community. In that way the
phenomenon is orderly and takes place during the years in the form of a necessary
evolution which is more in the nature of “coming of age” than that of a mutiny.
11. 1949
The “caudillo” [name given to South American autocratic political leaders]
improvises while the statesman makes plans and carries them out. The “caudillo” has
no initiative, the statesman is creative. The “caudillo” is only concerned with
measures which are applicable to the reigning circumstances whereas the statesman
plans for all time; the deeds of the “caudillo” die with him, but the statesman lives
on in his handiwork. For that reason the “caudillo” has no guiding principles or
clear-cut plan while the statesman works methodically, defeating time and
perpetuating himself in his own creations. “Caudillismo” is a trade, but statecraft is
an art.
12. 1949
The politician of the old school made posts and favouritism a question of politics,
because as he achieved nothing of general usefulness, he had at least to win the good
will of those who would support him in the field of politics. The natural
consequences of this nepotism were political cliques; one politician dominated one
clique and another a different one. They fought among themselves until one of the
cliques came out on top and from them emerged the general staff bent not on
fulfilling their public office with self-denial and sacrifice, but on making the most of
their position to use the Nation as a huge body at the service of their own interests
and to throw away the wealth of the country with [no] sense of order and the fitness
of things.…
13. 1949
The revolutionary idea would not have been able to materialise along constitutional
lines if it had not been able to withstand the criticism, the violent attacks and even
the strain on principles when they run up against the rocks which appear, every day,
in the path of a ruler. The principles of the revolution would not have been able to
be upheld if they had not been the true reflection of Argentine sentiments.
The guiding principles of our movement must have made a very deep impression
on the national conscience for the people in the last elections to have consecrated
them by giving us full power to make reforms.