The humble Farmer at Bowdoin College, January 31, 2003

May 23, 2014. The information below on Fascism was copied from the Encyclopedia Britannica under the heading "Italy" and is in Volume 12 on and near page 776 of the 1972 edition. As you know, for many years I have had the habit of selecting a volume most mornings, opening it at random, and on many occasions have found something that I thought you'd like to hear me mention on the radio. I was obviously mistaken on this particular morning, because there were two or three influential people who, upon hearing it, turned blue in the face and demanded that I be kicked off the air. Did you know that there are things printed in the Encyclopedia Britannica that some people find offensive? Thank you for your interest in education.

Below are my comments on Mussolini that I read on the radio on August 25, 2006

I am now sorry that I read it and want to apologize to all of the Fascists in my listening audience who were offended when they heard it.

Marina Delune writes:

I was about to mail out my annual pledge when I read in Village Soup that Charles Beck has censored the humble Farmer, and issued a set of "guidelines" to humble.

I am curious as to whether he has sent the same "guidelines" to Garrison Keillor, whose political humor is quite obviously partisan. Perhaps MPBN should consider taking Prairie Home Companion off the air because it is clearly a threat to political neutrality. And worse, Keillor doesn't even identify his views as being his personal ones, and not those of Public Radio International. It's difficult to believe you have allowed Mr. Beck to overlook this matter.

As far as the requirement of "political neutrality" of publically funded media goes, I fail to understand why WERU has not had its license revoked, but instead appears to be thriving financially, and more importantly, creatively. And why other public radio stations across the country who carry Democracy Now are finding that their membership is growing, and that they are pulling in listeners who would not ordinarily tune in to public radio.

Because I do not understand Mr. Beck's reasoning for censoring humble, I am withholding my pledge, and will continue to do so until humble's right to say what he's been saying in the past is fully reinstated without any qualifications.

And yes, humble is completely correct in bringing up the ugly topic of fascism while not referencing it to any particular person. Fascism is indeed creeping in insiduously and relentlessly, and Charles Beck's lack of courage in backing down in the face of it dishonors public radio, the free press, and the most essential principles on which this country was founded, and, quite frankly is simply another confirmation of the growing influence of fascism, in which he is complicit. Strong words, and words which I do not use lightly, but we are in fact losing our democracy each day. So I will continue to support WERU, perhaps at a higher level, until I hear that MPBN has come to its senses and gives humble the free rein he previously commanded and continues to merit.

Marina Delune

While reading in my Encyclopedia Britannica about Salvatore Quasimodo, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959, I also learned that Fascism is a radical totalitarian political philosophy that combines elements of corporatism, extreme nationalism, anti-liberalism, militarism and authoritarianism. Unfortunately, Fascism is much like streptococcus bacilli: most of us donít even know it when we see it and even specialists in the field might quibble over a comprehensive definition.

Because I have recently not only been forced to take off my shoes before boarding a plane but have been patted down to strip me of my toothpaste and bag balm --- arguably meaningless symbolic gestures implemented to acclimate a population to mindless obedience --- I read further, hoping to learn to identify Fascism and thereby determine if it could be gaining a foothold in this land of the free and the home of the brave. This is what I read.

Around 1921 an Italian Prime Minister named Giolitti permitted the usual government influence on elections by corruption. This gave Mussolini and his fledgling fascists a slight edge and they immediately attacked Giolitti for his support of the League of Nations (a world government organization) and for his belief in the methods of parliamentary democracy. Gradually building up a nationwide party organization containing extreme undesirables, the fascists nearly always had more money than their opponents and moved with greater ruthlessness, although, at every step, Mussolini claimed to be the defender of law and order.

The industrialists were naturally in sympathy with a movement that stood for lower wages and fat, padded contracts. Although the economy had improved it was to their advantage to create the impression that without Fascism, economic breakdown was right around the corner, caused by Socialist incompetence.

The uneducated were naturally receptive to Fascist propaganda and disorderly elements on every level of society welcomed the violence and its attendant opportunity to plunder. Even then, it was not the strength of the Fascists that assured their success but the disorganization and silence of their opponents in the intellectual community. Italians discovered only much later that handing over power to people who claimed to be protecting their country with murder and openly proclaimed their contempt of parliamentary institutions would cost their country dear.

For years there was no overt establishment of dictatorship. Only gradually were old ways and old institutions changed and nothing was done abruptly that might alarm people or make them realize that a revolution had taken place. The wealthy were courted by cutting their taxes. For permission to become rich and corrupt the gerarchi supported their leaderís irresponsible decisions. The inefficiency and graft of his department heads were accepted as inevitable.

When an Italian was killed by bandits in the Balkans, Mussolini and other indignant, patriotic profit-seeking Italians had their long-hoped-for excuse to go to war. To his credit, until they strung him up by the heels, Mussoliniís self confidence never waned and he continued to have a pathetic trust in his own powers of intuition, even after plunging his country into that disastrous war for which he was obviously so unprepared.

As you know, the Encyclopedia Britannica is a fat volume, there is much more in there about the rise of Fascism in Italy, but a continuation and refining of my studies would be no more than an unproductive, academic exercise. Because --- in reading the few paragraphs above, you can see that my premise was shaky: Nothing that I have copied there could suggest a parallel between the rise of fascism in Italy in the 1920s and what is happening in our country today.

You may sleep well tonight. It simply couldnít happen here.

Please click here if you do not care for Fascism

Thank you, Robert Skoglund

Return to top.

Robert Karl Skoglund
785 River Road
St. George, ME 04860
(207) 226-7442

© 2007 Robert Karl Skoglund