Italy in the 1920's 05

Italy in the 1920’s Part 5

The reclamation work takes place with the double task of freeing the malarial lands from marshy waters and returning them to population and cultivation with the immediate creation of agricultural land and rural villages, equipped with roads, houses and public services. From 1870 to the end of 1922 the Kingdom of Italy had spent one billion and 720.5 million lire on various reclamation works. From 1922 to 1935-36 the fascist state spent 5 billion and 177.3 million lire, over 442.5 million for mountain works and 2 billion and 366.7 million for state subsidies given to private reclamation works.

In 1928 this policy of internal colonization was defined on a broader organic level, integrated with Mussolini’s law of “integral reclamation” which unifies in a single discipline all the works concerning hydraulic reclamation, mountain settlements, land transformations, irrigation and construction from the streets to the houses, providing the necessary financial means. And a decree of February 13, 1933, concluding a fifty-year legislative evolution, consecrates the new type of reclamation, taking it from the purely hygienic level to the demographic, economic and social one. The policy is aimed at creating new profitable and habitable lands on the national territory, new bases of life for the growing population, and developing production. In its high economic and social value it also expresses one of the vital principles of the fascist regime: the defense and development of rurality for the national balance against the excesses and disappointments of industrial urbanism. The fascist reclamation work has its most expressive synthesis in the reclamation of the Agro Pontino, on the outskirts of Rome (v.Pontina, region, XXVII, p. 897, and App.).

According to, the development of agriculture goes hand in hand with the development of Italian industry. The life of this industry was difficult in the early post-war years, when it had to transform itself towards the new productions of peace without the necessary financial means for the supervening suspension of foreign credits. The crisis was serious. Of 2217 industrial companies, with a capital of 13 billion lire, more than a quarter, 596, closed their balance sheet in 1921 with a global loss of over one billion lire. But the disorder of productive activities, aggravated by the recurring speculative waves in the liberal period, also meant the beginning of the social disorder of which the signs were already evident in 1920 with the first communist attempts to occupy the factories carried out according to the

The fascist state therefore also turns its gaze to industry to bring it back to the order and normality of production. Its first action is aimed at social peace which, by suppressing the strikes and lockouts, restores the peaceful atmosphere necessary for productive work even in factories. Once the classes have been reconciled, order restored, activities directed towards the corporate fronts, Italian industrial production can quickly resume its course and rediscover the courage of new initiatives. His iridix (1912: 100) in fact rose from 81 in 1922, to 91 in 1923, to 103 in 1924, to 130 in 1928. In 1929 the effects of the great world crisis began to be felt in Italy too. The production index dropped to 126 with a depressive trend until 1932 when it reached 98. But it soon rose again, reaching the level of 121.4 in 1935. The workers employed in the industries, which in the 1911 census were 2 million and 304 thousand, had already increased, in 1927, to 4 million.

Industry too is now organizing itself on a rational regulatory plan which disciplines its developments according to need, out of any speculative attempt. The state has favored the concentration of industrial organizations and determines, through special commissions, the limits of the new plants according to recognized national needs and regional utilities. The corporate organization in turn creates a new solidarity between industries and harmonizes them with agricultural activities. The sanctions of 1935-36 and the new policy of economic autarchy, which followed them, now impose on industry vital new tasks of revision and creation in all sectors. For these tasks, the mining, steel and mechanical industries and the textile ones take a great development,

A great contribution to this productive development is given by the electrical industry which, with its driving force and its calorific energy, tends to reduce the use of foreign coal for railways and industries. Between 1923 and 1934 the installed power rises from 2 million to 5 and a half million kW and the production of energy leaps from less than 5 billion to 12 billion kWh, while the capacity of the reservoirs for artificial water falls increases, in the same decade, from 700 million to one billion and 580 million cubic meters.

The development of Italian productive activities also quickly leads to a more favorable balance of the Italian trade balance: the first condition for the defense of the national currency. Italy emerged from the world war with a heavy trade imbalance aggravated by the crisis of transition of the industry from a state of war to a state of peace. The negative balance of its foreign trade was in fact 9 billion and 400 million lire in 1919, 15 billion and 800 million in 1920 and 8 billion and 500 million in 1921. The fascist intervention rapidly reduces this deficit. to 5 billion in 1924 and to 4 billion and 400 million in 1928.

The improvement was achieved in several ways. First: the stabilization of the lira, after a tumultuous period of fluctuations, announced by Mussolini in the historic speech in Pesaro on August 18, 1926, in a very difficult moment for the Italian exchange rate (see Italy: Finanze, XIX, p. 782).

Italy in the 1920's 05

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