U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Covid-19 Information Page
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 07-05-2010, 04:35 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,622 posts, read 2,777,275 times
Reputation: 3338

Advertisements

With regard to industrialization, Italy had always been at a great disadvantage largely because the country didn’t experience the Industrial Revolution at the same time as other European nations. There was a brief period between 1879 and 1887 that saw some expansion of industry. However, Italy’s Industrial Revolution did not fully begin until 1896 and was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. During that period, industrial production doubled, investment in industry tripled, and the national economy grew by 50%. Heavy industry was established in northern Italy, but failed to take root in any significant way in the south. Furthermore, despite attempts to change the equation, the Italian economy remained largely agriculturally based with nearly half the population of the country engaged in that pursuit.

After the war, Italy experienced a period of economic and political instability which ultimately led to Mussolini assuming power in 1922. During the years 1922 through 1929, industrial output in Fascist Italy was double that of the years prior to World War I. As the Great Depression began to spread across the world, output declined, and by 1932 it was 20% lower than pre-1929 levels. However, the Depression wasn’t all bad news for the Italian economy. Even during the worst years, it managed to post an annual rate of growth of 1.7%, which was just slightly below average for the rest of Western Europe, but still outpaced France which saw a 2.9% decline annually.

By 1935, the Italian economy had begun to fully emerge from the Depression and industrial output returned to 1929 levels. In 1937, two significant economic events took place; output from industry surpassed the record highs of 1929, and industrial production exceeded that of agriculture for the first time in Italian history. The last year economic figures are available that are not directly affected by war production is 1939. They show a 20% increase in industrial output from 1937. Looking back at the years 1922 to 1939, the Italian economy grew twice as fast as the country’s population and posted a 3.9% annual increase in manufacturing capacity. When you study the indexes for total production during the Fascist period, starting with a baseline of 100, by 1938, Italy averaged 153.8. By comparison, total production in Nazi Germany was 149.9 and 109.4 in France. Indexes showing average output per worker, again with the baseline being 100, have Italian workers at 145.2, while those in France averaged 136.5, Germany 122.4, Great Britain 143.6, and the United States at 136.0.

Given the figures, it seems fair to say that Italy was not only growing it’s industrial base during the time of Fascist rule, but doing a fairly decent job of it as well. So the problem was not that Italy lacked the ability to industrialize, but instead simply couldn’t do it fast enough to catch up to those nations that had been doing it longer than Italy had. While many point the finger at the inefficiency of the corporatist state, which it certainly was in many ways, that isn’t the entire answer. The issues that negatively impacted Italy’s industrial ambitions the most during the 1930’s were dependence on imported raw materials and a sizable unskilled, uneducated work force. The second point was something that Italy could correct, and the Fascists dramatically increased education spending in an effort to do just that. But the first was something they couldn’t change. Italy simply didn’t possess the mineral wealth that other nations did. The thought was that acquisition of colonies might alleviate the situation, but the colonies Italy ended up with were for the most part just as lacking in useful materials as Italy itself. They did in fact have one colony that contained within it something that would have helped Italy tremendously, especially during the war, but the Italians were totally unaware of it. I am referring to Libya and it’s vast oil reserves. Unfortunately for Italy, it wasn’t until ten years after the end of World War II and the discovery of oil in Algeria that led to exploration in Libya and the discovery of the oil riches deep beneath its’ sands.

Whether Fascist Italy could have developed into an economic/industrial powerhouse in Europe can, of course, be questioned. But at least from the available data, it appears the Italians were making strides toward bringing their country closer in line with some of their European neighbors. How successful these efforts would ultimately have been however, cannot be answered. Italy’s turn toward a war economy, it’s involvement in World War II, and the collapse of the Fascist regime, make it nearly impossible to determine “what might have been”.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 07-05-2010, 08:32 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 28,220,077 times
Reputation: 6839
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyT View Post
The issues that negatively impacted Italy’s industrial ambitions the most during the 1930’s were dependence on imported raw materials and a sizable unskilled, uneducated work force. The second point was something that Italy could correct, and the Fascists dramatically increased education spending in an effort to do just that.
Excellent post. You certainly know your Italian economic history.

One hurdle to this that Mussolini attempted to address was the prevalence of dialects over a national language. Many Italians out in the countryside couldn't speak or understand Florentine Italian, the basis of the current national language. In fact most of the immigrants who earlier came to the U.S. couldn't speak, read, write or even fully comprehend the Italian language. Of course the result of increased education will be that many local dialects will likely disappear over the next generation or two.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-05-2010, 11:14 AM
 
1,308 posts, read 2,626,627 times
Reputation: 630
Given that Italy still is not an industrial powerhouse its unlikely that they would have caught up. In the south and central portions of the nation the key point was a poorly educated work force, economic elites who controlled the population and had little interest in industrial production, and ongoing civil strife that discouraged development. Not a lack of raw products. Japan has no raw products and is the second largest economy in the world. People, and how they relate to each other, not commodities is central to industrial production.

The very poor performance of Italian troops in much of the war was directly attributable to the weak Italian industrial system which produced third rate materials particularly tanks and transport.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-05-2010, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
9,618 posts, read 11,822,742 times
Reputation: 3746
I happened upon and bought an old book, now out of print, "Duce!" by Richard Collier, 1971; The Viking Press, NY. Collier had the help of Vittorio Mussolini in putting it together. Fascinating, and both intensely sad and at times, sadly humorous.

Eg: Page 171: when asked about Italy's ability to wage war, to amass the necessary materiels, General Carlo Favagrossa, Mussolini's Minister for War Production, summed it up. Given a full-court-press effort, Italy could be ready for war in 1949 (he was discussing this with Il Duce in, I think, 1940). Failing this, he would set the date at 1959..

I'm sure Benito was less than pleased.

As a youth building plastic models of WW-II warplanes, I and my brother focused on the famous and successful British, American and German types. The common knowledge of the day was that anything Italian was suspect, of poor quality and of even poorer design. Now, as a mature, thoughtful and interested student of history, and as an engineer, I have com to find out that the general problems with Italian engineering was that it was too good, too complex, too "finessed" and advanced, like a Ferrari.

The Italians, seems to me, are and were not suited to war of the type promulgated by Hitler. Their cultural strengths tend towards the arts, to fine, complex thoughtful designs, to peace and good wine and a lovely language. Not to a Blitzgrieg assault mentality. Too bad they somehow succumbed to the rants and tirades of that ignorant "Napoleanic" nitwit thug, a failed journalist who nonetheless had charisma, but that's about all. They should have kicked him out and instantly allied themselves with the Allies, and gained all the advantages thereto.

Today, Italy seems to still be in the throes of cultural upheaval, with repeat but doomed efforts at communism in spite of it's obvious shortcomings, and socialism, the half-cousin of outright communism. I hope they can get it straightened out: I want to buy a Ducati Desmo 990, and an Alfa sedan! (I still have dreams about a 1960's Fiat Abarth OT1600, with a pair of uber-sexy 38DCOE carbs, for those with some automotive interests...)

Cheers, and BTW, a great thread!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-05-2010, 12:06 PM
 
5,753 posts, read 3,493,370 times
Reputation: 2293
Quote:
Originally Posted by mofford View Post
The only good Mussolini did was making the trains run on time. And for the first and last time in modern italian history, he did manage to bottle up the maffia for a while.
Man you beat me about the trains....Franco was the smart one he survived...
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-05-2010, 12:10 PM
 
Location: Cupertino, CA
860 posts, read 1,847,308 times
Reputation: 1192
The Italians did have a few bright spots during the war. Italian frogmen gained a reputation as an elite special forces group and had a number of successes. And the 41,000 ton Vittorio Veneto class battleships were regarded as powerful and capable warships.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f6/RNVittorio_Veneto.jpg (broken link)

The Vittorio Veneto class's design was notable in several respects. Well-balanced warships, they combined excellent vertical armour, a powerful main battery, and high speed. They were strikingly graceful ships, with a tall but balanced superstructure, twin funnels, and a flush-deck design with a lower quarterdeck. These ships were among the fastest of European battleships; the rather short range was acceptable to the Italian Navy in light of the confined waters of the Mediterranean. (Wikipedia)
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-07-2010, 03:42 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,622 posts, read 2,777,275 times
Reputation: 3338
Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi
Given that Italy still is not an industrial powerhouse its unlikely that they would have caught up. In the south and central portions of the nation the key point was a poorly educated work force, economic elites who controlled the population and had little interest in industrial production, and ongoing civil strife that discouraged development. Not a lack of raw products. Japan has no raw products and is the second largest economy in the world. People, and how they relate to each other, not commodities is central to industrial production.
The point I said was open to question was whether or not Fascist Italy, not post-war Italy, could have reached a level of industrialization close or equal to that of her European neighbors. While I agree that an unskilled, uneducated labor pool certainly didn’t help the situation, the other points you raise simply don’t comport with historical fact. The main reasons cited by economists for the difficulties experienced in the drive for Italian industrialization from the 1880’s to the 1930’s are: lack of basic minerals, shortages of raw materials, and limited access to financial capital from domestic and foreign sources to fund development and expansion.

Now, if the lack of raw materials was truly not one of the key reasons Italian industrialization lagged despite a concerted effort to expand it, why then was Italy, especially during the 1930’s, consistently selling whatever they could to obtain money to buy the very thing you seem to believe wasn’t a necessity? After the Spanish Civil War, Italy sold considerable amounts of her best, most modern weaponry to Spain in order to raise capital that was then used for the purchase of raw materials. They did basically the same with Hungary, only in this instance, weapons were traded for both raw material and food items. Would that not indicate to even the most casual observer that Italian industry was “starving” due to the lack of the items needed to keep it producing? If you can’t get or don’t have the basic building blocks needed to manufacture an item such as steel, for example, you can construct as many factories as you want, but they will do little more than sit idle.

Why Italy is not an “industrial powerhouse” today is a separate issue whose answer can be found in studying the social politics of 1960’s Italy. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Italy experienced an economic and industrial boom that lasted well into the late 1950’s, largely because Italian companies now had unrestricted access to the materials needed to build products in quantity. Outside observers fully expected that Italy would reach the same level of prosperity and industrial capacity as the rest of Western Europe in very short order. However, growing socialist political influence within the country gave rise to a movement that sought to curb the proliferation of large industrial concerns. They wished to see a “decentralization” of industry in favor of smaller, regional and local firms that would cater to the specific needs of people in their respective areas. The end result was a return to the craftsmanship of yesterday at the expense of modern, large scale, mass production of goods. This “turning back of the clock” has frozen Italy in state where it is essentially a First World nation with heavy Third World attributes.

So to attempt to compare the economic/industrial situation in Italy with that of Japan, or to use the Italy of today to “predict” what may have happened had Fascism survived, is simply invalid.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-07-2010, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Earth
17,444 posts, read 25,252,715 times
Reputation: 7370
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyT View Post
Why Italy is not an “industrial powerhouse” today is a separate issue whose answer can be found in studying the social politics of 1960’s Italy. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Italy experienced an economic and industrial boom that lasted well into the late 1950’s, largely because Italian companies now had unrestricted access to the materials needed to build products in quantity. Outside observers fully expected that Italy would reach the same level of prosperity and industrial capacity as the rest of Western Europe in very short order. However, growing socialist political influence within the country gave rise to a movement that sought to curb the proliferation of large industrial concerns. They wished to see a “decentralization” of industry in favor of smaller, regional and local firms that would cater to the specific needs of people in their respective areas. The end result was a return to the craftsmanship of yesterday at the expense of modern, large scale, mass production of goods. This “turning back of the clock” has frozen Italy in state where it is essentially a First World nation with heavy Third World attributes.
The rise of Asia has something to do with this as well.

BTW, how would you explain "Il Sorpasso" - the 5 year period of time when the Italian economy surpassed Great Britain's? Was it not so much because of anything the Italian government did as it was due to the state the UK was in the late '70s/early '80s? It didn't last, but it doesn't fit your general narrative of more socialist influence holding Italy back.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-10-2010, 04:21 AM
 
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,622 posts, read 2,777,275 times
Reputation: 3338
Quote:
Originally Posted by majoun
The rise of Asia has something to do with this as well.

BTW, how would you explain "Il Sorpasso" - the 5 year period of time when the Italian economy surpassed Great Britain's? Was it not so much because of anything the Italian government did as it was due to the state the UK was in the late '70s/early '80s? It didn't last, but it doesn't fit your general narrative of more socialist influence holding Italy back.
In respect to "Il Sorpasso", the event was actually the result of creative bookkeeping rather than actual growth in the size of the Italian economy. In 1987, Italy's economic statisticians decided for the first time in history to take into account the size of the "black market" and the resulting economic activity generated by it. Most pegged this sector as being 18-20% of the total Italian economy. Once this was factored in, Italy's GDP suddenly became larger than that of the UK. Interestingly, even though the numbers told one story, actual productivity and total exports during "Il Sorpasso" were on the decline. And in terms of competitiveness with other European economies, Italy's fell a total of 15% during this same period. By 1992, Italy's economy went into recession; the ninth one the country experienced since the end of World War II.

So with all of this in mind, I'm not sure how seriously "Il Sorpasso" should really be taken.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-10-2010, 04:58 AM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
19,725 posts, read 23,332,978 times
Reputation: 27481
Finally finished my read of Mussolini.

Interesting, that the Japanese offered him a refuge in the end, because he supported their attack on Pearl Harbor.

Wouldn't it have been funny, to have given him a nice home in Nagasaki or Hiroshima and ? given a different form of execution.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:15 AM.

© 2005-2020, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top