On the morrow of the famous ecumenical gathering at Bologna, in which, to speak rather solemnly, I was ‘burned but not refuted,’ I asked myself the question which I have answered today by founding this journal of ideas and of battle. I asked myself, should I speak or keep silent? Should I retire into the tent like a weary and deluded soldier, or might it not be necessary that by another weapon I resume my fighting post?...If it were a matter of secondary importance I would not have felt the need, still less the duty, of founding a journal; but now whatever may be said by the neutralists of conservative socialism, there is a formidable question to be solved: the destinies of European socialism are very closely bound up with the possible results of this war; to be disinterested means to detach oneself from history and life, to work for reaction and not for the social revolution. Ah no! Revolutionary Italian socialists, whether they be guided by reasoning or urged blindly but infallibly by sentimental intuitions, know what the cry is that must be raised by the Italian proletariat. Neutrality cannot be a dogma of socialism. For is it only in socialism and more specifically in Italian socialism that ‘absolute’ truths are to be found that can defy the injuries of time and the limitations of space with impunity, like the indisputable and eternal truths of divine relation? But absolute truth about which there is no dispute and which can neither be denied nor renounced, is dead truth; worse still it is murderous truth. We are not and do not wish to be mummies, everlastingly immovable with our faces always turned to the same horizon and enclosed in the narrow hedges of subversive hypocrisy, where formulae are mechanically mumbled like the prayers of ritualist religions; but we are men and live men who wish to give our contribution however modest to historical creation. Inconsistence? Apostasy? Desertion? Nevermore. It remains to be seen on what side the inconsistent, the apostates, and the deserters are to be found. Tomorrow’s history will tell it, but our prophetic abilities are able to foresee it.
If there'll be a little more liberty in Europe tomorrow, and hence an atmosphere politically better adapted to the development of socialism, to the building up of the capacities of the proletarian class, all those will be deserters and apostates who, when action was demanded, declined and stood aside…
Today, and is shout it loudly, anti-war propaganda is a propaganda of cowardice. It flourishes because it spurs and arouses the instinct of individual self-preservation. But for this very reason it is an anti-revolutionary propagandas. It is carried on by the temporalis priests and the Jesuits who have a material and spiritual interest in the preservation of the Austrian Empire; it is carried on by the bourgeoisies, the more or less smugglers, wo, especially in Italy, have proved their lamentable political and moral inadequacy; it is carried on by the monarchists…; this coalition of pacifists knows very well what it wants and we can now easily explain the motives that inspire its attitude. But we socialists, except during the low period of bargaining reformism and of Giolitti, have represented one of the live forces of the new Italy: now do we want to bind our future to these dead forces in the name of a peace that does not save us from the disasters of war today, and that will not save us from the undoubtedly greater dangers of tomorrow, and in any case will not save us from disgrace and from the universal disdain of those peoples who have undergone this great tragedy of history? Do we want to drag out our miserable daily existence blessed by the monarchic and bourgeois status quo, or do we rather want to put an end to this sordid and filthy mess of intrigues and baseness? May not this be our day? Instead of preparing ourselves to submit to preordained events, a scandalous alibi, is it not better to try to control them?... To cry: ‘We want war!’ may not this be much more revolutionary under the circumstances than to cry ‘down with war’?
These disquieting questions to which I for my part have replied, explain the origins and aims of this paper. What I am doing today is an act of audacity, and I am not unaware of the difficulties in the undertaking. They are many and complex, but I have the firm confidence that I can overcome them. I am not alone. Not all of my friends of yesterday will follow me, but many other rebel spirits will gather around me. I shall conduct and independent paper, exceptionally free, personal, my own. It will reflect my mind and mine alone. I have no aggressive intentions against the socialist party, nor against the organs of the party in which I expect to remain/; but I have set out to fight all who may try to hinder the free discussion of a position which for various reasons I hold to be basic to the national and international interests of the proletariat.
I care nothing of the malicious and the idiotic. Let the former remain in tier mire and the latter go to pieces in their intellectual void. I shall go ahead! And in resuming the march, after this brief rest, it is to you, youths of Italy, youths of the offices and of athletic contests, youths in years and youths in spirit, youths who belong to the generation to who destiny has assigned the making of history, it is to you that I raise my cry of greeting, confident that within your ranks it will find a resounding echo and abundant sympathy.
They cry is a word which I would never have pronounced in normal times, but which today I raise loudly, with unrestrained voice, without reservations, and with a sure faith: a fearful and fascinating word: War!