The Italian nation came out of the First World war in dire economic straits. In 1915
the country was still backward industrially, agricultural production was still all-important
to the economy, and it had been ill-prepared for the enormous expense of fighting a war. During the war years, state expenditure had risen enormously from 2,287 million to 30,857 million lire per annum. Simultaneously, the mobilisation of vast numbers of peasants had resulted in drastic
falls in agricultural production and consequently in national income from that important sector. In 1915-19, the grain crop had fallen from 52 to 46 million quintals; the maize crop from 25 to 22 million quintals, and the beet sugar crop from 21 to 15 million quintals. In 1919 the result was, as one post-war prime minister, Giolitti, put it, that "the public debt had risen from 13 to 94 billions", and there was an annual deficit of four thousand million lire. If immediate steps of extreme urgency were not taken, this would conduct the c o u n try to ruination. He concluded that the Italians would have to pay their debts themselves, or make their country ever-more indebted to countries like the United States.
Recommended CitationDavidson, Alastair, Gramsci and the Factory Councils, Australian Left Review, 1(45), 1974, 38-48.