To the Discussion Leader

Italy’s role in the development of Western culture has been long and distinguished. Many Americans have Italian ancestry. Italy was our ally in World War I; during the early years of World War II, Italy was our enemy. These are some of the many reasons why the question of Italy’s future is of especially great interest to Americans.

How can you plan a discussion?

This pamphlet gives you a vast amount of condensed information about Italy’s past, present, and future problems. Suggestions are made at the end for further reading. A local librarian may be able to provide other valuable books, pamphlets, or articles about Italy. In fact, this same librarian may be willing to set up a reading room display of materials on Italy, including copies of this pamphlet, with a poster calling attention to the date and place of your discussion meeting.

Members of your discussion group will be better prepared to participate in a discussion of Italy and its future if they have an opportunity to read this pamphlet and other materials prior to your meeting.

Whether you wish to plan your program as a forum, a panel, a symposium, or an informal discussion, you will find valuable suggestions and more detailed information on conducting discussion meetings in EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders.

Leaders who wish to prepare a discussion program for broadcasting over a radio or a loud-speaker system of the Armed Forces Radio Service will find helpful suggestions in EM 90, GI Radio Roundtable.

Some discussion possibilities

You will wish, naturally, to use the method that will make your discussion meeting most successful. In planning your program you should, therefore, consider such questions as these: How many people will probably attend your discussion meeting? What kind of facilities are there in your meeting place? Will many of the persons present have firsthand knowledge of Italy and postwar problems facing the Italian people? Are speakers available who can discuss Italy from firsthand experiences and observations?

If your discussion group consists of more than 40 or 30 persons, an informal discussion may be difficult. If your meeting place has a stage and good lighting, you can more easily arrange a panel or symposium. If a lot of persons in your group have firsthand knowledge of Italy, you will not need to spend so much time presenting background information; you can, instead, devote most of your time to informal discussion, inviting these people to contribute their own views freely. If one or more prominent persons with firsthand experience and knowledge about Italy can be obtained to speak to your group, you probably will wish to plan a forum, panel, or symposium; and in this event you can devote a longer time to presentation of background information.

Whatever method you use, however, members of your group will want to feel that they are part of the program. Make them feel at home. Invite them to ask questions or to disagree with your views or those of the speakers. Keep the discussion on major questions. As chairman, you will be largely responsible for the success or failure of your discussion meeting.

Some questions for discussion

Discussion group leaders, and individual readers of this pamphlet, may find the questions below helpful in thinking through various aspects of Italy’s future. Stimulating questions are as necessary for enthusiastic discussion as high octane gasoline is for a high-powered motor. Questions here are only suggestions. Leaders are encouraged to devise other questions themselves as they outline and prepare their discussion programs. Members of discussion groups will appreciate being invited to ask their own questions during the discussion.

  1. After 20 years of fascism, are Italians politically capable of sound self-government? Does Italy’s lack of raw materials necessarily doom it to a relatively inferior position among European nations? Is a strong coalition government a drawback in peacetime? Do you think that international factors, the domestic economic crisis, or the weakness of Italy’s political system was most responsible for the rise of fascism? Do most Italians believe that the creed of fascism or the inadequacies of their own leaders were primarily responsible for Italy’s failure in World War II?
  2. What form of government do you believe best fits the needs and temperament of the Italian peoples? Will the factors that made parliamentary government fail in Italy after World War I continue to hamper it in the reconstruction period following World War II? Can Italy have a democratic form of government under a monarchic system? If Mussolini’s fascist experiment in Italy had not been under way, do you think Germany would have adopted totalitarian government? Should the Italian people be held responsible for what developed under fascism?
  3. Should economic factors, nationalities, or strategic factors play the most important role in determining Italy’s future boundaries? Would plebiscites be a good way of settling border disputes? Would transfers of populations be a good way to prevent future Italian border controversies? Would international boundary commissions he a good arrangement for Italy and its neighbors?
  4. Who should administer reconstruction in Italy: the national government, provincial governments, private agencies, or an international body? If national government control of reconstruction is necessary, will this prejudge the issue of free enterprise vs. government controls or ownership? Should Italy strive to be more, or less, self-sufficient than before World War II? Do you believe Italy can avoid an economic depression after this war?
  5. Should the church have a more important or less important future role in Italian politics? Has World War II strengthened or weakened the position of the church in Italy?
  6. Should Italy be permitted to retain any colonial empire? Will Italians be more influenced in the future by British, French, Russian, or United States policies? Should Italy be permitted to maintain a navy? Should Italy’s future air strength be regulated? What role should Italy have in the United Nations Organization?