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Proletarian nation was a term used by 20th century Italian nationalist intellectuals such as Enrico Corradini and later adopted by Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini to refer to Italy and other poorer countries that were subordinate to the Western imperialist powers. These powers were described by Mussolini as "plutocratic nations" (nazioni plutocratiche). Corradini associated the proletariat with the economic function of production and believed that the producers should be at the forefront of a new imperialist proletarian nation. Mussolini considered that the military struggles unfolding in Europe in the mid-20th century could have revolutionary consequences that could lead to an improvement in the position of Italy in comparison with the major imperialist powers such as Britain.
Nazism rejected the Marxist concept of internationalist class struggle, it identified "class struggle between nations" and sought to resolve internal class struggle in the nation while it identified Germany as a proletarian nation fighting against plutocratic nations.
Two prominent concepts promoted by Corradini inspired fascism. Corradini's theory of "war as revolution" and his theory of "proletarian nationalism". Though Corradini opposed revolutionary socialism in Italy for its anti-patriotism, anti-militarism, internationalism and its advocacy of class conflict, he and other nationalists admired its revolutionary and conquering spirit and in a 1910 meeting of the Italian Nationalist Association, declared support for proletarian nationalism, saying:
We are the proletarian people in respect to the rest of the world. Nationalism is our socialism. This established, nationalism must be founded on the truth that Italy is morally and materially a proletarian nation— Manifesto of the Italian Nationalist Association, December 1910
A similar conception was invoked in Germany during World War I by Johann Plenge, who advocated a "National Socialism" and described the war as being between a "proletarian" Germany versus a "capitalist" Britain.
Taking again the nationalist doctrines before the March on Rome, Mussolini set up in supreme value the ideas of Georges Sorel on the role of violence in the history and on the revolutionary trade unionism of action and the mobilizing idea of what Mussolini called Italy "large proletarian" against the plutocratic nations, was one of the initiative that developed the concept. In one of his last interviews in 1945, Mussolini told journalist Ivanoe Fossani:
We are fighting to impose a higher social justice. The others are fighting to maintain the privileges of caste and class. We are proletarian nations that rise up against the plutocrats. It can not last the absurdity of artificially induced famines. They denounce the blatant failure of the system. I am more convinced than ever that the world can not get out of the dilemma: either Rome or Moscow.
Nazi official and head of the German Labour Front Robert Ley described Germany as a proletarian nation in 1940. During their retirement of the Nazi Party, Gregor Strasser and his brother Otto Strasser identified Germany as "the first proletarian nation in the world" and declared that Germany would need to ally itself with "the other proletarian nations".
Li Dazhao, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, identified China as a whole as a proletarian nation and the white races as the world ruling class. Later Maoist movements, such as the Maoist Internationalist Movement, have also used the term to refer to oppressed nations of the Third World in contrast to bourgeois (First World) nations. In the 1970s, the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, USA used the term "dispersed proletarian nation of a new type" to refer exclusively to African-Americans as a nation of mostly wage laborers and industrial workers (with no significant black bourgeoisie or peasantry as in other nations), dispersed across the territory of the United States.
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