Italy fared poorly in World War One and had paid a heavy price for it, causing the Italian economy to fall apart and become ravaged with unemployment, inflation, riots and strikes. In 1919, as a result of current problems in Italy, the Italian government has became increasingly unpopular,causing many Italians to support the Socialist Party and the Catholic Popular Party in the elections. The Socialist Party has become the largest single party in the Chamber of Deputies, followed by the Popular Party following a platform of social reform. The ruling parties (the Liberals and Democrats) lost heavily.¹

Encouraged by the success of the general election, the Socialists were prepared to form more strikes. Socialist agitation reached its climax in September 1920 when the General Confederation of Labor called for a general strike. During the strike the workers took over more than six hundred factories and established the Russian model to rule a number of industrial towns in northern Italy.¹

Although the Socialists had established their control over a number of towns in the North, they failed to seize power in Italy, because (1) The leaders of the General Confederation of Labor were mostly interested in the improvement of workers' livelihood. When the Italian government promised a 20% wage increase to the workers, the Confederation was satisfied and decided to call off the strike. (2) The Socialists lacked the support of the peasants because they proclaimed socialization of all land. Early in 1921 the Socialist threat was over. The Socialist Party split into several factions. One of which was the Communist Party.¹
Benito Mussolini

The fear of revolution and the desire for national glory were manipulated by the Fascists party led by Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was never a convinced socialist he was an opportunist, very interested in winning followers and power for himself (He usually change his ideas based on current events such as when he became the editor of several socialist newspapers (Pre World War One, about 1904) in which he advocated both political assassination, pacifist resistance to a war with Turkey and calling the national flag a rag fit to be planted on a dung heap. When World War I broke out, he first advocated neutrality, and then, probably after accepting French bribes, called for Italian involvement on the Allied side.²). "In March 1919, he formed the Milan fascio. It had no clear-cut programme except a belief in action. It only had vague ideas about radical reforms. For propaganda purpose, Mussolini advocated universal suffrage, the abolition of the Senate, land for the peasants, improvement of workers' conditions and a strong foreign policy. It seemed that Mussolini had not completely discarded his early socialist thought. The property class did not like his radical party programme. In the elections of November 1919 for the Chamber of Deputies, Mussolini and one of his close associates failed to win a seat for themselves."¹

The turning-point for the growth of the Fascist movement came by the end of 1920. Three important factors were responsible for bringing new strength to the Fascist movement. The first was that after D'Annunzio and his followers were driven from Fiume by the end of 1920, many Italian nationalists took Mussolini as their leader because he advocated a strong foreign policy and the annexation of Fiume and Dalmatia. The second was that during 1919-1920, governments in Italy changed but were unable to find effective solutions to the problems of economic inflation and social unrest. The third was that after the General Strike in 1920 the property class became haunted by the belief of a Communist revolution and wanted a strong government to restore law and order in the country.¹

The National Fascist Party of 1921
With support from the property class, Mussolini formed the National Fascist Party in 1921. The Fascist gained 35 out of 335 seats in the May 1921 election. During the periods of 1921 and 1922, Mussolini changed his tactics to better take advantage of different circumstances, with the aim of taking over the country as soon as possible. Mussolini became more violently anti-Bolshevik in order to win more support from the property class. He stopped attacking the monarchy, the Catholics and capitalists. He promised a strong government that will oppose socialistic ideals and a strong foreign policy which could bring national glory to Italy¹, it stood for upholding claims of veterans and the nationalist interests of Italy while crushing any anarchist elements in the country (Ironically, the Fascists did more to promote anarchy than anyone else in Italy at that time, Mussolini would send out his gangs of thugs, the Blackshirts, to riot against Communists and other groups while claiming his men were protecting the peace, but it will appear that as he spreads more chaos and still pose as a champion of peace and order many people, especially the middle class who feared the Communists, looked to the Fascists as the answer to Italy's problems)². Economically, he supported economic liberalism and an improvement in the conditions of the workers. As a result, finances poured in from the industrialists. Fascist membership jumped up from 20,000 in 1920 to 300,000 in 1922.¹

Fascist Black Shirts
From spring of 1921 the Fascist Black shirts started terrorist campaigns against the Socialist and Communist groups in Italy. In 1922 the Black shirts, supported by the Italian government through arms, fought street battles with Communists supporters, soon armed Black shirts ruled small towns with support from the government and from the wealthy property class. In an attempt to deter the growing Fascist influence the Communists and Socialists created a second general strike in August 1922. The strike was ill-prepared and put-down by the cooperative force of the government troops and Fascists Black shirts. Due to this second general strike the property class relied even more with the Fascists to combat the Communists and Socialists.¹

The March on Rome
Mussolini threaten the Roman government with a "March on Rome" on October 26, 1922 if they don't accept him into cabinet, taking advantage of the current chaotic state¹. It is also believed that it was not Mussolini but rather local party bosses who started the series of riots that stormed various city halls and forced concessions from local governments, which encouraged them to march on Rome and seize control of the national government². Bands of armed Fascists marched to Rome from various parts of the country¹, Mussolini was hesitant to take part but later joined as head of the march, as if it was his idea². This threat caused genuine alarm in Rome, King Victor Emmanuel refused to call out the army to resist the Fascists partly because he wanted to avoid civil war. Hoping that a strong government can be formed to restore law and order, he asked Mussolini to form a new government. On October 31 1922, Mussolini became Prime Minister of a coalition government of Fascists, Nationalists, Catholics, and right-wing Liberals, then, through intimidation, rigged elections and bullying the Italian Parliament into giving him emergency powers that allowed him to shut down other parties, censor the press, and end other civil liberties¹’². By 1925² power now resides in the hands of the Fascists and Mussolini.

The Corner ¹
Flow of history ²
Note: Property class refers to the wealthy class

Analysis of Sources
The Corner

TK Chung - Studied History and Philosophy, and has taught in School as well
Site was created for students and Teachers interested in History
Well it contains information that a studying student can use to understand the events that had occur such as the rise and rule of Fascist Italy. It is also made by someone who studied history at a post-secondary level so can have some credibility
It looks so far as a site made by one person and possible bias are unknown

Flow if History

Copyright © 2007 Chris Butler
This site was created to provide a different more "Dynamic and Graphic Approach to Teaching History" for students
This site is meant to help educate student about history
It is purely a learning site where information is given so a bias can be present, credibility not clearly present

What was the appeal of fascism to the Italian people and did it provide things that other political systems did not?

Characteristics of Italian Fascism. (By Edward Baescu, not Alex)

A significant factor that allowed Mussolini and the fascists to gain a lot of their initial support from the Italian people was the notion of opposing discrimination based on social class or status. Mussolini instead tried to instill a strong sense of nationalism with emphasis on strong unity among all of Italy’s diverse social groups. This brought a new sense of powerful national pride and a return to the strong Roman Empire.

All forms of class war were not tolerated by the fascists and most people liked this idea but it brought up a new problem for the fascists, how could they satisfy the needs of the upper and lower classes without public unrest? Mussolini sought to solve this problem. Even though Italian fascism favored the corporate and higher class more, the party also appealed to the working class. Fascism promised to protect the existence of the bourgeois and aristocracy from the growing threat of communism after the Russian Revolution. Mussolini gained the support of the working class with the creation of the Manifesto of
Mussolini promoting Italian unity
the Fascist Struggle, which created such things as the minimum wage, confidence in the labor unions for the executive and working class, voting rights for women, and even the creation of public transportation such as railways. Above other things fascism favored strong emotional reform to the leadership, the people needed strong leadership to protect the nation form falling behind the rest of Europe any farther than it already had and from a violent class war against communism.

Appeal of Fascism
Much like is mentioned above; the defining line of fascism was not that great. Unlike capitalism and communism that both favor extremes of the social later, fascism had a little bit for everyone. Fascism greatest appeal came from its ability to unify people and give them a purpose, something that both socialism and liberalism failed to do in Italy. With status no longer being a tool to pry people apart but a tool to unify people under a powerful corporate state, most people were attracted by the notion of fascism.

Along with unity another attractive notion was the idea of law and order in a nation as politically and socially diverse as Italy. Structured administration of law and denouncing of class struggle was used by fascism as an alternative to social unrest. Italy (and Germany), used to be nothing more than a patchwork state made up of many different political groups, religions, peoples, and even smaller states in the mid-to-late 1800’s. The nation needed unification of prospective, something that fascism provided.

This unity was threatened by a variety of things. The harsh conditions of the post great war years had divided the people. Many weak political parties sprang up, each representing a different faction of the populace, but none showed the strength to bring these factions together. The government was corrupt and officials were bribed to favoring specific groups of people. In that way, there was always a group of people that were deprived of representation in government. Only fascism could unite all the people in one nation, under one party, one leader. This is where the word "fascism" comes from – the Italian fasciare, to fasten or bind together.

Other than unify the people under the strong leadership of Mussolini, fascism provided a purpose to the people. Though Mussolini was charismatic individual, part of his appeal was his declaration of a purpose for Italy – to bring glory, power, and respect for their New Roman Empire. Mussolini portrayed himself as the model for what all men of Italy should be. Strong leaders in their world, athletic, and passionate. A lot of fascist appeal came from Mussolini’s emphasis on the Restoration of a Roman Empire through valiant war and conquest. He emphasized that only through war could the true character of the Italian people be forged. One of the slogans created by the Italian fascists proclaimed, "War is to the male, what childbearing is to the female!" Under this direction, the Italian would be mobilized toward a single goal: the strengthening of their country’s power, a power that people wanted. Fascism became popular because it could do what liberalism and socialism could not. People have the need to belong to something greater then themselves. In weakness, the craving for unity and purpose in turn causes them to seek strength and guidance. Fascism provided that.

fascism-799165.jpgThe weak indecisive liberal governments of this period only served to disillusion the peoples’ image of strong leadership and a democratic system was destined to fail since it fallowed up to closely to the denouncing of a system of direct rule or monarchy. The people only knew strong leadership and that is what they needed. Fascism looked strong and assertive and its uniforms, parades and marches only served to strengthen this image. In the wake of the mutilated victory, Fascism promised to make Italy great again on the international stage. Fascist violence was more or less accepted if not supported because of this and also served to intimidate any potential critics or opponents. It reinforced the image of Fascism as a force for action and change, something that served to attract support from the young.

Mussolini Fascism a whole new source of support when he decided to drop some of its more radical policies such as its anti-capitalist socialism, anti-republicanism and anti- clericalism. The allowed the conservative elite to accept Fascism. Mussolini showed that he was willing to enter parliament and worked from within the constitution in his rise of power. Increasingly the emphasis was placed on nationalism, an active foreign policy and a strong state. The last of these was welcomed by many in the face of the threat of socialist revolution that seemed very real during the years of the ‘Bienno Rosso’.

UK Student Notes
Il Duce

Mussolini’s Rivals: The Limits of the Personality Cult in Fascist Italy
by Professor John Pollard. Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge
new perspective. Volume 4. Number 2. December 1998

Summary: ‘The Cult of the Duce’ - the cultivation of Mussolini’s image as the leader and ruler of Fascist Italy - was a very complex phenomenon. It also differed in some very important ways from the leadership cults in two other totalitarian states between the wars, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But the most serious difference was that Mussolini had rivals, representing influential, non-Fascist forces in Italian society. Eventually, these rivals eclipsed Mussolini in popularity among the Italian people.
The leadership cult in Fascist Italy, or the ‘cult of the Duce’ as it is better known, the word ‘Duce’ being the Italian equivalent of the German word ‘Führer’, started almost as soon as Mussolini came to power in 1922 and, by the end of 1925, his role as Duce of Fascism and Head of the Government had been sanctioned by changes to the constitution. The nature of Mussolini’s leadership and, above all, the quality of his political judgement, has been hotly debated among historians, most notably between Renzo De Felice and Denis Mack Smith. Though Mussolini had undoubted charisma and political intelligence with which to maintain his power over Fascism and the Italian people, Denis Mack Smith has tended to see his talents lying chiefly in the areas of acting and propaganda. The press, radio and cinema were all used to project his image as the omniscient, omnipotent and indispensable ruler of Italy. By the end of the 1920s, the process of what one could call Mussolini’s ‘image-building’ was well under way. The focus of this operation was on Mussolini as the sole Fascist saviour of Italy. Inevitably, this led to the emergence of the perception, which was especially widespread among foreigners, that Fascism equalled ‘Mussolinianism’ and was summed up in the phrase, ‘Mussolini is always right’, which you can still see on some walls in Rome.

Mussolini: the image
By the end of the 1930s, a whole set of regulations had been developed by the Ministry of Popular Culture for the treatment of Mussolini in the media under its control, that is newspapers, radio and cinema:
1. His name was always spelt with capital letters in newspapers.
2. Newspapers were instructed exactly what to say about him.
3. He was never to be portrayed dancing, or with priests, etc.
The image which was projected of him was usually an explicitly aggressive, ‘macho’ one - and this is clear from Mussolini’s extraordinary, theatrical ‘natural’ poses. But it was not as simple as that. As these pictures show, Mussolini could be portrayed in several different ways, as ‘Renaissance man’, ‘military man’, the ‘family man’ and even the ‘common man’.
This was a very important difference from the ways in which Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda portrayed the Führer in Nazi Germany. Hitler was almost always portrayed in a very aloof, sexless, distant, almost divine way; the very epitome of the ‘Superman’ of the German philosopher Nietsche. He was never shown semi-naked as Mussolini was in the picture below.

Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin: the differences
The explanation for this difference is fairly clear: Mussolini was a very different man from Hitler, and Fascist Italy a very different society from Nazi Germany. Mussolini was ‘of the people’ - his father had been a blacksmith. Fascist Italy was still a poor and economically underdeveloped country, a largely rural and agrarian society - in 1945, over 50 per cent of the employed populations were working on the land. So Mussolini, stripped to the waist, working in the fields alongside the peasantry in the ‘Battle for Grain’, the massive national campaign to increase cereals’ production and correspondingly lower dependence on food imports, was a vital propaganda device. For both strictly ideological and political reasons, the image of Stalin also had an element of ‘the man of the people’ in it, but it was not projected in the same raw, crude way that Mussolini was. The essence of Stalin’s appeal was as leader, general and, above all, father of his people - a sort of substitute tsar. On the other hand, Mussolini, like so many of his fellow Fascists, was part of the ‘new’, rising, war generation, a group of young men who were making their way and proving themselves in the world. Hence, the emphasis on achievement. The image of ‘Renaissance man’ was also a response to the strong intellectual element in Italian culture.
Mussolini’s rivals
The most important difference, however, between the leadership cult in Fascist Italy on the one hand, and its counterparts in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on the other, was that Mussolini had his rivals. As John Whittam has shown in his essay on ‘Mussolini and the Cult of the Leader’ (new perspective, vol 3, no 3, March 1998 pp 12-16), Gabriele D’Annunzio, the great poet and Nationalist war hero, constituted a real threat to Mussolini until 1922. Among his own party comrades Mussolini also had competitors and he therefore quite deliberately set about getting rid of them. All of the most important figures in the Fascist movement and regime in the early years - Grandi, Federzoni, Rocco, Balbo, etc. - had been edged out of the limelight by 1932, and henceforth Mussolini surrounded himself with mediocrities and non-entities, the worst of whom was the colourless, humourless Fascist party Secretary, Achille Starace. Only Italo Balbo remained as a serious Fascist rival to Mussolini. Youthful and vigorous, Balbo became an extremely popular figure in Fascist Italy, thanks to his flying exploits in the 1920s and 1930s and, but for his tragic and mysterious death in a flying accident in 1942, might well have succeeded Mussolini during the crisis of the Regime in the summer of 1943.
But the real competition and threat to Mussolini came from outside of the ranks of Fascism. There were two major non-Fascist rivals to the Duce in the affections of the Italian people, the King and the Pope. Thus, until the end, there remained major limitations to the effectiveness of the cult of the Duce and, more substantially, to the power of Mussolini and Fascist party from the Monarchy and the Church.

Mussolini and the Monarchy
The King represented a major grouping in Italian society, the upper middle class and aristocracy, and elements, like the Armed Forces, who never gave Fascism their full support. Ironically, Mussolini was a republican at heart, but he went along with the Monarchy because it gave historical and constitutional legitimacy to the Fascist take-over of power in 1922. In any case, the Monarchy was extremely popular with the middle classes in the early 1920s: the King was personally associated with Italy’s victory over Austria-Hungary in the First World War because he had been commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. Had there been a serious dispute between the King and Mussolini, the King could always have counted on the loyalty of the Armed Forces, especially the Army and the Navy.
In fact, though Victor Emmanuel could count on the traditional allegiance of large groups in Italian society, he was not a man of great personal charisma - he was so small he had to use steps to get on his horse! He was also fairly docile in his relations with Mussolini almost to the end. So Fascist Italy remained a ‘Dyarchy’, that is a synthesis between the new - Fascism - and the old - the Monarchy - symbolised by portraits of Mussolini and King Victor Emmanuel III side by side in all state buildings. The relationship could be difficult and irritating, especially for Mussolini. He was acutely embarrassed when Hitler made a state visit to Rome in 1938 and it was the King, and not Mussolini, who rode with the German Führer. Mussolini was only the Head of the Government (prime minister) but not the State, unlike Hitler who combined both offices in his own person. The Duce of Fascism got his revenge by stripping the King of some of his most important prerogatives, including supreme command of the Armed Forces in time of war. When Fascism collapsed in July 1943, following a string of military defeats culminating in the Allied invasion of the Italian island of Sicily, it was the King who delivered the final blow to the tottering Fascist regime by dismissing Mussolini, having him arrested and appointing a general in his place. By then, Mussolini was the most hated man in Italy. The King, on the other hand, became the most popular man overnight. Unfortunately, Victor Emmanuel squandered his high credit rating with the Italian people by bungling the armistice with the Allies in September 1943: the bulk of Italy was taken over by German forces and thousands of Italian soldiers were either killed or carried off into captivity. The King paid for his mistake when the Monarchy was abolished by popular vote in June 1946.

Mussolini and the Church
The presence of the Papacy in Rome, the focus of intense sentiment on the part of Italian Catholics, was another problem for Mussolini. The Papacy was another institution with which Mussolini could not seriously hope to compete. Hence the fact that although Mussolini, like many of the Fascists, was an atheist and anti-clerical at heart, in 1929 he signed an agreement with the Church - the Lateran Pacts - which brought to an end the 60-year-old ‘Roman Question’, the dispute between the Papacy and Italy that had begun when Italian troops conquered Rome in 1870 and made it the capital of Italy, thus destroying the Pope’s rule over the Papal States of Central Italy. As a powerful, international institution, the Papacy could not be ignored or suppressed. And the Popes, Pius XI until 1939 and Pius XII thereafter, possessed their own strong charisma as the infallible heads of the Roman Catholic Church, that is they claimed not to be capable of making an error when they pronounced on matters of Catholic faith or morals. Mussolini became involved in disputes with Pius XI over such matters as youth and labour organisations in 1929 and 1931, and over the introduction of the Racial Laws against the Jews in 1939. As the 1930s proceeded, Italian Fascism became more and more of a rival ‘religion’ to Italian Catholicism, using much of its vocabulary and copying many of its rituals; it even created a ‘School of Fascist Mysticism’. But it was never able to oust the Catholic faith or loyalty to the Pope from the minds of the majority of Italians. This postcard (see below) showing the King, the Pope and the Duce, was produced to commemorate the signing of the Lateran Pacts. It is significant that Mussolini ordered the police to ban all sales of it. He did not want to be seen alongside his rivals!
In 1943, even before the Duce’s overthrow, Pope Pius XII effectively eclipsed the cult of the Duce by visiting the bombed quarters of Rome when Mussolini failed to do so. The contrast between the Duce, skulking in his offices, and the Pope moving among the people in the bombed areas could not have been more brutal; it did not help matters that Pius XII was himself a Roman.

Mussolini and the ‘block of consensus’
Ultimately, the rivalry at a personal level between the Duce on the one hand, and the King and the Pope on the other, represented the very unstable compromise which had been reached between Fascism and the forces of the establishment which the King and the Pope represented. The Italian historian Alberto Acquarone has described those forces as the ‘block of consensus’ - Monarchy, Armed Forces, Church and the business and agrarian interest groups. Without their consent, Fascism would not have come to power. On the other hand, the survival of the ‘block of consensus’ limited the power of Mussolini’s Fascist regime. It was thus impossible for Italian Fascism to be a truly ‘totalitarian’ regime in the way that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were. In Germany, the only major independent force, the Army, came to heel when Hindenburg died in 1934 and its officers swore a personal oath of allegiance to Hitler as Hindenburg’s successor. In Russia, Tsarism had collapsed because of the defeats and disasters of the First World War: the other organs of the State were entirely remade by the Bolsheviks during the course of the civil war that followed their revolution in October/November 1917, and the power of other interest groups was swept away in the nationalisation and collectivisation programmes of the 1920s, and the purges of the 1930s. As the Diary of Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law and foreign minister show, by the end of the 1930s the Duce was regretting the compromises which he had made with both the Monarchy and the Church. He thus viewed the prospect of war on the side of Hitler against the Western Democracies, which both the King and the Pope opposed, as his opportunity to finally break free from the chains imposed by the ‘block of consensus’. He hoped that, following success in war, he could launch a second ‘Fascist revolution’ in Italy and settle his accounts with the King and the Pope once and for all. But it was a ‘Catch 22’ situation: his failure to carry out a real revolution in Italy and to mobilise the country’s resources for an all-out, total war, not to mention his choice of the losing side, doomed Fascist Italy to an almost unbroken succession of disastrous military defeats and thus ensured, as we have seen, the triumph of Mussolini’s rivals.
Words and concepts to note
Charisma: ability to inspire followers with devotion and enthusiasm; to attract a wide following.
Propaganda: a means to spread a particular idea or image which often involved distortions of the truth.
Omniscient: having extensive knowledge.
Omnipotent: having full, absolute, power.
Epitome: a person who embodies a particular quality.
Ideological: associated with a particular set of ideas, theory or standpoint.
Legitimacy: having lawful, proper, rightful authority.
Prerogatives: rights or powers.
Atheist: a person who does not believe in God’s existence.
Anti-clerical: opposition to the influence and power of the Church.
Lateran: literally, the cathedral of St John Lateran, in Rome, used to refer to matters relating to the Pope.
Consensus: the view of a substantial majority.

Questions to consider
w What does this article indicate were major differences between Mussolini’s Fascism and Hitler’s Nazism?
w How important was propaganda for Fascism?
w What is suggested, by the existence of rivals, for Mussolini’s control over both the party and the country?
w How far is it fair to claim that Mussolini’s hold over the Italian state and Italian society rested on compromises with powerful interest groups?

Further reading: M. Muggeridge (ed.), Ciano’s Diary, 1939-1943, Heinemann, 1947; D. Mack Smith, Mussolini, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982 and Italy and its Monarchy, Yale, 1989; P. Melograni, ‘The Cult of the Duce’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 11, no. 4, 1976; J.F. Pollard, The Experience of Italian Fascism, Routledge, 1998 and The Vatican and Italian Fascism, 1929-1932, Cambridge, 1985; J. Whittam, Italian Fascism, 1919-1945, Manchester, 1985.
Mussolini’s Rivals: The Limits of the Leadership Cult in Fascist Italy by John Pollard © new perspective 1998
John Pollard is Professor of Modern European History at Anglia Polytechnic University (Cambridge) and General Editor of the journal Modern Italy. He is the author of The Vatican and Italian Fascism, 1929-1932, Cambridge, 1985 and The Experience of Italian Fascism, Routledge, 1998. His new book, The Forgotten Pope: Benedict XV and the Pursuit of Peace, 1914-1922, will be published by Cassells early in 1999.

Benito Mussolini
Italian Prime Minister and Duce

Benito Mussolini was the Italian Fascist Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943. He utilized political intelligence, propaganda, and charismatic acting to form a cult of personality. The personality cult was used to perpetuate himself as Duce and Italy as a Fascist State. There are a few key differences between this and the tactics utilized by other totalitarian leaders. [1][3]

Mussolini’s Italy came to be under interesting circumstances. After World War I, Italy was in a peculiar situation. Even though Italy won the war, it felt “gypped” by the allied powers. Italy in fact lost territory. There was great demand in Italy for a strong leader that would defeat the nations enemies and establish a new order. [1][2]

Mussolini’s strong rhetoric can be seen through his use of propaganda.

Like other leaders, Mussolini’s personality cult became a sort of secular religion, with himself as Italy’s new messiah. 1922 became year 1, new national “holy days” were instituted. Nationalistic Italians would go on pilgrimages to sites such as the Duce’s birthplace in Predappio, much like pilgrimages Muslims make to Mecca or Christians to Bethlehem. Mussolini was made Italy’s new God and anything negative or acknowledging his humanity, such as aging or health problems, were censored or withheld from the Italian population. Mussolini also made it a point that no one could be allowed to appear as a successor to him. He believed that the Fascist state would not outlive him. The following page provides some excellent information on the rise of Mussolini, as well as his rhetoric and near deification. [2]

Fascism is a religion. The twentieth century will be known in history as the century of Fascism.
-Benito Mussolini

It is necessary to be very intelligent in the work of repression. All oppositon journals have been supressed and all the anti-fascist leaders dissolved.
-Benito Mussolini

Mussolini's repression of opposition was much less harsh than Hitler's or Stalin's. Torture and murder were mostly limited to after 1943, after Mussolini had been removed from office and had a puppet government set up by Germany. By this time, the cult was falling apart, and more drastic measures were needed to keep it alive. It couldn't be kept alive. The opposition eventually won out. Enemy broadcasts changed Italian minds so that they no longer believed Mussolini's myths. Anti-Fascist leaders were able to organize. In 1945, Italian partisans would kill Mussolini while he was trying to get to Switzerland. [1][4]

Benito Mussolini

Published on July 25, 2006 by BR in Biography
Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

Mussolini was a fascist Italian leader who stood alongside Hitler during WWII. Learn about how an unruly child grew to be a powerful yet unsuccesful dictator who brought persecution and division to Europe during this period, but even more so to his own country.
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There are so many plain and obvious reasons that Benito Mussolini is a villain. It seemed that he was bad enough when we learned about him in history class, but there is so much more to him that makes him who he became: a self-centered fascist dictator. Although those words may be enough to prove that he is a villain, I will provide you with a close look on what his life was like. Mussolini’s childhood, his transition to fascism, and his rule as dictator are three major topics that I will be discussing.


Young Benito was the son of Alessandro Mussolini, a strong believer in socialist ideals. There are many controversial claims in regards of his personality especially his violent behavior, but most sources agreed that he took after his unruly and fiercely anti-clerical father during the first part of his life. Many remembered him as a bully and hooligan, and it didn’t stop there. He had once stabbed a boy at a secondary school, in which he was expelled. He was never the ordinary and well-behaved boy that you commonly see sitting in their desk paying close attention to their respectable teacher. It was perhaps because of his father that gave him his whole outlook on life and shaped his entire personality. It only strengthened over the years as he moved out of childhood and into Italian society.

From Child to Fascist

Read more in Biography« Martin Luther King Jr.: The Awakening of a NationChristopher Columbus »
Surprisingly, he began his adulthood working as a teacher. He continued his career until he was looked upon as a bad example, because he had a passion for gambling, drinking heavily, and womanizing. After his teaching ended, he moved to Switzerland and spent two years of his life there. He was then expelled from the country after being known as an “impulsive and violent” young man. When he returned to his birthplace, he became a leading member of a local socialist movement, and also worked on a socialist newspaper in 1908. Being an irredentist, he supported the act of force to change territorial boundaries between Austria-Hungary and Italy. He later became a popular writer for another socialist newspaper, and was also known for his fiery speeches. Although he seemed to strongly support socialism, his view would soon take a major shift. It was during World War I that he started a newspaper for the fascist movement.

Rise to Power

Mussolini began to lead an extremely nationalist group in 1919. That same year, he drew in his growing number of followers to form a militia, known by some as the Black Shirts. Finally, in 1920, he gained a foothold in the government, and, in the following year, he formed a well-organized political party that supported his beliefs. He had organized a strike that seized control of railroad stations and telephone exchanges, and destroyed trade union buildings and socialist newspaper offices. Eventually, he would come to control all communication in the northern half of Italy. In 1922, he declared himself the dictator after King Victor Emmanuel III put in his support for Mussolini’s ideals.

Law of the Land

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In 1923, the Acerbo Law was introduced. It stated that the winning political party that had at least twenty-five percent of the votes would receive two-thirds of the seats in the government. This allowed it to be much easier for the fascists, along with their nationalist alliances, to win (although you will soon discover that persecution makes this law rather pointless.) In 1923, they secured 65.25% of all votes, although there were several intentional errors on the fascist’s part. Terrorism was spreading among the anti-fascist politicians. One socialist candidate was killed, and others were beaten. Also, names of the deceased were added to the electoral roll, and many opposing votes were destroyed. When 1925 came around, Mussolini declared that “no opposition to his power would be tolerated.” He created a policy that allowed persecution of all anti-fascist groups. In the courts, all decisions that were made could not be reversed by an appeal when one was imprisoned. Eventually, persecution became so extreme that anti-fascist politicians were detained in penal settlements, many of which died there. The limitations grew as 1928 came, and free elections were completely banned. Only the electorate could vote, which included 400 candidates that were nominated by the Fascist Grand Council. But even more, all leaders later became limited to fascists alone.
All Italians that were in the work force had to join the Corporazioni, which was a fascist organization. Children had a fascist organization of their own, named the Balilla. All women were forced to be homemakers and were strongly encourage to have many children. If a woman was able to give birth to at least seven kids, they were given medals. This was called the “Battle for Births.” All pregnant women were saluted, and any man that was not married was taxed.

Spreading Fascism

Soon enough, Mussolini began to seek beyond his borders. He first intervened in Albania, where he put King Zog under rule. It basically became a colony of Italy. Later, this same country would resist the Italian influence in their nation, and many conflicts would rise. In 1935, Mussolini’s forces invaded Ethiopia. There, they gassed many Ethiopian villages and other despicable acts. Applauding Italian victory, Mussolini gave himself the title “Founder of the Empire.” When World War II begins, he would also attempt to invade and control Greece.

Partners in Crime

Mussolini was known to be admired by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who looked upon him as an equal. He was thought to be one of the very few that Hitler actually liked. Mussolini would criticize Hitler in private, but would publicly praise him. In 1936, the two regimes drew closer when they both aided General Franco’s Falangist rebels in the Spanish Civil War. Their relationship would weaken as World War II progressed.

World War

In 1940, Mussolini had declared war on Britain and France. He failed to convince Hitler to invade Britain after several persuasions. In 1941, Mussolini invaded Greece, but was failing miserably until German troops were sent to assist the Italians. Their only prominent victory in the latter part of the war was in the same year, in which they had knocked out two British battleships. In 1942, he had sent troops to attack the British Western Desert Force that was stationed in North Africa. Once again, they failed, and Mussolini began to blame and harass the Italian troops for their constant failures in the war. He began to set his sights upon the U.S.S.R., although invasion was highly discouraged by Hitler. Despite Hitler’s advice, Mussolini sent his troops into the harsh Russian winter in summer clothing and cardboard shoes. Due to their lack of preparation, nearly half of all the soldiers that were sent died during the 1943 winter. The invasion of the Soviet Union was their last hope of victory, and everything began to crumble after their grave defeat.

Failure and Death

Although Italy was defeated, they still assisted Hitler by establishing an ill-fated republic in northern Italy named Salo. Its main purpose was to provide Hitler with resources that were necessary for the war. Things still continued to crumble apart, and he began to order executions upon many members of the Fascist Grand Council, among them his own son-in-law. Eventually, the fascists became weak enough to be overturned, and Mussolini was later executed.
After such a life, Benito Mussolini could never say with confidence
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that he had done anything noble for this world. All his life, his goals were those that would divide the world, but because of his strong ego, he was foolish enough to believe that he was able to do everything he dreamed about doing, and it gave him an unclear perspective of reality, which resulted in an untimely death. For such a power to even occur makes us all think twice about the values of our leaders today.

Benito Mussolini created a fascist state through the use of propaganda, total control of the media and disassembly of the working democratic government.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini ( July 29, 1883 - April 28, 1945) ruled Italy as a dictator from 1922 to 1943. He created a fascist state through the use of state terror and propaganda. Using his charisma, total control of the media and intimidation of political rivals, he disassembled the existing democratic government system. His entry into World War II on the side of Nazi Germany made Italy a target for Allied attacks and ultimately led to his downfall and death.

1 Early years

Mussolini was born in Dova di Predappio , near Forlì , in Romagna. His father, Alessandro, was a blacksmithA blacksmith is an artisan specializing in the hand-wrought manufacture of metal objects, such as wrought iron gates, grills and railings, light fixtures and furniture, sculpture, weapons, decorative and religous items, cooking utensils and tools. Blacksm, and his mother, Rosa Maltoni, was a teacherIn education, teachers are those who teach students or pupils, often a course of study or a practical skill. There are many different ways to teach and help students learn. When deciding what teaching method to use, a teacher will need to consider student. He was named Benito after Mexican revolutionary Benito Juárez. Like his father, Benito became a socialist and later a Marxist. He was influenced by what he read of Friedrich NietzscheFriedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche ( October 15, 1844 August 25, 1900) was a highly influential German philosopher. His Life Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844 in the small town of Rocken bei Lutzen, not too far from Leipzig, Saxony. He was born on the 49th, and another doctrine that was in the air was the " syndicalismSyndicalism is a political and economic ideology which advocates giving control of both industry and government to labor union federations. Syndicalisme is a French word meaning "trade unionism". This milder version of syndicalism was overshadowed by revo" espoused by the French writer Georges SorelGeorge Sorel (1847-1922) was a French philosopher and theorist of anarchosyndicalism. Sorel had been a Marxist in the 1890s. He tried to fill in what he saw as gaps in Marxist theory but ended up doing a thoroughgoing revision (some would say rejection) o (1847-1922). He qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901. In 1902 he immigrated to Switzerland. Unable to find a permanent job there and arrested for vagrancy, he was expelled and returned to Italy to do his military service. After further trouble with the police, he joined the staff of a newspaper in the Austrian town of Trento in 1908. At this time he wrote a novel, subsequently translated into English as The Cardinal's Mistress. Mussolini had a brother, Arnaldo, who would later become the editor of Il Popolo d'Italia, the official newspaper of Benito's regime.

2 Birth of Fascism

The word " Fascio" has existed in Italian politics for some time. A section of revolutionary syndicalists broke with the Socialists over the issue of Italy's entry into the First World War. Mussolini agreed with them. These syndicalists formed a group called Fasci d'azione rivoluzionaria internazionalista in October 1914. Massimo Rocca and Tulio Masotti asked Mussolini to settle the contradiction of his support for interventionism and still being the editor of Avanti and an official party functionary in the Socialist Party. (1) Two weeks later, he joined the Milan fascio. In November, 1914, supported by his then mistress Margherita Sarfatti, he founded a new newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia, (The Italian People) and the prewar group Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria. Mussolini was attracted to fasces the ancient Roman symbol, of the life-and-death power of the state, bundles of the lictors' rods of chastisement which, when bound together, were stronger than when they were apart — reflecting the intellectual debt that fascism owed to socialism and presaging the symbolism of the renewed Roman imperium Mussolini promised to bring about. Mussolini claimed that it would help strengthen a relatively new nation (which had been united only in the 1860s in the Risorgimento), although some would say that, like Lenin, he wished for a collapse of society that would bring him to power. Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance, thereby allied with Imperial Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It did not join the war in 1914 but did in 1915 — as Mussolini wished — on the side of Britain and France.
Called up for military service, Mussolini was wounded in grenade practice in 1917 and returned to edit his paper. Fascism became an organized political movement following a meeting in Milan on March 23, 1919 (Mussolini founded the Fasci di Combattimento on February 23, however). After failing in the 1919 elections, Mussolini at last entered parliament in 1921 as a right-wing member. The Fascisti formed armed squads of war veterans to terrorize socialists and communists. The government seldom interfered. In return for the support of a group of industrialists and agrarians, Mussolini gave his approval (often active) to strikebreaking, and he abandoned revolutionary agitation. When the liberal governments of Giovanni Giolitti, Ivanoe Bonomi, and Luigi Facta failed to stop the spread of anarchy, and after Fascists had organised the demonstrative and threatening Marcia su Roma (" March on Rome") ( October 28th 1922), Mussolini was invited by Vittorio Emanuele III to form a new government. He became the youngest Premier in the history of Italy on October 31.
Mussolini's Fascist state, established nearly a decade before Adolf Hitler's rise to power, would provide a model for Hitler's later economic and political policies. Both a movement and a historical phenomenon, Italian Fascism was, in many respects, an adverse reaction to both the perceived failure of laissez-faire economics and fear of international Bolshevism (a short-lived Soviet was established in Bavaria just about this time), although trends in intellectual history, such as the breakdown of positivism and the general fatalism of postwar Europe were also factors. Fascism was a product of a general feeling of anxiety and fear among the middle-class of postwar Italy, arising out of a convergence of interrelated economic,political , and cultural pressures. Italy had no long-term tradition of parliamentary compromise, and public discourse took on an inflammatory tone on all sides.
Under the banner of this authoritarian and nationalist ideology, Mussolini was able to exploit fears regarding the survival of capitalism in an era in which postwar depression, the rise of a more militant left, and a feeling of national shame and humiliation stemming from its 'mutilated victory' at the hands of the World War I peace treaties seemed to converge. Italian influence in the Aegean and abroad seemed impotent and disregarded by the greater powers, and Italy lacked colonies. Such unfulfilled nationalistic aspirations tainted the reputation of liberalism and constitutionalism among many sectors of the Italian population. In addition, such democratic institutions had never grown to become firmly rooted in the young nation-state. And as the same postwar depression heightened the allure of Marxism among an urban proletariat even more disenfranchised than their continental counterparts, fear regarding the growing strength of trade unionism, communism, and socialism proliferated among the elite and the middle class .
Fascism emerged as a "third way" — as Italy's last hope to avoid imminent collapse of 'weak' Italian liberalism or communist revolution. While failing to outline a coherent program, it evolved into newpolitical and economic system that combined corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, and anti-communism in a state designed to bind all classes together under a capitalist system, but a new capitalist system in which the state seized control of the organization of vital industries. The appeal of this movement, the promise of a more orderly capitalism during an era of interwar depression, however, was not isolated to Italy, or even Europe.