3. Evaluate the methods used by either Lenin (1918-24) or Mussolini (1922-39) to consolidate his rule.
Benito Mussolini became Italy’s prime minister in 1922 and named head of the government by 1936. Mussolini had control over the Italian military because of his supreme military rank. This gave him the advantage of having the military on his side. Mussolini remained in power until he was replaced in 1943, right before his death. Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism, which included elements like nationalism, social progress, and anti-socialism. Mussolini was an influential leader who was admired by many political people. Mussolini used certain ways to consolidate his power from 1922 to 1939. These ways include economic policy, foreign policy, having a police state, government, and education and youth organizations. These methods were essential for building Mussolini’s dictatorship.
In 1922, Mussolini sometimes took over the different ministries at the same time to avoid the risk of opposition. He was also head of the Fascist Party and the fascist militia, also called the Blackshirts. They were the ones who terrorised developing resistances in the cities and provinces. He later formed the Ovra, the secret police that carried official orders from Mussolini. In this way Mussolini was able to keep power in his own hands and prevent the risk of any rival. Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini dismantled all resistance to his power, thus building a police state. He changed his title from president of the Council Minister to head of the government. Now that he was head of the government, he could only be removed by the king. Any other party was outlawed in 1928, making Mussolini Fascist party the only party available. Parliamentary elections were also abolished. Instead, the Grand Council of Fascism selected a single list of candidates to be approved by plebiscite. Mussolini also used economic and foreign policy to consolidate his power in Italy.
Mussolini set several economic programs and government initiatives throughout Italy to increase employment levels. The most popular policy was the ‘Battle for Grain’, in which 5,000 new farms were established and five new agricultural towns on land reclaimed. Mussolini also set the ‘Battle for Land’ which is based on land reclamation. Although the ‘Battle for Land’ provided work for the unemployed, it was still unsuccessful in some areas of the policy. Mussolini also fought the economic recession by encouraging the people to donate their gold jewellery. Mussolini also attempted to turn Italy into a self-sufficient country, having high barriers on trade with most countries except Germany. As for the foreign policy, Mussolini shifted from anti-imperialism to an extreme aggressive nationalism. His first steps into foreign policy seemed to portray him as a "statesman", for he participated in the Locarno Treaties of 1925 and the attempted Four Power Pact of 1933. Following the Stresa Front against Germany in 1935, Mussolini's policy revealed itself once again to be that of an aggressive nature. Mussolini also focused on the government to consolidate his rule.
Mussolini's priority was manipulating the minds of the Italian people and using propaganda to do so. Using supervised press, radio, education, and films, he created the illusion that fascism was the doctrine of the twentieth century, replacing liberalism and democracy. Mussolini convinced many Catholics to actively support him. Mussolini also made all teachers in schools and universities swear an oath to protect the fascist regime. All newspaper editors were chosen by Mussolini so he could avoid any resistance that is made through the newspaper. Mussolini aimed at controlling the education and creating youth organizations to help familiarise the young with fascism. Mussolini wanted the youth to have a moral and physical point of view. According to Mussolini, a fascist education is a moral, social, physical and military education. To Mussolini, a fascist education created a complete and well developed human. Mussolini also had control over the people’s childhood because he thought it had a significant effect over a person. Fascist education aimed at destroying and replacing the former education systems.
Other than all the economic, foreign and education systems, Mussolini used war as a way to make the people unite with the fascist regime to defeat the enemy. Mussolini was able to do this against Abyssinia in the Abyssinian Crisis. Italian forces were superior than Abyssinian forces, with better weapons and more supplies. Mussolini also used this emethod in the Spanish Civil War, where Italian military helped the nationalists against the Republicans. He chose to side with the Nationalists because the Italian propaganda targeted Catholics. This gave the people a feeling of unity to fight for their cause, bringing the people together and making them depend on Mussolini.
Mussolini used certain ways to consolidate his power from 1922 to 1939. His methods for consolidating power were creating a police state, economic and foreign policies, government, and having a significant role of education and youth organizations that would secure and protect the Fascist regime. These methods were significant, however there were some methods more helpful than others. These methods created a fascist regime for Mussolini to rule.