The rise of fascism


POLITICAL (LONG TERM) POLITICAL



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POLITICAL


(LONG TERM)

POLITICAL

(SHORT TERM)

ECONOMIC

RELIGIOUS


&

SOCIAL



Mussolini’s Early Years in Power 1922-26
Mussolini, it must be stressed, did not become a dictator the moment he was appointed to power in 1922. However, over the next few years he would be both personally inclined and forced, by the more radical elements of his own party, into assuming the role of ‘Il Duce’.
Ever the canny politician, Mussolini realised he would have to initially proceed cautiously and so he formed a coalition government (in much the same way as Hitler would also do in 1933). Of 14 senior ministers, only 4 were Fascists. The others coming from the Popolari and Liberal groupings, and were prepared to co-operate believing they could use the Fascists to destroy their common, left-wing enemies. Mussolini, however, was determined to be nobody’s pawn and kept all the most powerful government posts for himself. He had also not denounced violence or intimidation as political weapons and was determined to keep utilising them.
He would persuade parliament to provide him with enormous powers, hinting that they would only be temporary and were necessary to deal with the present, leftist threat. In reality, the threat was over-estimated; the breakdown in law and order had largely been caused by the Fascists themselves, and Mussolini had no intention of ever giving up his supra-constitutional powers. He demanded and (using his oratorical skills to great effect) was granted the ability to rule by decree, a favourite device of dictators. He now did not need parliament’s consent to do what he wanted. Prominent Liberals like Giolitti and Facta supported his action.
In December 1922, Mussolini established the Fascist Grand Council to strengthen his hold on the party, and he set up a militia which, in effect, gave him a private army of 30 000 men.
He wooed employers and industrialists, and gained their support, by dropping plans to look into tax evasion. He even managed to gain the tacit support of the Pope by plans for banning contraception and re-introducing religion into state schools.
In 1924, Mussolini passed the infamous Acerbo law, which virtually guaranteed a continuous Fascist majority in parliament by legislating that any party, which gained 25% of the vote could have 2/3 of the seats in parliament!
He was able to get away with this blatant fix because people were sick of weak coalition governments and wanted decisive action to cure Italy’s problems. They also believed it would be only a temporary emergency measure. Once again, conventional politics supported Mussolini’s actions. Ironically, in the elections of 1924 the Fascists didn’t even need the law to gain 2/3 of the available seats. However, the important industrial centres of Milan and Turin did not return Fascist deputies in any great numbers. Not all Italians were as gullible as Mussolini hoped they would be.
However, not everything was going Mussolini’s way. In 1924, a popular and highly respected socialist deputy, named Giacomo Matteotti, was murdered by Fascist thugs. There was a general outcry and reaction against Fascist violence. Mussolini himself came under a lot of criticism and calls to resign. However, he continued to be supported by the King and conventional politicians still more afraid of civil war and the Left, than the Fascist danger to the state.
Mussolini rewarded their faith in him by stepping up his ambitions of becoming a permanent dictator. In 1924, he introduced censorship; banned political meetings; Fascists themselves demanded more power and decisive action from their leader. In 1925, free trade unions and political parties were abolished. A secret police (OVRA) was set up and special political courts established. Elected mayors were replaced by appointed Fascist podestas, and in 1926 the charade of parliamentary government was swept away. In 1928, even the King was deprived of his few remaining powers. Mussolini was now dictator of Italy.
How had all this been possible? It was partly due to Mussolini’s own political acumen and the actions of his followers. Arguably though, it also due to the short-sighted collaboration of the liberal elite, including the King. They had believed Mussolini would be a temporary aberration, and somebody they could control and influence, that his actions would benefit the whole of Italy, or at least only be detrimental to the Left.
The Liberal government had failed to gain all the country wanted at Paris; had failed to crackdown on strikers and revolutionaries; had alienated the very classes who turned towards Fascism. It failed to stand up to Fascism and to make alliances against it. It fatally underestimated the danger it faced from the far right.
Robson also stresses the role of Mussolini himself, and calls him a “dynamic and dominant personality” and a “brilliant propagandist”. Mussolini used his newspaper, ‘Popolo d’ Italia’, very effectively to stir up fear and paranoia.
Mussolini was also an opportunist quick to take advantage of the propitious circumstances he found himself in. Put simply, the time was right. He altered his message to fit his audience. The very vagueness of Fascist ideology was extremely useful in this regard. Mussolini played a huge confidence trick on the Italian population and he got away with it.

Mussolini gives yet another speech

Possible Questions – Planning Practice


  • What factors promoted the growth of Fascism in Italy?




  • ‘The Socialist threat and the belief that Italy had suffered a mutilated victory in WWI enabled Fascism to grow and take power’. How far do you agree with this statement?



The Fascist Political System - How It Was Created
The system Mussolini aimed to create in Italy was very much a personal dictatorship. He aimed to do so through a cult of personality and through forging links with the rich and influential Church, army and industrialists. Mussolini always put himself and his aims above those of his party. He did not want so much a Fascist Italy as Mussolini’s Italy. To the extent that without him the whole system would collapse, he was successful in his egocentrism.
How did he achieve political control?
Propaganda & Personality Cult
The free press was suppressed. Mussolini had his own press office. Radio and cinema were also tools for disseminating Fascist propaganda. Radios were installed everywhere, even in schools. The media was used to portray Mussolini as an almost super-human figure: the new Caesar. So Mussolini was a man who sat up all night playing chess; he was a virtuoso violinist; a daredevil pilot, horse-rider and car racer; a talented linguist; an international statesman and conciliator; even a great lover. Like the Pope, he was infallible (‘Mussolini is always right’ ran the popular slogan). His age was never mentioned; his myopia disguised. He had read all 35 volumes of the Italian Encyclopaedia and every work of classic literature, including Shakespeare. He worked 20 hour days, etc, etc.
Mussolini was certainly vain, but he was also deeply contemptuous of the masses, often a feature of dictators (Hitler: “Thank God the masses don’t think”). Certainly, according to Robson, the cult of personality achieved its aim and Mussolini often escaped the wrath of the population’s anger.
Mussolini & Government
Mussolini was determined to make all decisions himself. The King was side-lined; there was no cabinet government; Mussolini never sought advice; he kept all important posts for himself. Parliament was ignored and eventually abolished itself in 1939 to be replaced by the meaningless Chamber of Fasces and Corporations. Free elections were a thing of the past. Italy was now a single party state. Even his own party was kept under strict control.
The state bureaucracy was not purged, but it was allowed to retain its pre-Fascist, conservative membership, so long as it remained acquiescent. Mussolini did not want state institutions like the army either to be dominated by the Fascist party, as they might have challenged his disinclination to really radical change. The army command was easily bought off and was sympathetic to Mussolini’s politics anyway.
He placated industrialists through the Vidoni Pact of 1925, which banned free trades unions. Now these proud captains of industry could legitimately pay their workers dirt-poor wages.
This policy of carrot and stick was to be typical of Mussolini’s attitude towards potential obstacles.
Only the judiciary was ruthlessly purged, and genuinely free and fair justice disappeared. Mussolini even occasionally interfered directly in cases and decided on verdicts and punishments.
The Role of The Fascist Party (PNF)
As we have mentioned already, Mussolini wasn’t really willing to share his power, even with his Fascist colleagues.
Like Hitler, Mussolini was always less radical than many of his followers.
Mussolini created the Grand Council to control his followers; in 1923 and 1928 he purged some dissident members from the PNF; and he channelled the violent into his militia. However, it was the ras who forced him to become more radical in 1924/25, and Mussolini, in my opinion, never really had the undisputed power someone like Stalin was to enjoy. Robson tends to disagree and claims Mussolini was in total control. Mussolini admittedly did tend to appoint mediocrities to positions within the party and state, to ensure his overall dominance. Men of ability like Balbo (Libya) and Grandi (GB) were given positions outside Italy. Others like Roberto Farinacci were happy with the provincial powers they welded. Consequently, no serious rival to Il Duce ever emerged.
Divide and rule was another strategy used by Mussolini. So the militia and army tended to be kept at loggerheads; the PNF and the Ministry of Education argued over who should be in charge of youth movements (the ONB); Mussolini would always ultimately then step in as arbitrator – and make the final decision.
However, Mussolini couldn’t properly make all the decisions he was supposed to, especially as he was essentially a lazy man who went to bed early a lot. Consequently, his regime was characterised by what Robson calls “confusion, delay and incompetence”.
Support & Opposition
Opposition to Il Duce was both difficult and dangerous, and never amounted to much.
By 1926 Fascist squads had murdered around 2000 opponents. The OVRA spied on dissidents; the courts dealt severely with them. The opposition that did exist involved a few thousand brave individuals and centred around the communists and the ‘Justice and Liberty’ movement of the exiled Carlo Roselli. In 1937, Roselli was assassinated by Fascist agents, in Paris.
Dissenters were also dismissed from jobs and the old Roman punishment of internal exile was used to isolate critics of the system. Penal colonies were set up on barren off-shore islands like Lipari and Lampedusa, but never held more than 5000 individuals. Franco’s camps held far more.
As well as the stick, carrots were utilised. Journalists’ salaries were doubled; academics and intellectuals like Marconi were showered with honours; the achievements of the regime were played up. Foreign victories were especially useful propaganda. Much was thus made of Yugoslavia’s secession of Fiume to Italy in 1926. Mussolini tried also to associate modern Italy with the achievements of ancient Rome and the Renaissance. Italians were constantly told they were a great people whose time had come again.
Robson says all this propaganda was probably not very effective, but that Mussolini himself was immensely popular. His regime cajoled rather than enforced obedience out of people. While it must also be pointed out that some critics of the regime, like Benedetto Croce, even managed to survive, despite all the oppressive apparatus. It is hard to imagine this happening in Hitler’s Third Reich.
Mussolini’s Life – A Summary


DATE

BRIEF DESCRIPTION




1883

Born July 29 in Predappio, Italy.

1912

Editor of the Socialist Party newspaper Avanti!

1914

Denounces World War I, but quickly changes his mind, calling for Italy’s entry on the Allied side. Expelled from the Socialist Party. Starts his own newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia.

1915

Enlists in the Italian Army.

1919

Forms the nationalistic, anti-liberal, anti-socialist movement, “Fasci di Combattimento”, its name taken from the fasces, a symbol of Roman discipline.

1922

Fascists threaten to march on Rome. Invited to form a government by King Victor Emmanuel III. Sets about establishing a totalitarian regime.

1929

Lateran Treaty with the Vatican stabilizes relations between Church and State.

1935

Italy invades Abyssinia.

1936

Signs agreement with Hitler creating the “Axis powers”.

1940

Italy enters World War II on the fall of France; joins Germany in its war against the British in Africa and invades Greece.

1943

Military defeats lead to King Victor Emmanuel dismissing him from power. Imprisoned, but rescued by the Germans, who force him to establish a puppet Social Republic in northern Italy.

1945

With the Allied advance, he attempts escape to Switzerland, but is captured and shot by Italian partisans, April 28.


Similarities and Differences Between Fascism and Nazism and Communism


The Similarities

Italy & Germany

Italy & USSR

  1. Rise to power







  1. Personality of dictators







  1. Political style







  1. Propaganda techniques








  1. Repressive Methods








Similarities and Differences Between Fascism and Nazism and Communism


The Differences

Italy & Germany

Italy & USSR

  1. Rise to power







  1. Personality of dictators







  1. Political style







  1. Propaganda techniques








  1. Repressive Methods








Mussolini’s Socio-Economic Policies
Mussolini’s economic and social policies were largely failures. He ignored Italy’s age-old problems in his quest to create an economy and people geared towards war and foreign expansion.
Initially, Mussolini was fortunate that the 1920s were a period of prosperity. However, a decline in fortunes from 1927 saw Mussolini re-value the lire from 150 to 90 to the pound. This was done for political reasons and was a disaster economically. It made Italian exports far too expensive. The automobile and textiles industries suffered a decline in orders. Protectionist policies and tariff barriers made many stable items like food expensive. In contrast, Mussolini did help the steel, arms and ship-building industries.
To its credit, the regime did handle the Great Depression well at first, creating jobs through public works schemes like HEP and autostrada building. Italians certainly did not suffer like Germans and Americans. The Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) even successfully took over the role of banks in providing loans and introduced new managerial procedures.
However, by 1933 unemployment had risen to 2 million and the working class were seeing a real decline in both their wages and living standards.

Mussolini would comment callously and indifferently that the Italian people were “not accustomed to eat much” and so could take the privations better than people of other nations!


Mussolini also aimed for a policy of autarky, but never came near to achieving it. Italy was simply not wealthy or well organised enough to feed its own people and provide all its own mineral resources.
Massive budget deficits and a down turn in living standards for ordinary Italians were the consequence of his re-armament and expansionist policies.
Mussolini’s corporatist ideas were designed to create a consensus amongst the working and managerial classes to maximise harmony and efficiency. There would be a corporation to represent each type of industry. In reality, as Robson points out, the corporative revolution never materialised. The workers were never given a genuine say, and often bosses bribed Fascist politicians into allowing them to do what they wanted anyway.
In the area of agriculture, as with industry, there were minor successes, but overall failure. Mussolini was not interested in the fundamental problems of the peasant, but only in how far farming could contribute to a stronger, autarkic Italy.
His ‘Battle for Grain’ (he also had other battles; for steel, e.g.) saw a definite increase in grain production from 5.5 million tonnes to over 7 million. However, this was at the expense of wine, olive and fruit production.
The ‘Battle for Land’ saw land reclamation and the (partial) draining of the malarial Pontine Marshes near Rome. However, the overall amount of land reclamation was insignificant.
The ‘Battle for the South’ saw very little progress being made against the age old problems of poverty, illiteracy and crime. Mussolini was not prepared to annoy his landowning supporters by helping the peasantry of the mezzogiorno. Even when he sent Cesare Mori to Sicily to confront the mafia, his heart was never fully in the campaign and Mori’s hands were eventually tied.
In social terms, we can again see Mussolini only helping those who were most likely to help him. To this extent, agreement with the influential Catholic Church would be reached. Accommodation with the Church would bring him support at home and prestige abroad.
The Lateran Agreement of 1929 has been called Mussolini’s most lasting and profound success. He managed to get the Pope to, at last, recognise the Italian state. The Pope received 30 million pounds in compensation for giving up his claim to Rome, and became the ruler of the Vatican, an independent country in its own right, complete with its own Fascist-built railway station. Religion would have a greater status in state and school; civil marriage and divorce were outlawed; and priests would be paid by the state. Pius XI (1922-39) must have been delighted with the agreement. Mussolini certainly was. It eliminated a potential source of opposition to his regime.
Church and state would collide over youth organisations, but it was not until the year of his death that Pius XI fully realised he had made a deal with the devil, as anti-Semitic laws were introduced.
An area in which Church and Fascism was in full agreement however, was over the role of women. Women were to stay at home and have lots of babies. Contraception was outlawed. The ‘Battle for Births’ demanded that women have as many children as possible. It was the patriotic thing to do. Mussolini wanted more soldiers for his armies and colonists for his empire. His plan was to increase the population from 40 to 60 million by 1950. Mothers would be encouraged to have an average of 12 children each! Tax incentives for married men with children (6 or more would earn tax exemption) and penalties for child-free bachelors (heavier taxes) were introduced. Loans and medals were given out and every year Mussolini met and awarded women who had had the biggest families in their province. Certain jobs were only open to the fertile and women were often sacked to make way for men during times of high unemployment.
The ‘Battle for Births’ was largely a failure as the birth-rate actually declined up to 1936 and the population did not reach 60 million until near the present day. While women still made up 33% of the workforce in 1933, a fall of only 3% since 1921.

Equally, with the young Mussolini had ideals that rarely encountered reality. He wanted a fit, aggressive, militarised and fully indoctrinated youth. Mussolini’s portrait was hung in schools; his sayings were to be learnt by heart; his biography studied like a classic of literature. History became biased and Italo-centric. Membership in the Balilla (ONB) became compulsory for boys and girls, and ran to 7 million by 1937.


For adults, indoctrination took the form of the dopolavoro organisation, which was designed to be both a provider of leisure activities, in lieu of the now defunct unions, and a way of creating an Italian ubermenschen. It also ensured control of the workforce after work as well as during it. To its credit, the dopolavaro system was fun, and popular with ordinary Italians and provided many with their first glimpse of the theatre. Even those in the mezzogiorno had access to a dopolavoro clubhouse.
Other Fascist policies, however, only alienated people. They were forced to use the Fascist salute instead of a handshake; to say voi instead of lei; to refer to 1922 as Year I; and women were to dress modestly and not take part in beauty contests, in case they lost and Italy looked bad! Make up and trousers were also to be discouraged. Such petty regulations only irritated Italians and hardly helped with the regime’s popularity. In Robson’s succinct phrase, “there was outward conformity, but little inner conviction”.
Mussolini’s Impact on Italy


Aspect of Fascist state

Major Change?

Minor Change?

No Change?

Structure of Government










Powers of Monarchy










State Security Apparatus










The Armed Services










Personal Freedoms










Electoral System










The Economy










The Mafia










Everyday Life










Religion










Foreign Policy










The Wealthy










Il Mezzogiorno
















Regime’s

Winners


Regime’s Losers

Regime’s

Losers





Mussolini’s Armed Forces
Mussolini, of course, was a militarist who wanted to re-create the Roman empire, to make the Mediterranean an Italian lake, and to make Italy a respected and feared world power.
He often boasted of Italy’s ‘8 million bayonets’, and of ‘blotting out the sun’ with his air force. The reality was a lot different.
In 1935-38, Italy had spent 11.8% of national income on armaments, over twice the amount GB spent and nearly as much as Nazi Germany was spending. This money though was primarily spent on inadequate weaponry (tanks which could be penetrated by bullets; radios that didn’t work, and under-powered rifles) and luxurious officers quarters! Robson in fact describes the Italian armed forces as “inefficient and incompetent”.
The navy was the best of the three services, but it lacked aggressive qualities and its submarines were technically inferior. 1/3 of them were sunk within three weeks of Italy going to war in June 1940.
The air force was the worst. Its main fighter was a Fiat CR42 bi-plane, which couldn’t even fly in North Africa as it lacked sand filters. Its AA guns even shot down Italo Balbo in 1940, over N. Africa.
The army was never 8 million strong, and was fitted out with antiquated weapons and a lack of armoured vehicles. Officers were promoted for political reasons and were largely incompetent. This of course, was Mussolini’s direct fault. It is not surprising, therefore, to hear that within 6 months of going to war (i.e. as early as autumn 1940), most Italians were sick of the War and wanted peace.


Fiat CR-42 bi-plane, which proved useful in Spain, but inadequate in WWII


An Assessment of Mussolini’s Italy


Policy

Successes

Failures

Battle for Grain







Battle for Steel







Battle for Land







Battle for Births







Battle for

the South







Concordant with the Papacy









The Corporate State & Autarky (Incl. Battle for the Lira)









The Armed Forces









North-South Divide









Problems of Poverty









Communications







The End of Mussolini
WWII was a disaster for Italy. She had entered the war quite unprepared for a long drawn out conflict. Despite Mussolini’s boasts, Italy was not a world power by 1940 and even struggled to cope with Yugoslav and Greek forces. By 1943, Italy had given up and Mussolini had been removed from office. 300 000 troops and 150 000 Italian civilians would eventually die in the War.
The fact that Mussolini was deposed gives a lie to his belief that he was the sole power in Italy. Even his own son-in-law Count Ciano, plotted against him. The King was still on his throne and with the help of the Fascist Grand Council and prominent Fascists like Farinacci and De Bono, had Mussolini arrested! Mussolini was eventually rescued from imprisonment by SS commandos and wreaked his revenge on Ciano and de Bono by having them shot. He created a short-lived and chaotic Fascist state in the north of Italy called the Republic of Salo.
Mussolini was eventually captured by partisans in April 1945 and executed. He was strung upside down from a petrol station in Milan, alongside his mistress, Clara Petacci. The rejoicing crowds laughed at and urinated on the corpses.
Poor Clara, she at least hadn’t deserved such an ignominious end.

Mussolini ending up as many of his opponents had




Review of a Recent Revisionist Biography of Mussolini

(Andrew Roberts reviews ‘Mussolini’ by Nicholas Farrell)

It was only a matter of time before a full-scale revisionist biography praising Benito Mussolini was published in English, and the dictator has certainly found a doughty defender in the former Telegraph journalist Nicholas Farrell. The author, who has lived for the past five years in Il Duce's birthplace of Predappio in the Romagna, which is also where Mussolini "is buried like a minor deity", has clearly inhaled deeply of the local political aura.

The dictator whom Farrell presents in his hard-hitting book, complete with a forest of footnotes and much fascinating original research, is pretty much unrecognisable to those of us who have been brought up on the biographies by the liberal British historians Denis Mack Smith and Jasper Ridley. Farrell argues that Mussolini "remained at heart a Socialist to his dying day". It was what gave him his anti-Communist fervour, something that led him to be described by Pope Pius XI as "sent by Providence", by Churchill as "the greatest law-giver among living men", and by President Roosevelt as his "only potential ally in his effort to safeguard world peace".

The problem with revisionist accounts is that they tend to overcompensate. When Mussolini made the gross strategic error of declaring war against the Allies in June 1940, for example, Farrell writes that, although 300,000 Italian soldiers and 150,000 civilians died as a result, "it might well have been a brilliant decision". The truly brilliant decision would have been to sit out the war like his fellow southern Mediterranean fascist dictator General Franco.

Also controversial will be Farrell's assertion that Mussolini "saved more Jews than Oscar Schindler". Quite apart from the fact that Schindler was not a head of state and thus in no position to save as many as Mussolini, neither did Schindler pass the anti-Semitic laws that Mussolini did in November 1938. Farrell's explanation that "Mussolini's anti-Semitism was not biological racism but spiritual racism" does not sit well with his other statement that "although not anti-Semitic, Mussolini became increasingly anti-Jewish", and either would have looked pretty sophistic to Jewish doctors and lawyers who lost their professions due to his laws. The fact that Mussolini did not collude in the Holocaust hardly makes him a Righteous Gentile.

Where Farrell is on far stronger ground is in his argument that Mussolini "ruled with the consent of the Italian people" throughout the 1930s and that he held power "by and large bloodlessly". At almost any period between 1923 and 1941, I suspect that Mussolini would have won any election by a landslide. By the standards of the dictatorships, Mussolini's was by far the least brutal. There was repression of the Communists in the trade unions, but not the large-scale torture and genocide of political opponents to be found elsewhere in Europe. He needs to be judged in the context of the insurrectionary Italian post-Great War experience, rather than by the peaceful liberal standards of British democracy.

"He was a brilliant journalist," writes Farrell of his hero, adding, "you only have to read an article by him to realise that he was not a buffoon". Perhaps not, but he acted like one in 1940 by falling in with Hitler's war plans and assuming the war was as good as over. Equally breathless remarks of Farrell's, such as, "In addition to being a shrewd political thinker, Mussolini was a master political tactician", need to be set against that critical blunder.

When Farrell defends Mussolini on the grounds that "he and Fascism… got things done", one can almost visualise him taking down the times of the trains with a stopwatch and notepad. Not even Mussolini's worst enemies deny that he radically altered the Italian economy, and in many ways made it far more efficient. The question of whether Italians had to pay too much in terms of loss of liberty has been answered by Farrell in a passionate and thought-provoking way. Nor will the Left be happy with his (true) statement that: "The Italian partisan resistance was a largely irrelevant factor in the liberation of Italy."

Farrell concludes his book with the crowd in the Piazzale Loreto in Milan laughing at and urinating on the corpses of Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci, her brother and 15 others, before seven bodies were hung upside down from the steel girders of the petrol station there. It was remarked with surprise by the women present, who were joking and dancing around this macabre scene, that Clara Petacci wore no knickers and that her stockings were unladdered. Farrell is predictably censorious that Mussolini was executed without due process of law, which is frankly naïve, but he does explain that Petacci was not given time to find her knickers before she was taken away and machine-gunned.

By the end of this highly spirited, opinionated and rather remarkable book, one does not grieve for Mussolini, however much the author might wish us to, but one does feel sorry for poor Clara and very surprised that any Italian – even a Communist partisan – should have chosen to murder an attractive and entirely apolitical woman.




Farrell’s hero and Roberts’ villain –



Whom do you concur with?


Historiography on Mussolini – ‘The Dark Valley’ (Piers Brendon)

The left-leaning Brendon tends to view Mussolini as the archetypal “political gangster”, a man for whom the theatre of politics was all important, with very often little behind the posturing facade.



Brendon says, “Fascism was mainly matter of fantasy” and he describes the melodramatic Mussolini as a man who was “as much editor as dictator”.

Mussolini was not without his abilities, however, and he certainly got the better of the Papacy in the Lateran treaties.

However, he is more critical of what he describes as Mussolini’s “antidiluvian” economic policies. The battle for grain by erecting tariff barriers against foreign imports only subsidised inefficient Italian agriculture; fodder became so costly that the amount of meat production declined; the battle for the lira overvalued it (at 90=POUND) making Italian exports more expensive, damaging industry and forcing down wages and increasing unemployment. The corporate state increased bureaucracy and petty regulations and Brendon says it was always more “rhetoric rather than reality”. Wages in the regime were incredibly low, with many only earning 25 lire a day. Many, in places like Calabria and Sardinia, survived by eating wild plants for half the year! The poor were not even allowed to emigrate anymore, as the regime forbade emigration. Italy was hit hard by the Depression, a damning indictment of Mussolini’s policies. The value of stocks and shares declined by c.40% and bankruptcies increased. He could not even make the Italian people have more children, as the birth-rate between 1927-34 fell, despite the battle for births.

The regime did have successes; Giuseppe Pagano and Giovanni Greppi were original architects; the new town of Sabaudia was a triumph. On the whole however Fascist architecture was execrable and Brendon says Mussolini “liked to set his bombast in concrete”.

A more commendable feature of the regime was the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction bought stock in needy banks and corporations and so gave the state a stakehold in important enterprises. On the whole though Brendon is scathing of Mussolini’s policies calling them a mixture of “opportunism, improvisation and self-advancement”.

A


Replica of a 1922 fascist club
viation was used by Mussolini to promote his regime’s global status, and Italian planes and aviators, like Italo Balbo, broke many records. However, such eye-catching stunts only resulted in the neglect of the airforce, which was so incompetent as to shoot down Air Marshall Balbo himself!


SUMMARY OF THE HISTORIOGRAPHY ON MUSSOLINI



ROBSON

MACK SMITH

FARRELL

ROBERTS

BRENDON

(THEME)
















Mussolini’s Personality
















Mussolini’s Domestic Policies















Other






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E

L

S

I

M

S

A

D

I

T

T

O

E

T

T

A

M

E

A

N

S

O

T

H

E

R

E

C

F

N

O

D

N

O

L

REVISION WORDSEARCH ON MUSSOLINI’S ITALY





  1. Secret treaty brought Italy into WWI & made promises that were not kept______

  2. Port of __________was taken over by the proto-fascist ______________in 1920

  3. Liberal politician who connived in the accession of the fascists _____________

  4. Fascist thugs made their enemies drink this____________ & hit them with______

  5. Fascist rule is dated from October 1922 and the March on __________

  6. These laws were passed to guarantee fascist control of the state: ______&______

  7. This socialist opponent of the regime was brutally murdered______________

  8. This left-wing critic of the regime though was able to survive_____________

  9. Barren island in the Mediterranean where opponents of the regime were sent_____

  10. Mussolini’s troops invaded this area in 1935________helping to destroy the League

  11. This part of Italy known as the ______________received little help from Mussolini

  12. Anti-Mafia crusader whose hands were eventually tied by Mussolini___________

  13. Able fascist bosses sidelined by a jealous Mussolini :__________and _________

  14. He helped to depose Mussolini in 1943 and was later shot by the dictator_________

OPINIONS ON MUSSOLINI – WHO SAID WHAT?









An admiral

A socialist deputy

A nationalist veteran

A southerner

Der Fuhrer


A foreign statesman


A trade unionist







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