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Fascism in Italy was, in an enormous scope, an idea whose appropriate timing had come. However, it did not develop from nowhere. Its formational stages can be attributed to the era before the First World War (Large 109). The growth of this concept is best discussed with the wide context of political, social and economic development of Italy following its unification as a state. Dennis Smith views this as a reasonable result of flaws in the governance. This context cemented the foundation without which it would not have been possible for Fascism to thrive (Rene 45). Its growth under the deserving leadership of Mussolini was rapid and before it could be realized, it had established its ideals and propaganda in the hearts and minds of majority middle class Italians (Haugen 51). This paper examines the leading events towards the eventual removal of socialists by Mussolini. We are therefore seeking to establish what various authors have written about the Mussolini's Fascism ideology in the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
The rise of Mussolini
Benito Mussolini was Italian fortieth prime minister who reigned in the period between 1922 and 1943. He is remembered for the development of Fascism political concept during his reign. Fascism can be described as the kind of leadership in which the supremacy of the state is put ahead of anything else. The individual members of the society can only exist to foster the ideals of the absolute nation. In this system of government, the final and only authority is vested in the dictator and other mechanism put in place to encourage the supremacy of the singular source of instructions.
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Fascism reflects the extreme opposite of the socialism in the manner in which every individual member of the society is given attention. Fascism seeks to please the dictator and his highly energetic supporters of nationalism while socialism advocates for the nation's wealth to be owned by community at large irrespective of individual's input. You can hardly mention Mussolini without touching on fascism system of government which he cherished the most. The one question that we need to ask ourselves is why such a form of dictatorship was able to outdo the deep rooted socialism in the early 20th century. It is in that line therefore that we seek to explore the leading events and circumstances which created a solid foundation for almost twenty years reign. As a true manifestation of its might, fascism spread beyond the borders of Italy to other European nations (Saluemini 116) However for the sake of this paper Italian's case will be studied in depth and breadth.
Sequential Facts about Mussolini and Fascism
First of all we seek to explore the state of Italy immediately before and soon after the 1st world war. The government's decision to sit and watch how the war would progress did not go well with the nationalists who believed strongly on the country getting involved in the affairs beyond its borders. Mussolini and other young nationalists supported the involvement of Italy in the war and took action by entering it. Their entry in to the war eight months later saw her take sides with Britain. The socialist party expelled Mussolini for getting involved in the war (Fermi 185). This expulsion led to the walk away of young socialists who agreed with Mussolini's decision to make Italy's presence to be felt in Europe (Ridley 16).
An opportunity was thus created for him to form a political movement which he did by organizing Fascist Party formation in 1921 after recovering from post war wounds. The next move then was to marshal as much support as possible to enable his party seize power within the shortest period possible. He therefore managed to win the backing of property owners, war veterans and the middle class who feared the dreaded communism (Gaetano 25).
His passion and strong fascism ideology led to the great March on Rome. This civilian supported mass action forced the King to appoint him as the prime minister in a move to avert the looming civil war (Blinkhorn 21). His presence in the government grew to being the final authority in government decisions. With only thirty five seats he was given powers to form the cabinet (Hibbert 24).
The use of highly motivated action was one of the reasons as to why Mussolini's National Fascist Party was able to edge out the Socialist Party. The current barbaric use of violence and mass action worked perfectly well for him and his party (Haugen 59).
Secondly, his ability to articulate issues with the use of literature background placed him on position miles away from the enemy. By the time he was opposing the socialist government, Mussolini had already secured the support of a section of elites who were the readers of 'The People of Italy' the news paper he owned and edited (Mussolini 67). This charming reputation enabled him to utilize the ruthless tool of propaganda since they had no clear master plan in place apart from violence (Macdonald 29). He had unclear thoughts about fundamental changes that the country needed. To make his propaganda look valid, he advocated for the removal of Senate, betterment of worker's terms, firm foreign policy and collective privilege of voting (Pugliese 83).
Adoption of an ambitious foreign policy by Mussolini played another role in the strengthening of his rising politically (De Grand 92). Three events occurred towards the end of the year 1920 which gave the Fascist movement a big milestone. First, many Italian nationalists increased their confidence in Mussolini following the removal of D'Annunzio and his cohorts from Fiume. This was a manifestation of his advocacy for a strong foreign policy and taking over of Dalmatia and Fiume (Blum & Miller 28). Secondly, the underperformance of government in Italy especially on the issues of inflation and social instability developed a bad name in the Italians minds. Mussolini being an opportunist he was, capitalized on the undoing of parliamentary regime.
Although the government tried to salvage the nation's pride through acquisition of colonies abroad, the loss of battle of Adowa to an African state further tainted the already bad reputation. The regime was also unable to solve the nagging economic and social problems arising from the First World War (Pollard 19). As a result of these landmark failures in both local and international fronts, the parliamentary regime represented a high level of impunity and poor governance. Therefore no one could trust them anymore.
Therefore anyone who had any efforts to oust this regime was the darling of their lives. Thirdly, the dark cloud of communism which came up as a result of 1920 General Strike disturbed the property owners. They wanted a reprieve to their fears through a sober and stable government with the ability of bringing back their confidence as well as restoration of law and order in their nation. Such increased discontent with the government reinforced Mussolini's party bid to seize power. It can also be argued that the success of Fascism could not have been seen realized without the input of Mussolini's personal character. He employed a very dynamic system of leadership. His flexibility enabled his party to continually alter its programs so as to win the support from the people who were mostly the property class. The notable change of tactic move was of paramount importance in the seizure of power without any delay (Alan 89).
Soon after these primary milestones, he increased his aggression towards Bolshevik so that the favor of property class may be won. He also ceased attacking the royalty, papacy and capitalists. The new hope was stirred further by his promise to establish a robust government that would curb socialist's disruptions and a firm foreign policy which was going to bring back the glory of the nation (Boon 186). Nationalists were obviously in support of this. Thus, Mussolini had an easy time winning their support.
To further widen the foundation of his political dream, he also focused on the economy which was already ailing due to the socialist fundamentals. In the side of economy, he sought to liberalize it and champion for improvement in terms of services for the workers (Ridley 30). These good looking ideologies were propagated across the population and in the long run it produced the expected results both economically as well as politically. Economically, a lot of funding was realized from the industrialists (Killinger 139). On the side of his popularity, the party membership rose from a struggling 20,000 in 1920 to a convincing 300,000 in 1922. This unprecedented growth in political muscle was attributed to the enterprising nature of Mussolini.
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Fascists chose to take the battle to the streets as a louder way of expressing its intention of gaining supremacy. This time round the friendly government troops helped in arming the Fascists. The displeased participants of war and diehard nationalists arranged themselves into paramilitary gangs (Lyttelton 95). These gangs continually protested against flaws in parliamentary government as well as peace agreements made by communists and socialists dominated leadership. Within a short while they were in control of some small urbanized areas with a silent authorization from the government and property.
According to Cottrell, the Communists were indeed stronger but the propaganda worked well in creating fear of communism among the Italians (Kallis 165). He further argues that, the choice of party symbol played anther significant role in the advancement of its popularity. They chose to use fasces which had always represented a sign of authority in the Roman Empire. This created an impression that the Fascist movement was going to take the country back to the glory of the most successful Empire of their era.
The unification of Italy in 1870 led to the fallout between the Italian government and the majority of the Catholics. This disagreement led to the bad blood in between the ruling party and the Papacy. Mussolini's intervention saw the two conflicting sides come up with a consensus in the form of Lateran Agreements. The resulting treaty made the kingdom to be recognized by the Papacy as the lawful administrators of Italy. As part of the agreement financial compensation was made to the Pope to a tune of 90 million dollars. This compensation was done due to the losses that papal territory had incurred since the fall out in 1870.
The efforts of Mussolini to mediate between the two warring factions were eventually fruitful. The two sides were contented with the outcome of the accord. This move did not only work for the Papacy and the kingdom but also became a huge milestone for Mussolini. Out of this, he was able win the much needed support of the Catholics who formed the majority of the Italian population. Mussolini's repute was further exalted in the eyes of the international community when the Pope called him a man of Providence. This staunch support continued until when he feel out of power in 1943. Although the Papacy did not directly support the rapid growth of Fascism, their approval of the lead campaigner gave an indirect boost of the system's ideology.
Finally, we can attribute Mussolini's victory over Socialism to his ability to make radical decisions even if it meant paying the price of inconsistency (Townley 60). He was always more than willing to change his mind and programs of his party as stated in the descriptions above so as to ensure that the ultimate goals of trampling upon socialism were attained. Mussolini's passion for the spread of Fascism at the expense of Socialism created a myth which is not clear yet as to how it was possible. The ideology grew into becoming a worldwide concept and a kind of spiritual belief.