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Revision Notes Yegor Lanovenko

Mussolini
Rise to Power
The Liberal Government has never had much support. From 1911 - unstable coalitions.

The Mutilated Victory - Italy with 600 000 soldiers dead in the war gained very little, did not
Fiume - which was important for them. 1914 saw the worst unrests.

By 1915, 5 million immigrated to the USA, which was seen as humiliation. Plus 2 million
unemployment from the returned soldiers.

The debt by the end of the war was 85 million lira, compared to the 16 million in 1914.

In 1919, 32% of the votes in election went to the Socialists, which horrified all the Middle
Classes. The Liberals did little to pacify the workers appealing for better wages and
working hours. NItti tried to encourage the factory owners to appease the workers. In the
countryside, peasants started to occupy land from their landlords.

1919-1920 - The Two Red Years - where there was most strikes and unrest and the fear of
a Socialist revolution was the biggest. This fear pushed many to support the emerging
Fascists.

Mussolini was working in a Socialist newspaper, but moved away from Socialism as he
favoured war, and the Socialists called it an “Imperialist Adventure”.

He establishes a new ideology to help the “combatants and producers”, i.e. soldiers,
farmers and factory workers. The movement was yet without any clear ideology in 1919.

Giolitti was always too scared to use force against the workers on strikes, as in 1920 when
400 000 workers occupied the factories. Even though these occupations were always
unsuccessful, they weakened the position of the government in the eyes of the public.

Another success for the Socialists in 1920 Elections.

In 1920, the right in the North of Italy began to take over - the Fascist Squads were
supported by the landowners who were terrified by the peasants unrests. The local Fascist
leaders, ras, used more and more apparent violence to increase the visibility of control and
organization. Mussolini promote it in his own newspaper.

In 1921, the Fascists won 35 seats. Giolitti hoped to form an anti-Socialist coalition with
them, thinking the Fascists would get absorbed by the system. The coalition lasted one
month. Mussolini moves away from the idea of Social reforms to win the support of factory
owners. From 1921-22 there was a lot of unrest, and the squads contributed to it.
Revision Notes Yegor Lanovenko

Mussolini re-organizes the squads into a more attractive organization in 1922. He


appeased the Catholics by promoting divorce - after all of this, party membership rose to
200 000.

He wanted to get power legally. In 1922 the failed General Strike of the workers showed
the incapacity of the government to deal with it and showed the Squads as the keepers of
peace on the streets.

March on Rome 1922 - the bluff and the inactive King.

Consolidation of Power
In 1922, the Fascists had only 4 ministers.

Mussolini asked the government to let him rule by decree for 12, which he would then give
up.

1923 - corrosion of constitutional government. Squads merged in MVSN, Grand Council of


Fascism (of which Mussolini was the Head) was established, centralizing the party on him.

Makes promised to Church to win its support.

The Acerbo Law in 1923 - no more proportional representation, the single biggest party
has 2/3 of the seats.

Elections in 1924 gained Mussolini 66% of the votes.

The Matteotti Crisis in 1924 results in press censorship and ban on opposition party
meetings.

OVRA - secret police in 1925.

Podestas replace local mayors.

1926 - Mussolini the sole leader of Italy.

The King never took much part in the internal affairs. The Church was pacified by the
Lateran Pacts of 1929 which gave the Vatican autonomy.

The Grand Council of Fascism became more and more powerless as Mussolini stayed in
office, especially after the creation of MVSN, the official militia.

The party was “an instrument of the state’s will”.

Economic Policies
Revision Notes Yegor Lanovenko

The aims of economic policies were - to consolidate the political system, to make the
country self-sufficient and to provide an economic base for military might, which was of
crucial importance to his idea of the Roman Empire.

He did not want to abolish capitalism - he wanted to unite all the people to work for the
best benefit of the state.

The Corporative System - Mussolini thought it to be the third way.

Corporations consisted of workers’ organizations and employers in every field of economy.


This was supposed to be the “best of capitalism and socialism”. They would meet to
discuss their own problems.

The national interest was represented by the Ministry of Corporations and Party Officials.
Employers were represented by themselves, however the workers’ syndicates by Fascist
syndicate representatives.

Employers saw this as a means to control the workers. Mussolini as the head of the
Ministry of Corporations made all the important decisions while the meeting were just a
facade for the workers.

Rocco Law in 1926 named strikes illegal and set up first corporations. Ministry of
Corporations in 1926. Trade unions were proclaimed powerless.

Vast bureaucracy with little real power.

Parliament was replaced by the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations in 1939.

Propaganda
Main messages of propaganda - powerful Fascist government, the wise Duce, work as one
united nation, Italy the heir to the Roman Empire.

Ancient Rome created the whole style of propaganda and the regime. Symbols
everywhere. architecture to represent it - classical design. Mussolini established order out
of chaos like Augustus.

Romanita - the cult of Rome.

Newspapers were the main means of propaganda. Mussolini’s Press Office extended it’s
power in 1930s. In the model of Germany became a ministry in 1935. From 1923, prefects
responsible for censorship. Greater variety of press. Regime called the journalist regime.

Radio numbers increased to 1 million in 1938, but was not so censored - one could catch
the BBC.
Revision Notes Yegor Lanovenko

Although dominated by Hollywood imports, Italian film culture was growing. The Ministry of
Popular Culture valued the commercial success of films over their propaganda role. 1938 -
3/4 of all films are American imports.

Sport was valued as a showcase of national glory.

Fascist art - art of the masses.

Church
Fascism and catholicism shared a lot. Corporativism was similar to Christianity’s stress on
social harmony.

State and the Church later quarreled over a Catholic youth group call Catholic Action and
the anti-Semitic campaigns of Mussolini.

Foreign Policy
Initially he had no clear coherent foreign policy. He wanted to turn the Balkans into an
Italian sphere of influence and restore the Roman Empire.

Italy needed to win over the dominating Britain and France.

Corfu Crisis in 1923. Mussolini turned this failure into a success at home, like with most
things.

He made Fiume Italian by pressuring the new Yugoslavia in 1924.

He signed both Kellog-Briand 1928 and Locarno Pacts 1925.

Until 1935, Mussolini was careful about Germany, as he was afraid of the Anschluss.

The Abyssinian War of 1935-36 was a success. Used to distract the public away from
domestic problems. The necessary bans were not imposed and the League was shown to
be powerless and self-interested.

Relations with Germany improve after Abyssinia - Rome-Berlin Pact 1936.

Spanish Civil War was waged in order to gain submarine bases in the Mediterranean and
to acquire a Fascist supporter. Real gains were very little.

The Anschluss in 1938 came as a big surprise, but by 1938 the friendship was restored.

During Munich, Mussolini acted as a mediator - he turned it into a propaganda bomb and
was portrayed as the keeper of peace.
Revision Notes Yegor Lanovenko

After the clumsy invasion into Albania in 1939, Britain and France promise help to Turkey
and Greece, and it might have been these promises that turned Mussolini even more
towards Hitler - 1939 the Pact of Steel - military alliance.