Benito Mussolini Essay Research Paper With pounding

Benito Mussolini Essay, Research Paper

With pounding fists and brutal charisma, Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) invoked

the myth of a new Roman Empire…and made himself its Caesar. The father of

Italian Fascism, Mussolini seized power through a potent combination of terror

and persuasion. Promising glory while crushing his enemies, he held Italy firmly

in his grasp from 1922 to 1943.

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, named after the left-wing Mexican

revolutionary Benito Juarez as well as two Italian revolutionaries, was born in

Predappio on July 29, 1883, as the son of a socialist blacksmith (1). He grew up

to be a self-proclaimed ?anti-patriot,? a socialist like his father. He

became an elementary school teacher in 1901, and immigrated to Switzerland to

avoid being enlisted in the war in 1902. During this period, he was influenced

by the writings of Nietzsche, Hegel, and Karl Marx (2). It was in Switzerland

that Mussolini was arrested for vagrancy, and expelled back to Italy to finally

perform his required military service (3). After being wounded in the trenches,

he was sent home on crutches, only to become the editor of his own newspaper,

called IL Popolo d?Italia (or The People of Italy) after changing his pacifist

views and being dismissed by the Socialist Party. He used his newspaper to

spread his new ideas and gain support. He also organized a pro-war group called

Fasci d?Azione Rivoluzionaria. After the war, Mussolini joined a different

group called the Arditi Association, a military assembly composed of World War I

veterans. Both associations contributed to the beginning of fascism (4).

On March 23, 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci de Combattimento, the skeletal

structure for what was to become the organized political movement of Fascism

(5). This anti-socialist activity attracted support from the people of the

lower-middle class with its nationalistic, anti-liberal ideals. During the

1920s, fascism spread into the Italian countryside. It was there that the Black

Shirt Militia arose. This militia was formed to rid Italy of all socialist

groups, in order for fascism to rise. The group would torture Socialists by

forcing them to drink castor oil and swallow live frogs (6).

Mussolini then began to slowly break away from the Arditi Association as his

Fascist movement became more powerful. At first, the Fascist Party failed during

the 1919 elections, but they soon gained thirty-five seats in 1921, Mussolini

being one of the Fascists elected into the Parliament. All of this was done in

order to help anti-socialist leader, Giovanni Giolitti, gain more political

power (7). Soon after, Giolitti?s coalition began to break apart. Mussolini

seized this opportunity to start talking to the opposition. The Socialists then

proclaimed a strike in August 1922. Mussolini intervened while the government

did nothing, earning him large amounts of support from the people (8).

Soon after the Socialist strike, Mussolini organized the ?March on Rome,?

which took place on the 28th of October, 1922. It included over forty thousand

armed Fascists, and in order to avoid a brutal civil war, King Victor Emmanuel

III invited Mussolini to form a new government. Two days later, at age 39,

Benito Mussolini was the new Prime Minister of Italy- his largest step towards

dictatorship (9).

Between 1922 and 1926, Mussolini was able to take over all dictatorial

powers, naming himself as ?head of government,? deeming the King and the

Parliament powerless. He dissolved the other political parties through threats

and torture. Fascists now made up sixty-five percent of the parliament. He began

to introduce censorship laws and got rid of all democratically elected mayors.

Using his authority to control the press, he assumed the position of ?IL Duce,?

or ?the Leader.? His masterful approach to propaganda only elevated his

support from the Italians (10).

?Mussolini personally took over the ministries of the interior, of foreign

affairs, of the colonies, of the corporations, of the army and other armed

services, and of public works. Sometimes he held as many as seven departments

simultaneously, as well as the premiership. He was also head of the all-powerful

Fascist Party and the armed Fascist militia. In this way, he succeeded in

keeping power in his own hands preventing the emergence of any rival. But it was

at the price of creating a regime that was overcentralized, inefficient, and

corrupt? (Smith, 11).

The key to Mussolini?s (short-lived) success was his ability to use

propaganda to his immediate advantage. Education, radio, films, and the press

were all supervised to solicit the many expediencies of Fascism (12). In order

to sustain his power in the future of Italy, Mussolini started Fascist programs

for youth, starting at age four, with competition being emphasized. These

children soon grew up willing to die for the Fascist cause. It also grew to be

expected that all civil servants, teachers, and army officers were members of

the Fascist Party (13).

In 1929, Mussolini set up an agreement with the Catholic Church and the Pope.

This arrangement, called the Lateran Pacts, won over many Italians who had once

opposed him. With the succession of finally winning over the majority of his

country in mind, he set his sights to overseas (14). ?Adopting an aggressive

foreign policy, Mussolini defied the League of Nations and conquered Ethiopia.

This won him acclaim in almost every sector of the populace? (Delzell, 15).

?In 1936, seeking more glory, Mussolini sent planes and troops to support

Franco and the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Later that year, Italy and

Germany signed an agreement forming the axis powers… he [Mussolini] also

withdrew from the League of Nations as Germany had done years earlier?

(unknown, 16). In addition, much like the laws being enforced by Germany,

anti-Jew and ?master race? ideals were now being expressed and urged. Jews

were forbidden to join the Fascist Party, inter-marry, or join the army. At this

point, Mussolini was starting to lose a bit of his support.

In 1939, Italy conquered Albania. Also in 1939, he signed the Pact of Steel,

an agreement that compelled Italy to Germany in war efforts. With that, Germany

invaded Poland, triggering World War II. It was not until 1940 that Italy began

to fight, but from the start their army was weak, with little support from the

Italian citizens. Italy soon invaded the African countries of Kenya, Sudan, and

Egypt. Mussolini then attacked Greece, but failed. In Africa, a British tank

force overthrew four hundred thousand Italians, and Italy lost all of her

African colonies by the middle of 1941 (17).

?After Italy?s many military defeats, King Victor Emmanuel III dismissed

Mussolini on July 25, 1943, and in September obtained an armistice with the

Allies, who had invaded southern Italy. At the same time, the Germans rescued

the sickly Mussolini and made him organize a brutal puppet Social Republic in

northern Italy. In the final days of the war, Mussolini attempted an escape to

Switzerland with his mistress Clara Petacci. Italian partisans captured and shot

them on April 28, 1945, at Giulino di Mezzegra near Lake Como? (Delzell, 18).

?Everything about Fascism was a fraud… Fascist rule was corrupt,

incompetent, empty; Mussolini was without either ideas or aims… In 1943,

Fascism collapsed overnight. Not a single Fascist attempted to defend the regime

that had lasted twenty years and had boasted itself of such power. It simply

fell down like a house of cards, which was all it really was.? This is from

page one of AJP Taylor?s 1977 book, The War Lords.

Benito Mussolini, founder of Italian Fascism, had a tremendous impact on the

Italian government from the years 1922 through 1943, but his tendency to

overlook the real economical, social, and political problems brought his Italian

empire to a notable, and somewhat glorious end.

(1) Delzell, Charles ?Benito Mussolini?

Encarta Encyclopedia ?97 (electronic encyclopedia)

(2) Fermi, Laura ?Biographies: Benito MUssolini?

(30 April 1999)

(3) Smith, Dennis Mack ?World War II Commemoration? Grolier Online

(2 May 1999)

(4) Theisen, Brett ?Benito Mussolini?

(5) Smith, Dennis Mack ?World War II Commemoration? Grolier Online

(2 May 1999)

(6) Delzell, Charles ?Benito Mussolini?

Encarta Encyclopedia ?97 (electronic encyclopedia)

(7) Theisen, Brett ?Benito Mussolini?

(8) Fermi, Laura ?Biographies: Benito MUssolini?

(30 April 1999)

(9) Theisen, Brett ?Benito Mussolini?

(10) Smith, Dennis Mack ?World War II Commemoration? Grolier Online

(2 May 1999)

(11) Smith, Dennis Mack ?World War II Commemoration? Grolier Online

(2 May 1999)

(12) Smith, Dennis Mack ?World War II Commemoration? Grolier Online

(2 May 1999)

(13) Fermi, Laura ?Biographies: Benito MUssolini?

(30 April 1999)

(14) Theisen, Brett ?Benito Mussolini?

(15) Delzell, Charles ?Benito Mussolini?

Encarta Encyclopedia ?97 (electronic encyclopedia)

(16) Fermi, Laura ?Biographies: Benito MUssolini?

(30 April 1999)

(17) Fermi, Laura ?Biographies: Benito MUssolini?

(30 April 1999)

(18) Delzell, Charles ?Benito Mussolini?

Encarta Encyclopedia ?97 (electronic encyclopedia)

Other Sources

(read, but not used)

1. ?Biography of Benito Mussolini?

(25 April 99)

2. ?Benito Mussolini?

(25 April 99)

3. ?Benito Mussolini?

(2 May 1999)


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