MUSSOLINI Essay, Research Paper
Bentio Mussolini, (18833-1945) was the Fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943. He centralized all power in himself as the leader (il duce) of the Fascist party and attempted to create an Italian empire, ultimately in alliance with Hitler?s Germany. The defeat of Italian arms in World War II brought an end to his imperial dream and led to his down fall.
Mussolini was born in Predappio, near Forli, in Romagna, on July 29, 1883. His father, Alesandro, was a Blacksmith, and his mother, Rosa was a schoolteacher. Like his father, Benito became a fervent socialist. He qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901. In 1902 he immigrated to Switzerland. Unable to find a permanent job there and arrested for vagrancy, he was expelled and returned to Italy to do his military service. After further trouble with the police, he joined the staff of a newspaper in the Austrian town of Trenton in 1907-8. At this time he wrote a novel, subsequently translated into English as The Cardinal?s Mistress.
Expelled by the Austrians, He became the editor at Forli of a socialist newspaper, La Lotta di Classe (The Class Struggle). His early enthusiasm for Karl Marx was modified by a mixture of ideas from the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, the revolutionary doctrines of Auguste Blanqui, and the syndicalism of Georges Sorel. In 1910, Mussolini Became secretary of the local Socialist party at Forli.
At this stage in his life his political views were almost the opposite of what they later became. He boasted of being an ?antipatriot.? When Italy declared war on Turkey in 1911, he was imprisoned for his pacifist propaganda. Appointed editor of the official Socialist newspaper Avanti, he moved to Milan, where he established himself as the most forceful of all labor leaders of Italian socialism. He believed that the proletariat should unite ?in one formidable Fascio (bundle), preparatory to seizing power. Some see this as the start of the Fascist movement.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Mussolini agreed with the other Socialists that Italy should not join it. Only a class war acceptable to him, and he threatened to lead a proletarian revolution if the government decided to fight. But several months later he unexpectedly changed his position on the war, leaving the Socialist party and his Editorial position.
In November 1914 he founded a new paper, IL Poplol d?Italia, and the prowar group Fasci d?Azione Rivoluzionaria. He evidently hoped the war might lead him to power. Called up for military service, he was wounded in a grenade practice in 9117 and returned to edit his paper.
Fascism became an organized political movement in March 1919 when Mussolini founded the Fasci de Combattimento. After failing in the 1919 elections, Mussolini at last entered the parliament in 1921 as a right-wing member. The Fascisti formed armed squads to terrorize Mussolini?s former Socialist colleagues. The government seldom interfered. In return for the support of a group of industrialists and agrarians, Mussolini gave his approval to strikebreaking, and he abandoned revolutionary agitation. When the liberal governments of Giovanni Giolitti, Ivaone Bonomi, and Luigi Facta failed to stop the spread of anarchy, Mussolini was invited by the king in October 1922 to form a government.
At first the Liberals in parliament supported him. With their help he introduced strict censorship and altered the methods of election so that in 1925-1926 he was able to assume dictorial powers and dissolve all other political parties. Skillfully using his absolute control over the press, he gradually built up the legend of the ?Duce, a man who was always right and could solve all the problems of politics and economics. Italy was soon a police state, with those who tried to resist him, for example the Socialist Giacomo Matteotti, he showed himself utterly ruthless. But Mussolini?s skill in propaganda was such that he had surprisingly little opposition.
At various Times after 1922, Mussolini personally took over the ministries of the interior, of foreign affairs, of the colonies, of the corporations, of the army, and the others 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 (formed in 1921) and the armed Fascist militia. In this way He succeeded in keeping power in his own hands and preventing the emergence of any rival. But it was the price of creating a regime that was over centralized, inefficient, and corrupt.
Most of his time was spent on propaganda, whether at home or abroad, and here his training as a journalist was invaluable. Press, radio, education, and films?all were carefully supervised to manufacture the illusion that fascism was ?the doctrine of the 20th century that was replacing liberalism and democracy. The principles of this doctrine were laid down in the article on fascism, reputedly written by him, that appeared in 1932 in the Encyclopedia Itaiana. In 1929 a concordat with the Vatican was signed, by which the Italian state was at last recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Under the dictatorship the parliamentary system was virtually abolished. The law codes were rewritten. All teachers in schools and universities had to swear an oaths to defend the Fascist regime. Mussolini himself all personally chose newspaper editors, and no one could practice journalism that did not posess a certificate of approval from the ?corporative system.? The aim (never completely achieved) was to place all Italians in various professional organizations or corporations, all of them under governmental control.
Mussolini played up to his financial backers at fist by transferring a number of industries from public to private ownership. But by the 1903?s he had begun moving back to the opposite extreme of rigid governmental control of industry. A great deal of money was spent on public works. But the economy suffered from his exaggerated attempt to make Italy self-sufficient. There was too much concentration on heavy industry, for which Italy lacked the resources.
In foreign policy, Mussolini soon shifted from pacifist anti-imperialism to an extreme form of aggressive nationalism. An early example of this was his bombardment on Corfu in 1923. Soon after this he succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and in reconquering Libya. It was his dream to make the Mediterranean ?mare nostrum? (our sea). In 1935, at the Stresa Conference, he helped create an anti-Hitler front in order to defend the independence of Austria. But his successful war against Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 1935-1936 was opposed by the League of Nations, and he was forced to seek an alliance with Nazi Germany, which had withdrawn form the League in 1933. His active intervention in 1936-1939 on the side of Gen. Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War ended any possibility of reconciliation with France and Britain. As a result, he had to accept the German annexation of Austria in 1938 and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1939. At the Munich Conference in September 1938 he posed as a moderate working for European peace. But his axis with Germany was confirmed when he made the Pact of Steel with Hitler in May 1939. Clearly, the subordinate partner, Mussolini followed the Nazis in adopting a racial policy that led to persecution of the Jews and the creation of apartheid in the Italian empire.