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The Rise Of Fascism In Italy History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The twentieth century is a century triumph of ideologies, enslaving the masses. One of the most terrible is the fascism. And in Italy, where it appeared for the first time and has been extended – is extremely interesting to study the causes of fascism. Theme of fascism still nowadays does not lose topicality, even nowadays there are many supporters of neo-fascism.

So, how fascism was born? Purpose of our work is studying the formation and rise of the Fascist Party in Italy. Chronological frameworks are from 1918-1922. We will consider the reasons for initiation and dissemination of fascist ideology and also the path of coming to power of the Fascist Party. 

Fascist organization was founded by Benito Mussolini on March 23, 1919. The word “fascism” comes from the Italian word fascio (bundle, the bundle, the alliance). Organization that had been created by Mussolini was called “Fasho di Kombatimento” (Union of Struggle). Initially it consisted of only a few dozen people. Gradually it began to grow, mainly due to former soldiers: a combination of fierce nationalism and social demagogy was typical for all the activities of fascist organizations.

The mood of pretty big part of the ex-soldiers had common and specific features. In their minds intimately combined nationalist and revolutionary slogans of the era: “We were betrayed” by the Allies who had abused over the blood that had been shed by the Italians in the war!” – This kind of sentiment, fueled by nationalistic propaganda was multiplied with the desire for social change, poured into a vague slogan of “saving the nation”, “strengthening of its dignity. All this determines the transition of former soldiers to the position of fascism, with its nationalistic and social slogans.

After the war, many veterans who are disappointed in the war (especially the politically illiterate and prone to blame all the troubles of the parliament and democracy) organized teams, which had been called “Arditi” (brave). Benito Mussolini played up to them, saying: “I was always confident that for the salvation of Italy we must shoot dozens of deputies”, as described in The Rise of Fascism in Europe. First of all the Nazi came up with demagogic slogans on the internal, especially socio-economic policy. They have declared themselves supporters of the wide-ranging elections, eight-hour work day, workers’ participation in the technical management of companies, nationalization of all military businesses, etc.

There is no doubt that such claims were caused by acute revolutionary situation that prevailed in Italy. Any party, any political group that wishes to secure a mass base was forced to establish social requirements. In this regard, the Nazis did not differ from other similar organizations. But also the Nazis proved to be the most unscrupulous and adroit politicians in the fight to bring to their organization various social elements. All this gave the Nazis the opportunity along with the open terrorist struggle against the workers revolutionary movement, to disintegrate work of the masses and get in the first period of their organization, with some success in this direction.

So, from the very beginning fascism had established itself as the extremely nationalistic organization and secondly, as organizations that satisfied (with the help of social demagogy) requirements of the wide mass on the one hand, and the big bourgeoisie on the other.  As shown above, the Nazi Party attracted to its side a huge number of people. But the Nazis still was a relatively small nationalist organization. It greatly influenced the development of fascism in Italy had the September 1920 event. Workers across the country began to occupy the factories, setting them on their own authorities. But this raider’s movement did not evolve into a revolution. As a result, the Government agreed and moreover forced manufacturers to agree on the recognition of workers’ control in enterprises. In other words, new right of the proletariat was authorized which limits the most sacred principle of capitalism – private ownership. Many industrialists and thousands of small, medium-sized ownerships felt a real threat for their interests, as described in Italian Fascism. Fascism has gained more and more supporters and, accordingly, more and more influence. Particularly remarkable scope of activity of the Nazis was in northern Italy. They raided the premises of the socialist and communist parties, trade unions, opposition newspapers. In Bologna, 21 October 1920, the Nazis destroyed the municipality, led by the Socialists. However, it should be noted, that, despite the serious errors of the socialist and communist parties, anti-fascist resistance continued to grow and spread. In July 1921, a new government came to power and began to pursue in relation of fascism more deterrent policy. All this taken together has prompted Mussolini to initiate the truce with the leaders of socialist and communist parties. So on 3 August 1921, there was created a Pact of pacification, in which socialists and communists, on the one hand, and the Nazis, on the other, have promised to refrain from hostilities against each other.

Although there was a pact and exacerbated divisions within the fascism between the supporters of strengthening terror – the extremists and so-called moderates in the general conclusion, it was a serious mistake of socialists. Fascism by its nature would not yield to any form was “pacification”. For so-called moderate fascists, this pact was a maneuver by which they hoped to prevent a further increase in the resistance of workers and consolidate its position in the political circles of the bourgeoisie. As for the fascists and extremists, they have never for a moment stopped terror, as described in The raise of Fascism in Italy.

In the second half of 1921, when the production reduced due to the economic crisis, it has taken the greatest extent, entrepreneurs increased the pressure on working people. Using the expiry of collective agreements, employers in some cases, refused to renew them, conducting massive layoffs of workers – from 10 – 50%. Offensive entrepreneurs merged into a single stream with the advent of the Nazis, who, already in November 1921, formally renounced the pact of pacification.

By this time, the fascist movement has become a serious political force. Organizationally, it united more than 300 thousand people. Fascism party was reorganized at the III Congress of the Fascist Union in November 1921. The newly formed Nazi party came to the program, which is the pivotal point, was the idea of the nation. The Nazis proved that the nation, but not a class is the dominant form of social organization in the world. “The Nation – was said in a Nazi program – it’s not just the sum of individuals living in a certain time and in a certain area. A nation is an organism that contains an infinite series of past, present and future generations. Single individual in this historical panorama is only a transient moment”.

The conclusion was simple: all the interests of private (individual) and group (family, corporation, class, etc.) must obey the supreme interests of the nation. Hence, the fascist conception of the state is: “The state is the legal embodiment of the Nation. Political institutions are effective, only insofar as national values are there expressed and protection as well”, as described in The Italian Nationalist Association and the Rise of Fascism in Italy. In other words, if the State does not meet the “interests of the nation”, then “in the name of these interests” it can and must be replaced.

Immediately after the congress, the Nazis significantly stepped up their activities. In the political struggle of the newly formed party skillfully maneuvering to prevent the union of the parliamentary and democratic forces hostile to fascism. After election to the Papacy of Pius XI in January 1922, more favorable conditions for the convergence of the Nazis and the Vatican were created.

In the military field the Nazis with the reorganization of the party have a great centralization. Separate armed units were reorganized into a fascist police. Its charter was developed with the participation of military expert General Gandolfo and provided strict centralization, hierarchy and obedience to the party. Thus the Nazi leaders had intended to make its armed units able to perform more important goals than individual acts of terrorism. Mussolini explained to the “military element” of fascism that it is necessary to go beyond the local action and bear in mind the conquest of power.

By early 1922, the economic crisis in Italy has reached the breaking point. In January, the number of unemployed had been over 607 thousand people. Two biggest monopolies – “Ilva” and “Ansaldo” went bankrupt, also crashed the largest bank of the country – Banco Italiano di Sconto. Many industrialists were connected with this. They demanded the government to cover the deficit of the bank at the expense of the national budget. But the government did not dare to take this step and thus would further undermine its credibility in the eyes of large industry and financial bourgeoisie, as described in The Rise and Fall of Fascism in Italy. Criticism of the weak and irresolute government was conducted both by liberal and socialist’s parties. February 2, 1922, it was forced to resign. It was the beginning of the longest crisis in the history of Italy, since its unification government crisis, which lasted until February 25.

In the end, as a result of many political compromises, has been made up a coalition government headed by the Prime – minister Facta. Later this Prime – minister was called Romulus Augustulus on behalf of the last Roman emperor. It was hard to find a less authoritative and more colorless figure. In these circumstances, the Nazis decided that the time has come to seize power. From spring to autumn 1922 the Nazis carried out a gradual armed seizure of power in some Italian cities. And on October 2, 1922, Mussolini made the famous march on Rome.

On October 28, Nazis column had entered the capital of Italy, unopposed by the government. King Victor Emmanuel, fearing he could lose the crown in case of resistance to the Nazis, did not provide even the slightest resistance. The king suggested Mussolini the post of Prime – minister of the state. The parliament majority frightened by the idea that the Nazis simply can disperse the parliament voted confidence in the new government. Although the new government was initially a coalition as a whole, we can talk about the capture of the power by Nazi. Thereby Italy became the world’s first fascist state. 

Italy became the first country where there was a triumph of fascism. Fascist organization emerged in the spring of 1919, and in 1922 had already seized power. So fast, in a historical scale – almost instant growth in the influence of motion, there had to be something caused.

In my opinion, the reasons for such rapid and widespread impact of fascism lie in the fact that their theses meet the requirements of the most extensive public remarks. It was, of course, social demagogy, but thanks to it, they managed to attract to their side aristocrats and democrats, conservatives and progressives, reactionaries and revolutionaries.

Also fascism attracted people by its nationalism. At first it had its effect on soldiers, and then the great mass of those who were afraid of “patriotism” of “red”. In general, mistakes that had been made by socialists and communists, have greatly contributed to the strengthening of fascism. They underestimated the power of fascism.

The sharp rise of fascism began with the events of September 1920, when both large and small owners feared the actions of the proletariat. They saw that the government cannot protect them. And who can? And the eyes of the owners appealed to the Nazi Party, whose members destroyed by the terror their political rivals – the Socialists and Communists.

Works sited

Alexander J. De Grand. The Italian Nationalist Association and the Rise of Fascism in Italy.

George P. Blum. The Rise of Fascism in Europe. Greenwood Press, London, UK. 1998. 4 November 2010.

Fascist Italy. 2009. Web. 4 November 2010.

Italian Fascism. 2010. Web. 4 November 2010.

The raise of Fascism in Italy. 2008. Web. 4 November 2010.

The Rise and Fall of Fascism in Italy. 2008. Web. 4 November 2010.

University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE. 1978. 4 November 2010.

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