HIS 2342 – January 30 2013
- Most historians agree that fascism arose from the many crisis of the WWI.
- They also suggest that idea of anger and the desire to establish communism was essential
to fascism. Movements that arose from anger and jealousy to other nation’s successes.
- There’s five theme’s that most historians agree are shared:
1. Importance of the irrational = Fascism unlike socialism or communism doesn’t
have a firm party program with clear ideas as to what economic or political system
should be put into place. It’s not a rational logic as much as it is an emotional
logic. It depends on passion, national belonging, national destine. External forces
have wronged the nation. It’s based on emotions instead of strict political
2. Glorification of violence. Many of the fascist leaders had been soldiers during
WWI. Many of them spoke of the “purification” of violence”. A nation that
suffered via battle could be glorified via violence. Rallies emerged from a
militaristic tradition; they were very interested in violence and the military. Where
nation purified them via violence they also believed in violence in every day life.
Enemies of the State however they’re defined can be physically attached violently,
because this is the task of the fascist State. It’s something that needs to be
celebrated within the fascist State.
3. Importance of the LEADER: leaders such as Il Duce or the Führer led the most
important fascist regimes. Not only do we have a personality around the leader.
But the cults of personality imply a rejection of democratizes. There are no
politicians. We have the great Man and the People (The nation).
4. Importance of Race of Nation: in the German example the Aryan race was seen as
important whereas in Italy the NATION was what was important. Modern Italians
were the descendants of ancient romans. They needed to reclaim what the romans
had had at one point in time.
5. Totalitarian System: Totalitarianism comes from the Italian fascism. It refers to the
obliteration of private and public life. Because everything is public the State has
the right and the duty to intervene in people’s lives. It not only governs and runs
public affairs it also needs to define individual casualties (How you spend your
leisure time, religion etc…). The Totalitarian State by implying itself in private life
is looking out for the best interest of the nation.
- The differences between fascist regimes we see important differences.
- Where or how they come to power.
o In Spain the fascist emerged from the military.
o Italy and Germany the regime had to take control of the military via other means.
o Where their power comes from isn’t always the same.
- What they hope to achieve?
o In many European movements it’s the desire to replace the monarchy in power.
o In some catholic countries (Spain and Italy) there was a desire to bring the church
back into public life.
o In Germany there was no desire to turn to the catholic or protestant church. The
association to religion isn’t always the same. o Racial discrimination or extermination. This isn’t always something that happened
the same way or was placed as a goal.
- Italy’s ascend into fascism needs to be understood via their change of the WWI.
- Italy was one of the winning countries. Despite the fact they won Italians still felt
defeated. In 1918 they felt defeated because the economy was in a terrible shape, the
gov’t wasn’t providing the pensions to its soldiers as it had promised and because workers
weren’t being paid.
- They were suffering problems that would happen is the Italian’s had lost the war.
- The Gov’t spread propaganda that the Allies had stolen territory from Italy. These Allies
had never agreed to these demands so this was untrue. They claimed they were supposed
to be given some pieces of land.
- When Italy failed to receive this territory many Italians began to think the war had been
fought for no reason. The country hadn’t benefited from the war. They were one of the
countries that had the best situation to become fascist.
- The movement began with Mussolini. He was originally a socialist, the son of a socialist
that had anarchist leanings and before WWI Mussolini had been the writer of the Socialist
- Before WWI Mussolini opposed Italy’s role in the war. He argued the workers had no
business attacking German workers. He urged soldiers to desert. Once Italy was in the
war he supported “relative neutrality”. According to him socialist should support the war
and should try to make it work for their advantage. They shouldn’t actively support the
war but they shouldn’t work against it and try to get the possible benefits of the war.
- Unlike other parties the Italian Socialists never voted for the war. Mussolini when he
started to talk about his neutrality idea the socialists did not agree. They expelled him
from the party. He began to know members of the political league called Fasci. This
means a political association. It had a revolutionary connotation.
- During WWI it meant people who urged Italy’s entry into WWI. When Italy enters the
war Mussolini is drafted and serves as a soldier until 1917 when he becomes wounded.
- After the War he returns to his career as a newspaper editor. He has to start his own paper
this time around. More important then his editorial work he found his own political group.
The group he founds is comprised of veterans angered by Italy’s post war failures.
- With this group he introduces elements of fascist movements. The Idea of a militia or
paramilitary group that has a specific uniform (Black Shirts in Italy).
- The goal of this militia is to organize violence against his political groups and opponents.
He wants to create a body that’s able to bring the anger of the veterans together and to
organize violence versus political enemies.
- Immediately after WWI Mussolini were hardly the only Italians whom were unhappy
with the Italian gov’t.
- 30 000 individuals supported the fascist movement in 1920, they were 300 000 in 1922.
- The fascists in Italy (early 1920’s) were very ambiguous and problematic group. On one
hand they posed a clear threat to democracy on the other hand the fascist served the
Italian State’s needs because they diverted popular anger from Anarchists and
Communists to fascism.
- “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
- The Italian State though the Fascist could be useful to get rid of the anarchists and
communists. - This means that members of the gov’t and the army in power gave the fascists arms,
transport, money and other materials to allow them to attack the anarchists and the
- They were told to look the other way is black shirts were attacking anyone. Judges were
warned that is fascists were brought to a trial that they should be released.
- With the support passive and material of the State the ranks of the fascist movements
begin against socialists to unions, to newspapers and to any political figure that opposed
the rise of the party.
- In the first few years the fascists killed around 2 000 individuals Mussolini was able to
create a shift within the population he intimidated the population, with his pressure on the