Facism / Europe between the Wars

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31 Jul 2011

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March 21st, 2011
Rise of Fascism as a political ideology, where it was created in Italy as a response to
things that were occurring in Italy
Roots of Fascism
Italy was an odd place for it to happen
Why? No terrible national humiliation, no collapse of civil or military authority
but the state was paralyzed, no power vacuum nothing so overwhelming that
make people follow a man that they thought was a savior
Unification of Italy was a new country created through a patchwork of states
Unlike Germany, the result wasnt a creation of a powerful nation but rather the
establishment of a poor, weak state
Had little natural resources, industry, arable agricultural land was exhausted; it
was a land of peasants with an extremely vocal middle class & dominant ruling
class (controlled economy & dominated politics)
Southern Italy: Peasants were tied to the soil where they had almost no control
over their social or political lives, very small middle that was focused in the cities
(werent sufficient in number to change the condition of the Italian south)
Literacy was high in the south, unemployment was extremely high south
became a despised colony of Rome
Italy was poor, & divided economically & to a degree socially (it was superficially
put together)
Wasnt able to compete, wasnt a dynamic power Italy was ambitious to become
a power, but lacked the means to do so
After 1912 there was manhood suffrage, however, the democracy had no roots
Liberal traditions were very shallow, only after 1912 they had the option
Problem of the Roman Catholic Church Italy was divided between their loyalty
to the church & the pope who didnt believe in the kingdom of Italy, & those who
believed in the Italian state first
This division meant that men of high moral temper needed for leadership put
themselves out of action (Catholics first, Italians second)
Italian tradition of government corruption & inefficiency worsened
Memories of being oppressed for over 300 years couldnt be rooted out in southern
Italy (paying taxes meant you were supporting those who were oppressing you)
Italy underwent an explosion of nationalism after unification politicians began
to really believe their own propaganda, growth in the belief of the re-emergence of
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the Roman Empire through the formation of the modern kingdom (equality to
other powers)
Italia Irredenta Italians controlled by foreign powers (the Austrians), Italy
wanted to bring them into the brotherhood
Growth of Italian Nationalism
Defeated by Eritreans, humiliating defeat growth of nationalism
State was poor & weak, Italians wanted to change this
Response between the reality of 20th century Italy, & the possibilities of the future
gave rise to Fascism
Extreme nationalists began to look for a leader Enrico Corradini
Corradini, (1865-1931)
Italy would never fulfill its destiny until courage, etc., could turn the Italian
people into something other than what they were, wanted to transform Italy,
embarrassment of still having some Italians ruled over by foreign powers
Attacked the principal of democracy, pacifism, socialism enemies
Nationalism was the solution that would allow Italian ambitions to be fulfilled
Dedication towards war & militarism looked towards the examples of Germany
& Italy
Nationalism was the antithesis to democracy
Disciples of Corradini founded the Italian Nationalist Party
Roots of Fascism cont
Violence became increasingly characterized of morals & willing to fight &
sacrifice for the beliefs of nationalism
Violent ideology of action
What was missing was a racial theory as there was in Nazism
You had to be willing to be apart of these patriots; you didnt have to Italian
Outbreak of WWII was critical for nationalists didnt want Italy to join the war,
especially on the side of the Alliances
Government of Rome couldnt intervene, nationalists were vacuums & they
became heroes (acting for national Italian interests)
They needed a leader that would have a platform
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Italian nationalists were doing what the government in Rome could not do 
delivered self-confidence, property, economy equal that to other Western
European nations
Polarization between the left & right (Nationalists given control of the agenda,
would liberate Italians still under the control of the Austrians, this was fuelled by
hatred of the Austrians)
Italians wanted to make war to free Italians under the control of Austro-
Benito Mussolini, (1883-1945)
Was a radical socialist up until 1915
Attacked moderate socialists, used newspaper to voice his hatred of things that
restrained the Italian state (church, private property, parliament)
Thrived on, & loved violence
What changed this extreme Marxist revolutionary into a Fascist? Mussolini said
it was the war in which he saw an oppressive empire withhold Italians against
their will, thus he converted to Nationalism
Wanted Italy to join the entente to make war against Austria-Hungary
Published his own newspaper, People of Italy meant to make people want to go
to war
Saw that nationalists were winning, & the hatred of Austria-Hungary was
sufficient enough to lead (theory of what made Mussolini changed)
Believed that war would help in the revolutionary restructuring of Italian society
Was an opportunist whose long-term goal was a process that would change the
nature of Italian society
Late 1914 groups of Nationalists began to form under the symbol of the old
Roman republic
Fasci (Fasces) Roman Empire symbols under which nationalists gathered 
Mussolini was attracted to this group
He became a spokesperson for the extreme nationalists that horrified by the ways
in Woodrow treated Italy
Arditti ex soldiers burning with Nationalist fervour, violent thugs that were
attracted to the direct action that people such as Mussolini promised (nucleus of
the Fascist party)
Government consisted of fragile coalitions, ideology was political & economic non-
intervention (problems would naturally solve themselves) ineffective
government in Rome
Nationalists came to believe that the government of Rome abandoned Italy
because they werent tougher at Versailles & couldnt get back territory in the
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