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Lecture 8

HIS242H1 Lecture 8: 8. Fascist Italy

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Vasilis Dimitriadis

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 Lecture 8: Fascist Italy Benito Mussolini Background Born in 1883 in Norther Italy • Mother: poor catholic teacher and sole wager • Father: revolutionary - allowed Mussolini to rise up and get socialist ideology • named his son after Benito Juarez (Mexican revolutionary) Mussolini proclaimed himself a socialist and anti- militarist and became a political journalist • When war broke out in 1914: Mussolini made a minor fraction in the Socialist party that supported the war (Fascists) • Wanted to use the war as a pretext for transformation - “Only blood makes the wheels of history turn” Joined Italian army, got injured (in 1917) and was discharged • Military participation built his credit The Bienno Rosso (“The Red Years” 1919-1920) Italy won the war and participated in the negotiations of Treaty of Versailles, but it still went through a social, political and economic crisis. • Territorial: Italy didn't get all that they wanted from the ally victory (north east because the western states gave their land to Yugoslavia and Austria) • September 1919: Fiume (Yugoslavian territory) was seized by Gabriele d’Annunzio and 2,000 men - the independent state lasted 16 months • Political: Liberal state was in a ideological and political turmoil • Liberals, Socialists and Catholic Popular Party struggled to find consensus • Socialists were also divided: 1 Tuesday, January 31, 2017 • Radicals: used Lenin's formula - grab power by force and create a socialist state • Moderate: wanted to make Italy in a socialist state, but wanted to do it in the scope of law • Lead to break of party - radicals separate and form Communist party • 1920: 600,000 factory workers occupy their workplace (Aug-Sept 1920) • Economic: Severe economic difficulties - Italy was poor and backwards • Agricultural Depression - high unemployment • Hundreds of thousands of demobilized troops were unemployed • Social: Increase opposition against parliamentary rule • Liberal government alienated the wealthy - progressive tax on income, high imposition on war profits, and legalizing peasant land seizures • Aided the fascists (north): ship owners, mining and iron magnates, and landowners funded Mussolini • North and South were always divided • North: millions of warriors demanded a social transformation of the state • South: 10,000s took land from landlords Fascio di Combattimento Political Turmoil Liberal party, wanting to maintain order (+ scared of other parties), offered the fascists support and accepted them as allies - Mussolini and others were elected into Parliament • Mussolini worked alongside Liberal leader (dual power) • Once they brought in Mussolini, he would eradicate the left, and then sideline this minor party (GAVE HIM AN OPPERTUNITY TO RISE TO POWER) Creation of Fascist Party 2 Tuesday, January 31, 2017 Mussolini still wanted socialist transformation but not into the context of the socialist or communist party • March 1919: Created his own Fascist party • Combined left and right wing views • Social transformation, reduced working hours, women's right to vote NOT within a socialists transformation • Promoted nationalism (gain territory they lost), create a unique system to cooperate within all social groups in Italy • Around 20,000 supporters • Nothing compared to others • Offered the working class leading role in changing society • Blackshirts (squadristi): paramilitary group that thought to cleanse society through violence • Destroyed Socialists (1919) but then began attacking Communists, Republicans, Catholics, and union members (end of 1920) The March of Rome (22-29 October 1922 ) Mussolini was not happy being a second leader - Fascism violence controlled social political landscape of Italy • October 1922: Mussolini pressured King Victor Emmanuel III to give him and other Fascists cabinet posts - he charmed the members of the Royal Family • Told 40,000 fascists in Naples - “Either we are allowed to govern, or we will seize power by marching on Rome” • Prime Minister asked king to declare Marshall Law to use the army to resort order and suppress the fascists • King declares state of emergency but changes his mind even when the coup started • Fascists took over Rome October 29: King requested that Mussolini take over the government as he wanted to avoid a civil war - Duce becomes prime minister 3 Tuesday, January 31, 2017 Consolidating Power Acerbo Law (1923) Despite becoming prime minister, his party still held a small proportion of seats in the chamber. • Mussolini changed the voting system from proportional representation to a system which would allow him to have a clear majority. • Terms of the law: the party gaining the largest share of the votes (+25%) gained 2/3 of the seats in parliament. • Remaining 1/3 was shared amongst the other parties • Gave fascists to have control of the government The Matteotti Crisis (1924) Giacomo Matteotti - Socialist opposition deputy • After 1924 Elections: wrote a book exposing crimes of fascism, challenging the Acerbo Law • Speech in the Chamber of Deputies (May 30) • Spoke out against Fascist use of violence in the parliamentary elections (illegitimate party takeover) • Expressed that all violence and destabilization was instigated by the blackshirts/Fascists 10 June 1924: Disappeared and found dead mid-August 1924 • START OF A POLITICAL CRISIS • Mussolini had to start an investigation on his death - Found that Fascist thugs that killed him acted on the command of their leader • Despite Mussolini being the head
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