Following WorldWar I, Italy wasin chaos.• Peasants seized land.• Workers went on strikeor seized factories.• Returning veteransfaced unemployment.• Trade declined.• Taxes rose.• The government splitinto feuding factions.
As a young man, BenitoMussolini had rejectedsocialism for extremenationalism. He was a fieryand charismatic speaker.His followers, the Black Shirts,used intimidation and terror tooust elected officials.After the March on Rome, Mussolini was askedto become Italy’s prime minister.
• Suppressed rivalparties• Muzzled the press• Rigged elections• Replaced electedofficials with hissupportersBy 1925, Mussolinihad taken the title“The Leader” andruled Italy as adictator. He:
Mussolini preserved capitalism, but took controlof the state. He favored the wealthy at theexpense of the workers.• Men were urged to be selflesswarriors fighting for Italy.• Women were pushed out ofpaying jobs to bear morechildren.• Children were taught to obeystrict military discipline.To Fascists,the gloriousstate wasall-important.
Mussolini built the first totalitarian state in whichhe regulated every aspect of the peoples’ lives.• Fascism encouraged extreme nationalism andloyalty to the state.• It glorified violence, war, and discipline.• It aggressively pursued foreign expansion.• totalitarian state – a one-party dictatorship that regulatesevery aspect of the lives ofits citizens• fascism – any centralized, authoritarian government that isnot communist whose policies glorify the state over theindividual and are destructive to basic human rights
Features of German, Russian, and ItalianTotalitarian StatesSingle-party dictatorship with blind obedienceto a leaderState control of the economyUse of police spies and terror to enforce the willof the stateGovernment control of the mediaUse of schools to spread ideology to childrenStrict censorship of artists and intellectuals
For many in Italy, fascism promised a strong stablegovernment and an end to the political feuding.Once Mussoliniembarked on foreignconquest, Westerndemocracies protested.Mussolini projecteda sense of powerand confidencethat was welcomeamid the disorderand despair ofpostwar Italy.
Fascists CommunistsPursued nationalist goals Worked for international changeSupported a society with definedclassesSpoke of creating a classlesssocietyBlind devotion to the state Blind devotion to the stateUsed terror for power Used terror for powerFlourished in economic hardtimesFlourished in economic hardtimesRule by an elite Rule by an eliteFascists were sworn enemies of socialists andcommunists, yet they shared some goals.
With the Great Depression and the difficulties that facedthe Western democracies, other nations looked to fascistleaders for guidance.Three governmentalsystems competedfor influence inpostwar Europe.Democracy inBritain and FranceFascisminItalyCommunisminRussiaandelsewhere
The fascists, led by Mussolini, took advantage ofItaly’s postwar turmoil to seize control of the nation.LEQ: How and why did fascism rise in Italy?