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Benito Mussolini

Mussolini is considered to be the founding Father of Fascism, seizing power by a combination of terror and persuasion. He held Italy firmly in his grasp by crushing his enemies while still promising glory. Mussolini was able to successfully turn Italy into a dictatorship under a fascist regime because of the country’s internally divided war-torn society as well as the weak state of Italy’s minority governments which could not unite to oppose fascism and finally because of his ability to appeal to this country through a false sense of security and nationalism. Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born in Predappio on July 29, 1883.

Son of a socialist blacksmith, he grew up to be a self-proclaimed “anti-patriot” like his father (The Columbia Encyclopedia 33087). He hadn’t taken to school and rebelled against most things.

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He had gotten expelled from his first school, which was a catholic school ran my monks, though he did better in his second. He went on to become a qualified school teacher, even though he wasn’t interested in teaching. Benito Mussolini had a passion for politics. In June 1902, Mussolini went to Switzerland and got involved with some Italian socialists and got a job as a brick layer and joined the trade union.

When he had suggested the very revolutionary idea for a general strike, he got expelled from Switzerland in 1903. He then went to an area called Trentino, which was ruled by the Austrians. The authorities soon labeled him as a trouble-maker; he encouraged the trade unions and attacked the Catholic Church. He was then expelled from Trentino in 1909 (Hibbert 4-10). Throughout Mussolini’s life, he had made his rise to power, many accomplishments, and in the end he had made a huge effect on his country.

After being wounded in the trenches during World War I, he was sent home because of an injury only to become editor of his own newspaper. It was called Il Popolo d’Italia or The People of Italy. This represented his changing of his pacifist views, he used his paper to spread his new ideas and gain support. Mussolini also organized a pro-war group called Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionaria. After the war he joined a different group called the Arditi Association, which was a military assembly composed of WWI veterans. Both of the associations contributed to the beginning of fascism.

In 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci de Combattimento, which was the skeletal structure for what was to become the political movement of Fascism. This attracted the attention of the lower-middle class with its nationalistic, anti-liberal ideas (The Columbia Encyclopedia 33087). During the 1920’s the Black Shirt Militia was formed by Mussolini due to his disgust with the corruption of the liberal and later socialist Italian government. Originally, they were reformers but then their methods became harsher and they used violence, intimidation, and murder.

One of their typical techniques was to force-feed they’re opponents castor oil, which was often laced with petrol. Another method was to force them to swallow live frogs! Mussolini slowly began to back away from the Arditi Association as his Fascist movement became more powerful. In 1921 he was elected to parliament and the National Fascist party was organized. When his Fascists were sent to march on Rome they were permitted to enter the city and King Victor Emmanuel III called on him to form a cabinet (Lewis 16). This helped him gradually transform the government into a dictatorship.

He soon got the official title of head of the government. His ambition to restore greatness found expression in pretentious slogans and speeches in the creation of monumental buildings which helped his encouragement of extreme nationalist groups. The fascist regime turned society into individuals who would just obey and distrust reason as well as understand violence as an essential tool to order. Ideally the country would transform into a totalitarian state; where the government would have total control over the lives of individuals and this would mean that anything is justified if it serves the states ands.

Fascism emphasized victory, glorified war, is cruel to the weak, and is irrational and intolerant. Mussolini used the condition of the country to his advantage in his journey to becoming the dictator of Italy. Mussolini actually began his political career as a socialist and then became attracted to fasces, the ancient Roman symbol of the life-and-death power of the state, bundles of the lictor’s rods of chastisement which, when bound together, were stronger then when they were apart – reflecting the intellectual debt that fascism owed to socialism and presaging the symbolism of the renewed Roman imperium Mussolini promised to bring about.

Mussolini claimed that it would help strengthen a relatively new nation (which had been united only in the 1860’s in the Risorgimento), although some would say that, like Lenin, he wished for a collapse of society that would bring him to power. Evidently, Mussolini accomplished many things during WW II on the Axis side. He started taking over Italy when he was dubbed Dictator. This was when he first was addressed as Il Duce, which means “the leader. ” Since he had all the power of Italy, he began to take over and make all of the decisions.

Mussolini started building roads, kept rivers from over-flowing, increased over production and ran the trains on time. He also extended his control over other countries. He invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and took over Albania in 1939. Not only was Benito Mussolini the leader of Italy, he was also the youngest dictator of Italy. Mussolini’s main role during WW II was being the leader of Italy. As earlier stated, he had tried taking over Ethiopia and seized Albania. Later on, the axis powers took over countries such as: Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, Romania, and many more.

Mussolini soon became known as Hitler’s right hand man, and this helped him become very popular. Through his accomplishments, he pushed Hitler to make his own Fascist party. They became known as the Nazis. The axis power created a Rome-Berlin alliance of totalitarianism. As the axis power had every say in what people did, German, Italy, and Japan felt as though they could do anything. Mussolini had been a huge part with the axis powers during WW II (Lewis 15- 16). Once the Allies had occupied the southern part of Italy in 1943, the King had ordered Mussolini to be arrested in order to sign the peace agreement.

He had then been imprisoned and then liberated by the Germans, Mussolini lived in northern Italy until his capture by the Italian Monarchy. He was then executed by the monarchy on April 28, 1945 along with his mistress, Claretta Petacci, by military forces of the Italian Resistance. The next day, their corpses and those of Mussolini’s henchmen were hanged in the Piazzale Loreto, Milan, for public view (Antliff 1). Antagonisms between political parties had given rise to a civil war that continued for about three more years. Italians then decided, in 1946, to vote to dissolve the Monarchy.

Then in 1948, the first political elections were held. Mussolini’s dictatorship will forever be remembered for bringing on many Mafia and Mani Pulite scandals and for political disillusion among Italian youth which escalated into such terrorist acts as Brigate Rosse and the Moro Affair. The Brigate Rosse was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization that arose out of a student protest movement in the late 1960’s. They had wanted to separate Italy from NATO and promoted violence in the service of class warfare and revolution. The original group concentrated on assassination and kidnapping of Italian Government and private-sector targets.

They haven’t conducted an act since 1988, and have been largely inactive since the Italian and France police arrested many of the group’s members. In 1978, the BR had kidnapped Aldo Moro who was the Italian president-to-be. This became known as the Moro Affair. The 50 year period that Mussolini ran as dictator is now labeled as the First Republic which renewed Italian confidence in the democratic process (Lewis 17). The recent appearance of skinhead guards of honour at Mussolini’s tomb had provoked a controversy about how Italians should view their fascist period.

Unlike Germany, Italy has never faced up to its role in WW II, preferring to see itself in the role of victim. The national narrative omits the first part of the war, in which Italians fought along side the Germans, and committed crimes in Albania, Greece, and Yugoslavia. Today, a resurgent nationalism has continued to gloss over the more shameful parts of Italian history, while at the same time allowing fascist apologists to exalt Italy’s most notorious 20th leader (Antliff 1). As the great dictator of Italy Benito Mussolini had rose to power by forcing his way to the top.

He didn’t let anything stand in his way, even if it meant scamming. He achieved whatever he felt needed to happen, which finally, effected Italy’s history. All in all, Italy unlike the rest of Europe was greatly affected by the first World War and the state that the country was left in made it vulnerable to the extremist view of Mussolini and was easily transformed into a dictatorship and lead into a fateful alliance with Germany. Mussolini and his fascist ideals were able to overthrow Italy and turn it into a dictatorship and lead it into the second World War behind Hitler’s Germany.

Mussolini was able to successfully turn Italy into a dictatorship under a fascist regime because of the country’s internally divided war-torn society as well as the weak state of Italy’s minority governments which could not unite to oppose fascism and finally because of his ability to appeal to this country through a false sense of security and nationalism. In my opinion, Mussolini played a negative role in the course of history. He led the Italians into the Second World War and so happened to join the wrong side. Subsequently, the country suffered lasting physical, political, and cultural damage.

Their government remains constantly in turmoil. His methods and tactics fostered the rise of the Mafia in Italy. The Mafia and related activities gave the Italians an unfavorable international reputation with crime and trust even today. He fostered distrust of the government by the Italian people, which in itself was not bad, but his chosen methods of accomplishing objectives were proven to be ineffective. His leadership led to the eventual dissolution of the Italian Monarchy, which could have helped stabilize the country had it remained intact much like Britain’s and Sweden’s.

His effect on Italy, in many ways, is still being felt today. Works Cited Antliff, Mark. Fascism, Modernism and Modernity. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 84, 2002. Falasca-Zamponi, Simonetta. Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini’s Italy. Berkeley: U of California P, 1997. Fermi, Laura. Mussolini. University of Chicago Press, 1966 Hibbert, Christopher. Il Duce: The Life of Benito Mussolini. Little, Brown, 1962. Lewis, Paul H. Latin Fascist Elites: The Mussolini, Franco, and Salazar Regimes. Praeger, 2002. Mussolini, Benito. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004.

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