This research paper looks critically at the life and times of Benito Mussolini. The paper begins by discussing how by 1919 most Italians had turned their support to the socialist and the catholic party in the hope that it would solve their problems. The paper discusses the early life of Benito Mussolini. The paper tries to show how his ideas led him to become one of the greatest leaders that Italy has ever produced. The paper expounds how Mussolini’s foreign policy led him to get the majority support of the citizens. The paper does this by presenting Mussolini in light of his character. It then goes on to show how his fall came about in 1943. The paper draws the information by reading different books and websites. It then presents these research materials in an in-depth analysis to show how Mussolini’s character and beliefs made him a great leader.
In the elections of 1919, most Italians turned to support the socialist party and the catholic party which they believed would solve their problems. By then, the government in place had lost all popularity with the people because of the many failures in its policies and was not improving the standards of living of the people. Although the socialists had managed to take control of many towns in the country, they were unable to seize power in the country. This was due to the fact that they lacked the support of the peasants since they advocated for socialization of all the land available which the peasants were strongly against.
Benito Mussolini was born in July 29th 1883 in a village called Romagna. His father was a blacksmith as well as an anarchist while his mother was a schoolmistress. Mussolini’s village Romagna in the 19th century was widely known for its rebellious spirit 1. He was not very much educated in his youth but he had a desire for writing and when he finished school he became an editor of a socialist newspaper known as the Avanti. He became famous among the socialist party but soon it became clear he was not convincing as a socialist and most of his views for the newspaper were conflicting. During this time, anarchist was becoming popular among Italians and hence he supported their ideas in his newspaper. This infuriated the socialist for favoring the side of the allies since they were against Italy going to war with the Germans.
Mussolini left the party and joined the army and rose to the rank of corporal until he was wounded during the training. He recovered from his injuries and returned to Milan to become an editor of his own newspaper which was called The People of Italy. It was during this period as an editor that he learnt the art of propaganda i.e. creating information as a way of helping him gain popularity. The ideas that he wrote in his newspaper came to be known as fascism. In 1919, Mussolini formed the Movement Milan Fascio which had no clear ideas about change. He then started to preach good governance for the people including removal of the senate, giving land to the peasants as well as good working conditions for the people. This did not help him win the elections in November 1919.
In 1920 the Fascist movement started to gain popularity among the Italians with the rise of the chaos following the D’Annunzio followers being driven from the Fiume. After the war, the country was in chaos and the economy was shaky due to protests and strikes everywhere. The Italians chose to support Mussolini since he was always advocating for strong foreign policy. Also the reason why the movement became strong was that the Italian government changed rapidly and Mussolini appeared to have the solutions to their country’s problems. Mussolini popularity was increasing because the property class was having problems with the Communist revolution after the war and they wanted a stable government to maintain law and order.
In 1921, Mussolini formed the National Fascist Party with support mostly from the property class. Between 1921 and 1922 Mussolini changed his approach from time to time in order to achieve his goals of seizing power.
He started to support the monarchy, the Catholics and even capitalists to gain more popularity. He was able to achieve this with promises of good governance, good foreign policy, stabilizing the economy, and improving working conditions for all the workers. This as a result brought forth large finances from industrialists and the Fascist party gained more members. In early 1921, the Fascist and Communists engaged in fights on the streets with the government on the side of the Fascists giving them weapons and soon they were able to obtain power over small towns. The Socialist and Communists seeing how powerful the Fascist was becoming called for a general strike in August 1922. With the help of the government as well as the property class, the Fascists were able to control and stop the strike from happening.
In October 1922, Mussolini saw an opportunity to rise to power and called for what was called March on Rome if he was not absorbed into cabinet. The then King Victor Emmanuel trying to avoid any civil wars called Mussolini to join him to form a new government and this helped him gain power. He became the prime minister of a coalition government consisting of Fascists, Nationalists, Catholics and Liberals.
Mussolini was never satisfied in being in a coalition government and aspired to rule one party totalitarian state and with this ambition he destroyed all the opposition that was in place.
Between 1992 to 1993, he gradually but surely accumulated a lot of power in the government by appointing fellow Fascists he could trust in key government positions.
In 1993, Mussolini was able to acquire a new electoral law from parliament in which any party that was able to secure 25% of the votes in a general election would get two thirds of the seats in the chamber of deputies.
He then had the elections to the chamber of deputies in April 1924 which Mussolini rigged and they were surrounded by violence leading to the Fascist winning with 63% of the seats.
The opposition challenged the circumstances with which the recent elections were carried out leading to the murders of anyone who opposed the results. The parties that were opposed to Mussolini’s government withdrew from parliament hence this made Mussolini more powerful. In the year 1924 to 1926 many leaders and government officials who were anti-fascists were arrested, sentenced to death and many others were exiled. The opposition newspapers were removed and even the worker’s union was done away with. Mussolini with the help of the King dismissed opposition deputies from parliament, got rid of all political parties apart from Fascist and created totalitarian dictatorship governance. In the 1929 general elections, the Fascists won the entire seat and Mussolini referred to as the Duce was appointed by pro-Fascist parliament to govern by decrees. He took this opportunity to empower himself and became the Prime Minister where all ministers were appointed and dismissed by him.
Mussolini in 1931 onwards continued to build his power in Italy. He created twenty corporations to represent workers and owners and the government was responsible for hiring and firing with no strikes allowed.
He reclaimed land in Pontine Marshes to give to the peasants. Mussolini’s fall came in 1943 during the war. He was conquered and substituted as the leader of Italy.
Fascism rose in Italy during the time the then government of the Liberal could not help solve the problems of the people. With the help of the property class, Mussolini came to power with intentions of improving the standards of living but with his dictatorship regime he clearly failed. Benito Mussolini regime was overthrown by the Italian people during the time of war. Mussolini died in 1945 attempting to escape to Switzerland when he was captured and executed.
Bosworth, R.J. Mussolini. New York. Oxford University Press. 2002. 514-58.
Collier, Richard. Duce. A Biography of Benito Mussolini. New York, Viking Press, 1971.410-447.