Fascism in Italy

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Describe the situation in Italy after World War I.
Italy was awarded small traits of Austrian territories, through the Paris Settlement, from the leading Allies (US + UK) but not Dalmatia, which they had desired. Difficulties after the war led to violent protests by the growing socialist party.
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In 1919, Mussolini formed Fascio di Combattimento, which from the beginning was more an action group than a political party. What were the demands and in what way can this be described as "left-wing"?
*A republic (this is left-wing), *the abolition of conscription (no nations, no war), the closure of all banks and of the stock exchange, *profit sharing and management participation by the workers (left-wing) and *the seizure of Church lands.
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Read about Mussolini. Describe his background and why he turned to the right.
Mussolini had a turbulent and violent personality. He was a journalist who later turned to politics. He was expelled from the Socialist movement in 1914 for advocating Italian intervention in WWI. In 1919, he founded the Fascist Movement.
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What were the Squadristi and how were they used?
The Squadristi were the paramilitary units used by the Fascist Party in Italy to terrorize political opponents. They were also called "Black Shirts" and they were anti-communism squads.
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How did Mussolini change his policy? Who supported him in 1921/1922?
In 1921/1922, Gioletti (Italian Prime Minister) accepted Mussolini's offer of an electoral pact. To get support from right-wingers, he became a monarchist, accepted the Church and accepted private ownership.
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How much support did the Fascists get in the elections in 1921?
The Fascists got 35 seats out of 535 seats. This is approximately 7%.
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Why did the Socialists announce a general strike in the summer of 1922? What was the outcome?
The Socialists announced a general strike in opposition to the Fascists. The strike was badly organized and ill led, collapsed within 24 hours, creating the impression that the nation had been saved while the liberal regime stood helplessly by.
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What was the March on Rome (28th of October 1922)? Why was Mussolini appointed Prime Minister (PM) in October 1922?
The March was to establish Mussolini and the Fascist Party he led, as the most important political party in Italy. Putting aside any doubts, Mussolini exploited his position of strength and received royal summons to form a ministry.
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What were the reasons for the Fascist seizure of power in 1922?
*A glorious national revolution (official historians), *belittle the Fascist rising and to stress the surrender of the regime through panic, weakness or self-interest (support from masses) and *bold strike, a substantial risk by the leaders.
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On the 25th of November, 1922, the Italian king, in a decree, gave Mussolini the right to rule Italy by decree for 13 months. It was an attempt to control violence and to restore order. Explain how this worked when decisions were made.
The king, without asking the government, could sign a paper with the same power as the parliament (this is to rule by decree). This gave the government the opportunity to write/sign a law without the parliament's say in the matter.
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What did Mussolini do in December, 1922?
Mussolini transformed the Squadristi into an official paramilitary body called the Volunteer Militia for National Security, also known as the Black Shirts, who authorized terror.
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The Acerbo Law was passed by the parliament by the government in 1923. Explain it.
Any party that gained at least 25% of the total would be entitled to two-thirds of the seats in the assembly (a majority of votes). The aim was to transform Fascism's minority status. Elections in 1924 with the Law gave the Fascists 66% of the seats.
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What was the Matteotti crisis, 1925?
A socialist, Giacomo Matteotti, showed great courage in his criticism and defiance of Fascist methods. The result was was his kidnap and murder by Fascist thugs. It's not known if Mussolini had ordered the crime, but he bore moral responsibility.
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How did Mussolini survive the Matteotti crisis, 1925?
The socialists were naïve, and left the parliament in protest. Victor Emmanuel, the king, did not dismiss the Fascists.
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What was the outcome in terms of Mussolini's policies and what was the OVRA?
The first months of 1925, saw a miniature "reign of terror" characterized by house searchers, closures of hostile newspapers, harassment of political opponents and constant attacks upon freedom of speech. The OVRA was a secret police force.
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Explain the idea of corporativism. Was it of importance during II Duce's days?
Corporativism, is the system of government, which trade and professional organizations, or corporations, are the basis of society and political activity. 22 corporates, were identified to Chamber of Fasces to represent the people, but played no role.
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How does the textbook explain that Mussolini could establish such a dominant rule in Italy?
Mussolini had enormous talent for self-advertisement. He exploited his journalistic talents to the full, and created a false image of himself, as well as "Mussolini is always right." The other reason is the comparative mediocrity of other Fascists.
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What was the Lateran Treaty, 1929? Why was it signed?
This was Mussolini's approach towards the Catholic Church, to together fight communism from the East. Mussolini knew he couldn't successfully govern Italy with Catholic opposition. The Catholic Church was recognized as a state religion.
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How was education transformed?
In the classroom, "fascistization" of youth involved in strict control of textbooks and of curriculum, as well as the removal of teachers critical of Fascist principles. Boys were trained to be soldiers, and girls to be mothers.
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What was the attitude towards the media?
For the first time in western Europe, a government attempted to run the communications machinery of a modern state to a co-ordinated political purpose. By 1926, there was no opposition in Italy.
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How did they look at sports?
Sport, too, was highly prized by the regime, both as a breeder of Fascist virtues and as a source of nationalist propaganda. Sport was seen as very important, and a huge accomplishment, as Italy won the World Cup in soccer twice during this period.
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Was the control of cultural life comparable to the Nazi state and Stalin's Russia?
No, it was not. Fascism's failure to dominate Italian cultural life illustrates the limits of its absolutism. Fascists were more tolerant than the Nazi state and Stalin's Russia, for example, the Pope wouldn't be accepted in neither of those states.
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The economic life was of course a key area if Italy should be "great again". What is meant by autarky?
Autarky is the economic policy aiming at national self-sufficiency in terms of raw materials and other essential economic resources. Everything that could, should be, produced in Italy.
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What was the "Battle for Grain" + results?
The "Battle for Grain", officially started in 1925, was superficially successful (this can be questioned). Production figures had been steady at 40 million "quintals" since 1870, rose to 60 million in 1930 and to 80 million by 1939.
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Explain the "Battle for Land" + results.
The "Battle for Land" was marked by notable successes. Most famous of the land reclamation schemes was the draining of the Potine Marshes near Rome to provide hundreds of thousands of acres of new farmland. This was a success.
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Explain the "Battle for Births".
Least necessary, and least successful, of the Fascist "struggles". Mussolini imagined that an increased population would provide proof of Italian virility and would support claims for colonies.
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What was the result of the "Battle for Births"?
It was a bitter blow. Although the Italian population rose from 37.5 million (1921) to 44.4 million (1941), it was due to fall in death rate and the restrictions placed upon immigration by the U.S.
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Explain the "Battle for the Lira".
An economic policy to attempt to raise the claims of Italy becoming a great power. Mussolini inflated the value of the lira, making exports more expensive. This created unemployment at home. From 1925-38 export from Italy fell from 44 to 22 million.
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Mussolini also put tariffs on many import products. How do you think this affected the economy?
Italy relied on domestic goods. If domestic goods were gone, the economy would "crash". I think this led to people not wanting to sell to Italy.
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What was the growth of the industrial sector in Italy between 1901-1952?
1925-1940: narrow political motives made the period one of the most stagnant (not active) in Italy's economic history. In those years the annual growth in productivity was only 0.8% compared with 3.8% in 1901-1925, and 3.5% in 1940-1952.
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So, Mussolini didn't succeed in making Italy great again. What unresolved problems did prevail?
*Land ownership pattern not changed, *Unemployment rose from 110,000 (1926) to over a million before leveling off at around 700,000 and *the economy (lira --> pound -value).
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Social change: was there a change in the distribution of land?
There was not much change in the distribution of land. In 1930, the peasant smallholder made up 87.3% of the farming population, yet held only 13.2% of the farmland. The richest 0.5% of the landed population, still farmed 41.9% of the available land.
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Did the situation improve for the workers?
There was little improvement in Italy from 1923-40: *the right to strike was abolished, *the government's "Charter of Labor" (1927) failed to guarantee a minimum wage, *unemployment rose, but you had *sick leave, bonus, which was good.
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How shall we define the term fascism?
*Strong leadership, *anti-democratic, *against the working force (communism), *the idea of corporate state, *very nationalistic, *some state intervention was accepted, *war accepted as tool to make state great and *very strict.
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Describe Mussolini's foreign policies.
Up to 1935: Allied with Britain + France. 1925: The Locarno Pact (borders from WWI confirmed). 1934: The Dollfuss (Austrian PM) affair. 1934: It + Fr + Br signed the Stresa Front. 1935: Italy invaded Abyssinia. 1939: Pact of Steel -> Hitler.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


In 1919, Mussolini formed Fascio di Combattimento, which from the beginning was more an action group than a political party. What were the demands and in what way can this be described as "left-wing"?


*A republic (this is left-wing), *the abolition of conscription (no nations, no war), the closure of all banks and of the stock exchange, *profit sharing and management participation by the workers (left-wing) and *the seizure of Church lands.

Card 3


Read about Mussolini. Describe his background and why he turned to the right.


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What were the Squadristi and how were they used?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


How did Mussolini change his policy? Who supported him in 1921/1922?


Preview of the front of card 5
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