EDUCATION

Factors for the rise of Benito Mussolini to power

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who founded and led the National Fascist Party (PHOTO/Courtesy)

ROME — The social-economic suffering in Italy helped him and the party to rise to power, since the Unification of Italy in 1871; successive Governments had failed to solve the social-economic problems in the country, such problems included, unemployment, inflation, congestion, poverty among others. These problems increased discontent among the masses leading to the rise of socialist workers’ movements demanding for better working conditions. Mussolini exploited such problems, promised better conditions and gained support and rose to power.

The rise and spread of communism and socialism in Italy. In 1917 a communist revolution took place in Russia where workers had taken control over the factors of production. This encouraged the growth of communism in many states including Italy where workers organized strikes affecting the economy.

Mussolini and his party strongly opposed socialism and came up with a strong anti-communist propaganda which won him support of industrial capitalists, land owners and the middle class who feared communism as a threat to their wealth and with the support of the above, Mussolini rose to power.

Mussolini’s personality or the role of Mussolini helped him and fascism to rise to power. He passed through hardships; he was ambitious, determined, calculative and always struggled for recognition in society. His quality of eloquence, a critic, he joined the army and became a sergeant. This personality made him popular and through his fascist propaganda, he attracted many jobless youth (BLACK SHIRT) and masses leading to his rise to power.

The negative effects of World War 1 of 1914 on Italy, Italy joined the war expecting territorial gain. But at the end of the war, Italy got Tyrol and failed to get Trientino, Adalia, protectorate of Albania, Aegean islands and Trieste which was disapproved by the former allies e.g. France and Britain. This disappointed many Italians who later denounced the government of the time. During the war, Italy lost over 650,000 soldiers; the war was very expensive and it affected Italy’s economy and left the country economically weak. For all this damage and loss, the government had nothing to show and this made people to turn to Mussolini hence his popularity and his rise to power.

Weak political leadership in the country, the leaders of Italy after World War I were weak, for instance Nitti, Giolitti, and Emmanuel III who was democratic. He failed to take military action against the fascist party, even other leaders made no socio-economical improvements. They were neither revolutionary nor developmental and this left political, economic and social problems unattended to leading to strikes, riots, disunity in the country giving the fascist party popularity.

Worsening financial situation or economic crisis in Italy. By 1922, Italy was facing economic and financial hardships. Poverty was widespread and mainly affected the peasants and government workers, industry and trade were disorganized, agriculture stagnated, the cost of living was high and standards of living was declining, the government had run bankrupt, all economic activities were in a slump. Such economic decay caused more opposition giving chance to Mussolini using the black shirts to suppress them in complicity of the government. This made the gang popular and helped him to grow more popular and vocal and it led to the rise of Mussolini who preached hope amidst worsening economic situation.

The role played by the Fascist party also facilitated Mussolini to rise to power; the party emerged at the time when the situation in Italy needed another Government or leader. The party recruited ex-service men from World War1; jobless youths among others into special terrorist squad that organized purposeful violence throughout Italy. This party increased insecurity and this discredited the existing Government which was unable to protect the masses. This made them to long for a savior who came in the name of Mussolini.

Failure of the government of King Victor Emmanuel III to control or suppress violence in Italy, this gave way to riots and strikes. His government was too democratic and it ignored the prevailing lawlessness with the hope that it was the best way to weaken opponents as they conflicted and killed one another and that it would help the monarchy to live long. He even made a blunder of appointing Mussolini as the prime minister in 1922. Mussolini exploited such state of lawlessness to spread his propaganda against the government; he got the necessary support and rose to power.

Mussolini rose to power because of the strong support and followers he had, this was so because of the bad socio-economic conditions in Italy, he had the support of middle class capitalists, ex-soldiers, peasants and jobless youths among others.

Hegel’s philosophy, Hegel was an intellectual in the university. His philosophy stated that, the state was the supreme manifestation of God on earth. He believed in state power and authority. He inspired the growth of nationalism, encouraged the rise and popularity of Mussolini to form a strong Italian state as opposed to the weak, inefficient monarchy. The philosophy made Mussolini popular considering the weakness of the monarchy leading to his rise.

Mussolini’s rise to power was due to confusion and increased representation of fascism in the parliament fascism had only 22 members in the parliament. In May elections of 1921, the number increased to 35 and this meant increased support and chance for him to rise to power it gave chance to the fascist to spread their propaganda against the democratic government of Victor III.

The use of violent means by the fascist against the would- be opponents. This left fascism and Mussolini unchallenged and feared. Mussolini used the black shirts to intimidate torture and kill suspected opponents; this left the party with no serious opponents hence his rise to power.

Mussolini’s appointment as prime minister, with the increasing political crisis in Italy, together with the fascist threat Emmanuel III appointed Mussolini as prime minister. This gave a chance to Mussolini to form a new government consisting of all other parties, fascist squad was changed into a national army by 1923 Mussolini had assumed full leadership, established a one party dictatorship in Italy with overwhelming support and influence.

Support of the army, the army did not interfere with Mussolini’s activities, even when he organized a fascist match in 1922 in Rome, he succeeded without interference from the army this meant success of fascism because the army had no interests in repulsing/suppressing the demonstrators.

Weakness or failure of other opposition parties/ groups in Italy to gang against the fascist party e.g. Communist and socialists failed to unite against fascism this gave chance to the fascist party to gain 22 seats in the parliament which gave Mussolini a spring board to become popular and rose to power.

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