Benito Mussolini


Albert Camus once said of dictatorship, "The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience". This is especially true in the case of Fascist Italy, as Mussolini has dominated Italy with his Fascist Party in his 20 years of power, more or less successfully fooling and playing the Italian and international press and public, and to an extent the administration and leadership themselves throughout the world. Throughout its leadership and with hindsight, one can easily see through the facade of Mussolini\'s illusion of success and progress that hides, beneath the vaunted exterior, a rapidly crumbling socioeconomic situation, truly "a rotten edifice" that only needs a good kick to bring down. Such superficiality and outwards appearance hiding a flawed system underneath are demonstrated clearly in the social, administrative, ideological and diplomatic aspects of Italy from the birth in 1919 to its eventual decay and downfall during the Second World War.


Extensive evidence of the style over substance approach is found in the lack of real social development. While some may say that the land reclamation and the public service projects helped boost the economy in the 1920s, it is nothing but an extension of the insufficient policies put forth by a previous government. This goes hand in hand with the fact that the Fasci di Combattimento itself was designed to appease a variety of masses, its main purpose of existence of which to gain further power without fundamental change. (Bosworth, 287) The Duce himself became more and more a despot, avid for flattery, impatient of discussion, and ridiculous in his personal luxury, albeit an incompetent one.


Statistics show that while the rest of the world proletariat and average working class wages increased substantially, Italian lower class income remained the same or dropped to small fractions of their European neighbors. Earning only an estimated quarter of the American worker\'s salary, the Italian working class had its situation further hamstrung with Mussolini\'s halfway compromises as war loomed in the horizon. From the late 1930s onward, a wildcat inflation set in, inevitably resulting in extensive illicit trade and general acceleration of the downwards approach of the Italian economy and social life. Bosworth claims that, “as if to demonstrate its determination to impose state control over the economy, the Fascist regime had committed itself to a raft of welfare and development schemes,” all of which eventually did little other than stimulating “greater identification with the regime”. (Bosworth, 290)


Any ideals of a republic or a parliamentary democracy were shattered after Fascists steadily replaced the major elements of government. While many admirers attribute Il Duce to defeating Communism and being the savior of Italy from such a red menace, a wide variety of sources suggest that Communism had been on the wane since Giolitti’s last term. As Felix Gilbert even states, “Mussolini’s claim that Fascism saved Italy from Bolshevism is palpably untrue”. (Gilbert, 214) In addition, the concept of a corporate state increasingly took its form and dominated almost every aspect of Italian life. The once-powerful trade unions were infused with Fascist representatives, and a general mess of the matter was made as employers were integrated as well. Although one may believe at first that such developments would contribute to the economic and industrial growth as in Germany, Italy\'s situation was extremely different. Italy did not have the expanse of industry nor the experience with extensive industrialization for Mussolini\'s "Battles". Primarily an agricultural nation, there were little resources available and little margin for change for the industry and manufacturing sectors to bolster the subsistence-farming economy to the south and throughout the countryside. Although repeatedly emphasized that Fascism represented neither capitalism, Mussolini ironically kept the major financial and industrial leaders, preventing beneficial change and any actual “realization” of the Italian and his role in the “corporate state”. (Gilbert, 219) Thus, it must be noted that throughout this time period, the growth rate for Fascist Italy fell from Liberal Italy’s 2.7 to a mere 1.9 percent, behind Britain’s 2.2%, Germany’s 3.8% and Sweden’s 4.1%. (Bosworth, 288)


Such domestic fallacies are capitalized in three major "Battles", essentially a horribly conducted internal policy campaign which resulted in further inflation, unemployment, the