Nowadays, our society is said to be modern or open minded and ideas like freedom of speech are present almost everywhere. Nonetheless, the term fascism is used to describe people but mostly governors. The problem is that many people use this word incorrectly and have a confused idea of what the term of fascism represents. So, to have a better understanding of the term fascism we must go back in time, when the word was not just used more often but the idea was fresh and present in Italy, the country of the major exponent of fascism lived, Benito Mussolini.
Mussolini idea of fascism would change Italys economy. Mussolini was not an economist and had little knowledge or interest. But he was willing to change Italys economy in order to stay in power. The desire of transforming Italys economy increased throughout the 1920s. Mussolini proclaimed the worlds first corporate state, a supposedly revolutionary method of running an economy which had as a purpose to fascists trade unions between corporations, also the corporations had the chance to manage themselves. Nonetheless the corporate state was not very efficient due the rivalries within the fascist party and Mussolinis reluctance to alienate big business interests led to a very messy way of work because employees would alter their work hours. By the 1930s Mussolini changed his economic ideals and decided to strive for the economic self sufficiency know as autarky. At this point Mussolini was busy with the corporate state and autarky meaning that problems such as industrial underdevelopment, rural poverty, the north-south divide and illiteracy were ignored and only fixed if the were major obstacles to Il Duces principal aims. In 1929, the Wall Street Crash in the US caused a global economic depression in many other countries among them Italy, many industries collapsed, and car
production fell by 50%. Unlike other western European countries governments or the USA, the Italian Fascist states had no problems raising money to help industries that were struggling in the depression> it introduced public work schemes, notably the building of motorways and hydroelectric power plants which put the unemployed back to work. This increased the amount of money in circulation and, following the business cycle, created more demand and more jobs. Moreover, the state did as much as they could to avoid the banking collapse that was affecting so much USA and Germany, therefore when a bank had no more money to pay their investors, the Fascist government bailed the bank. A result of this intervention the Institute for Industrial reconstruction was created in January 1933 which purpose was to take control of the shares that Italian companies had in banks once the bank was bailed by the government. Because of this, the Italian State became the greatest shareholder and therefore the owner of many top Italian companies. This of course increased the taxes, but enabled Italy to live through the depression better than the other democratic countries. Roosevelt himself was inspired by the IRI and came up with new deal as an attempt to combat unemployment and business failures. In the decade of the 1930s Mussolini started worrying about external affairs, he believed that war was inevitable, and that Italy must be prepared for it. In 1935 the League of Nations had banned trade with Italy for grain, steel and textiles. This convinced Mussolini that there must be no reliance on imports and that Italy should be in autarky. Mussolini made large government contracts with steel, chemicals and shipbuilding industries. Despite all his efforts, Mussolini did not achieve the autarkic Italy he wanted, by 1940 the Italian economy was not self-sufficient when the war started and key materials like oil, coal and iron ore were imported in large quantities. Italy was down below its enemies and was not even able to replace its losses of
shipping or aircraft. The regime did not want to increase the taxes which consequently meant that the government expenditure exceeded its income. Nonetheless, Mussolini took less importance of this problem and it remained unsolved.
Like the Nazis, Mussolini had very extremist plans to his populations. Since fascism was all about having a big army which would be the key for winning wars, and it was built on a very religious basis, Mussolini established some policies affected women severally. Women were encouraged to stop working and worry about having and raising children, every woman in capability of having a child was pressured to have a child or more, also the people was encouraged to get married as soon as possible. Mussolinis perfect number of children per family was 12 because he wanted to increase Italys population from 40.000 to 60.000, of course having so many kids was going to affect the structure of a family and since Italy hadnt recovered completely from the depression in the 1880, many citizens were poor, Mussolini knew this, so to encourage people to grow big families, he had promised to the families with the most children a variety of prizes and advantages in society such as less work meaning more payment . Nonetheless this did not work, by 1950 the population of Italy was 47.5 million people. Further, Mussolini wanted schools in Italy to promote fascism, his portrait had to be alongside that of the King and schools teachers were ordered to teach children about how Mussolini was a genius and why fascism was good for Italy. (the eyes of Il Duce.. Pg. 106) Since Mussolini wanted his army of youth to be patriotic, the most important subjects on the
moment were History and Italian literacy. Mussolinis goal was that young people identified themselves with fascism, Mussolini himself and Italy as inseparable (Here in Italy Pag 107). Also, young people were put on military training, fascist ideology, sports and fitness training as leisure activities. Girls were also trained in some sports and ideology, but their main activities were sewing, singing and childcare which was the expected role of women in the era. In universities students were taught about fascism and more sporting and military training. A popular activity was the Littoriali Games, which enabled students to compete each other not just in sports but in art and music. Anyway, after of these efforts, Mussolini was not satisfied, he did not want to wait for all the youth that was being trained to grow up and be elite soldiers. So instead of working for the youth, he decided to make the Dopolavoro, which provided leisure activities to the workers and would influence them towards and fascist view of life. Nonetheless, this caused trouble because instead of emphasising on indoctrination, it was all about having a good time. At the end the attempt of making Italians social life fascist brought some counter-productive behaviors because Italians were very irritated about Mussolinis policies to make Italy a totally different country of what it was before.
Mussolinis political aim was to build a personal dictatorship in which he could change the law with simple decrees and where he could rule by making people afraid of him. Since the parliament was under his control, there was just space for the fascist or sympathisers, while the liberals were leaderless and the socialist under physical attack. Even the king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel, was afraid of facing his Prime Minister after the March on Rome and the Matteoti affair. The King Victor Emmanuel was certainly not a problem to Mussolini, the King would
distance himself from Mussolini and focus on external affairs. In the other side, since there was not a government team, the ministers had nothing to do but to listen and follow the instructions from Il Duce.