& the Gateway
to the Rockies
The Politico--economic Career of Benito Mussolini
The purpose of this material is to show that Benito Mussolini and his political movement were elements of
the left of the politico-economic spectrum.
Fascism is the name Benito Mussolini chose for his movement and later it was applied to similar movements
elsewhere. Mussolini came from a socialist revolutionary family that named him after Benito Jaurez, the Mexican revolutionary.
He grew up as a socialist and maintained his belief in the efficacy of socialism until the end of his life. He undoubtably
considered Fascism as just a variant of if not socialismat least of collectivism that was nationalistic. The internationalist socialist
expelled him when he advocated for nationalistic reasons
the entry of Italy into World War I.
Italy did enter WWI and on the side of the Allies (Britain, France and Russia. This was long before Mussolini
came to power in Italy.
Here is the timeline of Benito Mussolini's career:
- 1883: He was born July 29. His father was a blacksmith who was a lieutenant in the National Guard
of Italy and sometimes served as a journalist for socialist publications. His mother was a school teacher.
He was their first child.
- He was an unruly child and was sent sent to religious boarding schools because the local teachers
could not contol him. The boarding school teachers could not control him and his misbehaviour included
stabbing students and teachers with a penknife. But he passed his final exams easily and did graduate
with a diploma for teaching. .
- c. 1901: He publically announced that he was an advocate of revolutionary socialism.
- 1902: After teaching for a short while he moved to Switzerland and lived by taking short-term jobs.
He also wrote pieces for socialist and union publications. He was a follower Karl Marx.
He gave public speaches and came be
known as an advocate revolution and political violence. He was arrested a number of times.
- 1904: He returned to Italy. He became a school teacher again for a while. But after a period
political inactivity he returned to revolutionary journalism and the support of labor union actions.
In the course this he was arrested and imprisoned.
- 1909: Out of prison and at age 26 he initiated a romantic relationship with the 16 year old daughter
of father's mistress. She went to live with him and later they married. Soon afterwards he was
again imprisoned.`Once out of prison he again began to write articles for Marxist socialist publications.
He then started his own newspaper with the very Marxist title of La Lotta di Classe (The Class Struggle).
It was a notable success in terms of circulation.
- 1912: Because of the success of the newspaper he started he was appointed editor of the major
socialist newspaper Avanti!. He was able to double its circulation.
Benito Mussolini, well known in Italy
Marxist revolutionary socialist
- 1914: As World War I was developing Avanti! took the standard socialist position that
the working class had no interest one way or another in the war. It was simply a battle between
the ruling classes of the various countries. Mussolini as editor initially supported that line.
Then Mussolini changed his mind. He saw the opportunity for Italy to gain territory at the
expense of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He had Avanti! publish articles strongly
advocating Italy entering the war on the side of Britain and France. He also gave public
speeches supporting that position. He was forced to resign his editorship of Avanti!
and he was expelled from the Socialist Party. There was no indication that he himself had
given up his advocacy of socialism. He became the editor of another newspaper
Il Popolo d'Italia. He stated his nationalistic position, "From this day onward
we are all Italians and nothing but Italians. Now that steel has met steel, one single
cry comes from our hearts--Long Live Italy." To make his new position palatable
to the general public and because of the organized socialists rejected him he had
give his new position a different political orientation. He chose
Corporatism, a collectivist sociopolitical developed in the 19th century by Catholic
intelllectuals as an alternative to Marxist socialism. The various economic interest
groups were to brought together in political organizations to settle their differences
by negotiation. Corporatism was collectivist but did not involve confiscation of
all private property as did socialism. Mussolini called his system National Corporatism.
Other European leaders in the 1930's copied Mussolini in adopting a collectivist economic system
and appended nationalistic to its title. In Franco Spain it was National Syndicalism. Syndicalists
believe labor unions should run the economy, In Germany Hitler changed the name of the German
Workers' Party which he joined to the National Socialist German Workers' Party
- 1919: Mussolini in Milan created his Fasci di Combattimento. He chose
the name and its icon from the Roman/Etruscan fasces, a bundle of sticks
wrapped together around a two-heaed ax. It was a symbol of government authority
and is widely used to symbolize the strength of collectivity.
It even appeared on U.S. ten cent coin.
- After the war there was political turmoil in Italy. Nationalists thought Italy did not get
properly rewarded for supporting the winning side. Socialists wanted to duplicate the
revolutionary success of the socialists in the Russian Empire. The non-socialists of
Italy feared that this just might happen.
- 1922: Mussolini's rhetoric and oratory had made him a publically well known figure.
His physical appearance contributed to his political renown.
The socialists called for a general strike. General strikes were well known preliminaries
to revolutions. Mussolini called for the government to prevent the general strike and announed
that if the government did not do so his Fasci di Combattimento would do so.
He then further announced that in four days time four columns of fascists would march on
Rome from different directions, Mussolini himself waited at a place where the king of Italy
could contact him. As the Fasci di Combattimento dismissed the current prime
minister and sent Mussolini a telegram asking him form a new government in the legislature
with him as prime minister. Mussolini allayed fears of a facist dictatorship by requesting the
appointment of ministers the majority of whom were not fascists.
- 1924: An election was held which led to Mussolini's gaining majority control of the legislature.
Mussolini then restored public order and carried out a program of public works. He was hailed
in Italy and also across Europe as a political hero.
- 1932: The accomplishments of Mussolini and his Fascist Party were widely admired and
was looked upon as having saved Italy from a communist dictatorship of the type that developed
in the Russian Empire. An American admirer was Hugh Johnson, the man who managed government
policy during World War I. Franklin Roosevelt chose Hugh Johnson to design his program
c alled The New Deal for coping with the problems of the Great Depression. Johnson adopted
so me of the policies of Mussolini for the Roosevelt New Deal. He also adopted programs of
oth er corporatist leaders in Europe such as Miguel Primo de Riveria in Spain. This was the
origin of the Tennessee Valey Authority (TVA). Thus the modern platform of the Democratic
Party ha d its origin in corporatist programs of Mussolini's Fascist Party in Italy and other statist
Hugh Johnson, architect of Roosevelt's
New Deal and
an admirer of Mussolini's system
- 1935: After a decade of domestic success Mussolini decided to conquer Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
A previous Italian invasion had been defeated there. Many countries expressed their objection
to his African venture but did not impose any sanctions which would have thwarted it.
- 1936: In Rome Mussolini announced to a crowd of 400,000 that victory had been achieved
in A byssinia and that Rome had a new empire.
- Adolph Hitler was one of the few leaders who did not object to Mussolini's conquest of
Abys sinia. Hitler and Mussolini admired each other. From their personal relationship the
Axis Pact of Germany and Italy.
- 1 939: Hitler was trying to retrieve sections of Germany that had been given to Poland in its
creati on at the end of World War I. He decided to dismember Poland and bring the
the So viet Union in on the dismemberment. He knew Britain and France
could n ot possibly go to war with Germany and the Soviet Union simultaneously
and app arently believed they would not go to war with just one party to the dismemberment.
He was wrong. Britain and France both declared war with Germany over the dismemberment.
France w as ill prepared for war and was defeated in a couple of weeks. The British army of
several hu ndred thousand had to desperately seek escape at Dunkirk.
- 1940: Mussolini honored the Axis Pact and attacked France from the south. On his own
Mussolini d ecided to conquer Greece by an invasion through Albania. It was a military disaster
and Hitler h ad to rescue the Italian invasion by launching a German conquest of Greece.
- 1943 The Allies invaded Sicily. The Fascist Grand Council, the legislative authority of
I taly at the time, voted overwhelingly to dismiss Mussolini from office.
M ussolini thought he could ignore this action but he was arrested at royal command.
Aft er an audience with the king he send for imprisonment on a mountain on an
island off the coast of Sardinia. It was thought to be an impregnable prison but
but Hitler sent a daring paratroop commando squad that rescued him.
- Mussolini was installled as the leader of a northern section of Italy under
Ger man control. Mussolini was given authority to create the Repubblica
Soci ale Italiana. He spent his time at the city of Saló formulating
the la ws and policies of the ideal socialist state. This shows he never gave
up his belief in socialism as the ideal form of society. This effort was of no
conse quence in Italy but it is alleged that Tito (Joseph Broz) adopted as the
system for Yugoslavia after his break with Stalin.
- The Italian Communists decided to assassinate Mussolini. They caught him
and his mistress trying to cross the border into Austria. They hung them up
by their l egs and beat them to death.
To apply the lable fascist to organizations which advocate an economic system
based upon markets represents the most abysmal ignorance. Fascism was a political
movement of the left. It is to the right of socialism but that does not make it to the
right of the whole political spectrum.
< p>Perhaps the systematic misapplication of the term fascist is to make it a
m eaningless term and thus disguise the fact that the one political organization
whose ideological roots trace back to Mussolini's Fascist Party through the
Rooseveltian New Deal is the Democratic Party.
The recent political organization that most thoroughly represents the street thuggery
of the national socialists of Germany is called Anti-fa, supposedly for anti-fascist.
Its cam paign against free speech is thoroughly fascist.
Asessment of the Career of Benito Mussolini
Dinesh d'Souza has written the folowing succinct account of
Mussolini never had the heart to be a true totalitarian, in part,
because he was, well, Italian. His totalitaranism was always Italian,
which is to say, half-assed. He sort of had his opponents arrested and
he sort of controlled the media and he sort of had the parliament under his thumb,
but he lacked the punctiliousness that characterized his more grim totalitarian
c ounterparts Stalin and Hitler. Throughout his twenty year regn, Mussolini
killed off very few of his own citizens and allowed people, including Jews,
to leave Italy. Stalin and Hitler would never dream of allowing this.
Wh at kind of totalitarian control can you have over people if they are free
to p ack up and say sayonara?
Dinesh d'Souza, The Big Lie, Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2017, p. 58.
All of his life Benito Mussolini was a collectivist. Until he was 31 years of age he was a Marxist
s ocialist. He became a nationalist at the beginning of World War I. The socialists expelled him but
th ere is no evidence that he gave up socialism. He adopted the collectivist philosophy of
co rporatism to differentiate himself from his enemies the international socialists and called
it fascism. Near the end of his life he formulated the perfect society as socialistic.