The Rise of Fascism and Authoritarianism
*The Definition of Fascism*
- The twentieth century gave rise to several new forms of government. While in Russia, people turned to Communism
during and following World War I, in Italy and Germany, people turned to another form of government known as
- Like the Communists, the Fascists were a
(popular during times of widespread suffering or economic
depression that left the mainstream parties looking inadequate). Although the Communists and Fascists were sworn
enemies, they were actually pretty similar. Or at least that is how it turned out when looking at the Soviet regime.
- Fascists had no exact ideology (there was no Fascist Karl Marx to write it out) and, unlike Communism, it was not
an intellectual movement (in fact it was anti-intellectual). The Fascists just ripped off the ideas of other people, like
Nietzsche or Sorel’s
Reflections of Violence
and used them for their own purposes.
- The Fascists tended to glorify violence, think of the welfare of the state, and ignore the rights of the individual.
Fascists stressed nationalism and militarism, and the end goal of their regimes was to have a dictatorship that
embodied the spirit of “the people”. Fervent love for the state and not thinking (let propaganda think for you) was
encouraged in Fascist regimes as well.
*The Rise of Fascism in Italy*
- After WWI, Italy was definitely looking for a misery party: unemployment rates were high, there was a lot of inflation,
and there was talk of revolution. Peasants were stealing land, and striking workers and angry industrialists were
struggling for control. The upper classes feared a Communist rebellion, social issues had not been addressed, and
the peace treaty had made people mad.
- During this time the first Fascist movement was born. Led by
, the Fascists denounced liberalism
using leftist rhetoric and denounced Marxism b/c of its lack of nationalistic sentiment. They effectively used
propaganda and activists (black shirts) to spread their message.
- At first the Fascists were not very successful. In 1921, during the first elections with universal male suffrage, two
new parties (the
, which demanded reforms but was based on peasants and conservatives and the
, who split off from the Communists) rose to power. The Fascists won 35 seats, and were included in the
prime minister Giolitti’s personal coalition.
- But instead of just operating by the rules, the Fascists used their black shirted activists to plant bombs, beat up
other parties, disrupt meetings, and scare people.
- Then, when the left wing unions called a general strike in 1922, the Black Shirts started to take over town councils
by force. In October, they staged a march on Rome. Parliamentary leaders woke up after a while, called for martial
law, but the King (Victor Emmanuel III) refused. Mussolini reached Rome, where he was invited to form a cabinet by