Section Seven: Mussolini's control over Italy

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 23-04-13 16:56

Violence and Repression

  • Mussolini used violence and repression to control italy
  • the threat of violence during the March on Rome had been key to his gaining power in the first place
  • he used violence against opposition, forcing them underground and this was intensified by the Matteotti crisis in 1924
  • the squadristi still existed and were able to beat up opponents
  • repression was seen in the form of censorship of the press and the banning of all opposition parties
  • there was also the OVRA - the secret police who carried out constant surveillance and all this created a climate of fear
  • howeever, fascist Italy wasn't that violent
  • there were only around 400 killed for political reasons and the majority were merely banished to isolated villages within the country
  • 75% of those tried in special courts were acquitted and the use of castor oil for punishments decreased significantly
  • Mussolini even tried to reduce violence within the party by using Farinacci to centralise the most violent ras and then dismissing him
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  • Propaganda was a key tool for Mussolini
  • 1926 - opposition newspapers were suppressed and unable to publish anything negative about the regime
  • schools were given radios and efforts were made to ensure even rural people listened to communal radios
  • there were newsreels before films 
  • mass activities like parades and marches to advertise the greatness of the regime
  • propaganda helped Mussolini to create a cult of personality whereby he was referred to as 'Il Duce' and presented as a new Caesar and saviour of Italy
  • "Mussolini is always right" became a popular saying, stressing the infallibiliy of Mussolini who was rumoured to work 20 hours a day as he would leave the light on while he slept
  • it was said he had read 35 volumes of encyclopedia and the works of Shapespeasre and was an accomplished musician and sportsman
  • all this convinced many that there was no alternative to Mussolini and deterred potential opposition.
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Support of the Elites

  • Mussolini relied on support of the elites
  • the King generally supported the regime, signing most Mussolini's decrees and meeting with Mussolini twice a week
  • he granted more and more power to the grand fascist council but could technically still dismiss Mussolini, putting into question how far he really controlled Italy
  • there was also the army, which was becoming increasingly dominated by fascists and which had shown some fascist sympathies when 6 officers had taken part in the march on Rome
  • army shared interests like expansion and aggressive foreign policy with Mussolini but owed loyalty to the king who had potential to overthrow Mussolini
  • had support of the church - 90% of Italians were Catholic - did this through Lateran treaty - Pope recognised Italian state and its authority over Rome whilst the fascist state acknowledge the right of the Pope to rule Vatican City
  • Concordat - Catholicism was recognised as State religion
  • Financial convention - Church was paid millions in compensation for lost land during the unification of Italy
  • Mussolini had to hand over all these concessoins to the church showing that they had the potential to threaten his position
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  • did not have total control over the population as the Church was able to control youth through the group Catholic Action which Mussolini was not allowed to interfere with according to the Lateran Treat
  • Mussolini also heavily relied on the support of industrialists, which he obtained through the 1926 Rocco Law which made strikes illegal and through the Corporate State which repressed workers and gave employers more power
  • demonstrates Mussolini's lack of total control as he had to create policy favouring industrialists rather than the majority of the population as these rich and powerful people would threaten his position if they turned against him 
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Successful Policies

  • Mussolini managed to retain control by boosting his popularity with successful policies like the various battles
  • e.g. the Battle for Lire increase the value of the Lire which boosted national prestige, making Mussolini seem like a world player and raised pride for the regime
  • the Battle for the Marshes was also exploited by Mussolini who exaggerated how much land had actually been reclaimed by the scheme
  • took photos posing with farmers to demonstrate that he cared about workers
  • the successes were used by Mussolini to make people happy with the regime and to make them think that their lives were far better under Mussolini's rule 
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  • Mussolini achieved control through education also
  • there was a portrait of Mussolini in all classrooms and students were given a notebook with his face on the front and all studies from the standardised libro unico
  • new courses were introduced to indoctrinate children such as military training and fascist culture classes and teachers were forced to take an oath of loyalty and could be dismissed if they held anti-fascist views
  • the ONB was also set up to educate youth about fascist values
  • membership was compulsory and provided activities like military drills, propaganda lectures, weekend parades and summer camps
  • it was an attempt to indoctrinate the youth into fascist thinking but was somewhat undermined by Catholic Action and a significant drop in members and enthusiasm when it became compulsory 
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Economic Policy

  • Economic policy was a control tool
  • he set up the Corporate state, which allocated Fascist representatives to workers who could not use free trade unions
  • workers had no say in their working life and the power of employers increased dramatically
  • hence, Mussolini was able to repress any working class uprisings that may have occured and gained even more so the valuable support of the industrialists
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Control his Party

  • Mussolini also had to control his party
  • he had to strike the balance between satisfying the violent aims of the ras and maintaining the sipport of the conservatives
  • he skillfuly did this by centralizing the party through Faranacci and the establishment of the GCF to which he could make all appointments 
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Control Government Institutions

  • Mussolini abandoned the cabinet style of government and reduced minister's roles to simply following his instructions
  • he held all real power, making himself minister of foreign affairs as well as minister of the interior
  • Parliament, by 1926, had lost its abolity to debate legistaltion and to criticise government
  • the chamber was dominated by sycophantic fascist sympathizers when oppositions parties were banned and free elections no longer took place
  • they were rigged to show 98% support for the regime
  • Parliament abolished itself altogether in 1939 to be replaced with the equally meaningless Chamber of Fasces and Corporations 
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