Totalitarian Italy: the mobilization of the masses, imperialism and the road to disaster, fascism at the gates of war

TRENT. Now emptied of all functionality and action, the liberal regime was “officially declared dead” on January 19, 1939. There House of Representativesindeed, it came abolished and replaced with an assembly composed only of men appointed directly by the dictator. Formed by representatives of the National Council of the Pnf and of the National Council of Corporationsthe Chamber of bundles and corporations thus responding to the precise will of the “duke of fascism”.

Already started on this path some time ago, the fascist regime finally took on the role of totalitarian dictatorship in the 1930s. The mobilization and organization initiatives of the company, in fact, reached their peak in this decade, involving every remaining space in the fascistisation. The August 28, 1931for example, to the university teaching staff was forced to swear allegiance to the regimeunder penalty of exclusion from teaching (the percentage of those who opposed it was minimal, just over a dozen).

Rites and propaganda forged the rhythms and imaginaries of a society devoted solely to the greatness of the nation. Thus initiatives such as the “Fascist Saturday”, with which a part of the day was dedicated to gymnastic, sporting and paramilitary activities, or campaigns to eradicate xenophilia in the language, eliminating the use of “Lei” (considered “feminine”, “servile” and “foreigner”) or words of foreign origin. The “fascist virility” he further demanded postures worthy of a glorious pastof which fascism proposed itself as the natural heir: thus theuse of the “Roman greeting” and the “Roman step” – with an evident resemblance to the Nazi “goose step”.

In an effort to speed up the “anthropological revolutionItalians, fascism took paths, both in domestic and foreign policy, with notable consequences. The decisive step was certainly theaggression against Ethiopia (HERE a deepening), in October 1935, concluded with the Mussolini’s famous speech on May 9, 1936in which the return of the Empire was proclaimed “on the fatal hills of Rome”. This colonial “enterprise”, as well as the “pacification” of Libyastood out for atrocious violence and the indiscriminate use of prohibited chemical weapons.

Already a recurring motif in speeches from the 1920s, the “imperial destiny” Italian prophesied by the “duke” it required, according to the fascist logic, a “defense of the health of the race”from the “race” so, worthy of a people of rulers and conquerors. The path that led to the promulgation – announced in the famous speech of Trieste (HERE the article) – of anti-Jewish laws were inextricably intertwined with racist legislation developed after the conquest of Ethiopia. Even if absent from the initial ideological paraphernalia – there were indeed anti-Semitic components in the first fascism, but there were several Jews in its ranks – theanti-Semitism therefore represented a inevitable development.

Write about it historian Emilio Gentile in Fascism. History and interpretations: “The alliance with Nazi Germany certainly had an influence on this change, but i decisive factors were Mussolini’s conviction that international Jewry was an active part of anti-fascismand above all his will to speed up the implementation of the totalitarian experiment to create an ethnically homogeneous Italian race. The anti-Jewish legislation thus came to fit into fascist racism as one choice entirely consistent, for ideological and political reasons, with the totalitarian logic of the regime”.

Demographic policy and economic policy they showed other faces of an Italy that wanted to be ever more self-sufficient and luxuriant. L’autarky and the state management marked the economy, hit more symbolically than anything else by the weak sanctions of the League of Nations after the aggression against Ethiopia – Italy left it in December ’37 (HERE the article). Demagogically exploited to strengthen internal consensus – see the initiative of the “Faith day”, known to most as “gold to the country” – international isolation drove fascism ever closer to Germany.

THE relations with Berlinafter thearrival at Adolf Hitler’s chancellery (1933), they hadn’t always been the best (HERE a deepening). In July ’34, after the attempt by the Austrian Nazis to seize power by assassinating the pro-Mussolini president Dollfussthe “duce” replied by sending at the Brenner of the army divisions. The same “South Tyrolean question”, origin of possible fractures between Rome and Berlin, was resolved only in 1939 With the’Options agreement (HERE and HERE of insights).

The May 22, 1939 Fascism and Nazism huddled togetherfatal embrace of the “Pact of Steel” (HERE the article). In addition to resolving possible border disputes through the Options, Rome and Berlin participated together in the Spanish warchampioning the rebel cause of Francisco Franco (HERE and HERE of insights). It was in the months to comeHowever, that the fate of Italian fascism was decided; and with her, that of the whole world.

What was fascism“, a column edited by the historian and popularizer Davide Leveghi, ends its weekly cadence here. In the year of the centenary of the “march on Rome”, after 87 articles published weekly since 29 May 2021, the pages of have hosted an overview of fascist history useful to describe some of its fundamental traits. However, the work is not finished. So much remains to be told, there are still so many “gaps” to fill, and for this reason the column will always remain an open container, ready to host new insights.

Totalitarian Italy: the mobilization of the masses, imperialism and the road to disaster, fascism at the gates of war