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For the original version of the ideology developed in Italy, see Italian Fascism. For the book edited by Roger Griffin, see Fascism (book).
Fascism (/fæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Influenced by national syndicalism, fascism originated in Italy during World War I, combining more typically right-wing positions with elements of left-wing politics, in opposition to liberalism, Marxism, and traditional conservatism. Although fascism is often placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum, several academics have said that the description is inadequate.
Fascists have identified World War I as having been a revolution that brought revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology, as the advent of total war and total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant whereby a "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved to the military in some manner during the war. The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens. Fascists view World War I as having made liberal democracy obsolete and regard total mobilization of society led by a totalitarian single-party state as necessary for a nation to be prepared for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties, such a totalitarian state is led by a strong leader as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions of violence automatically being negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.
Fascism borrowed theories and terminology from socialism but replaced socialism's focus on class conflict with a focus on conflict between nations and races. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky to secure national self-sufficiency and independence through protectionist and interventionist economic policies. Following World War II, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The terms neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideological similarities to, or roots in, 20th century fascist movements. 
The Italian term fascismo derives from fascio meaning a bundle of hay, ultimately from the Latin word fasces. This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates and at first applied mainly to organisations on the Left. Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Milan in 1919 which became the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) in 1921. The Fascists came to associate the name with the ancient Roman fasces or fascio littorio, which consisted of a bundle of rods that were tied around an axe, an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate carried by his lictors which could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.
The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break. Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements: for example the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.
Historians, political scientists and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism. Each form of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow.
One common definition of fascism focuses on three concepts: the fascist negations of anti-liberalism, anti-communism and anti-conservatism; nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership. According to many scholars, fascism — especially once in power — has historically attacked communism, conservatism and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far right.
Roger Griffin describes fascism as "a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism". Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: "(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism and (iii) the myth of decadence". Fascism is "a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism" built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist "armed party" politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.
Robert Paxton says that fascism is "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."
Position in the political spectrum
Fascism is commonly described as far right on the political spectrum, although some writers have found placing fascism on a conventional left-right political spectrum difficult.
Fascism was influenced by both left and right, conservative and anti-conservative, national and supranational, rational and anti-rational. A number of historians have regarded fascism either as a revolutionary centrist doctrine, as a doctrine which mixes philosophies of the left and the right, or as both of those things. Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who combined left-wing and right-wing political views.
Fascism is considered by certain scholars to be right-wing because of its social conservatism and authoritarian means of opposing egalitarianism. Roderick Stackelberg places fascism—including Nazism, which he says is "a radical variant of fascism"—on the right, explaining that "the more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be."
Italian Fascism gravitated to the right in the early 1920s. A major element of fascism that has been deemed as clearly far right is its goal to promote the right of claimed superior people to dominate while purging society of claimed inferior elements.
Benito Mussolini in 1919 described fascism as a movement that would strike "against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left". Later the Italian Fascists described fascism as a right-wing ideology in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: "We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right,' a fascist century." Mussolini stated that fascism's position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue to fascists: "Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center ... These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don't give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words."
Ten Steps to Creating Evil Traps for Good People
Let's outline some of the procedures in this research paradigm that seduced many ordinary citizens to engage in this apparently harmful behavior. In doing so, I want to draw parallels to compliance strategies used by "influence professionals" in real-world settings, such as salespeople, cult recruiters, and our national leaders (see Cialdini, 2001).
Among the influence principles to be extracted from Milgram’s paradigm for getting ordinary people to do things they originally believe they would not are the following ten:
1) Offering an Ideology so that a big lie provides justification for any means to be used to achieve the seemingly desirable, essential goal. Presenting an acceptable justification, or rationale, for engaging in the undesirable action, such as wanting to help people improve their memory by judicious use of punishment strategies. In experiments it is known as the “cover story” because it is a cover-up for the procedures that follow which might not make sense on their own. The real world equivalent is known as an “ideology.” Most nations rely on the same ideology of “threats to national security” before going to war or suppressing dissident political opposition. It is a convenient familiar ideological theme that fascist governments and military juntas have used to destroy socialist or communist opposition. When citizens fear that their national security is being threatened they are willing to surrender their basic freedoms when the government offers them that exchange. In the United States, the fear of the threat to national security posed by terrorists has led too many citizens to accept torture of prisoners as a necessary tactic for securing information that could prevent further attacks. That reasoning contributed to the background of the abuses by the American guards at Abu Ghraib prison. See the provocative analysis by Susan Fiske and her colleagues on why ordinary people torture enemy prisoners (Fiske, Harris, & Cuddy, 2004).The fact that the prisoners were part of a group encountered as enemies would only exaggerate the tendency to feel spontaneous prejudice against outgroups. In this context, oppression and discrimination are synonymous. One of the most basic principles of social psychology is that people prefer their own group (8) and attribute bad behavior to outgroups (9). Prejudice especially festers if people see the outgroup as threatening cherished values (10–12). This would have certainly applied to the guards viewing their prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but it also applies in more “normal” situations. A recent sample of U.S. citizens on average viewed Muslims and Arabs as not sharing their interests and stereotyped them as not especially sincere, honest, friendly, or warm (13–15).
Even more potent predictors of discrimination are the emotional prejudices (“hot” affective feelings such as disgust or contempt) that operate in parallel with cognitive processes (16–18). Such emotional reactions appear rapidly, even in neuroimaging of brain activations to outgroups (19, 20). But even they can be affected by social context. Categorization of people as interchangeable members of an outgroup promotes an amygdala response characteristic of vigilance and alarm and an insula response characteristic of disgust or arousal, depending on social context; these effects dissipate when the same people are encountered as unique individuals (21, 22).
According to our survey data (13, 14), the contemptible, disgusting kind of outgroup— low-status opponents—elicits a mix of active and passive harm: attacking and fighting, as well as excluding and demeaning. This certainly describes the Abu Ghraib abuse of captured enemies. It also fits our national sample of Americans (14) who reported that allegedly contemptible outgroups such as homeless people, welfare recipients, Turks, and Arabs often are attacked or excluded (14).
Given an environment conducive to aggression and prisoners deemed disgusting and subhuman (23), well-established principles of conformity to peers (24, 25) and obedience to authority (26) may account for the widespread nature of the abuse.
-- Why Ordinary People Torture Enemy Prisoners, by Susan T. Fiske, Lasana T. Harris, Amy J.C. Cuddy
2) Arranging some form of contractual obligation, verbal or written, to enact the behavior.
3) Giving participants meaningful roles to play (teacher, student) that carry with them previously learned positive values and response scripts.
4) Presenting basic rules to be followed, that seem to make sense prior to their actual use, but then can be arbitrarily used to justify mindless compliance. Make the rules vague and change them as necessary.
5) Altering the semantics of the act, the actor, and the action, (from hurting victims to helping learners by punishing them)—replace reality with desirable rhetoric.
6) Creating opportunities for diffusion of responsibility for negative outcomes; others will be responsible, or it won’t be evident that the actor will be held liable.
7) Starting the path toward the ultimate evil act with a small, insignificant first step (only 15 volts).
8) Having successively increasing steps on the pathway be gradual, so that they are hardly noticed as being different from one’s most recent prior action. (By increasing each level of aggression in gradual steps of only 30 volts, no new level of harm seemed like a noticeable difference to the Milgram participants.)
9) Changing the nature of the influence authority from initially “Just” and reasonable to “Unjust” and demanding, even irrational, elicits initial compliance and later confusion, but continued obedience.
10) Making the "exit costs" high, and making the process of exiting difficult by allowing usual forms of verbal dissent (that make people feel good about themselves), while insisting on behavioral compliance (“I know you are not that kind of person, just keep doing as I tell you.”)
Such procedures are utilized across varied influence situations where those in authority want others to do their bidding, but know that few would engage in the "end game" final solution without first being properly prepared psychologically to do the "unthinkable."
-- The Psychology of Power and Evil: All Power to the Person? To the Situation? To the System?, by Philip G. Zimbardo
The accommodation of the political right into the Italian Fascist movement in the early 1920s led to the creation of internal factions. The "Fascist left" included Michele Bianchi, Giuseppe Bottai, Angelo Oliviero Olivetti, Sergio Panunzio and Edmondo Rossoni, who were committed to advancing national syndicalism as a replacement for parliamentary liberalism in order to modernize the economy and advance the interests of workers and the common people. The "Fascist right" included members of the paramilitary Squadristi and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI). The Squadristi wanted to establish Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy, while retaining the existing elites. Upon accommodating the political right, there arose a group of monarchist Fascists who sought to use Fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
After King Victor Emmanuel III forced Mussolini to resign as head of government and placed him under arrest in 1943, Mussolini was rescued by German forces. While continuing to rely on Germany for support, Mussolini and the remaining loyal Fascists founded the Italian Social Republic with Mussolini as head of state. Mussolini sought to re-radicalize Italian Fascism, declaring that the Fascist state had been overthrown because Italian Fascism had been subverted by Italian conservatives and the bourgeoisie. Then the new Fascist government proposed the creation of workers' councils and profit-sharing in industry, although the German authorities, who effectively controlled northern Italy at this point, ignored these measures and did not seek to enforce them.
A number of post-WWII fascist movements described themselves as a "third position" outside the traditional political spectrum.
Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera said: "basically the Right stands for the maintenance of an economic structure, albeit an unjust one, while the Left stands for the attempt to subvert that economic structure, even though the subversion thereof would entail the destruction of much that was worthwhile".
Fascist as an insult
Following the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II, the term fascist has been used as a pejorative word, often referring to widely varying movements across the political spectrum. George Orwell wrote in 1944 that "the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'". Richard Griffiths said in 2005 that "fascism" is the "most misused, and over-used word, of our times". "Fascist" is sometimes applied to post-war organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term "neo-fascist".
Contrary to the popular use of the term, Communist states have sometimes been referred to as "fascist", typically as an insult. Marxist interpretations of the term have, for example, been applied in relation to Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. Herbert Matthews, of the New York Times asked "Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?" J. Edgar Hoover wrote extensively of "Red Fascism". Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise, the Soviets used the term to identify Chinese Marxists and social democracy (coining a new term of social fascism).
Fin de siècle era and the fusion of Maurrasism with Sorelianism (1880–1914)
The ideological roots of fascism have been traced back to the 1880s, and in particular to the fin de siècle theme of that time. The theme was based on a revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society and democracy. The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism and vitalism. The fin-de-siècle mindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution. The fin-de-siècle intellectual school considered the individual to be only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals. They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.
In our civilization the chasm that stretches between mind and heart yawns deep and wide and, as the mind flies on from discovery to discovery in the realms of science, the gulf becomes ever deeper and wider and the heart is left further and further behind. The mind loudly demands and will be satisfied with nothing less than a materially demonstrable explanation of man and his fellow-creatures that make up the phenomenal world. The heart feels instinctively that there is something greater, and it yearns for that which it feels is a higher truth than can be grasped by the mind alone. The human soul would fain soar upon ethereal pinions of intuition; would fain lave in the eternal fount of spiritual light and love; but modern scientific views have shorn its wings and it sits fettered and mute, unsatisfied longings gnawing at its tendrils as the vulture of Prometheus' liver.
-- The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, by Max Heindel
The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including Darwinian biology; Wagnerian aesthetics; Arthur de Gobineau's racialism; Gustave Le Bon's psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson. Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinism challenged positivism's claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behaviour of humans, with social Darwinism focusing on heredity, race, and environment. Social Darwinism's emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism. New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behaviour being governed by rational choice, and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason. Nietzsche's argument that "God is dead" coincided with his attack on the "herd mentality" of Christianity, democracy and modern collectivism; his concept of the übermensch; and his advocacy of the will to power as a primordial instinct, were major influences upon many of the fin-de-siècle generation. Bergson's claim of the existence of an "élan vital" or vital instinct centred upon free choice and rejected the processes of materialism and determinism; this challenged Marxism.
Gaetano Mosca in his work The Ruling Class (1896) developed the theory that claims that in all societies an "organized minority" will dominate and rule over the "disorganized majority". Mosca claims that there are only two classes in society, "the governing" (the organized minority) and "the governed" (the disorganized majority). He claims that the organized nature of the organized minority makes it irresistible to any individual of the disorganized majority.
The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin's concept of propaganda of the deed, which stressed the importance of direct action as the primary means of politics, including revolutionary violence, became popular amongst fascists who admired the concept and adopted it as a part of fascism.
French nationalist and reactionary monarchist Charles Maurras influenced fascism. Maurras promoted what he called integral nationalism, which called for the organic unity of a nation, Maurras insisted that a powerful monarch was an ideal leader of a nation. Maurras distrusted what he considered the democratic mystification of the popular will that created an impersonal collective subject. He claimed that a powerful monarch was a personified sovereign who could exercise authority to unite a nation's people. Maurras' integral nationalism was idealized by fascists, but modified into a modernized revolutionary form that was devoid of Maurras' monarchism.
French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel promoted the legitimacy of political violence in his work Reflections on Violence (1908) and other works in which he advocated radical syndicalist action to achieve a revolution to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoisie through a general strike. In Reflections on Violence, Sorel emphasized need for a revolutionary political religion. Also, in his work The Illusions of Progress, Sorel denounced democracy as reactionary, saying "nothing is more aristocratic than democracy". By 1909 after the failure of a syndicalist general strike in France, Sorel and his supporters left the radical left and went to the radical right, where they sought to merge militant Catholicism and French patriotism with their views – advocating anti-republican Christian French patriots as ideal revolutionaries. Initially Sorel had officially been a revisionist of Marxism, but by 1910 announced his abandonment of socialist literature and claimed in 1914, using an aphorism of Benedetto Croce that "socialism is dead" because of the "decomposition of Marxism". Sorel became a supporter of reactionary Maurrassian nationalism beginning in 1909 that influenced his works. Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Sorelian syndicalism as a means to confront democracy. Maurras stated "a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand".
The fusion of Maurassian nationalism and Sorelian syndicalism influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini. Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight. Corradini spoke of Italy as being a "proletarian nation" that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the "plutocratic" French and British. Corradini's views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy's economic backwardness was caused by corruption in its political class, liberalism, and division caused by "ignoble socialism". The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics, and the business community. Italian national syndicalists held a common set of principles: the rejection of bourgeois values, democracy, liberalism, Marxism, internationalism, and pacifism, and the promotion of heroism, vitalism, and violence. The ANI claimed that liberal democracy was no longer compatible with the modern world, and advocated a strong state and imperialism, claiming that humans are naturally predatory and that nations were in a constant struggle, in which only the strongest could survive.
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian modernist author of the Futurist Manifesto (1909) and later the co-author of the Fascist Manifesto (1919)
Futurism that was both an artistic-cultural movement and initially a political movement in Italy led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who founded the Futurist Manifesto (1908), that championed the causes of modernism, action, and political violence as necessary elements of politics while denouncing liberalism and parliamentary politics. Marinetti rejected conventional democracy based on majority rule and egalitarianism, for a new form of democracy, promoting what he described in his work "The Futurist Conception of Democracy" as the following: "We are therefore able to give the directions to create and to dismantle to numbers, to quantity, to the mass, for with us number, quantity and mass will never be—as they are in Germany and Russia—the number, quantity and mass of mediocre men, incapable and indecisive".
Futurism influenced fascism in its emphasis on recognizing the virile nature of violent action and war as being necessities of modern civilization. Marinetti promoted the need of physical training of young men, saying that in male education, gymnastics should take precedence over books, and he advocated segregation of the genders on this matter, in that womanly sensibility must not enter men's education whom Marinetti claimed must be "lively, bellicose, muscular and violently dynamic".
World War I and aftermath (1914–1929)
Benito Mussolini in 1917, as a soldier in World War I. In 1914, Mussolini founded the Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria that he led. Mussolini promoted the Italian intervention in the war as a revolutionary nationalist action to liberate Italian-claimed lands from Austria-Hungary.
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war. The Italian Socialist Party (PSI) opposed the war on the grounds of internationalism, but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported intervention against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes needed to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism. Corradini presented the same need for Italy as a "proletarian nation" to defeat a reactionary Germany from a nationalist perspective. The origins of Italian Fascism resulted from this split, first with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti forming a pro-interventionist fasci called the Fasci of International Action in October 1914. Benito Mussolini upon being expelled from his position as chief editor of the PSI's newspaper Avanti! for his pro-Entente stance, joined the interventionist cause in a separate fasci. The term "Fascism" was first used in 1915 by members of Mussolini's movement, the Fasci of Revolutionary Action.
Mussolini accused conventional socialists of being dogmatic and in December 1914 criticized the PSI for their association with Marxism that Mussolini declared had become obsolete. Mussolini made a list of socialist figures ranging from the most admirable socialist figures, like Mazzini, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Charles Fourier, and Henri de Saint-Simon; while placing the least admirable socialists at the bottom, including Karl Marx. The first meeting of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action was held on 24 January 1915. At the meeting Mussolini declared that it was necessary for Europe to resolve its national problems – including national borders – of Italy and elsewhere "for the ideals of justice and liberty for which oppressed peoples must acquire the right to belong to those national communities from which they descended". Amidst discussion on the question of irredentism, Mussolini noted from the proceedings of the members that "the difficult question of irredentism was posed and resolved in the ambit of ideals of socialism and liberty which do not however exclude the safeguarding of a positive national interest". Its attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective and it was regularly harassed by government authorities and socialists. Antagonism between interventionists, including Fascists, and anti-interventionist socialists resulted in violence.
German soldiers being cheered in Lubeck during their advance to the front lines in 1914 during World War I. The concept of the "Spirit of 1914" by Johann Plenge identified the outbreak of war as forging national solidarity of Germans.
Similar political ideas arose in Germany after the outbreak of the war. German sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a "National Socialism" in Germany within what he termed the "ideas of 1914" that were a declaration of war against the "ideas of 1789" (the French Revolution). According to Plenge, the "ideas of 1789" that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism[/url]were being rejected in favor of "the ideas of 1914" that included "German values" of duty, discipline, law, and order. Plenge believed that racial solidarity (volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that "racial comrades" would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of "proletarian" Germany against "capitalist" Britain. He believed that the "Spirit of 1914" manifested itself in the concept of the "People's League of National Socialism". This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the "idea of boundless freedom" and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state. This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism because of the components that were against "the national interest" of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy. Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.
Fascists viewed World War I as bringing revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology, as the advent of total war and mass mobilization had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant, as civilians had become a critical part in economic production for the war effort, and thus arose a "military citizenship" in which all citizens were involved to the military in some manner during the war. World War I had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens. Fascists viewed technological developments of weaponry and the state's total mobilization of its population in the war as symbolizing the beginning of a new era fusing state power with mass politics, technology, and particularly the mobilizing myth that they contended had triumphed over the myth of progress and the era of liberalism.
Members of Italy's Arditi corps in 1918 holding daggers, a symbol of their group. The Arditi were founded in 1917 as groups of soldiers trained for: dangerous missions, refusal to surrender, and to be willing to fight to the death. The Arditi's black uniform and use of the fez, were adopted by the Italian Fascist movement in homage to the Arditi.
A major event that greatly influenced the development of fascism was the October Revolution of 1917, in which Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia. In 1917, Mussolini, as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action, praised the October Revolution, but later he became unimpressed with Lenin, regarding him as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas. After World War I fascists have commonly campaigned on anti-Marxist agendas. Bolshevism and fascism both advocated a revolutionary ideology, believed in the necessity of a vanguard elite, had disdain for bourgeois values, and had totalitarian ambitions. In practice, fascism and Bolshevism have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, single-party states, and party-armies.
"Despite the fact that Stalin deliberately helped bring Hitler and the Nazis to power, despite the Nazi-Communist alliance of 1939-41 under the Hitler-Stalin Pact, despite Mussolini's close ties to Moscow, despite the deep affinity between Nazi-fascists and communists demonstrated repeatedly in many countries by mass exchanges of membership between political organizations of the two persuasions, the average American still sees communism and Nazism-fascism as polar opposites.
--Project Democracy's Program -- The Fascist Corporate State, by Webster Griffin Tarpley
With the antagonism between anti-interventionist Marxists and pro-interventionist Fascists complete by the end of the war, the two sides became irreconcilable. The Fascists presented themselves as anti-Marxists and as opposed to the Marxists. Benito Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci italiani di combattimento, whose opposition to socialism he declared:
We declare war against socialism, not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism. Although we can discuss the question of what socialism is, what is its program, and what are its tactics, one thing is obvious: the official Italian Socialist Party has been reactionary and absolutely conservative. If its views had prevailed, our survival in the world of today would be impossible.
In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (a.k.a. the Fascist Manifesto). The Manifesto was presented on June 6, 1919 in the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia. The Manifesto supported the creation of universal suffrage for both men and women (the latter being realized only partly in late 1925, with all opposition parties banned or disbanded); proportional representation on a regional basis; government representation through a corporatist system of "National Councils" of experts, selected from professionals and tradespeople, elected to represent and hold legislative power over their respective areas, including labour, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc.; and the abolition of the Italian Senate. The Manifesto supported the creation of an eight-hour work day for all workers, a minimum wage, worker representation in industrial management, equal confidence in labour unions as in industrial executives and public servants, reorganization of the transportation sector, revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance, reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55, a strong progressive tax on capital, confiscation of the property of religious institutions and abolishment of bishoprics, and revision of military contracts to allow the government to seize 85% of their profits. It also called for the creation of a short-service national militia to serve defensive duties, nationalization of the armaments industry, and a foreign policy designed to be peaceful but also competitive.
Residents of Fiume cheer the arrival of Gabriele d'Annunzio and his blackshirt-wearing nationalist raiders. D'Annunzio and Fascist Alceste De Ambris developed the quasi-fascist Italian Regency of Carnaro, a city-state in Fiume, from 1919 to 1920. D'Annunzio's actions in Fiume inspired the Italian Fascist movement.
The next events that influenced the Fascists in Italy was the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920. D'Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatist productionism alongside D'Annunzio's political views. Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy. This behaviour of aggression towards Yugoslavia and South Slavs was pursued by Italian Fascists with their persecution of South Slavs – especially Slovenes and Croats.
In 1920, militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy; 1919 and 1920 were known as the "Red Years". Mussolini and the Fascists took advantage of the situation by allying with industrial businesses and attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy.
Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I. The Fascists and the Italian political right held common ground: both held Marxism in contempt, discounted class consciousness and believed in the rule of elites. The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign by allying with the other parties and the conservative right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.
Fascism sought to accommodate Italian conservatives by making major alterations to its political agenda;– abandoning its previous populism, republicanism, and anticlericalism, adopting policies in support of free enterprise, and accepting the Roman Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy. To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce limiting the woman's role to that of a mother. The fascists banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state. Though Fascism adopted a number of positions designed to appeal to reactionaries, the Fascists sought to maintain Fascism's revolutionary character, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti saying "Fascism would like to be conservative, but it will [be] by being revolutionary." The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.
Prior to Fascism's accommodation of the political right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members. After Fascism's accommodation of the political right, the Fascist movement's membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.
Beginning in 1922, Fascist paramilitaries escalated their strategy from one of attacking socialist offices and homes of socialist leadership figures to one of violent occupation of cities. The Fascists met little serious resistance from authorities and proceeded to take over several northern Italian cities. The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano. After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.
Benito Mussolini with three of the four quadrumvirs during the March on Rome: from left to right: unknown, de Bono, Mussolini, Balbo and de Vecchi
On 24 October 1922, the Fascist party held its annual congress in Naples, where Mussolini ordered Blackshirts to take control of public buildings and trains and to converge on three points around Rome. The Fascists managed to seize control of several post offices and trains in northern Italy while the Italian government, led by a left-wing coalition, was internally divided and unable to respond to the Fascist advances. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy perceived the risk of bloodshed in Rome in response to attempting to disperse the Fascists to be too high. Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy, and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment. Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as "March on Rome", as a "seizure" of power because of Fascists' heroic exploits.
Upon being appointed Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini had to form a coalition government, because the Fascists did not have control over the Italian parliament. Mussolini's coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service. Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions were limited.
The Fascists began their attempt to entrench Fascism in Italy with the Acerbo Law, which guaranteed a plurality of the seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote. Through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won a majority of the vote, allowing many seats to go to the Fascists. In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteoti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist. The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession. On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but he insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament. From 1925 to 1929, Fascism steadily became entrenched in power: opposition deputies were denied access to parliament, censorship was introduced, and a December 1925 decree made Mussolini solely responsible to the King.
In 1929, the Fascist regime gained the political support and blessing of the Roman Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century.
The Fascist regime created a corporatist economic system in 1925 with creation of the Palazzo Vidioni Pact, in which the Italian employers' association Confindustria and Fascist trade unions agreed to recognize each other as the sole representatives of Italy's employers and employees, excluding non-Fascist trade unions. The Fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations, banned workers' strikes and lock-outs, and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers' rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes. In practice, the sectoral corporations exercised little independence and were largely controlled by the regime, and employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves but instead by appointed Fascist party members.
In the 1920s, Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive foreign policy that included an attack on the Greek island of Corfu, aims to expand Italian territory in the Balkans, plans to wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia, attempts to bring Yugoslavia into civil war by supporting Croat and Macedonian separatists to legitimize Italian intervention, and making Albania a de facto protectorate of Italy, which was achieved through diplomatic means by 1927. In response to revolt in the Italian colony of Libya, Fascist Italy abandoned previous liberal-era colonial policy of cooperation with local leaders. Instead, claiming that Italians were a superior race to African races and thereby had the right to colonize the "inferior" Africans, it sought to settle 10 to 15 million Italians in Libya. This resulted in an aggressive military campaign known as the Pacification of Libya against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps, and the forced starvation of thousands of people. Italian authorities committed ethnic cleansing by forcibly expelling 100,000 Bedouin Cyrenaicans, half the population of Cyrenaica in Libya, from their settlements that was slated to be given to Italian settlers.
Nazis in Munich during the Beer Hall Putsch.
The March on Rome brought Fascism international attention. One early admirer of the Italian Fascists was Adolf Hitler, who, less than a month after the March, had begun to model himself and the Nazi Party upon Mussolini and the Fascists. The Nazis, led by Hitler and the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, attempted a "March on Berlin" modeled upon the March on Rome, which resulted in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923.