What Were the Main Currents of Italian Fascism?[edit | edit source]
by Benjamin Gray
One of the main currents of Italian Fascism was the glorification of power and strength. This can be seen in the near-worship of all things martial within Fascism, and the emphasis on militarization and conquest. For example Fascist Italy believed in having an empire not only for economic reasons, but also to return to Italy’s position of strength possessed during the Roman Empire. This glorification of strength and power can be witnessed in the status Mussolini possessed during his dictatorship. Referred to as “il duce” (“the leader”), Mussolini possessed a cult of personality that portrayed him as a figure similar to Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” (“Superman”, literally “over-man”, a figure superior to normal humans by virtue of being entirely his own master), and who would embody the collective will of the nation. Propaganda involving Mussolini would portray him in a strong, masculine, or messianic role (one author talked of Mussolini as “a Messiah”), and anything that could contradict this view of him would be censored.
Another current within Italian Fascism was that of elitism. Italian Fascism believed that a “new aristocracy” would be created from the young and the working classes. Within this idea was the concept of “Trenchocracy”, the idea that those who had fought in World War I possessed a superior status to average Italians by virtue of having been strengthened by fighting in the war. These people were viewed in Italian Fascism as being the new class whose destiny was to revitalise Italy. There was also an emphasis on Military and Spiritual elitism, believing that Italy was a superior military power (partly because of the legacy of the Roman Empire), and the belief that Italy possessed a superior culture to the rest of the world. Furthermore, Italian Fascism did not view the actions of the masses in a positive light, believing that strong leadership was necessary in order to ensure that the masses behaved creatively.
Within Italian Fascism a large emphasis was placed on renewal and evolution. Italian Fascism accepted many of the ideas of the Futurist movement, which wanted to renew Italy through war and industrialisation, and believed in a form of “evolution” brought about by the Fascist State that would result in the “Nuovo Uomo Fascisti”, or “New Fascist Man”, a superior form of human.
Fascism was also an anti-democratic, believing that people were not equal, and that democracies were insufficient to deal with the economic problems seen in the 1920s and 1930s, and that such a system, where argument is encouraged, would lead to the emphasis of divisions amongst the citizens of Italy, and would destroy any unity, leading to the further weakening of Italy. Thus Fascism believed in a self-described totalitarian state, where the citizen would submit his individual will for the will of the nation, as manifested in the State and therefore the Leader. This idea can be best summarised with the quote “All within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”, since anything outside the state could cause divisions. This system was enforced even with regards to political opinions, with dissenting voices such as Antonio Gramsci silenced by the Fascist legal system and by the MVSN, the political militia of the Fascist state. Italian Fascism at first also believed in the ending of class conflict through a corporatist economic model where all classes collaborated in state-run “corporations”.
Italian Fascism also placed an emphasis on struggle, believing that war was the way for the nation to achieve its destiny and to renew the country. For Fascists war was to be seen as a creative force, causing innovations and advancement, and uniting the people for a common cause. This also tied in to the Italian Fascist concepts of nationalism, with the Italian nation being seen as having a separate and superior destiny to other nations (based partly on their Imperial past), justifying their wars against countries they viewed as inferior, such as Abyssinia. In conjunction with this nationalism, there was also an attempt to establish Autarky as the economic system of Italy, in order to eliminate foreign influence, and ensure that Italy was subject to no other nation.
In conclusion the main currents of Italian Fascism are the glorification of power and strength, a belief in strong leadership and elitism, the concept of renewal and progress, a belief in unity and totalitarianism, and the belief in a distinct national destiny, to be fulfilled by struggle.