Italian Fascism - Fascism Empowered

Fascism Empowered

Italy's use of daredevil elite shock troops known as the Arditi, beginning in 1917, was an important influence on Fascism. The Arditi were soldiers who were specifically trained for a life of violence and wore unique blackshirt uniforms and fezzes. The Arditi formed a national organization in November 1918, the Associazione fra gli Arditi d'Italia, which by mid-1919 had about twenty thousand young men within it. Mussolini appealed to the Arditi, and the Fascists' Squadristi, developed after the war, were based upon the Arditi.

The First World War (1914–18) inflated Italy’s economy with great debts, unemployment (aggravated by thousands of demobilised soldiers), social discontent featuring strikes, organised crime, and anarchist, Socialist, and Communist insurrections. When the elected Italian Liberal Party Government could not control Italy, the Revolutionary Fascist Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario, PFR) Leader Benito Mussolini took matters in hand, combating those societal ills with the Blackshirts, paramilitary squads of First World War veterans and ex-socialists; Prime Ministers such as Giovanni Giolitti allowed the Fascists taking the law in hand.

The Liberal Government preferred Fascist class collaboration to the Communist Party of Italy’s bloody class conflict, should they assume government, as had Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks in the recent Russian Revolution of 1917.

The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle (June 1919) of the PFR presented the politico-philosophic tenets of Fascism; it included women's suffrage, a minimum wage, an eight-hour workday, and reorganisation of public transport. Appeasing its initially strong feminist wing, the Fascist party actually bowed in November 1925, allowing the introduction of limited women's suffrage, much to the dismay of Fascist feminists.

By the early 1920s, popular support for the PFR’s fight against Bolshevism numbered some 250,000 people. In 1921, the Fascisti (Fascists) metamorphosed into the PNF, and achieved political legitimacy when Benito Mussolini was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1922. Although the Liberal Party retained power, the governing prime ministries proved ephemeral, especially that of the fifth Prime Minister Luigi Facta, whose government proved vacillating.

To depose the weak parliamentary democracy, Deputy Mussolini (with military, business, and liberal right-wing support) launched the PNF March on Rome (27–29 October 1922) coup d’État, to oust Prime Minister Luigi Facta, and assume the government of Italy, to restore nationalist pride, re-start the economy, increase productivity with labor controls, remove economic business controls, and impose law and order. On 28 October, whilst the “March” occurred, King Victor Emmanuel III withdrew his support of Prime Minister Facta, and appointed PNF Leader Benito Mussolini as the sixth Prime Minister of Italy.

The March on Rome became a victory parade, the Fascists believed their success was revolutionary and traditionalist.

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