What did the term Fascism stand for?
The term ‘fascist’ was later applied to other rules and rulers like Hitler (Germany), Franco (Spain), Salazar (Portugal) and Peron (Argentina). These were sometimes quite different from the Italian rule. Since there was no great theoretical writer during this age who would have explained the philosophies clearly in the way that Karl Marx had did for Communism. Mussolini had been frequently changing his policies and aims before 1923 which suggested that his main aim was to acquire power. Some of the basic principles of Fascism can be listed as follows:
• Extreme Nationalism: Emphasis on the re-birth of the Nation after a period of decline and ...view middle of the document...
The early years seemed to be successful (or at least the Government propaganda told the people). Industry was encouraged with the help from the Government. As a result the production of iron and steel, artificial silk and hydro-electric power increase by manifolds. The ‘Battle of Wheat’ encouraged the farmers to concentrate on wheat production in order to make them self-sufficient. A programme for land reclamation was launched to improve and increase agricultural yields. Impressive public works programme in order to reduce unemployment was introduced like building of motorways, bridges, blocks of flats, railway stations, sports stadium, schools and new towns on reclaimed land and electrifying main railway lines. The fascists boasted that it was during Mussolini’s time that the trains had started to come on time. The ‘after-work’ (Dopolavoro) organisation provided the Italian people with entertainment and relaxation with cheap holidays, tours and cruises, theatres, drama societies, libraries etc.
To promote the ‘strong’ image of Italy, a varied foreign policy was laid down by the Mussolini.
b) Unsolved problems
Much before Italy became involved in the Second World War, it was clear that fascism had not solved many of the problems. There was shortage of coal and oil, much more effort could have been given to increase the production of hydro-electric power. Although the ‘Battle of Wheat’ was a success, it was achieved only at the expense of dairy and arable farming. In an attempt to show that Italy had a strong currency, Mussolini revalued the lira far too high at 90 to the pound instead of 150 (as in 1926). This led to the fall in the demand for Italian imports in the foreign nations and also reduced the salaries of the labourers. The great depression of 1929, the Wall Street Crash in the U.S.A. made matters worse. Exports fell further down, unemployment rose and the worst part was for the industrial labourers who had no way to protest as trade unions were weak and strikes had been made illegal. There was no sign of the state being a ‘social’ and a ‘welfare’ state.
The rule was inefficient and corrupt and most of the money went into the pockets of corrupt officials. This happened mainly because Mussolini refused to delegate powers because he wanted the total control.
Mussolini’s foreign policy
In the early days of Mussolini’s rule his foreign policy were rather confused. He knew what he wanted, i.e, ‘to make Italy great, respected and feared’. However he failed to adopt proper measures to achieve this. At first he thought that an adventurous foreign policy would be best suited for his regime, hence the Corfu Incident of 1923 where three Italian officials, who were working in the boundary commission (of Albania) were killed. Mussolini blamed the Greeks and demanded huge compensation along with bombing and occupying the Greek Island of Corfu. Greece appealed to the League of Nations for the problem...