In this paper, I will give an account of Benito Mussolini’s rise to power. I will conduct a research on his development from his schooldays through his editorial profession, to his transmission from being against the war and eventual support of the war. Further, I will report on his character, especially his ability to influence the masses despite of his humble family backgrounds. Finally, I will provide the factors that eventually propelled him to power, one of these significant factors being his closeness to the king, and the coup d’état in Rome.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini wasborn on 29th July 1883 in a small town called Dovia di Predappio Forli province in Emilia-Romagna. He was the son of a blacksmith Alessandro Mussolini and a catholic schoolteacher Rosa Mussolini. He was born in a family of three children and was the eldest among them. In his childhood, Mussolini spent most of his time with his father who was a socialist. Unlike other catholic children, Mussolini was not baptized at birth as his parents had different religious views. He was however baptized later in his childhood. His father inspired the political knowledge into his young son. Even at a tender age, Mussolini showed his hard heartedness by his mischief in school. He was expelled from one of the boarding schools for his mischievous behavior in several occasions.
After finishing his school and qualifying as a schoolmaster in the year 1901, Mussolini migrated to Switzerland as away to escape the military training in Italy. Life in Geneva was not easy for him, as he could not get a permanent job. He however furthered his education and learnt leadership concepts among them Marxism, sociology, syndicalism and philosophy. He associated with some of the famous scholars in Switzerland. He was very much impressed with the idea of liberal democracy and capitalism. He then joined the Italian socialist movement based in Switzerland. He influenced the workers on various places to fight for their rights violently. His campaigns led to his arrest in 1903 and he was then deported to Italy. In 1904 he returned to Switzerland and was deported again. He however joined the army in Italy, as it was the only way that he could be pardoned. He served in the military for two years and went back to teaching. He later got a job as an editor of the local socialists’ party. He was an active socialist leader and actively participated in public incitements. In 1911, he was among the leaders of a social riot opposing the Italian war on Libya and was jailed for five months after the incident. He was sociologist and was opposed to the Christian view of the existence of God. (Quartermaine, Luisa 2000)
Mussolini remained a great supporter of the sociologists until the break of the First World War. Initially he and the other sociologists were against Italy’s participation in the war. He wrote a column declaring that should remain neutral. However, after being influenced by some of the Italians in the Diaspora and guided by his self-interest he changed his stand to support the war, as it would give him and the Italians a sense of power in other countries. He therefore went against the stand of the socialists to support the war. He quit being a socialist and became a revolutionist. He openly criticized the Italian socialist party and their agendas. He openly supported Italy’s participation in the war arguing that it gave the nation an identity. He then joined the Italian army and entered the First World War as way to show his commitment to the new ideologies. In the war, he was injured and almost died after a grenade attack. He was promoted to the rank of corporal but this was short lived as he got another injury that made him get back to his writing job. After the First World War, Mussolini was a well-established politician who was influential among the people.
One of the most amazing things about Mussolini was his charisma. Mussolini was a person that could influence the masses easily. Despite the fact that he missed out a lot since he was not from a well-known family Mussolini integrated well with the people around him. He was able to work his way out of many issues because of his charisma. While he was in the socialists group, he effectively fought the many challenges he faced. When he landed in Switzerland he was able to work his way to the helm of the socialists in the country. despite the fact that he was jobless he still was able to associate with the educated people who shared various ideas and philosophies that proved useful in his later years. Mussolini was fearless and determined to succeed in whatever he did this is evident with the way he survived the arrests while still in the sociologists and continued with his activities.
His charisma is more evident after he exited the socialists. After he exited the socialists for his own gain, he joined the army in the war and was able to earn a promotion despite his little experience in the forces. He then quit the army and got into politics. He went against his former allies and supported the revolutionists instead of the socialists. One of his greatest achievements is his success in creating and enforcing fascism. He was able to campaign for fascism to gain support of the people despite the fact that fascism was a new idea to the majority of the people. Fascism ideology supported the unity of all people despite their social class. Mussolini was able to put together ideas from various philosophers and influential people to create a convincing policy that won the support of many of the Italians. In his policy, he advocated fort the need to strengthen the country in all aspects. He was against democracy and believed that the people should have served the nation in order to increase its power. He also advocated for a strong military power and an education system that would strengthen the military. He supported racism, which was welcomed by the majority in Italy. He successfully united the traditionalist and revolution views in fascism. He managed to gather enough support and manpower to overthrow the government because of his charisma.
Another factor that led to the success of Mussolini was his close relationship to the king. Mussolini despite the fact that he never supported the monarchy at heart remained in good terms with the king. His friendship with the king was inspired by his motive to rise to power. The monarchy was significantly powerful in the country and popular especially among the middle class people who formed the majority of the population. The king had also been the commander I chief of the armed forces during the First World War and therefore he enjoyed strong loyalty among the members of the forces. Mussolini was aware of this and therefore had to befriend the king in order to rise to power. For him to enjoy the dictatorial power that he wanted he had to win over the military to his side. His friendship with the king provided an opportunity to achieve this. When Mussolini designed the fascism policy, he ensured that it favored relationship with the king. The king would be instrumental in his success as the ruler of the country. Despite his divergent views on religion, Mussolini supported the catholic church as it held a great following of the Italian citizens.
The other reason that led to the successful rise of Mussolini to power was the weak and uncoordinated liberal government. The government before Mussolini was weak in its policy making. Its policies had oppressed the majority of the people and therefore the people were willing to support a new regime that would enforce changes in the running of affairs in the country. The division of the community into social classes contributed to the people’s hatred of the regime. The government had divided the people into three classes, the rich, the middle class, and the poor. Only the rich people enjoyed certain privileges. Mussolini therefore easily got the support of the poor and the middle class people, which contributed, to his successful rise to power. The government then failed to react to the early signs of rebellion amongst the middle class and the poor people. Trade unions were also rising in the south and the government failed to satisfy their demands. The fact that the Catholic Church failed to support the then government also contributed to its downfall.. After the First World War the government of Italy was still not stable enough to deal with the overwhelming pressure of the effects of the war and from the unsatisfied citizens. It therefore provided a perfect opportunity for Mussolini to overthrow the government.
Fascism was one of the ways in which Mussolini was able to win over the majority of the people, which helped him overthrow the then government. Mussolini convinced the people that it was necessary for Italy to assert its power and superiority over Europe. This power would help Italy expand its region and therefore be wealthier. This would lead to an easier life for the people of Italy. It also supported a more integrated economy as employers employees and the government should have worked together to ensure that the economy of the country grew significantly. The policy encouraged the discrimination of people from other races as it gave the Italians superiority over them. Fascism was one of the ways that Mussolini won the support of the people and was able to win over the support of the people.
The political struggles led to a myriad of problems that further led to a coup d'état in Rome. Mussolini had capitalized in fascism and this factor gave him a lot of power. Luigi Facta, who was the then prime minister, had requested to declare Martial law. However, after rejection the prime minister submitted his recognition. Following a series of rows, many people had been engulfed by fascism. This reduced opposition and impatience from the subjects. The business and crucial forms of interests were addressed and thus made him have support the business class and the military. In a simple understanding, Mussolini could have sufficient power and financial stability that would propagate him against the waves of opposition and the coup that eventually occurred.
De Felice, Renzo. L,organizzazione Dello Stato Fascista. 1925-1929 ed. Vol. II. : Einaudi, 1968. Print.
Gentile, Emilio. E Fu Subito Regime: Il Fascismo E La Marca Su Roma. : Gius Laterza, 2012. Print.
Evans, David. Understaind Mussolini's Italy. London: Hodder Education, 2005. Print.
Hibbert, Christopher. Mussolinii the Rise and Fall of Il Duce.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Print.
Clark, Martin. Mussolini. Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman, 2005. Print.
DeGrand, Alexander J. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: The "fascist" Style of Rule. London: Routledge, 1995. Print.
Gregor, A. James. Mussolini's Intellectuals: Fascist Social and Political Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005. Print.
Borgognone, Giovanni. Come Nasce Una Dittatura: L'Italia Del Delitto Matteotti. Roma: Laterza, 2012. Print.
Bosworth, R. J. B.. Mussolini. London: Arnold ;, 2002. Print.
Cardoza, Anthony L.. Benito Mussolini: the first fascist. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. Print.
Grand, Alexander J.. The Italian Nationalist Association and the rise of fascism in Italy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978. Print.
Killinger, Charles L.. The history of Italy. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.
Quartermaine, Luisa. Mussolini's last republic: propaganda and politics in the Italian Social Republic (R.S.I.) 1943-45. Exeter: Elm Bank Publications, 2000. Print.
Reich, Jacqueline. Re-viewing fascism Italian cinema, 1922-1943. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002. Print.
Wellhofer, E. Spencer. "Democracy And Fascism: Class, Civil Society, And Rational Choice In Italy." American Political Science Review 97.01 (2003): 91. Print.