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Did Fascism come to power more through its own strengths or through the weakness of its opponents?

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Introduction

Did Fascism come to power more through its own strengths or through the weakness of its opponents? On the 23 March 1919 after a series of Communist demonstrations, the almost forgotten Mussolini decided to attempt to revive his Fascist movement. A meeting was held in a hall in a Milan and was attended by some fifty malcontents. From this seemingly small and insignificant event the Fascio di Combattimento' (Combat Group) was born. Initially, it would seem that the Fasci were destined for failure with none of their candidates including Mussolini winning a single seat in the 1919 elections. By the end of 1919, Mussolini possessed just over 2% of the vote in Milan. It seemed as though the fascist party was dead; the Socialists were so confident of their success that they staged a mock funeral in Milan stopping outside Mussolini's house to invite him to attend the burial of his party. Incredibly, by 1921 the membership of this previously tiny group was to rival the size of the Socialists. How was this achieved? It was certainly by no easy means; Mussolini's skill and luck played a vital role, but he was also helped by the weakness of many of his opponents. ...read more.

Middle

During this period, Fascist thuggery became ever more efficient, claiming 3000 lives of the Socialist supporters, with only 300 Fascist fatalities. Finally, on 26 June 1921 Gioletti's incompetence caught up with him; he was forced to resign due to Fascist opposition in Parliament. A combination of Mussolini's opportunism and skill, and Gioletti's inadequacy to govern Italy had resulted in Gioletti's resignation. The King asked Luigi Facta to head the new Italian government. Deserted by the Popolari' in the summer of 1922, Facta lost his Prime-ministerial position; however, he soon became Prime Minister again on 1 August when no other could be found. Fortunately for Mussolini, Facta did not provide any form of powerful opposition towards him or his party's actions. The very day that Facta formed his new ministry in government, the unions began a general strike. The strike was called in an effort to force the government to halt the Fascist violence; in particular it was a protest against Balbo's actions in Romagna. Unfortunately for the Socialists, they played into Mussolini's hands, for yet again the problem of a socialist revolution was raised. Mussolini cleverly showed the public that he was the man to restore order while in the background he made use of his disorderly supporters. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although initially, the Fascist party had widespread but unorganised support, Mussolini brought a certain national structure and identity to the party. His first contribution was the organization of the party, making it a movement as well as a party, and therefore making it a viable choice in an election. Secondly, Mussolini brought home the importance of opportunism and action as opposed to inactivity and fixed ideologies. However, we must also consider that to a certain extent, the opposition's continued failures and misjudgements almost pushed Mussolini into power. We must also take account of the fact that Mussolini certainly had his fair share of luck. A prime example is the King's refusal to declare a state of emergency, which would have allowed the army to attack the Fascists. However, it was his ability to act out the role of the Italian people's dream leader that gave him the most success. He played upon the post-war crisis, and made it appear that Fascism was the only way in which socialism would be smashed, and Italy's society and status would be rebuilt. To the Italian people, Mussolini was seen at the time a great leader they had been desperately searching for and the only leader who was going to make Italy a great power, and a respected force in the world for which the Italian people wanted. ...read more.

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