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It was Italy(TM)s participation in WW1 that allowed Mussolini to become dictator of Italy. How far do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

Qn: "It was Italy's participation in WW1 that allowed Mussolini to become dictator of Italy." How far do you agree with this statement? To a certain extent, I agree with this statement because World War 1 (WW1) caused the Socialists to become very powerful in Italy, alarming the rest of the Italian populace. After WW1, Italy suffered from massive economic problems. 650,000 men had died with one million more being seriously wounded. The financial cost of keeping the soldiers armed and fed had placed a heavy burden on the Italian treasury. Italy had to borrow huge sums of money from the USA and Britain, bringing national debt to 85 billion lira in 1919. However, even borrowing the money was inadequate to pay for the war and the government had resorted to printing money, leading to high inflation. In fact, during the war, prices quadrupled. Savings were destroyed and the middle class was the most hard-hit. Landowners relying on rents and state employees whose wages did not keep up with increasing prices also suffered. Factory workers also did not escape from the inflation. The purchasing power of their wages fell by about 25% during the war years. What made things worse was that workers who had resented the longer hours and the fall in real wages caused by inflation and the ban on industrial action vented their frustration in the post-war years after wartime discipline had been relaxed. ...read more.

Middle

Also, Italy would not be given a share of German colonies in Africa, which was yet another outrage to the Nationalists). The Nationalists felt that Italy was cheated and had, in their opinion, won only a 'mutilated victory'. Demobilised soldiers, who were struggling to adjust to civilian life and who could not find work, also saw the peace settlement as a further humiliation. For example, many ex-officers felt that the vibrant, expansionist Italy they had fought for was being undermined by a weak government. They felt that Italy was falling into the hands of Socialist revolutionaries who had opposed the war from the start and had done their best to sabotage the war effort. For them, Liberalism and the parliamentary system were failures and a powerful dynamic Italy would have to be achieved by other methods. This other method came in the form of Mussolini. He was a charismatic and clever leader, able to persuade many. Furthermore, his new political party, the Fascists, stood for a totally new political system. This helped because many people were exasperated in the current political system which had not been helping Italy ever since the end of the war. The people could have been said to be looking for a new political system which could lead them out of their problems which a government with established forms of governments could not do. Mussolini also had widespread support for his decisive actions against the Socialists. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Mussolini was influenced by events caused by the war to become who he became. The seizure of Fiume by D'Annunzio and the subsequent rule of Fiume for over a year where he drew up fantastical constitutions for the city while his armed supporters strutted through the streets made him become a public hero throughout Italy. His dramatic style, his eye for publicity and his high-volume denunciation of the government made him something of a model for Mussolini, who then drew influences from him. Also, it is dubious to say that without WW1, Italy would still have ended up in the same situation it did end up in after the war. For the war suddenly brought out many flaws of the Liberal government all at once and created many more problems such as inflation, many deaths and injuries and a 'mutilated victory' which infuriated the Nationalists. The Liberal government was hit with all these problems in quick succession after the war, sometimes with several problems at the same time. It can be said that the government simply did not have the resources and power to deal with so many huge problems which plagued Italy as a direct effect of WW1. And so, due to all these reasons, I would agree with the statement in saying that it was Italy's participation in WW1 that allowed Mussolini to become dictator of Italy. ...read more.

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