Assess the successes and failures of Mussolini's domestic policy.

Authors Avatar

Oliver Clarke

Assess the successes and failures of Mussolini’s domestic policy.

Mussolini’s primary aim in 1919 when he came into power was to fascitise the Italian nation as a whole, young and old; he wanted his nation to be utterly committed and disciplined towards the new fascist state rather than being passive and going along with everyone else.  To achieve this goal, Mussolini set about trying to influence and ultimately change make domestic establishments more ‘fascist’, that is, to follow the principles of a very right-wing, nationalist totalitarian state in which the ‘Duce is always right’ and in which the principles of ‘Believe, Obey, Fight’ are considered paramount.  Mussolini attempted to alter Church-state relations, to create the perfect fascist woman, to fascitise the educational system and the youths of Italy, to change Italy’s economic and political structure, and to create a nation that would be respected by other nations, by using his strategies of the ‘battle for land, grain and births’ and by proving the strength of the nation through sporting achievements.  However, Mussolini’s policies failed to unite the country and fascitise the nation as a whole; his economic polices were disastrous, Italy was fairly weak politically, and women and teenagers failed to be heavily affected by a fascist state; Mussolini did handle the Church-State relations well however but in the larger scale of things, it is a relatively minor point.

Although Mussolini was anti-clerical, a totalitarian state cannot allow another establishment with a powerful set of beliefs to survive, he realised that if he could actually win over the support of the Church, he would win further the support of the Italian people, as well as foreign Catholics.  The Church at that time was more worried about the threat from socialism, and fascism seemed to be suitable protection, and in actual fact, the Church and the State shared some common ground; they both saw the need for order, discipline, respect for leaders and a hierarchy, and a dislike of liberalism.  Although progress early on continued at a slow pace, the relations by 1929 were at a peak, but went on to decline throughout the 1930s, with the disbanding of Catholic youth groups by 1931.  Early measured included increased clerical wages and a return to compulsory religious education in elementary schools through Gentile’s education act of February 1923; relations peaked in February 1929 when the Lateran Accords were signed.  The Church and State gained from this pact.  The Church received its own sovereign state in the middle of Rome, the Vatican City, and the state restored the authority of the Papacy.  The Church also received 750 million lira in bonds as compensation for the territory lost at unification from the state, which also extended compulsory religious education into secondary schools.  The Pope recognised Rome as the capital of Italy, authorising Mussolini as leader of Italy, and also more importantly, withdrew his support of the Catholic Popular Party; this effectively meant that Mussolini was now free of any political rivals.  Mussolini was very successful in securing good relations between the Church and the State in the late 1920s, but his policy of anti-Semitism started in 1938 was condemned by the Church, which weakened the totalitarian state throughout the 1930s, with its newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and the FUCI student federation.  However, it gave Mussolini and his Fascist Italy a lot of prestige throughout the world.  As Clark says, ‘The pacts were a triumph for the Duce.  The cost was negligible, the benefits huge…he could count on worldwide prestige and a chorus of admiration.

Join now!

Mussolini was not so successful in his fascistisation program in schools in Italy.  For Mussolini the control over education was seen as essential, and he wanted to teach all young people the fascist principles of manliness, patriotism and obedience.  He also attempted to glorify himself, the Duce, to create a very pro-fascist generation that would be completely disciplined to the state, something that he really desired.  The ‘Cult of Mussolini’ is a key expression here; there was a photo of Mussolini in every classroom, pupils were given Mussolini notebooks, and the school day began with prayers and songs about ...

This is a preview of the whole essay

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay


This is a very strong response which demonstrates excellent subject knowledge. It was well structured, with good support from historians and plenty of relevant evaluation. The conclusion could have been extended to reflect the quality of ideas in the essay itself. 5 out of 5 stars.