"Little more than a show and a sham" Discuss this view of Mussolini's economic policies.

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* "Little more than a show and a sham" Discuss this view of Mussolini's economic policies.

Mussolini's economic policies included the battle for lire, grain and land as well as the idea of Corporativism and state intervention during the worldwide depression following the Wall Street crash. All of his policies involved a propaganda, or 'show', element to them. This highlighted their success and hid their failures. To decide whether his economic policies were a show and a sham, each separate part of his policies need to be looked at.

Mussolini wanted Italy to be 'great, respected and feared'; he tried to achieve this through his economic 'battles'. The fact that they were called battles shows that Mussolini wanted to use them for propaganda purposes. The biggest show of Mussolini's economic battles was the Battle for Land. This battle aimed to turn Italy's unusable marshland into land that could be used to build city's upon and for agricultural purposes. 80,000 hectares of former marshland was drained and tuned into useable land, this was only one-twentieth of the propaganda claim. Two new cities were created and used to impress foreign journalists. The battle for land produces very little success but was used as propaganda for the fascist regime; it was a complete show.

The Battle for Lira was another one of Mussolini's economic propaganda battles. The aim of this battle was for Italy to have a strong currency. He wanted the Lira to be as strong as it was in 1922 (from 150 Lira to the Pound, in 1926, back to 90). The reasoning behind this was to reduce inflation, which was harming the middle classes, and to help industries that were reliant on imports (e.g. the steal industry) as well as showing Italy as a strong nation. These were the only advantages of this economic policy. The negative effects of this policy were that workers wages had to be drastically cut by 20% and export industries were hard hit as Italian products were now much more expensive. In 1936, the government had to devalue the Lira again. The battle for Lira was damaging to the economy and can be described as the biggest sham of all of Mussolini's battles.
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The most successful of these battles was the battle for grain. The aim of this policy was to increase cereal production so that in event of war Italy would not have to rely on imports of food. This was part of Mussolini's policy of Autarky (self-sufficiency). Money was given to peasants so that they could invest in modern ways of farming and encourage them to grow grain instead of other products. This policy was a success in that by 1940 Italy was almost self-sufficient in this area. However, this was at the expense of the Italian people's diet. ...

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