Totalitarianism in Mussolini's Italy

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To what extent did Mussolini create a totalitarian state in Italy ?


To consider the extent to which Italy was a totalitarian regime, the definition of totalitarianism must first be considered. A totalitarian state is one in which a dictatorial regime exists, which regulates every realm of life, where no rival loyalties or parties are permitted, and all rights normally belonging to individuals are assumed by the totalitarian state.


Mussolini first used the term 'totalitarian' publicly in his speech to the PNF's national congress in June 1925, using it to describe fascisms 'ferocious totalitarian will' to the remove the 'remnants of opposition'. To a large extent Mussolini was successful in removing opposition to create a one-party state. The law on the Power on the Head of Government was passed on the 24th of December 1925, Mussolini was the undisputable head of parliament. In January 1926 Mussolini gained the power to pass decrees without parliamentary approval and was therefore only answerable to the King. To further secure the establishment of a one-party state, in October 1926 following an assassination attempt on Mussolini's life all political parties were banned and their deputies expelled from the Chamber. The central control of the localities was further tightened by closing government councils, they were now to be governed by local councils appointed by government officials (the Podesta). The pyramid of state authority now stretched directly down from Mussolini to the most rural and backward province.

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The use of terror and the establishment of the police state is another key characteristic of totalitarian regime. Roberto Farannaci, the party secretary, co-ordinated much of the violence against the opponents, stating that 'If the broom is not enough, let us use the machine gun'. In 1925 Mussolini wanting to tone down the fascist party's unruly reputation in order to appeal to Italy's more affluent sections, he ordered Farannaci to purge the PNF of thousands of its more volatile members. In 1927 Mussolini formed the Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell’Antifascismo (OVRA) a secret police force to ...

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