How and Why Did Mussolini Rise to Power? Essay

4426 Words May 2nd, 2012 18 Pages
How and why did Mussolini come to power in 1922?
The tumultuous era preceding Mussolini’s rise to power was marked by post-war grievances and prolonged economic instability; both of these factors resulted in popular dissatisfaction with liberalism and created an opportune atmosphere for his accession to power. The years following Italy’s unification in 1871 were blighted by poverty, a lack of nationalism and most devastatingly involvement in the First World War, resulting in national humiliation and the diminishing of the liberal government’s authority. This was signified by the marked political instability from 1919 to 1922, where 5 weak governments were elected in quick succession. The “mutilated victory” of Versailles, where Italy was
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This dominance first became evident in 1919 when socialists violated property rights by seizing agricultural terrain across Italy. Contrary to what the public expected the government made concessions and authorised the taking of property. The liberals’ power was further undermined by membership to the CGL increased over two years from 250,000 to over 2 million by 1920. This growth of trade union activity culminated in the stasis of factory production as 1 million workers went on strike. Once again, the government conceded in order to restart industrial activity, further antagonising the Italian bourgeoisie. Paradoxically, the burgeoning socialist support actually served to promote Fascism. It did this through rendering the liberal government inefficient and lacking authority, imbruing a fear of socialism in the middle and upper classes due to the rash action taken and also disincentivising socialist workers due to the ultimate failure of the strike. Critically, this fear of socialism caused many wavering middle class to accept Mussolini’s fascism as the lesser of two evils. Moreover, at a time of government inoperativeness and low civilian morale, a party as decisive and ostensibly coercive as the Fascists would have particularly appealed to the disillusioned people of Italy. The Blackshirts were used to crush political enemies, portray an image of order and power and also to intimidate voters to support the Fascist party. The