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For the broader sense, see Fascism (broad sense)
Banner of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, featuring the fasces.

Fascism (Italian: Fascismo) denotes a political movement and worldview which was the ruling system in the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943 and the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. The movement was founded by Benito Mussolini, also known as Il Duce, who led the National Fascist Party and then the Republican Fascist Party. Contemporary to that era, some groups in other European countries were either inspired by or attempted to imitate the Fascists of Italy (see the article on Fascism (broad sense)).[1] Following the defeat during World War II there have also been some post-fascist movements in Italy such as the Movimento Sociale Italiano and its various offshoots, which claim to be the heirs of the fascist legacy.

The principal figures in the foundation of fascism, were former anarcho-syndicalists and Maximilists from the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) under Mussolini, who had devised national syndicalism and advocated the liberation of occupied Italian territories in World War I. The basic ideas of fully developed fascism, which was also influenced by Nietzsche, Sorel and others, are to be found in the Doctrine of Fascism co-authored by Giovanni Gentile. The Fascists also attracted patriotic ex-servicemen feeling Italy has been cheated at the Paris Peace Conference. They came to power during the March on Rome after a time of leftist unrest known as the biennio rosso (*Two Red Years"). The time the fascism was in power in Italy is know as the ventennio nero ("Black Twenty Years").



The term fascism (or fascismo) derives from the word fascio, meaning bundle or league. In ancient Rome a bundle of rods, tied together, known in Latin as the fasces was a symbol of authority, representing strength through unity, the point being that whilst each independent rod was fragile, as a bundle they were strong. This re-entered popular political symbolism largely through its use on banners and arms by the Bonapartists. In an Italian political context, the Fasci Siciliani dei Lavoratori, which was active on the island of Sicily between 1889 and 1894 seems to have been the first usage as a political word. These Fasci were a socialist mass movement, but also stood for traditional values. This was adopted by Mussolini for use with the Fasci d'azione rivoluzionaria in 1915 and eventually the Partito Nazionale Fascista.


Background and origins

Most of the progenitors of fascism had been part of the socialist movement in Italy; the two main ideological currents which its founders had been associated with were anarcho-syndicalists belonging to the Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) and members of the Maximalist wing of the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI), led by Mussolini (who were opponents of the Reformist wing of that party). The split came over the issue of nationalism and the desire to win for Italy territories controlled by the Austrian Empire that it felt it had a right to (also known as irridentism), through participation in the First World War on the side of the Entente Powers. They saw this as completing the Risorgimento began in the previous century. In Italy at this time, many Marxists were commanded through the Second International to play the "pacifist";[note 1] the real reason behind this was because Austria's ally the German Empire, was directly aiding the Bolsheviks as a strategy to destroy Russia (specifically their Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann helped put Vladimir Lenin into place on the infamous sealed train).

The various members of the USI, such as de Ambris and Filippo Corridoni, began to develop what they called national syndicalism. This position was shared by some of the members of the Associazione Nazionalista Italiana such as Enrico Corradini, in the terms of Italy being a "proletarian nation" exploited by international capital and its liberal puppets who kept Italy in a backwards economically disadvantaged state. This synthesis was not unique to Italy; the Cercle Proudhon in France associated with Action Française also promoted their own ideas of national syndicalism. They shared a mutual hatred of internationalism (including liberal and Marxist variations), plutocracy and bourgeois values in general. They were joined in this by Mussolini who had been expelled from the PSI in 1914. Two nascent groups, the Fasci d'azione rivoluzionaria internazionalista of Angelo Oliviero Olivetti and the Fasci autonomi d'azione rivoluzionaria of Mussolini merged together as the Fasci d'azione rivoluzionaria at Milan and became the nation-wide organisation of the fascist movement in 1915.[2][3][4]

Italy ended World War I on the side of the victors and some of the territories they desired were given over as the Austrian Empire was dismantled at the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Saint-Germain. However, some of the territories on the Adriatic Coast where Italians lived in Dalmatia (historically belonging to the Republic of Venice, considered "unredeemed") and promised in the London Pact were not handed over. This was largely due to Woodrow Wilson supporting the claims of Yugoslavia and led to some Italians refering to it as a "mutilated victory". Not willing to take this insult Gabriele D'Annunzio, a war hero and Nietzschean playwrite, led a group of Arditi patriots to take the ethnically Italian city of Fiume, setting up the Italian Regency of Carnaro. Much of this influenced Italian fascism, not least D'Annunzio's bombastic oratory style, the wearing of black shirts and the corporatist nature of the regency's constitution. The Liberals in Italy eventually gave in to the League of Nations with the Treaty of Rapallo and the Royal Italian Navy forced the D'Annunzian legionnaires to evacuate in late 1920.

O Roma o morte!

Following the aftermath of World War I in 1919, the fascist movement was reconstituted under Benito Mussolini in Milan as the Fasci italiani di combattimento. It included amongst its ranks men from various different fields, many of the pre-war national syndicalists, military veterans, republicans, nationalists, D'Annunzians and Futurists of the Marinetti school. In the aftermath of the war, there was a serious economic crisis; inflation was high, the living standard had dropped for workers significantly. This was used by the PSI which was part of the Marxist-Leninst Communist International.

To a significant degree Comintern agents were successful in whipping up mass unrest, 1919 and 1920 are known in Italian history as the biennio rosso ("Two Red Years"). There was mass unrest and violent riots incited by them across cities such as Rome, Turin, Milan, Naples and Florence, as well as rural unrest in places such as the Po Valley. Similarly to how attempted leftist revolutions in Germany was met with resistance by the Freikorps, so in Italy the leftists were met by the Arditi and the Blackshirts; the Squadristi of the Fasci di combattimento. Their main enemy was the PSI, the party which had expelled Mussolini himself. Notable squadristi included Italo Balbo, Roberto Farinacci and Giuseppe Caradonna. Laid out in their programme of San Sepolcore, the fascists offered a political alternative of a third position. The Fasci italiani di combattimento, now with 312,000 members, became the Partito Nazionale Fascista in 1921 and stood in the national election as part of the National Bloc coalition, which finished third.

A painting of the March on Rome, showing Benito Mussolini and the Blackshirts leading fascism to power in Italy during October 1922.

The March on Rome was led from Naples to Rome by the quadrumvirate of Benito Mussolini, Emilio De Bono, Cesare Maria De Vecchi and Italo Balbo, including some 30,000 Blackshirts. Luigi Facta, the leader of the Liberal Party (and Prime Minister at the time) wanted to declare martial law and send in the Royal Italian Army to crush the Fascist Revolution. King Victor Emmanuel III refused to sign the draft, however, fearing the outbreak of a bloody civil war (and likely aware of what the Communists did to the Romanovs in 1918).

Although most fascists were republican at heart and imbued with the anti-conservative nationalist spirit of Giuseppe Mazzini (particularly highlighted in the works of Sergio Panunzio)[5] since the king had made this positive and mutually beneficial gesture, they agreed to work within the circumstances that had arose. Benito Mussolini was appointed on 30 October 1922 as Prime Minister of Italy and invited to form a new cabinet, marking the start of the ventennio nero; this transfer was entirely constitutional under the terms of the Statuto Albertino.

Fascism rules Italy

Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy as leader of the PNF in 1922.

World War II and downfall

Propaganda poster criticizing "Gangster Pilots" referring to American bombings and Americans working with the Mafia which has been effectively suppressed during Mussolini.

Ideals and practice


Main article: Uomo nuovo
Mahatma Gandhi and some members of the Opera Nazionale Balilla. Fascist society places an important emphasis on the youth.

At the core of fascism was a meritocratic belief in the formulation of a new aristocracy that, through a Nietzschean struggle, would lead Italy into a Golden Age to rival that of the Roman Republic. This man, the uomo nuovo fascista, was to be created from the youth and the working-class, to replace the old elite. The fascists believed that the men who fought in the trenches of World War I had been strengthened by the war and were thus superior in virtue to the herd, having the vitality to lead and revive the Italian nation into a higher destiny. This Spartan ethos was applied to the youth and organisations such as the Opera Nazionale Balilla were founded to form them, the official anthem of the party; Giovinezza, also glorified the youth.



Fascist architecture envoked the classical while at the same time being boldly modern.


The core purpose of Fascist economics was to raise the collective standard of the nation, eschewing sectional interests via the healthy collaboration between all classes of the nation, working for the common good of the organic whole. This is known as corporatism and national syndicalism. Based on ignorance, in the Anglosphere, the Italian corporativismo is mistakenly assumed[6] by illiterates to be associated with the Anglo concept of a corporation (a private business conglomerate); the Fascist system of corporatism is triparte in nature and is connected to trade unionism, where various sectors of national life come together to barter in favour of their specific field of interest through the Consiglio Nazionale delle Corporazioni, which was an official body of the Italian state. The main difference between corporatism (codified as official policy by the Carta del Lavoro in 1927) and national syndicalism is that the authoritarian state or party is the most powerful factor in the former, while the latter is closer to a bottom-up direct democracy situation (overlapping with and deriving from to some extent Georges Sorel's anarcho-collectivism).

Battle for Land

First settlers working on the drainage of the Agro Pontino, the land was after parcelled among settlers.
Pontinia, one of the cities founded on the Agro Pontino.

On 1929, Mussolini started the project called Bonifica dell'Agro Pontino, a large area in the south of the Lazio region. The territory was mainly marshland, and almost nobody lived on this place as it was easy to get malaria. On the first stage of the project, the bonifica idraulica, it was created channels to drain the swamps and control the waters. On the second stage, the bonifica agraria, public utilities were to be constructed, cities were founded and the land was to be parcelled among settlers. Then it had the last stage, the bonifica igienica that took measures against the mosquitos (Anopheles labranchiae), such as screens and whitewash (so that mosquitos could be easily identified and killed), and against malaria, such as distributing quinine and setting up health services.

The government placed about 2000 families (most from the region of Veneto in northern Italy) in standardised but carefully varied two-storey country-houses of blue stucco with tiled roofs. Each settler family was assigned a farmhouse, an oven, a plough and other agricultural tools, a stable, some cows and several hectares of land, depending on local soil fertility and the size of the family. Mussolini used the ten-year operation for propaganda purposes, and was often photographed between workers, shirtless with a shovel in his hand, or threshing wheat at harvest time; these occasions were regularly filmed by LUCE for inclusion in nationally-shown propaganda newsreels.

The new towns of Littoria (1932, now Latina), Sabaudia (1934), Pontinia (1935), Aprilia (1937), and Pomezia (1939) were founded, side by side with several other small borghi (rural villages). The carefully differentiated architecture and urban planning aspects of these towns is striking even today.


The relationship between religion and Fascism differed over time and remained complex. Some have tried to describe Fascism itself as a political religion. The Catholic Church was the main religion in Italy and at the time it had a conflicting relationship with the Italian state due to the annexation of the Papal States during the Italian unification. As nationalists, inheriting elements of the Mazzinite-Jacobin tradition, many early Fascists were anti-clerical on that basis and were opposed to Church claims over property. Mussolini made public statements claiming that science was in the process of disproving the existence of God.

Later on, however, there came to be a rapprochement between the two forces. Mussolini, in knowledge of the fact that most of his countrymen were Catholic, thought it politically intelligent to come to an understanding with elements of the Church (particularly the section hostile to Freemasonry and Marxism; the Black Nobility of Rome) on the understanding that they did not try to meddle in the party political affairs of the nation. This would also help to gain for him sympathy from the many Catholics around the world, a political strategy very similar to that of Napoleon III before him. Luigi Sturzo, a priest who led the Italian People's Party advocated an alliance with Revisionist Marxists and decried his co-religionists who supported an alliance with Fascism (particularly the Unione Nazionale and Centro Nazionale) as "clerical fascists".


Following the fall of the Italian Social Republic and the death Benito Mussolini on 28 April 1945 (a controversial topic in itself) Fascism officially ended. The Movimento Sociale Italiano constituted in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante became the main organisation for those sympathetic with fascism. The state moved to criminalise fascism with the Legge Scelba of 1952. The relationship between the MSI and fascism is debatable; they were certainly nostalgic about the Mussolini-era and opposed the defamation of Italian history, but as time went on they became acclimated to the post-war mainstream. Italian fascists looked to Junio Valerio Borghese as a leader, but, due to accusations of planning a revolution in 1970 was forced to flee to Spain under Franco. Post-war fascists were influenced by Julius Evola, as a counterpoint to 1960s Cultural Marxism. Today's parties include Fiamma Tricolore and Forza Nuova.

See also the articles on Fascism (broad sense) and Third Position


The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide; he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, life which should be high and full, lived for oneself, but not above all for others — those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after.

Benito Mussolini, 1932, The Doctrine of Fascism.

We deny the existence of two classes, because there are many more than two classes. We deny that human history can be explained in terms of economics. We deny your internationalism. That is a luxury article which only the elevated can practise, because peoples are passionately bound to their native soil.

—Benito Mussolini, 1921, Speech.

The opening of Italian archives after the war revealed no evidence of a conspiracy between the “magnates of industry” and Mussolini’s Fascism. In fact, there is ample evidence of a mounting resistance to Fascist rule by the leaders of industry throughout the twenty years of its tenure. Fascism had gradually assumed control over fundamental aspects of the overall Italian economy. By the mid-1930s, most of the critically important functions of enterprise had been surrendered to Fascist control. The availability of credit was largely determined by members of the Fascist elite. The peculiar development of domestic manufacturing was largely controlled by the Fascist government through the corporative agencies fabricated by those around Mussolini.

A James Gregor, 2006, The Search for Neofascism: The Use and Abuse of Social Science.



  1. There was a very strong, specifically Ashkenazi Jewish, undercurrent to this so-called "pacifism" in Entente nations. Many Ashkenazis despised Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and assocatied Russia with "persecution", having a strong desire to see them lose the war. Thus for instance in London within the British Socialist Party, Henry Hyndman supported the war on a basis of perceived British national interest, while Zelda Kahan and Theodore Rothstein out of hatred for Russia and motivated by ethnocentric Ashkenazi concerns advocated pacifism (for his part Lenin a willing recipient of Prussian money and assistance, attempted to confuse and misdirect the goyim with some nonsense about "the bourgeoisie"). For the Prussians, their support of the Jewish Bolsheviks against Russia, was in their eyes, pure realpolitik.



  1. Much later movements such as the Peronists of Argentina, the Arab Socialists and Baathists of the Middle East share similarities.
  2. Laqueuer, Walter." Comparative Study of Fascism" by Juan J. Linz. Fascism, A Reader's Guide: Analyses, interpretations, Bibliography. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976. Pp. 15 "Fascism is above all a nationalist movement and therefore wherever the nation and the state are strongly identified."
  3. Laqueur, Walter. Fascism: Past, Present, Future. Oxford University Press, 1997. Pp. 90. "the common belief in nationalism, hierarchical structures, and the leader principle."
  4. Koln, Hans; Calhoun, Craig. The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in its Origins and Background. Transaction Publishers. Pp 20.
    University of California. 1942. Journal of Central European Affairs. Volume 2.
  5. Roberts 1979, p. 167.
  6. Skeptical Liberatian (6 January 2013). "Fake Quote Files: Benito Mussolini on Fascism and Corporatism". 


  • Roberts, David D. (1979). The Syndicalist Tradition and Italian Fascism. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719007615. 

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