On July 29th of 1883, the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, was born. He was born in Dovia di Predappio, a small town in Italy to parents Alessandro and Rosa Mussolini; he was the eldest of the three siblings. Benito’s father was a blacksmith and socialist while his mother was a Catholic school teacher. Benito’s father had a great influence on his son’s ideologies. Benito and his father spent a lot of time together during his youth while he helped in blacksmithing and during this time is when he starts to build his political views. His father was a revolutionary socialist who idolized 19th century Italian nationalist figures. His father also liked to combine authoritarianism ideas like that of Giuseppe Garibaldi with nationalist ideas like that of Giuseppe Mazzini (Bosworth 167). From this, he began to develop his own ideas. Benito’s mother insisted that he be sent to a boarding school run by Salesian monks. During his time there, he became rebellious and was very violent. He stabbed the hand of a classmate and was eventually kicked out. Mussolini’s violent tendencies can be seen even in his youth, however, his intelligence is also shone through when he leaves boarding school and begins to succeed academically. In 1902, Mussolini leaves to Switzerland in order to avoid military service. He had trouble during his time there; he was arrested the first time after coming to Geneva because of advocacy towards a violent strike and was deported, then arrested again a second time for coming back to Switzerland and falsifying his papers. His time away in Switzerland is significant because Mussolini took his time there to study the ideas of philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche (he strongly adapted to his anti-catholic and anti- God ideology), sociologist Vilfred Pareto, and the syndicalist Georges Sorel (Fermi 65). Sorel emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal Democracy and Capitalism by the use of violence, direct action, the general strike, and use of neo-Machiavellian appeals to emotion, impressed Mussolini deeply. Eventually, in 1904, he became a famous socialist journalist. He had great literary and speaking skills that made him the editor of a socialist newspaper, Avanti. What he wrote about in this paper depended upon what the people wanted to hear, indicating that Mussolini was an opportunist and was very interested in winning followers and having the power for himself. In 1915, the socialist party attacked Mussolini for “favoring war on the side of the Allies” (Hibbert 72). From then on, Mussolini decided to leave the party and served as a soldier until he was wounded which was when he returned to Milan, as an editor but this time of his own newspaper, ‘The People of Italy.’ By the end of the war, through his own experience as an editor, Mussolini had learnt the power of propaganda in mustering support from the masses. Italy was in critical conditions before Mussolini took over by force. Italy’s government had to face many new problems after the First World War. Italy was not satisfied with Paris Peace Conference territorial settlement they were given. They had expected, and were also promised, huge territorial gains when they had entered the war: Trentino, Trieste, Southern Tyrol, Istria, Dalmatia, the coastal districts of Albania, a share in the Ottoman Empire, and of the German colonies in Africa (Morgan 90). Unfortunately, although Italy lost lots of brave men in the war, they were not given half of what they had expected. Many Italians were deeply disappointed with their government which seemed be too weak and unsuccessful in its foreign policy. Many Italians turned to support the Socialist Party and the Catholic Popular Party in the elections of 1919. The Socialist Party won more than one-third of all votes and became the largest single party in the Chamber of Deputies (Fermi 15). Italy’s second problem was general economic distress. Italy was a completely poor nation. She...
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Morgan, Philip. "Italy 's Fascist War: Philip Morgan Explains Why Italians Have Tended to Gloss over the Period 1940-43, When Mussolini Fought against the Allies, Preferring to Remember the Years of German Occupation 1943-45." History Today Mar. 2007: 40+.Web. 2 Nov. 2010.
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