How Far Do You Agree That The Consolidation Of Fascist Power In Italy In The Years 1922 Essay

Submitted By Hannah-Speed
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How far do you agree that the consolidation of Fascist power in Italy in the years 1922-29 was mainly due to force and intimidation?

Despite gaining Prime Ministership in October 1922, Mussolini’s utopia of a Fascist state was still just that. To become a concrete force in the coalition government of Italy’s liberal parliamentary system a political transition would need to occur. Whilst the tangible power of Fascism hinges on a totalitarian one party state, the consolidation process was done via force and intimidation, strengthening parliamentary position and winning over the establishment.

In 1922 November the 16th Mussolini held his first speech as prime minister and claimed he could, with 30000 black shirts behind him, create a fascist government if he wanted to, from the offset force and intimidation was intrinsically linked with Fascist power. Mussolini set up a new armed militia in 1923: National State Voluntary Militia. They swore an allegiance not to the State or the King or even the Fascist Party, but to Benito Mussolini. This meant that he had localised forces paid for by the state and recruited from the Fascist squads believing Fascist ideals, and thus heightened his power of intimidation and his position as leader. Any signs of opposition could be then quickly suppressed through the legitimisation of party violence. Another ‘duty’ of blackshirt thugs was to beat up Fascist critics yet that did not stop Giacomo Matteotti from publicly condemning Mussolini’s illegality at the polls. Mussolini was morally and politically responsible for the murder of Matteoti in 1924 which fed into the intimidation of the PNF. Additionally, in 1926, a secret police force was set up called the OVRA led Arturo Bocchini, initially it was set up to investigate and combat anti-fascist activity yet increasingly gathered information, and reported, on all aspects of Italian life with the assistance of some 100000 informants. Furthermore, the death penalty was reintroduced for "serious political offences".

As the Leader of the PNF, Benito Mussolini said that democracy is, “beautiful in theory; in practice, it is a fallacy” and spoke of celebrating the burial of the "putrid corpse of liberty". There was an immediate need to overcome the parliamentary dominance issue intrinsically linked with holding a minority government with only 4 fascists in a cabinet of 13. Ye this limited Fascist representation in the cabinet was partially subdued by Mussolini making himself both Foreign Minister and Minister of the Interior and handing vital posts related to law and order to fellow Fascist. To further his parliamentary position, Mussolini put the economy at the forefront of policy arguing that the country needed a strong and stable government in order to take firm measures on the economy and moreover against the socialist threat causing tension within the middle class (agari). This hyperbole and manipulation led to the legislative body granting Mussolini emergency powers for a year thus meaning he could govern without parliamentary agreement.