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Q2. Provide the description of rising and effect of Fascist movement in Italy.

Fascism generally flourishes in countries with strong nationalism and weak democracies. Strong nationalism attracts people to fascism’s ultranationalist goals. “Weak democracy” means a democracy that is fairly new and not strongly entrenched making it incompetent and unresponsive leading to citizens becoming disenchanted with it. This also enables fascism to flourish because it is easier to replace this type of democracy with another regime. Political and Social Conditions in both Italy and Germany suited rise of Fascism.

Italy unified in 1860s and democratic institutions were weak, parliaments were unresponsive to people’s needs. The Italian government had shown little concern for the welfare of the agricultural and industrial workers whose conditions were extremely miserable. It had plunged Italy into the First World War in the hope of gaining colonies. About 700,000 Italians were killed in the war. Italian parliament was unable to stem the post-World War I economic crises, and rise in unemployment. The Fascist and Nazi parties were appealing because they promised to restore the national greatness that citizens felt was lacking. As a consequence of all these factors, Italian and German citizens were willing to support fascism. The growing strength of the socialist movement in Italy also posed a threat to the existing system.

The Italian government at the time was dominated by capitalists and landlords. These sections began to support anti-democratic movements which promised to save them from the danger of socialism as well as to satisfy their colonial aspirations. The movement started by Mussolini was one such movement. His armed gangs were used by landlords and industrialists to organize violence against socialists and communists. A systematic campaign of terrorism and murder was launched but the government showed little interest in curbing it.

In 1921, elections were held in Italy. However, no single party could win a majority and no stable government could be formed. In spite of the terror organized by Mussolini’s gangs, his party could get only 35 seats while the socialists and communists together won 138 seats. In spite of his poor showing in the elections, Mussolini openly talked of seizing power. On 28 October 1922, he organized a march on Rome. The government of Italy did not show any sign of resistance against the volunteers of Mussolini. Instead, on 29 October 1922, the king of Italy invited Mussolini to join the government. Thus without firing a shot, fascists under Mussolini s leadership came to power in Italy.

The takeover of the government by fascists was followed by a reign of terror. The socialist movement was suppressed and many socialist and communist leaders were either jailed or killed. In 1926 all political parties except Mussolini’s party were banned. The victory of fascism in Italy not only led to the destruction of democracy and the suppression of socialist movement, it also led to the preparation for war. The fascists believed that there could be no harmony between two or more nations. They glorified war which, according to them, ennobled people. They openly advocated a policy of expansion and said that nations which do not expand cannot survive for long.

The victory of fascism in Italy was neither the result of a victory in elections nor of a popular uprising. The government of Italy was handed over to the fascists because the ruling classes of Italy considered democracy and socialism as threats to their power.

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