The Construction of A National Fascist Identity

The issue of Fascism has been a topic for many years and is a far-right authoritarian approach to government rule. Many rulers have been successful with this way of rule, including Hitler, yet are terrible people and begs the question of how were some terrible people in the fascist party able to construct a fascist identity and take rule in such a hateful and oppressive way. Elements consist of a dictatorial leader and autocracy, and the disregard of individuals’ rights to help the common good and regimenting the society and economy. Fascism grew in popularity in 20th-century Europe and the movement began in Italy during WW1. Fascists in the 20th century also involved an element of racism, such as what Adolf Hitler and Mussolini were enforcing. It also began the change of war and technology. This was because there was a total war, in which everyone was all in and they were mobilizing millions of troops at a time. In addition, it brought Military citizenship, in which every single person was involved in the military in some way. Mussolini and Hitler were both great leaders in the sense they got millions of people to side with them, yet were terrible people as Hitler wanted the extermination of Jewish people and Mussolini issued race laws and persecuted Jewish people starting in 1938. They got people, in a state of panic because the country was at war to believe in their message, which helped create and construct a fascist identity for the country.

The issue is that Italy must be in a state of disarray in order to impose a fascist regime, such as the one Mussolini led. During a period of disarray, people were looking for a new identity, and with fascism, they were promised to be able to find the people they were looking for, therefore bringing them closer together. It was also after WW1, where people were looking for national unity and a strong leadership. This type of regime leads to genocide and Mussolini for example sent thousands of jewish Italians to Nazi death camps. Fascism is considered to be on the far right on the political spectrum of left to right. Mussolini grew up as a leader and among the laborers of the country, he aimed at fighting against the current political system and to make people happy who were very unhappy with the current democratic state of government. Many people believed fascism to be class warfare, saying that it was to gain capitalism.  Georgi Dimitrov said, “fascism is the power of finance capitalism itself.” Fascism is known to not want to have capitalism and to put it on the state. They do not want people to have their property and have very wealthy people. In addition, leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler did appeal to the masses, such as providing an identity that will appeal to everyone, to put their country first. This was a sense of nationalism. The idea was for example “ in which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can achieve that purely spiritual existence in which his value as a man consists.” The people of Italy believed that although this was going on, Italy would soon return to freedom, and this was temporary to get Italy back to where it should be. People were promised everything to get on board with fascism, yet it all boiled down to personal prominence and Mussolini’s rise to the top. The Italian people’s perspectives of the Italian people were the same in the sense that they did not want a radical revolution to occur. Mussolini acquired people that were wealthy to poor as long as they were bought into what they were trying to do, which is to gain ultimate power. 

The other perspective was that of the Anti-Fascist movement, which was weak and did not have access to the press or the radio. In the early 1920s fascism was looked down upon until the political leaders who opposed it were exiled, the fascist police were becoming stricter, and printing presses became unavailable to the public, especially those that opposed fascism. At this time, however, many Italians opposed fascism. Once this was shut down, people began praising Mussolini, even outside of Italy. Many Italians now saw the potential good things that come with fascism and people started to quiet down and go with the regime. In the late 1930s however, more people started to join the Anti-fascist party as things in Italy were getting out of hand. Then eventually Mussolini was thrown overboard by his lieutenants and people started understanding this system of fear and the indoctrinating Mussolini did. Mussolini also held speeches, which allowed him to talk to many people about how he was a leader to them and would help them out of difficult times. Attached is a picture of Mussolini saluting at one of his speeches. He believed that nothing had value unless it was as a collective in the fascist regime.

This swayed many people’s perspectives on him and allowed him to rise to prominence. The picture shown is a picture of Mussolini at one of his rallies. I draw connections to Hitler’s rallies as he is a very passionate and good leader, very exclamatory and his words struck a chord with people during a difficult time, that he could be completely wrong but his sense of passion and enthusiasm, people felt connected with him. Ultimately after the people part of the anti-fascist party and the people who were against fascism but not in the anti-fascist party were destroyed, either exiled or jailed, there was no other perspective other than the Fascism party that was republican and ruled the Italian social republic from 1943-1945 and the national fascist party that ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 to 1943. Mussolini made every important decision for Italy and individuals were to give up their freedoms to conform to whatever the state wanted them to do. The idea of reviving the economy and instilling back the national pride of the country was very appealing to many people and allowed Italians to believe in those promises until they were ultimately not given and the truth was revealed.

The idea that Mussolini and people like Hitler were able to construct a fascist national identity with opposition, yet were still able to crush that opposition by feeding lies and indoctrinating the public to believe that the only way they would survive was in a totalitarian approach is despicable and showed that brainwashing is possible and people will go with what is promised to them without delving deeper into what they are going to do to fulfill those promises. The significance of this issue was huge, as in 1938 Mussolini followed what Germany did and created anti-Semitic laws in public and private areas. This further allowed of 20% of the Italian’s Jewish population to German death camps during the war. People were in a state of panic and were concerned about the potential ramifications of what the government was and it’s continuing to be that way. In this case, because the fascist party was promising Italian to be great again, it piqued the interest of many people, and although the anti-fascist party existed, it was quickly struck down and the fascist party rose to prominence. The racist ideologies and the complete power of these fascist leaders demanded such as Mussolini and Hitler led to the divide of the country to a further extent, not a sense of collectiveness, and degraded the respect for the government and the patriotism they said they would accomplish in their rule. A socialist politician who was working for the Avanti newspaper rose to such prominence that he was the main founder of the fascist party during the war and spread violence throughout Italy to socialists and to people who opposed his political party. The issues are noticed decades and decades after, and many people wonder how and why Mussolini was able to construct a fascist identity for himself, the people working under him, and the country as a whole.