ITALIAN FASCISM as a political system is characterized by three groups of special institutions: the first constituting an exceptionally thorough legal embodiment of dictatorial control; the second providing for state control of labor relations through governmental syndical bodies vested with the exclusive legal representation of capital and labor; and the third involving a less definite control over various economic activities by governmental bodies known as "corporations", which in a sense combine the official syndicates of capital and of labor. Continuous debate over the social and economic significance of these institutions has prevailed in foreign countries since the inception of Fascism as a legal régime and even the forms of the Fascist governmental agencies have frequently been shrouded in doubt. In the present study, which is of a technically political character, no evaluation is attempted of the Fascist social system as an operating whole. Instead attention is here concentrated upon an analysis of the distinctive governmental mechanisms of the Fascist state both in their formal public law aspects and also, within the limitations of available material, with respect to their actual functioning. For an understanding of these mechanisms in their present form a brief initial consideration of the historical development of Fascism has seemed desirable.
During and immediately after the World War a large section of the Italian working class belonged to political and labor organizations of the Marxian Socialist movement and a considerable following had also been attained by less radical social reformers grouped in the "Popular Party" under the sponsorship of the Catholic Church. Throughout the period of the World War the socialist organizations had consistently opposed Italian participation. The natural opposition of large property holders to these evidences of working class militancy was strengthened by a widespread hostility on the part of middle