European Political Thought, 1815-1989

By Spencer M. Di Scala; Salvo Mastellone | Go to book overview

13
ITALIAN FASCISM

Whereas the Bolshevik party was born from a preexisting organization, the Fascist organization emerged from a movement, which was known as the Fasci di combattimento (Combat Groups) following World War I, in Milan, on March 23, 1919. This movement, led by Benito Mussolini, issued a polemical program against parties, representative democracy, and the system of parliamentary coalitions. Mussolini's newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia [The People of Italy] conducted the movement's political propaganda. In the first postwar elections, held in 1919, the Fascists proved unable to elect any representatives to the Chamber of Deputies. Altering their electoral policy for the elections of May 1921, the Fascists joined an electoral alliance known as the "National Bloc," led by Giovanni Giolitti, the most prominent prewar politician. This list obtained 105 seats, which left the Fascists a distinct minority but well organized and anxious to maintain good relationships with deputies who had similar views on government.


THE ROAD TO POWER

At their Third Congress in November 1921, the Fascists--whose members had by now increased from some tens of thousands to over 200,000-- transformed their "movement" into a party. Adopting the party model of their Socialist rivals, the Fascists established a central committee, composed of twenty-one members, flanked by a national council. The year 1921, therefore, witnessed in Italy the foundation of both the National Fascist Party (PNF) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI), both of which emerged from the troubled postwar climate.

Rather than elaborating its doctrine and defining its goals, the new Fascist party concentrated on organizing its members and coordinating its local organizations according to military principles dear to the veter-

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