Italian fascism, because it appeared at the same period as German national-socialism and Stalinist communism and presented some similarities with those regimes, is often categorized as a totalitarianism. However, this assertion has been refuted by many scholars, including the French political scientist Raymond Aron (who declared in the magazine Commentaire that Mussolini's regime had never been a totalitarianism) and Hannah Arendt in the origins of totalitarianism.
Indeed, to Hannah Arendt who theorized the concept of totalitarianism, Italian fascism cannot be classified as this political system who combines a single-party system, an ideological monopoly served by propaganda and mass terror, a total control of all the aspects of the society and an aspiration to create a new man. Although the very term totalitarianism has been shaped on the example of Italian fascism and was used a lot by Mussolini himself, it seems that the fascist rehime doesn't comprise all the elements of the definition of a totalitarianism.
[...] The failure of an imported regime 1. A totalitarian evolution in imitation of the national-socialist model: - From 1936 onwards, a rapprochement between Italy and Germany takes place : their links are strenghtened thanks to numerous official meetings between Mussolini and Hitler. This collaboration materializes with the signing of cooperation treaty : the Rome- Berlin Axis is created and Mussolini along with Hitler sends troops to Spain to support Franco and signs the Anti-Comintern Pact in November 1937. On May the cooperation between Italy and Germany is completed with the signing of the Pact of Steel : it is an open declaration of continous trust and collaboration between Italy and Germany in which they promised a mutual military assistance if one of them is involved in a conflict with one or several other nations. [...]
[...] If Mussolini, by using the modern means of propaganda and the inedit rise of nationalism in Italy, indeed created a new kind of dictatorship, the regime was only maintained thanks to a consensus around fascism and the Duce that, as soon as it was broken, led it to an end. Bibliography: ARENDT, Hannah, The origins of totalitarianism, Schocken Books New York ARON, Raymond, “Existe-t-il un mystère nazi in Commentaire GENTILE, Emilio, silence de Hannah Arendt : L'interprétation du fascisme dans Les origines du totalitarisme”, in Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine GREGOR, A. [...]
[...] - However, as soon as fascism was born in Italy, an absence of clear ideology can be observed. Built in a dynamic of rejection, fascism seeks to exploit popular frustrations and the rise of nationalism in order to gather discontented people under the fascist movement carried by Benito Mussolini, a former socialist teacher who became an ultra-nationalist journalist. These discontented people come from all the parts of the society : they are war veterans and nationalists denouncing a mutilated victory workers and peasants affected by the post-war crisis, industralists and bourgeois fearing a communist revolution. [...]
[...] II Fascism or the failure of an integral totalitarianism A. A partial totalitarianism peculiar to Italy 1. Fascism: an Italian reality - Although the term has been largely used to refer to political movements that present some similarities with the Italian one, fascism is above all an italian reality. The very term of fascism is derived from the Latin fasces which consisted in a bundle of rods tied around an axe and which was an Ancient Roman symbol of the authority. [...]
[...] Italy: the first European totalitarian State? 1. ordinary nationalist dictatorship” - Mussolini establishes a sham democracy with some remaining elements from center and right parties and organized elections. He creates little by little a dictatorship by putting the Parliament and the Senate to sleep and founding in 1923 a new political institution, the Grand Council of fascism, allowing him to progressively gain important powers. The dictatorship consolidates itself with the murder of Giacomo Matteotti by the Blackshirts in 1924, a socialist politician who denounced the fraud of the Fascists in the 1924 elections. [...]
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