Out of the examples of totalitarian societies, it is possible to distinguish Fascist Italy as one of the first major political influences both locally and globally. In the first part of the twentieth century, Italy was under a totalitarian regime, with Benito Mussolini acting as the central political figure and a dictator (Pauley, 2015). The history of this country shows how its political views rapidly changed to adopt totalitarian notions. This shift was a result of specific strategies employed by the Fascist Party, including propaganda, violence, and scapegoating. In Italy, the fall of the regime was initiated with the help of resistance and disobedience. Fascist Italy’s totalitarianism used.
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The totalitarian approach to governing lies in obtaining more and more control over all aspects of people’s lives to the point where the government has seemingly unlimited power. In Italy, this process was gradual as well – at first, Mussolini entered the office with a small number of Fascist followers (Pauley, 2015). However, over time, he appointed other members of the government, and they would be chosen on the basis of political views.
Also, the first strategic move, propaganda, was initiated by the government. Mussolini restricted the freedom of the press and took away the opposing parties’ power, eliminating any possibility of different opinions being delivered to the public. Through violence, his party suppressed any opposition, including politicians and teachers. Scapegoating was another way of instilling fear into the public – nationalism and Italians’ superiority were contrasted with the racial impurity of Slavic and Jewish people (Bernhard, 2017). As a result, the country’s opposing parties ceased to exist, and the Fascist rule with totalitarian features was established.
Citizens, Voting Apathy, State Control
Citizens’ status played a significant role in the development of Italian totalitarianism. People were not seen as equal to each other, being prescribed different traits based on culture, religion, and race instead. At first, the “ideal citizen” was seen as an Italian who opposed any spiritual beliefs, but Mussolini reinstated the importance of the Catholic Church later (Pauley, 2015). Nevertheless, persons who were considered worthy were Italian and did not have any “undesirable” qualities such as homosexuality, mental illnesses, or physical disabilities (Pauley, 2015). Other nations, cultures, and religions were perceived as vastly inferior.
The role of voting apathy, perhaps, played a major role in the establishment of totalitarianism in Italy. The country has suffered significant losses during World War I; through emotional and violent propaganda, Mussolini united those who did not support the liberal efforts of restoring the country’s economy. Thus, people’s lack of interest in politics allowed the radical movement to turn into one of the most powerful political parties. Then, to limit voting rights, Mussolini instated a one-party system and lowered people’s trust towards each other to disenfranchise them.
Opposition to the totalitarian regime was heavily suppressed through media censorship and nationalist propaganda. Nevertheless, the resistance increased after the country was defeated in World War II (Pauley, 2015). Italian citizens became exposed to the information from other nations, and their closed political parties continued to publish materials which increased resistance propaganda. The German occupation was met with civil disobedience, and, with time, anti-fascist representatives were elected to govern the country after the war.
Fascist Italy was among the first examples of a country with a totalitarian regime. Mussolini’s use of nationalist notions divided Italian communities, using racist propaganda against certain ethnic groups. Italian heritage, Catholic faith, physical and mental strength, as well as the preparedness to put the needs of the state above all else were seen as the feature of an “ideal citizen.” The Fascist Party used violence and scapegoating to eliminate the opposition and close any publications that issued unfavorable information.
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Some people who were unhappy with the liberal government were attracted to the idea of Italy improving itself through force. Anti-fascist opposition was supported during World War II, and Italians had continued the acts of civil disobedience until the totalitarian regime was over.
Bernhard, P. (2017). Blueprints of totalitarianism: How racist policies in Fascist Italy inspired and informed Nazi Germany. Fascism, 6(2), 127-162.
Pauley, B. F. (2015). Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini: Totalitarianism in the twentieth century (4th ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.