Margot Post on Duggan 420-448

Napoleon named himself consul in 1799 and he, like Mussolini, recognized right away that he needed to cultivate a very specific image to be accepted by the people. Napoleon recognized the need to connect with religion and for that reason, signed a Concordat in 1801 with the Catholic Church. Pope Pius VII and Napoleon came to an agreement that Catholicism would be the primary religion in France but the Church would be an instrument of the state. This was extremely popular because of the importance of religion for the masses. Napoleon said about religion that it is excellent stuff for keeping people quiet. Mussolini also used these tactics.

Duggan pg 435, “He also made highly respectful comments about the Catholic Church, describing religion as a ‘sacred patrimony of peoples’, and reinforcing his words with a number of high-profile gestures such as increasing clerical stipends and reinstating the crucifix in schools, courtrooms and the Colosseum.”

Mussolini used similar tactics in bringing religion into his campaign. He was able to use the power of the church to further his Fascist agenda. In 1929, Mussolini signed a Concordat with the Church known as the Lateran Treaty. It was signed by Mussolini on behalf of the Italian Government and by Pietro Gasparri for the papacy.

                                      (Mussolini signs the Lateran Pact of 1929)

The Concordat:

  • The papacy recognized the state of Italy, with Rome as its capital. Italy in return recognized papal sovereignty over Vatican City
  • Article 20 stated that all bishops were to take an oath of loyalty to the state and had to be Italian subjects speaking the Italian language (Napoleon required a similalr oath in his concordat.)
  • The state agreed by article 36 of the concordatto permit religious instruction in the public primary and secondary schools and conceded to the bishops the right to appoint or dismiss those who imparted such instruction and to approve the textbooks that they used.

I talked about this in class today but if anyone is interested, this is an interview with John Cornwell, the author of Hitler’s Pope and hopefully it gets you interested. The book is amazing and has quite a bit of information on Mussolini and his relationship with the Church.


Mussolini and Propaganda

“…The fascist violence was far more than just a tool of war. It was also an instrument of propaganda, a means of disseminating the ‘myth’ of the fatherland and generating a spirit of crusading idealism and fervour. As Mussolini declared in Naples on the eve of the March on Rome: ‘We have created our myth. A myth is a faith, a passion…Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation.” (page 426)


As I read through this chapter I found that my mind was continuously referring back to this quote by Mussolini. I was very interested to see that the fascism movement was described in this passage as “an instrument of propaganda” because in this time period where the country was severely divided and communication was limited, the use of propaganda allowed the fascist party to manipulate the information available to the public in order to aid the growth of fascism. I found that the idea of propaganda kept appearing in this chapter; within the numerous and subtle ways in which Mussolini conducted himself and the aggressive and very public displays of fascist ideologies, often carried out with violence, described by Mussolini as “a brutal necessity to which we have been driven” (page 427). This was a specific use of propaganda meant to justify the violence carried out by the fascist party, and as the ability to spread information grew with the development of newspapers and various publications, so did the ability of the fascists and Mussolini to spread various forms of propaganda that would eventually bring Mussolini and the fascist party to power.

As the ability to spread propaganda grew, so did the influence of the fascist party. Page 429 of this chapter describes that there were “five national newspapers, two journals, two journals and some eighty local newspapers all closely tied to the party’s central machinery in Rome.” Now with access to the use of local and national publications, Mussolini possessed the ability to mold the public image of fascism into one that represented, above all else, loyalty to the fatherland. His influence and beliefs spread, and he was eventually elected Prime Minister, and the fascist party was strongly in power. Mussolini’s new position as Prime Minister strengthened his influence and his power. He was described as possessing “an extraordinary capacity to feel his way around obstacles, wrong-footing his opponents by spinning a web of ambiguity that left them uncertain as to exactly what he was thinking or planning to do, and alternating threats with blandishments.”

Finally, this use of propaganda portrayed the fascist party as one that valued loyalty to the fatherland even, and especially, in the absence of liberty. Mussolini said “if by liberty is meant the right to spit on the symbols of religion, the fatherland and the state, then I – head of the government and Duce of fascism – declare this liberty will never be allowed!” (page 436). This quote not only demonstrates Mussolini’s loyalty to the fatherland, but also describes the idea of liberty as a movement of great disrespect and rejection of one’s country. With the use of propaganda – and by rejecting the ideas of the other political and social movements that were active in this time, and by ruling the country while he “carefully cloaked each move he made in political ambiguity,” – Mussolini was able to bring himself and the fascist party to power.


I included a link to a website I came across that describes the fundamental ideas behind fascism in a very interesting way. Here is the link so you guys can check it out:



Also, I included the websites and posts I wanted to share before but couldn’t because I still don’t know how to use the blog:

This is the image and the website from the Kent State University shootings that I mentioned last class:

Power and Mussolini

Upon reading this chapter, one phrase kept popping into my mind: “Absolute power, corrupts absolutely.” What I found most striking was how Mussolini transitioned from a political leader, who initially made efforts to unite Italy and stop the violence, to a violent dictator who would do anything to stay in power. How he supported the squadristi and formed a paramilitary organization which reminded me of the Nazi Schutzstaffel or Soviet KGB (IT EVEN NAMED ITSELF AFTER THE KGB!!!!!). How he united the country initially with nationalism and pride, but took away freedom and left the people with no civil liberties  other than the ability to obey his will or die. One quote that really stood out to me was Vittorio Emanuele Orlando’s quote on pages 440 into 441:

There are two ideals to which I have dedicated my life: the fatherland and liberty…In giving my support [to fascism] I am aware that I would be obeying the passion and ideal of the fatherland…At the same time I don not feel inclined to sacrifice my other ideal, liberty. I am thus in a terrible dilemma… But knowing I have to sacrifice one ideal I cannot possibly sacrifice the fatherland, so I sacrifice liberty.

Italians knew that Mussolini was ruling through fear and terror and still went along with it. They put their patriotism over their liberty, which at first solves a lot of bureaucratic problems, but eventually leaves a country with no diversity or discussion. The parts of society and democracy that make us individuals are completely wiped out. And I am fascinated that Italians accepted this.

Also the fact that Mussolini stopped wearing bowler hats because they were in his favorite Hollywood movies, Laurel and Hardy:

This is how I imagine the Fascist party PARTIES in Italy