Matter of Survival

There were many things that I found to be interesting within this article, but I think what I found to be most interesting was how easy it was for the Italian citizens to “abandon” Mussolini once he was arrested. It would be interesting to research this further and to see all of the factors that may have contributed to this.

In a way, it seems like all that the fascists did and tried to instill within the Italian people never worked. We have seen this happen many times within other aspects of Italian society during the Fascist regime. For example, children’s literature never really worked on the children for many reasons including the fact that it was too rigid for kids to truly enjoy. I wonder how much of the sentiment expressed by many of the Italian citizens was true or just a fact showing and following of what others were doing at the time. I just cannot imagine loving something (or acting like I did) so strongly, and then the next second not caring that it was falling to pieces.

I did enjoy the last paragraph that stated:

” For millions of people it was simply a matter of survival at any cost.”

This seems accurate and the comparison to ants in an ant hill was perfect. The Italians, I am sure, were confused and clung to what they knew and had before fascism came.  I cannot help by question though, was it never a matter of survival?

A Place in the Sun

I wonder what it would have been like to live in Italy during the fascist regime.  From previous governments that were divided and indecisive to one that tried to control and organize every aspect of the lives of its citizens.  Mussolini wanted to rid Italians of the stereotype of “sensual, fun loving idlers” (p. 491), but to quiet the masses he resorted to all kinds of leisure activities. The promotion of many of these activities that were meant to nationalize citizens often ended up creating rivalries between regions and cities. The same problem occurs again and again in Italian history.  The first loyalty seems to be local or regional and a sense of “fatherland” (and patriotism) was, and is still, hard to create in a country that is so variegated.

Duggan is great at describing historical facts.  He is always able to interpret and analyze the human beings who with their actions wrote history.  I feel he is especially good at describing Mussolini with all of his idiosyncrasies. The cult of ancient Rome was an obsession for him and “pervaded the cultural life of Italy during the 1930s” (p. 500).  His attempt at colonialism is I feel is a direct consequence of his grandiose ideas.  As Duggan states on p. 503 he mobilized the largest army ever seen for a colonial war. He wanted to create an empire to distract the country from the economic problems it was facing. He stopped at nothing (breaching international law and using any kind of gas on a massive scale are the proof of this).  It is interesting to read that “the adulation that surrounded him in Italy after the declaration of empire encouraged a growing detachment from reality and a tendency, as many of his close collaborators noticed, to believe in his own myth” (p. 507).

Capture of Omar el Mukhtar

Hanging of Omar el Mukhtar


Saracen Joust in Arezzo 1931

Calcio in costume



Duggan pages 483-526

The issue of the separation between church and state has been a common trend throughout history and, I believe, we sometimes still struggle with today. In a time when the ability to spread and share information was vastly limited, people were aware of that which they were told. In this conflict, people were receiving information from both Mussolini and the fascist regime, as well as from the church. It seems that politics and religion have a tendency to go hand in hand. In my opinion, (and I know I have made no secret of my opinion about the purpose of religion) both rely greatly on the manipulation of public thought. While there are many similarities between the hot topics of Catholicism and Fascism, the tension between the two tends to be a result of their differing views on these topics. I find that despite that lack of unanimous opinion that causes such conflict between church and state, politics and religion seem to be systematically linked. I find this is particularly apparent during elections. Many candidates for political positions bring religion into their campaign platforms, in an attempt to manipulate citizens to secure their votes.

Duggan 483-526

A recurring theme in these readings is that of masculinity. This reading especially makes Mussolini and Fascist Italy’s obsession with masculinity and the supposed accompanying war-like characteristics apparent. Masculinity is seemingly equivocated with work ethic and ability in battle. Mussolini claims that “A people that for sixteen centuries has been the anvil cannot in a few years become a hammer” (487) and blames the “sheep-like” qualities of the Italians on their lacking in the influential forces of Europe at the time, which he obviously despised.

Jews were also seen by Fascist press  as “parasitic and work-shy,” very em-masculine, and as “appropriate punishment” were made to do hard labor (514). Mussolini, when conducting political business with Britain also noticed “when the Chamberlain paid him a visit in January in a last attempt to prise Italy away from the Axis, he was scornful of the British Prime Minister’s bourgeoisie demeanor and claimed that ‘people who carry an umbrella’ could ‘never understand the moral significance of war’,” (516) which I found to be particularly absurd.

Fascism and Religion: Competing for Worship

There were a lot of points during this reading when I actually laughed out loud. Admittedly, once it was just because I had no idea Mussolini wrote novels, and once because I thought the fact that Mussolini essentially stole the Nicene Creed and made it about him and made schoolchildren recite it was absolutely hilarious. But that second one, though, I think is also very telling. Mussolini’s aim was to be a god-like figure, so it seems only natural that he would borrow from pre-existing religions to make that happen. And it also makes sense that the Church would resent him a little bit for it. But it was astounding to me how similarly each entity aimed to shape society. Both opposed liberalism and socialism, both maintained a “commitment to hierarchy and order,” both preferred rural to urban areas, both encouraged the different economic classes to get along, both repressed women, both wanted Italians to have more children – and both wanted to be the most powerful entity in Italy, with the greatest influence over the Italian people. To me it seems that the only problems that the Church had with Mussolini and the Fascist Regime stemmed from a resentment that he was copying them and trying to place himself above them.

Here is a video of Mussolini visiting the Pope that I thought might be of interest. I think it’s noteworthy the sheer number of people Mussolini has with him.

Margot’s post on Duggan 483-526

The section of these pages that I found most interesting was the section on Empire. This goes along really well with many of the articles that we read that talked about the ways the colonies were portrayed to the Italian people. Mussolini’s quote, “Our peninsula is too small, too rocky, too mountainous to be able to feed its 40 million inhabitants,” is a great example of the government finding justifications for colonialism. As Duggan points out, the primary reason for expansion was to raise the moral of the nation. What I found surprising was that the government wanted to send a half of a million peasants in the “fertile palm groves.” The government misrepresented the fertility of the land and in fact, after World War Two, on 39,000 were tricked into moving to Libya. Mussolini was determined however to become the leader of an Empire and wasn’t going to continue the “weak and tentative policies” of his predecessors in Africa, and he used Graziani and Badoglio to do it.

Beginning of Duggan 483-526

I found the mutual use of “keep your enemies closer” by both the Catholic Church and the Fascist party during the struggle for the monopoly of the minds to be interesting because partnering with any other hierarchy seems contradictory to both entities’ interests and vocabulary. Both sought to be the “one” that the masses followed and supported, yet the threat of losing whatever foothold they might have already forces each to go against its own ideology of being supreme. This self-contradictory behavior only further reinforced the fact that the success of one was interdependent on the success of the other, and was especially intensified by the signing of the Lateran Pacts.
Therefore, my first questions is this: were the Lateran Pacts forged only out of superficiality to seemingly create an accord between the two internal forces of Italy, while both had plans of still executing their own totalitarian-istic agendas. Or, was the effort one sided where one was genuine in the attempt to create a bond as a joint force while the other schemed to overtake the other?
On another note… I just wonder, aside from the fear of threat, why the Catholic Church decided to partake in a Pact? Was the intention of having a formal agreement to ensure that both entities mutually benefited? How, then, does this seem to inherently grant more power to the Fascist party in the fight for control/support of the masses?
Despite the granting of powers to the Catholic Church, I believe the initial totalitarian agenda of the Fascist party proves stronger because the Pact’s simply reinforced the Fascist’s power over the church’s. This can be exemplified in the very vocabulary of the text, “an accompanying concordat ….gave the church a number of important privileges” (485). Clearly this concordat signified that the Church recognized and allowed the Fascist political party to be seen as the more powerful and seemingly influential of the two. This greater foothold comes from the church’s very allowance of the ability for the Fascist political party to grant any type of privileges, so long as its agenda did not impede the interests of Italy’s ruling political party.
Finally, I love how both these points were proved by stating, “in guaranteeing the interdependence of Catholic Action, Mussolini was imperiling his totalitarian dream of the fascist community believers” (485). How might the Catholic Church have prevented this? Could it have been avoided simply through a lack of participation with the government? Was participating with the government and succumbing to ensuring a relationship the Church’s truly only means of survival in regards to maintaining any control/support of the masses?

Duggan 483-526

Having presented on Fascist propaganda, the beginning of this article really stood out to me. The different agendas of the Catholic Church and the Fascist Regime of Mussolini affecting what was being taught in schools and the public outlook on the state and the church was very interesting. Particularly the quote:

I believe in the hih Duce–maker of the blackshirts. –And in Jesus Christ his only protector– Our Savior was conceived by A good teacher and an industrious blacksmith–He was a valiant soldier, he had some enemies-He came down to Rome; on the third day- he re-established the state. He ascended into the high office–He is seated at the right hand of our sovereign-From there he has to come and judge Bolshevism–I believe in the wise laws–The communion of citizens–The forgiveness of sins–The resurrection of Italy–The eternal force. Amen

I found it very interesting that this quote elevated the state to a pope-like level and put it on the same level as the Vatican. Aside from being offensive to the Church and the Catholicism, it preaches the following of fascist ideas and principles in a religious way, which the church admired about the Fascist government. Overall a really interesting part

Fascist and Vatican leaders sign the Lateran Treaty