“The Fascist State” by Christopher Leeds describes the ways in which Mussolini and the Italian Fascist Party attempted to mold Italian society.
“Our whole way of eating, dressing, working and sleeping, in short all our everyday habits, must be changed”1 .
This passage is particularly important to the article because it highlights the depth in which the fascist government and Mussolini sought to modify Italian society and change individuals’ behavior. However, as Leeds suggests they were not able to successfully do so. This was in part due to the fact that the regime lacked tangible policies to accomplish specific goals2 . This article challenged preexisting ideas I had about fascism in Italy and the impact it had on lives of individuals.
The regime intervened on a wide array of themes within Italy’s cultural sphere including sport, leisure behavior, and customs. Sports were of great importance and were used as a form of propaganda for the state, much like that of the Nazi Regime. All clubs, groups and societies were brought under control of the Fascist regime in an attempt to control the behavior, activities and thoughts of all citizens. Fascist leaders also thought it was necessary to modify traditional Italian customs that reflected or were introduced during times when Italy was occupied by France (Napoleon) and Spain3. Despite attempts to control all aspects of the private sphere of individuals, the Italian population as a whole did not undergo a dramatic transformation. In fact, such government invasion of private life aggravated most Italians.
Why do you think the behavior of Italians remained largely unaffected by the changes imposed by the State? How does Italy’s social sphere compare to that of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany?