Clark’s chapter, “Fascist Diplomacy and Fascist War” was highly critical of Mussolini and his policies. He was described as “erratic”, obsessed with himself, and failing at every diplomatic attempt.1 Mussolini tried to outwit France, Great Britain, and Germany, all to his failure. He underestimated Hitler, and suffered as a result. Initially, Hitler supported Italy through the war, but the shipments of coal and military supplies were not sufficient. The people of Italy not only lost their sons, husbands and fathers, but many at home faced bombings and starvation.
Food rations were a mere 1,000 calories for an adult. A flourishing black market appeared to supplement peoples diets. The peasant farmers realized the favorable position they were now in. Many sold their crops on the black market, or kept everything for themselves rather than to the State warehouses.2 It appeared one of the few times the peasantry had the upper hand.
The people had no motivation to follow Mussolini and his plans. Initially, Italy appeared strong under his control, able to withstand trade sanctions and still flourish. However, with the entry of Italy into WWII, Mussolini lost all the morale he had gained. People spoke out against Mussolini and his fascist government, without fear of reprisal, something that would never be tolerated in Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Hitler’s Germany. The two countries stamped out any form of dissent. Mussolini did not have the power or influence to do so.
This article further demonstrates how Mussolini was a minor dictator. Clark was highly critical of Mussolini and even portrayed his political decisions as idiotic and childish, often in a petty game with England and France. Mussolini, in other articles, was portrayed as having minimal power within his own government and country, often implementing policies that failed. Does this article alter that perception in any way? Is it overly critical of Mussolini?
1. Clark, “Fascist Diplomacy and Fascist War”, Modern Italy 1871-1995, 280.
2. Clark, “Fascist Diplomacy”, 289-290.