Evolve e·volve (ēˈvälv/) verb 1. To develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
The evolution of the Corporations in Mussolini’s fascist state lends to a larger discussion of the Duce’s leadership strategy leading up to and during the Second World War. Although much of Mussolini’s strategy of government changed, the shift that the national Corporations went through highlights one of the major inconsistencies that helped solidify Mussolini’s ineffectiveness as a ruler. The Corporations, in addition to the Constitution of the National Fascist Party (drafted in 1932), show Mussolini’s attempts to streamline his power through economic, political, and social means.
In 1932, the Fascist Party drafted a constitution which laid out the principles under which the government must be run. The first article of the constitution reads as follows: “The National Fascist Party is a civilian militia under the order of The Leader in the service of the Fascist State.” ((Christopher Leeds, “The Fascist State in Italy under Mussolini”, London: Wayland Publishers, 44)) This, in essence, means that every member of the Fascist Party (ergo everyone in Italy) doubled as a member of Mussolini’s army, available to his beck and call whenever he so pleased. This shows how tight a grip on the Italian people Mussolini needed (or thought he needed) in order to maintain power.
An autocratic ruler must control both subordinates and the population as a whole. Mussolini attempted to do so by creating his “Corporations”- which he originally intended to function as an economic entity. In 1939, however, the Corporations became “a part of the State’s political machinery.” ((Christopher Leeds, “The Fascist State in Italy under Mussolini” 38)). Candidates who wished to stand for election for various positions within Mussolini’s government must be chosen by the members of the Corporations, an entity directly controlled by the government; in essence, Mussolini and his inner circle therefore controlled the electoral system.
Much like any other dictator of his time, Mussolini needed control. Hitler had the SS, Stalin had his own means, and Mussolini had political movements. The Duce did not resort to Gulags or Death Camps like his Axis counterparts, but rather strict, by the book political development. This did not work; he, unlike Hitler and Stalin, was the only dictator of his time to be overthrown by his own people. If Mussolini had sought control in a different, more intimidating manner in the place of manipulating the political system to his advantage, would he have lived to see the end of the war? Something to think about.