State of the Fascist State

In Leeds’s The Fascist State, the public acts and social requirements of Italian Fascism are explored in minor detail. Within the text we see various accounts of the principles held dear to the fascist government and the policies Mussolini implemented (often in bizarre and ludicrous ways) in the attempt to realize those principles.

Perhaps the most intriguing segment of the chapter is the bit about the “battle of natality”; that is, Mussolini’s attempts at increasing the population of Italy by providing incentives for his people to procreate. While this might seem initially like a valid method of bolstering a country’s power (by equating manpower with national capacity), to me it appears contradictory to Mussolini’s claimed intent with fascism. With Italy already “small and thickly populated”, in order for there to be space for the extra twenty million citizens Mussolini projected would exist within twenty years the nation would have to expand, whether it be by diplomatic annexation or conquering- though neither tactic was a priority in Mussolini’s Fascism. ((Leeds, The Fascist State, 40.))

This oversimplification of a national element and the resulting misdirection of procedure was typical of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, however, which never quite understood how to utilize the immense control it had over its subjects in a productive manner. The nonsense of Mussolini’s policies is indirectly referenced in The Fascist State as well; his triumphant claims of being “aristocratic and democratic, reactionary and revolutionary, legalistic and illegalistic” really convey nothing more than the frequent dichotomy between his government’s aims and its methods.

4 thoughts on “State of the Fascist State

  1. Mussolini believed with a larger population Italy would become richer and have a greater standing among other European nations. One would expect with the incentives to have large families, for the birth rate to increase. Yet, the birthrate fell by 4.1%. It is intriguing to wonder what caused this drop. Was it due to the known overpopulation and crowded living spaces, or was it the peoples way of rebelling against Mussolini and Fascism? By denying their leader something he greatly desired, were the people trying to undermine the power of Italy itself?

  2. The decrease in birthrate might correlate to the long lasting effects of the Great Depression. Despite a tax break, Italian families might not have found it financially feasible to support 6 children. It makes more sense to have fewer children and conserve resources during times of financial difficulty.

  3. Italian Fascism’s policies are indirectly expansionist, as war elicits the countries leaders and creates a more powerful state. Although the goals of war are not exactly outlined specifically in Mussolini’s Fascim, and Italy did not have a synonymous goal of acquiring a Lebensraum like Nazism, it seems like this was the only option.

  4. With the possibility of financially struggles, I agree with Victoria’s thought. While Mussolini may have supported an increasing birthrate he, “gave prizes to mothers from each of the ninety-three provinces who had borne the greatest number of children” ((Leeds, The Fascist State, 40)). For those families who were unable to convince the greatest amount of children, or over six children, how were they able to support themselves?

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