A: Benito Mussolini was the founder of the National Fascist Party during the first half of the twentieth century. As Prime Minister of Italy, he removed the state from the idea of democracy and established himself as the dictator of the state.
C: Mussolini experienced WWI and declared socialism was a failure. He wrote ‘What is Fascism’ in 1932, as a way to introduce a new political doctrine to the world.
L: Mussolini writes in the common tongue. It’s very easy to understand exactly what he’s presenting.
A: His intended audience is primarily the citizens of the Italian state. He aims to enlightened the on his new political system that will change the way in which the state operated.
I: His intent is to educate his people on why Fascism is a better alternative to democracy and communism. He believes the establishment of a legal absolute dictatorship to be very valuable to the success of a nation.
M: His message can be seen when he wrote, “ For Fascism, the growth of empire, this is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence.” He believe fascism is the answer to solve Italy’s problems.
In Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, and Mussolini’s Italy, all three regimes emphasized the national importance of genetics and increased birth rates as a state resource. In Hoffman and Timm’s chapter on Utopian Biopolitics, Nazi eugenics that promoted selective racial hygiene and purity is contrasted with Soviet non-selective pronatalism. ((Hoffmann, David L., and Annette F. Timm. “Utopian Biopolitics: Reproductive Policies, Gender Roles, and Sexuality in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.” In Beyond Totalitarianism – Stalinism and Nazism Compared, edited by Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick, 87-129. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009. )) Wilson analyzes the woman’s role in Fascism in his article separately. ((Wilson, Perry R. “Women in Fascist Italy.” In Facist Italy and Nazi Germany – Comparisons and Contrasts, edited by Richard Bessel, 78-93. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.))
Each regime attempted to characterize the woman’s role as a prolific mother in different ways. The common thread running between each dictatorship was the notion that women should actively participate in the creation of the future Utopian state by literally producing as many offspring as possible. As the Nazi state was repressive in many ways, ironically, it was not repressive of heterosexual sexual freedoms. Himmler himself sanctioned premarital and even extramarital sex, considering intercourse productive if between two Aryan individuals. ((Hoffmann and Timm, Utopian Biopolitics, p. 106)) In this way, sexual relationships, a highly, personal interaction, were characterized by practical, statist goals. In contrast, in both Nazi and Soviet policy, homosexuality was viewed as a waste of “genetic stock” and was therefore prosecuted as a crime against the state. In these illiberal nations that denounced capitalism, children were seen as a valuable and priceless commodity that should be produced and protected at all costs. Through incentivization and coercion, each regime found a way to influence reproductive decisions but ultimately did not increase birth rates as desired. In this way, fertility and virility took on new meanings in totalitarian states; no longer was having an individual family decision, each family was a “germ cell” with a collectivist responsibility.
As motherhood was glorified in all three countries, maternalist welfare was developed through government intervention and propaganda was produced that provided support and motivation for women to raise more children. The major standout difference was how the Soviet Union approached the role of women as mothers and labors, encouraging dual earning households. In Germany and Italy, the mother’s ideal domain was to forever remain the domestic home while the father’s world was either the workforce or battlefield. However, regardless of the portrayed ideal norm, women worked outside the home in both Germany and Italy.
It is notable that trying to raise birth rates during a period of world war seems counterproductive, when many men are away from home fighting and some may never return. Wilson concludes that “despite the enormous amount of attention paid to gender roles in Fascist rhetoric, it seems that the particular patterns of industrialization, commercialization, and urbanization had more power to shape female experiences in this period than the crude tools of Fascist ideology and policy.” ((Wilson, Women in Fascist Italy, p. 93)) I agree with Wilson and argue that not just Fascist policy failed to control gender and family roles, so too did Nazi and Soviet policy. Is it ever advisable for a state to define and encourage gender roles and family structure? In addition, is it possible for reproductive policies to be used in a democratic, non-dictatorial way to influence a country’s population?
In Beyond Totalitarianism, chapter 3 focuses on the reproductive policies of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Both countries, along with Italy and all of Western Europe, placed importance on increasing the birth rate and population numbers in their respective countries. WWI had devastated a generation and decreased birth rates dramatically. The countries related population numbers to military strength, the more people you had, the more men you could use to fight the enemy.
The Nazis, Fascists and Soviets implemented policies and incentives to encourage increased birth rates. Medals were given to Nazi mothers who had more than 7/8 children, and stipends were given to Soviet women who produced more than four children. In the Soviet Union these were mostly rural peasant mothers, where large families were needed to work the farm. Also, many of these large families existed before the government introduced the compensation.
Yet, with the push for an immediate population increase, did no one think of the future? The Earth has a maximum capacity for life. It can only support so many. As twisted as it is, wars throughout history, along with epidemics have kept the population in check. Imagine how overpopulated the world would be if the Black Plague had not struck Europe. Currently the world is facing a problem of overpopulation, if the European nations had not pushed so much for increased births would it have delayed this problem? Or since the birth rates in Germany and the Soviet Union were not dramatically increased with the incentives and laws, did this have little effect on the world problem we currently face?