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How Accurate Is The Claim That The Effects Of Wwi Were The Most Important Reason For The Rise Of Totalitarian Governments In Italy During The Period To 1939?

1164 words - 5 pages

The rise of totalitarian governments in Italy became a decisive issue in the history of Italian politics. Many historians believe that the effects of the First World War were the most important reason for the rise of these fascists. However the war simply accelerated the necessity for a new and reformed government. Many factors existed before the war and the First World War simply highlighted the necessity for change. In addition, without the determination and brilliant tactics of the Fascists, the rise of totalitarian governments would have been impossible.Before the First World War, Italy was already facing economic and political hardships. The unification of Italy was achieved in 1870. A constitutional monarchy governed the country however democratic traditions failed to develop in Italy as the government was controlled by, according to T.K Chung, corrupt politicians called the party bosses. After bribing voters to win elections, they were more interested in making personal gains for themselves when they were in power rather than helping to eradicate the social and economic and social problems of the Italians. Consequently, by 1914 Italy remained a poor and backward country. Additionally, industrial progress was slow and Italy suffered from the disadvantage of having a lack of fertile land and little natural resources. The majority of farm labourers were landless and often unemployed. Thus, around the time of imperialism, many Italians were forced to emigrate abroad. Italy tried to gain international prestige by acquiring overseas colonies however she was unsuccessful. She was defeated by the African state, Abyssinia, at the battle of Adowa in 1896. It is evident that Italy was unsuccessful in both domestic and foreign affairs. As a result of this, the parliamentary government was viewed as being decadent and corrupt. It was neither trusted nor respected by the Italian population.It is quite obvious that a war at this crucial period of development in country's life would be impractical. However, in 1914, Italy joined the First World War. After this war, the government and people of Italy were faced with many new problems. Italy was pushed into a more severe political, economic and social crisis. It was during these crises that the Fascists strategically seized power by manipulating the minds of the Italian population while they possessed a distressed temperament.Politically, having lost the war, they were totally disillusioned with the terms of the Paris Peace Conference. They were only awarded some territory from the dismembered Austro-Hungarian Empire although they were promised in the Treaty of London, Trentino, Trieste, Southern Tyrol, Istria, Dalmatia, the coastal districts of Albania, a share in the division of the Ottoman Empire and of the German colonies in Africa. According to E. Lipson, resentment against the weak and unsuccessful foreign policy of Italy grew rapidly as the Italians felt as if their leaders had failed them once again...

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