Q)In what ways did violence and intimidation contribute to the success of Fascism in the years 1919-25?
Violence and intimidation were most certainly used within the Fascist regime during 1919-25 in many different ways, for example propaganda was used as a form of intimidation, persuading the Italian people to join Fascism, Mussolini doing this by emphasising all the problems that the country was faced with after the First World War, making them feel that the only way forward was by joining the regime. Although, as will be illustrated, this is not the only way in which violence and intimidation contributed to the success of Fascism.
In 1920 the PSI had won the elections to many town councils and therefore controlled local taxes and services. Italy had been swept by a series of strikes and many politicians and members of the elite thought that the country was close to a socialist revolution during the 'Biennio Rosso' ('Two Red Years') of 1919-20. The 'Biennio Rosso' was important, as it can be argued that Italian Socialists played a major role in the success of their bitter enemies, whom were the Fascists. The threat of a Socialist revolution drove many of the elite to support Fascism, and the Socialists' weakness helped the Fascists come to power and succeed. An attempted general strike in August 1922, in protest against Fascist violence had fizzled out after twenty-four hours, partly down to the Fascists themselves. The PSI had talked over revolution but did not have a strategy for achieving it. The party proved to be incapable of carrying out either reform or revolution. Workers had become disillusioned after the 'Biennio Rosso'. However, the whole period had created a traumatic fear of 'Bolshevism' among groups who had most to fear from it. This situation was to be skilfully exploited by Mussolini and the Fascists, who attacked the Socialists.
Fascism was not intended as another party, but as a movement appealing to all Italians. Mussolini possessed no clear political ideology. Mussolini's approach was a peculiar mixture of Socialist and Nationalist ideas cemented by the concept of the powerful leader. Mussolini made it clear that his fundamental aim was to gain power. He boasted that he had solved Italy in 1915. He declared war on all political parties, but most strongly against the Socialists. Mussolini used nationalism as the ideological weapon and parliamentary formations to strike at their enemies, the Fascists embarked on an ambitious and vigorous process of gaining support.
Early Fascism was a mixture of ideas that were very localised in its support and committed to violence as a political weapon. Mussolini's great skill was to exploit the fear of the middle and upper classes during the 'Biennio Rosso' in 1919-20, and to move Fascism to the Right. This had lost some early supporters, but young, lower-middle-class recruits from the universities, the civil service and 'respectable' bourgeois families, replaced these. It must be...