chapter  4
20 Pages

The Fascist regime

Until January 1925, Mussolini had sought to rule Italy through a Fascist government which operated uneasily, and sometimes illegally, within the modified framework of the Liberal parliamentary constitution. During the next four years the Fascist government was transformed into a regime. A new system of political power, a one-party, police state was created; it was dictatorial, repressive and, according to Mussolini, ‘totalitarian’. Though most of the institutions of the old Liberal state-monarchy, parliament, judiciary and so onwere retained, the democratic substance was destroyed. But the ‘Fascist revolution’ of 1925 to 1929 involved more than constitutional reform. It attempted to transform economic and social institutions as well. In particular, it sought to create new institutions that would help to ‘manufacture consensus’, support for Fascism, and incorporate the masses into the state in a way that the Liberals had failed to do. Another element in this ‘revolution’ was the taming of the unruly Fascist movement, the subordination of the party to the state so that Mussolini could establish his own unchallenged personal power and also settle relations with the forces and institutions of the establishment, the ‘block of consensus’ on whose support the future of the Fascist regime would ultimately depend. In fact, according to Lyttelton, the period was dominated by Mussolini’s efforts to eliminate Fascist resistance to his strategy of establishing an enduring relationship with the block of consensus (Lyttelton, 1987, p. 268).