chapter  1
12 Pages

Introduction

Benito Mussolini's first aim, to curb the opposition, was achieved with remarkably little fuss or protest. Italia Libera was dispensable; especially as dissolving it could be portrayed as necessary to restrain the Fascists. Mussolini's speech of 3 January 1925 was not merely the end of the Matteotti crisis. It was also a foretaste of things to come. He had made three main promises, or threats. He had promised that press freedom would be curbed and that the opposition parties would be disciplined; he had promised a strong State; and he had promised that the Fascist squads would not be unleashed. So the outlines of a new regime were already discernible. It would be illiberal and authoritarian, but it would not be fully Fascist although naturally some face-saving concessions would be given to the Fascist enthusiasts. It would strengthen the institutions of High Politics; and it would do its best to abolish the trivial concerns of Low Politics.