Mussolini's Fascism

What were the core aims of early fascism as described in Mussolini’s 1919 account?
What were the core aims of later fascism as described in Mussolini’s 1932 account? Is there any difference between the 1919 and 1932 descriptions of fascism?


This essay compares Mussolini's claims regarding the pre-eminent aims of fascism - which in his 1919 speech are rather more inferred as oppositional to what they are not - with the more overtly stated aims in his 1932 encyclopedia article.


In 1919, he identifies fascism as a rejection of socialism and 'political revolution' as this will not, as claimed by socialists, 'solve social problems' (p93). He castigates the Socialist Party as 'a bluff, a comedy, a speculation' (p93) inferring that fascism is non of these things. In the 1932 article, Mussolini refines this position claiming that fascism's aims are not influenced by any 'economic motive, direct or indirect' (para 3). The implication is that fascism aims higher than such prosaic matters as economic motive, even accepting that inequalities in society are inevitable, 'beneficial and fruitful' (para 4).


Concerning democracy, he states in 1919 that some form of 'consultation with the masses affected' (p100) is required. Yet by 1932, he claims that fascism aims to transform society by repudiating 'democratic ideology' and practice (para 4) which are too mechanical and arbitrary to 'direct human society' (para 4).


Moreover, by 1932, fascism aims to subsume the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups beneath the 'State as an absolute' (para 7). This enhances and refines his 1919 desire for a state with 'absolute independence from parties, groups and sects' based on 'federation and autonomy' (p100). He says nothing about how this might be achieved apart from the remarkable claim that it should not be undertaken by paid officials.


Fascism in 1932 aims to flourish through a demand for a 'deeply felt sense of duty and sacrifice' (para 9) enforced if necessary by 'severe measures' (para 9). These do not include class-war which, he asserts, cannot be the 'preponderant force in the transformation of society' (para 3). This tones down his 1919 support for 'war between the classes' (p101) and disregards altogether his 1919 assertion that the aim of the fascistic movement was to 'be educators' (p94).


Concerning foreign policy, in 1919, Mussolini cited the specific aim of renegotiate the Versailles Treaty (p99). However, by 1932, a rather more grandiose aim of fascism is to replace 'many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude' (para 9).


By 1932, Mussolini claims that fascism aims to become 'the characteristic doctrine of our time' foreseeing a 'century of fascism' (para 6) in an Italy which is 'in need of authority, of direction, and order' (para 9). This is a far more authoritarian and future-facing aim than in 1919 when he claimed that fascism must aim to address Italy's 'critical but not desperate situation' (p95), chiefly through 'continued increase in production' (no longer mentioned in 1932) and a return to some (unarticulated) pre-war ideal (p93).


This essay has identified both continuities and inconsistencies between two accounts concerning Mussolini's aims of fascism. Variation is unsurprising given fascism's infancy in 1919 and also Mussolini's talent to 'evolve in response to Italian popular opinion' (Meakin, 2007).



495 words




Mussolini B. (1919) Outline of the aims and programme of fascismo’ , in Barone Bernardo Quaranta di San Severino, Mussolini as Revealed in His Political Speeches, November 1914–August 1923, London: Dent, 1923, pp. 92–102.


Mussolini, B. (1932) Mussolini’s description of fascism, 1932, Fordham Modern History Sourcebook, [online] available at


Meakin, T. (2007) To what extent Itailian Fascism represented a triumph of style over substance? [Online] Avaliable at Accessed 24/01/24





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