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Benito Mussolini during his rule from 1922 to 1943 faced many domestic problems within Italy that he had to deal with. Mainly the internal problems had to do with economic policies and struggle, which Mussolini attempted to deal with through his autarky policy. He also had to deal with political problems, which were derived from the interference of the church. Finally Mussolini also had to contend with social problems such as unification, and increase of popularity. Through his rule Mussolini had to deal with economic, social and political problems, however he was to a great extent not successful in dealing with these problems.
One of Mussolini’s greatest internal problems was his economic problem. Mussolini wanted to make Italy a great economy, one that could compete with the great economies of World War I such as Britain and France. In order to this Mussolini wanted an autarky, which was economic self-sufficiency in food and raw materials. He wanted Italy through autarky to become a powerful and large empire. In order to achieve this Mussolini instigated what historians such as MacDonald refer to as a ‘series of battles’. These battles were a struggle for the economy that Mussolini envisioned. A series of four battles were fought however only one can be regarded as a partial success while the other three were seen by most historians as failed attempts. The first battle was known as the Battle for Grain, which was to a great extent a failure.
This battle started in 1925 because there was a poor harvest that year, and the grain for the most part was being imported. In order to become a self-sufficient economy Mussolini wanted Italy to be able to produce the grain on its own. By the 1930’s Italy was able to become a self-sufficient grain growing economy by controlling imports and increasing the production of cereal crops. However despite being able to achieve grain production, Italy as a whole suffered due to this battle. By encouraging the production of grain, farmers had to stop growing fruits and vegetables, which were cheaper to produce. Therefore exports of fruits and vegetables also decreased, which caused the economy to become weaker because revenue from exports decreased.
Also due to an emphasis on making grain the use of sheep’s and cattle decreased, causing the decline of these animals. It also caused the country to go into debt since the government had to give subsidies to farmers and there were huge tariffs associated with the production of grain. Also the price of grain in Italy rose causing the price of bread to increase. This affected the working class and poor since the core of their diet was made up of bread. The masses of Italy suffered especially the poor and the farmers, although the industrialists did not suffer as much. Since grain production increased the demand for fertilizers and tractors increased, which increased the business of the industrialists. However the industrialists are a smaller proportion of the population of Italy than the masses, therefore to the most part the Battle for Grain was a failure.
The second battle was the ‘Battle for Lira’ whose main aim was to reinstate the purchasing power of the currency. Sine Mussolini wanted a powerful Italy; he thought that the weak currency added to weakness of the economy. Therefore in 1926, Mussolini revalued the Lira so that one pound was 90 liras. This battle also proved to be a failure since the price of exports increased. Due to this unemployment increased and firms and industries were not able to sell their goods as efficiently. This also caused the aim to increase economic influence to decrease since it had a negative effect of exports and unemployment.
The ‘Battle for Land’ was the third battle fought in order to increase economic power. This battle had mixed responses and could be seen as a success and failure. The Battle for Land attempted to control the migration to cities from the countryside’s, which helped control unemployment. The Battle for Land was a success because of the Pointe Marshe in 1935 which served as good propaganda, helped decrease unemployment and also allowed for the control of subsidies to farmers. Pointe Marshe provided small farms and also increased public work, which called for employment. However it was also known as a failure because small plots of land were inefficiently utilized for a lot of wheat production. Also it did not help decrease the poverty of poor people. The economic problems in Italy that Mussolini tried to deal with through autarky were mainly a failure due to the failures of the battles.
Another internal problem that Mussolini had to deal with was political problems. Mussolini wanted to obtain totalitarianism, however in order to this Mussolini had to deal with the Roman Catholic Church. This to an extent was a success, however tension between the Church and the state was never completely eradicated. In order to make relations with the Church better Mussolini allowed religious studies in education and also allowed the crucifix to be displayed in courts and classrooms. Also in order to gain support from the Church Mussolini had his children baptized and also had a church wedding in 1925 in order too show that he believed in the Church. The Church also accepted Mussolini’s policy on abortions and contraception, in order to increase population.
Mussolini also officially ended the tension by forming the Latern Pacts, which made the Vatican state independent, made Catholism the official religion of the state and also made education of cat holism mandatory in schools. This pact decreased tension between the church and Mussolini and allowed Mussolini to gain more power of the state. However despite the pact and decreased tension, conflict always remained between the Church and Mussolini’s state. Mussolini’s continued interference in catholic education in schools continued to be a problem between the church and the state and the Pope threatened to censure fascism. Another conflict between the state and the Church was relations with Nazi Germany in 1938, having to do with the views on anti-Semitism. The continued tension with the Church never allowed Mussolini to have full control over Italy, which added to his internal problems.
The last internal problem that Italy had to deal with was social problems. Mussolini attempted to unify Italy and increase his popularity through propaganda since he did not have full control and poulatiry over the Italian people. Mussolini was most successful in dealing with social problems through L’inquadramento and the idea of a corporative state. L’inqadramento was an illusion that Mussolini created in order to unify Italy. Through this movement Mussolini increased their popularity and membership by providing support and financial aid during after the Depression from 1931 to 1937. “This recovery from the deep depression of the postwar was remarkable and greatly aided the Fascists in winning favor and in establishing power.”, was the view of historian Clough.
They also increased employment by inflicting a forty-hour workweek and allowing family compensations. These helpful acts during the Depression helped Mussolini gain support from more people, and allowed him to control more of the state. Also schemes such as the Pointe Marshe helped increase employment, which also helped Mussolini, gain support. Mussolini used propaganda through a policy called Corporative state, which also helped him gain support. The Corporative state advertised a state where there was no class system and all labors worked together. It also strived to make working conditions better and sought to help all laborers when they were in trouble by allowing them to share their concerns with their employers’ representatives who then shared them with Mussolini.