Mussolini’s fascism, and its results, was not anticipated from his initial involvement in politics. In fact, Mussolini’s philosophy, rather than being static in the early years of the 20th century, did something of a 180 degree turn between his declared socialist intentions in the first decade of the 1900s and his 1914 nationalist cry for Italian involvement in World War One. His shift is undeniable and significant; such a substantial ideological shift from (refined) Marxist-socialism to Italian fascism and nationalism is indeed the subject of much debate among scholars. Most will point to the years between 1910 and 1914 as encompassing the point at which Mussolini’s change of mind began and developed. However, the motivations behind it are less clear. Zeev Sternhell seems to offer pragmatism as the principle force working in Mussolini that cause the shift, and notes that Mussolini’s policies would be influenced by futurism. Anthony Gregor, however, seems to point at a true Nationalistic change of heart and the employment of futurist ideals to such a nationalistic end that sparked a change in Mussolini. Neville attributes such a shift to Mussolini’s character; his aggressive and inconsistent personality explains the occurrence of a shift, and his obsession with personal success made attractive the nationalist route, wherein his personal power could be maximized. Each of these theories has its validities, and all are certainly plausible, but Sternhell offers the most reasonable and supported argument regarding pragmatism.
Kelly Oeltjenbruns, ’15
Majors: Politics, International Relations
Sponsor: Robert Givens