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116 3. After World War I, Italian nationalists were outraged when Italy received just some of the territories promised by the Allies. Chaos ensured as peasants seized land, workers went on strike, veterans faced unemployment, trade declined, and taxes rose. Th government could not end the crisis. Into the turmoil stepped Benito Mussolini, the organizer of the Fascist party. Mussolini's supporters, the Black Shirts, rejected democratic methods and favored violence for solving problems. In the 1922 March on Rome, tens of thousands of Fascists swarmed the capital. Fearing civil war, the king asked Mussolini to form a government as prime minister.

Mussolini soon suppressed rival parties, muzzled the press, rigged elections, and replaced elected officials with Fascists. Critics were thrown into prison, forced into exile, or murdered. Secret police and propaganda bolstered the regime. In 1929, Mussolini also received support from the pope. Mussolini brought the economy under state control, but basically preserved capitalism. His system favored the upper class and industry leaders. Workers were not allowed to strike, and their wages were kept low. In Mussolini's new system, loyalty to the state replaced conflicting individual goals. "BELIEVE! OBEY! FIGHT!." LOUDSPEAKERS BLARED AND POSTERS PROCLAIMED. Fascist youth groups marched in parades chanting slogans

Mussolini built the first modern totalitarian state. In this form of government, a one=party dictatorship attempts to control every aspect of the lives of its citizens. Today, we usually use the term fascism to describe the underlying ideology of any centralized, authoritarian governmental system that is not communist. Fascism is rooted in extreme nationalism. Fascists believe in action, violence, discipline, and blind loyalty to the state. They praise warfare. They are anti-democratic, rejecting equality and liberty. Fascists oppose communists on important issues. Communists favor international action and the creation of a classless society. Fascists are nationalists who support a society with defined classes. Both base their power on blind devotion to a leader or the stat. Both flourish during economic hard times.

Fascism appealed to Italians because it restored national pride, provided stability, and ended the political feuding that had paralyzed democracy in Italy.


3. Who were the Black Shirts?

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The the Black Shirts were Mussolini's supporters who rejected democratic methods and favoured violence for solving problems.