Italy: Fascism’s Violent Birth

The first episode of our new Slate Academy asks what fascism means and examines the rise and fall of Mussolini.

Italian dictator and Prime minister (1922-43) Benito Mussolin reviews troops 29 October 1937 in Rome followed by Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy as Nazi Party leader and other Italian fascist officials.
Italian dictator Benito Mussolin reviews troops on Oct. 29, 1937, in Rome followed by Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, and other Italian fascist officials.

AFP/Getty Images

Read Rebecca Onion’s introduction to this series.

In the first episode of Fascism: A Slate Academy, Slate writers Rebecca Onion, June Thomas, and Joshua Keating ask what the term fascism means. As Kevin Passmore writes, “How can we make sense of an ideology that appeals to skinheads and intellectuals; preaches revolution while allying with conservatives; adopts a macho style yet attracts many women; calls for return to tradition yet is fascinated by technology; idealizes the people yet is contemptuous of mass society, and advocates both violence and order?”

Then they talk to historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922–1945. Did Mussolini have any ideology beyond the acquisition of power? Who did his fascism benefit, and who were its victims?

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Supplementary reading for this episode