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Mussolini becomes absolute dictator (Il Duce)

Mussolini became the absolute dictator of Italy in 1925 after the Aventine Secession, which was a boycott of Parliament by the socialist party. Mussolini banned the Italian Socialist party and embraced the Blackshirts. By the end of 1925, the Christmas Eve Law was passed, giving Mussolini complete control. In 1926, other parties were banned, and the fascists took absolute control of Italy. Created by Sal Khan.

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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Vishwam Chand
    How exactly did the Black-shirts intimidate people?
    (17 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user T.H.M.
      A lot of different ways. There was the classic "take them into a dark ally and then beat them up" routine, the blackshirts might go to your place of business and trash the place, or they could blackmail you into silence by threatening you or your family.

      On particularly unique and nasty thing that blackshirts would do would be to force the offender to drink a pint of Castor Oil (which was used as a medicinal or preservative product). One former backshirt once remarked that people actually became more afraid of drinking the oil then of getting an old fashioned beating!

      I hope this helps :)
      (21 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user Niks Jansons
    As I understood that absolute dictator has unlimited powers on his actions for changing, making and influencing society. My question: How does that differ from the King of Italy and how he show's his power and what is his role in the country?
    (12 votes)
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    • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Chris Phillips
      Generally a king, while being the monarch at the top of the national totem pole, is still restricted in some ways, and has his power granted by some established legal process. They often have a relationship with a parliamentary body that typically vets, refines, or approves their actions and decrees, or influences them in some other way. Essentially, there are generally limits on what a king can legally do, and in many cases his parliamentary body (whatever its name is, whether it's a parliament, a senate, a cabinet, etc.) has means of removing or replacing him if he's acting outside his means.

      A dictator is generally much more reliant on intimidation and threat of force to attain and keep his authority (unlike a king, which is usually established by law) and his power is also usually absolute. Most dictators throughout history have had no parliamentary equivalent to keep their power in check, and the ones that did usually kept them cowed to the point where they had no real influence; they became more of a puppet group that appeased the common people ("See guys, the dictator can't just do ANYTHING he wants, it has to be approved by the senate first!") but in truth just bowed to whatever he wanted them to do.

      The distinction is primarily a more modern one; the further back in history you go, the more and more overlap there is between "kings" and what we would consider a "dictator," and many of the kings of antiquity were simply dictators because there was no distinction at the time. But even today you still see some layers of overlap; kings' power isn't universal, it depends on the country in question and its constitution, so it's hard to draw a clear line in some cases. You really have to look at a specific ruler's situation to determine which side of the line he would land on.

      We consider Mussolini, for example, an absolute dictator because he held absolute control over the country and did so through force. Even the points where he played the political game were done with his blackshirts at the voting booths to ensure he or his party got the votes required.
      (10 votes)
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Xavier Sv
    Why the king supported Mussolini so much?
    (5 votes)
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    • leafers tree style avatar for user Abijah Pak
      There is little doubt that the kind had a certain amount of sympathy with the fascist aim of providing a strong government. Also, he was afraid that some of the generals might force him to abdicate in favour of his cousin, the duke of Aosta, who openly supported the fascists. Some say he was afraid of starting a long civil war if the italian army failed to crush the fascists quickly or if his army would do so at all, taking into consideration that many were sympathetic to the fascists. He probably did not have much confidence in Facta, and Mussolini seemed like a good anti-communist weapon.
      (5 votes)
  • male robot donald style avatar for user GeneralE
    Was Mussolini famous before the 1st world war or did he get famous during the war
    (4 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user Wonik Son
      Before WWI, Mussolini was one of Italy's most prominent socialists. However, his nationalism and support for intervention in WWI came into conflict with some of the more pacifist elements of the Italian Socialist Party, and he was subsequently expelled. After serving in WWI, Mussolini realized that he could gain more influence and support if he went against the socialists. And he did, creating Italian fascism. Mussolini gained international recognition with his march on Rome in 1922. King Victor Emmanuel III made him Prime Minister. By this time, Mussolini had gained support from the military, the business class, and the liberal right-wing.
      (5 votes)
  • starky ultimate style avatar for user Vee T
    How do you think the world would be like if Mussolini never came to power, and never marched on Rome?
    (3 votes)
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    • spunky sam green style avatar for user History Helper
      I think even if Mussolini doesn't come to power, another leader like him may appear as long as there was fascist support in Italy. Mussolini was able to grab power with relative ease due to the popularity of fascism. If fascist support declined or was prevented, Italy might have remained alongside the Allies or neutral.
      (6 votes)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Vishwam Chand
    At around ,what if 2 parties got more than 25% of the vote?
    (3 votes)
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  • purple pi purple style avatar for user Amber Grundman
    So with these things going on, is the king little more than a figure head? Did he actually hold any power to stop Mussolini?
    (4 votes)
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  • mr pants teal style avatar for user Kabir
    What exactly is a coalition?
    (2 votes)
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  • mr pants teal style avatar for user Alp Arslan Koprulu
    who killed Giacomo mattcoltti
    (3 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user aslak1
    At , how was Giacomo Mattiotti killed?
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

Male: In the last video we left off in 1922 in October where you have several hundreds of thousands of fascists march on Rome, which causes the King to put Benito Mussolini in power and this picture right over here is from Mussolini coming to power from the march on Rome and not only does he get appointed as Prime Minister, but he has dictatorial powers for one year. Those dictatorial powers are also backed up with the Blackshirts,this loose band, kind of a paramillitary group. So he uses his powers and the fact that he has his own force so to speak to continue to just secure more and more power under him over the next few years. By 1923 he makes the Blackshirts actually become a formal national militia, essentially the volunteer militia for national security. In Italian the acronym is the MVSN. So, the Blackshirts become formalized as the MVSN. He also gets Parliament or gets the legislature to pass what's known as the Acerbo Law or Acerbo Law. I'm sure I'm mispronouncing it. Acerbo Law. This is an interesting one because this is a law that allowed whichever majority party, whatever the largest party in the Deputy of Ministers, whatever the largest party in Parliament is that party, as long as they get more than 25% of the vote, they will get 2/3s of the seats in Parliament. This is strange because traditionally in a Parliamentary system if you got ... Let's say you were the largest party and you got 26% of the vote, you still would not have enough seats to govern properly. You would have to form a coalition with several other parties so that you could essentially form a government. But this is saying whoever gets the plurality of votes, whoever gets the most votes without necessarily being a majority, they will be by default become a majority. And you could imagine why the fascists wanted this to happen. They felt that they could get 25% of the votes, one maybe through popular support but also with the help of the coercive tactics of the Blackshirts and then that would give them stronger control in the legislature. Now, the big question is is why would the legislature pass this? Because at this point the fascists were not the dominant party. They did not have a majority in the legislature. In fact, this was why they wanted to pass a law because they didn't have a majority. And once again it's one of those questions of history. Some would say that people were enamored with the fascists. They were enamored with Mussolini. They were eager to have strong leadership. They didn't want this government of coalitions. They wanted one government to be able to take action. On the other side when the votes were happening you actually had Blackshirts in the room. One argument is that there was also an element of pure intimidation. But needless to say the Acerbo Law actually passed. There is irony here because it was unnecessary. In 1924 when you actually have elections you have the fascists getting 2/3s of the vote. Fascists get 2/3 of the vote. Now, many today and many in Italy at the time felt that this was a fraudulent election. They felt the reason why the fascists were able to get so many votes is because they were able to intimidate folks. They were able to commit fraud during the election. They were able to kind of throw other votes out, and one of the most outspoken individuals when it came to criticizing the fascists and their tactics of coming to power was Giacomo Matteotti. He wrote a book about the fascists. He gave two really strong speeches in the Deputy of Ministers where he talks about or the Chamber of Deputies I should say, where he talks about the corruption and the violence of the fascists. A few days after giving those speeches he gets killed by Blackshirts. So, he gets actually quite violently murdered by Blackshirts, and this puts Mussolini at least initially in a bit of a bind. He doesn't want to look like a thug, someone who goes out and just murders people. It's not clear that he actually, Mussolini, was involved in this in any way, but his followers had committed this act. To protest against the murder of Giacomo Matteotti you actually have the entire socialist party boycotts Parliament. This was known as the Aventine Secession or at least the 20th century Aventine Secession. Aventine Secession. It's called the Aventine Secession because if you go back to Roman times 2500 years ago you had the Plebeians secede out of protest from harsh rule and they go to the Aventine Hill. So, it was named after that same idea. The whole reason why the socialists did this is they hoped that by boycotting Parliament that that would convince the King to get rid of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini, as I say, he's also in a bind. He doesn't know quite what to do, and on top of all of this the Blackshirts are telling him, "Look, if you don't take control of the situation, if you don't become a strong ruler we're going to do it without you. We might even overthrow you Mr. Mussolini." In 1925, early 1925, Mussolini makes his famous January speech. 1925, his famous January speech. This is normally viewed as the formal start of his absolute dictatorship. In this Mussolini, instead of the Aventine Secession somehow undermining Mussolini's power because the King did not dismiss Mussolini it actually strengthened Mussolini's power. He used that as a pretext. He said, "Look, all of these deputies they've decided not to show up at Parliament. They've essentially given up their seats, and he bans, he bans the Italian Socialist party. He embraces the Blackshirts. He takes responsibility for them. He doesn't take responsibility directly for Giacomo Matteotti's murder, but he takes responsibility for the Blackshirts, and he gives in kind of classic Mussolini style a somewhat convoluted argument about how strength and violence is going to give stability to the Italian people. Obviously he is an amazing orator. He's very charismatic. This essentially gives him the control he needs, and by the end of 1925 you have the Christmas Eve Law that's passed by Parliament that esentially puts no checks on Mussolini's power, and as you go then into 1926 they more, and more, the fascists under Mussolini take absolute control, absolute power of Italy. So in 1926 they're banning other parties. So, other parties are banned. They're starting to force people to become members of the fascist party if they want roles in the government or even in any type of institution. They're starting to take control of the press. They're starting to have a very strong state police architecture. If this looks familiar based on what we studied about the Nazis it's not a coincidence. Hitler, he admired Mussolini. In fact, Mussolini's march on Rome inspired Hitler to attempt his Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. A lot of these tactics that brought Mussolini to power you see kind of a parallel in what brought Hitler to power only about seven years later.