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The Rise of Italian Fascism

The Italian philosopher and historian Benedetto Croce described fascism as an “onagrocracy”—or “government by braying asses.” How did such inept leadership assume absolute power in Italy in 1922? In a country with a liberal constitution, how could Benito Mussolini become prime minister, having won only 5,000 out of the 315,000 votes cast in the 1919 election? Mussolini did not seize power: it was handed to him by King Victor Emmanuel III. The mob may have flocked to the populist attractions of fascism, but it was the elites who gave it legitimacy. Acknowledging fascism’s need to remain dynamic and bellicose, Mussolini observed, “War is to man what maternity is to a woman.” Why Italy? This course will search for the answers in the socioeconomic conditions, fear of communism, and the use of violence in post-World War I Italy.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of the conditions that gave rise to fascism in Italy after World War I
  • Familiarity with the historic events that led to Mussolini’s rise to power

Ideal for

  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in-between
  • Professionals who use critical thinking
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.