How far did Mussolini shape Italian society?

Essay by innovationHigh School, 12th grade August 2006

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When discussing such a broadly used term as 'society', one has to understand which areas are to be discussed and assessed primarily. Society determines several aspects of people's lives, such as moral values, culture, education, religion, gender roles, classes and possibly the political regimes. Before Mussolini's final step in consolidating his power in 1928, Italian society was shaped by the liberal regime which prevailed in Italy. Concerning religion, the liberals who at first opposed the Catholic Church, came to depend upon the Pope and his church as years went by, hence it was a very influential institution. Education in liberal Italy had no significant aspects, and the primary aim of liberals in the beginning was to provide State education, for all, the masses. This was successfully achieved. When addressing the class system, the liberals failed to wipe out the 'Southern Problem', where people in the south were socially, economically and even geographically inferior: poverty prevailed in the lower classes.

Similarly the moral values held by Italians then hardly touched the problems of equality, freedom and solidarity, which the fascists were then willing to promote in their coming to power. Most significantly, the political situation in liberal Italy was vulnerable and weak: vulnerably to attacks from the left and right extremes, the socialists and extremist nationalists. Just how far Mussolini altered or completely emaciated certain aspects of this society is to be assessed.

During Mussolini's years as dictator, the change in moral values of the regime appears to be a starting point for most other changes within the society. The Liberals in their primary aims wanted to give Italy an Identity, modernize it and create the status of a great power. Yet the country stayed to have high levels of poverty, promoted little equality between classes, and had a South...