"Why was Mussolini able to get to power in 1922?"

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"Why was Mussolini able to get to power in 1922?"

By 1900 the process of unification in Italy, the Risorgimento, had largely been completed territorially, but not in any other respect. The vast majority of the population still felt no real attachment to Italy at all, as a result of "Italy's continuing weakness as a cultural, industrial, military, and colonial power compared to older European states"(Essays in 20th Century World History).

This resulted in a deepening national inferiority complex and led to various projects for the renewal of nationalism, both from the extreme left and the extreme right. On the left the principal groups were the Marxists, Anarchists and Syndicalists* whilst on the right, the Italian Nationalist Association, the Futurists, D'Annunzio and the Florentine avant-garde were most active. Despite their efforts, the parliamentary system remained stable, mainly because Giovanni Giolitti, the prime minister, cleverly manipulated the interest groups at the heart of government to transform them into a workable majority.

This strategy was known as "trasformismo". It was only following the First World War that it became increasingly possible for these small interest groups to gain influence.

Italy did not join the war until May 1915 and then only because of intense pressure from the "interventionists", an alliance of all the anti-parliamentary forces, with a pro-war lobby in parliament. One prominent interventionist was Benito Mussolini, who was a Socialist leader and editor of the socialist daily newspaper "Avanti" (1912). From an early stage Mussolini had focused his revolutionary energies on Italy rather than on international capitalism and like all his fellow interventionists, saw "participation in the war as the much needed catalyst to Italy's renewal" (Mussolini's article, 1914)

However, the war did not bring the desired success. Public moral was further undermined by the fact that, although Italy had...