Mussolini was born in a low-income family in the northern central Italian town of Predappio on 29th July 1883. He was an aggressive child and a known bully in school. He was sent to a strict boarding school and got expelled from a few of them, as well. Mussolini’s father introduced him to socialism as a child, who himself was a passionate socialist.
Mussolini had moved to Switzerland to avoid compulsory military enrollment. He was an avid reader as a young man and leaned towards the philosophical and socialist writing of Nietzsche, Pareto, and Karl Marx. Meanwhile, he obtained a diploma and became a school teacher.
Life Before Politics
The ambitious and boisterous nature of Mussolini did not align with peaceful employment in a school. Therefore, he joined a socialist newspaper in Switzerland and begun active prorogation of socialist ideals. He made a mark as a public speaker and political journalist. His revolutionary ideas of enforcing the demands of trade unions through strikes and violence soon caught the attention of Swiss authorities. Thus, he was jailed several times. He was eventually deported to Italy, where he resumed teaching career.
Political Life Of Mussolini
Mussolini, who had become disenchanted by his uneventful life, eventually took an active plunge into politics. He renewed his journalist career and became active in trade unions and continued propagating extreme socialism. He became editors of a socialist party newspaper, “L’Avvenire del Lavoratore” (The Future of the Worker) and “La Lotta di Classe” (The Class Struggle). They became a powerful tool in his cause and eventually his recognition as a socialist to reckon with. His tenor was so successful that he tripled the circulation of “La Lotta di Classe.”This catapulted him to the post of the editor of the official socialist newspaper ‘Avanti’ (Forward’).
Birth Of Fascism
The shift of Mussolini from socialist to nationalist mindset became the starting point of Italian fascism. Initially, he had opposed Italy’s intervention in World war I. However, as his nationalist viewpoint started superseding his socialist ideals, he became more vocal in his editorial towards support for the war. It led to his expulsion from the socialist party.
After a brief duty as a soldier in the war front and subsequent discharge from service due to injury, he formed the Fascist party in March 1919. Mussolini took full advantage of the chaos and economic depression in Italy bought forth by war. Mussolini and his Blackshirt army had dismantled every political party and democratic institutions in the later stages. The subsequent arrival of invitation from King Victor Emmanuel to form a Government paved the way for his declaration as ”il Duce” or The Dictator.
World War II And The Demise Of Mussolini
The nationalist in Mussolini saw the benefits of imperialism, which had a strong ally in Hitler. He believed Germany and Italy should be rulers of Europe and not the declining nations such as Britain and France. Italy had not plunged into world war II, and the British had hoped that the Italians would join them against Germans. However, Mussolini miscalculated that the war would be over soon, and German victory was inevitable. This erroneous judgment led Italy to form the Axis of evil with Germany and Japan. Finally, with the decimation of Italian force in all fronts and eventual German surrender, Mussolini wanted to flee to Switzerland with his wife. In this process, communist partisans apprehend and shoot Mussolini and hang his body to the roof of a gas station for public display.