Benito Mussolini was the leader of Italy's National Fascist Party, ruling the country from 1922 to 1943. He began his political life as an editor for the socialist newspaper "Avanti." He abandoned socialism and formed the Fascist Party after World War I. He was appointed Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and gave himself the title of Il Duce, which means “the leader.”
There are many varieties of corporatism, which is an economic system that became popular in the late 19th century as a middle ground between socialism and capitalism. Under corporatism, business leaders and union officials settled issues of wages and working condition through collective negotiation. Mussolini's National Corporatism was a very common form of economic organization in the first half of the 20th century, with similar economic systems in Spain, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Argentina and the United States under Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.
Mussolini, himself an injured veteran of World War I, founded the Fascist Party in 1919 with the stated goal of giving support to the ex-soldiers who fought in the war. In practice, the Fascist Party did not allow for disagreement with Mussolini's policies. Mussolini and the fascists gained support of the working class by creating employment opportunities, and they placated the Roman Catholic Church by giving jurisdiction of the Vatican to the church with the 1929 Lateran Pact. Mussolini became Prime Minister in 1922 with support of both the king and the military.
After 1922, Mussolini sought to strengthen the sense of nationalism in Italy by establishing a symbolic connection between his regime and ancient Rome. He made numerous comparisons between himself and Julius Caesar, the ancient Roman leader. Although originally there were Jews in the National Fascist Party, after 1938, under pressure from Hitler, Mussolini published the "Manifesto of Race" that banned Jews from public positions. Ultimately, the purpose of nationalism was to unite the people of Italy behind their leader in his campaigns against foreign enemies.
One of Mussolini's major political policies was to create an Italian empire modeled on the Roman empire. He initiated the conquest of Ethiopia in 1935 and intervened in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Mussolini invaded Albania in 1939 and formed a military alliance -- the Pact of Steel -- with Germany on May 22, 1939.
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