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Influences/ turning points in Mussolini’s early life

• Benito Mussolini was born in Dovia di Predappio, a small town in the province of Forlì in Emilia-Romagna on 29 July 1883. In the Fascist era, Predappio was said to be "Duce's town", and Forlì was "Duce's city".

• Mussolini was named Benito after Mexican reformist President Benito Juárez.

• Benito was the eldest of his parents' three children.

• Mussolini's early political views were heavily influenced by his father, Alessandro Mussolini, a revolutionary socialist who idolized 19th-century Italian nationalist figures with humanist tendencies (Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings) such as Carlo Pisacane.

• As a youth, Benito Mussolini showed much intelligence, but was boisterous and disobedient. His father instilled in him a passion for socialist politics and a defiance against authority.

• He did not have a good relationship with his father and gained a reputation for bullying and fighting during his childhood. At age 10 he was expelled from a religious boarding school for stabbing a classmate in the hand, and another stabbing incident took place at his next school. He also admitted to knifing a girlfriend in the arm.

• He qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901.

• In 1902, Mussolini emigrated to Switzerland, partly to avoid military service. He worked briefly as a stonemason in Geneva, Fribourg and Bern, but was unable to find a permanent job.

• In 1902, at the anniversary of Garibaldi's death, Benito Mussolini made a public speech in praise of the republican nationalist.

• During this time he studied the ideas of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the syndicalist Georges Sorel. Sorel's emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal democracy and capitalism by the use of violence, direct action, the general strike, and the use of neo-Machiavellian appeals to emotion, impressed Mussolini deeply

• He returned to Italy in 1904, and worked as a journalist in the socialist press, but his support for Italy's entry into World War One led to his break with socialism. In February 1909, Mussolini once again left Italy, this time to take the job as the secretary of the Labour party in the Italian-speaking city of Trento, which at the time was part of Austria-Hungary. He also did office work for the local Socialist Party, and edited its newspaper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore (The Future of the Worker). Returning to Italy, he spent a brief time in Milan, and then in 1910 he returned to his hometown of Forlì, where he edited the weekly Lotta di classe (The Class Struggle).

• He was drafted into the Italian army in September 1915.

• While Mussolini was associated with socialism, he also was supportive of figures who opposed egalitarianism. For instance Mussolini was influenced by Nietszche's anti-Christian ideas and negation of God's existence.

• In March 1919, Mussolini formed the Fascist Party, galvanising the support of many unemployed war veterans. He organised them into armed squads known as Black Shirts, who terrorised their political opponents. In 1921, the Fascist Party was invited to join the coalition government.

• He saw the war as an opportunity, both for his own ambitions as well as those of socialists and Italians.

• As Mussolini's support for the intervention solidified, he came into conflict with socialists who opposed the war. He attacked the opponents of the war and claimed that those proletarians who supported pacifism were out of step with the proletarians who had joined the rising interventionist vanguard that was preparing Italy for a revolutionary war. He began to criticize the Italian Socialist Party and socialism itself for having failed to recognize the national problems that had led to the outbreak of the war. He was expelled from the party due to his support of intervention.

• After leaving the Socialist Party he became a soldier until he was wounded. He then returned to Milan as an editor to his own newspaper “The People of Italy”. Using his own experience as an editor he learnt the power of propaganda in raising support from the masses.Mussolini made a radical transformation, ending his support for class conflict and joining in support of the nationalism of class lines.

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