Free Essay

How Far Do You Agree That Mussolini’s Economic Policy in the Years 1922-39 Was a Complete Failure?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By kempson94
Words 1676
Pages 7
How far do you agree that Mussolini’s economic policy in the years 1922-39 was a complete failure?

Having come to power in 1922, an immediate concern for Benito Mussolini was the current state of the Italian economy, specifically its obvious inability to support military expansion and move into a state of total war, with the aim of creating and developing an Italian Empire, which was Mussolini’s chief aspiration. Furthermore, the weak economy maintained and strengthened the north-south divide, due to its negative effects being focused on the poorer south, while some northern industrialists benefited from the increased focus on production. Therefore, in order to counter the depression and prepare the Italian economy for conflict, Mussolini employed several policies, in order to stimulate the financial system and cut public spending, specifically increasing production and revitalising the Lira. As well as revaluating the inflated currency, these policies included boosting food production and converting to self-sufficiency, or autarky, all the while promoting nationalism and strengthening commitment to the regime. Whether these were a success is debatable, while Italy did convert to total war in 1939, the consequences were far reaching and crippling. Therefore a deep, detailed analysis, of Mussolini’s policies, their aims and effects, is necessary in order to gauge to what degree, if any, his economic policies failed.

An example of Mussolini’s economic policy would be the sharp revaluation of the Lira in 1926. The value changed from 150 lira to 90 lira, against the pound, and became known as the Battle for the Lira. Its initial effects were that Italian, exported goods became more expensive, and therefore less competitive, however this led to a focus of necessity upon the national market, which caused an increase in the workforce and therefore, for some, specifically those who were previously unemployed, led to a greater standard of life. As well as making exported goods more expensive, the Battle for the Lira made imported goods cheaper, which benefitted businesses that were reliant upon raw materials, such as chemical and steal, which provided the basis for the armaments development. Therefore this decision was successful, as military expansion and development was a main aim and motivation of Mussolini’s, an aim which would be easier to achieve with a thriving heavy industry. Furthermore, certain areas of the general population benefitted from the availability of more jobs, therefore, in terms of these areas, the policy was a success. On the other hand, those industrialists reliant upon the selling of products abroad suffered as they became less competitive, along with some workers, whose wages were hit by a government-enforced twenty percent cut. Consequently, in many aspects the Battle for the Lira was unsuccessful, as scores of workers faced a decreased quality of life, due to wage cuts, which they could not fight thanks to the Vidoni Pact, which banned trade unions, and considerable, effective levels of propaganda. Furthermore, major, historic Italian industries such as cars and textiles were damaged due to their reliance on exporting. As a result, while also considering that some groups benefitted, the Battle for the Lira can be deemed a partial failure, as Mussolini reduced the public wage bill dramatically, while cleverly avoiding public unrest, and increased the strength of military production, but also damaged both the lives of many people and the success of several industries.
Another of Mussolini’s economic policies would be to achieve self sufficiency in terms of grain production, a policy known as the Battle for Grain. Mussolini aimed to end reliance upon other nations for grain; as such reliance would not be feasible in times of war, and did so placing high tariffs on imports and supplying grants to pay for farmer’s machinery and fertilisers. Despite this attempt to reduce imports, it was necessary for farmers to buy fertilisers from abroad in order to keep pace with the level of agricultural development that was being demanded. As a result the production fell during the war, as fertiliser importation was restricted. Furthermore, this governmental stimulation concerned only one area of agriculture, as a result livestock farming and viticulture suffered, and while the grain production benefitted farmers, the price of bread rose, resulting in greater cost for the consumers. Despite this, there were some benefactors. For example thanks to the reclaiming of marshland, the likelihood of catching Malaria decreased, although it had little agricultural impact, while between 1925 and 1935 wheat imports fell by 75% and wheat production was up by 40% since the start of the Fascist regime. Therefore, Italy was almost self sufficient in cereals during this period, with some benefiters, such as large grain farmers in northern Italy, especially the Po Valley, and so this can be considered only a partial failure, despite the negative effect it had on the living standards of average Italians, much like the Battle for the Lira.

A further economic policy employed by Mussolini, would be his attempt to create a Corporate State in Italy. Il Duce wanted to promote the idea of workers and their employers avoiding and resolving conflict for the benefit of Italy and its economy. He attempted to fulfil this want by setting up a series of corporations to represent the industrial elites and their subordinates, with the hope that they would negotiate issues with one another, hence avoiding strikes and other industrial conflict. The resulting system, overseen by the Ministry of Corporations had numerous critical weaknesses, for example employers represented themselves, while workers were represented by Fascist Party members, and as a result the representation was unbalanced, with Fascists siding with employers in most disputes. Therefore workers lost their right to be represented and strike, as most disputes were suppressed rather than dealt with, and this resulted in a decreased standard of living for most. Because of this, most industrialists benefitted, as they could pay their workers less without the threat of industrial action. Overall this meant that the creation of the Corporate State was a partial failure, however the suffering and injustice it caused the workers exceeded the benefit of Fascist bias to the employers.

One of Mussolini’s main economic policies was the aim for self sufficiency, or autarky. As he intended for war, it was clear Mussolini could not allow Italy to be dependent upon other countries for resources, as these could be withheld in times of conflict. In order to cut imports and focus on essentials production, Mussolini reduced the level of manufacture of consumer goods, which resulted in a reduced quality of life and living standards for workers. Furthermore Mussolini focused most of the finance gained from these cuts onto military spending, which drove the economy from 1935 onwards. Therefore the living standards of most Italians declined further, a consequence Mussolini foresaw and accepted in order to gain autarky. However, it was clear autarky would never be achieved, as Italy was a country poor in raw materials, such as oil, and therefore continued to rely on other countries. After the 1935 invasion of Abyssinyia proved that Italian occupation of Africa could not provide sufficient raw materials, it was clear the quest for autarky had been a complete failure, shown by Italy’s total dependence on their economic superior, Germany, to provide raw materials during the Second World War.

Another example of Mussolini’s economic policy would be those he used to combat the depression of the 1930s. Mussolini brought in public work schemes, such as motorway construction, and bailed out banks, to prevent a collapse caused by non-payment of debt. Furthermore Il Duce established the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) which took control of the distribution of loans to banks, although its cost in as example of the massive amounts of taxpayer’s money which was spent on the economic recovery process. Despite this massive cost it is clear that the way in which Mussolini dealt with the depression was successful, as his power as a virtual dictator allowed him to be more decisive in his actions. Furthermore, the simple fact that Italy’s degree of suffering, in this period, was far less than other major nations shows that Mussolini had been successful in his dealing with the depression.

A final example of Mussolini’s economic policy would be the providing of leisure provisions. This was done through the establishment of the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND), which, along with entertainment, holidays, activities and sports, provided a means by which the regime could control the social aspect of people’s lives, aiding their aim to control every aspect, as well as improving the health of the general public. More importantly, it served as a way for the Fascists to expose, those who were less affected by the influence of the press, radio and cinema, to propaganda. Furthermore it gave financial assistance to those members in need, with subscriptions being subsidised by the state, along with an employer’s contribution, as well as acting as a level of compensation for the wage decreases. Therefore it is clear that this was a successful policy, as it increased support for the regime and improved the lives of Italian workers, to the extent that it was continued after the war.

Overall, it is clear that Mussolini’s economic policies were a great, but not total, failure. The hardship for the Italian worker, brought about by the Battle for the Lira, Grain and quest for autarky, was not compensated for with the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro. Furthermore, throughout his time as Prime Minister, Mussolini’s economic policies were geared toward going to war, and as a result they were a failure. By 1939 Italy were in no position to go to war and wouldn’t have been for another 10 years at least, due to their crippling economy. As a result, the military expansion which Mussolini hoped would define his leadership could not be supported by the economy, with only the successful way in which he combated the depression and the legacy provided by the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro preventing his policies being a total failure.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Origin of Fascism

...radical authoritarian nationalism[1][2] that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Influenced by national syndicalism, fascism originated in Italy during World War I, in opposition to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism. Fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[3][4] Fascists saw World War I as a revolution. It brought revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[5][6] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[5][6] Fascists view World War I as having made liberal democracy obsolete, and regard total mobilization of society under a totalitarian single-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic...

Words: 17730 - Pages: 71

Premium Essay


...REVISION BOOK ARAB –ISRAELI What was Zionism * The longing for a homeland for the Jews. * It is the international political movement supporting the re-establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people.’ * ‘The historic homeland of the Jews was in the land of Israel.’ * ‘Since its establishment, Zionists continue to support it.’ * ‘It encourages the migration of Jews to Israel.’ * ’40% of Jews live in Israel and this % is rising.’ * ‘Zionism wants to strengthen and protect Jews and the State o What problems faced Palestine in 1945 Civil disruption.‘ * Large numbers of Jews wanted to go to Palestine.’ * ‘The US was supporting a state of Israel.’ * ‘Should immigration be allowed?’ * ‘Campaigns of violence by the Irgun.’ Why did Britain decide to hand Palestine over to the United Nations * ‘It did not want to stay.’ * ‘Because of the cost.’ * ‘There was violence.’ * ‘Because of its view of Zionism.’ * ‘The pressure from the Irgun.’ * ‘Because of the guerrilla campaign. Explains why * ‘At the end of the war Britain was under great pressure to change its policy and allow in survivors of the holocaust. They refused and this brought about violent protest.’ * ‘The Irgun deliberately attacked and killed British soldiers including the explosion at the King David Hotel. The violence from the Irgun was intended to persuade the British to leave.’ *......

Words: 87832 - Pages: 352

Premium Essay

History Ib Review Notes

...Byzantine Empire A major legacy of the Byzantine Empire for the Russians was the eastern orthodox or Greek Orthodox Church With the decline of Byzantium came a wave of conquest from the East, the Mongols until the 15th century (Tatars). To a large extent, the Mongols allowed Russians to maintain their way of life: - Slavic based languages including writing system (Cyrillic) - Orthodox religion The Russians adopted much from Asian culture and this led western Europeans to think less of the Russians Geographically Russia was isolated from the rest of Europe: - Entirely land locked (mostly) - Huge Plains of Eastern Europe prevented overland travel During these early years there were a series of muscovite princes based in Moscow and called themselves Tsars. By the 17th century the Romanov family became the ruling dynasty: - Alexander I (1801-1825) - Nicholas I (1825-1855) - Alexander II (1855-1881) - Alexander III (1881-1894) - Nicholas II (1894-1917) Under the rule of Peter the Great (1689-1728) Russia grew greatly in size and entered the European World The Russia of 1800 was one of the greatest autocracies in Europe where: - The Tsar’s rule was absolute - There was a small, but powerful landowning elite - The vast majority of the population existed in a state called serfdom Serfdom: refers to the legal and economic status of peasants (serf). In Russia Serfdom......

Words: 32400 - Pages: 130

Premium Essay


...Adolf Hitler (German: [ˈadɔlf ˈhɪtlɐ]; 20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and Führer ("leader") of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He was effectively dictator of Nazi Germany, and was a central figure of World War II in Europe and the Holocaust. Hitler was a decorated veteran of World War I. He joined the precursor of the NSDAP, the German Workers' Party, in 1919 and became leader of the NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted a coup in Munich to seize power. The failed coup resulted in Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he dictated his autobiography and political manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). After his release in 1924, Hitler gained popular support by attacking the Treaty of Versailles and promoting Pan-Germanism, anti-Semitism, and anti-communism with charismatic oratory and Nazi propaganda. Hitler frequently denounced international capitalism and communism as being part of a Jewish conspiracy. Hitler's Nazi Party became the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, leading to his appointment as chancellor in 1933. Following fresh elections won by his coalition, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a...

Words: 13618 - Pages: 55

Premium Essay

Reading a Novel in 1950-2000

...Reading the Novel in English 1950–2000 i RTNA01 1 13/6/05, 5:28 PM READING THE NOVEL General Editor: Daniel R. Schwarz The aim of this series is to provide practical introductions to reading the novel in both the British and Irish, and the American traditions. Published Reading the Modern British and Irish Novel 1890–1930 Reading the Novel in English 1950–2000 Daniel R. Schwarz Brian W. Shaffer Forthcoming Reading the Eighteenth-Century Novel Paula R. Backscheider Reading the Nineteenth-Century Novel Harry E. Shaw and Alison Case Reading the American Novel 1780–1865 Shirley Samuels Reading the American Novel 1865–1914 G. R. Thompson Reading the Twentieth-Century American Novel James Phelan ii RTNA01 2 13/6/05, 5:28 PM Reading the Novel in English 1950–2000 Brian W. Shaffer iii RTNA01 3 13/6/05, 5:28 PM © 2006 by Brian W. Shaffer BLACKWELL PUBLISHING 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148-5020, USA 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK 550 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia The right of Brian W. Shaffer to be identified as the Author of this Work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs,......

Words: 123617 - Pages: 495

Free Essay


...Critical Theories of Globalization Chamsy el-Ojeili and Patrick Hayden Critical Theories of Globalization Also by Chamsy el-Ojeili CONFRONTING GLOBALIZATION: Humanity, Justice and the Renewal of Politics FROM LEFT COMMUNISM TO POSTMODERNISM: Reconsidering Emancipatory Discourse Also by Patrick Hayden AMERICA’S WAR ON TERROR CONFRONTING GLOBALIZATION: Humanity, Justice and the Renewal of Politics COSMOPOLITAN GLOBAL POLITICS JOHN RAWLS: Towards a Just World Order THE PHILOSOPHY OF HUMAN RIGHTS Critical Theories of Globalization Chamsy el-Ojeili Department of Sociology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand Patrick Hayden School of International Relations, University of St Andrews, UK © Patrick Hayden and Chamsy el-Ojeili 2006 All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4LP. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The authors have asserted their rights to be identified as the authors of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents...

Words: 100030 - Pages: 401

Free Essay

The Collected Works of Mahatma

...permitted to visit the patient every alternate day, be allowed to remain in the camp as a whole-time nurse. The patient shows no signs of recovery and night-nursing is becoming more and more exacting. Kanu Gandhi is an ideal nurse, having nursed the patient before. And what is more, he can soothe her by giving her instrumental music and by singing bhajans. I request early relief to relieve the existing pressure. The matter may be treated as very urgent. 3. The Superintendent of the camp informs me that when visitors come, one nurse only can be present. Hitherto more than one nurse has attended when necessary. The Superintendent used his discretion as to the necessity. But when difficulty arose I made a reference to the I.G.P. The result was that an order was issued that a doctor in addition may be present. I submit that the order has been issued in ignorance or disregard of the condition of the patient.She often requires to be helped by more persons than one. Therefore I ask 1 2 Vide the preceding item. Vide “Letter to Ardeshir E. Kateli”, 6-1-1944. VOL. 84...

Words: 156973 - Pages: 628

Free Essay

One Significant Change That Has Occurred in the World Between 1900 and 2005. Explain the Impact This Change Has Made on Our Lives and Why It Is an Important Change.

...E SSAYS ON TWENTIETH-C ENTURY H ISTORY In the series Critical Perspectives on the Past, edited by Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig Also in this series: Paula Hamilton and Linda Shopes, eds., Oral History and Public Memories Tiffany Ruby Patterson, Zora Neale Hurston and a History of Southern Life Lisa M. Fine, The Story of Reo Joe: Work, Kin, and Community in Autotown, U.S.A. Van Gosse and Richard Moser, eds., The World the Sixties Made: Politics and Culture in Recent America Joanne Meyerowitz, ed., History and September 11th John McMillian and Paul Buhle, eds., The New Left Revisited David M. Scobey, Empire City: The Making and Meaning of the New York City Landscape Gerda Lerner, Fireweed: A Political Autobiography Allida M. Black, ed., Modern American Queer History Eric Sandweiss, St. Louis: The Evolution of an American Urban Landscape Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past Sharon Hartman Strom, Political Woman: Florence Luscomb and the Legacy of Radical Reform Michael Adas, ed., Agricultural and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History Jack Metzgar, Striking Steel: Solidarity Remembered Janis Appier, Policing Women: The Sexual Politics of Law Enforcement and the LAPD Allen Hunter, ed., Rethinking the Cold War Eric Foner, ed., The New American History. Revised and Expanded Edition E SSAYS ON _ T WENTIETH- C ENTURY H ISTORY Edited......

Words: 163893 - Pages: 656