First Response: Italian Fascism


Italian history is no stranger to success and wealth. Its old empire subjugated 5 million square kilometers. Conquest of Sicily brought free bread to Rome. Silver from Spain would pay for its monuments, lavish games, and its armies – which would march Eastward to secure Alexander’s legacy. Juxtaposed to Italy’s former intoxicating power is the shambled form of its state in the early 20th century. Italians are confronted with the humiliation by Versailles, and were challenged to feed the population.

In Fascist Modernities, Ruth Ben-Ghiat describes the horrific occupation of Ethiopia. It was to become the food source to Italy, an experiment for a fascist social revolution, and a new Italian lebensraum. It was essential to expand propaganda control, and to maintain the image of the omnibenevolent state, omnipotent state. Italian Propaganda depicted Ethiopia’s occupation idealistically. But what was neglected is the story of genocide against the Ethiopians, and laws which determined Italian women ought to be publicly whipped, and transferred to concentration camps, should they dare lay with the native population. In this, the fascist tries to construct a new Italian nationhood. This was essential to Mussolini – point 7 of The Doctrine of Fascism states “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist idea is embodied in the State.” Fascism needed to define Italians as separate, and superior. Defining Italians in opposition to Ethiopians and others would encourage self-reliance.

in the Reading by Ben-Ghiat, he notes that limitations to creative freedom within the confines of Italian censorship severely hampered artistic creative expression. This impediment would severely limit not only the diversity but also the quality of Italian art, from books to movies. Art became the forceful expression of the state, and not of the artist’s creativity.

Keeping in mind the intense and effective use of propagandized movies in Italian fascist history, to what degree has Hollywood propagandized its movies? (talk about examples)


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