National Fascist Party
|“||The National Fascist Party is in favour of a regime that encourages the growth of national wealth by spurring individual initiative and energy ... and it absolutely repudiates the motley, costly, and uneconomic machinery of state control, socialism, and municipalization.||„|
|~ Excerpt from the National Fascist Party programme as stated at the Third Fascist Congress in Rome, 1921.|
The National Fascist Party (Italian: Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF) was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism (previously represented by groups known as Fasci). The party ruled Italy from 1922 when Fascists took power with the March on Rome to 1943, when Mussolini was deposed by the Grand Council of Fascism.
Preceding the PNF, Mussolini's first established political party was known as the Revolutionary Fascist Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario, PFR), which was founded in 1915 according to Mussolini. After poor November 1919 election results, the PFR was eventually renamed the National Fascist Party during the Third Fascist Congress in Rome on 7–10 November 1921.
The National Fascist Party was rooted in Italian nationalism and the desire to restore and expand Italian territories, which Italian Fascists deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and to avoid succumbing to decay. Italian Fascists claimed that modern Italy is the heir to ancient Rome and its legacy and historically supported the creation of an Italian Empire to provide spazio vitale ("living space") for colonization by Italian settlers and to establish control over the Mediterranean Sea.
Fascists promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates are linked together in associations to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and work alongside the state to set national economic policy. This economic system intended to resolve class conflict through collaboration between the classes.
Italian Fascism opposed liberalism, but did not seek a reactionary restoration of the pre-French Revolutionary world, which it considered to have been flawed, and not in line with a forward-looking direction on policy. It was opposed to Marxist socialism because of its typical opposition to nationalism, but was also opposed to the reactionary conservatism developed by Joseph de Maistre. It believed the success of Italian nationalism required respect for tradition and a clear sense of a shared past among the Italian people alongside a commitment to a modernized Italy.
In 1925, the PNF declared that Italy's Fascist state was to be totalitarian. The term "totalitarian" had initially been used as a pejorative accusation by Italy's liberal opposition that denounced the Fascist movement for seeking to create a total dictatorship.
However, the Fascists responded by accepting that they were totalitarian, but presented totalitarianism from a positive viewpoint. Mussolini described totalitarianism as seeking to forge an authoritarian national state that would be capable of completing Risorgimento of the Italia Irredenta, forge a powerful modern Italy and create a new kind of citizen – politically active Fascist Italians.
American journalist H. R. Knickerbocker wrote in 1941: "Mussolini's Fascist state is the least terroristic of the three totalitarian states. The terror is so mild in comparison with the Soviet or Nazi Party varieties, that it almost fails to qualify as terroristic at all."
As example he described an Italian journalist friend who refused to become a Fascist. He was fired from his newspaper and put under 24-hour surveillance, but otherwise not harassed; his employment contract was settled for a lump sum and he was allowed to work for the foreign press. Knickerbocker contrasted his treatment with the inevitable torture and execution under Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler, and stated "you have a fair idea of the comparative mildness of the Italian kind of totalitarianism".
However, since World War II historians have noted that in Italy's colonies Italian Fascism displayed extreme levels of violence. One-tenth of the population of the Italian colony of Libya died during the Fascist era, including from the use of gassings, concentration camps, starvation and disease; in Ethiopia during and after the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, a quarter of a million Ethiopians died.
The National Fascist Party along with its successor, the Republican Fascist Party, are the only parties whose re-formation is banned by the Constitution of Italy: "It shall be forbidden to reorganize, under any form whatsoever, the dissolved fascist party".
Italian Fascism was rooted in Italian nationalism and Georges Sorel’s revolutionary syndicalism that eventually evolved into national syndicalism in Italy. Most Italian revolutionary syndicalist leaders were not only “founders of the Fascist movement”, but later held key positions in Mussolini's administration.
They sought to restore and expand Italian territories, which Italian Fascists deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and to avoid succumbing to decay. Italian Fascists claimed that modern Italy is the heir to ancient Rome and its legacy and historically supported the creation of an Italian Empire to provide spazio vitale ("living space") for colonization by Italian settlers and to establish control over the Mediterranean Sea.