The making of Italian fascism : the seizure of power, 1919-1922 / by Dahlia Sabina Elazar.
This dissertation asks how the extraparliamentary, paramilitary strategy of the Italian Fascists, and thus their political struggles, 1919-1922, determined their taking of provincial and then national power, and, consequently, the making of Italian Fascism. Prevailing theories of fascism ignore this crucial question. Despite substantive differences, they are bound by the same paradigm, asking either: what were the "social origins" of fascism? or, what was fascism's "social base"? This paradigm conflates fascism's initial emergence and its actual ascendance to power--and, too, its changes in power. The paradigm's implicit premise is that once a fascist organization emerges, whatever fascism becomes was already predetermined by how it emerged. So theories bound by it are commonly silent about, and thus empirical studies guided by them also neglect, the role of the fascists themselves in the making of fascism. This dissertation attempts to fill in this "silence" and remedy this neglect, by focusing primarily on the specific historical sequence in which the Fascists take power. Coupled with and guided by this sociohistorical analysis, several hypotheses about the determinants of the Fascists' seizure of provincial power are also tested by multivariate quantitative analysis. This analysis shows that the chances of a Fascist takeover were determined, not primarily by the incidence of Fascist violence but rather by the electoral balance of the Liberals vs. the Socialists (to measure the relative political hegemony of men of property). In theoretical terms, where the political hegemony of the agrarians (agrari) and other men of property had been eroded if not abolished by the Socialist ascendancy in the province, the Fascists' "offensive alliances" with these men, and their "defensive alliances" with state officials and Liberal politicians, and not alone or even primarily the capacity of the squadristi for waging paramilitary violence, were decisive in the Fascists' seizure of provincial power. Where, in contrast, the hegemony of property was secure, the Fascists--despite their deployment of violence against Socialist outposts--were unable to take power. The Fascist regimes installed in 25 of Italy's 69 provinces, with the collusion of provincial and national officials, constituted the paving stones of the Fascist road to national power.
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