Mussolini, Fascism, and Italian Balkan policies, 1922-1930 / by Frederick Henry Dotolo.
This dissertation analyzes Italian Balkan policies during the 1920s and argues that by pursuing balance of power politics in southeastern Europe, the Italians helped to stabilize the international relations of southeastern Europe while achieving their national objectives. Not coincidently, a strong Italian state bolstered by an increase of prestige and influence was also an ideological agenda. Foreign policy promoted the emergence of a strong Italian state by fulfilling several region objectives: projecting Italian influence into southeastern Europe, protecting the Adriatic from Yugoslav and French encroachment, and supporting the rights of the defeated states to foster a more normal balance of power. Regarding Fascism, this dissertation argues that it was a form of developmental nationalism which used foreign policy to aid the modernization process, itself a necessary step on the way to reordering Italian society. Revolutionary syndicalism, a important component in Fascism's intellectual heritage and a variant of Marxism, was concerned with domestic rather than international development and modernization. Quite simply, syndicalist theoreticians believed that a Marxist revolution could never occur in an agrarian society. Therefore the syndicalists wanted to help advanced capitalism and thereby exacerbate the living conditions of the workers so much that their syndicates (unions) would institute a general strike to bring down bourgeois society. Later, the Fascists believed that an elite, utilizing the powers of the nation-state, could best harness and direct the energies of society for developmental processes (distinguishing themselves from the syndicalists). The nation-state was the ultimate embodiment of political authority, and, the Fascists believed, might provide the surest means of directing modernization. This application of nationalism, however, also made Fascism different from common nationalism, and its concerns with territorial expansionism and/or belligerence. Fascism was a strategy to fight Italy's social and political underdevelopment. In fact, after World War I, the Italians faced a rather dim international picture. Italian influence in southeastern Europe for a variety of strategic and political reasons, declined while successive governments failed to reverse this deterioration. Mussolini's diplomacy, based on the vigorous assertion of national rights and interests, changed this direction by establishing a regional balance of power. Fascism provided the regime with a vision, an overall goal for diplomacy, which Italy's diplomatic establishment could pursue. The Fascist government, far from relying on belligerency or expansionism, used realpolitik and other “traditional” tools of diplomacy, to help bring about a very radical reordering of Italian society.
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