Friday, January 9, 2009

Fascism and Leadership

The most recent class discussion revolved around Mussolini's "Doctrine of Fascism." Before getting into details on it, though, it is important to remember the historical context in which Mussolini is speaking. It will make what he writes a lot more understandable.

Most important of all is that Mussolini is writing during a major worldwide Depression. The economy is down, people have lost jobs and are struggling to put food on the table. Naturally, they are going to be more open to a guy who can promise to get them out of the situation in which they live. When things are going badly for people, they are much more open to new ideas, even though not all new ideas are good ideas.

So Mussolini promises to return Italy to "the days of Rome." This is an important part of Fascism: the use of Nationalism to inspire people. Essentially, he is saying "we were were the most powerful nation on earth once (for 1000 years), we can do it again." This is also going to be appealing to people.

Finally, he continually refers to Fascism as "spiritual." In doing so, he's putting his governmental ideas on par with a religion. This is important because he wants people to think of Fascism as more than a government-it should be a way of life. This is taking Machiavelli's ideas even further than even Machiavelli wanted. Remember-Machiavelli said that a government should never give anything to the people, because they will become dependent upon the Prince. Mussolini goes further and says "not only should the government not give anything to the people, the people should give everything to the government." He wants total control and total support (hence totalitarianism).

Overall, Mussolini does represent some important aspects of leadership that fit into our overall unit theme. He represents one of the two major characteristics of leadership. Those two are:

1. The ability to motivate people to follow you (Mussolini was great at doing this).

2. The foresight to take them in the right direction (Mussolini-not so much here).

These two characteristics of leadership should stay with you as you think about all the pieces we read this unit. To what extent did each of the people we read embody both or either of these two characteristics? Furthermore, how does Mussolini compare to the other leaders/philosophers we have studied this unit?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that in the creation of fascism it resembles the ideas that hitler was working with. Similarly to Musillini, he was in a situation of extreme depression and offered the people a way out. Weather this is justified is irrelevant, but i do believe that desperate times call for desperate measures and both men were strategic in the timing that they choose to manipulate the situation. Both men choose times where people were easy to manipulate and control do to their financial vulnerability.....FROM EMILY SNOW~