Instruments & Implementation of Fascist Propaganda

For Mussolini, the key area of propaganda to focus on was his personal image. ‘Mussolini is always right’ was part of the Fascist Decalogue taught in secondary schools, and he wanted people to believe this god-like status which he was creating for himself.

The photos of Il Duce (Mussolini’s title) varied from piloting aeroplanes to working in the fields, and whenever he could he would be pictured with his shirt off. These images were staged, but became powerful images in forming the opinions of Italian people on Mussolini. Mussolini had an aptitude for public speaking, and his speeches from his balcony were theatrical and in front of thousands, and this made a deep impression on ordinary people.

There was a focus on linking the fascist regime to that of ancient Rome, which was applied to many public buildings built in the 20’s and 30’s, which were built in the style of Ancient Rome. In fact simply in its name you have evidence of ancient Rome, the word fascism derives from fasces which were bundles of sticks with axe heads used by Ancient Romans. This was among other numerous links, such as the naming of the Fascist youth organisation, ‘children of the she-wolf’ taking its name from Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.

Unlike with most military regimes, propaganda was not used to win acceptance for policies, it was indeed the other way around, and many of Mussolini’s policies were clearly designed to boost propaganda. He wanted to be seen as the man who would restore national pride. This desperate desire for prestige shows Mussolini’s character, and perhaps the reasons for why he went into war so disastrously unprepared a decade later, since he placed a disproportionate amount of importance on trivial matters.

Organisations were set up to try and indoctrinate ordinary people into the fascist mindset, the ONB and OND being the two most notable. These were organisations set up with the intention of changing Italians views, but really all it turned out to be was a club where people could play football and socialise with other people from their community.

The main tools for propaganda were radio, cinema, school books, posters, rallies and newspapers. In the 1930’s he set up an organisation called the Ministry of Popular Culture, or minculpop for short. In comparison with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, the fascist regime did not utilise propaganda nearly as effectively, with film propaganda not being used until very late on.

Despite using all these outlets for propaganda, none were implemented to the extent that they could have, and we can see this in the speed with which Italians denounced Mussolini in later years. There was not a feeling of passionate loyalty to their leader as there was in Nazi Germany, at least not on nearly the same scale, and this is why ultimately, unlike Hitler, Mussolini was killed by his own people.


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