Fascism was, at its core values, a very radical ideology. The reality was however, very different, and this is because of the circumstantial and political constraints that Mussolini would have faced. That said, there is a substantial argument for ‘cumulative radicalisation’, whereby the fascist regime became more radical as time progressed because of its more consolidated position in society and indoctrination of the youth.
According to this theory, fascist social policy developed and evolved significantly from what was there originally to what was left at the end. The process can be broken up into four separate stages as follows:
Creation to 1925 – Largely uncontrolled and incoherent violence by radical elements of fascism until they were tamed by Mussolini in order to secure his political position.
1925 to 1929 – Consolidation of power by Mussolini, taking extreme care not to fall out with any of the key power groups such as the church or big business.
1929 to 1935 – Dubbed “L’inquadramento”, meaning the fascistisation or regimentation of the people, marking a period of attempts by the state to control and secure Italian society through state intervention.
1935 to 1940 – The most radical period of all, aims of autarky, empire and preparation for war desperately trying to be achieved. Huge amounts of propaganda and imposition of harder, less tolerant policies, such as the anti-Semitic race laws of 1938.
These stages give the impression of coherent and ordered attempts to make the transitional change from a democratic society into a totalitarian fascist society, but in reality this was far from the case, and it was seemingly for the most part made up to suit Mussolini according to the situation at the time.