In the years of 1935 and 1936, the most pressing factor for Fascism was the Abyssinian War, and as a result this period observed a tremendous amount of militarist propaganda. What may come as most of a surprise is the huge amount of popularity for the Abyssinian War in these years. Despite being a war which largely involved the slaughter of a nation which had little to defend themselves with, this period was one of the heights of popularity which the Fascist regime experienced in all its years in government.
Yet even so, the weaknesses of the Italian military were exposed, yet the public were not made aware, it was hidden by propaganda and massive victory celebrations, and Mussolini seems to have been unable to realise it himself. For surely if he had noticed the string of incompetence and failings of the army he would not have launched Italy into the most devastating war to have ever befallen Europe.
The league of nations sanctioned Mussolini for his military actions in Africa, since it went directly against the Kellog-briand pact which Mussolini had signed, denouncing war as an effective foreign policy method. These sanctions were trade based, and this further fuelled Mussolini’s drive for autarky, resulting in further state action and more aggressive propaganda, pushing Italy towards the arms of Hitler.
In the late 1930’s there was also an increase in radical senior members of the fascist party, such as Achille Starace, and these individuals demanded more ‘real’ fascists and that those who were uncommitted should be rooted out. Starace played a leading role in the campaign against the Jews in 1938 and was also a major advocate of further fascistisation of the schools.
Mussolini’s dangerous relationship with Nazi Germany also pushed Italy to further radicalisation, being deeply impressed with the achievements of Hitler Mussolini began to idolise Hitler, and adopted the goose step for his soldiers upon his return from Germany. This may not seem like a big issue, it is only a march, but it reflects Mussolini’s relationship with Hitler leading him to introduce more extreme policies, such as anti-semitism.