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Fascism can imply different things in different parts of the world depending on the terminology that is used. The term fascism derives from a Latin word that means a bundle of rods with an ax blade projecting from them or as a representation of the authority of the magistrate. Fascism in the United States had a lot of bad connotations because of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler's genocidal policies. (Friedrich 52). Long before political views started to emerge, dictatorships first began to exist in the 20th century. The development and growth of new technology, social change and propaganda began to promote the public opinion and spread ideas which made the political parties take advantage. Despite the fact that Imperialism spread rapidly around the Western Europe due to increased population, Fascism also arose in Europe when the evil leaders promised prosperity to the masses.
Between 1920’s to 1930’s, two nations rose to fascism. Italy is one of them, which was controlled by Benito Mussolini when he came to power in 1922. He intended to control the Italian government by declaring illegal strikes and bought Italian products to make his country to be more self-sufficient (Friedrich 66). By then, there was only one political party that opposed the political party of Italy which made Mussolini jail them. Liberalism was a form of government that encouraged people within the borders of the country to participate in government activities by expressing their opinions and beliefs even if their ideas are opposite compared to the ruling party.
In the late 19th century, imperialism began to rise among powerful countries where they believed that they could still prosper even if they were still in the colonial era (Friedrich 72). With such mindset, social reforms began taking place where leaders took advantage of promoting imperialism and colonization. They claimed that for the nation to thrive, they must occupy other states by using their resources and lands. Countries began experiencing increasing in population; disease was being controlled, there were high food production and adequate transportation. Many world leaders got worried because of the fast growth.
Later, an Industrial revolution took place which led to imperialism. The Western Europe joined the revolution, which decreased resources, jobs, and production. This led to a harsh economic recession that lasted from the 1870’s to the 1890’s (Friedrich 102). Because of this, new markets were needed to help rise out of the recession. To do this, a country looked to expand. In 1894, Joseph Chamberlain delivered his “Speech to the West Birmingham Relief Association” in which he explained how Britain needed to develop their markets to create demand and new jobs. He favored their continued presence in Egypt and looked to expand into Uganda. Competition and nationalism were also factors that led to imperialism.
Many people recognized that other countries were looking to expand and felt pressured to do so as well. European nations, as well as others such as the United States, justified their actions of occupying neighboring countries in different ways. Leaders and politicians claimed that the only way to move forward was to begin exploring new territory and expanding themselves. Some even called it a “cultural mission.” They believed that this was the way to obtain an edge over competing countries. The imperialists were very efficient in their push for expansion during this time. They took full advantage of the reforms and external factors that were taking place around them. Leaders of the wealthier and more powerful nations grew worried that they felt pressure from other countries. They gave speeches and expressed to the people that it was the time to expand to save the economy and remain among the elite. The concept started growing in people’s minds, and eventually, it would have an extreme role in individual countries.
In the early 20th century, the political ideology of fascism began to rise. In 1919, the Fascio DI Combattimento (League of Combat) emerged in Italy, which was the first fascist party (Joseph 151). Fascism is a government that believes that the world is irrational and violent and embraces that. It is a totalitarian state that always looks to expand. The 20th century was the perfect time to do so. The mass media were starting to rise, spreading ideas and ideologies to the people. It became much more comfortable for people such as Benito Mussolini of Italy to broadcast his views and opinions to massive crowds (Joseph 177). Through the 1920’s and 1030’s, fascism grew popular.
Adolf Hitler rose to power and formed the National Socialist Workers Union in Germany based off of the ideas of fascism. Mussolini, Hitler, and their respective parties utilized the new types of media and propaganda that were available to them. They spread propaganda, used radio, loudspeakers, and newspapers that were now able to be mass-produced and distributed daily. They created posters, and songs were even written. One song that was published lasts two lines were “The day of freedom and bread is broken. The swastika gives hope to millions.” Through media, Hitler and Mussolini were able to sway millions and spread the ideas that would eventually lead to their rise to power (Joseph 190).
After World War I, many Europeans were left vulnerable and in need of new leadership. The Treaty of Versailles left Germany devastated, for example. Germany’s military was reduced to nearly 100,000 men; they were forced to pay war reparations and were blamed for most of the fighting. Most of them were willing to get liberty, but because they were tricked they reduced in numbers. On top of all that, many of their soldiers were killed during the battle. The Germans were distraught and reduced to almost nothing after World War I, and the people looked for a new sense of leadership (Joseph 241). People like Mussolini and Hitler both came off as reasonable men and influential leaders. They provided hope to their countries as well as direction. They both were able to run extremely useful campaigns, taking extreme views and instilling them into people’s minds, promising that they would help the country get back on its feet.
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini spread their ideas extremely well, as Hitler gained full power in Germany in 1934, and Mussolini in 1930 (Joseph 322). The two would reign terror against not just their respective countries, but against the historical developments as well. Both would take the lives of millions and wage war against neighboring countries. The spread of imperialism and fascism occurred exceptionally rapidly. Population, the Industrial Revolution, and competition increased the need for colonization and growth. Political figures and parties gave speeches and spread the idea of expanding. Media growth became a significant influence, and much of Europe that had been broken down looked for leadership and hope.
It was quite easy for people like Benito Mussolini to spread his ideas and influence the masses effectively. He provided hope and leadership to a suffering Germany, and for short at the start of his reign, began to lift Germany back on his feet. His ideas were extreme, and he would eventually become one of the evilest men in history. His rise, however, as well as people like Benito Mussolini and others during the time, came from influencing an extremely vulnerable public and using various new media methods to reach the masses.
Fabri, Friedrich. "Chapter 9 Expansion and Public Opinion: Advocates of the "New Imperialism"Discovering the Western Past: A Look at the Evidence.. 6th ed. Vol. II: Cengage Learning, 2008. 250-52. Print.
Chamberlain, Joseph.” Discovering the Western Past: A Look at Evidence of Fascism. 4th ed. Vol. II. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008.147- 353. Print.
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