May 9, 2012

Fascism is one of the most often misused and widely misunderstood political terms. Publicists of both the left and right use the term “fascist” not to describe but to discredit and smear adversaries. “Fascism” is often inaccurately used as a synonym for tyranny, militarism, Nazism, racism, or capitalism. During the first 13 years of Fascist rule in Italy, the regime and its leader (“Duce”), Benito Mussolini, were widely admired in the US and other countries. They earned praise, for example, for resolutely uprooting mafia criminality. Attitudes in the US changed after the Italian subjugation of Ethiopia in 1935-36, and as Mussolini aligned Italy ever more closely with Hitler’s Germany. The image of Mussolini and Fascism that prevails today is largely the product of World War II propaganda.

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