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"Fascism is a religion. The twentieth century will be known in history as the century of Fascism."
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945) was an Italian fascist politician who was leader of Italy from 1922, pretty much up to his death. Unlike his German contemporary Adolf Hitler, he was never in official command of his nation due to King Victor Emmanuel nominally being Mussolini's boss.
Mussolini first got the idea for fascism when he was a war reporter in the trenches of World War One, following around the soldiers. And he liked what he saw in the army. He wanted to create a society organized like a military battalion, a rigid conformist society with no dissenters to undermine patriotic values.
Today, he is most famous for being the first fascist ruler of any country, and for his colonial war against Ethiopia in 1935 (called Abyssinia at the time) which proved the ridiculous incompetence of the League of Nations. He was a close ally of Adolf Hitler and fought on Nazi Germany's side during the war, although the Italian Army were more of a hindrance to the Nazis than a help. To be fair, when Hitler wanted Italy to enter the war, Mussolini said what amounted to Can it wait until I've industrialize my country in five years? (this may have been a random number chosen to delay Italian entry indefinitely...until Germany annexed half the continent with ease, at least).
That all said, there is a real historiographical debate about how much of a Fascist Mussolini really was, as the most notable members of his cabinet consisted of political opportunists rather than die-hard Fascist fanatics, and Mussolini seemed to waver a lot when the question of how far the Fascist revolution was meant to go came up, on at least one occasion saying that Italy was not ready to be Fascist. In other words he believed in Fascism, but was too cynical about Italy and politics in general to believe that a Fascist revolution could take place, and thus was content to run a straight-up dictatorship with Fascist dressing, electing to maintain his position rather than upset the status quo. Thus, Fascist Italy was not as totalitarian as Nazi Germany nor Stalinist Russia- it was a one-party state with media controlled and opposition banned and such, but it was still a monarchy, had a shaky, up and down relationship with the Catholic Church, tolerated (if not permitted) a degree of freedom of speech, and had an aggressive foreign policy that was more bark than bite. Though Mussolini ruled for more than 20 years, several parts of Italy barely noticed any change from the previous fifty.
Mussolini was deposed by the King in July 1943. In September the Italians joined the Allies and declared war on Germany. The Germans responded by invading Italy and forcing Mussolini, by now wanting to retire, to form a Nazi state called the Italian Social Republic. He was caught and executed by the Italian resistance in 1945, by first being shot in the gut, and then being dragged into the nearby city of Milan and hung upside-down while crowds of angry Italians threw things at his body.
Mussolini does not come up in history quite as often as Hitler does, despite numerous of Hitler's famous actions being imitations of Mussolini's.
Tropes Associated With Benito Mussolini Include:
- You Fail Economics Forever: Autarchy, or an attempt at self-sufficiency, was actually a terrible idea.
- As was Mussolini's cartelization of the economy, price fixing of the means of production and consumer goods... lets just say everyone will find something to disagree with in fascist economics.
- Asshole Victim: Ended up being shot by partisans in the woods, then his corpse strung up in the city square of Milan to be kicked, spat on, and generally abused for three days. Mussolini was also a ruthless dictator.
- Bald of Evil
- Beam Me Up, Scotty: Although he is popularly supposed to have coined the phrase "fascism should more appropriately be termed corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power," this was actually first said by Giovanni Gentile in his Doctrine of Fascism, which Mussolini co-authored.
- Butt Monkey: Called himself "el duce" and had the initials BM. TWO triple entendres. And he brought "el duce" on himself.
- The Casanova: Mussolini had for all of his life numerous flirts and lovers. And he was not ashamed to show it, building a womanizer reputation for himself. He believed (perhaps correctly, being in Italy) that his success with women contributes to his perception as a strong leader.
- Dead Guy on Display: Along with his mistress.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Andrea?
- It means "manly".. That means it's actually the female use that's embarassing.
- It's quite a common name for Italian men.
- It means "manly".. That means it's actually the female use that's embarassing.
- Fascist but Inefficient: The Trope Namer. Ironically, because this is the man who was said to have "made the trains run on time." (They actually didn't.)
- Fascist Italy: Well, duh.
- Generation Xerox: Not with Mussolini himself, but it turns out that his granddaughter Alessandra, who's a self-proclaimed fascist (even though she's a member of the "People of Freedom" Party), is apparently following in Il Duce's footsteps. Let the fact that there's still a Mussolini around in Italian politics sink in.
- She is far from having something that resembles a position of power. She is marginalized as a fanatic and while she sits in the Italian parliament in the majority coalition she is far from being influential. By the way, she was on a Playboy cover in the seventies.
- Get It Over With: When Mussolini was executed by local communist partisans, his last words were "Shoot me in the chest!"
- Then they hanged him from his feet instead (and did the same to his girlfriend).
- Good Republic, Evil Empire: At *least* played with in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. While Hallie Selasse and the Ethopian aristocracy and government were not exactly grade-A good guys, they were nowhere close to people like Il Dunce and Graziani, but technically it was a war between the Ethopian *Empire*, which was really The Kingdom, and The Kingdom of Italy, which-considering the fact that it was Fascist Italy- was The Empire. Confused yet?
- Kneel Before Zod: What a lot of his propaganda said. OBEY!
- It's either that or "SI!" (Yes in Italian)
- Large Ham
- Modern Major-General
- Nice Hat: his fez, that he would wear almost always (including the page picture). Bonus point for the fez being proof he served in World War I as a Bersagliere, Italy's elite infantry.
- Shirtless Scene: Believing it was a sign of a strong and virile Roman man, Mussolini was frequently photographed with his shirt off, posing with rifles or diving into the sea.
- Shout-Out: He was named after Benito Juarez, one of the most revered presidents of Mexico's history (the Italian form of his name would be "Benedetto").
- The Social Darwinist: The ultimate real-world definition of the trope.
- Squick: Look up how he and his mistress died. Seriously, it's bad.
- Take That: Mussolini's book, The Cardinal's Mistress was the subject of Dorothy Parker's famous quip, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
- Unnecessarily Large Interior: Mussolini had his visitors cross an excessively large hall to meet him, as a psychological intimidation tactic.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Many intellectuals, including so-called "progressive" thinkers praised him for his handling of the Great Depression in Italy, and Mussolini himself described corporatism as being similar to the New Deal. That said, these days, "progressives" don't like fascism.
- The odd thing is that Mussolini had actually been a socialist (albeit a patriotic one) before the war, at a time when "socialist" and "communist" were not so clearly defined and frequently used interchangeably (among Marxists, anyway).
- War Is Glorious: He loved war (even though he was a reporter, rather than a soldier). In fact, Mussolini modeled fascism after the discipline and unity of the military. He viewed the besieged trenches of World War 1 as a perfect microcosm of his ideal Italy.
- He even said that "War is to a man what maternity is to a woman". Mussolini's utopian society would always be at war.
- Ye Goode Olde Days : Mussolini wanted to make his regime a grandiose revival of The Roman Empire. It is hard to tell whether the Romans would have been amused or insulted.
- Yes-Man: While Mussolini initially appointed competent and free-thinking individuals to important government positions, he eventually bought into his own hype so much that he would only tolerate the spineless yes-men, and quickly surrounded himself with them. Needless to say, this was to have disastrous consequences.
- After Italy surrendered in 1943, Mussolini de facto became Hitler's yes-man.
Works In Which Benito Mussolini Appears Or Is Cited Include:
- One episode of Cheers had Carla trying to get around a family naming tradition that would have unintentionally forced the name "Benito Mussolini" onto her unborn baby.
- Frequently appeared in the wartime comics of Carl Giles. Giles was saddened to hear of Mussolini's death, as it meant he would no longer be able to mock him, uttering the immortal words: "I've lost my Musso!".
- Mussolini makes an appearance in Disney's World War II propaganda short, "Der Fuehrers Face".
- He is the narrator of a chapter in Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The entire chapter is a furious megalomaniac rant by Mussolini, where he raves about the "survival of the fittest", praises the discipline and martial virtues of the Roman Empire, and how he wants the Italian people to have "ice in their soul". It ends with Mussolini being disturbed by his cat, and promptly kicking the cat to death.
- Mussolini plays an important part in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Dante-based Science Fiction novel, Inferno, where he guides the novel's protagonist Through Hell And (Not-Quite) Back.
- In The Pride of Life, Othello's superbeasts are named for European dictators, including "Mussol" for Mussolini.
- Mussolini appears in Lemon Demon's "Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny."
- In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar, Mussolini is overthrown when Italy is eventually overrun by the Race, but is busted out of prison by Otto Skorzeny and later seen in exile in the United States.
- A Greater Britain, a work aimed at rescuing Oswald Mosley from the scrappy heap, does the same to Mussolini: he fights on the Allied side of the truncated equivalent to WW 2, and it reflects on his political gifts which tend to be brushed over nowadays.
- The Beano had two main wartime comic strips, Addie and Hermie (about Hitler and Goering) and Musso the Wop, which used Italian stereotypes cheerfully and mocked the Italian Army for its lack of success in North Africa.
- Joey from Friends claimed his grandmother was the 6th person to spit on Mussolini's corpse.
- Homer from The Simpsons non-deliberately mimics Mussolini's way of gesturing during speeches (fittingly held from a balcony during their holiday stay in Italy) during the episode The Italian Bob. He actually wanted to mimic Donald Trump, but it went horribly wrong.
- Also, Milhouse's full name is "Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten".
- Mussolini features prominently in Vincere, a recent movie which tells the life of the young Benito Mussolini and his rise to power from the point of view of his first wife (Ida Dalser), who was abandoned when Mussolini returned from the first World War. Both Ida and her son (called Benito Albino) were later forced into a mental institution and died of "natural" causes.
- Tea With Mussolini, obviously.
- In The Office Dwight reads a speech by Benito Mussolini apparently trying to say that paper salesmen are a Proud Warrior Race.
- Mussolini was brought to the present in a time machine to fight against Roberto Benigni in an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch.
- While Moe is doing his best Hitler impersonation in The Three Stooges short "You Nazty Spy", Curly does a spot-on impersonation of Mussolini.
- Is parodied along with Hitler in The Great Dictator, in which the two conflict over which country would invade Austria. Truth in Television at the time, though the two became close allies later.
- In Mafalda, Miguelito's grandfather is an admirer of Mussolini. He even manages to trace the Moon Landing to Mussolini (Mussolini -> Hitler -> Von Braun -> NASA -> Moon Landing).
- This  Xkcd strip.