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BREAKING THE POLICE: MUSSOLINI'S USE OF TERRORISM

NCJ Number
142460
Journal
Violence, Aggression and Terrorism Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: (1987) Pages: 41-59
Author(s)
R O Collin
Date Published
1987
Length
19 pages
Annotation
Mussolini's 1922 "March on Rome" was the culmination of a long terrorist campaign in which the authority of the Italian police was systematically broken and the morale of internal security forces was deliberately shattered.
Abstract
Mussolini came to power by using illegal political violence to frighten most of his ideological opponents into submission, the 20th century's first example of successful terrorism against a developing democracy. Faced with what they perceived as a dangerously powerful Marxist revolutionary movement at the time, the Italian police were impressed by the appearance of Mussolini's fascist ideas in 1919. Over time, Mussolini gained the support of the police, often through bribes, and also had economic backing from large landowners. By 1921, the power of the left had been broken; by 1922, many regional police officers were taking orders from the fascist high command. The police failed to stop Mussolini's fascist movement because of institutional defects in police force organization. In addition, the police were poorly treated by the government in the postwar period, and they had no particular reason to be loyal to the liberal parliamentary system. Further, the police learned that they could not depend on their leaders for backing when they executed unpopular orders. The relevance of the Italian police's experience in dealing with Mussolini to contemporary society is discussed. 57 references