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The Collapse of The Liberal State and The Triumph of Fascism in Italy Revision Part One

The Collapse of the Liberal State and the Triumph of Fascism in Italy – This section focuses on the Unification of Italy, the North/South divide, the Liberal political system and the opposition from the Church.

Unification of Italy – “Risorgimento” 

  • 1859-1870 – Literally means resurgence – Rebirth after division – Rebirth of the power of the empire
  • Aims: – to create a unified Italy
      – to avoid war/conflict
  • Pre-Unification it was a collection of small, quarreling states
  • Central Italy dominated by Papal states – Pope ruled
  • 1970 – Rome fell to Italian troops because the French removed their soldiers from guarding
  • Many Italians did not support new regime – got new taxes and laws which restricted wealth and freedom

Liberal Political System

  • The King appointed the Prime Minister and ministers from the Senate and could dismiss the Prime Minister
  • Chamber of Deputies: most powerful, government ministers appointed from it and where all the key debates took place. Could withdraw support from government – would lead to collapse
  • Senate: Appointed for life, powers limited – “retirement home for elderly public servants”
  • No clearly defined political systems and no “two party system” – politicians were wealthy, middle class
  • Poor disenfranchised – left Liberals unchallenged until 1900’s
  • Trasformismo: “the art of compromise” – factions offering ‘favours’ to opponents, thereby transforming them into allies – bribery. Fall of a lot of parties because would choose best offer
  • The Catholic Church chose to exclude itself

Church vs. State

  • Remained hostile for first 20 years – removal of Pope’s power was not forgotten or forgiven.
  • Threat of development of industry, towns and socialism – feared could undermine position
  • Threat of ‘godless socialism’ – in 1904 Catholics would vote if it prevented socialist from winning seats
  • The Pope would not allow the formation of a Catholic party
  • Workers in countryside isolated from new ideas – listen to words of local priest
  • Workers in town find words of Church have less relevance – find socialism an attractive alternative
  • Couples that married in church were not legally married- had to have a civil ceremony

North/South Divide

  • The South: isolated by poor communications, in 1901 75% of a southern province were illiterate, poor health – 20/30% of all deaths were cause by malaria, social problems – organised crime, frequent peasont violent and emigration to the USA, much land unsuitable for agriculture, Latifunda – vast estates owned by men in big towns and cities
  • The North: Much more fertile land than the south and modern farming methods, agriculture still behind the countries of north western Europe, most agriculture was still at the subsistence level and rural poverty was the norm, industrial development was limited and contained in the north because lacked natural resources such as coal and iron ore, illiteracy was widespread, though less so than in the south.
  • There developed what was known as a dualist economy- industrialising north and agriculutre south. This was made worse by unification
  • Liberal governments were aware of problems in south but weren’t sure how to solve it and many blamed it on the southerners themselves – problems + poverty remained neglected and uncolved issues throughout the Liberal period.
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