Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:32 AM
xchrom (108,903 posts)
'Il Duce' Calendars and Beer Mugs Mussolini Cult Alive and Well in Italy
Wine bottles bearing pictures of Adolf Hitler (l.) and Mussolini (r.): the Italian was in many respects a model for the system of power created by the German Führer
Flags bearing his likeness are also coveted.
Every year, thousands of people in Italy hang a fresh calendar of images depicting Benito Mussolini on their wall, just one of many indications that the cult of "Il Duce" is alive and well in the country. Many still consider the fascist dictator to have been an honorable man, and it is a weakness that politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi have been able to exploit.
Decked out in army fatigues, his hand raised in fascist salute, he emblazons newsstands, lies ready in bookshops and is splashed across countless websites: Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator and founder of fascism known simply as "Il Duce", enjoys massive popularity in Italy as a calendar pin-up. One month he's in a steel helmet, his chin jutting sharply forward, the next he's clutching a Roman short sword, the famous chin still at attention. His valiant, steel-helmeted soldiers also march on annually, in color or black and white, accompanied by fascist symbols like the swastika.
Foreign tourists, especially Germans, are shocked when they see these openly flaunted calendars. Yet even in 2013, the former Italian dictator has a loyal fan base at home. And they're not just buying calendars.
The full extent of the Mussolini cult -- a phenomenon many foreigners find difficult to understand -- can be seen in Predappio, a small town in the Emilia-Romagna region with barely 7,000 inhabitants. As a tourist destination, Predappio is not really worth the trip. But it was here on July 29, 1883 that Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, the son of a blacksmith and a village school teacher, began a life that would lead to his coronation as "Il Duce," the architect of fascism who was the precursor and in many respects a model for Adolf Hitler.
10 replies, 4040 views
'Il Duce' Calendars and Beer Mugs Mussolini Cult Alive and Well in Italy (Original post)
Response to xchrom (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 10:16 AM
HughBeaumont (22,855 posts)
3. I wonder if there are any cute tourist items of his corpse hung upside down.
Like anyone should celebrate this stain on world history. Unbelievable.
Response to xchrom (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 11:13 AM
Javaman (47,173 posts)
5. amusing really...
if the poorer party of Italy (the south) is championing this, then like most modern morons, they fail to read their history and how il douche-bag screwed over the poor and, like most fascists, put his lot in with the corporations and wealthy.
these people are basically Italy's version of tea baggers.
Response to xchrom (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 12:11 PM
WilmywoodNCparalegal (2,550 posts)
Who are these 'thousands of people' who hang a calendar with Mussolini on it???? I've never known anyone who had or has his calendar, except when used for target practice.
I'm from Emilia Romagna and I know full well there were some people (a very small number) - older people in their 60s - who used to go to Predappio and 'pay homage.' But they were considered to be anomalies and a very small fringe of crazy loons.
I've seen the Benito aprons and they are tourist novelties. Note that the one pictured above also includes his date of death, hardly something I'd like to mention if I were a fan of il Duce.
There are a couple of things that Italians acknowledge about Mussolini: (1) the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican - this treaty is still in effect and it essentially separated the Catholic church from Italian affairs. It also established a separate sovereign entity (the Vatican); (2) public transportation and services - the famous 'he made the trains run on time' phrase is because he did invest a lot of money to create and strengthen railways and transportation networks, still used today.
Mussolini's enigmatic political views evolved greatly after WWI. His father was a socialist who named him after Benito Juarez, the revolutionary who was president of Mexico. He was a member of the Italian socialist party. He was also an elementary school teacher who was unable to secure a tenured position. He then became a member of a masons' union and he began writing for various socialist publications and becoming active with some anarcho-socialists in Switzerland. Through this time, he begins to form a revulsion for 'positive' socialism - that is, social responsibility, equality, unions, etc. - and instead becomes more and more an authoritarian socialist.
At first, he espoused anti-interventionist views. Later, he became more pro-interventionist and served in WWI. He was an enigmatic person whose political views changed throughout his life. For instance, in 1925, he established new rules for companies, requiring them to provide health services to their workers, to ensure that women and minors were not given excessive duties and to list and disclose toxic or chemical substances with whom the workers may have contact. Moreover, national employment contracts became required and employers could only offer different employment contracts if workers were provided with better wages and benefits than those the national contracts offered.
However, his new views on interventions in foreign lands caused political and economic problems with his campaigns in Africa and his inefficiency in matters of finance was disastrous. Gandhi, who met Mussolini, revealed that he thought Mussolini was an enigma, that he had done a lot for the farmers and workers and the poor, but that he had used coercion and threats, punishment, imprisonment and other questionable and undemocratic means to get what he wanted.
In 1933, he created the predecessor to modern-day INPS (which is the Italian version of the Social Security Administration). However, he supported the racial purity laws adopted later and his alliance with Germany pretty much signed his downfall.
Soon, Germany was basically governing Italy and Mussolini became even more marginalized. Whatever ideals he had held in the early 1900s were replaced by a despotic authoritarian who did not resemble the young man he once was.
In the early 1900s, his party espoused rather progressive ideas like an 8-hour workday, universal suffrage, voting age set at 18 years, minimum wage laws, progressive taxation, etc. Later, all these lofty goals were replaced by the yearning for a re-birth of the Roman Empire - using symbols like the Roman salute (adopted by the Nazis), the Roman eagle, etc. -, a fervent nationalism founded on military force and the reduction of freedoms for the individual, authoritarianism, racism, and antidemocratic sentiments.
One of his sons, Romano Mussolini, was a well known jazz pianist. Ironically, jazz was censored because it was a 'foreign' thing, but Romano became a fan of jazz and even befriended Duke Ellington, who remained a friend for life. He used pseudonyms throughout a great part of his life so he could work. He ended up marrying Sofia Loren's sister and one of his children, Alessandra, is the infamous Alessandra Mussolini.