Fascism was dead as a functioning independent regime from late 1942. It is futile to argue retrospectively that Fascism would have survived but for the external factor of the Second World War. It might have done, but it would not have been Fascism. War was essential not incidental to Fascism. The Fascist movement emerged as an extreme and violent political response to a perceived national crisis, consequent on the social and political strains set up by the impact and outcome of the First World War and expressed in what appeared to be Socialist revolution. It became a new mass movement of the middle classes, united in a heterogeneous anti-socialist coalition with important organised sectional interests and members of liberal Italy’s political, economic and military establishment. These probably inescapable compromising alliances with the old order were built into the system of power evolving by the late 1920s, corrupting the implementation of a new socio-economic corporative order which Fascism alleged was its distinctive and innovative contribution to managing the social conflicts of modern society.
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