There were similarities between Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini. One similarity is that both leaders were dictators who had total control of the government, and both men used propaganda to spread their ideas. Mussolini, on the one hand, used propaganda to restore the Italian sense of nationalism. He promised to return Italy to the glory days of the Roman Empire. He also promised to give the Italian people many things, such as social security, jobs, and the protection of private property. Mussolini also used violent propaganda to take away the rights of the people, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Stalin, then, also used propaganda to control the people of the Soviet Union. Stalin used the arts as a way to get people to like him by showing him in positive and in flattering ways. Cities were renamed to honor him, and history books gave him a greater role in the Russian Revolution. In both countries, speaking out against the government or against the government leaders was met with harsh consequences. Secret police existed in both countries to help keep the people under control and to squash any opposition to the government.
Both men believed in totalitarianism, even though it served different purposes for them. Stalin believed in communism while Mussolini believed in fascism. The military grew under both men, again, for different purposes. Mussolini glorified war while Stalin used the military for economic gain.
Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini differed greatly on how to manage the economy but were in complete agreement about how they should run their government: with complete control. Both leaders were absolute dictators that used propaganda and indoctrination to influence the citizens to support them. Those in the community that would not be influenced or brainwashed by propaganda were dealt with harshly. Mussolini and Stalin utilized secret police forces to deal with perceived dissension in an extrajudicial manner. This meant the secret police could arrest citizens without trial or simply execute them on the spot. Both regimes outlawed all other political power and stripped citizens of individual rights. Another similarity between the two is that they created a cult of personality in which the leader was to be adored and feared above everything else. While these two leaders had different socio-political ideologies and would end up on opposite sides of World War II, they had much more in common than either of them would have liked to admit.