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Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in 1919. Fascism comes from the Latin word fasces which in ancient Rome was an ax bounded by a bundle of rods used to symbolize the power of state officials, and which was carried before them by their attendants whenever they went...

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Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in 1919. Fascism comes from the Latin word fasces which in ancient Rome was an ax bounded by a bundle of rods used to symbolize the power of state officials, and which was carried before them by their attendants whenever they went out in public. The intellectual currents that helped give birth to fascism had been flowing for some time in Europe prior to Mussolini's arrival on the political scene, but he was arguably the first man to build an actual political movement bearing the fascist name.

Before World War One, Mussolini had been a notorious socialist agitator. However, his experiences of fighting at the front with the Italian Army radically changed his whole political outlook. Now he believed in the need to restore Italy's greatness. To that end, he harked back to the example of ancient Rome for inspiration, seeking to establish an historical continuity between his movement and the legendary figures of the past.

Under Mussolini's leadership, the fascists' platform combined an aggressive, imperialist foreign policy with radical economic measures that had a distinctly socialistic air about them. Mussolini also ensured that the fascists quickly gained a reputation for violence, thuggery, and intimidation, which they employed ruthlessly against their political opponents.

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