Fasci Italiani di Combattimento

The Fasci Italiani di Combattimento (English: Italian fasces of combat, also translatable into "Italian fighting bands" or "Italian fighting leagues"[6]) was an Italian fascist organization created by Benito Mussolini in 1919.[7] It was the successor of the Fascio d'Azione Rivoluzionaria, being notably further right than its counterpart. It was reorganised into the National Fascist Party in 1921.

Fasci Italiani di Combattimento
LeaderBenito Mussolini
Founded23 March 1919
Dissolved9 November 1921
Preceded byFascio d'Azione Rivoluzionaria
Succeeded byNational Fascist Party
HeadquartersVia Paolo da Cannobbio 37, Milan
NewspaperIl Popolo d'Italia
Paramilitary wingBlackshirts
IdeologyItalian Fascism[1]
Revolutionary nationalism[2]
National syndicalism[3]
Third Position[5]
Political positionFar-right
National affiliationNational Bloc (1921)
Colours  Black


On 23 March 1919, the Fascio d'Azione Rivoluzionaria was renamed the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles resulted in Italy obtaining South Tyrol, Trentino, Istria, and Trieste from Austria-Hungary. Italy also wanted Fiume and the region of Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast, hence they felt treated unfairly. In March 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasces of Combat, which galvanised the support of the disgruntled, unemployed war veterans. The Italian World War I special forces, known as the Arditi, were angry about the problems in Italy. Mussolini sympathised with them, claiming he shared their war experiences, hence they joined the Fasci, eventually becoming the Squadrismo.

In the election of 1919, Mussolini and his party put forth a leftist and anti-clerical program which called for higher inheritance and capital-gains taxes and the ousting of the monarchy.[8] He also proposed an electoral alliance with the socialists and other parties on the left, but was ignored over concerns that he would be a liability with the voters. During the election, Mussolini campaigned as "the Lenin of Italy" in an effort to "out-socialist the socialists."[9]: 284, 297  Mussolini and his party failed miserably against the socialists who garnered forty times as many votes, an election so dismal that even in Mussolini’s home village of Predappio, not a single person voted for him.[8] In a mock funeral procession after the election, members of Mussolini’s former Italian Socialist Party, carried a coffin that bore Mussolini's name, parading it past his apartment to symbolize the end of his political career.[10]

Due to the disastrous results in the November 1919 election, Mussolini contemplated a name change for his Fascist party. By 1921, Mussolini favored a plan to rename the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento to the “Fascist Labor Party” or “National Labor Party” at the Third Fascist Congress in Rome (November 7-10, 1921), in an effort to maintain his reputation as being loyal to the left-wing tradition of supporting trade unionism.[11] Mussolini envisaged a more successful political party if it was based on a fascist coalition of labor syndicates.[12] This alliance with socialists and labour was described as a sort of "nationalist-leftist coalition government" but was opposed by both more conservative fascist members and the governing Italian Liberal Party of Giovanni Giolitti, who already had decided to include the Fascists in their National Bloc.[11]

In 1921, the Fascio would be transformed into the National Fascist Party (Italian: Partito Nazionale Fascista). Mussolini combined ideologies from a few different political parties. He started his political life as a socialist, eventually editor of the socialist magazine Avanti but was expelled when he supported intervention in World War I. He then started a group called Fascio di Combattimento (English: fighting band), which at first didn't gain much popularity. In 1919, a three-party government was formed, leaning toward a democratic side of government.


The Fasces' manifesto, as published in Il Popolo d'Italia

The Fasci was strongly based on Mazzinian politics, such as following Giuseppe Mazzini's denouncement of irreligious, non-mystic, class conflict-based socialism,[13]: 42  and in particular, Mazzini's theme of mobilizing the masses based on faith rather than materialism.[13]: 44  In March 1915, Mussolini described Mazzini and other Italian patriots as having "awoken" Italians in Risorgimento, who up to then had been a "sleeping people."[13]: 44  Like Mazzini, Mussolini accused conventional socialists of being dogmatic and had criticized in December 1914 the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) for their association with Marxism that Mussolini declared had become obsolete, and made a list of socialist figures ranging from the top of admirable socialist figures like Mazzini, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Charles Fourier, and Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon at the top to Marx at the bottom.[13]: 44  He said that he and other Italian interventionist socialists sought to "repudiate Marx" and "return to Mazzini."[13]: 44  This perception of Mazzini by Mussolini was influenced by Mussolini's idealization of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch and his idealization of revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel. In a 1909 review of Sorel's works, Mussolini indicated that he became a syndicalist when Sorel said "we syndicalists."[13]: 44 

Electoral resultsEdit

Italian ParliamentEdit

Chamber of Deputies
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
1921 Into National Bloc
35 / 535
Benito Mussolini


  1. ^ "Fascismo". Enciclopedia Treccani. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  2. ^ Payne, Stanley (1995). A History of Fascism, 1914-1945. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 99.
  3. ^ Mack Smith, Denis (1983). Mussolini. New York: Vintage Books. p. 38.
  4. ^ "Sansepolcrista". Enciclopedia Treccani. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  5. ^ Mack Smith, Denis (1979). Modern Italy: A Political History. University of Michigan Press. pp. 284, 297.
  6. ^ Britannica
  7. ^ "Fascismo: la nascita dei fasci". Storia del XX Secolo (in Italian). Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  8. ^ a b Mack Smith, Denis (1983). Mussolini. New York: Vintage Books. p. 38.
  9. ^ Mack Smith, Denis (1997) [1979]. Modern Italy: A Political History. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  10. ^ Clark, Martin (2014). Mussolini. Profiles in Power. Routledge. p. 44.
  11. ^ a b Payne, Stanley G. 1995. A History of Fascism, 1914-1945. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 99–100.
  12. ^ Delzell, Charles F., ed. (1971). Mediterranean Fascism 1919-1945. New York: Walker and Company. p. 26.
  13. ^ a b c d e f O'Brien, Paul. Mussolini in the First World War: The Journalist, The Soldier, The Fascist.