Convinced that a socialist revolution was doomed to failure, Mussolini now attempted to build a new movement. The original Fascist program delivered a radical message, with heavy doses of anti-clerical and republican rhetoric, vaguely left-wing in its politics and economics, strongly appealing to its lower-middle-class, urban base.
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Then, sensing an opportunity to acquire power, Mussolini shrewdly abandoned the Fascist movement’s early radicalism to create the Fascist Party (PNF). Recruiting landowners, industrialists, and the middle class, the PNF adopted a new, more conservative program that emphasized a pro-business, nationalist agenda, cutting taxes and diminishing the role of the government while boosting military spending and supporting the monarchy and the Catholic Church.
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Technically, Mussolini’s seizure of power occurred within the letter of the Italian constitution; at the same time, by employing systematic violence and wantonly ignoring Parliament, the Fascists destroyed what was left of traditional constitutional government.
– Charles Killinger