October 1935-May 1936: Italo-Ethiopian War
7 October 1935: League of Nations declares Italy to be aggressor; sanctions imposed
10 September 1935: ‘Hoare-Laval’ Pact; limited sanctions on Italy.
23 March 1936: Autarky proclaimed
5 May 1936: Italian army occupies Addis Abeba (better for colonialism)
9 May 1936: Mussolini hails the birth of the Italian Empire from the Palazzo Venezia
On 23 March 1936, Mussolini announced the policy of autarky, a policy of economic independence which became the fascist response to the economic sanctions imposed by the League of Nations for Italy’s transgression in Ethiopia.
In his speech, images abound of an Italy “besieged by 52 enemy countries”, deprived of vital imports and [...]
The Pontine Marshes, south of Rome, had been malarial swamplands since the fall of the Roman Empire. Once a fertile land of mythic proportions enjoyed by the mountain-dwelling Volscians, this pestilential area was to undergo failed land reclamation projects by myriad rulers, including Emperor Trajan, the Gothic king Theodoric, and Pope Leo X. Everyone had failed–until, under the 1928 “Mussolini’s Law,” a major and ambitious land reclamation project was initiated.
The project succeeded. The five new ‘Fascist’ cities of the Agro Pontino symbolized the efficiency and urban design of the Regime. The reclamation of the Pontine Marshes provided the Fascist Regime with a decade’s worth of propagandist footage and stories: the newsreels showed il Duce among the people, placing [...]
This is arguably the most imposing example of urban propaganda in Fascist Italy. From the Palazzo Braschi, Mussolini’s oversized, three-dimensional head inspects the Roman piazza. The context of this grand display of public surveillance is the plebiscite of 25 March 1934, when a list of 400 parliament deputies was to be approved in a yes/no vote. That the list was chosen by the Fascist
Grand Council and not by the electorate stresses the propagandistic objective of the plebiscite itself: to lend the Regime an aura of legitimacy. In the backdrop, behind Mussolini’s head, 132 giant “Sì” deliver a very simple, but no less potent, message about the importance of consensus within the citizenry. In fact, 96.25% of the electorate did [...]