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Author: Jacopo Pili

Anglophobia in Fascist Italy traces the roots of Fascist Anglophobia from the Great War and through the subsequent peace treaties and its development during the twenty years of Mussolini’s regime. Initially, Britain was seen by many Italians as a ‘false friend’ who was also the main obstacle to Italy’s foreign policy aspirations, a view embraced by Mussolini and his movement. While at times dormant, this Anglophobic sentiment did not disappear in the years that followed, and was later rekindled during the Ethiopian War. The peculiarly Fascist contribution to the assessment of Britain was ideological. From the mid-1920s, the regime’s intellectuals saw Fascism as the answer to a crisis in the Western world and as irredeemably opposed to Western civilisation of the sort exemplified by Britain. Britain was described as having failed the ‘problem of labour’, and Fascism framed as a salvation ideology, which nations would either embrace or face decay. The perception of Britain as a decaying and feeble nation increased after the Great Depression. The consequence of this was a consistent underrating of British power and resolve to resist Italian ambitions. An analysis of popular reception of the Fascist discourse shows that the tendency to underrate Britain had permeated large sectors of the Italian people, and that public opinion was more hostile to Britain than previously thought. Indeed, in some quarters hatred towards the British lasted until the end of the Second World War, in both occupied and liberated Italy.

Jacopo Pili

Graham wrote to London that Britain was ‘not just respected, but liked’ in Italy, even he felt some distrust for Mussolini, considering him unreliable.52 Postwar Anglo-Italian relations had never been idyllic; in April 1923 a Foreign Office report described them as barely changed after the rise of the Fascisti. In June, the British Royal Family visited Italy and were welcomed by ‘an outburst of spontaneous enthusiasm.’53 The Italian press celebrated the visit, but did not forget the strains of the past and warned readers not to delude themselves about the British

in Anglophobia in Fascist Italy
Open Access (free)
Jacopo Pili

of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s Fiume Free State (1920–1924).17 As the following period of less troubled Anglo-Italian relations between the Corfu crisis in 1923 and the Great Depression of 1929 proceeded, a more diverse (if still within the limits allowed in an authoritarian country) range of opinions concerning Britain as an international player emerged. The chapter addresses how various criteria, among which were white supremacy, anti-Communism and domestic issues, influenced the Fascist perception of the British Empire during this period. Understanding the

in Anglophobia in Fascist Italy
Jacopo Pili

clearly that it was a waste of money.60 From 1935, the Italian funding of Mosley had started decreasing, diminishing by half in 1936 and becoming negligible by 1937.61 However, Mosley, his party and his political influence did not disappear from the radar of Fascist discourse. With the deterioration of Anglo-Italian relations during the second half of the 1930s, a pro-Fascist voice in Britain was duly appreciated.62 54 chapter 2 However, by this stage Mussolini had lost faith in his British apprentice’s chances of transforming Britain into a Fascist country. There

in Anglophobia in Fascist Italy