I believe that this statement is correct, liberal Italy was doomed to failure.
The government carried out a string of mistakes and mishandled many problems which will explain why this I so and I will cover them all in this essay. Due to the war Italy was in massive debt, there was very high inflation, millions of workers were striking all over the country, the state had to support war veterans, unemployment numbers were increasing rapidly as soldiers returned home to find no jobs available, there was a rising threat from the socialist party with new inspiration from the Russian revolution.Italy joined the First World War in 1915 on the side of the Entente (Britain, France and Russia) as the Entente had promised the territories they wanted if they won, unlike Austria-Hungary and Germany who had promised only some of Italy’s desired territory.The territories Italy wanted were; Trentino, southern Tyrol, Istria, parts of Dalmatia and Fiume (a town on the border of Istria). However, even though the Entente were on the winning side of the wart, they refused Italy the ownership of Fiume and Dalmatia.
The reasons being, Fiume was very important to the state of the economy in the new Yugoslav state and hardly any Italians actually lived in Dalmatia.Italians saw this as a ‘mutilated victory’ for their country, they felt cheated and the popularity of the government decreased because they were too weak to fight for their right to the land they were promised.The downfall of Italy’s economy was mainly due to the huge amount of debt it ended up in as a result of the war. At the beginning of the war in 1914, Italy was already 16 billion lire in debt. However by the end of the war, 1919, Italy’s debts had increased by over 500 % to 85 billion lire. These debts were mainly caused by loans taken from the USA and Britain and the extortionate rates charged by companies such as Fiat and Pirelli to gain easy profits, as they were vital to the war effort, the government had no choice. This over expenditure resulted in the government spending well over 23 billion lire more than they had got from tax collection.Over the three years Italy was involved in the war, inflation soared and prices quadrupled.
The loans from Britain and the USA did not cover costs so in the hope of paying off debts and combating the problem of inflation, the government decided to print more money. However, this did nothing but make their problems worse, it simply decreased the value of the lire. This was probably one of the most incompetent actions of the Italian government at that time.
The savings of the middle classes became practically worthless and as prices (especially of food) rose, buying power decreased by 25%.All of these problems eventually brought about protests and riots until the government gave in in 1919.One million soldiers suffered horrific injuries as a result of the fighting and roughly 650,000 were killed. The main reason Italy had taken loans from Britain and the USA was to help the state pay to look after its war veterans and support the families of those killed.Those soldiers who survived the war and returned unharmed, returned to find no jobs available and massive unemployment (up to two million by 1919) throughout the country.In 1919, trade unions were set up again and over one million strikes took place all over Italy, despite the ban on industrial action imposed several years before. The factory workers had long been unhappy eith the long hours they had to work during the war.
What provoked the strikes though was the fact that the long hours had not been cut when the war ended and the rapid inflation had caused a huge drop in real wages (how far their money will go). They were still being paid the same although their money was actually worth less than it was before the war.Between 1918 and 1920, the number of trade union members rose from a quarter of a million to two million (an increase of 800% in two years).
Another problem for the government was the growing socialist threat, although Nitti (the prime minister) did not seem to see it as much of a problem, as he did not try and stop them. Instead he concentrated more on sorting out the industrialists.The socialists were becoming much more of a threat. Inspired after the success of the Russian revolution in 1917, they began top grow in numbers very rapidly. The party quadrupled in size between 1914 and 1919 eventually ending up with 200.000 members. They decided that they had been trying for slow reform for far too long, immediate, violent action would be much more productive. They won 156 seats in the Italian parliament after getting 32.
4% in the national elections, resulting in them being the largest single party in parliament.Between 1918 and 1920, the Italian government was losing its popularity very fast. Although Italy was on the winning side of the war, the government was too weak to be able to obtain the territories promised to them by the Entente. When the war ended, the country was in huge debt, not helped by having to support injured veterans and the bereaved.
Soaring inflation was badly delt with and unemployment was at an all time high. On top of this the government ignored the increasing threat from the socialist party. All these points add up to the fact that Liberal Italy was definitely doomed to failure after the First World War.