The Fascist Party in Italy first organized in 1919, when Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci di Combattimento . The word fascio comes from the Latin fasces , the name for the ceremonial bundle of rods and axe that carried in procession in ancient Rome and symbolized the unity and the power of the Roman Empire. The word came to mean group or league and had, not surprisingly, been used before by other political associations. At first, the philosophy of the Fascist Party leaned toward the liberal left. Their platform advocated giving women the right to vote and allowing workers to participate in the management of industry. Mussolini, however, was more concerned with increasing the power of the party than with adhering to any particular political ideology, and, over time, the party became more and more conservative. By the time Mussolini became prime minister in October 1922, the main support of the Fascists came from the middle class. Mussolini’s government was known for strong-arm tactics and suppression of dissent, often using violence. For instance, on May 30, 1924, a young socialist leader named Giacomo Matteotti gave a speech to Parliament that accused Mussolini of fraud in the 1924 elections. Shortly afterward, Matteotti disappeared; his body was found two months later.
Pirandello was a Mussolini supporter. Though he was not active in politics (his lifelong obsession was his work, not affairs of state), he expressed his admiration for Mussolini in a 1923 interview quoted in the book The Appeal of Fascism Alastair Hamilton: ‘‘Mussolini is one of the few people who knows that reality only exists in man’s power to create it, and that one creates it only through the activity of the mind.’’
In 1935, about a year before ‘‘A Day Goes By’’ was published, Mussolini’s armies invaded Ethiopia. After a brutal campaign that prompted members of the League of Nations to impose economic sanctions on Italy, Ethiopia was annexed by Italy in May 1936 and Mussolini declared himself emperor. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie fled and spent the next five years in exile in England, though he returned to rule Ethiopia again when Italy was ousted in 1941. Pirandello supported the invasion, and donated his Nobel Prize medal to the government as a token of his support.
Fascism in general is associated with allegiance to one powerful leader, authoritarian rule, and contempt for democracy; fascists believe that democracy is a romantic ideal that is impractical and unachievable in reality. Other examples of fascist regimes during the 1930s include Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Francisco Franco’s rule of Spain.
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 31, Luigi Pirandello, Published by Gale Group, 2010