Italian fascism is very interesting. It was exceptionally intelligent, largely due to it being an elite movement. Mussolini was a very intelligent man, and so were the rest of them including Gentile, Spirito and Pannunzio. The movement was a fluid one involving the intellectual center that was Mussolini shifting from socialism proper, to advocating Manchester Liberalism, to finally totalitarianism, which is a termed coined by themselves and not perceived as a slur. The whole totalitarianism as a term of opprobrium is cold war thing funded into being no doubt by the foundations as everything pro-“liberty” was. Of course, I could be wrong and the likes of George Orwell and Hannah Arendt weren’t funded by the liberal elite…yeah, about that… but wait a second, didn’t I just write “Manchester Liberalism” in that sentence? Yes I did.
James Gregor’s books on Fascism are really a must read, and his claims that Mussolini embraced Manchester Liberalism, and as such, so did the National Fascist Party (NPF) between 1921 and 1925, just screamed out for confirmation, and he is not wrong. I am unable to find a scan of a primary source as such, and have to contend with a shaky internet translation, but, ladies and gentlemen, here is the section from the 1921 platform that proves it:
This is to be compared to the 1919 manifesto which is clearly socialist.
By 1925 though, Mussolini had dumped all of this and taken on a conception of fascism that was infused with a rejection of empiricism and a rejection of the concept of the empirical self being paramount embodied in the Doctrine of Fascism from 1932.