Post-war Italy was the only country that proved unable to use victory as a rhetorical device to consolidate its political system. Internal divisions rendered the old liberal ruling classes incapable of closing ranks in response to the post-war socio-economic crisis, which was soon to lead to the turmoil of the biennio rosso (1919-1920). The ineptitude of the liberal elites was compounded by their refusal to contemplate an alliance with the Italian Socialist Party or with the Italian Popular Party, the two new mass parties to have loomed large on the post-war political scene, a stance reflecting the liberal reluctance to envisage the necessary transition to a democracy featuring modern political parties. In this fashion, the Italian ruling classes paved the way for the seizure of power by a radical nationalism which then led to fascism, a political force forged in the experience of war.
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