When properly trained (or shall we say indoctrinated), children are the shock troops of ideology. Benito Mussolini was not the only Fascist dictator to target children as the future of his power base (here is an example from Franco’s Spain), but he acutely understood, as did the Roman church, the need to control the educational system, including all textbooks, which skewed Italian history into Fascist “brand” narratives.
Mussolini’s propaganda targeted boys destined to become Fascist warriors “who would fight with glory.” Girls were to be fecund mothers who would give Italy its sons of the She Wolf.
Boys were taught that fighting for Fascism was a natural extension of the normal male lifestyle. “War is to the male what childbearing is to the female.” Children were taught to obey their leaders while on their path to becoming future adults.
The enticingly designed and illustrated primary school textbook and quaderni (notebooks) below (and here) reveal how the Fascist message was ingrained in student life.
About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →