Italian fascist dictator. Mussolini became an influential socialist agitator and leader through his work as a journalist for the socialist newspaper Avanti and as a sought-after speaker. He formed the National Fascist Party in early 1921. Taking advantage of widespread disatisfaction with Italy's weak and corrupt government, he led the new party to win 10% of the electoral seats that year, a strong showing. In the subsequent 18 months, he espoused new policies to win groups of voters such as anti-Bolshevik nationalists and monied industrialists, and courted the Italian military establishment. When socialists launched general strikes in 1922, Mussolini backed military force to crush the strikes, and parlayed the resulting events into a general takeover of the government in October of 1922. He quickly established a totalitarian state, repudiating the form of government and most of the policies which gave him power, and ruled Italy with an iron fist until he was forced to resign in 1943.