Italian Fascism is based upon Italian nationalism, and in particular seeks to complete what it considers as the incomplete project of Risorgimento by incorporating Italia Irredenta (“unredeemed Italy“) into the state of Italy. The National Fascist Party (PNF) founded in 1921, declared that the party was to serve as “a revolutionary militia placed at the service of the nation. It follows a policy based on three principles: order, discipline, hierarchy.”
It identifies modern Italy as the heir to the Roman Empire and Italy during the Renaissance, and promotes the cultural identity of Romanitas (“Roman-ness”). Italian Fascism historically sought to forge a strong Italian Empire as a “Third Rome”, identifying ancient Rome as the “First Rome”, and Renaissance-era Italy as the “Second Rome”. Italian Fascism has emulated ancient Rome, and Benito Mussolini in particular emulated ancient Roman leaders, such as Julius Caesar as a model for the Fascists’ rise to power, and Augustus as a model for empire-building. Italian Fascism has directly promoted imperialism, such as within the Doctrine of Fascism (1932) ghostwritten by Giovanni Gentile on behalf of Mussolini, declared:
The Fascist state is a will to power and empire. The Roman tradition is here a powerful force. According to the Doctrine of Fascism, empire is not only territorial or military or mercantile concept, but a spiritual and moral one. One can think of an empire, that is, a nation, which directly or indirectly guides other nations, without the need to conquer a single square kilometre of territory.
—Benito Mussolini, Giovanni Gentile, Doctrine of Fascism (1932).