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100 years ago: The rise of Mussolini

04 November 2022

November 3rd 1922

THE triumph of the Fascisti is one of the most curious events of our time, and it is difficult to forecast what it may import for Italy and the world. Its leader Mussolini, now Prime Minister, was the son of a blacksmith, and before the war was a Socialist editor. The war converted him from Socialism, and now he is the enemy of the class-war and of Socialism, the most formidable enemy, according to some of his friends, that democracy has had since the days of the French Revolution. Italy is indeed the land of political surprises. She initiated democracy at Florence and Milan when England was living in feudalism. Later on she gave in Venice the model of a successful aristocratic republic. Signor Mussolini so far recalls another great Roman, Rienzi, and his climb to power has been as remarkable as that of his prototype. Is he destined to a similar fall, or will he open the way to a new orientation in politics? The answer to the question really depends on the answer to the question whether or not the Socialists and Communists have been really crushed by the military operations of the Fascisti. If they have, it may mean that democracy has been discredited by Bolshevism in a Latin country. In any case, there may be grave peril in the classical aspirations of the Fascisti. It may be a harmless jest for them to term their regiments legions, and their officers centurions, and to take their own name from the fasces which were of old borne before the consuls. But if they are bent on reviving the glories of the Roman Empire to the extent of making the Mediterranean an Italian lake, they may be a grave menace to the peace of Europe.

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