Monday, January 03, 2022

97 Years Ago Today, Benito Mussolini Declares Himself Dictator and Nobody Stops Him

The details from

Similar to Adolf Hitler, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini did not become the dictator of a totalitarian regime overnight. For several years, he and his allies worked more or less within the confines of the Italian constitution to accrue power, eroding democratic institutions until the moment came for them to be done away with entirely. It is generally agreed that that moment came in speech Mussolini gave to the Italian parliament on January 3, 1925, in which he asserted his right to supreme power and effectively became the dictator of Italy.

Mussolini had been a schoolteacher and an avowed socialist, but after World War I he became a leader of the nascent Fascist movement. Like much of Europe, Italy was rife with social turmoil in the wake of the war, with paramilitary groups and street gangs frequently clashing over their competing visions for the new political order. A close confidant of Mussolini formed a Fascist paramilitary group, known as the Blackshirts or squadristi, as Mussolini led the political party, and they found that government fears of a communist revolution allowed them to operate without state intervention. By 1921, Mussolini had been elected to parliament as the leader of the growing National Fascist Party.

Revolutions happen over the course of many years, slowly and almost imperceptibly, until such time as the movement has acquired and consolidated enough power — through sheer force of will, intimidation, physical violence, chaos in the streets, hiding behind government bogeymen that the people are instructed to worry about while the real threat grows unimpeded, and whatever else is needed — to just take over one day and dare anyone to stop them.

Gradually, then suddenly. This is true whether the movement is about individual liberty as in the American Revolution, or about class division (“equality”) as in the French, or about Fascism in Italy in the post-WWI years with the rise of Mussolini. 

I have always been one of those “it can’t happen here, we value liberty, and have laws and and judges and courts to protect it” kind of people, but the last 5-10 years I’ve started to evolve on that position. 

Gradually, then suddenly.