Mussolini took power 97 years ago: Donald Trump has long to follow?

Any democratic government that degenerates into a dictatorship will have its Mussolini moment, sooner or later. Mussolini’s original moment came this week 97 years ago, when the Italian government, until then a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected parliament – formally abandoned all pretense of democracy. .

Before that, Benito Mussolini had been prime minister for three years and his administration had made considerable efforts to convince the world that things were not as bad as they thought and that Italian democracy was fine. (Thus illustrating Rochefoucauld’s famous premise that “hypocrisy is a fitting tribute to virtue.”) After coming to power in 1922, Mussolini initially did relatively little to break. Italian democratic institutions. He clearly wanted to rebuild Italian society for the sake of fascism, but also wanted to proceed with caution and avoid wasting his political capital. But after Italian socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti accused the fascists of using violence and fraud to win the 1924 general election, Mussolini’s allies concluded that he had to act. suddenly. Assassins tied to Mussolini assassinated Matteotti, the anti-fascist leader who urged King Victor Emmanuel III to remove the prime minister from power. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s fascism, known as the black shirt, gave him an ultimatum: Take full power or watch his paramilitary forces crush liberal and leftist opposition without him.

So, on January 3, 1925, Mussolini uttered these immortal words: “I, and I alone, assume political, moral and historical responsibility for all that has happened.”

Clarifying that Matteotti was killed on his behalf because of him, and that the justice system would do nothing about it, Mussolini put an end to any remaining illusions that he was not Italy’s supreme leader. Not even the king can hold him accountable, let alone the police, prosecutors or judges. Since that time, Il Duce (“The Leader”) openly behaved like a dictator, and held power for nearly 20 years, through his infamous alliance with Hitler, war with the Allies, and complicity in the Holocaust.

RELATED: Fascism in America: It’s Not As New As You Think

Mussolini started out as a school teacher and socialist, only turning to Fascism and shortly after World War I. In 1921, he was elected to the Lower House (Lower House of the Italian Parliament) and quickly emerged as a leader of the country’s growing fascist party. On domestic policy, he preached the rule of the nation’s economic elites, claiming they would lead a “revolutionary nationalism” aimed at advancing the nation’s best interests. Mussolini believed in class hierarchy, but stimulated the working class through monumental displays of Italian nationalism, intended to inspire enthusiasm for a nation that existed only in about 50 years. (Before that, the Italian peninsula was divided into various kingdoms, principalities, and capitals.)

Mussolini also wanted to inculcate militant values ​​in the nation’s youth, training a nation of supposedly super-masculine warriors who would restore Italy’s ancient glory and wage war. fight against socialism and other egalitarian ideologies. His foreign policy vision was racism and imperialism, even though the modern Italian state was too weak, both militarily and economically, to build a new Roman Empire.

These ideas appealed to various right-wing factions in Italian society – workers shunned by socialism, wealthy young men, idealists, Catholic conservatives, self-serving interests. wealthy interests, young men seduced by risky rhetoric and more than a few conservative Catholics. In October 1922, Mussolini was sufficiently motivated to lead a coup d’etat known as the March of Rome. Prime Minister Luigi Facta wanted to declare martial law and send troops to stop the fascism, but King Victor Emmanuel refused to allow it, fearing that such a confrontation would lead to wider and possible violence out civil war. Instead, the king complied with Mussolini’s requests and appointed him prime minister. That was the beginning of the end: Empowered and encouraged, Mussolini directed the legislature to give him extraordinary powers, break up unions, and restructure the state to centralize power. his hand (and that of his fascist allies).

So by the time Mussolini publicly took power, about 26 months later, it was essentially an accomplice. Many people opposed him, and many were horrified, but they were no longer strong enough to stop him. So it was a Mussolini moment: When a dictator declares to the world that he is a dictator – as his enemies have said all along – and it is too late to do anything. what about that.

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If all of that sounds a bit too close to home, it probably should. Donald Trump has sown the seeds for Big lie about the 2020 election years ago, and his opponents — at least many Republicans, at first — didn’t take him seriously. Refusing to accept defeat, he broke America’ 220-year precedent for a peaceful transfer of power, forever changing the dynamics of how presidents are expected to behave. And that’s all before we get to the president duck calling out a crowd of supporters attacked the Capitol on January 6th, with the express goal of overturning Joe Biden’s election victory.

While Trump has yet to succeed in subverting democracy, he is also not held accountable, despite two impeachment trials, and is unlikely to be prosecuted by the court. Biden Manager. For Mussolini, Trump’s actions during the 2020 election cycle demonstrate that he considers himself above the law. And like Mussolini, Trump remains in the spotlight with his most radical followers. When far-right advocates like Alex Jones accused him of supporting a COVID-19 booster vaccine, Trump changed his mind. It happened during his presidency, too, as he briefly endorsed gun control legislation, until the NRA and its allies told him it had gone too far.

Trump repeatedly tried to declare himself a winner after the 2020 election; it simply doesn’t work. If he or someone like him runs in 2024, we’ll probably see it again – and if Trump or his proxies die, they’ll have Loyalists are installed in key positions during swing states ready to reverse the outcome. So the next time Trump (or anyone who follows him) simply claims to be the legitimate president regardless of the actual outcome, that person may already have the machinery to create the moment. American Mussolini engraving.

Read more about the rise of fascism in America: Mussolini took power 97 years ago: Donald Trump has long to follow?

Huynh Nguyen

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