Every United States Presidential election brings heated debates, and many arguments from both sides of the aisle. I’m sure it is the same in most other nations, who have the opportunity to vote too. Being an unapologetic Conservative, it is my belief that the less the government controls the citizens the better. Socialism and Fascism are both forms of government control, and while some people think these are great, they ultimately find out that what the government gives, the government can also take away. This was what we saw with Adolf Hitler. He came into office as an elected official, and before long, he changed everything for the German people, and in many ways the world, especially the Jewish people, Gypsies, and any other groups he disagreed with. The people were fooled into thinking he was a great man, until it was too late.
Similar to Adolf Hitler, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini did not become the dictator of a totalitarian regime overnight. Mussolini started out as a schoolteacher and an avowed socialist. After World War I he became a leader of the nascent Fascist movement. Like much of Europe, Italy was in the middle of great social turmoil following World War I. During the turmoil, paramilitary groups and street gangs frequently clashed over their competing ideas for the new political order. A close confidant of Mussolini formed a Fascist paramilitary group, known as the Blackshirts or Squadristi, and because Mussolini was their leader, the gangs found that government fears of a communist revolution allowed them to operate without state intervention. Apparently, the people thought Socialism and Fascism were better than Communism. By 1921, Mussolini had been elected to parliament as the leader of the growing National Fascist Party.
Soon after Mussolini’s election…the party’s Chosen One…armed Blackshirts marched on Rome, demanding that the king install Mussolini as Prime Minister. Why the king allowed this to happen, is beyond me, but in a decision that utterly changed the course of Italian and European history, King Victor Emmanuel III ignored Prime Minister Luigi Facta’s pleas that he declare martial law, leading to Facta’s resignation and Emmanuel’s invitation to Mussolini to form a new government. It was a move that was completely insane. The Fascists and their moderate allies began dismantling Italy’s democratic institutions. Mussolini was proclaimed dictator for a year, like that was going to be all it was, and increasingly merged his party and its paramilitary wing with the state and the official military. He also undertook a program of privatizations and anti-union legislation in order to assure industrialists and aristocrats that fascism would protect them from socialism. Before long, the Italian government didn’t even resemble its former self.
Still, many Fascists felt Mussolini was moving too slowly, so they took matters into their own hands. In 1924, assassins with ties to Mussolini killed socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti, leading most of the parliamentary opposition to boycott Mussolini’s legislature. The Fascists felt that their moment had come. On December 31, they issued an ultimatum to Mussolini. Three days later on January 3rd, he addressed the remainder of parliament, declaring “I, and I alone, assume the political, moral, and historical responsibility for all that has happened,” obliquely referring to the assassination of Matteotti. In doing this, Mussolini dared prosecutors and the rest of Italy’s democratic institutions, as well as the king, to challenge his authority. It was their last chance, but no one opposed him. Thus, from 1925 onward, Mussolini was able to operate openly as a dictator, styling himself Il Duce (meaning The Leader) and fusing the state and the Fascist Party. For the next two decades, suppression and brutality became the norm, culminating in Mussolini’s alliance with Nazi Germany and World War II. I heard it said that, “You can vote yourself into Socialism, but you will have to shoot your way out of it.” It is a good warning for all of us as we approach the next Presidential election. We have a number of candidates who want Socialism, and it would be a dire mistake to allow that to happen to our free, Capitalist nation. People don’t always understand how important our elections are.