SVENGALI AT WORK

FASCIST

Where did they come from?

The Young Il Duce

In 1912 he became editor of Avanti! (Forward!), the official daily newspaper of Italy’s Socialist Party. But he was expelled from the party two years later over his support for World War I. By 1919 a radically changed Mussolini had founded the fascist movement, which would later become the Fascist Party.

IL DUCE PART II

From 1920 to 1922, armed fascist squads faced minimal interference from the police or army as they roamed the country causing property damage and killing an estimated 2,000 political opponents. Many other citizens were beaten up or forced to drink castor oil.

Mussolini did not take power in a coup.

With Italy’s leading non-fascist politicians hopelessly divided and with the threat of violence in the air, on October 29 the king offered Mussolini the chance to form a coalition government. But although the premiership was now his, Il Duce—a master of propaganda who claimed the backing of 300,000 fascist militiamen when the real number was probably far lower—wanted to make a show of force. As a result, he joined armed supporters who flooded the streets of Rome the following day. Mussolini would later mythologize the March on Rome’s importance.

THE NEW PRIME MINISTER

After becoming prime minister, Mussolini reduced the influence of the judiciary, muzzled a free press, arrested political opponents, continued condoning fascist squad violence and otherwise consolidated his hold on power.

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