Anthony Cardoza’s book, “Mussolini: The First Fascist”, encompasses the story of Mussolini, the person, with that of the Italian Fascism. This book explores, on a larger scale, the legacy of Mussolini since 1945 with the outside world. It further expresses fascism from a global context and presents various insights into historical events of that time. The entire narration outlines a very essential way of comprehending the European Fascism. Mussolini deserted the Socialist party in 1914 and crossed over to their opponents, the Italian Bourgeoisie. His know on the impact of World War 1 on Europe contributed to his shift from the Socialist party to join the Italian Bourgeoisie. He was determined to get ready for the “unknown”. He later on pioneered the discovery of the independent newspaper known as Popolo d’talia (Cardoza, 2005). With his Autonomous Fascists movement, he backed this independent newspaper. This enabled him to draw closer to the novel forces in Italian politics which was characterized by the radicalized middle class youths. On joining this outfit, he assumed the position of national spokesman for the entire force.
Mussolini invented a new-fangled program which replaced militarism with antimilitarism, nationalism with internationalism as well as aggressively restoring the bourgeois state rather than its radical destruction. In this process, he ended up reviving himself fully. This resulted to the Italian working multitude calling him “Judas” as well as “traitor”. In 1915, Mussolini was drafted into the trenches (Cardoza, 2005). While their, he got injured during training but still managed to get back to the political arena. He utilized his newspaper as his main political arsenal in combination with his second political movement known as Revolutionary Fascists. In addition to these, his talent and reputation boosted him immensely in this political game.
Mussolini’s promising career flopped badly at the conclusion of the war. This prompted him to organize a third movement known as Constituent Fascists. This took place in the year 1918. All did not go well as planned by Mussolini as the movement was stillborn. He eventually ran for a parliamentary office in 1919 but he was lucky enough to capture the seat (Cardoza, 2005). Nevertheless, this did not deter him from continuing with his political career. During the same year of election, in the month of March, Mussolini founded the Fighting Fascists, his forth movement. He then courted it with the militant Italian youth and waited for the right time. In 1921, he successfully managed to be elected to parliament. His victory was attributed to his third fledging movement that had been converted to a national party called National Fascists Party. He was the party’s undisputed head with about two hundred and fifty thousand individuals as his followers.
On being bestowed with power, Mussolini went ahead to tackle the predicament of survival. With successful dexterity, he managed to set elections, violated the constitutional norms at his will and eventually, ended up with a majority in parliament in the year 1924. The assassination of Giacomo Matteotti, a Socialist leader brought a new era. Mussolini’s regime was thrown into disarray and he was almost toppled. These events made him to be more vigilant. He went ahead to annihilate the opposition, suppress the civil liberties and imposed dictatorship rule. He reinforced his regime through the endorsement of le leggi fascistissime act. Things seemed to go his way as he settled the disparities that existed between the Roman Catholic Church and the Italian state through the 1929 Agreement with the Vatican (Cardoza, 2005).
Overwhelmed by the step taken by Mussolini which had resulted t6o an increase in income, Pope Pius XI validated to the rest of the universe that Mussolini had been driven “by Divine Providence”. This ensured that Mussolini’s rule was smooth as he enjoyed wide spread adoration and support. This is substantiated by the middle class who strived to structure his regime as well as fix his reputation. Following these events, Mussolini regained his confidence as he went ahead to asset that Italy had started the era of the “Third Rome”. This facilitated the Fascist Revolution to progress afresh. They referred to 1922 as “Year One of the New Era” while 1932 as “Year X” (Cardoza, 2005). Furthermore, the regime went ahead to refer to itself as, “Corporate State”. It also presented to Italy several institutions with splendid designations though sparingly endowed. This brings out the notion that if the rhetoric impresses then authenticity denies.
Mussolini maintained the influential economic factions as they had assisted him to ascend to power. This was a sing of reward for what they had done to him. These factions were given the go ahead to amass unprecedented economic power as well as individual fortunes. As this elite group, which formed a small fraction of the entire population, continued to cripple the economy, majority of the working citizens reverted to subsistence. The daily consumption of the population indicated that Italy was among the poor nations of Europe. This did not bother Mussolini in any way and he did not even care to provide solutions as a leader. Instead of offering substantial answers he decided to enlist the use of propaganda and slogans. The author in deed expresses that Mussolini “refashioned” the state (Cardoza, 2005).
With this condition persisting, Mussolini’s regime failed. This can be attributed to the fact that his culture and politics had been nurtured in the era of the World War and as a result, could not conform to the modern way of life. He had concentrated on expanding his territory to the expense of the economy. He pursued the status of ultra-nationalism abroad while he ruled with an iron fist within his nation. He never bothered to at per the evolving world. His actions led to his down fall as he had been engaged in several wars for the sake of expanding his territory instead of creating new markets that would ensure increased capital. In the long run, his Fascist slogan, Non si torna indietro, which meant that “There is no turning back”, was put as his epitaph.
The author has managed to highlight on the life of Mussolini through the real life account of this leader. The book manages to reveal that as much as Mussolini was a leader, he could not manage to hold in the 21st century and as a result, history did away with him. The myth of Mussolini can only be examined when one studies as a leader of Italian communism. Of all the Italian Socialists, it is Mussolini who can fascinate a crowd hence win the crowd’s attention. Cardoza states that Mussolini rose from a regional agitator to reach the rank of Italian Socialist party within a single year. At this time, he was aged 29 (Cardoza, 2005). The book gives an elaborate account of the life of Mussolini.