“They must make peace,” stated Mussolini. If they did not, they would lose their empire, or perhaps their home islands would actually be invaded and captured by the terrible might of the premier Fascist power in the world, which all could now see wielded the most fearsome war machine ever seen. Italy would then be unopposed in making the Mediterranean “Mare Nostrum” and extending Italian rule across North Africa and into the Balkan Peninsula in south-east Europe.
Category Archives: Culture
The Uses of History, 32 – Mussolini and Fascism, 4
Mussolini and Hitler were able to provide spectacle and a strong propaganda image of mutual regard and ideological kinship, but there was always tension and ambiguity in their relationship. All the more among the leadership of their respective parties and governments. As the German power grew and Hitler’s triumphs accumulated, Mussolini felt increasingly threatened by comparison and he was determined to establish the credibility of Italy’s (and his) claim to national greatness by taking an independent course.
The Uses of History, 31 – Mussolini and Fascism, 3
Hitler admired Mussolini’s willingness to defy the Western democracies and the League and his canny judgment that he would get away with it. He was taking notes for his own future plans of expansion in the not-too-distant future. Mussolini was showing up the weakness, which the Fuhrer considered moral failure, of his opponents. This was a lesson definitely not lost on him. Hitler rarely admired anyone else, and respected no other living statesman – with one exception, the Duce!
The Uses of History, 29 – Mussolini and Fascism, 1
It is no longer very popular to suggest that anything positive or of lasting benefit was produced under a Fascist regime that lasted slightly longer than 20 years. At the time, for the first ten years or so, a good many Italians (obviously not of socialist or leftist persuasion) thought that overall conditions in the country really improved. Most people had jobs and could make ends meet, contrary to the unrest and turmoil of the years before “Musso” took power. “The trains actually run on time,” was one famous quip. The Mafia was reigned in, suffering the same brutal treatment from Fascist strong-arms that they were accustomed to use against their opponents. Godfathers going to prison was not unusual.
The Uses of History, 28 – What Good Are Revolutions?, 3
One of the great questions debated to this day is whether Russia would have fared better under a continuation of the Tsarist regime, or perhaps under a Social Democratic successor regime had Kerensky and his like successively navigated the storm of 1918.
One can hardly imagine that either of those two alternatives could have been more monstrous that what ensued under Bolshevist-Communism.
Socrates’ greatest admonition to his contemporaries was “Know yourself.” When asked why the Oracle of Delphi had pronounced him the wisest living human of his time, he replied that the only thing that he knew for sure was that he knew almost nothing for sure, and, because he realized his own ignorance, he was free to inquire and discover truth inasmuch it could be found, because his mind was free from the slavery to preconceived dogma. If, during his inquiry, he discovered that some dogmas were true, he was free to affirm them for their truth, but he was not free to compel others to accept them. In the end, only God can judge how truthfully a man (person) lives his life and only God is fit to judge.
The Uses of History, 26 – What Good Are Revolutions?, 1
Both the United States and France have had many emulators over the last two centuries, which have seen the number of nation states increase exponentially as the old empires died out or collapsed. When the Spanish American Empire revolted en masse between 1810 and 1825, led by Simon Bolivar and others, most of the new Latin American countries which emerged, with some brief aberrations from the pattern, chose to imitate the United States and adopt a republican system with separate elected Presidential and Legislative Branches. When the French Empire dissolved in the 1950s and ‘60s, most of the new countries chose to adopt a French-style republican system.
The Uses of History, 25 – Russia the Long-Suffering, 7 – Revolution 1917, 2
There was no inevitability in an eventual Bolshevik takeover. With more unity and visionary, determined leadership, the Duma might have weathered the storm. But Kerensky pledged to Russia’s allies that Russia would remain in the war to “defend the Revolution” and honourably fulfill its treaty obligations. In June the much-shaken army was ordered to launch an offensive. It lasted three days, then collapsed as hundreds of thousands of troops simply refused to fight any more, sometimes just shooting their officers and walking away.
The Uses of History, 22 – Russia the Long-Suffering, 4 – 1905-1914
In mid-summer 1914, the Great Tempest slammed into the ship, seemingly very suddenly. This typhoon of typhoons was unlooked for in a year which, internationally, seemed to at last promise a respite from the litany of major European crises which had beset the continent almost continually since 1907.
What would this mean for autocratic Imperial Russia under a weak Tsar and an uncertain administration? Could it weather the storm?
The Uses of History, 21 – Russia the Long-Suffering, 3 – 1904-1917
For Russia, the defeat had been beyond shocking. The humiliation opened the door to think the previously almost unthinkable. The need for real and deep reform in the social, political, economic, and military realms was flagrantly obvious. Whether the willpower to accept and do what must be done could be mustered and sustained remained to be seen. Given enough time, perhaps it could happen without another revolutionary outbreak.