100 Years After Mussolini’s March on Rome
One hundred years ago, on Oct. 24, 1922, Benito Mussolini called on his supporters to overthrow the Italian government. The infamous “March on Rome” occurred four days later, on October 28, and opened the door for his dictatorship. One hundred years later, Italy has inaugurated a new government with ties to Mussolini’s regime. Many in the new government believe that Mussolini’s heritage should inspire Italy’s future. It is imperative that we understand this history.
The new Italian government under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took office on October 21 and is called the most far-right government since the end of World War ii. Meloni’s party has direct connections with Mussolini. But those in the Italian government who honor Mussolini’s legacy claim to do so for what he did for Italy—not for his connections to Adolf Hitler or contributions to the war. Yet there is a connection between Mussolini’s vision and the eventual destruction.
When Mussolini and his supporters called for the March on Rome, they were ready to shed blood to gain power over Italy, but it was a bloodless revolution. King Victor Emmanuel iii prevented Italy’s army from opposing Mussolini’s troops and instead asked Mussolini to form a government the next day. The planned violent overthrow of the government turned into a legal transfer of power. And the majority of Italians were willing to accept fascist rioters as their new leaders. We need to learn a lesson from this today.
Prior to the takeover, Mussolini had only been known for his criminal record and his eloquent speeches. People were inspired by what he said because they were not content with the status quo. They were happy to submit to dictatorial rule if it guaranteed economic prosperity. “Mussolini seemed to them the one man capable of bringing order out of chaos,” Encyclopedia Britannica states. “Soon a kind of order had been restored, and the fascists inaugurated ambitious programs of public works. The costs of this order were, however, enormous. Italy’s fragile democratic system was abolished in favor of a one-party state. Opposition parties, trade unions, and the free press were outlawed. Free speech was crushed.”
But to the average citizen, this didn’t matter. They focused on his achievements. Mussolini gave Italy an inspiring vision of restoring its lost glory. He didn’t just give workers work; he gave them a reason to work. Although he didn’t actually solve Italy’s problems, he made the gloomy reality look better.
When did Mussolini become the warlord that he is known as today? Encyclopedia Britannica says that his “dreams of empire led him to seek foreign conquests.” He was jealous over Hitler’s military conquests. The two dictators’ goals soon merged to the detriment of the world. This is clear to us today, but at the time, the Western world stood idly by as the dictators rose.
Yet one man was alarmed by Mussolini’s proclamation to restore the Roman Empire. Early on, the late Herbert W. Armstrong warned that this aspiration would be destructive. In the very first Plain Truth magazine, published February 1934, Mr. Armstrong wrote in “Is a World Dictator About to Appear?”: “It is commonly known today that Mussolini’s whole aim is to restore the ancient Roman Empire in all its former splendor, power and glory—and Rome ruled the world!”
In 1938, Italy sought a close alliance with Nazi Germany. At that time, many in the Western world still praised Hitler and Mussolini and sought to appease Hitler’s demands. Yet Mr. Armstrong reiterated his warning: “[W]e shall witness the mighty Roman Empire reborn—the fascist-Nazi dictatorships of Europe. It is the rebirth of the Roman Empire that the events of these past few days concern” (Plain Truth, March 1938).
After the war, it was evident that Mr. Armstrong was right. “So once again the Plain Truth, even in its first issue, was way ahead of its time. It was predicting what was going to happen. People scoffed and said, ‘That’s a crackpot. He doesn’t know what he is talking about.’ But World War ii did happen. It did come,” Mr. Armstrong noted in 1982.
Unlike the newscasters of his day, Mr. Armstrong understood that an attempt to resurrect the old Roman Empire would lead to war. He knew that the promises to restore Italy to so-called “greatness” would cause surrounding nations to suffer.
History is repeating itself, yet people still scoff and fail to see what is happening.
Italians today are inspired by a quest to restore Italy’s glory. They seek a stable economy, stable families and a stable justice system. None of these desires are wrong. But Italians fail to see that their own history doesn’t provide solutions. The Prophet Isaiah wrote: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:8). It’s even worse than that; man’s ideas eventually lead to destruction. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Just as Mr. Armstrong did in his day, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry is warning today of another resurrection of the old empire and an even more destructive war. “We have been forecasting for over 75 years that this same empire will rise once more,” Mr. Flurry wrote in “Fascism Reawakens in Italy.” “When it does, it will launch a war even more destructive than World War ii. This empire took a major step forward in Italy’s recent election. Yet nobody is talking about it!”
Once again people fail to recognize what is happening due to an abyssal lack of understanding of history and Bible prophecy. Some, opposed to left-wing liberal trends, even admire the European movements that promise to restore the Continent’s glory. Nobody, however, understands that the desire to revive the Roman Empire will again lead to destruction.
As Mr. Armstrong later came to understand through God’s revelation, Hitler and Mussolini’s empire was prophesied in Revelation 17. This prophecy, along with numerous others in the Old and New Testaments, guided Mr. Armstrong’s analysis and is the basis of the Trumpet’s forecasts today. To understand why we continue to point to the writings of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, request a free copy of our booklets He Was Right and Prophesy Again. To understand these astounding prophecies as they relate to current events in Italy, read “Fascism Reawakens in Italy,” by Gerald Flurry.