But, curiously enough, it was under Giolitti that things suddenly changed in aspect, that against the Giolittian State a new State arose. Our soldiers, our genuine soldiers, men who had willed our war and fought it in full consciousness of what they were doing, had the good fortune to find as their leaders a man who could express in words things that were in all their hearts and who could make those words audible above the tumult.
Mussolini had left Italian socialism in 1915 in order to be a more faithful interpreter of “the Italian People” (the name he chose for his new paper). He was one of those who saw the necessity of our war, one of those mainly responsible for our entering the war. Already as a socialist he had fought Freemasonry; and, drawing his inspiration from Sorel’s syndicalism, he had assailed the parliamentary corruption of Reformist Socialism with the idealistic postulates of revolution and violence. Then, later, on leaving the party and in defending the cause of intervention, he had come to oppose the illusory fancies of proletarian internationalism with an assertion of the infrangible integrity, not only moral but economic as well, of the national organism, affirming therefore the sanctity of country for the working classes as for other classes. Mussolini was a Mazzinian of that pure-blooded breed which Mazzini seemed somehow always to find in the province of Romagna. First by instinct, later by reflection, Mussolini had come to despise the futility of the socialists who kept preaching a revolution which they had neither the power nor the will to bring to pass even under the most favorable circumstances. More keenly than anyone else he had come to feel the necessity of a State which would be a State, of a law which would be respected as law, of an authority capable of exacting obedience but at the same time able to give indisputable evidence of its worthiness so to act. It seemed incredible to Mussolini that a country capable of fighting and winning such a war as Italy had fought and won should be thrown into disorder and held at the mercy of a handful of faithless politicians.
When Mussolini founded his Fasci in Milan in March, 1919, the movement toward dissolution and negation that featured the post-war period in Italy had virtually ceased. The Fasci made their appeal to Italians who, in spite of the disappointments of the peace, continued to believe in the war, and who, in order to validate the victory which was the proof of the war’s value, were bent on recovering for Italy that control over her own destinies which could come only through a restoration of discipline and a reorganization of social and political forces. From the first, the Fascist Party was not one of believers but of action. What it needed was not a platform of principles, but an idea which would indicate a goal and a road by which the goal could be reached.