The four years between 1919 and 1923 inclusive were characterized by the development of the Fascist revolution through the action of “the squads.” The Fascist “squads” were really the force of a State not yet born but on the way to being. In its first period, Fascist “squadrism” transgressed the law of the old regime because it was determined to suppress that regime as incompatible with the national State to which Fascism was aspiring. The March on Rome was not the beginning, it was the end of that phase of the revolution; because, with Mussolini’s advent to power, Fascism entered the sphere of legality. After October 28, 1922, Fascism was no longer at war with the State; it was the State, looking about for the organization which would realize Fascism as a concept of State. Fascism already had control of all the instruments necessary for the upbuilding of a new State. The Italy of Giolitti had been superceded, at least so far as militant politics were concerned. Between Giolitti’s Italy and the new Italy there flowed, as an imaginative orator once said in the Chamber, “a torrent of blood” that would prevent any return to the past. The century-old crisis had been solved. The war at last had begun to bear fruit for Italy.
Now to understand the distinctive essence of Fascism, nothing is more instructive than a comparison of it with the point of view of Mazzini to which I have so often referred.
Mazzini did have a political conception, but his politic was a sort of integral politic, which cannot be so sharply distinguished from morals, religion, and ideas of life as a whole, as to be considered apart from these other fundamental interests of the human spirit. If one tries to separate what is purely political from his religious beliefs, his ethical consciousness and his metaphysical concepts, it becomes impossible to understand the vast influence which his credo and his propaganda exerted. Unless we assume the unity of the whole man, we arrive not at the clarification but at the destruction of those ideas of his which proved so powerful.
In the definition of Fascism, the first point to grasp is the comprehensive, or as Fascists say, the “totalitarian” scope of its doctrine, which concerns itself not only with political organization and political tendency, but with the whole will and thought and feeling of the nation.
There is a second and equally important point. Fascism is not a philosophy. Much less is it a religion. It is not even a political theory which may be stated in a series of formulae. The significance of Fascism is not to be grasped in the special theses which it from time to time assumes. When on occasion it has announced a program, a goal, a concept to be realized in action, Fascism has not hesitated to abandon them when in practice these were found to be inadequate or inconsistent with the principle of Fascism. Fascism has never been willing to