Fascist Blackshirts March On Rome In 1922: How The Fascist Party Made Themselves Known
By | October 31, 2020
In 1922, after years of drumming up support for his fascist ideals, Benito Mussolini ordered his followers to march on Rome, dooming socialists and liberals in Italy. It wasn't just a coming out party for Mussolini; it was a show of strength and power so intimidating that he was given control of the government shortly after his followers seized newspapers and government offices. As big a win as this was for Mussolini, though, he wasn't even present for the march.
Mussolini went into World War I a socialist, but over the course of the war, he denounced Marxism for failing to recognize class distinctions in Italy. In 1914, however, he changed his mind about proletarian leadership and instead called for people of any social class to take up the reigns of the country as long as they were revolutionary.
In 1917, after Mussolini was injured in action and sent home from the front, he began putting together his plans for Italian Socialism. While he didn't initially lean into eugenics, he believed in the "natural law" of stronger people dominating those who he felt were "inferior," such as Italy's Slavic neighbors.
As Mussolini's Italian fascist movement built up steam, he leaned on friends like Dino Grandi to bring as many of their people into the fold as possible. Grandi formed an armed group of World War I veterans called the Blackshirts, or the squadristi, who patrolled the streets to fight with communists, socialists, anarchists, and anyone else they saw as a threat to fascism.
By 1922, Mussolini had the numbers to ascend to leadership in Italy, with 320,000 members in his National Fascist Party. After speaking with U.S. Ambassador Richard Washburn Child about America's feelings on a fascist Italian government and liking what he heard, he prepared for a march on Rome in October 1922.