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More on the Trump-Mussolini connections


Last week I wrote about how it’s more apt to compare Trump with Mussolini than with Hitler. Here are some quotes from Ivone Kirkpatrick’s authoritative 1964 biography, “Mussolini: A Study in Power.” Can you see the similarities between the two men, one a dictator, the other a would-be dictator?

“In public…he relied on his considerable ability as an actor to create the image of an iron, indomitable Duce, who knew exactly what he wanted and where he was going.

“In order to retain his hold on the masses he relied to a great extent on the influence of a servile press.”

“As an orator he was a master of every trick with which the demagogue binds his audience.”

“He could, when required, dramatize himself, using a raucous voice and ample gestures to pour scorn on his adversaries and whip up the enthusiasm of the crowd.”

“In public relations he was a master and excelled as no politician has ever done in the art of self-advertisement.”

“He believed that he was a modern Messiah, who would create a new order in Italy.”

“He was a man without a program, who relied on faith, will power and intuition rather than on intellect.”

“His instability and superficiality, although useful in so far as they gave him room for elastic maneuver, rendered him unfit to be the sole ruler of a nation.”

“Speech was only of value in his eyes in so far as it fulfilled his purpose, and he was not concerned with the truth of his words.”

“Although he kept long hours, he did little genuine hard administrative work. He scrutinized the newspapers..with a professional eye, and articles which were critical of…himself excited his wrath…”.

“Any report of an ill-considered comment by an individual would cause the author to be entered into his bad books, for he took a personal view of policies.”

“Mussolini knew very little about the machinery of government or economics or foreign countries.”

“In his conduct of foreign affairs…he was torn in every direction by ingrained prejudice, ignorance, passing predilections, ambition, and above all by fear.”

“Basically he was a xenophobe.”

“He was apt to dislike any organization concerned with international cooperation.”

“If he had had greater experience and a less volatile character, or if he had relied on good advice

[in foreign affairs]

, he might have steered a straighter, safer course. But…he was more and more inclined to rely on intuition.”

“[As the war worsened for Italy] Mussolini became more and more isolated, more remote from events…more inclined to accept the views of the last plausible man he had seen.”

“There can have been few public men…who uttered more nonsense, or whose predictions were more often falsified by events.”

“From the days of his childhood he had always been a singularly friendless creature.”

“[His home] was a substantial house of vulgar neoclassical design.”

“His dislike of society was accentuated by his uneasiness in the presence of educated and intelligent men.”

“There was diffidence also as well as jealousy and suspicion in his relations with his ministers and the [Fascist] party leaders.”

“His cabinet colleagues rarely saw him and most transactions were done on paper, but they were terrified of him for they knew that he was unpredictable and that at any moment he could dismiss them.”

“If Mussolini treated his ministers with a mixture of tyranny and moral cowardice, their attitude toward him, which was compounded of fear, dislike and veiled disloyalty, was equally discreditable.”

“Mussolini’s lack of generosity and ruthlessness were so notorious that no associate could trust him. Time and time again, a man who had served his purpose was dropped in the gutter like a squeezed lemon.”

“With a profound contempt for mankind and wide experience of human frailty, he enjoyed exercising his talent to degrade men and bring out their worst qualities. He was a great corrupter.”

“He could never act as a member of a team, disliked being crossed, and was only happy when he was in a position to impose his will.”

“His conception of government was personal rule…he summarily rejected advice designed to keep him within the bounds of prudence.”

“Sometimes he appeared to be right, but these apparently capricious decisions were often taken suddenly without knowledge of the facts.”

“In one respect…he was self-indulgent to a degree which…eventually coarsened the fabric of his character. It was not a matter which he ever discussed with any…but from his youth he had never been able to resist the attraction of women.”

“As he moved from place to place he left behind him a chain of more or less disconsolate mistresses; and his cohabitation with [his wife] Rachele did nothing to diminish his promiscuous ardor.”

“Mussolini’s treatment of his women was Eastern in its callousness…Like a pasha he was apt to summon them suddenly when they were required and to dismiss them equally abruptly.”

“The driving force of his life was ambition and lust for power for power’s sake. To this end he was happy to betray his associates, to compromise with truth and justice.”

“Ambition was sustained by vanity and egotism. He had always believed that he was in a special category and his early sense of grievance against society arose from its refusal to recognize this self-evident fact. Consequently he was above the law [and] was moved by one consideration only, the promotion of his own interests.”

I could include many more quotes, but you get the idea. The main difference between Mussolini’s and Trump’s political careers was that Mussolini’s supporters eventually rose up and deposed and murdered him. Trump’s, so far, have not.

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