FDR and MussolinirnA Tale of Two Fascistsrnby Srdja TrifkovicrnMany Americans would be horrified at the thought of discussingrnFranMin Delano Roosevelt and Benito Mussolinirnas auy-thing but moral and political antipodes: democrat versusrndictator, peacemaker versus aggressive bully, good versusrnbad. Fifty-five years of bipartisan hagiography have placed FDRrnin the pantheon of American saints, roughly at number two betweenrnAbraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and way aheadrnof the slaveholding Founding Fathers. It is not surprising thatrnhe is a role model to a liberal establishment that also reveresrn”Dr.” King and John Brown. But the fact that Republicansrnsuch as Newt Gingrich also invoke Roosevelt as a role model indicatesrnthe extent to which his legacy is unthinkingly acceptedrnacross the political spectrum.rnGenuine conservatives, on the other hand, may argue thatrnFDR and Mussolini were in fact rather similar. They will pointrnout both men’s obsessive focus on strong, centralized governmentrnstructures, their demagoguery, and especially their attemptrnto overcome the dynamics of social and economic conflictrnthrough the institutions of the corporate state.rnFor all their apparent similarides, however, Franklin DelanornRoosevelt was a more deleterious figure than Benito Mussolini,rnand his legacy proved to be more damaging to America than IIrnDuce’s was to Italy. This is not a case of good versus bad, or ofrntwo equal evils, but of bad versus even worse: Roosevelt was arnmore efficient, and certainlv more successful, fascist than Mussolini.rnAlthough he seemed to be a prime candidate for Bolshevism,rnand in fact became a leading socialist agitator and journalist inrnthe years prior to the Great War, there was no hard ideologicalrncore to Mussolini —except, ultimately, his nationalism. Thisrncore loyalty prompted him to reject the socialists’ internationalism,rnpacifism, and neutrality at the beginning of the war in 1914rnSrdja Trifkovic is the foreign affairs editor for Ghronicles.rnand to join other nationalists in demanding Italy’s entry into thernwar. About to be expelled from the Socialist Party for belligerence,rnhe defiantly declared: “My cry is a word that I would neverrnhave pronounced in normal times, and that today I raisernloudly, with my full voice, with no attempt at simulation, with arnfirm faith, a fearfiil and fascinating word: WAR!”rnIt was all there: the passion, the theater, the martial bravado,rnthe burning heart. His parting shot, before being drafted, wasrnthe birth cry of fascism: “Now that steel has met steel, one singlerncry comes from our hearts: Viva ritalial” By early 1918, asrna wounded veteran and the influential editor of the anti-socialistrnPopolo d’ltalia, Mussolini exclaimed: “We, the sur’iyors, wernwho have returned, demand the right of governing Italy!” As arnwave of revolutionary aftershocks swept across Europe followingrnthe Bolshevik coup in Russia, Mussolini was increasinglyrnseen as a Man of Destiny who could fit his own demand for arndictator “ruthless and energetic enough to make a cleanrnsweep.”rnA “clean sweep” against what? Against the establishment, thernmediocre middle-class, middle-of-the-road liberals and democrats,rnthe political heirs to the Risorgimento, long devoid ofrnmoral fiber and convictions, who allowed Italy’s “victory”rnagainst Austria to be “mutilated” when Dalmatia went to thernnewly created Yugoslavia at Versailles. But also against the left,rnwhose instincts and whose frame of mind none understand sornintimately, and none can hate so passionately, as its former initiates.rnIn early 1919, Mussolini started turning his rhetoric into politicalrnaction by creating the nucleus of a party in Milan. It consistedrnof disillusioned war veterans, republicans, and former socialistsrnand anarchists. Mussolini called his force Fasci dirnCombattimento, invoking a symbol of ancient Roman togethernessrnand authority. At rallies, surrounded by fascist supportersrnwearing the black shirts that had been adopted originally by an-rn16/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn