The Path to the Totalitarian State

  • Charles F. Delzell
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


On October 27, 1922, some 50,000 Blackshirts began to converge on Rome, while others hurriedly seized prefectural buildings in surrounding provinces. In the capital many political leaders still misjudged the nature of Fascism and assumed they could channel it into the liberal constitutional system. Failure to perceive the true danger in time was the main cause of what happened at the end of October. The Fascist conquest of power did not require an authentic “revolution.” Indeed, when the news of the March on Rome reached the capital, the King refused to sign the proclamation of martial law that his Council of Ministers had prepared; instead he sought to entrust the task of forming a new government to a team headed by the conservative ex-premier, Antonio Salandra, and Mussolini. When the latter rejected that formula, the King had an aide telephone the Fascist Duce, inviting him to come down from Milan on the overnight train. Thus by the time the Blackshirts actually sloshed their way down Rome’s rainswept streets, their entry was a parade, not a battle.


National Security National Confederation Penal Code Royal Decree Secret Ballot 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles F. Delzell

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