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Purely for relief, it is pleasant to turn from Mussolini to Italy herself, to remember that Mussolini must find his justification among Italians. The current World's Work points out that, in touting Mussolini, the part played by tradition and sentiment in raising the hope of a new Empire, has been overlooked. It is only the extraordinary methods of the dictator that distinguish him from his predecessors. His ambitions for Italy are the same. And it is doubtful whether, despite his success as a popular colossus, his feet are not of the same clay as theirs.
Before 1914, when Italy was struggling to imitate her sister imperialists, the cry for a reincarnated Roman state followed each slight success. It followed the slow conquest of Tripoli, won after defeats at the hands of native troops, such as Caucasians have seldom undergone. It fed itself on the spirit of nationalism and a tariff to create industry. But up to the war, poverty remained the characteristic feature of the Italian state.
And although Imperialism has since been nourished by accretions of territory and the vaunts of a dictator, Italy is still impoverished, industrially, educationally. Mussolini has brought order. He is creating conditions favorable to industry and trade. But there would seem to be little to support the idea that the Roman Empire is about to flower into martial glory, except a persistent and lustrious sentiment.
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