The Globalization of Rage

Why Today’s Extremism Looks Familiar

Mad men: ISIS supporters in Taqba, Syria, August 2014. STRINGER / REUTERS

In September 1919, the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio gathered a force of 2,000 mutinous troops from the Royal Italian Army, along with hundreds of other volunteers, and stormed the city of Fiume, on the Adriatic coast, which had been contested territory since the end of World War I. D’Annunzio had served as a fighter pilot in the war, and his daring feats had turned him into one of the most famous people in Europe. An ultranationalist, he had long wanted “Mother Italy” to seize all the territories that he believed rightly belonged to her. In 1911, he had zealously supported Italy’s invasion of Libya, an imperialist adventure whose savagery stoked outrage across the Muslim world. In Fiume, he saw a chance to realize his dream of rejuvenating Italy through war.

D’Annunzio’s forces were met with no resistance; British, French, and U.S. forces withdrew to avoid a confrontation.

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