Here's What The Descendants Of Mussolini Are Doing Today

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini dubbed himself "Il Duce," or "The Leader," according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. But his many enemies may have deemed him an ill deuce. Long before the notorious orator and propagandist snatched the reigns of power in 1925, he was already fluent in the language of brute force and bloodshed. A childhood bully, he got expelled from a religious boarding school for stabbing a boy with a penknife and fighting the people who tried to punish him. He then got expelled from another school for attacking a classmate with a penknife.

"Stabenito," as Mussolini should have been called, would later rely on violence to impose his political will. The son of a socialist journalist, he cut his political teeth within that ideology — surprisingly not with a penknife — and became a journalist himself. Mussolini ultimately opposed socialism and got expelled from the Socialist Party. Adopting an opportunistic ideology premised on avid nationalism, militarism, and a deep antipathy for democracy, via the Encyclopedia Britannica, he would become Europe's first fascist leader.

In Mussolini's world, the knife was mightier than the pen. His fascist Blackshirt squads torched Socialist and Communist offices. He imprisoned political opponents. He also aligned himself with Adolf Hitler and deported an estimated 20 percent of Italy's Jews to Nazi concentration camps. Fascist propaganda saturated cinemas and newspapers, per History. Not exactly a sterling example of humanity, Mussolini doesn't typically top people's lists of role models. But some of his descendants have defended him.

Follow the leader

As described in Mussolini, the Italian dictator fathered five children with his wife, Rachel, who was the daughter of his father's mistress. People magazine says that one of his sons, Romano, became a jazz pianist. Romano's daughter, Alessandra (above), recalled growing up "relatively poor" and said Romano described Benito as "a wonderful family man." She declined to comment on his politics but defended her grandfather against accusations of tyranny. She would later enter politics herself and get into a flame war with Fire Marshall Bill. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Alessandra appeared on the cover of Playboy, became a member of European parliament, and feuded with Jim Carrey for mocking Mussolini's death with scathing artwork. She called him "a bastard" and attacked detractors of her grandfather on Twitter, decrying one critic as "human garbage." 

Mussolini's great-grandson, Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, whose name translates to Julius Caesar Mussolini, per Newsweek, ran for political office in 2019. A former navy submariner, he takes an anti-establishment tack. He also attacked Mark Zuckerberg after Facebook deleted his account, accusing the the social media juggernaut of acting like "the thought police," via the Guardian. Mussolini's youngest granddaughter, Rachele, became a politician also, and a part-time tour guide to teach people about Mussolini's legacy, according to the New Zealand Herald.