Since I know little about Mussolini, I can only accept what Bardèche says about him. Regarding the next section, about Hitler, I shall have some points of contention.
I omit the first few paragraphs of this chapter, where Bardèche argues that he as a fascist does not have to approve everything that a fascist has ever done. That point should be self-evident.
... The first version of fascism that contemporary history presents to us is Italian Fascism. Originally, it is a movement of socialist activists and veterans that saves Italy from Bolshevism.
Mussolini's mother was a schoolteacher, and his father was a blacksmith who was an activist for the Communist International. Mussolini was imprisoned at the age of twenty for having fomented a general strike. He is initially defiant, takes up exile in Switzerland, translates Kropotkin; the first periodical that he founds is called La Lotta di Classe (The Class-Struggle); the first daily newspaper that he manages is a socialist newspaper. The beginnings of Fascism are consistent with this origin. The speech at San Sepulcro, which is the birth-certificate of the fascio, proclaims the confiscation of the property of the newly wealthy (nouveax riches), the dissolution of the large secret societies, the redistribution of land, the participation of workers in the management of businesses, and the suppression of titles of nobility.
schoolteacher who had become his people's guide. And above all, he is no longer the people's guide that he was. The splendor of majesty, the habit of performance, separate him from men. He no longer knows Italy except through spectacular tours and the reports of prefects. This consul, in the midst of ovations, condemns himself to being no more than a bureaucrat. The dignitaries of Fascism are his eyes, his hand, his lictors. And if these men are idiots? If the distance becomes greater each day between the real country and the idea that the helmeted army maintains in the mind of the dictator as it passes under his windows singing?
The catastrophe of Italian Fascism had perhaps no other origin. Mussolini, irritated by the sanctions, was dreaming of an Italy that would be military, Roman, helmeted, invincible. He heard the footstep of the legions. And the footstep of the legions echoed, in fact, under his windows; his praetors were showing the locations of his camps to him on maps. He spoke of the "warrior nation" and, as a consequence of speaking about it, he believed in the "warrior nation." He forgot the charming Italian people and the mandolins of Naples and the hardworking craftsmen of Italy and its immense poor lands and the steaming soup on the table of the family that awaits the children in the evening. He was beholding a dictator's dream instead of the face of Italy. And he was forgetting also that social justice is a battle that is won each day, that it demands an infinite love and infinite attention, that there is need of constant monitoring to defend the workers against the rich, and that one cannot rely on the reports of prefects.
Lost in his dream of grandeur, he played with the shadow and forgot the essential. As emperor of a phantom nation, he presses buttons that activate nothing. But finally, as Lieutenant Bonaparte at Montereau and Champaubert nearly saved the success of Napoleon, it is the little socialist schoolteacher who miraculously came to the aid of Mussolini the dictator.
Nothing is more moving in the history of Italian Fascism than the return to roots accomplished under the iron fist of defeat. The program of the Salò Republic in 1944 is that upon which Mussolini ought, twenty years earlier, to have staked his power and his life. That is the true Fascism. But, like the battles of the French countryside, it came too late. There is a moment when no wisdom can any longer stop the avalanches caused by mistakes. Mussolini died of his caesarism, of the isolation that caesarism brings, of the delusions that it allows to develop, of the optimism and the easy satisfactions with which it contents itself, of the stardust that it casts into the eyes of others, and that finally blinds it. Italian Fascism was possessed by the ghost of Rome: in this intoxication with history, it lost touch with reality. We must learn that fascism cannot content itself with being a caesarism.
 To pave is not to govern. This was actually said, not about Mussolini but about Franco, by Salvador de Madariaga, a Spanish expatriate who lived in England and enjoyed high status there as a proponent of liberalism.
 These were among Napoleon's last battles, in February 1814, wherein he made efficient use of his small force against much greater numbers. The performance in these last battles, although excellent, was not sufficient to win the war and prevent Napoleon's exile to Elba.