Home Online Magazine Fascist ideas are on the rise in Italy – International point of view

Fascist ideas are on the rise in Italy – International point of view


Such open displays of fascism are illegal in Italy. The Italian Constitution of 1948 prohibits any reconstitution of fascist parties, following the fall of the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. Of course, fascist groups call each other by other names to avoid prosecution.

Forza Nuova attacks union headquarters

On October 11, 2021, the fascist group Forza Nuova led hundreds of people in an anti-vax demonstration to attack the Rome headquarters of Italy’s largest trade union confederation. For older Italians or those who know their history, it evoked the way Mussolini’s gangs (squadristi) attacked leftist activists and trade unions in the twenties or thirties. It also reminded people of fascist violence, including bombings and shootings, against the victorious struggles waged by the left after the “hot autumn” of 1969. After the October attack, there is had a national response with demonstrations in a number of cities. The government has since shut down their website and their leaders have been questioned by the police.

Fascists attack the headquarters of the CGIL union

The historic leaders of this party are Roberto Fiore and Massimo Morsello. They had links to the violent right-wing terrorist group NAR (Armed Revolutionary Nuclei) and after the Bologna train station massacre in 1980 they both fled to London. They stayed there for 20 years, being granted political refugee status by the Thatcher government. There are strong rumors that the British secret service maintained contact with them. Upon their return to Italy, they were met at the airport by MPs from Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the National Alliance (AN – the dominant neo-fascist “continuity” party) who were part of a coalition governmental. Both were sentenced to prison but the party was launched and by 2001 it had forty branches and 2,500 members. He won around 0.25% of the vote in the election, but Fiore took over from Alexandra Mussolini when she resigned as an MEP.

CasaPound – punk neo-fascists

CasaPound is a fascist group that began establishing itself in 2003 by occupying empty buildings and using them as “community” cultural and political bases. Over the next 15 years, he opened 106 more centers and established a nationwide presence with regular media coverage. Its main leader is Gianluca Iannone and he described these centers as “territorial reconquests at the service of the people”. This was a new, media-savvy fascist current that stood apart from more traditional fascist parties like Forza Nuova. The new centers have opened gyms, pubs, football clubs, bookstores – even hair salons and tattoo parlours. He tried to present himself as the fascist equivalent of the left and progressive social center (social centres) often located in occupied buildings.

The punk rock band ZetaZetaAlfa (a version of ZeeZeeTop) was a factor in its growing popularity. CasaPound has dealt with housing, student issues, unemployment and social policies. When Beppe Grillo’s centrist populist Five Star movement burst onto the national level, CasaPound was able to win over some of its leaders and activists into engaging with it. CasaPound has also collaborated with Salvini’s Lega Nord to set up sovereignty groups in localities where asylum centers have been set up. Their function was to stir up local animosity towards the migrants who came to settle there. Despite Che Guevara’s postering, its fascist core has remained intact and its militants are as violent as other fascist groups. [1]

the ECN Antifascist Group post a interactive map showing all the hundreds of violent fascist attacks on the left, gays and migrants since 2014. It is updated regularly to show the violence taking place on a weekly basis. Admittedly, these fascist currents are of a different magnitude from what exists in Great Britain.

Fascism creeps into the mainstream

Italian Fascism collapsed under the onslaught of Allied forces and partisans in 1943. Imperialist interests represented by the United States and Britain were very concerned that there would be no vacuum dangerous which could facilitate a new radicalization of a people partially armed and directed by the left. Togliatti and the leadership of the Communist Party implemented Stalin’s line of national unity and reconstruction of the bourgeois state. Nonetheless, the Allies wanted to minimize disruption to the state and its institutions, so the purge of the fascists was extremely limited. Thus, most fascist sympathizers maintained key positions, including in the repressive apparatuses that persist to this day. It is not surprising that fascist support is particularly strong in the Lazio region and in the capital which is the administrative center of the Italian state.

Berlusconi played a central role in normalizing the fascist past. He said Mussolini didn’t kill people and that Italians had to overcome the outdated fascist/anti-fascist dichotomy. Unlike other prime ministers, he did not really participate in the traditional April celebrations of liberation from fascism. Many mainstream media echoed this rewriting of the past, for example, excessive emphasis was placed on the violence committed by partisans against the fascists at the end of the war. His first government in 1994 included the neo-fascist MSI (Italian Social Movement), later renamed AN (National Alliance). The MSI and the AN won around 9% of the vote.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) come from the MSI/AN movement. Like Marine Le Pen in France, she worked hard to deepen this normalization and modernization of neo-fascism. Today, his party is one point ahead of Salvini’s Lega (League) in the polls with 20% and his personal ranking is higher than Salvini’s. She could even claim to be prime minister if her party wins the most votes in the right-wing coalition. This score is double what the MSI obtained 25 years ago. Unlike Salvini, Meloni refused to participate in the national coalition led by unelected banker Draghi. This allows him to capture any discontent or opposition to the government. She has already done it with the obligatory vax pass.

Today, the right-wing coalition is dominated by neo-fascists and Salvini’s right-wing Italians First party. Dominant conservatism in the form of the Christian Democrats collapsed in the corruption pit of the 1980s in Tangentopoli (Bribesville). Initially, Berlusconi’s Trumpian politics filled the space on the right. Today, he has been eclipsed by his most extreme allies. Forza Italia only has around 8% in the polls against 40% for its partners. Salvini and Meloni feed on anti-migrant, pro-traditional family sentiments and fear of crime. The Lega chief is on trial for breaking maritime and human rights laws when Italian ports were closed to a ship full of desperate and sick migrants. He also questioned the importance of anti-fascism as the traditional “glue” of Italian institutions.

Fascist groups and Lega/neo-fascist Fratelli help “normalize” fascism and are in a symbiotic relationship. For example, Forza Nuova security teams help monitor rallies of both major parties. The activists go back and forth and we discover that an ex-fascist joins the Lega, becomes an adviser and then is involved in a violent attack on a migrant. The fascists come out and appear on the electoral lists of the most traditional parties. In turn, the outspoken fascists lead the big gangs of football supporters (the tifosi) that help bring in funds and muscle. Even here, the lines are confused since Salvini has a notorious connection with one of Milan’s tifosi groups.

Years of defeat and decline in the labor movement and the decline of an anti-capitalist left have left an opening for fascist ideas among angry and demoralized people, especially young people. With the implosion and institutionalization of the Five Star movement, the ground is even more favorable for the establishment of reactionary ideas. A sharp rise in poverty and the Covid pandemic have increased the audience for right-wing and racist populism. Anti-vax sentiment has been stronger in Italy than elsewhere and fascists and the hard right also ride this tiger. A victory for the right-wing coalition in the next legislative elections could further embolden them.

Source Anti-capitalist resistance.