I wouldn’t give too much importance to Italians re-embracing fascistic ideals

My aunt, a card communist in an Italian mountain village, has a mouthful of insults for Giorgia Meloni.

Accdenti … porch miseria …

Which roughly translates to fucking… pig misery….

In that sense, it’s rather difficult to distinguish the leader and crypto-fascist of the Brethren of Italy from almost all the other incompetent or outrageous politicians who have cartwheeled through the 69 governments that Italy has slapped together since the Second World War.

Keep in mind that Italy had chronic tax evader and lech Silvio Berlusconi long before America had a President Donald Trump. And a “rejectist” populist party, the Five Star Movement, with a comedian at the helm long before Ukraine got there. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has gotten serious and is leading an inspiring resistance to the Russian invasion; Beppe Grillo, co-founder of M5S, is still a clown, although he cut official political ties with his creation.

Reactionary parties and movements are nearly all united at the level of the brainstem. So the hysteria surrounding Meloni’s election victory this week is rather exaggerated. His coalition of nativists, which garnered around 44% of the vote, will likely crumble at the first shock of egos and the Italians will crumble through another passegiatta at the polls.

Which is in no way a slowing down of what the Brothers of Italy stand for or its assault on democratic principles. Meloni, who will be the country’s first female prime minister – not much to celebrate there – received just over a quarter of the vote. In previous elections, she could only muster four percent.

Have a moment, then. But those moments come and go in Italy, leaving barely a meaningful impact in a country where the real route is set by the three main criminal organizations – Cosa Nostra, Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta – who control nearly every aspect of existence through to an underground economy, union appropriation and corrupting influence that extend into every nook and cranny of everyday life. Perhaps even – if one were to ignore the coercive and systematically violent dimensions – more effective administrators in a society strangled by bureaucracy.

Meloni, who grew up in a tough Roman neighborhood that produces left-wing activists more generally – has campaigned tirelessly to portray himself and his party as a more moderate version of his background, although his lineage clearly goes back to the dead -living neo-fascists who emerged from the ruins of World War II. Despite claiming to have purged the party of its most odious elements – days ago a party member was suspended after an Italian newspaper revealed pro-Hitler comments he had published in the past – Meloni has always refused to remove the tricolor flame from the party logo, a symbol associated with fascism since the turn of the 20th century, vaguely considered by most to be reminiscent of Mussolini.

And, while saying she is committed to detoxifying the party’s sordid history by affirming her rejection of anti-Semitism and racism, Meloni chose as her campaign slogan the Mussolini-era branding of « God, Fatherland, family « . In 2019, she shouted from the stage at a rally: « I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian. » Later, swears: “We will defend God, the fatherland and the family. The Christian God, she meant, not the wandering families who practice other religions, arriving on the Italian shores. And traditional families, she meant, not the LGBTQ version, certainly not the fluctuations of the gender war. (Italy is the only major country in the European Union that has not legalized same-sex marriage.)

The reactionary push in Italy has been driven by fierce opposition to immigration, a growing sentiment that has gripped the continent, greasing the wheels of opportunist populists from Sweden to France to Poland, although France managed to stave off a far-right challenge by Marine Le Pen in last spring’s elections, President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, won an impressive 58.5% of the vote in the second round against Le Pen.

By the way, it is not uncommon these days to find Mussolini trinkets sold at kiosks and superstrada gas stations. Maybe it’s just kitsch, like the Saddam Hussein watch I picked up in Baghdad. But maybe Il Duce also has its retro moment.

Among the « brilliant » (far-fetched) ideas of Meloni – the introduction of a naval blockade for patrolling the Mediterranean, barring asylum seekers from North Africa. (Nothing will quell the despair of those fleeing tyranny, war and poverty.) Moreover, she has built her political chops around fervent Euroscepticism, beating the drum for Italy’s withdrawal from the EU. European Union. As if. While Italy has Europe’s third-largest economy, it received $185 billion from the EU’s pandemic recovery fund, the latest tranche of $20 billion approved on Tuesday, even as election dust had not yet fallen.

I wouldn’t give too much credit to Italians re-embracing fascistic ideals, with some 4.3 million people who lived through the war still alive, witnesses to their nation’s darkest hours. Italy’s constitution, which came into effect in 1948, is staunchly anti-fascist, although extremist parties continue to be tolerated on the fringes of political culture and there is definitely a growing tolerance for reactionary intolerance.

At best, this election was an exasperated shift to plan B or C…D…E…F, three times through the alphabet in less than eight decades and running out of options.

As Italian journalist Mattia Ferraresi wrote in a guest essay for the New York Times on Monday: « Despite all the rhetorical radicalism and historical extremism of his party, the fact remains that he will not operate in circumstances of his choosing. Attached to the European Union and constrained by the Italian political system, Mrs. Meloni will not have much room for manoeuvre.

However, if democracy is indeed under threat in Europe, or the United States for that matter, then perhaps the embattled leaders of the centrist and left parties should look within; to how they’ve let down the working class, the midstream in corporations, the expendable blue-collar workers whose manufacturing jobs have disappeared, the benign traditionalists who find themselves maligned as racists, homophobes and xenophobes with every slight expression of just- wait here. And, above all, the plaintive what about me? demographic.

Meloni and his race have certainly profited from this backlash, from the hostility to intellectual smugness among those who despise conventional values ​​as hidden and exclusive. This is precisely what has put wind in the sails of the illiberal populists.

My God, when even a model society like Sweden – at the forefront of the social support network – swings sharply to the right, as it did in the recent election where Sweden’s populist democrats came second at the polls , demanding a freeze on the asylum system and positioning themselves as kingmakers – then something is rotten in Denmark… and in Stockholm.

Policies being discussed include cutting benefits for immigrants unless they learn Swedish, renting prison places abroad and reducing asylum claims to « almost zero ».

Unfortunately, this is the world we live in and it has already affected Canada as well.

To stem such regression, it is up to the center and to the democratic institutions to widen their tent, to shift the polar poles to embrace temperance, seductive moderation, and restore sanity.

Otherwise, the likes of the Brethren from Italy might indeed find traction and rooting.

Rosie DiManno is a Toronto-based columnist who covers sports and current affairs for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

CA Movie

Back to top button