The old demons of the interwar period are back in Europe!
By Yorgos Mitralias
“Days of 1922? Not yet, but Italy is on track to “celebrate” in four years the centenary of the rise of Mussolini and his fascist movement to power with a regime that will resemble it- almost – like two drops of water!” With this premonitory sentence we began our article written on the day after the Italian elections of March 2018 marked by a sweeping victory of Salvini’s Lega. (1) Four years later, that is to say today, we must note that -alas- our prognosis is fully confirmed by the facts: the centenary of Benito Mussolini’s accession to power in October 1922 will coincide with the accession to power of the post-fascist Giorgia Meloni and her Fratelli d’Italia, the party that is merely the continuation of the MSI founded and led by Giorgio Almirante and other eminences of the Repubblica di Salò, Mussolini’s last and tiny puppet state under the influence of the German Nazis!
Judging by the first “analyses” of the results of these elections by the usual “specialists” and other commentators of our European media, the rest of our article from the day after the Italian elections of 2018 would also be valid for the day after the elections of 2022: “Why this rather atypical introduction when everyone is talking only about the victory of the “populists”, the triumph of the “eurosceptics”, the defeat of the “center-left” and of course, the post-electoral chaos and the probable “ungovernability” of Italy? Simply because we prefer to look a little further than the end of our nose, to see not the appearances but the essence of things at a time when in Italy are in gestation developments that will mark our lives here in Greece too!” And indeed, beyond the “populism” that characterizes whole sections of the program presented by the winning coalition of the Italian elections, notwithstanding their very real differences and the probable “ungovernability” that may result, the main fact of these Italian elections is… that indeed “in Italy are in gestation developments that will mark our lives here in Greece as well”, as indeed everywhere in Europe and perhaps in the whole world!
Why? Because the rise to power in Italy of the far-right coalition dominated by the post-fascists of Giorgia Meloni changes the situation in Europe, provoking a further and even more profound modification of the balance of power in favor of the European far right and its post-fascist wing. The consequences will be cataclysmic. First of all, in a number of European countries, the electoral triumph of Fratelli d’Italia will deepen and accelerate the already existing crisis of the major parties of the more or less classical right (such as Christian Democracy), encouraging their far-right wings, which will feel that their time has come, either to claim their leadership or to split, following the example of the Francoist wing of the Spanish Popular Party, which split and created Vox.
Sandwiched between the external pressure coming from the various European Orbans and the internal pressure exerted by their far-right opposition, these major governing parties will become increasingly fragile and will do what they have always done when they want to protect themselves against the competition of the far right: imitate this far right in order to beat it… on its own ground by borrowing several themes and practices from its racist, sexist, ultra-nationalist and liberticidal policies! And obviously, these ultra-right-wing drifts of the classical right will have their repercussion in Brussels, within the European Commission traditionally dominated by the European People’s Party.
But, beware: all these events and developments, already of almost- historic proportions, will not take place in “normal” times, but in the midst of a European and perhaps world crisis without precedent since the end of the last world war. A crisis accelerated if not provoked by the war of Putin and his Great Russian imperialism against Ukraine and its people. The consequence will be that this triumphant European far right, which does not hide its affinities with, if not its support for Putin and his fascistoid regime, will make its increased weight felt also at this level, aligning itself with Orban in order to break Putin’s international isolation. In sum, it goes without saying that a great beneficiary of Giorgia Meloni’s triumph is Putin and his ilk around the world. That is to say, the Brown International in gestation.
But why Italy and why its post-fascist electoral tidal wave accentuated by the virtual disappearance of its left? How can we explain that the country with the “largest communist party in the Western world” marked by radical and mass social movements has been transformed today into the first major European country with a post-fascist dominated far right government? The answer lies in what could be called … the successive suicides of the Italian left. First, the suicide of the PCI -already in crisis and more than reformist, which was practically liquidated in cold blood by increasingly right-wing social-democratic leaderships in search of bourgeois “respectability”, to end up -after many metamorphoses- with the current Democratic Party. A DP that has nothing “left” about it, starting with its leaders: both its current leader Enrico Letta and the most illustrious of his predecessors, Matteo Renzi, are pure products of the Christian Democracy (DCI), with no ties to the Italian left. Moreover, Renzi, who does not hide his relationship with… the Saudi palace, has just offered his services to Giorgia Meloni.
And then, the suicide of the Italian radical left, and more precisely of its by far most important party, that of Rifondazione Comunista, which initiated its (dazzling) collapse when its leadership decided to tie its fate to the fate of the very bourgeois and neoliberal government of banker Romano Prodi. The result was that Rifondazione went in record time from the enormous prestige it had acquired as the political expression of Italian social movements and the locomotive of the European radical left, to the galloping discredit brought about by internal crises combined with successive electoral defeats and the flight of many of its militants.
The gaping hole left in the Italian “people of the left” by the “suicides” of its leftists was soon filled by populist demagogues or even by racist reactionaries. Following the “Mani pulite” (Clean Hands) operation, which contributed to the sudden disappearance of the Socialist and Christian Democrat parties that governed the country, and the serious economic crisis, Italian society, disoriented, angry and looking for “messiahs”, turned first to Berlusconi, whose record has been catastrophic: Berlusconism, that mixture of neo-liberal cynicism, nouveau riche vulgarity, racism and extreme sexism, and an uninhibited amoralism, has taken and continues to take its toll on Italian society and now flows through its veins.
Now the stage was set for the appearance of other “messiahs,” especially since Berlusconi had trivialized the far right and the post-fascists, allying himself with Bossi’s Lega Nord and above all with the Alleanza Nazionale, which succeeded the old MSI, taking its leader Gianfranco Fini as vice-president of its governments, and offering the Ministry of Youth to a young neo-fascist by the name of…Giorgia Meloni. So even the anti-Berlusconian and supposedly “anti-system” meteorite called Movimento 5 Stelle had no problem openly flirting with neo-fascists. Like when its founder and guru, the comedian Beppe Grillo, gave his hand to the leader of the Casa Pound fascists and proposed to include his “camerati” in the electoral lists of his party.
So, unlike what happened to the other “messiahs” (Salvini, Grillo…) whose downfall was as rapid as their soaring rise to the sky, Giorgia Meloni and her Fratelli d’Italia seem -unfortunately- well equipped to last. The situation is therefore serious and the threat immense. And nothing illustrates this terrible threat better than the very emblematic result of the elections in the most popular district of Rome, in the commune of Sesto San Giovanni, that historic bastion of the left, also commonly called “il Stalingrado italiano”: for the first time, its new deputy is not from the left.
She is the daughter of Pino Rauti, the “pope” of Italian and European neo-fascism in the second half of the 20th century, founder of Ordine Nuovo whose name was involved in the bloodiest acts of neo-fascist terrorism of the years of the “strategy of tension” in Italy…