Italy’s second rise to fascism

By: Charlie Boone

In the spring of 1919, a group of Italian nationalists, including Benito Mussolini, burnt down the offices of a local socialist newspaper called ‘L’Avanti!’, killing four people, and halting production of the paper for several days. This was the first of many attacks on left-wing institutions from the fascist movement. This violence, often helped by colluding nationalist law enforcement, would grow the influence of paramilitary fascist groups, eventually culminating in Mussolini gaining power in 1922.

Almost exactly 100 years after the first violent rise of fascism in Italy, it’s happening again. This time, draped in the aesthetics of modern neoliberal politics, while the actual message being sent is one of nationalism and white supremacy. The current figurehead of this movement is Giorgia Meloni, and she was elected prime minister of Italy on October 22, 2022.

The party she belongs to is called Fratelli d’Italia or “The Brothers of Italy”. They are a far-right neofascist political party and by far the most extreme to govern the country since Mussolini’s dictatorship. The fact that this is Italy’s first woman prime minister is also no coincidence. Far-right movements have had a lengthy history of picking select white women as figureheads to forward patriarchal and regressive ideas through the thin veil of progress.

Aesthetics have always been intertwined with fascism and other far-right movements. Historically, as an intense focus on uniform and conveying power, strength, and purity; so much so that the wolf in sheep’s clothing approach that Meloni is using is working better than it ever should have.

In September of 2022, before Meloni was elected, Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying, “The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing,”. I don’t think that this means Clinton actually supports the hateful, racist, anti-immigrant politics that Meloni and her party are pushing for, but it’s this sort of attitude that dismisses the genuine harm that these ideas cause, opening the door wide open for another rise to fascism.

With Meloni’s administration already targeting journalists critical of her ideas, it seems clear that anything short of genuine condemnation simply isn’t enough.

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