September 25, 2022


Giorgia Meloni is a danger to Italy and the rest of Europe (Roberto Saviano, 9/24/22, The Guardian)

It is in her support for people like Orbán that we see what appears to be the real danger posed by Giorgia Meloni.

Meloni's party has succeeded in expanding its electoral base in Italy over the years by poaching militants from other parties ready to jump on what was supposed to be a winner's bandwagon. This high-risk strategy has worked although it has drawn the Brothers of Italy into controversy and several ongoing judicial investigations, into candidates' alleged involvement in corruption, extortion, sleaze and illegal waste disposal. Yet Meloni has been able to reaffirm her credibility by expelling troublemakers and publicly distancing them. The only figures it seems she has difficulty disowning are politicians whose identity is built on far-right ideology.

Meloni denies that she is a fascist. I don't think it is the most important point of her party's programme, but it is worth addressing. it is a simple game: parties whose lineage can be traced back to neo-fascist movements have gone to lengths to detoxify and soften their image, declaring their opposition to antisemitism, racism and the historical fascist experience. [...]

Meloni's real beliefs and goals may not appear exactly the same, but her words can often carry echoes of Mussolini. Her speeches play on the need for identity, on the very human fear of being marginalised or going unrecognised. In her hands identity becomes a propaganda tool for dividing the world into Us and Them, where "they" are LGBTQ+ communities, migrants or those who don't see themselves represented in established structures or the labels imposed by others. The impression given is that they are the bad people, who jeopardise the identity of the entire nation. Totalitarianism has, since time began, leveraged such fears to convince people to voluntarily deprive themselves of their own rights, on the promise of being defended from an external enemy.

Although she denies any connection to fascism, Meloni appears to want to retain support from the wing of the radical right who consider her party too moderate, and only vote for it to make up the numbers against the left. Fully repudiating the party's fascist roots, it seems, would mean losing a lot of these votes.

On the other hand, continued association with neo-fascism would put Meloni in a very uncomfortable position internationally. She has opted therefore for a rebrand, but it is partial. The Brothers of Italy keeps the same logo - an Italian tricolour in the form of a flame - used by the now-defunct neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), founded in 1946 by such regime supporters as Pino Romualdi, a leading figure in the Fascist party and Giorgio Almirante, who was convicted of collaborating with Nazi troops. [...]

Meloni in her ambiguity, has directed her attacks on migrants. She has fuelled Italians' fears, created an enemy, a scapegoat on which to offload blame for public incompetence and mismanagement.

Posted by at September 25, 2022 12:27 PM