April 25 is approaching: Liberation Day, the springtime of our democracy reborn after 20 years of fierce Mussolinian dictatorship, after a war unleashed by Nazi-Fascism. A national, popular, founding holiday that was already under attack in the first decade of the 2000s, with the paradoxical Berlusconian liberals wanting to purge it of all communist “stains” by renaming it Liberty Day instead of Liberation Day.
Back then, it only took “the Knight” wrapping the partisan scarf around his neck in a TV ad for everyone to praise his brilliance and breathe a sigh of relief. That clumsy revisionist attempt failed, but it was only postponed for later.
Now, the worst right-wing in Europe, currently in power in Italy, is pushing forward on that old path. Meloni and her crew are trying again, hoisting the twin banners of Fatherland and Family. They aim to cut off the anti-Fascist roots of the Republic, disfiguring the country’s constitutional culture.
They intend to cleanse social relations from modernist “impurities,” by erasing civil rights and denying the sexual emancipation of both men and women.
We must be aware that these right-wingers are moving forward with a careful plan, clear-eyed intelligence and an arrogant attitude of superiority. They’re acting as if one electoral victory and popular support (rather limited by the abstentionist tide) could be enough to unmoor the government and institutions from the anti-Fascist pact they were built on and replace it with a new anti-anti-Fascist regime.
The revisionism of the President of the Senate about the Via Rasella partisan attack on German troops on March 23, 1944 (“An inglorious episode: the partisans didn’t kill Nazis, but rather a musical band of retirees,” he said) came just a few days after the prime minister’s reframing of the Ardeatine Caves massacre that the Nazis conducted in retaliation (“335 innocent Italians massacred only because they were Italians”).
These are two crystal-clear examples of the revisionist cocoon that covers up the hard core of denialism. If those killed in retaliation for the Via Rasella attack were simply “Italians” (revisionism), then anti-Fascists and Jews were not the Nazis’ intended victims, so such victims didn’t exist at all (denialism). And if the soldiers in Via Rasella were not Nazi-Fascist torturers but only a “marching band,” then those attacking them were not anti-Fascists after all, but rather communist terrorists.
For that matter, leaving aside the second-rate politicians who use Mussolini’s words about the Matteotti murder to cosplay as political warriors, we recently saw an example of denialism in action from a Minister of Education that has a unique ability to channel the old Mussolinian Ministry of Popular Culture for a new age.
After the Fascist-gang-like attack on a group of high school students, he unceremoniously and publicly rebuked a principal who was “guilty” of telling students to be vigilant about protecting democracy in the school and to stand up against fascist violence – and who even dared quote the words of Gramsci (“I hate the indifferent”).
This is a cultural involution (in schools, history, republican symbols, family relations) leading up to a plan for institutional revision to have a directly elected “father,” or “mother,” of the fatherland, a figure that would be all the stronger the weaker national unity becomes, fragmented between small regional homelands.
This power group has no intention of casting out the shadows of the past, and isn’t trying to make people forget where it came from. It’s trying to weed out our history because it’s already working on cultivating another one to replace it.
Read our articles on Via Rasella in the il manifesto archive
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