Commentary. While we remain fully aware of the impossibility of a return of fascism in its historical forms, the deep sense of the formula points to a much more concrete political line for the followers of the tradition of the MSI: figuring out how to be fascists in their own times.

The Meloni government and the conditioned reflex of post-fascism

“I want to dedicate this victory to all the people who are no longer here and who deserved to see this night” – these were the words of Giorgia Meloni dedicated to the founding fathers of the Missina “community” in La Repubblica. This is how the newly elected Prime Minister chose to celebrate the election results from September 25, 2022 that led to her ascension to the leadership of the government – the first openly post-fascist politician to do so.

Since that night, as if it was a continuous and uncontrollable anthropological reflex, we have witnessed, one after another: Meloni’s attack on anti-fascism in her inauguration speech (slyly positioned in the framework of the 1970s situation of “opposite extremisms,” instead of as the founding root of the Republic); the praise for the MSI, on the anniversary of its founding, by Defense Undersecretary Isabella Rauti (daughter of the founder of Ordine Nuovo) and Senate President Ignazio Benito La Russa (formerly known as a proud collector of busts of Mussolini which he displayed for the press); and Education Minister Valditara’s anti-anti-fascist attack against the head of Florence’s Leonardo da Vinci High School after the fascist-gang-style attack of Fratelli d’Italia youth militants against underage students in front of the Michelangiolo High School.

Lastly, Claudio Anastasio’s subconsciously revealing rereading of the speech with which Mussolini claimed political responsibility for the murder of Giacomo Matteotti and openly avowed the criminal nature of Fascism itself.

“I don’t give a damn! To denounce is not a word that is part of my vocabulary, nor of the vocabulary of the members of the MSI.” This is how Almirante responded, on January 14, 1987, to a question from an astonished journalist conducting a political discussion. By quoting the formula coined by former MSI secretary Augusto De Marsanich, “Don’t denounce, don’t restore,” Giorgio Almirante was tracing a political line that nowadays his heirs in government are defending sword in hand.

While we remain fully aware of the impossibility of a return of fascism in its historical forms (understood as corporatism; autarky; bellicose imperialism; a terrorist regime; state racism; totalitarian and organicist classism), the deep sense of the formula points to a much more concrete political line for the followers of the tradition of the MSI: figuring out how to be fascists in their own times.

Nowadays this means hiding and mingling within the global neoliberal establishment and from that position, on one hand, keeping alive the rhetoric of an “alternative to the system,” and on the other hand expressing the highest degree of compatibility with the establishment in terms of Atlanticism mixed with punitive classism against the weaker classes; the denial of civil rights; and discrimination against migrants.

Thus, the debate is not about a possible re-emergence of Mussolini’s regime from the dustbin of history; it is about the dimensions of the present day where the balance of power between the historical legacy of the Constitutional Republic (born from the victory of anti-fascism) and the new right (born from the defeat of fascism) will play out over the next two years.

In its redefinition of republican identity, this government will be confronted with historical anniversaries that will acquire great significance because they come in the midst of a proposed presidentialist and regional-autonomy-oriented “reform” process that could permanently overturn the structure of the institutions born of the Resistance.

What will be the Meloni executive’s stance on September 8, the 80th anniversary of the armistice that the MSI right has always referred to as a “betrayal” and “dishonor” of the homeland? Or in June 2024, with the 100th anniversary of the murder of Matteotti (and thus the totalitarian advent of the fascist regime) and the 80th anniversary of the Liberation of Rome, a celebration of the Resistance? Or on April 25, 2025, the 80th anniversary of the Liberation of Italy?

These anniversaries will come at a time when we will find ourselves (if this government lasts) in the midst of discussions about two systemic changes (a presidential republic and differentiated autonomy) that could lead not to a “new fascism,” but to the ultimate dismemberment of the state born from the Resistance.

These measures will not bring back the black shirts into the streets, but will “solve” those problems of compatibility between the anti-fascist Constitution and the free market framework pointed to by the investment bank JP Morgan in 2013.

We were already at the threshold of such a change (which fortunately stopped there) with the “solution” of the 2016 referendum by the Renzi government, which was not displeasing to that part of liberal society that misses no opportunity to try to ideologically separate what history has brought together in the makeup of our country: communist and socialist antifascism (which was objectively in the majority), Catholic antifascism and secular-democratic antifascism.

This encounter created the first and only historical ground we have in common (unlike today’s posturing over shared memories): the Constitution of our Republic. This will be the target of the right.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!