Good Morning, Italy, freed for what?

This is pretty much another political rant, because I see a lack of knowledge surroundings some situations and patience was never one of my virtues. Today (25th of April) is a bank holiday in Italy, celebrating the Allied forces liberating Italy from the Nazi occupation in WWII. It’s a contentious holiday, seen by some on the right as having been hijacked with partisan concerns, but mostly a day when those living at the borders flood to Swiss shopping centers for a good designer bargain they can try and claim to have been bought in Via Montenapoleone unless you bump into someone you know doing exactly the same as you.

However, if only this was the worst thing I could say about Milan! Times have changed since I have last set foot in the city and not just its airports.
It is with great disconcert that I have watched certain factions of the Leave vote in the UK (namely, the opposite side of the spectrum from the globalist moderates like myself) begin to take notice of one of the joint deputy Prime Minister of Italy, whose party has moved from anti-South feelings to anti-EU ones with surprising agility, to the point that people actually voted League in the South. On the surface, he appears no more damaging than Nigel Farage, a demagogue perhaps, but whose biggest damage would be another dent in the EU armour, and arguably not quite as big as the UK’s one.
This is not, unfortunately, the full story: first of all, he is far less innocuous than the British populist leader (who, himself, many would say is not innocuous at all).

A lot of the Brexit discourse in the UK has been revolving around the dismantling of the accusation that Leavers are racists: there are genuine arguments that uncontrolled immigration without infrastructures keeping up with the numbers has affected people, and if the rhetoric has at times been borderline or downright problematic, and if actual racists have been involved in the campaign, it is more like an occupational hazard than the desired outcome. The internal battle for the official Leave campaign is an indication of this. Still, there is a reticence to give much space to people who have any affiliations, however remote, with parties like the BNP. While research has found a limited degree of support for some of their policies over the years, as soon as they were declared as such, the support dropped. Other similar parties, get a few people rallied for a march every now and then but have no real shot to power.

That is not the case for Italy, where two representatives of the biggest party have praised known fascist groups in an alleged alliance over the elections in Lombardy (Borghezio and Bastoni, if you’re wondering). Events and marches have been organised around the date, and monuments to victims of fascism have been desecrated. Just earlier today, a banner appeared at one of these marches in Piazzale Loreto in Milan: “Honour to Benito Mussolini”. The Nazi salute seems to have made an appearance once again too (as it has done at all these various protests, a number of them at the center of petitions for the right to take place). A march commemorating the 100th anniversary of fascism has taken place, and a group in SS uniforms joined a parade for the feast of Liberation and was met with the comment that it was giving people a more comprehensive view of the history. A regional organiser for one of the many neo-fascist groups (Casapound) has been arrested on charges of attempted murders in Genoa. I could have linked all the articles in question but they are all in Italian, and if you can speak Italian they are all the results that come up in various tags on Il Fatto Quotidiano, which is (love it or loathe it) an independent newspaper not funded through any public money, which doesn’t have much partisanship except perhaps a tinge of that radical chic anti-establishment attitude that comes so naturally to the Italians.

As a person on the right (as of the latest political quiz, a “kind young capitalist”), I feel pretty “homeless” when it comes to voting in Italian elections: while I am most aligned with the UDC, the nature of Italian elections requiring coalitions means that a vote for them ends up as a vote for parties I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. It’s pretty grim that there is no true political centre, especially at a time when the extremes are winning the argument. I have thought about whether to ever go back and bring with me the lessons of being involved in a moderate conservative party in a country that values freedom so much, and who knows what the future brings. For now, I can only lament the loss of those who, like my family, fought against a monster which is rising from the ashes like a dark phoenix. Meanwhile, I live in a world that throws the accusation of fascism around with hardly any thought to what it all really meant, and what a real resurgence looks like, and I just want the world to stop so I can get off.

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