Italian neo-fascism manifests itself in various forms. First of all, organizational. Salvini’s party is dictatorial. At the top there is Salvini who is the Duce and every sigh of his becomes law. There is no dissent, there is no internal debate, there is no figure that can shadow the dictator. This is because “The Duce is always right” and whoever dares to disagree is a traitor. This is neo-fascism. Then there is the pounding propaganda, another specialty of the house. A widespread propaganda all obviously centered on the figure of the Duce who embodies alone – even physically – the whole party and its political contents. The people must identify with the Duce, convinced that its extraordinary qualities are the only ones capable of “changing the world”. Once the propaganda was done with posters on the street, today with mass social media campaigns. All packaged for today’s electoral market. Because classic fascism today would make people laugh and so it is updated to become acceptable by contemporaries. “neo” fascism, in fact. Hierarchy, order and discipline to proceed compactly against sworn enemies, another pillar of the menu. Enemies that threaten national and cultural purity, enemies of different ideological or skin colors. Because migrants are not just criminals, but they also put at risk what was once the race and today they call identity. The neo-fascist menu despises all diversities and minorities guilty of “dirtying” the idea that the regime has of itself. “Italians first” and possibly thoroughbred and heterosexuals. This is neo-fascism. Another dish on the menu is hostility towards globalization and the conviction the nation is better off alone. A classic. Blind their own country to defend it from a “dangerous” change and allying it with the countries of an “axis” that shares the same ideology. This is neofascism. As well as the appropriation of symbols that should remain outside of politics like religious ones. Neofascism has dusted off religion as a tool to give substance to its ideological framework and mark identity differences. An ultra-conservative religiosity lined up against all the infidels. This is neofascism. Then there is everyday politics. In Italy, declaredly neo-fascist groups have chosen Salvini as their Duce since years and he certainly did not escape this unequivocal embrace. However, when Salvini increased enormously his consensus thanks to the support of the middle class, the neo-fascist groups slipped away so as not to frighten the Salvini new voters. Today millions of Italian democratic and liberal citizens vote for Salvini without even asking themselves the question of voting together with openly fascist groups. This is a crucial point. Neofascism is blowing throughout the West. From Washington to Moscow passing by London and the heart of Europe. A nightmare that risks becoming reality because the neo-fascist strategy is working very well. To break into modern democracies, neo-fascism has disguised itself as a “sovranist” or “populist” or whatever new friendly formula. News words for old political concepts. Neofascism has endowed itself with a good-natured and captivating image able to satisfy the tastes of today’s average electorate. Fascist ideas but softened and with front men able to sell them to the general public. The front men on stage representing people’s anger and fear generated by this turbulent era and behind the real deal, a neo-fascist ideology to be make up so as not to frighten the middle class. The trick is to clear neofascism in small steps, make it progressively familiar, make it normal. Slowly. Their objective is to make neo-fascism become a “new right” fully legitimized to participate in the democratic game. And they are succeeding. As always happened in our history, when the wind changes it changes everywhere in the Continent. The neo-fascist wind is an European emergency. The only way to stop neofascism it is through political results giving concrete answers to citizens problems and feelings. European democratic governments and EU institutions are running out of time. They must react before it is too late, and in particular they have to provide answer to key issues such as the migration crisis, a real gold mine of neo-fascist political consensus. Many in Rome and Brussels seem to underestimate the neo-fascist risk. Others even deny it. Just as a century ago when fascism took over Italy also due to the complicit inertia of the ruling classes.

Tommaso Merlo

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