Positionspapier zum Vertiefungsangebot "Die ideologische Modernisierung des Rechtsextremismus" im Rahmen der Fachtagung "Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus? Internationale Perspektiven und Gegenstrategien" der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in München, 09.-10.02.2015.
This paper discusses the evolution of Italy’s modern and recent far right. It starts mentioning the disappeared neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (Italian Social Movement, MSI). The MSI was basically the strongest far-right movement in Western Europe from 1946 to the mid 1980s. It was therefore taken like a role model by many other similar parties. For this reason, the paper highlights the momentous (electoral) rise of the Front National, along with its initial "subjection" to the MSI, and, later, some Italian neo-fascist attempts to "borrow" Jean-Marie Le Pen, and his party propaganda, for use in Italy. Due to some more favorable conditions for the French party, in fact, it became the most successful example of European right-wing extremism. It is then showed how the old MSI was, at times controversially, attracted by right-leaning France, while the Front National’s political discourse (above all, the anti-immigrant, "national preference," rhetoric) strongly influences the most recent movements in Italy. The paper also mentions the activism of some of these Italian groups (especially the fascist CasaPound) and how they became attractive for other European grassroots forces (and cultures). This Front National’s and Le Pen’s political leadership became even more evident, as it is described, with the process of fragmentation and reshaping of Italian neo-fascism. The local far right, in fact, experienced the transformation of the MSI in Alleanza Nazionale, along with the alleged policy to show a more respectable and conservative stance. This fundamentally happened after entering in Silvio Berlusconi’s electoral coalition and then government. The paper shows how this blackshirt archipelago is in evolution also due to the national political conditions. It essentially suggests how Berlusconi played a key role in almost all recent developments of the far right in the recent decades. This should open a debate on the links (and eventual differences) between the far right and the mainstream right in Italy for a number of years. Far-right politicians like Ignazio La Russa, Gianni Alemanno, Alessandra Mussolini, and Daniela Santanché are, in fact, often perceived as the acceptable faces of the right-wing galaxy, and not even considered to belong to the extreme (being involved in governments and Europe’s People Party). It is then not surprising that Marine Le Pen became very appealing amongst Italian extremists and also some mainstream figures. However, the paper also briefly reflects upon the current social and economic situation in Europe. European politics and society have been offering some opportunities to the rise of nationalist and right-wing forces. It especially suggests how austerity politics, the anti-EU stances and the anti-bank rhetoric are used by these right-leaning parties including in Italy. This is what I label like the contemporarization of neo-fascism. Studying this – and also in a historical perspective, considering the strong impact of some movements (like the MSI and the Front National), ideals, and events on contemporary phenomena and looking at the transnational interactions – is therefore essential to understand the functioning of the contemporary western world.