11/30/2012 - 15:30

I have very delicate issue here. Here is still kind of going on - passing from father to son etc. Did anybody encounter with it here in Italy?



Well according to my neighbour Mario, they are all fascists except for in our village, he remembers the war time years, and still attributes the same guidelines to everyone else. We are in southern Marche and when we talk about going to Sicily he says we need to take a pistol with us. How much is founded on the real world here now or not is a moot point, we have never experienced it here.

As a naive student in the early 70s, I expressed disbelief to an Italian friend that people could actually describe themselves as Fascist. Worse, he assured me, there were - and are - people who still say 'sono fascista, e me ne vanto!' - I'm fascist, and proud of it!

a nearby village runs a big coach trip to Mussolini's tomb at Predappio in the Appenines, Emilia Romagna every year.It is,to say the least,a very suprising experience to go to that place.There is a restaurant which serves bottles of Mussolini labelled wines,the are "souvenir" stands selling just about everything from miltary berets,arm bands,jackets to daggers!and even statues of fascist symbols and people from just about everywhere! i've noticed that many non Italians are unaware of how difficult and divided this country was from 1943 to 1948, often referred to as a period of practically civil war the aftermath of which continued well up to the 1970's in the form of profound political divisions which perhaps only since then (70's) have started to slowly close with generational turnover.The period (43-48) was unlike for the Brits ( where the conflict was characterized by a them-us (black and white)scenario was far more variagated in Italy to the point that here it did not end in 45' but continued and was one of the factors contributing to the social/political stagnation of  Italian society ( despite industrial and economic progress) and under a very heavy presence of the U.S.A which only released Italy from it's hold with the collapse of the Soviet system (in the 80's)I don't believe that today however it holds any serious significance in political terms but there are still "vestiges"of Fascist beliefs which still appear regularly in most Italian regions........

I think that there are quite a few "nostalgics" of the old regime, the "Italia irredenta", the glories of the Roman Empire that they wanted to emulate...You can find the Duce's memorabilia very easily. As for their political strength, I do not think that they could represent a danger right now; however, if the other political parties do not deliver the goods and continue to be highly divided, they could come back. They only need a charismatic leader or too much despair. Look at Peronism in Argentina... Peron's inspiration was Mussolini and Peron has been dead for many years, but populism is alive and can be used. History confirms this.

I lived in Bagni di Lucca for a while, a hotbed of fascism if ever there was one.  Even a local restaurant proudly displayed Mussolini era photographs and memorabilia. Ironically a few doors down from me was the regional headquarters of the communist party - a miserable, run-down little office - but that's not the point of this anecdote. One day I joined a walking tour.  there were 10 Italians plus me and my daughter.  The chatty guide stopped after a while, in a glade with a small stone building.  He began regaling us with a dramatic story of the last days of the war.  In this area, he said. the final battles of the war occurred, as the mainly US forces overcame residual German defences.  And here, on this very spot, a brave band of Italian nationals fell upon an enemy scouting party, slaying all 6 of them.  He wiped away a tear of emotion as his audience nodded and clapped appreciatively.  Only half understanding, I commented to my daughter that I hoped not too many Italian villagers were murdered in reprisal of partisan action, as was the Nazi's wont.  "No, Dad" she muttered in a low voice, "it was Americans they killed".  

The popularity of Fascism increases reactively when its core principles are perceived to be being eroded by a lax approach by Government and society. There is huge value in a nation's traditions and culture, and when "the people" see their culture and traditions being eroded or diluted, the fascists will rise energetically to try to restore or maintain what remains of their traditional cultural values. Many across the political spectrum see this response as a good thing, if they think their culture worth preserving, but it can become a bad thing. In UK for example, the BNP are active in trying to maintain some semblance of Englishness - which most would agree is a good thing to maintain - but the way the BNP go about it is disgraceful, hence the very thought of maintaining Englishness becomes tainted. Which means that anyone who holds "the essence of Englishness" dear is castigated as a Fascist by association. I have little doubt that Fascism still exists in Italy in various shades of extremity - as it probably does in every other country. I have little doubt also that Mussolini did lots of good and was loved by many for the good he did. His WW2 experience was possibly not the best (!), but it's really quite hard to see how he could have avoided joining Axis, given his geographical and political position. After the armistice he had absolutely no choices left, being completely subjugated by the Nazis. I have Italian neighbours who spit at Garibaldi, believing that Italy's ills are caused by the south bludging off the north, and feel that Lombardia should secede to Austria. Are they right? - who knows, I certainly don't.

  You might be correct Gala about finding "a charismatic leader" and right now when economical situation is getting worst and Greece is actually turning in to........  Predappio is in E Romagna, si? Can not believe what you saying Sebastiano.  There is no Law for "popularization" fascism?    Selling fascist symbols is a popularization,  NO?  One time my builder came back with black eye - he is a bit slow. He told me that he got in 2 the fight at the bar but later on, I have been told that he called himself Fascista at the bar. Other youngsters  just bit his....  not knowing that he might..... Very old guys at the bar clearly identify themselves with fascismo and they have loud "discussion" with others but they hardly move so there is no violence. In Comune next door, this has happened   http://www.loschermo.it/articoli/view/45664   But New Fascists can be violent - Forza Nuova is getting bigger and bigger

Yes. He sells the local wines which are cheap!  Rumour has it that he was also a local bank manager imprisoned for misappropiation of client funds! Equally i have heard of a son of a fascist who opened a restaurant locally.  Noone would use it and he was in effect run out of town. It's hard for a Brit to grasp the 'unfinished business' still left over from those times.  I guess itmay take another couple of genertions before the bitterness fades.

On the other hand, right in the centre of Bagni di Lucca, at the side of the Circolo dei Forestieri, there is a big marble inscription that conmemorates the fact that it was there that partsans, led by a local hero whose name I cannot remember, joined the Allied Forces, led mainly by Brazilians (yes, Brazilians, they played an important role in the liberation of the area and their forces were called "the smoking cobras", do a little search and you will find plenty of information on Google) to liberate ITaly from the Nazi/Fascist armies.  In my opinion, Italy was -and still is - highly divided on the issue. The same happens with Monarchy against Republic, and we may remember that the Referendum on the issue gave a very narrow victory to the Republicans As I said, a charismatic leader may have quite an impact.. 

In many Rural areas, before the rise of Mussolini, many of the small villages had very little and communities were 'run' on a basic Feudal System by the rich land owners. When Fascism took over, so to speak, many found their lives had changed for the better, food to eat, jobs, more 'Power to the People' etc, but this changed with the War as most Italian Fascists became mere puppets of the Nazis and an altogether different agenda appeared. Many of the older people still remember what it was like before Mussolini, when whole families starved and basically they had nothing. This was passed down in the families and many retained that value. This was in an age of no middle ground politics you were either a Communist or Fascist, and in Italy I find that family values tend to migrate through families. A good friend of ours still has pictures of Mussolini in his house along with various Fascist memorabilia; so remember Politics doesn't make a bad person only greed and avarice can do that.

It's also hard for a Brit to grasp that the Allies - Britain, USA, Canada, Poland, France (incl Morocco) - did far more damage to Italy - in "liberating" Italy - than Axis ever did. Not that I'm suggesting the liberation was ever regretted, but for the ordinary people, the war in Italy post-armistice must have been hell, particularly as the Allies were "liberating" a former enemy. There is good reading available.

I think the tendency nowadays is to equate fascism with nazism - and they are two very separate things.  Fascism as invented by Mussolini and appropriated by the Germans, did change Italy in many ways for the better in the beginning.  I dont doubt that there are oldies who remember what it was like before Mussolini came along, and hark back to times when one person could change things.  And most Italians if they are honest will also agree that Italy needs a authoritative figure (read Dictator) to change things now.  Italy, unfortunately, is blessed with a constitution that makes it impossible to govern - it may be very democratic (and Benigni will be doing a show about it being the best in world soon), but it also guarantees a complete inability to change anything.    

Ram, as you said, Nazism is a form of Fascism, but there has always been differences between the two. They tended tonalign themselves more at the time of WW2. The Italian Constitution was born in 1948 and has been amended 14 times; however, I understand that it is very difficult to amend , or to get the necessary consensus to do it. This is even more difficult because of the huge number of members of Parliament that Italy has. Lower house: 630 deputies and add to that some 350 senators. All that for a population of 62,000,000!!!  The USA , with a population of 312,000,000 has less than 5000 members for the Lower House! Italy is over governed; however we seem to have that problem in many other EU countries. A dictator? I do not like that word. Perhaps a technocrat like Monti seems to be a better solution. In any case, there will always be a small group of nostalgics who would idealise the past.  

I dont think it has anything to do with the amount of members of parliament.  It has everything to do with the legal system which has enshrined the nonmutability of a constitution which is already outdated.   According to your figures Gaia the US has a representative for every 70.000 of the population while Italy has one for every 100.000 !  I am all for the cutting of parliamentary costs, but I dont think they should cut the number of MP's - the problem is another - In Italy a deputato can carry on in his other job, and there are lawyers, actors, surgeons who are mps and who never turn up in parliament.  If an MP is going to do his job, its full time - so, no other work allowed, and go to work or be sacked for asenteeismo.   I dont think one mp to represent 100.000 people is too much - if he does his job properly and I, as a voter, want him to sort out my problems and REPRESENT me.  And that is problem at the moment.  italy is not a democracy, and still has to become one.  There is no representation of the people - only of the political class. 

I do not think that nowadays, a large number of MPs is needed; however, I do agree with you in that they cannot lead a "double life". They are paid to do their jobs as politicians and they should devote to this full time... or they should be "honorary" members of Congress. To be able to keep private jobs, fosters the traffic of influences and promotes corruption.  Yes, I know that the Italian Constitution is difficult to reform; however, I do not think that it is impossible. And it is something that should be tackled.

In the 1980s I rented a flat in Bologna- 'la Rossa'! - from a couple who had pictures of Il Duce in their hallway. I did not comment on this, as you can imagine. But I think it is patronising to say that Italy needs a 'strong leader'. It needs a more representative political system, and a more effective political system and a reformed legal system, but few dictators are interested in making government overall more effective and more responsive to the wishes and needs of the population.

An interesting article, Anne. Thank you. It is quite common, in times of crisis, to look at the past and compare. Populist movements always gain adepts at times of crisis. A typical example would be the victories of Peronist candidates in Argentina. And Peron was a confessed admirer of Il Duce. He also based his power on the workers... So modern voters, who were not alive at the time of these dictators, keep on cherishing their myths.