Is he or isn’t he?
The Sunderland football team manager, Italian former international Paolo Di Canio, caused a storm recently because of his views on Fascism, and his description of Benito Mussolini as a ‘principled man’. He later retrenched, describing many of his friends as black and all appears forgiven at the club- where results are more important than politics.
Di Canio’s views emerged out of a particular socio-ecomomic context. This from here;
Paolo Di Canio’s Roman upbringing may not excuse any fascistic beliefs he once held but it does help to contextualise them. Born in 1968, Di Canio grew up in a country that was violent and divided, as it had been since Mussolini’s rise to power. The 1945 liberation had failed to stimulate the national unity that fascism had claimed it would build and a vicious settling of scores left around 15,000 Italians dead in the three months that followed. There were no trials, no coming to terms with the past and, consequently, no definitive end to the ideological conflict in Italian society.
After students revolted in 1968, northern factory workers joined the fray in the“hot autumn” of 1969, car industry operatives pitched battles with the forces of order on the streets of Turin. Tacitly supported by the police, secret services and more openly by conservative society, rightwing violence erupted in response. The 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan left 16 dead and more than 80 wounded. Hastily blamed on anarchists, it was eventually traced to a neo-fascist group based in the Veneto region.
All of which is further evidence of these things;
- Violence leads to violence
- Divided splintered societies in which there is a huge wealth imbalance become polarised and breed violence
- It takes generations to change the political mindset of a particular population
- Economic turmoil leads to extremism
If this is true, it should be no surprise that we see a rise in hate politics across Europe as austerity bites. In the UK we have seen success for the dreadful British National Party, and the prominence of the English Defence League. Both target immigrants as the source of our nations ills- exploiting the baser and most ignoble part of our British isolationist psyche.
In France, Marine Le Pen and her National front seem to be more popular than ever, despite brushes with the law.
In Greece Golden Dawn is on the rise.
The mechanisms by which Neo Fascism is finding popularity again are of course complex. In times when people feel desperate and under threat the appeal of someone to blame and an easy fix are always going to be attractive.
There are darker deeper forces at work too – after all, how is it that we do not see the wood for the trees? The cause of our current economic woes has nothing whatsoever to do with inflation or Muslims, and everything to do with the greed of the richest in our economies- who in the UK appear to be doing better than ever. What stops us seeing this so clearly?
I suspect that this is a combination of distraction, aspiration, envy, celebrity worship, and clever manipulation by the ruling elite to maintain the status quo, either by accident or design.
Violent politics flourish in the mess made by capitalism. It has to be resisted…