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TODAY’S planned anti-fascist rally in Rome should serve to draw attention to the rising scourge of fascism, racism and xenophobia in Italy, mirroring similar developments in other European states.
Italy drew up an avowedly anti-fascist constitution at the end of the second world war that had witnessed the growth of a militant resistance movement to Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship as the Italian people prepared to welcome the victorious Allies.
The resistance was largely organised by the underground Italian Communist Party (PCI), which went from a small persecuted organisation under Mussolini to the second-largest party, polling at its 1970s height 34.4 per cent of the electorate.
As the only major party in Italy to initially oppose the Treaty of Rome that set up what is today the European Union, the PCI was prevented from playing a role in any Italian government.
This wasn’t simply a matter of internal politics but of international pressure, especially after the establishment of the Nato cold war military alliance, which set up clandestine military units in all western European states, supposedly to offer paramilitary resistance to an invasion by the Soviet Union.
The Italian network’s existence, code-named Gladio, was not acknowledged by the Rome government until 1990, although far-right terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra had blown the gaff six years earlier during his trial for a number of bombings.
Vinciguerra revealed that fascist and organised crime groups were involved with high-level military officers and politicians to carry out terrorist acts and stoke fears of a supposed communist takeover.
Gladio was directed not so much against the fantasy of a Soviet invasion as the possibility of PCI participation in government, even alongside the Christian Democrats in coalition, and a number of politicians and judges were assassinated by false-label “left-wing” groups to prevent this happening.
The PCI dissolved itself into a social democratic organisation, the Democratic Party of the Left, in response to the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, degenerating later into the Democratic Party, which carries out the neoliberal policies prescribed by the EU, and alienating its former working-class base still further.
Right-wing government coalitions, including the Northern League and convicted fraudster Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia outfit, have alternated in government with the Democratic Party.
There was an even a Brussels-imposed “government of technocrats” led by banker Mario Monti installed in 2011, which negated democracy as well as maintaining working-class impoverishment.
Italy has followed a similar path to that previously trodden by eastern European states, including Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Macedonia, in kicking against EU acceptance of refugees, especially from Syria and other states targeted by imperialism for regime change and invasion.
Germany, which took in over a million refugees, is intent on stemming future labour shortages, but even there racism and Islamophobia have combined to encourage support for the far-right AfD party.
Berlusconi is mustering a similar poisonous brew for Italy’s election next week, with his Northern League and Five-Star Movement “opponents” agreeing on the supposed need to deport or obstruct entry to those they call migrants.
Italy’s trade union leader Susanna Camusso, of the militant CGIL federation, is right to demand that the constitutional ban on fascist parties be implemented and to point out the role of capitalist globalisation in generating the inequalities and grievances on which fascism feeds.
Resistance must be built against these fascist groups, but a coherent socialist force is also required as a progressive alternative to the diet of capitalist austerity and neoliberalism demanded throughout the EU.
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