Introducing Giorgia Meloni: How the United States Opened the Door for Fascism’s Return to Italy

With the help of people like Steve Bannon, Meloni was able to rise like a toxic slime on the surface of a sea of contaminated waste.

Giorgia Meloni
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon arrives with Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing party “Fratelli d’Italia,” to attend a congress of the party in Roma on September 22, 2018. After weekend elections, the far-right Meloni is set to become Italy’s next prime minister. (Photo: Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Italian Parliamentary election has concluded and the neofascist Giorgia Meloni is ready to emerge as the new prime minister of a divided country with no clear mandate from around 60 percent of eligible voters, in one of the lower voter turnouts in history. The choices were quite grim and the system rigged along the lines of the anti-democratic US election model after years of neoliberal forces working to create a bipolar schizophrenic and easily destabilized political system.

Berlusconianism, the creation of a disastrous neoliberal and US/NATO controlled Democratic Party modeled after the United State’s own corporate-driven party—coupled with a general malaise and degradation of Italian culture—overall have contributed to create the ingredients for the Steve Bannon-groomed Meloni to rise to the top, like a toxic slime on the surface of a sea of contaminated waste.

Italy has become like a country of spoiled children that has lost its identity. It has been colonized and lobotomized by multinational corporate interests, the mythological concept of the American dream, mass consumerism, US/NATO dictated militarism, and crass materialism. For almost 30 years—from Berlusconi’s first election in 1994 and even going back to the post-WWII era when the United States asserted its sphere of influence by steamrolling an anti-communist agenda in order to maintain geopolitical control over the peninsula—Italy has been slowly but steadily pulling out its historical roots and erasing its historical memory.

Giorgia Meloni is the aggressive, bombastic, volatile, and narcissistic woman that leads the far right, racist, anti-immigrant, anti LGBTQ+, Italian first, neofascist party called Fratelli di Italia (Brothers of Italy). Several of her party’s candidates have been arrested for corruption scandals as recently as last week, and it is a political party with strong ties to Italy’s organized criminality.

The other political choices have inspired little to no enthusiasm after the technocratic Center Right/Neoliberal disaster led by the former president of the European central bank, Mario Draghi, whose coalition government included components from all stripes of the Italian political spectrum from the populist 5 Star Movement, to the xenophobic Lega with the Democratic Party and always more incoherent Berlusconi and his Forza Italia in between.

Meloni’s popularity, with around 25% support from the electorate, is based on her fiery rhetoric and sloganeering, feeding on the spiraling discontent of an increasingly ignorant populace. Wages have been stagnant for decades, the post Covid-19 bailouts from the EU are drying up and the cost of everything is on the rise. The Italian people are suffering a major increase in economic hardship from the criminal and stratospheric rise of energy prices leading to crippling inflation across the board, all compounded by the disastrous war in Ukraine where Italy does whatever the United States government dictates. This has allowed for Meloni to ride a populist wave of anger as her political party strategically positioned itself as the opposition to the unfolding neoliberal disaster that has set the Italian and European economy back decades.

There are small glimmers of resistance. There is the Green/Italian Left that has a broad-based social democratic platform based on a socially just ecological transition, however, they are schizophrenically aligned with the Democratic Party whose leadership openly declared that they were only in coalition with them for useful votes to defeat the threat of Meloni and that they would then again push the neoliberal NATO dominated Draghi agenda and largely ignore their Green/Left counterparts. Then there is Unione Popolare (Popular Union) that has a broad-based transformative program led by the former mayor of Naples, Luigi DeMagistris, though they were lucky to get 1 percent of the vote. This week they garnered the support of Ken Loach and the embattled former pro-immigrant mayor of Riace, Domenico Lucano, but their campaign has been barely perceptible.

And then there is the newly reorganized 5 Star Movement now led by former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, which has splintered with the components that were supportive of the Draghi neoliberal agenda. But after 5 Star’s meteoric populist rise a decade ago, it has proven to be an incoherent and hypocritical flop in implementing any effective policies and has betrayed its promise of political purity by forming coalitions with parties from across the entire political spectrum from the far-right to the extreme center in order to maintain its political survival.

Another political alliance that has developed is the former prime minister and former leader of the Democratic Party, Matteo Renzi, and a newer crook on the scene named Carlo Calenda who is a senator and recent candidate for mayor of Roma. Renzi’s political party, Italia Viva, caused the fall of the popular Conte government at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and Calenda considers himself a “liberal globalist.” This pair like to depict themselves as the grand center representing a Clintonesque approach to governance. Renzi is known for his shady alliances with the House of Saud and a series of corruption scandals that have made him quite unpopular. This alliance has the tendency to serve US interests at all costs and push a neoliberal agenda that favors corporate-driven reform. For an example of their backwardness, Calenda—embracing a false narrative of ecological transition—has called for the building of nuclear power plants across the peninsula to help confront the newly created energy crisis.

So, in coalition with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo’s Salvini’s xenophobic Lega, Meloni and the Brothe’’s of Italy/Fratelli di Italia have received around 45 percent of the vote. Meloni’s party is likely to earn around 25 percent making Fratelli di Italia the most popular party in Italy and insuring that Meloni will become the first woman prime minister of the country.

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with a love for good food, good wine, and a historic rootedness in the land and sea that surrounds it. The sea is, unfortunately, contaminated and increasingly filled with plastic pollution. The climate crisis is creating havoc with ever more extreme weather conditions by the day. Floods, droughts, fires, and extreme heat are the new normal. The political leadership is leading the country in the opposite direction of where it needs to go. Profits for the weapons makers, profits for the fossil fuel producers, and the insanity of nuclear power still dominate across the political spectrum. The United States dictates the politics in this subordinated outpost of empire. Thousands of people migrating from extreme and deadly conditions in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East die each year trying to reach Europe from across the Mediterranean. Instead of acting as a neutral party and demanding a pathway for a negotiated peace in Ukraine, the Italian government is a pawn on the American chess board ready to declare checkmate on the climate and on the future.

While visiting Italy and the Venice film festival a month back Hillary Clinton said in an interview with the Italian national newspaper Corriere Della Sera that Meloni being elected would be a positive thing. Clinton said that anytime a woman is elected to a position of power it is a step forward for women around the world. A fitting statement coming from the woman who brought us Donald Trump with her campaign’s pathetic pied piper strategy to elevate what they thought was the weakest candidate. And this is a fitting conclusion, as the United States has effectively opened the door for fascism’s return to Italy.

Michael Leonardi lives in Italy and can be reached at michaeleleonardi[at]gmail[dot]com

Originally published in

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