By Atilio Borón – Sep 27, 2022
The radical right has won a resounding victory in the Italian elections. Its parliamentary representation, from which the prime minister will emerge, has as many as 235 seats. This arises from the sum of the Brothers of Italy—by far the majority—the Northern League of Mateo Salvini, Forza Italia of the “cavaliere” Silvio Berlusconi, and the minimal contribution of the Moderates. The absolute majority, necessary to form a government, is 201 deputies. The center-left coalition (the Democratic Party plus the Green and Left Alliance, More Europe, and another minor force) has 80 seats. The Five Star Movement, immersed in a permanent ideological mutation, won 51 seats, Action–Italia Viva won another 21, and other very minority political forces came in with four. As things stand, it is highly probable that the neo-fascist Giorgia Meloni will become the prime minister of Italy, the first since the founding of the Republic in 1946.
We will have to see how she manages to govern a country as complex as Italy today, with a system of ideas in which economic neoliberalism coexists with great difficulty with a pure ideological traditionalism (in relation to issues such as the role of women in society , abortion, sexuality, and religion) while flavored with a repulsive dose of xenophobia and Islamophobia.
Without detracting from her victory, it should still be taken into account that the gravitation of the Brothers of Italy in the polls was far from overwhelming. Yes, she obtained 26% of the votes. Meloni triumphed, but was far from winning an overwhelming victory. In addition, her partners, thanks to whom she reached 44% of the votes, are not exactly a model of political fidelity or coherence. The “cavaliere” is a man who knows no scruples when it comes to bidding for power, and Salvini will not stop plotting against Meloni to become prime minister. In other words, it will not be easy for the former to maintain her coalition, especially when she begins to govern and must make very tough decisions in economic matters in a context of high inflation and exorbitant energy and food prices.
In any case, Meloni’s electoral performance is far from the successes obtained in Hungary and Poland, the two European countries with the highest proportion of far-right votes. The electoral figures of these two countries fluctuate around 60% in the case of Hungary, 50% in Poland. In other European countries, with weighty far-right formations, their electoral weight ranges between 20 and 30%, as in the cases of Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Italy. In Spain, which is spoken of frequently, Vox registers an average of 15% of the electoral flow. The Meloni issue is important, but not at all exceptional.
The European radical right is the daughter of the deep crisis of global capitalism and of the wars that Washington has been provoking in the Eastern Mediterranean (Syria, Lebanon, or Iraq), in Libya, in the Middle East (Yemen, the genocide of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli regime), its criminal adventure in Afghanistan, and, now, the “proxy war” that, thanks to Volodymyr Zelensky, a war criminal disguised as Rambo and completely at the service of Washington, is waged in Ukraine, further stressing the balance of European societies. If the first, the capitalist crisis, threw millions of sub-Saharans and inhabitants of the Middle East and Central Asia towards their colonial metropolises, the endless wars of the empire ended up altering, with their great waves of refugees, the sociological physiognomy of the old post-war Europe: white, Christian, and ethnically, politically, and culturally homogeneous. That is already a thing of the past, and anyone knows that in these processes of accelerated transformation of the sociodemographic and cultural structure of a society, groups will invariably emerge that will viscerally reject these changes and will develop an aggressive behavior towards the undesirable “invaders” from other latitudes and, to make matters worse, carriers of cultures, values, social practices radically different from the pre-existing ones that, of course, are considered “normal” and universally valid.
Meloni and the Italian extreme right represent the reaction to this state of affairs. If the crisis of capitalism and the wars of the empire spawn monstrous figures such as Orban, Trump, or Bolsonaro, it is no less true that neo-fascism also feeds on the reluctance of the left—or its pusillanimity—when it comes to promoting a program of radical transformations that are equal to the radical nature of the social and ecological holocaust that current capitalism has produced. In a situation as extreme as this one, where the future of humanity is at risk, there is no place for a lukewarm or neutral stance, nor for those who confuse politics with an infinite Habermasian dialogue from which an agreement will supposedly spring. This may be fine for the university cloisters, but to govern, you have to speak the bare minimum and act with the maximum energy to bend those who fiercely defend their interests, do not want anything to change, and for everything to continue as it is. They will not be convinced with words or with the eternal search for impossible consensus.
The social agents of inequality and injustice do not give in to speeches; they must be subordinated with facts, with governmental decisions. The incapacity that the left (or progressivism in general) has shown in Europe meant that the protest against the ravages of the misnamed civilization of capital is being capitalized on by neo-fascist demagogues. It would be good if we in Latin America learned the lesson, and that the left and progressivism do what they have to do, without waiting for magical modifications of the much-hyped “correlation of forces.” A year after the March on Rome of 1922, so admired these days by Meloni, the German Marxist and feminist Clara Zetkin (to whom we owe the celebration of March 8 as International Women’s Day), wrote that “fascism was the punishment applied to the proletariat for not having been able to continue the revolution started in Russia.” It would be inexcusable for us to forget such a wise observation.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Atilio A. Borón is a Harvard Graduate professor of political theory at the University of Buenos Aires and was executive secretary of the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO). He has published widely in several languages a variety of books and articles on political theory and philosophy, social theory, and comparative studies on the capitalist development in the periphery. He is an international analyst, writer and journalist and profoundly Latinoamerican.
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