(Leonardo Bianchi, The Crisis Republic, 23/03/2013)
Since the crisis began in Italy, the word “Greece” has progressively ceased to define a country and has become a menace, a bad omen, a political stick designed to bash opponents’ heads.
I’ve heard countless times Italian politicians saying “we’re not Greece”, “we’re not going to end like Greece” – and so on. For example, last February outgoing PM Mario Monti and PD’s leader Pierluigi Bersani both accused comedian Beppe Grillo of “wanting to turn Italy into Greece.” During his campaign, Beppe Grillo himself repeatedly shouted that “If we don’t succeed, we are headed for a new kind of fascism, an Italian-style Golden Dawn”.
While this prospect is truly frightening for the majority of people, some far-right fringe parties are wet dreaming of a Greek-style scenario and trying really hard to reproduce Golden Dawn exploits.
“We must act like Golden Dawn”, said a couple of months ago Daniele Lopolito, a Forza Nuova (New Force, a neo-fascist party founded in 1997) candidate in the next Rome municipal election. And he meant it. On the 19th of March, one of the several Forza Nuova’s Rome local branches launched an initiative aimed at “protecting the weaker members of society” – elderly people whose personal safety “is endangered by immigration and petty thieves” – by escorting them to the supermarket and to collect their pensions. “We will personally guarantee elderly people’s safety”, reads a statement put out by the party.
On December 6, 2012 news spread out that two Golden Dawn MPs attempted to enter the Greek Parliament with guns, but were stopped by a metal detector and asked to leave. The official Twitter account of Forza Nuova promptly tweeted: “#GoldenDawn carries guns in the Parliament? Given the dismal scenario, it would be appropriate to carry guns in Italy too.”
On February 2, 2013 a Forza Nuova delegation flew to Greece to parade in the streets of Athens with Golden Dawn. Neo-fascist militants even uploaded on YouTube a Weimar-ish video of the gathering.
On that occasion, Roberto Fiore – leader of Forza Nuova, a former fugitive from Italian Justice who settled in London during the 80s and was once quoted as saying: “If you call me a neo-fascist I won’t kick up a fuss” (here a brief profile of him written by The Guardian) – remarked that “today the relationship between Forza Nuova and Golden Dawn has strengthened.”
Indeed. It wasn’t the first time Greek neo-Nazis and Italian neo-fascists spent some quality time together; the two parties have a long-standing relationship. In 2005, Golden Dawn tried to organize “Eurofest 2005”, a festival so shameful that Greek authorities had to ban it. This was the parterre de roi of the Nazi Pride event, as reported by The New York Times:
Members of the far right, including Udo Voigt, who leads the National Democratic Party in Germany, and Roberto Fiore of the Italian party Forza Nuova are set to address the crowds. Organizers said Tuesday that they were hoping for a surprise appearance by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French far-right leader who once called the Nazi gas chambers a ”mere detail” of history.
In 2010, Golden Dawn’s Fuhrer Nikos Michaloliakos exchanged the favor and attended a Forza Nuova gathering in Milan. He also delivered a speech (in Italian) that, in light of what’s happened in the last 3 years, is even more unsettling:
Comrade Fiore! Italian comrades! European comrades from Hungary! From Spain! From all over Europe! From Greece, a land economically wrecked by the masters of the world, I bring my passionate greeting to you. I wanted to congratulate Forza Nuova leadership on this gathering against global capitalism. […] We reject their [capitalist] projects of mayhem with loud voice: “They won’t pass!” The pressure that these masters have put upon us will awake the European people. […] Many years ago, someone said: “We will return, and the earth is going to tremble”. That hour is coming.
If you know a little bit of History, you may wonder how Greek “nationalists” and Italian fascists can get along so well. The website “Borderline Reports” noticed the irony, and in a long article about the rise of Golden Dawn pointed out that
It is curious, of course, how a Greek political party that claims to be “patriotic” can at the same time be nostalgic of Hitler and mingle with Italian neofascists, given that in Greece Italy’s defeat by the Greek Army in the Albanian front, as well as fierce resistance to the nazis throughout the occupation, remain a major source of national pride.
It is curious; but as we all know, these people have a really tormented relationship with vocabulary and logic.
Besides Forza Nuova, a couple of months ago two neo-fascist freaks (Alessandro Gardossi, formerly a member of Forza Nuova, and Bruno Berardi, a gifted individual who once said that Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik is “a hero”) poorly tried to exploit the Golden Dawn brand and founded a non-authorized Italian chapter of Golden Dawn. Their attempt has been beyond laughable: the two didn’t even manage to gather enough signatures to run in the elections, and quickly fell into the deserved media oblivion.
Forza Nuova did run in February general election, but reached only a meager 0.26% of the vote. Other neo-fascist parties performed badly, too: La Destra got 0.7%; CasaPound Italia 0.1%; Fiamma Tricolore 0.1%. Combined, these four parties harvested about 400.000 votes: this is the electoral weight of Italian neo-fascism in 2013 – for now.
Yesterday, retailers’ association Confcommercio declared that over 4 million Italians (6% of the population) will be living in “absolute poverty” by the end of 2013, and revised downwards its predicted fall in GDP for 2013 from 0.8% five months ago to a current 1.7%.
The news brought me back to a haunting quote by Golden Dawn member Theodoros Koudounas. Interviewed by Italian weekly Panorama, Koudonas said: “In this awakening process, Italy and Spain are 5 years behind us. You’re just richer and less corrupt. But be prepared: the moment is about to come.”
As the crisis deepens, we will know if an Italian-style Golden Dawn is set to remain a neo-fascist wet dream – or to become our nightmare.