Declan Da Barp
Italy during the anni di piombo or years of lead is an invaluable case study of the violence observed during and post 68. During this period the political extremes on the peninsula combatted with each other during an incredibly fractious period in which much of the population was largely dissatisfied with the political leadership of the Christian Democratic Party which ruled the country between 1945 and 1994. It was in these years that Italy was gripped by terrorist attacks on both the far left and the far right, coming in two distinct phases. Pre-1974 the attacks were largely carried out by the Italian far-right in an attempt to stoke the public fear of a communist takeover (Amyot, 37). The Italian far-left responded in kind by the mid-1970s perceiving the actions of the far-right to have been state-sponsored, which they largely were (Glynn, 2). Violence was an expected sight during the 1968 student protests and was harnessed by both sides moving forward but never materialized into votes, as seen in the 1968 elections which saw the return of the DC party with more votes, displaying the desire for stability – particularly amongst those on the right (Mammon, 217-218).
The importance of these ideas did not only pertain to Italian political discourse but spread throughout European extremist movements – particularly in France. Much like in Italy, the presence of Charles de Gaulle loomed large over the political milieu and those on the political extremes were unsatisfied with the current political leadership. The combination of violence and politics like seen in Italy were absorbed into the French political extreme through the Ordre Nouveau’s close connection with the Italian fascists MSI. Moreover, as influenced by the thinking of the Nouvelle Droite the New French far-right took a much more pan-European view of nationalism and racism that blended well into the Italian context. This cross-border interaction between the French and Italian far-right movements can see the further spread of political violence and its importance to the far-right movements of the 1970s and 80s.
Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 35–43
Andrea Mammon, “The Transnational Reaction to 1968: Neo-Fascist Fronts and Political Cultures in France and Italy.” Contemporary European History, vol. 17, no. 2 (May 2008): 213–236.
Ruth Glynn, “Writing the terrorist self: the unspeakable alterity of Italy’s female perpetrators” Feminist Review (Jul 2009): 1-18