For me, this week’s readings worked well to show us how the neo-fascist actors in three countries operated in the midst of their wilderness years. The connection with the idea of an interregnum period was clear.
I was surprised to see the term “deep state” used for a phenomenon that actually seemed appropriate (unlike its reuse in the US in recent years). Embedded fascist sentiment among “leading members of the armed forces, the security services, and the bureaucracy” was poisonous in Italy during the “First Republic” – and likely beyond. They were involved in terror attacks – and due to their positions in the state were often able to falsely implicate leftist actors.
During this time, the MSI – in spite of its transparent neo-fascist nature – was able to participate in legislative elections and was actively concerned about increasing its support.
Britain’s National Front dreamed of transnational links with dictatorial regimes in Libya and Iran as well as the Nation of Islam in the US. The link seemed necessary to the establishment of a Third Way (between capitalism and communism) which had to be on a global scale. The fact they were not taken seriously by any of these makes them seem rather comical.
The Mammone reading highlighted for me the lack of a coherent doctrine among neo-fascists in Italy. This was not actually a surprise given our discussion in recent weeks of the “whatever works” nature of fascist politics. To the rescue came Benoist, with his ND (Nouvelle Droite) structure and Gramscian ideas about building an altered culture to the right’s benefit. This was immediately embraced by Italians who cloned their own ND (Nuova Destra). This was the way out of the interregnum.
2 Replies to “Life in the interregnum”
The use of the term “deep state” surprised me too. And it does seem appropriate, given the way the Italian government committed terrorist attacks against its own people in order to blame them on the communists. They could get away with it because of the plausible deniability that came with the communists actually committing their own terrorist attacks too. While all of this fighting and confusion was going on, the remaining fascists were able to give themselves a new coat of paint.
I was also surprised to see Deep State used in this context. I found this aspect of Amyot’s piece enlightening: while neofascists were excluded from formal power – in the sense that they consistently performed poorly in parliamentary elections in Italy – they nonetheless held powerful positions, and exploited their power in coup plots, reducing legal punishments of right-wing extremists, and in shifting blame on/developing false accusations against left-winge groups.
The theme of exclusion from formal power is an interesting one, as it was something that also affected groups in the UK and France. I look forward to delving into it further in tomorrow’s seminar.