Week 7 Response

What I found to be a reoccurring theme in the readings was the transnational component of neofascism during the 1960’s and 1970’s. This was a direct contrast to mid-century fascism, regarding the fact that most regimes of the early 20th century (Russian, German, etc) were opposed to transnationalism and focused more on the mobilisation of their state and peoples. The theme of transnational borrowing can be seen in the readings by Benjamin Bland, Andrea Mammon and Grant Amyot. All three readings make references to the transnational aspect of Italian, French and British neofascism in the 60s-late 70s. Mammon make specific reference to the French ON party in the 70s taking much inspiration from the actions and policies of the Italian MSI far right party.

Another interesting aspect of neofascism compared to mid-century fascism is the inclusion of women and the deliberate fight for their rights. The Guardian article by Angelique Chrisafis, Kate Connolly and Angela Giuffrida highlight the modern far right desire to attract more ‘angry white women’ to attract more working sector female voters. The article also specifically talks about Marine La Pen’s distaste and distance from the feminist movement, while also playing the woman’s right card when it suits her anti-immigration needs. To connect this point back, the involvement of women at high levels of neofascism is a direct contrast to how mid-century fascism worked.

Nothing New in a Neo-Fascist?

M. Nagy

With the birth of Fascism in the 1920’s following Benito Mussolini’s assumption of the name for his political movement of the time; it seems only fitting that the new wave of fascism would find itself taking root in Italy once again. This resurgence is almost poetic except for the movement being always predicated on a glaring level of violence.1 In the wake of extreme economic and social divides of the 1960’s and 70’s in Italy,2 there came a rebirth of the old violence under the same systems which had led to Mussolini’s rise to power over half a century prior. These Neo-Fascists built their ideology on the foundations of being oppositional to the, as they saw it, ‘red tide’ which had been a growing support of leftist movements among the youth.3

While the movement of Neo-Fascism in Italy was founded under the same peculiarities of the Fascism of yonder, it stressed some unique angles from its predecessor. As articulated by Amyot, the movement, especially under Berlusconi, took great focus on being more delicate than its forbear. This is exemplified in the Amyot’s statement of, “Berlusconi’s re-evaluation of Fascism also is consistent with his own conception of democracy … near-monopoly over private television coupled with attempts to control the content of the state channels, and the sophisticated use of media and public relations techniques to gain consent.”4 The contrast between the old and the new is vivid here, while they still both use the same methods to achieve their goals of political rule. The differentiation is the persona in which is being outwardly applied; the fluidity of the Neo-Fascist movement is precisely why it was able to endure. Beyond that is the nature of the movement drawing from the Nouvelle Droite. It echoes the Nouvelle Droites emphasis of ante-mural philosophy as a bulwark against the growing left. Further is the nature in which they engage in a transnational context that was not present in the former incarnation of Fascism. 5

1 Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 35–43.

2 Ruth Glynn, “Writing the terrorist self: the unspeakable alterity of Italy’s female perpetrators” Feminist Review (Jul 2009): 1-18

3Andrea 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.

4 Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 42.

5Andrea 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): 234.

The Neofascist Revolution Behind the Scenes

D.Khaznadji

Once again, the readings from this week were in a lot of ways similar to the previous ones. The common theme here is fascism’s capacity to adapt according to the time. In week 4 we saw how Franco rebranded Spain as a beacon of freedom and hope in a world dominated by liberal democracies. He had to concede certain liberties to the people in order to keep his grip on power. The readings from week 5 showed how easily former Nazi officers were able to swiftly reintegrate society and occupy high offices. Here we are now in week 7, looking at the rise of neofascism, and how, despite promoting similar values than the “old-fashioned” one, had to adopt a different approach in the way it advertised itself.

Bland states that neofascism prioritize “demonstrating its antagonistic relationship with existing national and global power structures over asserting national and racial superiority” (Bland 113). Although national and racial superiority might have been looming in the background, the primary focus, prompted by the events of 1968, was the criticism of the systems in place, and to propose the introduction of a more authoritarian rule. This is what Amyot called the “strategy of tension”. This is very much a process that can be applied to Franco’s Spain. This example is perhaps even more telling, since we are dealing the same man over decades. 

I am now reminded of one of our earliest readings, one that made the difference between the military victory and the structural/systemic victory over fascism. The amyot reading showed just how much the systemic victory was just as important as the military one, if not more. As he points out, postwar Italy sill had people from the previous regime in high offices, the fascist legal code was still in use and the firms that thrived during the fascist era were still dominant (36). This is what allowed for the rise of neofascism.  

Another thing I think is relevant to talk about, is what Roger Griffin said about neofascism being a “faceless phenomenon” (Bland 113). By that, Griffin meant that neofascism became distinctively transnational in nature, less bent on national pride (again, needs of the time) in order to pose a viable opposition to liberal regimes. Now, we did see that the right depends heavily on universalism, no matter the era, so I was a bit confused at first as to why this particular aspect would set neofascism apart from its ideological parent. But since this new wave was built by the post-war world, it can be argued that even the transnationalism dimension of neofascism took a different approach. Griffin’s quote continues and explains that as a result of a changing world, “ideological coherence was prone to becoming an inevitably secondary concern.” (Bland 113). I think this is where the difference lies. I also think that it explains the doctrine of someone like Evola, who adopted a more cultural approach to fascism. Evola was concerned with the idea of Tradition, even borrowing from “exotic” religions to consolidate fascist ideals. Neofascism, I feel, is about grabbing whatever society threw and convert it (or at least try) into a powerful apparatus. 

The Evolution of Fascism from a Mass Movement to a Subversive Revolution

By Ali Yasin

Exploring the impact of neo-fascism on the politics of post-war Europe is often a challenging subject for historians and political scientists. There is a risk of downplaying both the significance of its influence, as well as the substantial ways it has evolved ideologically and tactically from the fascist movements of the early 20th century. This is in part due to the transition of the far-right in Europe from a popular movement striving for the mass mobilization of its supporters, to a clandestine and openly subversive revolutionary faction which tries to create a political climate that is more favorable towards far-right politics.

Political scientist Grant Amyot examines the effects of this more underground neo-fascism on the political evolution of the so called “First Italian Republic” (the uncontested 49 year rule of the Italian Christian Democratic Party following the end of the Second World War) in his article “The Shadow Of Fascism Over The Italian Republic. He claims that while scholars often minimize the role of the far-right in conditioning the politics of the First Republic, largely because of the very limited electoral success of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) and the refusal of larger parties to form governing coalitions with them, this neglects the disproportionate influence held by neo-fascists within post-war Italian society through what he labels as the “deep state”. Amyot describes the deep state as a “hidden layer of power” formed by a wide network of powerful businessmen, politicians, and bureaucrats, as well as high ranking members of the armed forces, police, and intelligence services. These otherwise disparate actors were unified by a shared far-right ideology which many of its members had held since the fascist regime of Mussolini, and the common purpose of preventing any left wing social forces from gaining political power. To this end, they cooperated in carrying out a wave of domestic terror attacks on the Italian people, with the explicit purpose of framing far-left activists and building hostility towards the possibility of a left-wing coalition government. In addition to these secret acts of terrorism, the deep state also more publicly suggested the possibility of a military coup in response to a left-wing government taking power. This possibility was taken very seriously across the Italian political spectrum, with military coups against socialist governments in Greece and Chile serving as recent analogues.

Although the military coup that many neo-fascists anticipated never came to pass, Amyot convincingly argues that the far-right deep state was still largely successful in achieving its political goals. Not only did a left-wing government never come to power despite the strong electoral performance of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), but the members of the Italian far-left were also so fearful of an authoritarian response to a comprehensive social reform program, that they never earnestly tried to implement one, even while the Christian Democrats were forced to rely on their support in parliament. The most concerning aspect of this remarkable political success enjoyed by Italian neo-fascists in the post-war era is not the fact they were able to achieve their goals largely in secret, or with a comparatively minuscule number of activists, but rather that they were permitted to carry out their activities by the American led global military and intelligence apparatus, which viewed the possibility of a “communist takeover” as a bigger threat to liberal democracy than the reemergence of fascist authoritarianism in Europe.

Works Cited:

Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 35–43

Insight And Adaptability – The Key To The Regrowth Of Neofascist Movements:

Wesley M.

Neofascism, unlike the old fascist movement, were able to gain the insight that by taking the long view and showing a willingness to be adaptable they were able to influence events either behind the scenes or directly, in some cases directly co-opting the political system that was currently operating from within various European countries to bolster their own agenda.

The way in which neofascism was able to influence events in Italy is rather unique as they were able to both take the long view but influence events both from behind the scenes as well as directly through their wide network of supporters. These supporters being placed in key positions within the Italian government, military, civil service, allowed for a network with the level of power that as Grant Amyot describes in his article, was akin to the description of a deep state level of influence, which in turn made up for the neofascist lack of public political control.[1] Italian neofascists were able to orchestrate various conspiracies (the SIFAR Affair 1968-1969 protests, the Borghese Coup, Weathervane), which allowed for the weakening of the political left as well as the prevention of a left party coming to power.[2] This in turn allowed for Italy’s neofascists to eventually use more fascistic techniques in the open by the mid-1990s.[3]

The French neofascists were also able to use the 1968 protest by political leftists in the resulting fear this created it with the public to promote themselves as keepers of peace and gain legitimacy by for time gain legitimacy by standing under the shield of Gaullism, and later on gain further success by adapting policies and incorporating new fascist theorists as they sought to gain further legitimacy in order to and what they perceived as the political left’s hold on culture.[4] contemporarily, Marie Le Pen has been able to appeal to disaffected women using anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment while softening her party’s image by adopting a less traditional view of the woman’s role as well as trying to appeal to LGBTQ voters.[5]

Contrasting these is the British National Front and their concept of the Third Wave. They sought to adapt their image by emulating authoritarian Middle Eastern dictators such as Moammar Gadhafi, with Roberto Fiore’s introducing Evolian thinking, failing to gain support for the radical proposed changes to their neofascist group.[6]

Relevant to this commentary on insight and adaptability regarding neofascism is the discussion around reliability of accounts. Ruth Glynn’s discussion of how former female left-wing Italian terrorists seek to revitalize their image by providing insight on their activities while distancing themselves in a confessional model to insulate themselves, reminding the audience that these accounts are not neutral.[7] Charlie Jarvis’s article on the power of memory describes how representation in the form of a museum regarding Milan’s fascist past actually allows for the creation of inaccuracies via historical revision by pointing out how the Milanese governments involvement in the violence is not mentioned.[8]


[1] Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 36-37.

[2] Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,”: 36-42.

[3] Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,”: 42.

[4] 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): 220-222, 225-235.

[5] Angelique Chrisafis, “From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: How the European far-right set its sight on women” The Guardian January 29, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/29/from-le-pen-to-alice-weidel-how-the-european-far-right-set-its-sights-on-women.

[6] Benjamin Bland, “Global Fascism?: The British National Front and the Transnational Politics of the ‘Third Way’ in the 1980s,” Radical History Review 2020, no. 138 (2020): 108–130.

[7] Ruth Glynn, “Writing the terrorist self: the unspeakable alterity of Italy’s female perpetrators” Feminist Review (Jul 2009): 1-18.

[8] Charlie Jarvis, “Milan Museum Commemorates Fascist Past at Expense of the Present” Hyperallergic (August 2, 2021), https://hyperallergic.com/667010/milan-museum-commemorates-fascist-past-at-the-expense-of-the-present/.

Bibliography:

Amyot, Grant. The shadow of fascism over the Italian Republic. Humaff 21, 35–43 (2011). https://doi-org.proxy.library.carleton.ca/10.2478/s13374-011-0005-9.

Bland, Benjamin. Global Fascism?: The British National Front and the Transnational Politics of the “Third Way” in the 1980s. Radical History Review 1 October 2020; 2020 (138): 108–130. doi: https://doi-org.proxy.library.carleton.ca/10.1215/01636545-8359443.

Chrisafis, Angelique, Kate Connolly, and Angela Giuffrida. “From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: How the European Far-Right Set Its Sights on Women.” The Guardian, January 29, 2019, sec. Life and style. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/29/from-le-pen-to-alice-weidel-how-the-european-far-right-set-its-sights-on-women.

Glynn, Ruth. “<writing the Terrorist Self: The Unspeakable Alterity of Italy’s Female Perpetrators.” Feminist Review, no. 92 (2009): 1–18. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40664029.

Jarvis, Charlie. “Milan Museum Commemorates Fascist Past at the Expense of the Present.” Hyperallergic, August 2, 2021. http://hyperallergic.com/667010/milan-museum-commemorates-fascist-past-at-the-expense-of-the-present/.

Mammone, Andrea. “The Transnational Reaction to 1968: Neo-Fascist Fronts and Political Cultures in France and Italy.” Contemporary European History 17, no. 2 (2008): 213–36. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20081402.

The Exportation of Violence

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.

Works Cited

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

The fight against the new democracy

Kathleen McKinnon

In the neo-fascist movements of the era after the immediate post-war times, the elements changed from fear of the west and its direct influence on culture and values. These issues remained but the new democratic nature of the newly established governments and democracy as a whole became the new issue at large. It is true that the world was not cleansed of the far right the day after WWII had ended and nor did the movement disappear in the future but some of the elements that were involved changed. In London (Bland, 109) the National Front observed democracy in Libya to learn from its dictatorship, and in Italy (Mammone, 215) the democracy that was supposed to be established was seen as failing. Students become a battleground between right and left ideologies not just theoretically but also violently even leading to arrests.

In Italy especially there were violent cases of terror and coups to take over the government (Amyot, 30), this shift in trying to gain power through means of terrorism is an extension of fear tactics that were used just a few years earlier against the new western influence seen in the post-war era but now more overt and much more dangerous and against the local government rather than against the new western influence. The point should be made, however, the new democracy in Italy is from western ideals so terrorism is still against western values but it has grown into a more violent and political realm of violence and even coup attempts which are normally associated with far less developed countries which made this a more interesting, if not unexpected case.

Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 35–43

Benjamin Bland, “Global Fascism?: The British National Front and the Transnational Politics of the ‘Third Way’ in the 1980s,” Radical History Review 2020, no. 138 (2020): 108–30

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.

How Malleable Is Fascism?

Emma C

What I found interesting from this week’s readings was the malleability of fascism and how we discussed last week, the ideas of fascism stay relevant over long periods of time. The malleability of fascism is interesting as not only has the ideology withstood time, but it has also stayed relevant and popular. As Amyot’s reading covers how fascism can be malleable as different groups with different agendas can come together over a common cause. It’s an ideology that can unite people who may not normally associate with one another because they share a common goal of believing that they are bettering their country. As was demonstrated in the many different bombings that happened, we can see how each group enacted their plan differently, but all believed in what they were doing.

We can also see how fascism is malleable through the way that the fascist and far right movement has changed today. In Chrisafis’ article we can see how the movement and groups have rebranded themselves to stay relevant in the 21st century. Typically fascism was a white mans cause, but we can see today that there are more women at the forefront in order to appear more relevant and with the times. The ideas have stayed the same, but the way that it is presented has changed from an exclusive group to one that is more open to different people that agree with the ideas.

Grant Amyot, “The Shadow of Fascism over the Italian Republic,” Human Affairs 21, no. 1 (2011): 35–43

Angelique Chrisafis, “From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: How the European far-right set its sight on women” The Guardian January 29, 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/29/from-le-pen-to-alice-weidel-how-the-european-far-right-set-its-sights-on-women

The Flexibility of Fascism

Alison Miller

This week’s readings revolve around the returning theme of the flexibility of fascism, and how this flexibility permitted both the transnational spread of fascist thought (especially in the case of British and French fascists), as well as the cooperation that took place among different fascist parties that were looking to make a parliamentary splash.

The flip side of this flexibility, however, and like most movements, means that there were multiple disagreements among a variety of different fascists about how best to address their cause. Notably, the ongoing split of parties in Italy and France that helped create, for example, the FN. Issues with the TP also meant there was friction among groups, often to the point of being incapable of working with each other to achieve a singular goal (Mammone especially discusses this).

Despite the frictions, Italian remained a point of origin for a lot of new Fascist thinking, both in the case of France and Britain. Fascinating in the British case is the use of Italian texts that had not been translated, and so had to be recounted by Roberto Fiore.

What we also see in the Amyot paper is what we have been discussing in class as well, that fascists in Italy, much like Nazis in Germany, were brought into the fold of the day to day running of the government, military, and other major organisations, which despite the alleged neutrality of not permitting outright fascist or communist parties, led to bombings that were blamed on left-wing groups.

One of the things that Amyot reminded me of is the ongoing use of agents provocateurs in a lot of left-wing protest marches, as well as what the French term “casseurs” which are people who specifically aim to cause damage during French protests, including breaking windows, setting cars on fire, etc. in order to shift the media narrative not only away from what the protest is about, but also to blame left-wing groups. This does not mean there are not people within left-wing groups that aren’t looking for a fight, but rather that this is a reminder of the historical connection between protest and left-wing movements today and in the post-1968 era.

Memory in the Postwar Era

Alison Miller

There were two things that stood out to me about the readings this week with regards to the question posed (that is, what did coming to terms with the past look like in postwar Germany). The first is how memory is narrated. How do we create a general memory of what occurred in history when memory itself is difficult to pin down and we often hesitate to interrogate those on the side of “wrong-doers.” Who is telling the story? For what purposes? In the Fullbrook article especially, she takes the time to interrogate how long it took after WWII before people felt comfortable with sharing their thoughts – what is the outcome in waiting so long to do so? How does memory change as we move further from events.

What I found even more interesting than that was this idea of memory being essentially “translated” by ghost writers, film-makers, the children of people who went through it, etc. What Fullbrook doesn’t touch on too much, but that I thought might be interesting, is what is lost when narratives are literally translated – what do we retain or lose when we translate peoples’ experiences from their original language into one we can understand? What cultural contexts do we miss by doing so? Sollors references the use of words like Gestapoherr, and the perceptions of the Americans.

We rely heavily on firsthand experience in order to help construct a more consistent narrative of what happened, but memory is so vulnerable to a variety of different elements that it seems impossible to rely on individual memories to answer the question of ‘what happened?’. I suppose in order to compensate, by accumulating multiple testimonies we can glean a more general idea, as long as there is consistency between testimonies (but even how those testimonies are put together can change the way that the narrative is presented).  

The second thing is the role that outsiders play in forcing forgetfulness of events or a changing of those events. Moeller’s article discusses the censorship of the word gas in a television production of Judgement at Nuremberg, a movie very much concerned with how the Jews were killed by this very thing. This censorship enforces, I would argue, a type of forgetfulness. It softens the seriousness of the acts that were committed, and in a way reworks the events.

There is also concern over Soviet encroachment into Czechoslovakia as being a driver of forgetfulness of Nazi atrocities, as well as Fullbrook’s discussions over who gets interviewed or spotlighted as changing the ‘narrative’. Fullbrook also considers the fact that during the War, people likely knew exactly what was going on with regards to the Jews, but outside the war, under the spotlight, they must come up with an excuse to make themselves seem less like villains because there are now outsiders looking in.

Memory is such an interesting topic when we look at how history is recorded, and how reliable it is and who can work to change/influence it can change how we understand events.