The rise of CPI represented a novelty in the Italian extreme right, especially considering the ideological stagnation of far-right parties in Italy since the early 1980s. This contributed to capturing the attention of the media, other extreme-right organizations and the broader public. In this respect, CPI’s trajectory illustrates how the group managed to build an image of its own within the crowded field of far-right politics in Italy. As we have shown, CPI acquired a unique position thanks to its simultaneous engagement in the social movement and electoral arena, and thanks to its unconventional narrative inspired by different political and cultural traditions.
Today, CPI occupies a peculiar position with respect to various other extreme- right parties that did not accept the transformation of the post-fascist MSI throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The recent history of these groups has been characterized by a continuous ideological and strategic fragmentation, by personal and political disputes among party leaders, and by the failed attempts to find a strong figure to bring together its different factions. While the transformation of the Italian political system should have pushed the Italian extreme right towards a profound organizational renovation, instead, most parties failed to rethink themselves and their way of doing politics, thus crucially dampening their public appeal, mobilization potential and capacity for recruitment. At the time of its foundation, therefore, CPI was able to benefit from a lack of competition from the other organizations of the Italian extreme right. But its breakthrough has also to do with strategic choices. Despite emerging from the same neo-fascist milieu as other extreme- right parties, CasaPound set out on a completely different route, and invested most of its resources into the redefinition of its ideological and organizational profile. This granted the group unparalleled visibility in the media, facilitated its expansion on Italian territory, and triggered the engagement in electoral politics.
CPI’s high profile in the Italian public sphere is confirmed by the increasing emulation of its strategy by other organizations and groups. Most notably, with the emergence of the so-called refugee crisis in Italy, Forza Nuova militants returned to social movement activism, and employed mobilization techniques that reproduced the imagery of CasaPound, such as the use of masks and smoke bombs. Similarly, they developed media-oriented strategies aimed at producing controversy and getting the spotlight (L’Espresso 2017), such as the public contestation of mainstream media whom they accused of carrying out independent investigations into the international connections and financing channels of the Italian extreme right (more on this in Chapter 7).
Whether or not these developments will ultimately reconfigure the composition of the Italian far right, rebalancing the relative weight of its electoral and social movement components, is a question that goes beyond the scope of our analysis. However, the trajectory of CPI since its foundation represents a major change for far-right politics in Italy. In this chapter, we have shown that the political and cultural context in which CPI emerged can help make sense, at least to a certain extent, of its politics. The question of precisely how embedded these hybrid politics are in the group’s ideology will be the focus of the next chapter.
- 1 The ‘Third Position’ perspective reflected the opposition to both capitalism and socialism, and therefore to the political left and right (Ferraresi 1995; Griffin 2003).
- 2 The name refers to Guy Montag, the protagonist of Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953).
- 3 Interviews no. lb, lc, Id, 19/04/2012.
- 4 Interview no. lb, 19/04/2012.
- 5 This was the idea expressed by an official who, when narrating the beginnings of CasaPound in his own city, told us that the local office was established due to his own personal efforts: 'I borrowed a sum of money to open the office — which has existed for three years, this is our fourth year. That was because I wanted to live like a warrior, to assault the trench. The problem was that I owed large debts that I could not repay. I then asked Gianluca for help. I called him and he brought the ZetaZeroAlfa here. The comrades and I worked hard, rented the largest club in the area — 600 people attended! — earned money and paid back the outstanding debts!’ (Interview no. 3a of 01/06/2012).
- 6 Interview no. 5b of 28/06/2012.