Authoritarianism: historical Fascism and law and order

A second core feature in the ideology of the far right is authoritarianism. As stated in Chapter 1, authoritarianism may refer to a call for establishing an authoritarian political order, or it may refer to a belief in a strictly ordered society glorifying punishment of outsiders in the name of some moral authority (Adorno et al. 1969). In CPI’s ‘Fascism of the Third Millennium’, authoritarianism relates to both of these interpretations.

To begin with, CPI takes explicit inspiration from the authoritarian political order of Fascist Italy and its ideologues (see Chapter 2).12 Among the readings suggested by CPI to its activists, one may find Mussolini’s own writings, those of the American poet Ezra Pound and other texts by historical and contemporary extreme-right thinkers, such as Alessandro Pavolini,13 Julius Evola, Alain de Beno- ist, among others. In addition to general references to historical Fascism, Casa- Pound’s ideological platform also includes references to post-war Fascism in Italy and Europe, in particular the line of thought pursued by organizations and intellectual movements such as Giovane Europa,14 the French Nouvelle Droite, and the Italian Nuova Destra (New Right, NDE).b More precisely, CPI reaffirms ideas which characterized the first phase of post-war Fascism, as opposed to the successive attempts by extreme-right parties to gain legitimacy by denying some central features of historical Fascism. In this respect, CPI’s culture officer Adriano Scianca criticizes post-war extreme-right militancy for its ‘individualistic withdrawal’ to subcultural milieus, but also pointed out that the idea of renouncing Fascism as an ideological cornerstone is ‘pretentious, intellectualistic and shameful’ (Scianca 2011b).

As regards the belief in a strictly ordered society, CPI refers to the ‘law and order’ dimension of the fascist regime, and to its ‘movement spirit’. For the group, the strong role that historical Fascism gave to the state in terms of crime repression and social policies is what is needed to ensure security, the ‘certainty of punishment’17 and well-being in Italy. While CPI does not endorse the death penalty, its motivation is not one of mercy but because ‘in prison criminals suffer more’.18

Ideological authoritarianism also stems from CPI’s fascination for the movement phase of Italian Fascism, briefly outlined in the previous chapter. CPI refers to the revolutionary spirit that characterized historical Fascism during its early years, and its desire to break from the structured demands of representative democracy, unions and of established political parties. According to De Felice (1975), early historical Fascism was characterized by strong romanticism and intense violence agaiast political opponents and established political parties.19 The Fascism from which CPI takes its inspiration is that of action squads (Squadre d’Azione) and of grassroots mobilization (De Felice 1975), corresponding to an explosion of violent social anger against ongoing social transformations and the inadequacy of liberal political structures (Sabbatucci 2005). In this sense, references to the revolutionary spirit of historical Fascism inform CPI’s anti-establishment rhetoric. CPI describes democracy as a political model that is ill-suited to respond to the will of the citizens20 and sees mainstream political parties (and in particular governing ones) as the origin of the loss of national sovereignty. Opposing democracy and criticizing representative democracy from a fascist-revolutionary perspective, while regularly running for elections (see Chapter 6), is perhaps the most important element that CPI openly borrows from the authoritarian tradition of historical Fascism.

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