In addition to imagery and styles, music can offer movements a sense of group belonging, unity and strength in confronting political opponents (Eyerman 2002). It has the potential to forge collective identities in social movements in general (Born and Hesmondhalgh 2000; Eyerman and Jamison 1998) and also in the extreme right (Kahn-Harris 2007; Teitelbaum 2017). Notably, rock music has been an important channel of communication and identity-building among extreme-right groups in Italy (O’Connell and Castelo-Branco 2010).
CPI takes this form of expression into special consideration as a way to build solidarity between members. Musical entertainment is in fact fundamental not only for recruitment and funding purposes (see Chapter 4), but also to sustain commitment to the group’s cause and solidarity between activists. Accordingly, the territorial chapters of CPI are often transformed into venues for music, or they become pubs serving beer in front of a small stage, tattoo shops featuring live music or places to socialize, where sympathizers, activists and leaders meet to listen to music, relax or plan a political event. It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that CPI’s official pub and music band existed even before CPI was bom as a political organization.
In 1998 we became managers of the Cully Sark, which was just a pub ... and today it is our pub. ... It hosted all of those people who have had enough, and broke away from the existing political groups.
Before CasaPound was bom, we were the community of the Cully Sark: the community of the pub. We met to listen the music of ZetaZer- oAlfa and simply hang out.5
Today, CPI actively engages in producing and diffusing music through its radio channel Radio Batidiera Nera (Black Flag Radio, see Chapter 7). In line with CPI’s hybrid imagery and style, the radio broadcasts both songs by singers and songwriters associated with the progressive-left tradition, and so-called ‘identity rock’, a form of punk rock music accompanied by lyrics referring to core features of extreme-right ideologies. The specificity of ‘identity rock’ is that it carries to the extreme the often aggressive and politically incorrect dimension of the alternative music movement. Since it is linked to right-wing political and meta-political entities, identity rock ‘conveys messages which are associated with a history and type of activism which many consider unacceptable by itself (Antolini 2010: 317). The group’s music codes thus constitute a cultural repertoire consisting of references to historical Fascism, left-wing groups and frustration with contemporary society.
In this respect, the ZZA are crucial to CPI’s political and identity project. They allow CPI to promote its alternative cultural models and ideals, and to define the collective identity of the group around shared values such as virility, courage or voluntarism. In fact, ZZA acts as an ambassador of CPI in an extensive extreme-right subcultural scene in Italy and abroad. The music band is at the core of a relatively broad cultural network, which includes the squat for music events, Area 19 (evicted at the time of writing), the blog Zentropa reporting on identity rock concerts and events in Europe, the record label Rupe Tarpea (Tarpeian Rock) and the cultural association Lorien. Furthermore, the lyrics of their songs have a pedagogical function, making clear CasaPound’s position on complex issues, such as the Syrian civil war in the song Per la Siria, per Assad! (For Syria, for Assad!).
More broadly, ZZA represent a synthesis of the mind-set of CasaPound activists, translating into song not only their ideas, but also their passions, fears, choices and beliefs. ZZA concerts are a powerfully defining experience for activists, who express their belonging to the community via tattoos (often done during concerts), t-shirts and gadgets with song lyrics, and more generally by reproducing the band’s graphic style (which in turn reflects that of all CPI material, as if it were a trademark of the group as a whole). As a result, attending a concert of ZZA represents a crucial step for people approaching CPI, as it allows them to establish a cognitive and emotional connection with the broader community.
Imagine a few thousand people moving in unison, following the lyrics and the music of the band. Imagine a strong and mobile mass that sings together with the Captain [Gianluca Iannone] [...]. There are no individual spectators, nor groups of friends: it is a single mass embodied by a multitude of arms, heads, torsos and legs.
(Di Tullio 2010: 93)
Through the gadgets and the band’s brand of clothing, activists can participate in a creative and emotional way in the life of CPI and its political ideals while, in addition, by identifying with the subcultural music and style of ZZA, CPI’s activists feel part of an alternative network of resistance against the dominant social and cultural orientations. The concerts thus combine expressivity with the sense of brotherhood typical of alternative cultures and clandestine underground phenomena (Antolini 2010: 321).
Hybrid styles of expression and music tastes are thus at the core of CPI’s collective identity. It is primarily by reproducing these forms of socialization that the group has emerged and continues to build solidarity among its members. For activists, coming together through music, events and countercultural practices initiated by CPI demonstrates the will to assert the group’s unique character compared to the surrounding political reality. These spaces of sociability are perceived as alternative to the ‘outside world’ and represent a parallel circuit that can be accessed only by ‘insiders’. As explained by an activist:
My life changed when I joined CPI. Now I can go to a pub and drink a beer, attend concerts, walk around in the city' in the places where there are other camerati. You know, I am not like you who can go wherever you want, I have to choose my places.6
In this sense, music is a crucial identity resource for CPI, and allows the group to forge solidarity among its members, while simultaneously asserting their incompatibility with the dominant cultural models of the external world.