The totalitarian shift that has brought Mussolini back to the mainstream
The long speak: Italys CasaPound has been central to normalising autocracy again in the member states of its delivery. Now theyre trying to enter parliament
On the night of 27 December 2003, five men ended into a huge, empty place complex in Rome, just south of the city’s main railway station, Roma Termini. A few epoches earlier, “the mens” had been put forward bogus fliers, plea to the public for help to find a lost black cat announced ” Pound “. It was a style to avoid distrust as they canvassed the building before breaking in.
Nothing was left to occasion: the appointment, between Christmas and New Year, was chosen because there wouldn’t be numerous people around. Even the mention and colouring of the cat wasn’t casual: “Pound” was a nod to the American poet and fascist evangelist Ezra Pound. And black was the colour associated with their hero, Benito Mussolini. They planned to start a radio station from inside their brand-new construct called Radio Bandiera Nera-” Black Flag Radio “.
The man paying tells that night was Gianluca Iannone. Then 30, he was towering, burly and gruff. With his scraped psyche and dense beard, he looked a little bit like a Hells Angel. He had ” me ne frego” (” I don’t care”- the slogan used by Mussolini’s troops) tattooed diagonally across the left side of his neck. Iannone was famous in fascist haloes as the lead singer in a boulder party announced ZZA, and as the owner of a pub in Rome, the Cutty Sark, which was a meeting point for Rome’s extreme right.
The five men were nervous and evoked as they took turns working on the wooden figurehead doorway with crowbars. The others accumulated close by, to watch and to afford encompas. Formerly the door opened, they piled inside, pushing it slammed behind them. What they found was breathtaking. There was a large entrance hall on the first floor, a magnificent staircase, even a raising. There were 23 part suites in the seven-storey brick. The previous occupier, a government quango, had moved out the year before, so the place was suspend and mute. But it was huge, considering thousands of sq. metres. The cherry on the cake was the terrace: a large, walled ceiling from which you could see all of the members of Rome. The guys to gather up there and hugged, feeling that they had planted a pennant in the centre of the Italian uppercase- in a gritty neighbourhood, Esquilino, which was home to many African and Asian immigrants. Iannone dubbed their structure” the Italian embassy “.
That building grew the headquarters of a new push announced CasaPound. Over the next 15 years, it would open another 106 cores across Italy. Iannone, who had been in the Italian horde for three years, described each new centre as a” territory reconquest “. Because every centre was self-financing, and because they claimed to “serve the people”, those new centres in turn opened gyms, pub, bookshops, parachute golf-clubs, diving squads, motorbike fraternities, football teams, eateries, nightclubs, tattoo parlours and barbershops. CasaPound unexpectedly seemed everywhere. But it presented itself as something beyond politics: this was ” metapolitics”, echoing the influential tyrant philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who wrote in 1925 that fascism was ” before everything else a total idea of life “.