Atlanticist post-fascist

Giorgia Meloni will continue to align with the US-Anglosphere. However, argues Maciej Zurowski, the umbilical cord joining her with fascism remains

At a symbolic level at least, it looks as if the worst possible disaster has occurred: the centenary of Benito Mussolini’s march on Rome at the end of October will be overseen by the incoming Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. She, of course, honed her craft in the youth league of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (Italian Social Movement - the historical descendants of Il Duce’s National Fascist Party).

The symbol of her organisation, Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), whose rightwing coalition won the election on the back of a record low turnout and the failures of Mario Draghi’s national unity cabinets, is the same tricolore flame already used by the MSI when it was founded in 1946 by Giorgio Almirante, a former minister in Mussolini’s holdout republic of Salo.1

Unlike in the days of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and the mighty Italian Communist Party (PCI), of which an infatuated Jean-Paul Sartre once said that “the Communist Party is Italy”, there would not be much work for the blackshirts to do today if Giorgia Meloni commanded such non-state fighting formations. The various last-minute electoral lists set up by the left got a combined result of some 6%. Of these, only the Greens and Left Alliance barely managed to scrape past the 3% threshold and gain a few seats in parliament and in the senate.2

You would think there was a full-scale campaign against Giorgia Meloni on her rise to high office, comparable to the official ‘anti-fascism’ and ‘anti-racism’ regularly deployed against Marine Le Pen when it is election time in France - or, for that matter, against Jeremy Corbyn. But there was no such thing. Only the centre-left La Repubblica wheeled out a parade of celebrities and influencers telling readers why they should stick to the devil they know. The paper also made a fuss over the refusal of the airhead pop star, Laura Pausini, to sing ‘Bella ciao’ when appearing on a Spanish TV show - the song, linked to the anti-fascist partisans of popular memory, was deemed “too political” by Pausini.3 Other media, however, focused on Giorgia Meloni’s personality and troubled family history. Rarely was the label centrodestra (centre-right) questioned - a descriptor applied almost unanimously to Meloni’s coalition with Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, and frequently also to Meloni’s party itself.


Both in terms of its genetic origins and present ideological preoccupations, Fratelli d’Italia is unambiguously a party of the far right. The latter include historical revisionism - ie, the cultural struggle to shift the anti-fascist self-conception of the Italian republic to the right, giving centre stage to the Italian victims of the foibe and a supposed silent majority that neither supported Mussolini nor the communist-led partisans.4

This is accompanied by an aggressive anti-communism, even where there are few communist forces left: not long ago, Meloni’s party presented a bill to parliament proposing a series of provisions to combat organisations which “pursue anti-democratic aims characteristic of totalitarian communist ideologies or extremist Islamic religious ideologies”. Such measures would include a ban on “actions, gestures, slogans, and symbols that draw their inspiration from the communist dictatorial regimes that in the past ruled in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, North Korea and Cuba”.5 The proposal was certainly inspired by similar legislation already in place in Hungary and in Poland, but - nota bene - it draws its legitimacy from a resolution passed by the European parliament in September 2019.6 Moreover, as Jacobin’s David Broder has documented, there have been many instances when Meloni has promoted the ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory - a far-right narrative especially prominent in the United States, which imagines a ‘global elite’ aiming to replace the white population of the west with non-European peoples.7 This is linked to the party’s obsession with (white) Italian birth-rates and, by extension, with the traditional family unit and abortion.

Some of these themes were prudently kept in check during Meloni’s election campaign, even if a particularly crass instance of racist incitement briefly made the headlines - she tweeted a video that showed the rape of a white Ukrainian woman by a non-white man in the middle of a street in Piacenza. One does not have to dig too deep into the past, however, to find rather stronger statements than the ones offered by Meloni in recent months, and her street-fighting years as a fascist militant in the MSI’s youth league are a matter of public record. Back in the 90s, the Youth Front fought “violent turf wars against activists from the left, often resulting in members getting badly injured”, as Giovanbattista Fazzoloari - today a senator and one of Meloni’s closest political advisors - recalls: “All of our generation ended up spending some days at the hospital. I was treated for wounds, a broken arm. This was part of our normality.” He adds that, even then, Meloni refused the male activists’ protectiveness towards female members - she preferred to be in the thick of action herself.8


Clearly then, Fratelli d’Italia is not your placid centre-right party of Christian-Democratic lineage. But, despite some of its nastier ideological fixations, neither is it phenomenologically identical to the fascist parties of the past, nor even to the Youth Front of Meloni’s formative years. There are no squads, uniforms or baseball bats. No windows are crashing at night, no blood is sticking to the kerbstone at dawn. While the ‘centre-right’ label merely serves to sanitise FdI, a more useful term has been widely used for the party, including by Meloni herself: ‘post-fascist’. It accurately describes a party that has emerged from the neo-fascist tradition and still shares some themes and concerns typical of fascism, but no longer seeks to conquer power in the streets through freelance violence, intimidation, provocative marches through hostile neighbourhoods, political assassinations, pogroms and the like. Nor is it planning to abolish bourgeois democracy altogether - say, through a coup or by claiming emergency powers - though it may possibly shift it in a somewhat more authoritarian direction gradually and by constitutional means. While linked by an umbilical cord to fascism, it represents a modernised and liberalised far right. For militant anti-fascists trained in the martial arts, this unfortunately means that there is precious little they can do about a party such as Meloni’s.

Think of FdI as a rightwing equivalent to European left parties such as Germany’s Die Linke, which is ‘post-communist’ in much the same sense as the former are ‘post-fascist’. Yes, there are still people who would consider themselves fascists in the ranks of Meloni’s party, just as there are communists operating in Die Linke. They, like their communist counterparts, have links to more radical groups - in the case of FdI, this may involve personal connections to outfits such as Casa Pound and Forza Nuova at a local level. But the overall character of their own parties, their strategy, tactics and modus operandi are no longer fascist or communist. While individual members may still harbour radical ambitions, these parties as a whole are designed to settle for less - much less even - and achieve it by different means.


Crucially, the far-right coalition did not gain the two-thirds of seats in parliament required to make constitutional changes. This means that Meloni’s programmatic objective of introducing a US-style presidential system, with a directly elected head-of-state marginalising parliament and parties, is up in the air for now. Other than that, FdI has indicated a range of policies it wishes to implement when in government, although much of its platform remains nebulous.

For small businesses and the self-employed, FdI envisions an extension of the flat-rate tax for earnings of up to €100,000 turnover a year - ie, the opposite of progressive taxation, at least within this bracket. Moreover, its programme promises the gradual elimination of IRAP - a regional tax on businesses that contributes to financing healthcare. Meloni has committed not to introduce any new wealth taxes, but to “cutting taxes in favour of companies and workers”, yet without stating any specifics. She will abolish the so-called citizens’ income, Italy’s first benefit payment for the longer-term unemployed, introduced by the populist Five Star Movement and Lega coalition in 2018 - it will be replaced with a new payment confined to those who are “actually fragile and unable to work”.9

Pensions and disability payments are to be “revaluated” - but this is a vague promise, lacking any detail. FdI announces an “extraordinary public housing plan based on a system of public-private cooperation” - once again, no specifics are given. The programme makes a nod to enforcing “differential autonomy” and “fiscal federalism”- ie, the right of richer regions to withhold resources from poorer ones.10 Quite what this is meant to have to do with nationalism, which, after all, presupposes a ‘national community’, is a mystery - Meloni’s intention to appeal to the regional egoism of traditional Lega voters, on the other hand, is crystal-clear.

Italy’s strong subcultural left will be sorry to learn that FdI has committed itself to the “strict protection of private property and … the immediate eviction of squatted houses”, as well as harsher penalties for graffiti and other such “destruction of property”. It has also promised to be tough on crime, although its programme also pleads for an unspecified “reform of economic criminal law”. What exactly this might imply is left to our imagination - but, given that the party boasts an unusually high density of members convicted for corruption, fraud and mafia activities, we can guess the general thrust.

Meloni has plans for “naval blockades” against sea arrivals of refugees from the African continent - ie, she wants to enforce already existing EU legislation and intensify the Draghi government’s often crude, sometimes lethal treatment of non-European refugees rather than close Italy’s borders to Europe.11 For, despite the fact that her ‘centre-right’ coalition is laced with Eurosceptics past and present, FdI is programmatically committed to remaining in the EU. It may piously hope for more autonomy on immigration, as some have suggested, but whether Brussels and big capital are inclined to give such proposals the time of day is a different question. This, presumably, will confine the party to enhancing police powers and surveillance, and cracking down on undocumented migrants already in Italy - all of which costs money that Italy does not necessarily have. If nothing else, Meloni can always launch culture wars, such as the “defence and promotion of Europe’s classical and Judeo-Christian roots and identities”, announced in the FdI programme.


When Hillary Clinton visited Italy in early September, she remarked in conversation with local journalists - not once, but twice on the same day - that an election victory for Giorgia Meloni would mean a “step forward for women”. Having caused some modest irritation on liberal social media, she later covered herself by claiming that she did not actually know that much about Meloni. One or two people may have believed this, but Clinton’s remark was no innocent comment from an American who is ignorant of Italian politics - rather it was a signal indicating that the liberal establishment of the USA, which Clinton embodies like few others, would be willing to tolerate a FdI tenure in office.

This was the end result of a long and ardent campaign on Meloni’s part, during which she touted herself as a ‘safe’ and ‘credible’ candidate. As Francesco Galletti - a Rome-based political risk consultant and former senior employee at Italy’s ministry of economy and finance - attested,

Meloni … seems to have a flowing dialogue with the outgoing prime minister and hugely respected former president of the European Central Bank, to the point where we have already seen insinuations that Draghi has become Meloni’s own ‘leadership coach and guarantor’.

Moreover, she has been “blowing kisses to capital markets, pledging to stick to the fiscal discipline and European Union budget rules” - much to the chagrin of her allies, Berlusconi and Salvini, who had quietly contemplated a programme of targeted public spending.12

Meloni has combined her public dissociation from Mussolini’s 1938 race laws and later collusion in the Nazi holocaust with ardent support for Israel and Zionism. Some two weeks ago, in an interview with the Netanyahu- and Likud-linked Israel Hayom newspaper, she vowed to strive for greater cooperation between Italy and Israel - the “only fully-fledged democracy in the broader Middle East” - and characterised anti-Semitism as a common feature in leftwing and Muslim circles. One typical manifestation of anti-Semitism, she offered, was “anti-Israel propaganda”.13 In what can only be considered a bad omen, given that Italy has so far remained relatively unaffected by the ‘anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt of the left, she then assured the paper that her party will “strongly support” the new EU strategy against anti-Semitism.14

Equally important from the point of view of US strategy, Meloni has guaranteed the Biden administration that an FdI-led government would remain faithful to an Atlanticist, anti-Russian and anti-Chinese line. In a recent video address, she reaffirmed once more that Italy would continue to send weapons to Kiev (there have already been four arms packages). And in an interview with the Taiwanese news agency, CAN, Meloni, a long-time hawk on all matters Chinese, took the opportunity to rail against “China’s unacceptable conduct”.15 As the aforementioned Francesco Galletti observed, “she knows that without a strong Atlanticist stance it would be impossible for her party to run the country these days”.


Overall, Meloni’s efforts to convince the establishment of her suitability for office appear to be bearing fruit. The Italian edition of Huffington Post commented: “Meloni is ugly and mean, but outside Italy everyone knows she is already tamed ... The stock market is holding up, foreign economic newspapers feel reassured.”16 Well, of course they do - otherwise they would never have let her get to this stage. Her potentially uneasy future relationship with the EU is one thing. But, had she shown any inclination to deviate from the US foreign policy line, she would now be strolling down the boulevard of broken dreams alongside Jeremy Corbyn.

Instead, Liz Truss and Volodymyr Zelensky were among the first to congratulate Meloni on her election victory: “From supporting Ukraine to addressing global economic challenges, the UK and Italy are close allies,” gushed Truss on Twitter. As for Zelensky, he thanked Meloni, in advance, for “Italy’s continued support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression” and was instantly love-bombed back and assured that he could count on her absolute loyalty. The Jerusalem Post, meanwhile, summarily decided that the “Jewish community isn’t worried about new ‘fascist’ PM”, citing an anonymous “community leader” and other unnamed “sources” as crown witnesses for her good intentions.17

Certainly, there have been mild reservations as to Meloni’s reliability. Some commentators worry that, despite her assurances, “Italy’s foreign policy promises to be much softer on Moscow after the election”.18 As chance would have it, the US state department released a summary of an intelligence review of Russian efforts to influence foreign politics, including funding for nationalist parties, as election day approached. Although not a single party supposedly receiving funds from Moscow was mentioned by name, some news outlets claimed that the Italian election campaign had been “rocked” by “Russian funding claims”. And La Repubblica reported that “Brussels fears contagion and … the spread of the ultra-right across the continent”.19 Similarly, the Financial Times warned that the election was being “closely watched in Brussels and Washington, where policymakers are anxious about what the new government will mean for Rome’s relationship with the EU and Italy’s approach to the war in Ukraine”.20

Such admonitions, however, pertain more to Meloni’s coalition partners than to herself: Berlusconi and Salvini and are both on record as Putin’s buddies and enthusiasts for the Russian president’s iron fist. However, the sleazy media tycoon and the Lega leader (not too long ago the star of the Italian populist right) look very much like has-beens today. I expect that Meloni’s 26% mandate, combined with the weight of the forces she has chosen to align herself with internationally, will be stronger than the cantankerous fancies of her now junior partners. Naturally, her views on certain details might change if Trump wins the US election in 2024, but for now, she has been given the green light by the technocrats, bankers and hawks.21

Crisis management

The forthcoming far-right cabinet has to be viewed in the context of the recession, towards which western capitalism is now heading - caused not least by the proxy war in Ukraine affecting all of Europe. Giorgia Meloni has offered her services to capitalism and will inevitably preside over a crisis government. She has promised to toe the line with US global strategy and support the Nato war drive - this is no mere bluster, as some have suggested, they are programmatic commitments.22 She will try to pass on the costs of the war to the working class, including through the abolition of unemployment benefits, and she will blame immigrants for the ensuing misery and general deterioration of living standards. There is little reason to assume that Meloni will do an about-turn on any of these commitments.

The real challenge, however, and possibly her undoing, will be the extreme difficulty to combine even the modest promises she has made to the electorate with the realities awaiting us all. Already, business commentators are wondering how Meloni will implement the promised tax cuts for the petty bourgeoisie, let alone invest in infrastructure and renegotiate Italy’s recovery plan with the European Commission, as she has pledged, while at the same time trying to avoid new deficits. The realisation of the programme’s most expensive promises, they darkly imply, will be held back by “objective external difficulties”.23

Speaking of external difficulties, Meloni promised to protect households from soaring energy bills when speechifying across Italian town squares ahead of the election. In light of her commitment to the war on Russia, this appears like a fantasy - how could she possibly engineer it, if not by scabbing on the European self-embargo? While views on sanctions are roughly half-and-half among her own electorate, Salvini appears to speak for those already angry at huge increases in their electricity bills: “Let’s ask ourselves if the sanctions are working.”24 My forecast is that the balance will tip drastically across the board, once the energy bills really begin to hurt in the winter. Meloni has stressed that she will not jeopardise her “international credibility” with respect to sanctions on Russia.25 So, unless she manages to free Italy from dependence on Russian energy within months and, even more improbably, broker an affordable deal elsewhere, the ‘post-fascist’ boot will have to stamp on the face of the working class.


Although Giorgia Meloni emerged from the neo-fascist movement, she should not be seen as an outsider who must be deposed in order to restore ‘normality’. On the contrary, she is now part of this normality, and she has offered to handle the crisis responsibly in favour of the powers that be. Bologna’s local candidate for the leftwing Unione Popolare alliance, Marta Collot, hit the nail on the head when she wrote in her post-election statement:

This is not to downplay the seriousness of the situation, the risks there are of a new authoritarianism ... But the fact that Meloni will be in charge of advancing the Draghi agenda - ie, the fiercest neoliberalism, Italy’s Atlanticist stance, the war on the poor - ... says a lot about the elements of continuity there are between the future Meloni government and the entire political scenario that preceded it, including the centre-left and the Five Star Movement.26

The appropriate response, then, is not to hyperventilate about Mussolini’s return in unison with the Partito Demoratico (Democratic Party - PD) and other domestic liberals, but, in the immediate term, mass resistance against the neoliberal agenda, against Italy’s and Europe’s involvement in the war at the behest of the US, against the cost of energy and the imminent drastic degradation of living standards. Whether this agenda is currently being implemented by Meloni, Draghi or the PD, which has dismantled so many workers’ rights in the past, is secondary. Worse than the hopefully short-lived Meloni government is that nothing significantly better will replace it - and that our side, atomised into competing sects and hopeless ‘rainbow coalitions’, both of the semi-liberal and quasi-nationalist variety, has precious little to offer politically.

Meloni’s coalition government represents a shift to the right - though mainly in terms of her forthcoming endeavour to align Italy more closely with the US-Anglosphere. Her talk of ‘left anti-Semitism’ and efforts to recast the communist-led partisans - hitherto integral to the national identity of the Italian republic - as ‘totalitarian’, are ultimately ideological expressions of this. For, as perceptive observers of the Tory libertarians’ Brexit project will confirm, what cloaks itself in national colours is sometimes Americanisation in disguise. Meloni, a member of the Washington-based Aspen think-tank and frequent guest at US Republican events, has no desire to stop the cash flow from Europe to Rome - but she will head a disruptive faction of rightwingers at the EU summit table, which may well work out to the advantage of, say, American strategists wishing to undermine European unity.

To Italians, by the way, Meloni’s Atlanticism is nothing unusual. This, after all, is the country where Nato and the CIA ran Operation Gladio - colluding with fascist terrorists against the left and arming them with explosive devices that were used to blow up civilian trains. It is the country where a 40-something Silvio Berlusconi rubbed shoulders with neo-fascists and American agents in Propaganda Due - a pseudo-Masonic lodge dedicated to fighting communism and the labour movement. One might even add that Il Duce himself enjoyed splendid relations with the US - until he got too big for his boots and invaded Ethiopia.

As an Italian acquaintance put it, “The Italian right has always been Atlanticist. True, a few people temporarily played at being ‘third positionist’ - but at the end of the day, the American back-up was always there”.

  1. Some claim that the shape from which the tricolore flame emerges (originally a trapezoid and now a rectangle) is a stylised representation of Mussolini’s tomb. This has been contested by MSI co-founder Cesco Giulio Baghino, who claimed: “Initially, the symbol of the MSI was only the tricolour flame, without the trapezoid shape underneath. The idea of the trapeze came to us later: we needed a space for the ‘MSI’ acronym. The story that the trapezoid represents Il Duce’s coffin began to circulate later, but it had not been our initial intention.”↩︎

  2. Some of these alliances would only be considered far-left by the most generous observers. The Green and Left Alliance is a ‘rainbow’ list set up by the Italian Left and Green Europe parties, but effectively a satellite of the neoliberal Democratic Party (PD), of whose centre-left alliance it is a constituent part. The Sovereign and Popular Italy list, on the other hand, included groups such as Marco Rizzo’s Communist Party and a hard-line Marxist-Leninist outfit known as Patria Socialista, but also an eccentric array of sovereigntists, anti-vax types and anti-abortionists - apparently, anyone who defined themselves as being in some way ‘against the system’ was admitted, quite irrespective of what they wanted to replace that system with.↩︎

  3. La Reppublica’s campaign probably reached its nadir when British pop star Boy George, a man convicted for handcuffing a male prostitute to a wall and brutalising the terrified youth with a chain, lectured Italian voters on gay rights and “violence”.↩︎

  4. The term foibe refers to reprisal killings by Yugoslav partisans against military and repressive forces of the Italian fascist regime, but also against some of the local Italian ethnic population. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foibe_massacres.↩︎

  5. www.ilgiornale.it/news/politica/proposta-fratelli-ditalia-mettere-bando-comunismo-1952671.html.↩︎

  6. The European parliament’s resolution on the ‘importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe’ puts “the Nazi and communist regimes” of the 20th century on an equal footing, but directs its energies particularly against Putin’s regime, which it claims “whitewashes communist crimes and glorifies the Soviet totalitarian regime”. This, the resolution claims, is part of Russia’s “information war waged against democratic Europe”. The resolution was sponsored by major centre-right, centrist and liberal European parliamentary groups, but also by the European Conservatives and Reformist group, of which FdI, Poland’s Law and Justice and Swedish Democrats are part, among others.↩︎

  7. See David Broder’s series of Tweets at: twitter.com/broderly/status/1552247068093288448. For an outline of the specifically US-American ideological lineage of the theory, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Replacement_conspiracy_theory_in_the_United_States.↩︎

  8. See Hannah Roberts’ account in Politico, which is largely based on Meloni’s 2021 book, Io sono Giorgia. Le mie radici le mie idee (I am Giorgia: my roots, my ideas): www.politico.eu/article/how-giorgia-meloni-thinks-brothers-of-italy-election-salvini-mario-draghi-silvio-berlusconi.↩︎

  9. The FdI programme is at: www.fratelli-italia.it/programma.↩︎

  10. This policy is based on the already existing article 116 of the Italian constitution, which in the eyes of northern chauvinists is not sufficiently enforced.↩︎

  11. The FdI programme makes specific reference to the EU’s ‘New Pact on Migration and Asylum’: ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1706.↩︎

  12. edition.cnn.com/2022/09/22/opinions/giorgia-meloni-italian-election-opinion-galietti/index.html.↩︎

  13. Interview with Giorgia Meloni in Israel Hayom at: www.israelhayom.com/2022/09/16/i-believe-that-the-existence-of-israel-is-vital-and-i-will-make-every-effort-to-invest-in-greater-cooperation-between-our-countries.↩︎

  14. The EU policy on combating anti-Semitism envisions strengthening EU-Israel cooperation and the removal of online hate speech by “trusted flaggers and Jewish organisations”. See: ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_4990.↩︎

  15. www.agenzianova.com/news/meloni-si-schiera-con-taiwan-ferma-condanna-per-linaccettabile-condotta-della-cina.↩︎

  16. Meloni è brutta e cattiva, ma fuori d’Italia tutti sanno che è già domata - HuffPost Italia (huffingtonpost.it).↩︎

  17. Italy’s Jewish community isn’t worried about new “fascist” PM’ The Jerusalem Post: www.jpost.com/international/article-718351.↩︎

  18. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/14/georgia-meloni-no-fascist-evokes-grim-memories-italys-past.↩︎

  19. www.repubblica.it/esteri/2022/09/15/news/ungheria_aborto_orban_reazioni_ue-365831538.↩︎

  20. www.ft.com/content/9b0cd8f3-61d8-410d-97c5-3756b91c24ab.↩︎

  21. Some sceptical thoughts on Meloni from an Atlanticist point of view can be found at


  22. FdI’s commitment to Nato and Ukraine is found in the very first section of the party’s 2022 programme, Per L’ Italia.↩︎

  23. Flat tax e Recovery da rinegoziare: i nodi della Meloni di governo | WeWealth (we-wealth.com).↩︎

  24. Meloni: “Sanzioni? non ci sfiliamo”. Salvini: “I danni li paghi l’Ue” Politica - ANSA.↩︎

  25. Ibid.↩︎

  26. www.facebook.com/martacollot.pap/posts/536299235162593.↩︎