What you need to know:
- Meloni could seem like a “farce” to reckon with now, but so did Hitler and Mussolini.
Giorgia Meloni ascended to high office to become Italy’s first female prime minister. Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, helmed a right-wing alliance to victory at last Sunday’s general elections.
Meloni’s party, which has decidedly fascist origins, formed a coalition with other far-right groups, including League, led by former interior minister Matteo Salvini, and Forza Italia, headed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
To be sure, Italy and Western Europe will have their first far-right majority government since the fall of Benito Mussolini, also known as Il Duce (The Boss), and the end of the World War II.
Mussolini’s death was a public spectacle with him and his mistress Claretta Petacci being executed and then strung up for all to see by Italian partisans. Lest we forget, Mussolini influenced the rise of Adolf Hitler and his odious National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), or Nazi, for short, by seizing power in 1922.
Mussolini’s influence on Hitler was said to be tactical rather than ideological, as the latter also tried to stage a putsch. Both were pupils of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, the German philosopher.
Fascism, in brief, has several planks, namely anticlericalism, authoritarianism, nationalism (of the chauvinist and xenophobic kind), hierarchy, elitism, militarism and syndicalism, which has been defined as a movement for transferring the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution to workers’ unions.
However, I am sceptical that Meloni will travel down this thorny path. But then again, who knows what will happen?
Mussolini was initially harmless to the extent that he was praised by comedian Charlie Chaplin and Sir Winston Churchill as “the Roman genius”, whom Churchill described as “the greatest law giver among living men,” for his anti-Communist stance.
Also, we are not sure that Meloni’s success will influence the National Democratic Party of Germany (German: Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands), a far-right Neo-Nazi political party in Germany. As with Mussolini seizure of power influencing Hitler, Meloni’s win could have a domino effect or chain reaction where one event sets off a chain of similar events.
That said, Meloni stands conservatism, nationalism, nativism, euroscepticism, and opposition to immigration. This is a far cry from Mussolini’s belief in war and several other abovementioned planks.
Thus, she may not go the direction of Mussolini in a world whose balance of power tilts towards the United States and China.
If anything, the countries of the world will become more isolationist, which has been defined as a policy of apartness from the political affairs of other countries.
Donald Trump is of this insular thinking. While Hitler and Mussolini were more interventionist, with Hitler seeking to establish a racial order in Europe dominated by the German “master race”. Mussolini was just his lackey, the soft underbelly of his nefarious plan for world domination. This is why I see Meloni’s win as nothing like Mussolini’s, who sought to restore the Roman Empire. This is why he invaded Ethiopia, Albania and sided with Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 by providing 50,000 troops. All with disastrous results.
Still, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, words wrongly attributed to US president Thomas Jefferson.
However, the substance of these words rings true in that we are instructed to guard jealously the democracy largely enjoyed worldwide.
Meloni could seem like a “farce” to reckon with now, but so did Hitler and Mussolini, then. Consequently, the world was plunged into a war where an estimated 40 million to 50 million people died.
We must thus watch the developments in Italy as if our very own existence were at stake.
Mr Phillip Matogo is a professional copywriter