The ‘Spaces’ of Anti-Fascism in Italy Today

Authored by: Philip Cooke

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415604178
eBook ISBN: 9781315709970
Adobe ISBN: 9781317487555


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At an early stage in the 2013 election process Beppe Grillo, the leader of the Five-Star Movement, got into hot water over his views on Fascism and anti-Fascism. Grillo and other politicians had gathered at the Viminal Palace in Rome in order to officially ‘deposit’ the symbols of the parties they represented. This process allows for symbols to be checked to establish whether they are misleading or, indeed, inflammatory. Before submitting his symbol, Grillo got into conversation with Simone Di Stefano, the Roman leader of Casapound – initially a social centre founded on neo-Fascist principles, but which had mutated into a political party and was contesting the election throughout Italy. At the election Casapound would go on to win almost 48,000 votes (0.14 per cent of the electorate) and no seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Grillo’s Five-Star Movement did, as we know, a lot better. Between mouthfuls (Grillo was constantly eating during the campaign, or so it seemed) the two discovered they had a great deal in common. At a certain point, Di Stefano asked the crunch question: ‘Are you anti-Fascist?’ Grillo’s response was not – as befits a skilled politician – an unequivocal yes or no, but instead he used the phrase ‘L’antifascismo non mi compete,’ which can be variously translated into English as ‘It’s not my responsibility,’ ‘It doesn’t come under my jurisdiction,’ or more literally ‘It doesn’t lie within my competence.’ 1 It is not productive to submit Grillo’s chosen expression to minute textual exegesis. Suffice it to say that the exchange between Grillo and Di Stefano provoked a debate (one of many) which would run throughout the course of the election, and beyond. Much of the debate was rather sterile, focussing on the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ issue which Grillo’s words attempted to circumvent. In one of many intriguing developments, the bronze monument in Parma dedicated to the partisan hero Guido Picelli was covered in pro-Grillo graffiti: ‘You are just a communist like Bersani. Viva Grillo!’ According to the director of a documentary film on Picelli this was a double outrage to the partisan’s memory. While the graffiti was bad enough, the suggestion that he was a ‘communist like the secretary of the PD’ was arguably a greater insult. 2

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