Dio, Patria, Famiglia
Those watching the tragedy of Italy’s election of Giorgia Meloni’s ‘Brothers of Italy’ and the rise of Jimmie Åkesson’s Sweden Democrats do so through a strange prism. This lens of viewing the world tells us that Britain is normal, the default, unremarkable and characterised by moderation and pragmatism. That’s been the ongoing self-taught narrative for a very long time. Through this lens we look askance at these crazy foreigners, laugh at the buffoonish Trump movement and look down our noses at the French and any foreigners that still hove into view after Brexit.
It’s this worldview that allowed the absolute drivel to be absorbed for weeks after the death of the queen, it’s this worldview that propelled the astonishing hubris of Brexit, that’s now falling apart for all to see and it’s this worldview that allows and condones a broadcast and print media in Britain to disintegrate in standards and credibility.
This complacency is taking a battering as the latest incarnation of Tory rule fails even its own mythology – but it’s been in plain view for a very long time. The Overton Window of acceptable political outlooks has long-ago shifted far to the right in Britain. In this sense our comforting mythology about Britain acts just as a comfort blanket to ignore the horrendous state we are in. Our condemnation of the rise of the extreme right abroad is an act of self-deception and misdirection.
While we can all condemn the calamitous Trussonomics and their naked corruption, the Labour Party too felt it needed to dress up its own conference draped in the Union Jack, sing God save the King and thought this sort of contribution was absolutely fine:
This is unforgivable and i find it personally offensive… if Labour thinks people like me are Fascists they are fucking desperate pic.twitter.com/x2GwMEs4BF
— ROPoem (@R0Poem) September 26, 2022
Such language is not just deeply offensive, the idea of PR being a route-map to fascism is just ridiculous.
But the branding of the independence movement (usually reduced to the ‘Scottish Nationalists’) as, essentially fascist, and the collective amnesia to their own British nationalism is not new.
This is real audio from a real speech in 2017 in which the Prime Minister of Britain compares those who argue for self-determination for Scotland with ISIS.
This ‘othering’ of the independence movement and the smearing of the SNP has the affect of allowing the suppression of democracy to seem entirely reasonable, forever. If, as portrayed the elected government of Scotland, with a huge majority at Westminster of Scottish seats are, in fact, fascists, then it goes without saying that the only reasonable thing to do is forever suppress and legal vote on Scottish democracy.
I wrote the other day of Scotland as Laboratory. For Italian journalist and the author of Gomorrah Roberto Saviano, Italy is a laboratory too. He writes: “Giorgia Meloni presents a danger to the democratic balance in Europe. Her leadership looks to be the antithesis of what Italy needs – and not just at this difficult moment.”
“The danger arises for Europe because Italy has always been a laboratory: it has foreshadowed the crises of other countries. Italy had Mussolini before Hitler and the leftwing extremist Red Brigades before Action Directe appeared in France and the Red Army Faction followed suit in Germany. Italy had Berlusconi before the US got Trump. And after years of Berlusconi misrule, Italy produced the Five Star Movement, the first populist party led by a comedian, before the rest of Europe caught up. Five Star’s agenda was political disruption, often without any thought to the consequences.”
So we’re in the experiment and we don’t even know it, and we are witnessing different manifestations of the same phenomenon across the world.
To add insult to injury Meloni’s fascist slogan (note the three word structure) ‘Dio, Patria, Famiglia’ (“God, homeland, family”) – is replicated by conservative social forces right here at home. The Christian Nationalism of the Royal Funeral, and the explicit racism of the entire Brexit narrative are perhaps more prominent here than the populism around ‘family’ values, though you can still see that played-out in the culture wars.
Keir Starmer’s speech will today re-position Labour as party of ‘the centre’. But our politics has changed and shifted so much they are nothing of the sort.