Thu. Jan 23rd, 2020

Mussolini, the father of all populisms

Benito Mussolini he is not only the inventor of fascism but “the father of all populisms” Hence, among other reasons, that the academic and writer Antonio Scurati I have dedicated more than 800 pages in the “novel without fiction” M. The son of the century
, which now publishes in Spain. The book, winner of the prestigious strega award and that it will have continuity in other “two or three deliveries” plus a television series, it has been a bombshell in Italy, where some 400,000
copies. Which the author attributes not so much to the actuality of populisms as to the desire of the Italians to “explain themselves” through the knowledge of that dark past, with no more filter than the literary one. Because, as the novelist presumes, this is “the first time” that the Italian dictator appears portrayed “without prejudice” that until recently made “mandatory” to outline it in thick and caricature.

The first key to Mussolini’s enormous capacity to attract and drag the masses, and what makes it a pioneer of populism par excellence, would be in language. Well, he “brutalized and simplified it to the fullest,” first as a journalist – the socialist directed
and the fascist Il Popolo d’Italy
, among others– and later as a politician, ”he says Scurati in his interview with The vanguard .

Liberals commit today, with Trump and others, the same mistakes that were made with Mussolini, says Scurati

The founder of the savage militias called “combat fascias” also went ahead of his time by showing ostentatiously and theatrically to the public, “something that until then the leaders did not do because they all avoided public exposure to the maximum” in a physical sense. On the other hand, when he presented himself in his fullness and with his arms in a pitcher or crossed, “he became incarnate in the common man” and thus achieved an unusual effect of identifying others, especially the humble, with his person. Because “we don’t all have the studies or the wealth or the political vision of the leaders. But we all have a body, ”says Scurati to explain that projection.

The Neapolitan author believes that liberal politicians and journalists and the progressive left “make a serious mistake today, just like their predecessors made with Mussolini,” when they make fun of Donald Trump or Boris Johnson for their extravagant gestures. Or by the way they dress or the strange way they comb their hair. Well, all that, he reasons, can connect well with the ordinary citizen.

Antonio Scurati, author of the book

Antonio Scurati, author of the book
(Emilia Gutierrez)

If, for example, Matteo Salvini is heir to Mussolini, he adds, “it is not because he quotes him from time to time or because he himself is a fascist, who is not,” but because he also knows how to connect with the common man and “his lowest moods, such as resentment, hopelessness or fear. ” That connection is particularly strong with those who are fed up with “the sufficiency and the airs of superiority of antifascists,” adds Scuratti. And that happens to both Salvini’s and Trump’s followers, in his case as opposed to the not always dear Democratic elites whom Hillary Clinton represented in the 2016 presidential elections.

The tyrant of the turbulent Italy of the 20s, 30s and first half of the 40s defined himself as “the man after”, Scurati points out in his book. Because “he understood that, in the age of the masses, a leader should not precede people towards high and remote goals that they might not convince.” On the contrary, his strategy was to “guide the masses but follow them” and thus be able to “smell, feel and understand”, and then stimulate their concerns and feelings. This is perhaps what would most definitely make Mussolini an “authentic archetype of the populists,” who is characterized by the ability to “ride the negative passions” that prevail today, as in all periods of severe crisis, between the citizens.

But beware, Scurati warns: the invocations of Mussolini and his time to explain what we have today should not make us forget such substantial differences as the fact that the populists of the 21st century, among whom he quotes the chiefs of Podemos, “not only they do not use violence and are far from that violent environment and even from cult to death, as were the years of the rise of Il Duce; is that in addition , they fully abide by the rules of democracy. ” And the most important thing: “To think about a return from fascism is to deviate from the core of the issue today. And it is that populism already occupy power ”in many countries, and cites Italy itself, the United States, Brazil, Hungary, Poland and India. Many countries, yes … and not unimportant.

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