CasaPound: The New Face of Fascism?

A new youth movement has been taking to the streets and occupying buildings in Italy. Their occupazioni non conformi (unconventional squats) serve as places for young Italians to discuss politics, listen to music and hang out. These squats also draw attention to their primary social and political concern: the right to housing for all Italians.

It would be easy to assume, based on this description, that this movement is another example in a long line of left-wing activist groups. They utilize left-wing tactics of occupying buildings and squatting to draw attention to housing shortages, pledge support for Italian workers, oppose Italy’s austerity programme and are strong critics of globalization and international capitalism.

Instead, this group, calling themselves CasaPound Italia, describe themselves as "neo-fascists" who are unabashed about their support and admiration for former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Welcome to the new face of Italian fascism: a mixture of populist distrust of the establishment, youth culture, non-conformism, desire for direct action politics, and a curious melange of left and right-wing beliefs. In the words of the group’s founder, Gianluca Iannone, CasaPound transcends the traditional right-left wing divide (Liddell, ‘In the house of Pound’). They are "Third Millenium Fascists", underlining their continuity with the past and their desire to resurrect fascist ideas and apply them to current social problems.

Their reverence for the American expatriate poet and fascist, Ezra Pound, a vocal anti-Semite, and emphasis on ethnic Italians and nationalism, place them on the far-right side of the spectrum. Comment forums are often filled with xenophobic and violent language. In December 2011, a CasaPound sympathiser killed two Senegalese street vendors and wounded three others before killing himself.

While the movement has received more attention in recent years there have been very few studies looking at who CasaPound supporters are. In particular, the group has an active presence on the Internet and makes effective use of social media to spread their message and recruit new members. Understanding who supports Casa Pound is key to understanding the nature of the movement’s appeal, and its likelihood of growing.

In the Summer of 2011, as part of a Demos research project supported by the Open Society European Policy Institute investigating the emergence of far-right or "new right" groups in Europe, we surveyed over 400 supporters of Casa Pound on Facebook. This only represents a sub-set of their support, but it’s nonetheless instructive.

Like many other new far-right populist groups in Europe, Facebook supporters of CasaPound are overwhelmingly male and young. In fact, CasaPound supporters were more likely to be male than any other group that we surveyed. To those aware of the group this shouldn’t come as a surprise: the group emphasises physical activity and confrontation, described by one member as the "cult of the body",and are most distinctive in their use of the cinghiamattanza or "massacre belt" in the moshpits at gigs of Iannone’s band Zetazeroalfa, where male participants whip each other with their belts often until bleeding.

Like other far-right populist groups we surveyed, CasaPound supporters had very low levels of trust in the various institutions of society, including the government, media, European Union, trade unions and the press. For a group that stresses non-conformism of all shades (celebrating the likes of Che Guevara or Peppino Impastato alongside Mussolini), this also seems obvious.

However, there were a few counterintuitive findings that distinguish CasaPound supporters from supporters of similar populist groups across Europe. First, CasaPound supporters were more likely than the average populist right supporter to cite economic issues, unemployment and corruption. Only five percent cited Islamic extremism as a top concern, compared to a European far-right populist average of 25 per cent. Second, supporters were also less likely to cite the protection of cultural identity as a reason to support CasaPound, focusing instead on the group’s perceived integrity and uniqueness. While overall pessimistic about the effectiveness of politics, CasaPound supporters were more optimistic than the average European far-right populist supporter as well as the other street-based movements we surveyed.

What seems clear from our research is that CasaPound is appealing to a number of young Italians through a combination of right and left wing ideology, symbols and methods. Their emphasis on a direct approach to politics, through street protests, occupying abandoned buildings and political stunts, as well as culture and music provides an exciting alternative to traditional politics for a number of young people. As one respondent to our survey memorably put it: "CasaPound is the only revolutionary answer to the political dullness of these days. It’s life in a land of dead people!"

Social media will continue to provide an avenue for the emergence of new populist groups similar to CasaPound across the political spectrum of left and right. Understanding these new movements, their ideas, their appeal, their supporters and likelihood of growing, requires understanding who their online supporters are and the extent to which they get involved offline. The report by Demos is the first attempt to do this.

Read the Demos report. What’s your response to the findings? How do you think citizens and politicians should respond to the rise of groups like CasaPound?

We want know what you think. Please leave a comment below.

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13 Comments

What is response?

Above all, close illegal and minimise legal migration from Africa and Asia.

Neo-fascism is a form of puritanical philosophy. Puritanism in any form is not in the best interest of all people.

Is it a question of style and communication ? Wouldn't it be manageable to oppose publically these young men with old modern and clever women, with a radical line from them insisting on their lack of education, reminding them how new they are, how immature they are ? Too simple ? I see those old and experienced women as "mamas", traditionnal figures still around in Italy today, but able to present those young men as insufficiently educated. It's very schematic, ordinary, but in the field of communication, it would have perhaps some impact, especially if the women choosen to maintain a strong and clear advocacy message are modern, inclusive, sympathetic, reassuaring, and at least, susceptible to becoming popular.

I do not think being right wing is bad as people paint it with socialist ideology, and not because of lack of education, the problem is that these governments have no real solutions to the population and are the same for more than seventy years, keeping the fear of fascism or whatever you want to call it is not as simple as you want to see, and examples are always the same, and people are tired ... and need answers and real solutions, the most painful is what happened this day with the reelection of President in Italy

Casa pound is nazifascism . The nazifascism is a dangerous virus . In Europe the antivirus against the nazifascism is the economic recovery and the economic policy for the growth .

Neo-fascism is on the rise, despite of everything. Economic crisis give birth to neo- fascist and groups. If we look at their political platform, we'll notice the same resemblance with the Nazi(Nationalsocialist) party in Germany. The major ethnic group in the center, and they pretend the minorities are to blame for the current situation. Take the example with "Golden Dawn" in Greece, while the country was in good economic health, they were marginalized and when Greek economy bankrupted they were the Greek people's favorite movement. Their ideas and methods are the same as fascist in WW2.

In my opinion, some extreme poilitical parties cherish this type of movements. I'm talking about Lega Nord or others. Parties should condemn this type of practices, not provide ground where to grow. Followers should be isolated by rising the voice all together, citizens and their representatives

Sometimes is hard to fight someone's ideology which rises from one's own philosophy, but still I think that legal forces should sanction those who practice these types of extreme movements as well as their followers.

Hello everyone, I'm one of the co-authors of this report, thanks for your comments. I'd like to respond to a couple of points, and if you have any questions I'll try to answer them. First, Andrej mentions neo-fascism is on the rise. Yes, I think that's right, but over a ten year period across Western Europe. Golden Dawn had grown a lot very recently, but for many other parties that are radical right-wing populist, the upward trend has been more gradual, and not in direct response to the economic crisis. There are also smaller radical neo-Nazi groups - the openly violent ones - that have also been growing, or at least becoming better co-ordinated. One thing is clear: they are good at using modern communication to get their message out, organise, and recruit. Sometimes it only takes a small number to make a big media impact (like the English Defence League). What to do is the big question of course, I like Alan's suggestion, although I would change the focus a bit. The supporters of these parties and movements are often not under-educated. However, they do tend to shut themselves into closed groups - off and online - where they can become more radical by virtue of spending lots of time with like-minded people. Getting them out into wider communities, spending more time doing things with other people: I think that's a great way to respond.

As I read the article, I realize how deep Europe’s decline is. As a Greek I am double as much disillusioned because my country is being ravaged by fascists of every kind, governmental ones ( see the current government in Greece ) and non-governmental ones ( see Golden Dawn ).

The former remind me - through their acts - a “Quisling” government, because, first, it has become the puppet of the (German) European Union (even the attribute “Union” is ridiculous according to the current status in Europe) by doing exactly what Berlin dictates to them without caring about its own people who are suffering from unemployment and every kind of cutbacks on wages, salaries, pensions, social benefits. Since the outbreak of the financial ( and political ) crisis in Greece in 2009, a significant number of people has lost their life by committing suicide; another one saw its standard of living decrease below the boundaries of poverty, and being forced to search for food in rubbish tins or to queued up to breadlines. To make the matter worse, all the sacrifices of the Greek people are endangered to be to no effect – despite the recent passing through of troika’s last austerity package by the Greek parliament last week – because troika has now realized that the Greece’ s rescue plan is unsustainable, something that every one knew from the very beginning of the crises. The current PM of Greece Mr. Samaras has been doing so far quite the opposite from what he was declaring before his taking the office. That’ s why many people in Greece consider him as a modern “Gauleiter”, as the puppet of Merkel.
On the other hand, we have the rise of that shameful and despicable “political”, fascistic party of Golden Dawn. A decade ago, no one could have believed it that this party would manage to be the third or fourth at ranking in Greek Parliament. Of course, it was a common secret among the people that within the police force and the conservative party ( New Democracy – the current ruling party in Greece ) were to be found lots of fans or enthusiasts of fascism or similar ideas who had the political power to provide asylum or any other necessary assistance to those of their own ideological sort of thought if it was the case. All of them miserable remains of the last Civil War in Greece ( 1944-1948 ). Moreover, the PM himself has his own history. After an unsuccessful political struggle – he founded his own political party in the 90s which represented a mingle of various pseudo- nationalistic ideas swinging at the boundaries of fascism but without any response from the public then – he managed to take the leadership of the conservative party from which he had been alienated due to his treacherous act that caused the government of K. Mitsotakis to step down, having, of course, the secret support of the former PM and leader of the conservative party, Mr. K. Karamanlis. Mr. Samaras is renowned for his right wing, nationalistic ideas since he was the leader of his own party in the 90s as I mentioned above. That means that his support – of course secretly – to the Golden Dawn and its supporters is considered as given. As for the Golden Dawn itself, they have taken advantage of the thriving political crisis, by denouncing the corrupted political establishment, declaring their opposition to troika’s demands and preaching that the blame for the crisis is to be put on immigrants. And they found an earing ear among the shocked people, as it usually happens under such conditions, judging by history.
To me the only solution– and salvation at the same time – for the Greek issue is that Greece gets out of the eurozone and consequently out of the EU, even for a short period of time. And with the current ‘Quisling’ government of Greece it is impossible. That’s why should the opposition come to power to pull Greece out of the eurozone. If so, Golden Dawn would be deprived of its main argument which is nothing else but its insist of pulling Greece out of the eurozone and EU. But it’s all a big lie because it actually serves the current government and much further the corrupted political establishment in Greece.
As for the rise of fascism in Italy, it’s come out not all of a sudden. The same conditions as those in Greece rule in Italy as well. The deep recession in the South Europe is the main cause and the ( German ) European policy on economy as well. Just think of who’s profiting from all of that? Of course Germany and its exports and no one else. Instead of helping the other countries in the south – we are all supposed to be members of a ‘Union’, the so- called EU – Germany is not willing to do so. And I wonder what the purpose of the existence of the EU is; why Germany opposes to Greece’s getting out of the eurozone and EU; Whether all of this a modern form of enslaving – financially - other countries is; Whether it is called fascism or not. If Germany doesn’t change policy or is not willing to do concessions, the recession and its outcome ( fascism ) will continue to exist and the situation will be getting even worse. Just think of the political and financial crisis in 1930s and what its outcome was.
Briefly, one’s fighting the legal fascism of Germany within the EU means saving the European nations and people from being enslaved. Because here is the real face of fascism the real source of it.

This "research", as you call it improperly, is filled with evident inaccuracies and deliberate lies. Moreover these lies conceal badly your clear intention to slander CasaPound Italia. On the other hand there is no excuse for your behaviour, because many skilled and competent issues about CasaPound are available and consultable. The best one is undoubtedly the work of Daniele Di Nunzio and Emanuele Toscano, two sociologists who come from left-wing culture and who are even activists in left-wing labor unions. The book is Dentro e fuori Casapound. Capire il fascismo del Terzo Millennio (Roma: Armando, 2011): http://www.ibs.it/code/9788860819260/di-nunzio-daniele/dentro-fuori-casa.... I know that English-speaking people hardly read not-english issues (quod anglicum non est, non legitur...). But in that case it's also available an issue in english, whose title is already significant: Can We Still Speak about Extreme Right Movements? Casapound in Italy between Community and Subjectivation Drives (http://isa2010.aimit.se/146470/Paper). I'm perfectly aware that you are Soros' yes-men, but the next time try to be more honest and, if it's not possible, at least more competent. Best regards.

I became aware of Casa Pound while in Italy a few months ago. I’ve driven by their offices on Via Napoleone on several occasions, always seeing a few youngsters gathered around. Believe it or not, this English speaker who holds both citizenship in Italy and the Unites States is simply perplexed by Casa Pound. I can understand certain aspects of Casa Pound’s ideology and creatively using various forms of media to spread their message. This displays that Casa Pound have members who are competent and educated individuals who can creatively use a variety of media to recruit and bolster their numbers. It is also a platform that is ever growing which will allow them to clearly render their opinions, outline organizational objectives, and spread their ideology. Also, I believe everyone has the right to their voice, whether we agree or not is an entirely separate issue. My interest in Casa Pound piqued when I saw several YouTube videos of the youth from Casa Pound standing their ground against communist/left wingers in Piazza Navona. In my eyes this was commendable and respectable. Standing up for your beliefs in a free society is an admirable quality and the youngsters at Casa Pound showed they are not just resourcefully intellectual, but also willing to back up their fight face-to-face. I decided to conduct some research online and started listening to Radio Bandiera Nera, another vessel used by Casa Pound to spread their political and ideological message. I’m assuming there are a few communication majors in the ranks of Casa Pound putting into practice what they’re leaning, this was most impressive. I tuned to Radio Bandiera Nera today to anti-American banter and wasn’t particularly shocked, I was more disappointed than angry. The segment I stumbled onto addressed American airpower doctrine and “atrocities” committed by American bombers during the Second World War. I think every nation involved in WWII can cite atrocities by other nations as well as themselves. Maybe they could have discussed Abyssinia or Libya. I don’t think it really matters who did what, where, and why. What I failed to understand is the relevance to what is current? I can understand to a certain degree but the anti-American songs and messages really didn’t seem too well thought out and somewhat indiscriminate. Being an American citizen, born and raised in Italy, who served 20 years in the U.S. Armed Forces and is well grounded both in the US and Italy, I took personal offense to this. It is hard balancing both national identities. Being a hardline conservative, I can understand what they are saying but think Casa Pound seriously misunderstands the real America. Still, when I see one of those youngsters walking around or drive by Casa Pound the next time I go to my home in Italy, it’ll be a reminder that in a politically correct world there are still those who aren’t afraid to stand up and be heard no matter how unpopular their message may be.

http://archive.org/details/Burattini2008

This is the video of what really happened in Piazza Navona. Not what Emilio Fede and the rest of the criminal media Berlusconi gang have purported. Dear Alessandro, I have a wee question for you: When you attrnd demonstrations (heehee, sorry, nervous laughter) do you carry chains, tricolore metal bars, helmets and heavy belts?

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