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Giorgia Meloni: ‘Far-Right’ or Just Right? by Mario Laghos

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Giorgia Meloni: ‘Far-Right’ or Just Right?

“Fascist,” “hard-right,” “the successor to Mussolini”—all terms used to describe Giorgia Meloni in the British press—and that’s just the Daily Mail talking. Meloni is the leader of Fratelli d’Italia, the most popular party in Italy, and is tipped to become the country’s next Prime Minister. Her national-conservative party, in a coalition with the populist Lega, and centre-right Forza Italia, could top out at 50% of the vote in the forthcoming September snap election. But if the British press are to be believed, her victory would herald a return to the worst deprivations of the 20th century. Should they be believed? 

Andrew Neil, Britain’s preeminent conservative broadcaster and chairman of The Spectator magazine, has branded Meloni ‘far-right,’ and said that her party’s roots lead back to Mussolini. But if one takes the time to listen, rather than to spasmodically reach for that convenient cudgel marked ‘fascist,’ it’s clear that her inspiration flows from an altogether different source. She has a particular affection for English conservatives. She has cited Scruton’s explanation of conservatism as arising from the notion that to create good things is much harder than to tear them down. She has also quoted G.K. Chesterton’s line that “swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer” and she is inspired by J. R. R. Tolkein. Occasionally she’ll recite passages from The Lord of the Rings in her addresses.

Meloni isn’t a modernist; she’s a profoundly Christian conservative. Her mission is to defend identity, spirituality, and the family. Unafraid to speak the truth, she decries the fact that many European neighbourhoods are in the grip of Islamic law, that aggressive atheism is at war with the West’s Christian roots, and that LGBT pressure groups are proliferating ‘gender propaganda’ amongst schools.

But she isn’t a reactionary for its own sake, her positions are robust and considered. She describes the family unit as “essential for procreation, the education and the raising of our children, the central element of affection and of solidarity between generations, the first place of belonging.” Speaking out against the UN’s migration compact, she told the Italian parliament that illegal immigration had been used to

complete the grand plan of financial speculation, to deprive nations and people of their identity. Because without roots you’re a slave, and when you are a slave, you serve the interests of Soros.

If she does become Italy’s next premier, she’ll seek to ban gay adoption and use Italy’s navy to blockade the North African coast. She’ll attempt to revitalise flailing Italian birth rates to lessen the demand for migrant labour, and defend Italian heritage against what she calls the barbarians of BLM who want to topple statues of Christopher Columbus.

Meloni has a penchant for fiery rhetoric, which might be a bit too rich for our more temperate Anglo-Saxon tastes, mine being a country in which the alleged ‘Conservative’ party, after all, brags about legalising gay marriage. Addressing an audience in Spain, Meloni said of the South Americans that “a huge amount of Spanish and Italian blood runs in their veins”—which is the sort of sentiment that might cause the average Daily Mail journalist to shuffle about nervously in his chair. But that’s what Italians are like—my mother told me, she was proud of her Italian blood, and I never thought she was the second coming of Il Duce.

A Roman herself, Meloni draws on that sense of self-understanding and of the potential for what could be. She unashamedly proclaims the Mediterranean the cradle of civilization. Declaring her support for Ukraine, she quoted the Roman general Vegetius: Si vis Pacem, Para Bellum (if you want peace, prepare for war). In the English speaking-world, pride is the reserve of drag queens and homosexuals—and it’s disconcerting that for English conservatives, extending pride to the nation and its people is considered rather embarassing and old-hat. But in Italy, as across Europe, there is much to be proud of: from the Roman Empire and its technological wonders to the renaissance and the divinely inspired art it produced. Britain didn’t televise What the Romans did for us for nothing.

The slurs against Meloni have come all too easily to critics’ tongues; that many of those yelling ‘fascist’ masquerade as conservatives is an indictment of them, not her. Those who see a woman commanding the support of millions, demonstrating aptitude intellectually and in oration, and then find reflexive recourse to a depraved insult, must answer to us what their alternative prospectus is.

As of 2022, the Italian birth rate was 7.154 births per 1,000 people, a 1.6% decline on the previous year—which too declined on its previous year, as did the year previous to that. There is such a thing as Italy—it exists—as do Italian people. Fighting to defend that reality, and it is a reality, is not the preserve of the far-right, but the duty of any credible candidate who seeks to run the country. It used to be the fantasy of the farthest reaches of leftist cranks to reject such a taxonomy, but now the assertion that Italians exist, and that they should be defended, becomes for too many a site of castigation.

The illegal migration crisis that threatens Italy, and Western Europe as a whole, is becoming existential. For those who claim to believe in nation-states, they cannot credibly condemn every proposal to guarantee their continued existence. Perhaps a naval blockade of Africa seems too intemperate, a bit rash, an expression of power that has not been greenlit by the USA and directed at the Middle East, and therefore verboten. But the alternative to radical measures is to pat oneself on the back for keeping a level head, for being tolerant, for stiffening one’s lip, while all that your ancestors built comes crashing down around you.

Returning to the Daily Mail’s slander—an allegedly right-wing newspaper—it’s worth noting that its readers were quick to dissent. The top-rated comments on the Mail’s website, with over a thousand ‘up votes,’ all praised the woman which their paper of choice had branded a “fascist successor to Mussolini.” “Let’s give it a try, the others aren’t cutting it… Fingers crossed for you, I hope you get to be the first female Italian Prime Minister… We’ve got a job going here if you want it!” numbered just three of the hundreds of supportive comments. Evidently, just as British conservatives have given up on being conservative, the right-wing press has surrendered any attempt to be right-wing. Given that their popularity is in freefall, and Meloni’s is approaching escape velocity, they would do well to consider their unthinking assaults. They are the “right wing on a leash, irrelevant, and trained as a monkey” that Meloni rails against, those who have absconded from the people, seeking the luxury of a progressive inner-circle. 

Italy is spiralling into decline in all areas, demographically, spiritually, culturally, and economically. The servants of global capital, the ‘speculators’ as Meloni would call them, would like nothing more than for a Social Democrat to be Italy’s next Prime Minister. They would do nothing to arrest the decline—they’d double down on it—reducing the once proud country to a landmass, devoid of its native people, native culture, and native religion. Meloni and the Fratelli d’Italia offer a real alternative, which is why the bought and paid for press, in thrall to the enemies of the Italian people, want nothing more than for her to fail. But it is my hope, and belief, that she will win, and I am confident in so thinking because the Italians still know who they are. 

Mario Laghos is a political analyst, author, and the editor of Just Debate.