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Left and right? Far-left and far-right? May 17, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This seems to me to be an article, in Slate.com, built on a very shaky premise, that somehow the Five Star Movement in Italy is ‘left-wing’. So we get many many words which attempt to suggest that the FSM is ‘far-left’ or of the ‘left’ and yet, none of them are in any sense accurate, and in case display a terrible lack of knowledge of European and Italian politics and ideology in general. All this in part to suggest that far left and far right are identical and always have been, looking right back to Germany in the thirties. I find this pretty unsustainable as an argument, not least because it ignores context near enough entirely, and sure, I’m not madly admiring of some of the machinations in the late 20s and 30s in Germany but to say they were simply Communists and Fascists linking up is to completely misunderstand the dynamics at play.

In any case it seems to me that FSM are/were centre-right/populist. Their five initial demands aren’t ‘leftist’ as such and actually fit more closely to green politics, which as with everything can drive left or right.

One of the most telling aspects of the article is the following:

That transformation is now nearing its completion: Faced with a choice between new elections, a joint government with the center-left Democratic Party, or a pact with the racists of Salvini’s League, the leaders of the Five Star Movement have opted for a left-right populist alliance. Early media reports make clear what the new government’s first order of business is likely to be if it really does come together: a crackdown on immigrants. Political logic also dictates a second undertaking: Unable to agree on much of a positive program, they will likely use their shared hostility to the European Union as a glue that can help keep their fractious coalition together.

But this ignores the fact the PD itself ruled out working with FSM. And arguably, and I’m no fan of the PD, rightly so.


1. Phil - May 17, 2018

I don’t know a lot about the M5S, but Italy does have a long tradition of secular, modernising libertarianism, perhaps unsurprisingly for a country dominated by traditionalist Catholic communitarianism. (Like yourselves, I dare say…? Maybe not.) It’s a philosophy that doesn’t fit the left-right spectrum very well; it can *look* left-wing, but that very much depends who and what you’re comparing it with. For a long time it was spearheaded by the Radical Party, which originated as a split from the (classically) Liberal Party and at one point went into alliance with Berlusconi. Capitalism can be terribly secular and modern, of course, as indeed can racism – look at Sam Harris. The fact that the Left is now represented by a merger of (parts of) the Communist Party with (parts of) the Christian Democrats – Aldo Moro wins at last – complicates matters even further: “down with Catholic reaction” is a card just about anyone can play.

Shorter: I wouldn’t trust those bastards further than I can throw them.


GW - May 17, 2018

No genuinely left party would go into coalition with the facist-spectrum Lega Nord.

M5S are clueless, and as the mayorship of Rome demonstrates, incapable. I expect them to be led around by the nose by Lega Nord and the government not to last that long if it comes into being.

I hope that resistance to the damage that such a government will seek to inflict on the Italian working class as well as refugees will lead to the discrediting of M5S and a resurgence in a genuine left in Italy.


2. CL - May 17, 2018

“The Italian left, from its most moderate to its most radical forms, emerges from this election pulverized….
a decade of economic crisis and austerity finds the Italian left reduced to more a marginal cultural tendency than a great popular force….
A black tide is rising in Italy, as it has in other European countries, and the progressive neoliberalism of the mainstream center-left proved completely unable to stop it….
the PD’s abandonment of any fight at the level of economic redistribution opened the door for the Right, which channeled a significant part of voters’ anti-elite anger into its own crusade against immigration, Europe, and cosmopolitanism….
faced with the PD’s collapse, voters did not turn to its more or less radical competitors but to a force culturally outside the workers’ and democratic movement, outside the concepts of socialism or even progressive liberalism, a force radically critical of unions and collective organization in general….
It would be a mistake to characterize M5S as left or right populism, as a Podemos or a Le Pen. Rather, it came out of the peculiar way Italians interpreted and politicized the crisis….
The M5S … promises to take down the government without touching the economic system….
For years, the M5S has anesthetized social conflict, but this situation will not last forever, especially if it ends up in government.”


3. benmadigan - May 17, 2018

many of M5S policies appeal to a wide range of italians of all ages and all places on the political spectrum –
Popular issues are rife, widespread corruption throughout italian society, life-time MPs in Parliament, green/ecological issues given the damage due to asbestos in buildings and widespread pollution of farmland,plants and animals as well as children being born with genetic defects in areas near Naples and Taranto.
Many lefties joined M5S when it started up as a reaction to the Berlusconi years as traditional left-wing parties were going nowhere. Remember the italian Communist party with its Euro-communist ideas was riding high at 40% in the mid-1970s. So there are a lot of very disillusioned elderly lefties who see the M5S as a sign of hope for change.
Many M5S voters are naive – One election promise in their manifesto was a universal citizens income. Once M5S had done well in the election, people were knocking on local municipalities asking for their application forms.


WorldbyStorm - May 17, 2018

I wonder how the former left supporters of the M5S feel at this .


Pasionario - May 18, 2018

Alas, the Lega also does well in old PCI strongholds in the North, whereas M5S is strongest in old CD heartlands in the south.


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