by Marco Malaguti

The recent hate campaign The recent hate campaign by the Left, both institutional and non-institutional, against Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara (who is also, among other things, a member of the Scientific Council of the Machiavelli Center) has revived, once again and with its usual virulence, the never dormant debate on anti-fascism. A very clear symptom of a country imprisoned in its eternal twentieth century and where the slogan "April 25 forever" has been taken far too seriously by politics and even by large sectors of the institutions.

Antifascism is not just rhetoric

Well-known to everyone, as well as highly successful, is Diego Fusaro's provocative remark that in Italy there would be an "antifascism in the absence of fascism." This is a correct statement but says little about the current political situation and the instrumental use of the word antifascism. For a large part of public opinion with right-wing leanings, the antifascism of the institutional Left would be nothing more than a kind of smokescreen, an artifice aimed at claiming a pretended moral superiority with which to use the exclusive reductio ad hitlerum of the political opponent. Although this is undoubtedly true it should be noted, however, that there is much more at stake in the daily skirmishes, rhetorical or otherwise, about anti-fascism.

The trap of absolutes

Former right-wing leader Gianfranco Fini's well-known definition describing, during an institutional visit to Jerusalem, fascism as "absolute evil" did not represent a novelty within Italian politics; on the contrary, it represented the recognition of the Left's moral victory over conservative forces. The victory in question, far from pertaining to the question of fascism per se, rather concerned the power for the Left themselves to define what was absolute evil.

What was new, culturally speaking, was not that fascism, as a historical phenomenon but even in the very broad and dangerously vague Eco's definition of urfascism, was defined as an absolute evil, but rather consisted of the fact that, to utter such a definition, was a man from the national Right. The word absolute has paramount importance here. Absolute evil, precisely because it is such, has no right to any understanding, it does not lend itself to any historiographical revision, it is consigned without appeal to the underworld dimension of politics. No one has ever questioned the necessity of settling for the proverbial lesser evil, but with absolute evil no negotiation is possible: with absolute evil one does not negotiate, one does not bargain with Satan; those who do so are exiled from the human consensus.

A religion?

If antifascism qualifies as a successor to the late state religion, to disavow it is to place oneself outside the state itself. The true essentially discriminatory nature of the political phenomenon of contemporary antifascism is beginning to emerge here. If fascism (or anything you want to call it as such) is absolute evil, and everything related to it is outside the state we well understand that we are dealing with something far more crucial than a mere ideological dispute. It is about the enshrinement of the old slogan, dear to the extra-parliamentary Lefts of the "years of lead", for whom "killing a fascist is not a crime." What is to be feared, here, is not antifascism as a historical phenomenon of partisan struggle or intellectual resistance, but the faculty, as abusive as it is contemporary, to decide, with all the necessary consequences, who is antifascist and who is not, what is absolute evil and what is not.

Where the law does not apply

As the homo sacer of ancient Roman society, a central feature in Giorgio Agamben's political philosophy, the fascist (or supposed fascist) violates the city's divine laws and automatically, without even the need for a trial, is placed outside the laws, citizenship, and religion. For the state, the offender is consecrated to the gods: his crime is so horrible that not even a human trial could strike him down without fouling; he is entrusted to divine justice, which will be free to express itself as it sees fit - including lynching. The offender's property is confiscated and the eventual murder of the sacred man is not punished in any way: he is literally a non-man.

It is not possible here to summarize in full Agamben's profound meditations on the political significance of homo sacer, just as it is not possible right here to transpose this figure out of the political sphere where Agamben also correctly finds it (think of the terminally ill or irreversibly comatose, the mentally ill, etc.). What we would like to emphasize is that the presence of absolutes (in this case, absolute evil) constitutes one of the founding triggers of tyranny.

Educational challenges, between Italy and the U.S.
The elastic space of anomie

The existence of an anomic interstice within a society, in which things and people live, poses a risk to all citizens. Exactly like the outbreak of an infectious disease, where people are degraded to the mere rank of objects lacking citizenship and rights (no matter here whether formally or not), the interstice of anomie can, under certain circumstances, expand exponentially and elastically to other spheres. This was seen during the recent pandemic season during which, enemies of the neo-scientist religion were guaranteed treatment of absolute discrimination, complete with incitement to their slaughter during live television broadcasts.

None of this would have been possible without antifascism as we know it in the postwar period. The anomic space that disenfranchised the vaccination-resistant population would not have extended to it if it had not existed before. It is quite easy for a power to expand the sphere of anomie, far more difficult to create it from scratch. Decades of tried-and-tested antifascism have been preparatory to the indiscriminate use of domestic exile of millions of citizens and, at this point, to who knows what else in the near future.

When it is arbitrarily decided that some members of a community cease to be such and lose their rights, then everything, in the most deleterious sense of the word, becomes possible. It is no coincidence that the dreaded no vax people were almost immediately labeled as fascists, an unmistakable sign of the impending revocation of civil rights. The role of honor guard at the tomb of anti-fascism, which the Left has reserved for itself, constitutes a fearsome tool, which they hold, to define, in a totally extra-institutional manner, "who is in and who is out." Only by virtue of this can spokesmen of the Left instrumentally and livorously demand the resignation of a minister like Giuseppe Valditara, guilty only of telling the truth.

Is it possible to get out?

Getting out of this cul de sac is not, however, difficult. It would be enough to cease granting legitimacy to the ayatollahs of antifascism, reminding them that we live in a rule of law and not in a theocracy where laws are ancillae theologiae. Woe, clearly, to be seduced by the sepulchral seductiveness of excommunication enablement. If there is one purpose that the Left has always known how to rebut, it is the sharing of the antifascist throne: no antifascism outside left-wing dogmatic orthodoxy is allowed (the events in Porzûs remind us of this), just as no antifascist is allowed in the halls of antifascism who does not have the right party allegiance. Gianfranco Fini's professio fidei, as is well known, has in no way freed his political descendants from the most infamous of charges.

Only those who will have the courage to completely historicize fascism, thus declaring it a finished page of history (like Bonapartism, Jacobinism etc.) will be able to defeat mannerist anti-fascism, finally abolishing the pedestal role that elevates the Lefts to the role of the guardian council of democracy. Exactly like currency, antifascism is also based on mutual consent. As long as antifascism continues to be accorded the role of expendable currency, it will come as no surprise that someone, at the sleazy market of petty politics, will spend it.

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Research fellow at the Machiavelli Center. A philosophy scholar, he has been working for years on the topic of the revaluation of nihilism and the great German Romantic philosophy.