Home » How Mussolini invented (also) populism: the VIII Biennale Democrazia in Turin closed with Antonio Scurati

How Mussolini invented (also) populism: the VIII Biennale Democrazia in Turin closed with Antonio Scurati

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There were over a thousand people listening to the writer Antonio Scuratithe father of the “M” trilogy, one of the editorial cases of recent years (from which we will soon also see a Sky Original TV series), at one of the meetings that closed theVIII edition of Biennale Democrazia, the cultural event conceived and chaired by Gustavo Zagrebelsky. An edition entitled “On the edge of freedom” – which alternated for four days 220 guests from all over the world, more than 100 meetings – which gathered over 48,000 participants and saw Turin transform itself into a real laboratory of democracy. The demonstration started last Thursday with the dialogue between the journalist Francesca Mannocchi and the Turkish journalist and activist Ece Temelkuran on “How a dictatorship is born”, anticipated by the reading of a letter from the senator for life Liliana Segre. And today she closed with Antonio Scurati who reflected, together with the deputy director of the Everyday occurrence Madeleine Oliveon how “Mussolini invented (also) populism”.

The great success of the “M” trilogy (M – The son of the century, M – The man of providence, M – The last days of Europe) lies not so much in the idea of ​​a “suggestive historical return, 100 years after the events I tell”, he explains Darken yourself, how much precisely in the great topicality of a character like the political Mussolini. “I believe that Mussolini’s topicality depends on some of his intuitions about what politics would have become in the era of the masses, which was just beginning then and is now reaching its mature stage”.

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Without ever forgetting “the hand with which Mussolini and fascism raped Italy”, Scurati concentrates on the other handthe one with which Mussolini managed to seduce Italypassing within three years of being a defeated politician, failed, outcast, to become the people. Too easy, and misleading, to say that “today They they’re back, I don’t want to play the script of the left-wing writer, because the violence of the fascist gangs in the streets doesn’t exist”, replies Scurati. But there is – and it is more subtle – then as now, an authoritarian seduction. Mussolini, the inventor of populism, understood not only the importance of total identification between the body of the leader and the people (I am the people. I am the people); the mechanisms of exclusion of the stranger, of the different, of the dissident; the readiness of an “acrobatic opportunist” with which to betray and deny himself (from socialist to firm persecutor of socialists, from anticlerical to clerical, from pacifist to belligerent…). Above all, he sensed – and this is where certain references to today and to some of the political leaders on the Italian scene but not only are stronger – the power of “simplification” and anti-politics (We are not politics, we are anti-politics. We are not a party, we are the anti-party) against the old mummies of the Palace.

Mussolini, explains Scurati, argues that “democracy has proved to be a failed experiment, Parliament complicates life unnecessarily, all problems boil down to a single invading enemy, the enemy stands in front of you and I stand by your side”. He is the man who lead the masses not preceding them and indicating high and distant objectives, but “sniffs out, like the beasts, the time that is coming”. And what does it smell? He smells the malaise, the “fear of the hopes of others”. And it is precisely by blowing on those sad passions, on that melancholy of a tired and frightened people that Mussolini – “you have to imagine him as an empty container that the more he blows, the more he fills up and becomes great” – conquers Italy. “The audience that Mussolini finds in front of the Lyric Theater (…) the faces are no longer the same (…) – writes Scurati in his M – The son of the century – you notice shopkeepers, state employees, low-level executives, the dignified and threadbare jackets of the petty bourgeoisie impoverished by galloping inflation”. A hundred years ago, like today, those melancholy people are still here among us.

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