The fascinating story behind Italy's lurch towards fascism
'Fascinating and trenchant, this account of contemporary Italian neo-fascism is both original and shocking' - John Foot, historian
The fastest-rising force in Italian politics is Giorgia Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia - a party with a direct genealogy from Mussolini's regime. Surging to prominence in recent years, it has waged a fierce culture war against the Left, polarised political debate around World War II, and even secured the largest vote share in Italy's 2022 general election. Eighty years after the fall of Mussolini, his heirs and admirers are again on the brink of taking power. So how exactly has this situation come about?
Mussolini's Grandchildren delves into Italy's self-styled 'post-fascist' movements - rooted in historical fascism yet claiming to have 'transcended' it. David Broder highlights the reinventions of far-right politics since the Second World War, and examines the interplay between a parliamentary face aimed at integrating fascists into the mainstream, and militant fringe groups which, despite their extremism, play an important role in nurturing the broader far right.
Fratelli d'Italia has retained its hegemony over fascist subcultures whilst embracing a raft of more pragmatic policy positions, fusing harsh Islamophobia and anti-communism with support for the European Union and NATO. As countervailing anti-fascist forces in Italian society wane, the far-right party's mission to redeem historical fascism, legitimise its political heirs and shift the terrain of mainstream politics is proving alarmingly successful.
About the Author
David Broder is a historian of the Italian far-right. He is a regular contributor to the New Statesman and Internazionale, writing about Italian politics, as well as Europe editor for Jacobin. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Independent, New Left Review and Tribune. He is the author of The Rebirth of Italian Communism: Dissident Communists in Rome, 1943-44 and First They Took Rome: How the Populist Right Conquered Italy.
What People Are Saying
'Meticulously researched and engagingly written by an author with a longstanding knowledge of Italy and interest in its politics and culture. This is a must read for all those who want to understand what is happening in the country and what may soon happen elsewhere' Paolo Gerbaudo, Reader in Digital Politics, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
'Fascinating and trenchant, Broder's account of contemporary Italian neo-fascism - which is now in power in Italy - is both original and shocking. Shows through deep research into both the past and present of these politicians that we should take the threat they represent very seriously indeed' John Foot, author of 'Blood and Power: The Rise and Fall of Italian Fascism'
'Is fascism really a 'thing of the past'? Broder shines a light on what the Italian post-fascists keep in the shadows, the ferocity of their syncretic ideology, and their lumbering contradictions. A sharp, richly documented survey of the perennial - shameless - rebranding of the Italian far right, from historical fascism to the present’ Carlo Greppi, Historian
'A very important book that should be read by anyone concerned about the resurgence of far-right and (post)fascist politics ... Provides a compelling historical account to illuminate the contemporary situation in Italy and ties it powerfully to the wider turn towards reaction. Broder succeeds in mapping how ideas we have been told which were relegated to the dustbin of history have made their return to the mainstream. Extremely accessible and engaging' Aurelien Mondon, Co-author of 'Reactionary Democracy: How Racism and the Populist Far Right Become Mainstream'
'For decades, antifascism was the 'civil religion' of the Italian Republic. Today, Mussolini’s grandchildren lead the government. David Broder offers a very convincing interpretation of this unexpected historical metamorphosis and substantial arguments for understanding how to fight it. An irreplaceable book' Enzo Traverso, author of 'Revolution: An Intellectual History'
'Deep historical knowledge and acute political analysis are combined in the first book explaining the rise of a post-fascist government in the land of Mussolini. While offering an evocative and unsparing fresco of recent Italian history, Broder provides the tools to understand the far right in power in democratic countries' Donatella di Cesare, Italian Philosopher
‘David Broder is really quite brilliant’ Sam Adler-Bell, co-host of ‘Know Your Enemy’ podcast
‘Incisive … Broder expertly reconstructs the genealogy of fascism in Italy from the ground up’ ‘Jacobin’
‘An excellent insight into Mussolini’s political heirs’ ‘Irish Independent’
‘So has the F-word actually been handed over to history in Italy? Not really, as this helpful book by David Broder shows’ ‘Financial Times’
‘Masterful … convincingly argues that Meloni’s election marks the ultimate success of a decades-long struggle for relevance by Mussolini’s political heirs’ ‘Foreign Policy’
'Complex .. something of a warning for the UK' ‘The Tablet’
‘Incisive … Broder succeeds in the Herculean task of understanding the canny and tough-minded Meloni and her strategically dizzying politics within Italy’s historical context. Mussolini’s Grandchildren delivers ground-breaking analysis that illuminates the confounding and apparently contradictory Italian far-right’ ‘Tribune’
‘A lucid if terrifying history’ Alice Speri, ‘The Intercept’
‘Excellent ... Broder’s account of the origins and trajectory of post-war Italian fascism is a warning of the dangerous reconfiguration of the right’ ‘Counterfire’
Table of Contents
Introduction: Mussolini's Granddaughters
1. The Victims of History
2. Exiles in Their Own Fatherland
3. A Party of Good Government
4. In-Laws, Outlaws
5. A Modern Right