Giorgio Fontana is an Italian writer and novelist who lives and works in Milan.
The future is bleak for Italy.
It seems there is no choice but to shut up and vote for anyone who can stop a post-fascist wave from sweeping across the country. It seems like an ethical imperative.
At least that’s the view of philosopher Paolo Flores d’Arcais, who said in an editorial last month that it’s impossible to be picky. What’s at stake for d’Arcais is civilization “as it was a century ago” – that is, as it was at the time of Benito Mussolini’s March to Rome, whose grim birthday falls on October 28, a month after Italy. is set to hold its parliamentary elections.Read:Palestinian ‘Game of Thrones’? What happens when Mahmoud Abbas leaves office? | Mahmoud Abbas
But what about those who decide not to vote at all? Polls predict abstentions will increase due to widespread distrust in political parties, especially among those under 35. And if these abstainers are left-wing, should we conclude that they are immoral?
Let me be clear: as an anti-fascist I absolutely want to stop the “black wave”. A victory for a right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni would be a disaster, leading to widespread xenophobia, unequal tax reforms and a culture of fear and resentment to say the least. Abuse of power and an indifferent attitude would be politically justified.
But the “negative argument” — voting primarily to contain a threat — has been commonplace for the left for about two decades, and it has weakened the center left’s ability to build a valuable program and support.Read:Jiang Zemin, influential president of China, 1926-2022
In 2001, The Economist had deemed Silvio Berlusconi unfit to lead Italy and concluded that his election would “mark a dark day for Italian democracy and the rule of law”. And since then, left-wing Democrats have presented their campaigns as a matter of ‘us or the wolf’. Either us or Silvio Berlusconi, or Beppe Grillo, or Matteo Salvini or Giorgia Meloni. . .
Of course, there has never been a truly democratic right wing in Italy: it has either been continually polluted by fascism, with the current League and the Brothers of Italy being the Italian social movement of yore; whether it has been tainted by legal and moral issues, by Berlusconi today, just as parts of Christian democracy were yesterday; or it is masked by revolutionary ambitions that hide a retrogressive character, with today’s five-star movement being yesterday’s Common Man’s Front.
Perhaps our election campaigns since 1948 have always been based in part on fear. In the past, it was the phobia of communism – a technique Berlusconi reworked and used himself in his campaigns.
But focusing on a threat is a bad way to promote an alternative. Stopping a right-wing tainted with neo-fascism is only a first step. After that, an elected government must run the country – hopefully with a good plan. And simply pursuing “Draghi’s agenda” is not enough – averting a crisis now to face a bigger one later is not a strategy.Read:Elon Musk urges Twitter followers to vote Republican for ‘shared power’
Certainly, unlike voting, abstinence is not an explicit choice. One can opt out of an election out of general disinterest, but also out of fatigue and a lack of identification. It would be a mistake to read it as a mere sign of moral deficiency. It highlights a structural problem, a larger problem of trust in representative democracy.
So yes, it is necessary to vote to stop right. But it’s also reductive to think that politics comes down to a vote every few years.
Politics is an everyday thing. It is the vibrant charity system that runs through the country; through the secular and Catholic associations, trade unions, mutual aid organizations, self-managed social centers, feminist leagues, etc. It is vital to involve these people concretely rather than just focusing on party alliances.
In general, the right has fewer problems. His strategy is brutal and he knows perfectly how to foment hatred and division. While the task for the left is to build a credible and radical alternative for those who believe in social equality and want to prevent global warming – just to name two obvious problems – without just resorting to to the “everyone-but-them” argument.
Simply assuming “they’ll vote for us anyway” could be a deadly mistake.