Movimento Sociale Italiano

Movimento Sociale Italiano

Italian Social Movement (MSI)
   Survivors of the Republic of Salo joined returning veterans, former war prisoners, and nostalgics for Fascism’s certainties to found the MSI in December 1946. Giorgio Almirante, the party’s first secretary, had been a member of the Decima mas (former naval personnel of the Motoscaf Antisommergibile/Antisubmarine Patrol Boats, who were used in the republic to find, arrest, and massacre Italian partisans), and preferred violent confrontations to political compromise. At Salo, the original hundred party members (including Almirante) grew to 4,000, led by Roman Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, who refused to be subordinate either to the Germans or to Fascist party functionaries. The presence of additional right-wing groups, such as the monarchists and factions within the newly formed MSI, made cohesion difficult.
   Despite his undeniable abilities and skill as an orator, Almirante was replaced in 1950 by Augusto De Marsanich, who was determined to make the party an accepted player in the Italian Republic. The MSI continued on this path under the leadership of Arturo Michelini, chosen in 1954, whose network of contacts in his native Rome provided entry to both Vatican and bourgeois Roman circles. Events surrounding the government of Fernando Tambroni, however, made it difficult to put the MSI at the core of a parliamentary right. When Michelini died unexpectedly in 1969, the party chose Almirante to replace him. He began to combine the strategies of antiregime agitation with the pursuit of legitimation as the party of “law and order.” Almirante managed to tie to himself GiuseppeRauti, the hotheaded street fighter and founder of the neo-Nazi movement Ordine Nuovo. Afew senior military officers (Admiral Birindelli, General Giovanni De Lorenzo, and General Vito Miceli) were drawn to the party after the 1972 merger with the monarchists of the Destra Nazionale/National Right (DN), thus creating the MSI-DN. By 1980, the MSI had put aside the cudgel in favor of the doublebreasted suit, becoming the party of opposition to (leftist) terrorism, the drug culture, abortion, and divorce, and—with similar energy— becoming the advocate of a French-style presidency for Italy. Almirante visited the United States and even paid homage at the funeral of Enrico Berlinguer in the Rome headquarters of the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI). The reborn MSI-DN offered corporatism as an alternative to unbridled capitalism. A strong state, hierarchy, discipline, authority and obedience, acceptance of the Fascist years as an integral part of Italy’s recent past and not an anomaly: These core beliefs purported to defend the “dignity and interests of the Italian people” in the Mediterranean, Europe, and the world.
   Before Almirante died in the spring of 1988, he led the MSI to elect as secretary Gianfranco Fini, born seven years after World War II. Fini has held that position since 1988, except for the period January 1990 to July 1991, when Rauti was secretary. Fini’s program included the death penalty, lower taxes, harsh anti-immigrant legislation, and revision of the 1975 Treaty of Osimo settling the borders with Yugoslavia. Fini was the last leader of the MSI. Under his guidance, the party transformed itself into the Alleanza Nazionale/ National Alliance (AN) in 1994–1995 in an attempt to make the neofascist movement a pole of attraction for the many conservative voters disillusioned by the moral decline of the DC and alarmed by the growing strength of the Italian left.
   See also Immigration; Solo Plan; Strategia della Tensione.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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