Italy: Sub-Cultural Hegemony and “Liquid Times”

Stefanie Prezioso


In the late 1980s, Stuart Hall warned the Left against its dangerous failure to comprehend the implications of the political, cultural and social changes in European societies, embodied by what he called “authoritarian populism”. He advocated a “return to the subjective” in order to fully grasping what had irrevocably changed our living conditions “working on and through us.”
Based simultaneously on the search for “active popular consent” and on coercion (restricting and then repressing collective freedoms), this populism of a new type deployed a strong array of cultural tropes for its ideological legitimation: the end of history (Fukuyama), an emphasis on individual liberties, a stigmatization of social rights, and a widespread believe that There Is No Alternative. This no doubts constitutes one of the greatest ideological victories of capitalism’s organic intellectuals.
In the last thirty years, Italy has been a test case in order to understand the full implications of "authoritarian populism”, a policy well embodied by berlusconism: “an eclectic ideology made of populism, extreme individualism, historical revisionism, and the use of religion instrumentally as a foundation for identity politics”. My paper will focus on its historical roots which took hold long before Berlusconi’s 1994 dramatic entry into politics and on why this "right wing culture" seems to resist his leaving politics.

Italy - Populism - Right Wing