The enduring legacy of the Lenin bust is a story about present-day Italy and the country’s long history of activism — the kind that shaped a small town’s identity for over a century and continues to do so — but also about far-right sentiments carving out ever-larger spaces in national politics.
The beating heart of populism is telling people what they want to hear, which is, by its very nature, nation-specific. You need to speak to your audience’s particular weaknesses, fears and wounded pride. Italians have a phrase, “He spoke to the stomach of the people.” And that’s what Berlusconi did.
Giorgia Meloni’s efforts to “Make Italy Great Again” aim to purge the negative memory of fascism as a kind of “black spot” in Italian history for a defensive anger against those who seek to saddle Italians with a feeling of guilt.
Around half the workforce employed in Italian agriculture are migrants. They are denied fair wages and exploited by employers. But in addition to this exploitation, workers are stratified by their country of origin and a new racial apartheid has emerged in one of Europe’s largest exporters of fruit and vegetables.