Giorgio Almirante bigraphy, stories - Italian journalist

Giorgio Almirante : biography

27 June 1914 - 22 May 1988

Giorgio Almirante (27 June 1914 – 22 May 1988) was an Italian politician, the founder and leader of the Italian Social Movement until his retirement in 1987.

Early life

Almirante was born at Salsomaggiore Terme, in Emilia Romagna, the son of the actor Mario Almirante.Roger Eatwell, Fascism - A History, 2003, p. 249 He spent his childhood following his parents, who worked in the theatre, in Turin and Rome. Here he studied under Giovanni Gentile, the then pre-eminent pro-fascist philosopher. He graduated in Literature in 1937.

Retirement

Dogged by poor health, Almirante stepped down as leader at the 1987 National Congress and saw the leadership pass to his protégé Gianfranco Fini.Ignazi, Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, p. 42 Fini had been close to Almirante since 1977 when the MSI leader had Fini appointed chief of the MSI youth movement even though he had only finished seventh in the members vote.Ferraresi, Threats to Democracy, p. 211 Almirante died in Rome on 22 May 1988.

Italian Social Movement

Leadership

Following the defeat of fascism Almirante was indicted on charges that he ordered the shooting of partisans in 1944, although a general amnesty saw this lifted.Ferraresi, Threats to Democracy, p. 210 He initially fled Italy after the war but returned in 1946 to set up his own small fascist group which was quickly absorbed into the Italian Social Movement (MSI), which was set up the same year. Almirante was chosen as leader of the new party in part because of his low profile, as the higher-ranking members of the fascist regime involved in the MSI opted instead to take on behind the scenes roles.Piero Ignazi, Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, 2006, p. 36 Representing a radical faction within the party, Almirante's group lost ground as more moderate elements gained influence in the party; this tendency soon gained the upper hand, forcing Almirante to give way to Augusto De Marsanich as leader in 1950.Ignazi, Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, p. 37 He had intimated his support for the Europe a nation ideas prevalent at the time but failed to convince the party to take a position against De Marsanich's pro-NATO policy.Eatwell, Fascism, p. 251

Opposition

During the mid-1950s Almirante, disquieted by the drift towards conservatism under De Marsanich and his successor Arturo Michelini, resigned his position on the National Council to become a critic of the leadership. He emphasised the proletarian origins of fascism against the new conservatism and argued for 'quality' rather than 'quantity' in government, endorsing expert-driven elites instead of liberal democracy. However, he stopped short of the route taken by the other leading dissident Pino Rauti by remaining within the party. Like Rauti however he became increasingly influenced in his thought by Evola, even hailing the philosopher as "our Marcuse - only better".Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun, 2003, p. 67

In his role as leader of the internal opposition Almirante was not averse to employing the tactics of the Blackshirts, and indeed in 1968 he was one of three leaders of a 'punitive expedition' against student radicals at the Fine Arts Department at the University of Rome. However, Almirante and some 200 followers were routed and in the end had to be protected by the police.Ferraresi, Threats to Democracy, p. 66

Return to the leadership

Almirante regained the leadership of the party in 1969 following the death of Michelini. By now his own opinions had shifted somewhat towards a more moderate position as he soon declared his own support for democracy. On this basis he aimed to attract more conservative elements to the MSI, while simultaneously passing reforms that strengthened the power of the party secretary in order to pre-empt opposition from the radical tendency with which he had previously been associated.Ignazi, Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, pp. 38-9 He also sought to 'historicise' fascism and dropped the more overt references to the ideology from MSI propaganda and rhetoric, notably shelving the black shirt and the Roman salute.Cheles, Ferguson, and Vaughan, Neo-Fascism in Europe, p. 44

Living octopus

Living octopus

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