(Analysis) Fascism for the Third Millennium in Latin America

Alex Pietrantoni
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An advertisement for the groups playing at the Empire Strikes Back, show in Mexico City. Shock.co.

Desperados Division, Rock Fascista, and Fascism for the Third Millennium

 In November of 2022 a Fascist Rock Concert in Mexico City, The Empire Strikes Back, publicly demonstrated the growing re-emergence of trans-Atlantic links with Fascism in Latin America. Attendance, in the grand scheme of things, was relatively low, allegedly several hundred, but it represented a critical point of contact between the established Italian and Spanish Nationalist Rock scenes and the burgeoning Mexican Nationalist Rock genre. As per social media, this was only the most recent of multiple Fascist Rock shows, which included some of the most widely known Italian and Spanish acts such as Bronson. The emergence of this connection demonstrates that culturally and politically, the Latin American Nationalist Scene is undergoing a significant evolution. The Empire Strikes Back concert demonstrates this shift in Mexico and Latin America towards Fascist Rock as a stand-in for youth culture and away from the traditional clerical associations of Latin American Fascism. To better understand this evolution, it is necessary to briefly examine the history of Fascist Rock, Fascism since the Second World War, and Fascism in Latin America.

Following World War II, in both Europe and Latin America, political struggle was transposed onto the cultural field. Nationalist music and youth culture were utilized to provide unifying slogans, ideas, and function in the place of more traditional means of political organizing such as political parties. In Europe, this is best exemplified by Camp Hobbit in Italy which served as one of the most clearly observable points of ideological development and dissemination across the Neofascist milieu. Today, Fascist Rock has been influential in the Italian and Spanish Far Right, serving as a bridge between older generations of militants and young dissidents. It has helped communicate multiple changes in orientation and style that have reflected broader political changes. Fascist Rock arose in the 1980s as Rock Against Communism in the UK and in countries such as Italy, Spain, and Latin America hardcore or alternative groups such as  Zetazeroalfa – a major inspiration and point of reference for Casapound Italia rose to prominence in the early 2000s.

As Casapound has expanded its reach in Italy and its brand/image internationally, its “Fascism for the Third Millennium” has inspired similar groups and organizations such as Hogar Social, Cossack House, and other contemporary Fascist organizations across the world. While Fascism for the Third Millennium has an overt dimension, it is helpful to think of it as a style both of action and aesthetics that help to differentiate Casapound and other Fascist groups from more traditional organizations or parties. Rupe Tarpea the label behind, Zetazeroalfa, has evolved in time with Neofascist ideology and promoted Bronson which serves as a link between multiple groups, genres, and tendencies within the Neofascist milieu. It is no coincidence that Bronson played the “Tequila Sunrise” show in Mexico City in 2022, demonstrating the growing nexus between Fascism for the Third Millennium and Latin America and serving as the ambassador of Fascism for the Third Millennium. Tequila Sunrise was another show organized by Desperados Division which also organized The Empire Strikes Back though it seemingly has not been covered publicly.

Bronson’s Debut Album. Apple Music.

Fascism in Europe and Latin America Post-War

Before delving into the present, it is important to briefly establish the long and often obscure history of Fascism in Southern Europe and Latin America. After the capitulation of the Axis Powers, Fascists for the moment suffered from absolute ideological disorientation. In Germany, the total defeat and subsequent partition into zones of occupation ensured that those committed Fascists who remained did so without overtly expressing their ideals. In Italy, where the defeat was not as total as Nazi Germany, the surviving Fascist veterans and ideologues were in a radically changed world but relatively united as a political force. This unity was eroded slightly by the emergence of the post-war Italian parties – the Christian Democrats (DC), Communists (PCI), and Socialists (PSI). Surviving Fascists entered all of the above, with some repubblichini (adherents to the Repubblica Sociale Italiano) entering the PCI and PSI in a political evolution similar to some Nazi veterans in East Germany entering the National Democratic Party of Germany. Some young Fascists continued the armed struggle for Fascism immediately by forming organizations [ITALIAN ONLY] such as Legione Nera or the journal “Imperium”,  but the majority of RSI veterans coalesced around the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) which came to be the fourth party of Italy. While there would remain a vibrant current of revolutionary thought and action on both the Right and Left, the extra-parliamentary extremes would always remain relatively marginal despite some sensational armed actions.

Elsewhere in Europe, Fascism survived in more clandestine environments and underwent drastic ideological mutations. Francis Parker Yockey, an American Lawyer at the Nuremberg trials, founded the Fascist International. Yockey himself authored Imperium a text that serves as a critical reference point for some elements of the English-speaking Far Right. He can be considered the father of a current of thought which combined traditional Nazism with non-National Socialist thinkers. While at the time this was limited to Spengler who already had some following from among the milieu surrounding the NSDAP, over time this syncretic current would expand to include bodies of work such as Hindu mythology or esotericism. Germanic Fascism in ideological disarray is matched by Italian Neofascism assimilating the thought of Julius Evola as a central component largely motivated by successive youth movements within the Neofascist milieu.

The defeat of the Axis powers in Europe in some ways freed Fascism from its two necessary reference points the Kingdom of Italy and the German Reich. While there were many Philo-Fascist organizations in Latin America from the 1920s-1945, it was only after the end of the Second World War that the first major original thinker associated with contemporary Neofascism arose from the region, Miguel Serrano. Serrano was a distinguished poet, diplomat, and student of esotericism, with a secondary dimension of being the key proponent of Esoteric Hitlerism. This nebulous belief system is partially elaborated through his text Nos, the Book of Resurrection as well as through the Hindu-Nazism of Savitri Devi in the Lighting and the Sun. Both posit Hitler as a quasi-divine or mystical manifestation of the will and outline, in line with some tendencies within the thought of Julius Evola, a cosmic struggle between the Solar/Uranian Masculine and Warlike Race with the Lunar/Telluric Race.

Because of its marginal position in relation to national politics, Neofascism in Italy and Esoteric Hitlerism were able to delve into subjects such as the Solar versus Lunar Cosmic Conflict, Traditionalism, and fantasy literature. In Latin America in the immediate post-war era, parties and individuals influenced by or who supported Fascism had a fundamentally different ideological trajectory both as a result of the regional context and the roots of regional “Fascist” thought.

Miguel Serrano. Goodreads.

Fascism in Latin America – A helpful word?

Unlike Europe, Latin America had a distinctly Catholic current of thought due to the influence of French reactionary thinkers such as Joseph de Maistre and Charles Maurras which minimized the influence of both German National Socialism and Italian Fascism. This is most observable in Argentina and Nacionalismo which saw successive iterations of reactionary catholic intellectuals develop centers and vehicles of ideological struggle such as the journal Cabildo before finally achieving a share of national power with the Junta established in 1976.

Across the region in Brazil and in Mexico, similar struggles took place between the secular and religious – specifically the catholic revolutionary right. The Gold Shirts for instance, were always a minor player compared with the larger milieu surrounding the Cristeros and post-Cristero Catholic nationalists; Brazilian Integralism, which enjoyed the largest degree of membership and public influence across the region, also conceptualized itself as a fundamentally spiritual manifestation. In Argentina throughout the 20th century, as a result of the influence of the Catholic – Reactionary intellectuals affiliated with Argentine Nacionalismo enjoyed a relationship with the state that was limited to cultural influence and some ministerial positions. Nacionalista figures with a relatively modern example of Father Julio Meinvielle and conceptualized the rule of the Junta as the restoration of the catholic order, demonstrating the centrality of Catholicism in comparison with the Romanticist/Volkish National Socialism and the Statist Fascism.

Because of these difficulties and the position of “Fascist” movements in Latin America as largely reactionary and lacking the revolutionary impetus of the PNF or NSDAP, it is inappropriate to talk of a genuinely Latin American Fascism unless we accept that Fascism has come to signify far more than the body of ideas animating the March on Rome in 1922. Fascism in the current discourse can be viewed as a nebulous but interconnected milieu composed of a variety of radical ideologies and groups that have common themes of rejecting liberalism and materialism. This allows us to examine Fascism, Neofascism, National Socialism, Falangism, and others as manifestations of the same weltanschauung as related concepts despite potential political conflicts or inconsistencies. Accepting Fascism as a loose term that defines a broad worldview instead of a discrete ideology and system allows us to discuss Latin American Fascism as well as meaningfully engage with the categorization on the part of a multitude of actors of various post-war and contemporary regimes as Fascistic. In the absence of this adjustment, we would be limited to discussing some minor political parties with limited influence and flirting with the Ur-Fascism of Umberto Ecco which, while potentially a useful starting point, lacks the specificity to help us.

Militants of Nationalist Front: Fatherland and Freedom (Patria y Libertad), a Chilean Nationalist Organization decried by some as Fascist/Fascist inspired. Laizquierdadiario.

Latin America does not neatly fit into the categories of right – left. Many movements can be classified as “Fascist” or “Fascist inspired” only in that they espouse a worldview that refutes elements of either liberal or socialist modernity. Common examples often include the figure of Juan Peron and Argentina but some of the military governments of the 1970s-1980s, the Cuban Revolution, Bolivarianism, and Colombian Paramilitarism, all could be understood as simultaneously Fascist/Fascist Inspired or Socialist/Socialist Inspired depending on which facet an observer examined. The ideological eccentricities of the latter half of the 20th century, the necessity to define ideologies and regimes in relation to the two principal world powers, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, has led to a loose definition of Fascist or Socialist that often overlapped in the so-called “third world”. This was further complicated by the Sino-Soviet split, with the People’s Republic of China defining regimes allied with the USSR as “Hitlerite” and the United States recognizing movements such as the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot as legitimate authorities. The Bolivian Socialist Falange provides a perfect symbolic example of the contradictions within revolutionary movements and difficulties in the region, demonstrating that the paradigm of right and left is not necessarily a helpful lens in Latin America.

As an arena of great power competition, Latin America has also had multiple Fascist or para-Fascist organizations such as the Alianza Anticomunista de Argentina (AAA) with established links to international Fascist organizations or non-fascist intelligence services. A prime example of this relationship is the career of Stefano della Chiaie who was active in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and across Latin America as an organizer, militant, and allegedly terrorist. Serving multiple causes with Neofascist ambitions, influences, or supporters. Della Chiaie demonstrates the embryonic connections between Nationalist organizations as mediated by networks of individuals. This further complicates not only what or who constitutes a Fascist but also what or who constitutes a Latin American Fascist. Categories that seek to divide movements and tendencies into clearly demarcated Fascist – Anti-Fascist, Communist – Capitalist, etc. lack the specificity to assist in our search for the nebulous Latin American Fascism in order to establish exactly what is motivating the growth of a modern and youth-centric Fascist milieu in Mexico City as evidenced by the emergence of Fascist Rock.

Stefano Delle Chiaie. ANSA.

Fascism in Latin America Today 

In the public mind, Fascism is on the rise and represents a profound threat to the rules-based international order. However, Fascism is not demonstrably surging to seize state power in Europe, North America, or Latin America, despite the election of several Right-Wing candidates. The emergence of Mexican Fascist Rock as a genre with links to the thriving scenes in Italy and Spain does however highlight that cultural Fascism in Latin America may be growing into a new and more dynamic form. While there is no evidence of a viable political vehicle for Fascist ideas, ongoing regional conflicts may provide fertile soil for the development of new Fascist political projects. Previous Fascist movements in Latin America have been defined negatively, by conceptualizing success in preventing the victory of their ideological adversaries (Communists). Fascist Rock and the beginning of a development of regionally significant ideas or points of reference within the Fascist milieu may signify a transition to a more active and totalizing concept of victory.

Attendance of a few hundred at a Fascist Rock concert does not demonstrate the birth and inexorable rise of Mexican or Latin American Fascism, but it does signify that contrary to some observers’ assertions, Fascism is not dead nor is it fossilized into archaic forms. Accepting that Fascism today resembles the Fascism of 1922 only in an abstract sense, it is possible to observe conditions today across Latin America that may provide fertile ground for the crystallization of new revolutionary politics. In general, The Empire Strikes Back, Tequila Sunrise, and other Fascist Rock shows signify not only is Fascism reestablishing previous trans-Atlantic connections with Italian and Spanish organizations but that there is a growing youth element within the “Fascist milieu”. Fascism in Latin America and across the modern world may resemble the totalitarianism of the 20th century only in weltanschauung, but this should not lead to it being discounted as a cheap imitation. Fascism for the Third Millennium demonstrates the staying power of the Third Way Ideology and concerts such as the Empire Strikes Back demonstrate that there remain successful efforts to appeal to the “springtime of beauty”.

Suggested Readings:

Threats to Democracy, Franco Ferraresi

Authoritarian Argentina, David Rock

Transatlantic Fascism, Federico Finchelstein

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(Analysis) Fascism for th…

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