CasaPound Italia is a pseudo-political organisation which promotes a nationalistic and fascist ideology. Their name translates to House of Pound. This is a nod to Ezra Pound (1885-1972), the American poet who espoused the virtues of fascism in his Cantos, an incomplete poem of 116 sections (or cantos) written between 1915 and 1962.

It’s a pseudo-political organisation because, although it has a membership of some 5,000 to 6,000 people, it has never been able to win any seats or mount a serious campaign in any election.

The last weeks of May 2016 found me visiting Rome with some family members. We were staying in a friend’s apartment on Via Di, S. Giovanni In Laterano, a long avenue which leads down from Palazzo Lateranense to the world renowned Colosseo. It was during one of our walks to this amazing historical site that I saw signs warning of possible disruptions on the coming Saturday, 21st May. I made a few enquiries and immediately my interest was piqued. There was to be a demonstration and rally by a fascist group. A bit more research and some questions to my Italian friends told me that the organisation holding this demonstration and rally were CasaPound. I found out that they had come into the public eye in December 2003 when they occupied a state-owned building on Via Napoleone III which, at the time, was empty. They have been squatting in this building ever since. And, it was from this HQ that the demonstration was due to start.

On 26th June 2019, the leader and founder of CasaPound, Gianluca Iannone, announced that they were no longer a political party and that they would be going back to their roots as a social movement.

Gianluca Iannone, founder of CasaPound Italia at the march in May 2016

It’s very easy to dismiss the likes of CasaPound as a bunch of crack-pot thugs with minimal support. However, we mustn’t forget the rise of Nigel Farage in the UK, Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in The Netherlands, Frauke Petry in Germany and, the front runner of far-right populist clap trap, Donald Trump in the USA’s White House.

Attending and photographing this demonstration brought it home to me just how dangerous it can be to ignore these groups. Sure, some of them looked like thugs and were blatant in their fascist ideals.

However, the shear volume of demonstrators, the flags being waved and, the banners being held aloft made it clear to me that the messages resonated. That perhaps there were ordinary decent Italians in that crowd.

Or, maybe they were just better at hiding their fascistic tendencies.

Less than a month after this demonstration, the UK went to the polls to vote in the EU Referendum. As we know, the Brits voted to Leave and the UK has been in the quagmire that is BREXIT ever since. Some have argued that the grandees in Brussels have tried to make it particularly difficult for the UK to leave the EU. That they don’t want BREXIT to trigger a domino effect of other countries also voting to leave the EU. I don’t subscribe to that notion but, I cannot deny the level of anti-EU sentiment which was on display.

CasaPound and Anti-EU supporters from France, Spain and Greece. The black flag is that of the Greek fascist group called Golden Dawn.

As the march reached its final stages, perhaps rather fittingly in front of the Colosseo, flares were lit and the chants grew in volume.

From here, the demonstrators were turning right into Parco del Colle Oppio where the final rally was to be held. I couldn’t help but look around me at this beautiful and historic city that I have loved for so many years. I couldn’t help but ask myself what the hell was happening to our world.

“Siam pronti alla morte, l’Italia chiamo” We are ready to die, Italy call
“Italia: risorgi, combatti, vinci!” Italy: resurrect, fight, win!

My eyes, and my camera, fell on this guy. I still wonder what must have been going on in his mind.

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