Genuinely Weird

This is not Italy

One of the stranger things I’ve seen in the paper recently: Jason Horowitz, Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader:

ROME — Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader who is likely to be the next prime minister of Italy, used to dress up as a hobbit and attended “Camp Hobbit” a gathering of hard-right youth.

As a youth activist in the post-Fascist Italian Social Movement, she and her fellowship of militants, with nicknames like Frodo and Hobbit, revered “The Lord of the Rings” and other works by the British writer J.R.R. Tolkien. They visited schools in character. They gathered at the “sounding of the horn of Boromir” for cultural chats. She attended “Hobbit Camp” and sang along with the extremist folk band Compagnia dell’Anello, or Fellowship of the Ring.

All of that might seem some youthful infatuation with a work usually associated with fantasy-fiction and big-budget epics rather than political militancy. But in Italy, “The Lord of the Rings” has for a half-century been a central pillar upon which descendants of post-Fascism reconstructed a hard-right identity, looking to a traditionalist mythic age for symbols, heroes and creation myths free of Fascist taboos.

Worth reading the whole article. Incidentally, the article suggests that,

Ms. Meloni …. said she had learned from dwarves and elves and hobbits the “value of specificity” with “each indispensable for the fact of being particular.” She extrapolated that as a lesson about protecting Europe’s sovereign nations and unique identities.

Given the history, I expected her to say it sounded like (20th Century Italian Fascist) corporatism. But, no, it’s just dressing up 21st Century nationalism and bigotry.

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