Fascism and the Establishment

Italy: The stratergy of tension 

"some Fascists in the group of terrorists in question worked for the Carbinieri (a police unit) , that others had contact with the army or the police and that they received valuable and timely information in the progress of investigation into their activities"(1)
-From the report of an Italian parliamentary committee of inquiry.

"The workers struggles of 1968-69, Italy's Hot Autumn, deeply engraved the economic structure of the country and modified the balance of forces. After these struggles, the Left was stronger and power weaker. . . .objectively. The damage provoked by the workers insubordination was very serious indeed"

"Even before '69 many militant and autonomous struggles developed, in particular PIRELLI in Milan, neither controlled by the Unions at the level of organization nor dominated by them at the level of the content of the demands. Tangible wage increases, plus less work were the two main themes of that period. The behaviour of the proletariat can be summed up in the slogan of the period: BETTER WAGES, SHORTER HOURS.

Violent strikes broke out in Alfa Romeo and in Fiat. Rioting took place in many towns, the most serious in Reggio Calabria where tens of thousands of people fought against the troops" (2)

" right-wing political violence most strongly manifestated itself in the late 1960s and early 1970s . This was a period of student and youth agitation , new social movements including women's and gay liberation , widespread social unrest and trade union militancy in Italy . This was accompanied by a massive increase in electoral support for the Communists - peaking at over a third of the vote in the 1976 elections . The neo-Fascist terrorists groups of this period were a backlash against all this left wing activity and also against the emergence of left wing terrorist groups such as the Red Brigades .terrorists of the right .... often planted bombs in public places which killed dozens of innocent bystanders and passers-by . All this was part of a so-called 'strategy of tension' , a campaign designed to lead to a breakdown of law and order and consequent collapse of public confidence in democratically elected government , precipitating a takeover by the army. Indeed in the 1960s and 1970s there were several coup attempts." (3)

On December the 12th 1969 the bombing began, with one bomb in Milan and three in Rome. The bombs in Rome left eighteen wounded, the bomb in Milan killed seventeen and injured eighty-eight. Police acting on information from S.I.D. ( intelligence agency) arrested two anarchists for the Milan bomb, later murdering one of them , Giuseppe Pinelli , with a fake suicide. Despite mounting evidence that this was a Fascist bomb, the official party line for years afterward was blame the Anarchists. Later the Establishment view changed and the idea that this was a joint operation between Anarchists and Fascists is propounded! Eventually a number of Fascists are tried, convicted and imprisoned but are acquitted, as is the surviving Anarchist. One of the bombers acquitted for "lack of evidence" was Guido Giannette a S.I.D. agent.. When Giannette became a suspect, the secret state sent him out of Italy and continued to pay his wages after the arrest warrant had been issued.

In twelve years from 1969 to 1980 4,298 terrorist incidents take place of these Fascists were responsible for 68% and most of the deaths, the basic pattern repeated again and again is as described above, the left is blamed, there is a high degree of collusion and those responsible usually get off scot free and with a hell of a lot less international political and media attention than the famous Red Brigades.

In September 1974 the head of S.I.D.(secret service) Vito Micelli was implicated in an attempted Fascist coup d'etat in 1970 - after a secret report from his own agency reached the Prime Minister's desk. He then nailed his colours to the mast and stood and won as a M.S.I. (Fascist) parliamentary candidate.

By 1977 S.I.D. was so embroiled in scandal that it was replaced by a 'new' secret service - S.I.S.M.I. . Then came what was at the time the worst single terrorist atrocity in European history. On the 2nd of August 1980 a bomb exploded in the second class waiting room of Bologna railway station. Eighty-five people were killed and over two hundred wounded, Bologna was a Communist Party electoral stronghold and had been targeted previously. Ten years later a number of S.I.S.M.I. officers were on trial for this atrocity, they included a General Secretary, a General and a Colonel. Their convictions were later quashed. As we have seen these were by no means the only incidents of far-right terror and state collusion with it in Italy at that time, for example repeatedly the secret services created false trails of evidence leading away from the perpetrators of rightist violence. One might wonder what motivated it and indeed what motivated the virtually indiscriminate terror itself, the whole story would have remained in the realms of conjecture and could be dismissed as speculation but for chance. During investigations into a banking scandal police searched the home of Licio Gelli. Gelli had fought for Mussolini's reborn Roman Empire in Spain, Yugoslavia and Albania and when Italian Fascism crumbled he joined the Nazi S.S. . After the war Gelli worked on the 'Ratlines' - the Vatican and C.I.A. sponsored escape routes for Nazi fugitives. Later he dealt arms in Latin America and reputedly became the linkman between the C.I.A. and Juan Peron the Argentine dictator. Searching his home, the police came across a list of over six hundred names and evidence linking them to a Freemason group called Propaganda-2 or P-2. Now freemasonry or any other oath-bound secret society is illegal in Catholic Italy, but of course totally unremarkable as this would be but for the membership of P-2. P-2 recruited from the "elite" of Italian society. It included within it's ranks one hundred and ninety five military officers, two serving Ministers, three ex-Ministers, one Party Secretary, sixteen Magistrates, four hundred and twenty two State officials, thirty six M.P.'s as well as Secret Service heads and various bankers and capitalists (see footnote 1). Magistrates investigating the Bologna bombing found that P-2 directed much of the Fascist violence and associated cover-ups and distortion. Gelli was P-2's 'venerable master' (that's leader to us mere mortals) and in 1986 he stood trial for his part in the 1980 Bologna bombing and was acquitted but found guilty of perjury. On the fourth of August 1974 a train bombing near Bologna killed twelve and injured forty-eight. A 1983 trial judgement on this atrocity found :

"In the opinion of the parties claiming damages, the accused members of 'Ordine Nuovo' (New Order) were inspired, armed and financed to carry out the attack by the Masonic movement, which took advantage of right-wing subversives and terrorists, within the context of the so-called 'strategy of tension' in an attempt to halt the country's gradual drift to the left and set up the basis for a future coup d'etat" (4)

This was the P-2's plan, by means of terror in the style of agent provocateur promote a law and order agenda and provide a pretext for a clampdown on dissent and worker's struggle, if necessary a coup d'etat would be part of this. However given that P- 2 constituted a 'State within the State', a coup would be the option of last resort and would happen if for instance the Communist party entered a coalition government. Another organisation in the murky shadows of Italy's secret state shared the same ends and means as P-2. It however was official, if covert, it was called 'Gladio' (sword). Gladio was set up in 1958 by S.I.F.O.R. (Italian secret service, later replaced because it was suspected of involvement in a 1964 coup plot) and the C.I.A. . It's 15,000 members were recruited from W.W. 2 veterans groups and had access to 151 secret arms dumps. The purpose of Gladio was, (it was apparently disbanded in 1990, but then it didn't officially exist until then) we are told, to act as a resistance group in the event of a 'Warsaw pact invasion', a 'Soviet takeover'. Why any Russians would want to take over the radiation desert Italy would have become after a nuclear war, which would have been the result of any Warsaw pact invasion of Italy or any other N.A.T.O. sate is beyond me. In fact by the time it would have taken for 'Soviet' tanks to have reached Italy there would have been no more Pentagon or Kremlin to give orders. Secret Gladio documents made public in 1990 tell a different story, they tell of the danger of 'internal subversion' i.e. the working class. According to General Gerardo Serravalle, commander of Gladio during the 1970's, it was concerned with:

"Internal control, that is our level of readiness to counter street demonstrations, handling nationwide strikes and any internal uprising"

and Gladio's role was to:

"Fill the streets, creating a situation of such tension as to require military intervention"(5)

In other words P-2's 'Strategy of Tension' create chaos as a pretext, a justification for repression.

Unsurprisingly this was all made public as the result of a lone magistrate's inquiries into the slaying of three police officers by a car bomb in 1972. Dusty, dated secret service records show that the bombers were members of Gladio. They had even used Gladio explosives. One of the bombers, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, has claimed that the group thought responsible 'Ordine Nuovo' was a secret service invention. Gladio was part of a Europe wide network of secret armies of the night established under N.A.T.O. auspices and in Greece, Turkey and Belgium they are believed to have been involved in terrorism and coup d'etat. The German section was comprised of Waffen S.S. veterans who drew up plans to assassinate Social Democrat politicians in the event of a 'Warsaw pact invasion'.

According to Mike Peters writing in Lobster no.32:

"Few citizens of N.A.T.O. countries are aware of the whole apparatus which to membership commits them e.g. Plans 10-G and 100-1 under which in 'emergency situations' special U.S. units would be activated to suppress any movement 'threatening to U.S. strategic interests'"(6)

It must be remembered that these events took place against a backdrop of unprecedented American intervention in Italy's political life, including $100 million in covert funding of political parties and a fine example of gunboat democracy during the first post-Mussolini election when the U.S. Mediterranean Fleet was poised off the coast near Rome ready to send in the Marines should the electorate make the wrong decision. Although the 'venerable master' Gelli was a regular visitor to the U.S. Embassy and has had rumours of C.I.A. links surface around him it is not clear, what, if any role was played by the C.I.A. in these events, in the least benevolent neutrality was more than likely their attitude. Whatever the case may be, the ghosts of the Greek military coup of 1967 hang over the murky shadows where Italy's secret state and fascist underground meet. This coup and subsequent military regime enjoyed full U.S. backing and was headed by one Colonel Papadopoulos a C.I.A. agent. Shortly before this during a dispute with the Greek Ambassador over American proposals to partition Cyprus, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson delivered the following tirade:

"Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant, Cyprus is a flea, Greece is a flea. If these two fellows continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephants trunk, whacked good . . . . If your Prime Minister gives me more talk about democracy, parliament and constitution, he, his, parliament and his constitution may not last very long" (7)


(1) Quoted in 'The Darkside of Europe' by Geoffrey Harris page 113. (2) 'The Ripening of Time no.12: Italy Documents of Struggle' page 11. (3) 'The Fascist Experience in Italy' by John Pollard page 132/ (4) as (1) (5) Quoted in 'The Beast Reawakens' by Martin Lee page 206. (6) Lobster 32 page 3 (footnote) (7) Quoted in 'Turning the Tide' by Noam Chomsky.  

Postscript: In March 2001 , General Maletti , commander of the counter-intelligence section of Italy's military intelligence , claimed , at a trial of various Fascists for one of the 1969 bombings , that "The C.I.A., following the directives of it's government, wanted to create an Italian nationalism capable of halting what it saw as a slide to the left and , for this purpose , it may have made use of rightwing terrorism. I believe this is what happened in other countries as well" (Quoted in the Guardian of March 26th 2001)

Footnote 1: including Silvio Berlusconi , later to be Italian Prime Minister . Berlusconi was head of Group 17 &endash; P2's media section tasked with influencing public opinion and with P-2's help moved into the television business , his companies now dominate the Italian media and have been instrumental in his election success in a coalition with the 'National Alliance' a split from the old Fascist part . The Media in Italy continues to link the modern radical left with the 'days of lead', with i.e. the terrorism of the 70ies. No comment necessary.


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