­This article has been corrected on October 13, 2022*

After two years of pandemic and profound social divisions, Italy finds itself with the group of the most radicalized and obsessive parties that have been seen since the end of the First Republic in 1992 after the Tangentopoli (Bribesville) scandal, once again proving to be a political laboratory for those tensions that the ruling class is unable to manage. This is an area that gathers support from groups that were considered 'sovereignist' and 'constitutionalist' in the last decade, and tries to push them beyond the right and the left', even at the cost of falling back into the same stereotypes that the so-called mainstream media attach to it.

Three, in particular, are the parties that, after having trained in the 'public squares of dissent' (often more virtual than physical) against vaccines and the COVID travel restrictions, are now trying to give voice to a transversality of ideas that they themselves claim as ‘red-brown’. The term is a bit superficial, however it sums up well a pact that embraces both of the social democratic tradition and the radical right, and even libertarianism, mixing propaganda and fake news.

From Sara Cunial to the 3V Movement: novaxers reunited

The first of these three political subjects is called Vita, a coalition that includes the 3V Movement (Vaccini Vogliamo Verità - ‘we want the truth about vaccines’) by Luca Teodori, the independent parliamentarian Sara Cunial, the former grillino (supporter of Beppe Grillo, founder of the 5-Star movement) and regional councilor Davide Barillari, anti-lockdown business owners, the Popolo delle Mamme, the Italian Stop 5G Alliance, and even the actor Enrico Montesano, among others.

Vita's program takes every aspect of the vaccine-skeptical movement to extremes and makes it absolute, placing it in the context of the European Union, the euro and military alliances, employing an almost New Age defense of all environmental issues. The main mind is Stefano Montanari, a nanopathologist and supporter of pseudo theories on vaccines made with aborted fetuses and a contributing cause of autism in children.

It is no coincidence that Montanari's campaign these days consists in promoting a documentary by the discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield called Vaxxed, which would corroborate his electorate’s fears. Montanari is also known for having dealt with chemtrails, and for a bizarre story about a microscope given to him by Beppe Grillo to find nanoparticles in incinerators. A couple of years ago he launched Sfero, "the first totally Italian, free and independent social network", in which the most read articles speak of the Russian invasion as another possible world, develop hypotheses on the "false moon landing" and let third order comedians vent, like Sandro Torella, who always keeps a sexist joke always in the barrel.

Sovereign, popular and conspiracy theorist: the new galaxy of Marco Rizzo

Now let's move to Ukraine. The independent journalist, geopolitical expert and 'free thinker' Franco Fracassi who, after comparing the green pass to the yellow star of the Jews, was pushed by his audience to go to Mariupol to do what he says the rest of the hired journalists do not: a real investigation. Helped along the way by the separatist troops, his mission is to reveal to the world that under the Azovstal steel mills there is a bio-laboratory related to the Covid pandemic and the Great Reset (a proposal to rebuild the economy on a more sustainable basis, launched at the World Economic Forum in 2020, which in the anti-lockdown segments was read as a form of ultra-technocratic restoration).

Unfortunately for him, Russian troops prevent him from entering when they see what he’s up to. Fracassi takes this turn of events to its obvious conclusion: there really must be something under the steel mill.

This is just one example of the kinds of militants associated with Italia Sovrana e Popolare, a new party that wants to contest the votes of the 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the Lega through ambiguous slogans that propose the equivalence of interests between precarious workers, taxi drivers and the entrepreneurial petty bourgeoisie in the name of the common 'national interest' and support for Russian imperialism. It is given around 1 percent in the polls. This apparently ultra-populist 'thing' was born from the merger of about fifteen organizations united under a single banner, but the three most important entities are Ancora Italia - in whose statute there was until recently the Gramscian-Lepenist philosopher Diego Fusaro, collaborator of the far-right magazine Il Primato Nazionale - the Communist Party of Marco Rizzo, now in disarray with the entire youth section in revolt, and Reconquest Italy, a sovereign sect formed mostly by accountants and lawyers from Central Italy.

The group has also welcomed the former president of the Senate Foreign Affairs Commission and overt Putin supporter Vito Petrocelli, who has been expelled from the M5S, the novax representative Bianca Laura Granato, the socialist platoon of Igor Camilli and Civil Enforcer of the anti-mafia magistrate Antonio Ingroia. Some of the stories coming out of these groups reveal some baffling politics at work, like when Francesco Toscano, president of Ancora Italia, announced the candidacy of former actress Gina Lollobrigida, 95, presenting her on Facebook with a guarantee: she is an 'iron Putinian'. She was badgered all the same by commenters on the post, since she had apparently supported vaccines in the past.

And then there is Ivana Costa who has a serious autoimmune disease and made the 'mistake' of holding a meeting wearing a mask. Her photos began to circulate obsessively, shown with derision by the radicalized, and she chose to withdraw from the campaign.

The group is chaired by Rizzo, a communist since 1981, an experienced orator and politician. "Nobody tells you this but: Sonatrach, the Algerian company that will supply a tenth of the gas needed by Italy is 60% owned by Gazprom ... Another mockery for the Italian people," he wrote on Twitter on July 19. In reality, Sonatrach is a 100 percent company in Algeria, where by law it is not possible to exceed 49 percent in strategic sectors such as energy.

With the Russian Gazprom there is a contract for a single field to extract gas from 2025. But Rizzo has set up his experiment like this, giving substance to the stereotypes that the much-hated mainstream has sewn on him. Philosopher Alessandro Volpi has noted that these figures end up leaning into a certain kind of contrarianism: “You say this, we say the opposite about everything. You represent us in this way, negatively, we conform to this representation." It is no coincidence that Rizzo has been a regular guest for years in all the most sensationalist programs of Rete 4, from TG4 to Stasera Italia, from Diritto and Rovescio to Controcorrente.

Backing Rizzo is the Putin-supporting political website L'Antidiplomatico, whose director in August was hosted by the Russian disinformation site United World International, directed by the daughter of Aleksandr Gel'evič Dugin (Russian political scientist and philosopher of far-right that has close ties to the Kremlin and the Russian armed forces).

The director of the L’Antidiplomatico encouraged readers of United World International to vote for the coalition headed by Rizzo, as "the only alternative to liberal, warmongering and public health totalitarianism". But it is the network of the far right "identitarians" or explicit neo-fascists that has played a decisive role in the territorial organization of Italia Sovrana. Fabio De Maio, head of the Terra dei Padri social center in Modena, who four years ago harangued gloomy fashion shows in honor of the "fallen comrade" Sergio Ramelli together with the Veneto Fronte Skinheads, enthusiastically supports Rizzo's project. The bar located above the Terra dei Padri center has hosted banquets set up for the collection of party signatures.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the coordinator of Italia Sovrana for Friuli Venezia-Giulia is Angelo Lippi, a thirty-year veteran of some extreme right-wing militant groups, from the Youth Front to an association that advocated the X MAS (a breakaway fascist military unit that attempted a coup in 1970).

Paragone’s Italexit : the neo-fascist Trojan horse

But it is Italexit, the party founded two and a half years ago by Gianluigi Paragone, former M5S, former host of La Gabbia – an ultra-populist broadcast that has forged countless candidates of the trio we are talking about - which presents itself as the more mainstream anti-establishment party. Colorful characters are involved in the enterprise such as the suspended doctor Andrea Stramezzi, the docker Stefano Puzzer, the cartoonist Mario Improta or the assistant superintendent Nunzia Schilirò.

With a political campaign set almost exclusively on 'suspicious deaths' from 'serum' (the usually derogatory term to designate anti-Covid vaccines), on January 15 Paragone led a demonstration in Milan against vaccine mandates.

Among some green flags of Kekistan (a sort of tribal marker of the alt-right with a dark meaning, often just a way to signal to fellow conversationalists online that the writer dreams of a chaotic revolt in society) the special guest was the Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier. The unvaccinated will save humanity, explained the 89-year-old French virologist, according to whom "we must avoid other vaccinations, people treated against cancer, for example, it is important that they are not vaccinated because there is an aluminum that enters the cells, and instead of curing the sick, they let them die even earlier”.

The social media success of the initiative was clear: over 1.1 million reactions collected in total from the 40 posts published from 14 to 15 January. An enormous amount if we think that in the same period the three kingmakers of the social networks, Matteo Salvini, Giorgia Meloni and Giuseppe Conte, collected about 433,000 in total. But, in addition to not having a scientific basis, according to epidemiologist Sara Gandini (who had also seen with sympathy the birth of Italexit in its early stages), Montagnier's invitation represented a "political own goal, which makes all people lose credibility" in the No Green Pass movement. "It is a wrong message also towards cancer patients for whom the vaccine can be a fundamental resource".

The cultural stamp of Italexit is in the alternation of authoritarianism (against migrants and deviant subjects, supporting the false narrative that an ethnic substitution is taking place) and anarcho-liberalism (against the omnipresent 'health dictatorship'). Rights would be natural and constitutional at the same time. Inalienable private property. Absolute freedom of education. And then there are the flat tax, regional autonomy, the refusal not only of vaccines but of any prescription from public authorities. According to Italexit there can be no common policy in the face of an epidemic. But, beyond the exaggeration or sensationalism, Italexit is the party where neofascists from Verona to Naples converge, who have not found a home elsewhere in the political galaxy, or who for strategic reasons have chosen to hide their symbols.

This can be seen in the candidacy of Marco Mori, a lawyer and former Casa Pound militant who had defended the group at the time of the attempted Luca Traini massacre. That the declared neo-fascists do not go to the vote counts for little, since they can now use Italexit as a Trojan horse. So, on September 25th the movement of the former M5S senator will try to remove votes from the Brothers of Italy and the Lega, perhaps the real opponents of this maddening campaign season.

*Correction (October 13, 2022): A previous version of this article stated that Emanuele Fusi was among the candidates of Italia Sovrana, which is not true. We apologise to our readers.