Italy Expected to Elect Post-Fascist Premier

Democratic backsliding appears to be spreading to another European country.

Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli report for WaPoItaly poised for glass ceiling-shattering vote, hard right turn.”

Italy is poised on Sunday for a norm-breaking election that’s expected to give the country its first-ever female prime minister — and its farthest-right government since the fall of Mussolini.

The vote is forecast to deliver victory to a coalition that includes two far-right forces, including the Fratelli d’Italia party of Giorgia Meloni, a once-marginal figure who vows to defend “traditional” social values, close off pathways to undocumented immigrants and push back against the “obscure bureaucrats” of Brussels.

While the rise of Meloni and the far right could ultimately turn into an epochal event in European politics — pushing Italy into an illiberal bloc with Poland and Hungary — it’s difficult for leaders to hold on to power in Rome, where zigzags are the norm, and the typical government lasts no more than 400 days. Meloni would face immediate tests at home and in Europe, given fatigue over soaring energy prices and divisions within her own coalition on Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.

The vote Sunday only fills the seats of parliament; the prime minister will be chosen later, indirectly. But if Fratelli d’Italia emerges with the most votes of any party in the fragmented system, it will give Meloni — a 45-year-old Roman who quotes pop songs and delights in bashing the “woke” left — the best shot at receiving the mandate from Italy’s president to form a government.

It’s not an easy country to lead. Household wealth has scarcely improved in a generation. And mountainous national debt means any government, with missteps that scare investors, could edge toward a financial crisis. That would make for high stakes as Meloni began the job, as officials in other capitals watched to gauge her taste for disruption.

In her decade as leader of Fratelli d’Italia — Brothers of Italy — she has espoused some extreme positions. She’s advocated for the dissolution of the euro zone. She’s warned, conspiratorially, that unnamed forces are guiding immigrants en masse to Italy in the name of “ethnic substitution.”

But she has clearly tacked toward the center on some issues as her party widened its support. She says Italy belongs in Europe, but will fight for its interests. She promises to maintain Italy’s Atlantic alliances and says the country won’t take an authoritarian turn. In an interview with The Washington Post this month, she also pledged financial stability, and said “people abroad” would see her government’s seriousness “once we’ll present our first budget law.”

Her party’s rise is the culmination of a decades-long process of image rehabilitation — and moderation — of a political wing started by Mussolini loyalists soon after World War II. Fratelli d’Italia is a descendant of an earlier, more extreme post-fascist party. Meloni has said that the Italian right long ago handed fascism “to history,” but her opponents say that her party still includes some fascist sympathizers.

Italy’s right-wing parties, in banding together, have given themselves an overwhelming electoral advantage over the fragmented left, which failed, amid infighting, to create a comparable coalition. When polls were halted two weeks before the vote, a YouTrend projection showed the right-wing bloc commanding 45.9 percent of the support, compared with 28.5 for the center-left and 13.2 for the amorphous, vaguely anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Some pollsters say the Five Stars have made progress since that point by arguing for the preservation of their signature welfare plan — a so-called citizens’ income that is popular in the south. Meloni opposes it.

In a companion explainer (“Italy’s election will likely bring the far right to power. Here’s why.“) Harlan and Pitreli elaborate on the rules of the game and how they influence the outcome:

Italy doesn’t feel like a country that’s about to swing to the far right.

Two-thirds of Italians say they’re optimistic about the future of the European Union, whose stimulus helped buoy the country — and boost the image of the bloc — after the pandemic’s economic shock. What’s more, the country has been led for the last year and a half by economist Mario Draghi, a paragon of centrist stability who continues to earn high approval ratings.

So, why isn’t he a shoo-in for another term?

Instability is at the heart of Italian politics, and incongruous zigzags are a feature of the system, not a bug. Since the end of World War II, Italy has cycled through governments every 400 days or so. Careers rise and crash at super-speed. Voters coalesce around parties and then drop them. To the extent that there’s any recent constant, it’s that 40 to 50 percent of voters tend to favor the right. And Meloni, in recent years, has pulled votes away from competing parties — in part because Fratelli d’Italia has remained in opposition.

So . . . Italians are happy with the current guy but, because they’re Italians, they have to vote for someone else because they like instability? That doesn’t seem quite right.

The system’s design also plays to Meloni’s benefit. Voters don’t directly pick the prime minister. And because there’s such fragmentation, a figure like Meloni needs to only convince a plurality of voters of her party’s fitness. In this instance, Fratelli d’Italia is expected to be the choice of about one-quarter of would-be voters — enough to make it Italy’s most popular party. And based on its coalition with others on the right — in contrast to infighting on the left — it has overwhelming odds to prevail in the vote.

So, even though the centrist Draghi is popular, his party is unlikely to attract a plurality of voters in a very fragmented field. And not only are there more supporters of right-leaning parties than centrist and left-leaning parties but that bloc is more able to work in a coalition. That makes more sense.

Strangely, while this is more democratic than our de facto choice between two parties, it doesn’t necessarily translate into putting the people’s policy preferences into action.

But national votes, even seemingly decisive ones, rarely bring the tidal change that they might in, say, France or the United States. Italy’s last national vote, in 2018, is a good example. That election looked as if it were the start of a populist revolution, and it led initially to a government of anti-establishment forces on the left and right. But their agreement was brittle. One government collapsed and then the next. Eventually, in the middle of the pandemic emergency, Italy’s president handpicked Draghi to lead a unity coalition. In other words: Three years after a populist revolt underpinned by heavy Euroscepticism, Italy was being run by a former European central banker chosen by one man and devoted to burnishing Italy’s stature in Brussels.

Despite all that, Meloni seems like bad news.

In her social views, Meloni has much the same profile as Viktor Orban, the orchestrator of Hungary’s autocratic turn. Meloni is emphatic about the importance of protecting what she says is Europe’s Christian identity. She blasts the “wokeness” of the left and its positions on gender identity.

But on other issues, Meloni has tried to make herself more palatable to Italy’s center, a tactic that has helped take her party from the fringes. She once argued for the dissolution of the euro zone; now she says Italy’s place is within Europe. She used to trot out conspiratorial ideas about unnamed forces deliberately orchestrating mass migration to Italy; she no longer speaks in those terms.

She compares Fratelli d’Italia to the Tories of Britain and Likud in Israel — conservative parties, not norm-wreckers. And she has portrayed herself as working at times to support the initiatives of Draghi, including on measures related to Ukraine, a country that she has backed unequivocally against Russia.

“She has developed a way to talk to international interlocutors, sounding reasonable,” said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Italian International Affairs Institute. “But she is also able to speak with her Roman accent, fiery voice, in a way that gets the message across [to her base]. So she’s an effective politician.”

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at NYT, minces no words, seeing this as “The Return of Fascism in Italy.”

The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing,” Hillary Clinton said to an Italian journalist at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this month. She was speaking of Giorgia Meloni, a member of the Chamber of Deputies, who could make history if the Brothers of Italy party does as well as expected in Sunday’s elections.

That would be one sort of break with the past. But Meloni would also represent continuity with Italy’s darkest episode: the interwar dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. As Clinton would surely concede, this is not such a good thing.

[…]

Brothers of Italy, which Meloni has led since 2014, has an underlying and sinister familiarity. The party formed a decade ago to carry forth the spirit and legacy of the extreme right in Italy, which dates back to the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the party that formed in place of the National Fascist Party, which was banned after World War II. Now, just weeks before the 100th anniversary of the March on Rome—the October 1922 event that put Mussolini in power—Italy may have a former MSI activist for its prime minister and a government rooted in fascism. In the words of Ignazio La Russa, Meloni’s predecessor as the head of the Brothers of Italy: “We are all heirs of Il Duce.”

Meloni in many ways sounds more like other modern national-conservative politicians such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and America’s MAGA Republicans than Il Duce. “There’s a leftist ideology, so-called globalist,” she told The Washington Post recently, “that aims to consider as an enemy everything that defined you—everything that has shaped your identity and your civilization.”

Meloni’s enemies list is familiar: “LGBT lobbies” that are out to harm women and the family by destroying “gender identity”; George Soros, an international speculator,” she has said, who finances global “mass immigration” that threatens a Great Replacement of white, native-born Italians. Meloni shows affinity for authoritarian strongmen: Like Marine Le Pen, until recently the leader of the National Rally party in France, Meloni has expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin—although she has muted that enthusiasm since his invasion of Ukraine.

Meloni is comparable to Le Pen in other ways. Both are examples of what political scientists call “genderwashing,” when female politicians adopt a nonthreatening image to blunt the force of their extremism. Meloni’s signature look involves flowing outfits in pastel shades. To uninformed foreigners, her ascent could look like female empowerment; she poses as a defender of women, even as her party has rolled back women’s rights.

This is followed by a lengthy discourse about the evolution of far-right parties in the country—a key point of which is that “Italy never underwent a process equivalent to Germany’s de-Nazification after World War II,” because Western leaders were more concerned, rightly, about Communist parties taking over.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. It is worth noting that the growth of the fascist-leaning right in Italy has been percolating in Italy since at least the Great Recession (which hit Itlay hard).

    I would note, too, themes we see in Poland, Hungary, and the US (and elsewhere): concern over “traditional” families alongside anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant sentiments. Appeals to “culture” and “tradition” can sound innocuous but in these contexts, they set up very concerning us v. them politics.

    I am not sure that (as one of the quotes puts it) Italy’s propensity for short-lived governments should be described as a “feature, not a bug” but it may be in this case.

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  2. Also, this is just a terrible way to describe a parliamentary system (from the WaPo “explainer”):

    The system’s design also plays to Meloni’s benefit. Voters don’t directly pick the prime minister. And because there’s such fragmentation, a figure like Meloni needs to only convince a plurality of voters of her party’s fitness.

    And a figure like Meloni and her party need then build a coalition in parliament to form the government. A plurality of voters alone is not enough to put her in the PM’s seat.

    And while it is true that the head of government in a parliamentary system is not directly elected, the voters pick the parties that then form the government.

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  3. Lounsbury says:

    How on earth is this ‘democratic backsliding’? A result one does not like is not democratic backsliding.

    To be clear, this is not a good thing as such, and there may indeed be a risk of “back-sliding” à l’Orban, but that is not forgone conclusion.

    Of course the structural instability of Italian governments is a significant reason why badly needed reforms (and corruption fighting reforms notably) have languished for decades, and thus Italian economic stagnation.

    (of course the Italian Left’s bungling itself was perfectly democratic)

    @Steven L. Taylor: It is indeed terrible description, I suppose a very American presidential system understanding (and superficial at that).

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I think they’re going for lowest common denominator. Meloni isn’t technically “running for prime minister” but for a seat in the legislature. It’s just that, as leader of the expected plurality winner, she’s the odds-on favorite to emerge as PM from the wrangling. It appears the coalition is pre-built in this case but we won’t know until a deal is announced.

  5. @James Joyner: Sure, but that is how parliamentary systems work but WaPo is writing from such a US-centric/presidential POV that I think it does a disserve to its readers.

    3
  6. Chip Daniels says:

    I think we should stop avoiding using euphemisms for fascism like “Post-Fascist”, Semi-Fascist” or even “Far-Right”, all of which are designed to soften reality and make the situation appear more muddled and unclear.

    There really does seem to be a mental block among Americans talking about fellow First World nations, that prevents us from using the terms we normally use for Third World governments like “Dictator” or “Tyrant” or whatever. Like, notice the different way the Iranian or Taliban governments are described, versus any comparable politician here.

    It really must be awkward for a Beltway reporter to describe (and implicitly condemn) Iran’s religious intolerance, in a column running side by side with one describing (neutrally!) an American Christian Nationalist.

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  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    I have the general view that the first woman to lead any given country is quite likely to be from the right. It seems less scary that way. She is freer to chest beat and wave the flag if she’s from the right, and this will assuage concerns about “can she protect us?”.

    I mean, yeah, I think it’s all a bit silly, but I think that it works.

    Hillary almost made it, and we can note that all those years as SecState, along with that 12-hour testimony in front of the Benghazi committee resolved it. (You betta believe “Benghazi!!” was about “will she protect us?”). In the general, the line of attack was more “corruption” and “nasty woman” than “weak”. Or so it seemed to me.

    3
  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s not just the democracies that are in trouble. Russia is in dire straits economically, and may turn out to be politically unstable. China has very serious economic, political and demographic problems. Iran is in turmoil.

    Neither democracies nor autocracies seem particularly good at managing Covid-19, equality for women, acceptance of LGBTQ people, the declining status of men, the spread of lies and distortions, or any of the other problems of modern society.

    As to Italy, let’s not pretend that the Italians electing A, B or C is going to change much. Italians still won’t pay their taxes, they’ll still tolerate corruption, and they’ll still be incompetent. The last competent Italian government was under Trajan, first century AD.

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  9. @Michael Reynolds: So does that mean the whole Mussolini thing was a mirage?

  10. @Lounsbury: I am going to partially agree with you and say that what we are seeing is a slide towards illiberalism which will have the real possibility of eroding democracy if it sticks.

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  11. EddieInCA says:

    And, right on cue, Rod Dreher is praising this woman as the future of Europe.

    Why do so many Christians seem to love authoritarians and fascists?

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Are you suggesting Mussolini was competent government?

    2
  13. Lounsbury says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Well, sliding to illiberalism yes (although in the Italian case, this is not per se clear), but it’s not democratic backsliding unless and until you start having Orban type actions to actually undercut. Mere election of her party does not equal though backsliding.

    Evidently there is a risk that her party tries Orban moves, although they would appear to be poorly placed for that. But admittedly so was Orban in his first years.

    @Michael Reynolds: they were measurably more effective in their early days than their predecessors, although that was a wasting condition, so for a period they were comparatively competent.

  14. Lounsbury says:

    @EddieInCA: “Why do so many Christians seem to love authoritarians and fascists?”
    Because they are human beings not academic abstractions.

    The proper question is why are so many people seduced by authoritarianism, either of the right-fascist variety, or of the left-red variety.

    Else one is engaged in silly self-deception of the superficial purpose of ideological self-flattery.

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  15. Moosebreath says:

    @EddieInCA:

    “Why do so many Christians seem to love authoritarians and fascists?”

    Because democracy is not a value they desire. If it is a choice between an authoritarian who is willing to take away their enemies’ rights, and a democrat who is not willing to do so, the choice is clear for the Drehers of the world.

    And yet they seem to make zero connection between that and how upset they are at any perceived slight to the rights they hold dear.

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  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Why do so many Christians seem to love authoritarians and fascists?

    Yes, why does this keep happening in a religion based around the central premise of the complete obedience to one person, under threat of eternal torture for resistance, being the apotheosis of morality?

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  17. Modulo Myself says:

    Why do so many Christians seem to love authoritarians and fascists?

    Because in fascism they imagine white Christians will be at the top just like they were with Jim Crow. And historically fascist governments treat their favored groups as if they were free. If you were at the top of the Soviet system in 1928 you were probably dead in ten years’ time. Fascism, unlike Stalinism or Maoism, does not eat its own. It eats others.

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @Chip Daniels: Fascism is very much a Western phenomenon, with Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, and Franco’s Spain as the exemplars. It’s precisely because those examples are so spectacularly awful that we shy away from ascribing it to those who merely say mean things.

    @Lounsbury: ‘Democratic backsliding’ is a precursor to the actual erosion of institutions. We had it under Trump well before the Capitol Riot. Going after domestic groups with an agenda of turning back their rights is surely a leading indicator.

    @Steven L. Taylor: I see ‘a slide toward illiberalism’ and ‘democratic backsliding’ as synonymous if they’re pushed by the chief executive but the lines are blurry.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    Christianity has never favored democracy. Christian institutions want power, and they don’t want to share it was the hoi polloi. When they are able to do so – see the Russian Orthodox church today, or the Roman Catholic church for the last 2000 years – they’ll happily partner with a repressive government to enforce their diktats.

    It’s useful to remember that Christianity was spread by governments acting hand-in-glove with the church. Very few people, let alone nations, ever converted without a blade at their throats.

    2
  20. Lounsbury says:

    @James Joyner: Until the dear Italian actually does something, it can hardly be backsliding.

    Risk of backsliding, certainly. Backsliding is hyperventilation. Particuarly given the Italian system which is not Presidential so affirming “pushed by chief executive” is rather getting ahead of the facts.

    @Stormy Dragon: Humans.
    As it happens as well in Athiest systems, in non-Abrahamic cultures ETC.

    Really boring and tedious prejudice, as well as boring and tedious self-congratulation.

    1
  21. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Yeah that’s great, but the atheists aren’t organizing around throwing LGBT people in jail or worse, so as much as you want to both sides it, it’s not “happening as well”.

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  22. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Have you heard of Stalin? Or perhaps the Soviet Union?

    There just aren’t very many atheist governments that have had the opportunity to throw LGBT people in jail or worse. The Soviet Union was not a great place to be queer.

    We have some liberal democracies that are nontheistic, and those seem to be the best bet as they aren’t trying to impose values on anyone.

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  23. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Athiests certainly have throw gays and other disfavoured minorities into jail or worse. See Soviet Union, see Communist China, including to date.

    For the record, I am myself thoroughly not a fan of Xianity or particularly well-inclined to organised religion.

    However, humans are humans. There is no side here, there is humanity and there is irrational self-deception and pious backpatting of ostensible own-side.

    2
  24. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Why do so many Christians seem to love authoritarians and fascists?

    The majority of the country claims to be Christian. This means that you will find “so many Christians” espousing any idea that is espoused.

    3
  25. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: PRC notably, crime the end of the 1990s and now swinging back, an athiest state and non-Abrahamic religion rooted culture.

    Athiests in power have a perfectly lovely track record of oppression.

    Beni adam Beni adam – humans are humans.

    Liberal democracy indeed is the least bad option for a band of raging chimpanzees.

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  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Because democracy is not a value they desire. If it is a choice between an authoritarian who is willing to take away their enemies’ rights, and a democrat who is not willing to do so, the choice is clear for the Drehers of the world.

    Yes. Exactly this point. Spot on. Christianity is not a system that is likely to gravitate to the leadership of random “good” people given our predisposition that “There are none who are righteous, not even one.” It also explains why we want a “Christian” to be the leader. He’s one of us and more likely to do less bad because of it.

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  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Modulo Myself: Yes! This, too. It’s not only bone deep, but experiential, too.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury: I think a government with their own pet Dalai Llama to undermine the real one is not quite atheist. They are playing in religious spaces on the side of religion.

    I will confess to not knowing my Chinese oppressive regimes (it’s why I didn’t use them as an example), but I don’t recall a major crackdown on Buddhism, or any of the other common religions of the area — with the exception of Islam.

    Similarly, I have little knowledge of the religious aspects of Pol Pot’s regime, having learned all my Cambodian history from Spaulding Gray’s Swimming To Cambodia. (excellent book, by the way, and the first half is captured as a very engaging movie — Spaulding Gray talks to the camera for 90 minutes, and it is gripping)

  29. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Tell you what, when 22 atheist state attorneys general sue to deny food to LGBT+ children because it’s what Marx would want, I’ll start worrying about Stalinists and Maoists, okay?

    2
  30. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Christianity has never favored democracy.

    Pews to the Polls.

    I know you like to then qualify that you mean such-and-such version of Christianity, but you start with a uselessly broad brush.

    If I were to claim that Jews are rapists and pedophiles, and then qualify it so much that it only applied to Harvey Weinstein, Whatshisname Epstein and probably Alan Dershowitz and Woody Allen*, it wouldn’t be a useful statement, and would probably mean many other things.

    The question shouldn’t be “why are Christians so fond of fascists?” but “why do fascists wrap themselves in Christianity?” and the answers are simple and boring — it harkens back to a traditional life, and our examples of fascism are all western, majority Christian countries.

    ——
    * Woody Allen is weird enough (marrying his step-daughter) that all accusations will stick; I have no idea if he is or isn’t.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The agnostics and the apatheists are the only ones you can trust.

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Dude: conquistadors? Crusaders? Armed missionaries in Africa and China? Pogroms? Pioneers? I could go on but I am going to see the Woman King.

  33. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: What on earth does a pet Dalia Llama indicate other than pure cyncism about religion (and control of the Tibetans), you actually think this is an indication of belief? Or worse, respect? CPC is athiest by ideology and believes in power. Of course just like Stalin and the Sovs, having pet religious authorities under their

    I don’t recall a major crackdown on Buddhism, or any of the other common religions of the area

    Then you should read a bit. Under Mao independent religious institutional power was liquidated. Not terribly different in broad apporach to the Sovs.

    One can of course play the No True Scots Athiest game of course and turn round and round in sterile foolishness.

    Athiest, those of self-avowal, have quite their own impressive track record of crushing any annoying deviating minority, gays included, sans Abrahamic religion as reference even.

    @Stormy Dragon: Pure provincialism, pathetic provincialism. Chinese who get shipped off to reeducation camps should dream of such niceties.

    1
  34. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Christianity has never favored democracy.

    European Christian Democrats on line #1, wanting a word.

    Also, in Britain, the Christian Socialist movement was one of the founding components of the Labour party.

    … conquistadors? Crusaders?…

    Unpleasant people to be on the wrong end of; but no more so then various non-Christians I can think of: Aztecs, Ghazis, Vikings, Romans, Mongols, Bolsheviks etc etc.

    I sometimes think much of history could be summed up as a chronicle of nasty people doing nasty things.

    6
  35. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The last competent Italian government was under Trajan
    Italian politicians are undoubtedly a messy bunch.
    But the Italian state is a very different thing indeed; it tends to be where politicians manage to jam their self-interested snoots into the system that things break down.
    For instance on taxation, Italian state successfully takes in 42% of GDP.

    1
  36. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Congratulations, you have pointed out that major unpleasant events in Europe have been laced with Christianity since Christianity became dominant.

    But, can you show that it is only unpleasant bits, and that other regions that did not have Christianity had nothin akin to those unpleasant events?

    Or are you committing a Base Rate Fallacy?

    Martin Luther, and the Protestant Reformation, pulled the power of salvation from the centralized church and putting into the individual’s hands; it was a precursor to the modern democracies in Europe, which were exported elsewhere — you can draw a straight line from Luther to the philosophers that inspired our Founding Fathers. Can you find a modern democracy that wasn’t either Christian or had a democracy imposed upon them by Christians?

    India got it from England. Japan got it from the US.

    If Christianity has an affiliation with fascism, then it also is apparently a necessary precursor for modern democracies.

    Or maybe Christianity is a broad backdrop meaning many different things, dragged around by the colonialist Europeans who reshaped the world? (Mostly straight, cis, white male Europeans… why do straight cis white males have such an affinity for fascism? Is it biological, or just a revanchist ideology that appeals to people who are losing privilege?)

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  37. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:

    Can you find a modern democracy that wasn’t either Christian…

    Well, there is Iceland, which has had a representative element since pagan times.
    🙂
    But that’s the only exception I can think of, offhand.

    1
  38. Thomm says:

    @Gustopher: not modern, because of…reasons, but the Iroquois Nation would dispute that as well as pre-christian Iceland

    1
  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Dude, what I said was: Christianity was spread by the sword. True. Factual. You don’t like it, argue with history. South America is Christian because the Christians murdered everyone else. The United States is Christian and not animist because the Christians ethnically cleansed everyone else. Europe is Christian because Constantine said so and subsequent Christian rulers murdered everyone who wasn’t Christian. Christians tried to murder my tribe repeatedly and achieved a great deal of success. And when Christians weren’t murdering Jews or Muslims, they were murdering each other. Seen any Albigensians lately?

    Also, much the same way Islam was spread. Happy?

    But, can you show that it is only unpleasant bits, and that other regions that did not have Christianity had nothin akin to those unpleasant events?

    So, your defense of Christianity is that the religion of love is no more brutal than any number of other religions. Congratulations, you are correct: Christians, despite daily contact with the Almighty, despite having been handed the Lord’s careful instructions to love and whatnot, are the same murdering bastards as adherents of every other religion.

    So, my point stands: Christianity was spread by violence and the threat of violence. But I will happily endorse your apparent point that Christians are no better than anyone else.

    1
  40. Sirkowski says:

    @Lounsbury: When fascists win, it’s bad for democracy. It’s not very complicated. See the history of fascism for examples.

    1
  41. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: But your original claim that Christianity has never favored democracy is simply wrong. It’s as silly as the claim that it is intrinsically tied to fascism. Or love.

    Christian is just background in the Americas and Europe. Even our atheists are primarily Christian — the god they vociferously don’t believe in is a Christian god, not a pantheon of pagan gods. Nor have they embraced some eastern notion of Interbeing that makes god irrelevant.

    People are shitty people who cling to false visions of the past and embrace an authoritarian buffoon who promises to bring it back because they are shitty people*, not because they are Christian.

    ——
    *: bigots, misogynists, and rapists and a few, I suppose, good people.

    2
  42. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Christianity was spread by the sword.
    Often the case; not always.
    Much of the Roman Empire had become Christians before Constantine; indeed it was probably the numbers and, perhaps even more, the social cohesion of Christians, that drew his attention to them.

    Some areas outside the Empire as well, became Christian at an early date, before the religion had any coercive leverage: Ethiopia, Yemen, Armenia, Georgia.
    Also the German barbarian tribes converted to Christianity a bit later, after Constantine.
    But still before they invaded the Empire; and actually converted to the Arian heresy, rather than Imperial Catholic orthodoxy.

    Sometimes faith followed the sword; not always.

    2
  43. JohnSF says:

    @JohnSF:
    Another later case: proliferation of Christianity in Japan, 16th century.
    Also the spread of Nestorian Christians in Central Asia, largely in the pre-Islamic period.
    And the conversion of Ireland, come to think of it.

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  44. pylon says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Well, Kim Campbell was a Conservative, but probably not what anyone today would describe as “right”. Of course, she was only PM via succession and then lost the election, almost destroying the party as a result (in fact you could say it was destroyed because it was essentially turned over to the Reform Party). But that election result was largely because Mulroney had eroded the party’s popularity so badly. she assumed the captaincy of a sinking ship.

  45. Lounsbury says:

    @Sirkowski: No, it’s not simple given the actual reality rather than facile labels. Facile labels of course are easy.

    @Gustopher: Yes. Beni Adam Beni Adam. People are people…. Unfortunately that sets a very low and shitty bar. Our Chimpanzee cousins are also utter nasty murderous bastards too, family heritage runs deep.

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  46. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: indeed.

    One can say the area where Xianity has the objectively mostly crappier track record than peers track record is treatment of minority sects and religions after it has achieved majority status. Eradicationist tendency of deviationist sects even internal-to-religion is rather more prevalent with at least the two Christianities that descended from Roman imperial tradition…. that’s a bit puzzling.