Skip navigation

Tag Archives: The far right

Former Smiths frontman and supporter of far-right party For Britain has criticised the UK newspaper in the past

Morrissey has performed in Los Angeles wearing a vest with the slogan Fuck the Guardian.

The former Smiths frontman wore the top during a concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, weeks after he described this newspaper as the voice of all that is wrong and sad about modern Britain.

The 60-year-old singer, who has repeatedly expressed support for the far-right party For Britain, has increasingly been lashing out at the Guardian in recent months.

Writing on his personal website in May, Morrissey claimed he was the victim of an inexhaustible hate campaign by the Guardian, imploring his supporters: Please do not buy this wretched hate-paper, whose every 2019 utterance echoes the late Mary Whitehouse.

During a May performance on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Morrissey decided to wear a For Britain badge. In June, he reaffirmed his support for the party in an interview with his nephew, published again on his own website.

Earlier this month he ejected an anti-far-right protester from his concert in Portland. The protester had been carrying two posters, one which depicted the logo of For Britain struck through by a red line, while the other read: Bigmouth indeed.

Writing in the Guardian in July, comedian and former Morrissey fan Stewart Lee said he found the best way to deal with the singer was to simply stop listening to him. Suddenly, I just didnt want Morrissey in my home any more. And I couldnt imagine any circumstances under which I would ever listen to him again, he wrote.

The same month, Billy Bragg condemned Morrissey for sharing a video from a YouTube channel that argued that the British establishment was using Stormzy to promote multiculturalism at the expense of white culture.

Read more:

The long read: Italys CasaPound has been central to normalising fascism again in the country of its birth. Now theyre trying to enter parliament

On the night of 27 December 2003, five men broke into a huge, empty office complex in Rome, just south of the citys main railway station, Roma Termini. A few days earlier, the men had put up fake fliers, appealing to the public for help to find a lost black cat called Pound. It was a way to avoid suspicion as they surveyed the building before breaking in.

Nothing was left to chance: the date, between Christmas and New Year, was chosen because there wouldnt be many people around. Even the name and colour of the cat wasnt casual: Pound was a nod to the American poet and fascist evangelist Ezra Pound. And black was the colour associated with their hero, Benito Mussolini. They planned to start a radio station from inside their new building called Radio Bandiera Nera Black Flag Radio.

The man giving orders that night was Gianluca Iannone. Then 30, he was tall, burly and brusque. With his shaved head and thick beard, he looked a bit like a Hells Angel. He had me ne frego (I dont care the slogan used by Mussolinis troops) tattooed diagonally across the left side of his neck. Iannone was famous in fascist circles as the lead singer in a rock band called ZZA, and as the owner of a pub in Rome, the Cutty Sark, which was a meeting point for Romes extreme right.

The five men were nervous and excited as they took turns working on the wooden front door with crowbars. The others gathered close by, to watch and to provide cover. Once the door gave, they piled inside, pushing it shut behind them. What they found was breathtaking. There was a large entrance hall on the ground floor, a grand staircase, even a lift. There were 23 office suites in the seven-storey block. The previous occupier, a government quango, had moved out the year before, so the place was freezing and damp. But it was huge, covering thousands of square metres. The cherry on the cake was the terrace: a large, walled roof from which you could see the whole of Rome. The men gathered together up there and hugged, feeling that they had planted a flag in the centre of the Italian capital in a gritty neighbourhood, Esquilino, which was home to many African and Asian immigrants. Iannone dubbed their building the Italian embassy.

That building became the headquarters of a new movement called CasaPound. Over the next 15 years, it would open another 106 centres across Italy. Iannone, who had been in the Italian army for three years, described each new centre as a territorial reconquest. Because every centre was self-financing, and because they claimed to serve the people, those new centres in turn opened gyms, pubs, bookshops, parachute clubs, diving clubs, motorbike clubs, football teams, restaurants, nightclubs, tattoo parlours and barbershops. CasaPound suddenly seemed everywhere. But it presented itself as something beyond politics: this was metapolitics, echoing the influential fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who wrote in 1925 that fascism was before all else a total conception of life.

CasaPounds headquarters in a former government office building in Rome. Photograph: NurPhoto/Getty

Until then, fascist revivals had usually been seen, by the Italian mainstream, as nostalgic, uncultured and thuggish. CasaPound was different. It presented itself as forward-looking, cultured, even inclusive. Iannone had been drawn to fascism in his youth because of a fascination with the symbols, and now he creatively mixed and matched code words, slogans and symbols from Mussolinis ventennio (as his 20-year rule is known), and turned them into 21st-century song lyrics, logos and political positions. In a country in which style and pose are paramount, CasaPound was fascism for hipsters. There were reports of violence, but that for young men who felt aimless, sidelined, even emasculated only added to the attraction. Many flocked to pay their 15 to become members.

By the early 2000s, it was no longer taboo for mainstream politicians to speak warmly of Mussolini: admirers of Il Duce had become government ministers, and many fringe, fascist parties were growing in strength Forza Nuova, Fronte Sociale Nazionale, and various skinhead groups. But where the other fascists seemed like throwbacks to the 1930s, CasaPound focused on contemporary causes and staged creative campaigns: in 2006 they hung 400 mannequins all over Rome, with signs protesting about the citys housing crisis. In 2012, CasaPound militants occupied the European Unions office in Rome and dumped sacks of coal outside to protest on behalf of Italian miners. Many of their policies looked surprising: they were against immigration, of course, but on the supposedly progressive grounds that the exploitation of immigrant labourers represented a return to slavery.

Most Italians have been watching CasaPound with a mixture of fascination and alarm for 15 years, trying to work out quite what it is. The movement claims it is a democratic and credible variant of fascism, but it is accused of encouraging violence and racism. CasaPound militants have repeatedly told me that theyre a unifying force for Italy, but many Italians worry that they are merely recreating historical divisions in a society with a profound identity crisis.

That CasaPound question is now being posed with urgency, because it is aspiring to enter parliament next month. On 4 March, Italians will go to the polls in a general election in which centre-right and far-right parties are expected to triumph. CasaPounds own electoral chances are slim: although in the past they have received nearly 10% of the vote in certain constituencies, they will need at least 3% of all votes nationwide to gain any parliamentary seats, which seems almost inconceivable. Still, the proliferation and growth of rival far-right parties is not a sign of the movements obsolescence, but of its success. For 15 years, CasaPound has been like the yeast in the far-right dough the ingredient that makes everything around it rise.

CasaPound germinated in the late 1990s as a sort of Mussolini-admiring drinking club. Every Monday night, a dozen men would meet in the Cutty Sark and plan what next, as one recalled. It was there that Iannone met the man who would become his deputy, Simone Di Stefano. Di Stefano was two years younger and quieter, but a lifelong rightwing militant. We were situationists trying to wake people up, Di Stefano says, looking back, bohemian artists based on models like Obey Giant [Shepard Fairey] and Banksy.

In 1997, Iannone, Di Stefano and their mates had put up 10,000 stickers all over Rome: above eyeless faces, with barcoded foreheads and demented smiles, were just three unexplained words: Zeta Zero Alfa. It was the name of a punk rock band Iannone had decided to launch, its name hinting at both the American rock legends ZZ Top and at the notion that the world needed to go back to the beginning, back to the alfa.

Zetazeroalfa became, in the late 90s and early 2000s, an evangelising force for fascism. Touring all over Italy, the band sang raucous punk-rock songs with lyrics such as nel dubbio, mena (if in doubt, beat up) or amo questo mio popolo fiero / che non conosce pace (I love this proud people / that doesnt know peace). In those early days, Iannone had about 100 hardcore fans, who doubled as roadies, crew, security and salesmen. The group sold as many T-shirts as they did CDs, with lines such as Picchia il vip (beat up the VIP) and Accademia della sassaiola (academy of stone-throwing). The song that became a crowd favourite was Cinghiamattanza, meaning death by belt: at all the gigs it became a ritual for fans to take off their belts and leather each other.

In those years, Iannone was more rock star than blackshirt. His informal movement was more about music than manifestos. CasaPounds in-house lawyer, Domenico Di Tullio, was once the bassist and vocalist in a far-right band called Malabestia, evil beast. He was introduced to CasaPound when Iannone was teaching Thai boxing in a gym. CasaPound has always been, Di Tullio said, halfway between politics and rocknroll. Iannone was a canny entrepreneur: he co-founded a right-wing music label called Rupe Tarpeia the name of the Roman rock from which traitors were thrown to their deaths.

CasaPound leader Gianluca Iannone. Photograph: Alamy

Iannone who was obsessed with Chuck Palahniuks Fight Club had been arrested a few times for assault, once for beating up an off-duty carabiniere at Predappio, the burial shrine of Mussolini, because he was drunk and being stupid. Revisionist historians and rightwing politicians in the 1990s worked hard to rehabilitate Mussolini: expressing admiration for him was no longer considered heretical, but a sign of courageous thinking. Mussolinis regime was airbrushed as benign he never killed anybody said Silvio Berlusconi, who became prime minister for the first time in 1994 and depicted as superior to the corruption and chaos of the avowedly anti-fascist First Republic that lasted from 1948 until 1992. Berlusconi and his far-right allies scorned the traditional anti-fascist celebrations of 25 April, the date of Italians liberation from Nazi fascism.

A canny politician, Berlusconi wasnt setting this agenda but following it. He knew it was a vote-winner. Buildings all over Italy, but especially in the south, still bear the faded letters of the word DUCE. There are many monuments, and even a mountain, that still bear his name. A country that doesnt renounce its past as much as absorb it, Italy was, by the turn of the millennium, more than ready to include Mussolinis grandchildren in the body politic.

In July 2002 the militants who had gathered around Gianluca Iannone and ZZA occupied their first building, an abandoned school north of Rome. Occupations had always been a form of protest by the far left in Italy: many squats had become social centres and were tacitly tolerated by police and politicians. Now the far right was trying the tactic. Iannone called the occupied school Casa Montag, after the protagonist of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag.

It was the first of many occasions in which CasaPound would confound ideological expectations. Most people read Bradburys novel as a critique of an anti-intellectual, totalitarian state, but for the CasaPounders it represented their own oppression by the forces of anti-fascism in Italian politics, who they regarded as metaphorical book-burners. Anticipating the rhetoric of the alt-right, CasaPound claimed to be a space where debate is free.

Within 18 months, though, Iannones men had upgraded and moved to the very centre of Rome, occupying the huge building in Esquilino. Their aim in 2003 wasnt political in any parliamentary sense: the militants wanted to live cheaply together, to create a space for their ideals and, most of all, to make a statement.

In the entrance hall of their new home, CasaPounders painted a hundred or so surnames in garish colours, suggesting the ideological lineage of their movement. Many were obvious Mussolini, Oswald Mosley, Nietzsche, the writer and proto-fascist Gabriele DAnnunzio, the Italian fascist philosopher Julius Evola but many more were bizarre or wishful: Homer, Plato, Dante, Kerouac and even cartoon characters such as Captain Harlock and Corto Maltese. All were men.

The movement never hid its admiration for Benito Mussolini. Photos and slogans of Il Duce were put up. Every believer was referred to as a camerata (the fascist version of comrade) and exchanged the old-fashioned legionary handshake, grasping each others forearm rather than the hand. Above the door on the outside of the building, in beige, faux-marble, CASAPOVND appeared.

What made CasaPound unique was its game of smoke-and-mirrors with a fascinated Italian media. Both Di Stefano and Iannone were very media-savvy: Di Stefano was a graphic artist, and Iannone, after the army, had worked as a directors assistant on Unomattina, a breakfast show on RAI, the state broadcaster. They promoted CasaPound via prank calls to newspapers, the invasion of TV studios, the frenetic production of posters and stickers, the organisation of debates and the occasional act of violence.

They also began pushing for policies the left had given up hope of ever hearing again, such as the renationalisation of Italys banking, communications, health, transport and energy sectors. They cited the most progressive aspects of Mussolinis politics, focusing on his social doctrines regarding housing, unions, sanitation and a minimum wage. CasaPound accepted that the racial laws of 1938 (which introduced antisemitism and deportation) were errors; the movement claimed to be opposed to any form of discrimination based on racial or religious criteria, or on sexual inclination.

CasaPounds concentration on housing also appealed to voters of the old left. Its logo was a turtle (an animal that always has a roof over its head) and Ezra Pounds name was used in part because he had railed, in his poem Canto XLV, against rent (considered usury) and rapacious landlords. One of the first things CasaPound did in its occupied building was to hang sheets from the windows protesting against rent hikes and evictions in 2009, there were an average of 25 evictions in Rome every day. They campaigned for a social mortgage, in which rental payments would effectively become mortgage payments, turning the tenant into a homeowner. Within months, they had given shelter to dozens of homeless families, as well as to many camerati down on their luck.

A CasaPound march in Rome in 2016. Photograph: Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty

CasaPound presented itself as the house of the ideologically homeless too. Iannone said it offered a space of liberty, where anyone who has something to say and cant say it elsewhere will always find political asylum. It adopted a pose of being not a part of the debate, but the receptacle of it. It reminded some of Mussolinis line that fascism is the church of all the heresies.

Iannone was always a proponent of action. He knew fascism had always grown through taking the initiative: he spoke frequently about the proto-fascist arditi (daring ones), a squad of volunteers fighting under DAnnunzio, who seized the town of Fiume after the first world war in an attempt to resolve a border dispute between Italy and what was then Yugoslavia. Iannone knew that Mussolini had launched his first fascist manifesto from an occupied building in the piazza of San Sepolcro in Milan. But even here, in action, CasaPound was borrowing leftwing clothes: imitating the strategy of the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, it aimed for what Gramsci had called cultural hegemony by infiltrating the cultural and leisure activities of everyday Italians.

So CasaPound began doing outreach on an unprecedented scale: in 2006 a student movement called Blocco Studentesco was started. A fascist womens movement, Tempo di Essere Madri (time to be a mother), was founded by Iannones wife. A pseudo-environmental group, La Foresta Che Avanza, began in order to put the regime into nature. (Earlier this month, 200 volunteers from La Foresta gathered to repair the huge tribute to Mussolini the word DUX, written with pine trees on a mountainside in Antrodoco.) The media whether intrigued, anxious or excited reported on every initiative: as Di Stefano told me, everything CasaPound did became news.

There was plenty of ideological contortionism. In 2007, CasaPound started describing itself not as fascist, but as estremo centro alto (the name of a ZZA song, which means extreme, high centre). It namechecked improbable influences, such as Che Guevara and the great anarchist singer-songwriters Rino Gaetano and Fabrizio De Andr.

That obfuscation was a continuation of what Italian fascism, contrary to stereotype, had often done. Mussolini once said: We dont believe in dogmatic programmes we allow ourselves the luxury of being aristocratic and democratic, conservatives and progressives, reactionaries and revolutionaries, legals and illegals. Mussolinis totalitarianism often implied not fierce clarity, but slipperiness. Mussolini did not have a philosophy, Umberto Eco once wrote. He had only rhetoric.

To political scientists, this creative, eccentric force from the political extremities was captivating. Between 2006 and 2014, dozens of books were published on the movement some by CasaPounds friends, but others by academic presses in Italy and abroad. The latter fretted about the sinister implications of Mussolinis favourite slogan: libro e moschetto fascista perfetto (the rhyme boasting that book and musket make the perfect fascist). How important, people wondered, was that musket? CasaPound sometimes relished its violent reputation, and was sometimes angered by it. It proudly called its occupations and stunts examples of guerrilla tactics, but other times their tone was softer: they were just atti goliardici, bohemian acts.

That paradoxical attitude towards violence was encapsulated in the huge red letters painted on a central wall of CasaPounds HQ: Santa Teppa Holy Mob. It was the phrase Mussolini once used to describe his blackshirts. CasaPound militants say that theyre constantly under attack from leftwing social centres and anti-fascists. When you get to know them, though, the position is slightly different. Were not a violent organisation, one militant told me, but were not non-violent either.

The fierce fighting between Italys partisans and fascists from 1943 to 1945 sometimes called the countrys civil war continued sporadically after the end of the second world war. But ever since 1952, when a law was passed that criminalised efforts to resuscitate Mussolinis fascist party, Italian fascists have seen themselves as the victims, rather than the instigators, of state repression. In reality, however, there was no Italian equivalent of Germanys denazification: throughout the postwar period, one far-right political party the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) kept alive the flame of Mussolini, at its height in 1972 winning 9% or 2.7m votes. Various radical splinter groups emerged from within the MSI the most notorious being Pino Rautis Ordine Nuovo, which was involved in the bombing of a bank in 1969 that killed 17 civilians.

That atrocity was the beginning of a period known as the years of lead: in the 1970s, far-right and far-left groups fought, shot, bombed and kidnapped not only each other, but also the public and representatives of the state. Both sides used the rhetoric of the 1940s, recalling the heroism or disloyalty of the fascists and anti-fascists from three decades earlier.

But amid the violence of the 1970s, there were attempts to tap into the softer side of the far-right, with festivals where music, graphic design, history and ecology were discussed. They were called Hobbit camps, since JRR Tolkien had long been a hero for Italian neo-fascists, who liked to quote Bilbo Baggins line that deep roots dont freeze. There was a popular leftwing slur that fascists belonged in the sewers, and so a magazine called La Voce della Fogna (The Voice of the Sewer) was launched by unapologetics.

The neo-fascist movement that most influenced CasaPound, Terza Posizione, was founded in 1978. It claimed to reject both capitalism and communism, and like CasaPound tried to revive Mussolinis social policies. (Iannone has its symbol tattooed on the middle finger of his left hand. His deputy, Simone Di Stefano, spent a year in London working with one of the Terza Posizione founders in the 1990s.)

In the same year, two young militants were shot outside the offices of the MSI in Acca Larentia in Rome. That evening, when a journalist allegedly disrespected the victims by flicking a cigarette butt in a pool of blood, a riot began in which a third young man was killed by a policeman. Other deaths followed that initial bloodshed: the father of one of the young men killed committed suicide. On the first anniversary of Acca Larentia, another militant was killed by police.

Acca Larentia seemed proof, to fascists, that they were sitting ducks. Some renounced extremism altogether, but others simply took it further. A far-right terrorist organisation, NAR (the nuclei of armed revolutionaries) was founded and took part in variouskillingsand the bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980, in which 85 people died. As a state crackdown on the far-right began, the three founders of Terza Posizione fled abroad and the leaders of NAR were either killed or imprisoned.

For a generation, through the 1980s and early 1990s,fascism seemed finished. But when Silvio Berlusconi burst into politics looking for anti-communist allies, he identified the MSI as his ideal political partner. The party renamed itself the National Alliance, and became the second-largest component in Berlusconis ruling centre-right coalition in 1994. The wind had changed completely: many of the militants on the far-right in the 1970s old hands from the MSI were now in government. In 1999 the three founders of Terza Posizione returned from exile.

That was the context in which CasaPound, in the early 2000s, first began to flourish: it was full of marginalised men who had grown up in the wilderness years of the 80s and early 90s. They were convinced that fascists had been mistreated and killed by communist hatred and servants of the state, as a plaque memorialising the murders at Acca Larentia put it.

But in fact, their bread was buttered on both sides: they presented themselves as underdogs, but their ideological fathers were now at the very top of Italian political power. They could claim to be the victims of repressive laws banning the revival of fascism, but because those laws were never enforced, they could proselytise with impunity.

Benito Mussolini in 1927. Photograph: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

By 2005, CasaPound was toying with electoral politics. One its militants stood for election in Lazio on the electoral list of one of Berlusconis cabinet ministers, who had been a press officer of the MSI. From 2006 until 2008 CasaPound joined another offshoot of the MSI, the Tricolour Flame. Neither alliance produced any seats in parliament, but both afforded more publicity and respectability to the slow-moving but determined turtle.

In 2008, Gianni Alemanno, who had been imprisoned as a far-right militant, became mayor of Rome. He looked on CasaPounds occupations with a decidedly indulgent eye and that same year CasaPound occupied another building: an abandoned railway station near the Stadio Olimpico. Called Area 19 (1919 was the year Mussolini announced the first fascist manifesto), it became a gym by day and nightclub by night.

Meanwhile young CasaPound heavies enjoyed public shows of force. In 2009, Blocco Studentesco CasaPounds youth movement came to Romes central square, Piazza Navona, armed with truncheons painted with the Italian tricolor. They found a use for them on leftwing students. When one TV programme criticised Blocco Studentesco, its offices were occupied by CasaPound militants.

On 13 December 2011, Gianluca Casseri, a CasaPound sympathiser in Tuscany, left home with a Magnum 357 in his bag. He was a taciturn loner, 50 years old, rotund with short, grey hair, but had found a home in CasaPound: he had held a launch for his fantasy novel The Keys of Chaos at the local club.

On that December morning, Casseri had a plan to shoot as many immigrants as possible. He went to a square in Florence and, at 12.30pm, killed two Senegalese men, Samb Modou and Diop Mor. He shot another man, Moustapha Dieng, in the back and throat and then got in his blue VW Polo and drove off. Just over two hours later, Casseri was at the citys central market, where he shot two more men, Sougou Mor and Mbenghe Cheike, who survived the attack. He then turned his gun on himself in the markets underground carpark.

After Casseris murders, CasaPounds leaders were invited on to national television to face the accusation that they were fomenting violence. In a special programme about the killings, the former president of the Rai TV channel accused Iannone of having ideologically armed the killer. Ezra Pounds daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz, began a legal action (which she eventually lost) to stop CasaPound using and sullying her fathers name. They distort his ideas, she said, theyre violent. [My father] wanted an encounter between civilisations.

It was true that CasaPounds language and imagery was relentlessly combative. In its Rome bookshop Iron Head you can buy posters of insurgents from far-flung civil wars with automatic weapons wearing ZZA T-shirts. They speak about trincerocrazia, an -ocracy for people who have done their time in the trenches. The shell of their turtle logo also has a military meaning: it represents the testuggine, the carapace of shields used by the Roman army. All of this makes the movement edgy and decidedly testosteronic: 87% of the movements Facebook supporters are male and 62% are between 16 and 30.

Its a movement that is tight, compact and united. When youre among the militants inside that shell, the disdain for the outside world is almost cultish. The separation between insider and outsider is clear and loyalty is total: I do whatever Gianluca [Iannone] tells me to, one female militant has said. The movement has published a political and historical glossary for all novice militants, so they always know what to say.

Iannone himself is forcefully charismatic and physically imposing tall, tattooed and gravel-voiced and perhaps even bears a slight resemblance to Mussolini. Its easy to see why lost youngsters might be desperate to please (and scared to displease) him. Hes a very pure leader, Di Stefano told me, with evident admiration, as we took a walk with his two chihuahuas called Punk and Rock.

By 2013, aggressive leadership was what a lot of Italians were longing for. The country was facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence. In 2010 youth unemployment was at almost 30%, and would rise to over 40% by 2015. That year, Italys national statistics office suggested that almost 5 million Italians were living in absolute poverty. The degradation in certain suburbs the lack of rubbish collections was just the most visible example suggested that the Italian state was, in places, almost entirely absent. The success of the populist Five Star Movement coming from nowhere to win 25.55% of the vote in the 2013 elections showed the Italian electorate would respond to a party that was angry and anti-establishment. (The fathers of two of the leading lights of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio and Alessandro Di Battista, were both in the MSI.)

Inside the CasaPound headquarters in Rome. Photograph: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

By then CasaPound was becoming known far beyond Italy. The lift in its Rome HQ was covered by stickers with the logos of far-right pilgrims from across the globe. CasaPound had always voraciously consumed foreign trends and repackaged them for an Italian audience: it had absorbed the anticapitalist ideas of Frances Nouvelle Droite (new right) movement, and built friendships with members of Greeces neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Now French visitors started talking about a 2012 book by Renaud Camus called The Great Replacement: it spoke of the idea that native Europeans would soon be completely sidelined and substituted by waves of immigrants. It was a theory that had caught on in the US. This was the root of the identitarian doctrine, which claimed that globalisation had created a homogeneous culture with no distinct national or cultural identities. True pluralism ethnopluralism would mean racial separation.

These ideas famously influenced both Steve Bannon at Breitbart and the American white supremacist leader Richard Spencer but they also percolated into the thinking of CasaPounds cultural attache, Adriano Scianca. Scianca, who lives in Umbria, is the editor of CasaPounds magazine, Primato Nazionale (which has a circulation, they say, of 25,000). In 2016 he published a book called The Sacred Identity: The cancellation of a people from the face of the earth, he wrote, is factually the number one [aim] in the diary of all the global oligarchs. It sounds silly, but these ideas soon made their way into mainstream newspapers and very quickly racial separation became official CasaPound policy.

Throughout 2014 and 2015, CasaPound leaders organised rallies against asylum centres that were due to open. They formed a movement, with Matteo Salvinis Northern League (a formerly separatist movement which was, by then, purely nationalist) called Sovereignty: Italians First was the slogan. All over Italy from Gorizia to Milan, from Vicenza to Genoa every time a vacant building was converted into an asylum centre, CasaPound members would make friends among the locals opposing the centres, distributing food parcels, clearing rubbish, and offering strategies and strong-arms. (CasaPound argued that because a proportion of immigrants had arrived illegally, their opposition was about legality rather than race.)

Simone Di Stefano is CasaPounds political leader and its most prominent candidate in next weeks elections. With his neat, salt-and-pepper hair and trim beard, he looks like any other moderate politician. But his problem is now the opposite of his rhetoric: its not that the Italian establishment excludes the far-right from politics, but that there are now so many far right parties, CasaPound seems just one among many. Di Stefano is, therefore, distinguishing himself by campaigning to leave the European Union and urging a military intervention in Libya to halt the flow of migrants: We have to resolve the problem of Africa, he told me.

These ideas are not likely to appeal to many Italian voters but CasaPounds job is already done. It has been essential to the normalisation of fascism. At the end of 2017, Il Tempo newspaper announced Benito Mussolini as its person of the year. It wasnt being facetious: Il Duce barged into the news agenda every week last year. A few weeks ago, even a leftwing politician in Florence said that nobody in this country has done more than Mussolini. Today, 73 years after his death, he is more admired than traditional Italian heroes such as Giuseppes Garibaldi and Mazzini.

CasaPound has also been a participant in an escalating political conflict in which violence both verbal and physical has become commonplace. When you speak to CasaPound militants, theyre quick to say they only commit violence in self-defence, but their definition of self-defence is extremely elastic. Luca Marsella, a top colonel in the movement, once said to 14-year-old schoolchildren who were protesting against a new CasaPound centre: Ill cut your throats like dogs, Ill kill all of you. Another militant was convicted of beating up leftwing activists in Rome in 2011 when they were putting up posters. Another activist, Giovanni Battista Ceniti, was involved in a murder, though as Iannone pointed out he had already been expelled from CasaPound for intellectual laziness. In February last year, in Viterbo, two militants, Jacopo Polidori and Michele Santini, beat up a man who had dared to post an ironic comment about CasaPound on Facebook. A leftwing site has compiled an interactive map of episodes of reported fascist violence across the peninsula and there are so many incidents that you can barely see the boot of Italy.

Then, earlier this month, a man who had previously stood for election with the far-right Northern League, and had ties to CasaPound, went on a two-hour shooting rampage in the town of Macerata. Luca Traini fired his Glock pistol at anyone with black skin. What was shocking wasnt just the bloodshed (he injured six people, but all survived), but that it all seemed unsurprising in the current climate. Trainis inspiration was old-fashioned fascism: he had the Wolfsangel rune (used by both Nazis and Italys Terza Posizione) on his forehead. He gave a Roman salute at the monument to Italys war dead.

But in the aftermath of his shooting, mainstream politicians on the so-called centre-right blamed immigration, not Traini. Berlusconi, who has embraced the far right as he attempts to engineer another election win, spoke of a social bomb created by foreigners. Italy, he said, needs to deport 600,000 illegal immigrants.

On Sunday 7 January this year, CasaPound organised a mass rally in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the Acca Larentia killings. Four or five thousand people turned up, many wearing similar clothes: bomber jackets and black beanies, military fatigues or drainpipe jeans. There were 50 men in red CasaPound bibs, the security detail, shepherding the troops. Not everyone was a CasaPound militant, but the other groups all fell in behind Gianluca Iannone and Simone di Stefano. This, it was clear, was their show.

This week 3,000 college students met near Trumps Mar-a-Lago resort for a summit on free speech, the culture wars, and the dangers posed by the left

Its an American tradition that any large gathering of students usually ends up in a party. Such a convocation in Florida this week, barely a stones throw from Donald Trumps opulent winter retreat at Mar-a-Lago, was billed as a political action summit for young conservatives. In the event, amid a multitude of Make America Great Again caps and Trump for America flags, it was essentially a raucous celebration of the president himself.

About 3,000 students from campuses nationwide gathered on Trumps doorstep at the Palm Beach County convention center for the four-day winter summit, hosted by Turning Point USA. The mission statement of that young persons activist group promotes non-partisan debate, dialogue and discussion. But its leanings were signalled pretty clearly in the quasi-official motto that was printed on placards placed on every seat: Big government sucks.

A succession of Trumps biggest cheerleaders joined the party as headline speakers, from former White House staffers Sebastian Gorka and Anthony Scaramucci to rightwing commentators and broadcasters including Dennis Prager and Tomi Lahren. Each warned the eager young loyalists of the dangers posed by the left.

Some of the loudest appreciation was, however, reserved for the presidents son Donald Trump Jr, who came to tell the students that faceless government officials were behind special counsel Robert Muellers investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

There is, and there are, people at the highest levels of government that dont want to let America be America, Trump Jr told his enthusiastic audience. My father talked about rigged system during the campaign, and it is. Now were seeing it.

Charlie Kirk, the 24-year-old founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, is seen as a rising star of the right. He bristled at the suggestion his lineup of speakers was weighted to deliver a strongly pro-Trump message.

Its actually a very diverse group, racially diverse, ethnically diverse and philosophically diverse, he told the Guardian, shortly before taking to the stage with Trump Jr.

One of these dishonest reporters I was talking to a couple of weeks ago said, Hey Charlie, it seems your speaker lineup is all people who love Trump and work for Fox News. I said, Thats one of the most intellectually dishonest statements Ive ever seen.

Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren was among the speakers at the Turning Point USA summit. Photograph: Colin Young-Wolff/Invision/AP

We have Austin Petersen, who ran for president under the Libertarian party, who is a total Never Trumper. We have Ben Shapiro, who is like the leading Never Trump voice, we have libertarian speakers such as Dave Rubin.

We want big names, people that draw attention, and you know what? Theres going to be a lot of contradictory statements. Were cool with that. Theres going to be Alex Epstein in a shirt that says I love fossil fuels and were going to have speakers talking about how conservatives should better embrace the idea of climate change. It shows that we as Turning Point we embrace conservatives, libertarians, people in the middle.

So why the need for an action summit when Trump won the election 13 months ago and conservatives control both houses of Congress?

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

The President has accomplished some absolutely historic things during this past year. Thank you Charlie Kirk of Turning Points USA. Sadly, the Fake Mainstream Media will NEVER talk about our accomplishments in their end of year reviews. We are compiling a long & beautiful list.

December 22, 2017

Ive found over the last couple of years how intolerant and dangerous college campuses have become for conservatives, Kirk said, citing a culture war he sees raging between left and right.

We find it unacceptable that students are kicked out of class for wearing Trump shirts or being ostracised for their beliefs. Were not going to accept the campus culture as it is. Were not going to play the victim card like we always accuse the left of doing. Were going to be saying, You know what? Yeah were under attack, lets punch back twice as hard.

Hastily, he added: Metaphorically, of course.

Fighting the PC police

On the floor, the opening night matched anything seen at a Trump campaign rally. Shouts of lock her up echoed whenever Hillary Clintons name was mentioned; there were chants of CNN sucks whenever anybody referenced the hated media. Prager, a conservative radio talkshow host and accomplished amateur conductor, warned the left was trying to hijack and kill off classical music. Trump Jr claimed it was now illegal in California to call a man with a beard sir if they identified as female.

One of the most popular themes of the night, if not the entire conference, was the perceived victimisation and persecution of conservative students and accompanying restrictions on free speech. It was a message reinforced by breakout sessions entitled Suing your school 101: knowing and defending the first amendment on campus and Fighting the PC police on your campus.

Supporters greet Donald Trump as he arrives at West Palm Beach airport on 22 December. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Trump Jr backed up Kirks claim of a culture war, with the nations colleges and universities as the battleground. You guys are on the frontlines, he said.

Greg Aselbekian, a 24-year-old studying business management at Nichols College, Massachusetts, said he had lost friends over his support for Trump.

I feel the whole country is even more divided, he said. You got the media, you got everybody telling you to vote for Hillary or vote Democrat, and the people who listen to them will not really listen to our side because they think the left side is the only way to be.

You have antifa destroying cities, youve got groups like Black Lives Matter and feminism just taking things way to a different level, all these marches and riots. Anyone whos white who voted for Trump is a white supremacist. Theres a price to pay when youre in favour of Trump or anything rightwing.

Joel Valdez, 18, a first-year political science major at the University of Illinois, said a campus incident in which a leftwing activist smashed his phone had only bolstered his resolve.

Im a Hispanic American and theyre calling me white supremacist, he said. After the election of Donald Trump the left was really shaken up. [But] the conservative message is going to resonate with people who felt left out by the Democrats.

Hannah Bickford, 21, a music student at Montana State University, was dressed in a Trump hat and college Republican shirt to signal her support for the president. She declared she was very happy with his performance so far.

Im here to network with people and hear from amazing speakers and people who share similar ideas, learn from each other and grow as a group of people, she said. Im open to anything, to listen and discuss.

You cant really learn unless youre open to new things.

Read more:

Late musicians family write an open letter to demand the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology

The family of Johnny Cash have said they were sickened by the association with a Charlottesville right wing protester photographed wearing a T-shirt with the musicians name emblazoned on it during this weekends violent marches in Virginia.

The man wearing a Johnny Cash T-shirt during the protests in Charlottesville. Photograph: Fox News

In an open letter posted to Facebook, Cashs daughter, musician Rosanne Cash, condemned the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, resulting in clashes that saw three killed and dozens injured. The letter, which is signed by all five of Cashs children Rosanne, Cathy, Tara, Cindy and John Carter Cash denounces the self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile featured in the Fox News footage.

The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in the second world war, it reads. Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honour.

The letter goes on to detail the musicians political standpoint, explaining how Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice, and recalling how he received humanitarian awards from the Jewish National Fund, Bnai Brith and the United Nations, as well as championing the rights of Native Americans and protesting against gun violence and the war in Vietnam. It states that he was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners.

Cash would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred, it continues. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.

Johnny Cash died aged 71 in 2003. He made over 70 albums throughout his 45 year career, and won 11 Grammy awards.

Read more:

Pictures from earlier on day of clashes show James Fields with white supremacist group Vanguard America

The man accused of murdering a woman by deliberately driving into her during protests against a far-right rally was photographed earlier in the day standing with the white supremacist, neo-Nazi group Vanguard America.

James Fields, 20, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly killed Heather Heyer, aged 32, and injured 19 others when he rammed his car into a group peacefully protesting on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photographs from earlier that day appear to show Fields rallying with Vanguard America and carrying a shield bearing the groups insignia. He wears the white polo shirt and khaki pants that are the groups uniform.

James Fields. Photograph: Albemarle-Charlottesville regional jail/EPA

Vanguard America were a highly visible presence at the Unite the Right rally on Saturday, where they marched in military-style formation, and the torchlight rally the previous night on the University of Virginia campus. On the groups Twitter account, and on social media accounts belonging to regional chapters, there was extensive promotion of the Unite the Right rally in the weeks leading up to the event.

The groups motto, blood and soil was a popular chant at both events. It is derived from the Nazi slogan blut und boden, which links conceptions of racial purity with a particular national territory.

Col Martin Kumer, the superintendent of Albemarle-Charlottesville regional jail, told the Guardian that Fields had been charged with second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at an accident that resulted in a death.

Witnesses said those hit by the car were peacefully protesting against the white supremacist rally and footage showed the vehicle crashing into another car, throwing people over the top of it. The incident with the car left 19 people injured, five critically.

Read more:

John Crace takes a memoir by the bete noir of the far right, and cuts it down to size

This is the book people said couldnt be published because I was so dangerous. Well, you dont get to silence The Worlds Most Dangerous Faggot that easily. Have I said that I am dangerous? And a faggot? Thats because I am a dangerous faggot. Grrr. Be afraid. Very afraid. Or, failing that, just a bit bored.

So my $15m book deal got cancelled because a few snowflakes were a little upset about something I said about paedophilia. Well, diddums. Get over yourself. The truth cannot be silenced by Fake News. Lets get something straight: I never said it was OK for men to have sex with babies. Everyone has to draw the line somewhere and thats mine. All I said was that it was perfectly cool for men to have sex with 13-year-olds. What could possibly be controversial about that?

People are afraid of me because I am richer and more handsome than them. I also Love Using Capital Letters. Capital Letters Are so LIKE DANGEROUS. Donald Trump uses CAPITAL LetteRS a lot too, because he iS aLso daNGErouS. I like to call Donald TruMp Daddy. Yeah! DaDDy hates ForeIgNers and people I hate too. That makes hIm RITE. If I mention NIEtzscHe will anyone taKe me more SERIOUSLY?

All lefties hate me. Why? Because I am dangerOUs. I say the things no one else dares too. So let me say it loUD and cLear. The reason the white working class are so pissed off is because GOVERNMENTS spend all their money on blacks, MusLIms and fat people. Thats a Fact. As JaMes HalfWIT rote on BreitbART, 75% of all tax revenuEs get spent on Obese Black Muslims, so it Must be true.

Sum people have said Im a racist. FAKE NewS. Im a Jew and I love Jews. StoPPing peepul from saying what they want is a fundamental Denial of freedom of Speech. Like Twitter. And Facebook. Both of them are left-wing fascist organisations that have tried to ban me.

On Twitter my haNdle was @NERO. Nero was like me. Handsome. Faggot. And DangerOUS. All I did was call a black actress fat. Whats wrong with that. She is black and fat. People should be called out for being Fat. If you tell someone they are fAT often enough, they might lose wait and live a BIT longer. So I was doing the FATTy a favour.

Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos (Dangerous Books, 21.95)

Black people hate mE. But I dont Care because I am dANGErous. Like MadonnA. She was DanGErous too. Black Lives Matter is one of the biggest evils in modern society. So a couple of thousand BLAck guys get gunned down by the poliCE every year. FAKE NEWS! Anyone can make an hoNEst mistake. What leftwing rags like the Guardian, the New York Times and other papers dont say is that the people doing the most killINg of black guys is OtheR black guys. Youd have thought that if Black Lives really did Matter, then black people would stop killing one aNother.

Gays hate me too. Dont get me wrong. I am not A self-hating faggot. I love being Gay because most GayS are a great deal thinnER than heteroSEXuals. My issue is with gays who want to get married. BeinG married is NORMAL and Being Gay isnt. The reason I chose Yes, CHOSE to be gay is because it isnt normal. ITs TransGRessive and DANGEROUS. And I know I am right because STEVE BANNON and DADDY agree with me.

All Muslims are a menace. Dont be taken in by their beards and their LAME claims to piety. They are all potential suicide bombers. They prey on the weak. Thats why so many GINGERS like LINdsay LOHAN are attracted to Islam. Daddy is doing exactly the right thing by building a wall between MexiCo and the US because its only way to stop the country being flooded with Muslims. If you dont believe me, try reading St ThomaS Aquinas. Make America Great Again.

I am the best. I am the strongest. Only I can save the world from the lefty EVIL that pervades it. I am the Saviour. I am DanGEROUS. Please dont ignore me. Anything but that. Where are you? Im here. Im still here

Digested read, digested: desperate.

Read more:

Michael Kimmel, one of the worlds foremost experts on masculinity, examines its role in mens adherence to and departure from far-right movements

During the Obama years, various commentators made wild predictions about the death of the white male as a politically relevant demographic. Then came Trump, propelled to power by a wave of angry white men.

The sociologist Michael Kimmel is one of the worlds foremost experts on the phenomenon. As the director of Stony Brook Universitys Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, hes a leader in the emerging field of masculinity studies. His recent research has looked at topics including spree killers (who are overwhelmingly male and white), as well as the relationship between masculinity and political extremism. Hes also just wrapped up a new book studying why men join hate groups and how they leave.

In a recent interview, Kimmel discussed the election of Trump, domestic terrorism, the mens rights movement, and the alt-right.

Your book Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era will be republished this April, is that right?

Yes. Since youve read it, youll know that the book doesnt include the name Trump anywhere in it. So my publisher thought it would be a good idea if they reprinted it with a new preface by me that talks about him. Essentially, I wrote a book about his followers for whom the leader hadnt showed up yet.

Can you tell me more about your new book? When is it coming out?

Its slated for 2018 . Its based on interviews with four different groups around the world. One of them is an organization in Sweden which helps young neo-Nazis and skinheads get out of the movement. Another is Exit, in Germany, which does the same with German neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and Life After Hate, a US group created by former members of the far-right extremist movement. The fourth group, called Quilliam, is a foundation based in London that helps ex-jihadists get out of the movement.

My book is really about masculinity and how men get into these movements and how they get out how masculinity is entirely wrapped up with this. These are guys that really think that they dont matter in the world and have been tossed aside.

Participation in the movement gives them validation of their masculinity. There are some differences, of course. The ex-neo-Nazis who go through the program in Sweden are on average 16 or 17 years old. The German guys are a lot older and have a different trajectory. They come in largely through connections they make in prison. They are burglars and petty criminals who are radicalized there.

I also wrote a lot about the power of music. Neo-Nazi rap is big in Sweden, Germany, the United States, alongside hatecore music.

Policymakers and researchers typically ignore masculinity when they try to understand how people get into these movements. My challenge to them is: if you ignore masculinity in understanding how these guys get into these movements, you will not be able to help them get out.

In 2009, the homeland security intelligence analyst Daryl Johnson wrote a report arguing that rightwing extremist movements were on the rise. The report became an unexpected political football: Republicans were enraged at what they saw as politically motivated alarmism conflating nonviolent conservative and libertarian groups with terrorists.

What most angered conservative critics of the report, however, was Johnsons prediction that returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan would be prime targets for recruitment to the far right. Has any of your research touched on that issue?

I think this is one of those problems in logic that we call the compositional fallacy. Just because a lot of recruits for white nationalist movements are veterans does not in any way imply that all veterans are going to become recruits.

What we do know to be true is that our military exercises in Iraq and Afghanistan have left veterans coming home with serious PTSD. I mean, think of the types of terror that theyve lived with that any time you get into a car could be your last time on earth. That cant help but shake you up. Couple that with racism towards your enemy one of the ways you convince yourself to kill an enemy is to hate them; think about what we used to say about the Vietnamese, or what my fathers generation used to say about the Japanese. I think that is an equation that might make some people susceptible to far-right ideology.

And it is also true that a large number of guys enter the military precisely because they want to fight. Timothy McVeigh signed up for the military during the first Gulf war and when he came back he wanted to join the special forces and they told him no, that psychologically he wasnt suited. He was angry about that and that is where he started to drift towards extremism.

So I would never say that veterans are more susceptible to far-right ideology. But I would say that a large number of veterans have been seriously affected by their experiences. We do them no good if we pretend this isnt true, and we do American citizens no good if we pretend that we are more likely to be attacked from outside rather than within. Far more likely is Wade Michael Page [identified in a shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple], not some jihadist group.

One of the major points you make in Angry White Men is that the notions of masculinity which drive men to join far-right groups or go on shooting sprees are deeply rooted in humiliation.

In The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright discusses how a similar sense of humiliation in the Arab world informed the line of thinking that eventually became al-Qaida (and Isis). So I wonder, how much of this is about angry white men and how much is about angry men, full stop?

One of the most prescient observers of violence Ive ever read, James Gilligan, wrote a book called Violence. He argued that shame and humiliation underlie basically all violence: Because I feel small, I will make you feel smaller.

In my interviews with extremists, both actives and formers, I have found time and time again that they have experienced that sense of humiliation and shame.

In his famous statement, Osama bin Laden talked about how the west had humiliated the Muslim world that conservative Muslims have been humiliated by hyper-modern society and the cosmopolitan McDonaldization of the world. For them, restoring the seventh-century caliphate is their way of reinstating traditional masculinity.

I call this aggrieved entitlement. If you feel entitled and you have not gotten what you expected, that is a recipe for humiliation.

At least in the case of the German, Swedish and American guys that I interviewed, sometimes it is not really political at all. Many of them, especially the American guys, were sexually abused, beat up, bullied as children. Some of them have basically the same sort of profile as the victims of the Catholic priests. Growing up they were deeply ashamed of themselves; they didnt do well in school, they didnt have friends, they were sad, miserable, and they escaped into themselves. That just made them better targets, and the far right drew them in.

The camaraderie of the community validates their masculinity, and even more importantly than that gives them a sacred mission. That is really powerful for these guys.

Angry White Men talks at length about the manosphere on the internet, and the rise of the mens rights movement. Mens rights activists have long complained of the ways that government policies penalize men divorce and alimony laws, for example, or benefits designed for single mothers but not single fathers. Do you think with Trump in office, the MRAs may actually influence change in legislation and policy?

The group that I think has a point is the fathers, or some of the fathers. Some of the fathers rights groups who blame women, blame feminism I dont have much sympathy for them. But I do think that the courts have not kept pace with changes in society. Fathers have changed. Far more men now are involved in childcare. But our laws were really designed for the Don Draper era, when men were absentee landlords at home. So in some respects, some of these guys really have gotten a bad deal.

On the other hand, lets be clear what were talking about: a Californian study found that 80% of divorcing couples got the custody arrangement that they wanted. Both of them. So were really only talking about 20% of cases, and of those 20% of cases only a fraction of them are like the cases that the mens rights activists describe: he wants joint custody, she wants sole custody. The reasons for this problem are usually the circumstances for why she wants sole custody: she wants to leave the state, she wants to move for a job or a relationship.

So you have to calculate that. There are legitimate cases, I grant that, but I dont think we should make it sound like the entire American court system is slanted against men.

What do you make of Milo Yiannopoulos? He is gay; he has dated black men. Does someone like him complicate the narrative of masculinity and the conservative right?

Do you remember Phyllis Schlafly, who made a career out of telling women they shouldnt have careers? Milo Yiannopoulos is basically a provocateur. He wants to provoke a reaction so that he can claim victim status. Oh my God, they wont let me speak. These people on college campuses are whining all the time. Meanwhile, he is doing most of the whining. He is very like Trump: Everybody hates me, Im a victim of the bad media, I got more votes than she did.

Yiannopoulos may be gay but he is also white and upper-class. He is hardly underprivileged. What he wants to do is provoke a censorious reaction so he can say the left is equally censorious as the right. But in this country, that has not been the case. We have a long history of censoring free speech and that history has always come from the right. And this notion that the left is all so angry and censorious it depends on ignoring one small technical detail: the left is not in power right now. The left does not have the power to be censorious.

What are your thoughts about the age-old debate about men being violent? Is it purely social a product of culture or are there biological factors at work? Is it nature or nurture or both?

I think its a false debate. I think nature and nurture are intimately linked. What we know is that testosterone as a hormone both drives aggression and responds to aggression. It is a really malleable hormone. And I think that you cant understand the natural biological conditions of violence without understanding the social conditions, and I think you cant understand the social conditions without understanding the biological conditions.

Let me give you two examples. The first: how come men use a biological argument when they are angry and they beat up someone smaller or older than they are or they beat their wives yet they dont beat their bosses? I mean, my boss would likely piss me off more than my wife would, right? Why dont I beat him up? Because you have to feel like you have permission. You have to believe that the target of your violence is legitimate.

There is a famous experiment by a primatologist at Stanford. He takes five monkeys and measures their testosterone. Then he puts the five monkeys in a cage. The monkeys immediately establish a hierarchy of violence number one beats number two, number two beats number three, number three beats number four, number four beats number five. Of course, number one has the highest testosterone, and so on.

So the experiment is: he takes monkey three out of the cage and he shoots him up with testosterone, off the scale, and puts him back in. What do you think happens? When I tell this story my students always guess that he immediately becomes number-one monkey. But thats not true. What happens is that when he goes back in the cage he still avoids monkeys number one and two but he beats the shit out of numbers four and five.

So what any reasonable biological researcher would conclude is that testosterone does not cause aggression, it enables it. The target of the violence must already be seen as legitimate. You have a biological argument and a sociological argument. So the answer to your question is that it is never either/or. It is always both. Always.

This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity

Read more:

Violence flares after group of anti-fascist activists shot fireworks at venue where the controversial Breitbart editor was due to give a talk

The University of California Berkeley cancelled a speech by right-wing internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos after thousands of students gathered in protest and a group of black-clad anti-fascist activists shot fireworks at the speech venue.

The Martin Luther King Jr student union was heavily fortified behind several layers of police barricades when protesters began gathering outside at 5pm, three hours before the event was scheduled to start.

The gathering was boisterous but peaceful until about 6pm, when several dozen protesters wearing black face masks and carrying glittering flags arrived. The group quickly attacked the police barricades, then began shooting firecrackers at the building. Some used barricades to smash windows.

After about 15 minutes, a police officer announced that the event was cancelled.

Some cheered when the police announced the cancellation, but others continued to jeer and call for the police to send Milo out to face the crowd.

Milo isnt here, one police officer shouted amid the din. Milo isnt here.

Around 6pm local time, Yiannopoulos posted a statement on Facebook claiming that the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.

After the event was cancelled, and after the crowd watched a light pole that had been set aflame burn itself out, the atmosphere in the crowd quickly turned festive.

A large sound system was turned on, blasting music. The first song?

YGs Fuck Donald Trump.

At one point riot police that were on the student unions second floor appeared to fire less-lethal weapons at the crowd, but it was unclear what kind.

We wont put up with the violent rhetoric of Milo, Trump or the fascistic alt-right, said a Berkeley history student who declined to give his name. Wearing all black and a face mask, and carrying a banner that read Queers bash back, the student said he identified with the antifa (anti-fascist) movement.

We are willing to resist by any means necessary, he added.

Lana Wachowski was another protester who defended using extreme tactics to deny Yiannopolous a platform.

The moral imperative is to win, she said. Theres something to be said for fighting according to a code, but if you lose, people are going to die. People are going to get deported.

A fire set by demonstrators on the University of California at Berkeley campus. Photograph: Ben Margot/AP

Its absolutely acceptable to use violence. They are 100% certain to use it against us.

The erstwhile home of the free speech movement has been divided in recent weeks by the Berkeley College Republican-sponsored event, with many students, alumni, and community members demanding that Yiannopoulos be stopped from spreading his racist and transphobic views on campus.

Last week, University chancellor Nicholas Dirks defended Yiannopoulos right to speak on campus, though he described the Breitbart editor as a troll and provocateur who uses odious behavior in parts to entertain, but also to deflect any serious engagement with ideas whose act [is] at odds with the values of this campus.

Dirks also addressed Yiannopoulos tendency to single out individual students on stage such as a transgender student at the University of Wisconsin Madison for mockery and abuse, which the chancellor said does not justify prior restraint on his freedom of expression.

The Berkeley College Republicans said in a statement that the opportunity to invite Yiannopoulos was too good to pass up, though it disclaimed that the group does not agree with everything Milo has said or done, and totally disavow [sic] any violence or hurt that could result from this event.

Just hours before the protests, Reddit banned an alt-right subreddit page, r/altright, that had become a community for white nationalists. The page now reads: This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information.

Yiannopoulos is a well-known figure in the right-wing internet, though he was permanently banned from Twitter in July 2016 for instigating racist and sexist abuse of Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones. Since 2015, Yiannopoulos has traveled to university campuses as part of his Dangerous Faggot tour, frequently provoking student protests.

A protester was shot and seriously injured outside a Yiannopoulos speech at the University of Washington on 20 January, reportedly by a Trump supporter who was seeking Yiannopoulos autograph.

Read more:

Far-right antisemites have claimed Carpenters anti-Reagan 80s action flick as an allegory for Jewish media control. That couldnt be further from the truth

Pity the poor artists whose work is wrested away from them and used to nefarious, often political, ends. Its one thing to talk about the death of the author, quite another to hear that hit song you wrote used as intro-music at campaign rallies for a politician you despise. Then theres that awkward moment when your work is feted and celebrated for all the wrong reasons by exactly the wrong kind of audience.

That happened to director John Carpenter when neo-Nazis and antisemites took to claiming on white power websites that Carpenters campily paranoid 1988 sci-fi action flick They Live, was an allegory for Jewish control of the world. This meme has been floating around the stagnant white-supremacist backwaters of the internet since about 2008, disappearing and then resurfacing as dependably as herpes ever since.

Carpenter tweeted in words he probably never imagined himself having to use: THEY LIVE is about yuppies and unrestrained capitalism. It has nothing to do with Jewish control of the world, which is slander and a lie.

In the movie, a nameless, homeless protagonist (played by Canadian pro-wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper) stumbles into a worldwide conspiracy when he finds a pair of sunglasses that enable him to see the world as it really is. Advertising billboards for conventional products now reveal their subliminal subtexts: OBEY and SUBMIT and CONSUME. MARRY AND REPRODUCE. NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT. Further, he can now see that about one in 10 of the people around him are ferociously ugly and scary robotic creatures with bacon-like skin and bulbous eyes. Theyre an alien race, it turns out, in the process of enslaving the Earth, mainly through the use of television, and exploiting its inhabitants until nothing remains. Then theyll move on to their next target planet. We are their cattle We are being bred for slavery, says one member of the underground resistance (mostly people living off the grid, and thus unsusceptible to media brainwashing). Were like a natural resource to them All we really are is livestock. Everything climaxes in the TV studio that, with the help of willing earthling collaborators, beams out subliminal propaganda to the clueless earthlings at home.

So in this vein of thinking, the aliens are the Jews, at least as the neo-Nazis perceive them, a parasitical, invasive race of inhuman exploiters, and the collaborators are those literal betes noires of the far right, the race traitors. The media, in this reading, is just the Jew media of the white rights fever dreams. Meanwhile, the two-fisted homeless heroes are the racially enlightened battalions of StormFront and their ilk, and the sunglasses represent that common rite of passage for a budding young Brownshirt, the racial awakening.

The racial awakening is the white supremacist equivalent of being born again. A shift in perspective, accompanied by a jettisoning of the intolerable shackles of political correctness, and suddenly you see everything history, society, economics, culture entirely in racial terms, literally in black and white. Somewhere in their attitude to the revelatory sunglasses one detects the whiff of projection.

Lets allow Carpenter to project his own thoughts. He gave his version after a screening of Halloween at the Hero Complex Film Festival in 2013 where the neo-Nazi interpretation, apparently then in remission, was not even mentioned. [They Live] was giving the finger to Reagan when nobody else would, he said. By the end of the 70s there was a backlash against everything in the 60s, and thats what the 80s were, and Ronald Reagan became president, and Reaganomics came in so a lot of the ideals that I grew up with were under assault, and something called a yuppie came into existence, and they just wanted money. And so by the late 80s, Id had enough, and I decided I had to make a statement, as stupid and banal as it is, but I made one, and thats They Live.

This is in line with what we know of Carpenters political attitudes, which on balance veer towards a kind of post-60s left-libertarianism. His best movies arose directly from the suburban ennui of the Eisenhower era he grew up in: atom-bomb drills in school, the Bomb itself, 1950s television, consumerism, mindless conformity. And of course from the movies of the time, which are chock-a-block with reference to invading aliens: The Thing From Another World (which Carpenter would remake in 1982), I Married a Monster from Outer Space, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers by Don Siegel. That last movie has been dragged back and forth across the political spectrum too. Conservatives say its about the mindless conformity imposed by communism, leftwingers that its about the mindless conformity imposed by McCarthyism. Siegel wisely let them fight it out among themselves, but then, no one was accusing him a Jew of making a secretly antisemitic action movie.

The eye of the beholder rules all in this instance. Unlike the online Klansmen, I dont see anything Jewish about the invasive aliens or their use of media (you could just as easily argue it foresees Fox News). Instead, I see the Nazi occupation of France or Poland, made all the more frightening by the fact that they dont even know theyre occupied. However, I did spot the alien-robot politician on TV almost directly quoting and giving the finger to Reagans 1984 re-election campaign slogan: Its a new morning in America The nightmare Carpenter is trying to awaken from is a rightwing one, the Reagan Invasion. As Carpenter told the LA Weekly recently, What are you going to do? Its absolutely foolish.

Read more:

It started with Sam Harris, moved on to Milo Yiannopoulos and almost led to full-scale Islamophobia. If it can happen to a lifelong liberal, it could happen to anyone

I am a happily married, young white man. I grew up in a happy, Conservative household. Ive spent my entire life save the last four months as a progressive liberal. All of my friends are very liberal or left-leaning centrists. I have always voted Liberal Democrat or Green. I voted remain in the referendum. The thought of racism in any form has always been abhorrent to me. When leave won, I was devastated.

I was curious as to the motives of leave voters. Surely they were not all racist, bigoted or hateful? I watched some debates on YouTube. Obvious points of concern about terrorism were brought up. A leaver cited Sam Harris as a source. I looked him up: this intellectual, free-thinker was very critical of Islam. Naturally my liberal kneejerk reaction was to be shocked, but I listened to his concerns and some of his debates.

This, I think, is where YouTubes suggested videos can lead you down a rabbit hole. Moving on from Harris, I unlocked the Pandoras box of Its not racist to criticise Islam! content. Eventually I was introduced, by YouTube algorithms, to Milo Yiannopoulos and various anti-SJW videos (SJW, or social justice warrior, is a pejorative directed at progressives). They were shocking at first, but always presented as innocuous criticism from people claiming to be liberals themselves, or centrists, sometimes just a regular conservative but never, ever identifying as the dreaded alt-right.

For three months I watched this stuff grow steadily more fearful of Islam. Not Muslims, they would usually say, individual Muslims are fine. But Islam was presented as a threat to western civilisation. Fear-mongering content was presented in a compelling way by charismatic people who would distance themselves from the very movement of which they were a part.

Read more: