by Miguel Martinez

Massimo Introvigne, on the cover of his own books, always claims to be one of the directors of another association, called Alleanza Cattolica (hereafter AC). Introvigne is currently one of only five "consultori" (an unusual word indeed in Italian) of AC. Another, Alfredo Mantovano, is currently the "spokesman" for Alleanza Nazionale, Italy's right-wing party, and was briefly its "national co-ordinator", a job which put him practically in charge of the entire party, under the national secretary Gianfranco Fini (this is rather surprising, and may reveal something of the political clout of AC, if we remember that Mantovano joined Fini's party only three months before: see "An, primo atto dell'epurazione", La Stampa, Dec. 11, 1997, p. 6). 

AC however never bets on one horse only - Introvigne is a prominent member of another right-wing party, the CCD. Another Alleanza Cattolica member, Vietti, happens to be the group leader in Parliament of the same party. In the same way, perhaps, Introvigne regularly writes for one right-wing daily, Il Giornale, while another Alleanza Cattolica militant, Andrea Morigi, writes for the even more extreme right-wing daily, Libero.

Of course, there is nothing wrong per se about membership in another organization, however controversial. After all, as Introvigne objected in his e-mail note, "the most usual confusion about CESNUR is not to be able to distinguish individual affiliations of directors with the association as such". 

The problem however is, is Introvigne a member of AC; or is CESNUR itself a member of AC? 

Alleanza Cattolica is an organization which has been around for roughly thirty years, and has only 200-300 members. Living at the very margin of the official Catholic Church, for reasons which will soon become clear, it has rarely made headlines; until quite recently, it was quite a poor organization, without any influence whatsoever. Things changed for two reasons: the political success in 1994of the right, a congerie of parties which obtained millions of votes without the leadership to manage them, opened up incredible prospects for AC which had long been bringing up its followers as an intellectual "élite". 

The other factor was the sudden, world-wide success of Introvigne as a new born "sociologist". 

Even a cursory look at the homepage of Alleanza Cattolica, which proudly boasts that "militants of Alleanza Cattolica have founded" three organizations - CESNUR, IDIS (Institute for Social Doctrine and Information) and ISIN (Institute for the Study of the "Insorgenze")" clearly shows that the relationship between CESNUR and AC goes farther than mere "personal affiliation". 

IDIS is so closely associated to the right-wing party, Alleanza Nazionale, that every week the daily of this party - Secolo d'Italia - devotes a full page to it. Indeed, IDIS may be said to be the leading right-wing think tank in Italy, and derives its ideas largely from two sources: the ideology of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (more about this later) and US "neo-cons". 

"Insorgenze", in the initials of ISIN, refers to the anti-Napoleonic uprisings in Italy at the close of the eighteenth century. An episode which has been completely and undeservedly deleted from Italy's history. But of course the purpose of this institute is highly ideological: creating an alternative historical myth to the secular Risorgimento of Cavour and Garibaldi, and to the "Communist" resistance movement. Like CESNUR, ISIN includes some serious scholars, who are not always aware of the wider agenda they have been fitted into.  

AC's politics are no secret: on March 26, 1994, AC published an "appeal" for the coming political elections, inviting voters to "take part actively, voting for the lists which present the clearest opposition to the 'radical mass party', that is the front formed by socialcommunists and 'progressives', who are promoting the de-Christianization of the Italian people." 

(click on the picture to get full size) 

This campaign was part of a larger campaign, well-publicized in Il Secolo d'Italia, the daily of the party then known as MSI-National Right (e.g., January 6, 1994) called "A human and political Christian action for rebuilding the identity of the Italian people". In the manifesto of this campaign, Giovanni Cantoni, the Alleanza Cattolica leader, says that Liberté and Fraternité may be acceptable, but Egalité is definitely not. 

In other words, militants of the right-wing organization AC create right-wing groups. Of course they are quite free to do so, as long as they do not represent themselves to be the possessors of the science of sociology, as opposed to a world of "amateurs". 

AC is also active among the so-called "far right", a term which in Italy covers a very complicated world of small and conflicting organizations.  

Just one example out of many - on April 24, 1998, Aldo Carletti, member of both CESNUR and AC - spoke at a meeting organized in Varese by the Centro Studi Trans Lineam (see Orion, n. 163, April 1998, p. 39). Writing in Orion, a magazine which reflects many different opinions of this area, Lucio Tancredi has accused AC of infiltrating the "far right" and trying to convert it to US-style neo-conservatism.  

There is, as we shall see, a reason behind this: the "Counter-Revolutionary" thinking which inspired the Catholic movement AC also inspired such non-Christian works as Julius Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World and René Guénon's The Crisis of the Modern World. Their ideas are by no means identical, but despite quite different views on Christianity, there are points of contact in the "spiritual politics" of all three, and in their views on the "decadence of the modern world". 

Introvigne is by no means the only person in CESNUR, at least in Italy, to be involved with AC. A person closely involved is the leader of AC himself, Giovanni Cantoni, officially 'National Regent' of the organization. 

"Regent" is a rather unusual term in Italian, where it is can either mean an interim functionary or something like a "ruler", the reason why this term is occasionally used by some right-wing groups which wish to avoid such democratic terms as "president". Of course the official explanation is the first, but Cantoni's interim has lasted several decades. In any case, a member of Alleanza Cattolica confirmed the fact that this term is used in the same sense as in English - a temporary ruler governing in the name of another, in this case (for ideological reasons which shall become evident later on) the Virgin Mary. 

Giovanni Cantoni is also co-author, together with Introvigne, of a booklet called Libertà religiosa, 'sette' e 'diritto di persecuzione', which is one long attack on so-called "anti-cult movements". 

Alleanza Cattolica, unlike Massimo Introvigne, has never hidden its extremists views, which of course it has a full right to. 

Here for example is the text of a leaflet of this organization, dating back to the mid-Seventies, which refers to one of Italy's endless and unimportant political "crises", when government posts were reshuffled for the thousandth time, followed by elections with tiny percentage changes. The "red government" referred to was a typically moderate coalition of Christian Democrats and Socialists, with outside support by Italy's extremely cautious Communist Party: 

Vote anti-communist, but don't stop there! 

The red Andreotti-Berlinguer government has 'committed suicide' in order to anticipate the historical compromise [between Catholics and Communists], and the historical compromise is the forerunner of a Communist regime.

This rather boring power juggling leads the author of the leaflet to compare the Italian situation with Cambodia, no less; and finishes with the dramatic call to action: 

Do not despair! Help yourself so God may help you!