History rarely repeats itself, but it often rhymes. Seen from Italy, the spectacle of far-right, pro-dictatorship Jair Bolsonaro winning the first round of Brazil’s presidential race rings very familiar bells.
In the 1920s, Italian fascism was initially resisted, and then supported, by economic elites. At first, a shunned and rowdy group, fascists were soon enough embraced by a self-interested establishment as the best defence against rising labour demands. National-socialism, the economic model crafted in Italy and perfected in Germany, combined a modicum of social concessions with iron-fisted protection for private property and industrial interests. This provided a blueprint that would be copied in dictatorships the world over.