Franco "Giorgio" Freda (Padua, Italy, 11 February 1941) is one of the leading neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist intellectuals of the post-war Italian far-right. He founded a publishing house for neo-Nazi thought, and described himself as an admirer of Hitler. He was convicted but later acquitted for lack of evidence for involvement in the Piazza Fontana bombing. He founded the Fronte Nazionale, which was disbanded by the Italian government in 2000 when Freda and forty-eight other members were found guilty of attempting to re-establish the National Fascist Party.
In 1963 he founded the Group of Ar, based on the philosophy of Julius Evola, and managed a far-right library. Later, when the Group of Ar was disbanded, he founded the Edizioni di Ar (Ar Publishing), a publishing house that brought out books by traditionalist figures like Evola and René Guenon. Edizioni di Ar is still active today and continues to offer philosophical and political contemporary far-right essays, as well as reissuing books by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers like Arthur de Gobineau, Oswald Spengler, Friederich Nietzsche, and Alfred Baeumler.
In 1969 Freda published The Disintegration of the System, which became an important text for the Italian far right. In this book Freda broke the classical Anti Communist stance of the far right and proposed a strategic alliance between the far left and the far right to subvert capitalist society. He also began to criticise the MSI leadership, accusing it of compromising with the "agonizing democracy of the Republic". This position, along with the proposal of a hierarchical, collectivist State which found its roots explicitly in Plato, earned him the title of "Nazi-Maoist". Freda's ideology influenced many 1970s far right Italian groups, such as the Lotta di Popolo and Terza Posizione.
Freda called himself a "scholar of ethnicity" and proposed the principles of a so-called "morphological racism". He also described himself as an admirer of Hitler. After contacts with Pino Rauti, he participated in the activities of Ordine Nuovo, even though he never formally joined the movement.
From 1971 onwards he was put on trial several times, notably for his alleged involvement in the Piazza Fontana bombing. Although eventually acquitted of involvement in the bombing he spent several years in jail for the crime of "subversive association".
Fronte Nazionale, which opposed both globalization and multicultural society, was disbanded by the Italian government in 2000, on the grounds of the Mancino law. Freda and 48 other members were found guilty of "reconstruction of the Fascist party" (which is illegal in Italy).
Freda is still present in the far right scene as an ideologue and publisher, although public appearances and writings are rare. Freda is well known in the far right scene for his erudition, elegant writing style and uncompromising attitude.
Alleged involvement in the Piazza Fontana bombing
On 3 March 1972 Franco Freda, his friend Giovanni Ventura, and Pino Rauti, an Italian Social Movement organiser and founder of the far right movement Ordine Nuovo, were arrested. They were accused of having planned the 25 April 1969 terrorist attacks at the Milan Fair and Railway Station, and of several other attacks on trains carried out on 8 and 9 August of the same year. Freda and Ventura were later accused of involvement in the Piazza Fontana bombing.
Investigators gave several reasons they believed the pair were involved:
- The composition of the bombs used in Piazza Fontana was identical to that of explosives that Ventura hid at the home of a friend several days after the attacks.
- The Diehl Junghans timers used in the attack came from a stock of fifty bought by Freda on 22 September 1969 in a Bologna store. Freda later explained that he bought the timers for Mohamed Selin Hamid, an agent of Algeria secret services (whose existence has been denied by Algerian authorities) for the Palestinian resistance. Israel secret services sources have claimed that no timer of that kind had been used by Palestinians.
- The bags where the bombs were hidden had been bought in a Padua, the city where Freda lived, a few days before the attacks.
In 1974 the trial was moved from Milan to Catanzaro. On 4 October 1978 the police discovered that Freda had disappeared from the Catanzaro apartment where he had been staying. On 23 February 1979 he was found guilty for the Piazza Fontana bombing and sentenced to life imprisonment.
On 23 August 1979 Freda was arrested in Costa Rica and extradited to Italy. Several more trials followed. On 20 March 1981 Freda was sentenced to 15 years of jail for "subversive association". However his life sentence for the Piazza Fontana bombing was overturned on 1 August 1985 for lack of evidence. Ventura's sentence was also overturned. In 1987 he was acquitted by the supreme Court of Cassation for lack of evidence.
In 1990s new investigations into Piazza Fontana were made. Investigators have claimed that due to new witnesses they believe Freda and Ventura were involved in the terrorist attack. However the pair cannot be put on trial again as they were acquitted of the crime in 1987.
Involvement and contributions to the Nazi-Maoist movement
Nazi-Maoism was a political movement and ideology that emerged in Italy around 1968 with the formation of a group known as "Struggle of the People" this group of students from the Sapienza University of Rome took heavy inspiration from the writings and theory of Franco Freda and advocated for a combining of ideas from both the far left and far right, Nazi-Maoism according to the Neo-Fascist group "Third Position" had a stance of "neither Capitalism nor Communism neither reds nor reactionary" Nazi-Maoists such as Freda wanted to form a "Fascist dictatorship of the proletariat" by using the Maoist guerrilla strategy of people's war to overthrow the government and the bourgeoisie. Nazi-Maoism is believed to have mostly faded away after the Struggle of the People group dissolved in 1973 however some forms of Nazi-Maoism continued in other similar groups into the late 1970s but the movement would never again be as active as it was with the Struggle of the People.
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