Publication Date

Spring 2022

Document Type

Senior Integrative Project


Extremist narratives are diffuse, and mistrust of political institutions is ubiquitous in the United States. Extremist ideas espousing violent means to gain recognition and legitimacy are more common in mainstream culture. This is the United States now, but it is also Italy sixty years prior. This project uses various archival materials to explore the two decades from 1960 to 1980 defined by cycles of widespread extremism, social fracturing, and domestic terror known in Italian history as The Years of Lead. Applying this case to the United States’ current circumstances, this project argues that a democracy with the prestige of the United States should not ignore its susceptibility to similar cycles of violent extremism. Understanding the historical similarities between spiraling nations is a necessary step in preventing the devolution of political institutions and cultural norms of liberal democracy.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.