Thursday, May 22, 2014

Italy's Curse: The Lust for Revenge

Only a week after former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner revealed in his book that back in 2011 EU officials approached him with a plan to overthrow Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s elected leader, another assumed "international plot" has been revealed by the leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement, Gianroberto Caseleggio:
"It was April 10, 2013, a week before Italy's Presidential Elections. I was with Mr. Grillo (The Five Star Movement leader) and two of our staff members.

The British Ambassador asked us if we would like to meet Enrico Letta, who at the time was Vice-Secretary of the Democratic Party and who was waiting in the next room. 
We turned down the offer. 

Eventually we were taken upstairs via a backstair to have lunch with some of the Embassy staff while the Ambassador was having lunch with Mr. Letta downstairs. 

At one point the Ambassador (rather his right-hand man) asked us: "What do you think of the re-election of Mr. Napolitano? (The incumbent President of the Republic) 

Two weeks later Napolitano was re-elected President and Mr. Letta was named Prime Minister. We reached the conclusion that there was something wrong in all this . . .
It proves the strong influence that foreign governments have on Italy's political choices. 

It's not just Germany. It's one of the many faces of our total loss of sovereignty: we lost territorial sovereignity in 1945; we lost monetary sovereignty with the Euro and the fiscal sovereignty with the fiscal compact. In order to win the elections we should win the elections in at least three foreign countries...."

Italians tend too easily to forget that from 1923 to 1943 Italy was ruled by a ferocious fascist dictatorship which was Hitler's first ally.

Much has been said about the existence of secret treaties that would see the World War II winners as Italy's democracy supervisors but like every conspiracy theory there is no conclusive evidence that such treaties do exist.  

Even if that were the case, you have to see the situation within the setting of 1943, when Italy was completely devastated by 20 years of gruesome dictatorship that has no comparison in today's world. 

Besides, on the occasion mentioned above, the British Ambassador merely provided help as mediator between two major political forces who wouldn't even talk to each other otherwise. 

As a matter of fact this is the real Italian problem:  Resentment. 

Nonetheless, since this is a major structural problem that has affected Italian society since the dawn of time, political leaders tend to exaggerate International conspiracies as an excuse to avoid such a hot topic.

Politicians in Italy do not talk to each other because they see each other not as adversaries but as enemies.  

Resentment in Italy is the real engine that moves Italy's politics forward. 

To make yourself an idea, take Richard Nixon's enemy list attitude and multiply it by a thousand, and you're still nowhere near it. You have to imagine a country of politicians who have no political adversaries but enemies.

Where all this hatred comes from?

Well my idea is that it's a combination of several factors that piled up along the past seventy years. 

The Fosse Ardeatine massacre can be probably considered as the major inciting incident of this chain of hatred as it's still an open wound even in today's Italy. 

The Fosse Ardeatine was a mass killing carried out in Rome on 24 March 1944 by German occupation troops during the Second World War as a reprisal for a partisan attack conducted on the previous day in central Rome against the SS Police Regiment Bozen.

This is probably the possible inciting incident for which left and right used as their favorite blame game, which started and fuelled a series of retaliation events which have been keeping Italians divided between left and right since the last world war (which was also Italy's civil war) and that lasted for seventy years because that "original sin" transformed itself along the way assuming different forms that made people forget the very reason why they kept blaming and hating each other.

Since then, resentment in Italy perpetuated through time. generation after generation. 
Still at today you can see Millennials who claim to be "fascist" or "communist". 

Italy's politics not only was absolutely unable to understand or contain this huge wave of resentment and hatred that sparked across the country for the past 70 years, not only they did absolutely nothing to cool it down but Italian political parties actually exploited such negative feelings for parochial interests with the only result of dividing Italian society even more. 

Leftist politicians reminded their voters of the Fosse Ardeatine, Right Wing politicians recalled Stalin's purges while Italians were in the middle of this storm that only aimed to harvest more hate among the very same people: neighbors, relatives, friends were pulled to keep each other away because of different political affiliation. 

You have to consider other relevant historical factors that helped keeping up these divisions: During the Cold War Italy was the battlefield of the two superpowers because of its strategical position in the Mediterranean sea. Although the Cold War ended in 1989 and since then we saw no political leader who acted as Peacemaker between the two factions that kept hating each other for whatever reason that piled up along the way. 

The main problem with a negative feeling like hate is that it transforms itself along the way. As a matter of fact left and right parties are almost the same in today's political arena as last century ideological stances have completely vanished like snow in the sun but hatred stays on as it flows throughout a giant invisible system of communicating vases. 

You want to take a look at it? Just tune yourself into any of Italy's political debates, you'll see people screaming at each other for the whole time and that's not folklore. It's gratuitous baseless hatred. I would like to pop up in any of these pathetic public shows just to say: "wake up! war is over since 1943." Unfortunately, Italian tv networks are so primitive they still base their concept of audience development upon physical altercation. Hence no peace talk in sight. 

A famous Italian sentence which still at today is used in convivial occasions is "let's not talk about politics if we want to stay friends". Like if politics would carry with it a sort of unspeakable gloomy curse. 

I would like to remind here the words of one of the greatest mentors I had to chance to have in my academic career and that's Professor Richard Weisberg from Yeshiva University whose work was the subject of my JD final thesis.

Professor Weisberg is the leading figure of a movement called Law & Literature, a literary stream that sees the participation of some of the major legal figures of our times, like Judge Richard Posner and Dr. Robin West. 

Law & Literature explores the connection between revenge, resentment and Law along the course of human history and according to Professor Weisberg "the resented legal professional can make more damage than an atomic bomb". That is to say that the negative energy or "ressentiment" that has been fuelling Italy's politics in the past 70 years has to be overcome or definetely abandoned by the Italian people if they want to enter a real Consciousness Shift or if they expect any change to happen, otherwise they will be facing the same c(o)urse of the past.

Being this the situation I think we have to say thank you to the British Ambassador for trying to provide our ressented political leaders with some of his communication wisdom. Otherwise, being the 5 stars considered by the Democratic Party a protest movement while the Democratic Party being seen as affiliated with the establishment by the other, no compromise would have been possible without a foreign facilitator.   

We have to consider that Democracy of sorts had existed in England for centuries - as far back as 1432, while Italy became a democracy on June 2 1946.  

Britain never lost a war while Italy lost two. I think you have to consider these things when you talk to someone who represents a country with such a respectable reputation and whose only objective is to help your political leaders simply to talk each other. 

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