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Berlusconi allies with Italian fascists.
February 21, 2006 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Berlusconi allies with Italian fascists. Declaring the opposition party as a threat to democracy, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi did the obvious thing... he allied with the fascists. After all, what did they ever do to harm anyone? They look like a friendly, patriotic group. Cleancut... and they sound kinda cheery too. Their websites feature familiar faces. I'm sure the knifings and the bombings -- yes, plural -- were just a matter of youthful overexuberance. So, where's Bush on this issue?
posted by insomnia_lj (70 comments total)

 
This is just what they need to make the trains run on time.
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:19 AM on February 21, 2006


Always gotta find a way to get Bush in there... bravo!
posted by Witty at 6:23 AM on February 21, 2006


I would like to subscribe to your independent broadsheet magazine tabloid.
posted by peacay at 6:31 AM on February 21, 2006


Che, we all thought you were dead!
posted by HTuttle at 6:39 AM on February 21, 2006


This is where i REALLY really ish that by some miracle Romano Prodi will get elected somehow.

Anyone saw the documentary / movie Viva Zapatero?

Well worth a look if you want to learn about censorship in Italy.
posted by Sijeka at 6:43 AM on February 21, 2006


and c learly my spelling and grammar should be censored...
posted by Sijeka at 6:44 AM on February 21, 2006


Well, Prodi's alliance is always being called Communist by Berlusconi, so I suppose it helps to clearly define a distinction between the two. Just to help the electorate.

Also, the fascists have high-profile supporters, which is always nice to have in a political partnership come election day.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:45 AM on February 21, 2006


Marvellous. I suppose they say Europe is becoming more like America every day and describing the opposition as a threat to democracy seems a very American thing to do...

But in other news... wtf? Italians are all insane.
posted by Meccabilly at 6:45 AM on February 21, 2006


Yup...fascism is dead alright. Also, man. that Alessandra Mussolini is one crazy bitch.
posted by stenseng at 6:50 AM on February 21, 2006




cretin-tastic.
posted by stenseng at 6:52 AM on February 21, 2006


Unlike many of the neonazi groups out there , Forza Nuova's artwork and iconography is pretty professional. It must cost them a bit, but I hear they have some major financial backers amongst ultraconservative Catholics and the older generation.



Note the subdued, tasteful application of the Star of David over the American flag. That said, I think Adbusters would be pretty pissed that they appropriated their idea for this purpose.

But hey... fascism is all about hatred and dehumanization. The names sometimes change, but the hatred is always the same. They still hate Jews, but they need to be a bit discreet about it until they're certain they won't be arrested.

So, why did Austria arrest a holocaust denier who recanted his previous beliefs, but not this guy? Who's more dangerous anyway?
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:52 AM on February 21, 2006




Bill Watterson is rolling in his grave...
and he's not even dead yet.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:04 AM on February 21, 2006


Probably just as well if Bush doesn't take a position. Foreign policy isn't exactly his strong point, is it?
posted by 327.ca at 7:05 AM on February 21, 2006


how totally fucking awesome the Italian political sphere is. Communists on the left, fascists on the right, great. Whatta choice.
posted by perianwyr at 7:08 AM on February 21, 2006


I could take this post on facisim more seriously if it didn't drip the spittle of ideological rabidity itself .
posted by srboisvert at 7:13 AM on February 21, 2006


meccabilly: yeah as much as half of americans if not more. Hopefully we'll avoid the same mistakes.

It should be noted that Berlusconi launched a diktat epuration campaign shortly after the inflamatory exploits of Minister Calderoli (my previous comment on him).

Berlusconi wisely proposed all the parties of his coalition to drop off all the elements that just can't pretend to be democratic in a credible way ; Mussolini (the nephew) first rejected the formation of a "good/bad" list of candidates, then today changed her mind , dropped some extremists. Bottom line, she didn't want to be left out of the pasture, knowing her voter base doesn't vote ideas, votes authoritarian images and names.

Berlusconi made clear that he is light years away from extremism and quoting from his declarations

I was light years away not only from street demonstrations and certain forms of political extremism, but even from active politics as such

Which leaves a lot of room for doubt: does he consider streem demonstration a form of political extremism ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:22 AM on February 21, 2006


The root problem here is that Italy wasn't punished as much as it should have been for its WWII activities. Mussolini sent jews to their deaths by rounding them up and handing them to his buddy Hitler. Germany's military wins gave him an excuse to invade greece unprovoked. Italy has the capabilities to develop nucealer weapons if it chooses. It has a standing military.

It, as a nation, has not shown enough regret over its involvement with the Nazis and some parts of it are proud of their fascist past, usually showing this pride in mass gatherings on Mussolini's birthday. Hell, where's the regret and shame when Fascist ideology is mainstream? This is like Neonazi's holding powerful offices in Germany and being part of the ruling coalition government. Where's the outrage?

This Fini character only recently decided that Fascism and Italy's WWII past -might- be a bad thing. The war was 60 years ago!

So much for the argument that religion makes people good. Its a predominately Catholic country. So much for the argument that people learn lessons from history. Normal average people voted for Berlusconi and Fini. Its not some conspiracy. Its a country with Fascist/Strongman leanings.

The only bright side to this is that Berlusconi acts like such an ass he's seen as a clown in world-wide politics and that the fascist sympathizers, while real and strong, remain somewhat marginized now.

>>So, why did Austria arrest a holocaust denier who recanted his previous beliefs, but not this guy?

Because the Italians have enjoyed a free ride from WWII. Mussolini's crimes are seen like "honest mistakes" or Italy being under the control of some "bad apples." Which is far from the truth.
posted by skallas at 7:39 AM on February 21, 2006


I could take this post on facism more seriously if it didn't drip the spittle of ideological rabidity itself .

Awesome
posted by slatternus at 7:56 AM on February 21, 2006


I just googled for Ms Mussolini and received a number of unexpected images.

I'm deeply grateful that politicians in the UK are more reserved.
posted by NinjaPirate at 8:00 AM on February 21, 2006


"I am not surprised that Berlusconi makes an alliance with neo-fascists and neo-nazis. He's the only Prime Minister who in 5 years of government has never been present at the 25th April celebrations. Each year he has been absent with even miserable excuses; one year he said he had dislocated his arm.

Every side has it's imbeciles and extremists, we condemn them and expel them. The right on the other hand, tries to find an agreement with them . . . these are the same people who claim the holocaust never existed, that fascism was right, that exalt xenophobic and Nazi-like words, which say exactly the same thing about Israel as those that burnt flags yesterday.

On March 1st Berlusconi will go to the US to speak before the congress of one of the nations that liberated the world from Nazism and Fascism, a country founded on deep democratic and liberal values: does he appreciate that he will be going there just days after having signed an alliance with forces that would never be accepted in the US by anyone?"

- Piero Fassino, leader of the opposition party.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:00 AM on February 21, 2006


The only bright side to this is that Bush acts like such an ass he's seen as a clown in world-wide politics and that the fundamentist sympathizers, while real and strong, remain somewhat marginized now.

Hey! that fits too
posted by Elim at 8:01 AM on February 21, 2006


So this begs the question: Are there any Facist porn stars?
http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/2714.html
posted by Gungho at 8:06 AM on February 21, 2006


Of course, Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS was shot on the sets used for Hogan's Heroes. Dyanne Thorne stars as the buxom ILSA

-Not that I would know anything about those type of films-
posted by Elim at 8:10 AM on February 21, 2006


>I could take this post on facism more seriously if it didn't drip the spittle of ideological rabidity itself .

Right! I demand a wry, ponderous, and traquilized Lewis Lapham 88-page essay in Harper's about this!
posted by skallas at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2006


The idea of the indestructible spirit of fascism skulking around Europe once again is just too depressing. I'm heading over to Cute Overload to look at some kittens.
posted by slatternus at 8:31 AM on February 21, 2006


Oh come on. The post is reasonable up until it pulls the "Fascists Fascists Fascists Fascist Bush" ploy. The FPP godwined itself.
posted by srboisvert at 8:34 AM on February 21, 2006


skallas : Italy has the capabilities to develop nucealer weapons if it chooses.

Uh from this point of view we are harmless, Iran or N.Korea has more nuclear anything then us. Nuclear energy was voted away by referendum nearly 20 years ago, right after Chernobyl if my memory serves.

Consequentially we don't have nuclear plants nor enrichment capabilities , guess all the nukes (if any) on italian soil are the NATO-US ones.
posted by elpapacito at 8:35 AM on February 21, 2006


"Oh come on. The post is reasonable up until it pulls the "Fascists Fascists Fascists Fascist Bush" ploy."

Oh come on yourself.

You don't think that Bush should speak out against legitimizing violent, murderous terrorists who want to boycott the US? Then why did we just do precisely that in Palestine... and in Iraq?

In Palestine, we first said -- before we knew that Hamas won outright -- that they had better not be given any of the major cabinet positions. We then said, "well, they better not form their own government". Now, we don't know what to say.

In Iraq, we supported their democratic elections, until it became obvious that US attempts to prevent a Shi'ite majority had failed, and that the Shi'ites could put anyone in any position they wanted. Now we're saying that they had better not appoint sectarians into certain positions, or else we might cut off their funding.

So, why shouldn't Bush have a public opinion on the resurgence of fascism in European politics?
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:58 AM on February 21, 2006


If I were Bush and was meeting with Berlusconi soon, I'd say loud and clear to him, "Stop legitimizing fascists."

I'd also tell him something about the 114,000 Americans who died in Italy trying to liberate it from the Germans and the fascists, and how I'd expect him to finally go to Milan this year to honor their sacrifice.
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:14 AM on February 21, 2006


Bush likely keeps his tongue in check because even a man more eloquent than he would still stir up difficulties with an ally in a case where we need what support we can get, especially regarding the coalition in Iraq. How about Japan and Koizumi's visitations to the Yasukuni shrine? While it's not implementing fascist politics, it's a sign of respect to those who were largely fascist and horribly unjust. We bite our tongue to keep the friendship happier.

It's a watered-down version of the logic used regarding right-wing dictators already in power. They're more convenient to us than the opposition, and meddling in their affairs would simply result in a less cooperative government one way or the other.

Sorry man, Bush is no more at blame here than any US politician involved in foreign affairs. Personally, I'd rather see an opinion stated by a subordinate with authority to do so, one with greater specialization and focus, as well as the eloquence to be persuasive without causing a standoff.
posted by Saydur at 9:50 AM on February 21, 2006


The root problem here is that Italy wasn't punished as much as it should have been for its WWII activities. Mussolini sent jews to their deaths by rounding them up and handing them to his buddy Hitler. Germany's military wins gave him an excuse to invade greece unprovoked.

Just to nitpick a bit (but also add to your excellent point, skallas), Italy invaded and fascist-ized parts of Greece way before they even started cozying up to Hitler. The Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea had previously been part of the Ottoman Empire, but had a majority-Greek population, so when the Ottoman Empire started to crash and burn in the early 20th Century, the islands declared a short-lived independence in 1912.

Italy simply grabbed them. Nobody stopped them at the time, because WWI was on the horizon and there were bigger problems coming. But following WWI, most of the islands were supposed to become Greek by treaty. But Italy, under Mussolini, refused to recognize the treaty--just ignored it!--and held onto all of them. They saw the Dodecandese Islands as part of their "Mare Nostrum" ("our [Mediterranean] sea") policy. They Italianized the islands linguistically (Italian became the mandatory language in the schools), Fascist-ized the islands governmentally (and architecturally), and eventually militarized the islands as a stopping off point to invade and conquer Crete in WWII and to run interference on the rest of their invasion of Greece. And they instituted other minor inconveniences like the lovely racial laws against the islands' centuries-old Sephardic Jewish population.

Which is how my husband's grandfather ended up coming to the US in 1937 and his mother and siblings on the last boat out in 1939: technically, he and his family were fleeing Mussolini's racism and expansionism, not Hitler's. Actually, the long time lag between Mussolini's first implementations of the racial laws (late 1920's, I think? that's before Germany!) and the actual German boots on the islands (not until 1944) actually helped the local Jewish population quite a bit, because it gave them enough time to see that the laws sucked and weren't going away, plus enough time for many of them (almost 1/3 of the Jewish population of Rhodes, for example) to leave for the US, Palestine, Rhodesia, and elsewhere. Of course, that meant about 2/3 of the population, about 5000 people, were sent to Auschwitz, one of the only Sephardic groups killed in the Holocaust.

So, um, yeah. Italian fascism and expansionism vis-a-vis such far-flung areas as North Africa, Greece, and Turkey is glossed over far too much in most WWII history reports. I'm not particularly worried about Berlusconi himself--the guy is a bit of a loose cannon and a bit more of a buffoon--but if he's not reining in the underpublicized neo-fascist elements on the Italian political scene, that's really not very good news. Maybe we should monitor the latest Italian fashions from Milan and Rome to see if they have an over-reliance on black...
posted by Asparagirl at 10:19 AM on February 21, 2006


Nope, Mussolini didn't bend to Hitler's will and implement racial laws until 1938 (see here, for example). He was unquestionably a vile dictator, but anti-Semitism wasn't one of his native vices, and Italian Jews felt reasonably comfortable until then—in fact, a number of them were members of the Partito Fascista (see here for further history). But you're absolutely right about the glossing over.

Say, where's matteo?
posted by languagehat at 10:37 AM on February 21, 2006


Italian fascism and expansionism vis-a-vis such far-flung areas as North Africa, Greece, and Turkey...

And East Africa, Slovenia, Croatia, and Tyrol, I should add. See also.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:45 AM on February 21, 2006


god DAMMIT, Italy! I keep telling myself that the home of my ancestors is a place full of sane, lovely people. god DAMMIT!

insomnia, they're just saying your mention of bush at the end implies he supports the move, when there's no reason to think he does. To say that his silence on the matter thus far implies compliance or acceptance is disingenous, and evidence of axe grinding on your part. There are plenty of things to say that are wrong with the bush administration, but this is stretching it. I also think people are more pissed because this is a good fpp up until that very last sentence.
posted by shmegegge at 10:46 AM on February 21, 2006


Nope, Mussolini didn't bend to Hitler's will and implement racial laws until 1938 (see here, for example). He was unquestionably a vile dictator, but anti-Semitism wasn't one of his native vices

That's what I've seen online too, but I have a few books at home, some histories of Rhodes and some autobiographies of the former inhabitants of Rhodes, that say that the racial laws started a lot sooner in the Dodecanese Islands, particularly with regards to employment, which is why a lot of people left in the 1930's. If I'm remembering correctly, it had something to do with their loyalty being more in question (in Italy's eyes) because their nationality and allegiances had been shuffled so much in the previous twenty years. I'll dig up a reference or two from the books when I get home tonight.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:50 AM on February 21, 2006


shmegegge : "I keep telling myself that the home of my ancestors is a place full of sane, lovely people."

OK, they're my (close) ancestors too, but where on Earth have you heard about it being full of sane people? Lovely, yeah. Funny, warm, happy, lively, yes. Sane? Give me a break.
posted by nkyad at 10:50 AM on February 21, 2006


shhhhhh. I'm trying to delude myself!
posted by shmegegge at 10:53 AM on February 21, 2006


Also, and I hope I'm remembering this right, one of my reference books said some of those frantic late-1930's books by the mainland Italian Jews about how they were not a threat to Italian security used the Dodecanese Islands Jews as an example of "oh, but we're not like those Jews; we've always been Italian!".
posted by Asparagirl at 10:59 AM on February 21, 2006


perianwyr: how totally fucking awesome the Italian political sphere is. Communists on the left, fascists on the right, great. Whatta choice.

It's great isn't it? And you haven't heard of those in the middle!

skallas: that's hilarious... The only nukes in Italy are those held by the USA in their military bases. And the only way the Italian army has been employed abroad (and just for show, or for post-bombing peacekeeping) after WWII is in support of US military actions: Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq again. Italy does not have an independent foreign policy. Even the ex-communists, when they went to power in the 90's, endorsed the US military campaigns. Italy a potential threat to the US? Hahaha. I'd like to visit that planet. They must have flying pigs there too.

Also, no one who had any passing knowledge of current Italian politics would even ask "where's the outrage" at the neofascists. There always has been (amazingly enough!) and in the past weeks, since the Forza Nuova leader joined the right wing coalition, there's been a deluge of political and media debate on this. The issue even got its own nickname, of the "impresentabili", ie. those unfit to be presented in public, which also included the Trotskite pro-Iraqi-resistance dude in the Communist Refoundation party (see first article). Who despite the pseudo-terror apologies is still ten times more articulate and intelligent than any of his colleagues on the opposite far side, but anyway.

The problem is, after Fini's National Alliance party's renounciation of its roots, the visit to Israel, the shift to a more respectable right wing area, the more hardcore fringes were left without a political representation, so they split and started working at running on their own. Even today that Italy no longer has a fully proportional voting system, and has two main coalitions instead, there's still something like more than 20 or 25 parties that run for national elections. These far right splinters don't need to take a lot of votes to get elected. They just need to appeal to their own niches and it's done, they're in. They're smaller than the BNP in Britain or similar groups in Germany. But they can have easier access to national elections because of that huge number of smaller parties in Italy, which Britain or Germany don't have.

Now, there are actually laws, in place since after WWII, that prevent a reformation of the fascist party (and displays of overt fascist propaganda; stadiums are routinely checked for fascist banners at every match - football fans are where some of the most hardcore fringes are, especially those from the Lazio club, where Di Canio plays). But, they're just as easy, if not easier, to get around as the laws in Germany or Austria.

So, there is no legal way to stop these people from running in elections, and because both coalitions have similar percentages in terms of votes, they try and grab as much as they can, which is why Berlusconi accepted this alliance. He needs all the votes he can get, it's cynicism, rather than pro-fascism. See the quote from the first article: 'It's the traditional way of doing politics in Italy.' Which in a way is even sadder than having Forza Nuova men in Parliament, but there you go. Reality check.

Oh and Bush? what's Bush got to do with it? Maybe the US should bomb Italy to liberate it from the fascists once again (cos it's exactly like sixty years ago, of course!), before they start sending Muslims to the gulags in Cuba or something?
posted by funambulist at 10:59 AM on February 21, 2006


Italian fascism and expansionism vis-a-vis such far-flung areas as North Africa, Greece, and Turkey is glossed over far too much in most WWII history reports.

Not in Italian history reports on WWII, or schools, or culture, or media, etc.. I don't know about that glossing over elsewhere, but that's not what's been happening in Italy. Not at mainstream level. In fact, the neofascists very skilfully exploit the classic complaint that it was the crimes of the anti-fascist resistance, the communists, that were glossed over.
posted by funambulist at 11:11 AM on February 21, 2006


"insomnia, they're just saying your mention of bush at the end implies he supports the move, when there's no reason to think he does."

I don't think he does support it, but I can promise one thing... he sure isn't likely to say anything about it.

...but what would America be without the gaping moral blind spot anyway?
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:27 AM on February 21, 2006


he also isn't likely to say anything about Apple sending a c&d to OSx86.org. Should we put that sentence in posts about that? Don't get me wrong. I don't think this is a huge deal. But I think you should give some consideration to what people are saying, here. There's decent enough reason to object to that last sentence.
posted by shmegegge at 11:44 AM on February 21, 2006


But insomnia, why should he say anything about it? What right has the US to interfere in Italian politics, even more than it's done so far?

Besides. You don't have a far right party in the US, so I understand the fact the political arm of the far right hooligans can get a seat in Italy or other European countries comes as a shock, more so because of the history. But don't tell me the US doesn't have the same ultra-conservative family values anti-gay xenophobic nationalistic elements well placed within the system.

Maybe Brussels could lecture Italy about reigning in the reactionaries. Bush is hardly in a position to do that, for more than one reason.
posted by funambulist at 11:45 AM on February 21, 2006


I am not really worried about the "classic fascits" figures as they are so stereotyped and well know to the population that they usually reject them.

I am far more worried by behaviors that may not look as or be perceived as fascist because of their formal difference, but that are in spirit a new interpretation of the concept of "duce", the man rising to solve the problems, the paternal authoritary figure that will lead the country to better times.

Indeed italians still do like that kind of figure and Berlusconi skillfully enacted that figure, obviously with different rethorics. It's an hard concept to gulp for the left, yet authoritarian figures who wield the idea of freedom and talk about responsability only when it's other people time to be responsible, that blame-the-left for everything wrong...surprisingly still work

In a parallel with U.S. I have always had the sensation that similar methods of persuasion were used to convice america about the validity of the Bush admin and to convince italians that Berlusconi was something 1) new 2) valid 3) economically experienced 4) anything but the old left.

Similarly, the far more extremistic Lega did not and still doesn't manage to get more then 5-6% of voter, probably because of their inflamed rethoric and secessionist agenda (which in turn was sold as federal reformation agenda..as if italy needed more separation instead of more unity, more formalized division instead of practical cooperation).
posted by elpapacito at 12:11 PM on February 21, 2006


>The only nukes in Italy are those held by the USA in their military bases.

funambulist, pay attention. I didn't say they have nuclear weapons. Read my post next time. They have four decommisioned nuclear plants with spent fuel thus the potential to enrich. They have a standing military. No where do I criticize their military for not walking in lock-step with the US. Nor did I mention bush.

Japan doesn't have a standing military, unlike italy they did not get a free pass for their involvement in WWII. Japan's nuclear program was tightly watched by international observers, and if memory serves Italy did not have to deal with this. Again double standard.

The openly neofascist parties is exactly NOT like austria and germany. Italy's paper-thin laws to control fascist sympathizers are pathetic and show a culture that is not interested in owning up to its shameful past.

Fini et al just magically slide into office? Sorry, but that excuse isnt going to fly. Yes, coalition governments are bit more complex but there's no way you'd have the a german or austrian Fini. No way.

Double standard. Free pass. Its shameful.
posted by skallas at 12:39 PM on February 21, 2006


>But insomnia, why should he say anything about it?

Maybe because as fascists take power it means bad things for the working class, communists, liberals, and socialists. Not to mention neighboring countries. In the 20's the Fascists didn't steal power, they were voted in by over 60% of voting Italians.

Perhaps he sees the same trend today and instead of sweeping it under the carpet and claiming that Italy is the pinnancle of the western modern state, just maybe Berlusconi and the people he associates with could lead to trouble down the line or, my argument, that Italy is largely unrepentant for the horrible things it did 60 years ago, to the point of having openly neofascist parties and politicians along with a coalition government that works with them.
posted by skallas at 12:51 PM on February 21, 2006


skallas : "Double standard. Free pass. Its shameful."

For Christ's sake, it's ITALY!! Italy, whose relevance in the international scenario is is comparable to Sweeden's. If the Popes didn't insist on sitting in the middle of Rome the country would have reverted to 38 principates give or take a French Barony a long time ago, all producing excellent wine, superb food and a undying hatred for each other.

And coalition governments are a bit more complex? A bit? Says who, the happy citizen of a dual-party country? Please, again, it is Italy - the post-WWII Western democracy that holds the absolute record for different cabinets. Fini will be gone in a couple of months if he lasts that long. Actually, Berlusconi may well use Fini as a coin to blackmail another party into his coalition ("Look what you are making me do!") and show the facists the door.

And please go see a good WWII movie to remind yourself - the NAzis were the bad guys, the facists were mostly the court clowns.
posted by nkyad at 1:15 PM on February 21, 2006


nkyad:
Clowns? I thought black shirts were trendy...
posted by qvantamon at 1:33 PM on February 21, 2006


To the point of having openly neofascist parties and politicians along with a coalition government that works with them.

To which we see the jingoist counterpart of Republican Party...certainly not openly fascist , but the authoritarian preference is evident, the sensation of a cult of Bush is almost undeniable, the nationalistic rethoric is veiled by taking freedom hostage and declaring U.S. as "the defender of freedom" therefore any action by U.S. is not in the best interest of U.S. by in the interest of world freedom and eventually at the expense of poor U.S.

Similarly in italy with Forza Italia, the cult of Berlusconi as a persecuted misunderstood brilliant leader, the anticommunist rethoric that put blame on "the left" as much as the blame is on "the liberal" on the other side of the atlantic pond, the last minute extremist epuration.

Certainly the similiarities are many and almost naturally the next question is : how come republicans can operate in this strinkingly neo-fascist way in the land of freedom of U.S of A ?

Well just call it neo-con if that makes anybody feel better.

on preview: nkyad. Fini distanced himself from extremism a few years ago ; wisely, from a mediatic point of view
posted by elpapacito at 1:40 PM on February 21, 2006


"For Christ's sake, it's ITALY!! Italy, whose relevance in the international scenario is is comparable to Sweeden's."(sic.)

Italy is the world's seventh largest economy. Infact, it's GDP is about six times larger than that of Sweden, and was the 6th biggest economy in the world until China passed it quite recently.

Sweden, btw, is the 21st largest economy.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:41 PM on February 21, 2006


insomnia_lj : "Italy is the world's seventh largest economy. Infact, it's GDP is about six times larger than that of Sweden, and was the 6th biggest economy in the world until China passed it quite recently. "

If relevance was to be measured by GDP only, Japan would be dealing the hand in the Pacific, Mexico and South Korea would be consulted by the US about the Middle East instead of Russia and India would have a lot to say about Iran. As it is, Italy's relative diplomatic importance in the world is quite small compared to its economic importance. Usually the largest developing countries (China, India, Brazil) get its wishes heard, considered and granted above Italy's. The same goes for the main players in EU (England, France and Germany). Or the more strategic American allies (Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan).
posted by nkyad at 2:04 PM on February 21, 2006


>the facists were mostly the court clowns.

Please tell me which one of these are funny to you:

Italy invades Ethopia with mustard gas against a much weaker military. Italy invades Egpyt. The bombing of Corfu in 1923. The occupation of Albania.

Clowns, perhaps, but only through the long lens of history: 200,000 Italian soldiers attacked Greece and were repelled, slowing down Hitler's timetable and arguable pushing back the Russian invasion until winter.

The body count of Mussolini's adventures is measured in six digits. HILARIOUS!

Now onto the Jews:

1941: Internment camps established.
1943: Mass deportations to Auschwitz begins. est 8,000 from Itary. est 2,000 from Fascist controlled Rhodes.

Are your sides splitting yet?

During WWII half a million greeks were killed through Mussolini's aggression and later Greek resistance against Nazis.

Adolf Hitler admired and was influenced by Fascist thought especially strongman Mussolini. This chain of events led to 46 million deaths.

Btw, Italy has 58 million people and a GDP per capita of 28,000 dollars. Manpower fit for service: 10 million males. We're not talking Cyprus or Bermuda here.
posted by skallas at 2:22 PM on February 21, 2006


skallas: and a deep resentment against conscription. At least my generation who was conscripted and the all the males at least 30 years old deeply dislike military as it remains a deep cove of imbecility, corruption and sneaking fascism tolerated only because it gives the last reliable job positions.

No skallas the problem is not Italy now or US now, the problem could be the future of extremist propaganda. Actually let me praise you for reiterating the horrors of fascism and nazisms, let us include the horrors of communism and extremized ideologies, religious or not
religious.

As usual vigilance efforts are doubled instead of becoming more simple, so more people is needed. Let people know and learn about logical fallacies , marketing illusion, God illusion , sexual repression, free market ideology.
posted by elpapacito at 2:37 PM on February 21, 2006


skallas, those plants were decommissioned because people voted against using nuclear energy. The majority of people and politicians are still against it. It's a dead end. The spent fuels with potential to enrich, why, for what purposes, who would ever want to do that, and against whom? In secret? we're talking sci-fi here.

Yes, like every country in the world, Italy has a military... and? it's been doing nothing other than pose in the background in the great travelling show of the coalition of the willing. I hope they get paid well at least.

In the 20's the Fascists didn't steal power, they were voted in by over 60% of voting Italians.

In corrupt elections, after fascism had already been installed, and he'd been made prime minister directly by the king, and then dissolved all other parties. That's like saying Saddam was elected with 70% votes.

Forza Nuova won't even be getting near 6%, nevermind 60%... They'd be sooo flattered by the comparison though.

The openly neofascist parties is exactly NOT like austria and germany

Forza Nuova, the German NPD and the BNP in UK not only are all rather similar, they have mutual links and connections.

Either we put them all in a football stadium, together with their hooligan offshoots and David Irving and Di Canio while we're at it and shoot them all, or we fight them with other means than restrictive laws that already proved useless to stop them.


Yes, coalition governments are bit more complex

That's such an understatement it needs a new word for it. Again: there are something like more than 20 parties. I've lost count, all I know is there's lots of smaller and minuscule parties most people haven't even heard of. And not just those in coalitions, but also those running independently.

The two coalitions are very fragmented, even the main parties have trouble getting along. The left encompasses anything from moderately left wing Christian Democrats to the two declaredly Communist parties, people from the anti-globalisation protest movements and pro-globalisation economic libertarians, pro gay marriage people and anti gay marriage people; the right wing has Berlusconi's party plus smaller centre-right Christian Democrats that already gave him trouble, plus the Northern League and National Alliance, who hate each other.

Both alliances are near similar percentages of votes, according to predictions, with only a few points difference, and the left currently leading.

If Charles Manson was running for elections in Italy, he *too* would be accepted in one of the alliances, particularly if it was the alliance that is trailing behind in surveys, obviously.

This is not to excuse or justify Berlusconi's move in accepting someone from Forza Nuova in his coalition; in fact, it makes it worse. But that is what's going on. Vote grabbing. Not a takeover of fascism.


but there's no way you'd have the a german or austrian Fini.

Ahem, unrepentant son of SS officers Haider? That's a lot more than Fini can claim. And yet, Austria didn't slip back into nazi hands. Maybe because nowhere in Europe is like the 1930's, how about that?


By the way, Fini and the people this post is about are two different things. Fini is the one who shifted his party towards a more moderate right wing, compared to where he came from; visited Israel, renounced fascism and all antisemitism, became a defender of the Jewish community, supports the US, supported voting rights for immigrants before citizenship, visited a mosque last week to show solidarity to Mulisms offended by the Mohammed cartoons...

Just in case anyone cares to investigate what we're talking about.

Berlusconi is a corrupt propagandist buffoon, and the neofascists are repulsive, and the alliance a shameful example of unprincipled convenience, but what is Italy is plagued with are things like economic stagnation, corruption, tax evasion, various illegalities, gross mismanagement of state funds, corporate scandals, religious interference from the Vatican, and an autistic self-referential political and media debate. Amongst other things. No one says it's a pinnacle of western development, and even just by European standards. The sick man of Europe as the Economist said. It's hardly ever been a civilised place to live in, and all the good things about it exist despite the political context, not because of it. But it's a long long way from being plunged into Mussolini part II. What's that saying, history only repeats itself as farce?
posted by funambulist at 2:58 PM on February 21, 2006


Oh, if only there were hate speech laws in place to stop him.

Seriously though - what about the Vespas?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:03 PM on February 21, 2006


the NAzis were the bad guys, the facists were mostly the court clowns.

I wish. My grandparents didn't find them very funny...

That's another reason the comparisons with today's neofascists are ludicrous. Even the gangs and hooligans who have engaged in violence. These are not harmless court clowns either. But it's nothing like back then, it diminishes what happened to equate the two.

It's really sad how people can have such poor knowledge of history, or even, current affairs outside their country. I find it somehow more worrying than outright Holocaust denial.
posted by funambulist at 3:13 PM on February 21, 2006


yes, it is very sad....
posted by eucameron at 3:14 PM on February 21, 2006


Oh, if only there were hate speech laws in place to stop him.

You mean Calderoli using the cartoons ? Actually I am glad he exercised his freedom without government interference, I despise the fact he was indicted with an accusation of disrispecting religion (yeah we have some problematic laws) and I am absolutely happy he was punished politically for his being an opportunistic asshole attracting fundamentalist hate over italians for his own fucking personal interest.

Of course, fundamentalist are to be condemned for their violence , YET Calderoli took freedom of speech as hostage used it to propagate more hate and managed to attract more unrequired hate over us, something italians usually don't attract because our majority is rather peaceful and goodwilled, as most of the masses on earth.
posted by elpapacito at 3:44 PM on February 21, 2006


>In corrupt elections, after fascism had already been installed

Nonsense, fascism doesn't just "get installed" like some PC upgrade. By the early 20's it was a popular movement rivaling the Socialists and heralded by the middle class and the military alike. A popular Mussolini assumed control, with the approval of a great deal of italians. Mussolini did not assisisnate Orlando or terrorize poor hapless italians. He was put in power by the average man. The ideals of Fascism and the promises were quite appealing.

The Italian excuse of "Mussolini just took us over and we're all victims, just like the jews, the greeks, the ethopians, etc" is a load of shit for people unable to face their past. At least Germans and Austrians own up to the popularity of Nazism.

When Mussolini marched on Rome, he was handed over the state and later receieve the blessing of the Vatican. Fascism was installed, by the people. And still exists today with the 50,000 people marches on Mussolini's birthday, the neofascists parties, etc.

Lets not all pretend to be victims of WWII. There were cleary bad guys and good guys. Italy was the bad guys. I don't see how the people of Italy were all anti-fascists and peace loving yet Mussolini got away with what he did.

No, I am certainly not predicting the 2nd coming of that sociopath but its clear that Italy has not and will not properly address its shameful past. By allowing these men office it spits on the graves of hundreds of thousands it is responsible for killing.

This sentiment lives and lives well. Berlusconi has yet to be caught at a 25th of April celebration. His political allies have been from the worst elements of the neofascist parties. Pre-redemption Fini had a high position in his coalition. Ms. Mussolini and Berlusconi have been political partners up until recently.

Right. Its all a big coincidence. The italian people just happened to let Mussolini take power and now there just happens to be neofascists running around all over the place. Right. Just coincidence. Mainstream fascism still exists although certainly not at the 1920's level.

As for the comments on the military, nuclear fuels, and size, it puts Italy into proportion. Again, this isnt some hole in the wall, but an important part of Europe. An important part of Europe with fascists holding and recently holding important seats of power. This is unsettling to many people and excuses like "this is just the way it is, we're powerless to stop it" are unconvincing. As unconvincing as "Fascists stole power in the middle of the night in 1922!"
posted by skallas at 4:28 PM on February 21, 2006


Can someone shed some light upon this from a somewhat more neutral position? This Forza Nuova, are they perceived in Italy as mere fringe lunatics or do they have a politcal credibility worth mentioning on the national level? Is this only a political clutching-at-straws attempt at securing electoral viability or does this move fit in with established perceptions of Berlusconi et al? Does this come as a surprise to the Italians?

Yes, where *is* matteo?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:15 PM on February 21, 2006


If fascism sounds like a joke today, imagine how much more attractive it might sound in a potentially not-too-distant peak oil future, when communists and socialists want to take from the rich to make sure they don't starve or freeze to death, the neonazis patrol the streets with guns, providing their brand of "order", the industrialists want their money, societal standing, and businesses intact, and most of the people just want a job.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:28 PM on February 21, 2006


skallas: where the hell did you get

The Italian excuse of "Mussolini just took us over and we're all victims, just like the jews, the greeks, the ethopians, etc" is a load of shit for people

Certainly it's a load of shit, yet this isn't a widely held position in italy. I don't claim to be the supreme authority over anything, but living in Rome and being an italian helps !

Most italians are either, in my experience, rethorically vehemently anti fascist OR against facisms ...a very strict minority still goes around with the rethoric of supreme leadership, the Dux.

If they are between 60-100 years old we call them "nostalgics" ..its the kind of people that obtained some benefit from the regime or that received an idealized representation of fascism, the idealistic propaganda of "yeah he wasn't perfect, but who is ? He did many things right"

The few contemporary fascist aren't really perceived as "fascist" , but much more like neoconservatives or fascist-leaning. The difference is mainly behavioral, the rethoric is different , but the populistic tactics are the same.

Obviously the most aware of us warn others that it takes little to go from neo-fascism to full blown fascism, yet the inundation of Berlusconi anti-left rethoric, blaming the left from anything bad under the sun , obtain the effect of paralizing some people who are now afraid to be seen as "left-leaning" as much as an average american doesn't want to be seen as "librul".

Italy was the bad guys
Yes we were and we were greatly misled and the blame rests on the generations who acritically accepted the rethoric of fascims. Contemporary italians, aware of HOW fascism won italians tremble when they see what the fuck is happening in USA and some, including yours truly, warned american friends from the outset that 9/11 was going to be politicized ...but little did we expect the barrage of mediatic attack from right wing agitators a-la O'Reilly, Limbaugh..because we DON'T have that kind of media rethoric shit over here

And LUCKLY so !

Mainstream fascism still exists although certainly not at the 1920's level.

Let's put it in more realistic proportion skallas. It is true that some fascist are still out there and not few, it is true that we have Lazio Football Club hosting extremist, but the repression of fascist propaganda and images is effective, in the sense that you don't get to see much if any stereotyped fascism in TV.

Thank god it's NOT mainstream as you think is ; what is mainstream is confusion ..confusion because people can't really stand Berlusconi and started to understad we were misled (a-la Bush) yet we don't trust our left..because it's perceived as inconsequential, not capable of opposing a compact center right wing.

YET the big delusion coming from Berlusconi not keeping many of the promises did have some effect ; also his total obsession with "librul" is now striking back. He was abandoned by part of center and even the ex-fascist Fini hardly tolerates ForzaItalia, because it WILL steal votes in the next elections.
posted by elpapacito at 5:36 PM on February 21, 2006


Let me just clarify something I said that seems to have been understood some other way - when I said "the Nazis were the bad guys, the fascists were mostly the court clowns" I was drawing a comparison, not making an absolute statement on the "harmlessness" of either the historical Fascism or the neo-fascism. Rest assured I don't need lessons on the crimes of Mussolini or dangers of the Fascist illusion. Sorry if I hurt anyone's fellings, it was not the intention.

And since I am here, this "Actually, Berlusconi may well use Fini as a coin to blackmail another party into his coalition ("Look what you are making me do!") and show the fascists the door" was just me writing without thinking (again, says you?) - not Fini, Alessandra.
posted by nkyad at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2006


Okay, I'm home now with my books, and I found some of my references to the Dodecanese Islands having anti-semitic laws years before before mainland Italy. From "The Jews of Rhodes" by Marc D. Angel, page 149:
"In the first half of December, 1936, Mario de Vecchi di Val Cismon was appointed governor of the Dodecanese Islands. An arch-fascist, his arrival marked the beginning of severe anti-Jewish measures in Rhodes. The Rabbinical College was closed. Jews were required to keep their stores open on the Sabbath and Jewish festivals. De Vecchi even demanded one hundred tombstones from the Jewish cemetery for use as building material for his new house. De Vecchi's predecessors used to visit the Jewish synagogues on Rosh Hashannah. De Vecchi, however, demanded that the Jewish community council visit him on that holy day."
However, several other sources say de Vecchi (and/or anti-semitic policies) arrived in Rhodes in the 1920's, and some of his acts happened before he became governor; this site, for example, says the Yeshiva was ordered closed in 1928. Other sources (including Rebecca Amato Levy's autobiography "I Remember Rhodes") say a Jewish cemetery was ordered demolished by Italian authorities in the 1920's to make way for a new stadium; Levy herself had to carry away the stones of her father's tomb.

Furthermore, the treaty of Lausanne in 1924 gave each person in the Dodecanese the right to choose either Italian or Turkish citizenship for himself. Most Jews chose the former, but there was a substantial minority who picked the latter because it was a somewhat common practice to bring in spouses (especially brides) from the Turkish mainland, which was very close by, and they wanted to remain the same nationality as their spouse or parents. But Dodecanese Jews who chose Turkish nationality in the 1924 treaty were treated differently than Dodecanese Muslims and Christians who chose Turkish nationality. Not that it would have helped much if they'd chosen to become Italian: thanks to De Vecchi's (purposeful?) misinterpreting of the Italian racial laws, he eventually tried to kick off the island all Jews who had arrived post-1919, even those who did choose Italian citizenship in 1924. Even Mussolini was only aiming for post-1924-naturalizations deportments; De Vecchi was either an idiot who couldn't understand the laws or an overzealous asshole (or both).

Also, in 1930, the old Ottoman system whereby individual (non-Muslim) religious communities had the responsibility for regulating their own community standards (i.e. for such things as marriage and divorce decrees, community taxes, upkeep of synagogues) was done away with by the Italian government. (See Abraham Galante's "Histoire Des Juifs De Turquie", Volume 7). Now, that's not anti-semitic in and of itself; the Italians were standardizing their laws across what was becoming a quasi-Empire. But in practice, it meant that the Dodecanese Jewish community went overnight from a semi-autonomous group that had operated since 1522 with its own elected officers and community norms into a Fascist-controlled militarized government, which they could not particpate in, that also was officially Catholic and thus had different legal standards for dealing with issues like divorce and women's rights.

(Note that some, but not all, of these fascist-Italian changes affected the Dodecanese Muslim community too. They were on good terms with the Dodecanese Jewish community and indeed helped save priceless Judaica during the Holocaust by agreeing to hide 800-year-old Torahs and other items in the local mosque!)

There's one more book I have that I'm looking for but can't find right now--I'm not wholly unpacked from my move--Laura Varon's autobiography "The Juderia", which I remember as having more descriptions of 1920's/1930's differences in treatment of the local Jewish population versus the Greek-Christian and Turkish-Muslim populations on Rhodes. If/when I find, I'll post examples.

And I definitely need to clear up an earlier mistake on my part: 1673 Jews in Rhodes were deported in 1944, not 5000 deported as I previously stated. That number comes from my brain mixing up the figure that there were either 5000 Jews (as per Galante's number; page 141 of Vol. 7) or 5500 Jews (as per Angel's number) in the Rhodes community in 1920. And 1673 people was 1/3 of that community killed, not 2/3's killed. Mea culpa.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:32 PM on February 21, 2006


The Italian excuse of "Mussolini just took us over and we're all victims, just like the jews, the greeks, the ethopians, etc" is a load of shit for people unable to face their past.

True, except that is not what I said.

I was responding to comparisons between Forza Nuova and Mussolini's popularity - of course he was popular already when he got elected first, was popular enough when the king made him prime minister, and the fascists got more and more organised and gained more consent until those 67% elections. Scrap the "installed" word, of course it didn't get installed from above like a software. But the 64% figure a) reflects a system that had already been voided of democratic guarantees and where actual fascism had already taken hold and b) has no comparison whatsoever to today's presence of the Forza Nuova people. Italy today is a republic, not a monarchy; it has a constitution born out of the anti-fascist resistance; it has many other political forces; it's preposterous to posit scenarios with military takeover and nuclear proliferation. That doesn't mean the far right is *NOT* a problem but there's degrees between that and becoming the new Iran.

When I said the Berlusconi alliance was for convenience, I said at least twice that this does not excuse it in any way, in fact makes it worse -- I never said "this is just the way it is, we're powerless to stop it" either. Nevermind, now I've become a fascist apologist, it's ridiculous. I loathe those people, and I'd rather cut my hand off than vote for Berlusconi's coalition, even if there were zero neofascists in it. But I also know it a bit about it, since I do live in Italy.

You know, I also agree that Germans and Austrians dealt better with their history. That is true. But this didn't stop the far right even there. (I notice you completely ignored the Haider thing?) And, the current Italian far right is a different animal from the original fascists anyway. In a similar way in which Haider has been a different animal than the original nazis. Sheesh.

Does everything have to be fit in neat binary extremes or is there actual room here for more than A and B?

Also, what elpapacito says. Indeed, sometimes living in Italy helps in knowing what you're talking about, amazingly.

nkyad: no problem, actually, thanks for acknowledging that it was a rather gross simplification. Nice to know someone at least admits it when they're doing it.
posted by funambulist at 1:22 AM on February 22, 2006


Most italians are either, in my experience, rethorically vehemently anti fascist OR against facisms ...a very strict minority still goes around with the rethoric of supreme leadership, the Dux.

It's been my experience too, elpapacito, but, apparently knowing what one is talking about is irrelevant here...

Anyone interested, see this for an explanation of how the electoral system affects the issue.
posted by funambulist at 1:40 AM on February 22, 2006


funambulist & elpapacito are doing a much better job of explaining the rigamarole of Italian politics than I ever could, but I have to throw in the random viewpoints (or gross generalizations, if you'd rather) of un'americana in Roma. To wit:

I've lived here 7.5 years and *still* have problems making heads or tails of all the parties & coalitions & past collations and who fucked over whose government, who's the toady of whom, etc etc etc. It's a Carnivale, capital-C.

The first two years I lived here I think the government changed four times (it was difficult to follow as I was still learning Italian at the time). I think Berlutox got voted into office because everyone thought his personal success would translate over to the state & well, the Left hadn't done anything of note so let's give Berlusca another chance...

Because it's a given that any political official is in it for their own personal gain. The success of an Italian politician lies in how well he can cover it up or bullshit his way through it. The government passes stupid contradictory laws; Pinko Palino in his everyday life shrugs his shoulders and finds a way around them. It's a sucky, imperfect, corrupt system (and that's before you throw in the Mafia) and it drives me batshit insane at times. But it's not Germany...and I wouldn't want it to be.

Berlusconi is Bush-Lite. He wants to be Bush. Bush courts the no-gay-marriage crowd, no-abortions crowd for votes, Berlutox courts the extreme left fringes. Vote whoring, plain & simple.

'Fascists' & 'communists' are epithets thrown around very frequently here in every day vernacular. They do not have the same connotations in English - they are more equivalent to 'Republican' & 'Democrat' said in very nasty tones of voice or 'Neo-Con' & 'Liberal Hippy'. They only approach the same connotations when you begin talking about the extreme fringies. While I'd be known as a moderate Democrat in the states, I'm a 'communist' here. My best friend, reactionary to growing up in Romanian Communism, is a 'fascist'. In the States, she would be a staunch Republican.

Oh, and the nukes?

I don't care if the entire country woke up tommorrow & said "Let's Glow!"

I'll believe in Italy's nuclear capability the day Metro Line C is done in less than 10 years here.
posted by romakimmy at 3:01 AM on February 22, 2006


It's all because the bastards in Milan didn't elect Dario Fo. That clearly would have solved everything.
posted by Football Bat at 11:09 AM on February 22, 2006


I think Berlutox got voted into office because everyone thought his personal success would translate over to the state & well

Yeah Kimmy you got it right, that and resentment against a left perceived as elitist, too much concerned about theory and too little
about practice. Italians can be immensely naive, indeed many bought the idea that Berlusconi is an industry captain..he isn't, he's a financier and mediatic mogoul, but doesn't know how to build shit , but to many italians it seems an enormous change from the usual career politicians, skilled mostly at buttering their bread.

I'll believe in Italy's nuclear capability the day Metro Line C is done in less than 10 years here.

So true, so sad :(
posted by elpapacito at 11:17 AM on February 22, 2006


footbal bat : Dario Fo isn't going to be elected and he knows, it's a provocation. Nobody sane would ever vote Fo for mayor , he's a nobel prize yeah, but his administration skills are questionable at least. He trust people with money, the number one error for any administrator.

Yet he's one of the few last master jesters with an impressive knowledge about art and literature, he knows more about human nature, behaviors and nature then I'll ever know.
posted by elpapacito at 11:21 AM on February 22, 2006


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