[A week ago a prestigious British magazine asked us for a long piece on Grillismo. We wrote it and submitted it, but there was some misunderstanding, and they edited it too heavily for our own taste. We clarified the matter with them, but at that point we were way beyond the deadline and the issue went to print without our contribution. Too bad, but no grudge held. The piece was too long - almost 5,000 words - to submit it to any other mag or newspaper, let them do all the editing all over again and have it published in a reasonable lapse of time. Over here the situation is very bad, and people abroad are completely disinformed about it. Every day we read nonsense and bullshit on Grillo by people who completely ignore the reactionary, authoritarian nature of his movement. A harsh reality is biting our arses and we need to send a message in a bottle right now. In the end, having no other possibility, we decided to publish the piece on this ugly, obsolete, long neglected blog, which is in bad need of complete reconstruction and a new start, but even in its present form is better than nothing. Of course it isn't as authoritative as that London magazine, and potential circulation is ludicrous in comparison, but what else can we do? Please feel free to copy our analysis and republish it wherever you want. Thanks.]
«Marriage is a bond between a man and a woman. How can you institute marriage between two persons of the same sex? Why not marriage between three persons then? Why not marriage between you and your animal? Some people have a strong relationship with their animal, would you allow them to marry it?»
(Francesco Perra, 5SM candidate at the recent national election, 8 June 2012 )
People often ask us where they can find informative pieces in English on what’s going on in Italy streetswise, grassrootswise, riotwise, revolutionwise and so on. Sometimes they ask us to translate stuff ourselves, which we aren’t able to do even for our own material (that’s why this blog, in sharp contrast to Giap, is so frustratingly still, with updates as slow as frozen shit).
Well, there are at least two blogs entirely, quixotically devoted to providing counter-information in English on what you folks are interested in: Struggles in Italy and Italy Calling. Check them out, those activists also cure profiles on several social media etc.
In a near future, not many years after a Crisis that has reduced Italy to a pre-industrial or even pre-modern condition, a middle-aged woman wanders in the half-flooded countryside between Ferrara and the river Po delta (North-Eastern Italy). She has no name, and refers to herself by antonomasias such as the Historian, the Writer, the Seer… She is seeking the places of her childhood and, perhaps even more important, she’s pursuing echoes of her native dialect. She is visited by different versions of the same dream. She meets a man called Matteo, they talk and then they experience an epiphany, an illumination: the word «Arzèstula» (ferrarese for Great Tit) evokes the very little bird it designates. Then the woman returns to the place she belongs, that is, a former motorway café at Cantagallo, south-west of Bologna, which is now home of a free community of outcasts affected by neurological disorders. At night, all together, they perform rituals that allow them to see the future. Not the future that’s behind the corner, but a future beyond that, an extremely distant future. (more…)
N.B. UPDATES BELOW, IN THE COMMENT SECTION
[English translation of the "call to arms" we issued yesterday. We asked readers to fight back, and fighting they are! All the suggestions we gave at the end of this article are being enthusiastically put into practice, improved and shared by multitudes of people who are horrified by what is taking place in the Venice area. Publishers are making statements and releasing communiqués, the national media are starting to cover the affair, the National Association of Librarians (AIB) has strongly condemned the proposal and invited readers to counter any attempt at censoring and banning books. However, this isn't enough yet. We need people abroad to be aware of what's going on, there's a stench of nazi book burnings in Italy, and the case of fugitive "ex-terrorist" Cesare Battisti (now in Brazil) is nothing more than an excuse for repression. The period of a regime's decline may be very long, and it's the most dangerous period, as the lackeys get more and more desperate and resort to all kinds of senseless acts in order to keep their grip on society. Thanks to Gregorio Magini of Scrittura Industriale Collettiva for translating our piece, we really wouldn't have had time to do it! In the next few hours we'll provide translations in French, Spanish and Catalan. We badly need a Portuguese version. French-speaking readers can already read Serge Quadruppani's article on Rue 89.]
The best words, given the circumstances, were found by our colleague Serge Quadruppani. Here they are, translated from French: (more…)
The Leaning Tower of Pisa occupied by students, November 24, 2010
«It could be interesting to look closely at the classics the students chose to put on their shields. Let’s look at the frontline.
Boccaccio’s Decameron, which is about people sharing stories while waiting for the plague to end.
Asimov’s The Naked Sun, which is the description of a world where humans no longer touch each other.
Melville’s Moby Dick, which is an epic tale of obsession. (more…)
Students and teachers on the war path. Riots and demonstrations all over the country. High schools and universities occupied by the students. Violent clashes with the police in front of the Senate. Berlusconi’s education reform is encountering blatant opposition, and the fact that the government is in crisis makes the movement raise its multifarious head even more. This afternoon, in Rome, students confronted the cops while carrying shields with book titles on them. The meaning was: it is culture itself that’s resisting the cuts; books themselves are fighting the police. It was in this incendiary midst that our novel Q showed up, and in good company to boot: Moby Dick, Don Quixote, Plato’s The Republic, A Thousand Plateaux… These pictures appeared on the websites of the most important daily papers. It goes without saying that, whatever will happen, we’re proud of what our novel is doing in the streets. Omnia sunt communia! (more…)
In Florence it is a a square, in Pontassieve a street. Largo Bruno Fanciullacci and Via Bruno Fanciullacci. The two plaques were unveiled a few years ago (respectively in 2002 and 2003) among political squabbles and reciprocal lawsuits. Fanciullacci was a partisan belonging to the GAP [Groups of Patriotic Action, antifascist urban guerrillas]. He was awarded a Gold Medal of the Resistance. Some just consider him a killer (the murderer of Giovanni Gentile), others – including us – consider him a hero. So far, no-one has described him as a philosopher. It’s time to pay homage to him in this respect.
Yes, a philosopher. A label to be redeemed after years of outré uses – eg «the philosopher Rocco Buttiglione» ) – , academic numbness and conferences where one hair could be split in sixteen parts. Philosophy – the practice of philosophy – must return to the streets, the streets where Socrates spent his days, the streets where Diogenes «the Dog» lived as a homeless man. No need to imitate the latter and sleep in a barrel: it is enough to smash down the barriers between what is said and what is done. It is enough to live ethically. (more…)
The Italian bestseller list as appearing today in La Stampa daily paper,
book sales 16-22 November 2009.
Aren’t we your heroes?
[With the following open letter to Brazilian president Lula Da Silva, the Italian novelist Cesare Battisti, former member of the Proletari Armati per il Comunismo, announced he was going on total hunger strike. As yet, very few people in the English speaking world know about this case (a fugitive from Italy's "Years of Lead" who, although he was granted political refugee status by the Brazilian government, is still in prison and risking extradition to Italy, where he was charged with four murders, judged in absentia and sentenced guilty on the basis of testimonies by "repentant" terrorists). Since there is no English version of the FAQs on Cesare Battisti, the only resource is the English language wikipedia entry (which fails to render the complexity of this story). In the past days the news of Battisti's hunger strike was reported by the BBC and the LA Times. Here is an article (in English) by Brazilian activist Leo Vinicius, giving at least some context. NB. Comments for this post are closed because in Italy it's impossible to rationally debate on this story in absentia of hateful, bloodthirsty trolls.]
Open letter to Honourable Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, President of the Republic of Brazil and Chief Magistrate of the Brazilian Nation, and to the Brazilian people
“Thirty years can change a lot of things in somebody’s life, and sometimes those years can be the whole life itself.”
Albert Camus, The man in revolt
If we look at our past from a historical point of view, how many among us can honestly say they never wanted to assert their own humanity, to develop all its aspects in wide freedom? Very few are the men and women of my generation who did not dream of a different world, one that would be more just.
However, out of sheer curiosity or circumstances, only a few decided to embark on the fight, sacrificing their own life.
My personal story is well enough known and there is no need to explain again the causes that led me to choose armed struggle. You just have to know that we were thousands, some died, others were arrested, and many are in exile.
We knew we could end this way. How many examples of failing revolutions has history provided us with? Halts and restarts, mistakes and losses. But not everything is lost, the dream is still alive! (more…)
Here. It had to happen sooner or later. As we Italians say in these cases: Non ci facciamo mancare niente (“We make so that we don’t lack anything”). Perhaps these guys arrived too late though. All the seats are occupied. Who needs the KKK when we have the Northern League and all kinds of neo-fascist groups? Maybe, as happens in the US, they’ll proselitise mainly in the South (but only if they reach an agreement with the mafias). Who knows, the situation in Italy is such that there may be a great power vacuum just around the corner. In a power vacuum, every worm finds some flesh to eat.
You probably know what happened yesterday. Everybody knows. The whole world is talking about it.
Three years ago we were slightly ahead of our time when we wrote:
In 1993 Berlusconi “took to the field of politics” because he couldn’t survive as a tycoon after his political referents had been wiped off by the “Clean Hands” anti-corruption inquiries and trials. He was very likely to end up in prison for corruption, money laundering and mafia-related activities. By entering politics and taking over, he could exert power directly, with no mediations, and pass laws that put spokes in the judiciary wheel.
Since the beginning, he could remain on the saddle only if he managed to project all of his personalities in one laser beam: he must keep depicting himself as an entrepreneur, a politician, a glamorous media attraction, and the founding father of a new country, a country made of gaudy plastic and consumerist dreams [...]
Gradually his multifarious image entered a crisis. His self-descriptions as a media attraction and a founding father became the weakest links of the semiotic chain. As his charm wore out, he got ever more nervous and scared of ageing. Nowadays, after all those facelifts, eyelid repairs and hair transplants, it looks like his head is shrinking. He failed himself with his compulsive urge to be adored. In the meantime, he disgraced himself too many times, he cut too many poor figures. Berlusconi turned into Burlesquoni.
We wrote that Berlusconi was finished. We were slightly ahead. Seemingly wrong in the short term, damn right in the long run, ’cause now it’s happening. He’s crumbling down. It will take some more time, but he’s rotting out from the inside. It will be painful and dangerous, but he’s definitely falling down. Berlusconism in the strict sense is in irreversible crisis. Unfortunately, Berlusconism in the broader sense will stay with us for countless years. Berlusconism is less a political movement than a cultural epidemic. The damage that’s been done to Italian society is very serious, and there’s no longer any Left to take advantage of this moment in any interesting way but, hey, something big is taking place, and certainly we won’t cry for the man.
Events in Italy have always – for better or worse – had an extraordinary influence on the whole of European society, from the Italian Renaissance to Fascism.
But, all too often, Europe has not become aware of these events in time.
There is currently a great deal of attention in major European newspapers on some aspects of the crisis that has engulfed our country. But we believe that it is our duty – the duty of all those living in Italy – to inform European public opinion on other alarming aspects that have not elicited such interest, such as the draft legislation proposed by the Italian Government, called the “Security Decree”. If it is not prevented, this legislation runs the risk of disfiguring the image of Europe and dealing a severe setback to human rights worldwide.
The Berlusconi Government, using security as a pretext, has imposed on our Parliament – over which it has total control – the adoption of laws discriminating against immigrants, laws the likes of which we had not seen in this country since the passing of the Fascist Race Laws.
Read the whole text here.
Ok, we all know what kind of newspaper The Daily Mail is.
Definitely, not the sort of printed stuff we’d let our children alone with.
However, Tobias Jones‘ summary of the last wave of scandals involving “Papi” is by far the best and most appropriate account published in the British press on this matter, as well as the most faithful portrait of Burlesquoni ever shown to the English-speaking public. We couldn’t have found better words.
The piece unequivocally lets you know that Italy is drowning in sleaze. We’re living in most interesting times, but we’re goin’ to need special branchiae if we have to breathe in shit.
Another useful piece appeared on the New York Times two days ago. Being unpredictable people, we offer it to you via a less known newspaper, The Malaysian Insider.
You might also enjoy another article, this time from Time Magazine.
By the way: “I did not have any spicy relationships with underage girls” is a clear framing mistake, one doesn’t have to be George Lakoff to understand that. It’s a trivial truth that negating the frame re-activates the frame.
Here, we have a statement in the glorious tradition of Nixon’s “I am not a crook” (1973). Back then, the negative particle was immediately forgotten, and what stuck to the audience’s brains was an association between NIXON and CROOK.
This time around, everyone’s going to remember this cluster of concepts: BERLUSCONI – SPICY RELATIONSHIPS – UNDERAGE GIRLS.
Silvio Berlusconi attacks press for defamation over unanswered questions
Divorce and ‘Daddy’: Why Silvio Berlusconi is suddenly not so popular
What a lurid and stupid country. All the evil things this guy and his racist lackeys have been doing, and it took this real-life mockery of a shabby soap episode to make him lose popularity (just a bit anyway).
However, he isn’t answering those ten questions, is he?
In his book The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-revolutionary France, cultural historian Robert Darnton argued that the fall of the French Ancien Régime was made possible by sex-related muckracking, thanks to hundreds of popular tracts and tales exposing the aristocrats’ decadence and corruption. Italy has never been that kind of country: in the 1920′s and 1930′s sex-related and perversion-wise rumours on Mussolini and the Fascist elite made the Duce even more popular. It took a world war to overthrow him. The Italian populace admires philanderers and womanizers. Bill Clinton risked impeachment because he’d cheated his wife, gotten a blow job from Monica and lied about it in public. Over here he’d have gotten a medal, and slaps on the shoulder from any man he’d meet.
However, moral corruption is reaching ever more heights. Those ugly, sinister mugs have been getting away with behaviours that would be unconceivable elsewhere. The rumours that circulate can’t be published, but they’re really “caligulesque”, and probably 100% true.
Not many years ago, this guy was worn-out and in decline. If he got back on the saddle, it’s largely because his alleged political enemies never ceased to play along with him, always in his conceptual frame.
Hope follows strange paths. We’ll see what happens.