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Letter from Italy

by melo Mon May 5th, 2014 at 10:43:05 PM EST

Beppe Grillo is the only 'politician' that I know of calling for a 'citizens' income', but not as a permanent unconditional human civil entitlement. He advocates E1000 a month (with some saying it's possible just to fork over E600 realistically), and the conditions are that you use the time granted of three years to re-educate yourself in a new skill, and that upon refusal of the third job offer you forfeit the payment. The chief reason Beppe touts in advocating this policy is to disempower the race to the bottom in value of labour, to remove the employment 'blackmail' that forces workers (and their unions) in heavily polluting steel factories for example to fight environmental rules that are shutting down plants (such as the most recent in Piombino, on the Tuscan coast). The ugliest town I have ever seen, especially seen from the sea on the ferry to Elba. They would rather keep their jobs and die at 55 from the toxins, a Sophie's choice nightmare.


This seems like an original blend of welfare dole, (time-staggered, slow release) workfare, and Keynesian helicopter drop. You don't hear policies like this from Farage, de Pen, Salvini (Lega Nord), all right-wing immigrant-hating border-shutting types, with whom Beppe's party oops, Movement is ignorantly and mistakenly grouped, for the simple reason that they share with the forenamed parties a sense of rebellion against the over-Germanisation of the Eurozone, big-bank behind-the-scenes rule and Brussels/Strasbourg waste and overlordism. It's true that all the above parties condemn the Euro in some way, representing vigorous pushback against the slipping away of sovereignty in their countries, but as far as I know Beppe is the only one not demanding pullout from the Euro, but rather a repudiation of odious debt, followed by renegotiation of Maastricht and Lisbon treaties,* and if those two failed in any way then to have a referendum of Italian citizens to choose whether they choose to mint their own currency and bail out, (slowly or quickly being uncertain at this point) of the Eurozone. Unlike the others, Beppe wants Italy at the heart of the European Union, and for all the countries to follow his model and start populist citizens' parties with the same principles in their respective nations. He just doesn't want any more 'appointed' pseudo-legal, unconstitutional governments like the last three. Governments that have allowed slot-machine company profits to be untaxed, contracted for fighter jets that don't work as advertised, and silenced citizen opposition to polluting pork-barrel projects with state violence.

* This renegotiation would be for changing the debt/GDP ratio, (an arbitrary number plucked out of some bureaucrat's nether fundament), cancelling austerity policies starting yesterday, banning the Troika from Greece-ifying any more PIIGS, possibly uniting with said PIIGS to evolve a two-speed Euro, and most importantly having the European Central Bank issue Eurobonds immediately to repair the economic gash inflicted by the Bundesbank's efforts to cover its own gambling debts by screwing the poor in a casino economy, with crusts and lifelong job precarity for the 99%. If politics is the art of splitting the difference, this attitude strikes me as astute and forward thinking, straddling the yawning divide between the business class increasingly resentful of the tax burden inflicted by the hyper-wasteful, mafia-ridden, corrupt Italian state these last 20 years of Berlusconismo, with its bridges to nowhere and mafia-bought votes, and the concerns of a people whose children have to choose between unemployment and emigration. His right-hand man dell'Utri with whom he created his party Forza Italia has been convicted for collusion with the Mafia and has done a runner to Beirut, where he is in hospital trying to avoid extradition. The 5* movement is for energy and food independence, ecological values, small and medium sized business protection through tariffs, proper valuation of Italy's cultural patrimony, liberation from corruption, elimination of bureaucracy, bigtime broadband rollout, a greening of the economy and maximum honesty in politics. In a very interesting interview a few days ago he asked us to reconsider what 'work' really will mean in a future society where 3D printers make 3D printers and anything up to and including houses. Spot on! Beppe is not anti-immigrant, just for a fairer Euro-wide policy with regard to immigration instead of ignoring the problem in Brussels while dumping the responsibility too much on Italy to rescue 10's of thousands of african boat people, take care of them and house them while their identities are established and cases made for asylum or integration. Most of them have little or no desire to stay in Italy more than the minimum before heading for economically greener pastures in the prosperous Northern Euro countries, such as France, England, Germany and the Netherlands where they compete for social services and bring labour costs down, fuelling really nasty shades of racism as embodied by UKIP and Wilders, just two examples. These policies in Italy may have been well-intentioned, I don't know, but their effects are greatly divisive, so much so it is hard to believe they are not intentional use of 'divide-and-conquer' social malware, pitting the poor against each other. Where I am in rural Umbria, racism is refreshingly absent. The local gas station owner has adopted an african child and she is treated as well as any other of different hue. He also sported a pic of Berlusconi next to a nazi insignia on his office wall. (Ulp!) He's a genial enough fellow, but his political conviction and possible ignorance of history scare me for its very banality. Italy has not properly addressed and processed its fascist past. Benigni's 'Life is beautiful' is a great exception, or perhaps a very late beginning to this process. However there is a slow increase in the grumbling at how immigrant families get free school lunches for their kids but poor Italians don't, ditto for housing subsidies. Last saturday there was an extraordinary scene in Roma at a cup final. An hour before the game began ULTRAS fans of both teams had already clashed in the street, and in one fracas a Naples fan was shot with a gun, leaving him in hospital with a bullet lodged in his fifth vertebra and his life in the balance. He was in natural and induced coma at the hour the match was due to start. The match was attended by the (3rd non-elected) Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, no less, a packed house with many fathers bringing young children to cheer for their favourite team. In the semi-circle behind one goalpost the rowdiest hundreds of the Ultras had concentrated, their obvious leader a hulking tattooed thug perched up on the enclosure fence and orchestrating the simmering crowd behind him. They were chucking so many smoke bombs you could no longer see the goalposts, and the leader Genny (nicknamed 'the corpse'), the son of a convicted Camorra criminal, was alternately whipping up his forces and holding them back with the command and finesse of an orchestra conductor, glowering all the while for the countless cameras recording the scene. By this point the game had been held up an hour, and worried dads were running for the exits with their terrified children, while football biz-wigs and big enchilada politicos huddled round Renzi, who was looking confused, as he was humiliated in the double-bind, leave and he looked like a coward jumping ship, or stay and look totally ineffective at what ensued. He claims he had no idea about the attempted murder of a fan outside the stadium an hour before, which considering he is such a Twitter-freak stretches credulity, but anyway... Then a delegation of negotiators walked somewhat sheepishly over to where 'the corpse' was holding court for the benefit of millions of tele-viewers worldwide, wearing a tshirt with Free Someone, (whose name escapes me, but the person named was an Ultra who had been condemned to 7 years for murder). The delegation and one of the team captains approached 'the corpse', and started negotiating with him as to whether he would allow the game to start. If authorities had cancelled the game, all hell would have broken loose and they would have had to bring the army in to quell the bloodshed. So millions were edified by the spectacle of a major match being given the go-ahead deigned by a thug, while the Prime Minister squirmed and then when some hired diva started to sing the national anthem she was whistled and jeered at by thousands. Meanwhile polls are putting the five * movement just 5 percentage points behind Renzi's PD, and growing in popularity at the rate of one percentage point a week. Renzi is breathlessly covered by all media 24/7 with such fawning enthusiasm it would even make Berlusconi blush, yet the ice beneath his feet is starting to make nasty sounds. Elections are on the 25th, so this is really looking like the gunfight at the OK corral as we come down to the voting wire. As you know I am rooting for Beppe Grillo, and will be attending his final meetup in Piazza San Giovanni on the 23rd. I went to a meetup a few nights ago in a pretty small town and was happily astonished not only by the coherence and conviction (no not that kind!!) of the speakers, their willingness to stay and answer questions for 4 hours, but the wide demographic range of the supporters. I met some very interesting people from many walks of life and felt moved to see so many politically curious and well-informed folks all together in one place. It was great, and I am looking forward to feeling the psychic heft of what will probably be tens of thousands attending the last meetup before the elections in 17 days. This is a community more than anything else, a state of mind released from tired left-right dichotomies and trying to envision a best-case long-run scenario for the greatest number of people. An undiluted pleasure to support.

"Vinciamo noi, a rivedere le stelle!"

Poll
Is Beppe Grillo
. A concerned citizen who loves his country? 50%
. A CIA plant? 0%
. Mussolini-lite? 0%
. A standup bigmouth with delusions of grandeur? 50%
. A genius? 0%
. The only hope for Italy? 0%
. None of the above? 0%

Votes: 6
Results | Other Polls
Display:

The Decider of when the game can begin. Jolly times for all the family!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon May 5th, 2014 at 10:56:45 PM EST
The football problems with a rather violent and right-extremist "fans" are rather old now in Italy, right?
by IM on Tue May 6th, 2014 at 06:42:37 AM EST
Apparently in Germany the problem has been solved by making the teams responsible and fineable. I do not understand why this can't be done here!

Mind you apparently you are having problems with Hells Angels, the mob and sex trafficking.

Maybe this international shaming will get Italy to actually do something to alter this nightmare. The guy is not being punished, indeed he is giving interviews the day after. Local hero etc.

How are they allowed to enter with smoke bombs, fireworks etc?

I truly loathe what competitive sports allied with business is doing to countries all over the world. Cf Brazil... Olympics, Beijing, Sochi yada yada. The worst of human nature brought out... Trust Italy to make it even more grotesque than other countries.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 6th, 2014 at 11:18:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So what has happened since? Has anything been announced, proposed, etc. to bring this situation under control? Or has Italy found its new leader?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 8th, 2014 at 04:23:17 PM EST
It seems there is an impasse, it was front page for a news cycle then was superseded by new arrests for corruption concerning the EXPO in Lombardia.

The Italians' love for soccer and the huge $ involved are working against accountability, sadly. The game is being held hostage by the implicit threat of violence hovering in the air, which would take a massive police presence to control, stripping away any illusions that this is 'just a game', and revealing the true state of affairs, namely that the insertion of fascistic thuggery into football crowds has become a given, and people have to accept that to keep them sweet.

Which won't work, because the root cause is poverty and ignorance, this is just a symptom. Most people abhor violence in this country, but there is a very hard core of young people who feel desperate for attention, and would love to provoke a confrontation in some deluded hope it would confer martyr status on them, and because the mere fact that they had made the news is a huge ego-boost. Going unpunished will encourage them further, now they have tasted the impunity not addressing the issue has given them. Now they feel even more empowered, and the social conditions keep worsening meanwhile, spurring more to feel they have nothing to lose, and who crave some feeling of safety from joining a group that reflects their addled philosophy and hopeless rage, indeed organises it into a military model, where lack of empathy and a repressed macho will-to-relevance are psychological features, not bugs.

Italy is coming apart at the seams, and I fear for the many immigrants, especially the African ones who are so hungry they will work for E3 an hour, which then puts Italians out of work, adding the the testosterone-fueled resentment and bitterness exemplified by Genny 'la Carogna' and his many followers.

Mussolini would be proud!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 8th, 2014 at 07:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Genny, 'the corpse', doesn't really qualify as a 'youth'. What is his age? I would guess 35+. I have been told that many Italians don't really think men are of much use until they are at least in their 30s. But that would pretty much have to be the view of the better off segment of the population.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 9th, 2014 at 11:33:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No he's not young, but most of his followers are, and they look up to him.

ARGeezer:

many Italians don't really think men are of much use until they are at least in their 30s. But that would pretty much have to be the view of the better off segment of the population.

I am not aware of this, unless being 'if much use' means moving out of mamma's orbit and doing your own laundry. ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri May 9th, 2014 at 05:57:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The observation may well have been of Italians in the '50s. But, if The Corpse is the son of a leader in the Camorra, it would be unlikely that he would be used for much other than breaking heads or knees or carrying out specific directions, if he could, until he was around 30. Leader of a neo-fascist band of thuggish soccer fans might be a suitable role for him at his age. It might have its uses. But I would suspect that many senior figures would not be too pleased with how high a profile he has gotten.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 9th, 2014 at 06:25:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Senior figures in the mob, or political personages? As for the 50's, it seems like a lot of Italy wouldn't mind turning back to those times. People are very conservative at heart here, in love with their traditions, and conscious of the Vatican breathing down their necks, so pretty averse to change.

When you see a group of neofascists congregate, about a quarter are in their forties or older, but the great majority are in their early to mid twenties, being led by the older ones who organise them, as I mentioned upthread.

I know that many here at ET are devout sports fans so I want to go easy here, but the culture of rooting for team, and the adrenalin rush of being in huge crowds with permission to act out (it's just love, you know, so what can be wrong with that?), screaming, dressing up and jumping up and down like kids, well that provides the perfect cover for neofascism to infiltrate and recruit, taking advantage of the dire economy and general aimlessness of so many young people whose energies have no channel, and whose future seems pre-shrunk from any dreams. This leads to massive frustration (historically bled off in regular warring) which has nowhere to go in times of prolonged peace.

I have no facts on this, but I suspect that the fascist ideology does not come from being over-mothered, (which does lead to emotional codependency and narcissism), but rather from having very little happiness in their childhoods leading to a very bleak outlook in general. This couple with the wildness of youth is what makes them so vulnerable.

The political establishment has been briefly embarrassed by this one event, (as it has in the past) but I get the feeling no-one wants to grab those bull-horns, especially when all are in election mode right now.

The old school mob would mostly keep a lower profile, and if that's what you mean, I agree. The mob factor is obviously very important in his upbringing, being the milieu of street culture, to the unemployed in the slums, the mob offers instant employment and a chance at the brass ring of wealth and notoriety.

This is more about the horrible marriage of sports and fascism than the mob, though they all intersect. The psychology of the mafia and how it is woven into culture here is very opaque, and I still struggle to fathom its complexity. Its entanglement with politics does go right to the top, that much is clear by now, probably it is fingering the pie of the enormous amounts of cash in the sports world. That's about money purely though.

What's going on in a young neo-fascists head is a deep love of violence for the sake of it, and a nigh-complete disaffection with the present socio-economic set up. A willingness to be the beast no-one hopes you'll be, (except your fellow militants!) is the current that is most worrying.

....And lots of tattoos.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 06:44:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was referring to senior mob figures, his father being in jail.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 11:36:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually he's not. He was interviewed in the street the day after the incident. He mentioned how he had done time, but it was a frame-up according to him.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 01:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was he proud of his son?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 10:44:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was a short interview and he used most of it up decrying the cops and saying he was just a normal guy with no links to the mob, not any mention of his son that I recall.
There were many street interviews with supporters of the son, who see him as a hero, and said to a man that were it not for him controlling his acolytes there would have been a mass fight on the pitch, ergo we should all be thanking him. It was quite obvious they were elated by how much attention they were getting, how they mattered somehow.

Clannish, he was their guy...

Then one of them decided the reporter was not ok and rushed him, leaving him with a black eye. All filmed, and the reporter and crew beat a hasty retreat.

They own whole quarters of Naples's slums.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 11th, 2014 at 05:08:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting."

George Orwell, The Sporting Spirit

http://orwell.ru/library/articles/spirit/english/e_spirit

I tend to think that the emotional collectivism of sport is rather a more harmless substitute for darker, more dangerous emotional mass movements.

But with Orwell in you corner you are in good company with your opinion.

by IM on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 12:06:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
I tend to think that the emotional collectivism of sport is rather a more harmless substitute for darker, more dangerous emotional mass movements.

Well this is an often-made point, and hard to refute. British friends have told me that if Soccer were banned there would be mass violence in the streets immediately, and I think I believe him, having once been attacked by a group of soccer fans on the Fulham road many years ago coming out after a game. You learned to cross the road smartish and keep your head down.

I don't think it should be banned, it as its best a beautiful game, but security needs enormous upgrades here, and serial offenders need to be permanently removed from the scenario.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 01:30:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To synthesise what i over-wordily said in the last comment, the mafia is parasitic, so a good economy is good for them, more to siphon off.

The neofascists partly (mostly?) thrive on economic misery, the sheer degradation of their homes and neighbourhoods, the anomie and restlessness, the desire to use violence to overtly affirm their alpha status and cut through the Gordian knot of their social stasis. 'La Carogna' is a prime example of this. In other word I think his ULTRAness has supplanted his mob roots, formative to a life of crime though they must have been. To get the media attention for holding up an Italian cup final is probably a headier buzz than just hitting up local business for their 'protection' money or purse-snatching old ladies from a motorbike.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2014 at 07:39:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The view from Rome - Blog - Repubblica.it
Politicians are talking about introducing a raft of measures, including lifelong Daspo bans. But as the case of Claudio "Bocia" Galimberti clearly shows, Daspos are collected like badges of honour and often have little effect. The problem - as so often in Italy - is not a lack of laws and regulations but an inability or unwillingness to enforce them. Clubs are frightened of losing money if they alienate large numbers of season ticket holders. But Premier Renzi has proposed a measure that might finally make the clubs reassess their relationships with the hooligans: he is proposing to charge the clubs for policing inside grounds and in the immediate vicinity, as in England. If trouble at the grounds costs clubs serious money, the Ultras could soon be out of favour.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 11th, 2014 at 02:32:50 PM EST


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