The rape in Florence and politicians’ discrimination aginast immigrants

If I had time, I’d like to propose in this blog some reflections about some movies I watch. A couple of examples are “La ragazza del lago” (2007) or “The reader” (2008). Something else imposes me to write.

What happened few days ago in my hometown Florence imposes me to discuss briefly the possible rape against to US young citizens by two police officials (Carabinieri). I spare the details, as they can be retrieved in many newspapers, following the updates. My point is that the English reader might be unaware of some Italian domestic politics and rhetoric about rapes and sexual harassments nowadays. Only few months ago an (almost) young prominent politician – Mrs Debora Serracchiani – pretended to maintain publicly that a rape done by an immigrant is worse than one done by a compatriot. The appalling and astonishing point is that supposedly she belongs to the moderate left party (Partito Democratico), while I can’t see that much about being liberal, progressive or decently human in her position upon the issue of rapes. Quite certainly she said so in order to chase some populisit and proto-fascist public opinion that is spreading in Italy in these times. Nevertheless, her point has no possible defence both legally and morally. By the way, her point was that we the Italians are so nice to welcome the immigrants that the latter should be even more respectful. This declaration dates back May the 12th 2017. This is the text: “La violenza sessuale è un atto odioso e schifoso sempre, ma più inaccettabile quando è compiuto da chi chiede e ottiene accoglienza”. “Sexual harrassment is always an unpleasant and disgusting act, but this is more intolerable when it is perpetrated by some who applied and obtained asylum”. If the rationale is that “the closer and the more you owe and shared, the more disgusting”, why shouldn’t be a former boyfriend or husband more disgusting than an immigrant? What is closer than kinship?! Let’s say what Serracchiani really meant: “let’s use immigrants as goat escapes if some occasion will come around (so guys, you may vote for the Left anyway, come on)”.

I remember a notable Berlusconi-side journalist (Mr. Sallusti) backing Serracchiani’s position affirming that it was about “our women”… He must have a proprietary understating of women and I avoid to comment further. After all one does not expect that much from a Berlusconi-side journalist and Serracchiani’s declaration was already enough. It was pretty enough too that a notable “independent” journalist – Lilli Gruber – backed herself too this position, probably because that was Matteo Renzi’s strategy and I suspect Gruber really appreciates him a lot (I can hear Italians laughing at this sentence; it is pretty clear Gruber likes Renzi). Yet, I remember that day also Paolo Mieli – a notable editorialist for the most read Italian newspaper, an intellectual with a background in history and a career started from extreme left positions in the 60s and 70s – was not contrary to this. This editorialist, who I might have appreciated in other occasions and whose style is that of moderating on behalf of the moderates, cause to me some regurgitation that night.

Today, we face the fact that quite certainly at least some abuses were done by officials. Whilst it is certain that this is an aggravated crime (a police officer shouldn’t “be nice” by means of offering himself as a taxi driver), I am afraid many people will struggle to see that this event is morally aggravated. I am afraid Serracchiani’s words are going to be re-debated and that she is not going to say she was wrong.

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Donald Trump, Batman and the Colonel Gaddafi

I truly believe Donald Trump is Batman in person. They both base their charisma on the real very glue of America (USA only, but, you know, they don’t see the difference): money. It is also the real source of their superpowers. They are both dark, they both have only one trusted person to rely on (Robin and Mr. Pence respectively). They believe to be able to fight villains bypassing rules, regulations, civilized methods (aka police etc.). They dress both a mask in public, and Matt Groening is my source in this for the sparkling flamboyant blond one of the two; I assume batman has a mask, but I don’t have time to search for evidence. But this is not my point today.
My point is that I watched Donald Trump somewhere recently in a strange funny stance which reminded me somebody else who I couldn’t remember promptly. Below the pic.

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After a good while I realized who is (was..) it the mate: Mr. Colonel Gaddafi in his very last days. {Yep, I may admit that Gaddafi used this stance also during the Green Revolution, but don’t ruin my point, please}.

gheddafi pugni chiusi

I am not a psychologist, but I’d say that this pose means something like: “I know I am done, but I will never admit it, and I also will deny anything else that it a truism, especially if it is related to the point that the world is too hot or getting too hot: Libya on the contrary is so pretty cold indeed that my hands would freeze if I opened my palms. Both Miss Universe from Amazonia and Miss Amazon from the Universe agree”. The only problem here is that it is too long for twitter.

Is Donald Trump going to survive himself politically as Gaddafi was not able?

Brexit psychodrama goes on… hyper-villain laugh mode

Needless to say, or to add to many others, English (+ Welsh) psychodrama goes on. I strongly believe Mr. Trump is Batman (I hope I’ll have time to write about later). The dark cavalier who returns to make Gotham high again has a villain as… allay: Mrs. Theresa May, who deports people to Singapore after 27 years of marriage to a pure English and so forth…

Good luck folks!

Italian San Remo Festival 2017: Occidentalis Karma

Since the 50s of last century, the new democratic Italian Republic had a new mantra: a competition for popular songs held in the tiny city of San Remo, Liguria. It is always organised in February around San Valentino and like any other Italian tradition, Italian people are unified in deep division. Like for Guelfi vs. Ghibellini, Fascists vs. anti-Fascists, Communists vs. Anti-Communists, Coppi vs. Bartali, pro vs. cons the current National Football Head Coach, Blonds vs. Brunettes etc. “Il Festival di San Remo”, aka “The Festival of the Italian Song” divides people. Italian widespread diffusion of television is due to this event mostly. In this case people are divided between those who love to watch it on television from one side, and those who can’t suffer it as it would poorly represent innovation or for whatever the reason. I belong to those who can’t watch it. It’s too slow for me, too much a gala event, too many VIPs. Although many believe winning songs have the malediction to be shortly forgotten and many not-winning singers affirm to don’t care it that much, at the end of the day all the Italian singers in their life want to participate and to win.

It is also reckoned that many original songs represent the spirit of the time. As a sociologist I believe this is quite true, but I don’t have time enough to develop by year all the songs . The winning song of 2017 “Occidentalis Karma” {Westerners’ Karma} is particularly fit with the current times and I really like it as it proposes an ironic critique against post-truth democracies and the vicious role Web2.0 has had to develop silly behaviours based on non-sense and intellectual ignorance.

The video posted below has the English subtitles (at the moment over youtube it has less than 10000 hits; Italian versions reach 30.000.000 hits).

My question for this post is the following. Post-truth driven by web2.0 false news and self-referring networks: cui prodest (apart from companies dealing the platforms)?

Robotech (aka Macross), the utmost evidence of the Japanese resistance in war times

Like all the boys and girls of my generation – the mighty and shiny 80s in Italy – I grew up with massive doses of bread&Nutella plus Japanese cartoons in winter afternoon (my wife is the only I know who didn’t use to spend time in this way). Those cartoons have done the fortune of many local Italian broadcasters earlier, and swallowing-all-of-them Mr. Berlusconi later (to buy this cartoon was cheap; commercials within them profitable…). Many have been the cartoons I really loved: Tiger Mask (L’Uomo Tigre), Mila & Shiro, Sanpei (Gianmichele Baroni casting as the sparing fisherman), Holly & Benji, Ken Shiro, Lamu, many many others… and… ROBOTECH.

The problem with Robotech is that it didn’t have a theme song to be sung by children. For this reason, I think, I forgot totally that name, but definitely not its general plot and its basic features. It really impressed my imagination. For years I believed that Earth was rounded (come on!), but I genuinely believed that Japan was outside of it. Japan in my mind was in a Mother Ship floating in the deep space, shipping us from time to time cool technology in change of – who knows – fresh fruit? The reason why my hometown, Florence, had always a plenty of Japanese people was not explained by my theory, if not by saying: “Yes, ok, they are Japanese, but they are here for tourism. In fact, they look at the sky all the time because they don’t have one in their space shuttles”.

This cartoon, whose story should have told about 1999, is well worth a post here as I think it may go a little further the typical nostalgia feeling (Zarocalcare also uses this vibe). Robotech is – in my very amateur vision on the issue –, more than other Japanese manga, a sort of rejection of psychological and political elaboration of WWII. It looks that from some points of view they never lost it, or that a Third War could have been/be a revenge of what happened in the 40s.

It is not only the Little Planet Earth (Japan, outside the metaphor) being invaded by 10 times taller aliens (US people, outside metaphor); it is not only the supremacy of technology Humans (again, the Japanese people) can copy and then overcome in comparison to aliens (US one). It is not only the idea of Nuclear War and life extinction. It is not the usual eternal battle between graceful-Good versus ugly-Devil in a oversimplified Manichaeism. It is not just the usual chivalric idea of going to die dreaming a lady who perhaps loves you and is waiting for you in a safe place. It is not just a more sophisticated version of the Shintoist connection between humans, their tight roles never to be overpowered, and technology. it is not the transposition of perfect brilliant career in army to be reproduced (of course failing) in a Japanese company. It is not only the idea that in war the Enemy is worse and worse than you think as it is dis-human (sure, never thought to teach children that Enemies may think exactly the same?!). It is also the idea of everlasting battle for one’s survival. The triumph of the idea that before surrender you may also destroy everything: your loved habitat and your civilians included. It has also a SS nazi-style jet pilot mentoring the main character, what a privilege.

When we hear that Japan is eager in getting again its army and weapons to tackle bold contemporary China in order – also – to boost one’s poorly performing economy, and when we will hear something more about Trump’s concrete proposal to make Japan pay for its defence, well, let’s think that culture is very resilient and that Japan is extremely refined and cultivated yes, but also champion in never say “I surrender”. But Japan is also the Third Hand of Nazi-Fascism. It is the Country that indicated to civilians to commit suicide instead of surrender to Americans telling false news about their possible treatment as prisoners. I don’t think, watching again this series, that to have a Japanese army is a good idea.

I am one who believe in the credo “history repeats always itself”, but I eschew the following automatic sentence about “drama, tragedy & farce”. I believe it repeats itself under different forms you may also not recognize at the beginning (this is a point for a different post in the deep future when Mars will be populated by Italians making pizza space-spicy mushrooms & smoked warthog).

I liked this aggressive cartoon. It is clever, it has some plot. I cherish it and it was so great to watch it again after 30 years over Youtube, the book of memories actually. But for the sake of human being, I don’t envisage any Japanese army any more. “We must win” (it’s a theme of the cartoon, sung by the loved lady of the main character, of course!) and we shall win if we don’t make any further war. We shall win if we go to the space to dwell other planets, hopefully because we are not destroying the first we have lived for so few millennia by now.

The 2016 #italianreferendum seen from abroad

For months Italian politics has been dominated massively by the mantra of “doing the Reforms”. One of the arguments is that all the world is looking at us, waiting for us to upgrade our system from a slow one, into a fast track decision making one, led substantially by the Government [it is already so, but… who cares about the truth in “post-truth” world?] instead of the perfect double Chambers Parliament (“bicameralismo perfetto”).
Matteo Renzi played this game as Prime Minister along these years in a such a way that he was happy that his Reform of the Constitution did not pass with 2/3 of the Parliament. He was eager in going therefore to a special Referendum to approve the proposal passed in the Parliament by a lower share of votes. Renzi was confident to win this in a plebiscite mode, whereas all polls now foresee a “plebishit” for him. Renzi made several mistakes, and I’d like to list some of them.
1) He pretended to adjunct a new – compulsory to be done – electoral law, claiming that even though an electoral law is not a constitutional reform, it has the same status (“rango costituzionale”). This was a deep mistake, as the Referendum campaign became soon an arena of political bargaining. Now they are screaming that the electoral law is no more (politically) in the package;
2) Renzi publicised the Reform as his Reform, bidding an “all in” move. At a certain point he also said that he would leave politics forever in case of defeat.
3) Although being for many months ahead in polls, his bold attitude has a twofold outcomes:
3.1) He has been able to group all the possible political spectrum, especially within his own Party, against him.
3.2) He behaved like a cyclist sprinter, but only a little too far from the finish line. Would you sprint 80km far from there as you were 1km far from glory? I would say it was quite foolish;
4) He left much of the Campaign to his Minister for Reforms, Mrs Boschi, who turned to be extremely inadequate in communicating.
5) He believed, like the Italian left in 2001, that an anti-system Party (in 2001 secessionist Lega Nord; today populist M5S) can be phased out and caught out guard proposing some of what they claim as revolutionary (and impossible). In 2001 the Constitutional Reform did not work that well, even though politically Lega Nord was actually disoriented by the move for a while. Today none is caring about the repeal of CNEL body (one of the examples of “cutting the costs of politics”; I may agree this as 99.9% of Italian public opinion, I may just add that I have been consultant there for two years and I also know why it should repealed). The reason is in the following point.
6) The heart of the Reform in my analysis is the downgrade of the Parliament in favour of the Government. The change of the Senate (despite my following point) simply kills the Chamber of the elder politicians, those who have few to ask in terms of career that they are the freer too. It is quite weird that if you claim to cut seats, you cut only some of them in the less crowded one. The reason in my opinion is the following. Renzi does not want to change the “Camera dei Deputati”, as there younger politicians go. That chamber remains with 600+ seats as all the Parties need obedient people and both more seats to compel people to obey.
7) The new text of the Constitution is written in such a way that really not an expert may understand it.
8) The pics I upload here even show that the English translation of the campaign is not always accurate, and probably if you look at this Reform from abroad the “Yes” campaigner will introduce it in such a way that is not “neutral”. This is a problem when Consulates are used to this regard (not here in UK by the way).
9) To “simplify the dynamic between Regions and Central State” is another mantra. This is a quite typical post-truth point, as at the same time Renzi pretends to solve a problem raised decades earlier when none was able to pass a Constitutional Reform, and at the same time wants to correct the Constitutional Reform of 2001. In my experience as teacher at Sapienza University, I would say that the Reform would only open a new complex and inefficient phase of implementation, resolving very few. On the contrary, I would foresee new forms of problems.
10) Campaigner of “YES” have been very disappointing and not respectful of public opinion, even though I must say that many of the “NO” as well have been the same.
11) Why the Reform then? Cui prodest? I bet money that at least in part the point for Renzi was to make things like TTIP and CETA pass in Italy without problems in the Parliament. The move is (was!) somehow rational, but now, with Donald Trump in the new Golden&Ivory House in Washington DC, is it still so urgent to modify the Constitution for this? I don’t really think so, even though I may appreciate that a “neutral” tv channel like La7 is continuing to have a substantially pro-yes stance. Very funny.
The Committee for the “YES” likes to explain the Reform in four points. This brief post lists more points. Do I win?
Attached you may find who a mail vote is and how was the PD contextual campaign (No easy Renzi’s letters in UK. The is a fax-simile of a “yes” by the way)

The Psychodrama goes on #Brexit

The Psychodrama of Brexit is going on. Spep by step. Today The Guardian (see link below) publishes an article stating that foreign experts will not be used regarding Brexit topic. This decision is totally legitimate. Could a Country of NATO receive a consultancy about one’s defense from a Russian citizen? I don’t think.

My point is: why UK is believing that foreign people would be hostile in this issue? My only answer is that UK in this moment is considering anyone who is not UK citizen as a person who cannot be trusted. I’d like to know if an Anglo-Saxon expert (an Australian, a US or a Canadian), or one from an Embassy nearby Trafalgar Square (usually they are Commonwealth Countries) would be trusted or not.

This simple post just to say that none of the politicians in Europe – at the best of my knowledge – has ever considered UK in a hostile way. This is a divorce claimed by UK, whereas the other Countries are in tears or at least worried. The (rest of) Europe is just sadly ackwnoledging this will and this stance.  EU is also waiting for the claim of Article 50 (the postponing of the date is part of the Psychodrama). If there is something you can be sure of, I would be happy (and not the only one) if this article will never be triggered.

p.s. The only funny news this week is the fight at the European Parliament between the two UKIP politicians. Hard to know why they were still there instead of in UK.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/07/lse-brexit-non-uk-experts-foreign-academics

The Catholic School, a novel by Edoardo Albinati (“La scuola cattolica”)

la-scuola-cattolica-edoardo-albinati-recensione-libro

After having read “Doctor Faustus” by Thomas Mann, a real masterpiece, I wanted to approach some Italian literature, something shorter and different. “The Catholic School” was advised to me, and so I got the Kindle version of it. The dotted line told me promptly the approximate length… 1300 pages in the traditional format!

But this novel is based in a specific historical affair (“the Massacre of Circeo”, a true story of rape and murder), the troubled 70s in Italy and specifically in Rome, in a specific area I know quite well: Trieste Area. This novel is about what neo-fascism was in Italian Republic. It was presented to me by my friend Frescobaldo (a name of fantasy like many in this book) as a novel unveiling some mysteries of those times as the author really was schoolmate of some criminals in a famous denominational “Grammar School”: San Leone Magno (“Great Sacred Lion”).

The number of vignettes this novel made me re-emerge from my personal life are countless (I am 22 years younger by the way), but as a sociologist I’d like to cite three points I deem essential and a total novelty in how the 70s are exposed:

  • The real nature of the neo-fascism is here brutally and at the same time analytically dissected. This is a psychological and societal analysis of what neo-fascism was, and unfortunately has continued to be until mid 2000s. It tells the mistakes and why it was difficult to understand overwhelmingly the phenomenon (perhaps until the third point of this list was alive). In few words, neo-fascism has been a desperate trial to find protagonism. Neo-fascism was the acknowledgment that Italy was not coming back nor establishing what Spain, Portugal or Greece were (and were about to stop to be). Neo-fascism also was totally unable to stop the Communist Party, that failed to get political power for other reasons. Neo-fascism was also closer to Nazism than Fascism. The absurd gender education and values transmitted by a dramatically changing Catholic Church made the rest in “mistaking the doses in the pursuit of education”, as the Author affirms. This novel really gives explanations to facts that I was hardly able to give any, as the 70s never ended in the 80s, 90s and 2000s to expand their, although weaker and weaker, cultural waves (I am talking especially to students’ movements).
  • Consequentially, The Truth about many mysteries in 70s Italian history is gotten not from a deeper knowledge of conspiracy-like theories and evidence (I confess I like a lot the genre); to understand the truth is more likely to accept that some people – like Angelo Izzo, the most famous of the three monsters of Circeo – have been purposely false informers with the only aim to get attention on them. It was just selfish perverse narcissism. Deeper understating of history comes from deeper understanding of changes in the reproduction of values (what else education is?!). In one word, which I can’t translate with accuracy, a person like Izzo was just a delatore (a would say a kind of “fake informant”).
  • The liberal, pro-Enlightenment intellectuals of the 70s, usually from the Left spectrum of Italian politics (mostly Communist of variants of it), are definitively overcome and affectionately explained in their erudite contradictions. The figure of “professor Cosmo” is particularly sound and humane to this regard. I may add that if recently the former leader of the Left Party “Rifondazione Comunista” declared to have found his family in “Comunione e Liberazione” (a very strong Italian conservative Catholic lobby), Albinati was very mild depicting this end of “public Atheism” in Italy. (To this regard, and for the taste of complex plots too, I may say Albinati looks like Sorrentino)

The “Second Vatican Council” and its implementation is at the very root of this socialization dynamic via education, even though interestingly enough it is never mentioned across the book. For those who would define themselves liberal and/or Catholic, this point ought to be of some interest as in my personal experiences in that Area of Rome and in 8 years of Catholic denominational Schools in Florence, I may say that during the Polish Pope epoch those values and spirit have been abandoned and at the same time “adjusted & fixed”.

I found nevertheless a weak point: although I couldn’t get rid of my Kindle until I finished it all, I think the book is a little longer than necessary. It could have said all it tells in much less pages. I, on my behalf, strongly recommend this novel to whoever is interested to understand politics, gender issues and the first cohort of people in the Western world who experienced a structural crisis in Italy. To me, as part of a even greater crisis (the current one) who grew up in the shining 80s, this novel is particularly essential.

[In the pic below: Gianni Alemanno in the 70s with neo-fascist symbol and during an extreme-right demonstration. He eventually become the disastrous Mayor of Rome in 2008]

 

gianni alemanno

My experience of Istanbul

In 2010 I went to Istanbul. As I got a regular not touristic bus from the Asian part of “the city”. I was blocked by a lefty manifestation about a referendum Erdogan wanted in order to make the Country closer to EU standards. Europe was looking at it with not so much attention. I had to reach the Karaköy, the line of the sea, guessing the way for a couple of kilometers. To stay sat down by the river-sea of the Bosporus and to see another continent so close and no not-reachable on foot was to me so frustrating! I decided to shop something to eat and go walking (with no maps at all, like often I still do, Viviana can witness) until a bridge I was able to see from there. “It’s not so far” I taught. It was indeed. The point is not this. The bridge we are watching these days on Tv is huge and it stretches much more beyond the shores, and even to follow carefully the two shores was an endeavor. As I found a way to climb the bridge to cross it with my baggage, I realized it was not for pedestrians at all. A young man, aged no more than 16-18 y.o., with a rifle almost longer than him (a regular soldier), told me in Turkish to go back and catch the bus (I think he said so…). I was trying politely to explain myself in English, and I understood that he was genuinely not understanding a single word.

During the first night in a not-to-be-suggested hostel I was schooled, as my passport told I was from Florence, that Constantinople had its Michelangelo, but Western historians were too biased to recognized it. I suddenly realized that my week over there would have been tough…

Along one week I searched in vain museums at the standard of a city like Istanbul, and I considered me disappointed. I fought to have real fun, but at least people don’t bother you if you sleep after the noon on a bench.

Likely and unexpectedly Istanbul was hosting just in those days the Basketball World Championship. What a luck! Yep, I spent many afternoons in watching games sat down in some of the many bars. One mint tea for a whole afternoon was not such a big affair for the Turkish bartenders who always looked at me in a very bad temper. I sincerely had few money to spend, I swear.

I remember during the finals of the Championship, USA team vs. … Turkey. Turkish things happened, such as a player shot some free throws replacing the player who was fouled (supposedly much less able to score). The most important game held each four years with international referees was subjected to what in Italy we call “Turkish things”. Not such a big detail to tell by the way, I think people are not anymore surprised by these things.

I also remember that while I was going to the international bus station I had to help an old woman who was trying to cross a massive street in high traffic. Other people were around but I was the only one helping. The woman said “thank you” and a lot of other things; she was also assuming I was understating all. As I spoke in English, a man confirmed she was saying thank you, but I would bet money she was saying something like “In this messy city there is still some good Muslim”. In Italy a woman would have said exactly the same, provided that “Christinian” would have replaced “Muslim”. What’s the difference?! I felt necessary to say to all the people around waiting for a cheap bus I was Italian. The woman made a very Mediterranean gesture with her hand that meant: “Italian? It’s 0k, we are not so different”. I agree sincerely still now.

I also went to Bulgaria, a trip I’m not going to tell in details, but for the splendid image to see the ancient Byzantium white and red walls at the sunrise coming for the deep European side. What surprised me was an enduring sense of superiority Turkish people had over Bulgarian. History gives some reasons to them, but currently the relations appear reversed: Turkey is the place from where many people (I can tell about Iranian people who get somehow Turkish passport) try to go away in order to access the real land: European Union!

Coming back to the Airport I found that the indication for the Formula1 Turkish Grand Prix were unreal: who were going to attend Formula 1 in Turkey? And in fact the Grand Prix lasted few years…

Once at the queue to embark, I had my last Turkish experience: a Turkish man purposely kicked my baggage because he felt walked by me (I was going a little on his side to be honest, but only to make the queue shorter). He also hit me with a very aggressive sight. I was happy to be Italian: a couple of guys aged like me with Roman accent were joking about  iconoclasm, miming a fight for this dispute. Irony is much better, although to know the real terms of iconoclasm satisfies better my nerdy life. They could have the same irony mode, I’m sure, but they are walking some reasons across the wrong path in this epoch, and they are getting step by step on the wrong side of History.

This Turkey will never enter the European Union, and billions of tons of water in the Bosporus have to pass until someone will have the possibility to cross the Istanbul bridge for tourism and in safety. That day Turkey will be free, really balanced between secularization and its identity, and ready to talk about the Armenian genocide.

It’s a pity, the tv advertisings related to the Basketball World Championship was great! This is an example.