A memory for all: for our elder Jewish brothers and their Armenian twins

January 27th is a special day, fortunately. I grew up reading Anna Frank a little before I become an adolescent. In 2011 I was in Poland and I went to Auschwitz. I was there for the first time, but I said to a passenger by me I was going there for the second time: the first time I was there was when I read Primo Levi. I was a teenager. I cannot imagine myself as a man, as citizen, as an adult, without those two books.

Fortunately, the words by Primo Levi and the witness of Anna Frank arrive to us any year. The list of the righteous is a very prestigious one, even though an International awarding institution would work better than a national one, in my opinion. But this is not the point.

If really Historia vero testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriae, magistra vitae, if really this cult is relevant and not celebrative, we must deduce that to don’t remember everybody’s pains is unjust. Let’s imagine a twin population of the Jewish. People who run seriously the risk to be totally canceled from earth and history with the same planned cruelty. We know a lot of things about Shoah: documentaries, movies, museums, books. All oblige us to keep this memory alive. Let’s imagine a different destiny for their twins: the second, the not-Jewish, are not even known, nor remembered. When considered, the term genocide is contested.

Who would you consider unhappier and needier of our attention? The second, I’d say.

For this reason my memory this year, more than last year, is for those who are not remembered. This post if for those whose denied memory fueled somehow the Shoah itself: the Armenian Genocide. If the Armenian genocide would have been remembered and at least considered as what it was (because hitherto this history is still not well widely known), the same idea to cancel a whole population (the Jewish) hadn’t taken place. At least, more difficultly the Nazis would have done that.

It is said that Hitler in person used to say that none was remembering the Armenia’s genocide happened only few years before (1915), which gave him “hopes” to achieve his plans. It is, moreover, hard to believe that still now the Ottoman Empire is defended by modern Turkey as a matter of psychological suppression of those tragic events.

1_1301

This year Armenian commemorate their 100th anniversary of their Shoah. It is on April 24th. I hope the world will pay attention to this. I do have hopes anyway, as people like Kemal Yalçın (a Turkish poet of Muslim faith) gave us works like You Rejoice My Heart: a simple and sincere attempt to resew the ancient bonds between Armenian and Turkish people.

Advertisements

Episode 3: Oscar Luigi #Scalfaro ’s “Jingling handcuffs” (1992-1999)

Oscar Luigi Scalfaro is the only President I met in person in my life, may be the only one I shall ever meet in person. Most likely it was 2006. He entered the Foundation titled to Giulio Pastore, the founder of the Catholic Union in Italy to deal with something. I was passing through the entrance with industrial relations’ journals and I recognized him. I was lucky I was properly dressed. I was properly kind and pious and he shook my hand and with the other hand made a gesture which was similar to those Popes do when they bless people (not Francis, the traditional Popes, like Pio XII). He was hierocratic, serious and servant of the State. He was nicknamed the “servant of the State”, as actually the President ought to be, so as the Major of a city must be the first of the citizens, not the most superior. Even though I am not so dazed with those manners, he deserved much respect. He was even a Father of the Republic, as he sat down in the Constituent Parliament. He is one of those who wrote the Constitution and all Italian should owe this openly.

His times were terrible. After having lost the World Championship in Italy (soccer, sure) in 1990, we lost the final in US with Baggio missing a penalty in 1994. That was the best ever Italian generation of soccer, and we did not win anything. In the middle, 1992, another sort of hells happened. Terroristic attacks by the mafia threatened Rome, Milan and Florence in their hearts. I remember the boom in Florence and I was deeply shocked. Falcone first, and Borsellino later were murdered by mafia. The post Berlin-wall international asset was destroying the Italian institutional equilibrium seriously. I still remember the assassination of Falcone as the fall of my innocence and the first wakening of my civil identity. A friend of mine aged a little more, Filippo, said to have dreamt about that when we were playing soccer. I was 13 and ½ and I was not understating what was going on, but that was strange and serious. A turning point.

8SCALFARO01gr

Meanwhile, the 1992 was the scenario of the most dramatic fall of financial markets and currencies in Italy and UK. We were at the edge of a cliff after a decade of champagne. Scalfaro ferried Italy in times when Bankitalia was ruling actually the country and Berlusconi was saving himself occupying the Prime Minister chair. Scalfaro witnessed these Prime Ministers: Giuliano Amato, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Silvio Berlusconi, Lamberto Dini, Romano Prodi and Massimo D’Alema. He buried the old parties of the “First Republic” and paved the way to “Technical Establishments” first, and the new left later. He was a breakwater to the unexperienced Berlusconi, but he was not able to arrest his force (neither he had to, in his role).

Paolo Sorrentino in “Il divo” (The star), a movie dedicated to Giulio Andreotti, represents the skateboard over which the bomb was put to kill Falcone in the highway from Palermo airport to the city. This skateboard flies in the movie until the Parliament in Rome where the next President was being decided. Andreotti, the most bonded with mafia politician, and one of the most respectful politician abroad as well, was favorite. The attack changed the plans and the plot. Andreotti was clever, he understood the message by Mafiosi. The State needed a upright man (Andreotti was not charged at that times, but none ever believed he was not Machiavelic; later on it was juridically proven he was in touch with mafian families in order to control votes in Sicily, but this is a different post). Since he was very Catholic, sisters where I was going to school made us watch his election live on tv. That was the first time I disentangled the political meaning of quorum (threshold for election) from the Latin meaning (“of whom”; the percentage over the total in this case).

Yes, Scalfaro said about the “Jingling handcuffs” to explain his warranties to charged people and to deflate the power that judges were having in public opinion (there was some populism in the issue). But his real sentence is this: “Io non ci sto” (I am pulling out). He said this on tv in a different occasion than the new year eve (the Presidents use to give a message on December 31st) and the destination of the message was not clear. He was referring to “a game to reciprocal massacre”. Now we know: he was blocking a populist and transversal political plot to replace the guard with the nothingness/reuse of Berlusconi’s people.

His presidency was the presidency of new very hard equilibrium based on Berlusconi’s power. He protected the State from worse penetration of criminality, but the prize was to tolerate a big chunk of it inside the institution like never. It was a catenaccio (highly defensive soccer tactic using all players in defense, while usually you may use no more than 5 players over 10) and you can bet it was not so cool to stay squashed in it as a young citizen who was not understanding very well what was going on.

Episode 2: Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and #Berlusconi ’s blue skies. 1999-2006.

Blue skies, nothing but blue. Blue days, All of them gone, Nothing but blue skies, From now on. The period since 1999 until 2006 was almost entirely dominated by Berlusconi. He was at his peak of popularity and strength. I remember with anguish the 2000 affair in Florida organized by Bush father and sons. Yet, the 2001 was an announced defeat of Italian left and history stopped in Italy. Time were paused, and the blue skies of July were over our eyes for other 5 long, never passing, years.

I was ending my high school in Florence (1997), planning to move to Rome and I believed that my country was a leader one in civil rights, somehow economy, technology, soccer and basketball as well, as we won the European Championship (1999) with people like Carlton Myers and Gregor Fučkca (both having not Italian-like surnames, but this was a sign of times, we got some immigrations in the 90s after having been emigrants for a century). As I was getting my graduation (2002) and started to work (2001), I realized very soon that all my expectations to be adult, to have a starting decent salary and enjoy my 20s, after having studied like Giacomo Leopardi in order to finish as earlier as possible, were unrealistic. I discovered what precarious conditions were, I discovered little by little how deceitful my employers were, and how my country was silently and quietly betraying all my generation. Ok, reforms in industrial relations were ruled during left establishment (Pacchetto Treu, 1997), but only in those years effects became visible. And I was in the middle indeed. To realize this betray and having none around me available to admit it was real, was even worse. Blue skies had to be spoken as real. No logo by Naomi Klein ceased to be an ideological option and turned to be a necessity to survive. Blue skies were for somebody else. Almost everything was denied to my generation, but being “kept person” by parents, which was not my case. Outside “family welfare” or “welfare daddy”, life was really thrifty.

Ciampi was Prime Minister and previously President of the Bank of Italy. The nation needed an extra external character because of deep scandals among politicians in 90s. He got even the Presidency, with left and Berlusconi’s votes. He turned to reject very often Berlusconi’s laws. This became by time a matter of joke and a funny script: Berlusconi were trying to rule some unbelievable decree to himself or his friends from already committed crimes, the Parliament were almost powerless, the President rejected once, and later had to appease a decree or a law which was only a little less worse than the first version. Media were dominated by Berlusconi’s will and even political satiric programs were cut. The air was heavy in those blue skies, because it was not a real sky. They were tv stages under which air was heavy and unbreathable. The ceiling was not a crystal one, and you couldn’t jump without hurting yourself. Stars were painted and only at the corners the wallpapers were unglued. People believe in his (Berlusconi’s) promises and people felt that could evade and fraud the State as never before. The climax of early 90s upon justice were far away. Berlusconi made meanwhile a lot of thing for himself. What is worse, did not do anything for the country (yep, he made pass a law to don’t allow people smoke in restaurants and other places, ok. But really nothing more). Even worse, he was ridiculous in the international scene.

Ciampi_ritratto

His (Ciampi’s) times were Berlusconi’s, but he could be remembered to be a hard and deeply convinced Europeist politician. Among the other things, we may remember him to have chosen the Uomo di Vitruvio as the main icon of the 1€ coin of Italy and to have put his Lira Italiana (the previous Italian currency) retired in 2002. At Quirinale These Prime Ministers swore to him: Massimo D’Alema, Giuliano Amato, Silvio Berlusconi.

He was a feebler character politically (as the Constitution says), but a stiff person standing up in front of a crowded troupe of Berlusconi’s villains. His liberal (liberal in Italy means to be on the right part of the political scheme) affiliation gave him the power to say “no” to Berlusconi often.

This post is dedicated to Michele Landi, Massimo D’Antona and Marco Biagi, who were murdered in separated circumstances, to whom would be worthy to dedicate single posts in the future.

The History of Italy by its Presidents. Episode 1: King George #Napolitano

Italy is not a presidential Republic (neither a Kingdom, we had enough of it). This means that the President in many cases is not relevant from the establishment point of view. Since its role is representative and super partes (it is nicknamed the referee), he/she (so long, none was a female) warrants the current and correct interpretation of the Constitution. He/she is the chief of the State, formally commands the Defense, formally resolves the Parliament and formally nominates the Prime Minister to try to form an Establishment (when he/she nominates, the candidate Prime Minister tries to obtain the majority in the two chambers of the Parliament; then he/she will be back at the Quirinale (formerly the palace of the Kings of Italy, and previously the palace of the Popes for some centuries) to swear to the Constitution in front of the President). In few words, if all is fine, you almost forget who is the President; if times are hard, he/she has a lot of power, a residual power in the name of democracy.

I will try to tell the history of Italy in a very brief way, starting from the last – Giorgio Napolitano – arriving to the first, Enrico De Nicola.

Giorgio Napolitano (2006-2015). Napolitano was elected by the unified chambers (plus representatives of the Regions: in total 1000+ people) on 2006. The President is in charge 7 years. He was the first to be re-elected and is now about to resign due to age (he is 90 y.o.). His is a “reign”, as he was quickly nicknamed “King George”. His authority abroad and his stiff hand (he is the man who made Berlusconi resign as Prime Minister) let him have a new persona for the President. His times were very hard ones: the starting of the global crisis that deeply put Italy in a severe endless recession. Before that, instability of left and right establishments were dramatic. During the current crisis, at least until last year with the start of Renzi’s era, instability had become even worse. Basically, the context let him embody the role of the sole pivot of a complex institutional system. His emotional character (i.e. when talking about a not-win European Championship; or when the M5S sharply criticized him to have plotted to remain in the Quirinale to get the salary) strikes with the stiff capacity to manage the State. He pushed the integration of European Union but one of his hardest time arrived with the anniversary of the URSS’s occupation of Budapest. At that times he was with Soviet’s politics, totally. After 50 years, he lacked the opportunity to say something he had to say: “I was wrong, sorry”. There was embarrassment around the Quirinale.

Yes, even though he is a very good friend of the US, his past is with the Communist Party. He was leader of the so called “miglioristi” (“bettering”) movement. He believed that the PCI (Italian Communist Party) could evolve toward a moderated left. The bottom of the PCI was totally far from this vision, as people used to vote Communist to dream a Utopia, not to reach in a remote future some achievements (some actual policies, for instance). He had gotten a vision, he was totally right. His achievement was the Presidency.

Presidente_Napolitano

Even before PCI and the Republic, he was member of some Fascists’ youth movement. Yep, this people are upper class who ride what is more convenient to ride. This part of Italian history is still to be written: many communist intellectuals were far from being expression of blue collars. They govern blue collars ideas and their political space when Italy discovered that fascism was (no more) cool.

Coming back to 2006-today times, he led a refreshment after one of the darkest times in Italy: the Berlusconi’s establishment since 2001 to 2006. The weak, and not long, change of the guard in 2006 made have lefty people in the institution and this brought more warranties to have fair institutional dynamics. Apart economic disasters, in this period Italy gave a taste of what it is able to do: achieve the best after a plummet in a shooting-up, beyond better expectations, result: the World Championship in Germany (soccer, what else? You may know that Italian soccer was living hard times due to scandals, the team was not considered among the favorites). This kind of phenomenon did not repeat so far in economy, as Napolitano’s Italy opted for an antithetic Italian strategy: to glide down softly taking care of having a good defense of one’s rentier position. Meanwhile, Romano Prodi, Silvio Berlusconi, Mario Monti, Enrico Letta and Matteo Renzi were at his palace to become officially Prime Ministers.

This decade was a decade that cannot be labeled easily, it s – politically speaking – the crumbling trajectory of Berlusconi’s era. Napolitano is what he was in relation with Berlusconi’s power. I will return on this talking about Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

#CharlieHebdo ’s “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.”

Let me say first I twitted #JeSuisCharlie and my profile pic over facebook, such as the wall, are dedicated to these several attacks that shocked me. I hope they will all captured alive in order to interview them deeply. As a sociologist, I am strongly fascinated by the secularization process, which brought the western world to lead the world and see human kind in a different perspective. Among these things, there is the reduced and reduced use of censorship. We definitely don’t even mind a blasphemous things, not to mention sexual issues. As a result, not the combination of the two makes arise protests from anywhere. We strongly believe this is an accomplishment, and we consider some satirical journalism as valuable, even though sometimes it is only ignorant. As I said about Lars von Trier, we need this kind of people, even when their artistic and intellectual value is not clear. A society always needs a crazy who say the truth.

I strongly believe that people may have the right to have pornography consumption, drug consumption, and freedom to any vice. I don’t like the “Ethical State” that protect you from evil, because that is itself evil. Nonetheless, we can’t award drug addicted, we can’t let people smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol without blaming them. And we ought to understand better the “new western citizens”: Muslim people have the right as well to feel offended by any representation of Mahomet [why is iconoclasm a problem? This is a seed for a future reflection], as they don’t have the right to impose sort of dressing and so forth. Now, how can a journalist be sued if he/she is blasphemous by somebody else’s eyes? A fee? A public “sorry”? It would be like to eat pork in front of a Muslim. None can oblige anyone to don’t eat pork only because somebody else wouldn’t and stands in front of him/her by chance. Period. Some might be gentle in avoiding some pork one day if a friend is Vegan or Muslim, but this is wisdom to avoid some discussion that could not be so cool, nor deep intellectually. It is about being polite, not about having a good code for rights.

mohammed

The question is censorship, and this makes any sense in our western world only in two cases: national or institutional security, when it threatens the State and its organs (or others’); when it may trigger negative emotional massive behavior. I claim attention (not censorship!) if I see some anti-Semitic staff; I should learn to claim censorship if satirical staff goes too far against some targets. Which is this limit? Hard to say, but this is relative too: only if worse situations are created, this negation of freedom can be tolerated. And even in this case it is a defeat, may be a strategic partial defeat, but it is a defeat all the way, itself. I may believe in the our western world (and I wouldn’t move anywhere else) just because censorship in the long period is happening less frequently.

However the ethical golden rule looks to creak: I may bet that killed journalists would have been pretty cool about some Muslims saying they were whatever and that Jesus, Voltaire, Zidane or whoever are the worse of the worse. Probably they would have smiled and drawn something else… Kant is not damn working here!

I too strongly don’t believe that we, as western world, are better, as we are more wimp in our souls than enlightened (while others may be are messed-up in other terms). Yes, we believe to have conquered freedom, while we lost in most of the cases the knowledge of ourselves. We replaced the liberation from superstition and the discoveries of sciences with the right to superficiality and empty hedonism. Are we sure we are not offended by the Holy Trinity by Charlie Hebdo only because we are tolerant, liberal and open minded, or a little due to our oblivion? Probably people in Middle East and other places look at us as people who are unable to respect anything: powerful people in their means, and weak in their intentions, as they are pushed by fool materialistic things.

This post has no point, as I don’t have an explanation, not to mention a solution, to the problem of integration of Muslims in western societies, as Syria and other places are fueled by people from our places. I have one goal: to read Oriana Fallaci as soon as possible.