Saturday, 13 September 2008

Fascists Are Pulling Off Their Mask

(Photo: Struggle Against Fascism by Arnþór Snær).

On September 8th, Italy remembers a tragic event. In 1943, after announcing the signature of the armistice with the Americans, the Prime Minister General Pietro Badoglio escaped from Rome to Brindisi with king Vittorio Emanuele III and the whole royal family, leaving the Italian Army without instructions.

During the subsequent days, many soldiers were killed or imprisoned by the Nazis. The others had to hide their uniforms, trying to escape. It was the beginning of Civil War and Resistence, that then led to Liberation in April 1945.

On September 7th 2008, the Mayor of Rome and member of Alleanza Nazionale Gianni Alemanno, asked in an interview whether Fascism was an absolute evil, explained: "I don't think so and I never did: Fascism was a more complex phenomenon. Many people accepted it in good faith and I don't feel like labelling them with that definition. The absolute evil were the racial laws wanted by fascism, which determined its political and cultural end." (1) (corriere.it).

On September 8th, while attending the commemoration of the defense of Rome against the Nazis, the Minister for Defense and member of Alleanza Nazionale Ignazio La Russa said: "I wouldn't do justice to my conscience if I didn't remember other soldiers in uniform, as those of Nembo battalion of the Italian Social Republic, who subjectively, from their point of view, fought believing in the defense of the country, opposing themselves to the landing of the Anglo-Americans during the subsequent months. Hence they are worth of respect, though in the difference of attitudes, by all who look objectively at Italian history." (2) (repubblica.it).

Attending the same event, the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano celebrated "the double mark of Resistence: the mark of insurrection, of redemption, of hope in freedom and justice that led many young people to fight in partisan bands; and the sense of duty, faithfulness and dignity that inspired the participation of the military, - including the 600,000 soldiers who were deported in German camps, - and their refusal to take part in the Salò Republic." (3) (repubblica.it)

Why should the Mayor of Rome and the Minister for Defense irresponsibly propose to rehabilitate fascism?

Commenting over the case, Mr Gian Enrico Rusconi explains: "the key of today's political culture is in the word 'populism', which has to be intended not in general terms, but in its proper meaning. Democratic populism has four ingredients: voting people tending to express themselves with a fairly plebiscitary style and with a relationship of false immediacy with their leader; the mastery of a personal leadership, supported by 'charismatic' qualities; a simplified party-system where the exchange of political élites immediately supports the leader; the decisive and irreplaceable role of consenting media. The strong personification and spectaculararization of politics are by-products of this situation." (4) (lastampa.it).

Populism. Should we deduce, then, that those politicians who attacked Mr Beppe Grillo - accusing him of populism - are actually more populist than the comic artist whose voice they would like to silence? (Will Pinocchio Listen to Mr Grillo? and Our Future: Resistence and Liberation).

Today, September 13th, while speaking to his party's young militants, the President of the Chamber of Deputies and leader of Alleanza Nazionale, Gianfranco Fini, said: "At Salò there had been good faith: to acknowledge it is in many cases a duty. But it is as much a duty to say that it is not possible to equalize those who were on one side and those who were on the other one. It is historical honesty and duty of the Right, wanting to balance accounts with the past, to say that those who fought on the right side are not equivalent to those who, even in good faith, fought on the wrong side. The Right has to confirm it in any circumstances: not to dismiss the case, but to build a memory that enables our nation to go on." (5) (repubblica.it).

Unfortunately, this precise statement comes late and is not enough. We like to remember that the XII final disposition of Italian Constitution says that: "The reorganization under any forms of the dissolved fascist party is forbidden." (6).

In Italy, actually, both mayors and ministers take their oath on the Costitution born from the antifascist struggle. The President of the Chamber of Deputies and the President of the Republic should then ask the Mayor of Rome and the Minister for Defense to hand in their resignation.

As Piero Gobetti explained, in fact, democracy requires intransigence. If Italian people do not remonstrate loudly, the return of Fascism will be granted.

During the last hours, some writings praising the Italian Social Republic were made over the slabs of marble celebrating Luigi Pierantoni and Raffeale Zicconi, martyrs of March 1944 Ardeatine massacre in Rome (repubblica.it). Besides, the main responsible of this massacre in which 335 civilians were killed, the Nazi S.S. captain Erich Priebke, yesterday attended - via videoconference - a beauty contest in Frosinone, as honourable president of the jury (repubblica.it).

Indeed, as the organizer of the event explained: "Inviting Mr Priebke is a gesture of pacification. I admire the Jewish people. But by this time 60 years have passed and Mr Priebke is now more than 95. Why should we not allow him to come here?" (7) (corriere.it).

Fascists are pulling off their mask. Every free voice left in this country has now the duty to stand up and peacefully oppose this shame before it is too late.

Every Italian citizen who aims to defend the memory of Italian democracy is invited to join ANPI, the National Association of Italian Partisans.

Check right now the list of ANPI's Committees and get in touch with the nearest one. The first step to re-establish Italian democracy is indeed casting our mind back to its birth.

"Partì verso le somme colline, la terra ancestrale che l'avrebbe aiutato nel suo moto possibile, nel vortice del vento nero, sentendo com'è grande un uomo quando è nella sua normale dimensione umana. E nel momento in cui partì si sentì investito - nor death itself would have been divestiture - in nome dell'autentico popolo d'Italia, ad opporsi ad ogni modo al fascismo, a giudicare e ad eseguire, a decidere militarmente e civilmente. Era inebriante tanta somma di potere, ma infinitamente più inebriante la coscienza dell'uso legittimo che ne avrebbe fatto."

"He left towards the highest hills, the ancestral land which would helped him in his possible motion, in a black wind wortex, feeling how great a man is when he is in his normal human dimension. And in the very moment he left, he felt himself invested - nor death itself would have been divestiture - in the name of the authentic Italian people, to oppose himself to fascism by all means, to judge and execute, to decide as a soldier as well as a civilian. Such a sum of power was inebriating, but much more inebriating was the conscience of the legitimate use he would have made of it."

(Beppe Fenoglio, Il partigiano Johnny, 1968).

___________________

1. "Non lo penso e non l'ho mai pensato: il fascismo fu un fenomeno più complesso. Molte persone vi aderirono in buona fede e non mi sento di etichettarle con quella definizione. Il male assoluto sono le leggi razziali volute dal fascismo e che ne determinarono la fine politica e culturale." (corriere.it).

2. "Farei un torto alla mia coscienza - ha invece detto il ministro La Russa - se non ricordassi che altri militari in divisa, come quelli della Nembo dell'esercito della Rsi, soggettivamente, dal loro punto di vista, combatterono credendo nella difesa della patria, opponendosi nei mesi successivi allo sbarco degli anglo-americani e meritando quindi il rispetto, pur nella differenza di posizioni, di tutti coloro che guardano con obiettività alla storia d'Italia." (repubblica.it).

3. "Per questo ho parlato di un duplice segno della Resistenza: quello della ribellione, della volontà di riscatto, della speranza di libertà e di giustizia che condussero tanti giovani a combattere nelle formazioni partigiane e quello del senso del dovere, della fedeltà e della dignità che animarono la partecipazione dei militari, compresa quella dei seicentomila deportati nei campi tedeschi, rifiutando l'adesione alla Repubblica di Salò" (repubblica.it)

4. "In realtà la vera chiave della cultura politica di oggi è nel termine di «populismo» che va inteso non in modo generico, ma appropriato. Il populismo democratico ha quattro ingredienti: un popolo-elettore che tende a esprimersi in uno stile tendenzialmente plebiscitario con un rapporto di finta immediatezza con il leader; la dominanza di una leadership personale, gratificata di qualità «carismatiche»; un sistema partitico semplificato con un ricambio di élite politiche che è di supporto immediato al leader; il ruolo decisivo e insostituibile dei media allineati. Sottoprodotti di questa situazione sono la iperpersonalizzazione della politica e la sua spettacolarizzazione." (lastampa.it).

5. "A Salò c'è stata buona fede, riconoscerla è in molti casi doveroso ma è altrettanto doveroso dire che non si può equiparare chi stava da una parte e dall'altra. Onestà storica e compito di una destra che vuole fare i conti con il passato è dire che non è equivalente chi combatteva per una parte giusta e chi, fatta salva la buona fede, combatteva dalla parte sbagliata. La destra deve ribadirlo in ogni circostanza non per archiviarlo ma per costruire una memoria che consenta al nostro popolo di andare avanti." (repubblica.it)

6. "È vietata la riorganizzazione, sotto qualsiasi forma, del disciolto partito fascista." (Italian Constitution, Final Dispositions, n.XII).

7. "Invitare Priebke — dice Marini — è un gesto di pacificazione. Io ammiro il popolo ebraico. Ma ormai sono passati 60 anni e Priebke ne ha più di 95. Che senso ha non permettergli di venire qui?" (corriere.it).

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Is Dictatorship On Its Way?

(Photo: Freedom! by PotironLight's).

On Tuesday July 8th, 2008, several thousands people gathered in Piazza Navona, Rome, to protest against two new justice bills introduced to the Parliament by the Italian Government. They were 15,000 according to the police and 100,000 according to the magazine Micromega, which promoted the demostration (lemonde.fr, elpais.com and micromega-online)*.

On June 16th, 2008, the Popolo della Libertà coalition - which holds the majority of seats at the Italian Parliament - presented a bill stating that some legal proceedings are more urgent than others, which are instead likely to be suspended for one year (lastampa.it).

In the meantime, the Center-Right coalition is also introducing a bill to grant retroactive judicial immunity to the President of the Republic, the President of the Senate, the President of the Chamber of Deputies and the Prime Minister himself (repubblica.it).

As a matter of fact, these two bills represent a clear and evident attempt to subjugate the judiciary.

As Mr Giuseppe D'Avanzo wrote, attacking the judiciary the Government deprives the Italian Parliament as well, overwhelming the fundamental principle of the balance of powers (repubblica.it).

According to the Minister of Justice, Mr Angelino Alfano, the suspension of some legal proceedings - concerning facts that happened before June 2002 and establishing penalties under 10 years of imprisonment - will speed up and simplify Italian justice, which is too congested and slow (repubblica.it).

Actually, this bill clashes with article 3 of the Italian Constitution: "All citizens have equal social status and are equal before the law, without regard to their sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, and personal or social conditions.".

All the more reason, its practical effects on justice will be devastating: according to the Associazione Nazionale Magistrati, more than 100,000 legal proceedings will be suspended. Magistrates won't ever be able to punish crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, robbery, rape, conspiracy, tax-evasion, corruption, clandestine immigration, family sexual abuse, culpable murder owing to medical mistakes or to car accidents, rubbish trafficking (repubblica.it).

Unfortunately, Mr Silvio Berlusconi himself happens to be involved in a legal proceeding for his alleged attempt to corrupt the British solicitor David Mills (bbc.co.uk). This legal proceeding would benefit of the new bill too (repubblica.it).

As a group of 100 University teachers of constitutional law publicly explained, granting judicial retrospective immunity to the Prime Minister has no equivalent in any western democracy (repubblica.it). The attempt to introduce it in Italy calls to mind a referendum set in Zimbabwe on February, 2000: aiming to confiscate land owned by white people without any compensation, that referedum would also have made Mr Robert Mugabe's government immune from prosecution for any illegal acts committed while in office (wikipedia.org).

In Italy, Summer is not the best season for justice. In July 1994, the newly-appointed Silvio Berlusconi's govermnent presented a bill that, aiming to reduce preventive detention, set free many corrupted politicians. The bill, known as "decreto salvaladri" [save-thieves bill] was then withdrawned owing to the resignations of the team of judges of Milan and to popular indignation (wikipedia.org).

In July 2006, the newly-appointed Romano Prodi's government - seconded by the center-right coalition - approved a general pardon law that had damaging effects on citizens' safety and freed many prisoners convicted for corruption crimes (indipendent.co.uk, guardian.co.uk and sole24ore.com).

What is the political opposition doing to prevent this judiciary putsch to take place? Actually, the leader of the Partito Democratico Mr Walter Veltroni rejected the invite to support the manifestation of July 8th in Rome made to him by the leader of L'Italia dei Valori party Mr Antonio Di Pietro (corriere.it). Mr Veltroni explained that he prefers to collect a huge petition and set a public manifestation on justice in October (repubblica.it).

The problem is that the attempt to get rid of democracy is going on right now. Unfortunately, the Partito Democratico seems unable to perceive this risk: on June 24th, his representative at the Italian Senate, Ms Anna Finocchiaro, explained that the party has no prejudice against a bill granting immunity to the Prime Minister (repubblica.it).

As Mr Umberto Eco said, "When the majority asserts that right is always on his side and the minority doesn't dare to react, democracy is in danger" (micromega-online) and as Ms Barbara Spinelli explained: "We are in urgent need of awekening. We need it even if few people will wake up, because the narcosis of minds, language, vision and memories is huge and in progress" (micromega-online).

The good news is that yesterday, in Piazza Navona, a new alliance has taken the first steps: the Girotondi movement, L'Italia dei Valori, Mr Beppe Grillo's movement, fractions and individuals belonging to La Sinistra l'Arcobaleno and to the Partito Democratico began to compare their different ideas and words under the flag of constitutional legality.

Trying to minimize the success of the event, the Italian press focused on the harshness of satire that Mr Beppe Grillo and Ms Sabina Guzzanti showed in piazza Navona. Far from being a risk for democracy, satire proves that the event was really free.

Listening to the speakers of the event is the best way to get your own idea about the whole thing:
It will be a long narrow street, but we have no alternative: united we stand, divided we fall.
"A forza di sentir dire che il diritto si riduce all'economia, c'è il caso che l'inesperto e il dilettante (che è anche peggiore) di filosofia, si metta a proclamare che il diritto consiste unicamente nel far tutti quanti il comodo proprio".

[Hearing so often that law is turned into economics, the unpractised or the amateur philosopher (which is even worst) may start proclaiming that law consists just in doing everything you like at your own leisure].

(Piero Calamandrei, Fede nel diritto, 1940).
_________________

* In July 8th, 2008, I was in Piazza Navona personally and I'm not able to estimate how many people were there. But I can say that the square was filled with people. Considering that most of us had to go there at their expenses during a working day, in my opinion this was an extraordinary result.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Our Future, Resistance and Liberation

(Photo: 25 aprile 2006, by Iguana Jo) Friday, April 25th 2008, Italy celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the Liberation from Fascism and Nazism.

On April 1945, Northern Italy uprised against the German occupation and the Repubblica Sociale Italiana, the collaborationist government established by Mr Benito Mussolini after the armistice of September 8th, 1943. At the end of a desperate twenty-month-lasting struggle over the mountains, on the streets and within the plants, thousands of partisans freed the main Northern towns of the country and settled new democratic institutions before the arrival of the Allies.

In Turin, the Italian industrial hearth where FIAT was born and one of the Italian Resistance capitals, a double celebration took place this year. While public institutions, partisans associations, many intellectuals and artists met in Piazza Castello to remember the Civil War and the 1948 republican Constitution, Mr Beppe Grillo and his movement met in Piazza San Carlo, promoting three new referenda to abolish the Journalists' Association, public funds for newspapers and the law regulating TV broadcasting.

According to Mr Grillo, his V2-Day event is the natural prosecution of the Liberation from Fascism: "Il 25 aprile ci siamo liberati dal nazifascismo. 63 anni dopo possiamo liberarci dal fascismo dell’informazione, dai suoi padroni e dai suoi servi. E’ più difficile di allora. Non ci sono più fucile contro fucile, bomba a mano contro carro armato. La lotta è tra le coscienze addormentate e la libertà di pensare" [On April, 25th (1945), we freed ourselves from Nazism and Fascism. 63 years later we can free ourselves from information fascism, from his bosses and his slaves. Now it's harder than then. There are not rifles against rifles now, not hand grenades against armour. The struggle is between the sleep of mind and the freedom of thought].

So far, the political system and the press have been very tough over Mr Grillo and his movement. In their opinion, indeed, Mr Grillo is a danger for democracy aiming to dismantle the State and its institutions (Will Pinocchio Listen to Mr Grillo?). As Mr Eugenio Scalfari said after September 8th 2007 first V-Day: "L'antipolitica pretende di abbattere la divisione tra governo e governati instaurando il governo assembleare. L'"agorà". La piazza. L'equivalente del blog di Internet." [Antipolitics aims to destroy the division between goverment and citizens, setting up an assembly government. The agorà. The square. The same as the Internet blog.] (repubblica.it).

On the other hand, some observers such as Giovanni De Luna (La Stampa), Barbara Spinelli (lastampa.it) and Giovanni Sartori (corriere.it) clearly understood the political meaning and strenght of the message.

In my opinion, Mr Grillo and is undoubtedly soaked in populism, he lacks of historical memory and usually escapes the public debate. But he is not a politician, he is a comic. And he is telling the truth, he is saying what the political system looks as inconvenient, he talks about issues that most journalists seem unable or forbidden to talk about. He has the right to express his opinion and his voice can help to restore Italian democracy.

As a matter of fact, indeed, in Italy there is no chance to enter the Journalist Association but that you're entrusted by an influent relative or friend (radicali.it). Moreover, public funds are given to many political and private newspapers and magazines which don't sell a copy (libero.it). All the more reason, the upcoming Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi "controls most of Italian private television" and "now that he is back in government, he will indirectly control state-run television too, giving him influence over some 90% of Italian TV" (economist.com).

On January, while Mr Romano Prodi's government was still promoting a bill made by the Minister for Communications, Mr Paolo Gentiloni, aiming to reform the TV broadcasting system, Mr Silvio Berlusconi clearly explained that this law was incompatible with any attempt of dialogue on reforms between his Popolo della Libertà and the Partito Democratico (corriere.it). Unfortunately, after losing the elections, PD's leader Mr Walter Veltroni seems likely to dialogue and co-operate with Silvio Berlusconi (corriere.it). Since la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno didn't enter the Parliament, Mr Antonio Di Pietro's Italia dei Valori is actually the only political party sitting in Parliament still fighting against a political context which is definitely far from being democratic (antoniodipietro.it).

Personally, I think that public funds to the press should be reformed and not abolished, because if the market decided by himself what is worth to be published and what is not, the free debate of different ideas would be much more conditioned by vested interests than it is now. That's why I will sign up only two of Mr Grillo's referenda.

Anyway, I think that Italia dei Valori, the small left faction within the Partito Democratico, la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno and Mr Grillo's movement should come together to establish a concrete, democratic, peaceful, not violent and uncompromising opposition against Mr Silvio Berlusconi's government.

During the electoral campaign Senator Marcello Dell'Utri explained that after winning the elections, the PDL would revise the books of history because they are still conditioned by the rhetoric of Resistance (corriere.it and lastampa.it).

He won't make us forget that Resistance is the hearth of the Italian Constitution. We owes our freedom to all those men and women who chose to put their life at risk fighting against the cruel ferocity of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini between September 1943 and April 1945. They were Communists, Socialists, Actionists, Repubblicans, Liberals, Monarchists, Christians, Jews, Waldesians, Atheists. They were most Italians, while some of them were foreigners. They were common men and women aiming to restore freedom in Italy and in Europe. Many were killed, many were tortured, many were deported and never came back.

Those of them who survived contributed to make Italy a democratic republic, while then grew old and died constantly facing any progressive attempt to erase their memory. Few of them are still alive. Now more than ever, we have the duty to remember. Resistance never ended, Resistance will go on.

"[Gennaio, 1944] La neve era alta, c'era pochissimo da mangiare, le porte delle case e delle stalle non sembravan più aprirsi così ospitali come un tempo, tra la popolazione v'era paura e diffidenza, il domani era incerto, i tedeschi e i fascisti apparivano più minacciosi che mai, non c'eran indumenti e stufe per ripararsi dai rigori invernali: ma bisognava non mollare, bisognava resistere, bisognava tener duro.

[...]

[Aprile, 1945] E finalmente venne l'ora tanto sospirata: l'ora dell'attacco, l'ora della GOP. Il 24 aprile, in Torino, il CMRP aveva deciso di aprire l'offensiva generale, e aveva diramato a tutti i comandi della zona del Piemonte la famosa comunicazione: 'Aldo dice ventisei per uno', che voleva dire: 'Alle ore una del giorno 26 si attacca'!"

{[January, 1944] The snow was high, very little was left to eat, the houses' doors and the stalls didn't seem to open as hospitable as they once were, people were scared and mistrustful, the future was uncertain, Germans and Fascists looked much more threatening than they ever did, there were nor clothes nor stoves to shelter from the cold winter: but we oughtn't to give up, we ought to resist, we ought to hold on.

[...]

[April, 1945] And at last that longed-for day came: the day of the attack, the day of the GOP. On April, 24th, in Turin, the CMRP decided to start the general offensive, and it dispatched to every Piedmont's war zone headquarter the famous message: 'Aldo says twenty-six for one', which meant: 'We're going to attack at one o'clock of the day 26!]}

(Dante Livio Bianco, Guerra partigiana, 1954).

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Hoping to Find the Left Over the Rainbow



The General Elections are scheduled in Italy for April 13th and 14th, 2008. The President of the Republic, Mr Giorgio Napolitano, decided to call them after Mr Romano Prodi's center-left Government fell on January 24th, the main political parties being unable to agree and support a short-term government to change the electoral law (bbc.co.uk).

Mr Silvio Berlusconi, heading the Center-Right coalition Popolo delle Libertà, is leading the run to become the new Prime Minister. Mr Walter Veltroni, heading the new Center-Left Partito Democratico, is running after. Moving far behind them, the catholic Center party Unione di Centro and the Left coalition la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno (the Left the Rainbow) are struggling to survive and enter again the Italian Senate, where you need to outcome a barrier of 8% reckoned on regional basis (repubblica.it).

Besides, according to the current electoral law promoted in 2005 by the then Minister for Reforms Roberto Calderoli, Italian citizens will not be able to choose their representatives themselves. Indeed, the "pig law" - as Mr Calderoli itself named it - states that the parties fix a list of candidates while citizens can only choose which party they want to vote for (Will Pinocchio listen to Mr Grillo?).

Aiming to shape the Italian political system as a two-party context and getting rid of all other parties, Mr Berlusconi and Mr Veltroni mixed up both their campaigns and programmes, so that if you read an extract from one of them it's very uneasy to recognize which one it belongs to (partito democratico.it and forzaitalia.it).

While Mr Berlusconi, which is 71 years old, explains that we're in for big economic troubles and pretends to be very sad for his upcoming Prime Minister work (repubblica.it), Mr Veltroni claims that - being 52 years old - he can really change the country, and tries to mingle himself with Mr José Louis Rodriguez Zapatero (aprileonline.info) and Mr Barack Obama (repubblica.it).

In his desperate run to overcome Silvio Berlusconi, Walter Veltroni - one of the former leaders of the Partito Comunista Italiano - decided that the Partito Democratico was not supposed to join forces with the left coalition la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno and in an interview to the Spanish newspaper El Pais clearly said that the Partito Democratico is not a Left party: "Somos reformistas, no de izquierda" (elpais.com).

Mr Veltroni's peculiar style, stigmatized by the italian comic artist Maurizio Crozza as "maanchismo", seems to put opposites in common (corriere.it). The Partito Democratico, for example, decided to candidate both the former president of Federmeccanica (the Italian federation of metalworking industries), Mr Massimo Calearo, and Mr Antonio Boccuzzi, the only survival of a terrific work accident which took place in the Turin Thyssenkrupp steal plant last December, killing seven workers (lastampa.it and repubblica.it).

The issue of death at work is indeed very significant (Working side by side with death): when Mr Romano Prodi's government tried to make a new law implying strong penalties over managers lacking in adopting safety measures in their plants, it was forced to change its decree by the strong opposition of Confindustria, the Italian employers federation (corriere.it and repubblica.it).

All the more reason, after having granted huge tax cuts to businesses (Who is going to pay the budget bill?), Mr Prodi fell just when he was about to give something back to workers and pensioners too (repubblica.it). Here again, when his government tried to set a law recognizing the rights of not-married couples, the opposition of the Church made him soon step back (lastampa.it).

Here is the matter: being supported by Confindustria and partly by a Catholic background, Mr Veltroni – acting as Prime Minister – could only sit and ask what Confindustria and the Church would like him to do.

As a liberal socialist, I am thus wondering who I should vote for. Actually, the Democratici di Sinistra - belonging to the European Socialist Party - merged with Mr Francesco Rutelli's Margherita into the new Partito Democratico, which is no more a Left party.

The former Partito Socialista Italiano lays down, as a sad prisoner of Mr Bettino Craxi's criminal heritage: nine times out of ten there you find still the same names and the same ambiguities.

I have no doubt that now an Italian Socialist can do nothing but try to explain its view and join his forces with what still is Left. I wouldn't probably agree with some of the economic solutions promoted by la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno. But considering the pillars of their programme, I can do nothing but feel at ease voting for them. Here they are:
Of course the political programme is not enough. Unfortunately, la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno is the result of the merger between four failing political entourages: Partito dei Comunisti Italiani, Rifondazione Comunista, Sinistra Democratica and Verdi. Their leader, Mr Fausto Bertinotti, is the past and not the future of the Left. la Sinistra l'Arcobaleno should soon erase its national and local leaders, attending public bottom-up elections to choose brand new players. They had better chosen someone like Mr Roberto Saviano - the young writer who reported on the power of Camorra in his masterpiece work Gomorra - as their candidate for the premiership. We can hope many other things along these lines, but our duty is now to protect democracy, pluralism and the existence of the Italian Left itself.

"Mi sono sempre considerato un uomo di sinistra e quindi ho sempre dato al termine 'sinistra' una connotazione positiva, anche ora che è sempre più avversata, e al termine 'destra' una connotazione negativa, pur essendo oggi ampiamente rivalutata. La ragione fondamentale per cui in alcune epoche della mia vita ho avuto qualche interesse per la politica, o, con altre parole, ho sentito, se non il dovere, parola troppo ambiziosa, l'esigenza di occuparmi di politica e qualche volta, se pure più raramente, di svolgere attività politica, è sempre stato il disagio di fronte allo spettacolo delle enormi diseguaglianze, tanto sproporzionate quanto ingiustificate, tra ricchi e poveri, tra chi sta in alto e chi sta in basso nella scala sociale, tra chi possiede potere, vale a dire capacità di determinare il comportamento altrui, sia nella sfera economica sia in quella politica e ideologica, e chi non lo ha. Diseguaglianze particolarmente visibili e, a poco a poco trasformandosi la coscienza morale, sempre più consapevolmente vissute, da chi, come me, era nato ed era stato educato in una famiglia borghese, dove le differenze di classe erano ancora molto marcate. Queste differenze erano particolarmente evidenti durante le lunghe vacanze in campagna dove noi venuti dalla città giocavamo coi figli di contadini. Tra noi, a dire il vero, affettivamente c'era perfetto affiatamento, e le differenze di classe erano assolutamente irrilevanti, ma non poteva sfuggirci il contrasto tra le nostre case e le loro, i nostri cibi e i loro, i nostri vestiti e i loro (d'estate andavano scalzi). Ogni anno, tornando in vacanza, apprendevamo che uno dei nostri compagni di giochi era morto durante l'inverno di tubercolosi. Non ricordo, invece, una sola morte per malattia tra i miei compagni di scuola di città.
Erano anche gli anni del fascismo, la cui rivista politica ufficiale, fondata dallo stesso Mussolini, era intitolata 'Gerarchia'. Populista, non popolare, il fascismo aveva irregimentato il paese, soffocando ogni forma di libera lotta politica; un popolo di cittadini, che già avevano conquistato il diritto di partecipare a libere elezioni, era stato ridotto a folla acclamante, un insieme di sudditi tutti eguali, sì, nell'identica uniforme, ma eguali (e contenti?) nella comune servitù. Con l'approvazione improvvisa e improvvisata delle leggi razziali, la nostra generazione si trovò negli anni della maturità di fronte allo scandalo di una discriminazione infame che in me, come in altri, lasciò un segno indelebile. Fu allora che il miraggio di una società egualitaria favorì la conversione al comunismo di molti giovani moralmente e intellettualmente seri. So bene che oggi, a tanti anni di distanza, il giudizio sul fascismo deve essere dato col distacco dello storico. Qui, però, parlo non da storico, ma unicamente per recare una testimonianza personale della mia educazione politica cui ebbero tanta parte, per reazione al regime, gli ideali, oltre che della libertà, anche dell'eguaglianza e della fraternità, le 'ridondanti blagues', come allora erano sprezzantemente chiamate, della Rivoluzione francese. Se avessi avuto ancora qualche dubbio, sarebbe giunto, nel momento più opportuno, proprio mentre stavo scrivendo queste pagine, un articolo sul nuovo settimanale 'l'Italia', dichiaratamente di destra, intitolato Abbasso l'eguaglianza.
Proprio così: 'Abbasso l'eguaglianza'. Il che non vuol dire, come qualcuno potrebbe interpretare: 'Viva la differenza'. No, vuol dire: 'Viva la disuguaglianza'."


[I have always considered myself a man of the left, and therefore, for me, the term 'left' has always had a positive connotation, even now when it is under such attack, and the term 'right', which is now being widely reassessed, a negative connotation. During my life I have on occasion shown some interest in politics; in other words, I have felt the need (I will not say that I felt it my duty, because that is too grand a word) to get involved in politics, and more rarely, to engage in some political activity. The fundamental reason for this has always been an uneasiness over the spectacle of enormous, disproportionate, unjustified inequalities between rich and poor, between those at the top and those at the bottom of the social ladder, and between those with power – that is to say, the ability to determine the behaviour of others in the economic, political and ideological spheres – and those without power. These highly visible inequalities are experienced with increasing awareness as the moral conscience is gradually strenghtened with the passing years and the develpoment of tragic events, especially by someone like me, who was born and brought up in a bourgeois family, where class differences are very pronounced. These differences were particularly evident during summer holidays in the countryside, where we city lads played with the sons of peasants. To tell the truth, our friendship was based on a perfect understanding, and the class differences were completely irrelevant; but we could not help noticing the contrast between our houses nad theirs, our food and theirs, and our clothes and theirs (in the summer they went barefoot). Every year when we started our holidays, we learnt that one of our playmates had died the previous winter form tubercolosis. I do not remember a single death among my school-friends in the city.
Those were the years of Fascism, whose official political journal, founded by Mussolini himself, was entitled Gerarchia (Hierarchy). Populist but not popular, Fascism regimented the country, and suffocated all forms of free political struggle; a people of citizens, which had already achieved the right to participate in free elections, was reduced to a cheering crowd, a collection of subjects all equal in their identical uniforms, but also equal (and content?) in their common servitude. With the sudden and unexpected passing of the race laws, our generation had to face, as it came of age, the scandal of that shameful discrimination which had a lasting effect on me and many others. It was then that the illusion of an egalitarian society favoured the conversion to communism among many moral and serious-minded young people. I know very well that today, after so many years, our judgement of Fascism must be made with a historian's detachment. Here, however, I do not speak as a historian, but solely as an individual, giving a personal account of his political education, which, in reaction to the regime, was greatly affected by the French Revolution's ideals of liberty, as well as equality and fraternity – the 'empty rhetoric', as they were contemptuously referred to at the time. If I had still had any doubt, in the right moment, just when I was writing these pages, an article would have come. This article, published by the new magazine 'l'Italia', come out belonging to the right, was intitled: 'Down with Equality'.
Which does not mean, as someone could interpret: 'Long Life Difference'. No, it does mean: 'Long Life Inequality'.]

[Norberto Bobbio, Destra e Sinistra. Ragioni di una distinzione politica, Roma, Donzelli Editore, 1994; translation (last period excepted) by Allan Cameron, Polity Press, 1996].

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Still Looking for the Nazi Otto Sein

(Photo: Fossoli campo di transito verso la morte by Claudio Testa).

Saturday, February 16th 2008, the former S.S. officer Michael Seifert landed in Rome. Mr Seifert, previously known as 'Misha', has to expiate a life sentence owing to war crimes committed between Summer 1944 and April 1945 in the concetration camps of Fossoli and Bolzano, in Northern Italy (repubbblica.it).

Mr Seifert was born in Landau, Ukraine, in 1924. He was twenty when he served as a guard in Fossoli and Bolzano with a sadic companion, Mr Otto Sein, under the commander Alcino Cologna. As many other Nazi officers, Mr Seifert escaped during the liberation of Europe in Spring 1945. He was living in Vancouver, Canada, since 1951.

The Military Court of Verona sentenced Mr Seifert by default on November, 2000 (anpi.it). The sentence was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in 2001 and by the Corte di Cassazione in 2002. Finally, on Thursday, January 17th 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada decided to extradiate him to Italy.

More than twenty survivors recognized him as the torturer who killed several people among the prisoners of the two camps. Particularly, along with Mr Sein, Mr Seifert killed a fifteen-year-old Jewish girl by stabbing her with the necks of broken bottles. He raped a pregnant woman and then killed her. He starved to death a fifteen-yeard-old Jewish boy. He tortured a Jewish mother and her daughter, pouring cold water on them and strangling them. He killed a young partisan banging his head on the wall, accusing him of having stolen some bread (anpi.it and canada.com/vancouversun).

Mr Berto Perotti witnessed that: "In quelle occasioni, i due circolavano per i corridoi con i guanti di pelle nera. Erano diventati un simbolo, e quando li vedevamo in quel modo, un brivido correva per le celle. Non si sapeva a chi toccava il turno." [In those occasions, the two of them strolled along the corridors wearing black skin gloves. They had become a symbol, and when we saw them like that, a shiver ran through the cells. We didn't know whose the turn was] (repubblica.it).

The 88 years old Marisa Scala said: "sono contenta, perché il nostro paese dimentica tutto, e pensa solo alle cavolate; ma per una volta certe cose non sono passate, dimenticate: sbaglia chi dice che sono passati troppi anni." [I'm happy, because our country usually forgets everything, and thinks only of stupid things. But once some other things had not been forgotten. The ones who say that too many years elapsed are wrong.] ("Ho sconfitto il boia", La Stampa, February 17th 2008).

Survivals' evidences are collected into the book Anche a volerlo raccontare è impossibile, edited by Mr Giorgio Mezzalira and Ms Cinzia Villani for ANPI Bolzano (deportati.it).

Transit camps such as Fossoli and Carpi were used by the Nazis to collect people and then deport them to extermination camps. Mr Dario Venegoni's estimates say that about 40,000 Italians were deported during World War II. They were mainly Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, partisans and anti-fascists in general. At least 36,000 of them were exterminated.

The 84 year-old Michael Seifert will probably serve his time in a Roman flat, owing to the fact that he is too old to stay in jail. That's not enough: we still want to find his companion, Mr Otto Sein. So that the two of them could lie together under the same deep tombstone: "Here lie the two Nazi murderers of Fossoli and Bolzano, Misha and Otto".

"I l'a butada / sora l' tavolasso, / i l'à lassada sola, / qualche giorno, / fin tanto che 'na sera / Missa e Oto / i s'à inciavado nela cela nera / e i gh'è restà par una note intiera. / E dala cela vièn par ore e ore / straco un lamento de butìn che more."


[And they threw her / over a table, / and they left her alone, / for some days, / till a night when / Misha and Otto / locked themselves into the black cell / and stood there the whole night long. / And from the cell, for hours and ours, it comes / a tired out dying moan.]

(Egidio Meneghetti, Bortolo e l'ebreeta, 1955).

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Justice for Mr Abou Elkassim Britel

(Photo: Mr Abou Elkassim Britel).

The Italian Government, even though resigning, should urge the Moroccan Goverment to free Mr Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen unduly arrested in Pakistan in 2002, then secretly rendered to Morocco by the CIA and there arrested, tortured, released and arrested again.

Here is Mr Britel's story, according to a Parliament speech hold on December 12th, 2006, by fourteen Italian Senators (senato.it).

Mr Abou Elkassim Britel was born in Casablanca on April 18th, 1967. When he was 22, Mr Britel emigrated to Bergamo, in Northern Italy. Mr Britel then married Ms Anna Lucia Pighizzini, who became Muslim and changed her name in Khadija. Since 1999, Mr Abou Elkassim Britel is an Italian citizen.

In 2000, the police of Bergamo began to inquire into Mr Britel, supposing that his brother once put a terrorist up in his house. On July 3rd, 2001 - a few days before the G8 meeting in Genoa - Mr Britel's house was searched by the police. During the same year, the Corriere della Sera wrote that Mr Britel's phone number had been found on a training camp in Kabul, while the man had disappeared: the judges looked into Mr Britel suspecting him of belonging to Al Qaeda. The case will be dismissed by the Italian judges in October, 2006: "Totale insussistenza di elementi di accusa processualmente utilizzabili, che consentano di affermare che gli indagati abbiano partecipato a un'organizzazione terroristica islamica." [There is no useful evidence to say that the people inquired into had worked for a terroristic organization.] (radioradicale.it).

On June, 2001 Mr Britel had reached Pakistan. The Pakistani police arrested him in Lahore on March 10th, 2002: Mr Britel was alleged of holding a false Italian passport and belonging to some terroristic movements, according to the Italian police warnings too. During the night between May 24th and May 25th, 2002 a CIA plane transferred Mr Britel from Pakistan to Morocco, where the local secret service brought him in the jail of Temara.

In Temara, Mr Britel was secretly detained and tortured till February 11th, 2003, when he was released. Being an Italian citizen in Morocco without passport, Mr Britel obtained a provisional paper by the Italian Embassy in Rabat to get back to Italy: on May 16th, 2003, while he was crossing the Moroccan border, Mr Britel was arrested again.

On October 3rd, 2003, during a one-day trial, Mr Britel was sentenced to fifteen years of emprisonment, even though the sentence was then reduced to nine years.

Mr Abou Elkassim Britel is now improsoned in Oukasha. He is unable to see his family and he is now desperately trying to make his story known by the public opinion (faberlab.net).

In February 2007, the European Parliament adopted a report on extraordinary renditions made by the Italian MEP Claudio Fava. According to this report, "the CIA has run more than 1,000 flights within the European Union since 2001, often transporting terror suspects for questioning overseas." (news.bbc.co.uk).

Reporting on Mr Britel's case, Amnesty International explained that in November 2005 the UN Human Rights Committee reminded Italy of "the absolute right of each person not to be expelled to a country where he/she may face torture or ill-treatment, and the obligation of the State party, consequently and in all circumstances, to ensure that the situation of each migrant is processed individually" (amnesty.org).

As a consequence, no matter what Mr Britel's opinions are, the Italian Government should fight to get him back free to Italy.

A petition on the subject is available on petitiononline.com, while on the website giustiziaperkassim.net more informations over the case are available and constantly updated. Act right know to save Mr Britel and Italian democracy all the same.

"Tutti i cittadini hanno pari dignità sociale e sono eguali davanti alla legge, senza distinzione di sesso, di razza, di lingua, di religione, di opinioni politiche, di condizioni personali e sociali." [All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions.] (Italian Constitution, art. 3).