May 29, 2018
There’s a lot of context that goes into any discussion of Italy and because few Italians speak English or consume English media, there is a veritable drought of information surrounding the recent parliamentary upheavals in the country.
But, basically, what we’re seeing in Italy is a complete and total political realignment of the kind that we thought that Brexit and Trump’s election would get us in the Anglosphere.
Similarly, it seems that things aren’t going smoothly in Italy either. Some background.
Sesto San Giovanni used to be known as ‘the Italian Stalingrad’, due to the strength of its working class and the Communist Party receiving over 50 percent of the vote. Now the strongest party in town is the Lega (The League), a right wing, xenophobic party. This has been accompanied by a demographic shift, as Sesto has lost almost one third of its population, but acquired tens of thousands of immigrants, which today constitute almost 20 percent of its population.
The Italian Communist Party, once the strongest in the capitalist world, has in the meantime disappeared, together with the working class. There is also the destitution of a dwindling middle class accompanying the breakdown of the social fabric with rampant corruption. All the traditional political parties have been wiped away.
They have been replaced by the so-called ‘populists’: The Lega and the 5 Star Movement, undisputed winners of the latest elections in March, who are now in the process of trying to form a new government. The Lega expresses the frustrations of the north of Italy that is still productive (fashion, services and some high quality products), and demands lower taxes, as Italian taxes are among the highest in Europe. They also want a parallel national currency, a reduction in circulation of the Euro (which slows down exports, especially to Germany) and limits to immigration.
The 5 Star Movement, which is partly considered to be the heir of the former Communist Party but with a different social base consisting of an undifferentiated lower class replacing the disappearing working class. It advocates a moralization of the political parties and a universal basic income of 750 euros per month ($875) for the poorest to reduce the effects of the social disaster which took place in the south of the country in the last 10 years: 20 percent unemployment, affecting 40 percent of young people, making the mafia and organized crime the biggest ‘employers’ in the most critical southern regions.
This is the new Italy. The old one, the Italy of Fiat, Cassina, small family-run businesses, the Italy of the Christian Democrats, the Communist Party and vibrant working-class culture is no more.
Ah, old Italy will be missed.
Fuck I want to live in Italy so bad. Warm weather, dusky chicks and a culture of lazing around doing absolutely nothing, and not feeling guilty about it.
If they got rid of the niggers and Arabs and Mafia, I would immediately move there, because – and I’ve thought long and hard about this – I’ve got the Apollonian soul deep within me.
So now we have a little bit of background.
Meanwhile, the Establishment in Italy is throwing spokes into the wheels of the populist rebellion in Italy. The would-be government led by Conte has collapsed because the old Italian President has decided to be a stick in the mud.
The leaders of Italy’s two main populist parties appeared to be throwing down a gauntlet at Europe last week, forming an anti-establishment government that they imagined would act on their staunchly anti-Brussels agenda.
But on Sunday, Italian President Sergio Mattarella picked that gauntlet up and delivered his own challenge.
Mattarella, who holds rarely used veto power over cabinet ministers, blocked the appointment of 81-year-old Paolo Savona as finance minister, citing Savona’s long-held opposition to the euro. Neither of the two parties forming Italy’s coalition government — the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the ultranationalist League — had campaigned on exiting the single currency, and Mattarella suggested he was acting in the country’s interests by vetoing Savona.
“The adhesion to the euro is a choice of fundamental importance for the perspectives of our country and our youth,” he said. “If you want to talk about it, we need to do it openly and with a serious, in-depth analysis.”
But the populists offered no alternative replacement, and their would-be government has quickly collapsed. Giuseppe Conte, the inexperienced academic tapped to become prime minister, gave up his mandate on Sunday. Mattarella then asked Carlo Cottarelli, a former official at the International Monetary Fund, to lead a technocratic caretaker government while a new election is arranged.
So instead of getting the government that the Italians expected, they’re getting another IMF stooge instead.
This is unacceptable.
There will probably be mass protests in Italy soon.
As Cottarelli labored in an office allocated to him by the Rome parliament, Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio fired broadsides against the president, setting the tone for a virulent campaign. He called for a demonstration in Rome on June 2, a holiday marking the birth of Italy’s post-World War II republic.
“I call on citizens to mobilize, make yourselves heard,” Di Maio said in a Facebook video. Di Maio said he’d hung the Italian flag from the windows of Five Star’s parliamentary offices and urged supporters to do the same.
He was echoed by League head Matteo Salvini, who also called for protests in the country’s piazzas over the weekend.
So the two main populist parties are basically saying, “let’s burn this mothafucka down.”
In other words, this is going to be an intense weekend.
The Italian establishment is not pleased.
Andrea Marcucci, the Senate leader for Italy’s Democratic Party, likened the populists’ plans to Benito Mussolini’s 1922 mass demonstration in Rome, which led to the Fascist dictator’s ascent to power.
“Di Maio and Salvini have thrown down their mask — they even want to reenact the March on Rome,” Marcucci said on Facebook.
Fingers crossed that SHTF this weekend in Italy and a new Fascist government is in place by Monday.