by Jo Red for the Saker blog
The Drama of Italian Politics
Frodo is indeed the most tragic character in the Lord of the Rings. He belongs to the shire and goodness. Yet he’s also got curiosity and adventurousness that are unusual for Hobbits, even if still not enough to subvert his life. Finally, the occasion comes, and the harmony is broken: Frodo must bear the burden of the ring straight through the desolation of Mordor.
Giorgia Meloni knows the story by heart. She even used to dress up as a Hobbit and write fiction inspired by the LotR. The summer schools of the right-wing youth movement she belonged to and led for a time were called “Hobbit camps”. The older generations of MSI leaders, more inspired by Julius Evola and even outright Fascism, frowned on such divertissements. They didn’t consider them serious enough for their mission. Yet Giorgia and the others in the new generation must have perceived that the Middle Earth is much more dramatic than most non-fiction. Tolkien was an orphan, raised by a priest: a conservative Catholic, he fought at the bloody Somme front in WWI and fathered four sons, among whom another Catholic priest. He was certainly a spiritual and serious person, as it transpires from the work he put his soul and legacy into, and openly devoted to the Holy Virgin. No fairy tale, the LtR conveys the cosmic and psychological features of the battle between good and evil. It stresses the nuances and ambiguities of the frontiers between them while emphasizing the need for watchfulness and militancy. In the era of the draught of principles, spirit, and values, Giorgia was obviously receptive to such messages, as were countless others in her generation.
Like the LotR, Italian politics is no comforting fairy tale since at least the times of Machiavelli. Rino Formica, a prominent member of the Italian Socialist Party, provided an icastic, curt definition of politics as “blood and shit”. Once at the center of the formidable Roman Empire, Italy has since been the lot for the powerhouses of the moment, often more than one at a time. Internally fragmented, and internationally divided, its boundless pride collides with the paradox of being an object of both contempt and envy, and produces immense frustration and countless dissonances within itself and for its external observers. Perhaps nothing expresses it better than the magnificent irrelevance, the burgeoning decadence of Rome and the Vatican. Prone to believe all the “conspiracy theories” history is made of, as they have been involved in most one way or another, Italians retain nonetheless a distinct, Catholic sense for an almost liturgical public façade. These attritions have of course given way to many sparks and some explosions: the hegemonic wars of European powers on Italian soil in the XVI century – Henry Camen’s “Iron Century”; the unification civil war that is remembered as the Risorgimento, and historian Denis Mack Smith more soberly described as “nothing but an episode of the British Empire”; then the ambivalent explosion in WWI; the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty that dealt with Italy as if it were a loser despite its having sided with the winners – a sort of double betrayal; Fascism and colonialism; the univocal explosion of WWII; defeat, irrelevance, and 80 years of occupation and domination by the Anglos with occasional intermittences as a Great Power.
The last of such moments of clarity manifested in these very days, about 40 years ago.
Greetings from a Sunny Colony
In the early morning of October 11, 1985, quite a show went on at the Naval Air Station of Sigonella, Sicily. Three circles of military, Italian, American, and again Italian, surrounded each other and pointed guns.
Two men from a radical branch of the Palestinian Liberation Organization had hijacked the Italian Achille Lauro ship and cruelly murdered an innocent Jewish-American passenger, Leon Klinghoffer. After having been permitted to reach Egypt by negotiators who were unaware of their crime while onboard, they tried to escape to Tunisia, the then seat of the PLO, but their plane had been intercepted by American Tomcats.
It is at this point that Americans directed the plane toward their closest military basis. The Italians, however, had been alerted and instructed to seize the hijackers, as the two men had perpetrated their crimes on Italian territory, and PM Bettino Craxi intended to take control over the issue despite American encroachments. When the Americans tried to sneak into the part of the basis they directly controlled, the first circle of Italian Aerial Military Vigilance surrounded them, only to be surrounded in turn by a Delta Force commando. But from the base, a larger brigade of Carabinieri, Italy’s military police, once again encircled the Delta. The standoff was tense, and the American diplomats and politicians eventually understood that Italy for once was determined to be treated with dignity. Finally, someone told to shut up to Michael Ledeen, the Neocon warmonger who had studied in Rome, was hanging around without the semblance of any officiality among the Reagan administration, and insisted to hold the talks with Italy’s PM, which of course infuriated Craxi. Nowadays, Ledeen is more known for his criminal and bullish “doctrine” recommending the US executes some defenseless Third World country on the world stage, every ten years or so, as a display of its “greatness”.
Anyway, just as furious was Ronald Reagan, who didn’t want to interact with Craxi directly. While I’m no admirer of Craxi, the man had his qualities. Corrupt and famous for sleeping with all the appealing actresses of public and private TV, including the first ones employed in adult shows, Craxi was also stubbornly nationalistic. He bragged about Italy’s GDP surpassing the UK’s. He would later save Ghaddafi from the Eldorado Canyon missile strike (Ghaddafi was himself a creature of Italy’s neocolonialism, supposedly vested with his mission at a meeting with Italy’s intelligence at the Abano Terme SPA). He would even burn some clock by endorsing Ben Ali’s succession to Bourguiba in Tunisia, while the French were still sorting out their own candidate.
And even in Sigonella, Craxi had it his way. Reagan had to leave the hijackers in Italian hands, and Italy used them to open channels with the PLO and the Arab world. Most importantly, it did not tolerate the violation of its sovereignty and its rights under international law.
Like Machiavelli’s writings and life, this story of course has no happy ending. Already in 1987, Craxi had to resign as the ultra-orthodox Christian Democrat (and Atlanticist) Ciriaco De Mita pulled the plug on his government. And just the following year, De Mita happily welcomed 72 US Air Force F-16 that had been pushed away by Spain. In the early ‘90s, Craxi was under accusation of corruption amidst Mani Pulite, an investigation that is rumored to have been directed by the CIA. Craxi had to go into exile under Ben Ali’s protection in Hammamet, Tunisia. And there he died in 2000, at the relatively young age of 66. As we know, Ben Ali was later ousted in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring”. Bottom line: no act of self-respect is tolerated in a colony.
Craxi was an ambiguous, Machiavellian politician. However, I could as well tell the story of the idealistic Enrico Mattei, still famous for his “Mattei’s model” which is approvingly cited by Meloni. Mattei set up Italy’s ENI, the country’s oil and energy giant, on the premise that source countries would be left with 75% of the revenues. Of course, it did not last long. Not because of the Third World partners, who were enthusiastic. But “coincidentally” Mattei was killed in a plane accident in 1962.
And so goes the story of Aldo Moro, the first Christian Democrat leader who tried to approach the pro-Moscow Communist Party and include them in government. Once again “coincidentally”, Moro became also the first Italian PM to be kidnapped and murdered by terrorists on May 9, 1978. His wife recounts that Moro had been contacted by no one else than Henry Kissinger, who told him on the phone his attempts at collaborating with all political forces would provoke “grave consequences”. Unsurprisingly, Kissinger denies the accusation.
Giorgia at Sauron’s Court
To my astonishment, these stories are rarely recalled while drawing perspectives on Italian politics. They are even more unanimously ignored by foreign reporters, of course. With few exceptions: as an Italian, it was a relief to read Pepe Escobar’s analysis of the situation of my country. No longer Bella Vita, really. So, a pro-Russian blog reposts a story that reveals my own country much more deeply than the condescending lectures we get daily from the Anglo-Americans, unashamed to flaunt their ignorance of the basics of Italian society before its very protagonists. I’m thinking about Alan Friedman, Rula Gebreal, and the like, but really, there’s no scarcity of “professionals” to submit incredibly shallow, politically correct, uninformed “reports” as an excuse to eat some real pizza.
Still, I’d add some points to Pepe’s excellent account.
The history I have recalled so far should suffice to realize that no one can fancy any real power in Italy without US permission. In more recent times, Berlusconi tried to act as a Craxi 2.0 in soft mode: he was indeed Craxi’s protegee and one of his admirers. Even nowadays, he talks about the meeting at Pratica di Mare as the true end of the Cold War. Yet when Putin broke with the West, and Berlusconi became an obstacle to removing Ghaddafi, NATO switched the light off in no time. As Pepe says, the President of the Republic, the unelected “monarch” who commands Italy’s army forces, is the de facto guarantor of US and NATO interests in our political system. His 7-year-long mandate has even been extended by the two last ones, and no one complained of violating “democracy”, of course, in their cases. At the time Berlusconi was at the height of his power in Italian politics: he controlled television channels, AC Milan, was the unchallenged leader of a unified center-right party, and very easily crushed any internal dissent (ask Gianfranco Fini and Dino Boffo, whose private life was desecrated by newspapers right after they voiced criticism of Berlusconi). Yet a timid attempt at preserving a minimum of international independence was enough for his undoing. It is said that Salvini too was approaching Putin too closely when his government was brought to an end in the summer of 2019. And it is again an interesting “coincidence” that Biden’s settlement at the White House ushered in Draghi’s government in the place of Trump’s friend “Giuseppi” Conte (despite desperate, shameless attempts by this latter to flatter Biden equally).
So Giorgia would not last a day if she were to take any stance on Ukraine, except for unconditional obedience. Is she feigning? After all, Orbán managed to put to good use even a fellowship from Soros’ Open Society Foundation. But I believe Giorgia is sincere. She is usually consistent, and this played a big part in her being preferred in the vote. She never seemed to take an opportunistic turn in her career: neither when she started from a post-fascist party, nor when she left Berlusconi’s right-wing Leviathan to create a party of her own.
Yet until recently, she defended Russia and Putting’s actions, even concerning Crimea. What is she doing now, then? I believe she has somewhat changed her mind. Like other leaders and ordinary citizens, she could not retain her pro-Russian inclinations in face of the Special Military Operation. These developments were sold unanimously as an aggression by the stronger against the weaker in Italy’s political and cultural sphere, and I think she bought into at least part of the story – which of course I know to be flawed. Her foreign policy coordinatorTerzi Sant’Agata and other Zio-Atlanticists’ company, as Pepe notices, opened many doors, but do not help in this respect. Furthermore, the fear of the Russian bear reawoke anti-Soviet and anti-Communist militancy in many spokespersons of the Italian right. They believe they have resumed siding with the people of Prague, Budapest, and now Kiev, against a materialistic, brutal oppressor. These facilitate their denial of the plain fact that the devastator of values is the Empire of the Collective West, while Russia is defending and preserving them more than any other.
Also, of course, there’s the appeal of power. In her long march from 2 and 4% to the gates of government – more or less like the path toward the Gates of Mordor – Giorgia must have become, more or less consciously, seduced by the lure of the dream coming true. She, the girl from the poor Roman suburb of Garbatella, the daughter of a single mother, the waitress at the Piper club, now becoming the first female PM in the history of Italy!
So, what will happen to her? Like with Frodo, I’m mostly concerned with her person. I have watched countless interviews of hers, including in informal settings – when she was asked about her pregnancy in 2016, for instance. I believe her to be a decent person, or at least not to be as evil and cynical as the average politician. I also believe her to be bright, prudent, and strong-willed. Yet in politics as in life, the distinction good-evil is more complex than in fairy tales and Hollywood movies, as exemplified by the havoc these latter and the simplistic narrative of the “Axis of Evil” brought on the masses worldwide.
As the great Solzhenitsyn has it:
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
The reality – or I should say the tragedy – of politics is much more resemblant to the epic yet shadowy universe of Tolkien. And the battle in Giorgia’s heart has begun already before the election. Torn between “governists” and “movementists”, between appeals to VOX and to Orbán on the one hand, and the institutional responsibility of carrying on Draghi’s iron-cage agreement with the EU on the other, Giorgia has lost some supporters on both sides. Her victory was announced, but she did not triumph, and people are protesting even before she presents her government. Berlusconi and Salvini ask to be influential, and so do their parties, the President imposes his constraints, and so certainly do the US and NATO. Giorgia has been appearing in public less in recent days, and she lamented many sleepless nights. The dream of the clean girl finally sitting on the throne could quite easily turn into a nightmare.
The same people who voted for her are mostly contrary to sanctions, as are the majority of Italians, and many – like me – are even pro-Russian. Her party’s representatives replied that this proves that their stance is principled and not out of political convenience, but of course, this defiance does not solve the serious political contradiction. As the EU revealed that the promises of massive financial support contained in the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PNRR) will be kept if and only if the government progresses on the LGBTQ+ agenda they have discretely agreed on with Draghi, Giorgia’s party protested. Yet if they resist this, there will be many other “irresistible offers” and compromises later.
I have voted for them as the anti-system parties, including some Russophiles, were unable to reach the 3% threshold and enter Parliament. This was mostly due to their fragmentation, as together they counted some 5% of the ballots, and to the cunning of Draghi’s government, who scheduled September elections for the first time in history to reduce the time for the opposition to organize. They also held the vote right before the utility bills raise exponentially, which will double the support for pacifists and pro-Russians.
From within the government, Brothers of Italy will exert the highest possible resistance against the corruptive, destructive, enslaving attempts by Anglo-American and EU neoliberal oligarchy at spreading anti-sexual LGBTQ+ propaganda and legislation, marijuana, euthanasia, careless abortions, and their other poisonous policies. As Putin recently recalled, Opium Wars are classic imperialism.
And in terms of foreign policy, Giorgia will side with the EU countries who are forced into a corner by the Franch-German axis. She will also pursue some of her anti-colonial and especially anti-French ideas, as she denounced Paris’s African policy as a major factor in humanitarian disasters, and resisted ignoble attempts at selling out Italy’s sovereignty and resources. The most shameful of these is the treasonous “treaty of Caen” with which former PM Paolo Gentiloni graciously tried to present France with a large portion of Italian sea. In exchange for what? One can only speculate, while Gentiloni has made a stellar career as the EU’s commissioner for economy and finance (thanks to French votes, obviously). Draghi confirmed the homage to Macron, as did his and Gentiloni’s whole faction of politicians, in reverence to their transalpine masters. Still, they did not dare present the “treaty” before the Italian parliament to be approved- as it risked rejection even before Giorgia’s became the main party. In the meanwhile, France is already acting as if it were valid, so to establish a legal base as unchallenged custom…
Meloni has been vocally critical of all this, as she has been of servitude to EU powers in general, of the CFA franc reins on African economies, of the welcoming of desperate migrants as a workforce to be exploited and to substitute for Italy’s declining population – something that is demographically absurd. Yet to have a chance of ruling, she had to compromise one thing, only a little thing, apparently a detail of foreign policy, something every other European state is also doing without even questioning…
Of course, she did not do so in a fully conscious way, or at least that would surprise me. Everyone around her is telling her it’s the right thing to do. Even the Pope condemns Russia’s “aggression” and “blesses” the weapons sent to Ukraine. Salvini and Berlusconi are reluctant, but they profess Atlanticism to avoid the mediatic inquisition and painful dossiers potentially popping out from the rooms of the secret services. So, it seemed only natural to concede… And do what “everyone” (but her voters!) sanctions as “right”.
In personal terms, Giorgia is much more similar to Putin than to her newly found NATO groomers. Grown up in a modest family, abandoned by her father at the age of one – he was later arrested for drug trafficking in Spain – Giorgia fought all her life while preserving her Christian values. She does not exhibit rosaries, icons, and crosses: in this, she differs starkly from Salvini. And while she is not as debauched as Berlusconi, she is no strict nun either. She is not married; her partner is much more liberal than her. Yet she invites representatives of her party to embrace a sober lifestyle. Only a few hours ago, she declared “we are no monsters nor populists: we are realists” at VOX’s convention, where she intervened together with Trump, Orbán and Morawiecki.
This resonates interestingly with Pope Benedict XVI’s (appreciative) assessment of Putin in his book Final Conversations:
“Our meeting (Benedict XVI and Putin’s) was interesting. We spoke in German, and he knows it perfectly. We did not undertake deep discussions, but I believe that he – while a powerful man – is touched by the necessity of faith. He is a realist. He sees that Russia suffers the destruction of morality. Also as a patriot, as a person who wants to bring it back to its role of great power, he understands that the destruction of Christianity threatens to destroy it as well. He is aware that man needs God, and certainly, he is intimately touched by Him. Even now, when he presented Pope Francis with an icon, he first crossed himself and kissed it.”
Meloni and Putin are both believers who do not parade religion – Putin decried requests for a “spiritual streap-tease” – but at the same time, they realize it cannot be dissociated from politics either. Hence their closeness on the territory of morals. A comparison between Giorgia’s trademark speech and the part of Putin’s programmatic speech Andrei judges the most important and radical (the one including the denunciation of Western Satanism) is striking:
Giorgia: “Why is the family an enemy?… Because it is our identity… so they attack national identity, they attack religious identity, they attack gender identity, they attack family identity. I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother. No. I must be citizen x, gender x, parent 1, parent 2. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators. The perfect consumer…. We want to defend the value of the human being. Every single human being, because each of us has a unique genetic code that is unrepeatable. And like it or not, that is sacred. We will defend it. We will defend God, country and family… Because we will never be slaves and simple consumers at the mercy of financial speculators… I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian, you won’t take it from me.” (English translation by Mercatornet).
Putin: “Let me repeat that the dictatorship of the Western elites targets all societies, including the citizens of Western countries themselves. This is a challenge to all. This complete renunciation of what it means to be human, the overthrow of faith and traditional values, and the suppression of freedom are coming to resemble a “religion in reverse” – pure Satanism… Let’s answer some very simple questions for ourselves. Now I would like to return to what I said and want to address also all citizens of the country – not just the colleagues that are in the hall – but all citizens of Russia: do we want to have here, in our country, in Russia, “parent number one, parent number two and parent number three” (they have completely lost it!) instead of mother and father? Do we want our schools to impose on our children, from their earliest days in school, perversions that lead to degradation and extinction? Do we want to drum into their heads the ideas that certain other genders exist along with women and men and to offer them gender reassignment surgery? Is that what we want for our country and our children? This is all unacceptable to us. We have a different future of our own.”
How could two so like-minded people end up not only on opposing sides, but actively waging war against each other? Especially in the deadly political environment created by the Western Empire, where the Resistance, the defenders of such simple truths – men and women… – are persecuted into supporting each other?
People familiar with European politics will immediately notice that this is not the first context where such a question is raised. It is the same situation as Poland. And Meloni is a friend, almost a twin to Poland’s ruling party, even if she held on to pro-Russian positions until the Special Military Operation was launched. The explanations for these paradoxes are simple – in the case of Poland, it is a centuries-long history. But I will sketch some.
First of all, both are artificial conditions that are shaped and directed by the Empire, particularly the US, NATO, and the EU, to divide and rule their opponents. Everyone can understand that if you lose Poland, you also lose the Baltics and, sooner or later, the whole Visegrád 4. So US motivations to keep the centuries-long hatred going are high. In the case of Italy, there is a strong Russophile tradition – reciprocated by a very warm Russian friendship – and once again, a turn toward the Russian sphere would leave the West in worse conditions than during the Cold War (while a Polish conversion would almost mean the reconstitution of the Warsaw pact). As I explained, they literally killed people over decades to avoid such a scenario.
So, the motivation is all there. What are the means? Mostly, an exploitation of misunderstandings. The main divide between Russia and Poland – less so in the case of Italy – is the religious one. But the Catholic-Orthodox confrontation is, I would claim, anachronistic, especially in political terms. No sane Catholic would ask for an act of submission from the Orthodox, nor for them to renounce their jurisdiction. Theological differences are another matter, but do they justify such hatred?
Besides these historical and ideological clashes and very interested and substantial fanning of the fire by the West, the answer is probably that there is no answer beyond habit and convenience: at least, not any that be relatively as strong as to explain such outright contradictions. The conflicts are entirely artificial and absurd.
The West openly despises Giorgia’s and Poland’s convictions. Yet they tolerate them very gladly as long as these perform their role of anti-Russian fanatics. This is unsurprising, as the West is a-moral, even more, and even worse, than immoral. They do not have an opposing morality: the fact is, morality does not exist for them, they have the reverse of morality. They would pay and encourage conservative Catholics, as they did with Isis and the Wahabi Muslims of Saudi Arabia, as long as this serves their craving for power. That’s their only “religion”. As Putin put it: pure Satanism. In fact, New York-based Federico Rampini is openly suggesting to Giorgia: “follow the Polish example”. Italy, like Poland, risks mistaking masochism for courage, and rejoicing under their masters’ lashes for the occasion to “punish Russia”.
Collaborating with such “friends” imposes the burden of several contradictions. In the case of Poland, these are blatant as, despite their troublesome history, the two nations are Slavic brothers. More than one century ago, Rosa Luxemburg wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the economic unsustainability of the divide between Poland and Russia. I would still expect that the Polish had an easier job, as their population is not declining as quickly as Italy, their economy is growing, and they are not burdened by the crippled political system that was imposed on Italy after its defeat in WWII. In fact, reform for a decent version of presidentialism is one of the crucial objectives for Giorgia.
Yet in her case, the three contradictions are the following:
- Between Brothers or Italy and their electorate, as I have already mentioned. The Parliamentarian majority is at odds with the majority in the country, as well as in their own electorate, who is against sending weapons to Ukraine. This is the electoral contradiction.
- Between Italy’s national interest, that Giorgia declares to be the only compass of her politics, and Atlanticism. Everyone can understand that waiting for LNG to arrive across the Atlantic and supporting the Americans who occupy and despise us instead of the Russians who admire us and would liberate us is a contradiction in convenience and Realpolitik.
- More deeply, as I explained, an ideological contradiction, a contradiction of values. There is no way one can make sense of fighting against Brussels’ neoliberal LGBTQ+ climate radicalism while waging war against Russian defenders of Christianity, religion, reason, and common sense.
Here Giorgia’s adventure seems to risk ending in tragedy at the very moment it was ending in triumph. Giorgia carried the ring to be destroyed – the imperial nihilistic oppression she rejects so vocally in her speech. But then she falls victim to its enthrallment at the very moment she decides to use it to realize her dream of leading her country.
In the Christian worldview, there is no axis of evil, but only the original sin that cripples all equally, until we are rescued by virtue and grace. Humans, including Giorgia Meloni, are all fallible, contradictory, and complex, no less than the LotR’s Frodo. The question is, who will be her Gollum, her Sam, and her Gandalf, if any?