Garibaldi, forgive us.

Leonardo Goi (Italy, AC07-09)

 

 

April’s Italian Elections brought about the re-election of Mr. Berlusconi along with his right-wing Party members who collectively were the only figures eager to uphold the embryonic status quo of the new Italian Political scene. Surprisingly enough, forty-seven seats of the Parliament were gained by the Nationalistic Northern Party (i.e. Lega Nord), confirming the predictions of those who had presumed an opposing radical shift to the right, resulting as a detriment for Mr. Veltroni’s left alliance, the Democratic Party.

What seems to have come into play was that there was the spasmodic need for a party able to give stability to a country seeking internal cohesion and security. Mr. Berlusconi’s alliance was probably the only coalition able to meet these requirements. Yet no-one would have ever expected such a boost of votes by the Nationalist Party, led by Mr. Bossi, an enigmatic figure who had shown in several occasions his radical, independent views, which aimed for a Northern Italy “freed” from Central and Southern influence.

 

Far from being what Italy needs at the moment, these élitarian convictions have always constituted as the premises of Mr. Bossi’s policies. Too often these reforms which were considered erroneously  positive and benign, along with his actions, reflected a somehow pathological need of independence, which is, I believe, peculiar to all Italians, regardless of the background or regions they come from.   

 

It might be out of fear – fear of the loads of immigrants landing daily on the shores of Sicily and the nearby islands – or it might simply constitute to a large-scale attempt to seek the Parliament’s attention and remind Mr. Berlusconi of the fragile alliances his right coalition is based upon. What is certain is that Italy seems to be the prey of a new self-harming Nationalism, which has dramatically widened it bases involving young groups of naïve teenagers and inoculating in them the sense of fear and hatred for foreigners and their diversities.

 

Regardless of its nature, the Nationalistic phenomenon has rapidly become a crucial issue of the new Prime Minister’s era, reaching its apex of notoriety at the end of July. On that occasion, Mr. Bossi stirred up a hornet’s nest by showing during a public ceremony his middle finger, whilst one of the most famous Italian national anthem strophes proclaimed the superiority of Rome above all the other cities and provinces. Condemned unilaterally by all factions and parties, this provocative act was nothing but another proof of this expanding phenomenon. Mr. Berlusconi appears no longer capable of limiting these authoritarianisms of his party extremist members, nor does the President of the Republic show enough strength to step up and firmly condemn such actions.

 

Yet it’s not worth speculating on these complicated matters; views and opinions trying to outline the moral failures of parties or politicians as this would inevitably fail to grasp the essence of the phenomenon. What immediately struck me as I read about this internal crisis is the very reason for an alleged  independence of what is considered to be the healthiest and richest area of Italy. Why should this happen? What brings politicians to such acts?

 

I strongly believe this spasmodic need of independence and federalism has been a constant feature of Italian history. Behind Mr. Bossi’s act lies a wider ache which affects the whole Italian heritage. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire Italy has always been divided into smaller states, until Garibaldi’s messianic mission which unified the whole peninsula in 1861. Yet, in spite of its revolutionary impact,  I have always questioned its long term validity. It seems like it all happened too early, as in a dream interrupted all of a sudden. Maybe Italy was still not ready, maybe Garibaldi and his brave soldiers managed to unify the whole country although politicians and ordinary people were still not ready to assimilate these radical changes. Generation after generation, this pattern was passed down on, and has always been a constant feature of the Italian heritage, as a wound never sealed, which year by year widens endlessly.

 

As long as Italy will not overcome this shock, as long as its internal wounds will not be cured, ignominies such as Mr. Bossi’s act will still be present in the Italian political scene. If Garibaldi lacked a thorough understanding of the country he was unifying, he certainly did not lack the mind and the ideals which would follow his vision. That, his successors never understood.

 

-United World College Student Magazine-

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