‘Made in Italy’ Right wing: anticipatory and shameful

Brexit in America? Supertrump just did it. Liberal, progressive, identity politics-obsessed America should face it, regroup, and antagonise it. A little soul-searching in the so-called left-wing moderates won’t do any harm either: the antiphon hammered for so long that the class conflict had been superseded, alongside the categories of left and right, has just been dramatically contradicted. The society of spectacle of course played its part.

After all, you cannot bombard an impoverished and neglected section of society with decades of Darwinist trash television (the Apprentice) and not expect a backlash. Hillary Clinton has been consigned to history and this is not too bad either, considering her foreign policy record. Better female politicians will get there, eventually. It is a long journey, but the Suffragettes have shown us the way. The repulsive individual that has just been elected will radicalise the struggle against him and this can only be a good thing. Politics in the good old modern sense has come (back?) to the Usa. Sorry, postmodernism.

Just like Brexit England, US capitalism is retrenching, withdrawing from a global stage it has not enough economic energy or will left for hegemonising or directly command. Such energy has now to be redistributed to make up for the monstrous wealth gap itself has for so long been feeding from. The historic, structural weakness of the radical Left in the so-called post-industrialised and virtualised West and the factual political aphasia of the centre ground-obsessed, moderate Left have created a vacuum where an obscenely rich, greedy, misogynistic white male can connect with the working classes better than a standard representative of the establishment, like Clinton. The fact that she is a woman played undoubtedly a part, but maybe less so than we think.

But there are a few considerations to be made from an Italian perspective. For years Italy, a latecomer in the spoliation perpetrated by imperialist Europe, has been – and still is – considered a sort of Cinderella of the West. A country often admired for its beauty and its former glory as one of the cradles of Renaissance civilisation (despite a gender studies-drenched, identitarian political view disputes this: but for the sake of brevity let us stick to such view) alongside Athens, Paris, Vienna, Berlin (London? Great for trade and industrialisation, but a place that would, sometimes reluctantly, import bourgeois art and ideas instead of producing them, at least until the Sixties).

Italy was forcefully dragged into modernity. Its “backwardness”, due to its belated and sketchy import of the industrial revolution, its lack of cultural and linguistic cohesion, and – luckily, of a rapacious imperialistic instinct to speak of, still haunts it. It is amongst the causes of mafia and extended corruption for instance, and one of the reasons the country was the theatre of the post WWII most intense European class struggle. And it has created a deep-seated sense of inferiority, of which Italians are painfully aware. This is why they are their own most staunch and ruthless critics (until of course someone else criticises, ridicules or stereotypes them). The obsession with being a latecomer, this typically petty-bourgeois complex, has created terrible things, which the rest of the world was all too quick in learning. The malediction of Fascism, for starters: not only as a way to crush a socialist revolution, but also as a desperate and totalitarian attempt to speed up the catching up of rivals, particularly Britain and France. An evergreen and sinisterly resurging beast, it is the most infamous ideological export of ‘Made in Italy’.

Post Berlin wall fall, after Western democracies and the spectacular narration pursued by Friedmanite “centrecentric” neoliberalism had carved up the significance of politics as a force for change and the betterment of all and not only a few (all this with the enthusiastic collaboration of a Suicidal communist party) Italy proudly produced Silvio Berlusconi: a crass, misogynistic, corrupt and fundamentally petty-bourgeois illicitly enriched man who has squatted democracy thanks to his media control and left an indelible mark on the rest of the world: in a nutshell, a proto-Trump.

For years Italians have been looked at with condescension and a dash of scorn by the “international community” precisely for this reason (and the mafia, of course). But surely now it’s time to better focus onto this and reconsider. For reasons that surely deserve investigation, Italy seems to have the uncanny ability to forebode and resolve the developmental meanders, contradictions and dilemmas of postmodern capitalism. Only, in the worst possible way. For once, the world superpower in the idolatry of which all Italian ruling classes have been brought up is catching up. A record hardly to be proud of.

(il manifesto global, 10/11/16)


Autore: leonardo clausi

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4 pensieri riguardo “‘Made in Italy’ Right wing: anticipatory and shameful”

  1. I agree with most of what you say, dear friend. But I would caution against conflating identity politics with what surely must by now be considered human needs, even before they are rights, in any contemporary social arrangement. To be able to freely access health care (such as abortion) without reprimand. To be able to have consensual sex with other adults without being arrested. To be able to seek justice if a policeman attacks you, or refuses to investigate the death of your child, regardless of your skin colour. Do you know what I mean? We need to talk about this! People have often fought for a kind of equality that included class struggle. But were in the end, after much loss and pain, left to settle for smaller, fragmented ‘victories’. These are not to be derided as smoke-screens even if, in the grand material scheme of things, most conflicts are hardly resolved by these small steps. Indeed we are furiously walking backwards, not just because identity politics or progressive ideals are ‘besides the point’, but also because people are recalcitrant to give up any territory in their dominion, regardless. With the reinvention of fascist anti-establishment rhetoric, life in re-modern global capitalism will be insufferable for yet more of all those human beings that deviate from the white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle-class standard. I’d love to think this will spark broader-base revolutions anew. But alas, I think it’s each for themselves and their own instead. Bridges take more human efforts than walls.

    "Mi piace"

    1. All points taken, Sara. Of course we have to hold – and possibly extend – any conquered ground on all these fronts. But civil rights Over Here are all based on the persistence of inconceivable pain and suffering Out There. We call them “civil” because they are based on an institutional (therefore pre-political) arrangement of the very same material inequality on which our idea of state itself is based. If we don’t recognise this and measure it up against our will to effectively do something about it, we end up barking at the moon like the liberal elites on the day after the American election.

      "Mi piace"

      1. I am not sure I agree, perhaps because I do not think of these as civil rights, or as great examples of social progress of the Western world, complete with moving testimonies, tears, banners and memorialisation. But I think it is too much of a stretch to see people’s struggles for (social and political) survival as pivoted on exploitation and domination because they have taken shape in the context of a social order which, in itself, is. I think these struggles are born out of the demand that what is possible (say, a medical procedure) or what is spontaneously occurring in human life (say, sex) should be possible for all, rather than only for some. I fully agree that these ‘concessions’ have been made because, ultimately, they do not trouble the status quo. But in my view the relationship between the intention and the outcome is not linear enough to be able to just work our analysis backwards from the latter to the former.

        "Mi piace"

  2. ok, maybe it isn’t. but I think it remains a fact that liberal democracies have deliberately recurred to the good old carrot and stick here: the “magnanimous” concession of civil rights to better offset the constant curbing, if not complete withdrawal, of social ones. it is patently clear and I feel a modicum of irritation every time I see liberal tears being shed whenever this not-so-subtle mechanism is put into question by its intrinsic contradictions. instead of yet again falling prey to false consciousness – the dismay of the so called “social society” a case in point here – I’d rather try focussing on the uncomfortable notion of equality: rather uncomplicated, as it already contains anything we need.

    "Mi piace"


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