Apropos of the histrionic tone towards immigration that Italy’s runoff elections took recently, it’s interesting to take a look at how the issue was approached in Britain 43 years ago by Enoch Powell, the conservative firebrand best remembered for his “rivers of blood” speech. James Walston has a good bit about this up in one of his posts this week, which I again encourage interested readers to peruse.
Older English readers will remember Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of blood” speech in which he used Virgil’s phrase (“the Tiber will flow with blood”) to threaten Britain with the consequences of immigration. It was a racist speech which cost Powell his career; Berlusconi and his supporters are using far more inflammatory language and few seem to mind.
The BBC has a fine documentary presentation up which you may watch in six parts on YouTube.
MTV.it has an interesting series of videos up on the youngest members of the Lega Nord. I saw in the Corriere, mainly because I’d never imagine that MTV in the US would be capable of anything less than totally vapid. Have a look; although the one I watched (Filippo) is filmed in Novara province, the terrain reminded me a lot of the Polesine.
Well, Rachel Donadio has been a busy woman lately, and she’s hitting all the right places. Observing Bossi’s Lega Nord has been one of my preoccupations since a wealthy Amerophile in Parma told me in late 2004 that Italy should ship all its Communists off to North Korea and Cuba. But that’s neither here nor there. Donadio’s piece today is good, informative and clearly designed for the casual outside-of Europe observer — which, of course, is understandable given the audience of the NYT. But I have to take issue with the implication that LN is any kind of rising power. Bossi declared during LN’s first electoral rout in 1996 that they were the ‘new Christian Democrats,’ and many the observer of Yugoslavia’s dissolution in the early 1990s was eager to compare Slovenian and Croatian separatism to Bossi’s. They were wrong, of course — Berlusconi is no Milosevic — but consciousness of the League’s substantial populist power is nothing new. And finally, in 2010, is it really Bossi and his absurdly bearded, myth-aspiring vikings that we need to pay attention to, or is it Fini? As a note to an upcoming post, Bossi’s Po River water hardly has the mythic heft of Napoleon’s coronation with Charlemagne’s crown, which one can reflect on outside in Milan in Monza.) I haven’t read Fini’s new book, but it’s on my list, and although I’m most aware of his origins within MSI, I do grow tired of hearing him referred to as a ‘neo-fascist’ as if he routinely dressed in all black and used a Roman salute. Of course, in some, but my no means all, European countries that would a difficult label to shake off, but it’s not in Italy. But Italy’s level of de-Nazification is a different subject. What is not is that most likely, we are looking at the end of the Berlusca years and thus, the end of an era.