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The Say of the Week – from a fascist May 28, 2008

Posted by dorigo in literature, news, politics.
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Live as if you should die tomorrow. Think as if you should never die.

(Giorgio Almirante)

Giorgio Almirante, a militant fascist before WWII and then a leader of MSI, the party which collected the nostalgics of Mussolini’s movement, died in May 1988 at the age of 74 years. He was always faithful to his fascist roots. Because of that, the proposal of Gianni Alemanno (now major of Rome and a member of the party which originated from MSI’s ashes, Alleanza Nazionale) to name a street after Almirante is causing a fierce debate in Italy these days.

Should Italy forgive the bad Almirante of the early days, and celebrate the late years of a consumed politician ? Emanuele Fiano, a congressman member of the Democratic Party, so commented the issue today in the italian parliament: “I saw posters in Milano according to which italians should be proud of Almirante, and remember him. I thank who had the idea to dedicate a street to Giorgio Almirante to not forget. In fact, we will never forget him“.

Fiano was alluding to a few sentences he had just read out loud, written by Almirante in 1942 as a vice-director of the magazine “The defence of the race“, which during the early forties tried to diffuse in Italy the nazist creed. In one of these, Almirante is quoted as saying “Racism is the broadest and most courageous attempt Italy ever tried at a recognition of its identity“, and in another he expressed the need to “stop the jews and the half-cast“.

Should Italy forgive the early mistakes of Almirante, and name a street after him ? I am with Shakespeare (in the speech by Marc Anthony, in Julius Caesar) on this one: “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones“. So let it be with Almirante.

Comments

1. goffredo - May 28, 2008

Hi Tommaso
it is me of course (di corsa).

It is tricky, in Italy, to react properly to the project to name a street after Almirante. In Italy there is a Via Stalin in Raffado (Agrigento, Sicily). Nobody seems to be offended by the use of his name. And there are at least a dozen or more Via Lenin spread out over Italy. To this day there are people that think Lenin is cool and explicitly refer to him for political inspiration. In the train station of Padova there are young leninist activists that distribute handouts. They wear shirts and ties! I asked them why they wear them and the reply was that Lenin did! What a crazy country. Almirante was full of crap and I don’t think he deserves his name to name a street. But I find it absolutely and not only relatively more embarassing that everyone puts up with this Leninist-Stalinist bloody crap (bloody in the sense of the red body fluid that runs in all our viens).

2. Amara - May 28, 2008

The Baltic people will need decades to erase the millions of reminders of Stalin and Lenin, but they succeeded in about 1990 to reclaim their street names back to their pre-occupation times. For example, in Riga, Latvija:

Lenina iela (street) –> Brivibas (Freedom) bulvaris (boulevard)
Gorkija iela –> Kr. Valdemara iela
Kirova iela –> Elizabetes iela
K. Marks iela –> Gertudes iela
F. Engels iela –> Stabu iela
Sarkanarmija iela –>Bruninieku iela
Revolucijas iela –> Matisa iela
Komjaunes _-> 11 Novembra
Kommunaru bulvaris –> Kalpaka bulvaris

It might seem insignificant now, but at that time in the late 1980s/early 1990s, it was an important symbolism to help them have courage to formally declare their independence in 1991. As a child of a Baltic refugee, I have a difficult time understanding anyone who would _want_ to change a street name to honor of a fascist or communist!

The Baltics, on the way to Independence:
http://www.amara.com/Independence/LestWeForget.html

3. dorigo - May 28, 2008

Granted, Jeff. However, next time I’ll ask your opinion on something, I will give you two boxes, with a “Yes” and “No” marked next to each. By agreeing on something and then saying there are worse things here and there one makes little or no progress…

In this particular case, however, I agree (see, you start sweet and end bitter, I start bitter and end sweet). Italy is a funny country and decisions on local matters such as naming streets have of course been taken by locals, and thus subjected to weird fluctuations in their sanity. So let it be with Rome ?

Cheers,
T.

4. dorigo - May 28, 2008

Hi Amara,

I’ll read your link tonight… I was about to say one day you’ll tell me the story of your father, but maybe it is there already ?!

Cheers,
T.

5. Amara - May 28, 2008

Dear Tommaso, No, I don’t have the story of my father online. Many pages of electronic notes exists in my hands though.

A better perspective is of the two Graps brothers (my dad and his older brother) separated by WWII and 43 years. One, who made it to the US (my dad), and one, who was sent to Siberia (my uncle), miraculously surviving, saved by his music (that’s the most interesting part), and allowed to return to the Baltics, to build the rest of his life behind the Iron Curtain. After 43 years of not seeing each other (many of those years they didn’t know if the other was alive), both men were reunited in 1988. It’s a remarkable story.

A dated web page with some old photographs of my uncle and my father are here: http://www.amara.com/aboutme/latmusic.html

6. iourique - May 29, 2008

Goffredo, Amara, i would be careful using the words communism and fascism in the same breath. True, the practical applications of the former are if anything worse than that of the latter but one needs some experience with communism to really tell as there’s nothing so fundamentally rotten about the idea. So I would be easier on people still seduced by it…

7. goffredo - May 29, 2008

Iourique
I see you are deeply confused about human nature and history. You are of course free to attempt to argue that communism isn’t really bad but it is just drawn that way, or that true communism is a good idea and that all real examples went sour because of this or that secondary cause. But then I am of course free to think that you are not even trying to be objective.

Regards ability to “seduce” you should read more and better about the rise of Nazism and Fascism. If you do that then one day you just might realize how wrong and superficial you seem in mentioning that the ability to seduce is a good measure of intrinsic quality.

8. Amara - May 29, 2008

Lourique: I admit that it was an eye-opener for me during the years I lived in Italy to see communism alive; a shade of communism different from what my father experienced, but at the base, the principles were/are not very different. I find it easy to mix the two because the Baltics experienced both when Hitler and Stalin were first colleagues and then enemies and played it out in that part of the world.

There is a notable book written in the 1930s: F.A. Hayek: The Road to Serfdom that explains philosophically how each are one side of the same coin. It’s a remarkable book in that it is still relevant today and I refer to it often to see how the US is marching surely towards The Total State, as Stalin and Hitler and Mussolini and others already demonstrated many decades ago. History repeating, once again.

9. iourique - May 29, 2008

Goffredo, please, i can be wrong, superficial and deeply confused but you apparently don’t know how to read, ’cause you argue against the points i’ve never made.

Amara, yes, communism and fascism are well intertwined, although i’m not sure they really have the same roots… but i don’t know the subject well enough to argue. All i was trying to say is that i can imagine a decent person who happens to be a communist (even seen them) but have difficulty believing that a decent person can be a fascist.

10. rationalpsychic - May 29, 2008

“Forget, forget, forget…” this impulse only works when Dr. Spock is trying to help Capt. Kirk forget some ‘bad alien chick’ trauma on a 60’s sci-fi show. In real life, we’ve got to remember those who would have buried us and danced on the grave.

11. goffredo - May 30, 2008

Iourique wrote
“True, the practical applications of the former [communism] are if anything worse than that of the latter [fascism] but one needs some experience with communism to really tell as there’s nothing so fundamentally rotten about the idea. So I would be easier on people still seduced by it…”

12. iourique - May 30, 2008

Goffredo, and where exactly was i “mentioning that the ability to seduce is a good measure of intrinsic quality”? Just wondering.

13. goffredo - May 30, 2008

Iourique. You didn’t say it explicitly, but you do suggest that only with experience does one realize that there is “nothing so fundamentally rotten about” communism. And then you do suggest that we should be “easier on people” that seduced by communism.

Now experience really DOES show that communism is tragically deadly AND experience with history shows that people have been seduced by all kinds of crapy and deadly ideas like nazism, fascism and communism. By Jove, why should I or anyone that reads history go easy on someone that is seduced by communism? The only people that are easy on those seduce by communism are those that have been brain-washed by communist propaganda; i.e. that are already full of commmunist crap.

14. iourique - May 30, 2008

Goffredo,
“You didn’t say it explicitly, but you do suggest that only with experience does one realize that there is “nothing so fundamentally rotten about” communism.”

I said exactly the opposite. Please do try to read before arguing. And have your logic checked out by a professional.

“By Jove, why should I or anyone that reads history go easy on someone that is seduced by communism?”

Because to err is human. Your kind of extremism is really no better than fascism or communism. You just use a different criterion to label people.

15. goffredo - May 30, 2008

Iourique. Show you professional logic friend your original sentences.

“True, the practical applications of the former [fascism] are if anything worse than that of the latter [communism], but one needs some experience with communism to really tell as there’s nothing so fundamentally rotten about the idea.” and then tie it to the second sentence “So I would be easier on people still seduced by it…”

Let me know what he concludes. I bet he will suggest you rewrite whay you wrote as it does not fit with what you REALLY wanted to say. Indeed what did you want to say? And remember that if your friend is human then he could err too.

And don’t run away by labeling me as extremist.

16. iourique - May 30, 2008

Goffredo,

“True, the practical applications of the former [communism] are if anything worse than that of the latter [fascism] ”

“True, the practical applications of the former [fascism] are if anything worse than that of the latter [communism], ”

how about you decide what the words “the former” and “the latter” mean before we continue the discussion?

Once you’ve passed that hurdle, kindly let me know what led you to the conclusion that I believe “that the ability to seduce is a good measure of intrinsic quality”, since i’ve said nothing to that effect.

17. goffredo - May 31, 2008

Iourique
I did get former and latter mixed up (then I am human!) in the first case. But I’ll get back to you (indeed I will) only next week. In the mean time get ready to explain what you did mean to say (challenge: can you say it better?) and to explain the words “if anything”.
cheers


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