venerdì 31 ottobre 2008
This blog is not usually a place for highbrow political or cultural musings, as any regular reader will know, but having spent the best part of a week imprisoned under a blanket with just the TV and internet for company while Luca earned our daily bread, I have stumbled across some interesting reading. And by interesting I mean completely and utterly terrifying.
So, we are in crisi. Economic slowdown, recession, call it what you will – in short, the world is changing, and when the world starts to change, so do its inhabitants.
I’m not going to go into the whole Obama / McCain saga – mostly because I’m not American and so am following it with only one ear – although I appreciate that, like it or not, what happens in the US does tend to have an impact on what happens to the rest of us. I don’t like to be known as ‘the rest of us’ either, but there we go.
The issue is this: Italy is a pretty messed-up country when it comes to politics. 61 governments in 63 years, Fascist brigades terrorising the population until as recently as the 1990s, and Benito Mussiolini’s granddaughter, Alessandra - former glamour model / singer / actress – a prominent member of Berlusconi’s current right-wing governing coalition. Even more worrying than this, however, is the current level of tension between the authorities and the man in the street, or rather the student in the street, with demonstrations and marches in protest at recent education reforms having paralysed the country for the past few days. Whilst it is easy to write off such events as young people taking the opportunity to cause trouble and skip class with the excuse of taking an interest in political reform, I was reminded by Alex of http://www.blogfromitaly.com/, that this is exactly the way that real revolutions start, and judging by its social and political history, Italy is a prime candidate. As Alex points out, former Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga appears to be adamant that Italy is returning to the era of the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades) – in other words, left-wing extremist terrorism, born out of the reaction to hardline right-wing policy in an already unstable political climate. Just last year a number of supposed ‘militants’ were arrested in Padova and a quantity of explosives uncovered and linked to bomb plots against national newspapers and one of Berlusconi’s luxury villas. The employment situation in Italy today is, quite frankly, dire. Aside from a 6% unemployment rate (roughly the same as the UK and US as far as I know), there is the even more discouraging reality of a working world which doesn’t support its employees, offering short-term contracts, low wages and poorly-paid ‘work experience’ which have all but replaced the ‘steady job’. High taxes, low wages, poor services, no job security, rising inflation and economic slowdown are not just interesting subjects for expat blog readers. The fact is that we are facing a winter of discontent, which some believe could bring with it a new era of extremism. Let’s hope for all our sakes that it doesn’t come to that.