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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Anti-Mussolini Laws in Italy
Created by John Eipper on 07/22/17 8:46 AM

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Anti-Mussolini Laws in Italy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/22/17 8:46 am)

Commenting on Carmen Negrín's post of July 20th, our esteemed moderator asked me: As editor, might I someday face prosecution in Italy for having published Eugenio Battaglia's praises of Mussolini?

I would say "NO," and that the disclaimer should be enough defense.

After all I am not praising Mussolini per se in my posts.  I am relating actual facts.

For instance, it is a fact if I write about the earthquake of 23 July 1930 in Irpinia, magnitude 6.7 with 1404 deaths.  The reconstruction went very well, including a savings of 500,000 lire from the original budget with the delivery of the new houses on 28 October 1930, 3746 brand new and 5190 repaired.  Contrast this with the earthquake in central Italy on 23 August 2016. Little rebuilding has been done until the present. Just yesterday the Mayor of Amatrice was on television asking at least for the removal of rubble from the streets. In citing the above there are no exclamations of Viva il Duce, maybe only a denunciation of the present government's incompetence. Admittedly, the locations of new housing in Amatrice have been identified and a provisional building for four restaurants should be ready within days, although the mayor is still working out of a container. The inhabitants, unfortunately, are still scattered around without rebuilt housing.

The first statute against Fascism is in Italy's unconditional surrender of 1943. It was then confirmed by the article 17 of the Peace Treaty (Diktat).  The previous article 16 prohibits acting against those who from 10 June 1940 until 8 September 1943 showed "liking" (treason) favorable to the Allies.

The Italian Constitution of 1948 has a "transitional disposition" Article 12, against Fascism.  Two other laws followed: Scelba 1952 and Mancino 1993.

The present uproar about Mussolini started at a beach in Venice, extremely popular and well run, which had some photos of Mussolini on display. Furthermore, the Left is presently in political trouble and when the Reds are in these conditions their only hope to distract the public is a good revival of antifascism, even if Mussolini died 72 years ago and with him Fascism came to an end.

The most ridiculous proposals are appearing, such as destroying buildings built during Fascism, checking all emails or jailing a guy who places democracy in jeopardy by lighting up a cigarette with Mussolini-themed lighter.

By the way, up to now the "saluto romano" was not considered a crime if made in a cemetery during the commemoration of a fallen person, even if he was a fascist, but it may be considered a crime if done in other circumstances.

To conclude, I do not believe that there will be enough time to pass the new law in the two Parliamentary chambers prior to next spring's elections. Nor does it look like the numbers are in favour

That is all for now from Italy--lay, democratic and antifascist born from the resistance and formed by the constitution.

JE comments:  Have there been any convictions under the existing anti-Mussolini laws, say in the last 25 years?


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  • Prosecutions of Mussolini Apologists in Italy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/23/17 5:12 AM)
    Regarding prosecutions in Italy for pro-Mussolini or Fascist views, there have been several cases of convictions and the dissolution of some small political groups.

    In Milan in 2015, 16 members of Casa Pound honoring Sergio Ramelli and Enrico Pedenovi (both young MSI members killed by the Reds in the 1970s) and Carlo Borsani (a gold medal recipient blinded in a war injury and killed by the partisans in 1945) were sentenced to one month in jail and a 250-euro fine in favor of ANPI (Associazione Nazionali Partigiani Italiani--communists) for giving the "saluto Romano" and other "fascist" gestures.


    The mayor and his aldermen of the town of Affile are presently facing prosecution with a possible sentence of two years' imprisonment for having allowed the construction of a "mausoleum" (large tomb) dedicated to Marechal Graziani.


    In Bolzano in 2010, the local leader of Casa Pound (the best-known group, inspired by the social doctrine of the great poet Ezra Pound) attended a hockey match wearing a shirt with a photo of Mussolini. For that he was sentenced to two months in jail.


    Note: generally, for sentences of three years or less, nobody in Italy really goes to jail. Rather, incarceration is substituted by some alternative punishment.


    Anyway do not worry.  The Italian government ensures that Italy remains a good colony of the Empire, ready to supply cannon fodder for its various wars and to support any self-defeating sanction. But overall it is extremely ready to fight Fascism even it is a Saluto romano or a photo of Mussolini hidden in a closet.



    JE comments:  These prosecutions seem to be of a symbolic nature, which begs the question:  doesn't all this attention actually motivate the Mussolini apologists?

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    • What is Meant by "Reds"? (Carmen Negrin, -France 07/23/17 3:13 PM)
      I wonder what Eugenio Battaglia (July 23rd) refers to when he says "the Reds." I don't know of any party of that name.

      JE comments: I believe Eugenio meant the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), who were at war with the neo-fascist MSI (among others) in the 1970s.  Carmen Negrín's question does raise a question in my mind:  have any leftist political groups self-identified as "Reds" since the demise of Italy's Brigate?

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      • Who are the Reds? (Roy Domenico, USA 07/24/17 10:17 AM)
        Regarding the question of "who were the reds," I think that Carmen Negrín (23 July) was pulling our legs a bit.

        The Reds are communists--I would think that's obvious. The two neo-Fascists mentioned by Eugenio Battaglia may have been killed by the Red Brigades; but the Red Brigades positioned themselves against the Italian Communist Party (PCI) which, they felt, had betrayed the cause by dealing with the Christian Democrats.


        Look at the flag of the Soviet Union. Look at China's flag today. Its message is that "the East is Red."


        JE comments:  Flag below.  In the generation since the fall of the USSR, "red" has lost its original bogeyman meaning, at least in the US.  The Red States are now as red-blooded as, well, red meat.  When my classes start in a month, I will quiz my students:  what does the expression "Better dead than red" mean to you?  I'll be sure to report back.


        I've also heard (again) from both Carmen Negrín and Eugenio Battaglia.  Stand by.


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        • Reds and Red States (Timothy Brown, USA 07/25/17 6:21 AM)
          I beg to quibble with Roy Domenico (July 24th).

          Unlike all the rest of the world, in today's United States the color of the right-of-center Republican Party conservatives is flaming red, while, again, unlike the rest of the world, the color of the left-of-center Democratic party is delightfully blue.


          My professor of Political Psychology (my primary PhD) would have labeled this a major propaganda coup by the left. But, then, before she left Moscow State University where she'd taught during the Cold War, she'd been unusually well versed on how one subtly manipulates public opinion.


          In short--sorry Roy--in the United States it's no longer obvious that "The Reds are communists."


          Here it's the far-left faction of the Democrats who are cheerfully Blue.


          JE comments: I tried to make this same point when commenting on Roy's post. 


          Some years ago we attached a date on the "Red State/Blue State" division. The original culprits were the TV networks, who needed a way to mark the states on the electoral map. In the early days of color TV, the Democrats were predictably red. Was it the "liberal media" that staged the coup of turning them blue?


          According to this 2012 Smithsonian article, the color shift happened in very recent times:  the Election-without-End of 2000.


          http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-republicans-were-blue-and-democrats-were-red-104176297/


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          • Reds, Red States, and Blue States (Roy Domenico, USA 07/26/17 4:27 AM)
            I just finished sending my last post--which was something of a question--and I read Timothy Brown's response (July 24 and 25).

            I'm not sure if we disagree on that much. I get Tim's point that the Republicans are red now and I expect he's right with the under thirty (or forty?) crowd who never experienced the "old" notion that the reds are communists (at least old in America's case--identification of with the far left is still the norm for most of the world). But this still bugs me and says something about the declining place of history and heritage. My concept of red drew from more than a century-old self-identity. The far left (mainly communists) were red and proud of it--and this heritage can still be seen in the flags we've mentioned. The current American connection between red and Republican is apparently based on some media decision--either by a political operative or someone simply ignorant of the tradition (or maybe both).


            Deep down inside, I've never been comfortable with the idea of painting the US Republican Party red and the Democrats blue. JE triggered this in me with his statement that it happened in the 2000 election. I don't doubt that--but why? Somebody somewhere--I expect some functionary at a TV network--made some bizarre decision to use red as the conservative color. Was there ever an explanation?


            JE comments: Could the decision have been purely esthetic? The South votes Republican, and blue, like the sky, looks better when it's on the top. Also, the Coasts are Democratic, and can be blue like the oceans.


            It's just a theory.  Perhaps a lame one.  I was reading House Beautiful last night.

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            • "Red Century": New York Times (Luciano Dondero, Italy 07/28/17 2:11 AM)
              I surely bow to our American colleagues when they describe how "red" is now getting a new spin in US politics.

              However, I think this series in the New York Times might be helpful to keep a sense of historical/world balance:


              https://www.nytimes.com/column/red-century


              JE comments:  An excellent recommendation, Luciano, for this centennial year of the Russian Revolution(s).  There are several articles in the series I'm looking forward to reading, beginning with the discussions of whether Lenin was a German agent (and funded no less by German condoms--most intriguing).


              Imagine an alternate universe in which the USSR still exists.  This would be one helluva year of centennial pageantry.


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            • Reds and Red States (Robert Whealey, USA 07/28/17 5:14 AM)
              I agree that Republican-leaning states should be called by their true name, and not by the color Red. The traditional Democratic states should be called by their traditional leanings, not Blue.

              The United States, Great Britain, the French Republic from 1789 and the brief Provisional Government in February 1917 in Russia, used the red, white and blue. If you turn the Russian flag upside down, it would become the Dutch Tricolor.


              An all-red flag was used briefly during the French Revolution by Danton. The red flag was born again in the 1905 Russian Revolution and with Lenin in November 1917.


              Red became a symbol of contempt in the United States from 1917 to 1991. That red flag became a symbol for dogmatic, ideological propaganda against Communism. TV once again would like to sow confusion in the United States, with voters 18 and below, who have never read a single history book. The intelligence agencies would rather hire English majors than History majors in federal government. Historians and philosophers, who are looking for the truth, ask too many embarrassing questions, in my opinion.


              JE comments:  Don't the intelligence agencies prefer technocrats, STEM types?  In any case, English majors are trained to think critically, just like philosophers and historians.


              In this discussion we've done justice to the politics of red.  Shall we lighten things up a bit?  How about the "Pinkos"?


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              • Reds and Rojos, Republicans and Republicanos (Enrique Torner, USA 07/29/17 8:56 AM)
                The names and colors of the US political parties are extremely confusing, especially to Spaniards. I always have had a very difficult time trying to explain to my family in Spain that American Republicans are the complete opposite of Spanish "republicanos," also called "rojos" (reds). So, when, after the 2016 American election, Spaniards saw the electoral map, many of them thought that the "communist" party had won by a lot, because they saw so much red on the map! The added complication is the American electoral system, which is incomprehensible from the point of view of the common Spanish citizen.

                Reversely, when I teach the Spanish Civil War in my university classes, my American students tend to identify "republicanos" with Republicans, and think that they are conservative! I believe French and Italians have the same problem, right? What other countries have it?


                JE comments:  Same in my classes.  US students have a very hard time with the basic premise of the SCW, because the Republicanos were on the left side of the spectrum.  Even more confusing for them is the notion that the rebellious side was on the right.  Aren't "revolutions" always the handiwork of the Commies?

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              • Russian Flag and Dutch Flag (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 07/30/17 7:31 AM)

                Robert Whealey wrote on July 28th: "If you turn the Russian flag upside down, it would become the Dutch Tricolor."


                Please see both flags below, showing that this is not the case.


                JE comments:  Absolutely true, but several accounts of the origin of the (Tsarist) Russian standard in 1696 establish a connection to the Netherlands.  Peter the Great was an admirer of Dutch shipbuilding prowess, and apparently the Russian flag was inspired by Dutch ships calling on the port of Arkhangelsk.  See below:


                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Russia


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        • Singing "The Red Flag" (John Heelan, -UK 07/25/17 6:44 AM)
          One also remembers the lyrics of "The Red Flag" (1889):

          The people's flag is deepest red,

          It shrouded oft our martyred dead,

          And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,

          Their hearts' blood dyed its ev'ry fold.



          Then raise the scarlet standard high.

          Within its shade we'll live and die,

          Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

          We'll keep the red flag flying here.



          Look 'round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,

          The sturdy German chants its praise,

          In Moscow's vaults its hymns are sung

          Chicago swells the surging throng.



          Then raise the scarlet standard high.

          Within its shade we'll live and die,

          Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

          We'll keep the red flag flying here.



          It waved above our infant might,

          When all ahead seemed dark as night;

          It witnessed many a deed and vow,

          We must not change its colour now.



          Then raise the scarlet standard high.

          Within its shade we'll live and die,

          Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

          We'll keep the red flag flying here.



          It well recalls the triumphs past,

          It gives the hope of peace at last;

          The banner bright, the symbol plain,

          Of human right and human gain.



          Then raise the scarlet standard high.

          Within its shade we'll live and die,

          Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

          We'll keep the red flag flying here.



          It suits today the weak and base,

          Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place

          To cringe before the rich man's frown,

          And haul the sacred emblem down.



          Then raise the scarlet standard high.

          Within its shade we'll live and die,

          Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

          We'll keep the red flag flying here.



          With heads uncovered swear we all

          To bear it onward till we fall;

          Come dungeons dark or gallows grim,

          This song shall be our parting hymn.



          Then raise the scarlet standard high.

          Within its shade we'll live and die,

          Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

          We'll keep the red flag flying here.



          It's always amusing to watch the last act of the Labour Conference each year when the Party leaders all link arms on the conference stage to sing the "Red Flag."  It's a pity that some cannot remember the words and are clearly just moving their mouth!  The other interesting thing is that the "Red Flag" is sung to the tune of a German Christmas hymn, "O Tannenbaum! Oh Tannenbaum."


          However I prefer the rude parody that states:


          The working class can kiss my arse

          I got the foreman's job at last.

          You can tell old Joe I'm off the dole

          He can stick his Red Flag up his 'ole!



          JE comments:  "We must not change its color now."  As we saw earlier today, in 2000, American political pundits did just that.


          Here's a vocabulary quiz:  How many of you know what "pelf" is?  I had to look it up.

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      • Who Are (Were) the Reds? (Carmen Negrin, -France 07/24/17 10:38 AM)
        To answer John E, "Red" is the term used by the Francoists to anyone who wasn't Francoist, not a very precise terminology. That's why I was wondering what Eugenio Battaglia meant.

        JE comments: Rojo, bolchevique, judío, masón:  the Francoists didn't sweat the semantic nuances.  As Eugenio Battaglia (next) will explain, he was using "red" in the all-inclusive red-bashing sense.  A question for Eugenio:  were Jew, Mason, Bolshevik, etc., also used as "othering" epithets in Mussolini's Italy?

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      • The Reds Then and Now (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/24/17 10:48 AM)
        In response to Carmen Negrín (23 July), I was referring to the Red Brigades, but not only them. Carmen with the Spanish Civil War should know who the "Reds" are.

        JE comments: Surprisingly, Carmen and Eugenio are in agreement here...

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        • Le Pen, and a Conversation in a Taxi (Carmen Negrin, -France 07/25/17 10:02 AM)
          With his reference to the "Reds," I understood who Eugenio Battaglia would be referring to in Spain, but I wasn't totally sure who he was referring to in Italy. But yes, it is true that I was pulling his leg!

          In any case, of course this terminology, which puts everyone in the same bucket, is very practical for certain purposes, but not very precise or correct. I would consider myself (outside the US) as pink, but I guess these many colors take too much time to explain, especially in a nationalistic environment.


          By the way, and this should make Eugenio happy, I took a taxi today and mentioned the fact that if Le Pen had won the elections I would have left France.  He asked me why. My answer, almost apolitical (except in the US), was:  "Because I am a democrat."


          So he started giving me a history lesson about how all the wars had been initiated by democrats, WWI, WWII, all the 19th-century ones. I thought it was quite interesting to hear how history can be reinterpreted according to one's ideals, in this case Le Pen's and how these ideas have spread again and become banalized, and finally, how memory needs to be constantly refreshed.


          Sorry to say but he didn't get a tip!


          JE comments:  France must be like Latin America, inasmuch as you can always count on a spirited political discussion from taxistas.  But Carmen:  was your taxi driver talking about "small-d" democrats, or the capital-D party in the United States?  If the former, blaming them for the World Wars is folly.  It is true that the US had a Democratic president when it entered most of its wars:  WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

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