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Italians And Riots (warning: graphic photo)

Genua, 20 July 2001. Carlo Giuliani lies dead on the ground, shot at close range whilst attempting to throw a fire extinguisher at a Carabiniere.

Shane (he of Lux Occulta) has drawn my attention to an interesting, if flawed, article appeared on the Catholic Herald and dealing with the supposed “brotherly love” of the Italians.

As so often in journalism, such “sociological” pieces are a mixture of some good observations and the most appalling common places.

The leitmotiv of the article is that in Italy you wouldn’t have had the looting because the Italians are oh so movingly good, and they don’t even profit of a huge blackout to start looting. A picture is drawn of these peaceful Italians with a good heart and full of love for their mamma, they would never loot and see her cry…..

Let us clean the air from legends here, and let us say first that the potential of Italians for violence is simply frightening. You only need to go to a football game (if you dare) to know what I am talking about. The 16,000 policemen around London during the riots pale in front of the at least 5,000 (and up to 10,000) policemen around the stadium on the day of a big derby. The violence that goes on in the minor leagues is considered so normal that it doesn’t even make headlines.

Let us also be clear that Italians don’t loot not because they feel solidarity with the shopkeeper, which they certainly perceive as well-off (though I would agree that Italians are marvelous in their solidarity when they perceive someone as in need of it, and you see here all the power of their Catholic culture), but because of other factors that are more or less absent among the London mob:

1. Every scumbag is raised up with some form of moral value, and be that the third-rate morality of a communist. Whilst violence is compatible with this mentality if some “ideal” is at stake, the idea of looting a shop for the sake of a sweater is not among them. In short, it’s not “cool” to show up today with the sweater you have looted yesterday. And if your father – in whose house, and by whose rules, and at whose costs you still live in 95% of the cases – knows of that, you had better pray. Carlo Giuliani was a goddamn idiot, but I can’t see even him looting sweaters. Even behind his violence there was an ideology, not the total absence of one.

2. Always linked to point 1, the police is – compared with the British one – pretty brutal. I actually start to think that riot-tourism to London from Italy and elsewhere may soon develop as a reaction to the dismal show of the Metropolitan Police during the riots, basically an invitation to the hooligans and hotheads of Europe to come here and have a good time. In Italy the police charges with horses and batons when there are disturbances in the queues to buy football tickets (so happened in 1984, Champions League final, Roma vs Liverpool). When in 2001 dick hotheads from all over Europe decided to meet in Genua, Carlo Giuliani was shot in his mouth from a couple of metres’ distance; needless to say, the silent majority of the law-abiding citizens was behind the Carabinieri like a man. In the adrenaline-charged atmosphere of that obscene urban battle (the result of Berlusconi, idiot as always, wanting to play moderate and by “anglo-Saxon standards” in front of the world press instead of doing it the good old Italian way), the Land Rover of the Carabinieri drove over the body of the dead Giuliani twice, once by rehearsing and once, just for security, going forward. Mama-loving, yes; non-violent, er, well, no.

Interestingly, Italy never had such riots again in these ten years. Punirne uno per educarne cento…... Punish one, and you’ll teach one hundred.

Ten years later and in England, the police can’t even decide themselves to use water cannons after four days of devastation, and four people murdered. To a hooligan, it must look like an amusement park. Guess where the next big riot will be.

3. In Italy there is something called disciplina. This is the strange idea according to which one can’t do whatever he pleases. The idea that there are rules of social behaviour that one must, volens nolens, accept. There is violence of course, but you don’t have the violence that is purely the fruit of not having any value and moral structure whatsoever. Can’t say the same for London I’m afraid. Even in the long history of Italians civil unrests of the Seventies (with Molotov bottles flying around practically every Saturday in places like Milan) looting was just not part of the picture.

The rioting in London is the fruit of a mentality and a society that provides young people with plenty of justifications for whatever they want to do, without giving them rules, discipline, values, and a spine. The solidarity in Italy is the fruit of being raised in loving environment, in intact families; with some guidance given, and good old-fashioned Christian values, and the odd punishment if needs be.

In England there would be, very often, no father in the first place; but if there was an Italian one, he’d run the risk of having a concerned social worker at the door.

Then they complain about the riots.


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