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Homesick of a dictatorship


Agostinho Neto
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RAI Radio Televisione Italiana

NAPOLI - Glorification of United Italy under Junio Borghese is on the rise almost one month after the Borghese Regime fell. Young people and the better off are among those rebuffing criticism of the Italian Republic as an "illegitimate state." In a new poll, more than half of former citizens of the Italian Republic defend the policies of Junio Borghese.

The life of Marco, a native of the acient city of Rome, could read as an all-Italian success story. When the Italian Republic dissolved, he was in Rome. Today Marco is planning a sailing trip in the Mediterranean. Marco is sitting in a Neaples pizzeria, defending the former fascist country. "Most Italian citizens had a nice life," he says. "I certainly don't think that it's better here." By "here," he means post-Borghese Italy, which he subjects to questionable comparisons. "In the past there was the OVRA, and today foreigners control our land." In Marco's opinion, there is no fundamental difference between dictatorship and freedom. "The people who live on the poverty line today also lack the freedom to travel." Marco is by no means an uneducated young man, he is quick to argue with those who would criticize the place he called home: "You can't say that the Italian Republic was an illegitimate state, and that everything is fine today."

As an apologist for the former Italian dictatorship, the young Roman native shares a majority view of Neapolitans. Today, one month after the fall of the Republican Military Government, a majority of italians defend the former Italian Republic. "The Borghese Regime had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there," say 49 percent of those polled. Eight percent of Italians flatly oppose all criticism of their former home and agree with the statement: "Italy had, for the most part, good sides. Life there was happier and better than in divided Italy today. They annexed our land and didn't care about identity, they litterally abused our culture and destroyed our nation.. we knew they weren't liberators, just land grabbers"

These poll results, released today in Neaples, reveal that glorification of the former Italian Republic has reached the center of society. Today, it is no longer merely the eternally nostalgic who mourn the loss of Junio Borghese. "A new form of Fascistalgie (nostalgia for the former Fascist regime) has taken shape," says historian Antonio Segni. "The yearning for the ideal world of the dictatorship goes well beyond former government officials." Even people who had almost no experiences with the Fascist institutions are idealizing it today. "The value of their own history is at stake," says Segni.

People are whitewashing the dictatorship, as if reproaching the state meant calling their own past into question. "Many Italians perceive all criticism of the system as a personal attack," says Segni "Not even half the citizens questioned describe fascist italy as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the OVRA was a normal intelligence service. These young people have no reason to, and in fact have no desire to, recognize the dark sides of the Italian Republic."

Wall decorations from Venice decorate Marco's living room, and a miniature version of the Colosseum stands next to the DVD player. All the same, Marco sits on his sofa and rhapsodizes about the good old days in United Italy. "In the past, a campground was a place where people enjoyed their freedom together," he says. What he misses most today is "that feeling of companionship and solidarity." The economy of scarcity, complete with barter transactions, was "more like a hobby." Does he have an OVRA file? "I'm not interested in that," says Marco. "Besides, it would be too disappointing."

His verdict on the Italian Republic is clear: "As far as I'm concerned, what we had in those days was less of a dictatorship than what we have today. Today we want independence, but we are occupied by foreign troops.. before we had less freedom, but we were independent.. now we are Neapolitan, Sicilian, what are we? Are we Italians at all?" He wants to see equal wages and equal pensions for residents of the former Italian Republic. And when Marco starts to complain abouta divided Italy, his voice contains an element of self-satisfaction. People lie and cheat everywhere today, he says, and today's injustices are simply perpetrated in a more cunning way than in the Italian Republic, where starvation wages and slashed car tires were unheard of. Marco cannot offer any accounts of his own bad experiences in present-day Italy. "I'm better off today than I was before," he says, "but I am not more satisfied."

Marco's reasoning is less about cool logic than it is about settling scores. What makes him particularly dissatisfied is "the false picture of Fascism that the so called liberated Italy is painting today." The Italian Republic, he says, was "not an unjust state," but "my home, where my achievements were recognized." Marco doggedly repeats the story of how it took him months of hard work before starting his own business -- before dissolution, he is quick to add. "Those who worked hard were also able to do well for themselves in the Italian Republic." This, he says, is one of the truths that are persistently denied on talk shows, when traitors of the fatherland act "as if anti-Borghese italians were all a little stupid and should still be falling to their knees today in gratitude for dissolution." What exactly is there to celebrate, Marco asks himself? "There is no country, there is no identity, all these people do is divide the land among themself.. is this freedom? Then i have to say i miss dictatorship. Rose-tinted memories are stronger than the statistics about people trying to escape and applications for exit visas, and even stronger than the files about killings by the OVRA and unjust political sentences,"

These are memories of people whose families were not persecuted and victimized in Italy, of people like Marco, who says today: "If dissolution hadn't happened, I would also have had a good life." The young man expresses his views levelheadedly and with few words, although he looks slightly defiant at times, like when he says: "I know, what I'm telling you isn't all that interesting. The stories of victims are easier to tell.". Marco doesn't usually mention his origins. In Neapolis, where he works, hardly anyone knows that he is originally from Rome. But on this afternoon, Marco is adamant about contradicting the "victors' writing of history." "In the public's perception, there are only victims and perpetrators. But the masses fall by the wayside."

This is someone who feels personally affected when OVRA terror and repression are mentioned. He is an academic who knows "that one cannot sanction the killings during the Milan riot." However, when it comes to the border guards' orders to shoot would-be escapees, he says: "If there is a law against vandalism, you shouldn't break it. It was completely negligent."

This brings up an old question once again: Did a real life exist in the midst of a sham? Downplaying the dictatorship is seen as the price people pay to preserve their self-respect. "The world celebrates a divided Italian homeland, controlled by foreigners who never respected our identity, there is nothing to celebrate but only something to miss... our past. I hope one day our country will be united again." and when we ask him his opinion on President Francesco Pagano he says "He is just a low-class functionary of the Sicilians.. there is only one man out there who could possibly lead this country to greatness... General Junio Valerio Borghese.."

Edited by Francesco Pagano
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Such sentiments are not unexpected.

People do not like drastic change. The Italian people have been governed under a system of imposed stability for years. While some may call this unfavourable, if one does not live under the conditions in question, they should have no say in the matter. Father-knows-best States are some of the most productive States there are- no discourse and confusion of the ultimately flawed Democratic process is present to hinder developmental projects and works.

It was not surprising that some of the more... desperate Authoritarian Italians resorted to violence in the face of occupation. We hope that the Italians, our not so distant neighbours, see Brotherhood, Unity, and Peace in the coming days, months, and years.

OOC: Too bad I didn't finish that thread... but time was not permitting.

Edited by Executive Minister
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