…some additional Joy of Knitting posts found at archive.org.
Those who want an unlimited number of immigrants to move into our country always say sighingly, to the sound of violins, “we were a nation of migrants…”. Which means that as Eyties once used to migrate to other countries, now we have to be generous and take in a billion people. I’m not against immigration, provided that it’s legal and regulated according to established quotas. But I also think that, as Italy can’t provide a decent livelihood for millions upon millions of immigrants, it’s useless to attract them here only to condemn them to a hand to mouth existence. Better support the economy in their own countries. Likewise the same beautiful souls look indulgently on crimes committed by immigrants reminding us that “we exported the Mafia”. Alas, so we did. However, as foreign governments quite rightly adopted whatever measures they deemed necessary to stamp it out, so we shouldn’t condone immigrant criminality. It would be offensive to law-abiding immigrants, sending them the message that they are racially inferior and therefore unable to tell right from wrong.
Communism as a Religion 11/18/04:
The fact that communism is a religion first dawned on me in the seventies. It struck me that, for all their virulent anti-Catholicism, comrades weren’t after all that different from the most bigoted among their opponents. They believed in Marxism with such a blind faith that merely hearing a different opinion made them fly into a rage and scream “fascist!” with the zeal of an Inquisitor. There were lots of dogmas to believe in unquestioningly, the coming of the Revolution, something called “the centrality of the working class”, proletarian violence, and lots more. No one could depart one jot from the approved faith on pain of excommunication. The doctrine was Marxism, enshrined in its holy texts, and the main prophet was Marx, but there were other prophets, like Lenin. There were saints, like Che Guevara. The god of this religion was a somewhat nebulous figure, either communism itself or a mythical entity called the People, or the Masses, or the Proletariat, which did not in reality correspond to any actual group of persons. Comrades talked about their love humanity all the time, but if there was something they couldn’t stand it was people. Human beings are so messy, so unpredictable, always botching up beautiful dreams of a perfect society in which everybody would be free to do as he is told by the comrades themselves, for his own good, of course. Their idea of paradise, where everyone would be exactly like everyone else, would be brought about by the Revolution. Belief in the Revolution was a central dogma of their faith, the one around which everything gravitated. It was the eschatological event that would lead, through purifying proletarian violence, to palingenesis, to total world renovation. It would be the Second Coming, the Apocalypse, the end of time, freeing humanity from its chains and placing it outside history. With the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the final triumph of the communist god, there would be no more history. That is, no more anxiety-inducing change, but endless stagnation. Where was Satan in all this? It was capitalistic bourgeois society. An often repeated slogan in those days was “The bourgeois state must be destroyed, not changed”. Criminals were therefore seen as romantic outcasts, the victims of bourgeois society, and terrorists were heroes of the People who fought for the Revolution. If they had to choose between criminals (or terrorists) and their victims, comrades would sympathise with the former and blame the latter. Imagine the left’s predicament in these days. Towards the end of the seventies, when revolutionary ideals started showing cracks, many comrades went mad or even committed suicide. Now, they must either wake up, face reality and renege on everything they’ve believed in so far, or just keep on dreaming.
I once bought a book of John Donne’s poems. I found an Italian edition with the original text on one page and the translation on the facing page. Plus, there was a short introduction about ten pages long. So far, so good. I took the book home, sat down to read it, and got a big surprise. When I happened to glance at the translation I found out that it was much more difficult than the original. The critic who had done it and had also written the introduction was a deconstructivist. While Donne’s text was easy to understand and not at all as obscure as I had been told it was, the translation into my own language was incomprehensible, twisted and tortured, with short, abrupt sentences that did nothing to follow the sustained flow of the original. The translator had rewritten the poems to his liking, even deliberately altering the meaning of the words, but the result had nothing in common with Donne’s work. Determined to see all of the horror perpetrated, I tried to read the introduction, ten miserable pages in a mysterious Italian I couldn’t understand. In the end I gave up. The problem is that the average student who couldn’t yet read English Metaphysical Poetry in the original would have thought that was Donne. The same thing happens to all those who touch anything deconstructivists have been messing about with, like cultures and civilizations. Claiming reality doesn’t exist, they present their own mistaken perceptions as the only possible reality, and want others to behave as if that was the only truth available.
We surely get a lot of documentaries on Hitler and Nazism. There aren’t as many on its counterpart, communism, and the few we see run along completely different lines. Recently I happened to see some on Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Che Guevara. As the documentaries had been dubbed into Italian and were presented in the TV studio by an Italian girl, it was impossible to know whether they were made in the US or by the BBC. All these great men had been given the hero treatment. The tone was reverential and the less savoury aspects of their lives had been glossed over so that their biographies were to say the least eminently laudatory. In short, let’s call them hagiographies and leave it at that. The main difference between Nazism and communism seems to be that the latter has always had a better PR department.
The character of “progressive” activists 1/15/05:
We all have seen no globos and peaceniks in action. Their faces pale and distorted with rage, with lips drawn thin over their teeth and eyes burning cold with hatred, look like masks of wrathful beings. I often wonder where all this rage comes from. Theirs is not the reaction to an authoritarian upbringing. If anything, these young people are rather the result of a permissive education. Terrified of inflicting on their children anguish that would ruin their future lives, their parents let them do whatever they wanted, gave them everything their wanted, and never pronounced the word NO. Likewise in school no effort was required of them. It would have been tantamount to repressing them, stifling their spontaneity, and damaging their self-esteem. They were not there to learn, but to be endlessly entertained by teachers who had turned into nannies. Every difficulty had to be smoothed over and they were given to understand that everything was due to them as they were so absolutely wonderful. What’s more they were encouraged to be highly aggressive, in the mistaken belief that this meant freedom to express themselves. In a word they grew up terribly spoilt, spoilt kids forever stuck in an adolescence that protracts itself not only into their twenties but well into their thirties and forties. Sometimes they resemble toddlers more than teenagers. They love to write on walls with spray cans and to smash things, like for instance cars and shop windows. There’s no end to what they want. They never know when to stop, and to tell the truth they don’t even know what it is exactly that they want, but they demand it nevertheless. If it isn’t handed to them instantly they remonstrate violently and march and shout and wreak havoc, which is their way of throwing tantrums. If they don’t get the happiness they deserve it’s because whereas they are fantastic & fabulous, society instead is ugly and bad and always to blame. This comes straight down from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the man who perhaps single-handedly did most damage to Western civilization. They aren’t equipped to deal with life’s setbacks and even require therapy if their candidate doesn’t win the elections. Teenagers feel misunderstood and mistreated, and they are no exception. Healthy, well fed, they live privileged lives and have all the liberty they want, but they don’t appreciate it. They feel cheated if they don’t enjoy perfect, constant happiness, so their frustration turns to hatred towards the society that betrayed them. In their desperate search for proofs of conspiracies against them they turn in sympathy to terrorists and dictators posing as fathers of their people. While they scream for freedom, deep down they yearn for authoritarian rule, someone to come along and kick them around and give them licence to oppress others in revenge for imagined wrongs. As every obstacle was removed from their lives, now in their huge solipsism they see civilization itself as the ultimate obstacle in their path and they want to destroy it in an act of supreme hubris. Whether they become environmentalists, animal rights activists or something else doesn’t matter. The rage comes first, the ideology to cloak it comes after. Needless to say, these superannuated spoilt kids are easily duped by those who want to exploit them for their own ends, the militants they love so much.
6 thoughts on “Thought-Provoking Posts from Italy, continued”
‘The character of “progressive” activists’: very sound. An addendum: be very wary of any non-progressive politician who gains, even briefly, the approval of these people.
There isn’t a single thing I’ve read above I would disagree with. How often does that occur?
Re Joy’s remark that Communism has always had a better PR department than Naziism: read Claire Berlinski’s article A Hidden History of Evil, in which she asks: “Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?”
Communism as a religion. Spot on. The inverse is Islamism as a tyrannical state.
Excellent posts. Thanks for sharing them, David.
I remember that blog. I still wonder what happened to the author — why she stopped, why it was taken down.
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