Sunday, 3 August 2008

State of Fear

(This a free translation of an inspiring, if disillusioned, blog post in Italian by Gigi Tagliapietra, who summed up quite nicely something I'd been thinking for some time.)

I recently read on Repubblica [Italian national daily] that Italians are afraid: afraid of crime, afraid that the economic downturn will make them poorer, afraid of immigrants.

This reminds me of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" in which fear is the means by which rulers keep their grasp on the general public...and when it subdues it is promptly revamped. Is it raining? Apocalyptic storms and tropical climate! Is it not raining? Imminent drought and creeping desertification! A bipolar parliamentary system? No, a divided country!

The article also suggests that Italians would hate to have their tax declarations checked (and "the boss" has repeatedly confirmed his viewpoint on this)...pretty obvious: if we are afraid having our "stuff" taken away, it doesn't really matter if the culprit is an illegal immigrant or the taxman.

And don't even think about saying that in a downturn you should save more (retail sales are plummeting! we must consume more! say retailers) or that the government should fight tax evasion (we don't want a police state, do we!?) or reduce wasteful expenditure (Emerenzio Barbieri, MP for PdL, lamented the fact that Senators fly business class while "poor" Deputies like himself fly Economy...). Whatever you'll be told that "the real problem lies elsewhere"

While these thoughts come to mind I noted a quick post by Alfonso Fuggetta from Singapore that says "these guys will kick our ass...telling us a simple and plain truth.

These are the foreigners we should be really "afraid of": those better than us, who invest in their own future, that innovate...not of the poor immigrants who land at Lampedusa to escape famine and misery.

But maybe there is a logic to our collective behaviour...maybe we are miserable people ourselves, living in a fake world of TV presenters and dancers, fighting helplessly to hold on to our few (and shrinking) belongings from even poorer people.


  1. Un servizio di CorriereTV "dall'altra parte della barricata": qualche ricordo del '68 e qualche testimonianza sul disinteresse dilagante di oggi

    Lo trovate qui:

  2. From the FT online:
    "Although Italy compares well with its European peers in terms of violent crime, evidence suggests that on corruption it is among the worst offenders. Italy ranks 40th on Transparency International’s global corruption index. Only Greece comes lower in the EU-15. The World Bank’s aggregation of various indices gives Italy a percentile rank of 71, slightly above South Korea but far below its main European peers."

    I wonder why the government keeps shouting crime is out of control...

    Maybe the government should ask the army to check its own dealings instead of patrolling the streets?


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