Friday, December 4, 2020

War and Censorship -- Difficult Times in Italy

A post by Miguel Martinez, originally published in Italian on his blog on  Italy was the first European country to be struck by the COVID-19 pandemic and the first to implement a national lockdown. At that time, Italians would display the flag on their balconies and sing aloud in a show of national unity. That time is past and gone. 

The media gives the alarm: news of danger and a call to arms, together. When the message is inseparable from mobilization, it becomes propaganda. Since "propaganda" today has a bad name, let us immediately specify: propaganda can say absolutely true things and defend right causes, but it remains always propaganda.

The state of mobilization puts an end to disputes: in war, everyone must be in solidarity around a human figure, the leader, able to embody all passions.

Young people run to enlist volunteers. Fear, excitement, optimism. It's Gonna Be Okay!

We grit our teeth, citizens cleanse themselves gel and unmask the traitors, actually mask them – but we will win soon!

People who, until the night before were ready to file a complaint because they were not served the cocktail they had requested, or because the plane left five minutes late, meekly lock themselves in their homes, place the tricolor flag out of the window, and prepares to see the enemy fall to the ground.
Above: "I stay home -- checkmate to the coronavirus"
The first deaths are celebrated: both as innocent victims of the wickedness of the enemy, and as brave fighters.

"A nurse dies of coronavirus refuses to see her husband for the last time and saves his life"

But there are also the first victories, a united people, let's open the windows, it's spring!

Our leader is leading us to triumph and we will dance in Sardinia all summer!
The image shows Giuseppe Conte, prime minister of Italy. The text says, "Let's stay away from each other today to embrace each other tomorrow. Let's stop today to run faster tomorrow."

Phase Two.

Autumn and darkness arrive, and it turns out that we didn't win the war at all and that, after a few months, living in air raid shelters loses its charm.

Image: Air raid shelters in Italy during WWII.

Suddenly we understand the real cost of war. It is not so much the casualties, but the destruction of an entire social class – the majority discovers the uncomfortable truth, that is, they are not essential.

Suddenly, the society that seemed so united begins to split according to new lines, not those of the previous political play.

The euphoria is over for everyone, but the majority still trust the leader.

Many even begin to doubt the cause. The ubiquitous propaganda begins to sound strangely empty, almost ridiculous.

Doubt arises in a thousand different ways, but above all because everything in which people had invested their lives seems lost forever.

Then all it takes is a true or an alleged abuse, a leaflet, a well-made reasoning, the suspicion- -- God forbid! – that someone is cheating. The secret of every war are the arms dealers, and when the arms merchants are also the owners of the communications system (not just of the media, of the system), they are also those who decide what you must see as the truth, then suspects are unleashed.

It is a moment of visions: everyone knows Our Lady of Fatima who complained about the Portuguese volunteers who went to war during WW1, but the historian Cesare Bermani discovered a proliferation of pacifist Madonnas also in Italy, guarded by the military police and kept secret.

Trade collapses, businesses close, the Great Leader begins to print money and throw it at the crowd, which at first applauds, grateful.

Phase Three

Society splits, largely according to the perspective that everyone has for their own future. Those who feel guaranteed generally stay with the Great Leader.

More and more people are beginning to rebel because they have nothing to lose, but they have to invent an explanation for the world of why they rebel. The Great Leader has a monopoly on academics and those who do not align themselves take great risks.

People not accustomed to indulging in the luxury of theoretical thought are called upon to provide a reason themselves.

And people without political precedent take up arms, in the ways our generation can.
"everything will be well"

Those who have remained faithful react with anger: the rebels, they say, are opening the door to the Enemy, who will massacre us all.

At first, the Traitors are only mocked, or accused of belonging to some evil sect: the Journal of American Medical Association seriously explains that those who do not align themselves are probably suffering from front-temporal dementia.

And at first, the conformists may even be somewhat right. We are beings selected for social conformism; and the first ones to break ranks may well be a little crazy. 

Then, when it turns out that they are many, we try to divide them: the good ones are only victims of the Manipulators. They are simpletons, who are convinced by the first thing they hear.

It's a bit strange that they don't let themselves be convinced by television, school, notices posted on the street, and doctors. In reality, the rebels are shocked by statements (no matter whether they are factually true or false) that respond to something they already feel inside: that is, that those in power do not count the numbers right, and that behind a war that demands enormous sacrifices, there may be even more enormous interests.

Or that governments that introduce emergency laws are not necessarily just well-intentioned.

This is the beginning of the internal war against the Traitors: they must be censored, beaten, and the chronicles are searched to find in the words of the rebels their most absurd and confused phrases, which obviously are not lacking.

Debate in Berlin
But the Traitors are potentially a whole society in disintegration.

The Great Leader doubles the money thrown from the windows of his palace and announces that the Wunderwaffe is almost ready.

The Great Leader is still followed by the majority, but he knows that even those who incite him today to hang the traitors from the light poles, may tomorrow ask for his head.

Because just as people erroneously attribute victories to an individual, they are ready to attribute defeats to him.

The leader governs by decree, he can impose things that were thought impossible, but - like the Dictator in Ancient Rome - then he still has to justify himself to an entire political system, and he knows that one day he may be dismissed.

Phase Four

Does the Wunderwaffe really exist? And if so, will it bring Victory?


Will the uprising be crushed by fines, mockery, media coverage, censorship, or will it spread everywhere before the Victory?

The majority of the people usually stay at their windows until almost the last moment, supporting in words the strongest, but with their antennas ready to perceive any weakness in the Great Leader's position. Things can change in an instant.

Let's give it a date, in spring, to see how it is going. Let's say around April 25 would you be okay with that? (*)


Obviously here we are talking about what happens inside a closed system. The Italy of today is part of a global system, from which it cannot prescind. But also the global system is involved in this war, and probably these reasonings are valid also for several other countries.

Translated with (free version)

(*) In Italy, April 25 is the anniversary of Italy's Liberation, also called the anniversary of the Resistance


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)