25th of April – La Liberazione
Italy – 25th of April 1945
Partisans won their war liberating last northern Italian cities. Nazis’ surrendered and left the country. Italian Fascists, the RSI army who was supporting the Nazis’, were finally defeated. Three days later Mussolini was killed, regime was over, Italy became a free country. On a Monarchy vs Democracy referendum Italians opted for the second. The Italian Constitution was written built on those values. It bans the formation of any fascist party. It is still valid and applicable.
Italy – 25th of April 2008
Italian elections sanctioned the end of any parliamentary delegation of a party originating from the values of the Resistance.
No party with a socialist, Marxist, anti-fascist, feminist, ecologist background will be represented in Italian politics next 5 years.
On the contrary many members of the next parliament belong to a post-fascist party and started their political activity as fascists. Among them, Mussolini’s granddaughter, openly proud of her grandpa. Their logo contains a burning tricolour flame. That flame symbolizes “the fire that never burns out” perpetually blazing next to Mussolini’s grave.
The nice thing of a blog, compared to a proper music magazine, is that I can use it in a slightly selfish way. Instead of writing just for readers, I let Billy Bragg sing for me.
“Stand up, all victims of oppression
For the tyrants fear your might
Don’t cling so hard to your possessions
For you have nothing, if you have no rights
Let racist ignorance be ended
For respect makes the empires fall
Freedom is merely privilege extended
Unless enjoyed by one and all”
(The Internationale, Billy Bragg)
Literally it would have been more appropriate to post a portfolio of the Welsh band “Future of the Left”, but I haven’t got them in my archive and, beyond their brilliant name, I don’t even know if they are politically meaning it.
I have been listening to protest songs quite a lot since Italian elections’ results.
Billy Bragg music has that powerful capability of making you feel better and stronger; it gives hope and that sense of belonging that only revolutionary songs can do.
I got the occasion to go deeper into the lyrics discovering how much, despite his undisputed “Englishness”, they are compatible with the Italian situation.
“The party that became so powerful
By sinking foreign boats*
Is dreaming up new promises
Because promises win votes
And being resolute in conference
With the ad man’s expertise
The majority by their silence
Shall pay for days like these”
*The Tories were returned to power with an increased majority following the Falklands War
(Days Like These, Billy Bragg)
Next Italian Prime Minister, thanks to a successful strategy, will be Silvio Berlusconi, again.
His success has been built thanks to the empire he owns. Among the other things, three national television channels, several magazines and newspapers, publishing, financial, insurance and advertising companies and even the most successful Italian football team. You can acknowledge that in over 20 years of subtle propaganda molding Italian minds to his childish values, it has not been too difficult to be backed by majority of the population.
Of course, this wouldn’t be possible in any other country of the world, call it Italian anomaly, it happened.
“When one voice rules the nation
Just because they’re top of the pile
Doesn’t mean their vision is the clearest
The voices of the people
Are falling on deaf ears
Our politicians all become careerists
They must declare their interests
But not their company cars
Is there more to a seat in parliament
Then sitting on your arse
And the best of all this bad bunch
Are shouting to be heard
Above the sound of ideologies clashing”
(Ideology, Billy Bragg)
Billy Bragg is English and, being English means, to an Italian being primarily honest with yourself and with others. It means a committed respect of the rules which is just another word for democracy.
Billy Bragg lyrics are strongly involved with the fight against the power, the desire of a better world, but they contain a deep romanticism and a dark humour that is an unsurpassed aspect of the British culture.
“I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
Is it wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care
I don’t want to change the world
I’m not looking for a new England
I’m just looking for another girl”
(New England, Billy Bragg)
My friends tell me it is not nice to leave your country then complain about its situation. True, although the reason why people are not conspiring against a regime, why a liberation war is not being fought in Italy at present is very simple: Italy is unquestionably a democracy. Italians could choose their government and they could vote for a change. They haven’t. One option on my table was to leave the country.
Leaving your native land is not an easy choice. You leave your origins to explore something new. It is as personal as geographical. You are perceived as a foreign in your new place and you feel disoriented visiting back home. A lot of pros and cons go on either England vs Italy balance pans.
When I went for England in 2001, Berlusconi’s second government was just starting, my English pan was quite rich. April 2008, he is back there, stronger, my Italian pan has become even weaker.
“What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we lay down our weary guns
When we return home to our wives and families
And look into the eyes of our sons
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade
Will you say that we were brave
As the shells fell all around us
Or that we wept and cried for our mothers
And cursed our fathers
For forgetting that all men are brothers
Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away
And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love
Brothers in arms in each other arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid
What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had
(Tender Comrade, Billy Bragg)
So this is the perfect period to listen to Billy Bragg new album.
Mr Love and Justice is a brilliant work. He is coherent with his belief. He never lose contact with the present. He adapts his view to the up-to-date news without giving up hopes for a better future.
“The policemen broke my door down
Dragged me from my bed
I asked them what was happening
They just ignored the words I said
They waved their guns in my face
Kept screaming out my name
Something terrible had happened
And somehow I was to blame
My accusers formed a jury
The Judge and the defence
The charges were made known to me
But not the evidence
There was no guilty verdict
Yet still I was detained
Flown to another country where
Their methods are less constrained
In our determination
To defend democracy
We must not destroy the safeguards
That underpin our liberty
For who will pay the price if
Injustice such as this
Turns our protectors to oppressors
And angry men to terrorists
O freedom, what liberties are taken in thy name
In thy name
O freedom, what liberties are taken
What liberties are taken
What liberties are taken in thy name”
(O Freedom, Billy Bragg)
Five years, Italy, five more years than you’ll have your chance again. I’ll be waiting listening to good music, never giving up hope.
“People are on the move
People got a lot to prove
People are moving on
George Bush will soon be gone
Co-operation, not competition
Co-operation, is not sedition”
(The Old Clash Fan’s Fight Song, Billy Bragg as Johnny Clash)