PM5614: On Italy

Italy is an artifical country, a creation of 19th century nationalism. Prior to then, it had always been divided into several different entities, albeit with a certain degree of common culture. You’d have to go back to the Roman Empire to find the whole penisula under one rule; but then Italy wasn’t a country either, just part of a much broader Empire. If it passes, we shouldn’t mourn it; just see it as the ending of a regrettable mistake, or maybe just one of those adolescent phases one has to go through. Like a corporate divestment, the individual parts will be stronger than the whole was; and with the European Union as an overarching authority, there is little need for the Italian national government. And I could make similar comments about other European states, like Spain or Germany or France or the United Kingdom (although in some cases, the amalgamations of separate countries which produced them occurred earlier than in the Italian case).

Right now, Italy is having a big problem with immigration. But really, Italy has a long history of immigration — Greek colonisation of southern Italy, the Germanic invasions of the North at the end of the Western Roman Empire, the Byzantine reconquest, the Arabs in Sicily, the Normans, so on we go. During the Roman Empire, Rome itself was a big immigration magnet, sucking in people from all corners of a vast Empire, and even beyond — many came willingly seeking their fortune, others came unwillingly as slaves. So, Italy has a great history of immigration too, and the current immigration is only unusual if one is ignorant of history.

Silvio Berlusconi is a joke and he makes his whole country look like a joke too. Bunga bunga! Well, at least his antics keep us amused. Some of his strategies for dealing with immigration are rather amusing - "France will not help us with our immigration problem? Let's build detention camps on the French border, put the immigrants in there - and then give them dayleave passes so they can go out for a stroll - hopefully they'll stroll over the border into France and never come back..." The immigrants are happy (many North Africans speak better French than Italian), and the Italians are happy too.

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