4 November: national holiday and the geopolitics of the Italians

(To Andrea Forte)

The Italians, understood as a national community, do not have a geopolitical-strategic self-awareness and the national holiday of November 4th, the “Day of National Unity and the Armed Forces”, offers an excellent opportunity to describe this unawareness. From a geopolitical point of view, here under consideration, it can in a certain sense be said of a national community: "Tell me what and how you celebrate and I'll tell you who you are."

Detecting what a community chooses to celebrate and how it chooses to celebrate it highlights what perception of itself it has and how this feeling may or may not be functional to the defense of its strategic interest. What does the sense that a people have of themselves as an organized collectivity live on? What animates its fiber? What flows in your most lively anthropological veins? What price are these people willing to pay to obtain what they believe to be their mission in the world, the meaning of their being there? This is the geopolitical point that we want to look at through the window of November 4th.

On November 4, 1918, the Italians hear a proclamation from Armando Diaz, supreme commander of the Italian army, it is the Victory Bulletin, in which it is announced that their country, Italy, has won the war against the Austrian Empire. Hungarian. The blow for Austria-Hungary is final, the defeat becomes collapse and dissolution in various states. We Italians are not the only ones to have caused this implosion, but we have certainly contributed to it, a contribution that has bled the country from every point of view (just think of the approximately 650.000 fallen).

What do you remember with this festival, established in 1919? It starts from the name of the party itself, National Unity and Armed Forces Day. The name itself has nothing wrong with it (geopolitics does not make judgments, but argues) and yet it is at the same time very indicative of the feeling of Italians. In fact, on November 4, 1918, the Italians won. Victory.

At first glance, criticizing not remembering an event with its closest name may seem like linguistic sophistry, academic fussiness, yet it is revealing. Calling an event by its name expresses the ability to take charge of the narrower meaning of what that event means. A victory is a victory, but it is also a victory in geopolitics if, as a community, the same wants and is capable of carrying the weight. Weight, geopolitically, because a victory, as the result of a clash, involves an effort and use of force against someone, with the relative acceptance of the price to be paid to obtain it. In order to have this type of cultural availability, the war necessary for that victory the Italian people would have had to want, rather than passively accept it (at least at the beginning it is the case for the non-screaming mass, but the majority), to want it and want it as recognized as an expression of itself, but it is more a certain part of the ruling class in power and a certain way of understanding the ruling class even of those who oppose it, which leads the Italians into war.

Of course, after Caporetto, on the Piave and in Vittorio Veneto, the Italians are resurrected, they save the country, but they do so because at that moment they feel that the war is different, it is no longer due to power (in fact we did not want only Trento and Trieste, but also Austrian South Tyrol, Dalmatia and Istria - partly Slavic - and then a piece of Albania, Turkey etc ..), but for the salvation of the homeland, not for Trento then, but for Venice, not for Trieste, but for Milan, for Padua and Bologna ... So a "new" war for the survival of Italy itself.

Therefore, if you look for the feeling of the Italians about that war, then it turns out that they were not fully convinced of that war: they paid the price to defend the existence of Italy, more to give it power. The intimate fiber of the Italian people today considers the cost of power and therefore of that war unnecessary. It accomplishes us geographically / strategically and works very well for national homogenization, yet today more than victory it turns out that Italians celebrate the end of the war as an end: the end of suffering, deaths, hunger, life in the trenches. Simply fine.

On 1917 August XNUMX, Pope Benedict XV, in the Letter of the Holy Father Benedict XV to the leaders of the belligerent peoples, defines that war a useless massacre, a definition that corresponds to the perception that Italians today, but also many other European peoples, have of that tragedy.

"Useless" is a moral position, but it becomes geopolitical if, describing how Italians feel that war, it reveals its sense of self and strategic direction. It is a war in which great leaders are not celebrated, but the unknown soldier, the corpse of an unknown fallen, as a symbol (always from a geopolitical point of view) of the absurdity of that massacre, which was, in fact, in the perception of costs, useless. .

Here the point is not to recognize that, during that war, there is not even a shadow of Napoleon or Caesar among the generals of our country, but to see how instead of heroes, in the mythology of the great war there is the people , like a new anonymous mass hero, a new myth yes, but a symbol of passivity, that is, a symbol of an apparently innocent, illiterate and sheepish people, certainly deserving for the victory, but not guilty of the guilt of having wanted it and victim for having paid for it the price, thus obtaining not wanting to assume responsibility as a national community. Whether morally this is good or bad does not matter, geopolitically it only matters that what happened was a victory, but felt like a victory to save Italy, not a great power for Italy.

National pedagogy serves to tell oneself and the world who one is and who one has been. This means first of all choosing what name to give to one's collective experiences.

Each name expresses a perception of itself, therefore it is subject to geopolitical analysis. It must therefore be said that the current name of the festival corresponds to a memory that does not bear the weight of what that war was, that is, an instrument of power, with which something was obtained that was wanted for some reason, right or wrong that was the specific war, but rather expresses the idea of ​​a grandparents' war, a folklore that lives on family memories, rather than collective myths.

If one wanted to make that victory a founding myth, with a different geopolitical direction, that war could be called it "Victory party" or teach her how "Fourth war of independence". Why do these names express a different geopolitical consciousness? Because they tell us how a people transform their memory, to make it an element of their ability to defend the national interest, thanks to the sincere acceptance of their past.. Winning or losing does not count in itself, but the perception of one's victories and defeats does matter.

There are those who prove themselves giant even in losing and tell others as such, and if their propaganda is effective geopolitically, even the geopolitical competitor will tend to believe it. For example, Russia celebrates the victory against Nazism in World War II every year on May 9th. What is the party called? Victory day, and since for them it is the fundamental war of their survival, they do not call it World War II, but Great Patriotic War, that is, they tell it as they perceive it, war for the life or death of what they are and were.

National pedagogy, mythical tale, sense of oneself. All this is said in a party. Who you are, what mission you attribute to yourself, what you want to achieve, what price you paid and whether you are still willing to pay it.

Geopolitics pauses to observe how a war, whether it is useless or not, whether it is right or not, speaks of the people who fought it, showing us what perception that people have of themselves. It tells us what it is willing to pay to remain in the world as a people. A people that recognizes a war as wrong, but which at the same time celebrates its efforts in achieving victory, remembering the reasons, just or unjust, of those sacrifices, recognizes the history of its own identity, and only in this way chooses whether to continue to be that people. or change, whether to accept or take a leap towards something else.

Those who do not have the courage to look at themselves and their past do not even do it with their present. Geopolitics must underline how this has enormously to do with power, as the ability to defend the national interest.

With November 4th, the Italians are geopolitically telling the world that they have let themselves be massacred unnecessarily and that they choose to celebrate the price as a price, in its absurdity, in place of the stakes achieved with that price.

The memory of an event, the choice to celebrate it and how to celebrate it are factors of power, or rather of potential that can, if elaborated and experienced by the community in a certain way, transcend potentiality in strength and strength in potentiality, and if lived in another, to become factors of weakness and therefore impotence.

Ultimately it can be said that if a community, with respect to a war, remembers the price, it means that geopolitically pursues morality and well-being, if instead it celebrates the desired goal, achieved or not, it pursues power. Italians pursue morality, well-being and helplessness, that is ipso facto the moral of impotence.

Photo: Ministry of Defense / web / Kremlin / Quirinale