Russia, Italy and the (useless) teachings of history

Image: Arseniy Kotov (Mariupol)
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By ANGELO D'ORSI*

History teaches, but, again, as Antonio Gramsci wrote, “it has no students”

In the midst of the clash between revolution and counterrevolution in Russia after Lenin's victory, the western imperialist powers, and Japan, intervened militarily to give a hand to the "whites", that is, the counterrevolutionaries, led by Admiral Aleksander Kolchak, who created his anti-Bolshevik rule in Siberia, readily recognized by Western powers, including Italy.

Commented the socialist journalist Antonio Gramsci (on June 21, 1919, in The new order): “this recognition amounts to a declaration of war on the Russian people. The fact that the war was not conducted directly by Italian soldiers, but by the Japanese, is a matter that does not relieve the Italian State of the terrible responsibilities it has assumed. Politically and morally, the Italian State supports the anti-proletarian reaction in Russia; the blood that will be shed in the infamous war will also fall on the Italian people, if it does not dissociate all its responsibility from the Prime Minister's act”.

It is recommendable to read these words in the light of today in the face of the new and incessant “packages” of military, economic and “humanitarian” aid that Italy, a country led by a political class willing to bow its head before the powerful of national or international finance, a country that perhaps deserved a better fate, a country that would like, in the great majority of its inhabitants, to live in peace and be left in peace, as its Grundnorm, its fundamental law, that Constitution that for many years, governments of all orientations neglect, ignore, violate, silently.

The same real country, which is facing a very serious economic crisis, a crisis that affects the poor, the middle classes, and enriches the rich, and above all the pharmaceutical, energy and arms multinationals... more dismayed, the effect not only of the unjustified increase in prices, but also of the sanctions imposed on Russia, which are sanctions against Europe and against Italy, which only benefit the United States. Russia, which is no longer Lenin's Bolshevik, but which remains a century later the black beast of Westerners. And that the Westerners pushed for this war, which risks being endless. And with consequences both unpredictable and harrowing.

I leave the floor to Gramsci again: “However, in Italy too the rise in consumer prices has resumed: wages have plummeted. Lack of raw materials, lack of food. Italy, more than any other country, would need effective peace in the world, an immediate recovery of trade in raw materials and food markets”.

Yes, it would be Italy's vital interest, more than that of other countries, peace, the resumption of trade and, we add, of cultural and human relations. And instead, what happens? Governments succeed one another, months pass, soldiers and civilians die in the muddy fields of the “frontier land” (ie Ukraine), buildings crumble, what were cities a few months ago now look like heaps of ruins, famine joins the destruction, the hatred of some does not appease the resentment of others. And the Italian rulers, like those of almost all European Union states, subject to the will of Washington, repeat: “weapons for Ukraine, money for Ukraine, aid for Ukraine”, but, above all, ever heavier weapons, making it ridiculous the distinction between offensive and defensive weapons that served us in the first months of the conflict, a distinction that has disappeared.

“It would be in Italy's vital interest that the Russian government of the Soviets should be consolidated,” wrote Antonio Gramsci. Remove the reference to the Soviets and this article, dated June 1919, can be read as a chronicle of our time. A warning for us to think about building the conditions for peace, not to carry out a massacre that also affects us on an economic level, while, thanks to hordes of journalists in the pay of prefabricated truths, of commentators subservient to the mainstream, the big lie took hold of us all. Fighting the lie is getting more and more difficult, but we cannot stop doing it, even if it is to save our consciences.

And, instead, our country, today as a hundred years ago, writes Antonio Gramsci, “joins England, the United States, France and Japan to provoke a new formidable war in Russia, which will leave it, for an indefinite period, out of world trade. Our country consents to the United States continuing to exercise a monopoly on grain and to impose monopoly prices on food; it allows France and England to exercise a monopoly on coal and iron; consents to Japan to bring the mineral and agricultural reserves of Siberia under its control.” And the action of our government, today as then, “is aimed at ruining the Italian economy, starving the Italian people, making the Italian people a prey of international financial oligarchies”. History teaches, but, again, as Antonio Gramsci wrote, “it has no students”.

*Angelo D'Orsi He is full professor of History of Political Doctrines at the University of Turin. Author, among other books, of Gramsci. A new biography (popular expression).

Translation: Anselmo Pessoa Neto

Originally published on the portal l'antidiplomatic.

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