A strong leader stands in an un-drained swamp.
“It’s so easy to laugh,
It’s so easy to hate,
It takes guts to be gentle and kind”
Lyrics by Morrissey to ‘I Know It’s Over’ by The Smiths
A recent survey carried out by the newspaper La Repubblica found that 80% of Italians think the country needs to be run by “un uomo forte” (a strong man). In 2006, only 55% of the populace subscribed to this view while 60% held this belief in 2010.
This rising trend is worrying and depressing on many counts. It indicates that more and more voters are willing to be represented by leaders solely on the basis that they adopt strong opinions and maintain a posture of decisiveness.
On the surface this may seem logical and uncontroversial. After all, who would want a leader to be weak and indecisive? The problem lies with what exactly is meant by the word ‘strong’. Continue reading
Being the nearest city to Benito Mussolini’s birthplace in Predappio, Forlì in Emilia-Romagna has the dubious honour of being forever guilty by association with the infamous Fascist dictator.
This makes it a fitting location for an exhibition of art and life in Italy between the world wars.
Novecento (the 1900s) in the elegant San Domenico gallery, is a comprehensive journey back to a period of time from 1918 up to 1943, the year of Mussolini’s death. Continue reading
IL CONFORMISTA directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy, 1970)
In the 1970s, as I teenager, I conformed to my family expectations by supporting Walsall Football Club (which, for the benefit of American readers, is a ‘soccer’ team!).
Their stadium, Fellow’s Park, was walking distance from my grandmother’s home and the routine was that, every other Saturday afternoon, my mom and dad would drop me off outside the stadium. I would go to the match and then have egg and chips at Gran’s. My two elder brothers had done the same at my age.
For about three seasons I only missed a handful of home games despite the fact that Walsall were not, and still aren’t, a prestigious team. They survive in the lower divisions with moments of glory confined to the occasional good run in the FA Cup.My support was not dependant on them winning trophies but based on a loyalty that meant I stuck by them through thick and thin (mostly the latter!).
Most of my school friends claimed to be supporters of big teams like Manchester United or Arsenal but only ever watched their heroes on Match of the Day. They almost never went to actual games and I always told them that what they were doing was ‘following’ the team, not supporting them.
It’s very easy to cheer for a winning side and pledging allegiance to a soccer team can be broadly likened to maintaining a steadfast belief in a political cause.This is by way of a tenuous link to Bertolucci’s movie which is set in the 1930s. Continue reading