Monday, November 3, 2008
Sandwich Shop Evoliani
The New York Times Style Magazine is a generally a good read as it has pretty models, often showcases the elegance and aesthetics of better, past times as well as whatever vapid, cosmopolitan crap du jour the ruling classes are eating up. In the Men's Fashion Fall issue, there was an article on the paninari, subject of the great Pet Shop Boys song. For those who don't know (and I didn't until I read the article, I thought the song was just about buying Italian brand clothes in NYC), this was a subculture of Italian kids who emerged as a reaction to the darker or crustier groups such as Punks and Goths and whose "fashion choices were a way of socializing and publicly embracing appropriation- specifically, the American dream as defined by the quick and easy pop culture culture of the Reagan era. (For an Italian of a previous generation, a slow death would be preferable to a diet of foil-wrapped hamburgers, French fries and Cokes.)
What really caught my eye is the youth second to the far right of the picture with the Celtic cross tshirt and upon closer inspection (see close up) an Iron Cross on his pant leg. Given that this picture was snapped in Italy during the late 1970s or early 80s, it can well be assumed that this symbolism was supportive of certain ultraviolent neofascisti groups operating during the time as part of a dirty war against various far left gangs, the Brigate Rosse being the most famous. Of course, it later came out that the whole Blacks vs. Reds conflict was wholly superficial as generally both sides were being controlled by the CIA and NATO as a part of the last rampart of World War III, i.e. the [not so] Cold War, in an effort to protect Western Europe from Soviet invasion. Now while American and Western European anticommunist tactics played no small part in the downfall of Stalinist tyranny, the outcome was pretty inevitable given the crapshack of economic theories the USSR was founded on, not to mention the eternal truth of all totalitarianisms: they are their own wost enemy.
Of course, the whole dichotomy of the Cold War, that it was between two different economic systems: Free Market Capitalism vs. State Socialism/Communism was utterly false. As we all know, capitalism in the West is hardly based on free enterprise and a lack of government intrusion. Instead we see corporate welfare and a litany of laws designed to complicate and prevent any upstart small businesses from flourishing or the individual worker from selling his labor to the highest bidder. As for the USSR and other supposed socialist countries, as anyone with knowledge of theoretical socialism (either Marxian or non-Marxian) will tell you, the USSR and China are what is more properly defined a state capitalism as the industries within these countries were owned either fully or in part by the state apparatus and controlled by party bureaucrats. So while the fall of the Soviet Union and its various satellites led people such as Francis Fukuyama to declare victory for free market capitalism as part of a neo-Hegelian interpretation of the "End of History", as we have since seen (in addition to my previous remarks on the lack of truly free markets and enterprise) with such recent events as the Wall Street bailout, it is really state capitalism which is evolving and becoming the dominant, world wide economic system.
But getting back to the youth in the picture, what I find most amusing about the whole scenario is that certain elements, in fact the most radical sections, of the rightist terror gangs operating during the Years of Lead considered themselves disciples of Julius Evola. As such, they saw themselves as not simply fighting against just Commies but also against democracy, capitalism and the most levelling and tyranically banal aspects of modernism. They wanted to create a hierarchal, spiritually pagan and autarkic order to replace the most profane aspects of Western liberal democracy, in short everything the paninari stood for. Of course, the Gladio operation wasn't simply about protecting Western Europe from Soviet imperialism out of some heartfelt love of liberty and desire to protect those with whom we share a common heritage. It was also about imperialism, but of the order of Scrooge McDuck capitalism and the shiny barbarism of consumer culture. As I've mentioned in previous posts, a healthy, strong and independent Europe was viewed with suspicion from the State Department and their corporate friends as the cases of Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland seemed to prove the possibility of having a burgeoning upwardly mobile society while still providing such basic amenities as free health care and education. Of course since the victory of American domination over Europe we've seen these once socially democratic governments turn against their citizens with the most absurd, politically correct laws imaginable while accepting the most destitute and parasitical sections of the Third World, inevitably putting such a strain on the social services as to make them essentially worthless. There is no doubt that this will accumulate into a socio-economic crisis of Malthusian proportions within only a few years. End of History or civilization as we know it? As Rosa Luxemburg put it: Socialism or Barbarism? I think we all know which one is coming...