A vitriolic separatist says it’s time for Italy’s northern regions to declare independence from “a lazy and spendthrift South.”
The author neatly divides his native land into two polar-opposite halves: Northern Italy, including his Veneto region, he argues, is full of hardworking, law-abiding, tax-paying, civic-minded paragons; southern Italy, however—Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Campania, Molise and Puglia—is a cesspool of sloth, venality and organized crime where inhabitants survive mainly by parasitizing government budgets funded by northern taxpayers. Drawing on press reports, Giuliano rehashes a long litany of southern crimes and outrages: Mafia assassinations and extortions; squalid hospitals whose budgets are siphoned off to corruption and whose patients are routinely killed by incompetent doctors and nurses; lousy schools that give diplomas to illiterates; judicial bribery; illegal dumping of toxic waste; insurance fraud, welfare fraud, tax fraud, accounting fraud, all kinds of fraud. The rot is spreading to all of Italy, the author warns, carried by southerners who dominate national politics, the legal profession and public administration like some kind of occupying army. The author insists that the only hope for victimized northerners is political autonomy, complete with the refounding of the old Venetian Republic. Giuliano’s heated rejoinder to Italy’s long-running debate over the Southern Question disavows any racist sentiment but traffics in the broadest of stereotypes, harping on the irreconcilable cultural divide between the “Germanic” heritage of northern Italians and the alleged Middle-Eastern background of southerners. But he goes beyond sectional and ethnic animosities to mount an omnidirectional attack on almost every institution and political actor in Italy, inveighing against communists on the left, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the right, and even “the absurd and intolerable privileges of the Vatican.” The abuses Giuliano spotlights are real and dire, and his jeremiad, though one-sided, illustrates the widely shared anguish over Italy’s manifold dysfunctions. Unfortunately, the problematic prose greatly weakens his scattershot critique; repetitive, disorganized and riddled with errors of grammar, syntax and idiom, the English translation needs serious editing.
A caustic but unpersuasive case for breaking Italy apart.