1. Dialectics of Unconstitutionality
The title of this piece is also that of the conference that will take place in Bologna on May 31st, 1998, co-organized by the Luther Blissett Project (North-Etruscan Unitary Command) and the Link Project center. Several semiologists, Internet activists, cultural workers and victims of religious persecution will meet up and talk about the new cultural "emergencies". Since the Seventies, in the Italian political discourse "emergenza" means a re-definition and re-description of the "public enemy", by which the suspension of rights formally warranted by the 1948 Constitution is made not only acceptable to the "public opinion", but even necessary and desirable in order to 'defend democracy'.
In 1975, some ultra-restrictive bills on public order, detention and imprisonment were passed under the name Legge Reale. Since then Italians have been living under the so-called 'emergency legislation', which was never abrogated. The emergency legislation was palmed off on the "public opinion" as indispensable in order to fight "terrorism". Actually the Legge Reale allowed the police to shoot and kill with impunity strikers, demonstrators and passers-by, which happened several times since then. In some way, the emergency legislation established a judicial language which echoed that of the Holy Inquisition, e.g. the "terrorists" who surrendered were called 'pentiti' [repentants]. The main consequence was the so-called 'cultura del sospetto' [culture of suspicion]: the word of a "repentant" was (and still is) enough to keep people in jail for years without a trial, despite the 'presumption of innocence' warranted by article 25 of the Constitution. You don't need to be an ultra-leftist affected by an 'infantile disorder' to realize that 'formal constitutions' are no effective obstacle to the unfolding of 'material constitutions' towards a society of global control and moral panic. There's always a big emergency to justify unconstitutionality. "Democracy" as the rule is little more than a hoax, emergencies as exceptions are the real thing. The only reason why this cannot be called pessimism is that we'll never accept things as they are. Luther Blissett has thrown herself heart and soul into counter-investigation and the exposure of emergencies. The Legge Reale set the precedent and provided the blueprint for any subsequent emergency law. An emergency bill is overtly unconstitutional and written in a hurry, under the pressure of media sensationalism. The parliament - no matter its composition - always passes the bill in one sitting and almost no amendments. Sometimes the bill is not even discussed in the parliament: the government - no matter its political stance - simply proclaims a decree (e.g. the infamous, shamelessly unconstitutional Decreto Maroni against soccer hooliganism, 1994).
2. The Rhetoric Of Emergencies
In the mid-eighties, "terrorism" was gradually replaced by a more manifold emergency: organized crime, drugs and political corruption (bribery). In the early nineties magistrates became popular heroes owing to the 'Clean Hands' inquiry on corrupted politicians. The more magistrates fostered the culture of suspicion, the more the "public opinion" would love them. In 1996 started the euro-emergency of "paedophilia" and child porn. The culture of suspicion snowballed into the craziest moral panic and caused a homophobic shockwave, the parliament passed an emergency bill on child porn and censorship was proposed as the solution to any problem. The intrusiveness of the judiciary reached new heights of absurdity. Social control is invading the soundings of individual personality. The latest emergencies are being constructed in order to scan and discipline cultural singularities. During the emergency of "terrorism" the state appealed to 'the citizens' duty', 'the rigor of the law' and 'the reason of State'. Those values and virtues were immanent to public life. During the emergency of crime and corruption the state still appealed to public virtues, but the most popular concept was 'honesty'. Everybody would talk about that evanescent, indefinable value. As a virtue, "Honesty" is not entirely public: it is on the borderline between private and public life, a transcendent thing that has to do with the "soul".
During the emergency of "paedophilia", the disgusting nice-ism of the Ulivo culture can only give us simplistic, tautological non-explanations: the bad guys aren't bad for any ideological reason (terrorists), nor because of greed and cupidity (bribed politicians, drug smugglers). No, they're bad simply because they're bad, there's nothing else to say, they're monsters, they're wicked, the evil ones, they're different from "us". "We" are good people, "we" are "normal". These notions of monstrosity and normality are introduced as *absolutely transcendent*, they have neither a history nor an evolution. They are considered *eternal*. Enter the "spiritual" emergency - alternative religions, 'neo-paganism' and 'crazy cults'.
3. Fuck Voltaire And Turn Out The Lights
The Musti-Blissett affair is the logical evolution of the Children of Satan affair: the emergency reflects (upon) itself. Our book 'Lasciate che i bimbi' deconstructed the theories behind a case of arbitrary detention, cultural persecution and character assassination, explaining that the judiciary scam had been organized in the catholic milieu and was backed by the Curia of Bologna [the local ecclesiastic authority]. That affair had a microcosmic importance. Bologna has always functioned as a symbolic key-point and a laboratory of repression. She's always been administered by the old "Communist" party and described as a commendable example of social democracy. This party propaganda "won" the attention of P2/fascist/state terrorists (the 1980 train station bombing, two other train bombings in 1974 and 1984, the gang of the White Uno in the early nineties). Bologna also attracts the symbolic and material investments of the Catholic church: a town whose inhabitants are considered pleasure-loving, godless and even a little bit too decadent can't help having the most reactionary Curia, the new Inquisition represented by the GRIS [Group of Research and Information on Cults] and the religious intolerance that provoked the arrest and detention of the Children of Satan. That trial was the prelude to a national witch hunt that's starting these days, which explains why the Public Prosecutor Lucia Musti has just filed an appeal against the acquittal of the defendants and wants to ban our book. They can't afford losing the trial, because they're investing their credibility on a national emergency.
The Ucigos (one of our numberless intelligence agencies) has just released an official report on cults commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This alarmist document is so much based upon the grossest ignorance that the list of potentially dangerous cults in view of the 2000 Roman Jubilee (i.e. the Holy Year of Christianity, a colossal lunar park that will attract pilgrims from every corner of the world) includes innocuous cultural associations, New Age groups and even psychotherapeutic schools (e.g. the Associazione Italiana di Ontopsicologia). Anyway, this report is against the freedom of religion formally warranted by the Constitution at the articles 8 and 19. The Ucigos was certainly prompted by Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (i.e. the former Holy Office). The report to the Internal Affairs is simply a lay version of the imminent encyclical against New Age, neo-paganism, neo-sincretism etc. The grandious project of the Monotheist International (the reunion of the Christian religions and a planetary agreement with Islamism and Hebraism) must not be disrupted by people who profess other values. The Pope needs a new emergency. Look at the European continent: the Vatican City is the only absolutist gerontocratic monarchy built upon the exclusion of women. Our politicians consider Italy a Vatican colony. Our false left wing has never been so subaltern to the Church. We have a government whose Minister of Health is a 50-year-old virgin (she made the Vow of Chastity!) who is against abortion, condoms and homosexuality. Thanks to the spectacle of the Jubilee, we have witnessed opportunistic conversions to Catholicism (e.g. that of the Mayor of Rome, formerly a member of the staunchly anti-clerical Radical Party), the capital is being devastated and plundered by building companies, and public funds are dissipated for this obscene circus. Priests and pious humbugs always get the last word about drugs, censorship and many other social and cultural issues. We also got a brand new Code of TV Self-Regulation written up by a bunch of sexophobic bureaucrats. A Sicilian priest who claims to be 'a hunter of paedophiles on the Internet' has become one of the main consultants of the Parliament on the issue of electronic communications.
Dr. Richard Barbrook has got a point: sometimes we feel as the last heirs and defenders of Enlightenment. Now that you got the picture, we can return to the latest emergency.
4. Towards The Absolute Emergency
As we wrote above, the persecution of the Children of Satan in Bologna had an experimental function. More useful information: on January 1997, a few weeks before the beginning of the trial, L'Osservatore Romano (the official Vatican daily paper) started to publish a series of articles about the dangers of Satanism. This series was edited by Giuseppe Ferrari, the president of the GRIS. Ferrari himself wrote the first piece, titled 'The Phenomenon Of Satanism In The Contemporary Society'. He described Satanism as an absolute emergency, drawing alarmist conclusions from a hopeless mess of rumours, cliches and urban myths. No specific examples, no precedents, no statistics. Moreover, Ferrari extended to excess the definition of 'Satanism', including 'other groups that do not intend to present themselves as Satanists and, for example, claim to practice pagan rituals in order to harmonize with the occult powers of nature. As a matter of fact, these groups are suspect and we can include them in the multi-form world of Satanism'. Such a mysterious sentence was aimed at accusing a whole constellation of various movements, cults and philosophies.
L'Osservatore Romano also hosted an article written by, guess who, Lucia Musti, who was prosecuting the Children of Satan. Her article, titled 'Legal And Juridical Aspects of Satanism', was a masterpiece of unconstitutionality, ignoring all the articles guaranteeing freedom of speech, creed and association, let alone the presumption of innocence. Musti took for granted the raving stories told by her 'super-witness', the false "repentant" Elisabetta Dozza, and turned that bullshit into a matter of juridical speculation: 'The victims of such actions are usually women, very often made incapable of understanding and are willing by virtue of having taken adulterated drinks or drugs, or they are minors, even of a tender age. These latter have a particular significance in satanic rituals, in that the painful mistreatment of a child, who by definition is pure and close to God, means causing suffering to God himself and, thus, giving pleasure to Satan.'
We'd like to know how many other cases Musti happened to handle before drawing such general and definitive conclusions. Yet more crap: 'Regarding the intimidating power of the membership bond, and of the condition of subjection and its resulting silence, a phrase taken from Art. 416 of the Penal Code (Mafia-related association), also seems to apply to Satanism, when one considers the particular condition of the members, who are tools in the hands of the Satanists, as mentioned above.' And so on. However, the Church not only represses, she also recuperates. It is impossible to understand her geopolitical strategy as a transnational superpower without making this important point and giving some examples. In 1991, once the Latin American 'Liberation Theology' was annihilated and capitalism's spectacular sparring-partner ("Communism") had collapsed, Pope John Paul II recuperated the phraseology of those movements and ideologies, especially the social issues which they had pushed onto the stage of history (albeit in a distorted way). The Pope issued an encyclical called 'Centesimus Annus' (to mark the hundred anniversary of 'Populorum Progressio', the first "social" encyclical). It was a brilliant exercise of hypocritical anti-capitalist rhetoric, which Toni Negri reviewed in an article titled 'The Fifth International Of John Paul II' (no English translation available yet).
In 1997, during the national Eucharistical Congress which took place in Bologna, Bob Dylan played and sang for the Pope and shook John Paul's hand. After decades spent claiming that rock is the music of the Devil, suddenly several bishops and Catholic opinion-leaders started to draw distinction between 'good rock' (or 'white rock') and 'bad rock' (or 'black rock'). They argued that white rock's mass liturgy as ratified in Woodstock, at the Live Aid etc. effectively creates a community, nay, an ecumene. Simultaneously, the Church started to attack techno and rave culture, which is hardly surprising. Catholics cannot recuperate techno, because the liturgy is too different, there's no stage, no rockstar playing a sacerdotal role and what's more, no lyrics, no explicit content. Rave culture is unacceptable. The spectacular function of Bob 'the prodigal son' Dylan (a converted Jew to boot!) was allowing the beatification of 'granny's rock' and the "demonization" of today's less controllable phenomena.
To sum up: the "heroisation" of magistrates brought about by the previous emergencies created monsters like Lucia Musti. The emergency of "paedophilia", thanks to the myth of 'ritual abuse', has made possible the present attacks on 'dangerous cults'. In their turn, such attacks are likely to create a global cultural, indeed "spiritual" emergency.
Jesus is coming. Look busy.
Luther Blissett Project, 20-21 May 1998