Are we becoming more and more Italiano?

Last night’s late night television on BBC 2 was riveting. It began with “This World” at 11.20 in which reporter Mark Franchetti investigated Italy’s Camorra who operate in and around Naples. Its hold on the city is extensive. It was followed by “Gomorrah” a film set in Naples which exposes the murky world of this Neapolitan mafia in a series of five interlinked stories. Both programmes are still available on iPlayer and are well worth watching.

In the first programme “This World” there was some hope for the future. Accompanying the recognition of the need for reform, instead of the inevitable shrug and  the dull inert acceptance of “that’s the way it is”, there was a glimpse of a new younger generation willing to offer an alternative at great personal risk. The second programme exposed the inevitability of people with no hope, the urban poor and uneducated, ending up in the clutches of the Camorra.

To me at least, both programmes begged the question:- Are we becoming more and more Italian – but without the style?  Just call to mind the

  • politicians on the make and take;
  • the bribing of the electorate;
  • growing underclass;
  • bureaucratic torpor;
  • organised crime;
  • parallel black economy;
  • fly tipping including disposal of toxic waste;
  • burning woodland
  • no go areas;
  • distribution of counterfeit goods;
  • ignoring of traffic signage;
  • inflated car insurance;

and that’s just Naples and Italy. As an example, everybody’s familiar with the mountains of rubbish in the streets of Naples; in part that’s ever so deliberate as it attracts tranches of central government “clean up” money which in turn can be embezzled by the Camorra.

 Forza Norn Iron!

  • Gomorrah the film does absolutely no justice whatsoever to the magnificence of the book, which is not only a stunning exposition of the grip of the Camorra on the lives of ordinary people in Naples, but also the best lesson you are going to get in how globalisation really works, and what its consequences are for workers, consumers, and the environment. Everyone should read it.

    As for corruption on the island of Ireland. Can’t make up my mind as to whether things are better or worse than Italy.

  • Nunoftheabove

    I guess we could all wait around until, say The Beast From The East’s daughter’s wedding day and ask him to fuck away off. He could hardly refuse, right ?

    Or, maybe a full-deniability reasonable nuanced offer can be made through the various back channels to the so-called dissidents to leave the gun and to take the cannoli. Oughta work.

    “You know Michael, now that you’re so respectable, I think you’re more dangerous than you ever were. In fact, I prefer you when you were just a common Mafia hood.”

  • anne warren

    President Obama appears to agree with Garibaldi’s analysis and has just declared war on the Mafia

    From Obama’s letter to Congress announcing the Executive Order:
    “Significant transnational criminal organizations have become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States, and their activities have reached such scope and gravity that they destabilize the international system. These groups have taken advantage of globalization and other factors to diversify their geographic scope and range of activities. They have increased and deepened their ties to governments and the international financial system, relying not only on bribery and violence, but also more and more on the ability to exploit differences among countries and to create and maintain legal facades to hide illicit activities.”

    Read more:

  • Cheers for that Anne. I think I’ll mention again here that I advocate the withdrawal of the unjust extradition request against Seán Garland and hope a letter appears about that too!

  • Garribaldi, thanks for the tip to read the book on Gomorrah, I certainly will. Italy used to be the benchmark for organised crime siphoning public monies in the European Community, as evidenced by the EAGGF auditors among others, but elsewhere has caught up fast and not just in agricultural frauds.

    The Italian concept of Furbo is intriguing. It means crafty, clever, sly depending on the context. If someone jumps your queue they are considered furbo or smart, or dodges taxes or falsely claims benefits then furbo as in clever, or avoids taking responsibility then furbo as in cute. But reactions to this are different as Italians applaud those who use cunning to seek an advantage. But is it any different here? While we don’t applaud we don’t condemn either.

    And we are active participants too. The PSNI estimate that there are up to 180 crime gangs in Northern Ireland engaged in counterfeiting and fuel smuggling. A lot of people are buying the stuff. Maybe we have all become a little dishonest.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Cultural values are different of course. The homegrown sneaking regard for cute hooriness is not that far departed from the esteem in which cunning is held in parts of Italian society and it’s by no means the preserve of the lower echelons of society either – it’s mainstream as the political class in the south have been showing us since before CJH.

    When it comes to knock-off gear, counterfeiting and what not there is somelevel of hypocrisy within some of us, in other cases it’s much more pronounced though. There are whole areas of the north in which benefit fraud for example is a way of life not even regarded any longer as wide or naughty or taboo in any respect and I’m talking about individuals, not organized criminally-inspired benefit fraud which is a whole other matter.

    Goverments are creating an underground market for cigarettes by pushing the legit prices up so high it makes it nuts for crims not to steal market share.

    On the fuel matter, the HMRC have more than an adquate handle on the scale of the problem with moody fuel in the north. Notwithstanding their isolated action yesterday they have no reason whatsoever not to be tackling what is going on at the sides of main roads in petrol stations all over the north in broad daylight. It’s a scandal that this is tolerated, not least given the large numbers of under-utilized people they have employed here.

  • Articles,

    The book won’t disappoint. WHSmith was selling it for £4.99 recently, you should check them out. Hadn’t heard the phrase furbo before, but after watching Michael Lowry get caught red-handed and then pick up two quotas at the next election and consistently top the poll, I am aware of the concept’s translation into Irish.

  • Hi guys

    You do hear tall tales say of cheap fuel oil being delivered cash on the nail in some areas with muscular gentlemen riding shotgun, or counterfeit cds falling out the back of the police station but I suspect it is as i say, tall tales.

    As to benefit fraud being a way of life for some, well they are not alone. As has been said before Norn Iron is the biggest job creation scheme in W. Europe and the local private sector feeds off the bloated beast. And the politicians were no better than benefit cheats in relation to expenses.

    Pricing alcohol and cigarettes so as to deter consumption or boost taxation, as periodically advocated by health officials and others, is as you rightly infer an irrational response to economic realities. Far better to extend the tax base and at the same time control the supplies of all drugs currently supplied by the pharmaceutical wings of the local pressure groups.

    And thanks for the tip on WH Smith (note to other slugger readers- keep yer hands off)

  • wee buns

    Motoring pronto to nearest book outlet, if only I could afford the petrol. Thanks for the Recommendation.
    Unable to provide a source for the quote but it refers to temperament I think: that the Irish are ‘Mediterranean’s in the rain’.

  • wee buns

    Rory will have a blue fit at the grocer’s apostrophe:
    Mediterraneans in the rain.

  • Spelling is out as well

    New ireland

    Mediterromanians in the rain.