Zeitgeist

Jason Burke of the Observer reports that the next few days are expected to bring the indictment of people involved in Ergenekon. Ergenekon? Well, if you read AFOE you’ll already know that Ergenekon is a secret extreme-right network of influence within the Turkish elite, suspected of being behind a succession of acts of violence, which came to light after the chance discovery of a stash of weapons. The prosecution alleges that the aim of the organisation was to bring about a military coup through a campaign of assassinations and terrorism intended to destabilise the Erdogan government to the point where the army could plausibly intervene.

Or not. According to one of the suspects’ lawyers:

‘There is not a shred of truth in them,’ he said. ‘This is 100 per cent political. It has all been cooked up by the government and by the imperialist powers, the CIA, Mossad and the Jewish lobby and the European Union to eliminate Turkish nationalism. There is no such thing as Ergenekon.’ His imprisoned client, Kemal Kerincsiz, told The Observer in an interview prior to his arrest he was a ‘patriot fighting the disintegration of the nation’.

The government, the imperialists, the CIA, Mossad, the Jews, and the EU all at once? Wow, it’s like one of our Macedonia threads but with real people. Read the whole thing; perhaps the most worrying suggestion is that the respectable nationalist party wants to invade Syria and share it out with Iraq. Right. But then, who can say what is sane?

Here’s Martin Jacques in the Guardian, regarding Italy. Now I usually have next to no time for Jacques, a character whose usual spiel is to write thousands of words about how Asian supermen are our rightful masters, and this is entirely unconnected with his current sinecure at a university in any given authoritarian state in Asia. But I think he has a point. Specifically:

This was demonstrated by the manner in which the supporters of Gianni Alemanno, the new mayor of Rome, a man steeled [s/b "steeped"?] in the fascist tradition, celebrated his victory in the Campidoglio with fascist salutes and cries of “Duce, Duce!”, just as Mussolini was once acclaimed by his adherents. Or the way in which Berlusconi felt able to declare, in response to the victory, that “we are the new Falange” – the name given to the fascist party in Spain in the 1930s. Or the fact that Umberto Bossi, at the first session of parliament, threatened violence if the centre-left did not acquiesce in its plans for federalism. “I don’t know what the left wants [but] we are ready,” he told reporters. “If they want conflicts, I have 300,000 men always on hand.” Or the fashion in which Gianfranco Fini, during a public walkabout with his followers in support of Alemanno, demanded to see immigrants’ residence permits, while Alemanno threatens to expel 20,000 immigrants from the capital, who he claims have broken the law, and shut illegal Roma encampments; with Bossi is no less vitriolic in his attitude towards immigrants..

Duce. Falange. Boasts of a party army. Recreational police harassment. There is something ugly in here, no? Having been responsible for suggesting that Berlusconi might just refuse to leave office last time round, I think I can claim dibs on this; there is something distinctly disturbing in the air.

You think? Here’s a British Conservative getting his fash on:

“This is like the March on Rome in 1922,” one shadow minister said as Johnson inched towards victory. Johnson will not march into London’s City Hall surrounded by blackshirts in the manner of Benito Mussolini’s supporters when they staged their coup d’état in 1920s Italy. But the lighthearted reference to 1922 gave a taste of the high Tory spirits.

I bet it did. I have a pet theory, which is that the crazier your housing market went after 2001, the weirder your politics did – the US, Australia, Spain, the UK, Italy. Compare the other northern European economies – far less crazy crazy finance, and much less weirdness more generally.

And, as if you needed confirmation of the strange times, Prachanda says it’s a triumph for global communism. Well, it’s a bit like being a Keighley fan; every win feels like the cup final.

Update: You think this isn’t serious? Heads get twisted.