The “nazional-conservatore” politician Alfredo Mantovano, now in office in Berlusconi’s Italy, recently said the following in an interview with Il Tempo:

“As both statistical figures and sociological reality demonstrate, the Roma people are an ethnic group connected to some types of crime. Robbery, assault and, sometimes, as in Ponticelli, kidnapping.” (from “Rom, Mantovano: etnia connessa con certo tipo reati”, Reuters Italia, May 31 2008)

Of course, this can be rightly seen as yet another neo-ex-fascist call for a little pogrom, which was what happened in the Naples district of Ponticelli, incidentally, where the Camorra joined the cops into an attack on Roma camps (see “Italian tolerance goes up in smoke as Gypsy camp is burnt to ground”, The Independent, May 16 2008).

But, on another level, the excerpt exemplifies also a most outstanding evolution of the sociological epistemology of ethnic identity. No need for cumbersome explanations anymore. Sociological reality now self-demonstrates. After decades stretching out the idea that people should naturally behave in certain ways (e.g. prefer this sort of food or that sort of crime) because they have this thing called ethnicity or culture or whatever, and adding to that the clever intuition according to which correlation is not that far from causation, now Mantovano can go straight to the point (the cleansing part).

Except that, in order to have a perfectly convincing and fully sociological demonstration in that line of analysis, the following proposition should be added to Mantovano’s statement: “as statistical figures and sociological reality demonstrate, Italian fascists are a cultural group that like to fool around with gangsters and to set people on fire”.

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  1. il napolitano

    “reality self-demostrates”: quello si chiamava prima l'”epiteto epico”. pecato che il genero sia diventato ciò che vediamo oggi: una mafia di fascisti moltiplicando le inmondizie

  2. napolitano,

    What a wise comment.

  3. panik

    For anyone wanting to get a better idea how all these things link together from the first hand experience of someone in the thick of it, “Gomorra” by Roberto Saviano is essential reading.

    I heard or read somewhere that his neighbours have asked to be re-housed because they are scared that due to the intense police protection he now has, the mob might try and blow-up the entire block he lives in instead.

    There is a good interview with Saviano in The Guardian at this link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jan/14/italy.crimebooks




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