The Italian Mafia: A Key to Deconstructing EU Atlanticism
European integration and the promotion of liberal-democratic ideology differ in the various countries and regions of the continent. These processes most often do not directly depend on the success of Brussels’ or Washington’s policies on forcibly unifying and transforming European peoples and cultures. The most common reasons for the success or, on the contrary, the failures of these policies are rooted in the traditions and historical experiences of each individual nation.
Strengths and weaknesses
European history, as well as the entire history of mankind, is replete with military conflicts of varying intensity. If one state quite easily obeys invaders and adopts new traditions and customs in mimicking the stronger winners, then others, on the contrary, although under under total occupation, continue to observe their own ways and, in the end, when the invaders’ influence has weakened, return to their original state. Keeping cultural traditions and devotion to ancestors has helped many nations preserve themselves despite hard pressure on the part of invaders.
The mafia as a means of protecting tradition
Of particular interest in this context is considering the experience of the states of Southern Italy (especially Sicily) in the 18th century when they were under Austrian control. Then, almost all of the customs traditional for the Sicilians were replaced with Austrian ones and local government was handed over to representatives of the invaders. The local population, which is a mixture of Greek, Norman, Arabic and Italian ethnic groups, did not wish to accept cultural codes alien for them and, in the face of fierce occupation and control, created a structure parallel to the Austrian regime: the mafia.
Mafia don against the occupier
Influential Sicilian families and their heads, dons, took over the functions of the three branches of government. The legislative framework was comprised of a mixture of Catholicism and the moral attitudes of local customs. The don also assumed judicial functions and settled disputes and imposed appropriate sentences, while the executive branch was held by his assistants, often the don’s relatives. Thus, two systems of governance formed in Sicilian society: the formal Austrian one, not possessing authority and ignored by the public, and the informal mafia exercising effective leadership of society and wielding sufficient authority.
At the moment, the southern regions of Italy are once again repeating the experience of the Sicilians. The "invaders" today are European bureaucrats and Atlanticists and their protégées in the form of Italian authorities. They have imposed such values as individualism, sexual perversion, and the rejection of family and religious order, which are alien to the population. But the population at large simply ignores these arrangements and continues to follow the same order on the local level as previous generations. The majority of local authorities are still members or trusted allies of mafia clans who merely simulate the implementation of Rome and Brussels’ plans while in fact engaging in their direct sabotage. The experience of Italians can be comprehended and applied to any European country where continentalist sentiments have recently intensified.