The Aventina

Does Change Mean Evolution?

Bojan Zeric, Reporter

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It’s been almost eighty years since Italian dictator and leader of the National Fascist Party Benito Mussolini issued the “Italian Racial Laws” against Italian Jews that, thanks to a very strategic manipulation of mass media, had a devastating effect very quickly. The times were obviously different; sovereign states and absolute rulers were still common across Europe, and concepts like individualism, democracy and freedom were still considered a utopia in big countries like Spain, Germany and of course Italy. Propaganda was done by exploiting the complete control the government had over all media, which were the only source of information common people had access to.

Today, in the Western era of democracy, freedom, and justice, things are different. We have easy access to the internet, newspapers, and TV- to name a few. But does that mean that since the government cannot censor all media anymore, people’s minds cannot be influenced as effectively as before? Well, the social changes that occurred over the past eighty years are without a doubt extremely significant. To some extent, we are certainly more independent since we are more entitled to our own opinions, but are we really as different from people back then as we think we are? Are we really more free?

What today’s politics are showing is that every mind can be manipulated by the use of media access that we didn’t have eighty years ago. Not only that, but it almost seems like the ability to use such tools is more valuable to win political battles than actual skill and knowledge. The Donald Trump phenomenon is an obvious example, and Matteo Salvini became one of the most popular figures in all of Europe all thanks to his manipulative use of language of social media.

The fact that people are in agreement with a document like the “Decreto Salvini” (Salvini Decree), proposed by the vice-president on September 24th and approved by the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, should be worrying. A document that treats immigration, terrorism and mafia as part of the same problem: national security; a document that revokes residency permit for humanitarian aid; a document that treats Italian citizenship as a prize, as a symbol of importance to be given only to those who “behave well” and not as what it is, a simple piece of paper that states someone’s provenance. A document expressing this level of hatred should not be as popular on social media as it is.

The decree will be studied and analyzed to see whether it can be labelled as unconstitutional, and it might or might not be officially approved. But the issue is not in the decree- it’s in people’s response to it. A response that suggests that although everything around us is different than eighty years ago, maybe we didn’t change, maybe we still believe we are better because we were born in one place rather than another.

History never completely repeats itself, but the atmosphere surrounding Salvini’s decree eerily resembles a moment in history that Italy, as well as the rest of Europe, hoped long gone and forgotten.



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Does Change Mean Evolution?