And what have become of your
between your christians and
your valid communists,
parliamentary procedures and
your program of government?
They have other things in mind:
of their unemployed sons and daughters
the billows of pollutants
from steel-ribbed factories, tuberculous
of their leaking sinks crumbling attics
the decadence of posts which hold
the tiny clothelines horizontal
of the singing in their churches
the innocent flowers on altars
where they lay their conscience on
sundays and holidays
of their own parliamentary methods
their own program of government …
A people abandons the individual
and the fish that surfaces to face
the confusion of the current
finds no mercy from the rocks
and the gravity, what now?
In what sleety somnolent waters
will they pick you up?
Copyright © SSJ, 1978
‘The Fish of the Current’ is a tribute to Aldo Moro, an Italian statesman, and leader of Italy’s Christian Democratic Party. He served five times as premier of Italy from the early 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. During his years of government service, in various capacities as Minister of Grace and Justice, Minister of Education, Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Italy, he had worked to effect a wide range of social reforms in the areas of education, housing, labor, health, pension & social security, consistent with his center-left brand of governance.
On 16 March 1978, Aldo Moro was kidnapped, held captive for 55 days, and subsequently murdered by the left-wing Red Brigades terrorists, his bullet-riddled body abandoned in the trunk of a red car in the historic center of Rome, near the Tiber River.
At the time of his kidnapping, Moro was the President of Italy’s dominant political party, the Democrazia Cristiana (DC), and was largely recognized as the architect and prime-mover of the so-called Historic Compromise between a strongly emergent Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) and the Christian Democracy-led government of Italy. But for all of Moro’s sterling performance and dedicated service as a public leader and servant, and in spite of the pleadings of the captive Moro himself by way of his letters that somehow found their way to the authorities, both the DC-led government of Italy and the communist PCI awfully refused to negotiate with the Red Brigades for Moro’s safe release.
How Moro came to be betrayed by a country that he served so well cannot be understood enough. A large part of this tangled tale remains shrouded in mystery to this day (find links to further related readings below). Luciana Bohne’s writing “The Long Ides of March of Aldo Moro” attempts to give us some understanding of the times of Aldo Moro, and how he, a larger-than-life captain that should have been steering the ship of a nation through turbulent waters, was reduced to being a small fish crushed by the currents of geopolitics:
… In Sicily throughout the fifties, fascists, through the largesse of funding by the US, organized themselves into neo-fascist groups, with ties to the Italian secret services. The twinning of mafia and fascists, con-joined by the OSS in the 1940s, would prove a formidable force of destabilization in the 1970s, setting off an ideological war in the streets between provocateur neo-fascist groups and extra-parliamentary revolutionary communist formations—a “strategy of tension,” as the violence initiated by the right came to be known. That this “tension” broke out at a moment of increasing gains by the left, threatening a communist electoral victory or a share in the executive could not have been a coincidence, Italian public opinion maintains to this day. Italy’s strictly limited sovereignty as US client or asset state was being defied by gains in social democracy—and the expanding popular democracy was a threat to Italy’s “stability” as US vassal.
On the morning of 16 March, this threat was about to become a reality.
Aldo Moro was scheduled to call for a vote of confidence on the proposed new government of “national solidarity”—a power share with the Communist Party in the cabinet and the executive branch, a first in Italy, a first in Western Europe. This was the culmination of negotiations for the compromesso storico (“historic compromise”) between the DC and the PCI to make the government more representative of the electorate. Three agencies were not pleased: Moscow, because Enrico Berlinguer, leader of the PCI had recognized NATO in order to make power-sharing possible in a NATO-dominated Western European country; Washington, because from long date it had opposed the accession of the communists to the executive; and the Red Brigades, because 1) they thought the PCI should remain an opposition party 2) they regarded the compromesso as a further betrayal or weakening of the PCI’s commitment to class struggle initiated by the Resistance and subsequently thwarted by too many PCI “compromises” with the ruling bourgeois parties, and 3) because the compromesso would dent the drive toward the social and political revolution to which they aspired. This was the turbulent local and geopolitical climate on that fatal morning in March….
– Luciana Bohne, “The Long Ides of March of Aldo Moro” , Counterpunch.Org, 27 March 2015
– Sand Stars Journal, 19 Nov. 2016