The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Monday, October 17, 2022

The Dark Side of Nuclear Fusion: A New Generation of Weapons of Mass Destruction?

In December 1938 the atomic era was born in Otto Hahns beakers at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften in Berlin, now Max Planck Institutes, where fission of uranium and thorium was discovered. In the image, the discovery as shown in Walt Disney's movie "Our Friend, the Atom" in 1956

This is a guest post by Giuseppe ("Pepi") Cima, retired nuclear researcher. It summarizes a number of facts that are known, in principle, but largely hidden from the public. Basically, research on nuclear fusion, sometimes touted as a benign technology able to produce energy "too cheap to meter," is often financed because of its military applications. The search is for an "inertial confinement device," that would detonate without the need for a trigger in the form of a conventional fission bomb. These devices could cover a range of destructive power that could go from tactical warheads to planet-bursting weapons. Fortunately, we are not there, yet, but Cima correctly notes how the current situation is similar to the way things were in the 1930s, when a group of bright scientists started working on nuclear chain reactions with the objective of unleashing the awesome power of nuclear fission. At the time, it was an enormously difficult challenge, but the task could be accomplished by means of the lavish financial support provided by the psychopathic criminals who were in power at the time, who were motivated by the perspective of developing an enormously powerful weapon. Today, we do not lack money for military research, nor do we lack criminals at the top, so we can only hope that the task of turning nuclear fusion into even more powerful weapons of mass destruction will turn out to be unfeasible. Unfortunately, we can't be sure about that and, if they are making good progress at that, surely they won't tell us. (U.B.)

By Giuseppe Cima

In February 1939, Leo Szilard, who had already thought of the chain reactions for energy in 1934, conceived the possibility of a bomb of extraordinary power. In September 1939 Szilard, with Eugene Wigner and Edward Teller, the soul of the H-bomb and the only one with a driving license, all Hungarians, went to see Albert Einstein who was on vacation on the New Jersey shore: it was already clear what to be afraid of. Szilard knew Einstein well from the Berlin years; they had jointly patented a new type of refrigerator. This time the idea was a device that could destroy an entire city in one blast. Together, they wrote a letter to President Roosevelt and almost nothing happened for about two years.

I can visualize the three Hungarians with a strong European accent, in Washington, trying to convince the Uranium Committee: a general, an admiral, and some mature scientists. "We canna make a little bomba and it will blow up a whola city." How could they believe it? But, in August 1945, six years later, nuclear power had changed the world, quickly ended world war two, and started an industry the size of the automotive one.

After a few years, Otto Hahn became a fervent opponent of the use of atomic energy for military purposes. Even before Hiroshima, Szilard, one of the most brilliant minds of the time, was ousted from anything to do with nuclear power, he devoted himself full-time to biology and in 1962 started the Council for a Livable World, an organization dedicated to the elimination of nuclear arsenals. In a 1947 issue of The Atlantic, Einstein claimed that only the United Nations should have atomic weapons at their disposal, as a deterrent to new wars. 

Why should we recall these episodes now? Because something similar is occurring today with nuclear fusion.

The essential fusion

Today, most people probably have some idea of what nuclear fusion is, even the Italian prime minister, Mr. Mario Draghi, spoke about it at a recent parliament session. Although energy can be produced by splitting uranium nuclei in two, it can also be produced by fusing light atomic nuclei. We have all been taught that this is the way the sun works and it has been repeated to boredom by people with a superficial knowledge of these processes, such as the Italian minister for the ecological transition Roberto Cingolani. But not everyone knows that if helium could be readily generated by two hydrogen atoms, our star, made of hydrogen, would have exploded billions of years ago in a giant cosmic bang. Fortunately, the fusion of hydrogen involves a "weak" reaction and is so slow and so unlikely that, even with the extraordinary conditions of the sun's core, the energy density produced by the reaction is about the same as that of a stack of decomposing manure, the kind we see smoking in the fields in winter.  To radiate the low-level energy produced in its giant core the sun, almost a million kilometers in diameter, must shine at twice the temperature of a lightbulb filament when is on.

To do something useful on Earth by means of nuclear fusion, one can't use hydrogen but needs two of its rare isotopes, deuterium and tritium, not by chance the ingredients of H bombs. The promoters of fusion for pacific purposes don't mention bombs, but this is precisely what I want to talk about, the analogies between fusion now and what happened in the 1930s and 1940s.

Peaceful use?

Reading what was written by the scientists who worked in nuclear fusion in the early years of the "atomic age" shows that the development of an energy source for peaceful use, energy "too cheap to meter", is what motivated them more than anything else. The same arguments were brought forward by Claudio Descalzi, CEO of ENI, a major investor in fusion, addressing the Italian Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic (COPASIR) in a hearing of December 9th 2021: fusion will offer humanity large quantities of energy of a safe, clean and virtually inexhaustible kind.

Wishful thinking: with regard to "inexhaustible," we cannot do anything in fusion without tritium (an isotope of hydrogen) which is nonexistent on this planet and most of the theoretical predictions, no experiments to date, say that magnetic confinement, the main hope of fusion, will not self-fertilize. Speaking of "clean" energy, Paola Batistoni, head of ENEA's Fusion Energy Development Division, at reactor shutdown envisages the production of hundreds of thousands of tons of materials unapproachable by humans for hundreds of years.

However, the problem I am worried about here is a military problem, mostly ignored, even by COPASIR, the Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic. There are many reasons to worry about nuclear fusion: the huge amount of magnetic energy in the reactor can cause explosions equivalent to hundreds of kilograms of TNT, resulting in the release of tritium, a very radioactive and difficult to contain gas. On top of it, with the neutrons of nuclear fusion, it is possible to breed fissile materials. But the risks that seem to me most worrisome in the long run will come from new weapons, never seen before.

New Weapons

To better understand this issue, let's review how classical thermonuclear weapons work, the 70-year-old ones. Their exact characteristics are not in the public domain but Wikipedia describes them in sufficient detail. For a more complete introduction, I recommend the highly readable books by Richard Rhodes. There exist today "simple" fission bombs, which use only fissile reactions to generate energy, and "thermonuclear" bombs, which use both fission and fusion for that purpose. Thermonuclear bombs are an example of inertial confinement fusion (ICF), where everything happens so quickly that all the energy is released before the reacting matter has the time to disperse.

The New York Times recently announced advances in the field of inertial fusion at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California with an article reporting important findings from NIF, the National Ignition Facility. What really happened was that the 192 most powerful lasers in the world, simultaneously shining the inner walls of a gold capsule of a few centimeters, vaporize it to millions of degrees. The X-rays emitted by this gold plasma in turn heat the surface of a 3 mm fusion fuel sphere which, imploding, reaches ignition. Ignition means that the fusion reactions are self-sustaining until the fuel is used up. As described in the article, without an atom bomb trigger, a few kilograms worth of TNT thermonuclear explosion occurs as in the conceptually analogous, but vastly more powerful, H-bomb of Teller and Ulam from the fifties. 

Fig. 1 Diagram of the Teller-Ulam thermonuclear device. The explosion is contained within a cavity, technically a "hohlraum", in analogy to the gold capsule of the NIF experiment but hundreds of times bigger.

We don't have to worry about these recent results too much, for now, NIF still needs three football fields of equipment to work, nothing which one could place at the tip of a rocket or drop from the belly of an airplane, but its miniaturization is the next step.

In fusion, military and civilian, particles must collide with an energy of the order of 10 keV, ten thousand electron-volts, the 100 million degrees mentioned everywhere speaking of fusion. Regarding the necessary fuel ingredients, deuterium is abundant, stable, and easily available. Tritium on the other hand, with an average life of 10 years, can't be found in nature and only a few fission reactors can produce it in small quantities. The world reserves are around 50 kg, barely enough for scientific experiments, and it's thousands of times more expensive than gold. The fusion bombs solved the tritium procurement issue by transmuting lithium 6, the fusion fuel of Fig. 1, instantaneously, by means of fission neutrons. In civilian fusion, instead, the possibility of extracting enough tritium from lithium is far from obvious. It is one of the important issues expected to be demonstrated by ITER, a gigantic TOKAMAK, the most promising incarnation of magnetic fusion, under construction in the south of France with money from all over the world but mainly from the European community. The Russians, who invented it, and the Americans, the ones with most of the experience in the field, are skeptical partners contributing less money than Italy. The NIF inertial fusion experiment, instead, is financed by the Pentagon with billions of dollars, the most expensive fusion investment to reach ignition. 

Along the lines of NIF, there is also a French program, another country armed with nuclear weapopns. CEA, the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Direction des Application Militaires, finances near Bordeaux the Laser Méga-Joule (LMJ), three billion euros and operational since October 2014. Investments like these show the level of military interest in fission-free fusion and so far they are the only ones who have achieved self-sustaining reactions.

Private enterprises

In the private field, First Light Fusion, a British company, has already invested tens of millions to carry out inertial fusion by striking a solid fuel target with a tennis ball size bullet. The experimental results consist, for now, of just a handful of neutrons. The amount of heat generated is, so far, undetectable, but the energy of the neutrons, 2.45 MeV, corresponds to the fusion of deuterium, the material of the target. I cited First Light Fusion to indicate that there is interest in inertial fusion even in private companies outside nuclear weapons national laboratories. Marvel Fusion, based in Bavaria, is another private enterprise claiming a new way to inertial confinement ignition.

For those wondering if the 12 orders of magnitude of difference for the density of the fuel needed in comparison to that of solid matter, and that of TOKAMAK, the one of a good lab vacuum, hide alternative methods to carry out nuclear fusion for peaceful and military purposes, the answer is certainly positive. Until now, in academia, before the advent of entrepreneurs' fusion, no proposal seemed attractive enough to be seriously pursued experimentally. The panorama could change in years to come, the proposal of General Fusion, Jeff Bezos's company to be clear, is of this type: short pulses at intermediate density. One wonders if the CEO of Amazon is aware of sponsoring research with possible military applications.


The idea of ​​triggering fusion in a deuterium-tritium target by concentrating laser radiation, or conventional explosives, has long fascinated those who see it as a potentially unlimited source of energy and also those who consider it an effective and devastating weapon. At the Frascati laboratories of CNEN, the Comitato Nazionale per l'Energia Nucleare, now ENEA, Energia Nucleare e Energie Alternative, we find examples of experimentation of both methods in the 70s, see "50 years of research on fusion in Italy" by Paola Batistoni.

According to some sources, the idea of ​​triggering fusion with conventional explosives, as in the Frascati MAFIN and MIRAPI experiments of the mentioned CNEN review report, was seriously considered by Russian weapon scientists in the early 1950s and vigorously pursued at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory during the 1958-61, the years of a moratorium on nuclear testing, as part of a program ironically titled "DOVE".

According to Sam Cohen, who worked at the Manhattan Project, DOVE failed in its goal of developing a neutron bomb "for technical reasons, which I am not free to discuss." But Ray Kidder, formerly at Lawrence Livermore, says the US lost interest in the DOVE program when testing resumed because "the fission trigger was a lot easier". It didn't all end there though, it is instructive to read now an article that appeared in the NYT in 1988, which describes a nuclear experiment carried out in order to verify the feasibility of an inertial fusion explosion not triggered by fission, such as Livermore's NIF. In addition to showing the unequivocal military interest in these initiatives, the article gives an idea of ​​the complexity, and slow pace, of their development. Nevertheless, the initiatives of the 80s seem to be bearing fruit now.

Modern nuclear devices are "boosted", they use fusion to enhance their yield and reduce their cost but the bulk of the explosive power still originates from the surrounding fissile material, not from fusion. However, there are devices where energy originates almost exclusively from fusion reactions such as the mother of all bombs, the Russian Tzar Bomb. With its 50 megatons, a multi-stage H, the addition of a tamper of fissile material would have greatly enhanced its yield but it was preferred to keep it “clean”.

It is important to underline that the H component of a thermonuclear device, unlike fissile explosives, contributes little to long-term environmental radioactivity. Uncovering the secrets of the ICF could indicate how to annihilate the enemy while limiting permanent environmental damage. It is the same reason why civilian fusion is claimed to be more attractive than fission: the final products, mostly helium, are much less radioactive than the heavy elements characteristic of fission ashes. As mentioned earlier, radioactivity nonetheless jeopardizes the usefulness of civilian fusion in other ways: a heavy neutron flux reduces the already precarious reliability of the reactor, and radioactivity protection greatly increases its cost.

Despite the rhetoric of some press advertising, the relevance of ICF for energy production is minimal for many reasons: first of all, as in the case of NIF, the primary energy, the supply power of all devices involved, is hundreds of times higher than the thermal energy produced by the reactions, the quasi-breakeven reported refers to the energy of the laser light alone. Even more importantly the micro-explosion repetition rate and the reliability necessary in a power plant constitute insurmountable obstacles.

Where do we stand?

Back to ICF, the Lawrence Livermore National Lab's NIF experiment is funded by the Department Of Defense aiming at new weapons while complying with yield limits imposed by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Question of Pure Fusion Explosions Under the CTBT, Science & Global Security, 1998, Volume 7. pp.129-150 explains why we should be concerned about pure fusion weapons presently under investigation.

With nuclear fusion, we are witnessing a situation similar to what appeared clear to many of the scientists who participated in the development of weapons at the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: nuclear energy is frighteningly dangerous while potentially useful for producing energy and as a war deterrent.

With fusion, the balance between weapons and peaceful uses seems to be even more questionable, making further developments harder to justify. Fusion weapons, which will arrive earlier than reactors, are potentially more devastating than fission with a wider range to both higher and lower yields. Low-power devices, while remaining very destructive, would not carry a strong deterrent power, and the super high-power ones, hundreds and thousands of megatons, would have catastrophic consequences on a planetary level. On the other hand, electricity production by fusion seems now less and less likely to work out, economically less attractive than the already uninviting fission.

The wind and photovoltaic revolution, rendering the already proven nuclear fission obsolete despite the urgency of decarbonization, are making fusion unappealing even before it's proven to work. At the same time, possible military applications should discourage even the investigation of fusion tritium technologies. At the very least, new research regulations are needed.

It's a collective choice

Is "science" unstoppable in this instance?

First of all, I would characterize these developments as a purely technological development than a scientific one. We are talking of applications without general interest, not a frontier of science. Fusion is a "nuclear chemistry" with potentially aberrant applications, in analogy to other fields which are investigated in strict isolation. Fortunately, fusion is an economically very demanding technology, impossible to develop in a home garage. Working on fusion can be, at least for now, only a collective choice that reminds the story of the atomic bomb at the end of the 30s, but at a more advanced stage of development than when Szilard involved Einstein to reach Roosevelt. Is the genius is about to come out of the lamp?

Author's CV - I researched nuclear fusion in labs and universities in Europe and the US, publishing around 100 peer-reviewed papers in this field. After losing faith that a deconstructionist approach to fusion could yield better reactor performances than already indicated by present day experiments I started an industrial automation company in Texas. I have now retired in Venezia, Italy, where I pursue my lifetime interests: environmental protection, energy conservation, teaching technology and science, and, more recently, mechanical watches. Giuseppe Cima

Previously published in Italian on Scenari per il Domani, sep 14 2022

Friday, October 14, 2022

Never Kiss an Alien Girl. Or, an Ode to the Death of Science


I remember having read a science fiction novel, several years ago, that told of the encounter between an alien spaceship and a human one, somewhere in deep space. In the story, humans and aliens breathe different atmospheres and can only make contact through a glass barrier. But, slowly, they begin to understand each other. At one point, one of the Earth astronauts deepens his relationship with an alien female so much that the captain has to rebuke him, saying, "Be careful! You don't want to fall in love with a green alien who breathes chlorine and drinks hydrochloric acid." (The novel was by Soviet writer Ivan Yefremov, if I remember correctly). 

We don't often fall in love with Teflon-skinned aliens, however, it happens sometimes to be fascinated by diversity, by discovering completely unexpected worlds. Sometimes, even shocking worlds that you wouldn't want to exist. But diversity always enriches you. If something exists -- and perhaps somewhere there really are chlorine-breathing aliens -- there must be some reason why it exists. 

I had such an experience while reading a post published on the blog of a friend of mine, A text I can only describe as alien. Not that it is not understandable: it is written in a Terrestrial language that I can, more or less, decipher. But I cannot find a single sentence in it that is consistent with my view of the universe. Nothing that matches the data I have, or with which I might even vaguely agree. For all I can tell, it could be from another galaxy. Try reading it yourself. If you have any technical-scientific education at all, you will get the same impression. And note that it is not the only one of its kind, it is part of an onrushing wave that's washing humankind's memesphere. 

Warning. I am not publishing this text to expose it to the ridicule of anyone, or even to criticize it. On the contrary, I am admired by the frankness of the author. I don't know her personally, but I am overwhelmingly convinced that she is an excellent person. If I present this text to you, it is a bit like presenting a funeral ode. This text is not a poem, but, in a way, it has poetic value. It is an ode to the death of science. 

Science, yes, the science that had started with the Renaissance astronomers who meticulously, painstakingly, night after night, collected data on the motion of the planets and stars. Perhaps they really thought there were angels pushing, but that did not make their work any less meticulous. Galileo's science, the one that says that "wisdom is the child of experience." Science, the one made of "1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration," the science for which nothing that is not rigorously proven is true, and where everything is quantified, everything is measured, everything is evaluated. That science we were taught when we were freshmen in college. Maybe it never really existed, but we believed in it. And if we believed in it, it existed, in a sense. 

And it's all gone. I don't know what effect it has on you to see the face of one of the many TV virologists who have been raging for the last two and a half years. To me, it feels like what I would expect if I were to kiss an alien who just drank a hydrochloric acid cocktail. And I'm not the only one who has that feeling. I know many people who feel heavily cheated by the way they have been treated during the past two and a half years, always under the guise of "science." These people have lost all faith in science, at least in "official" science. It's not that they've all become Flat Earthers, but now they notice the many hoaxes they are foisting on us in the name of science. And I'm guessing that these people are not those on the dumb side of the Gaussian curve. 

Unfortunately, you can also go too far with this attitude. There has also emerged a group of people who reject science outright and remake their own view of the universe on the basis of completely different assumptions. As does, among many others, the author of the text, below. And there is no way to find an agreement with them. Science (that thing we used to call "science") starts from certain assumptions, postulates if you like. You can't really prove them: you can only accept or reject them. There is no rigorously rational way to convince someone who believes that science is a hoax that it is not. It is the scientists' fault that in the eyes of so many people science has become a hodgepodge of corrupt hucksters paid by the powers that be. 

It may be that, like so many other things, like Communism or the cult of Jupiter, science too has come to an end. Perhaps it had to for some reason -- perhaps someone in high places wanted to destroy it because it was annoying with its insistence on certain things, like the need to do something about climate change. Either way, that's the way it was. 

So what? Well, we'll just march into the future in the dark, blindfolded, and with our optic nerves severed. What could possibly go wrong with that?  


Note added after publication: I received several comments on the text below. Some said that it was a bunch of idiocies and criticized me for having reprinted it. Others said that they saw nothing wrong with it, on the contrary, they agreed with most of its statements. I am impressed (and also scared) by the depth of the chasm that separates the two positions. Will we ever be able to mend this knowledge fracture? Probably not: it looks more like a sort of epistemological version of California's St. Andreas fault. It is causing epistemological earthquakes and, eventually, one of the two sides will disappear underwater.  

Translated from Italian. The author's name and Web address are withheld.

<..> It should be kept in mind that the same centers of power (military first and foremost) that ride the anthropogenic climate catastrophism and provide their solutions are the same ones that constructed the climate change "narrative," aware of the role and power that such a narrative could entail in the future.

That climate change depends on the earth's history and its natural cycles of cooling and warming is a sensible assumption since the earth is not a machine; it is a living organism that evolves, influences other organisms, and is affected by them. Then there is the responsibility of that part of mankind that has damaged and still damages the ozone layer by exploding nuclear bombs and launching rockets and satellites, that uses electromagnetic technologies capable of modifying the ionosphere, that sprays the skies with substances that shield sunlight bringing about a change in climatic conditions, as well as being harmful to all living things.

Perhaps the deception of co2 as the worst of all possible evils is revealed when we realize that it is not a pollutant, it is the main component of living things, and without it plants will not survive..... and neither will human beings, at least as long as they remain as such 

One might think that it has been released in excess, but then why does earth's history show that periods with higher CO2 concentration (higher than the present one) corresponded to a maximum explosion of plant life? and then why are the "climate change deniers" who see the decarbonization program as an environmental catastrophe being obscured without allowing them a confrontation?

Once upon a time, deniers were rightly accused of being paid by oil companies to deny climate warming (later changed to change).

With the same eagerness we should have asked who the promoters of climate catastrophism were funded by (Al Gore, Club of Rome, UN, WHO IPCC, NATO WWF........ behind them we would have found Rockefeller, Soros, the British monarchy......)

I don't know what impact CO2 has on climate change, but more importantly, I don't know if the climate is changing and what the causes are, for sure the overlords of evil will never declare war on the war machine and its emissions of chlorides heavy metals radiation and co2, just as they will never pick on the rockets that take Musk's and Bezos' satellites into the sky.

They just happen to be picking on the least harmful molecule among many...... who knows, maybe someday in addition to accusing us of being too many, they will ask us to reduce the exhalation of carbon dioxide...... just as some "environmentalists" are blaming tree corpses for emitting co2 during decomposition.

Meanwhile, under the guise of energy emergency, in some parts of Europe (Romania) "protected" forests are being allowed to be cut down, the use of shale gas is being implemented, the use of coal is increasing, nuclear power plants are being reactivated, dangerous high-pollution regasifiers are being imposed, oil extraction is increasing, monstrous wind turbines and photovoltaics will be installed everywhere..... in short, we are witnessing an acceleration of the destruction of the earth and "the inevitable" increase of co2 in the atmosphere.

Well wrote a friend of mine about the ridiculous clock that marks the time until the catastrophe..... because it is also in the grotesque details that we see the deception. In this regard, it is useful to recall some famous apocalyptic statements from "authoritative" voices: UN 1989: if global warming is not reversed by 2000, rising seas will cause disasters,

Al Gore 2008: the entire Arctic ice cap will disappear within 5 years (2013).

Of these statements with "randomly" shot dates there have been countless, and all of them have been meant to instill fear, to make people familiar with a future danger and the need for someone to manage it.

This morning the sky was blue, clear, then the usual planes began to spray forming a thin veil. It is a case of saying that they make it right over our eyes! So many people have no memory of the beautiful blue skies of the past. It's as if the sky is an entity that doesn't "belong" to them, it's none of their business...... and to me this mentality looks more much more worrisome than CO2.

The reality is that they are deceiving us by pointing out one problem to hide other and far more serious ones. By turning co2 from a life-sustaining molecule into yet another invisible enemy to be fought, the evil overlords have embarked on the final confrontation against nature, which is called the ecological/digital transition. The plan to control and manipulate life, including climate, is being carried out, so we can identify climate change theory as the tool to bring it to fruition, and with the blessing of the green mass, who have become useful idiots of the 'Transcodigital Agenda'.

According to Nigel Calder's testimony, in the late 1980s Margaret Thatcher went to the Royal Society and said to the IPCC engineers, "here's the money to prove the thesis of anthropogenic global warming!" They came up with the first major report that predicted climate disasters as a result of global warming. When Calder went to the scientific press conference, he was impressed by two things: First, the simplicity and striking power of the message. Second, the total indifference about all climate science at that time and especially the role of the sun, which had instead been the topic of a major meeting at the Royal Society only a few months earlier.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Mind Control as a Strategic Weapon. How to Destroy Your Enemies from Within


The "Zombie Fungus" Cordyceps kills an ant after having taken control of its neural system. Could something like that happen in human societies? That is, is it possible to destroy a country by taking control of its leader? This idea has obvious implications for the current war in Ukraine. 

We all know that history never exactly repeats itself, but it rhymes. One of these rhymes has to do with leaders who do enormous damage to the countries they lead. Let me show you a few examples from the past two centuries or so, then we'll discuss the implications for the current situation. 

1. 1859 - Louis Napoleon and the Italian Campaign. In 1852, Louis Napoleon (1808-1873) became the new French emperor. His first major military campaign was the Crimean war: it was a victory, but also a major blunder. France had no reason to help Britain to put down the Russians, but that was the practical result of the war. In 1859, Louis Napoleon made a much worse mistake by joining Piedmont in a war against Austria. The campaign was successful but costly, and it led to the creation of a new state, Italy, that would forever block the French attempts to expand in the Mediterranean Sea, along the African coast. In addition, in 1870, Italy made an about-face and joined Prussia in a war against France. The French were badly defeated, and France ceased forever to be a major world power. Louis Napoleon ended his life in exile in England. 

2. 1935 - Benito Mussolini and the Italian Empire. In the 1930s, Italy was a growing regional power with good chances of becoming a major player in the Mediterranean Region, possibly even replacing the dominance of the British Empire. However, in 1935, the Mussolini government made an incredible strategic mistake by engaging the country in a major campaign in East Africa to conquer Ethiopia. The campaign was successful, but Italy had made a big favor to Britain by having to keep a consistent fraction of its military forces in a region where they could not be resupplied from the mother country. Then, it gave the British an excuse to wreck the Italian economy by imposing sanctions and a ban on coal exports to Italy. The final result was that Italy arrived at the start of WWII weak and unprepared. The British easily destroyed the Italian contingent in Ethiopia and, from then on, Mussolini couldn't have done better if his purpose was to lead Italy to a humiliating defeat, for instance attacking Greece in 1940 without sufficient forces. Italy was defeated, and Mussolini ended his career hanged upside-down in 1945. 

3. 1941, Adolf Hitler and Operation Barbarossa. In 1940, Germany was at the top of its military power. Only Britain had successfully resisted the German attacks, but it was evident that if Germany were to direct the whole industrial and military might of Europe against the British, only a miracle could have saved Britain from being invaded and defeated. Astonishingly, such a miracle occurred in 1941. The Germans nearly completely abandoned their aerial campaign against Britain and attacked the Soviet Union instead, leaving Britain able to recover and regroup. The German decision truly made no sense if we consider that the Germans were risking everything to obtain something they already had: the oil and food resources of the Soviet Union that were abundantly supplied under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939. The result of the campaign was the defeat and the eventual destruction of Germany, while Hitler committed suicide in 1945. 

4. 1978 -- Leonid Brezhnev and the Afghan campaignIn the 1970s, the Soviet Union was still a major power in Eurasia, although its growth had been slowing down. Leonid Brezhnev (1906 – 1982) became secretary of the Communist party in 1964 and, in 1978, he ordered a military intervention in Afghanistan to keep the country within the Soviet sphere of influence. The war dragged on for 10 years and it was one of the factors (although not the only one) that led to the collapse and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 

5. 1990 - Saddam Hussein and the invasion of Kuwait.  In 1990, Iraq was a growing power in the Middle East region, owing to its abundant oil production. In 1980, the president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, engaged in a dangerous gamble by attacking Iran. After 8 years of harsh conflict, the war ended basically in a draw, although the Iraqi claimed victory. In the late 1980s, Iraq entered a dispute in which it accused Kuwait of using horizontal drilling technologies to steal oil from Iraq's fields. The dispute escalated until, in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, conquering it completely in a few days. The reaction of the Western Powers was "Operation Desert Storm." In 1991 the retreating Iraqi forces were incinerated by a bombing campaign while the US continued bombing Iraq up to 2003, when the whole country was invaded. Saddam Hussein was then hanged by the Iraqi themselves.  

So, let's summarize. We have five cases where we see this sequence of events (there are more examples, but not so evident (*)): 

  1. A regional power, led by a strong leader, starts showing ambitions of becoming an important player in the global domination game. 
  2. The leader engages the country in an attack on a neighboring country, smaller and less powerful. 
  3. The attack looked like a cakewalk, but it turns into a quagmire. It may be successful or not, but it considerably weakens the attacker. 
  4. The Great Powers intervene. The regional power is defeated and destroyed, and its disgraced leader is executed or removed in other ways. 

It is impressive how, in this pattern, history doesn't just rhyme. It truly repeats itself, as if the leaders involved were actors following a script. How can that be? I can offer you two explanations

1 -- The pattern is the unavoidable result of the personality of strong leaders. They are, typically, criminal psychopaths with no moral restraints who tend to be reckless in whatever they do. In addition, they tend to be surrounded by sycophants and adulators. At this point, their brain loses contact with reality, and, eventually, they will make a major mistake that leads them to their doom (and, with them, large numbers of innocent people). 

2-- There exists a standard procedure that can be used to take control of leaders' minds. Considering how standard propaganda can take control of ordinary people's minds, it shouldn't be surprising that the same trick can be played with leaders. Actually, leaders' minds could be much easier to sway and influence, since leaders tend to live in isolated bubbles where the information they receive is carefully filtered by their staff. Take control of some influential members of the leader's staff (e.g. by corrupting them) and the job is done. We call this method "psychological operation" or "psyop"

Personally, I tend to favor the first hypothesis. When a single leader dominates a group, internal dynamic factors tend to appear, leading the members of the group to try to gain the attention of the boss by proposing over-optimistic plans. Those who recommend caution risk being silenced or ignored and, in any case, the optimists risk much less than the boss himself. 

We see this groupthink mechanism very well in the minutes of the reunions of the Italian high command when the attack on Greece was decided, in 1941. At that time, Mussolini was already gone on the other side of criticism and was no more in contact with the real world. So, he was easily influenced by his military staff. One of the most vocal proponents of the attack was general Sebastiano Visconti Prasca (1883 -1961), who repeatedly played down the military risks of the attack and managed to be named commander-in-chief of the operation. The only penalty he suffered was to be relieved of his command after the first attacks failed, then he lived to tell the story and died in his bed. 

Another similar case was that of Leonid Brezhnev's decision to invade Afghanistan. It is said that Brezhnev's health had been deteriorating and that, although not very old (he was 70 in 1976) he was not able anymore to take rational decisions. That may have generated a case of groupthink, where the decision may have been the result of the action of a member of the Politburo, the hardline Defense Minister Dmitry Ustinov

But there are cases in which we have evidence of the active intervention of a foreign power to influence a country leader. The classic case is that of Louis Napoleon in France: the first documented case of such an intervention. The Piedmontese Government had sent to France the Countess of Castiglione, Virginia Oldoini, with the specific task of seducing Louis Napoleon and convincing him to help Piedmont to fight Austria. We cannot say how important was the action of the Countess, but we can't rule out that she changed the course of history. It would not be the first time: the "honey trap" strategy is very old. Do you remember the Biblical story of Judith and Holophernes? It is that old.

Perhaps the most fascinating case of influencing a foreign leader's mind using the honey trap is that of Adolf Hitler, who threw away a nearly certain victory for an uncertain gamble. It may be related to the story of Unity Mitford (1914-1948), a British woman who traveled to Germany in 1934 with the objective of seducing Hitler. She was, most likely, a British agent, but she was successful, probably the only non-German person who became Hitler's intimate friend. She may have influenced Hitler with the concept that the Britons were, after all, "Aryans," just like the Germans. So, the Führer may have been unsure about the idea of unleashing the full German military might on them, preferring instead to turn Germany on those people he considered an inferior race: the Slavic Untermenschen. Mitford is reported to have shot herself in the head in 1939. She survived, but she was crippled and had to leave Germany, never to return. That was two years before Hitler's fatal decision, but her influence on him may have persisted up to that time. 

Finally, in the case of Saddam Hussein, we have no evidence of a honey trap being used, but it may well be that he was the objective of another one-man psyop. The US had helped Iraq in the war against Iran, and Hussein saw himself as an ally of the United States. So, he may have been led to believe that the US would continue to support him against Kuwait. He may have been deliberately misled by the US ambassador in Iraq, April Glaspie.

It may well be that both explanations are valid in various degrees in different cases. Some forms of psychological pressure, psyops, work so well because great leaders are especially sensitive to simple human emotions, including stroking their overinflated ego or showing off their manhood. In any case, one thing is certain: Giving all the power to a single man is the greatest mistake a country can make. 

Of course, these considerations tell us a lot about the current world situation. There are two cases in progress that seem to be rhyming a lot with those discussed so far: Taiwan and Ukraine. About Taiwan, the recent visit to the island by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, may have been a not-so-subtle ruse to push the Chinese to attack. But the Chinese didn't take the bait, at least so far. 

About Ukraine, we have all the elements of the classic pattern of a strong leader who engages a regional power in the invasion of a neighboring country. Initially, it looked like a cakewalk, but it turned out to be a quagmire. The war in Ukraine is still ongoing, and we cannot know if it was the result of a miscalculation generated by groupthink in the Russian government, or if it originates from a one-man psyop directed at the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. Or maybe both factors, or perhaps something else. It will take time before we'll be able to evaluate this burst of madness, but history is never in a hurry. In any case, the damage done is already enormous, and we can only hope that history will not rhyme in the same way as it did in previous cases. Otherwise, we face a terribly dark future. 

(*) Other cases. There are several cases of leaders behaving recklessly or stupidly, although following somewhat different patterns. One is that of the influence of the Crown Princess of Norway, Marta, on President Roosevelt during WWII which may have influenced the US policy (h/t Ollie Hollertz). Then, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was surely reckless, but it is also true that it made some sense in strategic terms since it allowed the Japanese navy to move freely in South-Eastern Asia for a while. The USA, in turn, may have fallen in traps with Vietnam and Afghanistan, but in neither case, the resulting quagmire caused the collapse of the attackers. Then, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, handled the Soviet Union to the Western Powers in 1991 in exchange for empty promises. Consider the case of Slobodan Milosevich, the president of Serbia, who, in 1998, was dumb enough to think that Serbia could stand alone against the combined forces of the Western Powers. It couldn't. 

Note added after publication. One day after I published this post, the Business Insider came out with an article proposing a thesis very similar to mine. -- maybe at the UK secret services, they read my blog!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Giorgia Meloni: is the Leader of the Italian Right bringing Fascism back to Italy?

The victory of the Right in the Italian election of this September has generated worries that Italy could be returning to some form of Fascism. But, as always, things are much more complex than what you can gather from a few newspaper articles. Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Right, has no possibility nor intention to return to the dark times of Mussolini. She faces an extremely difficult task, and I argued in a previous post that she was given a chance to become prime minister with the specific purpose of turning her into a scapegoat for the unavoidable troubles that Italy will face this winter. You can find a more detailed analysis of the situation in the post below, written by the Italian historian Franco Cardini. I tend to agree with most of the points he makes although the future always surprises us. Recently, it has surprised us a lot, and surely it will continue to do so!   

Minima Cardiniana 3 October 2022 
Translated and published with the kind permission of the author.  


By Franco Cardini

They will say, as usual, that I have a weakness for Giorgia Meloni, but she does what she does because she cannot and will not do anything else. It's her time: she is in the business of politics, she knows that her bus is passing, and it is unlikely for her to have such an opportunity again. It was a beautiful victory: not only, and not so much, for the response of the ballot box, however negatively conditioned by the very high number of non-voters that no politician worthy of the name can ignore or underestimate, but for having played all his opponents with a masterful move. She was the ugly duckling of the Italian parliament, perpetually threatened with the sword of Damocles of the renewed accusations of fascism that could strike her at any moment. But she managed to score a masterful blow, built little by little and day by day.

She, the leader of the Sovranisti, is also the leader of the Atlantists and Westernists. She knows well that this constitutes, conceptually, a paradox bordering on the tragic (or the ridiculous): under the flags of Italian sovereignty, she will have to lead his country on the path of subordination to NATO and the USA who hold us in their hands and who literally occupy our territory, our country. A verse of the anthem that gives the name to the party reads "Go outside of Italy, go away, foreigners". Easy to recite it in the face of the rafts of the poor migrants of the Mediterranean sea. Impossible to sing it where it should be sung, in front of the gates of Ghedi, Dal Molin, and Camp Darby (translator's note: American bases in Italy.), armed with the nuclear missiles banned by the Italian constitution and imposed by our guardian-master. 

The same ones who also impose on us the burden of sanctions imposed on Russia but in reality intended to bring Europe to its knees with its consent that must be even enthusiastic. Giorgia Meloni managed to achieve all this: if she passes – and we will see – also the test of the winter of sanctions, during which we will see the iron rule according to which the prime minister in office is seen to blame not himself/herself but his predecessors, she really deserves to continue to lead the Italians despite the gloomy prophecies of Cassandra Calenda. (translator's note: Carlo Calenda is an Italian politician.)
At that time, maybe, things will be very hard. But for the moment she flies: except for the fact that she knows very well that the support obtained by Washington (which was worth for her the half-hearted courtesy of politicians and TV anchors, who had up to now defamed her, and who were forbidden by their masters to continue) will cost her more and more dearly in the coming months, at least until the US Mid-Term elections that could, and this we hope this from the bottom of our heart, provide a stop signal to the senile madness of Mad Joe, who seems to be moving straight toward an enlarged and generalized war, at all costs, in order to overthrow Putin and downsize Russia which, after a long period of difficulties, was restarting to occupy the role it deserves and merits. We see them acting very well, the agents of Mad Joe. We follow closely the gallop of the gang, from Kyiv to Tehran, sowing war and destabilization. We follow closely the gang's gopher, Mr. Zelensky, who with great zeal carries out his task of doing everything to destabilize Russia, prevent any chance of peace, and drive his people to slaughter because this war is made with the weapons that we send to Ukraine at our expenses, with the funds and “military advisers” that we send them, and with their blood. It is an American war on Europe, to the last Ukrainian.

All these things, Giorgia knows. her role is to act in such a way as to convince Italians to cooperate joyfully and convinced, or almost so, against their interest and the interest of Europe: have you seen the mafia warning to Germany? A very expensive and polluting attack: this is how they learn to do their own interests in defiance of community discipline. But who knows? Maybe Governor Meloni, born in Italy in a small town, in her heart, admires a little the Germans who may prove to care about sovereignty more than her.

And maybe prepare something: after all, the Mid-Term election could turn into a really bad defeat for Mad Joe. So why not make some preparations? And on the preparation book of Governor Meloni, next to the endorsement of the current US government that can also allow her to say good riddance to Salvini (Translator's note: Salvin is the leader of the Italian Northern League) (she should do that anyway: the Americans have never forgiven him certain past pro-Putin weaknesses and perhaps have instructed Giorgia to club him on the head), there is the card of friendship with Orban, which could turn out to be an ace of spades if the wind changed. Giorgia is well-loved in NATO, but not in Europe: and this puts her close to a heterogeneous but interesting company of ex-EU, half-EU, and anti-EU, from Turkey to Britain. Up to now, no European country has ever dared to put forward any cease-fire proposal because the Americans would not like it, despite the very authoritative encouragement of none other than the Chinese President. We must go on with the massacre until Putin quits or is overthrown by some general or some Orange Revolution. These, however, are the plans of Mad Joe, and Governor Giorgia obeys, declaring with the usual determination that Putin is even "a danger for Europe". 

The usual candid souls wonder why she is showing signs of following in the footsteps of the Dragon (Translator's note: Mario Draghi, the previous prime minister of Italy): but isn't it obvious, since they depend on the same chief? Let the boss change, there in beautiful America, and we could see some things... maybe a possible new US president might wonder if it is worth giving Russia to China, and to give Moscow proof of goodwill could dump Zelensky. Careful, Mrs. Meloni: the true sovranista, as Manzoni said, is one who "unruly serves, thinking of the kingdom." Don't miss a shot. But beware: they have nuclear weapons and lately they have been talking too often about the possibility of using them. (FC)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Europe: How to Become Poor Peasants Again


"Les Glaneuses"  (the gleaners). A painting by Francois Millet (1857). Is this the destiny of the people of Western Europe?

All wars are wars for resources and, in modern times, they have been mostly for the resources that make the very existence of our civilization possible: fossil fuels. We all know how during WWII the attempt of the Germans to subdue the Soviet Union failed when they could not take control of the oil resources of the Caucasus. More recently, after President Carter declared that the oil resources of the Middle East are a "vital interest" for the United States (the "Carter Doctrine"), no one was surprised by the numerous wars and bombing campaigns waged by the US in the region. 

Sometimes, though, the role of fossil fuels in wars is more subtle than just someone trying to steal someone else's resources. Wars may not be a question of scarcity but of abundance. That may be the case of the war in Ukraine that we can interpret as a direct result of the impact of "fracking" in the United States. During the past 10 years or so, the development of fracking led to a reversal of the static or declining production trend of fossil fuels that had been ongoing in the US for about 40 years. 

The result was that American producers could reappear in the global market as exporters of both oil and gas. A potentially lucrative area where to expand was Western Europe. The problem was that the European market was in the hands of Russian producers, who had established a network of pipelines that could export natural gas at low prices to Europe. "Liquefied natural gas" (LNG) from the US just could not be competitive with pipeline gas because of the costs of liquefaction, transport, and regasification. 

In the manuals of economics it is said that, in a free market, the cheaper product always wins against the more expensive one. In the real world, though, markets are far from being free. As any mafia boss can tell you, the cocaine market is not just a question of prices: you have to defend your turf. And not just that: sometimes, you can expand the area you control by friendly (or not-so-friendly) interactions with neighboring competitors. That's sometimes called "arm-twisting," but it may involve much more drastic and painful methods than just dislocating a shoulder. Similar considerations hold for fossil fuels, a market in which states normally behave exactly like mafia families. 

During the past few months, we saw a case of a not-so-friendly interaction aimed at expelling Russia from the natural gas market in Europe. The war in Ukraine is mostly a sideshow: the real thing is the market of natural gas, and the critical point was the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline. Whoever did it, sent a clear message to everybody, not unlike placing the severed head of a horse in someone's bed: the European gas market is now the turf of another mafia family. 

That does not mean that Russian exports of gas to Europe will immediately cease. Completely replacing the Russian gas would require increasing the exports from the US to Europe by about a factor of 10. Maybe not impossible, and other gas-supplying countries may step in to help. But it is not something that can be done in a short time. You can see the situation in the graphs, below. The EU states import some 150 billion m3 of gas from Russia and only about 15 from the US. The US has a total export of more than 100 billion m3, but most of it goes to Canada and Mexico via pipelines. 

(images courtesy of Giuseppina Ranalli)

Hopefully, Russia will not stop sending gas to Europe using the existing pipelines. Then, a strong push toward renewable energy may help Europeans a lot. But the market is likely to behave exactly the way they say it should in the textbooks: a situation of scarcity leads to higher prices. In other words, with Europe desperate to get enough gas, producers are going to have a great time. Don't expect them to be kind to the poor Europeans: why should they be? Mafias are not supposed to be charitable institutions. 

So, in the coming years, we are looking at a situation of both scarcity and high prices of gas in Europe. That will have consequences. Many European citizens, especially the poor, will have to stay in the dark and in the cold this winter, and for several winters in the future. And there will be no European leader who will declare that the European lifestyle is "not up for negotiations," as President Bush 1st said about the American lifestyle. Can you imagine Ms. von der Leyen, the never-elected president of the never-elected European Commission, saying something like that? So, the lifestyle of European citizens is going to go down the drain, and perhaps it was unavoidable that it would, one day or another. But the real question is: will the European industrial system survive the high prices of energy? 

That's not obvious at all, and the Americans may soon discover that they killed the hen whose eggs they wanted. With energy prices five to ten times higher than before, European products may not be competitive any longer in the global market. That implies the collapse of the European industrial system and the return of the continent to the agricultural economy of a couple of centuries ago. It would be a return of the old "Morgenthau Plan" that aimed at doing exactly that to Germany after that WWII was over: destroying Germany's industrial economy and starving to death a large fraction of the German population. If something similar were to happen in Europe nowadays, that would also imply a certain reduction in the European population but, hey, I already noted how mafias are not supposed to be charitable organizations! And, as Ms. Victoria Nuland clearly explained to us not long ago, who cares about Europeans? They were peasants, once, so let those who survive return to tilling fields. 

Below, an article that I recently published in the Italian newspaper "Il Fatto Quotidiano" 

From the "Fatto Quotidiano" of 29 September 2022 (slightly modified)

by Ugo Bardi

The convulsive events on the global geopolitical scene continue to take us by surprise. What is behind the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline? We can't say who did it, but one thing is certain: the conflict we are seeing is a war for resources much more than it is a warring war. To understand what is happening, we need to go back in time to find the roots of the current situation. 

In the book "Sea and Sardinia" (1921), DH Lawrence tells us how a favorite subject in the conversations among Italians was insulting the English. It was because English coal had become expensive, something that the Italians attributed to the wickedness of the English. The term "Perfidious Albion" had been invented a long time before but was beginning to become fashionable at that time. 

The history of English coal in Italy illustrates the factors still at play in the functioning of the Italian economy today. Italian industry needs energy, but there are not enough fossil energy resources in Italy to support a functioning industrial system. Thus, the industrial revolution arrived in Italy in the 19th century brought by English coal, imported by sea. But, with the end of the First World War, British coal had suddenly become much more expensive than before. It wasn't because the British were perfidious (maybe a little, but no worse than many others), it was because of depletion. As the British economist William Jevons predicted decades earlier, the costs of coal mining were rising and investments falling. As a consequence, the British coal production reached its peak in 1914, and then it began an irreversible decline. In the 1930s, coal shortages forced Italy into a deadly embrace with Germany - which could still produce it at low prices. We all know the results. 

Having emerged half-destroyed from the Second World War, the Italian industry was able to rebuild itself thanks to the US oil provided by the Marshall Plan. Even for oil, however, depletion had to be felt sooner or later. In 1970, the United States reached its production peak. The first major "oil crisis" followed, but the global market could offset the decline with other sources. Meanwhile, natural gas was rapidly becoming a low-cost alternative to oil. Gradually, Europe turned to import gas from Russia via pipelines. With this relatively low-cost gas, the Italian industrial system could survive.

In the last 10 years, however, things have changed dramatically. With the technology of "fracking", the United States has managed to reverse the decline in its production of both gas and oil. As a result, they have re-entered the world market as exporters. This explains many things: the oil and gas market is strategic in the great game of world domination and, in this game, there are no rules. Pushing Russia out of the Western European market makes it possible for the American industry to take back a market they had long lost. That's what's happening. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline is a signal that Europe will have to live without Russian gas, one day or another. 

And now? In this global strategy game, everything is always changing. It is true that imports from the United States are now able to replace Russian gas in Europe, at least in part. But it is also true that importing natural gas from the US is only possible in the form of liquid natural gas and this involves high costs, as well as a heavy contribution to global warming due to the inevitable losses in the process. To this, we should add a fundamental unknown: how long will the United States be able to maintain its production at the levels needed to supply Europe? 

Fracking has been seen as a miracle technology, but it isn't. As always, forecasts are difficult, but we can be sure of one thing: no mineral resource is infinite and sooner or later we will face the peak of fracking gas. And it all starts all over again with the frantic search for energy to keep the industrial society alive. 

In Italy, we are in a position of extreme weakness. We lack the infrastructure (regasifiers) necessary to import liquefied gas. We can build them, but it will take time and, meanwhile, the Italian industry could suffer irreparable damage. It is not certain that when we have regasifiers there will be sufficient gas available to import. Not only that, but the Italian industry could find itself not competitive in the world market if it has to bear the high costs of liquid natural gas. In both cases, we could be facing the end of the industrial cycle of the Italian economy, about two centuries after its beginning. The problem is that, before the industrial revolution, there were fewer than 20 million inhabitants in Italy and famines were not uncommon. 

It seems clear that for us there are no other ways out than a decisive shift toward renewables, already today much cheaper than fossil fuels and capable of completely replacing them. Politicians have not yet understood this, but moving to renewables would protect us from new crises of energy availability and from blackmail by producers. But it's not something that can be done overnight. Only a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine would give us the time needed to build a new infrastructure based on renewables. Can we make it? Nothing prevents us from trying. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Italy: Giorgia Meloni as a Scapegoat for the Incoming Disaster


My blog titled "Chimeras" explores mainly mythological and literary themes, but the world we call "real" is often intertwined and affected by the world of our ancestral beliefs and fantasies. So, I published this week an interpretation of Giorgia Meloni's success in the recent Italian election in terms of ancient human sacrifices that all human societies practice when under heavy stress. Ms. Meloni is facing an enormously difficult task and she risks to be playing the role of the victim in a new sacrificial rite. Hopefully, it will be just a virtual sacrifice, but we can't exclude a real one. Below, I reproduce the text from the "Chimeras" blog. I recognize that it is a bit esoteric, but do not forget that it comes from a blog that deals extensively with human sacrifices.

 Reproduced from "Chimeras" 

The victory of Giorgia Meloni's party in the recent Italian election has generated a wave of hate on social media, with many people showing on their social accounts pictures of the dead body of Benito Mussolini hanged upside-down in a square. A clear message to Ms. Meloni, and a reminder for all of us of how nasty people can be. It is a characteristic of all human societies that, in periods of heavy stress, the removal of a high-rank leader may take the shape of a human sacrifice. The most common victims are men, but in the direst situations, women may take the role of sacrificial victims. Ms. Meloni is at risk of becoming a sacrificial victim, the scapegoat that Italians will search for when, this winter, they'll find themselves freezing in the dark.

In the Iliad, we read about the sacrifice of Iphigenia, the daughter of King Agamemnon, performed to propitiate the travel of the Achaean fleet toward Troy. After having destroyed Troy, the Achaeans repeated the ritual, this time with a Trojan girl, Polixena, daughter of King Priam. Both were high-rank women for whom we could use the term "princesses."

In "The Golden Bough," (1890), James Frazer noted how a high-rank victim makes the sacrifice more valuable and more effective to appease the dark deities to which it is dedicated. So, the victim may be raised to the role of "king" just before being killed: groomed, exalted, showered with gifts, and made to access the best goods available. The typical victims are men, probably because young males can be considered expendable, whereas the reproductive value of a young woman cannot be replaced. When things are truly dire, though, "queens" may be sacrificed, too, as especially valuable victims. 

Human sacrifices are often not explicitly recognized as such by those who perform them. For instance, the ancient Romans strongly condemned human sacrifices but they performed them abundantly in the form of bloody and cruel executions. Think of the killing of the Jewish leader named Yeshua bin Yusuf by the Roman government in Palestine, ca. 30 AD. On the cross on which he was nailed, there were the words in Latin "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum." It was supposed to be a mockery, but it is also true that Yeshua was of a noble Jewish family, so he was a king or, at least, a prince. 

Moving to our times, we, like the Romans, strongly condemn human sacrifices. But, like the Romans, we may indulge in bloody sacrifices much more often than we are willing to admit. The Christian roots of our view of the world originate from the slaughter of the Christian martyrs, starting from the 1st century AD. In more modern times, we can see World War One as a ritual slaughter of millions of young men, sacrificed to obscure and malevolent deities called "states." The most difficult moments of WWI also implied the sacrifice of Queens. One of them was Mata Hari, a famous actress and dancer, ritually sacrificed in 1917 in France. The same destiny befell the wife and the daughters of the Czar of Russia in 1918. 

World War Two had similar threads of ritual killing. The Japanese "kamikaze" fighters are a good example of how a society under heavy stress may punish its young men in a ritual of death. On the other side of Eurasia, the German government embarked on an elaborate mass murder program that involved the elimination of people considered inferior ("Untermenschen"), Jews, Gypsies, and even German citizens. Not for nothing, the term "holocaust" is used for these mass exterminations. 

Another ritual killing of WWII was that of the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, in 1945, together with his lover, Claretta Petacci (in the image). Their bodies were hung upside down in a public square after a cruel ritual of beating and mangling them. They were the sacrificial victims designated to atone for the defeat that had nearly destroyed Italy and killed hundreds of thousands of Italians. Claretta Petacci was not responsible for the disaster, but she was killed, too. As it often happens in history, a young woman may be the ideal victim for the atonement that the sacrifice is about. 

And now, let's take a look at our times. If there ever was a society under stress, it is ours. We passed all the limits of survival: destroyed the old-growth forests, killed off large numbers of species, poisoned the atmosphere, depleted our mineral resources, eroded the fertile soil, polluted water and the atmosphere, set the planet on a path to irreversible warming, and a few more little things, including having deployed a sufficient number of nuclear warheads to wreck the ecosystem and, most likely, kill everybody. And we haven't renounced our beloved habit of making war against each other. 

Would you be surprised if we were to indulge in large-scale human sacrifices? We are not yet there, but the path seems to be traced. Have you noted how popular are "Zombie" movies? Take a look at them in light of what I have been saying here: don't you see them as a blueprint for the mass extermination of suburbanites? Truly, the fascination with this idea casts much light on what our society has in mind for the near future. We are not yet to the point of seeing the elites booking zombie-killing safaris in the suburbs of our cities. But other possible large-scale sacrifices are possible. I already mentioned how, during WWII, the German government hired the country's doctors to cull the undesirables. They complied, happily. That could be easily done in our times, too.

Human sacrifices, though, are not so much about numbers, but about the visible high status of the victim. Now, after the electoral victory of Giorgia Meloni in Italy, many people commented by publishing on their social accounts the images of Mussolini's dead body and of his lover Claretta Petacci. A clear message to Ms. Meloni.  For sure, Italy is going toward a difficult period. With the supplies of natural gas cut, this winter Italians are going to find themselves freezing in the dark, and without a job. Whoever will be leading the country at that moment, risks being deemed responsible for the disaster. And it is also true that people can be extremely nasty when they are in a dire situation. 

Look at this image with Giorgia Meloni's face upside down. It is reported to have been taken in Torino during the electoral campaign of 2022 in Italy. "Fasci Appesi" means "hang the fascists." Giorgia Meloni seriously risks becoming a new sacrificial victim, perhaps not just a virtual one,  to appease the dark Gods that humans have themselves created. I mentioned how the victims were exalted and turned into kings before killing them and we might even imagine that Meloni was chosen as "queen" for exactly this purpose by the subconscious societal mindsphere. 

Several commentators, in Italy, have expressed the same idea, although not in terms of human sacrifices, but simply in terms of political expedience. In this interpretation, the hastily organized election of September had exactly the purpose of placing at the top a figure that will act as a target for the ire of the population, when Italians will actually realize what it means to be without electric power. The term "scapegoat" has been correctly used. It doesn't mean that Ms. Meloni will be shot and hanged by the feet. Simply, that her rapid demise as a leader will lead the way to an authoritarian government that will impose draconian (a word charged with meanings) measures on the Italian population. On the other hand, Meloni may also do better than expected and succeed in spite of everything. Who knows? Good luck, Giorgia, because you'll need a lot of it.  


From the blog of Alfio Krancic: il Governo Meloni, an interpretation similar to mine. The author does not say what will be the destiny of Giorgia Meloni, accused of genocide, but we may imagine it

Early November 2022, the Meloni government takes office

New government oath in the hands of President Mattarella;

5 November: 1st Council of Ministers;

November 7; Spread at 275 points;

November 10: Increase in food prices by 30%;

November 12: 100% gas price increase; 90% gasoline and diesel;

November 16: A wave of frost hits Italy;

November 18: The government decides that indoor temperatures must not exceed 17 °C;

November 19: First demonstrations with clashes in the squares. Interior Minister Salvini accuses social centers of stirring up the mob;

November 20: Clashes with victims in Rome. Barricades and urban warfare. Salvini accuses the black bloc;

November 21: The government allocates 10 billion euros to Ukraine;

November 24: Demonstrations against living costs end with clashes in the streets, with several victims. Brawl in Parliament when Salvini takes the floor;

November 25: The headquarters of the right-wing parties, Fratelli d'Italia (FdI), Forza Italia (FI) and Lega are stormed by angry crowds;

November 26: Stern warning from President Mattarella to the Government;

November 27 Spread at 380 points;

November 29: Food prices increase even more;

November 30: 3 million people protesting in the streets. Violent clashes in many cities;

December 2: The grip of frost does not leave Italy and Europe;

December 5: Gas emergency: reserves can't last more than 2 weeks;

December 6: Salvini criticizes the Meloni government in a speech at the Papeete beach. Meanwhile, the polls give FdI at 6%, FI at 5% and the League at 4%.

December 7: The Italian Institute of Statistics (Istat) claims that since the birth of the center-right government, 100,000 people, mostly elderly, have died of hunger and cold in 6 weeks. The news provokes violent demonstrations with deaths, injuries, and looting.

December 8: President Mattarella sends an ultimatum to the government.

December 9: To mitigate the lack of food, the government markets insect meal and dried grasshoppers.

December 10: Spread at 590 points. There is talk of bankruptcy of the Italian state. First demonstrations of the left in favor of a return of Draghi.

December 12: Salvini and Berlusconi withdraw from the government. 

December 13: Prime Minister Meloni resigns. Demonstrations of jubilation throughout the country.

December 15: Defections in FdI, FI and Lega. Half of the deputies form a group in favor of Draghi's return. Mattarella appoints Draghi as Prime Minister. He immediately forms a new government.

Warranties sent to Meloni, Berlusconi and Salvini for genocide, treason, and more.

December 18: The Covid 22 epidemic breaks out. Tens of thousands of infected. The new Minister of Health Roberto Speranza recommends a very tight lockdown. The government approves. Curfew from 4 pm to 12 am the next morning. The army appears in the streets with tanks and armored vehicles. Draghi in a dramatic appeal to unified networks says that the measures have been taken for the good of the Italian people because of the disasters of the "fascist" CDX government and because of the new pandemic. People stop taking to the streets and hide in houses. On the balconies and windows appear sheets with rainbows and slogans: "Everything will be fine!", "We'll do it!" The ventennio of Draghistan begins.

(h/t Miguel Martinez)