August 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
My second novel by Sciascia turns out a near-copy of the first: the basic premise is the same: a fake leftist-terrorist plot manufactured by the rightist powers that be to cover their own nefarious crimes while slandering the left at the same time.
This plot-recycling has to give pause. Used once, the plot might have seemed a clever detail of a larger portrait of the confusion of Italian politics of the anni del piombo; one might have expected his other novels to be about some other equally confusing/ disturbing plot of the same era. But used twice… used twice it begins to look like an obsession — not with the murkiness of the anni del piombo, but with this specific case: the possibility that a leftist-terrorist plot may in fact have been manufactured by right wing operatives for propaganda purposes. (“The rich right setting out to make the left look bad”). Clearly, the leftist-terrorist plot in question can only be… the Red Brigades. And thus one has to ask: was Sciascia one of those Italian leftists who strenuously denied communist/Soviet inspiration of the Red Brigades because the possibility would have embarrassed their political friends?
Today we know that the RB were in fact financed/trained/aided by the KGB — even though the USSR itself understood that as a propaganda tool they were problematic — they were certainly not for propaganda use in the East — Communist press in the East Block was instructed to refrain from calling the Red Brigades by their name (“Red”) but to call them “fascist terrorists” instead.
What was the extent of Sciascia’s involvement in the Soviet disinformation campaign? Did he seriously believe the RB were not communist/ leftist/ Soviet (or did not even exist, as his novels suggest) but some sort of an evil capitalist invention? Or was he, like Sartre and Romain Roland, with a broken heart and pangs of conscience — fully aware of the truth but biting the bullet and — lying (“for the good of the cause”)? Or, yet again, was he not really sure and just polemicizing knee-jerk fashion — on principle refusing to allow the accusation be voiced unopposed — and resisting it by mudding the waters (“look, it may well be a fascist plot, you know”) — presumably until the truth is finally revealed and no longer deniable; but in fact, by the very act of mudding the waters, obstructing the pursuit of truth?
Herling wonders at the idealistic determination of the last two luminaries (Sartre and Roland) to lie about the evil of the Evil Empire — For The Cause, he assumes, and speculates about 1) the ethical vault necessary to do so — to lie about the known evil of the leader of world socialist movement in order to defend the reputation of that movement — and 2) its political logic. [If the leader of the socialist world is in fact a nasty, homicidal dictatorship, what good for the world socialist movement can possibly follow from lying about it and allowing that leader to remain in the leadership position which it clearly does not deserve?]
Herling, not having run a business, one assumes, or ever having read a cash-flow statement, has not known that such mysteries are always best solved by the way of a simple forensic financial audit: follow the money. Yet, it has to be obvious to anyone sufficiently removed from the scene that these luminaries lied because they were paid to do so. Perhaps not in money directly, perhaps by translation and publishing contracts, junkets, and so forth, but they were paid for their silence. Pace Herling, they were not compromising their morals for a higher good (“The Cause”), but for a very ordinary good we all know quite well.
At any rate, I did not set out to say any of that, but only this: like all leftist writers — removed from power and actual decision-making, informed chiefly by Das Kapital and party editorials — Sciascia paints a strangely ghostly, unconvincing, straw-man-like picture of the powers that be. Unlike Le Carre whose view of the powers that be is no more flattering but a lot more convincing. One need not to take on the Marxist baggage to see what is rotten with the system. Indeed, absence of the Marxist baggage appears to allow one to see a lot more clearly just what the problem is.
As I think about it, it all appears to me of a piece: communist sympathies, rather mindless Das Kapital worship, a tenuous hold on facts in general (necessitating an adoption of an external philosophical program), confirmed by consistently poor life-choices. Here’s a rule of thumb for you: communist leanings as a litmus-test for a certain kind of brain deficiency.
Surely you have met people like this yourself, the kind who are always wrong, in everything, who always buy the wrong house, the wrong car, the wrong insurance policy, always lose money in the stock-market, marry three times, each time worse than the time before, who sleep on uncomfortable beds and sit on uncomfortable chairs, overpay for bad wine; as a result of all which they feel rotten; which feeling, like everything else, they misdiagnose and — blame the system — the evil system which persecutes them and which, they conclude, must therefore be overthrown?