Dividi et impera

Dear followers,

I am really sad I have abandoned you in the last few weeks. I still follow the global events but given the huge amount of study I am supposed to do until the end of 2017, I am sure I won’t be able to post as often as before. I apologise if I am getting so boring, I wish I had more time to dedicate to my blog, given that I had committed to, at least, 2 posts a month.

Furthermore, I have started to research for my dissertation, which will have to be handed in during the summer of 2017. Please, be patient…. after that study committment, I am sure I will keep updating the blog. The funny part…I am not sure FROM where I will do that. Heck, considering the actual political climate, I am not sure I will be ALLOWED to do that either!

I think many of you share my feelings that the world was never filled with such uncertainty for everybody before, not at least in the last two decades. I have followed the end of the cold war…. seen the Berlin’s wall finally crumbling down more than 25 years ago… in 2013 I have even seen the pieces of it standing in a Berlin’s street, stark remnants of a past that it was never supposed to come back… I have visited a nazi concentration camp twice… I have never forgotten the butcheries and the ‘showers’ (the gas chambers)…. why are people so eager to resuscitate a past filled with hate?

I have listened to countless explanations about controlling immigration. Controlling immigration is a task for a state, it should not be on top of priorities for anyone in daily life, regardless of country. Instead, many of us have bought into the governments’ propaganda that use immigration as a scapegoat for their own failings. Even my mother is one of many people who reason like that, when super-offended she yelled at me on the phone “but, bbbuttt… you are not an immigrant like the others, you’re Italian!” which basically meant ‘you’re white, cultured and well-educated, so you don’t deserve that’.

This shows that not only some politicians have managed to manipulate society’s thoughts towards a concern that shouldn’t be theirs in the first place (and in doing so, they also divided whole countries in groups on one side or another), they have even managed to divide the ‘other’ in many, many subcategories, in some sort of list decreasing from the ‘most deserving of hate and disgust’ to the ‘least deserving one’. I don’t want to paint Trump voters, or LePen voters, or Brexiteers, with the same brush, because except the ones who are really racists, fascists, white supremacists and KKK card-carrying members, the others have something in common with the rest. We all have been CONNED. We are all deluded into thinking that a better future awaits us, somehow. The governments and the rulers fear the ‘mob’ when it is united, not when it is divided into millions of pieces. The ‘will of the people’ counts shit when the powers have been passed out of people’s hands. We are only instrumental in producing an outcome (an election or a referendum result), after that…. it’s like we’re on a boat at the mercy of captain and his officers… and if they are all a bunch of nutcases and go all random, they can sink us all (and now the world has boarded a huge Titanic…). We are allowed to live in denial that we can preserve and protect what we have and who we love for the moment, and maybe we can take action later on. That is only an illusion. This time, unless some of you are so stinking rich to have a space station to board at will, we are all in this together, none excluded… regardless of nationality, race, creed, age or gender.

Unfortunately the famous Roman rule for good government ‘divide and rule’ (dividi et impera) has been a successful propaganda for 2 millennia. Well, it was even before, it’s just the Romans who have transformed it in sort of ancient slogan. It is so sad though that mankind keeps falling for it, one way or another.

Sad Merlin xx

Brexit religion: what’s wrong with it in 15 points

Disclaimer: Obviously, this is not a religious post. But the Brexit affair is becoming more and more like a faith with a series of dogmas and things to believe in. It might be wrong to define it as ‘religion’ as it’s not about believing in a God; however, that was the better term I could come up with. Sorry for any offence caused.

This article is not intended to be critical of any camp or political belief. Instead, I only wanted to highlight the attitudes, assumptions and expectations of several British voters/commenters and UK residents. I’ve tried to be as objective as possible, although from my position (I’m a EU citizen) it has been quite difficult. I ask for forgiveness beforehand.

1) Many Britons have the expectation that regardless of what everyone has voted, the country needs to pull up together and follow any belief in Brexit or law subsequent to the referendum as legitimate. If you don’t follow the flock, you’re branded as a traitor and possibly shouted down (fortunately, hanging is out of fashion at the moment and also a tad illegal). I’m afraid that all divisions that have been created by the referendum will stay here until all the voters dies out. Sorry for bursting your bubble, but getting over Brexit is not possible for many.

2) EU citizens are expected to shut up, collect their documents and prove they have the right to stay here. Any EU citizen showing they are offended or offering critical judgement of Brexit they get told to ‘bugger off to where they came from’ or to prove their loyalty to the British state through permanent card or citizenship, even if they are not eligible or cannot afford it.

3) Supposedly, university students and their tutors have become the ‘elite’ and whatever advice they can offer is now judged as ‘elitist’, ‘out of touch’, ‘non-sensical’; it is not worth to remind them that you might have come from a family with a poor background (as I did), because what you get in return is that you took advantage of the system whilst many poor sods (who likely didn’t give a damn about studying anyway!) had not access to higher education whilst you, nasty EU citizen, had. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

4) Any reminder of how xenophobic, nasty and racist the UK has become in only 4 months is bound to send them in a rant-frenzy of epic proportions. In particular, EU citizens are expected to bear the whole thing without speaking out or they are expected to get the heck out of the country. Dissent not accepted in many instances.

5) Assumptions about the easiness of the immigration and citizenship processes are wide-spread, even in the press. There were many cases of journalists who assumed, in their articles, that all EU citizens who have been resident for 5 years or longer automatically get an indefinite leave to remain. This is and never was the case. EU spouses married with British citizens do NOT get automatically citizenship either. They have to go through the permanent residence process as all the others (only non-EU spouses have a different process and shorter, because they pay for spouse visas).

6) Assumptions about the false equivalence ‘a foreigner goes, a local takes his/her place’. There are plenty of posters everywhere who assume that once you get rid of an immigrant a job position or a university place is now vacant for a British citizen to take. This is a failed approach for three reasons: a) the employer might not have wanted/found a local for that job position previously and they do decide not to replace him/her; b) the employer is a foreigner or works for a foreign company; after many foreign people leave, the company itself just moves away too, taking all the job opportunities with them; c) the university place was awarded by merit and no locals had or have the requirements to be chosen (this might not include medicine and any subject with place restrictions though).

7) Many Britons expect that many businesses, British or foreign, should stay after Brexit out of loyalty and commitment to the country. Useful to remind them that ‘there are no friends in business’ and if a company sees the collapse of their profits, they have two choices: 1) to declare bankrupt and close down; 2) to move away and save profits and jobs. Their loyalty lies with their customers and employees, they only pay tax contributions to the country, that is the only arrangement in place for them.

8) The general expectation that being patriotic means following the Brexit train with adoration and no critical approaches to make or say. Useful to remind them that patriotism and nationalism never fed people. They feed the ones at the top of the pyramid who exploit the patriotic bimbos who believe in such a utopia.

9) There’s the general idea that the referendum has served a double purpose, not only to leave the European Union, but it has made the big wigs in Westminster acknowledge it was a protest vote of the working classes. I will not try to define the term ‘working class’ here; however, it’s totally condescending to assume that anyone who’s working class shot themselves in the foot or voted against their interests. Many voted reasonably for what they believed in (whatever that was) and many will also be quite discontent once that their expectations will not be fulfilled. This is not due to Brexit itself, but it’s not mathematically possible that a certain situation/outcome can satisfy 100% of the ones who voted for it. It doesn’t exist and never did. If anyone believes it, they must believe in unicorns and fairy tales too (let me catch my broom before they arrive here though).

10) Expectactions about the government paying for EU subsidies lost. Afraid that is a dream from another planet. Taxpayers will replace those subsidies, with higher taxes. I expect Hammond to announce that at some point (as Hunt and Green clearly announced yesterday; they will kick sick/disabled people in the curb and send them to work. No more hand-outs).

11) The widespread belief that British citizens married with EU citizens should stay here in UK out of patriotic loyalty to their country, instead of following their spouses elsewhere once the EU spouses had enough of getting berated by the populace and the press (the latter is believed to be unacceptable behaviour, because ‘us’ the scroungers took advantage of the British system and we can’t go away without, at least, leaving our British husbands or wives here).

12) The belief of a trickle-down benefit system due to leaving the EU. This is a pet peeve of mine because the logic of it escapes me. If you leave a country/union/etc., there’s always something to pay (that would be the same for Scotland leaving the UK). Expectations of no change in negative terms are unrealistic. The ‘earthquake’ generated by such huge decisions will have many aftershocks. As many could see in the recent, real earthquakes in Italy, many valuable historical and archaeological assets simply crumbled down after 3-4 earthquakes. Economy will suffer the same after Brexit. The further expectation that ‘I eat something less today to get something more tomorrow’ is also silly because very often you won’t get anything tomorrow. Future is never certain, it’s why it’s future and not present. You could acknowledge the uncertainty and hope due to a choice, but it’s totally unrealistic to believe something positive will unequivocally come out of Brexit. Nobody knows and if history is anything to go by, the negative will bite first and for a lot longer than imagined (I’ve visited East Germany recently and in some parts it’s as awful as it was in 1989 when the Berlin Wall crumbled down).

13) Expectations of a better future for lower classes and the poor whilst a right-wing government is in power. This escapes my logical skills too. I NEVER heard such a thing; there’s not a right-wing government acting for the interests of the poor classes on all the planet. The concept itself is dumb. This point is the one who baffles me the most and it nearly pushed me to choose ‘Brexit cult’ instead of religion in the title. Poor classes are slaves from the point of view of the well-off classes. They don’t give a damn about who dies, who’s disabled, who has a problem, etc. Poor classes are expendable (as slaves were expendable in ancient Athens or Rome). Brexit or anything else is not going to change that, no matter how much people believe it. If financially speaking something positive comes out of Brexit, the benefits will be assimilated at the level they arrive first (= the top tier of the population). Anyone under that level, not only they won’t get any substantial benefits but they will have to pay for all the negatives too.

14) Expectations that granting the privilege to stay (or come, through a visa system) to some high-skilled immigrants will automatically mean they will stay (out of gratitude?) or that they will queue up at the British border in droves. This line of thought can be associated with attitudes towards skilled British citizens too, who are expected to stay and contribute to the system they took advantage of. It’s utter delusion to think that you can force upon migrants or citizens a reasoning of gratitude or patriotic loyalty. Many migrants who are highly skilled migrate for better opportunities; if they have family, they also gather information about the whole school system or healthcare system, how accessible or expensive they are, what the country has to offer for the future. As a migrant, I know that the United Kingdom enjoyed a high migration for Europe because of the free movement rule. But how will it fare a post-Brexit Britain in that regard? I suspect that there won’t be any need of controlling immigration after 2019, because only the uncertainty caused by Brexit will last two decades and many immigrants will bet their and their own families’ lives/future in more appealing countries (this without even counting the bad reputation UK has recently earned after the xenophobic accidents and murders).

15) Attitude to extensive generalisations, on everyone’s part:

  • Many middle class people voted Leave, as well as people from the upper classes;
  • Many Remainers are also xenophobic and would shoot an immigrant in the face if they had a gun;
  • Anyone who didn’t vote is NOT actually a Remainer, they just chose not to vote and never took a side;
  • University students voted Leave; some of them were so ignorant to believe UK was financing the NHS of other countries (I personally heard this one; what a waste of education!);
  • A large percentage of EU citizens who voted as dual citizens also voted to Leave and not to Remain.

N.B. : Rude, impolite, xenophobic, racist comments won’t be published. I have zero tolerance for that crap.


Naturalizzarsi come cittadini britannici

Update: questo post e’ stato aggiornato dopo Brexit, avvenuto il 23 Giugno 2016

Naturalizzarsi come cittadino di un altro stato è un passo importante che molti decidono di fare. La scelta di affrontare l’iter burocratico del processo di naturalizzazione può essere dovuta a molte ragioni. Per alcuni che sono costretti a chiedere un visto di lavoro o residenza, ciò può anche essere un modo per avere la vita più semplice, dato che quando si è cittadini non si ha bisogno di affrontare l’iter di immigrazione. Comunque, per un cittadino dell’unione europea che vive in un altro stato europeo, naturalizzarsi può avere un significato differente perché i cittadini europei non hanno bisogno di nessun visto per rimanere, vivere o lavorare in uno degli stati parte dell’Unione Europea.

Una parte importante del processo è di tenere a mente che non tutte le nazioni richiedono di perdere la propria cittadinanza di nascita per acquisire quella nuova. Il Regno Unito è uno di quegli stati che ha un accordo bilaterale con l’Italia per la doppia cittadinanza. Infatti, quando diventerò una cittadina britannica, non dovrò lasciare automaticamente la cittadinanza italiana. Per tutti quelli che mi hanno seguito fino ad adesso, beh… sapete perfettamente che il fatto di perderla non mi irriterebbe affatto, comunque il governo italiano richiede una procedura ufficiale e dispendiosa per la rinuncia alla cittadinanza italiana e mi sembra, a questo punto, uno spreco di soldi farlo. Questo va ad aggiungersi al fatto che la naturalizzazione britannica è incredibilmente costosa e ogni anno il costo per averla cresce, il prezzo da pagare al momento per la pratica è intorno alle 1.100 sterline e non c’è rimborso in caso la pratica venga rifiutata.

Prima di tutto, come si sa se si è in possesso dei requisiti per richiedere la cittadinanza britannica? Sono necessari 5 anni di residenza (più un altro, non sono sicura perché venga richiesto) senza molte interruzioni, perché i giorni che si possono passare all’estero hanno un limite. Secondo, due referenze sono necessarie e una dev’essere rilasciata da una persona che è in una categoria ‘importante’ e che vi conosca personalmente e continuativamente da tre anni (la lista è sul sito del governo britannico ed è una lunga lista di professioni, in gran parte laureati o nel campo religioso). Sono la moglie di un cittadino britannico ma alla fine non significa niente, perché accorcia solo il periodo di residenza da 5+1 a 3 anni, una cosa che per me è ugualmente inutile perché sono da quasi 7 anni nel Regno Unito. Per far progredire la propria richiesta di naturalizzazione è pure necessario passare un test chiamato ‘Life in the UK’ and un test in lingua inglese a uno dei centri approvati dall’Home Office. Il test in inglese non è richiesto nel caso vi siate laureati nel Regno Unito in un corso di laurea insegnato in inglese.

Perché fare la richiesta? Perché se ci si sente ‘a casa’ in una nazione, è naturale che si voglia anche far parte della vita politica e essere considerati esattamente come tutti gli altri che sono nati lì. Lo so che l’ultima parte non dovrebbe essere un problema ma in realtà negli anni che ho passato qui ho constatato che non avere la cittadinanza in alcuni casi complica la vita. In Inghilterra bisogna essere cittadini britannici per votare alle elezioni parlamentari; in più, la famosa uscita dall’UE della Gran Bretagna e’ avvenuta contro tutte le previsioni e avere la cittadinanza britannica vi farebbe dormire sonni tranquilli. Inoltre, da sposata ho cambiato cognome: nel Regno Unito cambiare nome o cognome non è un problema, non è dispendioso ed è facile, ma il governo italiano NON permette il cambio di nome e cognome se non in casi eccezionali. Trovo questa legge completamente stupida ma non posso far niente al proposito, a parte mettere via in un cassetto tutti i documenti italiani e in futuro usare quelli britannici per viaggiare. Infine, nella mia situazione particolare tutto torna, dato che mi sento già britannica e naturalizzarsi è solo un passo per confermare ciò.

E non ultimo, è importante precisare che una cittadinanza non è lo stesso che identità. Nonostante nel mio caso avere un passaporto britannico e sentirsi britannica saranno la stessa cosa, allo stesso tempo il fatto di naturalizzarsi come cittadino di un altro stato non cambierà mai la vostra identità, abitudini e tradizioni nel caso vi sentiate italiani.

Se qualsiasi persona desidera avere più informazioni  riguardo al processo di naturalizzazione in UK, sentitevi liberi di chiedere più dettagli nei commenti.


Being ‘different’ in Italy is a real curse

“Dedicated to all the ‘different’ ones out there, regardless of where they are from”

From my arrival to UK, one of the things I enjoyed the most was to have the privilege of wearing whatever I liked, without necessarily being shunned by the rest of society. This was something I felt strongly about, because before leaving Italy I had completed a 7-year streak working for fashion designers companies. In these companies, an invisible dress code was the accepted rule for all the employees. I say invisible because it was not written in any contract, but if you didn’t conform to it, chances were your employment contract was not going to be renewed. This invisible dress code meant that the employee had to spend a crapload of money in clothes and shoes to be ‘like the rest of the staff’, regardless of their job titles. Not necessarily these clothes had to be made by the same brand we were working for, but that was a plus, of course. This also meant that all my wages earned in two years and a half (length of my employment in the first fashion company I worked for) got wasted for the invisible dress code.

Do you think it’s fair? No, of course it’s not, but there’s an underlying message there… that many Italians, on a general scale, had and have to conform to that ‘dress code’ too. If you’re an electrician and has to work in a uniform, when you’re out with friends or in a disco you’re expected to wear ‘branded’ clothes. It doesn’t matter if these clothes are kitsch or indecent, they need to possibly sport a colossal writing somewhere, subtly informing everybody that you paid 100/200/300 euros… for a t-shirt. It is your claim to cultural uniformity with the mass. You’re actually telling everybody that ‘hey I’m like you’ and you can approach everyone, without fearing that others will wag their fingers at you like you’ve just got the plague. This custom is unrelated to real social standing, type of work or class. If even a millionaire thinks to enter a supermarket where he never was in and he’s dressed with a shirt and trousers bought at a Chinese warehouse, see what happens 😀 (might be not a bad idea though.. so you avoid that all the Italian customers bump their trolleys against you).

Now all the above does not include race or sexual orientation. I won’t go there because I cannot speak for those two groups I don’t belong to, although from what I’ve heard if me being different is a curse, for them everything is downright hell. Anyway, back to the main topic. I’ve always identified differently in terms of ‘personality’. I never gave a crap to be born a woman, being told off because I was a woman didn’t compute with me. I didn’t like fancy dresses as a child and I didn’t dream to be a princess whilst I was a little girl. I wanted to drive race cars or motorcycles, fly jets, be at a ship’s wheel or fly into space as an astronaut. Heck, I wanted to be a piano player at 5 and I wasn’t allowed because I was too poor and a woman! I was reading at 3 and by the time anyone else started primary school and they  had started to read ‘I am blah blah’ I was already reading whole books and consulting a dictionary. However, that made me a ‘different’ one, which was and is the biggest fault ever if you’re born in Italy. I ended up wasting years trying to fit in and conform to rules that might have been acceptable for anyone else but not for me. They made me feel like I was in jail all time. ‘Don’t do this, don’t say that’ was the daily portion of wisdom I was administered. Well, whoever was close to me was right. It was not my task to change ‘them’, it was my task to remove myself from the equation. I’m glad I understood it, late but I did!

I was the ‘wrong’ one. And after all this time, years, if I speak to anyone who’s born and lived/lives in Italy, I’m still the wrong one, disliked, sometimes despised and unpleasant one. Even if they don’t know me personally. I embody the voice that is singing out of the choir; I’m a soprano, so quite a loud one at that!! 😀 Italians, whether by way of heritage, religion or simply customs, don’t like to be answered by someone whose voice is not in unison with theirs. They end up taking the high road immediately (if any American is now reading this part, no… don’t even try the comparison between your fellow citizens and mine, Italians are a lot less evolved than your country citizens, believe me!), because they don’t like to hear a different opinion. Many are not even able to start a civil discussion. Anything against the ‘normal’ trend is bad or wrong, end of story. Mostly, they do NOT know anything about the concept of personal identity. Personal identity for an Italian does NOT exist. It’s what the mass tells you is right that you need to heed. God forbid if you think that one of their regional dishes is crap or say anything against one of their beliefs or prejudices. I got kicked out of catechism when I was 8 because the catechist was trying to teach us how our world started and I went to the following session branding an astronomy book and telling the lady that she might be mistaken about this ‘God’ she was talking about because Earth is part of the universe and you know, it all started with the big bang! If she was gifted with any critical thought she might have answered that God had created the universe, but only because I dared to speak out and against what I was told, needless to say… I was subsequently grounded and treated as a heretic. At 8 years old LOL

As a now-middle-aged adult, I also find difficult to deal with some stuff I’m required to do for my studies. I just received the feedback for my last module. A nice grade and a constructive feedback at that…. But I felt bitter afterwards. At some point the module tutor expressed a sort of disappointment because if I had used my critical thinking and my analytical skills more, my grade could be first class. Which would be a huge achievement for someone who was not even born in an English speaking country. But how could I explain to my British tutor that my critical thinking has been suppressed by birth because it was an expression of ‘unconformity’? That I was impaired by the whole Italian school system, which aims to discourage students and make them losers, so less of them graduate and stay stuck in the menial jobs and poorest classes?

I don’t even think social mobility ever existed in Italy, many people are still stuck in the Roman Empire… ah wait, I want to add this. Many Italians take pride in believing Romans are their ancestors. This belief is so strong that nearly ALL books written by Italian academics about the Roman Republic and Empire are useless on an academic level. I cannot use any of the texts written in Italian because it’s mindboggling how biased and useless they are concerning the whole historical period.

However… Let me clear this: Romans were the inhabitants of the city of Rome. FACT. All the other people on the ancient Italian soil were a mix of tribes and different populations coming from Etruscan, Greek, Celtic and Lydian heritage and ancestors. They were NOT Romans. Roman citizenship was extended to the tribes of the Italian peninsula at the end of the Roman Republic, 1st century BCE. Italia as a concept was created by Augustus, for military purposes. Not because he was a generous man who thought equality was due… The Roman elite treated the Italian tribes like crap, but they needed manpower and electors… Do the math. 😉 The extension of the Roman citizenship to everyone didn’t transform in Romans all the inhabitants of the Italic lands overnight, like by magic. So claiming a Roman ancestry when there might be none is a bit silly. Well, I guess it goes hand in hand with wearing a 300-euro t-shirt and faking that you actually earn a wage where you can afford to spend that amount of money for a worthless piece of fabric.

Clearly not all the Italians are like this; although I found out that many like me didn’t speak out because they are afraid of their peers’ reaction. However, the mass is certainly like that and it’s not even a mystery  🙂