Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PROPAGANDA 2: Conspiracy Theory No More

Propaganda 2, or P2, is a Masonic lodge that acted as a shadow government in Italy from 1974 to 1981. Based on the principal that ideologies and values can be easily manipulated by commercial TV and a complacent press, P2 managed to seamlessly place its members in all spheres of Italian life and secretly shaped Italy's political and economic landscape with the backing of a select group of political and Industrial elite, the Sicilian Mafia and the American CIA.

Rumors of a Masonic lodge that involved Italy's highest powers had been spreading since the mid-1970, but still Italian citizens were in shock when a list of P2 members was revealed to the public on May 20th, 1981. The list contained about 900 illustrious names; among them were four ministers or ex-ministers, 44 members of Parliament, all the chief positions of the secret services, the head of the Revenue Guard Corps (Guardia di Finanza), high officials of the state police (Carabinieri), army officers, prefects, magistrates, bankers, entrepreneurs, newspapers’ directors, journalists, and so on. A week after the list was published, the ruling government was forced to resign.

The Manifesto of P2, titled Plan for Democratic Rebirth, was impounded on July 4th 1981, shortly after the discovery of the list of members, in the double-bottomed suitcase of Maria Grazia Gelli (daughter of the well known fascist Licio Gelli). The plan explained how P2 intended to “make use of financial aids” to enter the most diverse places of power: political parties, the press, labor unions, and the three branches of government. The plan explains in detail how to buy a considerable influence within the governing party of the time, the Christian Democrats. The part that concerned the press is particularly terrifying. P2’s plan was to position trusted journalists in the major national newspapers, so that they always presented a favorable image of P2 politicians and the P2 agenda. National, regional, and local activist press had to be infiltrated as well. TV would be controlled to manipulate public opinion and to lull the population into a submissive chorus of approval. Infiltration was organized among judges and magistrates, as well as among bankers and police officials of every rank. The aim was to set up an authoritarian government of privileges, anti-democratic, falsely populist, and reactionary.

To understand the history of P2, one should examine the biography of his leader, fascist freemason Licio Gelli. Gelli served with fascists in the War in Spain and had always been close to extreme fascist movements. His strong anti-communist stand and his ability to bond with the highest ranks of power led him to work for a few years for the United States’ CIC (Counter Intelligence Corps) and with the British secret services. Gelli’s most notable collaboration was with Gladio, the secret service agency heavily financed by CIA and NATO to counter Communist influence after World War II in Italy. Gladio’s methods were far from orthodox, and acted through the so-called "strategy of tension." The strategy of tension consisted in setting up terrorist attacks to be blamed on extreme left groups. Between 1964 and 1984, Gladio, whose existence and responsibilities were ascertained only in 1990, killed 149 people in 8 terrorist attacks.

When Licio Gelli founded P2 in 1974, he brought in Gladio’s techniques, principles, and influential friendships within the new organization. Some modifications were needed, though. Direct confrontations and attempted coups were replaced by a more subtle and deliberate occupation of the positions of power. For ten years, P2 was directly involved in all levels of Italian mysteries and scandals. These include numerous banking scandals (Banco Ambrosiano, the Vatican banking scandal), the kidnap and murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, the assassination of activist journalist Mino Pecorelli, terrorist attacks like the bombing on the train “Italicus,” the Iran-Contra affair, the assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, and many more illegal economic maneuvers.

Although freemasonry was banned in 1981 and Licio Gelli is confined to house arrest, many fear that today P2 is as strong as ever. Many of the P2 members have kept their positions of power, and one notable member, businessman Silvio Berlusconi, has been prime minister twice in the past 12 years. Silvio Berlusconi’s amazing career bears all the marks of P2. From his humble beginnings as a singer on cruise boats, Berlusconi entered P2 and received all means of economic and political support from the organization. It is not by chance that Berlusconi built an economic empire in a handful of years without any proof of legal transactions. The right friends and a benevolent disposition for money laundering go a long way. Today Berlusconi is Italy's richest man and despite almost constant investigations into his shady business practices and his relationships with Mafia figures he managed to hold power longer than any other Prime Minister since World War II.

One mark of P2 lies in the way Berlusconi gained and held onto power: owner of publishing companies, radio stations, and three of the six major TV networks of the country, Berlusconi had all means of information on his side. In his 5-year government, the ex-P2-member managed to annul most of the laws, and thus most of the charges against him, for corruption and collaboration with the Mafia, as he advanced the cause of his own businesses over his competitors. In 1996, commenting of the program of Silvio Berlusconi's improvised political party, Fortza Italia, Licio Gelli affirmed that Berlusconi “took our plan for rebirth and copied almost all of it.”

Many historians believe that despite it's outing P2 has already carried out a slow-motion but successful coup d’etat. The tragedy is that the story of P2 is not the stuff of conspiracy theory. P2 is a fact of Italian (and American) history with names, dates and an agenda which can all be verified. The Plan for Democratic Rebirth has cost the lives of hundreds of people, destroyed Italy's economic competitiveness, tramped over justice and legality and disenfranchised Italy's voting population. Propaganda and corruption has slowly brought Italy down to the ranks of the "semi-free", according to Freedom House , a non-profit, non-partisan organization that publishes a yearly survey on freedom around the world (for freedom of speech Italy ranks no. 77). Hopefully Italy's experience can serve as a cautionary tale for countries that also see the rise of strong economic and political powers with shared ideologies and the consolidation of media power, all of which render the press, the people and thus democracy, weaker by the day.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger Alec The Bee said...

What is incredible is the fact that we are so conditioned by the near constant lies and exaggerations of those in power that when we hear fantastic stories like that of P2 we almost immediately place them in the realm of fiction. Isn't this the goal of propaganda? And where IS the press? Isn't the whole appeal of "center" politics the perception that anyone with a strong position must be lying so the truth must lie somewhere in the middle? It seems to me that as long as politicians play to the middle, center right, center left --they can get away with murder. Literally.

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the press indeed, and where is the Congress? Where are the American people? How many know who their United States representatives are,or even that there are other legislatures presiding in state capitals? How many know the meaning of "loyal opposition" or "separation of powers"?
Many holders of elective office in the US are upright, honorable public servants who ask not what their country can do for them but what they can do for their country, not because the press or the people hold them accountable but because that's the stuff they're made of. Others connive, disemble,manipulate,cheat and abuse power because they know that an uninformed and disinterested populace won't vote in sufficient numbers to hold them accountable. "Ah, why bother?", they say. "Let's go to the mall."
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,it's been said. So let it be known that we gave up the habits of freedom a long time ago.


At 10:21 AM, Blogger Alec The Bee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Alec The Bee said...

It's not so much the freedom that is taken away that frightens me as the freedom Americans seem so eager to GIVE AWAY in the name of a security threat that is remote at best. A friend recently sent me the link to a BBC documentary which focuses on many of these issues as they relate to political opportunism and the "war on terror."

At 2:50 AM, Blogger Francesca said...

Hey, it's one of the theory that makes the most sense of the world we are living in today....and I don't say that because I am Italian,or maybe I am.....

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who owns the Federal Reserve Bank?

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Propaganda 2 exists in every "free country" today. Propaganda 2 is the plot of a few to control the destiny of all. Propaganda 2 is bigger and more powerful than ever, and many members do not even know that they are members of the "plot" that guy Rupert M., who plays in their hands with his "fair and balanced" media empire.
Licio G. is 87 years old, he might die this year as Augusto P. did recently. It's the new generation of extremists one needs to fear. Today the Neocons fit the description...

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous anonymous said...

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