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Camorra's prominent torment

Explain to me Italy
From his desk prison, murderous Roberto Saviano continues to fight for the country he loves.


He was in his 20s when he was abruptly put on two ranking lists: as a bestselling author and as a Neapolitan mafia's main enemy. It changed Roberto Saviano's life forever.

"Had I just changed the names!" He exclaims to his interlocutor Giovanni di Lorenzo, the Italian editor-in-chief of the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, in the newly published book Explain to me Italy ("Explain Italy"). And who was he not to have named? Yes – the members of the Italian criminal organization Camorra, as he in his book Gomorrah – which after the release of 2006 also became a movie and TV series, dress naked one by one. It only further contributed to Saviano's loss Gomorrah won a number of international awards and over a couple of years sold over two million copies. Today – eleven years later – Saviano is still living, and indefinitely, with police shortages. In his own words, "a crap life". There is plenty of evidence that the mafia will never forget. If it really did not help to use the real name of the Mafia members, there is fruitless speculation. Regardless, he has chosen to publish his latest book, The paranza of the children (about the so-called baby mafiosis), as a novel.

Love their country. In photographs, a gravely serious Saviano is constantly staring into the camera. The melancholy is to the touch and feel. A fate in a face. And after all – what ailments the camorra than has inflicted on him: To thwart the creative power out of him failed. Saviano unceasingly writes his books and articles. He runs research in all available ways – through court records, archives, testimonies – in short, what can be traced from a desk. He performs at select events, and in the US, where he lives part of the time, he can even occasionally move around without bodyguards. But emigration? Not applicable. Saviano also does not want the role as hero: “I just want to be able to tell my stories, let the words become tools, keys, that can open locked doors. And had I not loved my country after all, I would never have done what I do. "

All against all. Roberto Saviano is not gracious to his own. He describes a society trapped in a self-generated swamp, where corruption is so thoroughly integrated that the only thing he recommends is to stay out of everything. He himself has refused all job offers, because "I just wanted to be exploited and abused". “The really tragic thing is that there is no longer any political force that would not bother with a dangerous mix of utopia, populism and democracy hostility – yes, direct European hostility. The great unemployment creates an all-against-all conflict. Europe, the euro and the refugees are the favored attack themes. We must find our way back to credibility. The truth is that I only feel like an Italian when I'm not in Italy. ”

Saviano's insanity has more reasons than the obvious. One thing is that he is doomed to hide, but also be in the limelight. It is the best protection. The second, and extra bitter, are all the attacks of the ordinary "good citizens", who accuse him of not coming up with "something new" but only living a celebrity at the expense of the state. It hurts, Saviano admits, no matter how unreasonable the criticism is, adding: "My job is not to present news. What I do and what teases in cammoristi especially because it damages their reputation and power, is to see relationships, develop holistic images, analyzes. ”

There is no longer any political force that would not bother with a dangerous mix of utopia, populism and democracy.

Similarity points. One example is the international debate on terror, which does not look at the connection between Islamists and "ordinary" criminals, Saviano maintains. "We are suffering from this neglect. Explosively increasing. What is special about the actions of the criminal Islamists? Most analyzes focus on the fundamentalist-religious doctrine of perpetrators. What is missing is insight into the parallel of criminal organizations as we know them, like the mafia. "

What do terrorists in France, Belgium, Germany and the future victims pay for? In the article "Weapons, Men, Money and Tod" ("Weapons, Men, Money and Death") in Die Zeit March 2016 Saviano elaborates on his analysis: “Society – we all – pay for having seen crime as a marginal evil, which we can mentally suppress as long as it does not affect ourselves and the places where we live. The message of immigrant children who have grown up in European suburbs reads as follows: You can ruin your life as long as you are out of sight. The message is perceived. From there, the road is short to an alternative community, a utopian liberation, through ordinary crime to Islamist fundamentalism. However, the road back is long, or non-existent. ”

Wealth is risk. “In the training camps in Syria,” explains Saviano, “all the qualities that society has so far condemned the criminals for are honored. They know the tricks, they quickly reveal police in civilian, they know how to get weapons and bring them into circulation. Not least, they know the channels through which the money for terrorist cell funding flows. They are arms smugglers, drug dealers, they are scammers of all kinds. New generations – whether they come from Asia, Africa or South America – are living with the idea that any financial success is linked to the danger of going to jail, having to kill or being killed. The dream of wealth means, whether in Naples or Molenbeek, that one must risk life. And here comes the ignition for him who decides not to want to die in a gang war. He wants to earn something higher: to die in jihad. A suicide terrorist doesn't think much differently than any other loser whose only capital is his own body, for whom violence is the only currency. "

"The truth is that I only feel like an Italian when I'm not in Italy."

Unconditional. Roberto Saviano lives in a permanent social obsession. Privacy is almost non-existent. His need for expression is clear when talking to his audience from the Schaubühne stage in Berlin. The Italian is followed by gestures approaching sign language. But the question from di Lorenzo – "How can one love a country that drives one to despair?" – Silence him for a moment. “I love people; I am gripped by the beauty of a Caravaggio image, of the harmony of an Italian urban tune; of the light, of the sky, of the sense of the aesthetic that is still more pronounced here than in any other country in the world.

Besides – love is not something we deserve. It is unconditional. "

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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