Monday, February 15, 2010

Phrase of the week- guerra fra poveri

Our phrase of the week is a topical one. Guerra fra poveri- literally, war between poor (or powerless) people.

This refers to fruitless and counter-productive conflict between those at the lower levels of money and/or power, to the benefit of those with more. It is similar to the Roman idea of "divide and conquer." It has some similarities to the concept of race to the bottom. And it recalls the Italian saying, fra due che litigano, il terzo gode (when two are fighting, the third party wins out.)

Why is it topical? More and more, both in Italy and elsewhere, we are hearing of conflicts of immigrants (illegal and otherwise) with native-born citizens. The latter are practically always struggling themselves. The stage is set for vicious hatred between the two groups. While I am strongly opposed to illegal immigration, I realize that the question is fraught and that the privileged of society are taking advantage of both foreign-born and native-born, setting them against each other, to their exclusive advantage.

For more detailed information on the immigration situation in Italy, research the recent events in Southern Italy in Rosarno and in Northern Italy in the Via Padova area of Milan (where some of my relatives lived in the 60's.)