Giorgia Meloni: One Of Us
The new Italian prime minister gave her maiden speech to Parliament yesterday, and it was magnificent. Here is a link to the transcript in Italian. I've google-translated some passages. Excerpts:
Italy is fully part of the West and its alliance system. Founding state of the European Union, the Eurozone and the Atlantic Alliance, member of the G7 and even before all this, cradle, together with Greece, of Western civilization and its system of values based on freedom, equality and democracy; precious fruits that spring from the classical and Judaic Christian roots of Europe. We are the heirs of St. Benedict, an Italian, the main patron of the whole of Europe.
She had me at "St. Benedict." More:
We know that the protection of the natural environment is particularly important to young people. We will take care of it. Because, as Roger Scruton, one of the great masters of European conservative thought, wrote, "ecology is the most vivid example of the alliance between who is there, who has been there, and who will come after us" .
Protecting our natural heritage commits us just like protecting the heritage of culture, traditions and spirituality, which we inherited from our fathers so that we could pass it on to our children. There is no more convinced ecologist than a conservative, but what distinguishes us from a certain ideological environmentalism is that we want to defend nature with man inside. Combining environmental, economic and social sustainability. Accompanying businesses and citizens towards the green transition without surrendering ourselves to new strategic dependencies and respecting the principle of technological neutrality. This will be our approach.
Her final words:
On the day our Government swore an oath in the hands of the Head of State, the liturgical memorial of John Paul II took place. A Pontiff, a statesman, a saint, whom I had the privilege of knowing personally. He taught me a fundamental thing, which I have always treasured. "Freedom" he said "does not consist in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we must". I have always been a free person, so I intend to do what I have to.
Read it all. It is almost entirely a policy speech, which it was intended to be, so these passages I cite are small things overall (see this Reuters highlights story for the policy points). She's more hawkish on Ukraine than I would be, and not strong enough against abortion. But I recognize that she has an extremely difficult challenge ahead of her, and is operating from a position of relative weakness. We have to extend grace. Still, as a conservative outsider to Italian politics, it's a thrill to see a conservative prime minister name-checking St. Benedict and St. John Paul II, and citing favorably Roger Scruton. It shows where her mind is. Meloni was sending signals. Has a Tory prime minister ever mentioned Sir Roger favorably in a speech? I'll remind you that here in Budapest, we have a small local chain of coffeeshops named "Scruton," and that Prime Minister Viktor Orban quietly attended Sir Roger's memorial service in London. In 2019, Orban's government gave Sir Roger the Order of Merit award. In his remarks, PM Orban said:
Sir Roger Scruton is a man of practice and not of abstractions. At the time when the Soviet Union still existed, he wasn’t just opposed to communism philosophically: he was an ardent and active ally to anti-communist forces in Central and Eastern Europe. He helped us in so many ways we can never even enlist them. He was so much a man of practice that he had been exiled from at least two spheres of existence: communist Czechoslovakia and Western Academia. These two must be the places from which if you’re excluded you are probably right.
Professor Scruton is a man who was always sided with reality and truth. While the Soviets still occupied Central and Eastern Europe, he helped us fight against communism. But he did not blindly support the idea of open societies either; he was awake enough to see its flaws and warn about its dangers. And he was forward-looking enough to see the threat of illegal migration and defend Hungary against its unjust critics. He is a man of practice because the one trait that was constant in his behavior was his loyalty. He was and is a loyal friend of the freedom-loving Hungarians, who know that this freedom relies on nation states and Christian civilization. He is a friend of Hungarians because he has sided with us, for good or ill. That is loyalty and friendship. And these only exist in practice.
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So: Europe now has two leaders -- Italy's Meloni and Hungary's Orban -- who are confirmed Scrutonians. Is there any wonder why conservatives like me are looking more to the Continent for fresh ideas for reviving American conservatism, than to Britain?
Watch Meloni's address (subtitled in English) to the 2019 World Congress of Families, meeting in Verona. I'm not going to link to a transcript, because you really have to watch and hear her deliver the speech for the full effect. It's truly electrifying. What if we had an American conservative politician who spoke with such force and conviction? Think of it!
By the way, don't trust the mainstream media to report fairly on Meloni. I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but I will anyway. A French TV broadcaster introduced a report on Meloni's accession to office by saying, "A new era in Italian politics, but no burning books, or bridges...". It's a reference to the distant connections Meloni's party has to the era of Italian fascism (which Meloni strongly denounces). The point is that the media already treat politicians like her, Orban, and French and Spanish politicians not part of the tame, co-opted Right, as fascists who are just waiting to burst out. Whenever you hear someone in the US or European media call Meloni, Orban, or any other politicians like them "far right," understand that they are really saying "right-wing people who are a threat to our interests." In fact, here in Hungary, during the election campaign this spring, the actual existing far right party joined the left-led opposition coalition to oust Viktor Orban. Did the media tell you that?