Thursday, November 10, 2016

Il Donald / Il Duce - Dear Nationalist Leader, I write to you in need of assistance...

Rewind - back to the Republican National Convention in July, to the speech given by Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, who said this:

[Ivanka Trump] Over the years, on too many occasions to count, I saw my father tear stories out of the newspaper about people whom he had never met, who were facing some injustice or hardship.

He’d write a note to his assistant, in a signature black felt tip pen, and request that the person be found and invited to Trump Tower to meet with him. He would talk to them and then draw upon his extensive network to find them a job or get them a break. And they would leave his office, as people so often do after having been with Donald Trump, feeling that life could be great again.

After listening to that anecdote I couldn't help thinking that I'd heard something, or read something, just like it before. And then I remembered this:

From historian and author Christopher Duggan's book Fascist Voices; An Intimate History of Mussolini's Italy - Oxford Univ. Press 2013. page 221:

As the writer Corrado Alvaro observed in 1934, much of the extraordinary appeal of Mussolini to the masses lay in a widespread view that he was in some sense omniscient and could intervene to rectify their wrongs in accordance with an 'old ideal of justice'. And even when he was not aware of a specific grievance, it was commonly felt that he would act to remedy it just as soon as it came to his attention. Mussolini assiduously played up to such beliefs. The editor of il Popolo d'Italia recalled how the Duce telephoned him on one occasion after reading in a newspaper of a mother who was living with triplets, seven other children and a sick husband in a single room, telling him to send someone to the poor woman 'immediately' ('because we must not lose time with the usual bureaucratic headaches') with a gift of 3,000 lire in his name. In reporting the charitable gesture in il Popolo d' Italia the next day, the editor was told to emphasise how Mussolini had spotted the story tucked away in a corner of 'one of the many newspapers that he reads and notwithstanding the huge burden of work that he was saddled with'.


In his 1928 book Mussolini da vicino ('Mussolini close up') the well-known writer Paolo Orano described coming across the Duce surrounded by papers, and being asked for his opinion about an author who had just written to request assistance. Orano confirmed that the man in question had indeed had a hard life and was weighed down with debts, and Mussolini promptly declared that he needed to be 'saved' and wrote out a cheque for 10,000 lire...

Now does any one really believe that Donald Trump, in his penthouse high above Fifth Avenue in New York City, spends his free time hunched over a hand carved gold leaf Louis XV writing desk, littered with newspaper clippings, fretting over the plight of poor mothers with sick husbands or down on their luck authors or the falsely accused or even some unemployed former steelworker from Youngstown, Ohio for that matter. Or whoever it is that, supposedly, may be "facing some injustice or hardship." I don't.

Trump is the guy who frequently won't even pay the people he's contracted to work for him. And I seriously doubt that Trump has ever torn a story out of a newspaper that wasn't, most importantly, about himself.

Something like this: Donald Trump, after reading about Donald Trump's bankruptcy hardships in Atlantic City, decided to help alleviate some of the injustice he encountered by donating a $10,000 painting of himself, to himself, care of a golf course owned by himself. You get the idea. After all, charity begins at home.

We know how Trump operates with respect to charitable giving in the rare instances when he gives anything at all. He uses his Trump Foundation to give away other people's money. Money donated to the Trump Foundation which serves as a slush fund for Donald to draw from to appear the benevolent humanitarian he occasionally pretends to be when there is a camera or a live microphone in front of him. Which reminded me of this below (again from the pages of Duggan's Fascist Voices, pages 241-243 -- bold emphasis mine:

Many of those who appealed to the Duce for financial or other help did so from a belief that he occupied a position of absolute power and also from a sense that he would view supplicants with the kindness of a father and the charity of a man blessed by God. [...]


After being received in Rome, a letter would normally be forwarded by the Segreteria Particolare to the local prefect, who would check up on the supplicant's political and moral credentials, make sure that genuine hardship was involved, and ascertain if any assistance had already been given. If he advised that the case had merit, then an appropriate sum might be awarded ("The Duce has deigned to concede to you...'). [...]


The precise sums in question are hard to ascertain, but each year tens of millions of lire were available for the Duce's own personal distribution from the secret funds of ministries, the police, the Bank of Italy and various other sources. [...]


The impact of Mussolini's personal beneficence on individuals or communities was often considerable, not least because a sense of impovershment might be bound up closely with ideas of inveterate neglect by the state. The files of the Segreteria Particolare are full of letters from grateful recipients eager to capitalise on the feeling of having been singled out with a further communication with the Duce.


As so often it was the Duce's extraordinary omniscience as much as his generosity that was deemed to be remarkable:

... You, DUCE, though beset by the most pressing work, have seen and have thought even of us. We feel so proud of his gaze, more than if the eyes of all the world had been fixed on us. [Fascist Voices, pages 241-243]

So Mussolini kept a secret slush fund (of other people's money) available to him so that he could dole out charity in his name to those he deemed worthy of his special attention. This gave the impression that needs could be met by the all seeing benevolent leader as opposed to a bumbling entrenched state apparatus. When the faceless public service bureaucracy fails you can turn to an altruistic savior who will personally come to your rescue. So much winning! At least Mussolini appears to have delivered the goods on many occasions. Which is more than you can say for Trump.

Trump loves to say he's going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with "something terrific". I'm sure he's right if you consider the archaic meaning of the word terrific. ie: causing terror.

Therefore, if you need help meeting your health care needs from the Trump administration simply place an ad in an appropriate newspaper or Twitter feed (# SOSRx) describing your plight or hardship. Or send a stamped postcard (include return address written clearly with a black felt tip pen) to the Special Secretariat for Healthcare Needs (attention of Acting Clinician, Joseph Arpaio, Director of Compassionate Outreach for Medical Well-being) and wait to be contacted by someone of suitably terrific significance.

And maybe, if you're an exceptional American, as all real American's are, The Donald himself will read about you in a newspaper clipping or notice your earnest Tweet and send you some drugs to treat your Hepatitis C or your heart condition so life in America will be great again. Sure he will. Mark my word. They'll be so much winning you won't believe it. Ivanka said so.

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