by Emilio Pietro De Feo

It has aroused a strong debate in public opinion - as indeed was to be expected - the statement expressed by the Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida, who in the course of an interview spoke of "ethnic substitution", thus unleashing the anger of the opposition. The masses of migrants blamed for indirectly causing such substitution come from the African continent, a geopolitical object rather than subject par excellence, in which there are often nationless States. The substitution would be caused by the unstoppable demographic decline facing the Old Continent and especially Italy in the face of the population growth of the "dark continent." Detractors often lump together statements similar to conspiracy theories or white supremacist theories, to which a number of massacre episodes in both Europe and the United States would be linked. In France, a country that actually presents more problems from the point of view of integration, the debate on ethnic substitution has engaged both essayists and literary scholars over the years: from Renaud Camus to Alain de Benoist, from Eric Zemmour to Michel Houellebecq. Already in itself, the term ethnicity is easily misunderstood because of the multiple meanings that the concept encompasses and has represented over time, as well as because of its similarity to other terms sometimes misused as synonyms, such as race or identity. The phenomenon of globalization has caused further difficulties in defining what an ethnicity is and how it is distinguished from another, to the point of taking away the meaning of the word. In the field of international political and geopolitical studies, the concept of ethnicity has taken on a conflicting dimension with the famous work The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington towards the end of the 20th century. According to the political scientist's perspective, conflicts between different civilizations would replace those over ideologies. The level of conflict between two ethnic groups cannot be explained in terms of territorial proximity or remoteness: neighboring peoples can be enemies or friends depending on the circumstances on the same level as peoples far apart.

The relationship between ethnicity and geopolitics

Dario Fabbri, a well-known popularizer and geopolitical analyst, always attaches fundamental importance in his speeches to the ethnic character of peoples and how this value has shaped and influences a nation's decisions. In this regard, he has often lamented the absence, compared to the past, of in-depth studies on ethnology and ethnography, sometimes considered as outdated disciplines as happened with geopolitics, a subject that has been "rehabilitated" in the last 30 years. According to Fabbri, every respectable empire - in today's terms we would say "power" - was formed from a multitude of initially diverse peoples while retaining a certain amount of ethnocentrism despite this. As he explained in an article in Limes "Israel. The State of the Jews" released in 2018:

Every empire belongs to a dominant lineage, beyond its multiethnic and multicultural composition. It belongs to the people who extended its borders beyond its initial appropriation, who performed the endeavor [...] Despite the absorption into its fabric of peoples at first hostile then submissive, the original nation retains superior prerogatives over the rest, guarding unquestionable authority.

And he goes on with a number of unequivocal examples. From the Roman Empire, which "At the dawn of its own epopee, during the war of 340 B.C., the Romans defeated the Latins and Volscians"and where for centuries

the inhabitants of the Urbe remained the only holders of imperial power until in 89 B.C. the Italic peoples settled on the Arno and Esino rivers were considered assimilated enough to obtain the long-desired citizenship (Lex Plautia Papiria)

to the Ottoman Empire as the Turks imposed themselves on the minorities living within the borders of the new empire. From the Arabs to the Kurds,

Slowly arriving in western Anatolia, starting from the 13th century the Ottomans subjugated the Byzantines present on the peninsula [...] While ensuring their protection, over the decades ethnic Turks imposed themselves on the minorities living within the borders of the new empire. From Arabs to Kurds, from Greeks to Slavs, from Armenians to Jews. Without ever relinquishing its superiority.

From today's Iran which

although it guarantees all ethnic groups equal political and religious rights, it recognizes only Shiite and Duodeciman Islam as the state religion. Thus decreeing the Persians as the only holders of the empire, legally referred to as the Republic. With the Persianized Turks (Azeris) immediately subordinate to the main group, above the Armenians, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Baluchis. In an anthropological hierarchy that is substrate of the regime;

up to the United States where

to excel is the Germanic lineage, composed in the minority of British who emigrated in colonial times and in the majority of Germans who came to North America in the late 19th century, where for more than a century racial superiority was established by law and where to this day Anglo-Saxon Americans perceive themselves as the sole owners of the Nation, with other minorities (Africans, Hispanics, Asians) relegated to secondary status.

Such an ethnocentrism present from the genesis of a power converts into its opposite in the phase of decline, that is, of imperial fatigue, into a kind of self-racism, in which, as explained by Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents as civilization increases, guilt increases in humans. Factor that could explain in terms of collective psychology the phenomenon of cancel culture in the United States, an empire in relative decline. Again Fabbri speaking of the Italian case points out that in Italy there has never been a real ethnic problem, emphasizing that Italian homogeneity is a characteristic that Italians themselves seem not to realize. Italy is a country that often tells a bad narrative about itself, ignoring its own homogeneity either linguistic, cultural, religious, artistic, etc., accentuating diversity out of all proportion to the point of presenting its national history as an imposition, the Italian State as a totally artificial creation. This historiographical and cultural approach is probably also due to the long period of foreign domination through the centuries on the peninsula.

VIDEO | L'Italia e la sua Vittoria, 1918-2018

Outside of that everlasting past of the twenty-year Fascist period and annexed racial laws to which the left often refers to criticize expressions such as those of Minister Lollobrigida, in Italy the ethnic problem has never arisen from the biological point of view, if anything from the aspect of the country's real ability to carry out a healthy process of cultural integration instead of undergoing it indiscriminately. In an age of open warfare of concepts, the one of ethnicity, least of all when accompanied by "substitution", is certainly not being spared. However, there are historical and geopolitical laws from which one cannot escape even those who would like to regard concepts such as nation, homeland, belonging, identity and, indeed, ethnicity as obsolete.

Graduate in Political Science and International Relations (University of Salerno) is a graduate student in Investigation, Crime and International Security (International University of Rome, UNINT). Journalist, he collaborates with "Quotidiano del Sud - Corriere dell'Irpinia" and "Oltre la linea."