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A Ray of Hope For Italy – Nichi Vendola’s Factories

Nichi Vendola

I’m going to contradict myself a little in this post.  After having recently written about Italy’s young not having much of a future, which, incidentally, is a theme Time covered too, I decided to see what, if anything might manage to keep a few Italians in Italy, or, maybe, persuade them to return, one fine day.

Nichi Vendola
Nichi Vendola

I’ve found a couple of examples, but the one I’m going to take a look at today is the brainchild of Italy’s ‘communist’ president of the Italian Apulia region, Nichi Vendola. Here’s some information on Le Fabbrica di Vendola  – Vendola’s Factory, rather, Vendola’s Factories, for there are many of them, and not just in Italy.

They are not factories in the traditional sense, these factories aim to manufacture ideas, not products.  Such ideas relate to that most boring of dull subjects, politics.  Yes I know mere mention of politics is likely to have you zipping off elsewhere, to, perhaps, see what Paris Hilton has been up to.  Well don’t wander off just yet, Paris can wait.  Take a look at what Vendola is trying to do for a country where politics and politicians have a bad reputation.  Mainly because Italians tend to think Italy’s rag-tag bunch of politico are in it for the money, not for the good of their country.  It is easy to get this impression.

The Political Mess

Nichi Vendola, like this here blogger, thinks contemporary politics is in a mess.  Yes, the situation in Italy is very messy, but there are big problems in other countries, like the UK, and the USA.

Both of these lands rather enjoy gloating over Italy’s troubles, and both quietly forget that they are not without their own difficulties.  Think yob culture and binge drinking in the UK, and excessive street violence plus football jock mentality in the States.  Compared to these two countries, which like to give the impression they are the self-styled leaders of western culture, socially, in many ways, Italy is far ahead of both – mainly because of the Italian sense of family.  Then, there is to an extent, a sort of community spirit which is so powerful in Italy, it keeps Italians from moving to another town to find work.  If the same community spirit could be extended to the whole of Italy, the country would become one of the best places to live in the world.  There is, however, a long way to go.

Wheels of Change Rolling

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Nichi Vendola wants to start the wheels of change rolling, and create  a new breed of politicians.  People who contribute to society instead of sponging off it.  He does not seem to want to create fellow commies, which is strange, but, on the other hand, democratic.  On paper, communism is a democratic ideology, only more often than not, it’s been used as an excuse to create authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.  I’m sure Vendola is aware of this collateral effect of the implementation of communist theory.

Others must like Vendola’s approach, as his idea factories helped land him the position of President of his region.  Not a bad achievement, for a commie.  No, I don’t like communism.

Actually, that is not strictly true, as one of the basic tenets of communism, that everyone should help each other out, is a great idea.  The biggest spanner in the spokes of communist ideology’s wheel seems to be mankind – which is greedy, aggressive, violent, and selfish.  With the existence of these facets, communism becomes no more than a Utopian dream.  For examples of so-called communist societies which have not and do not work too well, look to China, Cuba, and what Russia, the Soviet Bloc, and East Germany once were.  The only way to ensure communism ‘works’ seems to be to rule with an iron fist.  This hammer approach did not work, and is not working and many ‘communist’ regimes seem to be disintegrating as I write, aside from, of course, Russia and East Germany, which disintegrated some time ago.

The Peoples’ Republic of Italy

I don’t believe for one moment that Vendola wants to turn Italy into a southern European version of the former Soviet Union, but what he does want to do is to make people think about their futures.  More importantly, he wants young people to decide who should be helping create their future in Italy.  The fact is that the vast majority of Italy’s current politicians don’t seem to be bothering too much with Italy’s future, which is why many young Italians are escaping.

Young Italians, many of them (read the comments on the Time article), feel that there is no future, hence the desire to leave Italy.  It is probable that the young Italians who commented on the Time artcile have not heard of Vendola’s initiative.  And they probably do not know that Vendola’s Factories have been set up outside of Italy – in the UK, the USA, south America, Africa and more than a few countries in Europe too – 477 of them, at the time of writing.  Take a look at this: Map of Vendola Factories around the world

Words Form Principles

Here are eight quotations which underline the principles upon which Vendola’s Factories are based:


“Liberty and participation.” – Giorgio Gaber


“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein


“If the parties don’t represent the electorate, let’s change the blessed electorate.” – Corrado Guzzanti


“If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.” – Alfred Nobel


“…ideas that have great results are always simple ones” – Leo Tolstoy


“There are a lot of things in life more important than money.  But they cost a lot of money!”Groucho Marx (Not certain if this is the original quote)


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – Martin Luther King


“People make rules for others and exceptions for themselves” – Charles Lemesle (Approximate translation from Italian)

Progress So Far?

What effect are these idea factories having?  That is not immediately clear to me, but there are lots around Italy, so someone is doing something.
Vendola’s idea generating initiative is financed though donations and fund raising, and not supported by funding from political parties.   Anyone can start a Factory, but they do need the approval of Vendola’s people.
Seeds of Change Planted
It’s an interesting initiative, and may, in time, gain ground.  If nothing else, a seed has been planted and seeds, not always, but often, grow into much bigger things.  Perhaps those Italians who have not yet forsaken their homeland in search of a better life in another country might like to participate in one of these groups.  Alternatively, Italians who have jumped ship, may even consider joining a Vendola Fabbrica in the country in which they work.  Doing so might make Italy a country worth returning to.  Let’s hope so.
Vendola’s idea factories qualify as a Good Italian Thing.

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