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Dietrologia – Gossipy Conspiracy Theory in Italy

Somewhat fittingly in Italy, the land which gave the world the term Machiavellian, the word “dietrologia” exists in Italian and can be found in Italian dictionaries. What exactly is ‘dietrologia’? Well, it could be translated, albeit a little clumsily, as behindology but a closer equivalent in English is probably conspiracy theory.

Basically, dietrologia is speculating what lies behind almost everything and anything that happens. It’s a mix of conspiracy theory and gossip. In Italy, this form of gossipy conspiracy theory is rife to the point of being overwhelming. Behindology helps sell newspapers and attracts website visitors too.

Conspiracy theories abound in Italy with everyone accusing everyone else of plotting or of shadowy motivations. Italians love to speculate endlessly on what lies behind certain friendships, laws, reforms, job appointments and the awarding of public services contracts etcetera etcetera, ad infinitum. One newspaper in Italy which fuels lots of speculation for the conspiracy theory loving behindologists is Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano which regularly runs stories that explain who is behind what and why. Italian web publication Dagospia also runs lots of gossipy stories on Italian politics and other goings on (Note that some of the images on the Dagospia website may not be safe for work.)

Il Fatto Quotidiano provides endless opportunities for behindologists as it loves to explore all the connections which lie behind what is going on in Italian politics. True to form, Il Fatto Quotidiano has not been shy in attempting to find out who is behind Italy’s current prime minister, Matteo Renzi. So far, it’s speculation has remained just that.

Conspiracy Theory: Who or What is Behind Matteo Renzi?

Who's behind Matteo Renzi?
Who’s behind Matteo Renzi?

Behindologists have been having a field day with Matteo Renzi, Italy’s latest prime minister. Some believe Mr Renzi is a Berlusconi puppet, others think he’s been nominated by the dastardly Troika. Then there are the people behind Mr Renzi such as the shadowy financier Davide Serra. And just why has Mr Renzi cuddled up to former Berlusconi crony alleged freemason Denis Verdini, a man suspected of links to the shadowy P2, P3 or maybe even the P4?

All these not entirely transparent relationships provide Italy’s legions of behindologists with several courses of food for thought.

Others wonder whether Mr Renzi is dumping Italy’s left in what some see as an attempt to resurrect the ambiguous Christian Democrats. Some speculate that Mr Renzi is quietly creating a National Party which gathers together, in much the same way as the now defunct Christian Democrats party did, politicos from all sides of Italy’s blurred and warped political spectrum.

Another theory is that Mr Renzi has reached an agreement to keep Mr Berlusconi’s legal woes to a minimum. A recent parliamentary vote which prevented prosecutors from using wiretaps as evidence in a case involving Berlusconi allegedly bribing all and sundry to testify that his sordid sounding bunga bunga parties were no more than elegant evening soirées has, of course, got Italy’s behindologists’ tongues wagging.

Few can believe Mr Renzi really has Italy’s interests at heart. This is no surprise because Italians regard anyone who does something for nothing as either a bit of an idiot or completely mad. Well, this is the nation in which the honest are regarded as naive fools. So why is Mr Renzi where he is? To keep Italy’s defective political ‘caste’ system afloat, some behindologists will tell you. Others will probably tell you something else – using a theory gleaned from a conversation overheard in one of Italy’s ubiquitous coffee bars, no doubt.

Yet more behindologists will advise that letting the Five Star Movement take control of Italy will be bad for the nation. Even more will remind you that the anti-establishment Five Star Movement was created by the establishment itself. Even the perfidious Brexity British lie behind the movement founded by Italian comedian Beppe Grillo. What? You didn’t know?! It all happened back in 1992. That’s a doozy of a conspiracy theory.

Where does the truth lie?

Heaven only knows. The truth could be somewhere in the middle but it could easily be off to the distant right, or left. There are so many conspiracy theories in Italy it’s nigh on impossible to keep up with them all.

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What is often the case though, is that the same old names crop up over and over again. There’s the Salotto Buono or Good Living Room, a group of powerful Italian families who supposedly run Italy. Or how about the Vatican which apparently runs Italy? Well, it does so in conjunction with the mafia, of course. Then there’s the murky P2, P3 or possibly P4 secret masonic society which was supposedly quietly taking over Italy, and if you believe some of the tales, still is. Some have noticed that Mr Renzi’s policies resemble the aims of the secretive P2 – yet more fuel for many of Italy’s conspiracy theory fascinated behindologists.

Then there’s the upcoming reform to Italy’s senate which, unsurprisingly, is generating more than one conspiracy theory.

What Lies Behind the Senate Reform?

Just why does Mr Renzi so desperately want to reform Italy’s senate? Does he want authoritarian levels of power for himself and those he represents? Who knows, but that’s certainly what some Italian behindologists believe. Is Mr Renzi Mussolini 2.o? Yes, that conspiracy theory been brought up too. Then again, the whole reform has been drawn up by J P Morgan, or so some Italians believe.

Italy’s Conspiratorial Cronyism

Providing Italy’s behindologists conspiracy theorists with mountains succulent material though is the cronyism which besets Italy. Everyone in power knows everyone else and those who want a piece of power pie will do whatever is needed to get a slice. Take the guy who allegedly supplied Berlusconi with prostitutes. He was trying to enter the Berlusconi cabal. And why is Mr Renzi so friendly with a certain Marco Carrai who may have ended up, for reasons unclear, as the head of Italy’s cybersecurity authority?

Political appointments come in for particular scrutiny in Italian daily Il Fattto Quotidiano and just about every single one appears to be governed but past friendships, and other often somewhat murky relationships. Maria Elena BoschiItaly’s constitutional reform minister, it is speculated, probably got the job because of her father’s links to the banking system. Apparently, Ms Boschi is no longer flavour of the month with Premier Matteo Renzi, or so goes the latest gossip.  Another minister, Marianna Madia, Italy’s pretty youthful public sector reform minister, may have ended up with her name on the shortlist, behindologists will point out, simply because she once went out with former president of Italy Giorgio Napolitano’s son.

Former president of Italy Giorgio Napolitiano himself has been the subject of much behindology speculation. Some suspect he was once a party to negotiations between Italy’s political elite and the mafia and the fact that he had a wiretap destroyed merely confirmed that the behindological speculation was right on the money. It might have been, then again, it might not.

It is not just politics that keeps the behindologists busy. At a personal level, Italians may warn you not to mention their plans or actions to others – just in case their activities start the behindology ball rolling. Behind this innate secretiveness is probably the mutual lack of trust which exists in Italian culture. This lack of trust may be one explanation for Italy’s propensity for cronyism and nepotism. Blood is much thicker than water in Italy, except when it isn’t.

Keeping the Behindolodgy Balls Rolling

For some in Italy, behindolodgy conspiracy theories provides a handy cover for other, possibly illicit, activities. Some of the conspiracy theories may well have been cultivated specifically for the purpose of creating one impression in order to hide another.

All the behindolodgy in Italy certainly keeps one guessing though gaining a little familiarity with some of the more common conspiracy theories can help one understand what is going on in Italy. Some may argue that knowing what lies behind is essential to comprehending what everyone is up to in Italy.

What’s your favourite Italian conspiracy theory? Go on, spill the beans, you behindologist, you.

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Photo of Matteo Renzi by Roberto Vicario

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