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Dawn of the Third Venetia | Part 2 – Venetia Contra Italy

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In the First World War, the Kingdom of Italy would betray the Triple Alliance and side with the Entente, with its main motivation being the reconquering of “Italian” (read German, Slavic, and Venetian) territories still under “foreign” domination. The soldiers sent to the front against Austria-Hungary would be from other areas of Italy, as would the officers and generals. Thus, they had no regard for the well-being of Venetia or its population.

This attitude is exemplified in the events following the Italian defeat and retreat from Caporetto in 1917: the chaotic retreat, done without coordinating the evacuation of civilians from the region, led to the latter suffering the brunt of the Austrian occupation and the shortage of essential goods as the imperial soldiers pillaged the countryside. To be fair, we have to point out that the Central Powers were operating in famine-like conditions by 1917, so the responsibility for this event is squarely on the Italian army.

the war in venetia

After the victory and the armistice, the troubles for Venetia had only just begun. The Veneto region, devastated by the Austrian invasion during World War I and subsequently occupied by Italian forces, faced not only physical destruction but also neglect and exploitation at the hands of the Italian authorities.

Instead of aiding in the region’s reconstruction, the Italian government treated Veneto as a foreign territory, appointing officials from outside the region, who exacerbated the situation by prioritizing speculative enterprises over local cooperatives and needs. This favoritism toward private interests fueled corruption and further alienated the Venetian population, who felt marginalized and neglected by the central government. Many politicians – especially those from Southern Italy – lamented the financial strain caused by the needs of the reconstruction in Venetia, a burden that was actually dwarfed by the enormity of the devastation.

In cities like Treviso, the military administration established itself like a mafia, vexing the population and demanding protection money from the civilians. Chronicles of the era report cases of rapes, theft and killings by deserters still at large in the territory of Venetia years after the end of the war.

Critics like Bruno Pederoda highlighted the oppressive nature of these centralist policies, which mirrored the invasions Venetia had endured during the war. The government’s reluctance to acknowledge Venetia’s needs perpetuated a cycle of neglect and exploitation, leaving the region struggling to rebuild and deal with the corrupt officials who, years after the end of the war, were still occupying the Venetian cities and profiting from their almost absolute authority. The post-war years saw corruption and mismanagement flourish, as the Italian authorities doubled down on their control of Venetia, refusing to concede any autonomy, deepening Venetia’s resentment and frustration.

The Fascist Ventennio and the Second World War (1922-1945)

In the early ‘20s, with the call for autonomy or even independence rising and attacks on key public infrastructure by enraged Venetians intensifying, Venetia began to be compared to Ireland by politicians, who feared a similar insurgency. Before the situation would go out of control for the Italian state, the advent of Fascism and its centralist repression would shut down any talk of autonomy or rights for the Venetian people.

The Fascist period, known as the Ventennio (1922-1943) was characterized by a forceful imposition of centralist policies aimed at forging a cohesive national identity. This endeavor, deeply rooted in the rhetoric of the Risorgimento, sought to solidify Italy as a unified nation-state at the expense of regional identities and autonomist tendencies. The Fascist government’s attempt to create the italian “nation” led to the suppression of Venetia’s unique cultural and historical characteristics, reinforcing a centralist pattern that experienced no breaks during the transition to Fascism.

World War I was viewed as the “fourth war of independence”, a framing that served to perpetuate the myth of a unified italian nation, a project that was perpetually incomplete and inherently flawed. The Fascist vision of the state was universalist, viewing it as the ultimate expression of everything within its territory, producing a circular reasoning that necessitated the flattening and uniforming of the anthropological, cultural, and linguistic differences among the various italian nations to legitimize itself.

a problem of venetia
If italian identity exists, why does it have to be imposed from above?

As remarked by Nicolas Gomez Dàvila in Notas, italian fascism began not as a reaction of italian capitalism to the communist menace, but as an effort by the bourgeoisie actively invent a nationalist ethos where there was nothing to celebrate. Its initiatives were as celebratory as they were empty, because its foundation was a nation that did (and does) not exist beyond a nationalism that was literary, romantic, and obsolete.

In Venetia, this translated to policies that aimed to integrate the region more tightly into the centralist framework, in practice further undermining and suppressing the historical and cultural character of Venetia. Local traditions, dialects, and cultural practices were either suppressed or co-opted into the broader narrative of Italian nationalism.

For example, while the Kingdom of Italy had previously sought to create a sense of nationhood through the mixing of soldiers from different regions within the military units, aiming to prevent the formation of regional loyalties. During the Fascist period, this approach was expanded to the civilian population: 

One of the most notable examples of this policy was the resettlement of many Veneti in the region around Rome to clear the Pontine Marshes (Paludi Pontine). This resettlement program was part of a broader strategy to dilute regional identities by dispersing populations and encouraging the mixing of different cultural groups. The Veneti, with their strong regional identity and historical roots, were seen as a prime target for such policies. By displacing them from their homeland and integrating them into other parts of Italy, the Fascist regime hoped to erode their distinctiveness and reinforce the idea of a homogenous Italian nation.

The centralist policies of the Fascist regime had profound and often negative consequences for Venetia. The region’s autonomist tendencies were not only stifled but actively repressed. Local governance structures were aligned more closely with the central government’s directives, reducing the influence of local institutions. Educational policies were also centralized, with curricula designed to promote the Fascist version of Italian history and identity, further eroding regional distinctiveness, as well as suppressing the local Venetian language. Festivals, folk traditions, and linguistic practices that had been passed down through generations were either discouraged or reinterpreted to fit the national narrative.

Interestingly, the National Socialist leadership’s plans for Venetia were vastly different: despite the personal friendship between Hitler and Mussolini, the German elite realized the absurdity of Italy as a unified state. Instead, Venetia was to be “included in the German Reich in a sort of loose federation”.

World War II would end in another devastation of Venetia, both material and demographic, with allied bombings targeting the region’s cities from the South, and Yugoslav partisans (aided by Italian communist partisans) from the East expelling and killing anyone they perceived to be italian – but actually Venetian – inhabiting the Istrian Peninsula. This ethnic cleansing would come to be known as the Foibe Massacres, an event still causing controversy in Italy today, with leftists denying it happened, and nationalists exploiting it to bolster their unitarianist agenda.

After the war, Venetia would remain under italian jurisdiction, a fact confirmed and reinforced by the necessities of anglomerican hegemony over Europe – the US needed Italy to be united and on its side to stop the spread of Communist influence, as it began at the doorstep of Venetia.

The Era of Peace – or Slow Death? (1945-1997)

Immediately after World War II, Venetia faced severe economic hardships, while still suffering the smothering centralization of the state, who throughou its history didn’t allow the local populations any kind of self-governance for fear of accelerating the disgregation of the state. While on paper the new Constitution of 1946 instituted the regions as administrative entities, they would not be implemented in practice until 1970.

Economically, Venetia had to rebuild itself from nothing, as the only significant public project in the region since the Risorgimento had been the industrial complex at Marghera, established during the Great War and expanded under Fascism. This complex concentrated mechanical and chemical industries and became a cornerstone of Venetia’s industrial base, alongside the textile industry in Vicenza. Despite this, the region’s economy struggled, leading to a continued exodus of Venetians until the mid-1960s.

The true economic revival of Venetia began in the early 1970s, characterized by a distinctive model of industrial development. Unlike regions such as Piedmont with its FIAT-dominated economy or Puglia with its state-funded steel industry, Venetia’s growth was driven by a network of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These businesses were predominantly engaged in the production of consumer goods like textiles and household appliances, often organized in industrial districts that facilitated collaboration and competition. This model emphasized export-oriented production, with a significant portion of output destined for international markets. This unique economic structure allowed Venetia to thrive independently, with over a third, and often more than half, of its production being exported.

The late post-war period saw a significant migration of southern italians to Venetia. This movement differed from the migration patterns in other northern industrial regions like Piedmont, as Venetia’s industrial workforce primarily consisted of local labor, thus allowing the maintenance of a strong connection between the Venetian people and its territory.

In Venetia, southern italians predominantly occupied roles in the public administration, education, and police force. This phenomenon persists to this day, and is oftern perceived as a form of occupation, as Southern predominance in these sectors influences the quality of the public service, fueling Venetian alienation from the state. Many Venetians feel they are being robbed to support these southerners through the heavy taxes imposed by the state, most of which are going to literally feed the southern regions’ mafias anyway.

Despite this, Venetia maintained its distinctive economic structure. The limited need for external labor in its SMEs contributed to a stable and cohesive workforce, further reinforcing the region’s economic model based on small-scale, locally rooted enterprises. This stability also translated into political continuity, with the Christian Democracy (DC) party dominating regional politics until the early 1990s, followed by a shift to center-right governance.

Popular among the middle class, the DC would lose its appeal to a new explicitly venetist movement, the Liga Veneta (Venetian League), founded in 1979. Among the reasons for the latter’s popularity is the rejection of the central government of any proposal of federalization of the region on the model of Bavaria. Venetist sentiments would grow more and more, transforming Veneto into a stronghold of right wing governance, an inner coherence that contrasts sharply with the frequent political crises and cabinet reshuffles happening at the national level.

The post-war period would confirm Italy’s strategic position in the Cold War, making it a focal point for Western efforts to counter Soviet influence during the Cold War. The economic aid and political support provided by the United States and its allies was crucial in stabilising Italy and promoting its economic recovery. Many military bases were built, including the USAF airbase at Aviano, along with a secret network of sleeper agents called Gladio. This external support was instrumental in keeping Italy aligned with Western interests and territorially intact, thus contributing to the geopolitical ambitions of the US-led world order.

At the heart of Venetia’s economic miracle was the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. The region’s entrepreneur were – and are – characterized by their cultural heritage as heirs to medieval merchants and explorers. Their approach to business emphasized independence from authority, spontaneous creation of enterprises, and a hands-on, pragmatic style of management. Venetian entrepreneurs often prioritized tangible results over formal processes, leading to a business culture that valued practical skills and direct involvement in company operations. This ethos of “doing” rather than planning fostered a vibrant and adaptive industrial environment, further fueling Venetia’s economic success.

Venetian Nationalism (1997-Today)

As Lega Nord, a political party who during the election promised the separation from North And South Italy, slowly slid towards more conservative positions, an organisation of Venetian patriots called “Serenissimi” carried out a series of actions aimed at destabilising the power of the Italian state in Veneto, similar to what had happened in South Tyrol decades earlier. This series of actions reached its climax in 1997 with the occupation of St. Mark’s Square in Venice by means of an amphibious landing with a homemade tank.

homemade tank in venetia
The Serenissimi getting arrested by italian special forces

The news went around the world and the members of this organisation were all eventually arrested for terrorism, but to this day they are considered heroes by a vast majority of the Venetian public. Since then, the Italian state has been particularly vigilant in investigating such groups, using the same means as in the fight against organised crime or Islamic terrorism, as well as sophisticated political moves such as supporting ‘gatekeepers’ on issues dear to Veneto nationalism.

Nevertheless, the 2000s saw the emergence of several political movements calling for the secession of Veneto from Italy, albeit with little political success. The years between 2014 and 2020 were particularly active, leading to a referendum to give Veneto greater fiscal and administrative autonomy. This referendum, held in 2017, resulted in a shocking 97% vote in favour of autonomy, and to date no law has been enacted in this regard. Venetian nationalists also led the protests during the Covid years against lockdowns, compulsory vaccinations and the ‘green pass’.

demonstration in venetia
An autonomist demonstration in Venetia, 2020.

Today, Venetians face the same challenges as all Europeans: mass immigration, demographic ageing, economic stagnation, moral decay and many more. On the horizon, however, we can see new opportunities for the future, through which, as our ancestors did, we can affirm our ethnic interests and work together – sharing the same goals but recognising and respecting our differences.

Why Third Venetia?

Throughout its millennia-long history, Venetia maintained an incredible degree of continuity: from its territorial extent to its racial and ethnic makeup, from its enduring linguistic unity to the maintenance of a coherent socioeconomic and cultural configuration.

Venetia through the centuries. Left to right: I century, XIV century, XIX century

This was already recognized in the past: in 1769 Venetian historian Giacomo Filiasi wrote a work called Memorie storiche de i Veneti Primi e Secondi (Historical memoires of the First and Second Veneti). In this book, the author referred to the Bronze Age civilization that settled in the hearts of modern Venetia as Veneti Primi (First Venetians), while the rise of Serenìsima Republic of Venice marked the birth of Veneti Secondi (Second Venetians).

Many political movements tried to promote Venetia’s independence from the Italian state, but still the goal has yet to be achieved. A new approach is needed, with which to prioritize the ethnic interests of the Veneti more than anything else, to rekindle in their hearts the desire to be masters of their homeland once again.

The third manifestation of this will to power is occurring, with the awakening of the Veneti Tersi (Third Venetians).

The collaborative spirit that has long defined Venetian history could be the key to shaping their future, and not just for themselves: overcoming the challenge of redefining their identity on the global stage should be seen as the first step in a broader movement that could engage all the peoples of Europe. This movement aims to dismantle the concept of the State as an entity separate from society and its citizens, a construct that is increasingly used as a tool of control by supranational or stateless entities.

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