Red Brigade, Good Morning, Night, The Red Brigade emerged in 1968 in Italy, a time of social and political turbulence around the world. For the Red Brigades, their fight with the Italian state was the continuation of the fight that the Italian Left Wing Resistance waged against Nazi Fascism during the Second World War. Offspring of classic Marxist/Leninists, their fight was ideological, and they feared the resurgence of Fascism in Italy which they equated with the rise of Italian and European capitalism and its aging corporate leadership.
Although they saw themselves as continuing the battle waged by their ancestor resistant fighters, to me, they seemed less interested in obtaining benefits for the workers they claimed to support, than in denouncing capitalism and demagoging their rigid view of a pure Marxism. The Red Brigade sought to create and deliver propaganda that would prepare students, workers, the proletariat, and masses for “violent and systematic opposition to the bourgeois order. ” (Christian Science Monitor, 1978).
While the revolutionary predecessors of the Red Brigades, fought Nazism and Fascism to free Italy and Italians, Bellochio’ s movie Good Morning, Night presents a much starker and menacing Red Brigade that in 1968 lost its way as it lost its humanity according to Bellochio. Bellochio says that while ideas are fundamental to a democracy and that political debate and demonstration a virtue, the killing of a human being in the name of one’s ideals is lunacy, and reflects a lack of understanding of life, human reality, and of contemporary Italy.
According to Bellochio the Red Brigades failure was the failure to recognize the complex choices in 1968 Italy, and their inability to change along with a changing Italy. The Red Brigade were ideologues, uncompromising in their world view of a pure class struggle, and they were committed to undermine any other political view in Italy. Their uncompromising view was effective in attracting young, ideological followers and assisted the Brigade in garnering their initial power, but ultimately it led to their undoing.
For in their intransigence and unrelenting purist view of a creation of a proletariat uprising, they increasingly disassociated themselves from the reality of the lives of most Italians. Ultimately, and in particular with the killing of Aldo Moro, they alienated themselves from the very working people upon whose support their revolution of the masses was dependent. Marco Bellochio’s Good Morning, Night demonstrates the Red Brigade’s intransigence and naivete in describing them as “being very far from reality”.
In the world view of Red Brigade’s founder Renato Curcio, the Brigade followed an ideology and a doctrine that advocated “armed violence against the capitalist state (Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 1978). The Red Brigade and their leadership were violent anti-capitalists, and they saw multinational corporations as monsters preparing to devour the world (Raufer). Curio viewed the Red Brigade as true Marxists and he sought to re-create a socialist state along the lines of what Lenin had created in the Soviet Union, and Mao had created in China through the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Raufer, page 319). But in a post Lenin and Mao world where millions of poor people had been instructed that poverty is not virtue and to get rich is noble, the Red Brigade’s dogma seemed well worn, particularly when it was communicated through a gun barrel, and resulted in the death of Aldo Moro, an admired leader. The Red Brigade viewed themselves as the evolution of inexorable historical and social forces, and that their ascendancy in Italy, and perhaps Europe was natural and inevitable.
Curio believed that the Red Brigade would eventual become a key political force in Italy, and that the Brigade was destined through the natural evolution of the revolutionary forces begun by Lenin and Mao to lead a social, economic and political revolution in Italy. Curio believed fervently that this was his and the Red Brigade’s destiny. These beliefs about the destiny of Curio and the Red Brigade in my view are what Bellochio assailed in his movie and in his comments that politics is the art of understanding reality.
Bellachio says that Curio’s naive misreading of the Italian people and of humanity is fundamentally what led to the failure of the Red Brigade and their ultimate dissolution. In their targeting of Aldo Moro, The Red Brigades sought to prevent a “historic compromise” between the Communist Party and the Christian Social Democratic Party which would have created an alliance allowing the Communists to become a legitimate political force in the Italian Government.
Even though this compromise would have allowed the Communists to have a voice in Government, the Red Brigades feared that the Christian Democrats would control the Communists and in so doing constrain the uprising of the proletariat that Curio believed was its destiny. Curio believed that the pact between Moro’s Christian Democrats would “enslave the working class with the help of communist revisionists” (New York Times, 1978)
In Good Morning, Night, Bellochio demonstrates the naivete of this belief, and ultimately the failure of this Red Brigades for they lost their ability to value human life. They believed that symbols were more important than people, and that there are no constraints on human behavior in social and political revolution. Bellochio believes, and demonstrates in Good Morning, Night that this is not so, and to de-humanize people in the name of revolution or any cause is a blindness that divorces the cause from real life and people, and therefore is doomed to fail.
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