Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo

By Jane C. Schneider; Peter T. Schneider | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 7
The Antimafia Movement

Caught in the cross-fire of the civil liberties campaign, criticized for politicizing their investigations, and shaken by the anonymous acts of the moles among their colleagues, the police and magistrates needed the support of mobilized citizens and citizens' organizations. Emerging as a predominantly urban social movement after the killing of dalla Chiesa in September 1982, by the mid-1980s, such a social force had achieved a political presence in its center of greatest strength, Palermo. Here Leoluca Orlando, a charismatic antimafia politician (of Christian Democratic provenance) served as mayor from 1985 until 1990, and again from 1993 until December 2000. With a rhetorical flourish, Orlando likes to describe the antimafia process as a cart with two wheels, one the wheel of social, cultural, and political reform, the other the wheel of police and judicial repression. Only if both move in unison does the cart go forward; if one wheel moves while the other stands still, the cart spins in a circle without advancing.

Extremely sensitive to such violent provocations as the excellent cadavers, the antimafia movement has manifested periods of high mobilization and periods of latency, its initial enthusiasm muted by the same ideological backlash that unsettled the magistrates. The multiple organizations and associations comprising the movement are not always able to communicate effectively, let alone share meanings or sustain an overarching consistency of purpose. Of course, many social movements disintegrate into factionalism, often, it is thought, on the downswing of a

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