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

By Jane C. Schneider; Peter T. Schneider | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Backlash and Renewal

The efforts of law enforcement to suppress the mafia and the antimafia social movement both fell upon rough times in the second half of the 1980s. To pursue Orlando's metaphor of the Sicilian cart, sticks were thrown into the spokes of both wheels. In part the difficulties arose from internal tensions—the jealousies and treachery within the Squadra Mobile and courthouse, and the factionalism that divided the grassroots activists from the people around Orlando and the Coordinamento Antimafia. In part they were the consequence of great uncertainty, exacerbated by the sure knowledge that, despite the slower pace of mafia killings, the most dangerous fugitives remained at large. The third ingredient was the dissipation of the “Palermo Spring, ” experienced by activists as a return to “normalcy, ” or waning of commitment (impegno)— in short, the demobilization of the social movement. Accelerating the demobilization, and greatly benefiting from it, was a counter-antimafia backlash aimed not only at the magistrates and the police but also at the movement intellectuals and the mayor, indeed, at the antimafia process as a whole.

In effect, the backlash constitutes an effort to recapture and control public discourse about the mafia, which, during the maxi-trial and the Primavera, was monopolized by the reformers. The mafia was surely aware of, and took comfort in, this turnaround, but it was not the instigator. For although mafiosi support new laws extending civil liberties and are not shy about letting those close to them know their voting pref

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Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Palermo Crucible 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Genesis of the Mafia 22
  • Chapter 3 - The Mafia and the Cold War 49
  • Chapter 4 - The Cultural Production of Violence 81
  • Chapter 5 - Seeking Causes, Casting Blame 103
  • Chapter 6 - Mysteries and Poisons 127
  • Chapter 7 - The Antimafia Movement 160
  • Chapter 8 - Backlash and Renewal 193
  • Chapter 9 - Civil Society Groundwork 216
  • Chapter 10 - Recuperating the Built Environment 235
  • Chapter 11 - Cultural Re-Education 260
  • Chapter 12 - Reversible Destiny 290
  • Notes 305
  • References 317
  • Index 331
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