Kalergi, Lollobrigida and the decrease in Italian births
March 22, 2024
Luca Mazzacane
(Pavia, Italy)
Lorenzo Tremogli

Are you familiar with the Kalergi Plan? This conspiracy theory developed momentum in the past decade over  social media, with complotists  supporting its supposed legitimacy. Basically the Kalergi Plan consists of the belief in a secret and superior conspiracy by the wealthiest people in the world, with Europeans gradually substituted and replaced by immigrants, in what is labeled an “ethnic substitution" or ”replacement."

Named after the Austrian philosopher Richard Nikolaus of Coudenhove-Kalergi (1894-1972), a historical pan-Europeanist credited with authoring this plan, the theory finds credence especially in far-right circles (nationalists, sovereignists and separatist). So it could not fit any better than in the government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Lollobrigida’s statement

The conspiracy theory has now found a new endorser in Francesco Lollobrigida, Minister of agriculture, food sovereignty (as labeled by Meloni’s government) and forestry. During his recent visit to the Italian Confederation of Autonomous Workers' Unions (CISAL) Congress, the minister said that:

"Births are not encouraged by convincing people to spend more time at home, as some argue, because you intensify relationships-the way is to build welfare that allows people to work and have families, support young couples to find employment. We cannot surrender to the idea of ethnic replacement, Italians are having fewer children so we replace them with someone else, that's not the way."

The Minister provided a hasty and disingenuous answer to the ongoing issue of the decrease in Italian births, a matter that should be analyzed by looking at the current policy for the youth and our fragile work conditions. Of course, as usually happens in Italy, the Minister is now a victim, as Open reports that he defended himself against claims  that he erred out of ignorance:

“I don't think it is correct to call myself ignorant because until yesterday I didn't know who Mr. Kalergi was. I read a lot in life, but I don't waste my time with lunatics and conspiracists to whom the left pays a lot of attention."

A brilliant reply, still the locution "ethnic replacement" has been used often by those in government today: from Meloni to Salvini, and now to Lollobrigida. The media’s coverage of such a statement is distracting the public from the real issue: denatality. The risk is that the public will now focus on the development of Lollobrigida’s actions, rather than put effort into requiring better youth and natality policies of the Italian government.

Focus on Italian denatality

As AGI reported, because of the current low birth crisis, Italy took some specific measures. The latest is the one-time subsidy for minor children. Unfortunately, it is not only a matter of financial resources, and the trend cannot be reversed simply with  economic benefits.

Giuseppe De Rita, President of the Centre for Social Investment Studies (CENSIS), recently reiterated that the main cause for the decreasing number of new births cannot be found in individual factors, such as a potential pauperization of the middle classes. According to De Rita, the cause of the denatality can be attributed to a number of factors that intertwine and reinforce each other, causing a downward spiral. 

Obviously, the economic aspect and labor market trends are among the most important factors, but they are not the only ones. Among the key aspects contributing to the decline in births there is certainly a more systemic factor. De Rita again emphasized the more anthropological causes as well: 

"It is a problem of the dictatorship of the self. A society that no longer knows how to say 'we' does not have children."

While the debate continues, the spotlight appropriately shifts from Coudenhove-Kalergi to scrutiny of the impact of government policies on current affairs. At the root of the problem there’s a lack of vision for the future and a very different kind of approach to life than that of past generations. The increasingly empty cradles are the result of a frightened country, folded in the present, unable to think about the future.

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