Lessons not learned

by Paul Burmeister

In his article, "A City for Poets and Pirates," (the theft issue of Cabinet) Reinaldo Laddaga recounts how writer Gabriele D'Annunzio was able to lead the Italian Regency of Carnaro. There are two unlearned takeaways or lessons from Laddaga's snapshot history.

Consider this excerpt: "(The small army) entered Fiume, whose non-Slavic population initially received with euphoria the arrival of this strange leader (D'Annunzio) who had never governed before, who had the vaguest political ideas, and who seemed to be mostly occupied in the tiring task of self-glorification." D'Annunzio's short-lived occupation of Fiume occurred in 1919. We don't ever unlearn the failing of human ego?

Secondly, Laddaga calls out the often overlooked relationship between the avant-garde and progressive socio-political movements wanting to cure the world. In my opinion, this destructive relationship applies broadly to many movements of youthful idealism that are ultimately focused on correcting perceived ills and injustices—they devolve into spectacles, far removed from whatever degree of virtue inspired them.