Enrico Fratangelo, mayor of Castellino del Biferno in Mulise, is not a legitimist. He acts as a loyal public servant of the Republic of Italy and as he says he “sang the anthem of Italy at the top of my voice.” But in the past few months, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent crisis, Fratangelo is praticing what can only be called localist legitimist politics. He has begun printing money called ducati, bearing the Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, images of Our Lady or the Saints, and bearing the inscription:
“Flourishing and Peaceful community of the Kingdom of Naples, County of Molise, land of Workers and of Patriots called Brigands. From 1861, land of unemployment and emigration.”
These ducati are to be used for the relief of the poor during the crisis, echoing the Royal Law of 1831, decreeing “unemployment allowance for those who absolutely cannot with their labor support themselves and their family”. In light of the absolutely disastrous response to the crisis by the Republic, Fratangelo’s solution is legitimist in two ways, symbolic and practical. Symbolically, it serves as a reminder of history, patriotism, and fidelity to a tradition that has endured multiple attempts to erase it. In the realm of symbols, legitimists can never be defeated because our symbols are simultaneously true in themselves and signify a greater truth, whether historical, liturgical, or cosmological. Practically it is a participation in the Common Good (note participation in, not the nonsensical phrase “administration of the Common Good,” more about this in a later post), and a reclamation of old sovereignty in accordance with laws that were never abolished but only suppressed by a centuries-long tyranny, which seeks to remove a thousand years of history from the hearts and minds of those it enslaves.
The similarity of this action to that of the 1,603 Austrian municipalities which between the years 1931 and 1938 granted honorary citizenship to His Majesty, Archduke Otto von Habsburg, makes me wonder about the possibility of this kind of localist legitimist politics as the future of our movement. In a world where the Right is becoming increasing fragmented between many similar movements with radically diverging ideologies, these small scale symbolic and practical actions might indeed be the only ground we can reclaim. Whether the “Right” remains divided amongst the New Wave Integralists, illogical Reactionism, or National “Conservatism,” or one of these forms comes to dominate, Legitimism will endure through these communities. Is this just the so-called Benedict Option? I’m not well-researched enough to definitely rule that out, rather I would point to the fact that legitimist politics are restorative, a “sign of contradiction” in the midst of public life. Of course it’s entirely possible that this won’t happen. Even a fully restored Christendom, an “integralist” world would have the same suffering, the same sin, the same corruption as we have today. The restored world wouldn’t be better but it would be good, and in whatever simple ways we can restore the good that decays, we are carrying out our mission from God; we are practicing legitimist politics.