"Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

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"Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by mnql1 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:50 pm

Investigative journalists Gianni del Vecchio and Stefano Pitrelli have just published a book entitled Occulto Italia (2011, BUR FUTUROPASSATO, 512 pages) about lobbying efforts by various cults in Italy. A synopsis posted on europaquotidiano.it recalls that, in 2005, then education minister Letizia Moratti recognized a company tied to Applied Scholastics as one of the organizations accredited to train public school teachers and that this accreditation was revoked in 2008 by education minister Giuseppe Fioroni. This incident and others were also mentioned in an article cowritten by the authors and Tommaso Cerno in Sept. 2009 (Spider Web Of Scientology; WWP link).

The authors' website is http://www.pitrelli-delvecchio.com/.

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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by Sponge » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:42 pm

Microsoft Translate of that sysnopsis:
The devil, as they say, is in the details.

The centrality of the Domenico 2004 policy Italy has noticed too late, on December 14, 2010. Too late we came to know everything about him, his mortgage in the Bank, of his work by acupuncturist, his fondness for holistic medicine. Even the leader of his former party, Antonio Di Pietro, had to open my eyes a lot earlier if you think that in September decided to entrust the creation of national Forums and an Observatory antiplagio on seven, an alarming phenomenon that "Mimmo" boasted some complicity too.

The wrong man at the right place. The underestimation of 2004 is the mirror of a underestimation wider which gives account Occult Italy (Bur, 2011, 12.50 euro) by Gianni Del Vecchio and Stefano Pitrelli, a journalist of Europe, the other historical newspaper contributor.

The book refutes one of our most entrenched beliefs, i.e. seven relate to peripheral devices and phenomena. It is neither true nor the other thing.

Indeed, the book turns a lighthouse on what we might call the "third tier", i.e. more or less naive complicity and aware of policy.

The fascination for seven esoteric movements and is virtually transversal and embraces almost all the constitutional arch, with the only understandable exception of Udc. Attention, we're not talking about a double party affiliation – and the sect – by administrators and parliamentarians, but a double movement which brings the movement to seek institutional Bank and some politicians to not scansarla, but in some cases a rincorrerla electoral purposes. The effect is a strange paradox that Italy is found to be one of the few Western countries that has been abolished the crime of plagiarism but which is in danger of slipping into the opposite extreme, i.e., legal recognition of seven who, through a persistent lobby, aimed at sharing tax of 8 per thousand and the agreement with the Italian State.

Just remember, for example, that Scientology grazed the colpo grosso when, in 2005, Letizia Moratti, then Education Minister, credited a company connected with the movement founded by Ron Hubbard, Applied Scholastics, among training institutions for public school teachers. An accreditation that fortunately returned in 2008, thanks to Mr Fioroni, but that for three years enabled the affiliates of religion to indoctrinate hubbardiana of teachers.

The legitimization of para-religious cults often is almost invisible. In 2006, the then Minister for youth, Giovanna Melandri, established the Youth Consultation on religious pluralism and cultural and called to represent the Italian members of the Buddhist Soka Gakkai, a sect "apocryphal" but on the rise thanks to pop testimonials as Sabina Guzzanti and Roberto Baggio.
From the book le affinità elettive emerge of certain movements for certain deployments and vice versa. For example, Damanhur, a strange spiritual community that has its heart in Valchiusella, in the foothills of the Alps, 50 km from Turin, is very popular in the ranks of the Center.

Established on-site is a sect that can boast of having given its name to a bipartisan parliamentary amendment in 1996 that allowed him to condone the illegal construction of the temple underground movement.

The paradox is that Humankind has a model of eco-friendly life which, not surprisingly, he found many banks in the Green Party, in whose National Council damanhurians managed to place three exponents.

The book elaborates on the embarrassment of former leader Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, who in 2006, in the municipality of Vidracco, headquarters of the movement, will gather more preferences of the moderate candidate Romano Prodi: interviewed on tv on its proximity to Damanhur, balbetterà an explanation unconvincing. The Congressman also Luciano Violante – Turin considered a character ' very difficult ' but ' scope by bringing» – will visit the Temple of the sect. Some time later, however, open your eyes on the motion at a hearing just at "his" Institutional Affairs Committee of the National Observatory psychological abuse. Indeed, psychological abuse. The story-Old investigation and Pitrelli collects many personal testimonies, obviously forgettable, telling throughout their drama the ill-treatment and the difficulties of exit from the world of sectarian. Which makes the book a point of no return on a phenomenon that some television tells us with too much superficiality.

The lobby is often required: when the single movement tries to do alone, results in electoral terms are almost comical. Perhaps the most disturbing case of complicity between the Palace and seven is that of Ontopsychology, Antonio Meneghetti, real genius
Edit: Scroll down and see sekh's post for a better tweaked translation.

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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by sekh » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:22 pm

Good old incomprehensible "Google Translate". Is there anybody here who speaks Italian well enough to make a decent translation?

I don't, but I did already see that they translated "sette" as "seven", where it should be "cults". Makes more sense, doesn't it? The front-page goes something like this:

In our country there are dozens of cults operating under darkness, impenetrable to our institutions, gathering money and ruining lives. Scientology, Damanhur, Ontopsicologia, Soka Gakkai, Umanisti (Humanists?).... With the testimony of witnesses this is the first map of dangerous cults....

I'll leave the synopsis to someone who's better in Italian, but being better than Google is not very much of an achievement. If you have an Italian grandmother or something, give it a try....

Please, anybody....
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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by sekh » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:01 am

Sorry Sponge :oops: , it's nothing personal but I just couldn't take that computer-generated translation up here. I know I'm not great in Italian, but at least my translation is more-or-less comprehensible, which is more than Google can say. Google Translate is great for words, but it just doesn't work for sentences. And I really, really tried not to interfere, wait until somebody came along who is good at Italian, but my impatience just got the better of me, I'm afraid. So here it is: The hand-made translation of the synopsis by a Non-Native English-Speaker who is at best a beginner in Italian. And despite all these things against me, it's better than the Google-thingy. :mrgreen:

The devil, as they say, is in the details.

The central place of the Domenico Scilipoti in Italian politics in 2004 was noticed too late, on December 14, 2010. Too late we got to know everything about him, the amount of his mortgage in the Bank, his work as an acupuncturist, his fondness for holistic medicine. Even the leader of his former party, Antonio Di Pietro, had to open his eyes a lot earlier if you think that in September he decided to entrust the creation of a national Forum on Infectious Diseases and a Center for the Research on Cults, an alarming phenomenon that "Mimmo" boasted some complicity too.

The wrong man at the right place. The underestimation of 2004 is the mirror of a greater underestimation of which account is given by Occult Italy (Bur, 2011, 12.50 euro) by Gianni Del Vecchio and Stefano Pitrelli,The first a journalist of 'l Europe, the other a historical researcher for various European newspapers.
The book refutes one of our most entrenched beliefs, i.e. Cults relate to peripheral circles and maeginal persons. Neither of these prepositions happen to be true.

Indeed, the book turns a bright light on what we might call the "fifth column", i.e. the more or less naively complacent and those who are fully aware of policies, near and even in the heart lf power.

The fascination for cults and esoteric movements is virtually universal and embraces almost all of the political spectrum, with the only understandable exception of Udc (Unione di centro, Union of the center, a party that is tries to be religiously neutral and moderate on the right/left spectrum).
*Note by translator: Italian party politics is worth a study on its own. There are nowhere in Europe so many political parties to be found as in Italy.It is impossible to explain this in a few sentences*
Attention, we're not talking about a double affiliation -one to the party and one to the cult- by administrators and parliamentarians, but a double agenda which brings the movement to seek out institutional bankers and some politicians to not avoid them, but in some cases to run after them for electoral purposes. The effect is a strange paradox that Italy is found to be one of the few Western countries that has, for instance, abolished the crime of plagiarism but which is in danger of slipping into the opposite extreme, i.e., legal recognition of cults who are, through a persistent lobby, aimed at sharing tax of 8 percent per thousand and the approval of the Italian State.

Just remember, for example, that Scientology basically escaped the blame for the debacle in 2005, thanks to Letizia Moratti. She, then Education Minister, accredited a company connected with the movement founded by Ron Hubbard, Applied Scholastics, for training institutions for public school teachers. An accreditation that fortunately was revoked in 2008, thanks to Mr Fioroni, but that for three years enabled the affiliates of religion to indoctrinate hubbardiana on teachers. In the eyes of the public ms. Moratti is the one to blame here, not the Scientology lobby behind her.

The legitimization of para-religious cults often is almost invisible. In 2006, the then Minister for youth, Giovanna Melandri, established the Youth Consultation on Religious Pluralism and Culture and called to represent the Italian members of the Buddhist Soka Gakkai, an "apocryphal" sect, but on the rise thanks to pop testimonials as Sabina Guzzanti and Roberto Baggio.
From the book the elective affinity emerges of certain movements for certain deployments and vice versa. For example, Damanhur, a strange spiritual community that has its heart in Valchiusella, in the foothills of the Alps, 50 km from Turin, is very popular in the ranks of the Center.

Established on-site is a sect that can boast of having given its name to a bipartisan parliamentary amendment in 1996 that allowed it to condone the illegal construction of the temple underground movement.

The paradox is that Humankind has a model of eco-friendly life of which, not surprisingly, he found many examples in the Green Party, in whose National Council Damanhurians managed to place three exponents.

The book elaborates on the embarrassment of former leader Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, who in 2006, in the municipality of Vidracco, headquarters of the movement, did gather more preference votes than the moderate candidate Romano Prodi: interviewed on tv on his proximity to Damanhur, he stammered an unconvincing explanation.
In the case of Turin Congressman Luciano Violante, considered a character ' very ambitious ' but ' difficult to approach" it was found out he did make visits to the Temple of the sect. Some time later, however, he opened his eyes to the abuses of the cult and delivered a motion at a hearing at the Institutional Affairs Committee of the National Observatory psychological abuse. Indeed, psychological abuse. The story and investigation of Dell'Vecchio and Pitrelli collects many personal testimonies, obviously unforgettable, telling all about the drama of their ill-treatment and the difficulties of exiting from the world of the sectarian. Which makes the book a point of no return on a phenomenon that some television tells us with too much superficiality.

The lobby is often required: when a single movement tries to do this alone, the results in electoral terms are almost comical. Perhaps the most disturbing case of complicity between the Government and cults is that of Ontopsychology, the movement of Antonio Meneghetti, real genius of evil.....

*And the story continues in the book, I truly hope somebody will translate this in English, German or even Spanish or French. From there on it must be possible to find an English translator. I can manage(poorly) with one page, but there is no way I could do a whole book. I just don't have the capability. And the book is worth a GOOD translator.
Anybody with a better working knowledge of Italian, please feel free to elaborate and improve this synopsis. T.I.A. :kiss:
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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by Sponge » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:01 am

Hey, you know what? Nothing personal taken, it's not my work. Feel free to improve. That's what the forum is all about. We already know that the auto translations are shit. In actual fact though, this particular one (which was microsoft and not google) one was not all that bad (relatively speaking of course...which doesn't really say much for autotranslators).

I can deal with written germanic languages to some extent, given a basic outline from an autotranslator but the romanic neo-latin not so much (except perhaps french which was drummed into me at age 11-14). At the end of the day, I have enough daily "chores" without including amateur translation tweaks so anyone who can help would be much appreciated. I'm also sure that our international treasure, mnql1, would very much appreciate the extra hands taking the load off a bit.

So, thanks sekh.

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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by AnonyMary » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:21 am

Wow, good to see this. Thanks.
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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by mnql1 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:45 am

Here is a quick translation of the March 15, 2011 review in Italian on europaquotdiano.it.

Occulto Italia was published on March 10, 2011. I've ordered the book and will post more information once I've received and read it.
Political Sects

Occulto Italia reveals how esoteric movements practice lobbying and secure complicity

by Giovanni Cocconi
March 15, 2011

The devil, as they say, is in the details.

When Italy noticed on December 14, 2010 [note 1] that Domenico Scilipoti could play a central political role, it was too late. We learned everything about him too late: his bank loans, his work as an acupuncturist, his partiality for holistic medicine. Even the leader of his former party, Antonio Di Pietro, should have opened his eyes much earlier, since that he decided last September to entrust Scilipoti with creating the National Forum against Mental Manipulation and an observatory to monitor sects, an alarming phenomenon with which "Mimmo" was a bit too complicit.

He was the wrong man in the right place. The underestimation of Scilipoti mirrors a larger underestimation that is explained in Occulto Italia (Bur, 2011, 12.50 euros) by Gianni Del Vecchio, journalist for Europa, and Stefano Pitrelli, a longtime collaborator of the newspaper.

The book refutes one of our most deeply rooted beliefs, that sects involve marginal happenings and marginal persons. Neither is true.

On the contrary, the book shines a spotlight on what might be called a "third level" [note 2] of more or less naïve or conscious complicity in politics.

The fascination with esoteric sects and movements cuts across almost all groups and embraces almost the entire political spectrum, with one understandable exception, the Union of Christian and Center Democrats. To be clear, we're not talking about a double affiliation - to a party and to a sect - by administrators and parliamentarians, but a double motivation that leads a movement to seek institutional support and some politicians to not avoid giving it, and in some cases, to pursue it for electoral purposes. The effect is a strange paradox in which Italy is one of the few Western countries where the crime of mental manipulation has been abolished and Italy may slip into the opposite extreme, granting legal recognition to sects that, through persistent lobbying, have been aiming to benefit from tax-deductible charitable donations with the consent of the Italian government. [note 3]

For example, few remember that Scientology hit the jackpot when, in 2005, Letizia Moratti, then Minister of Education, accredited Applied Scholastics, a company linked to the movement founded by Ron Hubbard, among the training institutions for public school teachers. Fortunately, this accreditation was cancelled in 2008, thanks to the intervention of Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni, but for three years it allowed affiliates of Hubbard's religion to indoctrinate a lot of teachers.

The legitimization of parareligious sects is often almost invisible. In 2006, the Minister for Youth, Giovanna Melandri, established the Youth Council on Religious and Cultural Pluralism and, to represent Italian Buddhists, she invited members of Soka Gakkai, an "apocryphal" sect that was on the rise thanks to pop testimonials such as those of Sabina Guzzanti and Roberto Baggio.

The book describes the voting affinities between certain movements and certain alignments and vice versa. For example, Damanhur, a strange spiritual community whose heart is in Valchiusella, at the foot of the Alps, 50 km from Turin, is very popular in the ranks of the center-left.

Rooted in this locality, the sect can boast of having given its name to a bipartisan parliamentary amendment in 1996 that, in effect, condoned the illegal construction of the movement's temple underground.

The paradox is that Damanhur offers an environmentally friendly way of life which, not surprisingly, has found much support in the Green Party, on whose National Council Damanhurians managed to place three members.

The book dwells on the embarrassment of former leader Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio who, in 2006 in the town of Vidracco, home of the movement, succeeded in garnering more votes than the center-left candidate Romano Prodi. Interviewed on television about his closeness to Damanhur, he babbled an unconvincing explanation. Parliamentarian Luciano Violante of Turin - a figure considered "highly sought" but "difficult to approach" - visited the sect's temple. Some time later, however, he eyes were opened about the movement during a hearing by his "own" Institutional Affairs Committee at which the National Observatory on Psychological Abuse testified. On the subject of psychological abuse, the investigation by Del Vecchio and Pitrelli reports many personal stories, anonymously of course, that fully convey the drama of the mistreatment that was experienced and the difficulty of leaving the sectarian world. This makes the book unsurpassable concerning a phenomenon that television sometimes covers too superficially.

Lobbying activities are often a matter of necessity; when a single movement tries to go it alone, the results are almost comical in electoral terms. Possibly the most disturbing example of complicity between politics and sects is the case of ontopsychology and its leader, Antonio Meneghetti, a true "evil genius" who, through video jockey Andrea Pezzi, managed to secure financial backing from the creator of Publitalia-Forza Italia, Marcello Dell'Utri, and his foundation Il Circolo del Buon Governo. The project was called Ovopedia and it envisaged the creation of a multimedia encyclopedia that would have rewritten history according to Meneghetti's creed. It is no consolation that Pezzi is now also courting political support on the left.

It is also no consolation that Meneghetti's followers can quietly teach at La Sapienza University in Rome.

Fortunately, one of the politicians who has always been most sensitive to the problem of psychological manipulation of the most vulnerable, Giorgio Napolitano, is now President of Italy. For once, the right man is in the right place.

Notes:
[1]Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi survived a no-confidence vote on December 14, 2010 with unexpected support from Domenico Scilipoti, amid accusations that Scilipoti is a political Judas whose vote was bought off. (link)

[2]The "third level" (terzo livello) of the Mafia concerns relations between the Mafia and politics. (link)

[3]Italian taxpayers can donate 0.8% of their income tax to an institution whose name appears in a list. This is called the 8 per mille ("8 per thousand") rule. (link)
Last edited by mnql1 on Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by sekh » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:10 pm

Better, much better.... Thanks.
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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by mnql1 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:06 pm

Map of Scientology in Italy
Source: Gianni Del Vecchio, Stefano Pitrelli, Occulto Italia (BUR Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 2011), p. 487.
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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by sekh » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:31 pm

Not very surprising. :roll: The Orgs concentrated in the relatively prosperous north, the Narco's mostly hidden in the remote southern parts of the country, (known for the sun, the poverty, the organized crime and highly corrupt municipal officials) and some missions to make the picture complete.

I really would like to read this book. Italy, though it exists less than a century in its current form, has continuously been co-ruled by worldly and religious powers since the time of the Roman Empire. Organized religion and organized crime are not as far apart as some people think. Italy gives a prime example of the powers behind the "throne" in a modern, Western state. Interesting material.

If you ever hear that this is book translated in English, German or even French, Mnql1, please let me know. TIA. :D

:idea: Maybe a copy of this map should be placed in the Org Patrol Italy topic. It's a nice, clear survey of Scientology in Italy.
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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by mnql1 » Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:12 pm

Gianni Del Vecchio (left in the photo below) and Stefano Pitrelli (right) discuss their new book Occulto Italia in this YouTube video (in Italian). Scientology is one of the prominent subjects.
>> Occulto Italia - Gianni Del Vecchio e Stefano Pitrelli

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Re: "Occulto Italia": Book about cult lobbies in Italy

Post by mnql1 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:37 pm

Here, with English subtitles, is the above-mentioned video interview with Gianni Del Vecchio and Stefano Pitrelli, authors of the book Occulto Italia. An English transcript follows below. Scientology is mentioned several times during the interview, and 95 of the 508 pages in the book are about Scientology.

On vimeo: Occulto Italia - Gianni Del Vecchio & Stefano Pitrelli (with English subtitles)

The video can also be downloaded via the following link:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=7F7OP1S8
File name: Occulto Italia 2011-03 ST ENG.avi
File size: 289 MB
Duration: 17 min. 24 sec.

Occulto Italia by Gianni Del Vecchio and Stefano Pitrelli won the 2011 Estense Prize for journalism in Italy.

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Photo source: http://www.pitrelli-delvecchio.com/?p=477

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English transcript

Interview with Gianni Del Vecchio and Stefano Pitrelli, authors of the book Occulto Italia (2011)

Gianni Del Vecchio: I am Gianni Del Vecchio, one of the authors of Occulto Italia.

This is a book about cults, but not cults in the sense that people generally mean, for example the Satanic cults that always grab the headlines. This book is about the cults that exist in Italy, that operate in the shadows, and are dangerously intertwined with Italian politics, in local politics and national politics. They are intertwined with businesses. They are intertwined with schools and universities, with institutions, and even the entertainment industry. The book is about these cults.

Most of these Italian cults are usually not mentioned much in the newspapers. Satanic cults are only a part, a very limited segment, of the cults in Italy. There is a vast archipelago of movements that operate in the shadows and that you usually don't find in newspapers or on television, or when you do find something, it's their self-promotion.

Stefano Pitrelli: I am Stefano Pitrelli, one of the 2 authors of Occulto Italia.

Cults in Italy are a very vast and very hidden phenomenon. We were drawn to this subject while working on an investigation that we published in L'Espresso with Tommaso Cerno about Scientology. We searched for ex-members who could reveal the dark side of these groups.

One oddity is that each one of these groups has publications, websites, blogs, but especially press departments, public relations bureaus. Some call them "offices of exterior relations" as though the world outside the organizations were another country. In fact, in some cases, there are organizations that take an entire town and turn it into a small city state. Each organization has its strongholds.

Gianni Del Vecchio: One characteristic of these cult groups is that, once a person is inside, it is very difficult to leave, primarily because people lock themselves into a kind of psychological cage where, once inside, you find yourself dedicating all of your free time, even all of your life, to the group. After you've spent years inside, your entire life, your friends, even your love life, are tied to the group, so it's always difficult to leave, and some organizations have their own "internal service" whose purpose, among other things, is to recover people who have left.

One of these organizations is Scientology. Scientology has Department 20, whose purpose, in particular, is to convince persons who wish to leave Scientology to stay. The second mandate of Department 20 is to amass and maintain up-to-date files on the church's friends and enemies.

There are investigations in progress regarding this point. Last year [2010], the Turin prosecutor seized a large number of folders at the church in Turin. It seems very probable that some of these folders concern famous persons who in the past have been very critical of Scientology, for example Democratic Party Member of Parliament Luciano Violante and Father Luigi Ciotti, founder of Gruppo Abele. The intended use of the amassed files is to gain leverage in some way over Scientology's enemies.

Stefano Pitrelli: This book does not contain any crime reporting, simply because the only "crime" we are talking about, mental manipulation, does not exist in Italy. It does not exist because the closest thing to it was the crime of moral subjugation [plagio], and this crime of moral subjugation was abused and transformed into an instrument of political struggle, to suppress dissent, and it was therefore justly thrown out by the Constitutional Court.

But there is nothing in its place in Italy today. There is no means of defense against the gurus and the cults that strip their followers of their critical-thinking skills. So, fundamentally, the authorities find themselves with their hands tied, because the tools available to the law don't apply to the behaviors of these organizations.

It's not a matter of fraud, at least not necessarily. It's not abuse of incompetent persons. It's something else, which we have no tools to define.

In this regard, a solution has been found in France with a very broad consensus among the parties that sit in Parliament, namely the About-Picard law. Thanks to this cross-party agreement, France has given itself a tool to deal with the problem. This law identifies a crime for which a convicted person can be punished and provides a means of prevention through the training of judges and police forces who, without adequate preparation, do not know how to deal with the problem of mental manipulation. In Italy, an anti-cult squad was established, the SAS, which has exactly this purpose, that stems from the goal of protecting citizens, but it is hampered by the absence of an adequately designed framework to fight against mental manipulation.

Gianni Del Vecchio: The top-down and often authoritarian structure of cults is the stuff of forbidden dreams for a political leader, because any leader would love to have a stable of parliamentarians that is ready to act and vote as he wishes just by waving his hand. This is a — let's say — similarity that we've often noted. There are a lot of stories in the book that show a strong permeability of the Italian political world to cult lobbies, to pressure from cult lobbies.

There are many examples, for instance, [Senator Marcello] Dell'Utri. In 2006, Dell'Utri, obviously under pressure from Berlusconi, tried to break the "cultural hegemony of the left" through a series of initiatives. The first initiative was the creation of "Circles of Good Government", a kind of think tank for the leaders of the former Forza Italia party. The second was the foundation of a "university of liberal thought". The third was a project developed by Fininvest in cooperation with OVO.

OVO is a company that was founded in 2006 by Andrea Pezzi, a former video jockey who is a VIP devotee of Ontopsychology. In one of his latest books, Fuori Programma, Pezzi clearly states that the inspiration for the "OVO" project — which is about creating a kind of encyclopedia on the web and for television made up of 3-minute videos instead of written entries — was born under the inspiration of Antonio Meneghetti, the unquestioned leader of Ontopsychology. The project made headlines in 2008 when Peter Gomez published a bombshell article in L'Espresso based on the fact that he managed to preview a few of the videos. The videos were about Hitler and Stalin and the videos did not blame the two dictators at all. They even had an attitude that was quite soft towards them. The videos seemed to fulfill Dell'Utri's dream of rewriting the history books, that the Sicilian senator has mentioned in more than one interview.

However, OVO was not doing well in 2008. It was in the red by 7 million euros, half of which belonged to Fininvest, because it owned 47% of the corporation. But, in 2008, the fact that OVO wasn't doing well wasn't very damaging to Dell'Utri, to Berlusconi or to Fininvest, because, in the meantime, Berlusconi had won back the elections, so he could easily go into the Education Ministry and operate freely from there.

Another case of strong cult intrusion into political decisions was in 2005, when Letizia Moratti was Minister of Education. Ministry officials granted accreditation as a training institution — as one of the institutions that can train Italian teachers — to Applied Scholastics, which is one of Scientology's front groups. This accreditation was revoked in 2008 by Education Minister Giuseppe Fioroni of the Democratic Party. But the fact remains that, in those 3 years from 2005 to 2008, Scientology was able to train Italian teachers throughout the country, from Milan to Catania. So, over 3 years, it is very likely that some teachers acquired a very Hubbardian point of view about reality and about school programs.

Stefano Pitrelli: Another example of links between these organizations and politics is, without a doubt, the case of Mimmo [Domenico] Scilipoti. He was in the news when, as a member of parliament in Antonio Di Pietro's party, he was smitten by the Berlusconi mystique and prolonged the life of a government that was falling apart. Mimmo Scilipoti is also the founder of the so-called "Holistic Movement", which is essentially an initial attempt to form a party geared to the Italian New Age movement. One thing for certain is that, though he is in the Holistic Movement, Scilipoti called upon a consultant from Damanhur, the Piedmont cult we talk about in the book.

An excellent example of the links between cults and politics is the Damanhur cult, which originates from Piedmont and has governed its hometown, Vidracco, through its party, Con te per il paese ["With You for Town & Country"] for 3 terms. It has even managed to place some of its representatives as minority council members of towns in the Valchiusella valley. How does it does it do this? Through electoral migration and clockwork, moving "citizens", as they call their members, left and right, both figuratively and literally on the map, from town to town in tune with electoral calendars, thereby gaining both political power and the ability to put pressure on local administrators. This is at the local level.

At the national level, Damanhur is no less present. In fact, the existence of Damanhur's subterranean temple — the continued existence of this subterranean temple — is guaranteed thanks to their pressure on national politics and to a special ad templum law that legalizes the incredible, enormous building illegalities of the so-called "Temple of Humanity". What is the "Temple of Humanity"? A hole excavated inside a hill, gutted to make space for an underground temple filled with fine marble, gold ornaments, and precious stained glass. A temple built to celebrate the ecological spirit. However, this did not spare a hill from being gutted.

Gianni Del Vecchio: Cults have an undeniable hold over people — normal people. We're not talking about persons who are gullible, weird, or easily suggestible, but lawyers, consultants, professionals, entrepreneurs. While speaking with former members, we met some very highly cultured persons. This suggests that the phenomenon of cults is quite likely to proliferate because they provide something that almost everyone wants in their life — the certainty of attaining happiness, a ready-made or immediate happiness.

Stefano Pitrelli: One key to understanding the world of cults is to situate them chronologically according to their date of birth. Scientology, for example, is a child of the 1950s, of the cold war, with a strong anti-communist connotation, while other organizations we've talked about, such as Damanhur, are children of the 1970s, and so arose from — let's say — a flower-child culture, a culture that made people feel like joining a kibbutz.

Gianni Del Vecchio: Cults often use famous persons because they are good vehicles for publicity and also to exploit the so-called "halo effect". Advertisers use this principle to explain how a product can be more appealing if it is associated with a person who in some way inspires trust.

For example, Scientology often uses Tom Cruise and John Travolta in America. Every national Scientology structure has a so-called "Celebrity Centre", a special church that is supposed to enlist all those Scientologists who are in some way involved in the arts. Even in Italy, there exists a Celebrity Centre, in Florence. It has a very nice headquarters, but in Italy, perhaps because Italians are a bit more cynical, it doesn't have much influence within the entertainment world, at least in Italy, because the director of the Celebrity Centre is a television host, but only on local Florentine television, so his name is not familiar to the public at large.

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