ITALIAN POLITICS get more “interesting”nevery day. FraneesconCossiga, the head of state, is continuingnefforts to convert his largely ceremonialnposition into something like thenbenign dictatorship of Charles denGaulle. His most risky stunt so far wasnto order the junior officers at a carabinierinstation to go on alert last November.nActually, he only advised them,nbut the mes.sage was clear: Cossiga wasnattempting to harden his symbolic rolenas commander-in-chief into practicalncontrol over the national police and thenarmed forces. This naked grab fornpower has added persuasive force tonthe campaign to drive Cossiga fromnoffice. The principal instigator of thisnplot has been Achille Ochetto, head ofnwhat used to be the Italian CommunistnParty.nThe most general response to thenpresident’s attempt to consolidate powernis not so much alarm as disgust,nbecause it is hard to take Cossiganseriously. The editors o{ Espresso mustnhave been speaking for many Italians inndeclaring last December; “the realntrouble with Cossiga, perhaps, is thatnhe will not succeed in constructingnanything, either good or bad. . . .nSeeing that he is commander of thenarmed forces and that he loves imagesnof war, one might rebapHze him CommandernZero.”nIf the Italian political class is nonmore than annoyed by Cossiga, SenatornUmberto Bossi has them quaking inntheir boots. A few months ago a split innthe ranks of the Lega Lombarda hadnthe leaders of the partitocrazia celebratingnthe demise of their only seriousnopposition. The Lega was predicted tondo well in the late November electionnin Brescia (a significant industrial citynin Lombardia), but still somewherenabout five percentage points below thenChristian Democrats. When the resultsnwere in, the Lega Lombarda was,nby a hair, at the top of the list with 24.4npercent. The Christian Democratsncame in with only 24.3 percent.nOne-tenth of a point does not soundnlike much, but only a year ago, thenLega received only 20 percent in Brescia,nas opposed to the Christian Democrats’n32 percent. Despite the attemptnto downplay the victory (the outgoingnmayor told the Corriere della Sera thatnvoting for the “Carroccio” was a refusalnto choose), the effect of this dramat­n6/CHRONICLESnic upset has been demoralizing, especiallynwhen it is realized that ansignificant part of Bossi’s new supportnis coming from the ranks of goodnCatholics. A significant part of thencredit for this goes to Irene Pivetti, whonhelped him organize the Consultancattolica della Lega.nInstead of confronting Bossi headnon, principle against principle, Italiannjournalists and politicians continue thenslander campaign: “fascists,” “racists,”nand “self-centered egoists” are amongnthe kinder epithets being hurled at hisnfollowers. The great exception is thenskeptical columnist, Ciorgio Bocca,nwho describes this hysterical reaction asn”a constant of political history . . .nwhen the arrogance of a power toonlong without opposition is transfixed bynthis thought: could this really be thenend? It is the moment of panic, when anpower that believed it was based on thengrace of God — either the extraterrestrialnGod or the ideological God —nfeels the weakening of the sacred certainties.nIt’s like someone who beginsnto hear the creaking and see the cracksnin the ice, like one who calls out in thennight and no one answers.”nThe Italian crisis is more seriousnthan the American crisis, and Bocca isnmore eloquent and intelligent thannmost American journalists, but hisnpowerful images might easily be appliednto our own situation. The mannwho calls out in the night and hears nonanswer may be George Bush afraid tontake Pat Buchanan’s wake-up call tonthe White House.n— Thomas FlemingnWHERE FRINGE FEMINISMnand environmentalism meet there isnfound a shrine to the “Goddess.” LastnMay Time magazine reported thatn”Goddess worship” is a “growing spiritualnmovement in the U.S.,” claimingnas many as one hundred thousandnadherents, most of them female. OnnMay 12, 1991, the New York Timesnplaced its imprimatur on the movement,ndeclaring in an editorial thatn”Goddess worship … is rooted innreverence for the Ultimate Mother, fornwoman as the giver of life.” Accordingnto the Times, in ancient Goddessadoringnmatriarchies, “Life was peaceful,ncooperative and egalitarian, whilenin societies focused on the male gods itnnnwas violent, authoritarian and stratified.nIn addition, the Goddess-based culturesncherished Earth as nurturer ofnhumankind.” Accordingly, “Goddessnworship resonates with modernnenvironmentalism, and in particularnwith the Gaia hypothesis — the theoryn. . . that the Earth and its biospherenbehave like a single living organism.”nHow do we know so much about thenancient Goddess cult, which supposedlynwas abolished by the advent ofnmonotheism some three thousandnyears ago? Through the miracle ofnfeminist scholarship, of course. Duringnthe past several years numerous “scholarly”nworks dealing with the Goddessnhave been produced: The Great CosmicnMother by Monica Sjdd andnBarbara Mor; The Women’s History ofnthe World by Rosalind Miles; ThenChalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler,nto name but three examples. Suchnworks trade in the assumptions foundnin the Times editorial — that somewherenin the arcadian mists of antiquitynthere existed an egalitarian Goddessbasednsociety that was destroyed bynpatriarchal usurpers. All of the evil thatnplagues humanity therefore has itsnroots in the destruction of thenGoddess-inspired order, and “healing”nwill occur when that order is restored.nIf feminist pseudo-scholarship is notnenough to persuade the unconverted,nperhaps a new .mystery play wouldnhelp. Mother Wove the Morning, anone-woman play written and performednby Carol Lynn Pearson, offersn16 vignettes designed to make thenconcept of the Goddess a palpablenreality. Pearson is a Mormon, after anfashion: Orthodox Mormons believenthat there is, in addition to a HeavenlynFather, a Heavenly Mother — but thatnthe subject is beyond the concern ofnmortals, and that worshiping thenMother is a species of idolatry. Accordingnto Pearson, true worship should bendirected at a “partnership” — “Thenhuman animal [should] get to an adultnwhere he or she can work for balance,ncan acknowledge the absolute equalnvaluing of male and female, and havenroom on our mantelpieces for mothernas well as father. … I don’t know ofnanything that’s more great and important—nand I mean really important tonus right now — than to further validatenthe human female by bringing into ournconcept and to our worship the divinen