Worse Than Berlusconi

(letter sent to the Editors of the International Herald Tribune)

Say what you will of Italy and its Prime Minister, there remains one powerful counterpoint to Silvio Berlusconi, resolutely bringing him a large amount of support: the intolerable pseudo-intellectualism that makes Frank Bruni and his (selected) Italian sources believe there is any correlation between “having a higher education” and “voting Left” (see Frank Bruni’s “The Affliction of Comfort”, IHT, 19 Sep 2011 ).

It doesn’t take much really to understand the utter inability to govern of a political side (such as the Italian Leftists) incapable for two decades of overcoming Mr Berlusconi and his supporters. To consistently lose against people despised as mentally inferior, it is the best evidence of being even more intellectually challenged than them.

International Herald Insanity

From: Maurizio Morabito
Date: Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 3:01 PM
Subject: Insane Ed’s and Op-Ed’s (IHT, 22 Feb)
To: Letters IHT

Dear Editors

it’s difficult to say if your line about the revolts in the Middle East is appalling or just insane. In the same pages (editorials and op-ed‘s, 22 Feb) where you appear at least in theory to support millions yearning for democracy and free and fair elections in the Middle East, you spend considerable ink arguing that the free and fair electoral wishes of millions of people in a major Democracy should be tramped upon.

I am talking about Italy of course.

Are democracies to be supported only when voters follow your advice? Isn’t yours the very same attitude that made murderous dictators rest easily, safe in the knowledge that all it took them in order to get billions in US aid was to present any democratic alternative as not of Washington’s liking?

And so your dislike for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reveals you yourself as hypocrites, dreaming of getting the World you dream by pretending to care about distant people whose own dreams you wouldn’t think twice to destroy.

saluti/regards
Maurizio Morabito

Berlusconi Isn’t The Problem – Lack of Self-Respect Is

As an “ironing and cooking” Italian man “who does not ask my partner to make sure the pasta is cooked “al dente” when I get back home from work“, I am puzzled by Chiara Riffa and Rosa Raffaelli’s exhortation for more respect to be accorded to women in Italy (“Enough Machismo Italian Style“, IHT Printed edition, 19 Feb).

Ms Riffa and Ms Raffaelli’s goals are as laudable as daft and nonsensical are the chosen means of changing the status-quo. For example, as enthusiastically “reported” by IHT Rome-based journalists Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo, the “women’s dignity” mass demonstrations of 13 Feb were overwhelmingly focused against Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. That was a sure-fire way to degrade any “demand” to low-level party-political diatribe.

It is also unclear what yet another demonstration achieved, what if anything has changed or is going to change at least in the participants’ lives, and most of all how could a person, even a Prime Minister, affect the “dignity” of a mass of individuals (unless, perhaps, it’s North Korea we’re talking about). Like for everybody else, my “dignity” is all mine, and for me to nurture, not to abandon to the care of however-politically-powerful strangers. Actually, by associating themselves to the controversies regarding Mr Berlusconi, the “women’s dignity” demonstrators might have ultimately shown how low their self-respect is, and how weak their demands, all too easily manipulated for the sake of provoking a change in Government.

I can’t wait for the day when “machismo” will be an obsolete word, in Italy and everywhere else. Tough chance though, unless and until the problem is dealt with in a practical, truly apolitical way capable of positively affecting the day-to-day behaviour of millions of people; and unless and until the educated, cosmopolitan, financially-liberated victims of machismo will (at least!) start self-respecting themselves.

A Plea To The (Almighty) G8 Group

Dear Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Group of Eight

I am glad to hear that you have “agreed on Wednesday to try to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius“.

While you’re at it, could you also please try to transform parts of the central Mediterranean into jacuzzis during the month of August, and provide in those same areas a gently cooling breeze, preferably between 2-4pm?

The final bill, to the taxpayer of course!

Many thanks and Best Regards
Maurizio

(heavily inspired by a comment to this blog)

On The Rise Of Far-Right Parties In Europe

Recently I have been a panelist on TV talk-show “Forum”, presented by Andrew Gilligan on PressTV. I have been invited as London Media Officer for Silvio Berlusconi’s party, “The People of Freedom”.

One of the other panelists was Mary Honeyball MEP (Lab). The below is my reply to her blog “The Lure of the Bright Lights“:

One of the points made during the programme is that the far-rightists take advantage of the divisions among mainstream political parties. I am afraid you are perpetuating those divisions. I can assure you that Silvio Berlusconi’s party, “The People of Freedom” (”Popolo della Liberta’”) is on your “same side regarding the far right”.

In fact, there is no Party in the Italian governing coalition that could be described as belonging to the “far right” by any stretch of the imagination.

We, just like the European People’s Party as a whole, have the fight against all forms of fascism of old and new as one of our foundation stones. And let me be proud of the fact that throughout all recent elections all Italian far-rightists have been losing voters to the point of effectively disappearing from the political spectrum.

Why are things looking different in the UK? This is not something one can answer in a blog’s comment area. Because it takes time to analyse, then to understand what is peculiar about British politics and society. Such a strong and long-standing Parliamentary Democracy as yours, truly the envy of the world, still manages to inspire the rise of absolutely nasty and repugnant parties like the BNP. Why?

Likewise, Europe is a big place, and there is no chance to fight back at the ugly racist and neo-nazi ideas being banded around without having a good look at the peculiarities of each country’s political system and society.

I therefore urge you and everybody else interested in European politics to make the effort to understand the particular circumstances that regard each country. I know it is a huge effort, there’s now 27 of them.

But the last thing we should be doing is mindlessly sticking labels around. By making sweeping statements, sometimes based on what is summarily reported in the media by distracted journalists perhaps with a particular précis to follow, the risk is to create artificial divisions among what is an overwhelmingly anti-fascist electorate, effectively presenting tens of millions with the choice between feeling disenfranchised, and voting for the racists.

ps personally, I do not think there is anything to discuss with the BNP’s representatives. I am sure you will agree that it is impossible to change the mind of a Holocaust denialist on any subject. If I were a British politician, what I would be more interested into would be to share a platform with BNP voters. It is them, the ones we should all be working to welcome back to our world.

Italy Explained: Berlusconi, The Northern League And A Working Class That Votes Centre-right

The extraordinarily lucid analysis below is my translation of an article published by “Notizie Radicali”, the online newletter of the Italian Radicals, a political party currently associated to the centre-left Democratic Party.

The original publication date was 4 May 2009. Little has changed since then, despite all the Berlusconi sex scandals. The results of local and European elections in June 2009 have seen a further erosion on the centre-left of the Italian political spectrum.

Probably, the best thing the Democratic Party could do at the moment would be to dissolve itself and give somebody, anybody the chance to start anew.

(the text between square brackets is all mine)

When the Working Class Votes Centre-Right
by Valter Vecellio

The People of Freedom (PDL) at more than 50 percent. The Democratic Party (PD) at around 26 percent. The data from the Ipsos-”Sole 24 Ore” opinion poll is not news in itself, rather a further confirmation of what was already common knowledge.

Among professionals and the self-employed the coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi reaches a “People’s Republic”‘s majority, around the 70 per cent. But the actual “bleeding wound” for the PD concerns that section of the electorate traditionally linked to left, the workers. Among them, consensus for the governing coalition of Northern League (Lega Nord) and PDL exceeds 43 per cent. The PD appears stuck at much more modest 22.4 percent.

The Democratic Party certainly is paying for the competition with Antonio di Pietro’s Italy of Values (IdV). The IdV has been widening its base by leveraging on demagoguery and low-level “qualunquismo” [the mindset of being unable to tell one established party from another].

PD is also paying for competition from its left, from parties such as Communist Refoundation, the Italian Communists [several of them], the Greens, the Socialists. Although those will be unable to cross the 4 percent threshold for being represented at the European Parliament, they will all be eroding valuable points of consensus and percentage from the PD.

Nevertheless, the fact that Berlusconi has managed to wrestle consensus from the centre-left is beyond dispute. A trend in this direction was already clear after the general elections of April 2008. In fact, surprising and inconvenient truths can be found in a very useful report, “Winners and losers in the elections of 2008” published by “Itanes” (Italian Election Studies), a research group started in the early 90s by the Cattaneo Institute in Bologna and guided by a “student” of Giovanni Sartori, Professor Giacomo Sani.

Those are surprising and inconvenient truths, of course, for the losers, not for the winners. According to the report, the PD has paid a combined effect: on the one hand the phenomenon scholars call “selective abstention”, affecting PD voters much more than PDL ones. On the other hand, there has been a real-and-present migration of support.

To put it simply: for every three PD voters of the past, one decided not to vote in the general elections of 2008, and one voted for the opposing coalition.

The centre-left as a whole“, we read, “suffers from the flows of mobilization and demobilization a loss of around 4 per cent of the electorate .. . whilst the PD sees the disappearance of the votes of around 10 percent of those who had chosen the Olive Tree coalition in 2006, in favour of parties of the centre-right.”

The end result is that nowadays, the traditional centre-left electoral base has more overall confidence in the governing by Berlusconi than in the opposition by the PD. But we can go beyond that, by reading a well-researched book “Padanian Breed” by Adalberto Signore and Alessandro Trocino.

It is a book that chronicles twenty-five years of Umberto Bossi’s Lega Nord, and it is not lacking in surprises: despite some “folksy” and “noisy” [i.e. bordering on the loony] public statements by Lega Nord leaders, the authors tell of a a political party made up of activists running local public Offices to the voters’ appreciation, regardless of the social group to which the voters belong.

In Lombardy or Piedmont, it is nowadays no longer considered odd to find members of the communist-leaning workers’ trade union CGIL also belonging to Lega Nord and/or having no qualms to vote for centre-right candidates.

At present, what is new is that how the above phenomenon has become consolidated and disseminated. An entire section of the Italian society doesn’t vote to the left any longer, tired of in-fighting, demagoguery, and inconclusive statements of intent. It is a situation exposed to little or no avail by those in the PD nearer to the electorate, for example the Mayors of Turin Sergio Chiamparino, and of Venice Massimo Cacciari.

Like the mythical Cassandra, nobody listens to them speaking the truth: instead Veltroni, assisted by a strategist of no strategy called Goffredo Bettini, collected a string of ever bitterer defeats, before resigning. Now we have Dario Franceschini seeking to unite the pieces of a vase broken in a thousand pieces. The outcome of all those efforts is reflected in the results of the Ipsos-”Sole 24 Ore” survey: bitter results, for the PD, but also a confirmation of a situation whose cause is to be found in the PD itself.

As things stand, the PD can only wait for its final decay. Its leaders have done their utmost to reach that goal, and now they are reaping what they have sown.

Berlusconi and the Financial Times – Clueless Influence of Context-challenged Reporters

(this letter has been censored by the Financial Times)

– in reply to “Baleful influence of Burlesque cronies”, FT, May 27

Sirs

As activists in the Italian “Freedom People” (“Popolo della Liberta’”) party’s supporters group in London, we would like to express our sincere thanks for having graced Your esteemed newspaper with a brand-new Editorial about our Party’s President and Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi (“Baleful influence of Burlesque cronies”, May 27).

In fact, one doesn’t have to evoke the ghosts of powerful Cardinals in Paris at the time of the Bourbons, to understand that there is no such a thing as bad publicity. Who knows what people would do to be the object of Your attention, and there we have Mr Berlusconi getting it for free…surprisingly (or not) at a time when the UK political class has been shown to be far from perfect as a result of the MP’s expenses scandal!

Your very choice of words (“very wealthy, very powerful and increasingly ruthless man”) sounds like a deep-seated admiration of Mr Berlusconi. Surely there is nobody left nowadays thinking that “ruthless” would be a derogatory term for a politician?

And we fully agree with You in saying the Mr Berlusconi is no harbinger of fascism (yes we are pleased to see that You feel the need to repeat that same concept again and again!).

But please let us dare a little criticism of Yours. What influence, malign or otherwise, has prevented You from explaining in a little less than 500 words what exactly Mr Berlusconi’s “malign example” would be? Or is your worry about the “media sapping the serious content of politics, and replacing it with entertainment” stemming from first-hand experience with Tony Blair’s “Cool Britannia”, and with many years of journalistic manipulation in Britain by the now-forgotten Alistair Campbell?

And perchance next time You will find some time to mention some other facts that Your readers need to be told in order to be able to understand the Italian political zeitgeist. Mr Berlusconi has been under investigation almost uninterruptedly for 15 years. Such investigations curiously began exactly at the time he entered politics, yet the exact accusations against him have been constantly changing. And all along Mr Berlusconi’s opponents have been transfixed by his personality, to the point of making their hatred and personal attacks their very raison d’être…so much so that the Italian opposition is nowadays hitting evermore far below the political belt, with innuendos about Mr Berlusconi’s sex life, age, mental health, personal probity and even his ability as a father.

It seems like the only things Mr Berlusconi has not been accused of are the beating up of old ladies in the street and the torturing of house pets. Perhaps Your Rome correspondents would like to be the first ones going down that route?

Or perhaps they, and You, will decide that the time has come to begin reporting about Italian politics in a thoughtful, comprehensive, non-partisan manner that goes beyond caricatures and prejudices? We are confident you know what we mean – because it would be like going back to the be part of the best the news media has to offer, exactly as you suggest, dealing the “serious content of politics”, rather than engaging in entertainment.

Maurizio Morabito(*) and Ilaria Filippi(**)
“Freedom People” (“Popolo della Liberta’”) Party’s Supporters Group in London

Cinque Regole per gli Antiberlusconiani

Dal blog “Anti-Zanzara”, cinque semplici regole che tutti gli antiberlusconiani dovrebbero seguire, a meno che non vogliano suscitare moti di riso in coloro tra i loro interlocutori che non odiano Silvio con tutto il cuore:

1) Berlusconi è del tutto legittimato a governare, avendo avuto il consenso dell’elettorato. In nessun articolo della Costituzione, né in alcuna legge dello Stato, si dice qualcosa di diverso.

2) Gli elettori che, in maggioranza, hanno votato per Berlusconi non sono né stupidi, ne ignoranti, né sono moralmente inferiori. Se hanno ritenuto che Berlusconi può governare, nonostante il conflitto d’interessi e le beghe giudiziarie, così sia.

3) I magistrati non sono robot imparziali, né sono angeli vendicatori ispirati da Dio. Sono uomini che possono sbagliare o agire secondo condizionamenti consci o inconsci. Anche ipotizzando che Berlusconi abbia davvero violato la legge e meriti di essere processato, rimane il fatto il sistema giustizia in Italia fa acqua da tutte le parti e va profondamente riformato.

4) Il conflitto di interessi esiste, è innegabile, ma in una società di mercato e liberale esso è solo un elemento laterale che non pregiudica realmente l’esercizio della democrazia. Il fatto che Berlusconi possieda tre dei sette grandi network televisivi nazionali, e che di altri tre, da capo del governo, possa avere potenzialmente il controllo, non implica un monopolio assoluto dell’informazione. Esistono anche i giornali cartacei, internet, La7, Sky, Radio 24, ecc.

5) La Verità con la V maiuscola è una chimera, un mito irraggiungibile che non esiste. E se anche esistesse, la Verità non andrebbe cercata sulle pagine dei libri di Travaglio o su quelle della Repubblica, o dell’Unità o dell’Espresso. Semmai sul Riformista.

Aggiungo una regola io

6) Esiste una cosa chiamata umorismo. Il riferimento precedente a “Il Riformista”, per esempio…

Berlustroni

Rallegriamoci tutti per il nuovo passo in avanti della politica italiana.

Ancora un altro passettino e finalmente sara’ superato il Bipolarismo.

No, niente “Grossa Coalizioneanche perche’ ci vorrebbe troppo poco a trasformarla in “Rossa Coalizione“.

Molto meglio il Monopolarismo, detto anche Partito Unico (Segretario: Waltersilvio Berlustroni)