His Fullness

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"I feel that Grillo personifies, better than many other characters, the worst of the Italian. He is the arch-Italian of the worst." Eugenio Scalfari

The bank clerk, Eugenio Scalfari was born in Civitavecchia in April 1924. He collaborated with the fascist newspaper “Roma Fascista”. After the war he grew a beard so that the partisans wouldn’t recognise him. He became liberal and a banker with the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. His love of banks and of money has stayed with him for all his life. He became a radical and a journalist. He wrote his great piece: “Has Russia already won the great challenge?” In which he states: “In 1972 the USSR will have already got to the top not just as an industrial power but also for the average standard of living of its population. All the common sayings about the greater efficiency of private initiative and of the enormous waste of wealth that is inevitably accompanying collectivism, fall like a house of cards in the light of the results gained in forty years of the soviet economy.”
After a short reflection, he became a socialist and a town councillor. He became a deputy and a signatory to the document against commissioner Luigi Calabresi.
He applauded when non-parliamentary groups laid siege to the il Corriere print shop: “These young people teach us something (….) the assault on the print shop can be a warning for all those great journalistic chains that are used to (….) hide information, to manipulate public opinion.” To be coherent, he founded La Repubblica, part of a chain that is used to hide information, and to manipulate public opinion. He becomes the great old man of the left with his great wallet on the right. Year after year he becomes a De Mita follower, a republican, a communist, a PDS-guy and a PD-guy. Wherever he goes the grass stops growing. The latest success has been Walterloo.
He has a great opinion of himself that he shows in his Sunday sermon in La Repubblica and every time he is offered the possibility. In the book, “Incontro con Io” {Meeting with Me} he revealed: “I have finally reached my fullness” Montanelli said: “I know many scoundrels who are not moralizers, but I don’t know any moralizer who is not a scoundrel. Of course, with no reference to Scalfari. Just as a reminder.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 06:26 PM in | Comments (48)
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Qwerty and edede

I don't mean to slight anyone but,for or the sake of participation, can you guys write so we can all understand? Honest,the comments seem done in code-talk. The two of you bring up all kinds of issues only to be dismissed by a few lines.

Posted by: LP | May 11, 2008 03:03 PM


Ed

Your argument rests on a number of assumptions and perceptions that I simply find faulty. Explaining why it is so would require major work: this subject is very broad and very complex--and I simply have no desire or intention to do that.

I do not mind in the least that you keep your own opinion. I hope that not convincing me will not cause you too much discomfort.

The beauty is that each can decide for himself--and then check whether reality will prove him right or wrong. I am very comfortable about this and I am glad you are too.

Posted by: QWERTY | May 11, 2008 01:07 PM


Ededed: You want the name of one country that's in good shape? Canada is in great shape.

Posted by: LP | May 11, 2008 06:26 AM


ED

I STILL HAD TO DO MY GOOD DEED TODAY, SO I REPLY TO YOU:

***
Italians could go on with their illusion of prosperity and success for as long as the country was protected from competition and for as long as it could pile on debt freely.
***

THIS IS CLEAR: SPENDING MORE THAN YOU MAKE IS LIVING ABOVE YOUR MEANS. THAT`S WHAT ITALY DID. THE WAY IT COULD DO IT IS BY BORROWING THE DIFFERENCE.

IT BORROWED SO MUCH THAT IT NOW HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST DEBTS IN THE WORLD. (GOOD JOB!) AND IT ALSO WASTED THE MONEY, NOT INVESTED IT. (GOOD JOB!) AND ITALIANS, JUST LIKE YOU, DID NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND THIS... (AGAIN, VERY GOOD!)

YOU DO KNOW ABOUT PUBLIC DEBT, RIGHT?
YOU DO KNOW THAT THE MONEY WAS (AND STILL IS) WASTED??


Please make sure that your understanding of World economy is sound and verifiable

-China & US Treasury does sound a bell..? -- Italy??

CHINA LENDS MONEY TO THE US. CHINA IS SMART. THE US MADE A MESS. SO? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY HERE? TRY IN YOUR OWN WORDS...

THIS SOUNDS LIKE ONE OF YOUR USUAL, WILD ASSUMPTIONS: DO YOU THINK I SAID SOMETHING ABOUT CHINA DOING BAD OR THE US DOING WELL???? WHEN DID YOU DREAM THAT??????

:D

-Per capita debt in the USA on Credit Card..?--Italy??

CREDIT CARD DEBT? SO WHAT???

THE CREDIT CARD DEBT LEVEL IS NOT EVERYTHING. IT IS NOT EVEN ALL DEBT. AND IT IS NOT EVEN THE ABSOLUTE LEVEL OF DEBT THAT MATTERS. ITS RISK DEPENDS ON THE ABILITY TO PAY IT BACK. YOU´RE POINTING OUT SOMETHING THAT ALONE MEANS NOTHING.

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A POINT, DO. OR DO YOU WANT ME TO MAKE IT FOR YOU????

YOU`RE WEIRD.

-Success - FIAT-FERRARI-Ferragamo-Prada-Benetton and thousand other, thousand, worldwide

FERRARI, SURE. YACHTS ARE DOING WELL TOO, DIDN`T YOU HEAR? THE RICH IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA ARE BUYING ITALIAN-MADE YACHTS.

I DON´T KNOW HOW WELL BENETTON IS DOING... ANYWAY, FASHION IS ANOTHER NICHE.

BUT IF YOU THINK THE COUNTRY CAN LIVE OFF A FEW FERRARIS OR A FEW YACHTS OR HANDBAGS... YOU´RE CUTE! :D

YOU MUST THINK YOU`RE AN ECONOMIST AFTER READING A COUPLE OF ARTICLES.

THE PROBLEM IS MAKING SENSE OF THE DATA AND INFORMATION YOU READ. I BELIEVE YOU OVERESTIMATE YOUR ABILITY TO INTERPRET THE DATA BY A LONG SHOT.


General Motors..not Italy

Toyota...Japanese


SO??????
WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY? OK, I TRY TO GUESS--SO YOU CAN SLEEP HAPPY... YOU MEAN OTHER COMPANIES ARE HAVING TROUBLE?

WELL, SUUUUURE!

I DON´T RECALL EVER SAYING ITALY WAS THE ONLY COUNTRY HAVING TROUBLE.

INDEED THE WEST IN GENERAL IS GOING TO FACE SERIOUS COMPETITION FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD.

THERE WILL BE VARYING DEGREES OF SUFFERING. ITALY WILL BE AMONG THE COUNTRIES SUFFERING THE MOST. IT IS ACTUALLY GOING TO BECOME A POOR COUNTRY.

THE REASONS ARE COMPLEX AND I HAVE NO DESIRE TO GO INTO DETAILS. I KNOW YOU WON´T BELIEVE THIS PREDICTION--AND THAT´S PERFECTLY FINE WITH ME.

I DON´T CARE TO CONVINCE YOU.


-Illusion of prosperity (and endless power)...such as the **Ownership Society/Sub-Prime global disaster**..of our Dear King George, ..From Italy as well..??

ILLUSION OF PROSPERITY: LIVING ABOVE ONE´S MEANS CAN GIVE AN ILLUSION OF PROSPERITY. BUT IT IS NOT PROSPERITY. YOU MAY ACTUALLY OWN VERY LITTLE OF WHAT YOU HAVE.

THAT`S WHAT ITALY DID.

THE SUBPRIME MESS IS A SEPARATE ISSUE. THIS PROBLEM IS DUE TO SEVERAL MAIN FACTORS: THE HOUSING BUBBLE, THE GREED TO BECOME RICH QUICK, THE REPACKAGING OF LOANS, THE INCOMPETENCE OF WHO BOUGHT THEM AND THE GROSS OVERSIGHT OF THOSE WHO SHOULD HAVE WARNED.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR POINT? AND WHAT DO YOU THINK MINE WAS???

(YOU MAKE WAY TOO MANY ASSUMPTIONS--AND AMAZINGLY NEVER GET ONE RIGHT, NOT EVEN BY CHANCE!)


Honesty goes higher than intellect, espexcially when the intellect ideologically is obscured..


WHATEVER THAT IS SUPPOSED TO MEAN...

I FIND YOUR MESSAGES REALLY WEIRD.

Posted by: QWERTY | May 11, 2008 01:52 AM


You have enough to be sorry about yourself.

:D

Posted by: QWERTY | May 11, 2008 12:28 AM


LIMITING POLITICAL TERMS TO 6 YEARS?

Governments have a term of 5 years. So, it is funny to even choose 6 years!

The implementation of a measure along these linese, regardless of the exact length imposed, would in any case only increase turnover and exacerbate the problem of incompetence.

There is, inevitably, a break-in period. Even people competent on the subject have to get acquainted with the rules and procedures. Therefore, chances are that the most productive period is not the first term in office.

The proposal would achieve the paradoxical result of kicking people out shortly after they start to grasp what is going on!! hahahaha

:D

If these measures are meant to reduce corruption... again: it would not be an effective measure. If one believes that politicians are corrupt, this rule would just increase turnover of corrupt politicians. It would do nothing to ensure they are honest in the first place. And how naive it is to thing that corrupted politicians would not be able to easily skirt this childish restriction!!!

:D

Posted by: JJJ | May 10, 2008 12:45 PM


Ed

All I can reply to you is that your message, as usual, doesn´t make any sense.

I don´t expect you to agree with me on that.

(But I do suspect others will come to this same conclusion. Though, in fear of having to read another of your senseless rambling... they will probably shy away from telling you.)

Posted by: QWERTY | May 10, 2008 01:49 AM


Mandatory disclosure of criminal record and of competences, leaving citizens to vote for individual candidates, rather than for parties, would probably be a better alternative.

If people then decide to vote for criminals, crooks and ignorant morons... then, by democracy, that´s what they should have.

Ensuring that people cannot vote for them even if they want to would undermine the foundations of democracy--and not many seem to be advocating this.

Posted by: JJJ | May 10, 2008 01:09 AM


BARRING CONVICTED PEOPLE FROM POLITICS

A shaky and unreliable judicial system would then become a wonderful tool to bar the opposition from competing.

So, such a measure would be logical in a normal country, but very naive in Italy.

In any case, the main problem with politicians is INCOMPETENCE.

SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS (i.e., benefiting irresponsibly today, leaving problems to future administrations to take care of) and LACK OF FREEDOM TO ACT SWIFTLY (i.e., long bureucratic processes for approval and execution) are other two very serious problems.

These problems are a serious hindrance to competition and affect Western democracies a lot more more than many of the emerging world powers.

Posted by: JJJ | May 10, 2008 12:20 AM


Barring convicted criminals from holding public office is part of the overall solution, but is only a partial solution.

At best, it will root out the KNOWN, PROVEN criminals from Parliament.

What about the much larger numbers of potential criminals, those who are criminally inclined and who line their own pockets but haven't been convicted of anything, and those who aid and abet criminals and ensure that Italian public policy coddles and protects them -- in much the same way that the Vatican has shielded pedophiles and other abusers from public view?

So while I say "bravo" to Beppe's drive to ban criminals from Parliament, I say that this is the lesser of his projects. At best it is only a symbolic gesture which will remove those who have already done their damage to society.

What could benefit Italy more than anything is radical, forward-looking, preventative measures like political term limits, which would permanently circumscribe the powers of the elected class, and make them more accountable to the needs of the populace.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 9, 2008 11:38 PM


Sara Alito

Yes, that´s right, it could not change quickly and in an orderly fashion.

It probably will change overnight--just the way you indicated.

It is not just the political system though. It is the economy, culture, public fiannces... all problems compounded by globalization.

Posted by: Qwerty | May 9, 2008 09:03 PM


With a political system like Italy's that has been in place for so long, change cannot happen overnight (well, it can, but would probably result in bloodshed... not the most desirable thing). I learned a lot about the Italian political system from the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture (http://www.booksonboard.com/index.php?BODY=viewbook&BOOK=28205)... good to read as an intro to Italian politics.

Posted by: Sara Alito | May 9, 2008 08:41 PM


Robert,

You´re right on. Yet, nothing changes.

Paradoxically, when you pointed out the things that didn´t work you got Ed´s defensive response--which is typical Italian!

Point out something that doesn´t work and, instead of recognizing the problem and getting on to fixing it--they tear YOU apart for telling the truth!

Italians could go on with their illusion of prosperity and success for as long as the country was protected from competition and for as long as it could pile on debt freely.

Neither of these conditions is holding up today.

The results are clearly dire. So they accuse the euro, Berlusconi, the Chinese... everything, except the real cause of the disaster that is befalling upon them--namely themselves and their way of thinking!


Posted by: QWERTY | May 9, 2008 07:36 PM


QWERTY - you used the perfect word - Surreal. And it's also all so upside down. If it wasn't so grotesquely corrupt and inward looking, the irrationality of this country would make it a perfect setting for a children's pantomine.

Posted by: Robert Morrison | May 9, 2008 05:12 PM


Robert, I know what you mean!

Life in Italy often has a surreal quality to it. Everything that is logical, normal and reasonable is alien to Italians--inevitably unacceptable! On the contrary, everything crazy and absurd is the norm.

It is all a grotesque show.

I do not think it will last very long.

Posted by: QWERTY | May 9, 2008 05:00 PM


QWERTY

It's work and family that keeps me here at the moment. Certainly not the lifestyle. If I see one more car double or triple parked, rubbish in the street, walk into one more pre-historic hospital with incompetent and arrogant doctors employed because of nepotism, or have one more State or Comune employee say to me "non si puo fare", "non so" or "vai a l'altro sportello" I think I'll scream.

You said: "Rambling on without a point is what Italians have always excelled at."

So true! At times they mean well but a person can become tired of a lot hot air and very little action.

Posted by: Robert Morrison | May 9, 2008 04:31 PM


Robert, thanks for the correction.

Ed attacks just about anyone... for reasons often unclear--maybe even to himself.

Rambling on without a point is what Italians have always excelled at.

Given your opinion of Rome and Italy, it is quite surprising that you chose to live there.

Posted by: QWERTY | May 9, 2008 04:08 PM


What you point out as "difficulties" are only difficulties you have at understanding.

:D

Posted by: QWERTY | May 9, 2008 03:56 PM


QWERTY

It's "strewn" not "strawn". However I agree with with you that it's dificult to follow what ED writes. It's a jumble of sporadic ideas and bad grammar.

ED perhaps you could write one idea at a time paying more attention to the delivery of your thoughts. I'm sure they are worthy of being read.

Posted by: Robert Morrison | May 9, 2008 03:56 PM


Ed:

You just show you cannot tolerate different opinions from yours--whatever your opinions are, since your messages are just jumbled words strawn with insults.

Posted by: QWERTY | May 9, 2008 03:49 PM


Emigration to AUSTRALIA is attractive for those who are escaping from something.

Posted by: Kang Aroo | May 9, 2008 03:44 PM


ED: Booh!!

Now get to work: post some more of your insults so you can prove just how smart you are.

:D

Posted by: Hahahaha | May 9, 2008 03:40 PM


"Italians continually do not realize that they have been living for so long in a dysfunctional sewer that they have become used to the smell of feces."
It's called the cloaca maxima and it has been firmly in place for twenty centuries. You are putting the finger on a troublesome situation. Italians have been under narcosis thanks to the strenuous efforts of the media and politicians of various stripes. Most Italians are now in favour of making their income tax returns available on the Internet, accept as normal the fact that parliamentarians can be in trouble with the judicial system and can one day be in Court to defend the Prime Minister and the next day be in Parliament to write ad personam laws that will exonerate him from his legal troubles. The smell of feces has indeed put the Italians in a permanent coma, Grillo and a handful of others excepted.

Posted by: Mark | May 9, 2008 03:23 PM


GIACOMO C:

You´re right. The replies you received only stand to confirm it.

Posted by: QWERTY | May 9, 2008 03:20 PM


ED

FIRST HE TELLS PEOPLE NOT TO POST INSULTS:

Giacomo C.,
or, James...please keep insults out of this blog, if you please
Posted by: Edededed | May 9, 2008 02:37 PM

THEN PROMPTLY PROCEEDS TO POST INSULTS:

" Poor you for NON CAPIRE NA MAZZA o CAZZO
Posted by: Edededed | May 9, 2008 02:06 PM "

AND IF YOU THINK THIS MAKES LITTLE SENSE--JUST READ HIS MESSAGES!!!!!

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Posted by: hahahahaha | May 9, 2008 03:15 PM


AUSTRALIA

Ask the Aborigines what they think about "civilized Australia".

As if the treatment reserved to them is not an indication of racism!! hahaha!!!!

Posted by: hahahaha | May 9, 2008 03:08 PM


Dear Edededed

My post was only meant to be tongue in cheek.

However seeing as you disliked my use of the word "civilised" I would point out that I live in Rome and I personally do not find where I am a "civilised" place. People do not respect rules and regulation (when there are any), the state, the comune, the schools, the roads, the hospitals, the universities, the police, the judicial system and in fact the PEOPLE do not function or work in a way that I have been used to in Australia.

Italians continually do not realise that they have been living for so long in a dysfunctional sewer that they have become used to the smell of feces.

Having the Forum Romano or for that matter L'arena di Verona does not make a society civilised. It's the level at which society functions in health, education, justice, commerce, and welfare for its citizens that determines whether it is civilised. And for this I give Italy a big fat zero.

Posted by: Robert Morrison | May 9, 2008 02:52 PM


Many Italians are now dreaming of emigrating to other places in order to leave the chaos of Italy. They dream of emigrating to civilised countries like Australia. However, Australia has made it difficult to obtain a visa. One of the pre-conditions of a visa is that you MUST NOT have had any association or affiliation with racist, paramilitary or terrorist groups. This means that the 12% of Italians who voted for the Lega Nord are ineligible for a visa to emigrate to Australia. Perhaps Italy should put the same conditions for anyone from Northern Italy wishing to travel south of the Po River?

Posted by: Robert Morrison | May 9, 2008 02:00 PM


It´s very entertaining to read this blog. How many Pollyannas are out there!! Believing that Italy could still recover is either a display of outlandish optimism or an indication that the entity and depth of the problems is grossly underestimated.

Italy is like the Titanic just after it hit the iceberg. The ship is still floating, but it is bound to sink. So is Italy. Believing that throwing buckets of water out would help is just hilarious--like the proposals here.

Posted by: JKL | May 9, 2008 01:09 PM


"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?

Expediency asks the question - is it politic?

Vanity asks the question - is it popular?

But conscience asks the question - is it right?

And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it BECAUSE it is right."
(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

Thank you Beppe and Marco...
Thank you ALL

Posted by: true vxn | May 9, 2008 12:23 AM


"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe?

Expediency asks the question - is it politic?

Vanity asks the question - is it popular?

But conscience asks the question - is it right?

And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it BECAUSE it is right."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by: vxn | May 9, 2008 12:18 AM


This is a country rooted in provincialism, dishonesty and incompetence.

Since our childhoods, we are bred insecure and incapable of thinking independently. We grow up lulling ourselves in false beliefs, such as the idea that anything has survived of our glorious past and that we are still recognized internationally as a world capital of modern civilization. We are not. We are simply an archeological site.

Our talented young ones are forced to migrate abroad to get recognition based on their skills, hard work and dedication. Here their only chance is to affiliate themselves to any one of the leading political bandwagons, and try to get ahead through loyalty, not merit.

Our politicians are not embarrassed to manipulate recruitments of professionals into hospitals, universities, public administrations in total disregard of their professional credentials. Any place else in the civilized world a similar conduct would leave them covered with disrepute. Here we do not make anything of it: it is the rule.

This country sucks. This country has lost any moral strength or integrity, and can no longer resurrect on its own.

italy, a failed and treacherous attempt to build a nation joisted from above by English masons and their piedmontese minions, should split back into its ethnic and cultural constituents, and start fresh under strict, ruthless and unforgiving supervision by the European institutions.

Posted by: Giacomo C. | May 8, 2008 09:08 PM


I was not aware that Beppe mounted a term limits campaign in Italy already, until I researched it and sure enough, he has!

Bravo, Beppe! This is one of the key pieces in a structural reform plan... now, what has come of this campaign?

I understand that the Italian political class put up much the same arguments that this idea met from the entrenched political class in the USA -- that is, it would cut short the careers of bright, well-meaning, talented politicians.

And Beppe's retort was that he hadn't met any.

Which is a good retort. And I'm sure this was discussed ad nauseam in the Italian media, leading to the same "paralysis of analysis" that usually takes place in those quarters.

But what is the status of the national movement, the petition drive?

Are they asking new candidates to take a "pro term limits pledge"?

Do they have a website?

Have they raised money for TV ads, the way the famous American "527" political organization, MoveOn.org, has done, mounting campaign after campaign first to stop the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, then later against the Bush Administration, to end the war in Iraq...?

At what point do Italian pundits, intellectuals, thinkers and reformers stop talking about these issues, debating them in the media, cracking jokes, etc., and actually take concrete steps to advance them with the public?

I mean starting organizations to raise funds, buying broadcast outlets and newspapers to counter the controlled political media, etc.

Otherwise this whole "reform" project is a massive debating society which comes to naught.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 8, 2008 08:52 PM


I was not aware that Beppe mounted a term limits campaign in Italy already, until I researched it and sure enough, he has!

Bravo, Beppe! This is one of the key pieces in a structural reform plan... now, what has come of this campaign?

I understand that the Italian political class put up much the same arguments that this idea met from the entrenched political class in the USA -- that is, it would cut short the careers of bright, well-meaning, talented politicians.

And Beppe's retort was that he hadn't met any.

Which is a good retort. And I'm sure this was discussed ad nauseam in the Italian media, leading to the same "paralysis of analysis" that usually takes place in those quarters.

But what is the status of the national movement, the petition drive?

Are they asking new candidates to take a "pro term limits pledge"?

Do they have a website?

Have they raised money for TV ads, the way the famous American "527" political organization, MoveOn.org, has done, mounting campaign after campaign first to stop the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, then later against the Bush Administration, to end the war in Iraq...?

At what point do Italian pundits, intellectuals, thinkers and reformers stop talking about these issues, debating them in the media, cracking jokes, etc., and actually take concrete steps to advance them with the public?

I mean starting organizations to raise funds, buying broadcast outlets and newspapers to counter the controlled political media, etc.

Otherwise this whole "reform" project is a massive debating society which comes to naught.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 8, 2008 08:51 PM


Joe,

I fully agree with what you say. The measures that you point out should without doubt be urgently taken.

In fact, in any normal country, people would have pushed for reform long before. Italians didn´t and, from my understanding of the country and its culture, I see very little chance of change coming in an orderly fashion.

Few Italians realize that the prosperity they have enjoyed was illusory. It was based on an unsustainable system of public spending and public debt. The perception is that that system worked and allowed them wealth. The still think so and demand more of the same distorted incentives and rewards which they have grown accustomed to. This system that yielded the appearance of wealth is set to bring about the stark reality of poverty.

Some of the key practical problems also require decades to be fixed (just an example: a nuclear power station requires about 15 years from planning to operation in a normal country). Italy does not have that long. Italy is an economic black hole. The markets will stop lending Italy money much sooner than that. (And even 15 years would not be enough.)

So, I am very pessimistic about Italy´s future. Sadly, in my view, Italians have actively endeavored to bring such misery upon themselves--and will (as much perversely as unconsciously) continue to do so until the country will plunge into social and economic disarray.

After all, in my opinion, if Italians were able to see and act along the lines you suggest... they would never have gotten to this point in the first place.

---

As you mentioned DC and politics, I thought we might have gone to the same unviersity--there is a good school of foreign service there. In that case, you would have definitely known The Tombs.

I bet the question must have been a bit startling at first... haha

Posted by: B777 | May 8, 2008 11:40 AM


I can't comment directly on Scalfari. However I would say that the way Beppe describes him is pretty normal for many Italians that seek power and influence.

The 'giri di Walzer' are not uncommon. Many of those who benefitted from the Fascist regime became 'partisans' overnight.

People who have or desire power in Italy can change overnight. One recent example being Clemente Mastella.

Posted by: Guido Tresoldi | May 8, 2008 06:54 AM


Ron Paul's movement, like a snowball it's getting bigger and bigger...

One Million Votes, and #1 on the NY Times Best Seller List Revolution a Manifesto
Posted May 8th, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul eclipsed an important milestone in yesterday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. By winning over 71,000 votes, Dr. Paul has earned the backing of over one million supporters across America.

“By voting and caucusing for Dr. Paul, one million Republicans have sent a powerful message to our leaders that they want the GOP to return to its traditions of limited government, personal liberty and a strong national defense,” said campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. “Dr. Paul and the grassroots movement he has inspired are building a bright future for the Republican Party and the United states of America.”

Posted by: Gualtiero Cocco | May 8, 2008 05:13 AM


Ron Paul's movement, like a snowball it's getting bigger and bigger...

One Million Votes, and #1 on the NY Times Best Seller List Revolution a Manifesto
Posted May 8th, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul eclipsed an important milestone in yesterday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. By winning over 71,000 votes, Dr. Paul has earned the backing of over one million supporters across America.

“By voting and caucusing for Dr. Paul, one million Republicans have sent a powerful message to our leaders that they want the GOP to return to its traditions of limited government, personal liberty and a strong national defense,” said campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. “Dr. Paul and the grassroots movement he has inspired are building a bright future for the Republican Party and the United states of America.”

Posted by: Gualtiero Cocco | May 8, 2008 05:07 AM


Pietro, we have the exact same situation in the USA with businesses exploiting poor, immigrant Mexican workers. No different, only on a much grander scale.

There are entire, huge cities in the USA, for example Santa Ana in Orange County, California, which are populated almost entirely of Mexicans, probably mostly illegal, and mostly being exploited by employers in some way.

I'm always amazed at the debate in Europe over immigrants.

You ain't seen poor immigrants in any substantial numbers until you've been to the USA.

Regarding reform and the lack of desire for it, we can either blame the Italian citizenry -- the people at the bottom -- or the Italian political class, i.e., those at the top.

Deciding whom to blame determines what actions we take.

I'd rather blame the political class 100% of the time, because those are the people who pull the strings.

If we blame the citizens, we have essentially said that the Italian situation is truly hopeless, because with a citizenry so flagrantly apathetic and opposed to reform and progress, nothing can really ever be done.

The true blame lies with the phony-baloney politicians riding at the top of the system and benefiting from it.

The only way to change the system is to unseat them. The only way of being certain of unseating them is to change the law so that their terms are legally curtailed, and they are prosecuted and jailed if they remain at their desks for one day more than legally authorized to do so, by the will of the people.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 8, 2008 02:42 AM


Ah, I realize you mean The Tombs in Washington, DC. No, I've never been there. My main hangouts were on Capitol Hill, i.e., Irish Times and Tunnicliff's, for example. Also, the Hawk & Dove and Bullfeathers.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 8, 2008 02:30 AM


Italians don't want reform. Not of the positive kind anyway. They are victims of their own disastrous history and don't look outside their own borders to see how a civilised country functions.
Up here in the Veneto there is a nostalgia for Fascism! The criminals in the north want to create a diversion from their own activities so they frighten the backward people in the north with all sorts of racist propaganda designed to turn them even more against the immigrant population (the non-white immigrant population on whom the economy is depending more and more).
It's interesting how those who shout the most vociferously against the immigrants are those who exploit them the most - the dishonest, disrespectful factory owners of the north. Low pay, on the black, no insurance... just so they, the imprenditori, can make a load of money and pay no taxes. And those same non-tax payers criticise ordinary people in the south, who can't even get legal work because of the mafia and other criminal organisations.
There is a huge elephant sitting in the centre Itay's small living room, and all the Italians are looking the other way, pretending it's not there.

Posted by: Pietro V | May 8, 2008 02:01 AM


Beppe,

I only mentioned Bologna and Milano... The Tombs? I don't really know what or where they are.

Vis-a-vis your proposals for infrastructure improvements, power plants, increased competitiveness, etc., these are very necessary.

But they are policy decisions.

The reason Italy is in stagnation is that these policy decisions haven't been implemented.

But the root cause of this is that the political system is responsible for this.

I am proposing to temporarily bypass all those policy decisions, or put them on the shelf, and implement the necessary POLITICAL REFORMS without which none of those policy decisions will realistically be made.

And, furthermore, to treat fundamental political reform as an EMERGENCY priority.

This is something very alien to the Italian psyche, but it must be done.

That's right, start with fundamental political reforms, and treat this as the highest of high priorities... in other words, treat it as an emergency, just as Hurricane Katrina was an emergency.

Problem is, in Italy, every time something truly radical, or truly helpful, is proposed, up comes the chorus of "uomini importanti" with a thousand reasons why it CAN'T be done.

For example, these eminence grises and self-important personages of politics and journalism will probably tell us that there is no provision in the Italian constitution for a binding, popular referendum, such as the one I proposed for term limits for Italian politicians.

Then what about creating a spontaneous popular movement, driven by the youth perhaps, that simply DEMANDS that a national referendum be organized, extra-constitutional though it may be.

I see much of the deep flaws of the Italian system as remnants of the post-war era, where the powers-that-be who organized NATO (most of them from the Anglo-American axis), wanted to create a weak executive authority in Italy, with a slow-moving bureaucratic state, that could be easily controlled and manipulated by Washington.

This was done to prevent another rise of fascism, but also to prevent the rise of communism. This is probably common knowledge among many free-thinking Italian intellectuals such as yourself.

NATO itself is an animal created by and for Washington.

And the weakness and paralysis of the Italian state is something that was largely condoned and planned by Washington.

Now Italy needs to get a grip on its own fate and reject the strictures of the version of the Italian state that was created in 1947, i.e. the so-called "First Republic". (The "Second Republic" wasn't really a change, because the political structures remained in place -- only the names of the principal political parties changed. That wasn't real change, of course.)

I'm talking about the following changes:

- FEDERALISM - a devolution of central power to strong regional governments

- STRUCTURAL CONTROLS on politicians, like term limits and separation of media from politics, embedded forever in the law

France has massive problems, too. Last I can recall, it was France, not Italy, which had nationwide violence, arson, and looting by a huge disaffected Muslim population. That is a true long-term crisis simmering.

Yet France still functions much better on a day-to-day basis than Italy. Its people are far more productive, per capita. Important decisions can be made quickly and also usually can be implemented more quickly than in Italy (although the French, too, take a long time to debate things.) France has a broad-based, pervasive nuclear power program. The fearful, conservative Italians rejected nuclear power, and now we see that nuclear power may be our only way out to prevent global warming and power our society while oil becomes more precious.

Italy has reached crisis point, no doubt. And yes, there is truth to what you say -- there's no time left.

That's why the only answer, apart from just giving up, is to create a national movement not just to get people to change their attitudes, but to support fundamental, massive structural reforms in the political arena.

Change the laws, not incrementally, but fundamentally, and the society will be forced to follow grudgingly.

Italy will suddenly find itself in the 21st century, with a government worthy of the historic talents of its people.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 8, 2008 02:00 AM


Joe,

My assessment of the situation is simply this: there is no time left to fix Italy´s problems.

All the things you mention would be good and helpful--from legal reforms to cultural changes.

As you pointed out, many more things should happen--for example, improving infrastructure, building power plants, developing competitive industrial sectors and efficient capital markets... reducing the public sector and the bureacracy, eliminating privileges...

The problem is that all these improvements require:
- A long time;
- A lot of money;
- Stern commtiment to take all the necessary and painful steps.

None of these requirements are fulfillable.

With a huge and increasing public debt, constant deficits and an uncompetitive economy: there is no money.

Pressing competition from developing countries (which compete directly with Italy, but with huge advantages over Italy) also means that there is no time.

Italians cannot even agree on where to put Naples´ trash or whether and how to save Venice. Imagine them agreeing on such a radical and complex transformation of the country, eliminating their own privileges and doing that as quickly as possible! No, not even this requirement is fulfillable.

Food, energy and raw materials prices are putting increasing pressure on Italy´s economy and families´ finances. Add the misery from increasing mortgage payments and decreasing real estate values, a slowing world economy...

It is not hard to see why there is no money and no time left.

To avoid an external shock (such as one caused by inability for Italy to raise capital on the market), the country would need to drastically cut public expenditures and/or raise taxes. Given the weight of the public sector and the level of taxation, either would cause additional misery. And only so much misery will be tolerated: social unrest would likely ensue.

So, I predict either a sudden collapse of the economy, with a default and a return to the lira, or a great deal of misery. In the end, the two end up in the same place, as one causes the other.

This is why I believe Italy is doomed.

PS
I have also lived in the areas you mentioned.
Do you know The Tombs, by any chance?

Posted by: B777 | May 8, 2008 12:56 AM


BG, I agree that this option would be only the BEGINNING of reform for Italy.

But to simply say that Italy is doomed because of its ingrained culture, and that absolutely nothing in the way of legal reforms can change this, is equivalent to political nihilism. It is fatalism.

Think of all the ways public laws regulate not just what we do, but our subconsciously ingrained attitudes about how to move through the world.

For instance, I notice that Milano has streets.

Even anarchic, law-flouting Italians, with their ingrained attitudes of chaos and me-firstism, repsect the fact that they must drive on the streets, and not in the sidewalks, and they respect the flow of traffic and the directionality of the streets, and the barriers between pedestrian walkways and auto traffic lanes.

At least, most Italians seem to respect this.

This is an example of a deeply-embedded set of social rules that we normally don't even think about on a conscious level, but which reliably regulates our behavior nonetheless.

Term limits for politicians would only be a first, primordial stab at effecting ground-up reform in Italy's messed-up system.

But it may be the "sine qua non", the necessary gateway, through which all future efforts at reform must pass, in order to have a true and lasting effect on the national psyche.

It would be a mentality-changing event.

Get rid of all the self-appointed "important people" in the political sphere. Make them live as human beings who happen to be elected, live out their (short) terms in office, and then become relegated back to the public, along with the peons (you and me).

I refuse to be a political nihilist or a fatalist.

By the way, the reason Italy and its politics are so f*cked up, also has to do with Italian demographics. Its very low birth-rate.

This has resulted in a massive EXACERBATION of the already well-known faults of the Italian political system, and its ingrained sclerotic and bureaucratic mentality.

What it has done is systemically reduced the amount of "new blood" that can be infused into Italy's political system.

No Barack Obamas (46 years old) in Italy running for Prime Minister.

Italy's "reformer", Signor Veltroni, is a 50-something guy who looks even older, who's only a very mild reformer, too respectful of and deferential to the powers-that-be.

He may represent some of the more positive trends on the Italian political scene now, but he is very weak, bland, insipid medicine which obviously wouldn't cure anything.

Italy requires strong, industrial strength medicine... a true shaking up of all the "uomini di rispetto". This is the true malady of Italy's system... a bunch of old men wanting respect and propping each other up by perpetuating a phony-baloney political order that benefits only them and their political careers.

Term limits is THE wedge-issue which will let the true reformers get their toes into the crack in the facade of this phony system, and let them sneak in to pull it down from the inside.

Won't affect things immediately, but what other truly populist, nuclear-powered reform option is there for Italy?

I think there's no other option.

Posted by: Joe T. | May 7, 2008 11:08 PM


Joe, your proposal makes sense and would be helpful in a normal country.

Fot Italy this would do absolutely nothing.

Not even normal things work in Italy. Laws and regulations are passed and then applied at will. It would be a joke to bypass a rule like this.

Even if enforced, it would just ensure a greater turnover of people of the same kind.

And then again, the politicians reflect society.

So, in the end, Italians are not victims of a few politicans. They are victims of their own culture and of their own way of thinking. This is really what led to the current situation.

Now, cultural problems are exacerbated by rising competition, a huge debt level, inadequacy of all institutions, lack of competences in sectors where the country could sustainably compete, widespread crime... so on. Changing the culture would require generations. The other problems exclude both the opportunity of changing the culture and also the possibility of waiting this long.

Something traumatic is going to happen. The opportunity for smooth reform is long past.

Posted by: B777 | May 7, 2008 10:34 PM


Ciao, Beppe.

I am an Italian-born (Bologna) Italian-American (both parents Italian, but I grew up in the USA).

For a long time, I worked in politics on Capitol Hill in Washington... in the US House of Representatives, the Senate, and for the Democratic National Committee.

Have been traveling to Italy a lot lately. Have been watching your movement build...

It is my considered opinion that there is one "movement" that could really change things in Italy. It is a solution which particularly and specifically addresses the uniquely Italian version of political sclerosis.

This solution has been advanced before in the US at the federal level, but never passed at that level. Nonetheless, many individual states in the US have passed it, in varying forms.

This solution is TERM LIMITS for politicians!

What if every member of the Italian parliament had his or her term (or accumulation of terms), limited by the law or by the constitution, to, say, 6 years?

That's right... no politician in office for more than SIX YEARS.

And it would also apply retroactively, so that as soon as the law is passed, every Italian politician who has held a certain office for 6 years or more would be automatically "termed out", and would have to leave office.

This is the final, NUCLEAR SOLUTION to the endless Italian political crisis.

THIS, my friend, is the LITMUS TEST upon which a commitment to true political change and invigoration of the Italian State, MUST be determined.

LISTEN UP, ALL ITALIANS: You are either for this, or against this. You are either for reform, or against reform. You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem!

You are either for a referendum on a SIX YEAR TERM LIMIT FOR ITALIAN POLITICIANS, or you should be kicked out into the gutter on your naked bum!

Posted by: Joe T. | May 7, 2008 10:17 PM


"Italians always rush to support the winners."

Sometimes, it is hard to figure out who exactly is going to win. This makes for quite uncomfortable situations and results in embarassing about-faces.

But over the centuries Italians have evolved... they are now able to perform such about-faces with the utmost non-chalance!

The wonders of progrss!

Posted by: lIlIlIllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll | May 7, 2008 09:40 PM


They are afraid now! They are very afraid! For the first time their dirty laundry has been washed in public and they DONT LIKE IT! Let your beard grow old man, you should hide once more, not from your fascist past this time, but from your conscience.

Posted by: Mark | May 7, 2008 08:28 PM


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