Berlusconi’s Allies

John Foot

On Sunday 13 February, more than a million Italians, most of them women, took to the streets to demand that Silvio Berlusconi resign. Their slogan was taken from Primo Levi: ‘If not now, when?’ Their theme song was Patti Smith’s ‘People Have the Power’. The demonstrations (which took place in 231 Italian cities, as well as in Tokyo, New York, London, Paris and Brussels) were organised, without official political backing, by a variety of groups including Il Popolo Viola (‘The Purple People’), a web-based youth network, established in December 2009 to campaign against Berlusconi and the political ‘caste’ governing Italy. Berlusconi’s resignation was not forthcoming. Instead, he looks set to be possibly the first prime minister of a democratic country to stand trial while still in office, charged with abuse of power and the ‘exploitation of underage prostitution’.[*]

Berlusconi is still in a surprisingly strong position, domestically. Since 1994 he has constructed a political class totally dedicated to him, through unfettered use of his political, financial and media power. His supporters are everywhere. One of his cronies is now director general of the state broadcaster. Under the current electoral system, voters can’t choose between individual candidates, only between huge party lists. This has increased the patronage of party leaders, and greatly diminished any possibility of dissent. Anyone who does oppose Berlusconi soon finds their private life being dragged through the mud by his newspapers and TV channels.

His internal hegemony was threatened recently by a split with his long-term ally, Gianfranco Fini, who left the coalition in July 2010, taking a number of deputies with him (possibly with American encouragement: the US is losing patience with Berlusconi, as recent WikiLeaks revelations have shown, seeing him as a useful idiot who has done their bidding over Iraq and Afghanistan but is not to be trusted). In December, Berlusconi narrowly survived a confidence vote in Parliament. Since then he has been busy buying back his majority.

Meanwhile, his followers insist that the investigation is a political conspiracy of left-wing judges, and that democracy is being subverted by unelected magistrates. This may sound far-fetched, but plenty of people in Italy believe it. The country has a weak state whose institutions have rarely been seen as legitimate by its citizens, many of whom believe that judges act politically (and, it has to be said, they’re not entirely wrong). Yet the evidence against him in the Ruby case seems overwhelming, and he faces a number of other more serious criminal trials in the coming months. His numerous attempts to pass laws giving himself immunity have all come unstuck thanks to the Italian constitution, although he has managed to delay many trials long enough for them to fall under the statute of limitations, allowing him to claim that he has never been found guilty of any crime.

Berlusconi’s greatest ally of all, however, is the Italian left. Divided, bereft of ideas, weak and spineless, it has shown itself incapable of creating a coherent alternative to Berlusconi’s rule. Split by grotesque internal divisions, endlessly renaming and rebranding itself, it has been nothing but help to Berlusconi, not least by failing to pass an anti-trust law when it was in power between 1996 and 2001. The Italian Communist Party used to be one of the greatest mass parties in the western world. Its huge network of party sections, newspapers, cultural organisations and associations was dismantled in the 1990s in the name of ‘modernity’. Nothing was put in its place. If Berlusconi wins again, and such a thing is entirely possible, then the centre-left leadership have no one to blame but themselves.

But we should all be worried. In the last scene of Nanni Moretti’s extraordinary and increasingly prophetic 2006 film about Berlusconi, Il caimano (‘The Cayman’), Berlusconi, played by Moretti, is condemned by a magistrate based on his current accuser, Ilda Boccassini. As he is driven away from the court, grim-faced, the camera peers out of the back window of his limo. In front of the court-house, Berlusconi’s supporters are throwing petrol bombs at the judges.

[*] Anyone interested in a detailed account of the case against Berlusconi should email


  • 26 February 2011 at 6:28pm
    Phil Edwards says:
    Its huge network of party sections, newspapers, cultural organisations and associations was dismantled in the 1990s in the name of ‘modernity’.

    True, but I think the rot had set in a long time before that. So often the Italian Left's approach to Berlusconi is couched in a kind of comfortable politichese, addressing him as a worldly and cynical but ultimately public-spirited statesman, who can be swayed by appeals to constitutional principle or shamed by reminders of his unbecoming conduct. Of course, this gets the Cavaliere wrong in every respect, including his unremitting (and openly confessed) hostility to the Left and all its works. But what's really ironic is that the experience which taught the Left that approach - the rapprochement between the Communists and the Christian Democrats, at least some of whom did fit that template - was an almost unallayed disaster for the Left. Enrico Berlinguer's 'modern', 'realistic' approach (in fact deeply ideological) seems to have gone into the record as a success for the Left, when it was anything but - and, as a result, set the Left on course for a series of disasters. (A reference to my book seems appropriate here.)

  • 27 February 2011 at 4:14pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    This gets very tedious. Italy as a concept, seems to exist only in the minds of Europeans who are locked into a 19th century configuration of Italy as an ancient shrine of European culture. Cavour, Garibaldi, the march of a thousand and so on as an undertow to ideas of national unity. Few Italians seem to have any desire to live in a country in which corruption and incompetence have been excluded frm government. They take things as they are and shrug their shoulders whenever you ask them why the hell they put up with it/him. The country has in reality never been a unified state, and this has not been confined to the eternal north versus south conflicts. The results for the Italians have been decades of disruption, unemployment has never been dealt with, corrupt governments for the past sixty years, the middle class viewing Mussolini has a folk hero and the never-ending struggle with the illegal gangs that more or less run Italy south of Rome. Italy, a failed state?

  • 28 February 2011 at 11:35am
    Joe Morison says:
    What is it about Italy that allows a man like Berlusconi to stay in power when in most other Western countries he long ago would have been booted out? Is it the left's approach to him, as Phil suggests; or the lack of a desire for something better, as Geoff posits; or both or something else? It's just seems utterly bizarre.

    • 28 February 2011 at 6:56pm
      Yes, yes, my point exactly. Thanks for the links,which show that the agonising over Italy's decline(?) has been running for at least ten years. The key question is, is there any chance that Italy could develop into a democratic state, (relatively) free of corruption?

    • 28 February 2011 at 9:58pm
      Phil Edwards says: @ Geoff Roberts
      I don't think 'decline' is the operative word. People have been agonising about Italy's failure to make a transition to democratic normality since approximately 1993, when the old (Christian Democrat) order fell. Some people say that the 'transition' is a myth - it's been going on for rather a long time, after all - and that what's in place now is a new form of political normality. The way I see it (as I've argued in a forthcoming number of the Bulletin of Italian Politics) what we're looking at now is the continuing story of Italy's failure to achieve democratic normality in the first place: the transition hasn't been going on since 1993 but since 1948.

      I think a turn towards normality - or at least legality - is possible, even probable; Berlusconi and his allies (the Northern League and a handful of ex-Christian Democrats and ex-neo-Fascists) are looking increasingly isolated. But it'll be a long road back. What now passes for the political centre is made up mainly of former allies of Berlusconi, either ex-Christian Democrat or ex-neo-Fascist, all of whom are staunchly opposed to any investigation of political corruption.

    • 1 March 2011 at 4:39pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Phil Edwards
      "Berlusconi and his allies (the Northern League and a handful of ex-Christian Democrats and ex-neo-Fascists) are looking increasingly isolated." I wish I shared your optimism. The thrust of Perry Anderson's analyses is that the weaknesses of the Italian political structure are endemic, and as I wrote above, have been in place since the old structures were cobbled together under the aegis of Piedmont in 1860. I'm not so sure about 'Italy’s failure to achieve democratic normality' as a thesis on political growth. It's not 'Italy's failure' as I see it, it has been the success of the elites in playing off the popular movements, sometimes with outside help. We mustn't forget the influence of the Catholic church either, but it was the work of the US special services that put an end to any hope of a democratic socialist state in the nineteen forties.

    • 2 March 2011 at 12:01am
      Phil Edwards says: @ Geoff Roberts
      It's not optimism so much as arithmetic. Berlusconi used to lead an alliance of (most of the) ex-Christian Democrats and (almost all the) ex-neo-Fascists, plus the Northern League and his own party; now he's stitched together a bare parliamentary majority out of his own following, the Northern League and a few individual MPs, some of them quite openly bought and paid for. And he's facing some quite unsavoury criminal charges. I think it really is When rather than If, this time.

      Italy is - still - divided on Cold War lines, just as it was in 1948; the role of the US in creating and entrenching that division is undeniable. But they built using Italian materials (dating back to Unification, as you say). In this respect I think it does make sense to talk about 'failure' (of the system as a whole) rather than the victory of one group over others, if only because class conflict doesn't usually result in a system that's so dysfunctional for the ruling class itself. A competent, law-governed Italy would work better - quite possibly at the expense of the working class.

      Returning to your original comment, I don't think it's fair to say that "few Italians ... have any desire to live in a country in which corruption and incompetence have been excluded form government"; on the contrary, I think many do. What I think is quite distinctive about Italy, is that many Italians are positively committed to not having a clean and competent government. Berlusconi (following Bossi) has made a solid political base out of menefreghismo, selfish cynicism and distrust of politicians. It's quite an achievement.

    • 2 March 2011 at 11:59am
      Joe Morison says: @ Geoff Roberts
      This is all fascinating, especially for someone who doesn't know much about Italian politics (thanks for the links, Thomas). But if Berlusconi is on the way out, will the Italians get anything significantly better? What worries me is that his model, the merging of politics and show business, might become the norm for all of us: it has a terrible logic to it that seems to fit the modern world. Simon Cowell in Number 10, one day?

    • 2 March 2011 at 3:11pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Phil Edwards
      "few Italians seem . . ." but I take your point - they demonstrate, protest but it all has very little effect on the nomeclatura.

  • 2 March 2011 at 2:55pm
    Userdafi says:
    ' Divided, bereft of ideas, weak and spineless, it has shown itself incapable of creating a coherent alternative'
    Right description, wrong country.
    This is an excellent description of the (seemingly) never-ending crisis in the embattled 'Parti socialiste français'(PS).
    The Italian left is neither divided nor spineless. I know that this is how most observers tend to see it but they are wrong.

    The Italian left since 1994 has been dominated by the same post-communist Nomenklatura. 'La crisi della sinistra' is a direct result of a series of decisions made by this leadership.
    The left made a determination early on in the 'era berlusconiana' to work with Berlusconi. Rather than opposing him they decided to work with him ('la bicamerale') to create a new political order ('la seconda repubblica')...and they didn't stop there either - They also dropped communism embracing neoliberalism with unbridled enthusiasm;
    dismantled, as has been already said, the 'huge network of party sections, newspapers, cultural organisations and associations'.... 'in the name of ‘modernity’ ;
    and tried to ally themselves with the Catholic Church (The Italian left has constantly sought an alliance with the catholics dropping their whole social agenda in the process. La laicità, la difesa della scuola, Abortion rights, Women's rights, Gay rights (etc...) have all been abandoned in favor of traditional family 'values').

    Come disse Nanni Moretti: “Con questi dirigenti non vinceremo mai”.

    Saluti da firenze.

    @phil: 'I think a turn towards normality – or at least legality – is possible, even probable'. I coulnd't disagree more. Democracy has never really taken hold in this country.
    It seemes to me that what my fellow Italians are really longing for is a 'duce'. They are craving for a 'Rais' to protect and reassure them in these troubled times. They want a macho, catholic, possibly bold, strongman to take charge of the country.

  • 2 March 2011 at 3:19pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    We seem to have an agreement on the basic problem facing the Italians. I would still like to hear what you think about ways out of this situation. Fini as prime minister? No thank you. Tremonti? I don't know how he stands with the Liga Nord but he may be the only one - maybe like Major after Thatcher? (Or Cameron after Brown?) Strange, in times when the people of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia have taken to the streets and driving dictators out of power that there are no signs of capitulation. I can't think of a situation in history in which a 'government' elected by a 'democratic vote' (sic) has been so ineffective and stays on power whatever happens.

  • 2 March 2011 at 5:40pm
    Joe Morison says:
    There may be 'no signs of capitulation'; but the way the world is at the moment, the unexpected seems less unlikely. In John Lanchester's most recent post, he linked to ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’. All apply to Italy as far as i can see, and it would be great if young Italians became inspired by what's happening across the water from them, but i'm just speaking the optimism of these extraordinary times.

  • 3 March 2011 at 12:48am
    Phil Edwards says:
    Tremonti has very good relations with the Lega. If there is a Berlusconism without Berlusconi, he's the guy to make it happen. I don't think he could bring it off, though. Berlusconi has a very personal, charismatic appeal: if you were going to keep that show on the road you'd have to find another multi-millionaire lounge singer.

    As for Fini, at the risk of incurring the wrath of Wu Ming, I'd take Fini as Prime Minister tomorrow. To put it another way, I'd oppose Fini as Prime Minister - he'd be a dreadful, reactionary leader, about as right-wing in public as Margaret Thatcher was in private - but the current leadership is much worse than reactionary. Fini isn't as racist as Bossi, or as pro-Fascist as Berlusconi (he's clashed publicly with them about those issues); most importantly, he doesn't share their contempt for law and democracy. Being ruled by the local equivalent of Teddy Taylor would come as a blessed relief to the Italian Left; the opposition to a Fini government would come mostly from the Right.

    Userdafi - the idiocy of trying to work with Berlusconi over the bicamerale was surprising at the time, but it was very consistent with the past record of the PCI (and successors), right back to the 1970s. The left has had leaders like questi dirigenti since Berlinguer (who was a kind of cross between Veltroni and D'Alema, when you think about it). E non ha vinto mai...

  • 3 March 2011 at 4:06pm
    Userdafi says:
    I have to say that I find this whole debate about the 'succession' rather puzzling, if not downright  bizarre.
    I don't see him going anywhere anytime soon. As John foot pointed out in his post 'Berlusconi is still in a surprisingly strong position, domestically. Since 1994 he has constructed a political class totally dedicated to him, through unfettered use of his political, financial and media power. His supporters are everywhere'.

     At this stage, the most likely scenario is still for him to stay in power for as long as he can. He'll do everything to avoid standing trial in Milan (he's already trying to push through Parliament a new law giving himself immunity) and he'll probably succeed, too.
     He could then call an election from a position of strength - and win it.

    However, lets for the sake of argument say that he is forced to resign and is replaced by one of his cronies [Letta; Tremonti....his Daughter (!) whay not a nepotistic succession à la Le Pen (Assad/Kim/Bongo/Aliyev etc...) ? After all, some things are best kept  'in famiglia', right?].
    Ok he resigned. So what? Why should i care? The 'regime' would still be in power - albeit 'sotto mentite spoglie' .

    'Regime change' would be the best way out of the current social and political  quagmire. After all, we will never have fair elections in this country unless the propaganda apparatus is weakened and eventually dismantled. é possibile? succederà? Is 'regime change' probable or even possible? No, it isn't.

    Truth is, a majority of Italians still support the current political system.

    Così è (se vi pare).

    @Thomas Jones: Yes I agree. it doesn't bode at all well for the future. It's a rather pathetic situation, isn't it ?

    @Phil: Again, I disagree. Mi spiace ma non si può comparare il 'compromesso storico' con la ' Bicamerale' and please lets not compare a 'galantuomo' like Berlinguer to those ..........personnages. Grazie.

    I, for one, have a burning 'desire to live in a country in which corruption and incompetence have been excluded from government'.

  • 4 March 2011 at 9:14am
    Phil Edwards says:
    On reflection, comparing Berlinguer to the current generation of operators and clowns was excessive. It does seem to me, though, that successive generations of leaders of the Left have based their approach to the Right on that of Berlinguer (rather than Togliatti, let alone Gramsci), despite the fact that Berlinguer's compromesso was a disastrous failure for the Left. When you add the fact that the contemporary Right (in the person of Signor B) is just as good a political operator as those Berlinguer faced, but far less scrupulous and much more hostile to the Left, you can see just how staggeringly poor the Left's strategy is.

  • 4 March 2011 at 4:29pm
    Geoff Roberts says:
    My question on 28 Feb:- The key question is, is there any chance that Italy could develop into a democratic state, (relatively) free of corruption?
    Any hope?

  • 7 March 2011 at 12:34pm
    Userdafi says:
    What on earth did poor, innocent Berlinguer ever do to you? lol

    No. I'm sorry, but I fundamentally disagree with your assessment of Berlinguer's leadership of the PCI.
    I agree with you when you say that the 'compromesso storico' failed. It failed because Moro was callously kidnapped, held hostage for 55 days and then brutally butchered on the back of a Red Renault 4.
    It's not just for the left that that failure proved disastrous. The  whole country ended up paying a very high price for that fiasco.

    You seem to see Berlinguer as modernizer and the Compromesso as a turning point in the history of the PCI. A shift from a policy of Confrontation towards the 'right' to a policy of rapprochement.
    All this is true, but by no means exhaustive. What about the 'Amnistia Togliatti'? What about Togliatti's decision to allow thousands of fascists to join the PCI right after the war? What about his decision to incorporate the 'Patti Lateranensi' into the Italian Constitution? (e non menziono, come potrei, l'Appello ai fratelli in camicia nera' solo perché Canfora clama da anni che la firma di Togliatti era falsa).

    It seems to me that most foreign observers are still far too charitable in their assessment of the current nomenklatura.
    These people have nothing to do with Berlinguer. Berlinguer is their Nemesis.

    As for their 'strategy' ...I cannot think of a better description than this:
    On.Luciano Violante: Onorevole Anedda, la invito a consultare l'onorevole Berlusconi perché lui sa per certo che gli è stata data la garanzia piena - non adesso, nel 1994, quando ci fu il cambio di Governo - che non sarebbero state toccate le televisioni. Lo sa lui e lo sa l'onorevole Letta.
    Luciano Violante: A parte questo, la questione è un'altra. Voi ci avete accusato di regime nonostante non avessimo fatto il conflitto di interessi, avessimo dichiarato eleggibile Berlusconi nonostante le concessioni
    Luciano Violante: Durante i governi di centrosinistra il fatturato di Mediaset è aumentato di 25 volte. (Pag.75)

    @ Geoff Roberts: 'The key question is, is there any chance that Italy could develop into a democratic state, (relatively) free of corruption?'

    After the collapse of the 'prima repubblica' Italians rushed into Berlusconi's arms. I see no reasons to think that this time around it would be any different. As i said, there is a real appetite for Authoritarianism in this country.

    Comunque la speranza é l'ultima a morire.

  • 7 March 2011 at 4:51pm
    Phil Edwards says:
    I agree that the Red Brigades - and the partito di fermezza which prevented any negotiation with them - cut short one of the most positive developments imaginable for Italian politics: had Moro been able to bring the PCI into his orbit, I believe we could have had the Ulivo 15 years earlier.

    But, although this would have been good for Italian politics, I think it would have been a defeat for the PCI. The entire compromesso strategy, despite the grandiose (and often Hegelian) language which surrounded it, was based on an unprecedented subordination of the PCI to the DC. Berlinguer set the PCI more firmly than ever on the path of ignoring the Left and seeking alliances with the Right, and it's a path they've only briefly deviated from since then. (Of course, now there's no Left to ally with - thanks to Veltroni for simplifying that problem!)

    The Violante quotes are truly dreadful. But again, this is a debased echo of the Berlinguer who tried to forestall the referendum on divorce so as to avoid polarisation. The Italian Left has been saying "look how moderate we are, please let us share power" for decades now - it didn't really work on Moro (he had his own agenda) and it certainly isn't going to work on Berlusconi.

  • 8 March 2011 at 6:32pm
    bsol1948 says:
    Those bemoaning the state of the Italian Left might consider the large sums spent by the CIA to influence the shape of post-W.W.II Italy. To assume that this occurred only in the late 1940s would be naive.

    William S. Solomon

    • 9 March 2011 at 8:38am
      Geoff Roberts says: @ bsol1948
      There is plenty of evidence of US influence in Italian affairs, but nobody seems to care. P2 and the other mentors of Berlusconi were able to destroy the radical left as a political force and nobody cares about that either.

    • 9 March 2011 at 7:40pm
      Phil Edwards says: @ bsol1948
      When people talk about CIA meddling in Italy I reach for Occam's Razor. It may have happened - I mean, it may have happened with some effect; they almost certainly tried to exert an influence - but is there any turn of events that can't be explained more parsimoniously?

      Geoff - saying that P2 destroyed the radical left makes about as much sense to me as saying that the Methodists destroyed the Wombles. But I'm probably missing something. What are you referring to?

    • 10 March 2011 at 7:40pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Phil Edwards
      Who are the Womblies? Yes, I shortened the argument more out of frustration over the never-ending tale of woe that is Italy since 1943. There were dozens of radical groups in the north that formed during the strikes of the fifties and sixties, and Italy was the only country with a voluble, viable form of radicalism in Europe. Lotta Continua was just one of these. P2 - the masonic lodge rund by Lucio Gelli funded a number of bomb attacks in Milan and the appalling destruction in Bologna which was then blamed on the radical left. Many were captured, spent long terms in jail and the left was looked on with great suspicion by the apparatchiks of the CPI. So in that sense, P2 was the destroyer of the radical left and laid the basis for Berlusconi's putsch-like takeover in the nineties. Just watched two documentaries on Italy. One looked at the growing support for Neo-fascism among young males, the other cast a forlorn look on the protests by women against the sexist trash that passes for entertainment on Italian TV. Any hope? I don't think so.

    • 11 March 2011 at 5:09pm
      Phil Edwards says: @ Geoff Roberts
      I think it was a bit more complicated than that, and (Userdafi won't be surprised to hear) I put a bit more blame on the PCI. (I've written a book.) But I know what you mean.

    • 11 March 2011 at 6:18pm
      Geoff Roberts says: @ Phil Edwards
      Yes, I must order a copy - on second thoughts, as I have despaired of any rational developments in Italy I might turn my attention to Sarcozyism and its effects on politics in France. There's some hope there, but the left? Jiminy Cricket.

  • 11 March 2011 at 8:59am
    Userdafi says:
    @Phil: we shall never see eye-to-eye on Berlinguer, i'm afraid.

    Please don't get me wrong, though - what you say is perfectly acceptable. Indeed, your take on those events is interesting, and thought-provoking and your narrative clear, coherent and well thought through. Io continuo nondimeno a discrepare dalle sue conclusioni.

    You keep comparing berlinguer's compromesso strategy to later developments in Italian politics that have nothing to do with it (btw, that ghastly Ulivo was an unmitigated disaster).
    The real problem with Berlinguer's leadership lies, perhaps, not so much in what he did as in what he didn't do. He didn't reform the PCI enough and, above all, he didn't change the political culture of that party.
    One of the most striking features of that organisation is how little it has changed over time. Many of the arguments used by Italo Calvino in his famous 1957 letter are still valid today. If anything, things have got even worse. When the current nomenklatura took over the Politburo in a bloodless coup they managed an extraordinary feat: they threw out the baby (Berlinguer, buon governo nelle regioni rosse, questione morale) and kept the bathwater (Togliatti. Stalinismo. Centralismo democratico. Burocrazia/'new class'. ducetti).
    Un capolavoro!

    You are absolutely spot on when you say; 'The Italian Left has been saying “look how moderate we are, please let us share power” for decades now'. I couldn't agree more. They have drifted so far to the right, they're practically falling off the map. 
    This is precisely why Italy-watchers ought to stop being so charitable with the so-called 'left' ( just look at what they are doing to my beloved Heimat, Tuscany!).

    • 11 March 2011 at 5:13pm
      Phil Edwards says: @ Userdafi
      'ducetti'... hmmm. Reminds me of a paper about the state of the Left around the time of Bersani's election. Got it here somewhere...

      "in eight regions, mostly in the North and centre, Bersani’s share of the primary vote was higher and Franceschini’s lower than their respective shares of the first-round vote had been; in ten, most of them in the South, Bersani’s primary vote share was lower than at the first stage and Franceschini’s higher.
      These divergences suggest that the popolo delle primarie is considerably less susceptible than party members to the efforts of local notables to get the vote out for their favoured candidate. ... Interestingly, Calabria stood out from the general trend, registering a 73.5% vote for Bersani in the first stage and a scarcely less ‘Bulgarian’ 71.5% in the primaries. Whether this result dispels the suspicions which the first stage vote had attracted is another question."

  • 11 March 2011 at 5:14pm
    Phil Edwards says:
    That is, a paper that I wrote - you can find the whole thing here.

  • 16 March 2011 at 9:11am
    Userdafi says:
    @Phil: I've seen your paper. I see things in an altogether different way, I'm sorry.

    Quot homines, tot sententiae o, per dirla con Sciascia, A ciascuno il suo.

    @Geoff Robert: Désolé de vous le dire, monsieur, mais vous allez être déçu. très déçu même. En France aussi, la situation n'est guère brillante.

    It's always striking to see just how little Europe has learned from the resistible rise of 'il cavaliere'. The French socialist party, in particular, seems determined to mimic all the mistakes made by their Italian counterparts.
    (btw. you brits are just as bad. Where has the secular left gone? Where are the masses protesting in the streets of London against Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB ?)

    As for your assertion that: 'Italy was the only country with a voluble, viable form of radicalism in Europe'. You would be surprised to see how many of those 'radicals' and 'leftists' ended-up supporting Berlusconi (not to mention the 'born again' talibans).

    As always, Pasolini was the only one that saw through them from the start (See his astounding, 'prophetic', poem on Valle Giulia: 'Il PCI ai giovani'. That poem was so devastatingly true that Italian 'intellectuals' have spent the last three decades desperately/pathetically trying to prove that PPP was misinterpreted and that in fact he never meant to criticize those lovely 'studenti')

    • 22 March 2011 at 9:35pm
      Phil Edwards says: @ Userdafi
      Orwell says, I think it's in Reflections on the Spanish War, that the first thing anyone who lived through it ought to say about the Spanish civil war is "we were all wrong". That's pretty much how I feel about the Italian Left in the 1970s, Pasolini very much included.

      I'm going to continue this on my blog, as the comment I've got in mind is far too long for even this gargantuan thread; unfortunately I can't edit my blog at the moment, so it won't be tonight.

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