Wednesday, November 03, 2010

ITALY: AN OUTSIDER'S VIEW OF THE STATE OF THE STATE

In a week when Italy's Premier has made what is being seen as yet another outrageous gaffe and is generally being depicted abroad as a buffoon, I think it is time for me to add my two-centesimi worth to the debate.  For anyone who has not read of the latest scandal, the background is here but to cut a long story short, the Prime Minister of Italy is being accused of inappropriately helping a minor to evade police charges of theft and illegal entry into Italy. Erotic parties are said to have regularly  taken place at Mr Berlusconi's Milan residence and the girl, who denies having had sex with the Premier, says that he gave her money and gifts.  Yesterday Mr Berlusconi shocked progressive Italians and caused indignation around the world when he said that it is better to like beautiful women than to be gay.

The remark, in my opinion, was not a gaffe but a carefully orchestrated appeal to the Berlusconi heartland of sexually conventional Italy.  Everywhere an Italian looks, it seems, there are sex scandals but at least the Prime Minister is attracted to the right gender, goes the logic.   So when smiling Silvio shrugs his shoulders and conveys the message, "Look at me - I'm a regular guy", he reassures middle Italy whilst also appealing to a very Italian instinct - the instinct for joy.  After all, the reasoning continues, even the Premier's detractors would have to admit that the man has worked hard so doesn't he deserve a little fun?  And hey, is there any man out there who wouldn't like to party with pretty girls?

This is not to say that everyone is defending the Premier - far from it, for many Italians are expressing shame at the way in which their country may be perceived abroad.  Many women in Italy, feeling that the Premier's behaviour is degrading to their sex, have been expressing their shame for some time and Mr Berlusconi's estranged wife, Veronica Lario, is a heroine to some.  Personally I am not sure about her status as a heroine, for independent women do not expect men to provide for them nor do they hark back to a career they abandoned upon marriage as a justification for that provision, for who knows how that career would have fared?  If I were to name a heroine of the Berlusconi era, it would be Rosy Bindi, President of the Democratic Party and long the target of some of the Premier's cruellest remarks, which she deals with extremely well and with remarkable restraint.

But if Italians are ashamed of  Mr Berlusconi and are losing faith in  the governing Coalition, whom, then, do they trust?  Not the Opposition, generally seen as weak and not, en masse, the federalist Lega Nord [Northern League, currently part of the Coalition];  possibly Gianfranco Fini, President of the Chamber of Deputies and founder of the parliamentary group Futuro e Libertà per l'Italia.  Mr Fini is perceived as strong and able to stand up to both the Lega Nord and the Premier.

There are brave journalists, too, who defy government attempts to gag the press and, although Mr Berlusconi's media holdings are vast, most Italian newspapers, contrary to popular belief in other countries,  do question the Premier's behaviour.

As an outsider who cares very much about Italy, I would stand with another heroine of mine, Rita Levi-Montalcini and put my faith in the country's young people:  time and time again, and with astonishing equanamity, young Italians put themselves through impossible procedures to obtain jobs that do not, in reality, exist for them; they are politically active and aware in ways that a country like Britain should envy; and they are ready to do their utmost to achieve the peaceful change that is needed.

Italy, despite or perhaps because of everything, is still a proud democracy.  What it is not, however, is a meritocracy and this is the factor that is holding it back.   Only Italians can decide whether this situation can change under this Premier.

8 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

The whole country needs sorting out - it's far too corrupt - but how do you eradicate endemic corruption?

annechung said...

I like Berlusconi, he's irreverent. It's not just the despotic African and Asian countries that are corrupt, try the USA where big money calls the shots in Washington, talk about a whole country needing sorting out, please don't answer this comment, it'll turn into a political discussion. The comment is about Berlusconi.

Miss Welby said...

Very informative article, very well written. I only disagree with your faith in the country's young people.

As to how do you eraticate endemic corruption (Winchester whisperer), I'm afraid we'll never will: it's a "moral" corruption as not just bureaucrats and politicians but common people as well are used dodge taxes everytime they can, and so on. That's why so many intimately identify with the psycho-dwarf, a compulsive liar.

The young may be idealist when teenagers, but soon they realize that they'll be better off by beahaving dishonestly

Weekend Yachtsman said...

OK, let's be bold...

Il cavaliere is a bit of an ass, but he's old, and frankly if I'm still partying with pretty teenagers at his age, well, what's not to like?

There's a limit to how much any individual Prime Minister can achieve in our modern world, and to be honest I think this one adds to the gaiety of nations no end; he punctures the po-faced puritanism of our current ruling classes in the most splendid way.

Long may he flourish! What harm does he do?

Miss Welby said...

I'll reply in chronological order to Anne Chung first: you say "please don't answer this comment, lt'll turn into a political discussion. The comment is about Berlusconi".

Well, frankly, what the hell do you think we're talking about? Pop music or knitting?

Isn't Mr Berlusconi involved in politics as prime minister of Italy or am I wrong? As for the African despots, ask his best friend Gheddafi of Libya, one of the longest-running and bloodiest dictators on this planet, or ask his other best friend Mr Putin of Russia, the de facto assassin of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and many other reporters who exposed his links with Russian mafia and their mafious executers during and after the Cold War when he was head of KGB?

Is this a special friendship to be proud of, inviting Putin in his huge (illegaly built) villa in Sardinia to share their bed with prostitutes?

Of course not, we are not moralists, they are allowed to masturbate each other as long as they want, as private citizens, but some of us Italians are a bit embarassed when questioned by foreigners about their behaviour as head of states, like they are above the law in having sex with under-age minors, which is usually considered as paedophilia and harshily punished.

I'll return later on for a reply to Weekend Yachtsman, please wait

Miss Welby said...

Weekend Yachtsman now, as I promised you a reply.

There's nothing wrong in shagging (or attempt to shag) prostitutes even if you are over 100, as long as they are at least 18. Problem is, in a couple of cases (including the most recent one), the girls were under-age at the time, and this could bring anyone else in this country (and this part of the world) - including you -, to very serious charges leading you to prison or a mental hospital at least, AND RIGHTLY SO, in my humble opinion.

If the law is equal for all, why can the psycho-dwarf can do whatever he likes while you and me would be jailed for years?

What's more, maybe you missed this bit of the story: the Italian Carabinieri, that is the military police which on behalf of the Italian secret service look after the security of our prime minister in his villas, lament that they have been used as "ESCORT TO THE ESCORTS".

I should make this one a sarcastic title for my blog, but there's nothing to laugh about: many Carabinieri have lost their lives in the fight against mafia. They are very professional, and you can see why they are frustrated at protecting under-age prostitutes at our premier's sex parties.

This is no puritanism (not me, really, Pat knows how sexy my blog is). This is a quest for my country to become accepted as a "normal" one after a complete generational reshuffle of the political class.

On that issue, I'd like to articulate more later on

Ellee Seymour said...

There's certainly never a dull moment with Berlusconi. France is a close second. Don't the citizens care?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WW. I don't know! Hi, Anne. I thionk people are bound to answer your comment, as it is here! It is hard to discuss Berlusconi without discussing politics. Than you, Miss Welby. Yes, we are all idealists when we are young. I still have hope of the next generation though. WY, I take your point that SB cheers up the political scene in some ways but his behaviour does degrade women in general and that is not acceptable in any man, let alone a head of state. Miss Welby, I take your point about one law fopr SB and another for eceryone else but Ruvby says she told him sher was 24. This does not excuse his behaviour but it does clear him of one of the worst accusations. Hi, Ellee. Oh, they care very much and are very worried.

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