The Grillini

The Grillini: This time the revolution won't be televised

The election that made Beppe Grillo, an anti-establishment blogger-comedian, leader of the largest parliamentary force in terms of votes cast was an election that passed a damning verdict on Italy’s corruption-infested political party system. The election that Europe hoped would reaffirm Italy’s commitment to the gruelling economic policies required to stabilise the eurozone was an election that, for the first time in the nation’s post-1945 history, produced a legislative majority disinclined to bow to Europe’s demands.(…) Corruption in politics, business and state administration feeds more poison into the system, clotting the arteries that might supply the blood of reform to the nation’s heart and brain. It was an election that exposed discontent with austerity but also illustrated that the road to economic salvation must pass through a decontamination and renovation of Italian politics. Financial Times

I wonder if the Italian political class (or Europe’s or America’s or the world’s for that matter) have yet metabolized the message that Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement has sent them…. Which in demotic Italian is simply “vaffanculo“.

They had better.

The Grillini have received 25% of the vote without external financing or the backing of any communications group… just with Internet, Twitter and the street…. While the traditional pols were on TV, the Grillini filled the piazzas and the streets… This is called “populism” which seems to be a dirty word when pronounced by “serious” people, however this is not some illiterate rabble, in fact, they are to a great extent, young, college educated and female.

Some commentators are comparing Grillo to Mussolini, but one of the best things you can say about the 5 star movement is that except for moving the masses, it doesn’t resemble Mussolini’s fascisti at all. It is not racist, xenophobic or ultra-nationalist. But, this is the first serious challenge to the “democratic deficit” anywhere… Will it dissolve in “left wing infantalism” or will it succeed in changing democratic politics in the age of Internet? Stay tuned.

Americans who view the rise of the Five Star Movement either wistfully or fearfully can despair or take comfort in knowing that our political system was deliberately designed by men of property, many of them slave owners, to make it impossible for any similar outcome to ever occur in the United States. In this they were eminently successful.

The only direct descendents of Thomas Jefferson, who penned the lines, “All Men are Created Equal” are also the descendents of the slaves that he exploited sexually. The entire story of democracy in America is the sometimes bloody and always herculean effort to breathe some life into those lines of Jefferson’s and also the bit about “government by the people, of the people and for the people”.

Today’s America, with its revolving door, extractive lobbies is easily as corrupt as today’s Italy, but the chances of anyone in the United States ever giving the “good and the great” such a fright as Signor Grillo is giving their Italian counterparts is practically nil.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com