“Internal Exile”: Media-Emperor Berlusconi’s Use of Fascist Techniques

As I was watching live footage of Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his main political ally, Gianfranco Fini, yell at each other during a meeting of their Partito della Libertà Party, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mussolini.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and President of the Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini yelling at each other.

For some reason, my mind started imagining how Berlusconi would apply certain fascist techniques to punish his ally, who has been mumbling and groaning over the past few days, expressing some concerns about the direction in which the party is going. Keep in mind that Fini is the one most likely to take over Berlusconi’s position within the Party once the media-emperor leaves his throne vacant.

Then I realized I was actually witnessing a fascist technique right in front of my eyes: “Internal exile.”

Here’s what Berlusconi had to say to British journalists of the Spectator in the summer of 2003, after being asked if he saw any parallels between Mussolini and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein:

“Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile.”

Aside from being a lie which I won’t get into deconstructing because many historians have already done so, it goes to show that Berlusconi doesn’t see anything wrong with “internally exiling” people.

That’s what he was doing with Fini. By yelling at him, forcing the party delegates to choose sides and applauding the public humiliation of Fini, Berlusconi is working on the “internal exile” of Fini.

No one is to step in front of his plans to take over Italy’s presidency, once his government goes ahead and approves constitutional changes that would guarantee him an unchallenged reign over the entire country.

It is a clear message to Fini and to all those thinking that he is done for: Berlusconi rules, everyone else follows and does what he is told to.

But Fini shouldn’t be surprised by this behavior. Berlusconi is well known for despising any criticism, and “internal exile” is a technique that Berlusconi has used on and on again.

In late 2001, he clearly stated that journalists Enzo Biagi and Michele Santoro, as well as satirist Daniele Luttazzi, needed to be banned from Italy’s public broadcasting television, RAI. And they were banned.

Earlier this year, that same RAI has undergone a massive purge that has forced many veteran journalists of the most watched TV new program to step down from their positions as anchors or editors after criticizing director Augusto Minzolini, an embarrassingly spineless Berlusconi yes-man.

So now I wonder what will happen next.

Will Fini stand up and walk away from his long-pursued dream of leading Italy’s most voted Party? Or will he accept his exile and humiliation, showing Italians that criticism is never to be brought before the media-emperor, who will use his media-fascist techniques to destroy and conquer, like he has done before?

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