Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

As much as I appreciate Italy’s largest Catholic weekly blasting the country’s degenerated political class, I can’t hold myself from thinking how hypocritical this all sounds. To make my point, let’s start with today’s big story:

Italy’s Catholics are upset with the country’s leadership. Actually, they’re “disgusted.”

That is the underlying argument in an editorial that appeared on this week’s Famiglia Cristiana, the country’s third most distributed weekly magazine and arguably the most influential Catholic periodical among Italians. (An average 557,000 copies per week were sold in April)

The unsigned editorial, titled “A country without a leader, and politicians who fight over everything,” tries hard to deliver its punches, but it fails to mention specific names or parties. It remains vague, a practice the Church has perfected throughout the centuries:

“Public opinion, although drugged by television, is disgusted by the not-so-edifying spectacle that, almost every day, is brought to us by a political class that fights over everything,” the article states, “too far from the people and impotent at resolving the country’s serious problems.”

The editorial doesn’t limit its critique towards politicians. It also accuses the business, communications and cultural sectors of not doing their share of work to keep up moral values that evidently the Church still cares about.

“No ideas of common well-being emerge, ideas that would allow to overcome divisions and party interests.”

Sure, Italy’s modern political class doesn’t seem to be doing much for the common good. But I mostly blame this attitude on the Church, which is about 18 years too late in criticizing Berlusconi and his showbiz approach to life and politics.

Instead of opposing the rise of the media tycoon in the early 1990s, the Church let him through the main door and looked to him and his racist and xenophobe Lega Nord allies as the natural successors of the corrupt and dismantled Democrazia Cristiana, a party based on Catholic values that had ruled Italy from 1946 to 1992.

Now influential Catholic voices such as Famiglia Cristiana are saying people are “drugged by television.” But by omitting that almost all of television is in one way or another controlled by Berlusconi, whoever wrote the editorial for the magazine is carefully avoiding the larger issue: Berlusconi is responsible for having mediatically “drugged” a large portion of the Italian population.

There used to be a time when the Vatican could decide the political career of a politician. That is clearly not the case anymore, seeing how Berlusconi is still in power after all the sex scandals that plagued his 2009 summer.

The Church has long ago signed a contract with the devil. In 2005 it vehemently opposed a series of referendum on assisted reproduction and fertilization. Berlusconi and his allies were more than happy to back the Vatican’s crusade, which ended in a victory over civil liberties in the name of exclusive divine – or religious – rights on who is eligible to procreate or have a family.

If the Vatican and Italy’s influential Catholics are truly disappointed by how this government is acting, then they should ask the Italian people to forgive them for letting such a political class thrive unpunished for almost twenty years.

Once the Church has clearly admitted its faults, then it can start addressing the issue of Italian politics with a more honest and objective approach. Until then, St. Peter’s alarm bells will ring without a sound.


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.”
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A recent article by Newser founder and Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff tried to explain the similarities between Silvio Berlusconi and Sarah Palin.

Their success, he says, is easy to explain:

It’s pure shamelessness, a total absence of self-consciousness, combined with entrepreneurial zeal. These are extraordinary self-reliant salesmen, Berlusconi and Palin. Id people. Media creations, it goes without saying. He was a cruise-ship crooner; she a beauty contestant.

These are all good points, although I think Wolff glides over a fundamental difference: While Sarah Palin wittingly adapted all the cliches the media wanted her to fit in, Berlusconi modeled his image to his liking, having the power to do so with a big chunk of Italy’s television channels and quite a few influential daily and weekly publications.

Wolff then goes on to explaining why this Palin-Berlusconi model is so attractive to voters.
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