Cristina Scagliarini on Tue, 27 Nov 2001 22:37:13 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Observatory on the state of democracy in Italy

Dear Friend

On 27th November, Osdem (Observatory on the state of democracy in Italy)
will publish its first monthly newsletter at
Containing a memorandum on the authoritarianism and mafia-like corruption
currently sweeping Italy, this newsletter will not contains scoops,
sensationalism or hidden secrets.
It will, rather, provide information which is all too obvious, easily
distilled from an attentive reading of newspapers or active participation in
Italian social issues. The aim of the newsletter is to provide a monthly
summary of the events that are steadily destroying Italian democracy and
civil liberties and to remind those who, like yourself, have many other
matters on which to focus attention, that Italy risks sinking to
unprecedented depth of incivility.
While that which is happening is a very Italy-specific phenomenon, we
nevertheless feel there is a risk that this malaise will spread to other
European nations. It has already happened, albeit many decades ago. Let us
make sure, then, that history does not repeat itself.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Observatory on the state of democracy in Italy

Since the coming to power of the right-wing coalition Italy has witnessed a
serious undermining of legality, civil rights, freedom and political

Silvio Berlusconi, the current Prime Minister of Italy, won his seat as head
of government by channelling enormous sums of money into electoral
advertising. And since, over the last 30 years, he has succeeded in building
up a financial empire with the support of both the mafia and secret
associations such as the P2 freemasons' lodge (of which he was a member),
funds have certainly not been lacking. Furthermore, given the magnitude of
the Berlusconi-owned media empire, he has also been able to enjoy a massive
communications advantage that is, in a Western democracy, without precedent.

This enormous dominance of the media constitutes an enormous peril for
Italian democracy. Yet no less dangerous than Berlusconi and his
party-cum-business enterprise are the other parties that bolster it. One is
a direct derivative of the fascist regime, while another is openly racist,
has been advocating the secession of northern Italy for years, and supports
the expulsion of foreigners.

Yet historically, fascism and mafia have never been allies.
While both may be seen as symptoms of peculiarly Italian illnesses, they
have, in the past, always been anathema to each other. The mafia is a
family-oriented organisation that aims to replace the state and pursues its
interests through blackmail, violence and corruption. Fascism, instead, is
an aggressive assertion of state authority and is systematically violent
towards society.
Now, for the first time, these two forms have come together.

Genoa highlighted the totalitarian nature of this government all too
clearly. During those two days the Deputy Prime Minister, Gianfranco Fini,
spent two days at Genoa's police headquarters from where he piloted acts of
violence, repression and torture, the homicide of a young demonstrator and
aggression against citizens wishing to protest against the G8 summit.

The xenophobe instincts of this government also came to the fore when
legislation on how to integrate foreign workers was passed. The government
lost no time in promising prison sentences for those entering Italy without
authorisation, as if just entering the country were in itself a terrible
crime, and quickly established that visas for foreign citizens should only
last as long as their work contracts.

On other occasions legislation has been brutally railroaded to meet the
interests of the regime's mafia. Legislation aimed at shielding the Prime
Minister and his direct accomplices from the investigations of magistrates -
who have been examining allegedly illicit business transactions for years -
has been rushed through Parliament in record time.

Silvio Berlusconi, Gianfranco Fini and Umberto Bossi represent not only a
threat to Italian democracy, but European stability too. There us, in fact,
something about this (for the moment) specifically Italian shameless,
grotesque authoritarianism that risks being exported, infecting the
societies of other European countries.

This is why we believe that it is nothing less than essential to provide a
systematic news service that highlights the actions, legislation, repression
of dissent and the freedom-restricting policies approved by this all-too
mafia-like government and which exposes the antidemocratic nature of the
words of its politicians.

That service is one that aims to provide in full.

Franco Berardi Bifo

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: