Berlusconism – an unwanted effect

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By VINCENZO COSTA*

Berlusconism was the unwanted result of a long process that aimed to à destruction of First Rep partiesúwar

Maybe it's time to put polemics aside and start a serious analysis of Berlusconism. So far, most speeches attack the founder of Mediaset, his figure, his actions, his person and, inevitably, the discussion becomes moralistic. Silvio Berlusconi (1936-2023) would have contaminated Italian life by introducing phenomena of negative customs, on which it is not necessary to insist. This type of approach has a function: to prevent a political and historical analysis of a phenomenon that is political and historical.

The question that tends to be avoided is a simple one: why does the leader of the Forza Italy was so successful? Why was he voted for? mirafiori, the middle classes, the popular classes, the Milanese bourgeoisie and the unemployed in the south? Does moralizing criticism explain anything about this phenomenon? Once we are assured of our moral superiority, is that all right?

Berlusconismo was the unwanted result of a long process that aimed at the destruction of the parties of the First Republic, parties that had integrated the Italian masses that had been left out of the political life of the country in the process of the resurrection.

This operation was conducted primarily by the mainstream press, in particular by the newspaper La Repubblica and later expanded via the judiciary. Of course, there were a lot of things wrong, but it's one thing to fight corruption, it's another to use the judiciary to destroy a political system.

Mãthe clean ones it was a complex phenomenon, but there is one aspect that cannot be ignored: this operation presented politics and parties as a negative aspect of Italian life.

The message that was passed on and that was intended to be passed on was: parties are evil, party-cracy is the country's evil, consociatism is the country's cancer. In my opinion, they are wrong analyses, because the parties were the intermediary bodies, mediation between society and the political system; and consociativism was a way of managing political power, of keeping different stances together, of mediating between different interests and political perspectives.

Consociativism was a great driver of democracy, economic and social development, as well as social and political mobility.

All that was destroyed, parties were presented as a den of criminals, the very idea of ​​a party became indefensible. The widespread idea was that it was necessary to give space to individuals, to the competent, and some remember the time when independents populated the lists of the old Italian Communist Party (PCI).

The myth of the men of providence was created, and you have to be Eugenio Scalfari to be surprised when the man of providence arrived: his arrival had been prepared precisely by those who were scandalized afterwards.

This was what created the climate of what we call “Berlusconism”. Silvio Berlusconi knew how to insert himself in this movement, he knew how to take advantage of the climate that Eugenio Scalfari and his companions had created, he knew how to use the mistrust that had been created in relation to politics to his advantage.

Berlusconism was the undesired effect of the newspaper's campaign La Repubblica, the dissolution of the democratic public sphere organized through intermediary bodies and mass parties. It was the result not planned, but prepared by her.

If parties don't work and are just criminal associations, if we must give space to civil society (does anyone remember the days when the left spoke of civil society as a place of purity as opposed to ugly and dirty political society?), then the self-made entrepreneur, who knows how to manage his business, who promises jobs when they are scarce, while the left only proposes cuts and “tears and blood”, well, then a man like that has all the titles to govern the country.

This is what made the popular classes sympathize with Berlusconi.

The analysis is crude, insufficient and partial, but the meaning is clear: Berlusconism as a political phenomenon was the unwanted (but predictable) effect of a systematic destruction of party politics.

Now, if this hypothesis is correct, its overcoming can only happen, if it happens, by rebuilding Italian democracy, the intermediate bodies, leaving behind the primaries, the parties led by personalities, the “sardines” and all those phenomena that replaced democracy by the show.

This is overcome by resuming the need to involve the masses in national life, creating training spaces that make a broad, diffuse and continuous political mobility possible, instead of continuing to propose substitutes for the providential man, proposing providential women.

This is not what the country needs, leaders are not what the country needs. They, the leaders, are quickly devoured, as has been the case for years. We need intermediary bodies that enable communication between society and the political sphere.

The rest is moralism, perfectly useless. It only serves to create herd spirit when we need change.

It's no use criticizing Berlusconi even after his death. We need a democratic reconstruction project.

We don't need moralistic analyses: the country's crisis is political, not moral. With all due respect to Enrico Berlinguer, let's stop with this narrative of the moral question. It doesn't help us, nor does it help the country. Until we understand that we have a political problem, we will not get out of this situation.

*Vincenzo Costa é professor at facoltà from Dell Philosophy'University Vita-Salute San Raffaele (Itália). Author, among other books, of Philosophy and science at the time of the pandemic (Morcelliana).

Translation: Anselmo Pessoa Neto.

Originally published on the portal Kulturjam.

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