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Loro & My Way
Berlusconi, or the Limits of Democratic Chadism
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A young Berlusconi singing on a cruise ship. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
A young Berlusconi singing on a cruise ship. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The printed word is really not enough to get a sense of a person. For that, you really need to meet them, talk to them, do things with them for a while. If you can’t actually meet a person, perhaps the next best thing is to see some films about them, a complete audiovisual experience. I recently watched two films about former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose populist and spectacular but superficial brand of politics may become more and more prevalent in the coming years.

Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro (“They”) is ostensibly dedicated to the twilight years of Silvio Berlusconi. We follow an ambitious young southern Italian who wants to make it big in Rome by meeting with “Lui” (Silvio) and being made a Member of the European Parliament [sic]. He and his wife hatch a scheme: they will organize a massive party with the young and the beautiful in front of Berlusconi’s villa in Sardinia.

The first hour of the film is full of sex, nudity, and partying, almost one long music video. There is an shockingly casual, and perhaps realistic, portrayal of rape. After an hour, we finally meet Berlusconi, looking quite convincing as a ghastly botoxed mummy, played by the excellent Toni Servillo, who also starred in La Grande Bellezza. This Berlusconi is a prankster, a charming sleazebag, witty, and also quite pathetic in old age, a man so beholden to his festive and sexual appetites that he simply cannot act his age.

Loro is not an insensitive hit job. Rather, it is disappointing in another way: the film is not in fact about Berlusconi, let alone his political career, but he is used as a pretext for Sorrentino to explore his favored themes of debauchery, young females, and declining old men, with a few Christian references thrown in. Having also watched Youth and some of The Young Pope, I can say that Sorrentino is consistently strong on visuals, personalities, and dialogue, but is distinctly uninterested in plot. In the case of Loro, the film’s structure is rather disjointed and the concluding images (featuring rescue workers after an earthquake and Christian imagery) rather out of keeping with the rest of the film. (I saw the two-hour-and-thirty-minute international cut, not the three-hour director’s cut, which was released in Italian cinemas in two parts.)

This is by no means a bad film but, as a friend told me, it is rather derivative of Sorrentino’s previous work and in particular of Bellezza. Berlusconi does give an interesting speech during an argument with his wife. While his wife is frustrated with her husband’s philandering and seeks peace by hiking amid the Buddhist temples of Asia, Berlusconi tells her that he cannot abide formalism or monkish piety, and that one must follow one’s instincts and one’s passions, embracing life, even, in effect, if that leads to constant political corruption and sexual escapades. The point is noted.

As I wanted to actually learn about Berlusconi’s life and career, beyond the rather superficial and hostile news headlines of the international media, I also decided to watch My Way, a documentary about his life by the (Italian-speaking) American journalist Alan Friedman. Friedman was given unprecedented access to Berlusconi with 25 filmed interviews, given during the former prime minister’s year of community service following his conviction for tax fraud. At the beginning of the film, in heavily accented English, Berlusconi tells us that he is speaking to Friedman because: “I trust him.”

He was quite wrong to do so. Friedman wrote a book as well as making the film based on the interviews. While I cannot speak of the book, the film maintains a consistent tone of hostility and/or superficiality. Every piece of information is prefaced by Friedman’s reciting the various allegations against Berlusconi, without giving much information to assess their validity. He always begins with the media’s image of Berlusconi as a clownish fraudster, rather than from the man himself, who obviously (whatever his obvious flaws) also must have considerable qualities to have become a media mogul, billionaire, and third-longest-serving prime minister of Italy (1994-1995, 2001-2006, 2008-2011). Friedman’s narration is artless and the editing rather amateurish.

All that said, the subject’s personality cannot help shine through anyway. One understands Berlusconi’s original appeal: salesmanship on a massive scale. First as a developer and salesman in the booming 1970s Italian property market. Then by founding Italy’s first private television stations, circumventing the state ban on private national channels, by creating several local channels simultaneously airing the same shows. Apparently Berlusconi’s content was a lot more interesting to the masses than the stale government programming. (In passing, the state’s total control over national television into the 1970s gives us some sense of the bourgeois-democratic regime’s cultural and indeed authoritarian power in the years after World War Two, not counting the official legislation criminalizing Right-wing activity.)

Berlusconi, like U.S. President Donald Trump, simply has an instinct for the center-right “normie,” the actual working man and woman, whether heading a family or not, the people who own televisions, drive a car, and have a mortgage to pay. On which, see his legendary “Thank goodness for Silvio” (Menomale che Silvio c’è) ad for 2008 elections, which he won. He is not shy, a beautiful young Berlusconi sang to cruise-ship audiences in the 1960s. He is a brilliant showman. After buying the A.C. Milan football club, he arrived to watch his team’s first game in a helicopter blazing Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Berlusconi’s success as a businessman reflects the materialism and superficiality characteristic of the postwar democratic West, his power derives from the masses’ bottomless desire for things and for spectacle.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Berlusconi in effect converted his media appeal and economic clout into political capital. My Way does give a sense of the man’s charm, brashness, and sordid sense of humor. Nonetheless, one can’t help laughing at his jokes and enjoying his company. We see him give a pep talk to his football players. Berlusconi tells a black player that he would like to meet his wife, because she is so beautiful, adding that he needn’t worry as he’s already “too old.” He tells a fifty-year-old man that he looks great, adding however that he still doesn’t look as a good as Berlusconi himself. This is funny, but Berlusconi, who was almost eighty during the interviews, does look like an awful case of plastic surgery.

Berlusconi gives us a tour of his gorgeous villa at Arcore (20 kilometers from Milan), showing his collection of Renaissance paintings, classical Greco-Roman sculpture (some given to him by Muamar Gaddafi from Libya), and a whole room of paintings of . . . himself, apparently given to him over the years by his many admirers. Among these we are shown a heroic painting of Mussolini, with Berlusconi weakly protesting that this shouldn’t be filmed, lest they give the wrong impression.

Berlusconi is a man who gets what he wants. Call it a weakness for appetite or a strength of will. In any event, Berlusconi tells Friedman that he has never ever gone to bed with his often-changing wife/girlfriend without making love to her. So much passion. After having two children with his first wife (who did not age gracefully), he moved in with and eventually married Veronica Lario. They stayed together for many years but they eventually divorced and, in keeping with the modern era of female empowerment, Berlusconi has since 2013 been required pay her $48 million per year as part of their settlement. Berlusconi’s girlfriend since 2012 is 50 years his junior and, for her service, will presumably receive an even bigger payout. Let no one say that THOT-ery does not pay!

Berlusconi’s penchant for girls was part of his undoing in another respect, namely in his notorious “Bunga Bunga” parties with nubile young women, culminating in the trial alleging that he had had sex with an underage Moroccan prostitute nicknamed “Ruby Rubacuore” (Ruby Heartstealer). In the interviews, Berlusconi explains that the term “Bunga Bunga” comes from a sex joke involving an African tribe . . . on which I will say nothing other than I was astonished to hear it because it was also popular in the high school I frequented.

My Way, while an hour and thirty-eight minutes long, does not tell you all that much about Berlusconi’s politics. Besides his changing of Italian laws so as to escape prosecution for various misdeeds, the little that is said largely speaks in his favor. He is extremely proud of having hosted a NATO summit near Rome in 2002, at which Berlusconi, U.S. President George W. Bush, and Russian President Vladimir Putin really hit it off. Berlusconi goes so far as to claim that his summit “ended the Cold War,” which is the usual hyperbolic salesman-speak, much like Trump’s perennial “tremendous.” Certainly, this marked a warming of relations between Moscow and Washington after the disagreements over the Kosovo War. On the substance, one can only welcome attempts to bring peace and good relations among Europe, America, and Russia, which have so often been needlessly in conflict.

Two men enjoying freedom and democracy in liberated Libya
Two men enjoying freedom and democracy in liberated Libya

In the interviews, Berlusconi makes the case against the Iraq War and against the Libya War. In both cases he argues, as a good realist, that you need a strong leader, in effect a dictator, to maintain order in these multiethnic countries. To bring “democracy” would mean only chaos. Berlusconi notes that Iraq is made up of three antagonistic ethno-religious groups and that Libya is made up of some 105 tribes, who had regularly declared Gaddafi “King of Kings.” Since the dictators are gone, these Arab nations have known only civil war . . . an impotence which naturally great benefits Israel, has allowed the foundation of the Islamic State, and harmed Europe by sparking massive Afro-Islamic migration. The fall of Gaddafi’s dictatorship also led the spread of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which captured Timbuktu in 2012, destroying some of that city’s ancient shrines and mausoleums, one of the few examples of indigenous Sub-Saharan African architectural heritage.

Berlusconi expresses the basic truth: multicultural societies are not compatible with democracy or, to put it more positively, with civic politics in general. There can be no solidarity without identity. Given this fact, the multiculturalists and immigrationists are digging the grave of liberal democracy, and in their ignorance and delusion, are preparing the way for new regimes. Let us hope that these will be indeed more coherent and honest forms of government.

I do not know if Berlusconi actually privately opposed the Iraq invasion in 2003. In any event, once Bush got on his way, Italy did send troops there. On Libya, Berlusconi was outmaneuvered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom Friedman accurately describes as fomenting a war to boost his flagging approval ratings and distract from his lackluster economic performance.

We then move to the eurozone crisis in 2011. In this instance, the Great European Ponzi Scheme of malinvestment in southern European property and debt, collapsed, threatening the whole continent’s banking sector. Friedman does not give the watcher any good idea of why all this was occurring. He does explicitly show, based primarily on U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner’s testimony, that Berlusconi was taken out under pressure by Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who blamed Italy’s lack of “reforms” for the eurozone’s ills. The European Central Bank also threatened to let Italy go bankrupt unless Rome towed the line.

Berlusconi was toppled and Mario Monti, a former EU commissioner and Goldman Sachs banker, was parachuted in, on the recommendation of George Soros, no less. I for one don’t think that rule by a small, rootless, international clique tends to be very stable. Monti proved monstrously unpopular and was kicked out of office within two years. The Italians have since responded to EU diktats by electing anti-Brussels populists of various stripes.

Two down, one to go
Two down, one to go

Friedman interviewed a number of people in making his documentary. These include a (probably rightly) indignant Italian prosecutor, a colorless Italian journalist, a former Spanish prime minister, a former EU president, and even Putin himself. Not a whole lot of light comes out of all of this. Strikingly, Berlusconi emerges as if anything the most likable character among the whole motley crew of people interviewed, at that is saying something. Despite his more-or-less hostile narration, the interviewer Friedman is shown constantly being friendly and making ingratiating smiles with Berlusconi, only to dump him at the end of the film, saying “and I never saw him again” with a credit role showcasing Berlusconi and his associates’ various convictions.

On Berlusconi the talented and opportunist politician, I can add the following which was not mentioned in the documentary. He knew how to make the difficult deals to form Italy’s notoriously-unstable coalition governments, starting in 1994, with a short-lived alliance with the regionalist Lega Nord and post-fascist National Alliance (who hated each other, essentially over the Southern Question). He knew how to compaign for what the people wanted. His famous 2001 “Contract with the Italians” promised less and simpler taxes, infrastructure, more jobs, more pensions, more police, and less politicians. Of course, he rarely delivered. In 2006, constitutional reforms proposed by Berlusconi would have strengthened the prime minister and devolved more powers to Italy’s regions, but this was rejected by referendum.

The Italian journalist in the documentary points out that Berlusconi never did the “reforms” necessary to save the economy, as he did not want to upset his electorate or his coalition partners. In short, for all the kvetching, Berlusconi was too much of a democrat to get much done.

Berlusconi was however decidedly anti-leftist. He wanted to reform the constitution because it had been co-drafted by the “Soviets” (as a matter of fact, communist and Marxist parties made up about 40% of the 1946 Constituent Assembly and to this day Italy’s official emblem looks communist). When facing Romano Prodi’s left-wing coalition “the Union” in the mid-2000s, Berlusconi nicknamed it “the Soviet Union.” Unlike in France or Germany, Italy had no taboo on the center-right, including Berlusconi, making alliances with nationalist and sometimes even neofascist parties. He was born in 1936 in what was then the Kingdom of Italy, well into the second decade of Fascist government.

At a holocaust remembrance ceremony in 2013, Berlusconi argued that Mussolini’s Fascist government did many good things, all the while lamenting the alliance with the Third Reich and participation in the holocaust (specifically, the deportation of Jews, although in fact the survival rate for Italian Jews was among the highest in Europe and these deportations only began after Germany had created their own puppet government in northern Italy, nominally led by Mussolini). As a matter of fact, many figures as diverse as Ezra Pound, Charles de Gaulle, and Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi admired Italian Fascism’s political stability and ability to promote communitarian values stressing individual self-sacrifice for the common good. All this may not be understood today however.

In the end, Berlusconi achieved little politically. He maintained good relations with Russia, America, Israel, and Libya, the latter being of particular value in containing the ever-rising tied of African illegal immigration. He had excellent instincts in general. But, ultimately, he was merely an end in himself, masculinity without purpose.

Salvini’s party has eclipsed that of Berlusconi
Salvini’s party has eclipsed that of Berlusconi

With the declining influence of the mainstream media and the ability of outsiders to appeal directly to the masses through social media, we will no doubt see the rise of many more populists movements of both left and right. Happily, in Italy itself, Berlusconian populism has given way to that of Matteo Salvini, who while something an opportunist himself (like all electoral politicians, I am tempted to add), is saying and doing many of the right things on immigration and demography . . . and is getting even more popular as a result.

The opportunity here is in overthrowing an emotionally stunted and ideologically incoherent establishment, which is destroying Western civilization based on a fundamentally incorrect understanding of human nature. The risk is that we fall into mere demotism, with governments mindlessly following the fluctuations of the debased desires and prejudices of public opinion, which would certainly not be optimal either. From this, there will be more electoral demand for economically unsustainable left-wing economic policies, and for environmentally damaging right-wing policies. Neither is desirable, I do not rejoice at Trump’s blowing up of America’s hills for coal and gas or Bolsonaro’s proposals to further cut down the rain forests.

But this is what democracy means! This is the ineluctable product of the hegemonic “anti-fascism” and rejection of all authority since 1945! To those who are upset with the careers of Berlusconi, Trump, and Bolsonaro, I am tempted to quote Gladiator: “Are you not entertained!? Is this not why you are here!?”

Western men and women can no longer understand the ancient notion of justice: that justice is a right hierarchy. Obviously, there can be no hierarchy or justice among “equals,” for whom anyone’s claim to superiority is necessarily presumptuous arrogance. Westerners today are not ready to hear or understand these truths. In the natural course of events, things must necessarily get worse before human beings realize that they are doing or thinking something wrong, and correct course. This takes time. Things certainly are not bad enough yet. We are far too comfy.

In the meantime, we will see not only more Berlusconis, but many more Trumps, Bolsonaros, Orbáns, and Salvinis in the future, as well as Corbyns and Grillos.

Enjoy the ride!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Berlusconi, European Right, Italy 
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  1. Anon[305] • Disclaimer says:

    Hey,

    you also have to live in the country you talk about, or be on close terms with someone objective who is really friendly to you and lives there, before confidently drawing judgments on politicians (or writers, or anybody).

    Because interests, ego-interests and career interests, cloud reports and opinions.

    In the specific, verbally and culturally assaulting Berlusconi during the time of his being influential and charismatic was the national (and European) sport for the “if Trump wins I leave the USA, no longer feeling safe” types — from Organized Press and TV “journalists” and “film-makers” to “poets”, “singers’, “thinkers”, and, well, every sort of “influencer”.

    The same mechanics at play with Trump in the USA.

    He was not superficial and initially got elected with programs and projects ahead of the time for Italy, meeting the opposition (on top of the Left, as said) of his allies, who were aggrieved by his overwhelming popularity.

    He was no Orban no Haider no Le Pen no Farage. The closest comparison is with Trump but he was no Trump either.
    Among other things, he was always pushing to abridge the gap between Italy and those few countries ahead of it (very few, but stably ahead) — thus drawing upon himself the ire of those countries’ establishment.

    He pursued independence from European élites, and the USA, in foreign politics and economic governance, as well as efonomically strategical “friendships” with Russia-Putin and Libya-Ghaddafi.
    Such independence was no longer tolerated when, in the mid-00s, the Financial Times & Goldman Sachs folks gained greater than ever control on exactly foreign policy of European countries and economic policy.

    “The Markets” suddenly stopped trusting Italy’s trustwhortiness amd ability to honour its debts; the “International Press” went on describing financial instability and dire prospects for Italy full-time, as they do when there’s an end to achieve (and to be achieved shortly).

    Interest rates that had to be paid to creditors and people who’s buy state debt soared above any reasonable height, forcing the government’s lapse.
    Mario Monti, an economist who had served in the ranks of Goldman Sachs, and an international-élite member, was made President upon, very clearly, orders from abroad.

    Suddenly The Markets and the International Press went back to finding Italy’s finances and financial prospects healthy, debt rates went back to their normal.

    In 2018, after some years an independent goverment is elected again (Salvini-Di Maio), and again you have the EU’s economy chiefs, the Press that Matters, the Markets, the USA rating agencies, all worried about Italy’s financial conditions. And again this makes debt rates on issued state bonds soar.

    It happens whenever elected politicians show lack of obedience — especially if they fail to harass Putin, has Berlusconi then, and Salvini & Di Maio now, failed and fail to.

  2. @Anon

    It happens whenever elected politicians show lack of obedience — especially if they fail to harass Putin, has Berlusconi then, and Salvini & Di Maio now, failed and fail to.

    Yup. The bond-ratings agencies are nothing but a tool of the globalist debt-vultures on Wall Street. The whole ratings system is a total scam.

    [Friedman] does explicitly show, based primarily on U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner’s testimony, that Berlusconi was taken out under pressure by Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who blamed Italy’s lack of “reforms” for the eurozone’s ills. The European Central Bank also threatened to let Italy go bankrupt unless Rome towed the line.

    I heard a slightly different version of the story. I heard that Berlusconi was pushed out of office when he threatened to retaliate against Berlin/Brussels by dropping the euro:

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/19/the-plot-to-topple-berlusconi/

    In any case, it’s a real delight having Guillaume Durocher here at Unz.com. I had never heard of him before, but I have so far enjoyed all of his articles. It’s always good to get a European droite nouvelle perspective on politics.

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  3. @Anon

    Very informative. Thanks for your comment! Let’s hop Di Maio/Salvini prove more resilient to international pressure.

  4. @Digital Samizdat

    Thanks for your comment! Indeed Italy is perhaps the country for which the euro is the worst fit. I can imagine business circles around Berlusconi being tempted to get out..

    • Agree: Digital Samizdat
    • Replies: @Catiline
  5. The story of AC Milan, mentioned only in passing here, is instructive: he doesn’t know when to walk away. This can be viewed as positive (tenacity!) or negative (blatant egotism!), but the fact is his inability to let go means his hand gets forced and in the case of both Italy and Milan, everybody ends up with a completely crap deal.

  6. In the meantime, we will see not only more Berlusconis, but many more Trumps, Bolsonaros, Orbáns, and Salvinis in the future, as well as Corbyns and Grillos.

    Let’s be absolutely clear about this. Corbyn is no populist. He has little empathy for the white working class and is in favour of large 3rd World immigration. In fact, Durocher’s case for Left Wing Populism does not stand up to any form of scrutiny. To paraphrase the dramatist, the mainstream and far left want to dissolve the people and elect a new one. More and more immigration, they believe, will result in more and more people reliant on welfare. These people, when enfranchised, will vote for the parties of welfare – the Left. The Left will be in power forever, so they believe. Given their vested interest, they are inherently anti-Populist.

    From this, there will be more electoral demand for economically unsustainable left-wing economic policies, and for environmentally damaging right-wing policies. Neither is desirable, I do not rejoice at Trump’s blowing up of America’s hills for coal and gas or Bolsonaro’s proposals to further cut down the rain forests.

    The population of the US and Brazil 100 years ago was a fraction of what it is now. In 1917 the US population was about 80 million. Now it is 327 million, a 4-fold increase. Environmental degradation is logical outcome of large and sudden increase in population, especially in small areas.
    It is even more marked in countries like China and North Korea where there is no democracy at all.
    It has little to do with “demotism” or “right-wing policies.”
    Large scale industrialisation is also associated with environmental degradation. Yet in Western Europe and North America, in the last 60 years, air, land and water pollution has been drastically reduced. In the early 1950s, thousands died of respiratory diseases due to urban smog – the London Pea Souper being the most notorious. These are now just a memory.
    By contrast, countries like India and China have trouble even supplying the population with clean water. Many millions of Chinese have tap water with toxic levels of heavy metals and other pollutants. The resultant deaths also run into the millions.
    Mr Durocher seems to have a talent for deducing the wrong inference.

  7. Sean says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw-qm-liCPA

    Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo about Italian PM Giulio Andreotti who was actually convicted of ordering the murder of a journalist (although that was by the same prosecutors’ office that convicted Amanda Knox).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giulio_Andreotti
    A joke about Andreotti (originally seen in a strip by Stefano Disegni and Massimo Caviglia) had him receiving a phone call from a fellow party member, who pleaded with him to attend judge Giovanni Falcone’s funeral. His friend supposedly begged, “The State must give an answer to the Mafia, and you are one of the top authorities in it!” To which a puzzled Andreotti asked, “Which one do you mean?”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giulio_Andreotti

    1990 Andreotti was involved in getting all parties to agree to a binding timetable for the Maastricht Treaty. The deep Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union favoured by Italy was opposed by Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, who wanted a system of competition between currencies. Germany had doubts about committing to the project without requiring economic reforms from Italy, which was seen as having various imbalances. As President of the European Council, Andreotti co-opted Germany by making admittance to the single market automatic once the criteria had been met, and committing to a rigorous overhaul of Italian public finances. Critics later questioned Andreotti’s understanding of the obligation, or whether he had ever intended to fulfill it.[50][51]

    Italians are taking the French banks that made bad loans to it, and Germany that backs those loans to prop up the EU single market (Mutualisation), for yet another ride. Macron was elected as the banks’ mutualisation man to making French toxic loans something Germany will stand behind. Italy is the third largest economy in Europe and too big to fail and they know it. Technocrat Mario Monti was the bankers’ man to reduce Italy’s live now pay never lifestyle , but Italy knew it had a much stronger hand to play and so they elected a populist. The Germans are going to be squeezed till the pips squeak.

  8. Miro23 says:
    @Verymuchalive

    The population of the US and Brazil 100 years ago was a fraction of what it is now. In 1917 the US population was about 80 million. Now it is 327 million, a 4-fold increase. Environmental degradation is logical outcome of large and sudden increase in population, especially in small areas.

    It is even more marked in countries like China and North Korea where there is no democracy at all.
    It has little to do with “demotism” or “right-wing policies.”

    An interesting angle, and an option could be China’s forgotten “One Child policy” combined with automation. *

    An example of the environment fighting back, was the 14th century European Plague (Black Death) where the continent lost more than 30% of its population. And the final result wasn’t entirely negative:

    From the perspective of many of the survivors, however, the effect of the plague may have been ultimately favorable, as the massive reduction of the workforce meant their labor was suddenly in higher demand. R.H. Hilton has argued that those English peasants who survived found their situation to be much improved. For many Europeans, the 15th century was a golden age of prosperity and new opportunities. The land was plentiful, wages high, and serfdom had all but disappeared

    Consequences of the Black Death – Wikipedia

    Of course, no mention of the natural world – but there would also have been some positive effects there.

    * Back to the article – you need a high degree of solidarity and national identity for a One Child policy to work, and little or no immigration. Europe has fatally got a de facto One Child policy combined with open frontiers.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  9. Z-man says:

    Berlusconian populism has given way to that of Matteo Salvini, who while something an opportunist himself (like all electoral politicians, I am tempted to add), is saying and doing many of the right things on immigration and demography . . . and is getting even more popular as a result.
    The opportunity here is in overthrowing an emotionally stunted and ideologically incoherent establishment, which is destroying Western civilization based on a fundamentally incorrect understanding of human nature.

    That was a good tract, bears repeating.

    At the beginning of the film, in heavily accented English, Berlusconi tells us that he is speaking to Friedman because: “I trust him.”
    He was quite wrong to do so.

    Friedman… figures. (Wry grin)

  10. Cannot see myself as an expert on Italy, but in my opinion a few things about Italy must be realised.
    The country, if it is one, is very young, Garibaldi unified it, middle of the 19th century.
    At the time, one might say, there were three Italy’s, the papal state in the middle, the feudal deeply clerical state to the south, the more or less western part west of the papal state.
    Who is interested in political differences at the time I can recommend the book on Garibaldi, but be warned, three volumes in one.
    Even now there are two Italy’s, the NW, an European state, my idea, and the SW, feudal, criminal, poor.
    Naples the dividing line.
    Italy lies SE of Europe proper, if it is for this reason, I wonder, but Italy is hardly a democracy, it has tribal aspects, the (extended) family is of overriding importance.
    It is even more bureaucratic than France, already in the early seventies an Italian management consultant said to me: there is only one solution for our problems, we sell our public servants for what they cost, and buy them back for what they’re worth.
    Mussolini brought fascism, there has never been a definition of fascism, but mine is ‘use of violence without any ideology’.
    His phantasies about an Italian empire were a disaster, his WWII attacks on Albania and Greece also were disasters.
    Italy has, as all southern European countries, a long history of monetary problems, ‘solved’ by devaluations, now impossible because of the euro.
    The EU idea, that Italy would somehow culturally become some Germany now is an illusion, without any doubt.
    What made Italy vote for criminal Berlusconi, I never understood, a combination of a godfather with Hugh Hefner seems to appeal to them.
    At present it seems that Italy may well become the lighted fuse in the EU powder keg.
    What will happen to Italy thereafter, not my concern.
    George Macaulay Trevelyan, O.M., ‘Garibaldi’, London, 1933
    Richard Lamb, ‘Mussolini as diplomat, Il Duce’s Italy on the world stage’, 1997, New York
    Galeazzo Ciano, ‘Diary, 1937 – 1943’, 2002, London
    Alberto Denti di Pirajno, ‘A Cure for Serpents, A Doctor in Africa’, London 1956
    This last book is written by one of Mussolini’s diplomats in Lybia and Ethiopia, also a medical doctor.It makes clear that not all Italians agreed to Mussolini’s policies, and it is very interesting about snakes and scorpions.
    The political mess in Italy after Mussolini had been deposed is well described in
    Mario Toscano, ‘Designs in Diplomacy, Pages from European Diplomatic History in the Twentieth Century’, 1970 Baltimore
    Nobody outside Europe probably heard of the Fyra mess.
    Dutch Belgian railways wanted a high speed train between Brussels and The Hague.
    Under EU rules an Italian firm got the order, Breda something, they were the cheapest.
    Within two weeks the trains were no longer in use, how the Italians managed to construct such utter rubbish defies any imagination, how the Dutch Belgian railways failed in oversight during design and construction too.

    • Replies: @Z-man
    , @Anon
  11. El Dato says:

    Good stuff.

    Italy has always been a mystery as it seems to not be a country rather that an assemblage of fiefdoms, geographical, economical and political, run with graft & violence, and none of which serve the population well or even at all. It seems a very African place.

    Why would anyone become President of that bunch? Except to have fun?

    Unless one believes in the State, like presumably Putin does, then the program is different.

    • Replies: @Z-man
  12. @Verymuchalive

    ” Let’s be absolutely clear about this. Corbyn is no populist. ”
    The word populists, one of the words that should be abolished immediately.
    Democracy is populism, the people can vote those who they want to rule or represent them.
    The word came into use when the ideas of the ruling class began to differ significantly from popular ideas.
    My idea of Corbyn is that he’s an old fashioned naive socialist, seems to believe that the task of socialism is to bring a decent life to anyone on this planet.
    And seems to believe that globalism will in the end bring this decent life to anyone.
    His attitude about Brexit was wavering, my idea was and is that on the one hand he wants an EU, part of his ideal of globalisation, on the other that he saw and sees that Brussels will not bring the society he wants.
    Socialists, in my opinion, cannot accept the reality that not every group of people is equally capable of ruling themselves.
    Or, they do accept this, but think it can be solved by transporting all poor people to rich countries.
    The two other possibilities, we do nothing, and re introduction of colonialism, taboo.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Verymuchalive
  13. Sean says:
    @jilles dykstra

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36616028

    The Leave campaign triumphed right across England and Wales, winning in large northern cities including Sheffield, the Welsh valleys, across the Midlands including Birmingham, and the south and east of England.

    Labour’s Midlands heartlands. Corbyn may have been more tactically astute that given credit for, because he did astoundingly well in the following general election. He was the only major leader that was ever anything like in favour of leaving the EU admittedly so it was just following his nose. Blair’s New Labour MPs were coopted by business and just as mach as the Conservatives were.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  14. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Sean

    He lost slightly worse than when Brown lost to Cameron in 2010 in embarrassment and he did it to a much less talented politician while receiving a good bunch of the protest vote for which Brown had been ineligible. It is a stretch to call that doing “astoundingly well”.

    Also, while he has been ok on the EU stuff considering his SJW activist type followers, it is utterly wrong to say he was the only major politician not on board with the EU. Astoundingly wrong, in fact.

    • Replies: @Sean
  15. Bill B. says:
    @Verymuchalive

    Let’s be absolutely clear about this. Corbyn is no populist. He has little empathy for the white working class and is in favour of large 3rd World immigration.

    Well could one not agree that Corbyn is a populist but for the other team?

  16. ia says:

    Thank you very much for an interesting article.

    • Agree: Agent76
  17. Sean says:
    @Tyrion 2

    None of the two major party leaders had his record, no one who became PM so far has been as anti EU as him. Most observers were astounded by how close he came to winning. The traditionsl Midlands Labour voters are now recognized as key to Brexit win and the General Election near win for Corbyn. He is more out of tune with the majority of his MPs than May is.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    , @Sean
  18. @Miro23

    Excellent points, Senor Miro.

    An example of the environment fighting back, was the 14th century European Plague (Black Death) where the continent lost more than 30% of its population. And the final result wasn’t entirely negative:

    Actually between 1340t and 1380 the population of Europe dropped about 40%, and in the case of Norway as much as 60% – it’s not called Rattus norvegicus for nothing.
    The plus side was, as you say, a lot of marginal arable land went out of production. Some just went back to nature and returned to forest or shrubland – like Old Field Forest in North America. But most became highly managed and beneficial forest-pasture. Standard trees – often oaks or pine – were grown, but far enough apart that continuous grass or foliage was underneath them. The trees were managed for wood production, often by coppicing or pollarding. Cattle and pigs were brought into the areas at particular times of year to graze the foliage, the use of swine for pannage ( acorns and beech mast ) being particularly important.
    This was actually an improvement on the natural forest ecosystem as the number and variety of organisms actually increased. Some areas, like Warwickshire, saw abrupt changes after 1350. Two hundred years later, it was divided into 2 contrasting zones: Warwickshire Fielden, a heavily cultivated zone, and Warwickshire Arden, an affluent area of managed woodland. As you may know, Shakespeare’s mother was born Mary Arden.
    To see it today, you are best going to Iberia, where Pines and Oaks, particularly the Cork Oak, are cultivated in a like manner. The Cork Oak is shaved every 10 to 12 years. The foliage and acorns feed lots of pigs. Many of the plantations are on poor soils and the system maximises species diversity and conservation of nutrients. I always try to buy wine with a cork as it helps safeguard the system.


    * Back to the article – you need a high degree of solidarity and national identity for a One Child policy to work, and little or no immigration. Europe has fatally got a de facto One Child policy combined with open frontiers.

    Yes, we have the worst of all possible worlds. So many of the leaders – Merkel, Macron, May – don’t have any children at all. We must change or perish.

  19. Agent76 says:

    Nov 22, 2018 It’s Official: We’re Living in the Prequel to ‘Blade Runner’

  20. @jilles dykstra

    My idea of Corbyn is that he’s an old fashioned naive socialist, seems to believe that the task of socialism is to bring a decent life to anyone on this planet.

    Corbyn is not any form of old fashioned socialist at all. He is not of or for the traditional working class. He is a 1960s leftist of upper-middle class origin, who lived most of his childhood in a 7 bedroom Manor House. See below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Corbyn

    The word populists, one of the words that should be abolished immediately.
    Democracy is populism, the people can vote those who they want to rule or represent them.

    Democracy is not populism, you dimwit. Once upon a time Dutch people were renowned for their study of Latin. Populism derives from Populus, Latin for people. Populist parties aim to represent the views of the common people, not the elite. Democracy derives from the Greek Demos ( people ) and Kratos ( rule ). But, as is often the case, the purpose of “Democracy” is often to defeat Populists. Ancient Athens is case in point. The vast majority of the population were metics ( legal aliens ) or slaves. Only a minority of male citizens could vote.

    Dykstra, time you started reading proper history.

    • Replies: @Anon
  21. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Our FUTURE? No, it’s the present. If you are a white liberationist and want OUT of submission to Jewish supremacism, you get fired and deplatformed and blacklisted.

    Schina is here.

  22. Z-man says:
    @jilles dykstra

    You’re right, you aren’t an expert on Italy.

  23. Z-man says:
    @El Dato

    Well it’s done pretty good as a nation state and it even vied with Britain to be the #3 economy in Europe at one time. It’s still a close 4th to Britain now.

    It seems a very African place.

    There we go again with the Africa references. The other one being ‘Africa begins in Rome’. Somebody mentioned that to me once with regard to the African migrant invasion thru Italy and I said it was the EU’s fault and that it ‘seems that Africa starts in Brussels’.

  24. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Verymuchalive

    I agree, dykstra needs to read other than middle school history. He also needs to shake his prole peasant black stocking sect Calvinist bigotry that forms his views of everything.

    Because of family history I’m greatly interested in the French Revolution, the real history, not Dykstra’s middle school biases bigoted version he incessantly posts to us ignorant Americans who have easy access to some of the greatest university libraries in the world

    At least he’s stopped posting that we have no medical insurance in America and have to sell the house to pay for a childbirth or surgery

  25. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Our resident black stocking Calvinist displays his bigotry once again. Italy is the 8 th largest economy in the world. Netherlands is 18th.

    Italy is the only Western European country resisting the Islamic invasion as it’s been doing since 700AD. Even Spain is caving in as Germany UK Scandinavia and the Netherlands did decades ago.

    Your major cities are overrun with Muslim Moroccans on life long welfare and the Dutch submit to it as the rest of the N. West European countries do.

    Italy was a great entity a thousand years before Rome was a village with the great civilizations of Sicily and Etrusca.

    It’s always been great and will be great a thousand years hence. It’s people have one of the highest IQs in Europe,
    202102. according to brain stats IQtests
    for free and other websites.

    Unlike next door Belgium which was part of the great economy and culture of the Duchy of Burgundy from the so called dark ages to early modern times, Netherlands was nothing till Spain and Portugual established colonies all over the world and Netherlands grabbed Indonesia.

    Your Golden Age lasted about 200 years but Italy’s been a powerhouse at least 3,000 years, long before Rome rose.

    Your posts are mostly sneering at us Americans and European countries that never suffered under the scourge of Calvinism.

    For example, I’m very knowledgeable about the French Revolution because of family history and your posts about the French Revolution are completely ignorant.

    Worst are your reading lists. You think all Americans are ignorant hillbillies who haven’t read a book in their lives.

    Well, we have some great university libraries and a great national library too. Unz commenters are better read than you. And we read various versions of historical events, unlike you who only reads what will reinforce your existing bigotry and prejudices.

    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
    , @Anon
  26. Anon[766] • Disclaimer says:

    Agreed the Dutchman can be an irritating nerd but aren’t you worried about what your readership may think when they note your repetitiousness. E.g. “great university libraries, your family and the French Revolution for two?

  27. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Sean

    None of the two major party leaders had his record,

    He was “one of the two major party leaders”. The other one also actually called the referendum.

    Your point is so weak as to be reminiscient of homeopathic “medical” theory.

    The traditional Midlands Labour voters are now recognized as key to Brexit win and the General Election near win for Corbyn

    No, they’re not. The Conservatives performed historically well in places like the Midlands, where they picked up seats. Their surprise losses were in places like Canterbury with a big student vote.

    Probably by offering them all £10k a year plus grants plus the promise to try to pay off their debt…

    I suppose you could argue that Corbyn did well to not totally alienate Labour’s traditional support in the working class, but then Labour, for the first time ever, lost the working class – a group that has shown them incredible loyalty.

    • Replies: @Sean
  28. @Anon

    I considered writing a long answer, but a waste of time, I now think
    I do not think the average USA citizen is more a hillbilly than the average Euopean, maybe is is a consolation that before I became interested in history, now nearly twenty years ago, I also was a hillbilly, believing mainstream history.
    Irritating, of course, but also irritating in the Netherlands, explaining that for example Hitler never wanted war, but that FDR did, irritating.
    Even explaining, now nearly mainstream history, that FDR deliberately provoked Pearl Harbour for his war, irritating.
    Of course the USA has libraries, such a pity that they throw out so many interesting books, that are now in my possession.
    Holland rich through trading on the west and east Indies, fairy tale.
    This at the same time makes clear that you do not understand anything about European history.
    Holland became rich by trading between the Baltic and the Iberian peninsula, also France etc.
    This trade is very old, in 600 CE the Frysian kingdom with capital Stavoren extended from present Bretagne in France to the N of present Denmark, along the coast.
    A Frysian king fought the Roman empire, in the last days of that empire.
    Holland being nothing, when the USA was just Indian territory we had thinkers as Erasmus, Hugo de Groot (Grotius) and Spinoza.
    The Frysian fight against the Romans:
    Michael Rostovtzeff, ‘Geschichte der Alten Welt, Rom’, Bremen 1961 (1924 Berlin)
    The book in original was written in english.
    One last thing, USA media, far worse even than European.
    CNN, for children.

  29. Anon[436] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    #26 Is for you as you I guess.

  30. Sean says:
    @Sean

    No past leader has his track record on the EU or EEC. May called that snap election (there were complaints about it) thinking that Labour heartlands had abandoned Labor by voting Brexit, and would not turn out for Corbyn. A lot of people thought that too, but he shocked them.

  31. Sean says:
    @Tyrion 2

    Corbyn brought it back. No past leader has his track record on the EU or EEC. May called that snap election (there were complaints about iher being able to do that if you remember because it was expected that Labour would be annihilated) thinking that Labour heartlands had abandoned Labor by voting Brexit, and would not turn out for Corbyn. A lot of people thought that too, but he shocked them; it was things like zero hours contracts that brought the working class back.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    , @Tyrion 2
  32. I really appreciated the article until and I have no idea why you interjected the nonsensical issue of justice to equality to required superiority. Justice need not an indication or related in any manner to one being superior over the other.

    .
    However, the article did get me to appreciate Pres. Berlusconi more than I had previously. But then i like underdogs.

  33. Catiline says:
    @Guillaume Durocher

    There is also Italy’s efforts at an independent energy policy involved in all of this.

    http://etleboro.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-francesi-nei-balcani-scalata-ostile.html

    http://etleboro.blogspot.com/search/label/pipelines

    http://etleboro.blogspot.com/search/label/gasdotti

    http://etleboro.blogspot.com/search/label/South%20Stream

    http://etleboro.blogspot.com/search/label/Nabucco

    In addition to intra-European economic rivalry, grown sharper since the demise of the Soviet Union.

    Pay careful attention to the classification around the years ’92-’93.

  34. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Sean

    May I never share the type of huge success that you attribute to Corbyn.

    Labour losing but outperforming their disastrous polls against a talentless and incompetent Conservative leader is not success.

    Furthermore, their areas of loss coincided with where the native working class live while their areas of gain coincided with where the coalition of the fringes live.

    These are facts, what you are giving is spin.

    He shocked people by not doing as awfully as they expected…but still lost. He will, outside of economic collapse, never win.

    Protest vote or parties that outperformed but did not win:

    2010 – Lib Dems
    2015 – UKIP
    2017 – Labour

    Yes, very often the same people were switching between those three and next election Corbyn won’t get it.

    • Replies: @Sean
  35. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Sean

    He endorsed Remain. His track record of being previously for Leave certainly softened this but he has hardly been heroic on this issue.

  36. Sean says:
    @Tyrion 2

    May is said to have called that snap election because she thought Corbyn was about to resign and he was thought to be a far easier Labour leader to beat that any possible successor. She was not alone in underestimating him and he himself maybe thought he could not win. Corbyn led Labour to a creditable performance despite his maverick style, and he can win a general election if he is a bit more all things to all men, now he knows it.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  37. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Sean

    You’ve retreated to a basic truth, that Corbyn outperformed his awful expectations, and a plausible supposition, that he could win a general election.

    I disagree with the plausible supposition, without extreme factors arising. I don’t much blame Corbyn for this either, it seems he is a pretty good “leader of men”. The problem is that the Labour party is controlled by deranged SJW/SWP type activists.

    The crucial lesson of Trump is that if you can say something actually strong on immigration, strong enough for people to believe you, then you will earn a very big and loyal voting block. That block could be Corbyn’s were the SJW activists not already hysterical in the name of open borders.

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