Berlusconi Is Dead, the Nightmare of His Legacy Remains!

Yorgos Mitralias

Silvio Berlusconi, May 2019 at European People’s Party meeting

UNFORTUNATELY, THE END of Berlusconi does not mean the end of the model of (bourgeois) politics that he invented and implemented. Why not? Because Berlusconi has succeeded in setting an example by shaping a whole generation of extremely neo-liberal and hyper-reactionary far-right politicians who already govern or are threatening to govern almost half of humanity, while flirting with fascism when they don’t declare themselves fascists.

And, of course, Berlusconi’s “achievement” is enough to justify the claim by many of his current panegyrists that he has “left his mark on the history of his country and his times.” However, they forget to add that Berlusconi “has left his mark on his country and his times” in the same way as his compatriot… Benito Mussolini, with whom Silvio liked to be compared when he took the reins of the Italian government after his electoral triumphs in 1994, 2001 and 2008…

Is this simply the boasting of an inveterate blowhard with a penchant for big words that have no practical impact? Certainly not, if we remember not only that Italy’s current “post-fascist” Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, is his personal creation, but also that Berlusconi ensured, from day one of his political career, that Mussolini’s epigones would emerge from their post-war forties, first by making their leader Gianfranco Fini the vice-president of his governments, then by merging his party with that of Fini’s fascists!

But Berlusconi has not limited himself to this systematic “collaboration” with Mussolini’s spiritual children. He has done something far more important and terribly dangerous: he has changed Italy so radically that he has rendered an entire country and its society, Italy, unrecognisable. As we wrote last September, commenting on the Italian elections that saw Meloni’s triumph,

“Berlusconism, that mixture of neo-liberal cynicism, nouveau riche vulgarity, racism and extreme sexism, and an uninhibited amoralism, has taken and continues to take its toll on Italian society and now flows through its veins.”

But Berlusconi’s historic importance and extreme danger lie above all in the fact that he has not limited the impact of his actions to his own country, but has consciously given them an international dimension. Just as, in the 1980s, Thatcher initiated and “legitimised” by her example the neoliberal policies that were subsequently implemented by countless imitators throughout the world, so Berlusconi, at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, “invented,” initiated and “legitimised,” with his (victorious) example, policies but also behaviours — that were violently anti-worker and at the same time ultra-reactionary and obscurantist, which would have been unthinkable before him, but which are now being implemented by dozens of his imitators, big and small, all over the world!

In fact, the spread of the Berlusconi political model is now so widespread, and its roots even in the metropolises of international capitalism so obvious, that it is arguably the greatest and most immediate political threat to humanity. Here is what we wrote on this subject nine months ago in an article with an eloquent title: “Towards the Brown International of the European and global far right?”:

“Modi’s India, Putin’s Russia, Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Orban’s Hungary, and soon Giorgia Meloni’s Italy and maybe Trump II’s United States, the picture is far from being exhaustive but it still gives an idea of the seriousness of the threat that now hangs over humanity. Far from being all avowed nostalgics or “heirs” of the fascism and nazism of the inter-war period, these leaders are united by their racism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, islamophobia and anti-semitism, their open rejection of parliamentary (bourgeois) democracy, their misogyny, their adoration of fossil fuels and climate skepticism, their militarism, their contempt for democratic rights and freedoms, their police conception of history and their belief in conspiracy theories, their hatred of the LGBTQ community, their obscurantism and their visceral attachment to the triptych “Family-Patriarchy-Religion.”

Of course, it’s no coincidence that all of them have always been close friends, allies and admirers of Berlusconi, and that today they vie with each other in wild praise of their late idol and political model. In addition to the hatred — often murderous — that they, like many others, harbour towards the workers’ movement, immigrants, all ethnic, sexual and other minorities, those who are “different” and, of course and above all, women, there is something else that unites them and which is a wholly personal contribution of the late Silvio Berlusconi: a very particular “aesthetic” approach to life that combines extreme vulgarity with thuggish behaviour, macho exhibitionismo with the most primitive misogyny! And all this while cultivating violence and the cult of violence, monopolised by the “elites,” i.e. by themselves, in order to subdue and crush all those who, in Europe, America and the rest of the world, persist in defending and demanding the most elementary democratic rights and freedoms…

In conclusion, Berlusconi has left us, but his legacy, which remains more feared than ever, does not allow us to rejoice as much as we would like at the joyful news of his passing!

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