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Berlusconi as the Fellinesque Clown of Europe?
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2009-03-09 10:03:55
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“We are a regressing country, Italian political parties, all of them, are responsible for that situation, instead of giving more rights in our country full citizenship spaces get everyday smaller, this is really dangerous, and society is regressing because politics and institutions don’t give any answer to people’s problems.”
                                 --Anna Paola Concia (MP for the Italian Christian Democrat political party)

The above quoted parliamentarian Anna Paola Concia, member of the Italian Christian Democratic party, and Donata Gottardi, member of  the European Parliament’s Socialist Party, have recently denounced Silvio Berlusconi to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg for his ongoing and frequent declarations “against life and the dignity of  women”.  Their claim is that Berlusconi has violated articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights and has consistently insulted Italian women.

Here is part of the evidence submitted: in March 2008 during his electoral campaign Berlusconi said to a young unemployed girl "to marry his billionaire son to solve her economic problems". In January, during a speech in Sardinian city of Sassari he said “to avoid rapes, it would require to assign a soldier for every good-looking Italian woman”. In February he said that, Eluana Englaro, a girl in coma for 17 years could still become a mother, and again in February during an international meeting with Sarkozy he told him: “I gave you your woman”.

It appears that Berlusconi thinks of those pronouncements as mere cute humorous jokes a la “ridi pagliaccio” but what is more disturbing than this sheer lack of gravitas in a prime minister is the wide toleration and lack of indignation for those jokes by many men in Italy; for no other Prime Minister in Europe dares to speak that way and only in Italy those pronouncements are considered mere gaffes. The fact that he gets re-elected time and again proves the point.

It is no wonder that Fellini used the metaphor of the circus to describe Italian society in his movies. Had he been alive today he would probably assign to Berlusconi the role of clown in chief in the enormous political social circus that Italy seems to have become lately.

One is reminded of the famous exchange between Machiavelli and Guicciardini. Machiavelli liked to remind Italians of their noble Roman heritage as he attempted to motivate them to remove the foreign yoke and domination from Italy. Guicciardini would retort that to compare the present day anarchical Italians to the ancient Romans was similar to comparing a noble horse to a lowly donkey. Without taking away from the enormous cultural civilizing role of Italian Humanism and the Renaissance, the inescapable conclusion is that Guicciardini may have had it more on target politically speaking, since it took three hundred more years to achieve the final unification of Italy and even that was a blunder of sort; it was built from the top down so that Camillo Benso de Cavour, one of his architects, could declare “now that we have made Italy, we need to make the Italians,” perfect example of putting the cart before the horse.

One is led to wonder if that important historical lesson has been learned and reflected upon by Europeans at large. Could it be the case that history is repeating itself before our eyes? That now that we have made a united Europe, we still have to make the Europeans? That is something that Napoleon would have asked, had he succeeded in uniting Europe under the guise of the greater France thus doing one better on De Cavour.  
But to return to the Italians and their gaffes vis a vis the EU, lately Berlusconi has joked about Italian women after particularly tragic situations like the rape of a young woman in Rome or the coma of Eluana Englaro. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and angered the two above mentioned parlamentarian women. It is intriguing that they decided to denounce Berlusconi not in an Italian court but in a European Court.  When asked about it they replied that they had applied to a European Court because in Italy the Prime Minister can not be put under trial due to political immunity guaranteed by a new Italian law called Lodo Alfano. Indeed, one of the astute Machiavellian, albeit clownish, political acts of Berlusconi is that of promoting laws that would insure that a sitting Prime Minister could not be denounced and brought to trial during his tenure. In effect Berlusconi is another Duce, a descendent of the Roman Emperors, sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair in a democratic country and insulting at will and with impunity women and anybody else he fancies. If that does not constitute a Fellinesque circus of sort, nothing does.

Asked if that means that their denunciation was a mere symbolical gesture the two parlamentarians have replied that such is not the case; that it is a true denunciation. They are simply  sick and tired of having their Prime Minister constantly insult women as if they were nothing but males’ property, thus contemptuously debasing their role as equal citizens of a democratic European country.

Indeed, we live in a Fellinesque world and Fellini must be turning in his grave since the scenes presented in this particular political circus ring are not even worthy of a truly professional circus clown who is able to make a critical point while making people laugh, they are mere amateurish farces worthy of Guicciardini’s famed donkey. 

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Thanos2009-03-09 11:08:00
Unfortunately when it comes to Berlusconi is not only the articles 8 and 14 he has violated, the man has violated the dignity of the European political life and he has done so badly excusing all things said about politicians.

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