Berlusconi was just for starters, it’s time for the full Monti

With the sudden departure of Silvio Berlusconi you might have supposed that almost any change in Italy must be for the better, however given the background of his replacement Mario Monti, it’s time to think again. Certainly, the years of Berlusconi have been an especially unsightly boil on the face of Western European democracy, and there’s really nothing to be said in his favour except that by being such a high-class buffoon – a burlesque parody… of a plastic imitation… of Danny DeVito playing Mussolini – no-one outside of Italy has ever taken him remotely seriously. Of course, Berlusconi does have a serious side, and when he’s not busy getting it on with somebody’s great-granddaughter, you’d probably be most likely to find him “helping police with their inquiries”: the courtroom having nicely substituted for Berlusconi’s second home.

And faced with endless charges of crimes ranging from false accounting and mere bribery, to collusion with the Mafia, whenever Berlusconi really started to feel the heat, he always had the perfect answer – yes, it was time to rewrite the country’s statute of limitations. Yet it seems that almost nothing could dent the Italian public’s twisted love affair with Berlusconi. No amount of hanky-panky with barely post-pubescent girls, and no amount of financial sleaze. Not even the disclosure of his membership to the notorious Propaganda Due (or P2) masonic lodge, with its neofascist agenda and documented involvement in the clandestine “strategy of tension”; the “Years of Lead” (Anni di piombo), a period of destabilisation lasting from the late 1960s to early 1980s, which involved assassinations and a wave of terrorist attacks, having been in part orchestrated by P2 under a CIA led programme known as Operation Gladio. And though Berlusconi is not directly implicated in the crimes of Gladio and the P2 lodge, he was most decidedly in with the in-crowd.

Here is what Licio Gelli, the Venerable Master of P2, told La Repubblica in 2003 with regards to Berlusconi’s implementation of the P2 “democratic rebirth plan”:

Every morning I speak to my conscience and the dialogue calms me down. I look at the country, read the newspaper, and think: “All is becoming a reality little by little, piece by piece. To be truthful, I should have had the copyright to it. Justice, TV, public order. I wrote about this thirty years ago… Berlusconi is an extraordinary man, a man of action. This is what Italy needs: not a man of words, but a man of action.1

The Italians have had plenty of opportunity to give Berlusconi the boot, but for whatever reason, they preferred the devil they knew, and elected him to office three times – and the fact that he owned most of the nation’s TV channels through Gruppo Mediaset, not to mention the biggest football club in a nation of football obsessives, must to some extent account for his longevity. With the fall of Berlusconi, however, democracy itself is now being undone, since Berlusconi was, at least to some extent, accountable to the Italian people, whereas his replacement, the unelected economist and former EU commissioner (first appointed to EU by Berlusconi, back in 1995), Mario Monti, and his newly gathered cabinet of ‘technocrats’, are accountable only to ‘the markets’. There is not a single elected representative in sight:

Mr Monti took on the economy and finance portfolio himself.

Corrado Passera, CEO of the Intesa Sanpaolo banking group, was named to head the new ministry of development, infrastructure and transport.

Another key appointment was that of Antonio Catricala, head of the anti-trust authority, who was made under-secretary to the prime minister’s office.

Despite reports that Mr Monti had sought to include politicians in his cabinet, there are none.

“The absence of political personalities in the government will help rather than hinder a solid base of support for the government in parliament and in the political parties because it will remove one ground for disagreement,” he said.2

Click here to read the full BBC news report.

Some in the mainstream media have already started bigging up Mr Monti, calling him ‘Super’ Mario, which is ironic given that looney-toon Silvio failed to receive any such cartoonish moniker. In any case, so far as I can discern there is really just one outstanding thing about Monti – one reason for such premature acclamation – which is that ‘Super’ Mario Monti is super connected. This comes from Reuters:

A convinced free marketeer with close connections to the European and global policy-making elite, Monti has always backed a more closely integrated euro zone and has written a series of articles in recent months lambasting the Berlusconi government’s policy failures.

He is chairman of the European branch of the Trilateral Commission, a body that brings together the power elites of the United States, Europe and Japan and is also a member of the secretive Bilderberg Group of business leaders and other “leading citizens”.3

I have already posted articles about the murky goings on at Bilderberg meetings, and the Trilateral Commission for those who’ve never heard of it, is simply another branch of the same secretive globalist network.

Founded in 1973 by none other than David Rockefeller, apparently for reasons of dissatisfaction with Bilderberg (which he’d also helped to found two decades earlier), and wishing to expand its influence beyond Europe and North America, he along with the then National Security Advisor (under Carter), Zbigniew Brzezinski, jointly held the reins at the Trilateral Commission.

Unlike the Bilderberg Group, it may be said of the Trilateral Commission that they have only ever been semi-secretive, and that once in a blue moon they even released a publication. Indeed, their first major report, which was entitled “The Crisis of Democracy”, gives a fair warning of how the Trilateralists would prefer to be running our lives (and in the second part of this post I include a brief overview and analysis of the report – the recommendations it makes being timely ones).

Back to Monti, and we see one more outstanding part to his CV. Perhaps you’ve already heard, or perhaps you can guess. Well, here’s an article from yesterday’s the Independent that makes it clear; it’s entitled “What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe”4:

[And] By putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.

This is the most remarkable thing of all: a giant leap forward for, or perhaps even the successful culmination of, the Goldman Sachs Project.

The Goldman Sachs what…?!!!

This is The Goldman Sachs Project. Put simply, it is to hug governments close. Every business wants to advance its interests with the regulators that can stymie them and the politicians who can give them a tax break, but this is no mere lobbying effort. Goldman is there to provide advice for governments and to provide financing, to send its people into public service and to dangle lucrative jobs in front of people coming out of government. The Project is to create such a deep exchange of people and ideas and money that it is impossible to tell the difference between the public interest and the Goldman Sachs interest.

Apparently, and as if we didn’t know it already, tentacles of “the Vampire Squid” (I’m just quoting from Foley’s article!) have already penetrated into every political nook and cranny:

It is not just Mr Monti. The European Central Bank, another crucial player in the sovereign debt drama, is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank’s alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Until Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund’s European division was also run by a Goldman man, Antonio Borges, who just resigned for personal reasons.

So here’s an intriguing article, although one that fails to do “the Vampire Squid” full justice. The problem being that Foley seems to believe not only that the vampire might somehow be resurrected, but that this would be a good thing:

The grave danger [no pun intended presumably] is that, if Italy stops paying its debts, creditor banks could be made insolvent. Goldman Sachs, which has written over $2trn of insurance, including an undisclosed amount on eurozone countries’ debt, would not escape unharmed, especially if some of the $2trn of insurance it has purchased on that insurance turns out to be with a bank that has gone under.

In reality, however, Goldman Sachs is irredeemably vampiric. It maintains its life only by feasting upon the life-blood of others, because it is already undead – or ‘insolvent’, if you prefer.

This is the rationale for the bailouts and the austerity, the reason we are getting more Goldman, not less.

says Foley, and here he is half right again. It is indeed ‘the rationale’ for sucking us dry, but it certainly not the reason ‘we are getting more Goldman’. Goldman Sachs would already be burned by now, if it weren’t for the fact that their tentacles have been allowed to extend so far. Foley simply turns the blatant truth on its head.

So let’s be clear, the appointment of Monti, and other cronies like him, is not ‘the alternative’ to ‘a second financial collapse’, as Foley also seems to believe – the ‘second collapse’ is already here, and it’s cause is no different from the first – no, if we are to rescue ourselves then Goldman Sachs must be properly dispatched. There’s no use negotiating with vampires: it’s us or them.

According to tradition, of course, just bringing vampires into the light can sometimes be enough to destroy them, and so perhaps Foley’s article helps a little in that way. Ultimately, however, the way to rid any really bad infestation of vampires is not by ‘recapitalisation’, but by decapitation. Mario Monti needs to get the chop. Let’s pray that the Italians are up to the task.

*

The Crisis of Democracy5 (1975) was the first major report published by the Trilateral Commission. Like most reports, it’s hardly an interesting read, but turgid and soporific from its beginning, through to its middle and end. Unfortunately, however, such rambling tediousness doesn’t undo its significance.

People in the democratic world are disaffected, the book explains at great length, disillusioned by political institutions, disinterested in ideology, they are also now turning their collective backs to the various religious institutions.6 In consequence, there has arisen a widespread and growing distrust of authority, with all forms of authority now under scrutiny:

“In the past, institutions which have played the major role in the indoctrination of the young in their rights and obligations as members of society have been the family, the church, the school, and the army. The effectiveness of all these institutions as a means of socialization has declined severely.”7

Indoctrination still has its uses, but stress is nowadays placed all too heavily on the rights, interests and needs of individuals, often at the expense of community, and so on and so forth:

“The success of the existing structures of authority in incorporating large elements of the population into the middle class, paradoxically strengthens precisely those groups which are disposed to challenge the existing structures of authority.”8

It follows that (rather obviously), a more docile and wholly apathetic population would be preferable, especially within the ranks of trouble-making educated middle-classes. Japan serving as a most excellent example of how a more servile society can function, with its “reservoir of traditional acquiescence among the people to support its [government] authority.” Although even in Japan, we learn that: “the reservoir of acquiescence is more and more draining down.”9

Noam Chomsky said of the report: “The Trilateral recommendations for the capitalist democracies are an application at home of the theories of “order” developed for subject societies of the Third World.”10 Chomsky points out that the report is rather openly advocating a systematic campaign of demoralisation for any of us lucky enough to be living in a Western democracy. Nurturing our apathy to avoid what might otherwise become our “excess of democracy”:

“The report argues that what is needed in the industrial democracies “is a greater degree of moderation in democracy” to overcome the “excess of democracy” of the past decade. “The effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups.”11

One solution then, and perhaps the best solution, would be the complete and total eradication of the intellectual middle class… no, no, calm down, I was just seeing if you are still paying attention… the actual recommended solution is merely to re-establish a sense of “common purpose” amongst us:

“In this situation, the machinery of democracy continues to operate, but the ability of the individuals operating that machinery to make decisions tends to deteriorate. Without common purpose, there is no basis for common priorities, and without priorities, there are no grounds for distinguishing among competing private interests and claims. Conflicting goals and specialized interests crowd in upon one another, with executives, cabinets, parliaments, and bureaucrats lacking the criteria to discriminate among them. The system becomes one of anomic democracy, in which democratic politics becomes more an arena for the assertion of conflicting interests than a process for the building of common purposes.”12

Which is precisely on the button, for any aspiring oligarchs, whilst long-winded enough for most of the rest of us to ignore. Allow me rephrase it and put it more succinctly: we need our democracies to be reconstructed in order to avoid such unnecessary hindrance as “conflicting goals” and “competing private interests”… which means less, ahhh… what’s the word… oh, yes, that’s it: less democracy.

Now if any of that sounded like it might become the least little bit tyrannical then please be assured that it is quite diametrically the reverse. It is in fact a protection against an otherwise near unstoppable descent into tyranny. Here’s a few lines drawn from the introduction of the report to make the agenda clearer:

“At the present time, a significant challenge comes from the intellectuals and related groups who assert their disgust with the corruption, materialism, and inefficiency of democracy and with the subservience of democratic government to “monopoly capitalism.” The development of an “adversary culture” among intellectuals has affected students, scholars, and the media. Intellectuals are, as Schumpeter put it, “people who wield the power of the spoken and the written word, and one of the touches that distinguish them from other people who do the same is the absence of direct responsibility for practical affairs,” In some measure, the advanced industrial societies have spawned a stratum of value-oriented intellectuals who often devote themselves to the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, and the unmasking and delegitimation of established institutions, their behavior contrasting with that of the also increasing numbers of technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals. In an age of widespread secondary school and university education, the pervasiveness of the mass media, and the displacement of manual labor by clerical and professional employees, this development constitutes a challenge to democratic government which is, potentially at least, as serious as those posed in the past by the aristocratic cliques, fascist movements, and communist parties.”

Yes, dissent against authority, whether amongst intellectuals or the media challenges not only the status quo, but “democratic government” as such. “Serious” dangers that are in some way comparable to the rise of fascism. But this is only the beginning:

“In addition to the emergence of the adversary intellectuals and their culture, a parallel and possibly related trend affecting the viability of democracy concerns broader changes in social values. In all three Trilateral regions, a shift in values is taking place away from the materialistic work-oriented, public-spirited values toward those which stress private satisfaction, leisure, and the need for “belonging and intellectual and esthetic self-fulfillment.” These values are, of course, most notable in the younger generation. They often coexist with greater skepticism towards political leaders and institutions and with greater alienation from the political processes. They tend to be privatistic in their impact and import. The rise of this syndrome of values, is presumably related to the relative affluence in which most groups in the Trilateral societies came to share during the economic expansion of the 1960s. The new values may not survive recession and resource shortages. But if they do, they pose an additional new problem for democratic government in terms of its ability to mobilize its citizens for the achievement of social and political goals and to impose discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens in order to achieve those goals.”13

So it’s the fault of the sixties, basically, and those bloody baby-boomers, transmitting skepticism, nay cynicism, to our later generations. As a result, a rising tide of individualism is posing a threat, especially should any “democratic government” attempt “to mobilize its citizens for the achievement of social and political goals and to impose discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens in order to achieve those goals.”

And yes, I repeat this final section again, so that you, the reader, might reflect on it a moment. Such an unintentional yet refreshingly candid admission from our would-be rulers. Notice how it talks of the state “mobilizing its citizens” and of “impos[ing] discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens” to achieve “social and political goals”.

The citizens evidently have no role to play in deciding what these goals might be. Rather they are owned by their “democratic government” and expected merely to obey regardless to policy decisions taken. But in any case, and with luck, some kind of recession or resource shortages will straighten us out, and make it easier “to impose discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens.” Yes, I’ve repeated it again. It needs repeating, especially given the justifications, about the dangers of fascism and so on. Fascism may of course return under many guises, but one thing that it will most definitely impose is “discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens”. This is always at the heart of fascism. Impositions of this sort are in no ways democratic, they are fascistic.

1“Tutte le mattine parlo con le voci della mia coscienza, ed è un dialogo che mi quieta. Guardo il Paese, leggo i giornali e penso: ecco qua che tutto si realizza poco a poco, pezzo a pezzo. Forse sì, dovrei avere i diritti d’autore. La giustizia, la tv, l’ordine pubblico. Ho scritto tutto trent’anni fa.” […]

“Può darsi. Berlusconi è un uomo fuori dal comune. Ricordo bene che già allora, ai tempi dei nostri primi incontri, aveva questa caratteristica: sapeva realizzare i suoi progetti. Un uomo del fare. Di questo c’è bisogno in Italia: non di parole, di azioni.”

Taken from “Giustizia, tv, ordine pubblico è finita proprio come dicevo io” (“Justice, TV, public order it’s over just like I said”, written by Concita De Gregorio, published in la Repubblica on September 28, 2003. http://www.repubblica.it/2003/i/sezioni/politica/gelli/gelli/gelli.html

2From an article entitled “Monti unveils technocratic cabinet for Italy”, published by BBC news on November 16, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15751179

3From an article entitled “’Italian Prussian’ Monti enters political storm” written by James Mackenzie, published by Reuters on November 13, 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/14/italy-monti-idUSL5E7MD0DO20111114

4 From an article entitled “What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe”, written by Stephen Foley, published in the Independent on November 18, 2011. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/what-price-the-new-democracy-goldman-sachs-conquers-europe-6264091.html

5 “The Crisis of Democracy”, Task Force Report #8 published by Trilateral Commission © 1975, New York University Press, written by Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington and Joji Watanuki. ISBN: 0-8147-1305-3

6“The lack of confidence in democratic institutions is clearly exceeded by the lack of enthusiasm for any alternative set of institutions. What is in short supply in democratic societies today is thus not consensus on the rules of the game. In the past, people have found their purposes in religion, in nationalism, and in ideology. But neither church, nor state, nor class now command’s people’s loyalties… In a nondemocratic political system, the top leadership can select a single purpose or closely related set of goals and, in some measure, induce or coerce political and social forces to shape their behavior in terms of priorities dictated by these goals… World war, economic reconstruction, and the cold war gave coherence to public purposes and imposed a set of priorities for ordering government policies and programs. Now, however, these purposes have lost their salience and even come under challenge; the imperatives of national security are no longer obvious, the desirability of economic growth is no longer unquestioned.” Ibid. Chapter V pp 159-160.

7Ibid. [Crisis of demo] p.162

8Ibid [Crisis of demo] p. 162

9Ibid. [Crisis of demo] p.170

10 “The Carter Administration: Myth and Reality” by Noam Chomsky, from “Radical Priorities”, 1981 http://www.chomsky.info/books/priorities01.htm

11“This recommendation recalls the analysis of Third World problems put forth by other political thinkers of the same persuasion, for example, Ithiel Pool (then chairman of the Department of Political Science at MIT), who explained some years ago that in Vietnam, the Congo, and the Dominican Republic, “order depends on somehow compelling newly mobilized strata to return to a measure of passivity and defeatism… At least temporarily the maintenance of order requires a lowering of newly acquired aspirations and levels of political activity.”” taken from “The Carter Administration: Myth and Reality” by Noam Chomsky, from “Radical Priorities”, 1981

12Ibid [Crisis of demo] p. 161

13Ibid [Crisis of demo] p.6-7

3 Comments

Filed under Italy, Japan, Noam Chomsky, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Berlusconi was just for starters, it’s time for the full Monti

  1. Marta

    Great post –I completely agree with what you say about so-called technocrats. Actually, the only time I’d heard of such a thing before was in the context of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain: there’s a period, beginning at the end of the 1950s and stretching through the 60s, that historians call “the Technocracy”, when the regime switched over from military to civilian rule. The new members of cabinet and of Franco’s pseudo Parliament were no less authoritarian than the former ones, except some of them were Opus Dei economists or businessmen who followed the recommendations of the IMF. “Technocracy” can be a fancy word for dictatorship, and I find it frightening to hear such praise of the recent developments in Greece and Italy in the media –I think there’s a concerted effort to try and convince us that we should all accept the same type of “governance” (another fancy word with a similar grim meaning).

    Like

  2. darren

    I echo Martha’s praise, an excellent bit of work.

    This seems like the new model right now, force a coalition government, put a banker or someone similar in charge and get them to enforce the one thing that none of the governments wants to do – enforce the actual selling off of national assets and criminally harsh labour cuts part of the austerity packages because no leader will want to be the one ordering the military to quell the public when they really do start to show their anger. Interestingly, the time but one before when Greece last had a so called technocrat in charge for a period was 3 months later followed by the military coup that led to the most recent dose of fascism out here.

    I’m still not sure that technocracy is the right word for this though, as Marta highlights, but we better come up with one because this is spreading too quickly for comfort and an adequately reflective term is quite important for encapsulating what is going on right now in Europe. It is very troubling seeing the reality of how this is affecting day to day life in Greece and then having a look at the english speaking media and seeing how they are reporting it, with their ‘lazy Greek’ bullshit and how they all deserve it because they don’t pay enough tax. Especially when Greg Palast has the document that shows how this current crisis in Greece was all caused by Goldman Sachs in collusion with the previous New Democracy (conservatives) Government. With this info already available, it is very troubling how the public argument has been criminally twisted and hammered home.

    Like

  3. Random Irish Bloke

    Excellent bit of digging and analysis. The word technocrat is now being ‘put out there’ by the mainstream media. As usual, that’s just to see if we notice and object to it. If we don’t, then that counts as tacit acceptance of technocracy. That’s why virtually everthing they do is ‘put out’ there in one form or another. Our biggest weapon is exposure. They’re terrified of it.

    The thing about democracy is that it can never save itself. It always needs support which is why we have constitutional laws. Rule of law was abandoned a long time ago when we (the member states) entered the EU and no one noticed because the ballot box was still there, ostensibly. Rule of law is about those ruling us doing so according to law. In the UK and Ireland which are common law countries, governments do not have the power to change the law; that can only happen in court. Governments can only legislate which is an entirely different thing but very poorly understood.

    Nothing radical at all is required to sort out this mess. We just have to get back to enforcing our laws and restore the power to issue money with the government which is hardly radical since that’s where most people think it rests anyway. As for the rule of law a good place to start is with the law on treason.

    Like

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