Posts Tagged ‘Colin Crouch


Bridget Jones night out

cc24_d044_00076_rv3_3-large_transzgekzx3m936n5bqk4va8rwtt0gk_6efzt336f62ei5uI did not set foot in Leicester square for the past…23 years? It was odd being there, ejected from a black cab, and walking almost on autopilot to the Odeon, where I did go in my first months in London. It was Autumn, and it was back in 1993. At the time I did not know what chicken Kiev was, and since then I never ordered it again. That steak house is still there, right on Leicester Square. You see it also in the red carpet video of the movie launch of Bridget Jones.

And so to see Bridget Jones’ Baby, and fish and chips before that…

The Odeon is magnificient, I had completely forgotten the déco friezes and the pastel colors. It’s raining girls. We must be in thousands here in the cinema. A few men, welcome to the club. Exciting public viewing of a highly symbolic movie!

Needless to say, I loved it. The songs, the vedute of London (all of them fucked up like those of Berlin in Bourne), the apartment with the train track right in front of the windows – reminds me Edgeware Road station.

How different things are…now London to me is Marylebone, no longer Chelsea or South’Ken, the City is getting a makeover that makes it almost unrecognizable, London is turned upside down on its foundations, but Royal Exchange, close to my office back then, is still there, and that scene of the first Bridget Jones movie, the knickers-trainers-cardigan run in the snow, is still the most fabulous romantic scene for me…


And post-democracy thrives


In today’s editorial Eugenio Scalfari comments about the economy, the EU-Greece negociations, the situation in Libia and the other geopolitical issues. He then concludes:

Mi resta ancora un punto da esaminare che non ha nulla a che fare con quanto fin qui è stata materia di riflessione: l’andamento nel mondo del concetto e della prassi della democrazia. C’è un sondaggio internazionale che ne parla ed è assai istruttivo e al tempo stesso molto preoccupante.

La democrazia partecipata, cioè col consenso del popolo e l’esercizio dei suoi diritti, è in forte declino. Questo fenomeno varia da paese a paese sia nelle forme sia nelle date in cui quel fenomeno ebbe inizio, ma il processo di decadimento è generale in tutti i continenti che compongono il nostro pianeta. Per noi il decadimento cominciò una trentina d’anni fa ed è andato aumentando nel ventennio berlusconiano ma, continua ad aumentare sempre di più. Il fenomeno si manifesta soprattutto in Occidente dove le democrazie partecipate sono nate e si sono sviluppate. Il sondaggio accenna anche alle cause che fanno da sottofondo al fenomeno ma in questo caso non si tratta più di sondaggio bensì di interpretazione dei sondaggisti. La causa si chiama indifferenza, soprattutto da parte dei giovani. O addirittura lo si può chiamare nichilismo. I giovani non si interessano alla politica né alla storia e al lascito di esperienze che il passato consegna al presente e si disinteressano anche del futuro.

Ovviamente non tutti i giovani sono indifferenti e nichilisti e non tutti gli indifferenti e nichilisti sono giovani, ma le dimensioni del fenomeno sono quelle già dette. Attenzione: non sono dei bamboccioni che vivono nelle braccia protettive di mamma e papà; sono giovani fattivi, arditi, creativi. Ma la democrazia partecipata non rientra nei loro interessi. A questo si deve aggiungere che alcuni (molti) governi approfittano di quest’indifferenza e addirittura la anticipano sottraendo diritti politici al tessuto costituzionale sicché, quand’anche la maggioranza dei giovani cambiasse atteggiamento, i diritti concernenti la democrazia partecipata non ci sarebbero più o sarebbero stati fortemente ridotti Consegno ai nostri lettori queste considerazioni. Se mi leggono questo è un segno che vedranno questo fenomeno con analoghe preoccupazioni. Quei diritti mi riguardano anche personalmente perché, pur essendo vecchio, ne usufruisco e vedendoli ridotti o aboliti anche io protesto e me ne dolgo.

He is probably referring to a recent article by Thomas Friedman. Those belonging to our generation, who have lived both the end of the Cold War and 9/11 in our adult lives, have a clear perception of this decline. I am preoccupied for those who are younger and whose experience has been one of continuously shrinking democracy, accompanied by the deterioration of the quality of journalism too.


2015: the year of consistence and action

10906201_826047277437301_2463693655382188075_nWe read every Sunday Eugenio Scalfari’s editorial. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, sometimes we find it boring, sometimes too patronizing. Still it is our way for marking the Zeitgeist. It was so when we read the printed copy spread on a small table, sipping cappuccino prepared by the friendly Sebastian at the Bar Pavia in Rome. And it is so now, when we read the less sexy online edition on our kitchen table in Dusseldorf or in Berlin sipping a home-made cappuccino.

The editorial published on December 28th contains yet another sad truth, the lack of consistence and action in our native country, Italy. And then yesterday our berliner-roman friend Betta shared on fb a post by blogger Claudio Gnessi which, on a roman neighborhood scale, deals with the same problem.

Consistence and action. And lack of. And the reasons why. Continue reading ‘2015: the year of consistence and action’


Guns and zucchini

In these days another chapter of the post-democratic scenario is on stage. Milan has been covered in billboards associating judges and the brigate rosse. Brigate rosse killed many judges, but the reality is no longer important in Italy. It’s the narrative, the story pushed down the throat of the general public what matters. They rewrite history. I told you, the more I live in Italy the more I recognize the patterns of 1930s Weimar Republic.

Today Repubblica’s Friday magazine, “Il Venerdì” quotes a famous cover of Der Spiegel. It’s the same cover as Der Spiegel but with vegetables instead of spaghetti. “La mafia a tavola: vegetables, meat, fruit, cheeses, bread: clan by clan see who’s controlling our daily grocery shopping, and who turns a profit from it”.

A journalist* from Il Tempo comments on his blog with a blasé tone of those who know better and look down on others:“il Venerdì quotes the sinister Bild cover. Now they put Saviano even in our salad. Ok then, Happy Easter”.

Of course, no comment. Many Italian journalists are not only constructing a fictitious narrative and at best sneer at those who try to do their job and still do reportages. They are also poorly documented and lazy, don’t even do fact check. A journalist confusing Bild and Der Spiegel must really be very ignorant. But I’m not surprised.

*Pardon, he’s not a simple journalist, he’s “il direttore”. Congrats to the YesMen around him too.


Demokratura is now mature

It’s being going on for days now. We’re citizens, voters, taxpayers: but we cannot cross freely the parvis in front of the government and Parliament buildings. No access from the Pantheon side, sealed off by carabinieri. No access from the Via del Corso side, where seemingly imbarassed policemen were obstructing the passage. We could only access a portion of the piazza by sneaking through the back street, where people don’t see us, tourists don’t take note of the crowd. Everything has to look normal to the benefit of media and passers-by. And it’s not.

Continue reading ‘Demokratura is now mature’


no populist leaders without people.

The articles I read about the exhibition were positive but not enthusiastic. They spoke about a “missed opportunity”. But I always like to go and make my own mind about things. To set up an exhibition on this theme is not easy.

I spent a few hours in the exhibition. It is quite vast and requires a lot of focus and attention. There are countless objects and documents. At first it seems that – as in any exhibition – there are a few important objects per room, and the rest is the filling. It is not the case. Like in Goethe’s prose, every word counts and if you remove just one, it doesn’t feel quite right.

The smallest object can hit you with the force of the planned banality of evil. You have to start again, and follow the chronological path. Because this is history, and here you don’t “navigate”. No jumps and no distractions: you follow the events. Because this is the only way to see the pattern.

Everything is linked. That commercial, selling cigarettes carrying the name of a drummer, is kitsch and looks just plain silly, like 90% of advertising. But it brought funding to the party, was a vehicle of consensus and a powerful role model fuelling identification well before the Marlboro Man. That top hat too, much less “popular”, needs to be put into context. And that upper class drawing room picture. What about the clay candle holder? Filling? In a sense, yes. Another piece of the puzzle, filling up the minds of people of that time, giving them further supporting evidence that yes, they were right in following the mainstream.

To visit it once is not enough.  The most impressive thing is the quantity of visitors: adults, families, youths, teenagers and children. On a quieter day the absorption of the exhibition contents would be easier. Taking in all at once is not possible without losing something in the process. I will go through the exhibition again.

Still the sheer volume of visitors is an essential part of the experience. When you look around you it’s the visitors – and even more their attitude – who are the heart of the exhibition, and the awareness.

The first conclusion is pretty obvious but only with hindsight. There are no populist dictators without a cheering crowd. No populists without the raw material: people.

The second conclusion is a confirmation of a feeling. That “the pattern” is very disturbing. Colin Crouch wrote about it. It’s not a circle. History is not repeating. But post-democracy in Italy is in full bloom. After WWII democracy rose, hit an inflexion point, and is now decreasing. Not coming full circle back to square one, but heading, drawing a bell shape, towards a lower level of democracy, a high control on the media and a dangerously high level of populism.

An exhibition like this is useful, even if probably not sufficient as a vaccine. I only know that I have never seen something like this on fascism in my country and probably I will not see it in the near future. Neither will I read critical articles saying that this exhibition was not enough.


Nero bribed while Rome burned

Today Rome burned. You have seen the videos, the photos, the comments. Many students were peacefully protesting for their future. And there were protesters who had nothing to do with the student crowd. Like the hundreds of men clad in black, coordinated in their actions. This guy here broke down a signalling post and used it like a leverage to open up the iron grate of the building.

Tear gas, cars in flames, police vans exploding. A vista of Rome that you won’t find in tourist guides. The Grand Tour of agents provocateurs, with clear orders: discredit peaceful protests. To torch a police van you need skills and some practice, possibly every Sunday, during football matches.

Ministers asked for “repression”. These are the same people who gave us Bolzaneto, G8 in Genoa. To tar everyone with the same brush: mission accomplished.

You know how it ended, the government survived the no-confidence vote thanks to those MPs who got their mortgage estinguished or a brand new apartment, courtesy of the Prime Minister. As Der Spiegel writes tonight, it’s the triumph of operetta. Grotesque.

Colin Crouch quotes Italy as being the forerunner of post-democracy. Maybe he’s wrong, after all. Here we’re talking about tribal pre-democracy.

In the meanwhile the country crumbles down. GDP is in comatose state as tax receipts are, partly for lack of growth, partly for world-class free-riding. The government survived the no-confidence vote, Italy is in a deep self-confidence crisis: economic, social, moral. Its youth, its civil society, and even more its opposition are confused and stoned. This is Berlusconi’s nutrient broth.

Photo credits: Letizia

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