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Bushification

Silvio Berlusconi has crossed the line. It was bad enough that he is wealthy businessman and not a bureaucrat. His right-of-centre views are distasteful but containable. Even his support for America could be overlooked in the circumstances.

But, now, Berlusconi has gone too far. He has brought disharmony to Brussels and insulted a left-wing Eurocrat. That is beyond the pale. That is unforgiveable. Now he must be destroyed:

Even if he is voted out at the next election, the damage that has been done to Italian democracy will be difficult to repair. Should he remain in office, the prospects are grim indeed. It is time Europe woke up to the threat Berlusconi poses. He is not just another rightwing politician; he represents the greatest challenge to democracy anywhere in Europe.

As evidenced by this frothing-at-the-mouth, hysterical denouncement in the Guardian, the lefties have struck up the cogs, wheels and pistons of their considerable propoganda machine to churn away at full steam and not stop until Berlusconi has been drawn into the mincer and disposed of.

This is not going to be allowed to simply blow over. You cannot commit the ultimate crime of cocking a snoot at the Euro-left and expect to get away with it. Over the coming months the left will deploy the entire range of their customary demonology against Berlusconi in the same way they have deployed it against George Bush. In fact, Berlusconi is now the George Bush of Europe.

Signor Berlusconi has got a lot of money and a lot of moxy but what he needs most of all now is a set of brass balls. I hope he has got those too.

28 comments to Bushification

  • Liberty Belle

    Mr Berlusconi has a hard edge to him and he’s accustomed to winning. My money’s on him.

  • S. Weasel

    Holy screaming jesus! That was amazing.

    Berlusconi is – and has been ever since his political emergence in 1994 – the most dangerous political figure in Europe…Ever since 1945, democracy has been assumed as a given, as an eternal verity, of western societies. This is clearly mistaken. Nothing lasts for ever: more pertinently, there is plenty of evidence that western democracy is now under greater threat than at any time since the defeat of Nazism…

    First, traditional politics and its institutions are losing ground to the culture of a rampant, market-driven, consumer society. Second, the rise of an enormously powerful media has transformed the balance of power between the media and politics. And finally, the triumph of market values across society, the erosion of alternative logics and the weakening of the unions has bestowed on those with money – be they corporations, celebrities or the super-rich – a quite new influence over the political process.

    ‘Alternative logics’ indeed! Interesting to see what the author identifies as the institutions on which “the very existence of a democracy depends” — state-run media and activist judges. Ha!

    There’s good news here. I mean, it’s bound to be good news when someone with whom you disagree pitches a hissy fit. In identifying Berlusconi as “dangerous” and a “threat” to democracy, over and over again…just what does he mean? He isn’t speculating that Berlusconi is going to hire a mercenary army to enforce his will on the people. He’s worried that the people like the message and will willingly vote for it.

    And what a threat to democracy it is when the common people think they should have a voice in it!

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I wonder if Martin Jacques (wasn’t he the editor of “Marxism Today” or some such magazine?) complained about the power of the media. I wonder if he’s ever had a problem with the manipulation the BBC engages in. Heck, I remember listening to the BBC World Service’s coverage of the 1997 election, and the anchors were practically orgasmic when their former colleague Martin Bell won his seat.

    Also interesting is this passage:

    This kind of political style is a direct descendant of fascism, where the opposition is branded in the most lurid and extreme language, accorded no respect, and dismissed as outside the parameters of respectable and civilised society. Berlusconi has poisoned Italian politics and this week did the same to European politics. It was no gaffe: this is how Berlusconi customarily treats political opponents.

    Ironically, this is how the legally elected (in a free and fair election) government of Austria was treated after the 1999 elections. Belgium and France immediately boycotted all meetings with the government becuase it contained the non-far-left Freedom Party.

  • Tony H

    Let’s not over-compensate here. Just because The Guardian and the collectivist control-freaks of the EU react as if Berlusconi is Beelzebub when he indulges in some refreshing invective, let’s not pretend the guy is remotely interested in liberty. He’s as corrupt as they get, ready to buy anyone to further his commercial & political ambitions, and if he had the power I’m sure he’d have most Samizdata readers shot as dangerous malcontents. This guy is a welcome alternative to, say, Prodi? Surely not – they have much more in common with each other than with any of us.

  • Jeffersonian

    I remember an exchange the late, great Huey Long once had with a reporter:

    Reporter: Do you think fascism will ever take hold in America?

    Long: Yeah…but they’ll call it “anti-fascism.”

    Little did Long realize that the meme would spread to Europe in the form of power-mad EUrocrats who tolerate no serious criticism, isolate and strangle that which they cannot control and smother that which they do.

    Kudos to Berlusconi for speaking the obvious and imperiling the “democracy” of unelected Brussels meddlers.

  • Ralph Phelan

    I’m hoping this turns into a critical piece of overreach by the Left. I can’t be the only one to have trouble understanding why it’s such a great sin to call someone a Nazi if you’re Berlusconi, but it’s perfectly fine if you’re Schroeder

  • Susan

    I think the headline “Italian poisoner” is a slur on Italians. Isn’t it a reference to the Borgias and their poison rings?

    How is this any different than calling that Eurocrat a Nazi?

    Also, what a bunch of pussies. I’ve got to tell you — a diplomatic crisis over a retort to a rude Eurocrat? What would these guys do in a REAL diplomatic crisis?

    These people are unbelievably petty and ridiculous. They make characters in Ruritanian comedies from the early 20th Century look calm and reasonable.

  • Kodiak

    Liberty Belle wrote:

    “Mr Berlusconi has a hard edge to him and he’s accustomed to winning. My money’s on him. ”

    Is your soul on him too?

    Kodiak.

  • Kodiak

    Instead of McCarthying the “Left” for liking or disliking Berlu, go to Italy & ask people how they perceive this “Stateman” whose “intellectual” proximity with your own arsenal of erroneous ideas doesn’t seem to bother you that much…

    Again, as the Nazi flag on the European flag (“EU tax turns into mess” by Gabriel Syme), the Nazi joke uttered by Berlu is very fashionable here.

    Most deplorable.

    Kodiak.

  • MayDay72

    “…there is plenty of evidence that western democracy is now under greater threat than at any time since the defeat of Nazism…”

    …Weren’t the “Nazis” (actually: “National Socialists”) brought to power through democratic elections?

    “…traditional politics and its institutions are losing ground to the culture of a rampant, market-driven, consumer society…”

    …There you have it…The greatest danger to Civilization-As-We-Know-It: The Free Market…Selfish citizens want to keep more of what they earn and decide how/when/where to spend it…Don’t they understand that the State knows best? Don’t they understand that they are undermining the political process? The complete collapse of Our Civilization can’t be far behind…

  • Scott Cattanach

    Over the coming months the left will deploy the entire range of their customary demonology against Berlusconi in the same way they have deployed it against George Bush. In fact, Berlusconi is now the George Bush of Europe.

    I thought y’all were the ones who knew better than to give any general credibility to any politician (Dem or Rep, Labor or Tory), even if you agreed with him on one given topic.

    In order to defend Bush’s war, one winds up defending Bush. In order to defend Bush, one will eventually wind up defending Bush’s other policies. Within 6 months, Samizdata will come out in support for anti-sodomy laws in order to defend Bush from all those “anti-war loons” who oppose him (heaven forbid the anti-war leftists win on any topic, even if in theory you agree with them). Within the year, this site will be renamed “Southern Baptist Samizdata”.

    We must defend Our War.

  • RyMaN600

    First, traditional politics and its institutions are losing ground to the culture of a rampant, market-driven, consumer society.

    I’d like to know what he defines as “traditional politics and institutions”. Perhaps a system detached from all of those unwashed, unenlightened “consumers”?

  • May merriment abound!

  • Sage

    Is it your contention, Scott, that to defend Bush on any topic is to defend Bush on every topic? Are you actually saying that the people at Samizdata have only two choices: Bush conservatism or European socialism? Is everyone other than yourself too damned stupid to distinguish between one issue and the next, between a leader and a policy?

    If so, why is it that there are plenty of people who simply don’t fit into your view of Iraq War supporters? Like, um, me and millions of other people, for example. Are we ALL doomed to become drooling pro-Bush Republican drones in another week or so? Will you retract your idiotic slippery-slope argument if they don’t? Has your worldview become so Manichean as this, that there exist in your mind only righteous Bush haters and wicked Bush slaves? You will make a model recruit for the Ministry of Love, if that’s the case.

    Furthermore, is yours the mentality behind the wild-eyed and hysterical denunciation of all things Bush? If so, it answers a lot of questions about the left’s recent bout of insanity. You give others too little credit, and yourself too much.

    My God, the left really has come unhinged if this is the logic they’re willing to employ. “Support the war and you really, literally will support everything else Bush does! Defend Berlusconi and you really, literally are an Italian fascist!”

    My goodness, what the hell is wrong with you people?

  • Prim Tim

    Yes, Ted, Martin Jacques is the former editor and apparently the founder of Marxism Today.

    In short, an utter waste of skin. The Guardian should have given more of his history than just the anodyne “visiting fellow at LSE.” Makes him sound respectable.

    More links at LSE.

  • Scott Cattanach

    First of all, Sage, I’m not w/ the left. Anarchy now. :-)

    Its possible to distinguish between a so-called “leader” and a policy, but the post that drove this thread was “they’re attacking poor Berlusconi the way they attacked poor Bush”. One would think that libertarians would just consider this a case of one lying bunch of idiot officials attacking another lying idiot bunch (see Tony H’s post about what a freedom lover Berlusconi is).

    Agreeing w/ the something our ‘leaders’ say in an “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” sense is one thing. Agreeing with what they say because they are trying to tell you what you want to hear and they sometimes succeed at that is one thing. Going to the mat for their policy puts you in bed with them. Y’all went to the mat for Bush’s war.

    Besides, what do you care if I denounce all things Bush? Don’t all non-war things Bush deserve it, or are you upset at my attacking your favorite govt agent? Sage, just how far do you support Bush? The Patriot Act? TIA? “Unlawful combatants” held indefinitely in Cuba?

    I don’t think anyone here is a Bush slave – I’m warning some of you that believing support for Bush’s war proves you more moral than normal libertarians only attaches your egos to a political policy, and that sucks you in more quickly than you realize. The State baited the hook, you bit by supporting the war, and now you are being reeled in.

    You are soon to be a fish taco for The State.

  • Stephen M.

    What’s the non-graphical emoticon for rolling one’s eyes?

  • Scott Cattanach

    All I’m saying is that it won’t be nearly as easy to break it off w/ govt as some of you seem to believe. If your back gets up whenever someone who opposed your war makes a reference to ChimpBoy, instead of just thinking that someone insulted a politician and “who cares about that?”, that’s evidence that I’m right.

    Its awfully heady for a libertarian to be on the majority side of an issue for once – how easily can you give that up over principle (i.e. disagreement w/ the GOP over other policy)? Its a hell of a temptation to stay with and try to defend that majority.

    You don’t want some idiot peacenik coming to power over disagreement w/ Bush over social policy, do you? How unimportant are your disagreements with the Republican party when compared to the need to free millions of Arabs from bondage?

  • S. Weasel

    No, Scott, that isn’t all you’re saying, though you may not know it.

    The point of the original article is not that “poor Berlusconi” is being picked on like “poor Bush.” It is that Berlusconi is being treated to the same brand of bizarre, hysterical, childish hyperbole that has previously been reserved for Bush. No intellection, just a lot of shrieking and waving of hands and invoking the boogey men of WWII.

    Once you start referring to the other side as “chimp boy” and “shrub” and posting pictures of his face morphing into a monkey-head, you’ve fled the world of rational debate and washed up in the playground. No sense pretending you’re discussing ideas at this point.

  • Scott Cattanach

    It is that Berlusconi is being treated to the same brand of bizarre, hysterical, childish hyperbole that has previously been reserved for Bush.

    So what? Why should we care what they do to Berlusconi or Bush?

  • S. Weasel

    Because they treat Berlusconi and Bush that way for being too far to the right. In fact, neither is far enough to the right, by a long shot. (The libertarian right, not the god-bothering right, you understand).

    Watching the chattering classes try to pull the political center leftwards is a bad thing when you’re trying to pull it rightwards.

  • Scott Cattanach

    (The libertarian right, not the god-bothering right, you understand).

    The left attacks the right as heartless grandma-killers for claiming to want to cut taxes, the right attacks the left as Western Civilization hating terrorist-coddlers for claiming to oppose the Patriot Act (or even wanting the cops to follow some due process).

    Six of one, a half dozen of the other. Why should I care more about the Tweedledum party’s attacks on the Tweedledee party, instead of the other way around?

  • Scott,

    This is not about who I am for, it is about who I am against. The same tactics that are now being deployed against Bush and Bersluconi (lies, smears and sabotage) have been deployed only too successfully (by the same people I might add) against laissez-faire, liberty and even Western civilisation itself.

    Regardless of whether your recognise it or not, we are engaged in a war with these people. It is a war, not just of ideas, but of tactics. If you do not wish to participate then, fine, don’t. Nobody is going to force you to do otherwise.

    However, some of us are of the view that the all-too-common libertarian method of complete pacifism, disengagement and sulky refusal has achieved the square root of zippedy-doo-da and, worse still, has led to a situation where the commanding heights of orthodox debate and opinion are almost entirely in the hands of our enemies.

    Enough is enough.

  • Scott Cattanach

    David, when you side with someone just because they make the right noises about economic freedom against those who make the right noises about civil liberties (when both are lying), you’ll just be seen as a partisan conservative, and lose credibility with those who just might agree with what you actually believe instead of agreeing with who you are defending today.

    The proper response to those who claim Bush is evil for talking about shrinking govt is the truth that Bush is lying about shrinking govt. If every time somebody gets elected talking about smaller govt the govt just grows, then you lose the war – people give up trying. In a 2 party system, the party of small government is whoever happens to be out of power on any given day.

    Police your own before trying to police the other side. You should come down harder on conservatives for lying about economic freedom than you do on socialists for lying about conservatives.

  • Scott,

    You have been reading this blog long enough to know that we regularly put the boot into Conservatives and for all the right reasons. Hence Conservatives bloggers tend to regard us as ‘extreme’ and ‘utopian’.

    Not of that changes what I wrote above.

  • Phil Bradley

    Scott, I’ve made an effort to read your posts the last day or so, and concluded its not worth the effort. The posts are rambling, the meaning opaque, and you ignore or mis-interpret what others say.

    If Samizdata had an ignore feature like Yahoo, I’m afraid i’d put you on it.

    regards

  • Scott Cattanach

    You’re welcome to your opinion, Phil. I’m not entirely sure who you are that your opinion matters any more to me than mine evidently does to you tho.

    The same tactics that are now being deployed against Bush and Bersluconi (lies, smears and sabotage) have been deployed only too successfully (by the same people I might add) against laissez-faire, liberty and even Western civilisation itself.

    Yes David, you do come down on conservatives, but I’ve never noticed quite the same venom as the quote above. It looks to me like some of you think conservatives are just misguided libertarians (who need to be called on it when they stray), when they are really just Socialist Party B.

    I used the lower case ‘c’ in conservatives above because the post involved Bush and Berlusconi, so I didn’t think this was limited to UK politics (my comments weren’t).

    However, some of us are of the view that the all-too-common libertarian method of complete pacifism, disengagement and sulky refusal has achieved the square root of zippedy-doo-da and, worse still, has led to a situation where the commanding heights of orthodox debate and opinion are almost entirely in the hands of our enemies.

    So you’re adopting some conservative positions just to maintiain credibility? You think you can co-opt conservatives instead of them co-opting you?

  • Paul P

    As much as I enjoyed Berlusconis’s winding
    up of the German greeny/lefty MEP brigade, Berlusconi does give a bad name to capitalism.
    Politics and business should be done at arms length which should help it to be more popular. Berlusconi is just a cronyist and does nothing for
    the PR of libertarian values.