Wed May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Berlusconi and Berlusconism: a class perspective

Silvio Berlusconi died on Monday, June 12, at the age of 86. He was hospitalized in the suite of the San Raffaele hospital in Milan with 300 square meters, 9 rooms, 3 bathrooms, Wi-Fi, press service and refreshment service for guests. These, from a class point of view, are not details: they clearly delineate the image of one of Italy’s richest capitalists who enjoyed the best possible care without having to wait a single minute in endless lines and waiting lists. Millions of proletarians, due to the multi-million cuts made by all governments (including those headed by Berlusconi himself), are destined to a very different fate.

Editorial note PdAC, Italy

The Berlusconi years

The news of Berlusconi’s death dominated all the major international newspapers. Many have called him the “inventor of right-wing populism” or the “predecessor of Trump.” There is a grain of truth in all this: indeed, Berlusconi is a character that has nothing to envy in terms of the  “perfect nullities” of Trump’s caliber. He is one of the expressions of capitalism in putrefaction, as well as one of the first representatives of a historical phase in which all the traditional parties of the bourgeoisie have entered into deep crisis, leaving room for right-wing populism.

Macho to the nth degree (the “Rubygate” and “Bunga bunga” scandals are only two of many examples), colluding with the Mafia and the Masonic lodges, unscrupulous in the use of his own media companies (Fininvest, Mediaset, etc. ), defender above all of his family interests against those of the big bourgeoisie as a whole, Berlusconi managed to rule Italy for almost 10 years (in fact there were four governments over which he presided), where he also hit the working class hard.

There are so many atrocities that were committed on Berlusconi’s account, that is why, no doubt, we do not join those who -on the right and on the left- mourn him. Elly Schlein has suspended the national management of the Democratic Party as a sign of mourning, while Ferrero, on the site of Communist Refoundation, “offers condolences to the family”.

In the shadow of his governments, we have had the worst racist and xenophobic laws (like the Bossi-Fini), precarious decrees (like the Biagi Law), violent and continuous attacks on women (not only for vulgar and sexist language, but also for policies of support for anti-abortion associations, cuts to social services, etc. ), multi-million dollar cuts to public schools (the Gelmini “reform”), laws to guarantee himself and his collaborators (including those suspected of relations with the mafia) impunity in the courts, economic agreements with the worst dictators (from Gaddafi to Putin), and participation in the imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the time of Berlusconi’s second government, there was the Genoa 2001 massacre (on the occasion of the G8 which he presided), with the assassination of the young comrade Carlo Giuliani.

The list of Berlusconi’s crimes is long… and yet some speak of nothing other than condolences to the family!

The hypocrisy of a certain anti-Berlusconism

It must be said that, if today Berlusconi is being buried, Berlusconism, which was born in 1994 with the entry into politics of the Forza Italia party/company, has been dead and buried since 2011. This was the year in which Berlusconi’s fourth government fell, pushed by imperialism during the spread crisis.

From a political point of view, Forza Italia and the whole corollary of legislators, post-fascists, and Christian Democrats who traveled in Berlusconi’s wake have never been reliable interlocutors for the Italian (and European) industrial and financial bourgeoisie. The private and personalistic use of public power, the mixture between the private and institutional spheres, the vulgarization of politics, the almost total control of information through a television and publishing empire, the legislation to favor their companies and avoid judicial problems, the transformation of bourgeois politics into the mediocre vaudeville proposed by his TV channels, the affiliation to the Masonic lodge P2 and the relations with the Mafia have turned Berlusconi into the “monster” needed first by the left-wing democrats, and then by the Democratic Party, to was its own image.

It is enough to think of what happened after the fall of the last Berlusconi government: in the name of anti-Berlusconism, Berlusconi’s successor, Mario Monti, with the support of the Democratic Party and the non-aggression of the confederate trade union leaderships (Cogil at its head!), has carried out one of the worst attacks on the working class and pensioners in Republican history (including the Fornero “reform” of the pensions, approved with barely three hours of a strike).

The fictitious polarization between Berlusconism and anti-Berlusconism has animated 17 years of political life in Italy, where the alternation between center-right and center-left has been crossed by a coherent anti-worker thread: from Dini’s pension reform to the aforementioned Biagi law on labor flexibility (read precariousness). But the “monster” Berlusconi was also the alibi of Communist Refoundation, which without even having the shame to remove the word “communist” from its name, entered the governments of Prodi 1 and Prodi 2, shamelessly jumping the class line and decreeing its political end: in 25 years, the miserable and failed attempts to rebuild the reformist space to return to parliament through the lists Sinistra arcobaleno [Rainbow Left], Federation of the Left, Civil Revolution, The Other Europe with Tsipras, Power to the People, The People’s Union, are the just price to pay for that cowardly class betrayal against the workers.

From the end of Berlusconism until today

From November 2011 until today Forza Italia has lost 6/7 percentage points in each political round, standing at around 8% in the elections of 2022, votes were lost in 2018 to Salvini’s League and in 2022 by the Fratelli d’Italia of the Meloni.

It is worth remembering that in the last 12 years, there have been eight bourgeois governments of different colors that have carried out essentially the same policies. The proletariat will not forget -just to mention the most dramatic moments- the pension massacre and the abolition of article 18 operated by Monti with the bipartisan consent of the parliament; the Jobs Act [jobs law] of the PD brand that introduced precarious work for life; the Salvini Decrees to repress workers’ struggles (League-M5s); the thousands of proletarians sent to death during the pandemic by the Conte government (M5s-PD); the unblocking of layoffs and the umpteenth offensive against pensions signed by the Draghi government with the almost total support of the entire parliament; the Labor Decree of the Meloni government that further increased precarious contracts and reduced pension contributions.

Being totally centered on the figure of the leader Berlusconi, today it is difficult to think of a future for Forza Italia. History will tell us whether the party/company founded by Berlusconi will converge in the League and Fratelli d’Italia or whether it will participate in a center pole together with Renzi and Calenda.

What is important to remember today is not only that Berlusconism has embodied the vulgar and reactionary face of bourgeois politics, or that Berlusconi’s governments have signed into law some of the worst attacks on the living conditions of workers: all this does not surprise us; governments in capitalist society are, to use Marx’s words, business committees of the bourgeoisie. An important lesson for the workers comes also from that anti-Berlusconism which in these years was used as the only -and deceptive- glue of the opposition. Berlusconi was the distorting mirror in which the Democratic Party strutted, the liberal party of reference of the European bourgeoisie, which defended the interests of the capitalists and massacred the workers by combining concrete actions with a cloying idolatry of the bourgeois Constitution and an empty phraseology on social rights (which in fact it trampled on).

Berlusconism was the era in which reformist parties like Communist Refoundation and the Italian Communists supported, in the name of an abstract “lesser evil”, the bourgeois governments of Romano Prodi and Massimo D’Alema. Let us spare ourselves the statements of the Acerbo (Communist Refoundation) and the Rizzo (now at the head of the Communist Party, at the time supporter of the D’Alema government with the participation of the PDCI) and let us trust in the short memory of those they have betrayed.

Original article by the Communist Alternative Party (PdAC), Italy.

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