Feb 122013
 February 12, 2013  Posted by at 1:15 pm Finance
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In the fall of 2011, The Automatic Earth was on another European lecture tour. Nicole Foss had done a series of talks in Italy the previous year, and there was demand for more. This was remarkable, really, since a knowledge of the English language sufficient to understand Nicole's lectures is not obvious in Italy, so we had to work with translators. Certainly none of this would have happened if not for the limitless drive and energy of Transition Italy's Ellen Bermann.

In the run-up to the tour I had asked if Ellen could perhaps set up a meeting with an Italian I found very intriguing ever since I read he had organized meetings which drew as many as a million people at a time for a new – political – movement. Other than that, I didn't know much about him. We were to find out, however, that every single Italian did, and was in awe of the man. A few weeks before arriving, we got word that he was gracious enough to agree to a meeting; gracious, because he'd never heard of us either and his agenda was overloaded as it was.

So in late October we drove the crazy 100+ tunnel road from the French border to Genoa to meet with Beppe Grillo in what turned out to be his unbelievable villa in Genoa Nervi, high on the mountain ridge, overlooking – with a stunning view – the Mediterranean, and set in a lovely and comfortable sunny afternoon. I think the first thing we noticed was that Beppe is a wealthy man; it had been a long time since I had been in a home where the maids wear uniforms. The grand piano was stacked with piles of books on all sorts of weighty topics, politics, environment, energy, finance. The house said: I'm a man of wealth and taste.


Eugenio Belgeri, Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Beppe Grillo, Nicole Foss and Ellen Bermann in Genoa Nervi, October 2011

I don't speak Italian, and Beppe doesn't speak much English (or French, German, Dutch), so it was at times a bit difficult to communicate. Not that it mattered much, though; Beppe Grillo has been a super charged Duracell bunny of an entertainer and performer all his life, and he will be the center of any conversation and any gathering he's a part of no matter what the setting. Moreover, our Italian friends who were with us – and couldn't believe they were there – could do a bit of translating. And so we spent a wonderful afternoon in Genoa, and managed to find out a lot about our very entertaining host and his ideas and activities.

Beppe had set up his Five Star movement (MoVimento Cinque Stelle, M5S) a few years prior. He had been organizing V-day "happenings" since 2007, and they drew those huge crowds. The V stands for "Vaffanculo", which can really only be translated as "F**k off" or "Go f**k yourself": the driving idea was to get rid of the corruption so rampant in Italian politics, and for all sitting politicians to go "Vaffanculo".

At the time we met, the movement was focusing on local elections – they have since won many seats, have become the biggest party on Sicily (after Beppe swam there across the Straits of Messina from the mainland) and got one of their own installed as mayor of the city of Parma.

Grillo explained that M5S is not a political party, and he himself doesn't run for office. He wants young people to step forward, and he's already in his sixties. Anyone can become a candidate for M5S, provided they have no ties to other parties, no criminal record (Beppe does have one through a 1980 traffic accident); they can't serve more than two terms (no career politicians) and they have to give back 75% of what they get paid for a public function (you can't get rich off of politics).

I found it surprising that our friends at Transition Italy and the general left were reluctant to endorse Grillo politically; many even wanted nothing to do with him, they seemed to find him too coarse, too loud and too angry. At the same time, they were in absolute awe of him, openly or not, since he had always been such a big star, a hugely popular comedian when they grew up. Grillo offered to appear through a video link at Nicole's next talk near Milan, but the organizers refused. It was only the first sign of a lot of mistrust among Italians even if they all share the same discontent with corrupt politics. Which have made trust a major issue in Italy.

This may have to do with the fact that Grillo is a comedian in the vein of perhaps people like George Carlin or Richard Pryor in the US. On steroids, and with a much wider appeal. Rough language, no holds barred comedy turns a lot of people off. Still, I was thinking that they could all use the visibility and popularity of the man to get their ideas across; they preferred anonymity, however.

By the way, the Five Stars, perhaps somewhat loosely translated, stand for energy, information, economy, transport and health. What we found during our conversation is that Beppe Grillo's views on several topics were a little naive and unrealistic. For instance, like so many others, he saw a transition to alternative energy sources as much easier than it would realistically be. That said, energy and environment issues are important for him and the movement, and in that regard his focus on decentralization could carry real benefits.

Still, I don't see the present naive ideas as being all that bad. After all, there are limits to what people can do and learn in a given amount of time. And Beppe certainly has a lot to do, he's leading a revolution, so it's fine if the learning process takes some time. Ideally, he would take a crash Automatic Earth primer course, but language will be a barrier there. I hope he finds a way, he's certainly smart and curious enough.


When his career took off in the late 70's, early 80's, Beppe Grillo was just a funny man, who even appeared on Silvio Berlusconi's TV channels. Only later did he become more political; but then he did it with a vengeance.

Grillo was first banned from Italian TV as early as 1987, when he quipped about then Prime Minister Bettino Craxi and his Socialist Party that if all Chinese are indeed socialists, who do they steal from? The ban was later made permanent. In the early 90's, Operation Clean Hands was supposed to have cleaned up corruption in politics. Just 15 years later, Beppe Grillo started the Five Star movement. That's how deeply engrained corruption is in Italy, stretching across politics, business and media.

We are- almost – all of us living in non-functioning democracies, but in Italy it's all far more rampant and obvious. There's a long history of deep-seated corruption, through the mafia, through lodges like P5 and Opus Dei, through many successive governments, and through the collaboration between all of the above, so much so that many Italians just see it as a fact of life. And that's what Beppe Grillo wants to fight.

Ironically, he himself gets called a neo-nazi and a fascist these days. To which he replies that perhaps he's the only thing standing between Italy and a next bout of fascism. I've read a whole bunch of articles the past few days, the international press discovers the man in the wake of the general elections scheduled for February 24-25, and a lot of it is quite negative, starting with the all too obvious notion that a clown shouldn't enter politics. I don't know, but I think Berlusconi is much more of a clown in that regard than Grillo is. A whole lot more of a clown and a whole lot less funny.

Beppe is called a populist for rejecting both right and left wing parties, a neo-nazi for refusing to block members of a right wing group from M5S, a Jew hater in connection with the fact that his beautiful wife was born in Iran, and a dictator because he's very strict in demanding potential M5S candidates adhere to the rules he has set. Oh, and there are the inevitable right wing people calling him a communist.

There are of course tons of details that I don't know, backgrounds, I'm largely an outsider, willing to be informed and corrected. And this would always be much more about the ideas than about the man. Then again, I did talk to the man in his own home and I don't have the impression that Grillo is a fraud, or part of the same system he purports to fight as some allege, that he is somehow just the existing system's court jester. He strikes me as being too loud and too embarrassing for that. And too genuinely angry.

Moreover, I think Italy is a perfect place for a nasty smear campaign, and since they can't very well murder the man – he's too popular – what better option than to make him look bad?! If anything, it would be strange if nobody did try to paint him off as a demagogue, a nazi or a sad old clown.


Photo: AFP: Marcello Paternostro

After being banned from TV, Grillo went on the build one of the most visited blogs/websites in the world, and the number one in Europe. Ironically, he is now in some media labeled something of a coward for not appearing in televised election debates. But Beppe doesn't do TV, or – domestic – newspapers. For more than one reason.

Because he was banned from TV, because of the success of the internet campaign, and because Silvio Berlusconi incessantly used "lewd" talk shows on his own TV channels to conduct politics, Beppe Grillo insists his councilors and candidates stay off TV too, and he has his own unique way of making clear why and how: When a female Five Star member recently ignored this and appeared on a talk show anyway, Grillo said "the lure of television is like the G-spot, which gives you an orgasm in talk-show studios. It is Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame. At home, your friends and relations applaud emotionally as they share the excitement of a brief moment of celebrity.". Of course Beppe was labeled a sexist for saying this.

The internet is central to Grillo's ideas. Not only as a tool to reach out to people, but even more as a way to conduct direct democracy. Because that is what he seeks to create: a system where people can participate directly. Grillo wants to bring (back) democracy, the real thing, and he's long since understood that the internet is a brilliant tool with which to achieve that goal. One of his spear points is free internet access for all Italians. Which can then be used to let people vote on any issue that can be voted on. Not elections once every four years or so, but votes on any topic anytime people demand to vote on it. Because we can.

Since we had our chat in that garden in Genua, Beppe Grillo and M5S have moved on to bigger pastures: they are now set to be a major force in the general elections that will establish a new parliament. Polls differ, but they can hope to gain 15-20% of the vote (Grillo thinks it could be even much more). The leader in the polls is the Socialist Party, and then, depending on which poll you choose to believe, M5S comes in either second or third (behind Berlusconi). What seems certain is that the movement will be a formidable force, carrying 100 seats or more, in the new parliament, and that they could have a lot of say in the formation of any new coalition government.

In the run-up the elections, Beppe has now traded his home for a campaign bus, going from town to town and from one jam-packed campaign event to the next on what he has labeled the Tsunami Tour, in which he, in his own words, brings class action to the people.

As was the case in the local elections, Beppe Grillo says he wants "normal" people ("a mother of three, a 23-year-old college graduate, an engineer [..] those are the people I want to see in parliament") to be elected, not career politicians who enrich themselves off their status and influence, and who he labels "the walking dead", and though he acknowledges his candidates have no political experience, he says: "I'd rather take a shot in the dark with these guys than commit assisted suicide with those others." In the same vein, another one of his lines is:"The average age of our politicians is 70. They're planning a future they're never going to see".

On his immensely popular website beppegrillo.it, which has quite a bit of English language content, Grillo has some nice stats and tools. There is a list of Italian parlimentarians and Italian members of the EU Parliament who have been convicted of crimes. At this moment there are 24; their number has come down, but still. There is also a great little thing named "Map of Power of the Italian Stock Exchange" that graphically shows the links various politicians have with various corporations. I remember when Grillo proudly showed it to us, that after clicking just 2-3 politicians and 2-3 businesses, the screen was so full of lines depicting connections it had become an unreadable blur.

In between all the other activities, Beppe was instrumental 10 years ago in exposing the stunning $10 billion accounting fraud at dairy and food giant Parmalat before it went bankrupt, as well as the recent scandal at the world's oldest bank, Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena, which will cost a reported $23 billion. Corruption is everywhere in Italy, which has a large political class that is all too eager to share in the spoils. Mr. Grillo was trained as an accountant, and he understands what he's talking about when it comes to dodgy numbers. What he needs is the power to act.


Apart from the strong stance that Grillo and M5S take against corruption and for direct representation, critics say they have few clear policy objectives, that they don't even know what they want. Being a movement instead of a party doesn't help. But then, these critics think inside the very old system that M5S wants to replace with one that is far more transparent and direct. It's more than obvious that existing powers have no interest in incorporating the possibilities for improvement offered by new technologies, but it should also be obvious that people, wherever they live, could potentially benefit from a better functioning political system.

There will be many who say that no such thing can be achieved, but perhaps it not only can, but is inevitable. All it could take is for an example to show that it can work. One might argue that the only reason our current systems continue to exist in all their opaqueness is that those who stand to profit from them are the ones who get to vote on any changes that could be applied. What Beppe Grillo envisions is a system in which every one can vote directly on all relevant issues, including changes to the system itself. It's about class action, about taking back power from corrupt existing politics. Italy looks like a good testing ground for that, since its systemic rot is so obvious for all to see. But in other western countries, just like in Italy, it could return the power where it belongs: in the hands of the people.

Radical ideas? Not really, because when you think about it, perhaps it's the technology itself that's radical, not the use of it. And maybe it's the fact that we're so stuck in our existing systems that keeps us from using our new technologies to their full potential. Just like it keeps us from restructuring our financial systems and our energy systems for that matter. We continue to have systems and institutions guide our lives long after they've ceased to be useful for our present day lives, as long as we're snug and warm and well-fed. And we do so until a real bad crisis of some sort comes along and makes it absolutely untenable, often with a lot of misery and blood thrown into the equation.

Beppe Grillo wants to break that chain. And he's got a recipe to do it. It may not be perfect or foolproof, but who cares when it's replacing something that no longer functions at all, that just drags us down and threatens our children's lives? Who cares? Well, the Monti's and Berlusconi's and Merkel's and Obama's and Exxon's and BP's and Monsanto's of the world do, because it is the old system that gave them what they have, and they don't want a new one that might take it away. Our so-called democracies exist to please our leaders and elites, not ourselves. And we're unlikely to figure that one out until it's way too late.

Unless the Italians do our work for us and vote for the Cinque Stelle in huge numbers.



Home Forums Beppe Grillo Wants To Give Italy Democracy

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February 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #8400

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

In the fall of 2011, The Automatic Earth was on another European lecture tour. Nicole Foss had done a series of talks in Italy the previous year, and
[See the full post at: Beppe Grillo Wants To Give Italy Democracy]

February 13, 2013 at 4:52 am #6920


One of the more obvious applications of the internet is in local democracy. It is quite stunning how none of the established politicians proposes direct voting on local concerns – by local people.

Clearly, the middleman in politics should be cut out. Switzerland is a good example – wealthy, educated people living in a resource-poor society, but in peace.

February 17, 2013 at 7:23 am #6938


Direct democracy does seem to be the ideal format for relegitimising the political process.

I’ve been reading ‘The Rights of Man’ by Thomas Paine, which focuses on the revolutionary construct of constitutionalism and representative democracy to allign the national political process against the absolute rule of aristocracy and monarchy. In Paine’s time the simple form of direct democracy was impractical for lack of a scalabe medium of political communication and feedback, and he did not envision the use of the internet for that function.

“Referring them to the original simple democracy,…It is incapable of extension, not from its principle, but from the inconvenience of its form;…”
“It is impossible to conceive a system of government capable of acting over such an extent of territory, and such a circle of interests, as is immediately produced by the operation of representation…. It is preferable to simple democracy even in small territories. Athens, by representation, would have outrivalled her own democracy.”

As representative democracy was then a completely novel idea, superior to the administrative alternatives at the time, Paine was very enthusiastic, but he obviously underestimated its conductivity for corruption and the deforming pressures of special interest.

For the administrations and political deliberations of a populous nation-state, direct democracy was impossible at the pace of 18th century life, but now that communication at lightspeed and frictionless induction of political discourse is possible, direct democracy should become scalable to levels beyond the local.

“Simple democracy was society governing itself without the aid of secondary means.”
The direct democracy enabled by the internet would not be as elegant as the simple personal democracy of Athens, as it would require depersonalised secondary means, its technically complex infrastructure and embedded modes of production remain within the reach of manipulation by powerful anti-democratic forces.
But if this digital medium of discourse can remain relatively free from censorship and subversion, digital democracy may be a worthy alternative to the disasterously compromised representative forms, and make the dubious political party system obsolete.

Grillo does have the correct anti-establishment style of presentation, breaking through the necrotic political party structure and bypassing the centralised media machinery to channel a broad social movement, regardless of shortcomings in the political program itself.

February 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm #6945

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

I updated the Beppe Grillo article by inserting a Wall Street Journal video interview. Maybe that makes his positions clearer. In my view, no matter what anyone may think of him, his ideas are very interesting. He’s the first person in a position near to power who’s ever said what he does. And by next weekend we’ll know just how much influence those ideas will have on Italy, which means Europe, which means the whole world.

I must say, I’m surprised the article gets so little attention. Italy is not located on the other side of the world or the dark side of the moon.

February 18, 2013 at 5:12 am #6950


This really takes the cake:


Berlusconi has now openly stated that bribes are not criminal, being a necessary part of business, and by extension, a necessary part of politics. On the basis of this statement alone,
Berlusconi should be banned from public office for life,
and his businesses thoroughly audited.
Certainly the italians deserve better than this.

The primary advantage of direct democracy would be to render the representative political party system obsolete, which seems to be the nexus of corruption in modern politics. I’m beginning to doubt democracy can ever be realised by institutional mediation of political parties, such as they are, intertwined with business and banking. Direct democracy empowered by the device of referendums would be far less conductive to corruption, and could diffuse special interests by decoupling money power from politics.

But the media system and the education system are not formatted to empower the electorate so directly, and deliberately infuse a passive view of democracy. These must be simultaneously reformed to realise a participatory citizenship which is active over all domains of political discourse, allowing a fully informed and enabled citizenry to produce their own political programs divorced from the technocratic dominion of expert opinions.

Something like that, yes?

February 18, 2013 at 5:33 am #6951


Sadly, Berlusconi is correct. The real problem is that he is saying the truth. He is nothing if not a realist – within the Italian context. I am not in any way supporting him, I am simply saying that he is stating the obvious – not just in Italy.

What do you think lobbyists and PR people do? I mean, if you get someone re-elected by manipulating the media that is just as good as giving him/her a suitcase full of cash. Indeed, it is even better since it is quite legal.

Of course, Berulsconi owns or controls much of the media, so he does not need the help of PR people – he cut out a big swathe of middlemen. Maybe that is why so many of them don’t like him.

It might be worth mentioning here that when he started his TV empire he had to rush tapes around Italy to be able to simultaneously broadcast them locally – since he was not allowed to have a national network. He improvised and later changed the rules in his favour.

February 18, 2013 at 6:27 am #6952


Berlusconi states that bribing third-world officials for business deals is a part of the culture of corruption there, so why complain? That its criminal under italian law for italian businesses to offer business bribes is irrelevant, since businessmen like him can freely choose which laws to obey or disobey.

Its true he’s being realistic about open corruption in places lacking the pretense of a rule of law, but from that logic, if Italy itself degenerated further into a banana republic, it would presumably be okay to openly bribe italian officials for business deals.
Its especially painful to have him admit to funding the culture of corruption so directly in third-world countries, which only encourages despotic regimes to never reform.

February 19, 2013 at 2:51 am #6959


John Muir (author of the book “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: a Guide for the Compleat Idiot”) wrote a much lesser known second book, called “The Velvet Monkey Wrench.” A slim volume with a red cover, illustrated in the same style as the VW book, it is a manifesto that lays out how direct democracy might be restored to our North American continent. Given that it was written pre-Internet, Muir envisioned a future in which television screens would be outfitted with voting buttons, and all governance proposals would be submitted directly to the populace for approval or disapproval. The same thing for legal matters: citizens would tune into trials, and vote for guilty or not guilty. As I recall, he also felt that physical money would be replaced with a system of electronic credits. Beppo Grillo’s proposal for direct democracy via the Internet reminded me of this book that I haven’t thought about for years.

It’s been a long time since I read it, but I recall that the proposal that struck me as the most radical was the creation of outland zones: Muir felt that there would always be those in society who preyed upon others, or abused others, or stole from others. Rather than lock them up, and pay for their maintenance and food and such, he proposed that they should be banished to Zones where they were free to practice whatever they wanted. Killed someone? Fine, you’re going to have to live in a primitive, lawless fenced-off area of the Utah desert. No safety net, no laws, no niceties, just the rule of tooth and claw.

February 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm #6998


Hi Folks,

He won! (sortof…):

(Reuters) – The outcome of Italy’s national election is still uncertain but what is already clear is that the massive winner is Beppe Grillo, a shaggy haired comedian whose anti-establishment 5-Star movement could well become the country’s largest party.

Markets don’t like it though:

(Reuters) – The Italian stock market fell and state borrowing costs rose on Tuesday as investors took fright at political deadlock after a stunning election that saw a comedian’s protest party lead the poll and no group secure a clear majority in parliament.

The markets ‘no-likey’ and the press isn’t that enamoured:

“It’s a classic result. Typically Italian,” said Roberta Federica, a 36-year-old office worker in Rome. “It means the country is not united. It is an expression of a country that does not work. I knew this would happen.”
Italy’s borrowing costs have come down in recent months, helped by the promise of European Central Bank support but the election result confirmed fears of many European countries that it would not produce a government strong enough to implement effective reforms.

Rather than focus on the possibility of real change, the system just chokes. It remains to be seen how this pans out, will this be the straw that (finally…) breaks the Euro’s back?

(Reuters) – Spain said it was extremely worried about the impact of Italy’s deadlocked election result, warning on Tuesday the deadlock could affect the entire euro zone.
Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said there was a feeling of “extreme concern” over possible movements in bond spreads as a reaction to the results.
“This is a jump to nowhere that does not bode well either for Italy or for Europe,” Garcia-Margallo told journalists on the sidelines of a conference in Madrid.
The Spanish government said it was monitoring the situation, especially the fallout on financial markets as the premium investors demand to hold Spanish 10-year debt rather than the German benchmark jumped to 393 basis points, a level not seen in several weeks, when it emerged a cabinet could be hard to form.

Are we going to see Grillo warfare and a pizza spring? 😆

I expect the propaganda machine to go into overload…


February 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm #7003


Wow! He has really shaken things up with his 5 star party coming third in the election. Well done!

It seems like he has some fantastic ideas for improving democracy even though a little naive in others (but thats better than being plan wrong like the rest of them!). I really hope for positive change but I think this will be a long and hard fought battle. At least some fresh ideas will get exposed and talked about. Best of luck Italy, and to all Europeans.

I will be watching closely.

February 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm #7004

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Wow! He has really shaken things up with his 5 star party coming third in the election. Well done!

Actually, Cinque Stelle is the largest “party”. Both Bersani and Berlusconi ran with coalitions of multiple parties.

Then again, Cinque Stelle isn’t really a party, it’s a movement.

In fact, since Monti didn’t have a party either, none of the 4 biggest vote-getters were political parties.

February 27, 2013 at 4:47 am #7009


i’m transition town activist in Italy ( Ilargi we see in a talk in Scandiano)

yes M5s (aka for five star mouvement) is the first single political force in Italy. but and this is even more important, there is no way to made a government without M5s even indirect support. the only alternative is a Bersani-Berlusconi support of a third person as happen in the preceding Monti. but in this eventuality i think Grillo keep the 51% the next time.

just to be honest i vote for m5s in the lower chamber and for Bersani coalition in the higher: this just to be sure that Berlusconi don’ t keep power again. and i think that a lot of people made the same: there is a 3% discrepancies in the m5s result in the two chambers: the electoral sistem is very different between the two and i think our is the more crazy in the world.

why we are sceptical in m5s? becouse they lack of a real direct internal democracy: it’ s not clear how m5s candated is choiced. the program remain the same for four years. if sameone try to say this internal is immediately fired. Grillo himself is in the 99% not in the 1%. same point in the program is in contraddition with direct democracy: just to make an exemple: amministrative division in italy are “comuni” the smallest, a group of comuni make “provincie” a group of provincie make “regioni” Grillo want to reduce number of “comuni” and eliminate “province”. and a lot more. I and a lot of italian citizen vote for him only becouse is the only alternative to the Monti agenda.

March 5, 2013 at 5:46 am #7031


Here are Grillo’s thoughts on money and gold. Well-worth watching. 🙂

“Our Money Is A Joke”

March 18, 2013 at 5:12 am #7162


Before you all fall in love with Mr. Grillo, read this http://libcom.org/blog/movimento-cinque-stelle-has-protected-system-–-comment-wu-ming-26022013 by Wu Ming a writers collective who have been watching Italian politics for quite a while.

Beppe may be all sunshine, warmth and love, but I distrust a movement that can mix racism with anti-politics. Smells a bit like that other Italian who declared himself to be neither left nor right, and then proceeded to march on Rome with his ‘Fighting Fascists’.
And the fact that the Movimiento 5 Stelle is not a party, nor a movement, but an interweb social forum, a copyright owned by Beppe Grillo, makes me very queasy. Beppe Grillo is not the leader, but he is the owner, the proprietor of M5S.

April 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm #7456


HI Folks,

So was it all a storm in an espresso cup?

(Reuters) –
By Gavin Jones and Naomi O’Leary, ROME | Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:27pm EDT

Napolitano elected for second term as Italy president

The Italian parliament on Saturday re-elected 87-year-old President Giorgio Napolitano to serve a second term in an attempt to resolve the political stalemate left by February’s inconclusive election.

As most of parliament cheered his re-election, demonstrators protested outside. By evening the crowd had swelled as thousands of people vented anger at an outcome that was widely seen as perpetuating the grip on the country of a discredited political class and favoring centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi.

The leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement Beppe Grillo called on “millions” of Italians to protest against Napolitano’s re-election which he called a “coup d’etat.”

However, some are comparing Grillo’s call to Mussollini’s march on Rome in 1922:

Reuters, by Naomi O’Leary; Editing by Jason Webb

…Grillo, who drew hundreds of thousands to a rally in Rome before a February election in which his party of political newcomers claimed one in four votes, declared he was immediately abandoning a campaign in the north of Italy to drive 650 km (410 miles) to the Rome parliament.
“There are decisive moments in the history of a nation,” the former comedian wrote in a blog post titled ‘call to Italians’. “Tonight I will be in front of parliament. I will stay there as long as is necessary. There have to be millions of us.”
Grillo says he is convinced traditional parties he blames for Italy’s economic decline and corruption have already agreed to govern together in a coalition to preserve the status quo.
He described an agreement between leaders of the main center-left, center-right and centrist parties to ask Napolitano to run again to break a political deadlock as a “coup d’etat”.
His words were condemned by mainstream politicians, some of whom said his language and planned protest were reminiscent of wartime dictator Benito Mussolini’s “march on Rome” which marked his rise to power in 1922.
The area around parliament has been blocked off by police barriers and fences since voting began on Thursday, but daily protests have taken place in a square across from the building, with demonstrator heckling deputies as they enter to cast votes.
On Saturday, protesters chanted in favor of the presidential candidate chosen by 5-Star supporters in an online vote, the left-wing academic Stefano Rodota, and held up banners reading “Italy screams for Rodota as president”.

Propaganda and spin seek to tell the truth, while the reality is that the industrial model based on cheap energy has run its course (which Grillo is certainly more prepared to face upto), but whoever controls the police controls the state, which currently is the old guard.


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