February 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm #8400
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
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
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.
“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.
(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…
Sid.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
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”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dEemZ2pVyoMarch 18, 2013 at 5:12 am #7162
Before you all fall in love with Mr. Grillo, read this https://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
So was it all a storm in an espresso cup?
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:
…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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