A Specter Haunting Italy
On the eve of what seems to be the end of the Berlusconi Era, historian Stanislao Pugliese, Distinguished Professor of Italian and Italian American Studies, looks at the past two decades of Italy's political history. He finds that, supposedly under siege by what he perceives to be a politically motivated judiciary looking into his corrupt business practices, Berlusconi resurrected the specter of communism -- but in reality his brand of unfettered consumerism has done more damage to the country’s traditional way of life than that which would have supposedly been inflicted by communism.
The vote in the Italian Senate to strip Silvio Berlusconi signals the end of a bizarre political epoch but it should not obscure the fact that Berlusconi is the symptom of a deep-rooted pathology in Italian culture.
It was a refrain the Italians had heard before. Is it possible that an Italian politician could utter that line without knowing that fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had thundered the same from the balconies eight decades ago? By then (1922), the threat of a communist revolution in Italy had already dissipated. Similarly, today there is no threat to the Italian Republic from communists, and it is arguable that such a threat never really existed, even at the peak of the Italian Communist Party’s popularity in the 1970s.