lop1912 on Mon, 3 Dec 2001 21:27:04 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Observatory on the state of democracy in Italy

Dear Friend

On 27th November, Osdem (Observatory on the state of democracy in Italy)  
will publish its first monthly newsletter at www.osdem.it/en/

OSDEM is just a memorandum on the authoritarianism and mafia-like
corruption currently sweeping Italy, this newsletter will not contains
scoops, sensationalism or hidden secrets. It will, rather, provide
information which is all too obvious, easily distilled from an attentive
reading of newspapers or active participation in Italian social issues.
The aim of the newsletter is to provide a monthly summary of the events
that are steadily destroying Italian democracy and civil liberties and to
remind those who, like yourself, have many other matters on which to focus
attention, that Italy risks sinking to unprecedented depth of incivility.
While that which is happening is a very Italy-specific phenomenon, we
nevertheless feel there is a risk that this malaise will spread to other
European nations. It has already happened, albeit many decades ago. Let us
make sure, then, that history does not repeat itself. Thank you for your
kind attention.


Observatory on the state of democracy in Italy

Since the coming to power of the right-wing coalition Italy has witnessed
a serious undermining of legality, civil rights, freedom and political

Silvio Berlusconi, the current Prime Minister of Italy, won his seat as
head of government by channelling enormous sums of money into electoral
advertising. And since, over the last 30 years, he has succeeded in
building up a financial empire with the support of both the mafia and
secret associations such as the P2 freemasons' lodge (of which he was a
member), funds have certainly not been lacking. Furthermore, given the
magnitude of the Berlusconi-owned media empire, he has also been able to
enjoy a massive communications advantage that is, in a Western democracy,
without precedent.

This enormous dominance of the media constitutes a danger for Italian
democracy. Yet no less dangerous than Berlusconi and his
party-cum-business enterprise are the other parties that bolster it. One
is a direct derivative of the fascist regime, while another is openly
racist, has been advocating the secession of northern Italy for years, and
supports the expulsion of foreigners.

Yet historically, fascism and mafia have never been allies. While both may
be seen as symptoms of peculiarly Italian illnesses, they have, in the
past, always been anathema to each other. The mafia is a family-oriented
organisation that aims to replace the state and pursues its interests
through blackmail, violence and corruption. Fascism, instead, is an
aggressive assertion of state authority and is systematically violent
towards society. Now, for the first time, these two forms have come

Genoa highlighted the totalitarian nature of this government all too
clearly. During those two days the Deputy Prime Minister, Gianfranco Fini,
spent two days at Genoa's police headquarters from where he piloted acts
of violence, repression and torture, the homicide of a young demonstrator
and aggression against citizens wishing to protest against the G8 summit.

The xenophobe instincts of this government also came to the fore when
legislation on how to integrate foreign workers was passed. The government
lost no time in promising prison sentences for those entering Italy
without authorisation, as if just entering the country were in itself a
terrible crime, and quickly established that visas for foreign citizens
should only last as long as their work contracts.

On other occasions legislation has been brutally railroaded to meet the
interests of the regime's mafia. Legislation aimed at shielding the Prime
Minister and his direct accomplices from the investigations of magistrates
- who have been examining allegedly illicit business transactions for
years - has been rushed through Parliament in record time.

Silvio Berlusconi, Gianfranco Fini and Umberto Bossi represent not only a
threat to Italian democracy, but European stability too. There us, in
fact, something about this (for the moment) specifically Italian
shameless, grotesque authoritarianism that risks being exported, infecting
the societies of other European countries.

This is why we believe that it is nothing less than essential to provide a
systematic news service that highlights the actions, legislation,
repression of dissent and the freedom-restricting policies approved by
this all-too mafia-like government and which exposes the antidemocratic
nature of the words of its politicians.

That service is one that OSDEM.it aims to provide in full.

franco berardi bifo

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