11A046 Rome's Turn by Jim Davies, 2/15/2011    

As noted in Not Even Close, the people of Cairo did well, though not nearly well enough; they demanded release from a harsh ruler, but foolishly asked for a better one (instead of none at all.) But they were at least facing in the right direction - wanting less government.

In Rome, recent demonstrators - mostly female and no longer young - haven't even got that far. They want to ditch their present leader Silvio Berlusconi, not because he has deprived them of too many rights but because he has bedded too many young ladies. This is ludicrous; it says that Italians haven't got a clue which way is up. The task of re-education, needed to show everyone how immoral and unproductive it is to work for government, has apparently not even begun.

There's a very long tradition in Italy of powerful men being surrounded by willing young ladies, so Berlusconi is nothing new. Ancient Rome was famous for its orgies, and not infrequently crossed the line from harmless fun to bloody horror; this is the city of Tiberius and Caligula. In the Renaissance years Popes were visited by an astonishing number of attractive sisters, and Mussolini was well known to keep a harem close; there was a bedroom behind his office, where he could take a break as often as others might take a coffee. One of them was unlucky enough to be around when he was captured and executed by Communists. So Silvio's is just one of the perks of Italian power; and in his case, unusually, some of the power (or wealth, rather) was acquired honestly; he succeeded in construction by building Milano 2 in the 1960s - ten thousand rather tastefully landscaped apartments - and then by developing a TV network despite the opposition of entrenched interests. So, whereas like the bootlegger Joseph Kennedy he crossed the line from honest enterprise into government, he does have a few redeeming features.

Roman Benedetto Bruno, "captured how polarizing Mr. Berlusconi has become," according to the NY Times; “People vote for him because he personifies defects that Italians have in their DNA,” he said. “When you hear about what he does, 80 percent of men think, ‘I wish I were in his place.’ I hate to say this, but Italians don’t want to respect laws, they don’t want to pay taxes, they want to do as they like, and he personifies this.” Sr Bruno ought not to "hate" to say such a thing, whether true or not; disrespecting laws (which are no more than one-party contracts, devoid of any moral obligation) and resisting theft, and doing as one wishes, are central aspects of living free. If all that is really in Italians' DNA, the country has a bright future.

Roman protesters should be objecting not to Berluscini's personal life but to his public one, in which he leads a protection racket far more ruinous than any Mafia family. They will get there, even if a few years later than Americans do.

Your feedback, please!

Do you like what you read here? If so, spread the word among your friends! Suggest they check TinyURL.com/ZGBlog daily, or use RSS.