The Konformist

September 2001

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Beast of the Month - September 2001

Silvio Berlusconi, Fascist Italian Prime Minister

"I yam an anti-Christ..."

John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"

"One man died in Genoa; a man, we must presume, who was swayed by the false promise that violence -- not peaceful protest, not participation in the democratic process -- is the best way to advance a political cause."

Time Magazine, in a glib dismissive tone, explaining the death of G8 Protestor Carlo Giuliani

It was bound to happen sooner or later. With the movement against economic globalization (at least the kind favored by korporate kingpins and their authoritarian governments) growing greater and greater, the police forces that combat and suppress the protestors of globalization and their governmental agencies - the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank & the G8 - have become more violent, better armed, more eager to bash, club and tear gas. Sooner or later, that wouldn't be enough, and someone would be killed. On July 20 (the 32nd anniversary of the moon landing) sooner or later became now.

On this day, Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old Italian protestor of the Genoa, Italy G8 summit - a group consisting of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia - was shot twice in the streets by the Carabinieri, Italy's paramilitary police. The Carabinieri then ran over his dead body with a heavy police vehicle. Carlo, the son of a Roman labor union official, was, like the other protestors, unarmed, except, as Kendall Clark of The Monkeyfist Collective put it, "with righteous rage against repression and injustice." He became the first martyr of the Western world in the big battle of the 21st century between haves and have-nots.

Even without the slaying, the July 20-22 protests at Genoa were the most violent yet - and by violent we mean violence against the protestors. With over 100,000 protestors at the summit, it was the largest anti-globalization protest yet. The Italian police state was prepared: Genoa was turned into a fortress, sections of the city ringed by steel fences and guarded by 20,000 Carabinieri. Over 200 people were injured and 300 people were arrested. Those arrested were beaten and urinated on by policeman, forced to chant praise of Benito Mussolini and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The chants were quite fitting: Mussolini used the Carabinieri to suppress dissent during WWII-era Italy, and the cruel tactics of Pinochet appear to be precisely where Italy and other servants of the New World Order are heading.

If the carnage was a ratchet higher than before, so were the screaming denunciations of the protestors from the korporate mouthpiece and political leaders. "Excuse me if I don't mourn for the young man who was shot dead by police during the economic summit," wrote Houston Chronicle columnist Cragg Hines cruelly. "It was tragic, but he was asking for it, and he got it." Trying to explain the highly undemocratic nature of the meetings, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair whined, "We would prefer to be out there in a normal setting being able to meet people. But we can't because some of these demonstrators are so violent." Meanwhile, "president" George W. Bush, with that trademark smirk on his face, called the killing "a tragic loss that occurred. It's also tragic that many police officers have been hurt, men and women who are trying to protect democratically elected leaders (Konformist note: insert laugh track here) and our necessary right to be able to discuss our common problems." He then disingenuously pronounced, "Those who claim to represent the voices of the poor aren't doing so." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice exceeded him in Orwellian non-logic, and stated, "The democratic process is working inside these doors, not outside it. The people who are trying to keep these meetings from happening . . . are not helping the poor."

The conferees issued the following statement in reaction to the violence on the street:

"We have always respected people's right to legitimate protest. We recognize and praise the role that peaceful protest and argument have played, for example in putting issues like debt relief on the international agenda. But we condemn firmly and absolutely the violence overflowing into anarchy of a small minority that we have seen at work here in Genoa and at recent international meetings."


Of course, never mind the grotesque violence came from the police forces. Thuggish police forces were told by superiors they could brutalize with impunity the detained protesters. According to the Rome daily La Repubblica, officers battered, terrified and humiliated dozens of people after being assured they had "cover".

Less than four months earlier, the government of Italy was taken over by Silvio Berlusconi, the multi-billionaire media mogul and The Konformist Beast of the Month. It was quite fitting, and disturbing, that the landmark battle of global economics happened in Italy. (Nor was it an accident: it was held there because Berlusconi is the most shameless Bush ally among the G8 leaders.) Berlusconi, heading the 59th post-war government in Italy since Mussolini, is not merely the potential second coming of the fascist dictator: he is perhaps the shape of things to come all over the Western world.

Berlusconi and his $14 billion-dollar empire include Italy's biggest publishing house, its leading advertising agency, its wealthiest department store chain, a major investment firm, extensive real estate holdings, and the country's top soccer club. (He has been described as "Citizen Kane on steroids.") Thanks to a giveaway of public airwaves by corrupt political interest, Berlusconi personally controls three of Italy's main private television networks. Now as PM, he controls Italy's three public TV stations as well. All told, 90% of Italian citizens have the information transmitted to them via television controlled by one man. Political science Professor Giovanni Sartori of Columbia University declares, "It is a situation without precedent in the Western World."

Thanks to media control by Berlusconi, little has been made of the fact that he has been convicted four times on charges of perjury, falsifying financial records, tax offenses, and bribery. He has several criminal indictments still pending. There are widespread allegations of Mafia connections and questions about how he acquired his immense personal fortune. If the charges and pending investigations are mentioned, it usually is under the context of Silvio proclaiming himself the victim of a diabolical Communist conspiracy to stop him from "saving Italy."

Instead of this, the public hears what Silvio wants them to hear. As Martin Lee (the author of The Beast Reawakens, about the rise of neo-fascism) puts it:

"Sua Emittenza" ("His Transmittance"), as Berlusconi is widely known, marshaled his opinion-molding TV and print venues to demonize his adversaries and further his own political ambitions. Blatantly biased "news" broadcasts on Berlusconi's networks were virtually indistinguishable from campaign ads and press releases hyping his candidacy.


As Italy's public television has no commercials, any opposing candidates wanting airtime faced a virtual monopoly in order to get it. Giuseppe Giulietti, a parliamentary representative of the Left Democrats opposition, put it best: "This is the only country in the world where the political parties must pay their political adversary in order to run an election campaign." He outspent rivals by more than twenty-to-one and took advantage of unjust media concentration, and it paid off. Berlusconi's coalition secured absolute majorities in both houses of parliament. His own party, Forza Italia (which he founded seven years ago) was Italy's biggest vote-getter.

Looking at the evidence, even the conservative, pro-business British magazine The Economist declared Berlusconi to be "unfit to govern" and a threat to European democracy.

Where is he heading? That doesn't seem promising. Team Berlusconi have joined in a coalition with some pretty scary partners:

* His principal political partner is Gianfranco Fini, who renamed the Italian Social Movement (MSI), Europe's oldest neofascist party, into the National Alliance in 1994, in an unconvincing attempt to "mainstream" his party. The attempt appears to have succeeded. Nonetheless, many of its members still harbor nostalgia for Mussolini's Blackshirts.

* Fiammi Tricolore, an unapologetically fascist group that rejects Fini's efforts to mainstream itself. Popular among skinheads and neo-Nazis, Tricolor Flame is led by Pino Rauti, a veteran of the terrorist underground. Four members of Ordine Nouvo ("New Order"), a neofascist group formed by Rauti, are currently on trial for a 1969 bomb attack in Milan that killed 16 people and injured 84 others.

* Most infamous of all his official partners is Umberto Bossi, head of the xenophobic Northern League. Bossi's crude racist politics is comparable to Austria's Joerg Haider (who was among the first to congratulate Berlusconi for his electoral triumph.)

* Perhaps his most dangerous partner officially no longer exists: the Propaganda Due, a fascist quasi-Masonic lodge made up of Italy's elite. Describe as "a state within a state," P-2 has been linked to bombings (which were attributed to leftists as part of an attempt to turn Italy more reactionary), coup plots and a major smuggling operation that specialized in arms and drugs, while laundering dirty cash through front companies owned by the Vatican Bank. (For those who saw The Godfather Part III, the death of Pope John Paul I gave the inspiration for the plot, as it is widely believe the P-2 murdered John Paul when he uncovered their criminal activities.) Berlusconi's name was found on a list of P-2 initiates after a 1981 police raid. Whether such a gigantic secret society still exists can be debated: needless to say, if it did, it would be extremely pleased with his election.

Silvio and his cohorts ran on a campaign of law and order and racist immigration bashing. He promised to run his country as "Italy, Inc." To his credit, he will likely deliver on that promise. Martin Lee again put it best:

Endlessly embellished by his own media consortium, the myth of the self-made man is central to Berlusconi's mystique. But there is no such thing as a self-made billionaire, especially in a country like Italy... Berlusconi built his business empire not by bucking the establishment but by paying it off. Although he fashioned an image of himself as a maverick newcomer untainted by the corrupt old guard of Italian governance, he owes much of his success to a shadowy network of economic and political power-brokers.


Of course, maybe Mr. Berlusconi will fail on his mission to become Mussolini II: there already has been some backlash over the G8 police riots. He already has held the post of Italian PM once before, and - like nearly everyone else - didn't last long. But there's something in the wind, a storm is brewing, and Berlusconi appears ready to ride it.

Which leads to the most disturbing fact of all: even with the unfair concentration of media in Italy, he was still legitimately elected by the Italian public, a claim the Bush Administration can't make. Already in the US, mass media is controlled be only six companies, who hire mouthpieces which snivel pathetically at the feet of the korporate agenda and its political servants. Under Shrub's FCC chairman Michael Powell, the concentration is expected to go even further. With control of media in even fewer compromised hands, a quasi-legitimate election of Bush in 2004 may be possible even though he's doomed to destroy the economy. What is happening in Italy, then, appears to be a trial run for what is soon to happen back in the USA.

In any case, we salute Silvio Berlusconi as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Silvio!!!


Special thanks to Martin A. Lee for his coverage of Berlusconi and the rise of neofascism.




Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Michael Baigent, Henry Lincoln, Richard Leigh


A Life and Death Struggle in Genoa, Kendall Clark

The Monkeyfist Collective

July 20, 2001


The Beast Reawakens, Martin A. Lee


TV Uber Alles: Berlusconi wins, democracy loses in Italy

Martin A. Lee (

San Francisco Bay Guardian ( )

May 23, 2001


Dancing -- or Yawning -- on the Grave of Carlo Giuliani

Norman Solomon, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting ( )

July 26, 2001


Growing international condemnation of police violence in Genoa, Julie Hyland

World Socialist Web Site ( )

August 15, 2001


In God's Name : An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I

David A. Yallop



The Konformist

Robert Sterling

Post Office Box 24825

Los Angeles, California 90024-0825

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