Berlusconi’s poison

Former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques makes a welcome return to political debate with this forthright analysis of Berlusconi:

In seeking to constrain the power of institutions that are independent of him, Berlusconi has been pursuing a policy of creeping totalitarianism. His own style of political attack graphically illustrates the point. Just as he sought to damn Martin Schulz as a Nazi, so he is constantly seeking to denigrate, undermine and condemn opponents in the most extreme of terms.

He describes the left as “communists” under whom “there would be no freedom in Italy”. On two popular presenters that he got dismissed from Rai: “Public television, which is funded by everyone’s money, was put to criminal use by Santoro [and] Biagi.” On the judges: “A section of the judiciary is using its powers not to administer justice but to attack and eliminate those that it considers its political opponents.”

This kind of political style is a direct descendant of fascism, where the opposition is branded in the most lurid and extreme language, accorded no respect, and dismissed as outside the parameters of respectable and civilised society. Berlusconi has poisoned Italian politics and this week did the same to European politics. It was no gaffe: this is how Berlusconi customarily treats political opponents.