martedì, settembre 22, 2009

Rome burns, or how is possible that Mr. Berlusconi is Prime Minister in Italy? /1

As an Italian citizen, nowadays there’s an inescapable question I need to face everytime I meet someone who’s not Italian. Friends, or just people who I’ve recently met, after the first basic questions, sooner or later get to the question that 40% percent of Italians would never wish to answer: “How come Silvio Berlusconi is your prime minister?” or “How could he win elections?” To me, not only as an Italian, but also as a simple civil world citizen (excluding Italy, obviously), there’s no question more painful than that.

In the last year I’ve been asked it so many times that I could refine my answer, the same answer given by the Times online, some days ago: “It is said — largely by Mr Berlusconi himself — that most Italian men are envious, and secretly long to be like him, even if (or probably because), as he admitted, he is no saint." (

Also, the british newspaper tries to give at least another answer, by a more political perspective. Nevertheless, as an Italian painfully living his country, even if trying to escape from it as much as possible, I’m coming to more and different answers. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there’s not just one single answer to such a heavy question, but multiple answers, whose range is extremely wide, from very simple to very complex. I’ll leave the complex analysis to those who can do it, and who enjoy doing it more than I do. On my side, I believe many reasons are so simple that have been forgot. Unfortunately simple things can be easily underestimated, and because of this they can hide dangerous truths. Yet, I believe the reasons for which Berlusconi is where he is, despite what he says, or does, can be found in everyday life, and in everyday disfunctions. They are hidden in the glorious historical culture of this country. That culture doesn’t belong any more to Italian people. It is a gift given for free to contemporary Italians by their ancistors; a gift we didn’t and we are not doing anything to deserve, but which is so well wrapped that would be a pity not to use it to make money, selling it to those tourists who happily come every year to the peninsula. It is a gift that is not used anymore to enrich, or as a glorious starting point to improve and be example to others, but that is a golden chair on which italians can sit and lucrate.

Coming to the reasons why Berlusconi has been elected, here are some I can think of. I realize they sound very simple, qualunquiste, maybe stupid, but yet I believe it is also for these silly reasons, that this country it’s in such a wrecked situation.

Why Berlusconi has been elected as prime minister in Italy?

1) Because he resembles what many italians would like to be: rich, powerful, clever, capable of sleeping with many women (sad, but true)

2) Because in many train stations you can not buy a train ticket if you don’t have cash with you. Obviously there won’t be an ATM near, and if there is, it won’t be working

3) Because public libraries do not commonly provide any internet access

4) Because until a couple of years ago in many areas of Italy, especially those in the countryside, it was not possible to have an internet connection, if not very slow (through phone connection) and very expensive.

5) Because public libraries, especially those with more material, are painfully wrapped in red tape. You entering in the reading room? Fill this application form and leave a valid document. Do you need to enter this other room? Fill this other application. Do you want to see a book? Fill this application with the serial number of the first application. Do you want to hold that book (not checking out)? Fill another application. Do you want to hold more than 2 books? That is not possible! Do you want to check out the books? That is possible just in some specific times, and not all books can be checked out.

6) Because Italians just enforce those laws that are strictly senseless. One example? In the library where I'm studying in these days (sorry for the boutade...) you can not access the reading room if you are under 16 years old. Giovanni Papini denounced the same thing (exactly for the same library I believe) in its "Un uomo finito", published in 1913. I suggest not to change the law for the next 4 years, so that we can celebrate the 100th anniversary of stupidity.