Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

We are making Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s dream come true

Sergio Fabbrini was my professor at the university and I value him as one of my best advisors. He is writing for the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, and this is one of his latests brilliant essays. I am copying part of it here, first in Italian, then in English.

1. Italiano. Il populismo italiano è stato alimentato dall’assenza di una seria mediazione tra la società e la politica. Si è affermata in Italia l’idea che chi fa politica deve essere come noi, che chi governa deve essere uno di noi, che chi decide deve farlo per noi. È un populismo travolgente e inarrestabile che è divenuto una filosofia pubblica nazionale. Stiamo realizzando il sogno di Vladimir Ilic Lenin: anche le cuoche possono governare. Le nostre cuoche sono politici che ci assomigliano. Alla crisi del modello del politico di professione si è risposto resuscitando il modello del politico come noi. … La tecnocrazia è l’altra faccia del populismo. È la politica incapace e irresponsabile che giustifica il ricorso ai professori, ai banchieri, ai consiglieri di Stato, agli uomini e alle donne di quelle poche istituzioni che si sono finora difese con la loro competenza. È vero che la tecnocrazia è inconciliabile con la democrazia, ma non la si neutralizza denunciandola come il partito degli ottimati. La tecnocrazia è resa ridondante dalla buona politica, quella fatta da persone che sanno conciliare il consenso con la conoscenza, che sanno muoversi ai vari livelli (nazionale ed europeo) in cui si prendono le decisioni, che sono consapevoli dei vincoli e delle opportunità che strutturano le politiche pubbliche. Insomma, fatta di persone che non sono come noi.

2. English. Italian populism was sustained by the absence of any serious mediation between society and politics. The belief that politicians should be like us; that the person in charge must be one of us; that the person who decides should do so for us, has become deep-rooted in Italy. It is an overwhelming and unstoppable populism that has become a national public philosophy. We are making Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s dream come true: even the cooks can govern. Our cooks are politicians who look like us. The response to the crisis of the professional politician was the politician who looks like us. … Technocracy is populism’s other face. It is the incapable and irresponsible politics that justify the recourse to professors, bankers, state advisers, to the men and women from those few institutions who have still defended themselves through their competence. It is true that technocracy is irreconcilable with democracy, but it is not by denouncing it as the party of optimists. Technocracy is made redundant by good politics, the kind made by people who are able to reconciliate common sense and knowledge, who know how to move on various levels (national and European) at which decisions are made, who are aware of the limitation and opportunities that constitute public policies—in other words, the politics that are not made by people like us.

Before we laugh at this rudderless state

Italy, for better or worse, has served as an amazing laboratory of political innovation in recent history. Fascism and the mafia were Italian inventions. And the Berlusconi phenomenon—the combining of media power, money, and celebrity, and translating it into political power—was, like it or not, an innovation that found imitators around the world. If Berlusconi represents the political potential of television, Grillo is one of the first political figures to build a major political movement largely through the Internet. And that Grillo, a not particularly funny comedian with a mop of unruly gray hair and a foul mouth, should create a political movement out of nothing and turn it into the largest party in the country in just a few years is not as strange as it might at first appear. Read the rest of the article on The New Yorker.

Change. But which one?

This is one of the clearest and most complete articles I have read so far on the outcome of the Italian elections. And this is another one.