Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mussolini Version 2.0

On October 28th, 1922 thousands of young men in black shirts poured onto the streets of Italy led by Benito Mussolini. This was the beginning of the era of fascism. At its heart, fascism is modeled on a form of hyper-capitalism wherein the interests of the state and the corporations are assimilated into one force. Fascism is also characterized by intense hatred towards outsiders, expansionism, and extreme authoritarianism. Fast forward nearly a century, and the picture has not changed.

Silvio Berlusconi is the richest man in Italy and the 25th richest on the planet. In 2001, he increased his hold on power beyond the financial arena by becoming the Prime Minister of Italy. Berlusconi has used his media group, Fininvest to run both his campaign and his administration in a way that would make Il Duce himself proud. Indeed, Fininvest commands 45% of the audience share in Italy, essentially giving the Berlusconi administration its own news network. Like Fox News on steroids.

In the lead up to the War in Iraq, Berlusconi showed his fascist colors again by directly disobeying the will of the Italian people. In spring of 2003, Italian support for a unilateral war against Iraq never rose above 11%, yet Berlusconi lent his support and hundreds of Italian troops to the U.S. led invasion.

Berlusconi showed his fascist roots again this week when he came out against teaching Islam in Italian schools. He was reacting to a statement by Communist Party candidate Oliviero Diliberto that teaching different faiths in the classroom was vital for understanding and peace. Berlusconi went so far as to say, "We do not want a multi-racial, multicultural Italy.”

It looks as if Berlusconi may share the same fate as Benito Mussolini. In April of 1945 a group of Communist freedom fighters captured and executed Mussolini for his crimes against Italy and humanity as a whole. IIn the elections coming up next week, its becoming increasingly likely that the center-left coalition - that includes the Italian socialist and communist parties - will metaphorically execute Silvio's Berlusconi's political career.