What the Italian crisis is about: Democracy vs. Capitalism

This isn't the first time democracy and capitalism have clashed, but rarely has it been so obvious and with such high stakes. This is late stage capitalism, and the mask is off.

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-migrant Euroskeptic League on Tuesday blasted European Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger for saying markets would persuade Italians not to vote for the two populist parties....
League leader Matteo Salvini said: "They are without shame in Brussels. "The European budget commissioner, Germany's (Guenther) Oettinger, says that 'the markets will teach Italians to vote for the right thing'. If that isn't a threat...I'm not scared #Italiansfirst".
Fallout on the financial markets will prompt Italians not to vote for populist parties, Oettinger of Germany said Tuesday, according to an excerpt from a Deutsche Welle interview to be published tonight. "The negative development of the markets will lead Italians not to vote much longer for the populists," he reportedly said.

Is democracy subordinate to capitalism or not?
Politicians in Europe seem to think so.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has back-tracked and said, "it is up to the Italians and only them to decide the future of their country, and to no one else".
European Council President Donald Tusk said, "my appeal to all European institutions is please, respect the voters: we are here to serve them, not to lecture them".

Greece would disagree. Judging by how we've gotten to this crisis, Italians shouldn't believe it either.

On Sunday night, President Sergio Mattarella ended plans to form Western Europe's first populist government by vetoing their euroskeptic pick for economy minister. The president argued that Italy could not be perceived as entertaining an exit from the euro.
...Mattarella then asked Cottarelli to set up a non-political government to lead the country to another election.
Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund official, promised to quickly assemble a Cabinet.

What is being done here is a litmus test on Italian democracy, and that test would be administered by the capitalists. This was also repeatedly done in Greece, but only after Greece couldn't pay it's debts.
In Italy that litmus test is being applied, not to the finances of the country, but to its democratic sovereignty itself.

Nicola Nobile, lead economist at Oxford Economics, predicted the "the next elections could become a de facto referendum on Italy remaining in the eurozone."

If this situation wasn't already crystal clear, consider the back-story that begins seven years ago.

In October 2011, German chancellor Angela Merkel made a phone call to then Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, soon after which Napolitano grabbed an opportunity to replace Silvio Berlusconi with the unelected, Brussels-friendly technocrat Mario Monti. Although Merkel and Napolitano denied they had plotted to ease Berlusconi out, that's the impression that prevailed. The Economist unabashedly applauded Merkel for helping “get rid of clowns like Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi.” Many Italians fumed, believing that Germany had violated their national sovereignty.

I never liked Berlusconi, and the Northern League scares me, but after these direct violations of their national sovereignty, I couldn't blame the Italian voters for voting for anyone who was committed to restoring their independence.

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detroitmechworks's picture

Because technocrats are the vanguard of capitalism. What I find hilarious is that most of them don't really believe in science. Rather most of them believe in a popular version of science popularized by Hollywood where technology will save all problems, usually right in the nick of time.

At least If I say that Athena guided me through a war, I have at least SOME basis in fact. I didn't die in a war. From my sample size of One, it's a logical conclusion.

However, basing your worldview on the idea that papers read by people who didn't really understand them, then translated them into a future society where everything is perfect due to SCIENCE, is fucking stupid.

Science isn't the problem, and technology isn't the problem, but those that rely on briefings based off press reports on ad campaigns by scientists...

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

@detroitmechworks
If you are running a theocracy, you need your priests up front.

Neoliberal capitalism is a theocracy, and technocrats are the priests.

Remember that capitalism is flawless and forever and the peak in human evolution.
If a capitalist nation fails it must be because the people of that nation failed capitalism.

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Wink's picture

@gjohnsit

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

gulfgal98's picture

@gjohnsit in a great essay.

If a capitalist nation fails it must be because the people of that nation failed capitalism.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

when global warming forces migrants to come in the hundreds of millions it will stop being a question of racism and become a question of survival. Then the League will stop being scary. We will redefine good and evil, and the new definition will not be a choice, but it will be our fault.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

Amanda Matthews's picture

to find out that when people are pushed too far than there’s not going to be anything they can say or do to control the rabble. People watching their children do without while the elite live in luxury is when the shit hits the fan.

The Euro PTB have outright told the people that they have no say in how they are to live. That’s the kind of stupidity that will turn people out into the streets. When people have nothing left to lose is when they turn to violence. That’s why certain people are trying to walk back what that jacksss Oettinger said, which was a direct threat AND challenge to any dirty plebs who he thinks need a ‘lesson’.

Csn’t find my damn glasses. If this is loaded with typos I apologize in advance. Being on an iPhone isn’t helping.

EDIT: lode/lose
EDIT EDIT: more stupid typos. (I can only see this stuff clearly after I hit ‘save’ and it publishes.)

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Wink's picture

are trying to walk back
@Amanda Matthews
what that jacksss Oettinger said, which was a direct threat AND challenge to any dirty plebs who he thinks need a ‘lesson’. "

Exactly. Was one of those "did I just say that out loud?!" moments.
Don't claim to know a damn thing about Euro politics, or the Greece story,
but it appears there's damn little difference between their politics and ours,
and it's clear - as in crystal - that Capitalism trumps democracy.
Get on board the neolib capitalist train or get runned over!!

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

snoopydawg's picture

@Amanda Matthews

because Macron is privatizing so many job services. They have been doing this for two months or longer, but Macron isn't budging. How much longer until congress pushes us too far? Workers in Las Vegas are thinking of walking off their jobs too. I'd like to see all workers go out on strike at the same time. Shut this country down!

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“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

@snoopydawg
Problem is, people won't do it just like they won't vote. They'll have a reason, good or not, but they will leave those that do hanging out there to get picked off.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Azazello's picture

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of M5S was quoted as saying: "Why don't we just say that in this country it's pointless that we vote, as the ratings agencies, financial lobbies decide the governments?"

The League's Matteo Salvini was equally vehement: "In a democracy, if we are still in a democracy, there's only one thing to do, let the Italians have their say."

He added with notable fury: "Italy is not a colony. We are not slaves of the Germans or the French or finance".

Incumbent President Mattarella is accused of being "pro-Brussels" and compliant with the dominant economic policy of austerity and strict public financ

Sputnik

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It didn't have to be this way.

@Azazello

"Italy is not a colony. We are not slaves of the Germans or the French or finance".

I'm on the fence on this.

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@gjohnsit

"Italy is not a colony. We are not slaves of the Germans or the French or finance".

Italy is a Franco-German colony. It has been so since Orestes and his puppet-Emperor son Romulus Augustulus was removed from power in 476 CE.


before source


after source

The Ostrogoths were a Germanic people who subjugated the Western Roman Empire in the late Fifth Century CE. The sole surviving infrastructure of that Empire, the Papacy, had to resort to the military might of the Franks, another Germanic people (and the proto-French) in order to cast off the Ostrogoths' yoke. And to do this the Popes paid the Franks quite well. So yes, ever since 476 CE, "a colony of Germany, France, and finance" is exactly what Italy has been and is still today!

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

"The negative development of the markets will lead Italians not to vote much longer for the populists,"

is how utterly wrongheaded it is on its face.

After all, if the 'markets' are so good now, why did the Italians vote in the populists in the first place? As conditions get worse, the more these parties will thrive.

So I say do your worst ECB. The graves you will dig will be your own.

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The current working assumption appears to be that our Shroedinger's Cat system is still alive. But what if we all suspect it's not, and the real problem is we just can't bring ourselves to open the box?

@Not Henry Kissinger

..."The negative development of the markets will lead Italians not to vote much longer for the populists," ...

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Meteor Man's picture

Cowardice': Trudeau Trashed for Government Purchase of Climate-Killing Kinder Morgan Pipeline

A 4.5 Billion dollar gift to his corporate masters:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday that his government will purchase Kinder Morgan's "climate-destroying" Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

@Meteor Man

both leading back to the Koch brothers and others.

We need another nation-wide strategic vote - but this time between the NDP and Greens, as it should have been last time. Any actual human being concerned with the public interest currently qualifies for public office, in my opinion. Just get the self-identified psychopaths, assorted hired criminals and stooges out, which includes anyone willingly under the Con or Liberal corporate banners.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

about goods and services, labor and consumer, benchmarks and all that crap they neglect to mention how capitalism has been weaponized against citizens and workers, and democracy itself.

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Bollox Ref's picture

is beginning to remind me of the formation and development of the German 2nd Reich.

Sure, the various dukedoms and principalities got to keep local laws/customs (even army cap badges for the lucky), but everyone knew that Prussia called the tunes (see The demise of the Kingdom of Hanover, etc.).

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Bollox Ref

Sure, the various dukedoms and principalities got to keep local laws/customs (even army cap badges for the lucky), but everyone knew that Prussia called the tunes (see The demise of the Kingdom of Hanover, etc.).

I noted in my high school days that after the Reich structure of Germany was dismantled at the end of World War II, the King of Hanover (the victorious George VI of Great Britain) got his German Kingdoms back, less some parts of Eastern Saxony which had to be conceded to Russia because Stalin had gotten troops there during that War.

The French specifically wanted the Ruhr and Saar lands, parts of which they've claimed for centuries, and that's what they got.

We Americans got whatever was left, west of the Elbe.

Wink

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

Bollox Ref's picture

@thanatokephaloides
With France acting as the Bavarian foil, Italy as a disgruntled Wurttemberg or Baden, Spain a slightly sad Saxony, The Netherlands and Belgium as the two Mecklenburgs, Denmark doing its bit as Oldenburg, Portugal hoping to be as powerful as Hesse, and everyone else as one of the obscure Thuringian duchies, or Reuss where everyone is called Henry.

And Prussia thinking 'ain't life grand!'

(Edited)

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

Mark from Queens's picture

Don't ever read the Neoliberal Omissioners anymore. But caught this headline on the newspaper rack of my local supermarket:

"After Years of Belt-Tightening, Weary England Is Feeling The Pinch: Prolonged Budget Cuts Reshape British Life."

There was a photo underneath of a park near Liverpool that was one on a list of 17 that local govt's planned to sell to real estate developers. (Of course in this era of Newspeak the online piece has a different title).

Everybody is starting to get it. Went into one of my rants just before while checking out at the supermarket, prompted by the debit card swipe thing, that the banks were the real criminals and the source of all of our problems. And the guy in back of me, who I noticed was wearing a hospital card tag of some sort, said while nodding, "I totally agree."

It's rare when a story like this makes it onto the front page. It surely qualifies.

But so would long investigative pieces about the homeless problem, the healthcare fiasco, the jobless problem, job insecurity, student debt, housing cost bamboozle, militarized racist police, cost of living and taxes going up. The difference is that because none of these stories are given the prolonged attention they deserve, for obvious reasons that include the press being owned by oligarchs who wish this news to be buried, we don't see our own lives reflected back to us as "news." And people then are more apt to think things are not quite so bad - because they're not being told by their news how bad it really is.

But just talk to people, everywhere you go. Everybody seems to know what's up.

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

Hawkfish's picture

See his op-ed in the Guardian

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We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg