Saturday, July 11, 2009

Di Pietro apologizes for Berlusconi

Antonio Di Pietro is an Italian politician and former cop and prosecutor. He became famous in the early '90's for his primary role in the Clean Hands investigations in which, with outstanding courage and integrity, he took on the widespread corruption in his country.
And now, from the pages of the British left-of-center daily The Guardian, comes an article of his in which he apologizes for Berlusconi. He gives a good, succinct account of Berlusconi's wrongdoing, all of it accurate.

But. I've always strongly believed that you cannot and should not apologize for someone else. Not only that; those who do so strike me as advertising their own superiority. And my point here with respect to Berlusconi is that the average Italian is not morally superior to him. Many Italians think they are, for two reasons. One: denial and lack of insight into their own behavior- there is no Italian word for the English "insight." Two: the average person (not only in Italy) often doesn't do the dirt of the very rich and powerful because they don't have the means, but they manage plenty of injustice on a smaller scale, often quite damaging.

The comments section of online publications is quickly becoming an integral part of such publications (except for this one). One of the commenters exonerates Italians by saying that Berlusconi diabolically shaped Italians over the years with his control of the media, creating a monster-public that was ripe to be manipulated. I've heard that one before. No, no. Another of my strong beliefs is that adults are ipso facto responsible for their behavior. No blaming your momma, your poppa, Society, or Silvio Berlusconi. This is also simply not correct in the case of Italy. Director and writer Pier Paolo Pasolini famously was analyzing the degraded social condition of Italy in the early '70's, before Berlusconi's admittedly vast influence.

And what would be a realistic basis of comparison? Before his control of the country, the Italians had decades of a near-monopoly by the deplorable Christian Democrats ("Christian" "Democrats"). And before that twenty years of Benito Mussolini. Objectively speaking, Berlusconi is an improvement over both.