STRAWS IN THE WIND: by Max TeichmannNews Weekly
Star Wars / Provocative
, July 26, 2003
The European Community continues to provide us with what little political comedy remains to us in the grim new world of international politics. After a long orchestrated campaign run through the European media and left parties against Silvio Berlusconi, taking off when Italy joined the Coalition of the Willing and reaching its crescendo when Italy moved to take over the Presidency of the EU, for the usual rotating six-month term ... some risible but essentially disgusting events have taken place.
Firstly, the European rent-a-crowd of New Age Greens, Iron Age Communists and Stone Age Anarchists who stalk every conference, every political assembly, every demonstration in Europe, paraded before the EU Assembly where Berlusconi was to shortly assume the EU Presidency.
This time their banners were calling Berlusconi "Attila the Hun", Berlusconi was Europe's "Godfather" and his Government the "Mafia". Plus, the usual rabid abuse of the US President and Government, and the Brownshirt artwork and cartoons which we now accept as the normal mode of political discourse of the Western Left - and of its colonial surrogates in places like Australia.
When the demonstrators' abuse - with calls for Berlusconi to step down - were echoed by Left, especially German, MPs of the European Assembly, Berlusconi answered back in kind; likening one especially loud German MP called Schultz to a concentration camp guard in Hogan's Heroes
viz, an especially thick, bumbling guard from the Fawlty Towers
The Assembly screamed loud, accusing Berlusconi of racism. The Western press took up the hunt for the Italian. When it dawned that this was a joke - obviously - the rage of the European establishment knew no bounds. That
might be considered funny in Italy, but in the counting houses, money laundries and dirty deal making salons of Brussels, there was nothing funny about it at all
. Berlusconi should apologise.
Schroeder was then produced to say that Berlusconi had apologised. Well ... expressed regret. The issue was now closed. But Silvio said he had not apologised - but he did feel sorry for Schultz.
While the old West was recovering from this, Italy's junior Minister of Tourism wrote that Italians were turned off by all these "hyper-nationalist blond Germans" littering Italian beaches with their boozing, belching and their sun blocks.
Schlock-horror! Schroeder is not going to take his holidays in Italy as usual, but in his native state of Hanover in protest.
This is good: for Hanover's burghers might at last get to see their native son. Foreign Minister Fischer says the same: so he and his new fourth (or is it fifth) wife will go native, return to the Volk.
Incidentally, where did the Junior Minister find so many hyper-nationalist Germans? Even nationalist? How many natural blonds? This is feelgood, multicultural Germany, Minister. Anyway, he's turned in the job.
The hillbilly opera - this spaghetti/sauerkraut version of the Martins and the McCoys is unfinished, as I write, but its exposure of the laboured farce that is now Europe will not be easily forgotten. But what is the reality behind all this horse play - beginning with the simple stuff?
Firstly: Berlusconi has been threatened with - and engaged in - criminal proceedings many times over the years, having used every twist and turn of the political and legal systems to avoid decisive prosecution. He has just received Italian immunity from prosecution, at least while serving as EU President.
Berlusconi's predecessors have long been cast in the same mould. The Socialists' Craxi sought refuge in Tunisia. The Christian Democrat Andreotti has been totally disgraced. Berlinger's Communists became associated with rottenness, not least by party members. The multi-layered malfeasance of the Christian Democrats was an integral part of Italian society - while Berlusconi has just put the finger on his centre-left predecessor Prodi who is now such a figure in the European establishment.
If he - Silvio - went down, so would Prodi, he suggests.
So Italians have reason to be pretty unhappy with their political class.
But these facts were well-known to the point of tautology. Why protest now?
Before I answer that, this is
the pot calling the kettle black.
French President Chirac is only escaping serious charges by gaining legal immunity as President of France (i.e., for seven years). He just had
to win that second election. But ... no protests in the EU. No rent-a-crowds. Why? Because he is anti-American.
The new head of the European Bank was formerly head of the Bank of France - and his new post in Brussels had to be kept warm while he fought off, successfully, charges of corporate delinquency. The recent Round One vote for the French Presidency saw Chirac's conservatives poll in the 20 per cent range - just ahead of Le Pen, with the Socialists third and out. A massive vote of No Confidence by the French, who saw, and still see, their major parties: Conservatives, Socialists and Communists as having exploited the political, legal and economic systems of France for their own sordid gain. Hence the cluster of radical splinter parties (left and right).
The only thing still unifying the French is anti-Americanism. Like anti-Semitism and anti-Slavism for the Nazis, anti-Whites for current African politicians, and anti-West (and Jewry) for Islamic demagogues. The Australian Left is taking on all
these pathologies, but in France, previous Presidents Mitterrand and d'Estaing are associated with degrees of corruption and political delinquency that would have barred them from office in a country like Britain - but not Europe. And the Germans have dangerously short memories: Helmut Kohl and many of his senior Christian Democrat politicians were drowned in political scandals, the Free Democrats (FDP) had to drop errant politicians, the leader of the main far-Left party lost its leader for similar reasons.
Schroeder's Social Democrats have only had big scandals at the state level - so far - but don't be surprised if things go sour there. What are the Germans talking about?
Belgium is considered the most corrupt country in Europe - east or west; north or south. It has thrown up the biggest neo-fascist party since the 1930s, rivalling Degrelle's Rexists, as a consequence.
This is the real
face of Europe.
The campaign against Berlusconi was part of the fight over who controls Europe, and its agenda. France and Germany and the Brussels bureaucracy which they have controlled, are accustomed to calling the shots and deciding the agenda.
Now Britain, Spain and Italy are leading the opposition to all this with backing from most of the ten new members. The USA is circling above. So ... opposition to war in Iraq and to America was the battlefield chosen by old Europe. The results: the splitting of the EU, the UN and, in reality, NATO. All key sites of Franco-German power.
Refusing to accept political and economic realities, the Franco-Germans, supported by the European Left and the European press (many media warlords are rivals of Berlusconi) are attacking the governments leading the pro-US coalition. And, of course, making things as hard as possible to pacify Iraq.
The rent-a-crowds have been called off from attacking old Europe, and directed elsewhere.
Big policy differences exist in Europe. They include people-smuggling, mass migration, the drug/crime/prostitution/arms smuggling/money laundering industries which together form a part of a great single cancer at the heart of Europe. Knowing that France, Germany, Greece and Belgium are happy as things are, more and more states (not only the UK, Spain and Italy) are prepared to go it alone and quarantine the rotten parts of Europe.
There are big battles ahead here.
Berlusconi was going to use his Presidency to launch all manner of possible changes in the EU, and old Europe and its friends want none of it.
Of course, Europe's economic and social future is bleak in the long run - Germany's is now
. Massive, under-funded welfare systems; rising unemployment but high wages and bloody-minded unions; the production of new children in numbers falling way below replacement rate while America tops 400 million by the end of the century.
Europe is slowly committing suicide, while her corrupt old men pretend, as they did in the 1930s, to be movers and shakers of the universe. But theirs is a dwarf star.
A final note on contemporary Italy. Mussolini at the beginning of his career said he was tired of Italians being seen as a race of waiters, mandolin players and gondoliers - with Italy's principal export being Italians who could not find work or land or bread in their own country. And Italy, while having made great sacrifices in the war, had to wait outside while the big boys - Britain, France and America divvied up the spoils. He
was going to change that. He failed; but had Ciano kept him out of the war and the German embrace, he most likely would have died in his bed, tacitly supported by the Allies, as was Franco.
His opponents were political putty; as their successors have turned out to be.Provocative
So the demand that Italy should take orders from France and Germany; that they must put their tourism trade before their natural antipathies, touches a nerve. And Berlusconi is playing on that nerve. Not every Italian thinks selling leather goods and prints of the Uffizi, cheap wine and pasta at sky high prices to tourists, is the be all and end all for their country. Though some do. The Germans should be careful, for not everyone has forgotten the wars and what the Nazis did in Northern Italy.
In the 1930s, Mussolini's regime presented Melbourne with a bust of Il Duce
. This was warmly received by representatives of the government, trade union movements and various organisations. Apparently it graced the precincts of Trades Hall. He was a "friend of the workers"! Whatever happened to that bust?
I know what happened to the Mafia and the Camorra. Mussolini destroyed them ... but the Americans brought them back in 1943. So who was just blaming Italy for the Mafia?Mea Culpa:
I received a most interesting letter asking me to throw further light on the term "The Law of Unintended Consequences". Unfortunately I lost it (unintentionally!). Could the lady send me another version of her letter and I shall