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Beppe Grillo Wants To Give Italy Democracy

category international | politics / elections | other press author Wednesday February 27, 2013 22:08author by T Report this post to the editors

Automatic Earth blog covers Beppo of the M5S movement in Italy

In the recent elections in Italy the new movement M5S led by the former Italian comedian Beppo Grillo has gained 108 seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies and 54 in the Senate. It is hard to get an accurate picture of who he is and what he wants from the mainstream media since they see him as a challenge to the system and will gladly misrepresent him. In this article it reports on the account given at The Automatic Earth blog where Nicole Foss met Beppo Grillo in Italy and gives her view on him, his movement and what they are trying to achieve.

"The internet is central to Grillo's ideas. Not only as a tool to reach out to people, but even more as a way to conduct direct democracy. Because that is what he seeks to create: a system where people can participate directly. Grillo wants to bring (back) democracy, the real thing, and he's long since understood that the internet is a brilliant tool with which to achieve that goal."
Beppo Grillo - leader of M5S movement in Italy
Beppo Grillo - leader of M5S movement in Italy

In the fall of 2011 while Nicole Foss was on a speaking tour of Italy she managed to arrange an interview with Beppo Grillo which turned out to be in his home above the hills of Genoa in Northern Italy. What she has to say is interesting because I would imagine you would be hard pressed to find such a positive report in the press.

Clearly Beppo Grillo is saying and doing the right thing and is making a connection with people given his movement have done very well in the elections during the past few days in Italy.

Here are some of they key paragraphs that Nicole had to say about the man with the first paragraph covering her meeting with him and then it leads on to some explanation about the movement and its origins.

I don't speak Italian, and Beppe doesn't speak much English (or French, German, Dutch), so it was at times a bit difficult to communicate. Not that it mattered much, though; Beppe Grillo has been a super charged Duracell bunny of an entertainer and performer all his life, and he will be the center of any conversation and any gathering he's a part of no matter what the setting.....
......And so we spent a wonderful afternoon in Genoa, and managed to find out a lot about our very entertaining host and his ideas and activities.

Beppe had set up his Five Star movement (MoVimento Cinque Stelle, M5S) a few years prior. He had been organizing V-day "happenings" since 2007, and they drew those huge crowds. The V stands for "Vaffanculo", which can really only be translated as "F**k off" or "Go f**k yourself": the driving idea was to get rid of the corruption so rampant in Italian politics, and for all sitting politicians to go "Vaffanculo".

At the time we met, the movement was focusing on local elections - they have since won many seats, have become the biggest party on Sicily (after Beppe swam there across the Straits of Messina from the mainland) and got one of their own installed as mayor of the city of Parma.

Grillo explained that M5S is not a political party, and he himself doesn't run for office. He wants young people to step forward, and he's already in his sixties. Anyone can become a candidate for M5S, provided they have no ties to other parties, no criminal record (Beppe does have one through a 1980 traffic accident); they can't serve more than two terms (no career politicians) and they have to give back 75% of what they get paid for a public function (you can't get rich off of politics).

And then in the next few paragraphs she begins to give her view on him and the movement.

By the way, the Five Stars, perhaps somewhat loosely translated, stand for energy, information, economy, transport and health. What we found during our conversation is that Beppe Grillo's views on several topics were a little naive and unrealistic. For instance, like so many others, he saw a transition to alternative energy sources as much easier than it would realistically be. That said, energy and environment issues are important for him and the movement, and in that regard his focus on decentralization could carry real benefits.

Still, I don't see the present naive ideas as being all that bad. After all, there are limits to what people can do and learn in a given amount of time....

And then onto the politics...

We are- almost - all of us living in non-functioning democracies, but in Italy it's all far more rampant and obvious. There's a long history of deep-seated corruption, through the mafia, through lodges like P5 and Opus Dei, through many successive governments, and through the collaboration between all of the above, so much so that many Italians just see it as a fact of life. And that's what Beppe Grillo wants to fight.
Beppe is called a populist for rejecting both right and left wing parties, a neo-nazi for refusing to block members of a right wing group from M5S, a Jew hater in connection with the fact that his beautiful wife was born in Iran, and a dictator because he's very strict in demanding potential M5S candidates adhere to the rules he has set. Oh, and there are the inevitable right wing people calling him a communist. -

And then onto how he operates and what his plans for change and democracy are. ...clearly this man doesn't give a fuck about the establishment.

After being banned from TV, Grillo went on the build one of the most visited blogs/websites in the world, and the number one in Europe. Ironically, he is now in some media labeled something of a coward for not appearing in televised election debates. But Beppe doesn't do TV, or - domestic - newspapers. For more than one reason.

Because he was banned from TV, because of the success of the internet campaign, and because Silvio Berlusconi incessantly used "lewd" talk shows on his own TV channels to conduct politics, Beppe Grillo insists his councilors and candidates stay off TV too, and he has his own unique way of making clear why and how: When a female Five Star member recently ignored this and appeared on a talk show anyway, Grillo said "the lure of television is like the G-spot, which gives you an orgasm in talk-show studios. It is Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame. At home, your friends and relations applaud emotionally as they share the excitement of a brief moment of celebrity.". Of course Beppe was labeled a sexist for saying this.

The internet is central to Grillo's ideas. Not only as a tool to reach out to people, but even more as a way to conduct direct democracy. Because that is what he seeks to create: a system where people can participate directly. Grillo wants to bring (back) democracy, the real thing, and he's long since understood that the internet is a brilliant tool with which to achieve that goal. One of his spear points is free internet access for all Italians. Which can then be used to let people vote on any issue that can be voted on. Not elections once every four years or so, but votes on any topic anytime people demand to vote on it. Because we can.
As was the case in the local elections, Beppe Grillo says he wants "normal" people ("a mother of three, a 23-year-old college graduate, an engineer [..] those are the people I want to see in parliament") to be elected, not career politicians who enrich themselves off their status and influence, and who he labels "the walking dead", and though he acknowledges his candidates have no political experience, he says: "I'd rather take a shot in the dark with these guys than commit assisted suicide with those others." In the same vein, another one of his lines is:"The average age of our politicians is 70. They're planning a future they're never going to see".

And her final summary

Beppe Grillo wants to break that chain. And he's got a recipe to do it. It may not be perfect or foolproof, but who cares when it's replacing something that no longer functions at all, that just drags us down and threatens our children's lives? Who cares? Well, the Monti's and Berlusconi's and Merkel's and Obama's and Exxon's and BP's and Monsanto's of the world do, because it is the old system that gave them what they have, and they don't want a new one that might take it away. Our so-called democracies exist to please our leaders and elites, not ourselves. And we're unlikely to figure that one out until it's way too late.

The website for Modena 5 Stelle is at:

The full blog entry can be found at the link below.

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author by Gramscipublication date Thu Feb 28, 2013 15:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Grillo is a right-wing racist conman. More at url.

Although Grillo’s past manslaughter conviction for a traffic accident ruled him out of contention for parliament under M5S’s own rules (which exclude all those who have criminal convictions, as part of its attempt to present itself as far cleaner than all the established parties), he has ruled M5S with a rod of iron. He has instantly expelled members, including elected representatives, for appearing on television, which he regards as a mortal sin - although he has profoundly benefited from television coverage of his own rallies - or for criticising him in any way whatsoever. Despite his horizontalist rhetoric and copious use of social media, the online ‘primaries’ of M5S were a total farce, with extremely low participation rates and no apparent checks against fraud.

Quite apart from the classic authoritarian, populist structure of M5S, which might be seen as an internet equivalent to Berlusconi’s original TV-based Forza Italia (arguably the present-day Popolo della Libertà is slightly closer to an orthodox political party in structural terms), Grillo has expressed abhorrent views on a variety of key issues. On his Sicilian tour last year, he trivialised the Mafia in a cynical bid to enlist their support - the fact that in the event Mafia prisoners abstained in record numbers, indicating that Cosa Nostra did not take a political position on that occasion, is irrelevant. He has frequently expressed the racist view that the children of immigrants born in Italy should not be granted citizenship rights. He has courted the violent neo-Nazis of CasaPound, having at least one friendly meeting with their representatives.3 Grillo has repeatedly expressed hostility to trade unions, arguing that all workers need are representatives on company boards.

In his anti-parliamentary ranting - for example, in his February 22 closing rally in Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni - he has been quite prepared to adopt slogans derived from the youth movement of the old neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), such as “You are surrounded”. This is an attack on bourgeois democracy from the right, not the left - something in the tradition of the French extreme right’s attack on parliament in February 1934. ...

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author by fredpublication date Thu Feb 28, 2013 19:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes, our politicians rarely express abhorrent views in public. But in private they scheme and plan how to sell us all out. PC politicians who pretend to say the right thing on TV all the time but who do the opposite where it counts, i.e. in their policy and legislation, by always screwing the poor and benefitting the rich are highly overrated.

Maybe we need less emphasis on how skillfully they lie in public about their opinions and more on what kinds of laws they push and ultimately implement.

Perhaps it's time for a change where ordinary people get a say on things more than once every 4 years and politicians can't get rich or become TV personalities from their job.

I guess that would rightly fuck up the plans of the communist party just as much as those of the far right and rapacious capitalism and banking which currently run the tweedledee / tweedledumb political theatre in most countries.

It's time for something new. I hope he succeeds, if only to set an example and put the shits up the current establishment parties who have not created a better world. Just an ecologically damaged prison planet which serves the rich.

author by Elricpublication date Fri Mar 01, 2013 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yeah, bad news for the Rifundizio List. Also a letter to the Guardian.

For the left the Italian elections results were deeply disappointing.

The left bloc, Rivoluzione Civile, got the results below, and failed to enter Italy’s elected Chambers.

Chamber of Deputies 765,172 2.25%. 0 / 630

Senate 549,987 1.79% 0 / 315

• I challenge the assertion that Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement poses an alternative to the dogma of austerity. Following the ex-comedian's friendly televised meeting with the fascist CasaPound group, his calls for trade unions to be "wiped out", and his complaints about migrant communities settling in Italy, it should be obvious that the large M5S vote is small-minded and defeatist, rather than some new voice of hope for the working class and poor. Italy may be driving in the wrong direction, but this "fuck everything" demagogue trying to grasp at the steering wheel does no favours to those on the receiving end of austerity.
David Broder
Rome, Italy

author by fredpublication date Fri Mar 01, 2013 19:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here's the other letter to the guardian you didn't quote :

"If, according to Simon Jenkins (Italy's voters may yet shake the whole European system, 27 February), the vote for Beppe Grillo's "wildcat populism" in Italy is to be understood as a "fuck off" to the political class and, by extension, the established order, surely it's not just reciprocation that's long overdue but entirely justified too. Politicians and parliaments, sometimes in barely concealed collusion with pernicious corporate interests, seem to have been engaged in a collective "fuck you" to electorates for years. Take the UK alone. Illegal war predicated on a lie, banking collapse and corruption, MPs' expenses abuse, a feral press with connections at the highest level of government and now food contamination for profit – the list is as long as it is depressing. If it takes an act of comedy to force us to stand up and confront this tragedy that passes for democracy, then so be it.
C**** M********

author by Elricpublication date Fri Mar 01, 2013 23:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

He wants to smash unions, he wants to deport immigrants.

Hes the Italian equivalent of Farage.

author by Jared Israel - http://emperors-clothes.compublication date Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:32author email emperorsclothes at tenc dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

What thoughtless nonsense! Grillo is the enemy of the establishment? Then why has he been praised by Secretary of State Kerry? As Italians are pointing out, Grillo's obscene ranting, his claim to represent something "new" that is "neither right nor left" is eerily similar to Mussolini's speeches before the march on Rome. Leftist leader Bersani has it right" Grillo is a fascist, but many who have supported for him are good people who are understandably very angry at politicians. --Jared Israel, tenc

author by Elricpublication date Tue Mar 05, 2013 20:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fascism could come to Italy not wearing a black uniform but the mask of a clown. Full text at link.

One of Beppe Grillo's MP castigated for praise of fascism
Roberta Lombardi, senior politician in Italy's Five Star Movement, criticised for blogpost lauding fascism's family values

One of the most senior newly elected politicians in former comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement came under fire on Tuesday, for a blog in which she appeared to praise aspects of fascism, including its family values and respect for the state.

Just a week after the upstart M5S's spectacular breakthrough in Italy's inconclusive election, Roberta Lombardi, 39, was widely criticised for the blog. In a front-page article, one commentator in La Stampa even called on her to resign.

The post, published on 21 January, said that "before it degenerated, the ideology of fascism had a socialist-inspired sense of national community and a very high regard for the state and the protection of the family".

Days later, three-times prime minister Silvio Berlusconi caused outrage by choosing Holocaust memorial day to present his own revisionist take on why fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had, apart from introducing antisemitic race laws, "done well" in other ways.

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author by fredpublication date Wed Mar 06, 2013 02:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The real fascists are already here and imposing austerity, privatisation and the dismantling of state supports on the poor people of Europe, whilst joining the fascist US making war in Africa and the middle east. Beppo is only an amateur fascist compared to these folks. I'd rather have an amateur "oral" fascist like Beppo than the real thing, cold blooded and cloaked in sheep's clothing!


author by Tpublication date Thu Aug 22, 2013 21:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Back in March Tarpley wrote a good analysis of Grillo titled: Italy's Grillo exposed as tool of State Department, Goldman Sachs

In it he quite clearly shows that Grillo is the stalking horse of the financial oligarchy and his main purpose is to create chaos designed to wreck the Italian economy and lay it open so that the bondholders can prey on it. As he says:

The persistence of at least two major political parties has forced the bankers to turn to Grillo, seen more as a short-term wrecking ball for the existing political system than as a long-term dictatorial solution. Once Grillo has further demolished the existing parliamentary democracy, Washington and London can pull out their next option, quite possibly the telegenic Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, already celebrated by Time magazine as Italy’s white Obama, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to the traditional hack leadership around Bersani in the PD primaries for prime minister. Wall Street and the City of London hope that, with a little bit of luck, Grillo might also be able to wreck the Euro and pitch continental Europe into the abyss of total economic breakdown.

And there is merit to this since on March 8th according to Tarpley:

On March 8, Fitch Ratings took advantage of the chaos and un-governability generated by the funnyman Grillo, lowering its Issuer Default Reading (IDR) for Italy from A- to BBB+, with a negative long-term outlook. Actions like this are at the heart of the Anglo American arsenal used to attack European government bonds as a means of damaging the euro. The Fitch downgrade was all the more outrageous because, as O’Neill has admitted, Italy’s cyclically adjusted fiscal position is actually in modest surplus, and is much better than that of the United States, Britain, and France, and slightly better than Germany.

The article goes on to show how Grillo has been very close to the far right and has been endorsed by people on that side particularly because of his plans to wipe out unions which doesn't seem very democratic. He also documents that the very close parallels in the method of his rise and the rhetoric with Mussolino

But the best summary is the quote he uses from Der Spiegel magazine:

As Spiegel notes, Grillo’s “anti-establishment rhetoric sounds appealing, [but] at heart it’s actually anti-democratic. And very similar to that of an infamous Italian from the past.”

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