April 4, 2009

What I dislike most ...

 “What terrifies you most in purity,” I asked? “Haste,” William answered.  

—Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

What I dislike most about the political attitudes and behaviors of a certain kind of “political activists” is the way some people tend to extremize their views, which often leads them, in the best cases, to a certain Manichaeism or, in the worst cases, to what I would call the intellectualization of political hatred. They never concede an inch to their opponents, whom they see as inherently “evil” or “immoral” or “stupid,” whatever they think, say and do.

They are natural and irreconcilable enemies not merely of political transformism and opportunism, which obviously would not be a bad thing in itself, but of common sense and also of a sense of proportion.

They seem to be fascinated by the myth of their own political purity, or what they firmly believe to be such. To these “true Conservatives,” without any ifs and buts, of course, or “true Liberals,” etc., I would like to dedicate the above quote.


  1. I couldn't agree more.

    Too much demonization of opponents is politically unhealthy. It is all too increasingly common, and seemingly getting worse.

    Especially on the net.

  2. But there are always one or two who could always do with a bit of criticism, and even seem to go out of their way to get it-

    Chi chiamerebbe Silvio ad un tal tempo
    Impedendolo di essere accolto da Angela?

    Una chiamata importante dal Vaticano,
    O era semplicemente da sua sorella?

    Se qualcuno lo sa vorrei sapere
    Perché non sembra essere corretta.

    C'è un tempo per tutto, persino per lui,
    Se la cortesia si rispetta...

  3. @Mirino: Silvio “had been trying (successfully, it turned out) to convince the Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, to accept the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, as Nato’s new secretary-general” (Times Online).

    @Robert: I must confess that I trust in the people more than I trust in their "elites" ...

  4. That's a nice story Rob. I wonder how much of it is true, at the time of that particular call. For it seems that the appointment of Rasmussen had already been accepted by the Turkish prime minister.

  5. @Mirino: Well, I must say that, though I voted for him, I am not what could be called a fan of a man whose legendary gaffes made him possibly the world’s political gaffeur par excellence (but he is in good company …). Yet, I think he is not a stupid guy, and that’s why I think the story is true ...

    Here is what I found about the whole story:

    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also helped, at one point conferring by cell phone for a half-hour with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    It emerged later that Mr Berlusconi had been speaking to his Turkish counterpart in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an attempt to persuade Turkey to drop its opposition to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Nato's new chief.
    In the event, Turkey did concede, with Mr Erdogan saying it had been swayed by US President Barack Obama's assurances.

    Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, then spent hours on the phone to Erdogan yesterday morning without a breakthrough.

  6. Thanks for the additional info which makes it sound far more feasible.
    I have never disliked Silvio although obviously he is not always 'il perfetto cavaliere'. He often amuses me and I think he represents the 'aspetto allegro' of the Italians certainly better than Prodi ever did. He is also a great revealer of hypocrisy.

    If I were living in Italy, with the right to vote, I would certainly have voted for him at such a time myself. There was hardly any other choice any way.
    True that he sometimes goes a bit beyond the limit, but maybe Europe needs its 'court jester' to reveal the occasional faux jetons. And we know that court jesters were often more intelligent than those they were supposed to amuse.

  7. ” He is also a great revealer of hypocrisy …”
    Very well said, Mirino, I couldn’t agree more.

    I’d say, in addition, that being an entrepreneur on (permanent …) loan to politics, he is not that respectful of “political rituality,” which he tends to see as … a waste of time. For instance, when he denounces the slowness of the Italian political decision-making processes, he is absolutely right, but the opposition, in turn, accuses him of “lese-democracy,” which is obviously an exaggeration and an exercise in hypocrisy. Nonetheless we cannot exaggerate in the opposite direction … But I have enough trust in the people for that matter ...

  8. In his case I also suspect that it's a case of 'the older you get, the less time you have to waste'.. and maybe also, that the best way to stave off the ravages of time is to keep laughing, never take yourself too seriously, and be able to afford the best face jobs.

  9. What? Don't you know? He is immortal ... ;-)

  10. Rob, the political extremism you discuss is rife in the U.S. Extremist Liberals/Democrats hate conservatives/Republicans with a passion, and vice-versa. It's mostly far beyond any limits of rational thought. One of the most damaging results is that it's difficult for one side to recognize any good on the other side, or in some cases even to admit to their humanity. It really gets tiresome.