January 18, 2011

In One Word, It’s “Boccaccesco”

Min. from Boccaccio, De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, Paris, 1467.
Glasgow University Library Special Collections. 
The right word in Italian is “boccaccesco,” which derives from the Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (= in the style of Boccaccio), and roughly means “licentious,” “lascivious.” But this is not a literary post. Instead it is a brief note on today’s Italian politics. Yes, all this Berlusconi stuff is getting more and more boccaccesco—and silly, crazy, grotesque, and you name it. Nevertheless, to be honest and straightforward, I think that politics is politics, not moralism or good taste or “esthetic sense.” I repeat I don’t want to be hypocrite about that, nor, on the other hand, would I want to play the cynic and to behave the way Franklin D. Roosevelt did when in 1939 supposedly remarked that “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch…” But then again, since there is no alternative to Berlusconi (please, see my previous posts on the subject), paraphrasing FDR I’d put it this way: Berlusconi may be … whatever you want, but he’s our … whatever you want.


  1. I am sorry to disagree but in Italy we have plenty of politicians better than Berlusconi. Give anyone else the same parliamentary seats and popular consensus that Berlusconi has had in the last couple of years and he/she will do much better.
    I am ashamed of him, as a politician and as a human being. Italy deserves better. We will not miss him.

  2. Even before Boccaccio, there were the Roman Emperors. Perhaps not coincidentally, Berlusconi was nicknamed "Caesar" by some of his minions.

    Anyway, the politicians should be evaluated for their politics, not private life. What consenting adults do in their homes shouldn't be anybody's else business.

    If it's proved that something illegal took place (underage girls, or abuse of power in the "Ruby" case), well, the law must the same for everybody, isn't it?

    What bothers me is the hypocrisy of some who made campaigns calling for harsher punishment for prostitution, or underage sex. They wanted chemical castration, fines or jail for prostitutes' clients, the newspaper Libero published on first page a list of hundreds of names of alleged pedophiles. Now many of these moralists are making excuses for Berlusconi.

  3. @Angelo:

    Of course, there are a lot of politicians who are better than B. But this isn’t the real problem. The real issue, as it applies to this scenario, is that there is no alternative to the ruling center-right coalition, which in turn, unfortunately, is inconceivable (at the moment) without Berlusconi.

  4. Rob, it couldn't have been said more clearly and concisely.

  5. Berlusconi's critics have long claimed that without him, his Popolo della Libertà party would collapse. His supporters on the contrary affirm that the party has a strong popular support, even without him.

    Strange that you, rob, share the point of view of B's critics.

    On the possibility of alternatives to B: in a recent interview, Frattini, one of the most clever man of the party, when asked who will be B's successor, answered that there would be no single figure, but a group of people would share the leadership of the center-left coalition. In my view, that was his opening move in the post-Berlusconian power game.

    Other people are making their moves. Some are distancing from B, Fini, for example, who joined Casini in a center-center-right alliance. Even the Lega, that in the past years has been loyally on B's side, is distancing itself, favoring an early election, which B wants on the contrary to avoid.

    Where B to retire soon from the political scene, either for health or judicial problems, it's easy to imagine a multi-headed party lead by a group of center-right figures (Tremonti, Maroni, Frattini, Casini, etc.) that could easily take B's place.

    After all, in the liberal democracies parties are usually lead by a group of figures; parties based on personality cult are more typical of autocratic regimes.

  6. Berlusconi is a paradox. He is capable of great things and sometimes of making great speeches, but he is also capable of belittling himself beyond all reason to score a few points against hypocrisy, if not to make a mockery of the world in general.

    Because of this, unfortunately, he might not be remembered for the good things he did. But maybe this doesn't bother him either. He is too busy enjoying himself to bother about writing memoirs, or to worry about how posterity will consider him.

    Ironically he will be hard to replace, no matter how capable others consider themselves. No doubt in certain ways he will be absolutely impossible to replace.

  7. @StefanoC:

    ”Where B to retire soon from the political scene, either for health or judicial problems, it's easy to imagine a multi-headed party lead by a group of center-right figures (Tremonti, Maroni, Frattini, Casini, etc.) that could easily take B's place.”

    Easily? I wish it was an easy task. Tremonti, Frattini, and above all, in my view, Formigoni could very likely succeed to the presidency, but as long as they don’t identify themselves as Berlusconi’s opponents, which is impossible as long as B. is in charge… I would also like to see Casini play the game …, but he has been (and still is) an outspoken opponent of B.

  8. here is the latest episode of the show
    (to be continued)

  9. Rob, in a short while you'll be surprised to see that Italian politics without B. is not only possible but even better that the current one.