Grillo and the fascists

February 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm (capitalist crisis, David Broder, democracy, elections, Europe, fascism, Guardian, Italy, Jim D, John Rees, populism, strange situations, SWP)

Above : Grillo chats to CasaPound. See comment #5 below for a translation

Letter in the Graun:

• 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

Astonishingly, the SWP think Grillo’s success is a victory for the left

…while Counterfart can scarcely contain their enthusiasm and object to the use of the  “condescending” word “populist” in descriptions of Grillo and his movement.

Extraordinary degeneracy.


  1. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    And to give another rather grudging endorsement from the most dubious possible source here’s Counterpunch:

    . If Grillo owes at least some of his strident rhetorical style to the populist right, he stole much of his political clothes from the Left, just as the latter abandoned them to raid Mario Monti’s neo liberal wardrobe. Centre-left Democrat leader Bersani’s key campaign pledge was to stick to the former ‘technocrat’ premier’s EU-backed austerity and ‘reform’ programme, that is, slashing labour costs and rights, and undermining the ‘privileges’ of significant sections of the middle class, for example by liberalizing the ‘closed’ professions, measures that might cut legal fees, drugs or taxi fares in the short term, but may simply see the ‘rent’ they extract transferred to banks, supermarkets and corporations as they expand into these sectors to swell their profits. The centre-Left’s jettisoning of its social democrat identity and embrace of free-wheeling globalisation has, then, opened the field to Grillo to pose as the champion of the little man, and, since the onset of the Eurozone crisis, Italy’s much crushed sense of national pride.

    Hence Grillo’s promise to revisit all international treaties including NATO membership, free trade agreements and the most notably the Euro, with a referendum – providing ample opportunities for potshots at Chancellor Merkel, playing to a revived anti-German sentiment originating in the Nazi occupation of Italy. Hence Grillo’s proposals for ‘citizen’s wage’ for the unemployed, support for small and medium sized businesses, a strengthened say for small shareholders while demanding a clamp down on financial speculation and executive greed. Hence his call to reverse cuts to health and education. But Grillo is also strong on issues fundamental to a functioning democracy, like a law on the conflict of interest (targeting Berlusconi), which explicably the centre-Left failed to implement when in government. True he is silent on tax, and the big economic issues, like the role of public spending and government activism in kick starting growth and job creation, and the roll back in labour rights. And overall his policies – developed, like the Pirate parties of northern Europe – by activists via the web, lack detail. But the fact that far more left-wing voters (accounting for 40% of his supporters according to one survey) than right wingers swung behind him is telling.

    But despite his association with Counterpunch the writer Tom Gill does actually appear to be knowledgeable about Italian politics and I’ve found his blog very informative so this one may be worth reading.

  2. Jim Denham said,

    I attended an interesting lecture last night: Paul Mason on the “long wave” theory of economic crisis, with special reference to the work of the relatively obscure Russian economist of the 30s, Nikolai Kondratiev (or Kondratieff). Towards the end of the Q&As, Mason came out with the view that what we are seeing at present in western capitalism is a crisis in multilateralism (a view he’s outined here, which can take right wing (and fascist) populist forms (as well as “anti-political” forms), but has also infected the left (eg the Greek CP and, in a somewhat different form, ‘Occupy’). I suppose in the UK, UKIP could also be seen as part of this. The crucial common factor is a rejection of existing capitalist multilateral institutions and a turn to isolationism and protectionism in various forms and various degrees of coherence.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Actually a bit of a fan of Kondratiev (and of Carlota Perez who has an even longer wave theory based on him and Schumpeter which IMO works rather better than Kondratiev’s purely Marxist approach).

      Click to access Finance%20and%20Techn%20ch%20in%20AJSTID.pdf

      I see the problem as economics now being global while mass democratic politics is and cannot really be anything other than national.

      Decrying this and fantasising about the Socialist United States of Europe doesn’t stop it from being absolutely fundamental.

      And the UKIP breakthrough in Eastleigh is indeed a parallel phenomenon to Grillo’s triumph (as is the rise of Yair Lapid in Israel) – and we should probably be grateful that UKIP is a long established right wing party led by ex-Tories rather than an inchoate mass movement led by an embittered alternative comedian who can also steal left ideas and votes as well.

      Anyway will try and write up something more cogent.

      • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        Now you’ve got me thinking about Perez I should add that her theory seems to me to work historically but her confidence that we are entering a new phase of the grand cycle where ‘production capital’ wrests economic leadership from finance capital and ‘social interests’ re-assert themselves seems tragically misplaced.

        This is precisely due to economics now being for the first time in history truly global and the political arena in which both production capital and the social interests would have asserted themselves being now merely national.

        Thus while what she should be seeing in her schema are new New Deals what we are actually getting is the direct capture of state and multilateral institutions by agents of global finance capital which has more than survived the crash they brought about and which in previous cycles brought them down – and their imposition of policies which are the exact opposite of what capitalism as a system actually needs to survive long term and prepare for the next neo-Schumpeterian cycle.

        Plus global finance capital now possesses new means of mass persuasion (or just mass distraction) which were quite inconceivable in the age of newsprint and radio and can very effectively block and counter the expression of rival social interests or channel them into utterly useless protest movements like Occupy or Grillo.

  3. Italy: Grillo, the Five Stars Movement, Fascism, and their SWP and Counterfire Fans. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] Denham points out the “extraordinary degeneracy” of those on the British left who think that Cinque […]

  4. Casa Pound | Anti-National Translation said,

    […] Grillo and the fascists ( […]

  5. Juan P. Lewis said,

    First the guy from Casa Pound says that they’re at the Viminal Hill (i.e. the Ministry of Interior or Home Office) to register their party for elections, then the chat with Grillo begins. [I’ll give you a short summary of what he says]

    A journalist asks Grillo that the members of Casa Pound want to know if he’s antifascist. Grillo answers that he’s not qualified to answer that question. He adds that 5stelle is an ecumenical movement and that if a guy from CasaPound wants to join, he’s welcome, provided he fulfills the requisites (he doesn’t elaborate on that).

    Then the guy from CasaPound starts talking about getting their pocket to enter Parliament and Grillo answers, “you’re here just like us. We share some ideas, but we disagree on some points.”

    Then they talk about their troubles with the justice system (the guy for squatting, Grillo claims to have 84 pending suits).

    Then the guy from CasaPound says, “can we agree about things such as telling who’s shutting down business here to go to China and pay 200-euro monthly wages” (he keeps going on other points but it’s not very audible).

    Grillo answers: “if you read our program, we cannot disagree about stuff like a nationalised bank, credits for small business, a citizen revenue, ma cazzo!.”

    Then the guy talks about what they’ve done in the last ten years and claims that other parties have done nothing of the sort (squatting, set up a “communal” radio, etc. etc.). He complains that they’re being demonized and Grillo agrees that there’s an undercurrent of violence that it’s “on everybody’s skin and it’s about to explode” [NB, he says “violenza insita” = inherent violence, but his gesture indicates what I translated]

    Then there’s like a pause in the footage and he continues claiming that “the government should be in charge of energy, not multinationals [the CasaPound guy agrees]. That’s not right or left, that’s common sense” [he then elaborates on that]

    The guy from CasaPound says that if the difference is between statists and non-statist then “you and I are on the same side”… to which Grillo says “absolutely, absolutely”

    Then the guy says that some national (industry? welfare institution? I can’t hear it very well) has been destroyed and “no politician has done fuck all about it… they just talked about the primaries…” To what Grillo says, “well, sorry, I’m talking to you, he’s [the guy next to him] is a delegate of 5stelle…” “I’m a delegate of Casa Pound” (the video ends with the logo of Casa Pound and a caption that reads “next time you vote, make them cry”)

    Hope it helps.

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