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Any Italian speakers want to try HuffPo Italy?

Since my last pick wasn't too good, how about the stories here? Not sure which story to pick; I leave that to your good judgment...


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ekster's picture
Submitted by ekster on

I just looked at two on the front page that had some bearing on the M5S situation; one a report of division in the newly-elected M5S ranks over the election of Grasso to President of the Senate, one an interpretation of Grillo through the loupe of Alan Moore's work:

I don't know that any of this is helpful, except that the split M5S vote helps to dispel the claims I've heard of Grillo's iron-fisted intolerance of dissent among his ranks.* Not really on-the-ground reporting, in any event. I guess the comments were interesting, in a way ... lots of throwing around of the words "fascist" and "nutjob." But I think I have a sense of what you are looking for, and this doesn't really seem to be it.

* I was told by one Italian colleague, whom I suspected to be of a leftist persuasion, and whom I'd asked for pointers to blogs etc. that "everything on the net is pro-Grillo, because he's an absolute dictator, he doesn't allow any criticism of his ideas." Which is pretty much when I started backing out of the conversation, and it was still a half-hour tour of Italian political insanity before I could get away ...

Submitted by lambert on

... and IIRC MS5 took a lot of "their" votes. And the English language material seems to be coming from them (as it would, because they've already got relationships with editors in English-language publications, like the Guardian). What I don't know, and which is infinitely frustrating, is if we're looking at the Italian version of Black Agenda Report, who called their shot on Obama from the left in, like, 2006? Eariler?, or embitttered apparatchiks of very small parties.

I had to look up Alan Moore. A comic book writer?!?! Sounds interesting for sure, if only as grist for the mill of metaphor and iconography....

ekster's picture
Submitted by ekster on

Yep. Lots of things here, so in no particular order, both responses to the above and new stuff:

- Sorry for not clarifying the Alan Moore reference, I would have guessed that he's well-known enough to be familiar ... among other things, the popular use of those Guy Fawkes masks as a symbol of protest takes direct inspiration from his work. According to the author of the article above, Moore has been an outspoken supporter of the Occupy movement (which I seem to recall reading elsewhere also), but declined to be interviewed for his thoughts on M5S, now that the party has crossed the line from protest movement to elected power.

- I suppose that the same article, examined in the light of its proposition, "if you want to understand Grillo, look at the work of Moore," could be interesting --- revealing, maybe, a persistent popular feeling of needing to understand what M5S is about even in Italy itself; but it's just as likely that this is the umptynine-millionth regurgitation of the "Comic books aren't just for kids anymore" article by an author with a personal preoccupation about that point. I couldn't say.

- Looking at all the headlines, I was reminded forcibly about how little I know of the characters and even the mechanics of the Italian system of government. It's like chess in the normal 2 dimensions, only with 11 billion pieces on a trillion-odd squares. I don't say that dismissively; there are things about it that need to be looked at with a cold skeptical eye, and others that need to be understood seriously, just like in the US system. But keeping accurate score was above my pay grade even when I lived there, and that was 20 years ago; now I'm just completely at sea. Once again, something like a (!) would be just the thing, if only it existed and one knew where to find it.

- The colleague I spoke of above (I had not broached the subject of Italian politics with her previously) turned out to be a PDista, rather than a partisan of what's left of the far left. (It's like having a lot in common with someone, being quite certain that they're not a Republican, and then finding out just how much room for diverging views that still leaves ...) But the important question, and the difficulty, is still what you say: are these attacks on M5S from the quarters of traditional parties just the cynical defense of a comfortable stream of rents (and many of the tiny parties make quite a nice living out of it, for as long as they can hang in there)? or are any of them on to something?

- I was able to speak to another Italian colleague as well, and this time had a much better conversation of it, but still no decisive answer to the above question. He had several clinical points to make. (1) All of the newspapers in Italy, with the exception of Il Fatto Quotidiano, receive a government subsidy; he didn't say anything to endorse FQ, but he said that the other newspapers are paid participants in the status quo, to a degree that excludes real criticism of the game as currently played. He characterized the critique of M5S to be found in these papers as, essentially, Grillo character defamation. (2) He went on to say that the search for objective critique of M5S in the form of a blog or other personal viewpoint is going to be difficult to find, that these voices are pretty rigidly divided into the camps of Berlusconi, PD, and M5S. (3) He concluded that the best account of Grillo and M5S that you're going to find is Grillo himself; "you're going to have to listen to what he says and see if it seems reasonable." He didn't actually assert that there's no concrete historical record for us to analyze, but that seems to be the chief problem with getting a satisfactory answer to this kind of question. (4) In passing we talked about the general state of things there, which he characterized as quite bad, with most of his acquaintances having passed in the last 12 months from a state of anxiety about getting temp contracts renewed to a state of acceptance that there is simply no work to be found. But I think this is something that readers here are pretty well already aware of.

I'll keep looking ... I'm interested in these questions also and it's good to have a little pressure to dig in. Hope the above is helpful.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks for doing, heck, some investigative reporting on this. Post-worthy! Here:

"you're going to have to listen to what he says and see if it seems reasonable."

Yep, with the addition that we can also look at what MS5 does... If we can be confident we're getting data that bears some resemblance to reality. But how to do that?