Thomas Jones, at LRB, says what I wanted to say about the exit of the plutocratic goon Silvio Berlusconi from his post as Italian prime minister:
At last Berlusconi has said he’ll step down. It should be a good day for Italian democracy. Except that – assuming he really does go – Italy’s longest serving postwar prime minister will have been finally driven from office not for corruption, croneyism, tax evasion or colluding with the mafia; not for the conflict of interests between his media empire and his political position; not for having presided over years of economic stagnation, rising unemployment and crumbling public services, and otherwise generally enriching himself at (almost) everyone else’s expense; not for his outspoken xenophobia, sexism and homophobia; and not even for having sex with underage prostitutes; but because the EU, the IMF and the bond markets think he can’t be trusted to push through the austerity regime they want Italy to enforce, which will almost certainly make everything even worse.
Exactly. Berlusconi’s fate was sealed when Italian bonds broke the 7 percent mark, thereby threatening to lower, slightly, the gargantuan profit margins of the rapacious speculators who gorge themselves on chaos and suffering. The high crimes and low comedy (to coin a phrase) of his years in power never troubled the great and good (such as the saintly Tony Blair, who used to fly down for personal holidays with the Big Bunga-Bunga); but put a crimp in their bottom lines, and see how fast they turn on you.
Now the Italian government is to be led by a “technocrat” — i.e., an unelected apparatchik of the global financial elite. Just as in Greece, where a regime change was imposed after the elected leader had the temerity — the unmitigated gall — to suggest asking the Greek people if they approved the savage gutting of their society to preserve the profits of our gilded gorgers. Democracy — in Greece? Outrageous! Well, he’s gone now, and an American-educated elitist apparatchik has been appointed — not elected — in his place. It’s the very latest in “managed democracy”: no muss, no fuss, no messy voting!
This kind of thing couldn’t happen in the United States, of course. Next year, Americans will proudly uphold their ancient principles of popular democracy by going to the polls and … er … choosing between two apparatchiks of the financial elite to serve as lackey-in-chief of the plutocracy. Pericles must be proud.