Mon May 5th, 2014 at 10:43:05 PM EST
Beppe Grillo is the only 'politician' that I know of calling for a 'citizens' income', but not as a permanent unconditional human civil entitlement. He advocates E1000 a month (with some saying it's possible just to fork over E600 realistically), and the conditions are that you use the time granted of three years to re-educate yourself in a new skill, and that upon refusal of the third job offer you forfeit the payment. The chief reason Beppe touts in advocating this policy is to disempower the race to the bottom in value of labour, to remove the employment 'blackmail' that forces workers (and their unions) in heavily polluting steel factories for example to fight environmental rules that are shutting down plants (such as the most recent in Piombino, on the Tuscan coast). The ugliest town I have ever seen, especially seen from the sea on the ferry to Elba. They would rather keep their jobs and die at 55 from the toxins, a Sophie's choice nightmare.
This seems like an original blend of welfare dole, (time-staggered, slow release) workfare, and Keynesian helicopter drop. You don't hear policies like this from Farage, de Pen, Salvini (Lega Nord), all right-wing immigrant-hating border-shutting types, with whom Beppe's party oops, Movement is ignorantly and mistakenly grouped, for the simple reason that they share with the forenamed parties a sense of rebellion against the over-Germanisation of the Eurozone, big-bank behind-the-scenes rule and Brussels/Strasbourg waste and overlordism. It's true that all the above parties condemn the Euro in some way, representing vigorous pushback against the slipping away of sovereignty in their countries, but as far as I know Beppe is the only one not demanding pullout from the Euro, but rather a repudiation of odious debt, followed by renegotiation of Maastricht and Lisbon treaties,* and if those two failed in any way then to have a referendum of Italian citizens to choose whether they choose to mint their own currency and bail out, (slowly or quickly being uncertain at this point) of the Eurozone. Unlike the others, Beppe wants Italy at the heart of the European Union, and for all the countries to follow his model and start populist citizens' parties with the same principles in their respective nations. He just doesn't want any more 'appointed' pseudo-legal, unconstitutional governments like the last three. Governments that have allowed slot-machine company profits to be untaxed, contracted for fighter jets that don't work as advertised, and silenced citizen opposition to polluting pork-barrel projects with state violence.
* This renegotiation would be for changing the debt/GDP ratio, (an arbitrary number plucked out of some bureaucrat's nether fundament), cancelling austerity policies starting yesterday, banning the Troika from Greece-ifying any more PIIGS, possibly uniting with said PIIGS to evolve a two-speed Euro, and most importantly having the European Central Bank issue Eurobonds immediately to repair the economic gash inflicted by the Bundesbank's efforts to cover its own gambling debts by screwing the poor in a casino economy, with crusts and lifelong job precarity for the 99%. If politics is the art of splitting the difference, this attitude strikes me as astute and forward thinking, straddling the yawning divide between the business class increasingly resentful of the tax burden inflicted by the hyper-wasteful, mafia-ridden, corrupt Italian state these last 20 years of Berlusconismo, with its bridges to nowhere and mafia-bought votes, and the concerns of a people whose children have to choose between unemployment and emigration. His right-hand man dell'Utri with whom he created his party Forza Italia has been convicted for collusion with the Mafia and has done a runner to Beirut, where he is in hospital trying to avoid extradition. The 5* movement is for energy and food independence, ecological values, small and medium sized business protection through tariffs, proper valuation of Italy's cultural patrimony, liberation from corruption, elimination of bureaucracy, bigtime broadband rollout, a greening of the economy and maximum honesty in politics. In a very interesting interview a few days ago he asked us to reconsider what 'work' really will mean in a future society where 3D printers make 3D printers and anything up to and including houses. Spot on! Beppe is not anti-immigrant, just for a fairer Euro-wide policy with regard to immigration instead of ignoring the problem in Brussels while dumping the responsibility too much on Italy to rescue 10's of thousands of african boat people, take care of them and house them while their identities are established and cases made for asylum or integration. Most of them have little or no desire to stay in Italy more than the minimum before heading for economically greener pastures in the prosperous Northern Euro countries, such as France, England, Germany and the Netherlands where they compete for social services and bring labour costs down, fuelling really nasty shades of racism as embodied by UKIP and Wilders, just two examples. These policies in Italy may have been well-intentioned, I don't know, but their effects are greatly divisive, so much so it is hard to believe they are not intentional use of 'divide-and-conquer' social malware, pitting the poor against each other. Where I am in rural Umbria, racism is refreshingly absent. The local gas station owner has adopted an african child and she is treated as well as any other of different hue. He also sported a pic of Berlusconi next to a nazi insignia on his office wall. (Ulp!) He's a genial enough fellow, but his political conviction and possible ignorance of history scare me for its very banality. Italy has not properly addressed and processed its fascist past. Benigni's 'Life is beautiful' is a great exception, or perhaps a very late beginning to this process. However there is a slow increase in the grumbling at how immigrant families get free school lunches for their kids but poor Italians don't, ditto for housing subsidies. Last saturday there was an extraordinary scene in Roma at a cup final. An hour before the game began ULTRAS fans of both teams had already clashed in the street, and in one fracas a Naples fan was shot with a gun, leaving him in hospital with a bullet lodged in his fifth vertebra and his life in the balance. He was in natural and induced coma at the hour the match was due to start. The match was attended by the (3rd non-elected) Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, no less, a packed house with many fathers bringing young children to cheer for their favourite team. In the semi-circle behind one goalpost the rowdiest hundreds of the Ultras had concentrated, their obvious leader a hulking tattooed thug perched up on the enclosure fence and orchestrating the simmering crowd behind him. They were chucking so many smoke bombs you could no longer see the goalposts, and the leader Genny (nicknamed 'the corpse'), the son of a convicted Camorra criminal, was alternately whipping up his forces and holding them back with the command and finesse of an orchestra conductor, glowering all the while for the countless cameras recording the scene. By this point the game had been held up an hour, and worried dads were running for the exits with their terrified children, while football biz-wigs and big enchilada politicos huddled round Renzi, who was looking confused, as he was humiliated in the double-bind, leave and he looked like a coward jumping ship, or stay and look totally ineffective at what ensued. He claims he had no idea about the attempted murder of a fan outside the stadium an hour before, which considering he is such a Twitter-freak stretches credulity, but anyway... Then a delegation of negotiators walked somewhat sheepishly over to where 'the corpse' was holding court for the benefit of millions of tele-viewers worldwide, wearing a tshirt with Free Someone, (whose name escapes me, but the person named was an Ultra who had been condemned to 7 years for murder). The delegation and one of the team captains approached 'the corpse', and started negotiating with him as to whether he would allow the game to start. If authorities had cancelled the game, all hell would have broken loose and they would have had to bring the army in to quell the bloodshed. So millions were edified by the spectacle of a major match being given the go-ahead deigned by a thug, while the Prime Minister squirmed and then when some hired diva started to sing the national anthem she was whistled and jeered at by thousands. Meanwhile polls are putting the five * movement just 5 percentage points behind Renzi's PD, and growing in popularity at the rate of one percentage point a week. Renzi is breathlessly covered by all media 24/7 with such fawning enthusiasm it would even make Berlusconi blush, yet the ice beneath his feet is starting to make nasty sounds. Elections are on the 25th, so this is really looking like the gunfight at the OK corral as we come down to the voting wire. As you know I am rooting for Beppe Grillo, and will be attending his final meetup in Piazza San Giovanni on the 23rd. I went to a meetup a few nights ago in a pretty small town and was happily astonished not only by the coherence and conviction (no not that kind!!) of the speakers, their willingness to stay and answer questions for 4 hours, but the wide demographic range of the supporters. I met some very interesting people from many walks of life and felt moved to see so many politically curious and well-informed folks all together in one place. It was great, and I am looking forward to feeling the psychic heft of what will probably be tens of thousands attending the last meetup before the elections in 17 days. This is a community more than anything else, a state of mind released from tired left-right dichotomies and trying to envision a best-case long-run scenario for the greatest number of people. An undiluted pleasure to support.
"Vinciamo noi, a rivedere le stelle!"