Politics with fists | Opinion

Politics with fists | Opinion
Politics with fists | Opinion

Antonio Scurati, an Italian novelist known for his books on fascism, writes: “The process of disintegration of liberal democracy that has been taking place in my country for almost two years seems more like a war of attrition than a frontal assault.” He expresses this much more eloquently than others who have been warning us for some time that democracies do not break down suddenly: the emptying is the only way to achieve the end of the world.

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Antonio Scurati, an Italian novelist known for his books on fascism, writes: “The process of disintegration of liberal democracy that has been taking place in my country for almost two years seems more like a war of attrition than a frontal assault.” He expresses this much more eloquently than others who have been warning us for some time that democracies do not break down suddenly: the hollowing out is slow, sometimes imperceptible. Scurati also mentions Giorgia Meloni’s constitutional reform project, already approved in the first reading by the Senate. Meloni wants the prime minister to be directly elected by the people every five years at the same time as the legislative elections, adding a majority bonus for the party or coalition of whoever is elected. Parliament would thus become a puppet at the service of the government, considerably weakening the president of the Republic.

As a good populist, Meloni thinks that the legitimacy of the head of the Executive through popular will could no longer be eclipsed by the moderating role (even as a moral reference) played by figures such as Sergio Mattarella or Giorgio Napolitano in the history of the Italian Republic. The flexibility of democracy is just “a palace game” compared to the legitimizing force of the leader anointed directly by the people. But the most serious thing, as Scurati points out, is that what underlies this radical transformation of the Italian constitutional balance is the contempt for the culture from which the Republic itself was created: anti-fascism, the institutional prevention that prevents the return of the messianic leader. Here is the “presentable” figure of the new ultra international and its plans to bring stability to Italy.

Scurati speaks beautifully, and refers to TS Eliot to speak of this democratic twilight: “This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a moan.” Robert Frost also whispered to us that the world will end in fire or ice, because slow freezing is, in the end, an effective destruction. Perhaps poetry helps to refute another commonplace: it is not true that an extremist in power moderates. Nor is it true that nothing is happening in Italy: with perfectly legal reforms, democracies can be gutted. It is even possible to empty them of their own history, as Meloni wants, or to disdain the most basic controls on power, as the Slovak Parliament has done by dissolving public radio and television to give them to the Executive. And of course it is dangerous for Marine Le Pen’s successor to come to power, as is trivializing this disaster by presenting it as a possible strategy of Emmanuel Macron.

We forget that populism is contagious: that’s why it works. If the extremist breaks the rules or ignites the debate, the temptation is to respond with fists. But if one side doesn’t play fair, the other should defend the playing field even with one hand tied behind its back, even if it makes it look like a fool in the eyes of the world. Otherwise, the “dreadful race” of the Fouche Stefan Zweig, when in the game of power “no one dares to be left behind”. Macron, angry with the voters, says that France is on the brink of civil war. Until yesterday, a young man of Indian origin was deporting immigrants to Rwanda from 10 Downing Street. We are going mad, because we are playing with fire. When politics is defended like this everywhere, with fists, perhaps it is because everything has already changed forever. Perhaps, without knowing it, we have already lost.

 
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