Saturday, 17 January 2009

Thunderclap Newman Plays Reykjavík?

The Weather Report says there is revolution in the air. But what kind of revolution, I wonder?

Her next but one post is a long interview with Thorvaldur Gylfason, an Icelandic economist who once worked for the IMF and advocates joining the EU. He seems the very model of a non-corrupt & competent technocrat - and apparently he is the popular favourite to become either Minister of Finance or Head of the Central Bank. And he appears to be advocating, or at least positively entertaining, a non parliamentary government - that is a temporary government of non elected experts and trusted public figures.

What this sound like to me is not some popular revulsion at capitalism, nor even at financial capitalism per se. What it sounds like is the beginning of the Italian Mani pulite (clean hands) campaign and the so-called 'fall of the First Republic'. That was supposed to make Italy a 'normal' country.

But what the Italians got was Berlusconi and his party: "Forza Italia, the first party in the world to be mounted as if it were a company.." as Perry Anderson put it in an article which concludes,

"Contemporary efforts to normalise Italy have sought to reshape the country either in the image of the United States, or of the Europe now moving towards it. The pressures behind this process are incomparably greater. But its results may not be quite what its proponents had in mind. For rather than lagging, could not Italy be leading the march towards a common future? After all, in the world of Enron and Elf, Mandelson and Strauss-Kahn, Hinduja and Gates, what could finally be more logical than Berlusconi? Perhaps, like others before them, the travellers to normality have arrived at the terminus without noticing it."

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