July 06, 2003


The Guardian’s Martin Jacques has a curious concept of democracy:

There are three senses in which democracy, as we have come to know it, is under pressure. First, traditional politics and its institutions are losing ground to the culture of a rampant, market-driven, consumer society. Second, the rise of an enormously powerful media has transformed the balance of power between the media and politics. And finally, the triumph of market values across society, the erosion of alternative logics and the weakening of the unions has bestowed on those with money - be they corporations, celebrities or the super-rich - a quite new influence over the political process. These trends can be seen throughout the west, Britain included, but they can be found in their most advanced and malignant form in Italy.

Democracy, according to Martin, is apparently weakened by the participation of people. What the hell are “alternative logics”, by the way? The confused correspondent continues:

The Berlusconi regime represents a degenerate form of democracy: a halfway state between democracy and a new form of totalitarianism that we have not witnessed before. The latter cannot be described as fascism even though the two share certain characteristics, and even though the Berlusconi phenomenon can be understood only in the context of a country that was fascist and still bears in its polity and mindset some of the traits of that period.

Stupid fascist Italians. In the interests of democracy, they should never be allowed to vote.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 6, 2003 05:52 AM

Unless the leftist wins, there is Something Wrong With Our Democracy.

Posted by: Brad at July 6, 2003 at 06:26 AM

Gasp! Didn't you hear that? He called Berlusconi a fascist! I think an apology is in order.

Posted by: scott h. at July 6, 2003 at 07:20 AM

Jacques is the former editor of Living Marxism, well that's someone you look to when discussing democracy.

Posted by: Ross at July 6, 2003 at 07:51 AM

He neglected the most important way in which our political systems have become less democratic, at least in the US and Canada. That is by judicial imperialism. The courts will decide what rights people have and what is a good law, not the constitution, the give and take of legislative action, or votes of the people. And these decisions are in accordance with the cultural ideas favored by the left, from Roe vs Wade to the current cases over "gay marraige."

Next year I expect a 5-4 majority in the US Supreme Court will declare smoking unconstitutional, with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor casting the swing vote.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at July 6, 2003 at 07:51 AM

That 'alternative logics' phrase jumped out at me too. Given the man's Marxist history and the context of "the triumph of market values across society, [and] the erosion of alternative logics..." suggests it's a wishy-washy euphemism for socialism of one flavor or another.

It's not a bankrupt and evil ideology, it's an alternative logic.

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at July 6, 2003 at 07:56 AM

Heh. It just keeps happening. I'm too damned lazy to look it up, but there was an Italian last year who said (of Berlusconi, I think)something along the lines of "...but it's a different kind of fascism. It's a fascism of extreme personal freedom."

"Heh" just doesn't do it justice.

Posted by: Ken Summers at July 6, 2003 at 10:41 AM

We badly need a jargon watch for the word "logic". Remember before the Iraq War when de Villepin kept rabbiting on about the US following the "logic of war", whatever the hell that is. Since then, I've been hearing about the "logic of peace" as an alternative, and now this abomination.

Isn't this just the Left's way of acknowledging that they're losing all the arguments? Traditional logic no longer works for us, so now--aha!--we have developed an Alternative Logic! And we'll keep developing them until we find one that works!

Posted by: murray at July 6, 2003 at 12:50 PM

Martin Jacques is not just another leftwinger; he is a threat to democracy

Posted by: John Anderson, RI USA at July 6, 2003 at 01:22 PM

What a joke all this is. I mean, Berlusconi might be a bit of turd and might be corrupt for all I know, but my take on the EU incident is this.

Some humourless German eco-nazi insults Berlusconi and he retaliates with a cutting jibe about getting a movie role as a concentration camp guard. Good on him! It seems like pretty tame stuff given the sorts on insults heard occasionally in our parliaments but there you go.

But Martin Jacques and all the other sensitive folk of the European left are outraged. He called our German Comrade a Nazi! And then they continue to call Berlusconi every despicable and slimy thing under the sun, as they have been doing for several years. No problem with double standards here!

One of Martin Jacques' most telling criticisms of Berlusconi is that "the opposition is branded in the most lurid and extreme language, accorded no respect, and dismissed as outside the parameters of respectable and civilised society". Pretty accurate description of his own article, I would have thought.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at July 6, 2003 at 01:36 PM

To use an expression every American boy learns when he's about 9 or 10 years old:

Fuck'em if they can't take a joke.

Posted by: David Crawford at July 6, 2003 at 05:00 PM

Another joke: tade unionism and psuedo-businessmen whose business is seeking to have markets closed down to all but themselves have gone hand in hand. This is examplified by the history of French guilds. Todays' IRC club is an heir to the malevolency of such crooks, thugs, shysters and shysters.

Posted by: d at July 7, 2003 at 12:20 PM

I think Berlusconi may have intended a pun. "Kapo" in German means concentration-camp guard, but it means "chief" in Italian (come on, you "Godfather" buffs).

Posted by: Tom Round at July 7, 2003 at 01:56 PM

Capo di tutti capi can be punned in German to Kapo, mir tut mein Kopf weh!

Yes, I know, I should be shot for that.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 7, 2003 at 03:11 PM