Global trends

For some time I have been trying to pinpoint what it is that is brewing in Italy and risks spreading elsewhere, like it happened in the past.

I don't need to be decent to stay in power

While following a train of thought during a political/philosophical lecture I figured that a current growing trend is to have public figures that are more and more indecent.

In Italy it is very hard to find a public figure you can look up to. It is hard to name a politician that is not involved in some shady exchange of favours or some abues of their powers, and we got used to seeing people in power implicated in major corruption scandals, perverted prostitution affairs, or dealings with international criminal organisations.

They do not normally end up in jail, and in fact they keep being very firmly in power, because they manage to stretch or change the laws to get away, or at least to delay trials in order to trigger some statute of limitations.

Is there a pattern here that, although maybe not as clearly defined as in Italy, can be found more or less globally?

Yesterday I thought that this could be such a pattern:

I don't need to be decent to stay in power

If I think of it like that, then it is most definitely not just an Italian phenomenon. If you tell "one doesn't need to be decent to stay in power" to a British, or to a French, I would not expect them to see anything strange with it. We all find it depressing, but we are all used to it.

It is a pattern with repercussions, though: once that becomes normal in a society, it means that people who get to be in power are free to abuse their power much as they want, as long as they are careful enough not to end up in jail. Because, well, nowadays one doesn't need to be decent to stay in power.

I don't need to follow the law to stay in power

That first pattern is already quite well accepted in Italy. So much well accepted, that I think we are starting to see what comes next.

At the end of March we are going to have elections for some regional governors. Funnily enough, in Lazio, the very important region around Rome, the centre-right coalition failed to submit the paperwork on time, and is out of the elections.

It is not just red tape: at some point someone will have to print out the ballots and dispatch them to the voting booths, so one expects to have the coalition logos and the names of the candidates submitted in time, together with signatures supporting the candidates and whatever else the election process needs.

Well, they missed the deadline, they got there after closing time and the building was, well, closed.

It was a fantastic opportunity for a laugh. Memes blossomed on the Italian intarwebs and we now have 2 or 3 new expressions to mean "stupid".

However, now it's hard to tell what is going to happen. On one hand, you can't exclude one of the two major coalitions because of some bureaucratic detail like an office closing time. But on the other hand, several minor coalitions have been excluded in all sorts of past elections because of similar things, and it really would not be fair to start making exceptions now.

But Lombardia, the region around Milan and Emilia Romagna, the one around Bologna, both very, very important, are having similar kinds of problems.

In both regions the previous governors are running again, for the 3rd time in a row, and most likely they legally can't do it, and if elected one can sue and force them to resign, because they have been in power long enough. Lots of paper is being shuffled at the moment to figure if they can get away with it or not.

Oh, and the lawyers of the candidate for the Milan region also managed to get to the tribunal after closing time, but apparently there was still someone inside and they managed to shout loud enough, or somesuch.

Anyway, the situation is getting hot. The Lazio coalition that has been excluded because of their incompetence is now hard at work pushing their potential voters to mount a fracas. Chances are that eventually they'll get away with it, and manage to take part to the election. If that happens, they will likely get close to winning it.

So this seems to be a new pattern that is emerging:

I don't need to follow the law to stay in power

Which, again, is a pattern with quite some repercussions. It is something much more radical than just an issue with morality: it means feudalism, it means we are culturally ready to accept dictatorship.

So, please do me a favour: do not think for a moment that Italy is just a funny place with lemons and tomatoes, and watch out for these patterns emerging around you.