Friday, 11 November 2011


In the days of the Greeks, the Salsetto had been a river. Later, in the days of the Romans, it became a brook, then a rivulet by the time of Italian unification, and later still, in the Fascist era, a stinking little trickle, before finally becoming, with the advent of democracy, an illegal dumping ground.

As a metaphoric whizz through Sicilian history, the words of Andrea Camilleri, who writes the Inspector Montalbano Mysteries, ring true. 

As for Sicily today:

The police stations had no petrol, the court had no paper, the hospitals had no thermometers, and meanwhile the government was thinking of building a bridge over the Straits of Messina. But there was always plenty of petrol for the useless escorts of ministers, vice-ministers, under-secretaries, committee chairmen, senators, chamber deputies, regional deputies, cabinet chiefs and under-assistant briefcase-carriers.

A modern-day Commedia dell' Arte troupe presided over by il Cavaliere himself, Silvio Berlusconi, who, having passed his 'sell-by' date, is being dumped by the powers that be, the Markets.

Democracy is not an illegal dumping ground. It is a best effort by citizens to organise in the face of exploitation. 

The call for a referendum on the European Greek Cuts Programme by the now-former Greek Prime Minister, Papandreou, albeit something of a stunt to save his political bacon, did European citizens a favour by pulling the mask from the faces of the False Gods of the Markets. 

As Fintan O'Toole noted in The Irish Times, these False Gods explicitly ranted:
..... that the most reckless, irresponsible and ultimately impermissible thing a government could do was to seek the consent of its own people to decisions that would shape their lives.

Markets and Banks rather than citizens call the shots, never more explicitly than in Ireland where the government handed over Euro 700 million to 'vulture capitalist gamblers' (O'Toole), aka unsecured bondholders, because of a threat from the European Central Bank: give the spivs your taxpayers' money or we’ll bring down your banking system.

This is the mesh (not mess) that links modern capitalism and democracy. Events in Greece, Ireland and Italy are obscene. They unmask the fraud that modern capitalism is good for democracy. 

Fintan O'Toole concludes:

We can have the form of rapacious finance capitalism that has become the dominant force in our economies and societies. Or we can have democracy. But we can’t have both.

There is no great mystery here. We name the criminals. We are Inspector Montalbano and the criminals in the Markets and the Banks are our biggest case.

The Wings of the Sphinx – An Inspector Monatalbano Mystery; book; Andrea Camilleri; Mantle/Macmillan; 2010
Triumph of the spivs as democracy is sidelined; article; Fintan O'Toole; The Irish Times; 8.11.2011

No comments:

Post a Comment