With neo-liberalism down and Matteo Renzi out, one must face the increased likelihood that Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement will fill the new political vacuum in Italy. If this is the case, it will be a clear sign that Italians prefer a clown over the tragic sight of establishment politicians.
Unlike many of the rising political forces in Europe which on the whole offer traditional conservative or socialist solutions to the neo-liberal problem, Grillo’s Movement is overtly idealistic, all over the shop in terms of ideology and is at times, downright insane.
The most troubling aspect of Grillo’s movement is its embrace of ‘de-growth’, a kind of environmental extremism that is anti-industry, opposed to maintaining and expanding traditional infrastructure and seeks to deprive people of the conveniences afforded by modern technology, in the name of an amorphous and dangerous philosophy which puts ecology over everything, including modernity and common sense.
No society in history has been able to achieve progress without the aid of industry and technology. Maoism failed for this reason and modern China’s embrace of technology and industry have lifted millions out of poverty and have set China on the course to be the strongest economy in the world.
Lenin’s GOELRO Plan to bring electricity to the Soviet Union was his most positive achievement in terms of internal affairs. It set the stage for the USSR to become a great industrial power whose inventions became the envy of the world. It was with GOELRO, that the stage was set for Yuri Gagarin to touch the stars, inspiring generations of scientists across the world and frightening America into putting more efforts into her own space exploration programme. The USSR helped its people by embracing science and modernity, not by shunning reality.
People will not go back into the cave once they’ve seen the light, yet increasingly, Beppe Grillo looks like one of the agitated cave dwellers in Plato’s Allegory of The Cave who want not to see the light.
Italy requires a government that understands the needs of her people, not one which semi-coherently articulates an obtuse and bizarre philosophy. People in Italy do not want to be tied into a failed Germanic monetary system that has eroded the traditional modus operandi of the national economy. They want higher employment, increased living standards and a more accountable government.
It is one thing for Italians to reject neo-liberalism, but the alternatives best suited for Italy do not include Grillo’s odd, utopian fantasy of rejecting the greatest achievements of modernity and return to a kind of weird utopia where people blog from their caves and have no relationship with the realities of the world.
Grillo has always been a clown, but now that he is inching closer to power, he is becoming a dangerous clown. If he gets anywhere near power, the nation that brought the world Leoncavallo, could become a land of Pagliaccis.