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Italians Reject Austerity

by Stephen Lendman Tuesday, Mar. 05, 2013 at 11:15 PM

class war

Italians Rejects Austerity

by Stephen Lendman

It's high time voters somewhere did. It transfers wealth to bankers, other corporate favorites and rich elites.

It wrecks economies. It creates poverty, unemployment and human misery. It turns countries into dystopian backwaters.

Italian voters said no more. They rejected Mario Monti extremism. He represents unelected technocrat government. They did so overwhelmingly.

Over 90% spurned him. Economist Paul Krugman calls him "a proconsul imposed by Germany." Goldman Sachs installed him. He's a Trilateralist. He's a Bilderberg member in good standing. Some call him "Three-card Monti" for good reason.

He belongs to the right wing Atlantic Council. He's a member of its Business and Economics Advisors Group.

Money power drives his agenda. He prioritizes enriching bankers. Doing so force-feeds austerity.

Where things go from here remains unclear. Progressive Radio News Hour (PRNH) regular Ellen Brown discussed Beppe Grillo on air.

He's a comedian. He emerged from nowhere. His Five Star Movement won over about 25% of Italy's electorate.

It's the dominant lower house Chamber of Deputies party. It achieved 54 of 308 Senate seats. Achieving it was unprecedented.

It stands for publicly owned water, sustainable mobility, development, connectivity, and environmental protection.

Grillo's its nominal head. He has clout. His campaign struck important nerves. Traditional Italian politics is corrupt, he said. It's rotten to the core.

Italians need no convincing. Grillo's campaign stressed it. He was effective doing so. He scorned Italy's entrenched system. He called it irresponsible, incompetent, and extravagant. "They must all go," he demanded.

Brown discussed him. He rejects traditional politics. He wants QE going to people. He wants populism replacing neoliberal harshness.

He wants treaties, free trade agreements, Eurozone membership, and other major issues decided by national referenda. He deplores NATO. Let Italians decide if they want out. They get nothing by staying in.

Unilaterally default on public debt, he urges. Argentina, Iceland and other countries did it successfully. Nationalize Italy's banks. Guarantee 1,000 euros a month "citizenship" income. Reduce or eliminate poverty by doing so.

He wants Italian sovereignty restored. He wants it freed from Eurozone straightjacket rules. They impose financial tyranny. Back to the lire, he suggests. Let people decide.

Uniting 17 dissimilar countries requires surrendering monetary and fiscal control. An unelected central power has it. It force-feeds policy ruthlessly.

Debt entrapment and banker occupation follow. Troika power decides everything. The EU, ECB and IMF have final say.

Rules empower bankers. They require neoliberal harshness, robbing poor Peter to pay rich Paul, lowering living standards, sacking public workers, and selling off state assets at fire sale prices.

Italian voters spoke. They had enough. Non piu (no more), they said. They want populism for the people. Is Grillo up to the challenge?

Questions remain unanswered. He's neither right wing or left, he says. Hopefully he represents refreshing change. He welcomes people of all political persuasions. He risks ending up with more than he can handle.

He reflects public anger across Europe. Perhaps other Grillos await in the wings. A legion of them are needed. It matters if they're real.

There's no way to know. Opportunists turn up most often. True blue populists are rare. Realpolitik corrupts them. Good ones get co-opted. Grillo may be one of the crowd.

He may be more pseudo-populist than real. Perhaps he's capitalizing on public pain. His agenda may be hidden. If real, he may cave under pressure. The fullness of time will tell.

Without majority control, there's only so much he can do. At the same time, he's up against powerful entrenched interests. South Africa under Mandela is instructive.

Two weeks before his prison harshness ended, he said:

"The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the ANC. (Changing) our inconceivable."

"Black economic empowerment is a goal we fully support and encourage, but in our situation state control of certain sectors of the economy is unavoidable."

Post-apartheid, change was possible. Who better than Mandela to lead it. He sold out to power instead. He capitulated on all fronts.

Predatory capitalism became policy. Apartheid didn't die. It lives in shadows. It political/economic incarnation affirmed it. Conditions are worse than ever.

Mandela embraced what rhetorically he spurned. Thatcherism is policy, he said. "You can put any label on it you like," he added. "You can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy."

Human suffering followed. It continues to this day. Black poverty, unemployment, and inequality are extreme. Women and children suffer most. Two-thirds of them are impoverished.

Structural problems go unaddressed. One in five children under age five die from preventable diseases. HIV/AIDS, intestinal flu and pneumonia are the main killers.

Over 20% of infant deaths occur in the first month of life. Poor neonatal care bears main responsibility.

Child survival and maternal health are two sides of the same coin. Children need healthy mothers. Maternal mortality is high.

Many social services are lacking. Neoliberal harshness spurns them. Business priorities matter most. Nothing in sight suggests change.

Will Italy turn out better? Will change spread elsewhere? Will people power defeat entrenched interests? Will doing the right thing prevail?

Change never comes easily or quickly. Major struggles aren't won short-term. Social justice ones are the mother of them all.

At issue is whether they have legs. Better times are possible. People power matters most. Grassroots activism takes time to grow.

Leadership is vital. If committed, it makes a difference. Today's stakes are too high for failure. Sustained resistance works. Organized people can beat organized money. Success depends on staying the course.

Soon enough we'll know if Grillo's real. Millions of Five Star Movement supporters hope so.

They depend on him following through. He made promises they want fulfilled. In the fullness of time we'll know.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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