"Nunc est bibendum?" On the Death and State Funeral of Silvio Berlusconi

Nunc est bibendum?(1) It is possible and even highly probable that someone, somewhere, uncorked a bottle at the news of Berlusconi's death. This is in stark contrast to the attitude of sorrow and condolence assumed by all the political expressions of the bourgeoisie, including unions like the CGIL.(2) No wonder the bourgeois forces, including their trade union "spear carriers", recognise “Berlusca” as one of their own. Of course, in some respects he was a little intemperate, a little more intolerant or – to be more accurate – too blatantly intolerant of the laws that the bourgeoisie itself adopts to regulate its own society – like a traffic light regulates traffic – especially when it came to crushing the class on whose exploitation this rotten world is based: the proletariat.

Everyone knows how the “Knight”, also known as the "Caiman"(3) – even if that is an insult to the swamp reptile – became what he was.

He made a very “relaxed” use of the legal set-up and its administrators, i.e. politicians, who were fascinated by his vision of the world to which they belonged and joined him after being anointed, not with consecrated oil, but with bribes and benefits of various kinds. After that came the "ad personam" laws.(4) These allowed him to create a media-television empire, a very powerful tool with which to build his career (and also avoid bankruptcy and charges of fraud).

His entry into the P2 Masonic Lodge,(5) the fascist-like cesspit of the Italian bourgeoisie, which planned to take Italy down the authoritarian path through the control of the media, which to a certain happened thanks largely to this Freemason "brother" from Arcore.(6)

He had close relations with the Sicilian sector of the bourgeois Mafia, who lent him a groom,(7) not to look after his horses, but to seal a friendship based on their shared interests.

Then, thanks to his enormous wealth and his many friends, he actually managed to get away with it and when he was convicted, the sentence he was due to serve had little to do with 41 bis(8); but that’s the bourgeois order for you ...

Idolised at home by hordes of the petty bourgeoisie, but also by part of the proletariat reduced to the social status of plebs, he was completely at ease in the sewers of the bourgeois world and underworld. Abroad he is remembered for the tireless visits he paid to young women, attracted by his wallet, from which they drew without problems, happy to please a man over seventy years old, a profound connoisseur of vulgar jokes from the 1950s.

However, this is "folklore", as squalid as you like, but nothing compared to the substance of his work as a "statesman", very much in continuity with the policies of those who preceded him and those who followed him; i.e. he stuck strictly to attacking working conditions, and therefore the living conditions of the working class, our class. These started with the so-called "Biagi law", which accelerated the precariousness of the workforce (after the Treu law at the end of the 1990s), and then the laws to exacerbate the enslavement of migrants (the Bossi-Fini law), to the vast school cuts, and ended with the pension reforms that prepared the way for the Fornero law of the Monti government. The Monti government was the one that took over from the “Cavaliere-Caimano” himself after the Italian and European bourgeoisie had forcibly dragged him from the prime minister's seat, because he was too inclined to take care of his own affairs, rather than the collective interests of his class. Last, but not least, a discredited character like him was not fit to make the working class swallow a ruthless pension reform; hence, his fall and the establishment of a caretaker government, to which Forza Italia(9) also gave its support.

What can we say too, about the "Mexican butchery" carried out by his government at the G8 in Genoa in 2001, when thousands of people were literally beaten to pulp, gassed with tear gas, tortured in police barracks and the young comrade Carlo Giuliani killed in the square by a policeman?(10) We can still see the faces transformed into masks of fear and blood of helpless protesters, the aching and wounded bodies taken out on stretchers from the Diaz school after the ferocious assault by the bourgeois forces of order...

OK, let's stop here, we have already dedicated far too much time to this class enemy who, as they say, won’t trouble us any more.

The Catholic Church has allowed the cathedral (Duomo) of Milan to be used for the funeral, perhaps because it also understands his "sins of the flesh”, even with minors, of which it has itself centuries of experience. The government has decreed national mourning. There is something suggestively symbolic about a state funeral for the decaying corpse of a corrupt and corrupting capitalist, the symbol of money that “unites and breaks faiths; blesses the accursed; makes horrid leprosy welcome; it honours thieves and gives them titles, reverence, praise in the assembly of senators”(11) i.e. the bourgeois institutions. It truly reflects today’s decadent system.

As far as we are concerned, when the revolutionary proletariat, guided by its international party, establishes its organs of power and has begun to sweep this social system off the face of the earth, along with the repulsive characters it produces in a continuous stream, that will be the moment to uncork a few bottles of something good…

Il Partito Comunista Internazionalista (Battaglia Comunista)
14 June 2023


(1) "Now is the time to drink". A famous phrase from Horace’s Odes (Book 1 Poem 37), of the first century BC.

(2) Italian General Confederation of Labour, the former Communist Party trade union and still the largest of the three big Italian union confederations.

(3) Berlusconi liked to be referred to as “Il Cavaliere” but was less enamoured with the comparison to a Latin American alligator.

(4) “It has been estimated that by 2010 Berlusconi had passed as many as eighteen laws “to meet his own personal needs””. David Gilmour, The Pursuit of Italy (Penguin 2011), p.384.

(5) Propaganda Due (P2) was an ancient Masonic lodge which lost its charter in 1976 and became a secret, illegal organisation run by Licio Gelli which aimed at undermining democratic government in Italy (working class resistance to the crisis of the end of the post-war boom was at its height at the time). It roped in politicians of every non-communist party as well leading members of the security apparatus but it came to light after a series of scandals including the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, the murder of banker Robert Calvi (found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London) and the Bribesville scandal (Tangentopoli) of Italian parliamentarians including Berlusconi’s friend and useful tool Bettino Craxi, then Socialist Party PM of Italy. This all came to light with the collapse of Michele Sindona’s financial empire in 1981, when investigators found the lists of names Gelli had included in the P2 organisation. Berlusconi was on the list as his Mediaset empire was useful for their propaganda.

(6) Arcore is a village near Milan where Berlusconi had his main residence (among many).

(7) This is a reference to the late mafia boss, Vittorio Mangano “the groom of Arcole” who masqueraded as a gardener and groom at Berlusconi’s Arcore villa in 1973-4, but his real role was as a bodyguard (who allegedly even murdered a dinner guest of Berlusconi’s). He was introduced to Berlusconi by Marcello Dell’Utri who is widely credited with being the one that persuaded Berlusconi to go into politics to avoid going to gaol. Dell’Utri has been a loyal lieutenant of Berlusconi who despite 3 convictions for Mafia activities stayed out of gaol until 2014 (when he was arrested in Beirut and brought back to Italy). Mangano meanwhile was finally gaoled in 2000 and died shortly after in prison, denying any Mafia links to Berlusconi, yet records show that Berlusconi’s company Fininvest paid hundreds of millions of euros to Mafia entities over the decades.

(8) The 41 bis form of imprisonment is a harsher regime designed to stop Mafiosi in prison from continuing to operate. It was recently used unjustly against a young anarchist imprisoned for a foolish attempted assault on a police station.

(9) Forza Italia (the football chant “Come on Italy”) was the political party launched by Berlusconi (who was also at the time owner of AC Milan) to “get on the pitch” of politics as he put it at the time (1994). Its electoral success not only kept him out of gaol but also gave him control of the state broadcaster RAI, so he had a virtual monopoly of the TV media which he used without scruple, sacking any journalist who said anything critical of him.

(10) This was one of the most brutal examples of state violence in recent years in Italy. The cop charged with killing Carlo Giuliani was acquitted on the unlikely story that he had fired in the air but his bullet hit a flying stone and was deflected.

(11) Shakespeare in Timon of Athens, Act IV Scene III. In the English original it is “This yellow slave will knit and break religions, bless the accursed, make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves and give them title, knee and approbation with senators on the bench” but we have left it as a translation from the Italian for its more modern clarity.

Sunday, June 18, 2023