Not only is the near electoral victory of comedian activist Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Movement worrying Italy’s entrenched self-serving establishment, the Grillo effect is worrying those right at the heart of Europe who fear Grillo-type politics may spread to other nations in Europe.
The fear is, perhaps, a little premature, as the real effect of Beppe Grillo more or less taking control of Italy has yet to be seen. That Grillo has managed to organise Italians disenchanted with their corrupt and seemingly incompetent political classes into a movement which is demanding change, and has done so non-violently and democratically, is an achievement which should not be underestimated.
Outwardly, all Beppe Grillo has done is to attempt to restore true democracy, or almost. As pointed out before, neither Italy, nor Europe, or the rest of the world really know what will happen should Beppe Grillo’s movement really take control of Italy. The results could be very positive and both clean up and render Italy’s political establishment more responsible. Alternatively, the direction in which Beppe Grillo wants to take Italy may lead to a kind of economic and social meltdown, or this is what the supposedly wise and powerful would like everyone to believe.
Quite simply though, Beppe Grillo’s movement is the consequence of the masses feeling very unhappy. Everyday we read of millions of Euros, Dollars and other currencies being paid to people running banks and other organisations which are not exactly performing as they should be and have received billions in public money in bailouts. Yet the economic situation is not improving.
People are losing jobs and few new jobs are being created. Taxes are going up. Those not lucky enough to earn telephone number salaries are struggling and becoming ever more disenchanted with a system which does very little to help them. People perceive an enormous gap between the super-haves, who have an awful lot, and the have-nots, who seem to have less and less. Many of the have-nots are young and they see no future despite having worked hard to get a good education. Such people in Italy have decided to take control of the situation – hence the birth of Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star Movement.
Beppe Grillo is spreading hope – hope that real change can be accomplished. Others in nations such as Austria, Germany and even in Britain and the United States are watching the progress of the Grillo effect with interest – Italy is not the only nation with a population which wants genuine change.
What will happen next?
Nobody really knows. The current establishment in Italy may attempt to regain control, though how remains to be seen. There is already talk of Italy trying to force a new technocrat government on its population, but this may provoke a popular uprising.
At the very least, the taking hold of Grillo effect in Italy indicates a change of tack on the part of many European leaders is necessary, and the European parliament really does need to stop dithering and do something to ease the pain of the masses.
The trouble is, what will happen is that the pain will be transferred to the back of a small, if extremely well-heeled and thus powerful, minority. This small elite which runs the whole show wants to keep its large buckets of cash, but the people are not having it – they want money too. A battle will occur, though not necessarily a bloody one.
Make Everyone Richer
Therein lies the solution – make everyone richer, but at the same time, educate them into consuming more responsibly – the world is running out of resources.
Making everyone better off makes sense all round. Economies rely on consumption and if people have no money or stability, they do not consume and economies grind to a painful halt. If that happens, governments have no tax income so states begin to fall apart. When states crumble, things can turn very nasty indeed. Either extremism comes to the fore, or worse, wars start.
Keep Everyone Happy
Virtuous nations, such as Denmark, keep their populations content by spreading wealth. Even Belgium which ended of with a non-government for a record period, helps its citizens keep their heads above water. Look after people and they do not feel unhappy or disenchanted and they continue to spend money which keeps others in jobs and generates taxes to keep nations going.
Abandon the masses and disenchantment and discontent grow. Italy’s largely corrupt self-serving political classes abandoned the masses years ago and as a result, Beppe Grillo and his movement have come into being. In a sense, Berlusconi’s ascension to power was a protest vote too, only Berlusconi turned out to be more self-serving and corrupt than those he replaced. Logically, some of those who voted for Berlusconi did so because they thought he might be able to turn Italy round. He did not, so now they have turned to Beppe Grillo.
Out of Touch Leaders
Who is to blame for the potentially worrying situation – very simple, leaders who did not listen to those who elected them and continued to irk their populations by paying heed to the wealthy elites and not doing anything constructive, or not enough. Of course, leaders who do not listen are not exactly democratic and need to be changed – which is exactly what Beppe Grillo wants to do. Grillo wants honest, responsible politicians who represent the wishes of the masses, not the interests of a few powerful lobbies.
Mainstream politicians can attempt to destroy Grillo, but they’d do themselves more favours by listening to his movement and guiding instead of opposing it.
Italy’s Euro Exit is Not Certain
It is assumed Beppe Grillo will take Italy out of the Euro, but this is not definite as Grillo himself wants the decision to be taken democratically - via a referendum.
Another aspect of Grillo’s policies which is worrying everyone, is that he wants Italy to default on its enormously high debt, or at least he wants the debt to be brought back into Italy which, as I understand it, would not be a default.
Grillo is no Fool
Neither of these Grillo proposals have come into being yet, but the furore Grillo is generating suggests that others are worried they could happen.
Some seem to believe Beppe Grillo is not much more than a madman, but he is no fool – he predicted the collapse of Italian dairy and food conglomerate Parmalat. His prediction was not merely guesswork, Grillo had seen the accounts of the company and understood it was bound to collapse sooner or later. Many others, including those who should know better than a mere comedian, did not even realise Parmalat was about to flop.
Grillo appears to think Italy is a much larger version of Parmalat, and like Parmalat, Italy is run by incompetent managers who have consistently underestimated the nation’s potential.
The Beppe Grillo effect can be viewed as an experiment – if it works, other nations – in Europe and beyond – will follow suit. If it does not, well, the world could be in very hot water indeed.
Time, as always, will tell. If Italians who live overseas begin returning to Italy to set up businesses and to work, then that will be a clear sign that the Grillo Effect worked. I, for one, hope it does.