I should like to take issue with Cath Fletcher’s view (Solidarity 3-193) that a significant part of the recent anti-Berlusconi protests smacked of “conservative moralism” in its criticism of Berlusconi’s private choice to enjoy sex parties.
Berlusconi is not a private citizen but the head of a government in an unspoken alliance with the Vatican. It fully supports the latter’s profoundly anti-women, anti-gay, pro-life policies and attitudes, underwritten by billions of euros to sustain schools, property and the 50,000 religious teachers in the public school system.
Berlusconi annually presides over the celebration of “Family Day” in an exercise of vomit-inducing hypocrisy by church and state. This incarnates the compulsive misogyny, sexual repression and oppression so evident in the personality of Berlusconi and, alas, widespread in Italy.
The growing numbers of prostitutes underscore the dynamic of worsening economic and social conditions. That Berlusconi also chooses to appoint, from among the prostitutes that he knows, ministers and public officials is a mark of the further degradation and contempt for both the principle of democratic representation and the equality of the sexes — in a country which has one of the worst records of female representation in public life!
Berlusconi’s conduct has been from the beginning a political question, which should have been at the forefront of any serious socialist feminist politics. Unfortunately, the one-eyed Italian left and feminist movement choose to see it, like Cath, as a “personal matter”. They have thus allowed the political heart of the matter to be raised and distorted by campaigns of liberal journalism. The protestors are undoubtedly vague and unfocused, impregnated with a confused moralism, but the most damaging confusion lies elsewhere.