Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

Related Post Roulette

7 Responses

  1. Avatar BCChase says:

    You know, when the article talks of using state-wide censorship to keep corruption, prostitution, etc on a grand scale out of the news, it reminds me of a lot of the dystopic science fiction that has been around since the 80’s. In some ways Berlusconi is the realization of their fears, minus the violence.Report

    • Avatar Will says:

      @BCChase, Seriously. If a Berlusconi doppelganger emerged in Russia or Venezuela, we’d be screaming about electoral fraud and the death of free speech. But Italy seems to get a pass because, well, everyone knows it’s a stable, modern democracy.Report

      • Avatar Mopey Duns says:


        That and the last time people took Italians seriously as politicians, they were still wearing togas.Report

      • Avatar BCChase says:


        Mopey Duns may be right, but I have a tremendous amount of empathy for the common Italian people. And their justice system isn’t any better. There’s a book called “The Monster of Florence” that just excoriates their biased, egotistical prosecutors that make up charges and ramrod innocent people. Combine that with this lying, corrupt government, and I don’t know why Italy isn’t talked about more as a failed state, at least partially.Report

        • Avatar Mopey Duns says:


          I think that we are holding off of that definition because the Italian people are still relatively prosperous. I may be wrong, but there seems to be a strong presumption in the West against calling any nation which still seems financially stable a failed state, as long as it is covered by the fig leaf of democracy, however modestly.

          It seems to me that people are much less hesitant about viewing Greece, for example, as at least a troubled state, although Italy’s situation in terms of governance is little better. The only difference major difference that I can see is economic.Report

          • Avatar Rufus says:

            @Mopey Duns, It probably doesn’t hurt that so many people like to go there as tourists.Report

            • Avatar Mopey Duns says:


              Greece has always been pretty tourist-friendly itself.

              According to the CIA factbook, 15% of their $341 billion GDP is from tourism. This comes out to $51 billion.

              The World Tourist Organization puts Italy’s earnings from 2008 at $42.7 billion.

              While my glitching computer is frustratingly keeping me from checking the same source for both of them (Italy has 3 times the number of tourists, so there is no way its actual revenues are lower than Greeces; the sources simply have to be measuring differently), I suspect that tourism revenue represents a larger proportion of GDP for Greece. Both certainly have a lot of tourists in absolute terms.

              All that to say, the real explanation for why we are more lenient towards Berlusconi’s pecadillos and Italy’s blatant disfunction compared to Greece’s is probably something else. Specifically, something GDP related.Report