Understanding Beppe Grillo (and a rule of thumb for lifehacking)

Italy just elected Steven Colbert president.

Well, not exactly. But what actually happened is very close.

Beppe Grillo wasn’t even running for office, but his “Five Star Movement” party earned a greater share of the vote than any other single Italian party in the last election.

This isn’t entirely unfamiliar in Western politics; in a sense Grillo’s in the same category as Canada’s (late) Jack Layton and the NDP, or the German Pirate Party. Where this becomes hugely significant — yes, even in a security sense — is the fact that Grillo more or less won his election. (Seen as units, the two major coalitions still came out ahead by a few points.) And it’s all the more remarkable therefore that Grillo is quite transparent as to what he’s after.

In a nutshell, the Italians just voted to upend the traditional power / social structure that’s been in place for the last 5000 years, and to kick out the sociopaths.

Remember Lobazewski and “Ponerology”? (http://la.indymedia.org/uploads/2009/11/natevil.pdf) Reading Grillo’s rhetoric, I could swear he’s read it. “They cannot understand.” “They need psychiatric analysis.” “What makes me feel really ill are the millions of people […] that have [gotten by] to the detriment of the other lot […] As long as the salaries and the pensions of these [other] people are not at risk it’s fine to immobilise the country. But this won’t last long.”

As to the “Five Star Movement’s” position on a fundamental change in the social order, he’s equally clear: “the Italian people […] capable of unheard-of social inventions. […] And we are still here, still in Rome to start again one more time. […] The reconstruction of Italy can now begin on the basis of social justice, of equity, of community, and of solidarity.”

(“Solidarity,” of course, was the name of the Polish union that kicked off fall of the USSR.)

Now, for the security angle. When it comes to surviving in a totalitarian state, this serves as evidence for the existence of a very useful phenomena that Lobazewski observed. In his eyes, totalitarianism creates an informal, “underground lite” of people quietly helping each other and ensuring humanity exists even in the worst of the inhumanity (Ponerology p. 117, too much to quote).

No, Italy hasn’t been a proper totalitarian state since the end of WWII. However, what has happened in the past few years (which marked the Five Star Movement’s rise) has been the imposition of rather controversial financial measures, which directly impacted the public. In the eyes of the public, the wealthy suffered rather less or not at all: almost as if the “1%” were making the 99% pay to fix their mistakes.

At the same time, nearly all mass media in Italy was controlled by the “1%” (in particular, Berlusconi). From a media communications perspective, this is a remarkably similar atmosphere to that under which Lobazewski worked.

From this, I would tentatively draw the conclusion that Lobazewski’s principle doesn’t just hold in democratic countries, but gets magnified by them.

Lifehacking: Having gotten onto the topic of ‘bio quantum computing,’ it’s worth noting that I’ve heard this sort of thing has disadvantages as well, and may not be reversible once you learn it. Therefore, I would propose that any sort of lifehacking you don’t fully understand is a cheat, on the order of using powerful chemistry to dodge sleep. In other words, something that’s fine if you need it, but not to be used lightly or to excess. Quoth OpenBSD’s Puffy, “you must not be greedy.” (http://openbsd.org/images/41song.gif)

That said, the idea of viewing things like technology and music as “information fields” rather than objects and signals in the 4-Space we know and love is utterly fascinating.

http://www.beppegrillo.it/en/

“They can no longer succeed against us. Let them resign themselves to that. They’ll be able to keep going for 7 or 8 months and they’ll produce a disaster but we’ll try and keep them under control. We’ll start to do what we’ve always said – our stars: water in public hands, schools in public hands, public health service. If they follow us they follow us. If they don’t, the battle will be very harsh for them, very harsh. They cannot understand . They cannot conceive of things. They need psychiatric analysis. They are failed people. They’ve been there for 25, or 30 years, and they have brought the country to the point of catastrophe. What makes me feel really ill are the millions of people that have been staying afloat in the crisis, that have just been marginally affected by the crisis, that have managed to just get by to the detriment of the other lot of millions of people that cannot go on any more. Italy’s problem is this set of people. And as long as the salaries and the pensions of these people are not at risk it’s fine to immobilise the country. But this won’t last long. This situation won’t last long at all.” (http://www.beppegrillo.it/en/2013/02/the_end_of_the_third_republic.html)

“Over the millennia, the Italian people, this mosaic of ancient peoples, has seen everything, has created everything. Cynical, detached, impermeable, but also mad, capable of unheard of social inventions. History has always gone by these parts. And we are still here, still in Rome to start again one more time. […] The reconstruction of Italy can now begin on the basis of social justice, of equity, of community, and of solidarity.” (http://www.beppegrillo.it/en/2013/02/_i_too_was_there_in_piazza_san.html)

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