“Occupy” culture at Teatro Valle Roma

I`ve just published an article on Al Jazeera English talking about the “occupy culture” movement in Italy, whose best expressions are Cinema Palazzo Sala Vittorio Arrigoni and Teatro Valle. I`m happy to have joined, even if only for few days due to my permanence in the Arab world, this exciting movement.

We are planning an evening dedicated to “Creative Revolutions!” at Teatro Valle next 27th Nov. featuring creative user-generated videos (songs, cartoons, parodies, mini-soap operas) coming out from the Arab Spring. Stay tuned for more details. And please spread the word about these amazing efforts to free culture in Rome and give it back to citizens.

‘Occupy’ culture enters Roman theatre
As a result of privatisation and downsizing, Italian communities have taken culture into their own hands.
Donatella Della Ratta Last Modified: 16 Nov 2011 16:03

On November 14, while Silvio Berlusconi was heading to the Quirinale to resign amidst a crowd chanting “buffoon, thief”, a thousand people were quietly sitting in a former cinema listening to a public reading of David Foster Wallace’s last book. When the news of the resignation came out, somebody jumped on the stage and started to play the piano, while the crowd erupted in a chorus chanting “Bella ciao”, a partisan song from Italy’s resistance against Mussolini. After the one song, they all went back to the reading. The crowd – made up of publishers, actors, artists, book lovers – stayed up all night long reading David Foster Wallace in a technically illegal place.

The old Cinema Palazzo is an occupied building in the San Lorenzo area of Rome that has been renamed “Sala Vittorio Arrigoni” after the Italian activist who was killed in Gaza last April. Months ago, activists took over the historical theatre, which was about to be converted into casino with slot machines. Since then, backed by famous artists and actors like Sabina Guzzanti– an Italian satirist who has always criticised Berlusconi – the Sala Vittorio Arrigoni has held cultural activities – from plays to concerts – relying entirely on people’s donations.

From Palazzo to Valle

Over the past few months, re-appropriation of goods that once have been public or devoted to culture and education has been a growing trend in Italy. This was a reaction not only to Berlusconi, but to the culture he has generated over decades of commercial television and which has been renamed Berlusconismo. Occupations of movie houses and libraries – to reclaim cultural venues as public goods – have been flourishing in small villages and big cities alike. The most significant started June 14 at Teatro Valle, an 18th century theatre at the heart of Rome, where Sarah Bernhardt’s company used to perform.

The day after the 2011 nationwide referendum, which successfully marked the return to daily campaigning against corruption and privatisation of public goods, a group of artists christened Teatro Valle Occupato. The activists settled there and called immediately for a press conference at which they explained the reasons behind the occupation.
“Once the property of public body ETI, which was shut down for not being financially productive, Teatro Valle risked being sold to private companies to become a restaurant. And, as theatre employees, we were re-assigned to a different public institution. People who have been working for years on the lighting of the theatre, for example, had to become doormen at the ministry of culture in order not to lose their jobs.””The theatre has been a target of one of these ‘usual’ corruption stories that we unfortunately hear so much about in Italy,” says Mauro, who has worked on the technical staff of the theatre for 20 years.

“The trade unions would tell you, ‘Take it, at least you will have a salary’,” adds Hussein, an Iranian-Italian who is part of the group that planned the occupation of Teatro Valle.

“But they never consider the social cost of moving from a job that you are skilled for to a completely new environment. This way you also destroy the cultural know-how of a profession. By strictly applying the ‘re-assign’ mentality of HR departments, you kill the historical heritage of a place, of a city.”

“We don’t want to hear the ‘this is the only solution’ answer. There are other solutions, but we have to sit all together and think about it,” he adds.

Alternative solutions

The occupants of Teatro Valle have been thinking about alternatives. After six months of holding free, donations-based plays, movies, poetry readings, concerts and workshops, they are now trying to build a new formula for a cultural foundation that gives the place back to the public.

Stefano Rodota , a law professor, and Ugo Mattei, the author of Plunder: When the Rule of the Law is Illegalare helping to draft the charter of the nascent Teatro Valle foundation.

“The main point is that this theatre is a monument. It should be given back to the citizens and administrated as a public good,” says Fulvio, an editor and TV director who has been in the occupation group from the very beginning.

“We are looking into a ‘third way’ of financing culture. Not private, not entirely public, meaning that it doesn’t have to rely entirely on public institutions’ money. This could imply corruption and go against the quality of cultural offers. We would rather have the citizens micro-financing the activities of theatre, at least for a part.

“We want to have shareholders that love the theatre but have a pro-active relation with it, too. It’s not a matter of paying an entrance free and watching a show anymore. We would rather address to a pro-active audience, who contributes financially but also artistically, by suggesting things to do, people to contact.”

“We are also elaborating a different concept of art direction,” says Simona, a theatre actress who is now leading Teatro Valle’s communication efforts.

“Instead of having one person who keeps the power for a whole mandate and decides everything, we are considering having three people, coming from different disciplines who discuss before taking shared decisions. In a way, that is what has already been going on here for months: each week we have somebody who takes the art direction of the theatre.

“We would always ask this ‘temporary art director’ not to bring only his/her play or songs, but to give back to the community by doing a daily training to share knowledge and skills with everybody. We would ask to develop not only an artistic concept, but also a new political philosophy throughout the week.”

‘Peer-producing culture’

“What we are experimenting here is a new approach to politics,” adds Fulvio. “An idea of peer-producing culture, economy, law. Something which goes beyond the idea of just delegating others to take care of these fundamental sectors.”

So far, the Teatro Valle Occupato experiment has been doing great. Each day, there is a line of people waiting for the evening show. In the morning, training sessions animate the beautiful 18th century stage, which is kept tidy by the occupants. Young people have also started to join the occupation, originally composed mostly of people in their 30s and 40s.

Martina, 25, came from Tuscany and joined the occupation in September. She was fascinated by the experience. “We do stuff here, we see culture on the move,” she says while live-tweeting.

Berlusconi is gone, but the occupiers are already thinking ahead. Their next move will be a popular petition to cancelthe financial privileges and political immunity of members of parliament.

Donatella Della Ratta is a PhD fellow at University of Copenhagen focusing her research on the Syrian TV industry.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent Al Jazeera’s editorial policy

Are the Arab Springs an Islamic Renaissance? Random thoughts after a busy election day..

Since the very morning of this first “after-election” day, the atmosphere in Avenue Bourghiba has been “worried”. Even without official numbers and with results not released yet, the majority of journalists, artists and intellectuals that overcrowd the beautiful outdoor cafes and “terrasse” all along the Avenue have been very worried by the rumors that circulated since yesterday night. Ennahdha, the Islamist party, has probably won the elections, reporting the majority of votes, hence the most representatives at the soon-to-be first Tunisian Constituent Assembly.

I have spent all the morning sitting with these people, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and discussing about the future of Tunisia. Different people, whom I met in different cafes along the Avenue, repeating the same sentence as a broken disc: “I `ve never thought Tunisian people could be like that”.. “It`s like looking at yourself in the mirror and discovering a side that was always hidden” ..”We didnt know our own people. It`s just like having to get up after a nightmare”..”Is this the feeling we were hiding behind  decades of dictatorship?”…”I really dont know who my fellow Tunisian citizens are”..

I remember to have felt exactly this way some years ago (and more than once) in my own country. “How can my own people be like that? Didnt` I know them? what`s wrong with them?”..Maybe, a better question after so many years of “Berlusconism” would be: “what`s wrong with me? and why I didnt understand what was going on?”.

I spared this question to myself and to my poor interlocutors and took a cab for another meeting in a different area of town. Speaking with the driver in Tunisian dialect only (which I force myself to understand, even if I`m too used to “bilad as-Sham”) I discovered that he didnt vote. I asked him why and he answered “kullu kif kif” (they are all the same)..plus “I dont know for whom I should have voted..it`s so confusing,there are  too many parties” and, again, they are “kullu kif kif”. Then he added:” the youth did the revolution..we watched..let them vote..let us watch the results of their vote”.

At the meeting, again sitting with journalists and intellectuals working for a famous local radio station, same situation as Avenue Bourghiba. Maybe, with a better sense of humor: some of them started to address to the female presenters -all gorgeously dressed and beautiful- that “in a very close future you will have to wear hijab (the veil) or maybe niqab (the integral veil)”. The males were exorcising the “Islamists` treat” by saying: “at least, I will marry four of you!”. Melted with the humor there was a certain feeling of defeat, indeed. A bad feeling of misunderstanding, as if your own child had done something completely wrong, completely against your beliefs.

Another taxi, driving me to another area of town. This time, the taxi driver, knowing when I was heading to – Nessma, the TV station which few days before the elections broadcasted the French movie “Persepolis”, consequently generating street protests (see my previous post on it)– shouted at me:” why are you going there? they are against our religion, they have offended  Islam!”. Then added :” I voted for Ennahda, I am a Muslim and my identity is Islamic. I want this to be acknowledged by our new democratic country”. The guy was struggling to make his life: feeding children, sending them to school. He just wanted a simple life, and his Islamic identity to be reflected by the new Constitution.

After the Tunisian-dialect-only cab ride I`ve  finally reached the studios of the “incriminated” TV station. Here, lots of young people, I would describe them not exactly as intellectuals but basically a globalized youth, was commenting the elections (partial) results, again with a mixed feeling of irony and defeat. All secularized Muslims, all fearing an “Islamic state” to erase their “secular culture” (I will here translate with “secular” something which in Arabic sounded more as “civic culture”, thaqafa madaniyya).

Then the first guests came. They were supposed to join a live debate on the elections. None of them was from Ennahda, they were all coming from defeated parties or from parties which gained something, but not in “pole position”. I asked the show producer why Ennahda was not there, and he replied that they had invited them, but hadnt heard back, probably as a “counter-reaction” to the “Persepolis” issue.

A lady from Takattoul, one of the parties which actually did not (apparently) go bad at the elections, started to challenge the other guests on the Ennahda identity issue. “What did the Tunisian people choose? did they choose a model of society or a political party?“. Then she added: “The old distinction between we (the secularists or leftists) being more “pro-West” and them (the Islamists) being more sharqiyyn (Oriental) has been proven wrong. All the “Westernized” Tunisians, those who live in Europe (particularly in France) have voted for Ennahda”. And then: “We have been defeated cause we do not know how to work with the people, we do not know how to reach out to them. Ennahda knew how to do this, and had social links with the more disadvantaged classes. They exploited this knowledge. But they are a party, just a political party which has learnt how to use this skill”. “They are not a movement, not a model for society, they are just a party like the others”.

The live show after this first one was more interesting, as it featured some high level intellectuals as the sociologist Hamadi Redissi. He was very outspoken vis-a`-vis Nessma TV itself and said: “The Persepolis affair could have lowered the Islamists` appeal or actually helped them to gain more. The latter is what actually happened. There was a popular counter-reaction to a channel which was trying to “show the people the possible bad consequences of choosing Islam as the fundamental of the state”. The people felt offended and this ended up to raise Ennahda popularity”.

But when some of the other guests started with the “self-pity” phase, Redissi was very rational in reminding everybody that: “the independents failed..the marxists failed..the nationalists failed…even the constitutional parties failed..but the reasons for which Ennahda is winning are not only related to religion.There is a refusal of the past in the popular vote, there is the frustration for the financial crisis, too..there is the identity issue, whereas Islam becomes an identity mark. Then there is the Nessma factor, which has a marginal role but, still, it`s a part of this chain”.

One of the guests echoes: “yes, and there is the huge gap between the countryside and the city..the gap between hundreds of intellectuals and millions of people. Religion ended up to be a culture among cultures”.

This sentence -“the gap between hundreds of intellectuals and millions of people” – resonates in my head as I reach my hotel, back to Avenue Bourghiba. There is a festive atmosphere and I cannot prevent myself from asking to the hotel staff -in Arabic only- if they are happy for the elections results (still temporary even now at 1am). Yes, sure they are. “The entire hotel staff voted for Ennahda” says the concierge and adds “my neighborhood -in the banlieu of Tunis- has all voted for Ennahda, so everybody is celebrating”. The situation is so surreal, if I only think of all these (hundreds of) people, sitting here outside, discussing politics, sipping their beers and blaming on their fellow Tunisians who did not understand how civilized the country was supposed to be. I`m trying to count how many hotels are here in town, and picturing myself a scene where all the staff in each hotel in town is celebrating while all the intellectuals that are sitting in all the cafes are actually complaining (and I`m wondering: what about the cafes staff, will they all be like the hotels staff?).

The concierge smiles at me as for calming down an hypothetical fear that I should have -as a Westerner- :” we wont oblige everybody to wear the veil! We just want a little bit of order and of dignity, we want respect for our traditions, family, religion..”.

I`m not scared at all and I trust his words completely. But I cannot prevent myself from thinking that his discourse towards order and security and tradition resembles so much to a discourse that I`ve been hearing for years in my country, and it was not coming from an Islamist party. They all resemble each other, it is a small world  and even people who seem not to have anything in common might have tons of stuff indeed.

But then I contradict myself again and think: if we have let somebody as the weirdest mix ever -a separatist party, a former Fascist party and a self-declared liberal party which is indeed protecting their “little club” interests- govern together, despite the conflict of interest, the legal issues, the unveiled corruption etc why should we be scared of a party that has been banned for years and has not done anything yet? Let them govern, then let the people decide again..That`s the bitter-sweet rule of “Democracy”.

Then I cannot prevent myself from thinking, as a leftist, as a secularist: there is something wrong not in them, but in us. We have moved away from the streets, retired in our comfortable lounges where we had talked philosophy, watched arty movies, discussed fine intellectual questions..and what`s left? somebody else has taken the streets. This should not lead to a complain, rather to a reaction. Dear fellow Tunisians, please do not complain. please be aware of what you have done, you have run the first democratic elections in your country. This is a hell of a lot.

We cannot pretend, us who were on the ground, not to have been aware of the fact that the Arab springs will be the Islamic Renaissance (Nadha, in Arabic..and it`s not by chance). We cannot pretend not to have known that a democratic Middle East is gonna be an Islamic Middle East, at least at a first stage.

And, in the very moment I`m writing this, I get a news alert from Al Jazeera saying that Ennahda is prepared to make an alliance with some of the other parties, even if secular.At the end of the day, politics is politics, no matter if  we are in Ennahda`s new Tunisia or in Berlusconi`s  old Italy.   

#15 ott: dimenticare i 500 e concentrarsi sui 495.500

Il #15ott e` andato e quello che sembra restare e` una polemica infinita sulle violenze di uno sparuto gruppo di persone, per i quali si e` dovuta riesumare la vecchia definizione di “black bloc” gia` in voga all`epoca di Genova 2001.

Alle persone e ai media italiani impegnati oggi a discutere l`uso della violenza che ha devastato Roma e la sconfitta del movimento degli “indignados” che ieri avrebbe dovuto fare il suo debutto in Italia vorrei ricordare un paio di concetti importanti.

Uno: ieri ci sono state manifestazioni in tutta Europa e in tutto il mondo, tutte generate dal “movimento” dal basso “occupy”, quello che cerca di riprendersi citta` e istituzioni schiacchiate dalla dittatura capricciosa della finanza globale e da stati inermi e soggiogati. Mi risulta che in nessun posto ci fossero 500.000 persone, come si sono viste a Roma. Perche` non proviamo a parlare di quei 495.500, invece di parlare di quei 500 che si sono dati da fare a devastare la citta? Perche` dobbiamo sempre sminuirci, quando quella di ieri a Roma e` stata una sfilata di forze nuove in campo, 495.500 persone scese in piazza senza un`organizzazione, senza un partito, ma con una causa comune? Roma e` stata la citta che ha registrato piu presenze, e questo non si puo perdere nel chiacchiericcio mediatico del post manifestazione, preso dall`orrore perbenista per le devastazioni di ieri. L`argomento principale non e` e non deve essere quei 500. L`argomento principale sono i 495.500 scesi in piazza ieri, senza partiti e senza organizzazione…

Due: ..e senza servizi d`ordine. Chi e` un “habitue” delle manifestazioni, sa che scendere in piazza con l`allora fu Rifondazione comunista o con il PD o con i Cobas o qualsiasi realta organizzata significa anche garantire un certo tipo di ordine dentro al corteo. Il partito o il sindacato ha il suo servizio d`ordine, organizzato, e ha molte piu probabilita di individuare ed isolare persone intenzionate a creare caos e violenza. Ma in una manifestazione come quella di ieri, dal basso per l`appunto, i servizi d`ordine organizzati erano pochissimi, come scarse le aderenze ufficiali di partiti, sindacati, e realta “istituzionali”. Gli “indignados” e quelli degli “occupy” movements sono realta dal basso, decentrate, “disorganizzate”. Una lettura intelligente del movimento da parte delle forze dell`ordine responsabili di tenere, appunto, l`ordine, avrebbe dovuto capire questo, e regolarsi di conseguenza. I 500 invece, organizzatissimi, lo sapevano benissimo e hanno giocato su questo. La loro tattica e` appunto disperdersi fra queste persone per usarle da scudo e fare guerriglia urbana. Possibile che le forze dell`ordine non lo sapessero? possibile che non l`avessero previsto? perche` dovrebbe essere colpa dei 495.500, che pure hanno fatto di tutto, come anche documentato da alcuni giornali, per isolare i 500?

il carro del teatro Valle occupato -cinema Palazzo occupato

Tre: ignorare il fatto che in Italia la protesta “indignados” e “occupy” non fosse anche una protesta direttamente rivolta contro il governo Berlusconi e` da ingenui. Questo va assolutamente preso in considerazione. Quella di ieri, quella dei 495.500, e` una protesta contro la finanza globale e il governo Berlusconi e la sua corruzione, e le sue ingiustizie..non e` una protesta qualunquista di 500 che mettono a ferro e fuoco la citta..non dimentichiamolo

scontri a San Giovanni

Quattro: Non dimentichiamo che le richieste di queste 495.500 persone -come di tutte le altre riunite a manifestare in Europa e nel mondo, come di quelli che ancora non sono scesi ma dalle loro case si rodono dentro per le ingiustizie e i soprusi di questo sistema globale- sono richieste legittime. Il dibattito del post #15ott deve essere concentrato su questo e non sui 500. Sara` anche compito degli indignados -o non so come vogliamo chiamare questi 495.500 che ieri erano in piazza- costruire il dissenso giorno per giorno , e non lasciare che la loro marcia di ieri sia offuscata da quei 500 e che tutto cada nel dimenticatoio. La marcia pacifica di ieri e` soltanto un passaggio di un processo iniziato gia da mesi -per esempio con le numerose occupazioni che ci sono in giro in tutta Italia, la piu significativa quella del teatro Valle a Roma- e continua oggi e la prossima settimana. Non saranno certo i 500 di ieri ad arrestarlo.

In Italia c`e molta piu gente di quanto noi stessi pensiamo che capisce e condivide le ragioni di questo movimento.

Ieri, quando sono andata in Piazza San Giovanni per dare una mano, insieme ad altri volontari, ai ragazzi dell`Ama che stavano pulendo il delirio creato dalla violenza dei 500, sono rimasta sorpresa quando, cercando di scusarmi con questi lavoratori che devono passare la notte a ripulire il “post-dissenso”, mi hanno detto:

“siamo contro la violenza, e quello che e` successo ad opera di pochi e` sbagliato. Ma la manifestazione e` giusta, le richieste sono giuste e sacrosante, e noi siamo d`accordo”.

Nessun risentimento nelle loro parole. Se quei 495.500 non sono il capro espiatorio di lavoratori che sono costretti tutta la notte a ripulire dall`incivilta`, perche` dovrebbero esserlo per i media o per altri cittadini?

Penso che dovremmo prendere tutti ad esempio l`umilta e l`apertura di queste persone e andare avanti, nel modo corretto, anche per loro.

con i volontari e i ragazzi dell`Ama a ripulire San Giovanni

Damascus` sit-in for Libya/A significant picture of Italy abroad

No comment.

Had somebody told me that one day I would have walked out in the streets of an Arab country to join a sit-in in solidarity of people that are suffering in another Arab country and I would have seen, first thing, such a sign hold by an unknown protester, I woudn`t have believed this.

“Mo`amar (Gheddafi) go to Italy”, it said..and then added: “they are booking for an ugly model”.

Once upon a time Italy was about history, beauty, culture, art, nice food, beautiful landscapes, great football players (and, yes, colonialism..not a soft one, as Italians believe..an harsh one, on Libya, too).

Now there is a guy in Damascus -and he`s not alone- who thinks that Italy and Libya`s regimes are the same.

Today in Damascus I was screaming and protesting in solidarity of Libyan people and for the crime this crazy guy is committing. But I`m also screaming and protesting over my own country, back to the other side of Mediterranean, where not enough people are screaming and protesting for the crime being committed. And this makes them -us- guilty.

Please, Italy, forget about our Prime minister`s bedtime affairs and do stay focused on what`s happening in Libya which concerns us so much more.

If there is a good reason to have this crazy Berlusconi`s government fall, it`s not Ruby or any other teenagers stuff, but it`s its unbelievable behavior vis-a-vis Libya and its people.

A new (Maghreb) female touch in Berlusconi`s Nessma TV

Mamnou` al-rijal (Forbidden to men) is a fascinating title for a new TV show. Especially if it`s for a women`s programme.

Fashion, beauty, glamour, interior design, jewellery, “cool” housekeeping: these are the issues that the new and modern North African woman should take care of, according to Tunis-based Nessma TV who launched the show on Dec, 14.A short promo is available on the channel home page, featuring the charming host Kaoutar Boudarajja dressed in a sexy outfit and promoting the show with a mix of North African Arabic and French.

Kaoutar will be not alone in hosting the first show ever which addresses to “the world of contemporary Maghreb women” as Nessma TV director Nabil Karoui has declared. She will be joined by other four anchorwomen from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria “who will invite in each episode art and media celebrities to discuss questions of particular interest and concern to women of the Maghreb”.

Karoui has stressed the fact that Mamnou` al-rijal will “focus on the rosy and positive side of Maghreb women, because the street is full of negative aspects”

Not going so far in time, in August 2009, that`s exactly what Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Prime Minister and one of the owner of Nessma TV, had declared during his exclusive interview with the station in the occasion of its launch. A “moderate” TV station, appealing to the “Greater Maghreb” with light entertainment, lifestyle programmes, talk shows. Berlusconi invented Italian commercial TV in late 70s winning over an audiences once “under exclusive public TV monopoly” , so he knows very well what he is talking about. One of the host of the exclusive interview at the time asked him if “Nessma TV can change Maghreb just as you changed Italy”. Well, after slightly more than one year of broadcast I can`t say if Maghreb has been changed by Nessma, but certainly  Nessma has been stick to its original mission.

The style of its programmes, the language it is using (a “chic” mixture of French and North African Arabic), the faces who have become its testimonials -like Kaoutar herself who is also hosting the shows Ness Nessma and the Maghreb version of  Berlusconi`s Canale 5″Non solo moda“- are all working towards this idea of globalised, trendy and consuming-friendly “moderated” audience.

It is very hard to say that this is just television, at least when the partners involved in the business are people like Berlusconi, Franco-Tunisian media mogul Tarek Ben Ammar and (indirectly) Lybian leader Qaddafi – his controlled company Lafitrade got a share in Ben Ammar`s Quinta Communication since June 2009– .

The story is worthy to follow. Especially since it seems that next year Lybia will have a more tangible presence on Nessma TV screens -and notably on Mamnou` al-rijal which should be starting reaching out to Lybian women more directly- . According to Lybian journalist Reem Kadouri, Nessma TV seems to enjoy high viewership in the country so far.

What’s happening to my country

Today I got up in a foreign country and read the news about mine. I still can’t believe that “that” is my country. Everytime I read about what’s happening in Italy I have the impression it’s something happening on the moon, on a strange planet.

Today I read Stefano Rodotà’s column on Repubblica about the latest developments in Italy, a country where if there is a problem –like it happened to Berlusconi’s coalition, not being on time to present the candidates’ list for the upcoming regional elections– the Prime Minister says “let’s change the law“. And if somebody, who still believes in the Costitution as a super-partes thing, refuses to do it, he/she is immediately labelled as “communist, conspirator, etc”.

Rodota’ says we have passed the limit. He underlines “how deep is the abyss which we are falling into”.

It’s not an exaggeration or a complain. Italy was the country of beaty, history, style, nice people, dolce vita, bla bla …

It is now a place where somebody who doesn’t like something simply decides to change it. The problem is that this “somebody” is the Prime Minister and this “something” is the law.

Sitting in a beatiful Nordic country, I still can’t believe the country I’m reading about is “my” country, the country where I was raised, where I studied, where I was educated by parents and the society surronding me to respect others, to respect the law. That was my country. A country with dignity. I hope there is still some left. I should say, inshallah.

I’m thankful to Rodotà for this beatiful article which I re-publish here below (although I don’t have any rights to do it). I wish it was in english.

Una crisi di regime

di STEFANO RODOTA’

CHE COSA indica la decisione del Tar del Lazio che, ritenendo inapplicabile l’assai controverso decreto del Governo, ha confermato l’esclusione della lista del Pdl dalle elezioni regionali in questa regione? In primo luogo rivela l’approssimazione giuridica del Governo e dei suoi consulenti, incapaci di mettere a punto un testo in grado di superare il controllo dei giudici amministrativi. Ma proprio questa superficialità è il segno della protervia politica, che considera le regole qualcosa di manipolabile a proprio piacimento senza farsi troppi scrupoli di legalità. E, poi, vi è una sorta di effetto boomerang, che mette a nudo le contraddizioni di uno schieramento politico che, da una parte, celebra in ogni momento le virtù del federalismo e, dall’altra, appena la convenienza politica lo consiglia, non esita a buttarlo a mare, tornando alla pretesa del centro di disporre anche delle materie affidate alla competenza delle regioni.

Proprio su quest’ultima constatazione è sostanzialmente fondata la sentenza del Tar del Lazio. La materia elettorale, hanno sottolineato i giudici, è tra le competenze delle regioni e, partendo appunto da questo dato normativo, la Regione Lazio ha approvato nel 2008 una legge che ha disciplinato questa materia.Lo Stato non può ora invadere questo spazio, sostituendo con proprie norme quelle legittimamente approvate dal Consiglio regionale. Il decreto, in conclusione, non è applicabile nel Lazio. I giudici amministrativi, inoltre, hanno messo in evidenza come non sia possibile dimostrare alcune circostanze che, in base al decreto del 5 marzo, rappresentano una condizione necessaria per ritenere ammissibile la lista del Pdl. In quel decreto, infatti, si dice che il termine per la presentazione delle liste si considera rispettato quando “i delegati incaricati della presentazione delle liste, muniti della prescritta documentazione, abbiano fatto ingresso nei locali del Tribunale”. Il Tar mette in evidenza due fatti. Il primo riguarda l’assenza proprio del delegato della lista che ha chiesto la riammissione. E, seconda osservazione, non è possibile provare che lo stesso delegato, presentatosi in ritardo, avesse con sé il plico contenente la documentazione richiesta.

Se il primo rilievo sottolinea l’approssimazione di chi ha scritto il decreto, il secondo svela la volontà di usare il decreto per coprire il “pasticcio” combinato dai rappresentanti del Pdl. Che non è frutto, lo sappiamo, di insipienza. È stato causato da un conflitto interno a quel partito sulla composizione della lista, trascinatosi fino all’ultimo momento, anzi oltre l’ultimo momento fissato per la presentazione della lista. È una morale politica, allora, che deve essere ancora una volta messa in evidenza. Per risolvere le difficoltà di un partito non si è esitato di fronte ad uno stravolgimento delle regole del gioco. La prepotenza ha impedito anche di avere un minimo di pazienza, visto che la riammissione da parte dei giudici dei listini di Formigoni e Polverini ha eliminato il rischio maggiore, quello di impedire in regioni come la Lombardia e il Lazio che il partito di maggioranza avesse un suo candidato. Si dirà che, una volta di più, i giudici comunisti hanno intralciato l’azione di Berlusconi e dei suoi mal assortiti consorti? È possibile. Per il momento, però, dobbiamo riconoscere che proprio i deprecati giudici hanno arrestato, sia pure provvisoriamente (si attende la decisione del Consiglio di Stato), una deriva verso la sospensione di garanzie costituzionali.

Non possiamo dimenticare, infatti, che la democrazia è anche procedura: e  il decreto del governo manipola proprio le regole del momento chiave della democrazia rappresentativa. La democrazia è tale solo se è assistita da alcune precondizioni: e le sciagurate decisioni della Commissione parlamentare di vigilanza e del Consiglio d’amministrazione della Rai hanno obbligato al silenzio una parte importante dell’informazione, rendendo così precaria proprio la precondizione che, nella società della comunicazione, ha un ruolo decisivo. Non dobbiamo aver paura delle parole, e quindi dobbiamo dire che proprio la congiunzione di questi due fatti, se dovesse permanere, altererebbe a tal punto le dinamiche istituzionali, politiche e sociali da rendere giustificata una descrizione della realtà italiana di oggi come un tempo in cui garanzie costituzionali essenziali sono state sospese.

Comunque si concluda questa vicenda, il confine dell’accettabilità democratica è stato comunque varcato. Una crisi di regime era già in atto ed oggi la viviamo in pieno. Nella storia della Repubblica non era mai avvenuto che una costante della vita politica e istituzionale fosse rappresentata dall’ansiosa domanda che accompagna fin dalle sue origini gli atti di questo Governo e della sua maggioranza parlamentare: firmerà il Presidente della Repubblica? Questo vuol dire che è stata deliberatamente scelta la strada della forzatura continua e che si è deciso di agire ai margini della legalità costituzionale (un tempo, quando si diceva che una persona viveva ai margini della legalità, il giudizio era già definitivo). Questa scelta è divenuta la vera componente di una politica della prevaricazione, che Berlusconi ha fatto diventare guerriglia continua, voglia di terra bruciata, pretesa di sottomettere ogni altra istituzione. Da questa storia ben nota è nata l’ultima vicenda, dalla quale nessuno può essere sorpreso e che, lo ripeto, rivela piuttosto quanto profondo sia l’abisso nel quale stiamo precipitando,
A questo punto, la scelta di Napolitano, ispirata com’è alla tutela di “beni” costituzionali fondamentali, deve assumere anche il valore di un “fin qui, e non oltre”, dunque di un presidio dei confini costituzionali che arresti la crisi di regime. Ma non mi illudo che la maggioranza, dopo aver lodato in questi giorni l’essere super partes di Giorgio Napolitano, tenga domani lo stesso atteggiamento di fronte a decisioni sgradite in materie che già sono all’ordine del giorno.

Ora i cittadini hanno preso la parola, e bene ha fatto il Presidente della Repubblica a rispondere loro direttamente. Qualcosa si è mosso nella società e tutti sappiamo che la Costituzione vive proprio grazie al sostegno e alla capacità di identificazione dei cittadini. È una novità non da poco, soprattutto dopo anni di ossessivo martellamento contro la Costituzione. Oggi la politica dell’opposizione dev’essere tutta politica “costituzionale”. Dopo tante ricerche di identità inventate o costruite per escludere, sarebbe un buon segno se la comune identità costituzionale venisse assunta come la leva per cercar di uscire da una crisi che, altrimenti, davvero ci porterebbe, in modo sempre meno strisciante, a un cambiamento di regime.

© Riproduzione riservata (09 marzo 2010)

Al Waleed and Murdoch’s honeymoon in the Middle East

14th January -as many financial newspapers report- the Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal and the Australian media moghul Rupert Murdoch  met up in New York to discuss about the future of their investments, particularly in the media sector. The potential deal between the two businessmen seems to be related to Al Waleed’s TV giant, Rotana Media, who Newscorp is told to be willing to acquire 10% later this month.

Al Waleed and Murdoch are old friends and business partners, as the Saudi Prince is the only non-member of the Murdoch family to own a consistent stake of 7% in the family jewel, media giant NewsCorp. They have also been long time friends with Silvio Berlusconi, at the time (1995) when Al Waleed was advised by the French Tunisian businessman Tarek Ben Ammar to invest in Berlusconi’s Mediaset conglomerate. Now the honeymoon between Berlusconi and Murdoch is clearly over due to the fight and fierce competition over the Italian pay TV market, but Murdoch seems to be still in love with Al Waleed, the trusted friend and ally of long time ago.

Al Waleed is reported to have rescued Murdoch at the end of the 90s when Newscorp was facing some difficulties. At the time Al Waleed’s Kingdom Holding both a significant stake in the company. Now Murdoch is told to give the favour back since the Prince’s big investment in Citigroup has resulted to be a big problem due to the financial slowdown, even if he is reported to believe that “the worst is behind“.

Murdoch is also truly interested in the Arab Television market which has got lot of potential, should the two major problems it is undergoing be solved. Those problems are piracy and lack of advertising investments for a potential market of more than 300 millions people sharing the same language.

Rotana Media,fully owned by the Prince, owns the TV rights to more than 2,000 Arabic movies together with the world’s largest Arabic language music library, according to Zawya.com. This is a great potential for a Region that loves music and entertainment, but it is at the same time largely affected by piracy and copyright infringement. This huge library is not profitable yet. But Murdoch’s expertise with piracy fighting all over the world could result in a great help for Murdoch.

At the same time, an investor like him could bring much more “trust” in the Region, and multinationals advertisers could be less “worried” to put their money in a black hole, where no professional trusted independent measurement systems have been established so far.

Rotana already hosts News Corp.’s Fox channels in Saudi Arabia via its television network and it controls the majority stake of LBCSat, the Lebanese entertainment channel who is higly followed by Saudis and Gulf people, the richest part of the Arab market.

The Murdoch-Rotana connection happens during a very peculiar time of Arab Television markerts, when also the two biggest pay TV operators, Showtime Arabia and Orbit have decided to merge. Concentration of media capitals seem to have started even in a Region like the Middle East which has been mostly touched by the opposite phenomenon, i.e. proliferation of channels and media outputs.

But time has come as the Murdoch-Al Waleed deal clearly shows.

Harsher fight to piracy and copyright infrigement together with new business models of individual media consumption are to be expected even in the Arab world.