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Not a Normal Country
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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Map of Italy
Introduction: Not a Normal Country
Section One: Berlusconi and Friends
1. From Salesman to Statesman: The Postmodern Populism of Silvio Berlusconi
2. History Matters: The Battle for the Memory of Monte Sole
3. Bossi's Last Shout
Section Two: The Remaking of Politics
4. The Failure of the Italian Third Way and the Return of Ideology
5. Italy's New Opposition
6. The South Strikes Back
Section Three: Another Italy?
7. Civic Renaissance in Sicily
8. Slow Food in the Fast Lane
9. From Postmodern Populism to Postmodern Politics?
Notes
Index

About the Author

Geoff Andrews is a Lecturer in Politics at the Open University. He is the author of a number of books including Endgames and New Times: The Final Years of the British Communist Party, recently published by Lawrence and Wishart. He is also co-editor of the journal Soundings.

Reviews

"I know of no book at the moment in English dedicated with such focus and depth on Berlusconi's politics. ... His grasp of political culture is profound and reflective.A"Gino Bedani, Research Professor in Italian, University of Swansea"Andrews describes a new postmodern paradigm opening up in the Berlusconi era. ... While political parties remain powerful, he says, they face new challenges to their legitimacy, while other conventions of normal politics have been left behind.'Reference & Research Book NewsA"[Andrews provides] unusually penetrating insights into the nature of the 'Berlusconi phenomenon'. ... Beautifully written.A"Jim Newell, Reader in Politics, University of Salford"Congratulations to Pluto. This book is about Italy over the last five to ten years, written from the left. Andrews tells his story well."Tom Behan, Socialist ReviewA"It easily overshadows the few recent publications on Italian politics, which have neither the analytical range or depth of Andrews' proposal. I know of no book at the moment in English dedicated with such focus and depth on Berlusconi's politics. ... His grasp of political culture is profound and reflective.A"Gino Bedani, Research Professor in Italian, University of SwanseaA"One of its central concepts - postmodern populism - strikes me as a notion that offers to provide unusually penetrating insights into the nature of the 'Berlusconi phenomenon'. ... Chapter 2, in particular, is a beautifully written - indeed very moving - piece.A"Jim Newell, Reader in Politics, University of Salford"If you're going to write a book about contemporary politics you need a publisher committed to getting it out quickly. Congratulations to Pluto, then, for bringing this out in less than six months rather than the norm, which can inexplicably be a year or more. This book needs such speed - it is mainly about Italy over the last five to ten years, written from the left. Andrews tells his story pretty well - sometimes through a personal diary of events he witnessed, such as the Genoa protests of 2001 and the European Social Forum in 2002. His analysis of Berlusconi, the 'post-fascist' National Alliance and the racist Northern League will be broadly shared by many readers of Socialist Review, as will his rejection of the Italian 'third way' embodied by the Left Democrats party, the DS. The most informative chapter by far is one that concentrates on resistance in the much-maligned south, and particularly a successful mass movement in a small town earmarked to become Italy's nuclear waste dustbin. This was one of the clear victories of the last few years."Tom Behan, Socialist Review, September 2005 'Andrews began his research six months before Silvio Berlusconi became Italy's Prime Minister in May 2001, and has followed political developments since then. He describes a new postmodern paradigm opening up in the Berlusconi era bringing two distinct and conflicting responses to the rule of the right wing media mogul: populism and associationism. While political parties remain powerful, he says, they face new challenges to their legitimacy, while other conventions of normal politics have been left behind. He draws on interviews, diaries of events, and investigative journalism in the very different regions of Italy.'Reference & Research Book News, November 2005Geoff Andrews, Not a normal country, Italy after Berlusconi, Pluto Press, GBP15 99: "Never did a book have a more apt title. On the face of it, Italy is quite normal. Every time I visit, I am always impressed at how things seem to work well. The town centres are clean and the autostrade are engineering marvels, the trains are cheap and certainly more punctual than ours, and there is none of the casual yobbery on the streets at night. Instead, young and old lick at the delicious ice creams and chatter animatedly into the night. Scratch below the surface, however, and you realise that it is a strange country when measured against the norms of a conventional Western democracy. As Andrews documents, the principal purpose of the state in the first four decades after the war was to keep the Communists, who had very strong and consistent electoral support, out of power. If that meant the Christian Democrats reaching mutually beneficial accommodations with the Mafia, with a bit of CIA support thrown in, then so be it. The division between the Left and Right was a permanent reprise of the battle between communists and fascists that had been raging since the 1920s. It was the end of the Cold War that finally brought about a stop to this permanent state of attrition, which in turn resulted in the collapse of the three main conventional parties in the early 1990s. Into that vacuum came Silvio Berlusconi. When measured against the norms of a conventional democracy, Berlusconi is completely off the scale and a phenomenon that is unimaginable in any other major European country. He is the country's richest man, owner of a media empire that includes several of the main TV stations and the party he created, Forza Italia, is little more than a vehicle for his own ambitions. Moreover, to obtain power, he forged an extraordinary coalition with two parties with conflicting aims: the Northern League which wants to break up Italy and form a new country Padania, a kind of Italian Switzerland encompassing only the rich north, and the National Alliance, the direct descendants of Mussolini, for whom such a break-up is anathema. Italy is not normal in another key respect, too. While all countries are blends of different regional traditions and history, few have quite such a divide as that in Italy between the North and South where, as the book describes, there were still cave dwellers in the 1950s living in conditions of Third World squalor. Andrews traces the roots of the difference, showing that the democracy has only had a tenuous hold in the south where familial and clan loyalties far outweigh any notion of trust in the state. Berlusconi's method is to pretend that he is above politics. It is an old ploy of right-wingers but Il cavaliere has taken it to the limit. Anyone who obstructs or opposes him is simply a left wing Aconite. Berlusconi, who is something like Rupert Murdoch, Richard Branson and Tony Blair rolled into one, has wielded all the weapons at his disposal, from domination of Parliament to ownership of his TV stations and even his football connections through his club, Milan, to remain in power. But he is having to fight battles on too many fronts and his prospects in next year's elections are doubtful. But what type of politics will replace him? Andrews sees hope in a new types of movements and associations. In the south, brave anti-Mafia politicians have managed to reduce the debilitating effect of the gang's corrupt rule, while in the North, the newly elected mayor in Bologna, Sergio Cofferati, won on the basis of attracting practical help and support from way beyond the normal political activists of the Left and Centre. The book is written probably just a tad too early. Although Berlusconi is in deep trouble and a realistic challenger in the shape of Romano Prodi has emerged through the unprecedented use (in Italy) of a primary electoral system, Il cavaliere is nothing less than a great survivor, and it helps when you have the power, as Berlusconi did recently, to remove from the airways a satirist who lampooned him once too often. However, while we await future developments in what may be the first post-modern state, Andrews book is an excellent guide to the various possibilities of post-Berlusconi Italy." Oldie Magazine, March 2006 A"It easily overshadows the few recent publications on Italian politics, which have neither the analytical range or depth of Andrews' proposal. I know of no book at the moment in English dedicated with such focus and depth on Berlusconi's politics. ... His grasp of political culture is profound and reflective.A"Gino Bedani, Research Professor in Italian, University of SwanseaA"One of its central concepts - postmodern populism - strikes me as a notion that offers to provide unusually penetrating insights into the nature of the 'Berlusconi phenomenon'. ... Chapter 2, in particular, is a beautifully written - indeed very moving - piece.A"Jim Newell, Reader in Politics, University of Salford

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