In This Review In This Review
Silvio Berlusconi: Television, Power, and Patrimony
By Paul Ginsborg
Verso, 2004, 190 pp.
Ginsborg, a distinguished historian of contemporary Italy, has taken on with vigor and indignation the Italian prime minister and the danger he represents to democracy. Ginsborg examines in detail how Berlusconi created his television empire, making Italy the only democracy in which "commercial television developed under the almost complete control of a single individual." Berlusconi blended an appeal for "negative liberty"-free enterprise at the state's expense-and a media market characterized by "limited and conformist cultural frameworks" and "insatiable acquisitive tendencies to build a TV empire" that is "a system of absolute conformity" and offers an ideal of upwardly mobile families surrounded by commodities and devoid of any unselfish feeling. Ginsborg also explores the difference between Berlusconi's conceptions and fascism (whose evils Berlusconi downplays). Underlying this discussion is a clear and eloquent concern for Italy's direction: Ginsborg deplores the weak resistance of the Italian president and the shakiness of the left-wing coalition and warns that Italy's next national elections, in 2006, will have massive consequences.
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