Two images stand out in a most peculiar speech opening the Democratic party campaign by their leader Bersani yesterday.
'The election campaign is careering off the rails' was the first oddity. 'Personalities and charismatic political leadership should play no part in the election and are a cancer rendering democracy impotent' was the second.
Stooped over the lectern, his curious pumping motion with his right arm going strong as he spoke very slowly to an audience of 'young' people (in Italy young reaches 40 and even beyond) so that they would understand the content and importance of his remarks, he seemed unaware that communication is multi-levelled. What he was communicating to the general electorate, as we ate our dinner and watched the news, was fear and elderly sclerosis.
The most perfunctory exploration of the content of such images as runaway trains, and going off the rails, or cancer and impotence (and his earlier images of dirt swept under the carpet) finds fear of loss of control, fear of choice and serendipity, rigidity of thought, lack of imagination, coupled with images of loss of individual potency and capacity expressed directly by references to personal virtues and charisma as a cancer in the democratic body politic.
We are to think only of issues not personalities and their attractiveness. And unless we stop watching Berlusconi and Monti with interest and amusement (both of which are offered by both, in their very different ways) and get back onto the rails of our state-determined future as laid-out by the Democrats then, comrades, we're going to have to be told what our priorities are (the priorities didn't seem to worry him - though as someone who allows reports to circulate that he wrote a dissertation in philosophy that creates a false impression of having a doctorate in philosophy - they should).
Jobs (not work, note, but il posto with all its entitlements and unaffordable costs); same-sex marriage; positive discrimination for women in the workplace; citizenship for those born in Italy to non-citizens; changes to the tax structure; transparency (no, we don't know either); fullest support for European integration....No wonder we're going off the rails.
Pierluigi Bersani's priority is getting himself elected. What happens then is entirely hidden from the voters.