Declan Da Barp
The “people” has been a topic that has come up time and again throughout the class but is central to the understanding of both the Italian Second Republic and a reunified Germany. This definition of the people had the inverse outcome of creating an “other” that the people are cast against. In the case of Germany in 1989, those people were the Turks and other asylum seekers and immigrants of non-European descent (Molner, 499). In the Italian case, it depended on the political party but central to Silvio Berlusconi’s Discesa in campo was the exclusion of communists and the political left (Bull 220). What the two have in common was the centrality of an in-group and out-group that allowed for as Bull describes “a chain of equivalence around key empty signifiers” allowing for the recreation of national myths (220). In so doing, aiming to redefine the nation around new shared ideas.
Berlusconi’s control of Italian media poses an interesting question that I believe needs to be explored much more deeply. While it is by no means true to say that he had complete control over the media Italian’s consumed, given the importance of a revisionist representation of Italian history to his political movement, Berlusconi’s media empire allowed him to broadcast his message into the homes of Italians. The “onslaught” of Berlusconi’s media empire on the Italian left must be understood within this greater idea of rewriting post-war Italian history. As seen in the German case with the war in Yugoslavia (Molner, 508), the images and narratives broadcast into their homes affected their outlook on current events; one that I believe has been overlooked for too long.
Anna Cento Bull, “The role of memory in populist discourse: the case of the Italian Second Republic” Patterns of Prejudice, 50:3 (2016): 213-231
Christopher Molnar, “Greetings from the Apocalypse”: Race, Migration, and Fear after German Reunification” Central European History, (2021), 1-25.