In the good olde days of superstition and witch-burning, the Church presented the seven deadly sins to scare good christians into being even better christians. In the hopes that we can scare good capitalists into being even better capitalists, we thought the ministry should try to present the seven deadly sins of modern capitalism.
When it comes to the first deadly sin, who would be a more fitting candidate than Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi? Silvio is a hero by the standards of many Italian men: coming from a middle-class Italian family, he built up a media empire, becoming the third richest man of Italy worth roughly $9 billion in 2010. Through his media empire he controls up to 90 % of Italian national television channels, as well as a great number of newspapers.
Seeing the great opportunities in controlling much of Italian media, Silvio got involved in politics by founding Forza Italia combatting the “fiscal, judicial and bureaucratic oppression of Italians” (or, as evil tongues suggest: to save his corporate empire from bankruptcy). After a brief stint as prime minister in 1994, he gained the office in 2001 – 2006 and again from 2008 until today. You might point out that controlling most of Italy’s media, a good chunk of it’s industry and finance, and also the Italian state at the same time, might not be ideal. Strangely this has been a non-issue in mainstream Italian media, mostly delegated to niche players and international media.
Another perk of being prime minister in Italy is near immunity from criminal persecution, something Silvio is known to exploit to the fullest. Allegations and convictions of bribery, false accounting, false testimony, embezzlement, tax evation, corruption, drug trafficking and even alledged ties to the Mafia are among the things that Silvio has evaded. We expect he is held up as a role model to many entrepeneurial spirits in Italy, a country troubled by inefficiency, high debt and economic troubles.
In fact, all of this seems to be expected from a real, self made Italian man. Italian men are also known for lust and Berlusconi is no exception: Berlusconi takes pride in his extramarital affairs and has therefore found allegations of prostitution an affront. His actions are also disliked among many Italian Catholics. His love for 18-years-old Noemi Letizia caused his wife to divorce him (a great pain to him in the middle of an election).
Perhaps worse were allegations of “parties like orgies” with morroccan underaged belly dancer Ruby Rubacuori and 19 other young girls performing an African “ritual” dubbed bunga bunga in the nude with Silvio. The real scandal of course, is not the allegations of orgies, or even the underaged girls. After all, an Italian MP propsed the most elegant solution to this: passing a law to lower the legal age for paying for sex in Italy (while it is legal to have sex with a girl over 14 in Italy, she must be over 18 if money is involved). No, the thing that Italians seem to find problematic is in fact Berlusconi pressuring the release of Rubacuori from police custody, claiming she was the daughter of a former Egyptian dictator. We are thus led to assume that Italians find paying for orgies with minors a normal part of the prime minister’s working day.
So the first deadly sin of capitalism: Lust, personified by Silvio Berlusconi, with six more sins to go. Despite it all, or perhaps because of it, we’re reasonably sure he’ll survive even this…