The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, May 5, 2023

The Rise of Elly Schlein: How a Young, Woke, and Fashionable Politician is Shaking up Politics in Italy, and Perhaps Worldwide


Many times, Italy was a political laboratory that influenced the rest of the world. Just think of Mussolini and, more recently, how a government led by an obscure bureaucrat named Giuseppe Conte started the trend of nationwide lockdowns, then adopted everywhere in the world. Italy may be a backwater country, but it is a murky memetic pool brewing memetic microbes. Above, you see Ms. Elly Schlein, recently elected as secretary of the Italian "Partito Democratico," (PD) as shown in a recent interview in the Italian edition of Vogue magazine. I think you'll hear a lot about this lady in the future. 

When Elly Schlein was elected secretary of the Democratic Party (PD) in Italy, two months ago, I thought it was just a desperate attempt to revive a party that had nothing more to say in politics. But I was wrong. Elly Schlein is not the result of the convulsions of a dying organization. She is a major innovation in public relations, designed to revolutionize the Italian, and perhaps the world's, political landscape. 

Up to not long ago, politicians tended to project the image of the strong man, the "father of the country" whose decisions were always wise. That's past and gone, perhaps forever. The levers of political power have moved to the obscure lobbies that control governments, while the job of politicians is now mainly to maintain a semblance of popular participation in the governing process. In short, they all image and no substance. 

Ms. Schlein is part of this evolution. She is the tip of an innovative PR campaign launched by the PD and their sponsors, and she is using the same strategy that Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian PM, used for decades: it doesn't matter how many people hate you: what matters is how many people vote for you. 

So, Berlusconi targeted the least cultured sections of the Italian population with a personal image of a rich man who could do whatever he wanted. If you are poor, it is a figure that you may dream of imitating. Plenty of people hated Berlusconi for his image, but he consistently won elections over a political career of a few decades. 

Elly Schlein is doing something similar. She is not trying to appear to her potential voters as "one of us," but, rather, "what every one of us would like to be," at least for the target she is aiming at; that of young, left-oriented people in the West. So, she projects her image as young, independent, bisexual, globalist, feminist, and, more than all, a successful woman who can manage herself and her sexual preferences the way she wants. Among other things, she had no qualms in disclosing that she employs a "harmochromist" a sort of assistant buyer at Eur 300/hour to take care of the color combinations of the dresses she wears. In short, the perfect image of  "radical chic," now better known under the name of "woke." And the fact that she does not look like a fashion model shows that her success is the result of her skills, not her looks. 

The PR strategy of Elly Schlein has been very successful, at least up to now. Huge numbers of "leftists" rushed to their keyboards to defame her on all social media for betraying the working class because of her interview with Vogue, her fashionable dresses, and her harmochromist assistant. Remarkably, none of them realized that they were doing exactly what Schlein's PR managers wanted them to do. They wanted her to gain the attention of the media; and avoid repeating the mistake they had made with the lackluster former secretary, Enrico Letta. These good leftists didn't realize that they were making the same mistake they made with Berlusconi: the more they attacked him, the more they made him popular. Again, it doesn't matter how many people hate you; what matters is how many people vote for you. 

Of course, politics is not just a question of physical image; you have to have opinions, programs, and platforms. In this field, Schlein seems to have understood the critical point of modern politics. You may be criticized for what you said but not for what you didn't say. So, the skill of a modern politician is to be able to speak a lot while saying nothing. Schlein appears to have mastered this skill, at least from what we can read in her recent interview with Vogue Magazine. (excerpts in English). If you ever heard terms such as "cliché fest," "banality bonanza," or "vapid verbiage," consider this article as a good example of these concepts. It is all part of the image: it is the way politics works nowadays. 

So, I think we are seeing a trend. Note how Schlein's image is remarkably similar to that of the former New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden. 

Since politicians are a product, the industry that produces them (the PR industry) tends to imitate and repropose successful products. In a previous post, I noted how the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky adopted a dress code very similar to that of the Italian right-wing leader Matteo Salvini. About Schlein and Arden, note how both women have relatively elongated faces, a feature that is often associated with a "masculine" appearance. These ladies tend to produce an image of independence, self-reliance, and assertiveness. At present, there is no exact equivalent in the US political landscape, so far, although Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has some elements of similarity with them. Perhaps the US politician who looks like Schlein the most is Barack Obama, at least in the sense of being another expert in talking a lot without saying much.   

My impression is that starting from Italy, this kind of heavily promoted female political figures may soon spread all over the Western World. Not that anything will change; we'll just have "front persons" rather than "front men" at the top. And we keep marching toward the future, whatever it will be.


As a further note, here is Schlein's adversary in Italy, Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right. 

She is a more traditional kind of politician: a classical "populist." She is aggressive and outspoken, but overall she projects a more "feminine" image than Schlein, and it would be hard to imagine her employing a personal armochromist. My impression is that one of the purposes of the creation of Elly Schlein's image was to prepare an anti-Meloni memetic weapon. In my opinion, if push comes to shove, Schlein will easily trash Meloni by making her look like a fruit vendor in a provincial market. But that we'll have to see.


  1. I guess that politicians are a true reflection of the time and place in which they emerge. Here, in the States, we have "joe Biden" and his coterie of the "woke". A real disaster if there ever was one.

  2. I wonder if this is what has happened to the ersatz left in Chile?

    1. La política chilena es demasiado compleja para que la entiendas. No funciona como en Occidente.

  3. I submit that the political class has been captured by financial interests outside of government from time to time, and of course always susceptible to being co-opted by personal greed. When the populace looses trust in the entire process chaotic change tends to occur. That change can be collapse by lack of support or more brutal conflicts wrapped around ideological hoo haw. History has shown us there's a line by which circumstances of the day favor dissolution, or chaos or rancor vs loyalty. I don't think we really know where we are on that spectrum today (Ai, simulations etc - good luck with these as predictive tools as they count on getting people to believe in the propaganda of the day) until a certain threshold of pain is experienced. When governance can generally be understood as not-useful and the cause of the pain (even if the surrogates in office are the publics first cognitive reaction to the malaise, LOL, the system is self correcting and the corrupt, evil and inept will be corrected, cyber what not included.

  4. what is an armochromist?

    1. Come on! It is another fabulous italian invention after pizza, espresso, and mafia. How can you live without someone advising you on how to harmonize the colors of what you wear?

    2. BTW, I had asked chatGPT how to translate "armocromista" and the result was "armochromist" -- but I think it is better to say "harmochromist." It is silly in any form.

  5. Stepford wives, all of them. Creepy.

  6. Let Elly Schlein and friends take it easy - fossil fuels never create - real - national or international Heroes...

    Fossil fuels actually kill - real Heroes - worldwide

    Miserable are politicians - they never allowed retirement...

    Trump is often called back to the scene, for instance - owing to the fact that the system has always been against real Heroes - until no public Heroes today are left alive...

    In Iraq, the media is even obsessively recycling memories of Saddam Hussain over and over again, never allows the man a rest in peace...

    This far, the Constitution, put for Iraq by American Paul Bremer et al in 2003 - has a wicked item left in it - likely deliberately by design - that criminalises - following Saddam Hussain - as if Hussain has been any real Hero...

    Fossil fuels kill the natural future for humans - when real Heroes are assassinated at birth by fossil fuels - traded under the doctrine of what's called 'supply and demand'...

    That's exactly why our system today has the ready-prepared root-cause explanation of all our problems - the figures of the past - from Rockefellers, J P Morgan, Skull and Bones, Gates, Fauci, the Oil Seven Sisters to Saddam Hussain - imprisoning us in their Hollywood legacy - decade in decade out...

    Real Heroes will only return back to earth when they will not be manufactured - fossil fuels-products - mind to mind, muscle to muscle and wisdom to challenge...

    "In any system of energy, Control is what consumes energy the most"


  7. Don't forget Sanna Marin and how her partying videos only made her more popular. It reminded me a bit of how people forgave Bill Clinton. 'Oh, look, they're also human, just like us'.

  8. There have already been two or three predecessors - even in higher positions - but the new Italian copy is the revolution.
    Italian hubris as we know it.
    I miss Berlusconi. :D Marcus

  9. What hell is this. Ruled by commonly looking woman.

  10. We have our copy of this model in Spain. Check Yolanda Díaz.

  11. The first thing that came to mind after the opening paragraphs and photo was 'oh god, not another Jacinda.' May God have mercy on Italy.