What Happens When Techno-Utopians Actually Run a Country | WIRED
At every step along the way—from the creation of Grillo’s blog and the organization of the movement’s first mass protests to the construction of its direct-democracy platform, all the way to its recent turn toward nativist politics—Five Star’s course had been meticulously directed by a camera-shy cyber-utopian named Gianroberto Casaleggio, the movement’s cofounder.
Casaleggio, who died of brain cancer in 2016, was, in some ways, a familiar type. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he and a slew of other Internet Age prophets—many of them writing in this magazine—foretold a digital revolution that would flatten the priesthoods of politics, government, and journalism, and replace them with decentralized webs of direct participation. But Casaleggio, unlike his fellow pundits, actually went on to mount a revolutionary force that took over a country. Not only that, he directed this supposedly leaderless movement while drawing barely any attention to himself. So here’s the mystery at the heart of Five Star: Who the hell was Gianroberto Casaleggio—and how did he do it?