Italy and its productive or parasitic new left thinking


Perhaps there is a broader and deeper theoretical design behind the daily havoc caused by the ruling coalition in Italy, made up of the M5S (Five Star Movement) and the PD (Democratic Party): the effort to rebuild a new left.

In fact, with the end of the Cold War, the idea of an overall change to the production system that would abolish capitalism disappeared. From here, the drive of Western social-democratic groups that had asked for and obtained a part of redistribution of income also gradually slowed down.

In the past, on the one hand, the social-democratic groups had freed “the proletarian masses” from the lure of the communist sirens. On the other, they increased the standard of living of the middle class, which had become the backbone of the West.

The end of the communist alternative also weakened the pressure on Western business classes to redistribute wealth. The social divide has deepened, and the search for continuous uninterrupted economic growth is the only task entrusted to politicians. Once growth stops, the temporary social pact between voters and a political leader is broken, and other politicians are voted in.

These are the themes dear to a neo-Marxist like Thomas Piketty but also to the Church and to the great religions that almost institutionally care about the poor masses.

Perhaps this is the opinion of PD guru Goffredo Bettini, who is also fascinated by and a scholar of the experience of the neo-populist party of Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand. Clinging to the populism of the M5S, strengthening it in the PD, and transforming it into popular thought can be an interesting strategic idea. It would seek to embolden and expand an endangered middle class.

But this must still materialize into something.

For Thailand, it became Thaksinomics, which was also featured small credits granted to villages that in less than a decade raised a middle class with interests at odds with the old bourgeoisie and aristocracy in Bangkok.

The idea is similar to that of the DC (Christian Democrats, who ruled Italy from the late 1940s to the early 1990s) policy in the 1950s: land distribution, white cooperatives, and support for private enterprises. That meant, the fight against large private estates and the encouragement of active small businesses. Along with this, there is also the promotion of large infrastructure projects that created jobs and new opportunities.

For now, however, neither PD nor M5S seem to be working in this direction. Small businesses are a risky undertaking for entrepreneurs despite low-interest loans. Some small businesses often fail.

So the choice of the M5s and the PD, seems to be simply to distribute handouts such as citizenship income, rather than to create work to build a road or open a craft workshop. The distribution of social alms gives immediate and certain feedback: I give you the subsidy, you give me the vote.

This however is feudal and does not give dignity, which is obtained by the contribution of work. It legitimizes the idea that it pays more to take advantage of the state than to make a contribution to the community. It is a social atomic bomb with very dangerous long-term consequences.

The seeds for a social cancer are being sown as in some oil countries, where a rarefied elite buys consensus by distributing monies to a majority that has nothing to do and thus withers away. Then the workers are immigrants, third-class citizens. Are we moving toward the creation of the same stratification in Italy, where the less noble jobs are given to immigrants, the upper class Italians are entrepreneurs, and the former middle class is transformed into loafing retainers?

These big questions have political consequences, some very simple and direct. The government asks for and claims unconditional credits from the EU (European Union), evidently in order to be able to satisfy citizenship income applicants in various shapes and sizes without weighing their merits. It offers to save the airline Alitalia without a revitalization plan, which is also missing because there are no prospects for a recovery in air travel in the next few years. However, it creates de facto impossible procedures for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and carefully weighs the requests for credit from large companies such as the FCA (cars) or Atlantia (highways).

This creates an Italian schizophrenia compared to oil countries, such as Venezuela or Libya. The oil countries eventually distributed their own money; Italy instead wants to distribute money that doesn’t belong to it but rather to the EU. Here it is not a question of cutting excuses and wrongs with a blunt instrument. If these funds go to improve and restore the productive structure of the country, it is one thing, but if they must be spent to buy votes in a vicious circle of donations and parasitic services, it is another.

Pundits from PD or M5S will have to realize that the EU cannot approve distribution policies that have increasingly sickened the Italian production structure and therefore gangrene the union itself. Brussels must ask the Italian government for conditions as the Italian government is asking them of FCA, Atlantia, and the small and medium enterprises.

This is for the good of Italy, Europe, and the world. If it does not, it will aggravate the Italian position in the medium and long term. If Italy stipulates conditions from companies such as FCA but does not require them for itself, it creates an irremediable fracture inside and outside.

Ideally, Italy should offer a recovery plan to obtain these credits, just as Rome can and must ask FCA or Atlantia or small and medium-sized enterprises for industrial plans.

In fact, instead of making Italy more responsible, joining the EU has made it gradually irresponsible. The government apparently wants unconditional alms which, however, it distributes at very high conditions, almost loan-sharking it to productive enterprises and using it to exchange favors for loafing citizens. Italy is being turned into a parasitic operation destined to die.

Without a plan to revive the country, beyond the buoyancy of the government today or in the coming months, Italy is lost. But perhaps the government seems too weak to be able to think in these terms. Perhaps this relaunch plan should be the focus of attention of various entities vested in the survival of Italy as such: the allies, the EU, the Church, and what little state institution remains.

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