Political crisis: not only in Italy

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The possibilities of the new Italian government to affect the future of the country are limited.

Leggi in italiano

The two leaders who have been candidates to run the country, Luigi Di Maio (5 Star Movement) and Matteo Salvini (Lega) have so far failed to reach an agreement.

Last Monday they asked the President of the Republic Mattarella more time to agree on the name of the prime minister and on the government program. On Tuesday, rumors leaked about a draft “government contract” that would contain the program and regulate the relations between the M5S and Lega parties, including the establishment of a “conciliation committee”. Among other things, the contract would include “the possibility of leaving the euro, the stop of sanctions against Russia, the request to cancel 250 billion of debt from the ECB”.

Meanwhile, since over four months, Paolo Gentiloni (Democratic Party) chairs a resigning Italian government with limited powers.

The daily media chatter, absorbed by the umbilical contemplation of the Italian political scene, has not noted how our political crisis is a phenomenon that extends well beyond national borders. It is a crisis that involves the entire West, Europe and the United States, the The demise of the nation state, as the Anglo-Indian writer Rana Dasgupta has brilliantly defined it.

National governments lose relevance and the political debate moves on new themes such as security, immigration and inequalities, issues not chosen by politicians, but effects of a political crisis hitting the entire West.

Of course, the actors of the Italian political screenplay, our Salvini, Di Maio, Renzi, etc., and their interpretation are unquestionably Italian, but the plot is written elsewhere, in the centers of deregulated and delocalized finance.

The cause of the crisis is the progressive transfer of powers of the nation state elsewhere, in the hands of capital and international corporations. The electoral promises, from whatever part they come, can not in any way be maintained, because the states no longer have the authority and the means to carry them out. This phenomenon occurs throughout Europe and even in the United States, where first Obama and now Trump, can do little to change a course that no longer depends on them.

The second half of the twentieth century had been characterized by the political and social conflict between conservative conformism and the more or less revolutionary idealism of the left. This conflict has ended and is replaced by the debate between those who ask for a choices of awareness and responsibility on the great themes of modernity, the environment, wars and inequalities, and those who are seeking a shelter from duties of a responsible choice, as Zygmunt Bauman wrote more than fifteen years ago. The latter are politically getting the better.

In the West the political crisis progresses on two levels: the social one, with the push towards a shelter from responsibilities, and the institutional one, with the loss of power and relevance of the national states and their governing bodies, placing a serious limit to the meaning of the current political discussion.

It would be interesting if we could discuss about potential exits from this crisis. But the media, and the politicians themselves, apart from some brilliant exceptions, do not seem to have noticed the flashing alarm signal: the fuel gauge of the state power has entered the warning red field.

Many, wondering where we were heading to, mentioned the end of the history (Francis Fukuyama), the end of communism (after the collapse of the Berlin Wall), the end of ideologies (Daniel Bell). Now Rana Dasgupta announces the demise of the nation state as we have known it so far. Potential salvation could however come from the European Union and the United Nations, institutions that today have however reached the minimum historical consensus.

by Massimo Predieri

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