Oct 8 2013

The Demise of Italy and the Rise of Chaos

by Roberto Orsi

Future historians will probably regard Italy as the perfect showcase of a country which has managed to sink from the position of a prosperous, leading industrial nation just two decades ago to a condition of unchallenged economic desertification, total demographic mismanagement, rampant “thirdworldisation”, plummeting cultural production and a complete political-constitutional chaos.

In a previous post on this very blog, the dire situation of Italy’s economy has been briefly sketched. A few months later, the scenario of a serious disruption of the Italian state’s finances is building up, with tax revenues contracting 7% in July, a deficit/GDP ratio projected again well over the 3% mandatory threshold and public debt well over 130% of _DSC2009_new9GDP. It will get worse. The government knows perfectly well that the situation is unsustainable, but for the moment it is only capable to resorting to an extremely short-sighted VAT rate increase (to a staggering 22%), which will depress consumption even more, and to vague proclaims about the necessity of shifting the tax burden way from wages and companies to financial rents, although the chances of this to be implemented are essentially negligible.

Throughout the summer, Italian political leaders and the mainstream press have hammered the population with messages of an imminent recovery (la ripresa). Indeed, it is not impossible for an economy which has lost about 8% of its GDP to have one or more quarters in positive territory. However, it is a profound distortion of elementary semantics to call a (perhaps) +0.3% annual rebound as “recovery”, considering the economic disaster unfolding in the last five years. More correct would be to talk about a transition from a severe recession to some sort of stagnation.
But unfortunately, like characters of a Greek tragedy, Italian leaders were deprived by the gods even of this illusionary and pitiful dream of a stagnation. Economic data of the summer months indicate that the economic downturn is far from being over.

A recent study indicates that 15% of Italy’s manufacturing industry, which before the crisis was the largest in Europe after Germany’s, has been destroyed, and about 32,000 companies have disappeared. This data alone shows the immense amount of essentially irreparable damage which the country is undergoing. In the author’s view, this situation has its roots in the immensely degraded political culture of the country’s elite, which, in the last few decades, has negotiated and signed countless international agreements and treaties without ever considering the real economic interest of the country and without any meaningful planning of the nation’s future. Italy could not have entered the last wave of globalisation under worse conditions. The country’s leadership never recognised that indiscriminate opening to Asia’s light industrial products would destroy Italy’s once leading industries in the same sectors. They signed the euro treaties promising to the European partners reforms which have never been implemented, but fully committing themselves to austerity policies. They signed the Dublin Regulation on EU borders knowing perfectly well that Italy is not even remotely able (as shown by the continuous influx of illegal migrants in Lampedusa and the inevitable deadly incidents) to patrol and protect its borders. Consequently, Italy has found itself locked up in a web of legal structures which are making the complete demise of the nation practically certain.

Italy has currently the highest taxation levels on companies in the EU and one of the highest in the world. This factor, together with a fatal mix of awful financial management, inadequate infrastructure, ubiquitous corruption and an inefficient bureaucracy, which includes the slowest and most unreliable justice system in Europe, is pushing all remaining entrepreneurs out of the country. This time not only towards cheap labour destinations, such as East or South Asia, but a large flux of Italian companies is pouring in neighbouring Switzerland and Austria, where, despite the relatively high labour costs, companies will find a real state cooperating with them, instead of sabotaging them. A recent event organised by the Swiss city of Chiasso (next to the Italian border) to illustrate the investment opportunities in the Tessin Canton was attended by a crowd of 250 Italian entrepreneurs.

The demise of Italy as an industrial nation is also reflected by the unprecedented level of brain drain, with tens of thousands young researchers, scientists, technicians emigrating to Germany, France, Britain, Scandinavia, as well as to North America and East Asia.

In sum, everybody in the country producing anything of value, together with most of the educated people is leaving, planning to leave, or would like to leave. Indeed, Italy has become a place for some sort of demographic pillaging from the perspective of other, more organised countries, which have long seen the opportunity to easily attract highly qualified workers, often trained at the expenses of the Italian state, simply by offering them resonable economic prospects which they will never see if they remain in Italy.

All this seems not to preoccupy the Italian political leadership. On the one hand, the country is the prisoner of a cultural duopoly: it is either the Catholic culture, or the socialist culture. Both are preoccupied with universal ambitions (somehow eschatological and increasingly anti-modernist) which make the national perspective  unviable to them. Indeed, the Italian state was created by liberal-conservative and monarchist modernists, sometimes animated by virulent forms of anticlericalism, essentially the opposite of the current political elite. It is not surprising that what the former accomplished gets dismantled by the latter. The problem is not so much, however, the dismantling of the nation state, but that the nation state is not going to be replaced by any meaningful political project, leaving its space, essentially, to chaos.

On the other hand, Italy has entered a period of constitutional anomaly. Because party politicians have brought the country to a near-collapse in 2011, an event which would have had severe consequences globally, the country has been essentially taken over by a small number of technocrats coming from the President of the Republic’s office, the bureaucrats of several key ministries and the Bank of Italy. Their task is to guarantee stability to Italy vis-à-vis the EU and the financial markets at any cost. This has been so far achieved by sidelining both the political parties and the parliament to unprecedented levels, and with a ubiquitous and constitutionally questionable interventionism from the President of the Republic, who has extended his powers well beyond the boundaries of the still officially parliamentary republican order. The President’s interventionism is particularly evident in the creation of the Monti government and in the current Letta government, which are both direct expression of the Quirinale. The point here is that, where politicians have failed, bureaucrats and technocrats hope to succeed. The illusion, which many Italians are cultivating by believing that the President, the Bank of Italy and the bureaucracy know better how to save the country, is now widespread. They will be bitterly disappointed. The current leadership, both technocratic and political, has no ability, and perhaps even no intention, to save the country from ruin. On the contrary, it would be easy to argue that Monti’s policies have exacerbated the already severe recession. Letta is following exactly the same path. But everything has to be sacrificed in the name of stability. The technocrats share the same cultural backgrounds of the political parties, and in symbiosis with them have managed to rise to their current positions: it is therefore hopeless to think that they will obtain better results, since they are also unable to have any sort of long term vision for the country. They are actually the guarantors of Italy’s demise.

In conclusion, the rapidity of the decline is truly breathtaking. This is certainly not exclusive to Italy, as arguably most if not all Western countries are undergoing rampant thirdworldisation. Italy has simply less economic and social “capital” to burn in comparison to Germany and other Nordic countries. But it must be clear that, continuing on this way, there will be nothing left of Italy as a modern industrial nation in less than a generation. But just in another decade or so entire regions of the country, such as Sardinia or Liguria, will be so much  demographically compromised that they may never recover. The founders of the Italian state one hundred and fifty-two years ago had fought and even died hoping to bring Italy back to a central position as a cultural and economic powerhouse within the Western world, as the one it occupied in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. That project has now completely failed, with the abandonment the very cultural idea of having any meaningful political ambition going beyond the sheer day-to-day management on the one hand, and the messianic (but effectively pointless) universalism of saving the world on the other even at the expenses of one’s own political community. Unless some sort of miracle occurs, it may take centuries to reconstruct Italy. At the moment, it seems to be a completely lost cause.


Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Euro Crisis in the Press blog, nor of the London School of Economics.

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249 Responses to The Demise of Italy and the Rise of Chaos

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  15. Frank Brown says:

    Guardo con interesse al fenomeno di questi “intellettuali” emigrati che, avendo scelto di abbandonare il proprio paese, non smettono comunque di parlarne in modo sistematicamente denigratorio. Fanno come quei divorziati che continuano ossessivamente a parlare male dell’ex coniuge pur non avendo più nulla a che fare con esso.
    Questo articolo a firma Stefano Orsi non produce altro che la solita sequela di luoghi comuni, basati più sugli stereotipi mediatici che sulla realtà fattuale della Nazione. L’epilogo catastrofista è poi tipico di chi deve auto-convincersi di avere fatto la scelta giusta ad abbandonare la nave.
    Spiace per Orsi e per il codazzo di commentatori al seguito: la vitalità dell’Italia non è mai stata cosi alta, i cambiamenti in atto sono epocali da tutti i punti di vista, sta crescendo una generazione varia e dinamica che nei prossimo decenni sarà in grado di produrre un progresso mai visto. Studi economici e statistiche varie dimostrano – giorno per giorno – di non essere in grado ( o di non volere…) rilevare questo fenomeno, evidentemente scomodo da ammettere. Capisco il disappunto delle signore americane (che hanno cura di specificare di essere “di colore”, come se questo ci importasse qualcosa) e dei molti fuoriusciti che – in quanto tali – non potranno essere i protagonisti di questa avventura.
    Si dovranno accontentare del loro stipendio e delle due stanze pagate a caro prezzo nei sobborghi londinesi (pare che per loro siano cose importanti…). Deve essere una strana esistenza quella di chi – avendo perso il corretto uso della propria lingua materna – non è riuscito ad acquisire il completo dominio della lingua del paese che lo ospita. Un destino nè carne e nè pesce.

    • Giuseppe Ruggieri says:

      Ma su quale pianeta vivi?

      • Frank Brown says:

        Sul nostro, signor Ruggieri, in particolare vivo in Italia e con i piedi ben piantati per terra. Sono socio di una impresa informatica che si occupa di soluzioni nell’ambito della modellistica gis per la tutela ambientale e la agricoltura di precisione. Per il mio lavoro ho rapporti quotidiani sia con imprese a livello internazionale sia con la pubblica amministrazione e l’università. Le posso assicurare che l’Italia non è affatto un paese sull’orlo del collasso, come vorrebbe il signor Orsi.
        Al contrario è un paese che sta reagendo in modo eccezionale ad una congiuntura estremamente difficile. Nella mia vita di tutti i giorni vedo persone che si impegnano duramente ed ottengono risultati, cambiamenti strutturali che si fanno largo dove dapprima si riteneva vi fosse l’assoluto immobilismo. Studi e statistiche quantitative possono – alla meglio – cogliere alcuni aspetti della realtà attuale (spesso non fanno nemmeno quello, essendo basate su indicatori grezzi, condotte con elaborazioni matematiche obsolete o – nel peggiore dei casi – commissionate con intenti strumentali). Esse non riescono assolutamente a catturare gli aspetti piu qualitativi di una società, per i quali occorre – “pedibus calcantibus” – l’osservazione empirica della vita quotidiana. Spiace vedere in alcuni un certo compiacimento nell’avvalorare una immagine del proprio paese (e, quindi, della propria gente ed indirettamente di sè stessi) che non corrisponde alla realtà. Sembra che costoro non comprendano come tale immagine cosi negativa piaccia molto a chi ha sempre visto nell’Italia un potenziale insidioso concorrente. Si conforti, signor Ruggeri, l’Italia non andrà affatto al macero, per quanto ciò possa dipiacere ai paesi suoi concorrenti ed ai loro corìfei…

        • Guido Cenciotti says:

          Non sapevo che i disfattisti in Italia fossero cosi’ tanti che dovessero emigrare all’ estero per trovar da fare. Non son sicuro poi che LSE concorderebbe con il termine “terzomondizzazione”.
          L’ Italia e’ viva anche se malandata e si riprendera’.

    • Arrivederci Italia says:

      Leggere commenti dal genere è vergognoso. Lei non accetta la realtà. Chi “se n’è andato” ha fatto bene. Ha saputo capire la situazione meglio dagli altri. Si vergogni, perché quello che scrive fa pena. Negare la realtà e sinonimo di debolezza.

    • Frank Brown says:

      Here we are, one year later, my friends! Do you see any demise of Italy? I don’t.
      Io vedo solo il governo di quello che una volta veniva chiamato il “Regno Unito” balbettare stupidaggini e condurre il paese verso un futuro incerto.
      Purtroppo abbiamo anche visto come “le due stanze pagate a caro prezzo” dai giovani migranti italiani abbiano rivelato la loro vera e tragica natura: trappole mortali.
      Chissà se anche i genitori di quei due poveri ragazzi arsi vivi ora pensano che “chi se ne è andato ha fatto bene”!.
      Ma forse sono io che non ho il senso della realtà, come dice qualche berciatore professionale (urlano “vergogna” a chiunque, come fosse in tic nervoso…).
      E chissà se anche Stefano Orsi seguirà la lunga colonna di chi si sta incamminando da Londra verso la tanto vituperata “Europa”. Arrivederci Gran Bretagna… ma solo dopo aver pagato il conto!

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  17. Andrew Pritchard says:

    Well, Marguerite, I’ve read your piece twice and conclude that you have never lived in Italy. Having lived there myself for a total of 12 years over the past 35 years, and in four other EU countries, I can safely say you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  18. Marguerite M. says:

    I am an American and I am living legally in Italy where I have an American business selling to and from American, from Italy. I’ve read this article with great interest but great sadness, because most of what’s been said here is true. To me, Italy almost resembles African countries in its scary proximity to the Third World and its deadly arrangement of priorities. Like Africans, Italians seem not to value promptness, technology, or a strict code of honesty. These are not racial observations. Witness that I am a black American, of African-American descent. However, truth is truth. I was shocked and saddened to realize over time that although white, Italians seem to operate on the exact same “colored people’s time” and priorities that get my fellow blacks in A LOT of trouble in America.

    The good news is, here’s a few unsolicited black American ideas for how to fix it.

    1. Stop the church holidays. There are too many of them and they disrupt the flow and schedule of business. Business should observe no holidays. If you disagree, then next year don’t eat or use electricity and other technology on holidays. We all recognize Italy is Catholic. Catholicism is a wonderful religion. That’s great.

    Now keep it constrained to Sundays and knock it off.

    2. Manufacture and sell calendars. Dirty little secret: Italy has no calendars. If you disagree, you’re welcome to visit any store or business in Rome and find me one. I’m an American and cannot exist without a wall calendar. Worse, Italy forbids them to be purchased elsewhere then shipped here. This is a delightful and efficient way to enforce the deterioration of your youth and your nation.

    3. The practice of shuttering businesses between 11:30 and 2:00 at midday is antiquated and financially destructive. You cannot run a company this way in the 21st century. Please, stop trying to be an amusement park attraction for tourists by posing as “Italy, the charming little peasant country”. You are an EU nation and have a GNP (sort of). It’s time Italy stopped gazing in the mirror at age 50 admiring herself and pretending she’s just as beautiful as an 18 year old and for the same reasons. Less makeup, dear girl, and more work. You’re not that saucy pub tart in a peasant blouse any more. It is time to join the world’s work habits.

    Because if you want to continue taking a siesta as though you are Mexico, then that is what Italy will become: Mexico. Visit it sometime. Still want to be?

    4. End post office corruption. If a nation can’t depend on its post office, it will fall apart. Full stop, end of. Right now Nigerians have a less thieving, more dependable post office service. Foreign business people visiting Italy have no assurance whatsoever what they need and order and have shipped here will arrive. Not even supplies for a meeting. That is UNACCEPTABLE. In my opinion your post office system is the first thing you need to fix. It’s sickening.

    5. Teach all Italian shop owners customer service. The kind I see pointed at the average white German, Canadian or American buyer is completely unacceptable, bordering on what you see in the black American ghetto: smart alec cashiers, snarky proprietors, lazy, shiftless tellers and salespeople who roll their eyes and loudly sigh when customer walk in. Again, a warning: with your siestas interrupting everyone in the middle of the day you are dangerously approaching becoming Mexico. Continue disrespectful or absent customer service and you will not become Mexico but Ghana.

    To sum it up, Italy has poor habits and they remind me a lot of the worst of black people in America. Again, as a black American, I know my own people best just as you Italians know yours. I know we can do better. You now need to do better. I stuck out from fellow blacks at first when I took on German and Japanese personal and business habits, and took a lot of heat for it. It has paid off. While the family members and friends who criticized and made fun of me are now sad, poor and unemployed in various cities in America, I run a business in Europe and make my own hours.

    Apply this success story to Italy and Italy will recover and thrive.

    But like I said, the hyperreligiosity, superstition, and most of all ignorance, theft and stubbornness have got to end in order for you to do this. This is a black person warning you people. Heed the warning.

    Wake up now or wind up like us: hated and distrusted around the world.

    A dopo,

    • Lando Orchestraglobola says:

      This has been written by somebody who work for the same US corporations which destroyed italian market and society.

      The typical cynical way to create fake opinions to justify the increasing power of few huge corporations which, via corruption and intelligence dodgy operations are making a big mess in EU.

      The only solution would be, for Italy, to leave NATO and proclamate itself neutral, rediscussing deals with other countries and sanctioning US for crimes against umanity (from false flag operations to dodgy CIA attempts to kill Italian democracy ), taxing their corporations and giving priority to Italian enterprises, recovering national sovereignity and going back to a government bank unlike BCE and Federal reserve (people’s money without debt)

      Your article is unfair and offends our brightness, an usual attempt to deny facts by a corporative influencer.

      Who wrote this misleading article

      • Michele Isernia says:

        Wow man, you are amazingly insightful !

        “I have an American business selling to and from American, from Italy”
        How did you figure out that this is a multinational corporation instead of a small import/export business?

        Your “brightness” does’t need any help to be offended…


    • Lando Orchestraglobola says:

      P.S. to my comment

      Anyway… your article is deeply racist.

      Nevermind if you are black, you are disrespectfully masking your deep racism behind your skin colour and cynically assuming that “the American Way of Life” is the GOOD WAY…

      Well… it’s easy to see why you write this and who’s paying your bills…

      Easy to keep a dead capitalist system bombing anyone who have got resources.

      US economy works exactly this way “let’s buy their governors to force them to bad deals or kill’em all”

      I’m sorry to tell you that people like you are not really welcome in Italy.

      We’re about to bring a petition to stop TTIP

  19. JoeO says:

    Hello Roberto,
    Would you still consider your pessimistic scenario about Italy probable a year later? I understand that the health of Italian economy has not improved so much but the majority of the people believe that the euro will survive: https://netivist.org/debate/will-the-euro-collapse (this is by no means a scientific poll, but perceptions are important).
    Let’s hope the Chinese crisis does not hit us hard.

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  24. ubababs says:

    I think you have a point in this write-up,but I am of the opinion that Italy is not dead despite joining the EU,but I want the Italian government to be very wise in her relationship with the EU.

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  26. Gaby says:

    The demise of Italy began when Italy joined the European Union, thereby relinquishing their sovereign currency and independence, and handing over to Brussels all political powers such as the ability to create and enact legislation within their own borders. The technocrats such as Monti, Letta and presently Renzi are unelected EU puppets, strategically placed within the Italian political structure in order to further their agenda of a forced political union as well as to continue wreaking havoc with crippling economic policies which will reduce Italy and the other southern European nations to third world status. Italy’s ONLY hope of recovery is to free itself from the shackles and bondage of the political and economic prison of the European Union. If Italians do not demand an immediate exit from the EU, the financial terrorism which is being committed upon the nation by entities such as the evil Troika and globalist bankers will continue until Italy has been reduced to rubble and dust.

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  35. Michele Isernia says:

    All the technical analysis completely miss, in my opinion, the foundation of the whole situation.
    I grew up in Italy until I was about 28 year old, in a family of people that came from extremely poor families after the 2nd WW (so my move to another country was not supported or forced in any way by my family or my condition).
    Italy, or better, the Italian people, grow up believing they live in the best place in the world and that every other country in the world lives in a lesser place than Italy.
    The way we study history, literature, art, music, etc… it is all about Italy with extremely little space for any other culture or country.
    To keep it short and to the point: any population believing it is in the best place, with the best people and so on, grows up without aspirations to improve in anything.
    Only after the destruction of the 2nd WW most Italians felt the need to improve, do better and even learn from others, but it lasted only 25 years.
    While I truly hope that M5S will become the “bomb” required to blow up the current system to enable Italy to rebuild, I am extremely skeptical that any other Italian that has grown up with the same “Italy is the best” mentality can do much good for the country.
    It is important to notice that nobody ever brings up this subject in all the newspapers, talk shows, in Italy. Simply because such though is inconceivable for most Italians.
    This is the big obstacle and it is common to right, left and center.
    And in fact I know of many Italians abroad that spend all of their lives thinking about going back to Italy and not fully enjoying and exploring the place and the people they live with and the rest of the world.
    Ask yourself: do you think Italy has the best food, clothes, design, art, culture, history, people, etc… ? If yes, then you are simply part of the problem.

    • Carlo says:

      Isn’t your statement true for the education systems of most countries? they are all soaked with nationalism. Take a look at U.S.A. to mention one

    • carlotta says:

      Maybe I am part of the problem (because I think we are in most beautiful land…and I lived abroad for long time, both in Europe and Asia). Instead I think we do not protect enough our wealth (landscape, cultural heritage). But I like your point, because at least you are suggesting a possible revolution to take place within ourselves. I do not support M5S, I support Letta, because I think that in this moment we need stability and a long term plan, of course, we should control and exert all the possible pressure for the direction to be for the common good (and not for some particular interest, as it normally happens here…). Anyway, I will think about what you said.

      • Michele says:

        What we need is to cut privileges and unnecessary costs. NOBODY among the various parasites at the government is willing to do so. Keep in mind that we are talking about people that never worked a single day of their life.

        What we have instead is an increase in VAT that impacts on everybody’s finances, an increase in capital gain tax that impacts all the fools that are still buying Italian bonds, feeding the national debt.

        The “popolino” always pays the price while the politicians couldn’t care less.

      • Janette says:

        I agree with you carlotta, a long term vision and great management and leadership skills are the main pre-requisites that i seem to miss when i observe the ruling of the country.. But more than anything, as a non italian living in Italy and having an italian child, i think what perpetuates the problem is that most people are so cynical about the situation.Why is everyone only focused on how wrong things are rather than suggesting what things need to be set up on a large and small scale to start getting results? I think nothing can change unless we stop playing the blame game.

        • chris says:

          I think for Italy it will ALWAYS have tourism, so everyone wants to visit Italy to see the sites. but for the Italian people thats not enough is it. sure for government it’s fantastic without tourism imagine what Italy would become.
          but to prosper Italy needs to look at the future and it needs to start to generate technology products, electronics, more cars, stop selling their companies to foreigners
          and stop raping their own citizens.
          they need to clean up the streets, and start to police the country more strictly and educate the people , the children of the new Italy, the italy which it wants to become.
          for now it’s still quite a mess, dirty, old, forlorn, and falling apart by graffiti, drugs, pimps, sex on the streets, and illegal immigration etc.
          in many countries it would be very hard almost impossible to opening do the things in the country which goes on in Italy and brings the image down.
          I travel the world due to my business and I have done so for 20 years and I return to the say countries and cities often over that time and I have seen those countries develop rapidly, change for the better, eradicate corruption, crime and drug problems
          but Italy in the past 25 years, hasn’t gotten better! it’s gotten worse!
          when I came to Italy in the mid 80’s it was beautiful, returned in 2000 I could see the problems, then this year, I noticed again, the country is frozen in time.

          the money needs to flow the municipal officers throughout the country and a cleaning effort needs to be stage, schools need to be better funded, this is the first things for a 3rd world country to start with.
          Italy a 3rd world country? noooooooo please… but …. maybe it’s time to accept the fact.

    • corrado says:

      Michele, I couldn’t agree more. Especially ” any population believing it is in the best place, with the best people and so on, grows up without aspirations to improve in anything.” I have been repeating the same concepts during the last 25 years. But I recently stopped because nobody could care less.
      The most important things in Italy are: Football – The beloved telefonino and Trash TV programmes. It is a country I don not recognize any more.
      I feel extremely sorry for my own country.

    • Laura De Cristofaro says:

      I have read with sincere interest all the replies. I studied in Italy and also abroad, in England and US, and I live in Milano: I feel with all my senses and intelligence how deep is the difference among our culture and the english or american way of life. I do not prefer italian one, at all! It’s true: italians “choise” their country just because they know only their own little place (conoscono solo il loro ombelico we should say!), just because they simply ignore other languages, countries and cultures. So, there is no choice …Our cultural sleep is the principal cause of our disaster! If you live in Italy, You should be aware that everything is hard and will be harder and harder. Wake up, try to change something not simply with a vote…dont’ sleep anymore.

      • Carlo says:

        You are telling me that, according to your experience, U.S. inhabitants are more curious/aware of what lays out there then italians?
        According to my experience abroad (U.S., south and central america), people are just as ignorant as we are pretty much all over the world. They barely know what’s out there, they all consider their own country to be the best place to live, and at the same time they tend to be over-aware of their homeland problems/controversies, overlooking the fact that other countries have problems too. Attributing a character to a nation is anachronistic and wrong. Moreover it is something that typically fascism did. Similiraties among cultures are more pronounced then differences.

        • Michele Isernia says:

          Dal mio punto di vista, dopo 20 anni di vita in giro per il mondo, credo che stereotipare un popolo sia sbagliato, ma che ci siano delle caratteristiche dei popoli, abitudini, etc., che hanno un impatto su come quel popolo, in generale, pensi. Per esempio, la relazione con la famiglia dei paesi latini, la dipendenza, a volte morbosa o perniciosa dalle famiglie, ha un impatto enorme sulla mobilita’ di un popolo, sulla capacita’ di adattarsi a posti diversi. Non tutti i paesi del mondo sono rigidi nel provare cose nuove; da cose piccole come il cibo, al vestire, al vivere in genere. L’Italia, in particolare, ha una combinazione di questi fattori “letale” e che, dal mio punto di vista, hanno molto più responsabilità’ sulla situazione economica italiana di tanti altri fattori. La cosa interessante e’ che una volta che un italiano viene rimosso dalla “palude tarpea” ed inserito in un altro contesto, in molti casi (purtroppo per alcuni non c’e’ speranza) la persona si adatta a molte delle cose che avrebbe criticato o trovato orribili quando respirava i miasmi italici. Questo mi dice che l’ambiente, la mentalità’ collettiva hanno un impatto molto significativo sul modo di pensare.

          • Carlo says:

            va bene non discuto che l’ambiente in cui viviamo determini molte caratteristiche caratteriali dei singoli individui, come ad esempio alcuni aspetti delle relazioni famigliari. Ma attribuire fatti come la crisi che stiamo vivendo ai caratteri che i singoli abitanti di una nazione hanno in comune è sbagliato. Rimanendo sull’esempio che lei stesso presenta, non vedo gli statunitensi più adattati alla globalità. La maggior parte degli americani non possiede un passaporto e, al pari nostro, faticano ad apprendere le lingue straniere e ad ambientarsi al di fuori degli stati uniti. L’elevata mobilità degli americani è un fenomeno che avviene all’interno dei confini degli stati uniti, e secondo me ha molto a che vedere con un mercato del lavoro flessibile (che ha però come contraltare una minore tutela sociale e la produzione di sacche di emarginazione che noi ce le sogniamo), un’economia che storicamente cresce ben più della nostra e che permette una maggiore propensione al rischio. D’altra parte l’attaccamento alla famiglia dei popoli “latini” non sembrò costituire un ostacolo al boom economico negli anni ’50-’70. Ad esempio i giovani argentini (parlo per esperienza personale) sono ben più attaccati di noi alla loro famiglia (la cultura italiana si sente ancora molto laggiù), eppure l’argentina ha mostrato una vigorosa crescita economica negli ultimi anni, e costituisce una delle mete verso cui i nostri laureati emigrano.
            Se vogliamo incolpare qualcuno della crisi, a mio avviso, dovremmo andare a vedere quanto il saccheggio delle casse pubbliche avvenuto a partire dal dopoguerra ha inciso sul nostro debito pubblico.

  36. Michele says:

    Gentile Lucio,
    La ringrazio per il ripassino di italiano, sa noi poveri emigranti ignoranti siamo vittima di analfabetismo di ritorno…
    La ringrazio ancora la grinta con la quale combatte dal suo posto da “dipendente privato” per un’italia migliore. Che poi non capisco bene che impatto abbia sull’italia il rassegnarsi a pagare piu’ tasse ogni anno e a vivere con lo stipendio congelato da 15 anni , ma sorvoliamo.

    Sono tornato in italia e per fare un biglietto ci ho messo 40 minuti, complici 2 distributori fuori servizio e una coda “selvaggia” di ben 10 persone, un impiegato non particolarmente veloce e uno sportello vuoto su due.

    Non mi interessa se la colpa e’ della lega, del Pd, del PDL, dell’inter o della Juventus, a me interessa poter comprare un biglietto senza sentirmi in un paese del terzo mondo.

    Non mi interessa neanche se in svizzera le ferrovie funzionano meglio o peggio, ne’ mi interessa fare paragoni con qualsiasi altro paese. Ero in italia, lo scenario era tristemente da italia degli stereotipi. Se fossi stato in germania e avessi avuto la stessa esperienza, me ne sarei ugualmente lamentato.

    Per la cronaca, i trasporti in UK sono orrendi e frammentati, si viaggia male, spesso stipati, ma almeno gli impiegati allo sportello riescono a fare da 1 a 3 biglietti al minuto.

    Mi raccomando, lo prenda come spunto per prendermi in giro ulteriormente.

    P.S. Lavoro nel privato anche io. Lo stipendio le asicuro non e’ minimamente paragonabile a uno stipendio italiano. Per fortuna.

  37. Adam says:

    I lived in Italy for 11 years, finally leaving at the end of 2010, forced out by the dire financial reality of the country. I owned and operated a large bar, was an English consultant, and worked as a rafting guide in the Trentino, one of the wealthiest reigons of Italy due to its autonomous status.

    The tax system was crippling, there are no other words for it. The system assumes that the average citizen is a thief, thus forcing you to become a thief in order to survive, a self-fulfilling prophecy. With everyone operating in the black from sheer necessity, everyone is vulnerable to a knock on the door from the financial police. What sort of country feels the need to have a seperate police force dedicated to the financial prosecution of its populace?

    The entire country is delusional. I was astounded at my Italian friends who sang the praises of Grillo. Do they really expect to solve Italy’s problems with a more strident form of socialism? I concur with the commenters saying that Italy is not a reality, merely an idea. And the idea has soured. Unfortunately I see only two possible options; the rise of a dictator from either side of the political extreme, or a fragmentation and break-up along the lines of Yugoslavia. Either option will be messy.

    But Italians are now faced with this reality due to their inability to take the long-term view point. In all levels of society they invariably select a short term gain that leads to a long term disaster. This inability to plan for the future means that this decision will be forced upon them in one of the above or a smiliar scenario.

    At present the country is hanging on due to the wealth stored in property. The generations of the sixties and seventies are sitting on their real estate desperately hoping that things will turn around. They are asset rich and cash poor. But once they are forced to start selling their property to induce cash flow, then we will see a rapid decline in property prices. This will be the point where the crisis will come to a head.

    I myself returned to Australia with my Dutch wife. The change in our financial circumstances with this move has been nothing less than astounding. I love Italy, I adore the Italian culture and way of life, and the vast majority of my friends still live there. But I know in my heart that I will never go back, and my soul bleeds for those left behind. They have no future, and is there a more terrible sentence for the young?

    • carlotta says:

      Thanks for writing your comment from so far away, and for displaying such a deep passion for my country. I guess that most of what you said is just the outburst of something you had in your mind, and being this the case, maybe you exaggerated a little bit. I do not want to comment your prediction. Just one point: I guess you did not mean to say that Italy is just an idea. Italy is a country, having a culture, a language, traditions and everything which is needed to consider it more than real, despite the diversity among North, Center and South. A good metaphor is our cuisine. Of course there are many differences among the dishes of each regions, but there is something which uniquely distinguishes them as Italian. I am sure you know all these, just wanted to remind you.

      • Michele says:

        Carlotta, I believe when Adam says that Italy is an “idea”, he refers to the way a foreigner pictures Italy.

        The same “idea” that stems from the old movies, this expectation of a romantic country, where you can enjoy the “dolce vita” and so on.

        Basically this “idea” is an embellished still frame of an Italy that – maybe – existed in the ’50s and ’60s.

        Italy is a fantastic place for a foreigner to visit as a tourist. Living there? Not so much:

        – Absurd bureaucracy
        – No domain of the law,
        – A collapsed legal system
        – The inability of being paid for your job

        And so on, we are both Italians, you know that this list could go on forever…

      • Adam says:

        It’s revealing that in my entire post the only thing you found issue with is the fact that I call Italy an idea. But to clarify, the idea of Italy in 1861 was a romantic dream not based on any actual reality that somehow succeeded in spite of itself. But unification was a disaster for Italy. Not 25 years later vast numbers of Italians were leaving for America. The First World War was a welcome distraction for the political class, but then you had to put up with Facisim. But somehow Italy emerged from WWII with 20 glorious years of industrial productivity that have been subsequently squandered in a socialist nightmare gone wrong.

        To repeat myself, the idea of Italy as a nation is simply that. It is fine in principle but doesn’t work in reality. And it was an idea that was foisted on Italians when a good number did not want it. There is no way you can make the nation return to a functioning normality. There are too many vested interests to overcome. You may make small gains but they will quickly be swallowed up in time.

        If I were to look at the situation dispassionately, I would suggest that the best option would be to return to a grouping of small nation states. With each setting their own tax and judicial system, the best will attract the brightest. This is as it was in the hundreds of years before unification. The richest country in Europe today is a small nation state; Liechtenstein. Imagine if the Italian peninnsula had a bunch of those.

        In my observations Italians do not identify with Italy, (unless you are winning the World Cup). They identify with their family, with their street, with their town, and with their region, but not with Italy as a whole. And a vast centralised bureaucracy has made Italians both lazy and demanding. They want the State to look after them. Every families dream is for their children to secure a state-sponsored posto indeterminato. Then you don’t have to worry, and someone else can pay for it. Well, the money is running out. A series of small nation states whose success would depend on their own efforts and ingenuity would give people a chance to rise on their own merits. The exact same reason that so many Italians emmigrated to America so many years ago. It is a sad indicement after 150 years of federation that the same thing is still happening today.

        • Carlo says:

          – I can tell your experience in Italy was quite intense, as you got the passion for critiquing this place, often exagerating things. Italy is 2nd (or 3rd??) biggest manifacturer country in europe, whose products keep on doing pretty well on the export. If you look at the public balance, we are among the ones who a higher primary surplus (our public system spends way less then it gets from taxes). The richness of italian families is as high as in germany (many say that the public debt amount should be related to the population actual richness, more then gdp..). Now I don’t wanna say we are doing well, the economic situation requires a quick action from the politics, but at the same time it’s misleading to consider 160 years of history a complete failure. It simply won’t help solve the problems we have now.
          – The idea of italy from 1860: man, history went by, things have changed, I don’t know how correct it is to attribute all the causes of our problems to 160 years old issues.
          – Socialism: I understand that you are a liberism fan, but if you look at large democracies, the wealthiest ones are scandinavian countries, who are the most socialist among european countries. Again, I think it is misleading and ideological to relate all the problems to the economic system.
          – Italians not belonging to Italy: I’ve been around the world quite a bit, and what you say for italians (they feel they belong to their neighbour more then to their country) it is true in most other places i’ve been. People feel like they belong to their community, I don’t see anything strange in it.

        • Frank says:

          Very interesting comments. I thought for a while about this, and the original article. I think there is an implication in all this, and especially in the EU context, that 20th century nationalism is becoming obsolete. Does it matter if Czechoslovakia is now Czech and Slovak Republics? Does it matter if Scotland leaves the UK? Does it matter if the Italian peninsula breaks up into different elements of the EU system? And, as one or two others above have also observed, apart from a minority of die-hards and football fans, does anyone these days really have a strong national identity or even a clear sense of what the their nation as an idea represents anymore?

    • Carlo says:

      Dictatorship, people getting threatened by the police? I think we’re getting disconnected from reality. I agree that taxes are too high, hindering businesses and forcing many to close, but it’s important not to fail to understand that many are making it quite well, many kept growing even during the crisis and things could get much much worse. Also, as we are one of europe major economies, and if we decline europe declines along. The other european governemnts are just as blind, just as irresponsible as ours, as they are denying this matter of fact, trying to prevent european itegration from happening.

      I think keeping on exagerating things like on this blog is of no use for anybody. I see in many italians tha are commenting the expression of old style nationalistic pride, the disappontment of your country not being “the greatest” anymore, as if italy has ever been famous for honest politicians and efficient administration. Italy is no worse or better that it’s always been, compared to the rest of europe. We are following the same declining trend as the whole continent, due to lack of political integration. I believe the only way out is to finally make Europe a federation, like U.S. are, keeping out those countries (like england) whose population has never really felt european, and that prefere to keep their national sovreignity.

      • Marco says:

        I think the previous comments miss one crucial point of the Italian situation: during the past 20 years Italy has been stuck politically by the presence of the biggest anomaly in the western world. A media mogoul entered politics in Italy without severing his links to his huge economic interests. Italy has lost 20 years dealing with this problem.
        There is a hope now: the anomaly is close to being evicted and a new pragmatic leader is arising from the center left. These two changes make me more optimistic about the future.
        This is not to deny the cultural and economic problems present in Italy but I do not see a genetic shortcoming in the Italian nation that can make it unviable!
        If there is one lesson to learn from the past is that it is never wise to underestimate Italy and Italians!

    • Vincenzo Fiorentini says:

      sadly, I think you are spot on with your diagnosis. especially the asset-rich cash-strapped part. creepy.

      (incidentally, aside from a few years in germany and belgium on visiting positions, I always worked in Italy. so much for those that view any foreign-employed italian that is critical of Italy as a cleverclogs disconnected from reality.)

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  40. Igorino says:

    Unfortunately what the author says in his article is true.. The country is collapsing and has been doing so for the last 10 years. There is discontent on the street, there is discontent everywhere. This used to be such a great place to live not so long ago. We were rich. We were happy. We used to live in what was and still is the most beautiful country in the world and we had it all.. Italians were respected. We were envied. Our living standards in the ’80s and ’90s were higher than almost anywhere else in Europe…

    20 years have passed and the brink is close. Very close. People my age still have a future as we have good and well-paid jobs but there is no future for youngsters. The young generation is doomed. I don’t want to go abroad but I seriously advise anyone who’s in their early twenties to do so a.s.a.p.

    Having said that, there’ s an old adage, an old saying in Italian that goes like this: ‘mal comune, mezzo gaudio’.. We’re the only country that destroyed ourselves. Spain never had anything.. France is France and Germans are a bunch of work-aholics who lead a very sad and depressing life. I’d rather die poor in Italy than rich in Germany. At the end of the day, the Germans are not even that rich.. one thing is for sure: i don’t envy them.

    But I’m not going to get lectured by a ‘filo-anglofono’ like the author of this article. Again, the UK is not the ideal example of a country that works: excluding London, it’s a massive concentration of ghost towns, depressed (and poor) and tasteless people who while away their days drinking beer and eating junk food.

    If this country collapses, i’m going to go to France as France is a good compromise and reminds me of what Italy used to be.

    I’m NEVER EVER going to go to Germany or the UK. I’d much rather die of starvation on a Sicilian beach, surrounded by beauty and sunshine.

    Nel bene e nel male Viva l’Italia

  41. Lucio says:

    Caro mister Orsi, mi permetta una secca e serena replica in italiano: l’Italia, intanto, non è i suoi politici che non sono peggio di quelli che lei non vede ma tollera, in Uk. Possiamo concordare in tutto e per tutto, dottor Orsi. Ma questo – scusi l’ardire – è solo un “articolo”, un accozzaglia di luoghi comuni e piccole verità che fanno molto piacere ai nostri amici d’oltre Manica sempre molto attenti ai fatti esterni all’Isola ma poco propensi ad accettare critiche sui propri errori (furti legalizzati, a volte semplici rapine) concessi alla City (Caso Libor su tutti o i futures del petrolio Brent se preferisce, sempre che ne conosca la storia).
    Gli inglesi in questo sono anche peggiori di noi italiani: odiano da sempre l’Ue, l’euro, insomma sono degli “invidiosi” dello stile di vita di noi del Sud Europa e il Financial Times ne manifesta la punta più virulenta. Solo che questi comportamenti fuori dalle regole, alcuni inglesi li mettono in pratica da anni con molto stile e nel silenzio generale.
    Ma non credo che l’Italia sia finita anzi. E’ solo in crisi, grazie anche al Libor, alle banche inglesi e tedesche, a moltissimi errori di noi tutti. Ma questa sua disamina superficiale copia e incolla di dati trovati su Google dimostra che i critici in economia molto spesso compiono errori macroscopici e si comportano peggio di chi viene criticato. Insomma caro Mister Orsi, se ne resti tranquillo in Uk, non abbiamo alcun bisogno di persone come lei che mettono sul tavolo tutti i problemi ma non enunciano una, che sia una, soluzione.
    Di certo però lei si garantisce un posto di lavoro in Uk sparando a zero sui suoi compatrioti. In questo è certamente bravo. Ma non c’è bisogno di essere dei professori, basta essere dei normalissimi cittadini italiani. E in questa parte, me lo conceda lei è un attore che recita benissimo.
    Distinti Saluti da un italiano

    • Carlo says:

      replica serena, lucida, che per fortuna nel criticare con solidi argomenti la tesi dell’autore, non scade nei soliti luoghi comuni (quelli del tipo “gli inglesi ci invidiano perché abbiamo il sole, i tedeschi mangiano solo crauti e patate”) e propone una valida idea alternativa, piuttosto che denigrare il valore dell’autore come “cittadino italiano”.

      • Lucio says:

        Grazie Carlo. Il solito “tafazzismo” all’italiana, assente ad esempio negli anglosassoni, in questi spazi extraterritoriali esplode.
        Leggo di persone giustamente ferite che non vivono in Italia e che se ne vanno per stare meglio. Meglio? Call center in Irlanda – ad esempio – è forse meglio per un aspetto: il costo delle abitazioni. Lì gli affitti sono più bassi. Ma, scusate l’ardire, chi pontifica da Londra spiegando a noi “poveri” italiani (coglioni?) che sono rimasti in Patria che fuori tutto è meglio, l’Italia è un coacervo di malaffare e inefficienza, beh, mi spieghi anche che pensa degli gli affitti di Londra, di come è stato assunto a Londra (tutti geni?) di come si viva a Londra. Non tutti ovviamente hanno trovato le scorciatoie che sottolineo ma ho il fondato sospetto che chi commenti dall’estero, molto spesso, ha avuto la fortuna di poter contare su sostegni familiari molto forti. Tutto lecito, ma non ci fate la predica (in inglese poi…) su quanto faccia schifo il vostro (ex) Paese. Per me potete restare tranquillamente in Gran Bretagna, dove ripeto, si ruba in maniera professionale a gran parte dell’Europa che lavora. Concludo: io in Italia lavoro, pago le tasse (siamo quasi al 50% e sono un dipendente privato) ma non me ne pento assolutamente. Però quando le colpe sono sempre “degli altri” allora lascio perdere e mi chiedo se il fallimento non dipenda anche dai singoli che emigrano perchè non riescono a sfondare in Italia. Critiche populiste e facilone non aiutano. Insomma lode a chi in Italia ha il coraggio di sporcarsi le mani ogni giorno per migliorare il Paese. Agli altri, che commentano con vezzo anglosassone le bassezze del Paese o’ sole, auguro di rimanere il più possibile fuori dal nostro complesso ma affascinante e intenso Paese che non comprendete. Faremo da soli. Non abbiamo bisogno di voi.
        ps: a chi lamenta 40 minuti di fila per fare un biglietto del treno ricordo che esiste internet anche in Italia (davvero?) e i ticket si fanno online ancheper l’ata velcità, Ah, forse nonn lo sapete voi che vivete beatamente in Gbn ma in Italia c’è una rete Av tra le migliori al mondo dal 2009. Ma prego, proseguyite con le critiche, vi aiuterà a frvi belli agli occhi dei vostri nuovi master inglesi,.

        • Michele says:

          Grazie Lucio, l’Italia ha bisogno di gente ce rimanga a combattere dalla proprio scrivania di dipendente a tempo intedeterminato.

          Relativamente al biglietto del treno, che ci posso fare? Sono un emigrante ignorante: non sapevo bene quando sarei arrivato e non mi sono potuto organizzare con puntualita; svizzera.

          Dovendomi affidare alle Ferrovie Nord (quelle con i treni dove piove nelle carrozze), contavo di potermela sbrigare in 5 minuti acquistando il biglietto da uno dei due distributori automatici (quelli che accettano solo carte di credito), ma pensi un po’ che sfortuna,erano TUTTI E DUE fuori servizio.

          Due giorni dopo hanno anche scioperato, si vede che erano impegnati a combattere anche loro.

          Anche se non ho mai capito perche’ il massimo del disagio lo debba subire l’utenza, quando in altri paesi (Francia) qualche treno lo garantiscono e nei giorni di sciopero si viaggia gratis.

          Ma sto divagando. Viva l’italia, viva il posto fisso, viva la meritocrazia che aiuta i figli di papa’ a sfondare e la gente normale ad andare via a fare fortina altrove.

          • Lucio says:

            Tanto per fare un ripassino anche in italiano (magari l’inglese è ottimo ma con la lingua madre a volte occorre rileggere): Ho scritto “io in Italia lavoro, pago le tasse (siamo quasi al 50% e sono un dipendente privato) ma non me ne pento “. Quindi non capisco che intende dire. E comunque anche se fossi un dipendente a tempo indeterminato non vedo quale orrore ci si legga dentro, e a maggior ragione se si lavora nel privato e non nel pubblico. Lei dove lavora? Ci illumini con la migliore posizione sociale per non essere tacciati di nullafacenza come fa lei in modo come sempre (italianissimo in questo) approssimativo. Per le Ferrovie Nord si rivolga a Lega e centrodestra che per decenni hanno scavato la fossa al settore pubblico ferroviario. In Svizzera funziona tutto? Bene allora apra anche un post su come le banche svizzere fanno utili, ci illumini anche su questo splendido Paese che fa il mazzo all’Italia importando denaro di dubbia provenienza. Come sempre un caso isolato fa scuola in Italia. Se la biglietteria non funzionasse in Svizzera sarebbe solo un piccolo incidente. Ma basta, siete solo dei piagnoni. Allora tornate in Italia e combattete per migliorare le cose, consiglio che do anche all’autore del post mister Orsi.

    • Giovanni says:

      Lucio scrive perchè lo hai spaventato. In Italia la maggior parte si rifiuta di assumersi le proprie responsabilità. Putroppo quello che Orsi scrive è vero, dalla prima all’ultima parola. Sarebbe utile per scuoterci… ma come vede, sig. Orsi, negare per alcuni italiani è meglio che cambiare.
      Un italiano che lavora

      Lucio writes because you have scared him. In Italy most of italians are afraid of the truth and having to assume responsibility for what they did. Unfortunately what Mr Orsi writes is true, from the first word to the last. Your article could shake us … but as you can see, Mr Orsi, for some italians it is better to deny than to change.
      By an italian gentleman & worker

    • Michele says:

      Gentile Lucio,

      Come quarantenne emigrato all’estero, non posso fare altro che chiedermi per quale motivo il mercato del lavoro in Italia sia degenerato nella totale indifferenza della classe politica.

      Mi vengono in mente aspetti come, ad esempio, il proliferare di aziende interinali, o l’obbligo di aprire partita IVA per lavorare.

      Siamo arrivati a un punto nel quale gli stipendi sono paragonabili a quelli di paesi centro/est europei (500 euro/mese per lavorare in un call center con contratti rinnovati trimestralmente, o 1500 ero/mese se si e’ fortunati e si ha un “buon” lavoro), con un costo della vita che e’ praticamente doppio.

      A me piacerebbe tornare a vivere in Italia, come probabilmente piacerebbe anche al Dottor Orsi, ma abbiamo questo difettaccio di voler mangiare tre pasti al giorno, venire pagati puntuali e, in caso contrario, rivolgerci a un tribunale e arrivare al piu’ alto grado di giudizio in 2 anni anziche’ 10.

      Vivere in un paese “contaminato” dal commonwealth non e’ il massimo della vita, ma almeno chi e’ emigrato ha anche la possivbilita’ di mettere qualche soldo da parte da usare per andare in vacanza. Non in italia, ci ho provato lo scorso settembre dopo sette anni che mancavo e non sono rimasto traumatizzato (e.g. 40 minuti in fila per fare un biglietto del treno con “ben” 10 clienti da servire).

  42. Matteo Porta says:

    I hope that the many skillfull italians that are abroad will come back and do some good to the country. What is scary in my opinion is the ignorance that is spreading at all levels. We need a violent movement.

  43. Carlo says:

    Another italian whining about the decline of Italy. Another eurosceptic whose only solution is to blame the EU for every evil of this world. – Of course Italy shouldn’t have opened its borders to asian commodities. It should have pursued protectionistic policies, protecting its precious boarders against immigrants and international trade. -People who support this view tend to forget how much we all depend from imports of commodities (energy, minerals etc..), and that closing your boarders to Asia in the 21st century, means getting kicked out of wto and therefore paying much much more for those commodities we depend upon. The solution to this mess is to improve european integration: paying taxes to a EU government, having EU offices, EU debt, EU police force..all ruled by a governement democratically elected by EU citizens. European states matter only if united. If Italy bankrupts (like Greece did), the others will follow right after.

  44. carlotta says:

    It would be great if the historian providing this account could also be capable of outlining some solution. It doesn’t take a London School of Economics expert to understand the process we are going through, but maybe it would be necessary some expert’s hint in order to see a way out, or at least a possibility to invert this process. I would like this scholars to make the effort to highlight new possibilities. How can it be possible that nothing is moving in a different direction, that there are no sign of a different type? I apologize for my English, which is not very good.

    • Jacob Jonker says:

      The experts are first and foremost expert in looking after their own and their own kind’s economic interests.That includes playing politics and pulling the wool over people’s eyes.Maybe the solution to Europe’s problems are easy.Italy looks a bit more complicated.The basics are the same,though.I am sure that in this day and age the non-experts will have to start looking to themselves.That means self-education.Observers know how things have changed since the sixties,what has been happening,what has been said and written,who has benefitted,who has been disadvantaged,what has eventuated…..
      That’s why there is the discussion there is.People need to open their eyes to what has been happening in the world,in Europe,in their country,and compare that with what has been said and written,and is being said and written.Reconciling is essential,that is,sorting the self-serving nonsense from facts and decent options on offer.If people cannot start thinking for themselves there is no hope for them,unless they are hoping to go under as slaves-They will not be called slaves,of course.They will be called something else,and they will believe it.

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  51. grax says:

    l’Italia paga alla fine le sue colpe, cio che accade oggi è solo cio che questo popolo (?) merita, è legge di natura.
    L’Italia è paese che ha lasciato massacrare tanta gente di valore (Falcone, Borsellino, Dalla Chiesa, La Torre …) senza mai aver reagito, senza mai essersi occupato della casa comune, senza mai aver richiesto alla sua classe dirigente INTEGRITà ed ETICA.
    L’italiano tipo è un poveraccio che cerca da sempre un duce, un uomo forte, un furbastro che faccia il suo interesse; è un cane che si cerca il padrone.
    Dai ad un italiano tipo una macchina, soldi in tasca, villonne e te lo sei comprato; etica e moralità sono parole senza valore.
    è stata fatta l’italia geografica ma dopo 150 anni (anzi 152) i “fratelli d’italia” restano sogetti di una canzonetta disprezzata, non certo simboli di un sentire comune.
    Un “presidente” di 88anni rieletto con la classe dirigente più vecchia del mondo, culturalmente inchiodata al potere fino all’ultimo giorno di vita, mal si concilia con i tempi rapidissimi dello sviluppo economico e sociale: la terra più fertile resta sempre la cenere.

    Che ben venga la crisi e la povertà; solo la sofferenza profonda puo dare la lezione che si merita. La sola cosa che brucia semmai è che questo paese pagherà anche colpe di altri. Ma tant’é.

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  53. Sti Cazzi says:

    Ma che vada all inferno quel bel paese di merda. The sooner the better.

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  55. eightman says:

    I find it amazing that probably the most important reason for so many problems in Italy is the cost of housing, the home prices and the rents, and nobody mentions or notices this!

    This is the real crux of the problems in Italy: home prices tripled each decade from 1966 to 2006: a typical 80 square meter home in Rome (where the “jobs” are) went from costing 5000 dollars in 1966 to 15,000 in 1976 to 50,000 dollars in 1986 to 150,000 dollars in 1996 to almost 500,000 dollars in 2006. No one notices this or talks about this, this is incredible, but there is a reason: 80 percent of Italy are owners of homes and want to protect the “value” of their homes more than anything else, were all happy for this huge inflatiuon of home prices and so forth. All of the money saved went into buying homes, is crystallized in the home prices and this forced the rents to be sky high and effectively truly blocked the economy for many years and will keep on blocking it until these prices go way, way down.

    A typical person in Rome or Milan can make 1,000 euros a month salary or 1,200, a typical small 50 square meter flat rents for 800 euros a month or more (usually more), now please tell me, what kind of economy can be based on this ? houses costing your entire salary ? The economy will never recover or even survive under these conditions of home prices, but everyone will keep on protecting their past wealth in the form of high home prices unitl the prices suddenly collpaes to zero, just like Detroit.

    And notice, no one wants to build “new homes” for “ecological reasons”; in all truth they are hiding the fact that new homes could force the prices of the ones already built lower. And noticd no one wants to tax homes, they should be taxed one percent their market value, a 300,000 euro valued home in Rome or Milan should pay 3,000 euros a year of tax, finally the prices would collpase and maybe the economy could start going again.

    • Dmitri says:

      Completely agree. I’ve studied in Pisa for 6 months in Y2012 in University of Pisa, rented 1 bedroom flat in a quite moderate house – that cost me 780eur/month+ energy. I’m myself from Latvia and when I saw electricity bill for a month – I just cried – 50eur for 30KWt. Electricity itself was about 12eur – rest taxes, additions, etc.In Latvia same would cost me around 10eur, finished my studies there and run out from Italy as quick as possible. Still I dont understand how local people survive there. Waiting while their parents (grandmas) die and leave flat ? Anyhow, for me it looks vicious circle to brake up first : housing-energy-taxes-corruption. After these solved – economy will build itself.

      • Silvia says:

        I think in 6 months you got pretty much a clear picture of our country: rents are crazy (Milan is even worse than what you describe), salaries for young people are low (if they actually get one…) with taxes making them even lower, and there is a general culture where it seems normality to live with the family until marriage and then the family helps you out with your house/mortgage (next to them, of course!). In Italy basically, due to youth unemployment and aging population, “grandparents are the welfare” also because they take care often of nephews given the high fees you have to pay for kindergardens. Now my question is: what’s gonna happen when these family savings will end?

    • Daniel D says:

      I disagree. If you think housing is expensive in Italy, you should try living in London. You also give figures that are not adjusted for inflation, which in Italy in the 70s and 80s was high.

      I don’t think that the cost of housing is one “most important reason” for Italy’s problem. Housing is even cheap compared to other European countries. The problem is that wages are low.

      There are many other problems that should be mentioned before the cost of housing. E.g.: poor education, poor workforce mobility, no meritocracy, high taxes, too much bureaucracy, political instability, too many family-owned businesses, etc…

  56. Cri says:

    ohhh yes, Dear ITALY! the country of my birth and the country of my ancestors!
    ohh dear Italy how you were so mighty, how you are loved and adored but unfortunately like the ruins of yesteryear our great bella pease has been left to ruin.

    why oh why has this happened? what went wrong? what happened to the dolce vita.

    well lets go back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when millions of Italians left their homeland for a better life! these people were the true heros, the explorers, the brave ones who went to USA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, SOuth America, Canada etc
    then Italy needed a leader who could put the country back on track, and that man was mussolini, love him or hate him, you can’t deny he rebuilt our country, but he needed to go, but he did his part. then came THE RESURRECTION! the 1950’s! ohhh ITALY how you shined! hollywood movie stars came to our shores, our movie industry was as hot as hollywood, tourism was on the up and up and anything Italian was COOL.
    from our food, our clothes, our art, you name it, if it was Italian it was HOT.
    so for 3 decades Italy shined, and then during the 80’s we were at our peak. we had skyrocketed to the top economically, we were spending more than we were making, but Italians thought no problems it will correct itself. the baby boomers made to many children, and those children were raised with less morals and respect, and didn’t have the hardworking spirit NONNO has. nonno and pa worked hard , and it was hardwork which built the country, and now the kids don’t want to work hard, they want to take drugs, graffiti the streets, and do nothing.
    the politicians are in a happy place , they have managed to get everything they want, all their salaries, pensions, free medical, education for kids, petrols, cars, foods, holiday villas you name it, they are in bed with the right mafia and business people and have solid relationships in place.
    they don’t want things to change. they dont’t want a new president or prime minister coming in to rock to the boat and change the status quo, everything is perfect the way it is. and as long at the ruling class is happy. this is as good as it gets!

    ohh Italy, 200 years ago we would die for our liberties, our honor, our equal rights, we would follow a man with a vision with swords and amour and fight for our rights,
    now we go on stupid talk shows and argue to death. and nothing happens.

    when someone tries to change something it gets blocked in parliament right away because some ruling class member will lose money, so instead of helping 60 million people, he would rather help himself instead. selfish? welcome to Italy!

    I am not an economist, or a political analyst, all I know is, if countries like Japan, Germany, New Zealand, sweden etc can run their countries smoothly why can’t Italy!
    there is no excuses. we all know the problems, it’s CORRUPTION!

    the egyptians finally stood up and said enough is enough. when will Italy!???

    NEVER, because in the eyes of Italians, ITALY HAS PROBLEMS, but it’s ok.
    after all , it’s Italy.

    most foreigners have visited Italy, how many Italians have actually been out of Italy!
    and I am not talking about thailand, or some other 3rd world country.

    Italians in America, Australia whom I have met , get emotional about their Italy, sense of national pride etc.. but end of the day, they say they would love to return and live in Italy one day, but I can see in their eyes, it’s a dream, because Italy is not the place where these old people grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, Italy is not the place it was.
    it belongs in memories. life Abroad is 1st world countries are so much better all round that any sensible person can tell you.
    sure italy offers certain things, but overall, nothing compared to other countries.
    it’s left for the ruling class. and anyone else can hang on to the pride of their nation.
    and walk around with blinkers on.

    • W. Burr says:

      Cri- your comment about the “ruling class” leads to the reflection.. “why is there a ‘ruling class'”?
      Because Italy is no longer a democracy. The Italian people have no direct voice in their government. Their “representatives” (931 MPs for 50 million people.. a ratio unparalleled in the “developed” world) are nominated by the parties.. a recipe for cronyism and corruption if there ever was one.
      Italy is a “partitocracy”, where the government is neither responsible nor accountable to the people. It is a government “by the parties for the parties”. And this lack of accountability renders impossible any meaningful attempt at healing Italy’s devastated economy and society.
      The battle cry of the American Revolution was “No taxation without representation!”.. it seems the same could apply here.

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  58. Francesco Spisani says:

    Dear Prof.Orsi,
    I just can’t understand how signing or not signing any treatise may affect the de facto capability of a nation to patrol borders. Perhaps illegal migrants don’t know about treatises: they only try to reach a country they think will suit them, regardless.
    Kind regards.

  59. Filippo83 says:

    There will be no miracle at all. A class of parasites is leading Italy since decades – politicians, bureaucrats, subsidised businessmen, and a lot common people just taking money they should not from welfare or useless state-funded jobs. They depleted all they could, they rose taxes as much as they could to fund their “way of life”, and finally they destroyed country’s economy.
    The best choice for Italians would be to split apart: a couple of states in the Centre-North, depending on local society and economy (more social-democrat, or more conservative), maybe keeping Euro currency, with lower state expenses and higher efficiency; and a separated South, out of Euro, devaluating currency, and relying on tourism/agriculture/low workforce costs; maybe Rome could stay apart, being richer than South, but without the industrial tissue of the Centre-North.
    Please, do not see me as a “leghista”: I opposed them for much, but now we have to face reality, which talks us of a deeply splitted Italy going deeper and deeper into a deep crisis. And some Italian region, is already and officially discussing to keep a separatist referendum, like Slovenia more than 20 years ago.

    • Juno says:

      The idea that all the problems of Italy are rooted in the south is groundless and inconsistent. Separatism is becoming fashionable in EU but is a very dangerous temptation that would eventually determine the end of Europe. Italy would become irrelevant if divided in two or more States, and definitely many foreign powers would be happy to see us split in weak, powerless States, as it was before the “Risorgimento”.

      • Massimo says:

        Who reasons like this in the 21st century? Singapore looks to you weak and powerless? People from Luxembourg or Lichtestein are poor and exploited? Czechs are weaker now than when they were with the Slovaks? What about South Koreans, should they join the North just to be stronger?

        Besides, who gives a rat ass if Italy is strong or weak? The question here is what is best for the 60 millions people that are collectively known as italians. And, most importantly, what they perceive is their best interest, not the prescriptions of aspiring Napoleons. And I mean each one of them, not the 50% plus 1 …

        “The smallest minority of the world is the individual. People who deny the rights of the individuals cannot pretend to defend the minorities” – Ayn Rand

        Smash the state,


        • Juno says:

          If separatism is a principle it should be applied to any country….Small countries work better ( not always) because they are not many. What would happen if Europe would be made of 300 or 400 States like Singapore? The advantage of being a small Country would no longer exist, and we would only have hundreds of new borders, currencies, languages, and nationalism surfacing among the new micro-states….a disaster !!

          • Massimo says:

            Caro Juno,

            My first post a few days ago was exactly about that, but I (as a free-market anarchist) think an Europe with hundreds of city-states to be much better than the current one dominated by nation-states (although not yet perfect: I would prefer a complete agorist society with no State at all).
            We anarchists do not believe in democracy (because of the old saying about two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner), we much prefer to vote with our feet than our voice. An Europe with hundreds of city-states, and with free movement of people, allows each one of us to choose the political system best suited. By the way, it has been very common in the history of men, from the city-states of ancient Greece, to the medieval “comuni” or the Hanseatic League, to Germany up to the imperialistic expansion of Prussia in the 19th century. And of course do not forget the most important freedom experiment of all, the United States from the Revolution up to Lincoln’s hijacking of the Constitution (and even before the Revolution, a great, forgotten book is “Conceived in liberty”, by Murray Rothbard).
            As a consumer, when I am dissatisfied with a brand of goods, I just switch to another: why can’t I do the same with States, which have such an important impact on my life. Also, I really believe this is the future: the old empires or the nation-states worked because agriculture used to be such an important part of global GDP. Extracting rents from the countryside (i.e: plundering the peasants), nation-states could raise armies to crush independent cities. This is not possible anymore, with agriculture accounting for maybe 5% of global GDP. Look, there is really no reason why, for example, relative westernized citizens of Instambul have to live in an islamic state based on the votes of more traditional people from the interior of Turkey, or why the very productive citizens of Sao Paolo have to subsidize corrupt politicians whose power base is in the North of Brasil.
            I know that we have been raised thinking that the State, and especially the nation-state, is a necessary part of any society, but it is simply not true. Unfortunately in Europe we have not been exposed in school or generally during life to libertarian thinking, but there is a world of options out there outside the statism of the Left or the Right. If you are interested, start checking “libertarianism” in wikipedia. Maybe you will enjoy the travel as much as I did.

            Un abbraccio,


  60. The author neglects to remember that Italians believe in miracles.
    Just as 60 years ago they got the Marshall Plan to boost them out of poverty, they are now looking to Google to do the same.
    They want outside investment so the politicians & their cronies can shave billions – as they have for generations – off the public tills – laughing all the way to their Tunisian villas and their Swiss banks.

    FMaggi-Burnt by the Tuscan Sun

  61. Sabotage says:

    Beppe Grillo take the reigns and steer us towards the clear.
    I know it’s already been sung, can’t be said enough.
    Love is all you need, all you need is Love,
    Love, Love, Love.

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  63. Alessandro says:

    In ten years time, Italy (and the rest of the Mediterranean) will be doing absolutely fine, with booming exports of luxury goods to the fast growing consumer class of Asia and Latin America.

    Germany will be an economic disaster, struggling with massive unemployment, a collapsed export base and an unsustainable welfare system, especially pensions.

    France will be on its way to becoming the largest and most dynamic economy on the European continent.

    The deregulation/neo-liberal folly of 1980-2008 will be on the way to a complete demise, with most financial systems subjected to financial repression, capital controls re-established in most countries and central banks (and money creation) back under direct control by the State.

    The USA will still be the largest economy in the world, their growth rate having converged to the same level as a much reduced Chinese one at around 2-3%.

    This should all be obvious to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the history of financial crises, which are generally what happens at the end of a globalization cycle, of which there have been many before (with global financial crises happening in the 1820s, 1870s, 1890s, 1930s, 1980s), and which always hit deficit nations first, and always conclude with sovereign defaults or debt restructuring and the deficit nations going back to trend while the surplus nations get shafted.

    • Paolo Ricci says:

      In ten years Italy will much more likely have a NEW strongman, Italians are sheep which occasionally turn into ferocious beasts when the bread is not on the table. The likeliness of a extreme right wing swing is obvious, as the M5S and PdL “bulk” of voters are unlikely to vote for a centre left which is just a rebranded social-democrat mess like in the seventies and which has only been able to produce more taxes and more regulations.

      • Alessandro says:

        Of course I make no predictions regarding the possible state of European democracy, although I agree with the pessimistic outlook.

        It is very likely that Med nations will follow the lead of France and elect right-wing strong(wo)men who will put in place radically left wing economic programmes (while bashing migrants). Nationalist right wingers are the only ones left defending social democracy and the European welfare state, while supposedly social-democratic parties have bought into the neo-liberal drivel utterly and completely.

        Hopefully we have grown enough as European citizens to avoid going to war with each other again, and keep the replay of the 1930s to a minimum.

        As a socialist and a progressive it pains me to admit but I will even vote for nationalist right wing parties as a last resort against the complete destruction of European workers’ rights by the neo-liberal Maastricht regime.

        Then we can have another 50 years of sane economic management and shared prosperity, and start tackling the actual problems we face (climate change) rather than waging a moral crusade against public debt (i.e. against the working class), which has never been a real problem for any nation in the history of everything. And when another Thatcher or Reagan pops up, we can directly strung them from the lampposts and avoid another 30 wasted years.

      • Valter Mura says:

        You better speak for yourself, (parla per te, se ti senti tanto pecora)

  64. helen says:

    I’m Italian. I wish I was born elsewhere, I have no hope left for my future. I can’t even leave, what would I do in foreign countries without even a proper degree?

    • ivan says:

      You can!
      I moved from Italy to Australia when I was 43, not easy but absolutely worth the sacrifices implied in such a choice. And if you choose a closer country distance is not even a problem.
      Good luck!

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  68. Giobbe says:

    «The country’s leadership never recognised that indiscriminate opening to Asia’s light industrial products would destroy Italy’s once leading industries in the same sectors»
    And so what? Don’t you know about comparative advantage?

  69. Juno says:

    Italy could be already in a mess, but the article is too much catastrophic. The debt is made up of public and private debt, and if we sum both Italy is not in a bad position, indeed it results much better than that one of Japan, US, UK, France and Germany. I don’t see any cultural revolution taking place in the rest of the world with the exclusion of Italy, the demography is collapsing everywhere in the West and maybe it is not that bad news. Italy is the only country, among that one severely affected by the recession, that didn’t ask for help by the financial institution. We still give more money than we receive from EU and we are able to keep our deficit at the 3% when most of the other EU countries are well above this threshold. Export is still strong and recovering, we didn’t have any financial (our bank system is solid) or housing bubble and if even there is a huge brain drain our educational system is still able to create new generations of brilliant researchers and intellectuals. The big mistake in the article is to consider Italy as an ordinary country, Italy has peculiarities and characteristics that set it apart from the rest of Europe, and has always been like this. Italy is Italy…….

    • Matt says:

      I’m afraid that this is a typical response from Italians, even the well-educated ones, in which the hard facts are somehow sugar coated with some minor positives. It seems that Italy has always scraped by and people expect the ship to keep sailing as usual, but that was before the global markets became ever more global and we entered a world in which Italy’s partisan, insular politics no longer have ground, or much room for maneuver.
      The article is spot on in my opinion and I’m genuinely sad it is so. I live in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, one of the more successful regions, and factories and businesses are closing down every week by the dozen. New businesses open up, and fail within a month or two because no one is spending, or has money to spend.
      I almost never watch the news over here, but this week I turned on TG1 and was amazed at just how clueless the politicians were in their latest amendment to the budget and the reporting that went on about it. It’s as if the game has changed and they’re still playing the old partita that finished years ago. The problem is that Italy has had bad leadership for way too long. Berlusconi was the nail in the coffin, but they were bad before and bad even now. Italy don’t really seem to understand that you cannot have poor leadership year in, year out without real consequences catching up with them. The fabricated world of self-centered illusion offered by Berlusconi really was the worst possible path for this country to go down, as petty much every other country recognized, yet we ended up down it the same; selfishness, narcissism, irresponsibility, dishonesty and fantasy won out at a time when reality was more needed than ever.

      • Daniele says:

        I am Italian as well, living abroad, and sad to agree with you.

        They are really playing a “partita” that is no more

      • Walter Stucco says:

        I’m italian as well, and I don’t take as facts those exposed by Roberto Orsi, graduated in Philosophy, not in Economy.
        He’s not speaking on behalf of the London School of the Economics, he just works there.
        I believe the typical italian response would be the one you gave “italians are all stupid, except me”.
        This is, not only typical, it’s in italians DNA.
        If you say other italians are wrong, if you say every day Italy is a mess, that italians don’t want to understand like you do, well, it makes you feel the only one awake among a bunch of zombies.
        Italy is just fine, we are going through a terrible financial crisis, but Italy is doing just fine, it could have been much worse, none of us lost his house, none of our parents lost the pension, the debt growth is steady.
        Look at the debt of USA if you wanna be scared by the big numbers!
        We lived for years in an inflated economy, and now we’re paying for that, now the truth is revealing, many companies in Italy were living beyond the real possibility of making a profit.
        And everybody was ok with that, not just politicians.
        You understand what I mean, do you?
        People that for years have been collecting unemployment benefits, while keeping illegally another job, payed by our taxes… do you know the italian expression “cassa integrazione per 20 anni”?
        I think you do…
        And maybe those people were family friends, that we never reported to authorities for what they were: thieves!
        Ahh.. italians… good people after all, isn’t it?

        I own a partita IVA in Italy, I count as a company, if I shut it down, it will be counted as a business closing, but probably I just don’t want to pay anymore to keep it open.
        I’m not saying this is the best place in the world to live right now, just that shit happens, and the only thing we can do is rebuild from the ground a better country.
        Ask Zoppas why they sold one of the most successful italian companies to Swedish instead…

        • Silvia says:

          “Italy is just fine, we are going through a terrible financial crisis, but Italy is doing just fine, it could have been much worse, none of us lost his house, none of our parents lost the pension, the debt growth is steady.” That’s why we need to hit rock bottom yet…Orsi’s theory might be too catastrophic, but I don’t see any sign which makes me believe there will be a rebuilt (you just said what is not happening and not what is happening as a positive), but I see a lot of signs of an even bigger decline…


    Salute dell’uomo e dell’ambiente per uno sviluppo economico ecosostenibile

    A partire dagli ultimi decenni del XIV secolo un gruppo di intellettuali ed artisti italiani iniziarono un processo di profondo rinnovamento culturale e scientifico che segnò il passaggio dal Medioevo all’era moderna prima in Italia e poi nel resto d’Europa. Secondo lo storico Richard Goldthwaite quel processo di rinnovamento fu tale per cui “il benessere fu riciclato e investito in capitale umano e trasformato nel patrimonio dell’architettura urbana, dell’arte e di una tradizione artigianale mai eguagliata in altre città”.¹ Un’eredità impressionante che ancora oggi il mondo intero ci riconosce.

    Pensiamo sia giunto il momento per rilanciare l’Italia come attore principale di un Nuovo Rinascimento che ponga al centro delle politiche sociali e industriali la valorizzazione della salute dell’uomo e dell’ambiente, il capitale culturale, artistico e naturale per uno sviluppo economico duraturo perchè ecosostenibile.

    L’attuale modello economico di sviluppo proposto dai paesi industrializzati e in via di sviluppo non è sostenibile. Nel breve periodo un ulteriore avanzamento tecnologico per estrarre più risorse naturali, per produrre più cibo, farmaci, energia, e crescita economica è possible, ma nel lungo termine avrà delle conseguenze disastrose sulla salute dell’uomo e dell’ambiente, ed in ultima analisi sul benessere sociale ed economico dell’intero pianeta.

    Salute, benessere, risparmio energetico, conoscenza, cultura e sviluppo economico ecosostenibile devono diventare i pilastri su cui costruire il futuro della “nuova” Italia. L’invecchiamento della popolazione, l’epidemia di obesità e di patologie croniche associate agli scorretti stili di vita, il crescente inquinamento ambientale, il riscaldamento globale, e lo sfruttamento sconsiderato delle risorse energetiche e naturali sono dei problemi seri che se affrontati in modo scientifico, e con una nuova visione globale e transdisciplinare, potrebbero non solo far risparmiare ingenti risorse economiche al paese, ma generare nuova ricchezza.

    Per i nostri figli e nipoti vogliamo immaginare un’Italia figlia di un nuovo Rinascimento in cui le città sono verdi e silenziose perchè le auto sono sospinte da motori ibridi elettrici e a idrogeno che emettono solo vapor acqueo. Gli edifici in cui viviamo e lavoriamo sono efficienti dal punto di vista energetico e non richiedono dispendiosi sistemi di riscaldamento e aria condizionata, ma anzi estraggono dal sole e dal vento l’energia necessaria per alimentare gli elettrodomestici e le nostre automobili. Un’Italia in cui l’aria e l’acqua emesse dalle industrie sono più pulite di quelle che erano entrate, in cui le discariche sono state eliminate e un innovativo sistema agricolo ecosostenibile produce cibo sano in abbondanza. Un’Italia in cui la pressione fiscale è stata abbondantemente ridotta poiché una buona parte della spesa pubblica improduttiva è stata finalmente eliminata e quella produttiva è stata limitata poiché i cittadini sono sani e laboriosi, le reti sociali sono state migliorate, e l’attuale modello di produzione si è trasformato in direzione di un’economia sostenibile riconducendo la disoccupazione a livelli fisiologici. E infine, un’Italia che i turisti provenienti da ogni angolo del mondo vogliono visitare e prendere a modello perché è diventata il Giardino dell’Eden.

    Tutto ciò non è un’utopia o il sogno di visionari. Molte delle conoscenze scientifiche per azzerare l’inquinamento, per prevenire con adeguati stili di vita la maggior parte delle malattie croniche (e i costi sociali connessi), per costruire case super coibentate che non consumano ma producono energia, automobili super-leggere in fibre di carbonio a trazione elettrica/idrogeno, e molti altri miglioramenti necessari per vivere una vita lunga, sana e felice sono già disponibili e sono state proficuamente applicate in una misura che va ben oltre la sperimentazione prototipale. Il passo successivo deve essere l’applicazione integrata di queste conoscenze a favore della salute dei cittadini e dell’ambiente, garantendo un nuovo sviluppo economico e industriale che valorizzi, e non distrugga, le risorse naturali. Purtroppo, una visione riduzionistica e arretrata di questi problemi ha impedito finora che ciò accadesse.

    E’ ora di invertire la rotta per uscire dall’attuale crisi economica e di valori secondo una logica non convenzionale. Abbiamo idee, capitale umano e tecnologie per farlo. L’Italia può e deve diventare leader nel mondo su queste tematiche, investendo massicciamente in questi settori e promuovendo programmi e progetti di ricerca armonici ed interdisciplinari cha abbiano un risvolto applicativo immediato sulla popolazione, l’ambiente e sulle industrie locali e nazionali.

    Il Nuovo Rinascimento italiano deve partire da un nuovo approccio alla soluzione dei problemi mediante un disegno sistemico, integrato e transdisciplinare con una visione di lungo periodo. Il pensare in maniera sistemica spesso rivela interconnessioni e soluzioni d’insieme, che sono più semplici, economiche e capaci di risolvere problemi complessi con un unico investimento.

    Le condizioni di partenza del Tardo Medievo in Italia non erano certo migliori di quelle che abbiamo oggi, ma i nostri antenati furono capaci con le loro idee di influenzare e cambiare il mondo. Le ingenti risorse accumulate fino a quel punto furono investite per costruire palazzi, chiese e monumenti, per commissionare dipinti, statue e opere letterarie, determinando così un fermento culturale e la creazione/attrazione di capitale umano. La situazione oggi si ripete. Esistono ingenti capitali che aspettano solo di essere diretti da una visione strategica e non da interessi di breve periodo. L’eredità che ci è stata lasciata dai nostri avi in termini di patrimonio storico e culturale e il patrimonio di conoscenze scientifiche e tecniche che abbiamo acquisito negli ultimi 150 anni, se propriamente impiegati, ci potrebbero permettere di fare un altro balzo in avanti e di vivere stabilmente in un mondo meraviglioso in armonia con noi stessi e la natura. E’ ora di riprovare a ripartire, i nostri posteri ce ne saranno grati.

    Per un ulteriore approfondimento sul tema si consiglia di leggere:

    Fontana L., Atella V., Kammen D.M. “Energy and resource efficiency as a unifying principle for human, environmental and global health”. F1000Research 2013.

    ¹ The economy of Renaissance Florence, di Richard A. Goldthwaite – Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 672.


    Prof. Luigi Fontana
    Professore Ordinario di Scienze della Nutrizione presso il Dipartimento di Medicina dell’Università di Salerno; Visiting Professor presso il Centro di Nutrizione Umana della Washington University in St.Louis, USA; Group Leader della piattaforma “Healthy Aging” presso l’Istituto di Ricerca “CEINGE” di Napoli.

    Prof. Vincenzo Atella
    Direttore del CEIS Tor Vergata, Professore Associato di Economia presso il Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza dell’Università di Roma Tor Vergata e Direttore Scientifico della Fondazione Farmafactoring.

    Prof. Sergio Pecorelli
    Professore Ordinario di Clinica Ostetrica e Ginecologica e Rettore dell’Università degli Studi di Brescia, membro dello High Level Steering Committee della Commissione Europea per la European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing.

    Prof. Riccardo Pietrabissa
    Presidente Netval, Professore Ordinario di Bioingegneria Industriale, Politecnico di Milano e Università degli Studi di Brescia.

    Prof. Francesco Salvatore
    Professore di Biochimica Umana Ateneo Federico II di Napoli, Emerito nell‘Università, Presidente e Coordinatore Scientifico del CEINGE-Biotecnologie Avanzate di Napoli.

    Prof. Umberto Veronesi
    Direttore Scientifico dell’Istituto Europeo di Oncologia.

    • Massimo says:

      Cos’e’ l’Italia? E’ una costruzione semantica, non esiste in realta’. Esistono solo gli italiani (europei, homo sapiens..), costrutti astratti non possono scegliere, non hanno azione volitiva, per usare Mises.

      E ne hanno piene le scatole delle indicazioni di sapienti e dottori. Perche’ dovrebbero tassarsi per creare il vostro wet dream?

      Pensate che e’ “strategico”? Trovatevi un fondo di private equity e convincetelo a mettere qualche decina di miliardi. Essendo “strategico”, sicuro qualcuno lo troverete.

      Pero’, fatemi il favore, se non trovate nessuno che vi finanzi, non pensate di mettermi le mani in tasca e rubarmi una parte del mio lavoro per i vostri sogni.

      E soprattutto, lasciatemi l’area condizionata accesa, io, a parte di soffrire di caldane, al contrario di voi, l’aria la pago con soldi che mi da volontariamente gente libera a cambio di quello che gli do’ io, non faccio il lacche’ e il parassita dello Stato.

      Apritevi la vostra universita’ a pagamento, y con tuition fees pagate volontariamente, fatevi il vostro rinascimento, non so se i posteri vi saranno grati, ma se finalmente mi lasciate tranquillo, almeno questo contemporaneo lo sara’.

    • MCon says:

      It’s funny to see people talking about a “New Renaissance” while being unable to write in English on a UK forum.
      This is consistent with utter inability of the same Renown Professors to understand Italy now is indeed “in better condition than it was in Late Middle Ages”, but then it was in better conditions than surrounding countries, while today the reverse is true.

      Until we (Italians) learn to do without such braggarts (“tromboni”, in Italian) there’s very little hope for this country (Italy).

      • Matt says:

        You’re right unfortunately. All show and little substance is the way and a lack of language skills means most Italians don’t speak English and have most of their warped news provided by the national providers who are basically clueless.

        • Daniele says:

          Matt, generalization is always wrong.
          You cannot judge “Italians” by the few that post comments in this blog post.

          It’s pointless to relate comments to the content of the news; actually this specific behaviour is called in netiquette slang “flaming”.

        • Simone says:


          I am Italian; I live and work in London. I would say that your comment is simply superficial and arrogant…Let me check how many of my English colleagues speak another language or they know what Renaissance is…here we go:zero.


          • Bryn says:

            You are right, Simone! I am American, and it’s shameful how little Americans know about the world! So few speak another language fluently!

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  73. martian says:

    “Italy has currently the highest taxation levels on companies in the EU and one of the highest in the world. This factor, together with a fatal mix of awful financial management, inadequate infrastructure, ubiquitous corruption and an inefficient bureaucracy, which includes the slowest and most unreliable justice system in Europe, is pushing all remaining entrepreneurs out of the country.”
    Taxation in Itay is indeed the very cause of corruption.

    • Walter Stucco says:

      Not true.
      Scandinavian taxation level is higher.
      Corruption is almost non existent there.

      Stop spreading lies, Italian taxation level is a consequence of the widespread corruption, not the other way around.

  74. martian says:

    the euro has nothing to do with italian crisis, we have all the lever and pulls to fix our problems. but we are hostage of immovable masters bureocracy and magistrates who sink any reform aimed at stop public spending. let’s face it.

    • Giobbe says:

      I agree.

    • MCon says:

      Italian people do NOT want any (serious) reform.
      They just want to go back to the “Golden Days” of “Economic Boom” when State was spending money it did not have and everybody was happy.
      That’s why we (Italians) are so ready to vote whoever promises to cut taxes while rising level of services and without cutting anything.
      We like to live in a dream… until it turns to nightmare.

    • Dave Ross says:

      @martian and the other three repliers,
      It is true that the Italian bureaucratic machine is sluggish and detrimental to foster economic activities and that is an internal factor of our economic disband, but it is only a minimal one: OECD stats tell that between 1992 and 1998 (Italy was out from the European monetary system) the national productivity growth rate was > or = to the German one. I guess you’d agree with me that at that time the Italian bureaucratic machine was not better off. Hence, your hypothesis that the state is the cause of our situation is simply flawed. Not logical.

      Seemingly, it is not logical the argument that “Italians do not want reforms”, where the actual questions is: “what reforms do Italians want?”. I am sure Italians want reforms, but certainly not self-harming austerity measures brought about just to comply with ‘external burdens’ that are flawed in their assumptions (read my comment below).

      This leads to another point: namely the narrative that Italians, but European people in general, are ‘unfit to survive in a competitive globalised economy’ and that they ‘deserve’ the stick of structural reforms to enhance competition and productivity, also by reducing the cost of labour. Well, the question is: how democratic is this technocratic way of thinking?

  75. Dave Ross says:

    A very comprehensive post, whose conclusion can hardly be countered.
    Yet, in my view, I see some points missing on the process of disbanding that led to the current situation.

    The drivers of the Italian decline are both endogenous and exogenous. While the former have been (almost) aptly described in the post, what seems to be missing is to picture the Italian situation vis-à-vis the current governance structure and political economy of the EU institutions.

    First, the euro, coupled with the irrational and unsound Maastricht & Fiscal Compact parameters – and not the Chinese imports – are arguably the main cause of the recent steady dismantling of Italian SMEs and economy. To briefly unfold the passages: i) With the euro entrance, Italy revalued its currency vis-à-vis its European competitors which instead devalued it (read, Germany); ii) this led to a loss of competitiveness in exports on one side; and on the other to a gargantuan transfer of private capitals from the center to peripheral EU countries (read private debts), Italy included; iii) the EU is based on solidarity mechanisms only on the chart (TEU, Art.3(3)), while it has de facto implemented a system of impoverishment, rather than offset transfers and harmonised growth, like the ones engendered by true federal systems. What we have instead is fierce and almost law-less (France and Germany have repeatedly breached the Maastricht parameters, with no sanctions) competition, which inevitably requires all peripheral governments to bring about measures of internal devaluation of the real salaries (less public expenditures, high taxes, etc…). To put it bluntly, the EU political economy is based on mercantilist and beggar-thy-neighbour flawed assumptions.

    The second exogenous driver stands in the current institutional governance of the EU, which in its own terms replicates what Orsi evidenced in the current Presidential drift of the Italian constitutional system. The EU suffers from a true crisis of democratic legitimacy (even eminent constitutionalists claim it, J. Weiler EJIL 2013), which hampers all European peoples to actively participate in the making of EU political economy. Such lack of democratic means to engender common political economies, again inevitably leads to a dominance of the ‘most strong’ (read, Germany) in the making of the EU economic future.

    I absolutely agree that until the status quo is maintained, not only Italy, but the whole Eurozone is destined to thirdworldisation, but that is reversible if the real chains (not ‘the State’ or ‘taxes’ as someone suggests) are broken. What should be added is that throughout history these processes not only have proved untenable, but even socially and politically dangerous. Hence, the “degraded political culture” of Italy’s elite, is just the local manifestation of a EU-wide political backlash.

  76. Lorenzo F says:

    The main message of this piece can’t produce any discomfort on me, young unemployed italian with a PhD.

    It strikes me with terror that all the possibile solutions taken into account by those who commented, imply following even bigger mistakes than this tired, dreamless Italy.

    • martian says:

      which suggested solutions are mistakes? which are correct?
      I need to know. What is happening is of great detriment for me: young lawyer with no family money and backings who sees 65% of his earnings burnt out in taxes and retirement contributes in exchange of… what?

  77. Massimo says:

    As Thatcher once said: “the problem with collectivism is that at some point you finish other people money”. The welfare state, as introduced by Bismark in Germany and by FDR in the US, and currently the dominant model of the western world, kills any society, trasforming people in parassites. It could survive only with very high barriers to free circulation of products, capital and people. With globalization, welfare states are being arbitrated, losing the productive members of the society. The future is pretty obvious: without new production, there is a run on cannibilizing each other’s wealth, until the society just dies with a whimp (even aspiring revolutionaries do not have enough patience and leave). Only at that point, when the ultimate parassite, the State, dies, a new society can start to recreate itself. Restructuring (at least in a democratic environment) is not likely, too many vested interests: try to say to italians that pensions have to be cut by half and privatized, health care will not be “free” anymore, labour markets must be fully deregulated (forget about minimum salary and mandatory holidays), education must be paid out-of-pocket, the State has to fire a few millons of useless minions, corporativist industries have to compete, banks cannot use unlimited funny money anymore, etc.

    Italy will not be the only nation-state (what a anachronistic idea anyway) to end up like this, the entire western europe will go with it, and even the US, if they do not change their way fast and bring back federal expenses at less than 5% of GDP, as it was before WWI and the 16th amendment.

    But do not despair, out of the ruins hundreds or thousands of city-states will be reborn and flourish, each with a specific political offer. People will just choose the political system they prefer, and freedom will finally rein. With luck parts of Europe won’t even have States anymore, becomining real agorist societies.

    Unfortunately I’ll be dead by then, lol

  78. Roberto says:

    Fortunately we have padre pio for miracles. I am confident, no fear.

  79. Andréa Landau says:

    I am not Italian, but have been living in this country 27 long years. All of which a slow and steady descent to hell. There is no redemption possible for this country. I’d leave tomorrow if I could, abandoning everything. On the spot. And I wouldn’t look back even if my life depended on it.

    • martian says:

      tell us more, your case might be useful to understand.

      • Matt says:

        It sounds like my own. Italian wife with aging parents who would never leave. I’m afraid I’ll have to wait for them to pass before she’d agree to abandon ship.

  80. Costa says:

    This article seems to be a classic case of the typical Italian living abroad talking badly about his home country and contributing nothing back home.
    The fact that Italy has to face some severe social issues if it wants to come out of this crisis on its feet has nothing to do with the millions of tax paying people and entrepreneurs who do not feel like they have to flee the country to have a better life. Wherever one travels there is a piece of Italy….this cannot be said for any other country in the world. So instead to the constant complaints (which you do not hear from any other nationality in the world) we could all put our heads down and just try to fix the wonderful country we are from.

    • Liz says:

      Very nice such words – but who is supposed to do that?
      What may appear as a complaint is instead an exposing of factual circumstances that are causing the nationals of Italy despair as they are powerful as a force (by number) but powerless as put to a succumb.
      The Italian politicians have no interest in their country nor of its people and no matter who gets to the high chairs they all produce chaos. They DO NOT care for the people but are in in for their own personal cause (mostly) with highly remunerated salaries and benefits. The tendency is to be selfish (by a faulty gene(?) and Italians will only get to do the real work and become organized when there is something in it for the self. HOW on earth can you change a country’s “mind’ if it has been promoting and educating since decades in this manner if the more crafty and deceitful you are the more clever you will be considered? The system has allowed mafia to permeate everywhere, like a cancer including courts, the latter even in a condition of thirdworldalisation – to permit the corrupt to tinge and attain there too for personal interests rather than in the name of law and justice. Those who are representing (at all levels) the nation, are not only withou any civil code of conduct and with no shame and when found red-handed but they are the ones who are resisting that Italy brings the necessary changes. Proof of this are the case judgments against Italy to be paying fines of €k but continue to pay fines (taxpayers money) rather than reform to end the cancer.

    • Matt says:

      Delusional I’m afraid. One of the primary elements that has led to Italy’s woes is the insular nature of politics and a lack of well-informed citizens on the part of an objective press. Italy is not facing some issues, it’s facing a combination of its own poor management since its conception and increasingly forceful global shifts. With poor leadership being the norm, it has no room for movement out of this immense global paradigm shift that we’re experiencing.

  81. Marcello says:

    I agree with the point that Italy is in a dramatic situation, but I don’t see the decline of Italy as irreversible. As far as the demographic challenges are concerned, Italy is in the best position from a fiscal point of view, as the IMF repeatedly underlined: the pension system and the health system are generating much less contingent liabilities than anywhere else in the World. Italy has a primary surplus, has a strong export sector. Not all the public sector is inefficient: the Italian health system is probably the best in the world as far as the price/quality ratio is concerned. As the FT wrote last Spring, Italy is probably the country that is exercising the highest soft-power on the RoW. Think about food, fashion, way of life, … every time that I come back to London I am impressed by how much it has been “italianized”. When I was studying in London, 25 years ago, there were a few pizzeria and only 2 places where you could drink italian coffee (heatrow and bar italia), no icecream as far as I remember. If we had a functional government, we could leverage very easily on this soft-power. And we could leverage also on our hard-power. Italy is one of the few developed country where there is no foreign direct investment. Does it make any sense that in Turin we are unable to attract any investment from foreign car producers? Italian “classe dirigente” is of a very poor quality, but this is ending. You probably underestimate the importance of Berlusconi going out of the picture. You don’t give sufficient importance to the demise of the old economic powers: Mediobanca empire is crumbling down, the old families of italian capitalism are disappearing from the scene. If you look at politics, now the leaders of the main parties have less than 50 years. Renzi has less than 40. The M5S is “revolutionary” in the way in which the communication and the participation occur, and this is affecting the working of the old parties. Apart from the US, can you see in Europe a political system that is transforming and modernizing itself at a faster pace? Sure, we still have a Letta’s government that is unable to do anything (please do not put Monti in the same bag with Letta, we owe to Monti if Italy avoided the default in 2011 and euro is still alive), whith Saccomanni playing accounting tricks like an old politician, but this is clearly a transition government. Italy has the opportunity to reverse the course of the events, with a probability which is much higher than 50%. For sure, we need a Thatcher-moment but I see it coming, fast.

    • martian says:

      I agree with your conclusion but can renzi be our tatcher? I wish he could.
      Who else?

      • Magnus says:

        Renzi won’t be your salvation, seems as an overly moralizing “chiacchierone” to me. I think Italy will start repatriating some of their export-based productive sector already next year. The Americans have started already, some of the richer Northern European countries as well. These are all economic fluctuations, and Europe will soon understand that China can’t produce all it’s commodities for much longer. The “Made in Italy” is renowned world-wide, I’m not worried on behalf of my Italian friends, Italy is not Greece; Italy have lost 32.000 companies in a short time, Greece never had them..

    • marione says:

      “we owe Monti”??

      Monti should be hanged in public square!
      Italy is in Vatican hands and Monti was just a servant of Vatican (and banking system). His aim was to sell Italy to foreign investors at lowest price possible.

      here is the result of Monti’s policies and thirdworld policies of Letta government. All vatican related companies (as Compagnia delle Opere, CL) don’t pay taxes, make dumping on italian companies that pay taxes, all politically related companies as coop do the same. We have onlus that have BILLIONS of active in their balances and they still don’t pay taxes (nor IMU). Dr Orsi wrote correctly: “Indeed, the Italian state was created by liberal-conservative and monarchist modernists, sometimes animated by virulent forms of anticlericalism, essentially the opposite of the current political elite.”

      The main problem is clericalism, and submission to the long lasting absolute monarchy of Vatican. It’s time to revive Bixio’s guns!

  82. Keith Preble says:

    This post is interesting, but we should remember that the author is not an economist, and I take with a large grain of salt much of what he wrote. Most of the “sources” are from the media, and the author did not do any serious “interpretation” of the data.

    This isn’t a problem, per se, yet the author criticizes the media in his post yet has no problems using the “data” that they furnish. Also, some of the links to other sources I would find circumspect at best given that the Italian media is highly partisan, and many of the hyperlinks are to news articles from various papers (which were and/or are supported by the Italian government) and news sites, none of which I would classify as remotely reputable. In addition, one of the links is to a news report from a study done by Confindustria that says Italy needs to grow? Of course it does. Why would a study done by them say anything else? Confindustria are certainly not going to go against their own interests.

    While the numbers may seem positive, we should remember that it can take many cycles in not years before economic recovery “trickles down” to the rest of us. I would have preferred to see a more thorough analysis or, at least, some solutions to these problems rather than writing a eulogy.

    I think that academics need to be careful in how they present themselves in social media and be extremely carefully in how they present data. I’m not saying that Italy doesn’t have problems or that it isn’t going to hell in a hand basket, but this post has received a lot of attention in the Italian non-mainstream media, and this only exacerbates problem of information diffusion in Italy. As academics and researchers, we should be careful that we do not become part of the problem as we seek to educate.

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  84. American In Italy says:

    I have lived for 13 years in Italy… all forms of government from the local Commune to the top level are the arch enemy of the very folks that could change Italy.

    • American In Italy says:


    • Liz says:

      EXACTLY! Spot on!

      • Marcello says:

        That’s not true. Consider for example the health system (run by Regions). We have one of the best health system in the world and probably the most cost-efficient. Sure there are areas of Italy where the system does not work properly, but there are regions (not single cases) with hospitals of international excellence and, if you have a severe pathology, that’s almost entirely free

  85. Stefano Santabarbara says:

    This is of the most objective piece on the “economic/social” situation in Italy I have read so far. I do not agree on everything, but on the most. The core point is that the debt has to be decreased. In a situation where the GDP is in free fall, and on the short term, or thereabout one is left with the option of either cutting (social) service or increase taxation. None of the party intend to act on this issue (or one party on one, the other on the other and there is no agreement). The cancellation of the tax on the house, including luxury one, will only aggravate the situation. A real “spending review” will take years, reasonably to be developed and being brought at regime: still it it has not started seriously yet (this is the drama of stagnation: nothing moves).
    the other serious issue is the overcomplicate bureaucracy (I would say Bureau-crazy!). Even thought there is a dedicated “ministero” (would be a secretariat in the UK), it was occupied by people with rather dubious ability and has done pretty much nothing, if not Kaos. This search for apparent stability will bring to effective thermodynamic equilibrium, that is death of the Nation. Some of the so-called Market will love that: they’ll get the national assets, in principle profitable, for a hand of peanuts. I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel, indeed it might not be a tunnel but just an oceanic abyss and the point of no return is likely being crossed already. S

  86. Leonardo Maria Miliacca says:

    There’s absolutely no way to recovery Italy whatsoever.

    Even harvesting and burning twigs in your own garden has become illegal. No matter what you do for the others, which action you take, you are surely doing something illegal.
    It is legally impossible to DO something.


  88. Guglielmo Sanna says:

    Gli economisti sono famosi per l’accuratezza e per la lungimiranza delle loro previsioni.

    • Giacomo Gabbuti says:

      Mi risulta si tratti di un laureato in Giurisprudenza che frequenta un Dottorato in Relazioni Internazionali: è vero che siamo abituati a stare appresso a persone con ancora meno titoli, ma non lo definirei “economista”; prima di ironizzare sull’accuratezza e la lungimiranza delle previsioni altrui, verifichiamo di sapere di cosa stiamo parlando.

  89. antonio says:

    quite strange, everybody posting here is italian (me too, obviously). i think we’re definitely uninteresting…
    on the contents: i guess that the expatriates’ attitude implies some exaggeration, but the basics are right – except that the future is, as always, unforeseeable.

  90. John says:

    What a depressing article and what a depressing series of comments. Yes, there is a lot wrong with Italy and much that needs to be fixed, but even the Economist admits that one of Italy’s tragedies is that with relatively little structural change, the results in terms of growth could be exponential. Letta is a good and honest man who has a genuine desire to get to work on reform and with the long overdue demise of Berlusconi maybe, just maybe he will be able to concentrate on the job in hand and drive some genuine progress. Meanwhile, at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, how about stressing some of the positives – (i) Italy remains one of the richest countries in the developed world, it has a large and diversified economy with a strong manufacturing base, a reputation for innovation and inventiveness and (still) some of the richest regions in Europe, (ii) it leads the world in fashion, is still up there in mechanical engineering and remains one of Europe’s biggest exporters, (iii) it has not suffered a real estate bubble has low overall debt and a high savings rate, (iv) despite the FTs view, it’s banks are not, generally, in deep trouble – they have been excellently supervised by one of Europe’s leading regulators, didn’t get sucked into subprime and have required very limited bailouts and (v) in recent years it’s primary balance has been one of the best in the industrialised world.

    • lakotja says:

      … “Letta is a good and honest man who has a genuine desire to get to work on reform …” John … that’s where the last supporter of the Democratic Party was hidden

  91. William Paolo says:

    Excellent article although it seems to me that the author does not take in sufficient account the damage being done by over regulation (always legislated in the most restrictive manner) and a pervasive, intrusive and constantly growing bureaucracy.

  92. Silvia says:

    It’s a sad but true analysis. Sometimes my international friends who go beyond the “pizza & bunga bunga” stereotype struggle to realize how bad Italy really is. They think every country has its problems (bad politics, corruption, unemployment, crisis etc) and Italians just like to complain too much. Well, even if Italians do complain a lot, this is not the case. Italy is a country which is carrying on, the young generations are living on the savings of our parents (who keep their babies at home until their late 30s), but that has no future, when those savings will end and net salaries are a joke comparing to the cost of living. Our disastrous politicians are killing SMEs and ordinary employees with taxes in order to pay for projects which will be never completed, pay for public workers who will never work (or they just create some more bureaucracy to continue existing), pay for services to migrants who will never pour any fiscal contribution, pay for 6-digits salaries of an enormous number of politicians who just need a chair to stick on, and my list could just go on and on. And most of Italians are so exhausted that just accept all of this, or they don’t even care as far as there’s serie A on Sunday and the new “tronisti” of Maria de Filippi. I admire young educated and smart Italians who choose to not emigrate in spite of everything in order to be close to their families and assist their aging parents, but Italy is not going to change and neither will “l’italiano medio”, will just get worse and worse…

    • pierpin says:

      Orsi just have a quick overview, not analyzing the thruth of the italian economy: the desertification is not merely due to the opening to the eastern economy. Until the ’90 Italy’s basic an heavy production (like chemical, steel, energy) was public owned and politically direct, now are sometime public shared and privately direct, meaning not politically supervised.
      In Italy exept few company, privat industry and privat esctor were (and somehow still is) minimal in dimention and revenue, with no strategical overview and outlook.
      After the communist system had felt, there were no reason to keep such a strong public economy, but at the same time the privat sector was not able to take over.
      These are the true root of the actual situations.

      • earthling says:

        Now, we’re getting closer! (It’s really the M-A-F-I-A.)

        With the Italian government controlling more than 50% of the GDP, Italy is Europe’s largest Communist country – 20 years after Berlusconi claimed he’d clean up the corrupted political implosion. Well, he’s replaced it: with the Mafia, now at every level of industry and government.

        But even the Mafia loves doling out central Communist-style economic favors.

        It’s not 3rdWorldisation, it’s the Mafia.

    • Luigi says:

      I don’t believe in miracles therefore I completely agree that (our) Italy is a lost cause. Although in your analysis you’re probably underestimating the role that criminal organizations have played in the disruption of our country, you’re fair and make some good points. In my opinion, however, the first seed of destruction was planted in 1993 when the state negotiated with Mafia in order to end the slaughters. Let alone the fact that 20 years ago we had already built up a huge public debt, but in that precise moment we lost the confidence in ourselves as our representatives hung its head to a ruthless criminal organization. After that and, obviously, Tangentopoli, Mr. Berlusconi took office and his TV empire started broadcasting non-sense shows to raise generations of zombies. That’s what is the majority of Italians now. The economic disaster is a consequence and it will get worse.

      • Nicola says:

        basta con le esagerazioni in negativo…la situazione non è così catastrofica come la si dipinge

        • Francesco says:

          Nicola, la situazione è catastrofica, abbiamo un debito pubblico sul quale paghiamo degli interessi spropositati, tra un po’ non potremo più far fronte a questi debiti e lo stato Italiano prima o poi potrebbe “fallire” dichiarare default, se non si cambia la classe politica il modo di fare e di pensare degli Italiani, se non si migliora il sistema scolastico del nostro paese nei prossimi venti anni non rimarrà niente…

    • Strada Verde says:

      Well said, from the inside out of the ‘cuore’ of Italy

  93. Giacomo Consalez says:

    capable of or able to. Not “capable to”. Feel free to delete this comment.

  94. Gentile Roberto Orsi, sono d’ accordo in parte sul presente articolo, mentre condivido l’ intervista rilasciata sul portale italians in fuga di cui riporto il link http://www.italiansinfuga.com/2011/09/29/london-school-of-economics-l%E2%80%99esperienza-e-i-consigli-di-un-italiano-in-fuga/

    Sono d’ accordo sul fatto che nel giro di max due anni l’ Italia avrà un grave tracollo economico, che porterà perlomeno al beneficio della fine di quelle politiche assistenziali delle varie caste.
    Non sono affatto d’ accordo che tra dieci anni la situazione del paese italia sarà catastrofica.
    Se immaginiamo l’ occidente tra 10-15 anni, avremmo di fronte una situazione reale in cui i conbustibili fossili saranno quasi esauriti, con le fonti rinnovabili che saranno e di fatto sono l’ unica strada ( insieme al risparmio energetico) percorribile per continuare a vivere con la tecnologia che oggi abbiamo.
    Pertanto tutti i paesi del sole tra 10-15 anni saranno i paesi in grado di fornire l’ energia elettrica ai paesi del nord Europa con poco sole durante l’ anno.
    Questa mia riflessione è quanto di più probabile possa accadere, dato che il cosiddetto progetto Desertec ( un progetto che riguardava la possibilità di poter produrre energia con il sole nel nord africa e inviarla nel resto d’ europa) si è arenato dal fatto della ormai certa instabilità politica di quasi tutti i paesi del nord Africa. http://www.swissinfo.ch/ita/scienza_e_technologia/In_crisi,_il_progetto_Desertec_ha_ancora_un_futuro.html?cid=36632954

    Condivido poi le opportunità che offriranno i paesi dell’ area medio orientale, in particolare Arabia Saudita e cina, sia per l’ immediato futuro che tra 10 anni e oltre.
    Sia L’ Arabia Saudita che la Cina sono grossi investitori nelle rinnovabili, ciò permetterà a questi paesi di trovarsi tra 10 anni leader nella produzione da fonti rinnovabili e soprattutto avranno garantito l’ autonomia energetica, che è e sarà la vera sfida per il prossimo futuro.
    Di fatto nel mondo di oggi non è possibile, produrre, lavorare e vivere senza elettricità.
    Un complimento a Roberto Orsi che nell’ intervista a italians in fuga, dimostra come con una buona capacità di flessibilità e con buona volontà, sia fattibile lavorare in più nazioni, è un positivo esempio da imitare ed emulare.

    • roberto buffagni says:

      sono tanti, sessanta milioni di italiani. suggerisce che emigrino tutti? l’eutanasia?

      • Michele says:

        La maggior parte sono anziani e – considernado che hanno pensioni da fame – mi pare che la soluzione per loro sia gia’ stata decisa a livello statale: morte per stenti.

  95. Piero says:

    Beppe Grillo publishes on his blog an Italian translation of your post (http://www.beppegrillo.it/2013/10/la_caduta.html), but such a transation omits an entire paragraph, and it also suppresses the words “on the other hand” in the following paragraph, so that any connection to the concept expressed in the suppressed paragraph and preceded by the expression “on the one hand” is also missing.
    A link to the English text is provided, but no sign or notice warns users who are unable or unwilling to read the original post that the translation is incomplete.
    Are you aware of that?

    The missing paragraph is the following:
    “All this seems not to preoccupy the Italian political leadership. On the one hand, the country is the prisoner of a cultural duopoly: it is either the Catholic culture, or the socialist culture. Both are preoccupied with universal ambitions (somehow eschatological and increasingly anti-modernist) which make the national perspective unviable to them. Indeed, the Italian state was created by liberal-conservative and monarchist modernists, sometimes animated by virulent forms of anticlericalism, essentially the opposite of the current political elite. It is not surprising that what the former accomplished gets dismantled by the latter. The problem is not so much, however, the dismantling of the nation state, but that the nation state is not going to be replaced by any meaningful political project, leaving its space, essentially, to chaos.”

    • Carmelo Paratore says:

      Yes, I noticed that too. And, given the relevance of the ideas expressed in the passage, I believe it was simply “censored”. There are several other minor, but not unimportant, mismatches. What about the omission of closing sentence: “At the moment it seems to be a completely lost cause”?

    • Roberto Orsi says:

      Thanks for pointing this out. Indeed, the somehow rough translation posted by beppegrillo.it omits several parts of my original post, including the conclusive phrase. I have no contact with Grillo and no involvement in his political movement. In the “blogosphere”, re-posting some content that you may have found somewhere else is normally fine, as long as the original source is expressly acknowledged and there is no full copyright. This LSE Blog is of course a non-profit activity and re-posting is also all right because the content is produced under a creative commons regime. Probably Grillo has thought that those omitted parts are politically inconvenient from his viewpoint. Omission of parts is fine as well, although normally it should be indicated with […].

      • Piero says:

        Thank you for your reply. Actually, as you pointed out, minor editing of a re-posted and/or translated text is usually considered an acceptable “blogospheric” practice.
        I agree with you that more conspicuos editing interventions can be fine as well: I find nonetheless not fair for the reader omitting to put some typographical sign (like […] as you suggested, or equivalent others) in the translation or in the footnotes when relevant portions of the original text are omitted. This in particular, and with even stronger reason, if the omitted portions do not match the philosophical, religious and cultural beliefs, or the political goals of the re-publishing entity.

  96. Daniele says:

    I totally agree with the article. It is the current and real situation of Italy.
    Hopeless, we reached the point of non return….

    • Carmelo Paratore says:

      The dream of good old Aurelio Peccei is coming true. Globalized collectivism, techno-feudalism and bureaucratic rule – as opposed to national sovereignty and democracy – are already here (and in many other western countries as well). Just look: we have a Communist serving as head of State; a United Nations bureaucrat as speaker of the Chamber of Deputies; a magistrate as president of the Senate; a Bilderberg associate as Prime minister; the CEO of the Italian central bank as Minister of the economy, and so on… Whose interests do you believe these guys are possibly promoting? Perhaps the Italian people’s?

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  98. lallo says:

    L’Italia è messa malissimo. e’ evidente. Ma è tutto il mondo occidentale (sottolineo tutto) che sta estinguendosi. Alcune parti, per sopravvivere, si stanno sbranando le altre, ma il destino è segnato per tutte. La globalizzazione selvaggia, il capitalismo fuori controllo, hanno creato un motore di impoverimento dei paese benestanti destinato ad accellerare quando verranno al pettine i problemi ambientali globali (Fukushima, la desertificazione e la polluzione cinese). La realtà è che sopravviveranno i paesi capaci di realizzare una propria, indipendente, economia di sussistenza. Ma ancora oggi, nessuno si preoccupa di programmare politiche in questa direzione. Roma 2010 è dunque come la Roma dell’impero romano. Segnala il crollo di un intera civiltà. Allora ci volle poi un millennio per ricreare condizioni minime di ricivilizzazione. E Oggi?

    • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

      E’ ovvio che la situazione italiana è presente in molti altri Stati. Su questo non c’è dubbio

  99. Giovanni says:

    Partecipo in italiano per evitare figure ma soprattutto perchè principalmente mi rivolgo a Voi “Cervelli Italiani” già emigrati .

    Attratto da spunti interessanti leggo il tutto e mi si rileva una filippica triste e inconcludente. Scopro che l’autore ha origini italiane e da nuova coriosità proseguo leggendo i commenti … i più tristi dei quali proprio da miei connazionali.

    A voi “Cervelli Italiani già emigrati”, o in procinto di , auguro buon viaggio e che possiate cogliere tutta la fortuna che i vostri nuovi paesi vi offrono.
    In Italia rimaniamo noi italiani senza cervello, certi di regalare a tutto il mondo un Ri-Rinascimento, sicuri che ne apprezzerete la qualità solo a nostra morte sopraggiunta. ORGOGLIOSI di essere cittadini italiani senza cervello e consci che per giochi semantici quali ITALIA, EUROPA, MONDO non ne avevamo tempo e voglia perché altro c’era da fare.

    • nicola says:

      Io invece penso che finchè molti italiani si rifugeranno in questa mentalità campanilistica, addirittura invitanto -un pochino offesi- gli altri “a guardare a casa loro” non ne usciremo mai.
      Forse non è chiaro il fatto che in una situazione mondiale già complessa di suo, noi siamo il peggio nel peggio; non possiamo permetterci di fare i risentiti, men che meno di fare la parte degli inconsapevoli (cosa che già siamo fin troppo, se è vero -com’è vero- che in 25 anni almeno di vita politica abbiamo avuto sotto il naso e per scelta una delle peggiori classi politiche dell’età moderna, del mondo civile).

    • nicola says:

      Penso che non sia difficile per i cervelli migrati, augurarci le stesse fortune, signor Giovanni…..
      Più che i senza cervello, in Italia rimarranno sicuramente coloro che vivono in un regime oligarchico (credendo di vivere una democrazia), coloro che lavorano in una morsa monopolista (credendo di lavorare in un mercato libero), coloro che si cibano di meravigliosi frutti di una terra spesso irreversibilmente inquinata (credendo di alimentarsi nel bio-eden mediterraneo), coloro che versano mensilmente importanti somme previdenziali (illudendosi di ritrovarsele in tasca, perlomeno, in età senile), coloro che pensano le Istituzioni abbiano come “mission” la tutela del cittadino (venendo al contrario abbandonati dalle stesse), coloro che vivono nel rispetto delle norme (scoprendo poi che le stesse non sono finalizzate al miglior funzionamento civico, ma ad un mero gettito sanzionario), coloro che delegano funzionari politici alla tutela della cosa pubblica (e scoprono con troppi anni di ritardo, che gli stessi si ritengono autorizzati ad una sorta di auto-sistemazione personale), coloro che danzano e festeggiano felici sul ponte della meravigliosa nave Italia (senza accorgersi che il Titanic, a confronto, era una portaerei inaffondabile).
      Il fatto è che il campanilismo spicciolo, mixato ad una buona dose di snobismo da nobili decaduti (ma tanto decaduti) non porterà da nessuna parte, soltanto contro un muro, altro che Rinascimento, signor Giovanni.
      Non può esservi alcun orgoglio di vivere in una nazione totalmente monopolizzata dalle organizzazioni mafiose, altro che balle….

      • Giovanni says:

        Sig. Nicola, il Marchese Felipe de Aragona la ringrazia del Bignami e mi suggerisce di sottolinearle:
        in Italia rimarranno sicuramente coloro che vivono in un regime oligarchico (credendo di vivere una democrazia)
        L’Italia non è riportabile alla Corea del nord ma oltre ai libri stampati il termine democrazia non vi ha mai trovato riscontro.
        coloro che si cibano di meravigliosi frutti di una terra spesso irreversibilmente inquinata (credendo di alimentarsi nel bio-eden mediterraneo)
        I sistemi di distribuzione alimentare e accordi farlocchi hanno reso praticamente impossibile trovare cibo coltivato in Italia se non spendendo 4 o 5 volte tanto e scoprendo poi che fa pure più schifo.
        coloro che versano mensilmente importanti somme previdenziali (illudendosi di ritrovarsele in tasca, perlomeno, in età senile)
        Nessuno che conosco vede le somme previdenziali versate come un possibile ritorno in età senile se non i complici delle attuali brutture in prossimità di pensione. Questi si sono poi visti spostare l’età pensionabile più avanti.
        coloro che pensano le Istituzioni abbiano come “mission” la tutela del cittadino (venendo al contrario abbandonati dalle stesse)
        “mission”, “target”,”HR”,”Controlling”,”Istituzioni”… funzionano solo nei pps aziendali ma già al loro apparire perdono fascino, figuriamoci nella vita reale.
        coloro che vivono nel rispetto delle norme (scoprendo poi che le stesse non sono finalizzate al miglior funzionamento civico, ma ad un mero gettito sanzionario)
        dover trovare giustificazione per rispettare una norma non stà in piedi.
        coloro che delegano funzionari politici alla tutela della cosa pubblica (e scoprono con troppi anni di ritardo, che gli stessi si ritengono autorizzati ad una sorta di auto-sistemazione personale)
        Oggi i cittadini che votano in Italia non sono neanche la metà della popolazione. (Stati Uniti e altri paesi citati in commenti e articolo hanno addirittura dati peggiori) Crescendo ho scoperto che chi ha aperto gli occhi in ritardo lo ha fatto mantenedoli comunque chiusi sul suo operato e ancora li tiene ben serrati.
        coloro che danzano e festeggiano felici sul ponte della meravigliosa nave Italia (senza accorgersi che il Titanic, a confronto, era una portaerei inaffondabile)
        questa è veramente difficile…aspe… il Titanic è certamente una meraviglia dell’ingegno umano…ma non stiamo discutendo di “Uccide la pistola o l’uomo che la impugna?” quindi mi arrendo.

        • nicola says:

          Resta un fatto, signor Giovanni, che chi è emigrato e racconta la sua esperienza di vita, sarà indubbiamente triste e noioso ai suoi occhi, ma inconcludente probabilmente lo sarebbe stato rimanendo qua, in Italia. All’estero ha evidentemente concluso qualcosa, almeno dal suo punto di vista. Non entro nel merito della sua risposta per punto, perchè volendo si può sofisticare anche sul volo di una mosca, ma non sull’evidenza del fatto che essa voli. Del resto non ritenendo lei campanilista il suo primo commento, mi ha rivelato la sua precisa lunghezza d’onda. Ha ragione, quel commento non era campanilistico, ma più precisamente “stizzitamente campanilistico”.
          P.S. non avevo definito offensivo nulla di suo, ci mancherebbe altro, rilegga bene.

          • Valerio Pantalena says:

            Da manager che lavora in 5 Paesi per conto di un primario gruppo svizzero-tedesco concordo appieno con quest’ultimo commento. Anche con amarezza, bisogna ammettere che l’Italia d’oggi è completamente in mano alla corruzione.

    • Carmelo Paratore says:

      Egr. sig. Giovanni, il fatto che alcuni, o molti, vadano via, non significa che chi resta sia uno scervellato. Anzi, sotto certi aspetti alcuni potrebbero essere considerati degli “eroi”. Non dimentichiamo che molti degli artefici del Risorgimento passarono gran parte della loro vita in esilio. E (si parva licet conponere magnis), anche molti fuorusciti del ventennio fascista costituirono poi la classe dirigente del dopoguerra. Mi piace ricordare poi (reminiscenza dei miei studi classici) il poeta greco Archiloco, il Cecco Angiolieri del VII secolo a.C., che durante una spedizione militare gettò via lo scudo e fuggì, salvando la vita – ma che poi, a distanza di tempo, morì combattendo da eroe per la sua patria. Perciò: Non sien le genti, ancor, troppo sicure/a giudicar, sì come quei che stima/le biade in campo pria che sien mature. Cordialità.

  100. Una congerie di luoghi comuni (che come tutti i luoghi comuni hanno un fondo di verità, ma solo quello), che non tengono conto della causa principe del declino di Italia (e sud Europa, Francia inclusa): l’adesione ai trattati Europei e alla moneta Euro. Noi stiamo facendo la fine della DDR (http://www.libreriauniversitaria.it/anschluss-annessione-unificazione-germania-futuro/libro/9788868300142) e di qualsiasi altro stato che ha ancorato la propria moneta, relativamente più debole, a una relativamente più forte: da qui la desertificazione industriale, da qui la irresponsabilità accentuata dei politici, i quali ora non devo far altro che attuare ciò che arriva da Bruxelles (o da Berlino). Che l’Italia abbisogni di una riforma morale è altro discorso, che non attiene al declino materiale italiano ma al declino umano, oserei dire antropologico di un paese e delle sue genti.

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  102. Sara says:

    I sadly agree…
    The decadence of Italy is there..every single day..
    we look astonished at the lost of culture, of democracy, of rights, of money (of course…)
    In a few years, because of corruption and of the typical italian way of thinking “tengo famiglia” (I keep a family) excusing everything.. Italy is falling down at always lower levels.. and nobody feels guilty! (This is also typical..)
    I think most of the fault is of journals and tv journalists, which are servants of corrupted parties and corrupted politicians and don’t alert people of the laws which are made against people, against free market, against rights…and always supporting our ruling class which is corrupted, in bad faith and terribly low level.. If you speak with most of our representatives in the actual Parliament they even don’t speak a correct Italian.. and we have a President representing 100% this ruling class..
    Bad times..

    In Europe they ignore this state of things .. maybe everywhere in the world the though is how to take advantage of this state of things..
    because they always give new economic rules.. and don’t preteng / do ANYTHING about corruption in Italy..
    They think to take advantage.. but if nothing will be done, we will infect also other countries.. Corruption is a terrible illness (think of Africa!!!)

    • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

      We are european only when we give money to them or we should pay attention for migrants, but when we ask help they don’t help us and we’re not considered “european” anymore. In some parts of Europe we’re definied as “nigger of Europe” because of low civilization (according to them) but we welcome migrants, they not. But we are uncivilized and racist.. In italian: the case of the ox who say horned to the donkey

  103. alex says:

    It’s interesting to watch this virtual community of Italians that, just like me, have left Italy to invest their resources and succeed elsewhere. In short Italy is a joke, but not a funny one any more. Keep up the good work everyone

  104. Gigi Parigi says:

    é curioso: per leggere delle interessanti analisi sulla situazione italiana bisogna andare su un sito inglese.
    come si spiega?

  105. Valter Mura says:

    Penso che un po’ tutto l’occidente debba pensare al proprio declino, compresi quei paesi che oggi, come diciamo noi ancora galleggiano su questa dannata crisi, magari camminando sulle teste di qualche altro un po’ più sprovveduto. See you soon ladies and gentlemen

  106. paul simon says:

    Very sad truths.. unfortunately the thought of a federal Italy has been around since the 1800s to no avail (geeks may read Carlo Cattaneo, etc. ): way too intellectual in a place where the hottest selling newspaper was Gazzetta dello Sport until I left in 1994, I am afraid…
    Much better we leave it to the Germans and the IMF to run the country after the unevitable default, soon to happen, and focus the incumbent remaining population on mozzarella, good weather, “tette al vento” and vacations, after all, until global warming really kicks in, it still is the Florida of Europe.
    I would die to have a chance to vote Merkel to run it, after assuming our public debt, which Germans just deserve for winning the FX wars and sucking up our spending power dry while our leadership was having dinners & after hours with talented advisors such as the Sandra Milos, Moana Pozzis, Nicole Minettis, etc.
    Merkel for president is practical, doable and largely preferable to let anyone else in sight show us more of this shame…
    I left the country with top grades from a prime university as I could not find a job to pay the rent….I do not regret a single day missing to help the D’Alemas and Berlusconis, the Fondazioni Bancarie, the Ndrine, the Lay Lombard missonaries with altar-embedded motoryachts of Comunione e Tangentone, plus all the countless mobs prosper off my back and that of my family.
    Do you realize Italian medias show shoes of drowned baby immigrants every day and NOBODY talks about chasing the criminals who brought them here?? Why can’t they buy drones to shoot them in Lybia like Obama, or shoot their patrons in some province of Italy where the mobsters probably sit comfortably watching their pre-paid one-way shipping accomplishments unharmed. Why does Italy need F35s if they do not know how to use them?
    What are they doing with the radars of the military marine and aviation, looking for the Costa Concordia still, or the Itavia-jet near Ustica since the 1980s??
    Until the “cultura della furbizia” is done with for good, Italians deserve to enjoy what they created, most of them, from the grocery store merchant to the largest family fortunes, played the same game at different levels of the food chain and they will harvest what they planted. Radetzky march!!!

  107. The long story of Italy show:

    1. Fragmentation has been a clear failure;

    2. Centralized state has been a clear failure (except, for a while, roman empire).

    In the middle?

    • Valerio Pantalena says:

      1. Fragmentation has been a clear failure

      Was it? In a pre-westfalian order world status, yes, division exposed to aggression. A federal state formed by self-sustained provinces, such as Switzerland for example, would be better of than today. IMHO

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  109. Paolo says:

    The demographic and cultural conformation of Italy is really not that different than any other country in the world. Can anyone say Germany is a cohesive country with its north south and now east west cultural and economical differences? Great Britain which already recognized its diversity by adopting the name UK (a collection of smaller, often disagreeing kingdoms)? The US, made of people from all over the world? Brazil, with a plethora of ethnical, cultural, linguistic differences? China, divided by language, religion, ethnicity and economic rifts? Syria anyone?
    No one country, no one region, no one city, no one family can describe itself as truly united and cohesive.
    The problem of Italy is indeed moral, cultural, strategic and pragmatic. The corruption of its ruling class has become PAINFULLY clear. The country is in the hands of a “PUTTANIERE” and its “LECCACULO” (please forgive me, it must be said), while its few true dedicated servants languish in a quagmire of rules, bickering and plain and simple stupidity.
    This is why I left, 20 years ago. I saw it coming and I wanted nothing to do with such immorality.
    Italiani, sollevatevi, ribellatevi, riprendete la vostra DIGNITA’.

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  112. Dott. Giuseppe Ortigoni says:

    “The founders of the Italian state one hundred and fifty-two years ago had fought and even died hoping to bring Italy back to a central position as a cultural and economic powerhouse within the Western world, as the one it occupied in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.”

    And that, dear sirs, is the issue. Italy, as such, never has been anything. Not in the Middle Ages, not in the Renaissance. Simply because, as such, Italy does not, nor ever did, exist. And the very invention of Italy was a political manoeuver, based upon no solid demographic, economical or cultural elements whatsoever. I’m sorry but, there is no “Italy”. Italians have nothing more in common than, say, a French and a German do. They might appear a “unit” to a foreigner’s eyes, but just as much as all Europeans are similar to, for example, Asian people.

    Let me be absolutely clear on this: there is no Italy. There is no shared sense of pride, culture, or anything. We are just a bunch of regions, with the most different and often radically opposite historical, cultural, linguistic, demographic backgrounds, that were forced to live together under one name. Just like Europe, but way more forcefully.

    And to command this cattleship, a series of central government that were no more than puppets and thieves at best, they knew there was no Italy, there was no future for the political construct, so they saw fit to grab as much as they could while they were in office. Can’t really blame them there, anyone would, if given such a hopeless task.

    Let me reiterate: there is no real Italy. Disregarding how uniform the stereotype of “Italian” culture might look to foreign eyes (and such stereotype is based on a very small demographic sample of the Italian population, and limited to a very precise geogrpahical and cultural context), there is no such thing. There is no shared Italian culture, cuisine, history, geography, climate and what the hell, there is not even a generally accepted Italian language.

    There is no Italy. It is time that the world (Italy included) starts to realize this.

    • nanci says:

      totally agree. we don’t even like each other. Lombardy’d rather be with Swiss, for instance. Sardinia is not Italy. they never wanted to be.

      anyway, I’m so sorry. we can’t explain how or why Berlusconi has been in charge for 20 and is still around. foreign friends ask me and I don’t know what to say.

      I’m so sorry, sad and a bit ashamed. I’d love to be proud.

      • Paolo2 says:

        Berlusca hasn’t been in charge for 20 years. It has been for more or less ten; same as the left ex comunist.
        Anyway I can easly explain why Berlusca has been in charge for so logn:
        Berlusconi exists because the ex-comunists exist too. And they are so pathetic and brainless to force the majority of the normal people to vote everything, even a monkey if the case. Only to prevent people with foolish and absurd ideas to be in charge.

        The federal project was proposed by lega nord, but that party and his projects were rudely opposed by the left; with their “trinariciuti” (threenostriled, with three nostrils to smell better the wind of public opinion) politicians accusing them of racism.
        Then that party rotted away along with the puttaniere.

        • Enrico says:

          I might have an answer on why berlusconi has been in charge for 20 years (and Italy has totally failed in the contemporary socio-economic development): because MEDIASET AND FININVEST have been in charge (of italians’ brains, eyes, hears and mouths) for 35 years. Everybody’s’ Brains! Mine and yours included. When cultural models are disastrous for 35 years, then economic, industrial and investment decisions are a disaster as well. They just mechanically follow. So If somebody ask me if it has been the television (and the cultural models in general) the principal (not the only one! But the main one) reason why Italy is currently in this state my answer is: YES without a doubt. I’m maybe naive, but that’s what I’ve always thought and that’s what I still strongly think.

        • martian says:

          I totally agree. he exists because of them and their foolish political proposals.

    • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

      I totally agree with you. Expecially when you said: “Let me be absolutely clear on this: there is no Italy. There is no shared sense of pride, culture, or anything. We are just a bunch of regions, with the most different and often radically opposite historical, cultural, linguistic, demographic backgrounds, that were forced to live together under one name. Just like Europe, but way more forcefully.”
      We must start to realize this: we are italics, not italians. I’m sicilian italic, Lombardy is lombardian italic etc. I wrote an article in italian where I spoke about this —> http://corrieregiovane.blogspot.it/2013/10/e-meglio-fare-gli-stati-uniti-ditalia.html.
      Do you think it’s time to do the correct Italy, the “United States of Italy”? I think.

      • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

        It’s like Spain, andalusians, catalans, basques: they are not spanish, they are iberians

        • Dott. Giuseppe Ortigoni says:

          In my opinion, it’s not much a matter of denomination, as much as a matter of “should not be together”. There really is no reason to consider the Italian regions as one single sovereign state: the fact that such a construct has been invented and imposed should not be grounds for further speculation, and the fact that said state has failed at everything since its invention, should be proof enough of its inadequacy. No other European country has racked up such an astonishing amount of fails under every possible respect: economy, wars, demographic, culture, instruction, corruption, and whatnot. Italy has failed at every possible meter of judging a nation, many a time: it should be indicative of something wrong at a deeper level than “just” mismanagement and corrupt government.

          • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

            “United States of Italy” is NOT just a denomination, it’s a new way for Italy, a federal republic. In my opinion, USI is a great idea. Every single Regions govern itselves, what did they do after Italian unification? USI should be already done in 1861 because it was (and it is still) the best thing to do. This is the truth

          • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

            Maybe we have two difference ideas for “Italy”

        • Valter Mura says:

          Holy crap, this is what we italian are :
          quarrelsome & ashamed of our country.. Congratulations to all Italians here around, that’s what the world wants to know about us (bravi)

          • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

            Nope, you’re wrong. We’re not ashamed of our country, we’re discussing about a way to have a better country by a different type of government. What do you think, we want a not united italy? That’s not the discourse.

    • Federico says:

      I agree with you, Italy is just a name, but there is not a real sense of a nation, and that is perfectly natural if you see the history of our country, that is much much younger than every other western state of Europe… after all Italy is just 150 years old!

      You speak of regions, in many cases I would tell provincies as, for example, in tuscany, where I live, every province has a different culture and you cann actually feel it and see the difference, The fact that there is no war anymore doesn’t mean we became a nation all of a sudden. Making a central and one state of the peninsula has been a real big mistake.

      But right now, in this historical period, is maybe too late to propose something as a “USI”. That is because the first “italians” are starting to appear, people till the age of 25-30 are starting to feel italians, so probably, in a couple of generations, there will be a wider italian feeling across the nation (if it will still exist).

      Anyway something as a federal state for Italy, or a similar type of government, could be the only solution to come out of this chaos. Every region/province is so different now that NEEDS a different type of managment. But I strongly doubt that something like this will ever happen.

      • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

        Totally agree with you. I made every summer 1.200 km Catania/Bergamo by car and I see the huge differences between Sicily and Lombardy, not only economic, in history, mentality, do business, do agriculture, etc They have different way of life. Tuscany is totally different, such as Trentino or Sardinia or Liguria. In sum, every Italian Region is totally different with the others. And i feel the differences.
        I think USI is not too late, yeah sure it should had been already 152 years ago but i think now it’s the perfect time to show federal Italy is much better than the “united” Italy. I hope that the Government with the open poll of Constitutional reforms could realize that the future of this country is one: United States of Italy.

        • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

          Every Region is able to govern itself, such as every City is able too. It’s time to watch to the American model of Government.

    • max says:

      Sure, Italy is a large country with a lot of regional differences. But the same could be said for Germany, where the Bavarians are proud of not being Germans. Still, Germany is the leader nation in Europe and in the world. And looking to the USA, New Yorkers, Californians, Texans feel being very different from the rest of the country. Not to mention the British.
      So, looking at those other countries, the arguments telling that the Italian crisis is due to Italy’s lack of homogeneity have no real grounds.

      The real reason for Italy’s crisis is in the fact that the majority of Italians have accepted corruption in the government and government’s contiguity to organized crime as a “fact of life”. This has led to a series of extremely incompetent and short-sighted governments which have spent public money extremely inefficiently, with consequent explosion of public debt.

      The only viable way forward for Italy is that the majority of Italians realize that only the pursuit of the public interest leads to a healthy and prosperous society. Until then, the country will continue on its way to Greece.

      • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

        Yes but for example Germany and USA are federals, Italy not.

        • max says:

          20 years ago when Italy was a global economic and cultural superpower, it was not a federal nation, so the issue of being federal or not seems to me irrelevant to understand the reasons of the crisis and how to go out of it. Frankly, I don’t care.

          What is different between the 80’s and today? The PUBLIC DEBT: today Italy has a public debt of 130% of the GDP, i.e. ~5-6% of the GDP every year are used to pay interests on the debt. That enormous amount of money is taken away from the real economy to fuel the global financial speculation. Without the public debt, the state would be able to invest that 5-6% of GDP in the public interest. Imagine what could be possible to do with that amount of publicly invested money.

          Why have we arrived to this situation of unbearable debt? During the ’80s corrupt and inept politicians did two critical things: 1) separation of the Italian central bank from the ministry of finances, and 2) privatisation of public banks. The public banks owned the central bank, so their privatisation implied to the privatisation of the central bank.

          When the state owned banks, the public banks massively purchased public debt, keeping the interest rates low and virtually at zero cost. If the public banks lend money to the state it is like moving your money from one pocket to the other. The debt is only virtual.

          With the privatization of banks the situation has changed, leading to the situation we face today. Money is not moved from one pocket to the other, but is given mostly to financial speculators who don’t care about public interest, healthcare, pensions, education.

          By coincidence, Germany has not privatised its public banking system, so it keeps on taking advantage of massively lending money to itself, thus keeping the public debt under control and not draining huge amounts of cash from the real economy towards the financial speculation.

          • Dott. Giuseppe Ortigoni says:

            “20 years ago when Italy was a global economic and cultural superpower, it was not a federal nation, so the issue of being federal or not seems to me irrelevant to understand the reasons of the crisis and how to go out of it. ”

            In 1993 Italy was definitively NOT a global economic or cultural superpower. I’m not really sure on which basis you claim this. Yes, the media made you guys believe so, but the foundation of the current social devastation were there already, growing, and nobody really cared.

          • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

            Has Italy never been federal? Never. The federalism introcuded by Northen Lega is not a real federalism, is a fiscal federalism. Real federalism is the USA model when every single Region has its own rules, its own laws, its own bureaucracy etc

        • Stefano Santabarbara says:

          since “power” was deployed to the regional governments there has been a sharp decrease in the quality of the assistance (health and local transport are the most obvious cases), with a huge rise in cost, fragmentation of services and tariffs. Simply the regional politicians and bureaucrats shares the same mentality and habits of the central governments. Until there won’t be a change in mentality, thinking at the good for the country and not the good of a party (of few) then the hope for improvement are slim

      • martian says:

        I smell good ole communism everywhere.
        please, define “public interest”.

    • Luigi says:

      Non sono d’accordo, per il semplice fatto che questo discorso, vale per tutte le nazioni del mondo. Ogni stato è composto da tante culture, diverse, lingue diverse, l’Italia ha la particolarità che è stata governata negli ultimi 20 anni da persone totalmente incompetenti. Luigi

      • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

        Questi “ultimi” 20 anni sono strumentali. In realtà facevano vedere dei dati internazionali come il declino italico è sessantennale in termini di sviluppo e di PIL

        • max says:

          Scusa, ma la storia del declino sessantennale non mi quadra, si andrebbe indietro all’inizio degli anni cinquanta, quando l’Italia era appena uscita con le ossa rotte dalla guerra.

          • Mario Antonino D'Aquino says:

            Appunto. I dati dicevano che il rapporto tra crescita e PIL si é abbassato sempre più dal ’52 al 2012.

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