The Italian Constitution ranks politics as the highest field of the human activity. In it, both personal and social life find their best coupling and result. In the political sphere, one can find its ideals and the means to achieve them. It is the noblest committment possible, the epithome of democracy and the synthesis of all others human actions. The prestige given to politics was the bastion of the Italian post-war period. It marked a new renaissance, not only a material reconstruction. After WWII Italy and Europe were again on the brink of another conflict, but ambiton to peace and stability prevailed. Even in turbolent times due to the cold war, Italy knew how to cope with these issues: a free and prosperous society was progressively built. Politics pull the change. The economy took its part too, but it was driven, not left alone, without rules or protection.
After rebuilding its society, Italy experienced its “economic miracle”. Consumption rose, as well as profits and wages. The country was also well acnowledged in the international arena, manly in the new European Community. The Italian politicians, even with their specific differences, knew their mission: set the example, select the priorities, establish fruitful relations. The government’s role in the economy was both needed and successful. The ruling class proved its ability in mixing two apparently unconcilable elements: a free-enterprise system with a strong govenment’s influence. Take the case of car industry. The biggest national company, Fiat, had growing manufacturing capacities and competences. What needed was the help to create a market for a nation predominantly still poor. A country full of peasants was on the verge of a mass motorization. The political milieu decided to build higways, to gurantee supply of gasoline, to protect the local industry from the Japanese competitors.
Many big italian companies were publicly owned but privately run. It was an innovative formula, where the Italian politicians set the standards for other European experiences. State holdings like IRI – Istituto Ricostruzione Industriale – consolidated different interests in various fields, from civil aviation to national broadcasting, from car manufacturing to banking. Responsibility of a widespred growth was a reason for fame. Politicians at that time were supoorted or criticised, but in any case their competence was out of question. They showed dedication and commanded respect.
Ironically, the reduction of ideological tensions did not free energies but provoked a reduced importance for the politicians’s task. Italy was exposed to a full and comprehensive globalization after the disruption of the Berlin wall. That was a period when politics was called for a step back. It looked like the world was dominated by a single mindset: create wealth by removing all obstacles. That was the philosophy of liberism, represented by institutions like the International Monetary Fund or the World Trade Organization. Politics was deemed as an hindrance, rather than a guide. It is easy to go back in time and recall the famous quotation by former US president Ronald Reagan: “Government is the problem, not the solution”.
Moreover, politics is now less powerful than before. Many fields have been transferred to multinational entities. Italy has statutary obligations with the European Union. The country cannot have an independent monetray policy, neither perpetuate its fiscal spending. The common currency, the Euro, does not allow any devaluation, like Italy did in the past with the lira to promote its export. From the military standpoint, international alliances limit any decision-making as well. We are in a specific circuit whose target is prosperity in democracy, but sometimes it is left in disarray and unbalance.
If politics left its dominant position, business took many of its prerogatives. That was a consequence of the growing role of economics. Today, it seem the power to hold money is more important than the common good, which was only pursued by the political field. If the primary intention was to create value, now it is crucial to extract money wherever is possible. Europe, and specifically Italy, are in a difficult position, because its destiny is given to the corporations’ results instead of searching a harmonious and progressive advancement. Politics cannot be replaced by money. The latter must be a tool in the former’s hands. If a lesson can be learned from China is that the society’s direction is made of principles, not only by interests. Liberism and globalization cannot be the only drivers, otherwise citizens are turnd into mere consumers. Stability, dignity, and a balanced prosperity should be in evey govenment’s agenda. Business is necessary, but not sufficient per se. We need ambitious plans for material achievements.
To run a country is not a privilege but a duty. Protection of the fellow citizens requires the best minds available. To ensure credibility and respect is mandatory to gain a mandate, either from the heaven or from the earth. That is the politics’ role.