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Italy: The Center Cannot Hold
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For a generation, acceptance of the neoliberal doctrine “there is no alternative” has paralyzed politics in the West. If there is no alternative, what is politics to be about?

The Authoritarian Center

The traditional governing parties, center “left” and center “right” all follow the same neoliberal policies and constitute the self-designated “center”. Mainstream media enforce center right claims to authority on the base of orthodox economic expertise, while the center left derives its authority from its “values”, centered on an identity politics version of human rights. “Center” sounds so reasonable, so safe from dangerous “extremes” and unpredictable populism. Against such threats, the Center presents itself as the champion and safeguard of “democracy”.

How true is this?

World Values Survey results indicate that in Europe and the United States, people who describe themselves as “centrist” on the average have less attachment to democracy (e.g. free and fair elections) that those on the left, and even those on the far right.[1]David Adler, “Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists”, The New York Times, May 23, 2018. This is not as surprising as it may seem at first, since “centrists” are by definition attached to the status quo. In European countries, the authoritarian neoliberal “center” is institutionalized in the European Union, which imposes economic policy over the heads of the parliaments of the member countries, dictating measures which conform to the choices of Germany and northern Europe, but are increasingly disastrous for the Southern EU members.

The Rise of the Outcasts

The Centrist fear of democracy was resoundingly confirmed by March 4 legislative elections in Italy. The Center was relegated to the margins and outsiders burst inside. The winner, with 32% of the votes, was the Five Star Movement (M5S) whose campaign “against corruption” won popular support in the impoverished South. In second place, with 17%, was “the League”, formerly the Northern League – that is, a party of rich North Italy chauvinists ready to secede from the “lazy good-for-nothing” south. It took almost three months for this extremely odd couple to agree to a coalition government.

The mystique of the European Union is anti-nationalism, based on the theory that “nations” are bad because they caused the devastating wars of the twentieth century, while European unification is the sole guarantee of “peace”. Convinced of their mission, the Eurocentrists have had no qualms in throwing out the baby of democratic choice along with the nationalist bathwater.

The notion that “peace” depends on “Europe” persists despite the NATO bombing of Serbia and European participation in U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, not to mention EU participation in the current major military buildup in the Baltic States against “the Russian enemy”. Indeed, thanks to NATO, the EU is gearing for a war even worse than the previous ones.

Since the “nation-state” is blamed for evil in the world, the Eurocentrists react with horror at growing demands in Member States for a return to “national sovereignty”. This, however, is a natural reaction to the economic and social disasters resulting from policies dictated by EU institutions in Brussels. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty legally bound member countries to centralized neoliberal monetarist policies; not only “socialism” became illegal – even Keynesianism was ruled out. Promised endless peace and prosperity, citizens of European countries were cajoled into giving up their sovereignty to EU institutions, and many now want it back.

Disillusioned Italy

Italian disillusion is particularly significant. Italy was an exceptionally enthusiastic founding member of the unification begun with the 1957 Treaty of Rome. And yet, Italy’s own history illustrates what can go wrong with such unification, since the 19th century political creation of a unified Italy centered in Turin led to the enrichment of the industrial north at the expense of southern Italy, where the splendor of Naples declined into chronic poverty, crime and corruption. Now Italy is “the south”, in the periphery of a European Union centered around Germany.

Antagonism between North and South Italy has given way to a much stronger antagonism between Italy and Germany – each blaming the other for the crisis.

It is only fair to recall that Germans were very attached to their Deutsche Mark and to their own austere financial policies. Germany could only be lured into the common currency by agreeing to let the euro follow German rules. France eagerly supported this concession based on the notion that the common currency would unify Europe. It is doing quite the opposite.

Germany is a major exporting nation. Its trade with the rest of the EU is secondary. It uses the EU as its hinterland as it competes and trades on the global scale with China, the United States and the rest of the world. The proceeds of Germany’s favorable EU trade balance is less and less invested in those countries but in Germany itself or outside the EU. In the official German view, the main function of the Southern EU members is to pay back their debts to Germany.

Meanwhile, Italy’s once flourishing industrial network has lost its competitive edge due to the euro. It cannot save its exports by devaluation, as it was accustomed to doing. Italy’s debt is now 132% of its GNP, whereas the Maastricht Treaty governing the monetary union puts a ceiling of 60% on national debt. And to continue paying the debt, public services are cut back, the middle class is impoverished, the domestic market declines and the economy gets even weaker.

This is precisely the situation that has plunged Greece into ever deepening poverty.

But Italy is not Greece. Greece is a small peripheral country, which can be pounded to death by creditors as a warning of what can happen to others. Italy, on the contrary, is too big to fail. Its collapse could bring the whole EU crashing down.

Italy’s Potential Strength Through Weakness

The traditional Italian parties had no solution beyond those that have ruined Greece: cut back social spending, impoverish workers and pensioners, and pay back the foreign banks, with interest.

The odd coalition of the League and the M5S was obliged to try something different: basically, to invest in the economy rather than abandon it to its creditors. Their program combines lower taxes with Keynesian stimulation of investment. Since the leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, and Luigi Di Maio of M5S do not like each other, they selected law professor Giuseppe Conte to be Prime Minister in their coalition cabinet. The interesting choice was that of Paolo Savona for the key post of Minister of Economy and Finance. Savona, whose long career has taken him across the summits of Italian and international finance, was certainly the most qualified choice imaginable. Savona knows everything there is to know about the Italian economy and international currency creation.

And yet, it was the appointment of this 81-year-old expert that created outrage in the Eurocenter.

The uproar was spurred by the fact that in one of his books Savona had described the euro as “a German prison”. Savona had also said it was necessary to prepare a Plan B, to leave the euro if there is no other choice. “The alternative is to end up like Greece.”

This hint of disloyalty to the euro was totally unacceptable to the European establishment.

The Center struck back in the person of the largely figurehead President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, who used, or misused, his unique constitutional power by refusing to approve the government. On May 28, he designated as Prime Minister Carlo Cottarelli of the International Monetary Fund – a man who represented everything the Italians had just voted against. Known in Italy as “Mr. Scissors” for his advocacy of drastic government spending cuts, Cottarelli was supposed to run an apolitical “technical” government until new elections could be held in the fall.

This coup against the Italian voters caused momentary rejoicing in the Authoritarian Center. The European Budget Commissioner (a German of course), Günther Oettinger, was reported to be gloating over the prospect that “the markets” (meaning the financial markets) would soon teach Italians how to vote. Italy’s economy “could be so drastically impacted”, he said, as to send a signal to voters “not to vote for populists on the right and left.”

This simply intensified Italian indignation against “German arrogance”.

Meanwhile Savona wrote a letter to President Mattarella which introduced a bit of cold reason into an increasingly hysterical situation. He reminded the president that an important meeting of EU heads of state was to be held at the end of June; without a political government, Italy would be absent from negotiations which could seal the fate of the EU. Italy’s plea for economic change could expect French support. Savona denied having called for leaving the euro; in the spirit of game strategy, he had mentioned the need for Plan B in order to strengthen one’s position before negotiations. He made it clear that his strategy was not to leave the euro but to transform it into a genuine rival to the dollar.

“Germany prevents the euro from becoming ‘an essential part of foreign policy’, as the dollar is for the United States”, wrote Savona. But change becomes necessary, as the dollar is less and less suitable for its role as world currency.

Indeed, the Italian crisis merges with a mounting trans-Atlantic crisis, the U.S. uses sanctions as a weapon in competition with its European “partners”. The paradox is that Italy could use its very weakness to oblige Germany to reconsider its monetary policy in a moment when the German economy is also facing problems due to U.S. sanctions on deals with Russia and Iran, as well as protectionist measures. Savona’s message was that clever diplomacy could work to Italy’s advantage. In its own interest, Germany may need to accept transformation of the euro into a more proactive currency, able to defend European economies from U.S. manipulation.

It was a matter of hours before Cottarella stepped back and a new M5S-League government was formed, with Savona himself back as Minister of Relations with the European Union.

Italy’s Double Jeopardy

The new Italian cabinet sworn in on June first is riven with contradictions. Despite all the released anti-EU sentiment, it is definitely not an “anti-EU” government. Conte is back as Prime Minister. The new foreign minister, Enzo Moavero Milnesi, is a staunch pro-European. As Interior Minister, the northern Italy chauvinist Salvini – who doesn’t even care particularly for Southern Italians – will get tough with migrants. As Minister of Economic Development, Di Maio will try to find ways improve conditions in the southern regions that elected him. Since Salvini is the more experienced of the two, the League is likely to profit from the experiment more than the M5S.

Some Italians warn that by leaving the “German prison” Italy would simply find itself even more dependent on the United States.

One should never forget that ever since the end of World War II, Italy is an occupied country, with dozens of U.S. military bases on its territory, including air bases with nuclear weapons poised to strike the Middle East, Africa or even Russia. The Italian Constitution outlaws participation in aggressive war, and yet Italian bases are freely used by the United States to bomb whichever country it pleases, regardless of how Italians feel about it. Worst of all, the U.S. used its Italian “NATO bases” to destroy Libya, a disaster for Italy which thereby lost a valuable trade partner and found itself inundated with African refugees and migrants. While international financial experts exhort Italy to cut government expenses, the country is obliged by NATO to spend around 13 billion euros to buy 90 U.S. F-35 fighters and to increase its military spending to around 100 million euros per day.

Italy’s economic prospects have been badly hit by U.S.-enforced sanctions against trade with Russia and Iran, important potential energy sources.

U.S. economic aggression, in particular Trump’s rejection of the Iranian nuclear deal, is the issue with the potential to bring European leaders together at a time when they were drifting apart. But at present, the Europeans are unable to defy U.S. sanctions in punishment for trade with those countries because their international dealings are in dollars. This has already led to U.S. exacting billions of dollars in fines from the biggest French and German banks, the BNP and Deutsche Bank, for trading that was perfectly legal under their own laws. The French petroleum giant has been obliged to abandon contracts with Iran because 90% of its trade is in dollars, and thus vulnerable to U.S. sanctions. And that is why the idea is growing of building financial instruments around the euro that can protect European companies from U.S. retaliation.[2]See Wolfgang Münchau, “The euro must be made more robust to rival the dollar; US sanctions expose the mistakes made by the founders of the single currency”, The Financial Times, 27 May, 2018. https://www.ft.com/content/ca8c6826-5f76-11e8-ad91-e...56df68

The Disappearance of the Left

The disappearance of left political forces has been almost total in Italy. There are many reasons for this, but a curable part of the problem has been the inability of what remains of the left to face up to the two main current issues: Europe and immigration.

The left has so thoroughly transformed its traditional internationalism into Europism that it has been unable to recognize EU institutions and regulations as a major source of its problems. The stigmatization of “the nation” as aggressively nationalistic has held back left ability to envisage and advocate progressive policies at the national level, instead putting its hopes forever in a future hypothetical “social Europe”. Such a transformation would require unanimity under EU rules – politically impossible with 28 widely differing Member States.

Without such inhibitions, the far right capitalizes on growing discontent.

Another related handicap of the left is its inability to recognize that mass immigration is indeed “a problem” – especially in a country like Italy, with a flagging economy and 20% official unemployment (although this figure is probably too high, considering undeclared labor). There is resentment that prosperous Germany issued a general invitation to refugees, which for geographic reasons pile in Mediterranean countries unable to cope. The mass influx of economic migrants from Africa is not even “taking jobs away from” Italians – the jobs are not there to take. These migrants fled war and misery to come to Europe in order to earn money to send back to their families, but how can they meet possibly meet these expectations?

It is all very well to extol the glorious hospitality of America entreating the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”. Such generosity was suited to a new nation with huge empty spaces and rapidly growing industry in need of a work force. The situation of a “full” nation in a time of economic downturn is quite different. What is to become of the tens of thousands of vigorous young men arriving on Italian shores where there is nothing for them to do except sell African trinkets on the sidewalks of tourist centers? To make matters worse, the great contemporary thrust of technical innovation aims at replacing more and more workers with robots. Leftist denial of the problem leaves its exploitation and resolution to the extreme right.

Some leftist politicians in Italy, such as Stefano Fassina of the Sinistra Italiana are waking up to this need. A left that dogmatically ignores the real concerns of the people is doomed. A bold, honest, imaginative left is needed to champion Italians’ independence from both German-imposed austerity and the expensive military adventurism demanded by the United States. But the interlaced problems created by unregulated globalization do not lend themselves to easy solutions.

Notes

[1] David Adler, “Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists”, The New York Times, May 23, 2018.

[2] See Wolfgang Münchau, “The euro must be made more robust to rival the dollar; US sanctions expose the mistakes made by the founders of the single currency”, The Financial Times, 27 May, 2018. https://www.ft.com/content/ca8c6826-5f76-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68

 
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  1. Decent article, but a few quibbles.

    Italy’s primary problem is not the euro per se. It isn’t even the much talked about “proliferagacy”. Italy has in fact run a primary surplus for most of the last 20 years (primary surplus is the government budgetary balance sans interest payments). Italy’s main problem is the disastrous lack of productivity.

    Its per capita productivity growth has actually declined by 0.1% the last 20 years, versus around 0.7% positive growth for Germany and 0.6% for France. What explains this? Supply side factors. Italy has many large-scale firms which are world-class. This leads a naïve observer to conclude that the problem lies elsewhere.

    Scratch the surface a little bit, and you’ll find that the main problem for Italy is in the SME sector. The comparison with the German Mittelstand is relevant here. Though many German firms are still family-owned, they nevertheless have a significant amount of meritocracy. Family scions frequently take on more ceremonial roles if they can find a competent outsider to run large parts of the company. By contrast, Italian SMEs are much more nepotistic. Italy also has far less labour mobility, meaning that the potential pool of labour that a local company can draw from is quite limited.

    There is therefore no easy solution. Devaluation is not a panacea. Italy is running a current account surplus already. Their problem is lack of growth, which in turn is rooted in supply-side factors.

    There’s a good paper by Luigi Zingales of University of Chicago (himself an Italian) as you can surmise. He writes a lot of what I’ve outlined in greater detail if anyone is interested in diving deeper:

    https://research.chicagobooth.edu/-/media/research/stigler/pdfs/workingpapers/14diagnosingtheitaliandisease.pdf?la=en&hash=FB3054008103B1E0E24E3F7E1D307523B0B2AD5F

    The Bank of Italy has also weighed in:

    https://www.bancaditalia.it/pubblicazioni/qef/2018-0422/index.html?com.dotmarketing.htmlpage.language=1

    The take-away is that there is no simple solution, Italy’s problems are deep, structural and tied to their social organisation. Devaluation, while tempting, would not fix these issues and given that Italy is already running a current account surplus, it is hard to make the case for one. Their exports is already competitive. Their debt problem stems from lack of growth, not persistent budget deficits (mostly running a primary surplus for past few decades).

  2. @Polish Perspective

    Just to illustrate the point about the myth of ‘profligate’ Italy.

    The problem is lack of growth, not lack of fiscal discpline. And the lack of growth is rooted in deeply entrenched supply-side structural patterns, which changing the currency (or letting it devalue) will do nothing to fix.

  3. The interesting thing is that it is in Italy the same as in France, both what is called extreme left, Mélenchon, and extreme right, Marine le Pen, are against the EU.
    In the first round of the presidential elections Mélenchon and Le Pen together got 40% of the votes.
    In Italy now what is called extreme left and extreme right together formed a government.
    Brussels fears for the euro.
    They’re quite right, the southern European countries, including France, have a long histories of solving economic problems by devaluation, made impossible by the euro.
    As the retired German sociologist Seeckt, retired men can speak their minds, says ‘the big mistake of the EU was (and is, my opinion) that the northern EU countries said to the southern “become like us” ‘.
    Cultures change very slowly, in France traces of the Louis XIV reign can still be found, a love of bureaucracy.

    • Agree: Mike P
  4. @Polish Perspective

    In about 1973 an Italian consultant said to me ‘there is only one way to solve our problems, sell our civil servants for what they cost, and buy them back for what they’re worth’.

  5. renfro says:

    World Values Survey results indicate that in Europe and the United States, people who describe themselves as “centrist” on the average have less attachment to democracy (e.g. free and fair elections) that those on the left, and even those on the far right

    I find this article sort of weird. And the above statement is based on this—->David Adler, “Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists”, The New York Times, May 23, 2018
    Which is based on this—->http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSDocumentationWV6.jsp

    And theses questions:…..which are totally sloppy. For instance question V138. ‘People obey their rulers. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10.’ is a ridiculous kindergarten question. A ‘serious’ question on the value of democracy would have been “People obey the (rule of) law”, not ‘rulers’. Sorry, this is junk in which evidently those who didnt go for 1 or 2 or 9 or 10 were categorized as centrist and you and Adler somehow interpreted that as the problem.
    Then you proceed to say ..”Leftist denial of the problem leaves its exploitation and resolution to the extreme right.’
    And that….’A bold, honest, imaginative left is needed to champion Italians’ independence from both German-imposed austerity and the expensive military adventurism demanded by the United States. ‘

    So what is your point? ….That ‘centrist’ should move to the left to solve your problems?

    The survey questions:

    [MORE]

    ”I’m going to describe various types of political systems and ask what you think about each as a way of
    governing this country. For each one, would you say it is a very good, fairly good, fairly bad or very bad
    way of governing this country? (Read out and code one answer for each):
    Very
    good
    Fairly
    good
    Fairly
    bad
    Very bad
    V127. Having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament and elections
    1
    2
    3
    4
    V128. Having experts, not government, make decisions
    according to what they think is best for the country
    1
    2
    3
    4
    V129. Having the army rule
    1
    2
    3
    4
    V130. Having a democratic political system
    1
    2
    3
    4
    (Show Card T)
    Many things are desirable, but not all of them are essential characteristics of democracy. Please tell me for
    each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale
    where 1 means “not at all an essential characteristic of democracy” and 10 means it definitely is “an
    essential characteristic of democracy” (read out and code one answer for each):
    Not an essential An essential
    characteristic characteristic
    of democracy of democracy
    V131. Governments tax the rich and subsidize the poor. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V132. Religious authorities ultimately interpret the laws. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V133. People choose their leaders in free elections. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V134. People receive state aid for unemployment. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V135. The army takes over when government is incompetent. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V136. Civil rights protect people from state oppression. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V137. The state makes people’s incomes equal. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V138. People obey their rulers. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    V139 Women have the same rights as men.

    • Replies: @Iris
  6. Bartolo says:

    Good analysis of the reasons the left has declined. I do not see them changing course, but rather doubling down. In Spain, Podemos wants to have universal basic income (or something close to it) AND open borders…

  7. For a generation, acceptance of the neoliberal doctrine “there is no alternative” has paralyzed politics in the West. If there is no alternative, what is politics to be about?

    What is politics to be about? Why, tranny bathrooms, of course!

  8. My blood runs cold,
    My nation has just been sold,
    Thus the center cannot hold,
    Thus the centrists must fold.

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
  9. j2 says:

    Not being any kind of an economist and in general mistrusting economy as a wannabe science, I would just take a compass, find the economic center point of EU and draw a circle. Whatever is far from the center will face problems because in unification the center develops faster than the outskirts. The traditional solution to this dilemma is to have borders (no unification) since borders create a micro-economy that can function in its limits (better than outskirts of an unified economy) just like animal species can survive if there are natural barriers but removing them many species die out. Another alternative is to pack your bags and move closer to the center.

  10. TG says:

    I agree with much of this. But a quibble when you say that the EU was created out of a desire to remove the evil of nationalism and create peace. That’s the lipstick on the pig. The EU was and is entirely devoted to boosting the profits of the super-rich, and putting big finance in charge. The push against nationalism has nothing to do with peace, and only because nationalism will tend to fight against the strip-mining of a society for profit. And massive immigration was never a moral issue, neither today nor in the America of a century ago. It was all about cheap labor and the massive profits that flow therefrom. Even with all those resources, mass immigration in the United States at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, created crushing poverty and a massive spike in crime. It was only after the borders had been closed, after the shock of the Wall Street crash in 1929 (no, NOT 1924), and there was an immigration time-out, that America developed its prosperous middle class. Which hurt profits for the rich, which is why it is being rolled back…

    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
  11. gsjackson says:
    @Seamus Padraig

    LOL. Yes, there’s a wedge issue a thinking man can sink his teeth into.

    SCOTUS just reignited another one by surprisingly getting a case right, 7-2, in finding for religious liberty and the baker who didn’t want to do a wedding cake for poofters. I seem to recall Tucker Carlson feeling the wrath and fury of all MSM for daring to suggest that the baker had a legitimate constitutional issue.

    Breyer and Kagan voted with the Republican/goy majority. Kagan, of course, regularly gets offered up as the embodiment of in-your-face liberal-feminist-Jewish rule, but the couple of opinions I’ve read by her suggested a pretty good legal mind, possibly tempered by some common sense.

    In any case, yes, identity politics provide the MSM with all the wedge issue substance needed for the American public discourse. Europe, however, may have some remaining expectations of adult content.

  12. Glaivester says: • Website
    @Polish Perspective

    SME sector? Please explain abbreviation.

    • Replies: @Anon
  13. It’s pasta fagioli from now on…

  14. @Echoes of History

    Son, I don’t mean to be a scold,
    But, you have been done told,
    If you really want the gold,
    Fortune favors the bold.

  15. Chase says:
    @Polish Perspective

    These “problems” are 100% within the context of the neoliberal consensus. The idea that we have to have 2-3% annual growth – forever – or the world will somehow be devastatingly awful is not a very sound foundation for a Good life.

    • Replies: @Ozymandias
  16. Catiline says:
    @Polish Perspective

    That fiscal discipline you speak of is a significant factor in Italy’s lack of growth. Furthermore, it was designed and implemented for precisely that reason.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    , @gwynedd1
  17. Beckow says:
    @Polish Perspective

    Their (Italy’s) problem is lack of growth, which in turn is rooted in supply-side factors

    That is a fallacy that lies at the heart of the current European crisis. (I agree with the other things you wrote.). It is not the ‘supply’, but lacking demand that is constraining growth. All supply and higher productivity solutions are based on more ‘flexible’ labor, removal of barriers, including borders, more ‘competition’ in everything. That translates in practise into working more for less.

    It had worked initially in the 70′s to 90′s when the entrenched inefficiency was the main issue. It hasn’t worked in the last 10-15 years. Suggesting more ‘supply and higher productivity’ reforms simply means doubling down on policies that are failing. What is needed is a huge shift in the labor markets toward more demand for workers so they can improve their work lives, raise incomes, create more economic security. What Europe (and West in general) need is a very tight labor market. By all means, cut and simplify taxes, abandon austerity, promote some inflation, but the main reform that is needed is to restrict outside labor migration and simultaneously restrict outflow of work. That is explicitly anti neo-liberalism, it is also at the heart of the populist appeal.

    Left has completely lost its way with its inability to distinguish between its local voters and the feel-good charity towards the rest of the world. They are in effect being used by the most anti-left business interests to keep labor as cheap as possible. Power to negotiate doesn’t come from institutions – it comes from having a strong hand in the labor demand-supply equation.

    Given the left collapse, the future is with the nationalist political forces. Trump understands it, so does Salvini, La Pen, Orban,… The names might change, but unless democracy is completely abolished the ‘selfish’, restrict cheap labor politicians will eventually prevail.

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
    , @Miro23
  18. @Catiline

    Please help me understand the implications of your comment.

    Are you implying support for government debt fuelled expenditures as in Greece before the GFC – or Argentina time and again?

    Are you really saying the EU’s (?EZ’s) fiscal discipline rules were designed so that Italy (and maybe some and what other country?) would have lower growth in economic activity? If so why? And designed and intended by what persons?

    • Replies: @Catiline
    , @Catiline
  19. Anon[370] • Disclaimer says:
    @Glaivester

    It’s very commonplace. You should have been able to find it with a search which took less time than you comment/reply.

    • Troll: jacques sheete
  20. gwynedd1 says:
    @Catiline

    Lot of people still think Keynes is wrong because its used as an excuse to tax and spend. He wasn’t wrong about the fact that fiance matters. Neither was Kalecki and neither was Irving Fischer wrong that fiance matters after figuring out his disastrous mistake. Even Thomas Mun understood money needs to circulate. Seems like Europe thinks the idea’s of the Spanish empire are best. Hoard coin.

    • Replies: @Catiline
  21. @Beckow

    It seems to me that the issue boils down to this:
    - Capitalism seeks to concentrate capital and maximize profits;
    - Communism seeks to concentrate capital, albeit in a different form than capitalism and minimize profits.
    - Efficiency means low cost and/or poorly made, and competition is no longer local, its global.
    - Free trade has replace fair trade.

    The economic system in place today is not sustainable. In the not so distant past, products exported had to have an internal market, or they were considered “dumped” into the market at artificially low prices. tariffs were imposed for dumping. Today, electronic products, such as alarm clocks, which are made in Asia, are dumped into the American market. The electrical systems in Asia are incompatible with the 110v 60hz system in the US.
    Ice hockey equipment is made in that global ice hockey powerhouse, Mauritius, as are winter parkas and mitts. Cars produced in Japan include models for export that would not fit on the roads in Japan. The list of these types of productions is endless. De-regulation has produced 20th and 21st century sweatshops in areas like call-centres, which are fast becoming off-shored.

    Local and national producers have been eliminated due to ending import duties to protect internal companies. The set up has shifted taxation on imported goods to income taxes and business taxes.
    The narrative says competition is good, and higher production means lower cost to the consumer. That only works when the competition is on a level playing field, and I’m employed to be able to buy what is on offer. As for consumer products, how many TVs or refrigerators do I really need? Korea has the capacity to supply all of the world’s automobiles. Over supply is rampant.

    So, who really benefits? Those who seek to concentrate the wealth, and have the capability to transfer out of the country, the value of a smaller (economic) country’s GDP, with the push of a button. When it all collapses they’ll be off on their private islands or hiding in their bastions.

    On another note, yes, Italy is occupied, but so is Germany. The current German government, according to a 1956 Constitutional Court ruling is not the legitimate government of Germany. The “Old” Reich i.e. Wiemar Republic is. Therefore, it is an occupation government of the Allies.
    As if we didn’t understand that.

    • Replies: @L.K
  22. Z-man says:

    A lot of bad assumptions and conclusions in this article.
    Matteo Salvini has been supported by the southerners as well as the northerners because he is defending Italy and Italians from the Globalists and their hordes invading Italy and DiMaio and the MS5 agree with him and gave him the Interior ministry to handle it. But he still gets a lot of resistance from the controlled globalist press. Go Salvini!

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  23. @Polish Perspective

    The problem is lack of growth

    Definitely so.

    And the problem is, that Italy lacks competitiveness on a global scale. It’s a puppet-home perspective (and zero-sum-reasoning) to argue, that German exports are the reason, that Italin exports declined. – Look at delivery cars, for example. something now even Italian customers by more and more in Asia (once, this was a quasi monopoly, because it was just something everybody did, to buy Italian Vans. – Even that is eroding now. And look at -look at what you want in Italy…consumer products, industrial products, …

    Meanwhile, Italy’s once flourishing industrial network has lost its competitive edge due to the euro.

    So – this is a complete hoax, in the end. Especially since Italy is drowned in cheap money – except that most of it is not invested, nowadays, but used to pay – for the pensions, for social security, for univeristies…the Police…

    Meanwhile in rome: The local authorities tell the public, that there are “missing busses” at RomaTransporti or however th correct name of thsi fabulous enterprise is. Story is true though: There are at least dozens 8some say:Hundreds!) of buses, which exist only in the paperwork…

    • Replies: @Yeah right
  24. @Chase

    “The idea that we have to have 2-3% annual growth – forever – or the world will somehow be devastatingly awful is not a very sound foundation for a Good life.”

    Growth in GDP per capita is sustainable provided excess population is disposed of, which, historically, it always has been via conflict. A world without war and the sanctity of human life are the ideas in opposition here.

    • Replies: @Chase
  25. Centrist is a focus group tested term used to hide what a Centrist actually is. Neither Center Right nor Center Left has ANY ideology. A Centrist seeks/holds office to receive money from rent seekers. Nothing else.

    • Agree: Iris
  26. peterAUS says:

    Bottom line, IMHO:
    A good idea (EU) failed because power corrupts.
    A bad idea (nationalism) is coming up. Won’t be pretty, especially there.
    As

    Growth in GDP per capita is sustainable provided excess population is disposed of, which, historically, it always has been via conflict. A world without war and the sanctity of human life are the ideas in opposition here.

    Nobody is willing, apparently, to address the real issue:
    Automation, overproduction, mass of people not needed as workers/employers anymore.
    The nature of (modern/future) work, DISTRIBUTION of produced good and services, organization of such society, etc.

    Nationalism is regression into known.

    We need a change of a full paradigm. Pass……too hard.

    Looking at the mix of “people” and “leaders” I go for a decent bloodshed as the most likely option, hopefully not within next 10 years.
    Hopefully.

  27. More than half of Italy’s economy is underground. Thus your “statistics” are groundless.

  28. nickels says:
    @Polish Perspective

    This analysis sounds like a total crock.

    From what other authors say, and what seems far more reasonable, demand has collapsed because the corporate locust is doing the same thing they are doing in America, namely destroying the entire industrial base and leaving a wasteland of debt and unemployment. Add to that an inability to have a monetary policy and it’s game over:

    Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, a former chairman of Ferrari, Fiat and Alitalia, and now a public enemy because of his dismissal of the “Made in Italy” label, acquired both companies and moved them to Turkey, choosing profit over quality—and Italian jobs. Montezemolo, of aristocratic background, is a champion of Italian neoliberalism, having founded the influential “free market” think tank Italia Futura (Future Italy) in 2009.

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/05/30/this-new-italy.html

    • Replies: @nickels
  29. “Capital osmosis” is well known fact in economic science, and it means that, inside one limited area, profit always runs from the “lower capitally equipped” sides to higher ones. That is the reason why countries always take the money from rich sides and give it to poorer ones. The truth isn’t that poor part of nation works less, or that is stupid or unorganized; no, the truth is in that “osmosis”.

  30. Chase says:
    @Ozymandias

    On what time frame? It’s literally impossible to grow forever since we are absolutely constrained by the physical realities of earth (at the moment – I’ll grant you that). Dealing with this issue is actually the very most important issue humanity faces – all of our institutions, assumptions, plans, etc. are based on the idea that infinite growth is possible. The sooner we deal with that, the better.

    Are we any happier now than we were 100 years ago? I’m not sure the evidence is there. Look at the adolescent suicide rate: individually, suicide is tragic and selfish. Collectively, the evidence shows that some increasing portion of the people we are trying to leave the world to are looking around at the way things are and are saying, “This is so terrible, I want to have nothing to do with it.” We are not equipped to deal with the problems we’ve created for ourselves, and I’m not even going to propose a solution. I’ve no idea.

  31. @Dieter Kief

    Meanwhile in Germany, not far from Berlin: the construction of the financial blackhole otherwise known as Brandenburg Airport keeps going at full steam after a shocking 12 years and 10.3 billion euro burned, or around 12 billion USD.

    A new TÜV report published in November 2017 suggested that the opening could even be delayed until 2021.

    A paradigm of German efficiency, lack of political corruption and work ethic.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Brandenburg_Airport

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  32. Federico says:

    I am Italian and carefully followed development of election.

    This article holds several “little mistakes”, to put it mildly.

    Please do not take it info seriosa account of giù really want to know what la going on in Italy.

    • Replies: @Catiline
  33. @Yeah right

    Meanwhile in Germany, not far from Berlin: the construction of the financial blackhole otherwise known as Brandenburg Airport keeps going at full steam

    Is there a difference?
    Let me see: Do we blame Italy? Is the airport build with Italian cash?

    In the news today: Italy now finds all those cheep credits they got from the EU, “unfair” and wants them to be lowered – by half, approximately, I guess, for the beginning….

    The other half “restructured” and to be payed back in – what – – 50 years? Maybe that would be just fine? – This question simply depends on the Italian necessities (and those are very reliable).

    China and Korea etc. have come as a shock.

    • Replies: @Yeah right
    , @дулебг
  34. Iris says:
    @renfro

    Hello Renfro;

    I think the point Mrs Johnstone is making is that both far-left and far-right are ostracized as “extremists” in Europe, while the “centre”, conversely, is pictured as technocratic, sensible, and worthy of governing. The problem is that both the former are genuine democrats, who rely on elections to bring about social and economic change to an untenable situation, while the latter has become a non-democratic political structure maintaining the status quo.

    There have been many occurrences in Europe, where national referendums which outcomes opposed EU’s policies, were simply ignored or bypassed.

    What she describes is definitely true for all European countries; I am not sure how it translates in US politics. With regards.

    • Replies: @renfro
  35. Catiline says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Italy has been under economic/financial attack by her “allies”-mainly the UK the US and France- since the end of the cold war. Italy’s entire political class are Quislings. The big European nations don’t want or need another competitor in the inner circle of wealth and power. The Quislings and their foreign patrons have seen fit to insure their mutual advantage at the expense of the nation at large.

    Italy is not insolvent. It’s total debt-central govt,regional govt, businesses and private households- is LOWER than almost any wealthy advanced nation.

    In addition to which Italy possesses ca. $10 trillion in total national wealth (higher per capita than Germany) and one of the largest gold reserves in the world.

  36. Catiline says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    On the question of Greece and the euro-crisis see here:

    The speculative attack by Wall Street and City of London banks and hedge funds against European countries, European banks, and the euro is now reaching a crescendo. The current European crisis does not derive primarily from economic fundamentals, but rather represents a cynically planned assault carried out by Anglo-American financiers, whose philosophy is the traditional Beggar My Neighbor. The goal is to shift the epicenter of the world economic and financial depression from London and New York onto the continent of Europe, and this operation has already partially succeeded. London and New York are exporting their own derivatives depression into the EU, using credit default swaps, corrupt credit ratings agencies, and their entire panoply of financial dirty tricks. We are not dealing here with the normal functioning of markets; we are dealing with all-out economic warfare.

    http://tarpley.net/2011/10/01/europe-must-fight-back-against-us-uk-speculative-attacks/

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  37. Catiline says:
    @gwynedd1

    The problem isn’t Europe. The problem is New York, London and Paris + Quisling Italian politicians. Otherwise you are absolutely correct.

  38. Catiline says:
    @Federico

    Per gli Americani e’ quasi impossible capire l’attualita’ europea anziche’ quella italiana. Di dov’e’?

    • Replies: @Federico
  39. Catiline says:
    @Polish Perspective

    On the whole very good. Except for the last sentence. There is no real debt problem. And whatever problem with the debt that may be said to exist is of a political nature coupled with a fraudulent financial system

  40. Miro23 says:

    Read this article carefully and the worm could be turning. Maybe, perhaps, Germany’s elite is tipping away from the US and the US dollar.

    No individual factor determines the outcome, but there are all sorts of inputs from for example, Nord stream, Airbus, German competiveness, Brexit, the Iran nuclear deal, US/Russia etc. that in total may be tipping the scales.

    Also, with the Euro as potentially the world’s premier currency, German power and influence would be greatly enhanced.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  41. renfro says:
    @Iris

    Thanks for explanation Iris.

    I know nothing or little of Italy’s politics…..but in the US I think centrist or moderate doesn’t fit Alders description of them.

  42. @Miro23

    Sure, the continent is turning Muslim and African, becoming physically dangerous, becoming culturally and socially Balkanized and hostile, and will face impoverishment and much higher taxes and/or inflation to pay for the large and growing dependent class of invaders.

    Meanwhile, the native populations of Europe are dying out, leaving a dwindling, aging, demoralized populace with little chance of physically fighting their emerging rulers. Europeans don’t have children, don’t respect or like their own cultures, and won’t defend their own people including their girls from rape, groping, harassment, and Intimidation. The police are afraid to go against aggressors.

    But yeah, Europe will be a great rich powerful place, and the euro will be a world currency. Uh-huh.

    The yuan would seem a far, far, far likelier bet for a world reserve currency or even THE world reserve currency, and obviously so. Most of Europe is almost past the point of no return demographically and culturally, including all major NW, western, and Central European countries. The question is whether it will be safe to live there, not whether its currency will still be a major world currency.

    • Replies: @Miro23
    , @Corvinus
  43. Miro23 says:
    @Beckow

    By all means, cut and simplify taxes, abandon austerity, promote some inflation, but the main reform that is needed is to restrict outside labor migration and simultaneously restrict outflow of work. That is explicitly anti neo-liberalism, it is also at the heart of the populist appeal.

    If you mean by this, outsourcing, I agree, having seen it happen in real time in South Eastern Spain over the last 30 years.

    Many towns used to specialize in particular industries such as lamp making, granite and marble cutting, shoe making , toys etc. with most employment traditionally coming from this work with the skills and capital passed down through generations, and useful export sales to northern Europe.

    However, EEC Neoliberal rules with regard to trade barriers (lack of) with Asia have turned these towns into industrial wastelands, with impossible price competition destroying the whole thing.

    For example, the traditional lamp manufacturing industry of Valencia now has one remaining Spanish owned workshop (exporting luxury chandeliers to Russia and the Middle East) with kilometers of ex-manufacturing facilities converted into Chinese import warehouses (run by Chinese). And the Spanish market in general is largely supplied by big box chain stores like Decathlon (sports goods & clothing) fed 100% by Chinese container ships without a single Spanish made product.

  44. Miro23 says:
    @RadicalCenter

    Please don’t pay attention to the fact that Germany has the world’s largest export surplus (around $ 300 Billion per year), China is second with around $ 245 Billion and Japan is third.

    Also, Germany’s exports are more capital intensive and higher technology than China’s – being biased towards cars, engineering and chemicals.

    In contrast, the US has a deep structural trade deficit.

    Europe as a whole has a GNP similar to the US and it runs a trade surplus that the US can only dream about.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  45. @Catiline

    Your answer appears to be to quote a 7 year old article by an unknown though diligent and earnest and naive Christian socialist whose factual premises included “the undeniable fact of a world economic depression of unprecedented proportions” and some sort of fantasy that open democratic institutions could manage financial matters by their votes – though presumably confined to policies of “dirigism, neo-mercantilism and protectionism”. It all somehow fits with calling the recent champion debt defaulters Brazil, Argentina and Mexico “great nations”. Are you by any chance an Italian relation of Juan Domingo Perón?

    • Replies: @Catiline
  46. schrub says:

    If anyone wants an example of just how ferocious the battle against the true left wing has become, consider what is happening in the UK.

    Wikipedia has now become one of the prime attack vehicles used to wage war against true leftists like Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway. Every day their Wikipedia biographical entries are edited to portray them in more and more negative terms. Claims that they are antisemitic abound.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_the_UK_Labour_Party

    Attempts by allies of Corbyn and Gallaway to correct these negative entries are met with almost instant revisions painting the two in ever more negative terms.

    Both men’s Wikipedia entries have been subject to over 250 negative revisions within a short amount of time indicating a well-paid crew of actors working to destroy both men’s political careers. I wonder who has the money to fund such a campaign which seems to be occurring with the support of Jimmy Wales himself.

    It isn’t a secret that both men are strong supporters of the Palestinians

  47. @Dieter Kief

    Hold on, are you suggesting the “missing” Italian buses were paid with “German cash” ie German taxpayer money?

    Or is the EU, admittedly lead by Germany, *lending* to keep the status quo ie the Eurozone banks from collapsing and defaulting on their loans, which is basically keeping the euro project afloat, so they can keep German industry’s price advantage on the global marketplace, around 12% according to 2017 IMF data, and their own banks from collapsing?

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/miltonezrati/2018/01/23/the-german-swindle-built-into-the-euro/#31a1852627da

    Very little money from the much publicised “Greek bailout” from the EU, not only Germany, ended up actually helping Greeks out of the severe crisis they are in. And the same goes for the rest of bailouts.

    http://static.esmt.org/publications/whitepapers/WP-16-02.pdf

    On the other hand, the EU has also provided 34.5 millions for the planning and development of the Made in Germany Botched Airport project, so actually some “Italian cash” might have ended up in that “state of the art” multi billion money pit.

    I suspect perhaps too much kief might be the problem here, hence your confusion and idiotic comments.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    , @Catiline
  48. Miro23 says:
    @Miro23

    The Russians and Chinese already want to dump the US dollar. If the Germans join them then the dollar wouldn’t last so long.

    Just having the US, Israel and captive Saudi Arabia standing behind the dollar probably isn’t enough, and other countries are more or less forced to use it. The US needs the dollar’s reserve status to cover its endless deficits, and Israel needs its private bank (the FED) to keep producing $ Trillions to finance its Middle East wars.
    Israel’s problem is that they only control the FED, but not the European Central Bank, and the FED only manufactures dollars.

    • Replies: @gwynedd1
  49. Catiline says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    If this is all you can come up with in response there is no point in further discussion.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  50. @Yeah right

    Italian automobile production is at the level of the sixties. Imports from Asia are huge!

    To think, that the eu moneygoing into Greece and Italy is not in large portions simply consumed, is to be of very little knowledge about these things.

    Switzerland has an economy which is pretty much comparable to the German one and works perfectly well – without the Euro. Germany does not need the Euro (cf. Thilo Sarrazin’ book: “Deutschland braucht den Euro nicht”). Germany was forced into the Euro by France – it was the prize for the reunification.

    PS
    Kief is no pseudonymic handle, it’s my name. It’s not that nice to attack somebody personally and at the same time hide behind a pseudonymic handle.

    • Replies: @Catiline
  51. @Catiline

    Pot and kettle. You didn’t engage on discussion but quoted a seven year old piece which contained a monumental inaccuracy about worldwide depression at its core.

    • Replies: @Catiline
  52. @schrub

    You point to evidence of a concerted effort but why do you think members of the team or crew are being “well paid”? It’s not particularly skilled work and I wonder why you think thsy there has to be a lot of money behind it.

  53. Catiline says:
    @Dieter Kief

    To think, that the eu moneygoing into Greece and Italy is not in large portions simply consumed, is to be of very little knowledge about these things.

    The money is going to German and French banks, dummkopf.

  54. @Dieter Kief

    all those cheap credits

    .. you believe in St Class?
    There ain’t no free lunch, nor it’s ever been!
    Cheap credits were spent into nothing. First of all – European officers, who invented some specific credit, wanted their percent; banks who organized the whole scheme also assumed they were to be paid for whole the effort; than come the politicians in, say, Italy – who organized it, they also had their private needs.

    Finally the question was: what to buy for that money? And, as Germany and other rich countries were in power to decide – they decided that some German products, expensive and unnecessary, were to be bought. So, instead of new halls, factories, agricultural facilities – you’ve got: ecologic parks, inclusive policies, immigrant spends, empty highways to nowhere.. (there is a special group of spends, where a huge amount can be stolen, without a public reaction)

    • Replies: @дулебг
  55. Catiline says:
    @Yeah right

    If you want to know what Germans have been up to read Stiglitz’s book on the euro.

  56. Catiline says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    I left 2 comments. The quotation was germane to the topic. There is no statute of limitation on facts and info. That was not the core of the piece and neither was it inaccurate. Now run along.

  57. @дулебг

    It is also obvious that the leading Euro-states performed the policies of the disindustrialisation of “the other” members of EU. The poverty of the rest EU states isn’t the result of bad work, but of the deliberate conspiracy.

  58. Corvinus says:
    @RadicalCenter

    “Sure, the continent is turning Muslim and African, becoming physically dangerous, becoming culturally and socially Balkanized and hostile, and will face impoverishment and much higher taxes and/or inflation to pay for the large and growing dependent class of invaders.”

    You really have a knack for overdramatizing matters.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  59. gwynedd1 says:
    @Miro23

    The Zionists are certainly heavily leveraged here. They have delighted in clearing out the Middle East and Europe of Jews to populated their project but it depletes their strength. If they had maintained their camps through out the world they would be invulnerable. If the US goes down, Jews will not migrate to the new empire. They will not flee to the Ottomans. They will not head for Germany. They will not find the new United Sates. They will flee to Israel.

    Its reminds me of the invincible Arabs that rapidly too Persia, Syria and Egypt. The goal once reached is the beginning of the end.

    • Replies: @Miro23
    , @Miro23
  60. Miro23 says:
    @gwynedd1

    Its reminds me of the invincible Arabs that rapidly too Persia, Syria and Egypt. The goal once reached is the beginning of the end.

    Yes, and it’s worth considering that for most of the first millennium (prior to Mohammed and the Islamic Arab invasion) the Middle East was Christian.

    “Islam Lite” seems to have has a lot of attractions for Middle Easterners, with aspirations towards the Turkish model – (although under Erdogan Turkey is going the other way) and some young Muslims in places like France or Spain seem to be abandoning tradition and want to integrate (for example disappearing head scarves). How that works out I don’t know.

  61. Miro23 says:
    @gwynedd1

    They will not find the new United States. They will flee to Israel.

    Israel is the last place they want to go – Groucho Marx got the idea – “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

  62. Federico says:
    @Catiline

    Vicino Milano.

    Sì, mi sono accorto che la politica italiana è quasi incomprensibile dall’estero. Non me ne stupisco, ma fate attenzione a non prendere come oro colato articoli come questo. Contengono numerose leggere imprecisioni che fanno perdere di vista il quadro globale della questione.

    • Replies: @Catiline
  63. Catiline says:
    @Federico

    Esatto, ho tentato di spiegare parzialmente cio’ che c’e’ in ballo e sono fallito miseramente. Comunque La ringrazio per la sua replica.

  64. @Corvinus

    Not overly dramatic according to the many, many Germans of our acquaintance, including those living in Germany (and Austria). But if you like to mock my style, go ahead. The facts, unfortunately, are bearing out, and will bear out, the “melodramatic” assessment and predictions.

    • Agree: James N. Kennett
    • Replies: @Corvinus
  65. Client 9 says:

    I read recently that the M5S was polling at around 29-30% and the Lega now 26-28%..

  66. The traditional governing parties, center “left” and center “right” all follow the same neoliberal policies and constitute the self-designated “center”. Mainstream media …

    Of course they’re “self designated,” but how could the author fail to perceive that the term, “mainstream media” is also self designated and therefore every bit as invalid as the aforementioned appellations?

    Anyone who uses the term as intended by those who self -designate has succumbed to their brainwashing.

  67. Chans says:

    This slightly misrepresents what president Mattarella did; he told the aspiring coalition partners that since they hadn’t campaigned on leaving the euro, and installing a viscerally euro-phobic finance minister could trigger such a reaction in the financial markets that Italy would be forced out of the euro, he wouldn’t agree to the government with that particular finance minister.

    He implicitly invited them to participate in new elections campaigning to leave the euro (which most Italians – in my estimation very unwisely don’t want) – and would agree to an anti euro government that had had opposition to the euro in its campaign platforms.

  68. Corvinus says:
    @RadicalCenter

    It’s about ideology, not identity.

    A 2016 Pew Research Center survey conducted in 10 nations found that negative views about Muslims prevailed in eastern and southern Europe. However, the majority of respondents in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands gave Muslims a favorable rating. Views about Muslims are tied to ideology. While 47% of Germans on the political right give Muslims an unfavorable rating, just 17% on the left do so.

  69. @Seamus Padraig

    What is politics to be about? Why, tranny bathrooms, of course!

    And plastic straws, along with the pretence that these are a major factor in marine pollution.

  70. @schrub

    Jeremy Corbyn could quite easily solve the Labour Party’s problems with antisemitism. The party should treat antisemitism in the same way that it treats all other forms of racism. It should also treat non-white racists in the same way as white racists. Their problems would be solved within 24 hours, though it would take a little longer to expel the miscreants, and hear their appeals.

    Corbyn will not act, because although he may not be antisemitic himself, he agrees with the tone of the “anti-Zionist” criticism. Antisemitism, oops I mean anti-Zionism, also wins votes. The UK has 250,000 Jews and more than 3,000,000 Muslims.

  71. @Polish Perspective

    Italy has in fact run a primary surplus for most of the last 20 years (primary surplus is the government budgetary balance sans interest payments). Italy’s main problem is the disastrous lack of productivity.

    Devaluation, while tempting, would not fix these issues and given that Italy is already running a current account surplus, it is hard to make the case for one.

    Are you confusing government surplus/debt with the trade balance? It is the trade balance that should be influenced by devaluation. A 10% devaluation automatically gives a 10% increase in productivity, as far as import/export transactions are concerned.

  72. The mystique of the European Union is anti-nationalism, based on the theory that “nations” are bad because they caused the devastating wars of the twentieth century, while European unification is the sole guarantee of “peace”.

    Reconciliation between France and Germany was obviously a good thing; but part of the mystique of the EU “guarantee of peace” is the implicit lie that the Franco-German conflict was at the heart of the two world wars. It was not. The principal conflict was between Germany and Imperial Russia (WWI) or the Soviet Union (WWII).

    … not to mention EU participation in the current major military buildup in the Baltic States against “the Russian enemy”. Indeed, thanks to NATO, the EU is gearing for a war even worse than the previous ones.

    Quite. The EU was also involved in the coup in Ukraine – which suggests that Western Europe’s ambitions towards the East have not completely gone away, nor are they covered by the EU’s nebulous “guarantee of peace”.

    • Replies: @L.K
  73. What is to become of the tens of thousands of vigorous young men arriving on Italian shores where there is nothing for them to do except sell African trinkets on the sidewalks of tourist centers?

    They should be sent home. If necessary they should be paid to leave. If their home country is at war, they should be sent to a safe third country in Africa, which would be paid for providing this service. We should learn from the Israelis, who have this figured out. Legislation may be needed; also derogations from the ECHR. The ECHR should not be a suicide pact for its member nations.

    Italy wants the help of the rest of the EU, but the kind of help it wants is for other countries to accept migrants who have arrived in Italy:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5807191/Italys-new-anti-EU-coalition-oppose-asylum-seeker-reforms-Brussels.html

    Eventually the Greeks or Italians will give up asking for help, and will issue passports to the migrants, who will then be able to move throughout the EU. Shortly afterwards, EU countries will stop following the rules on free movement of citizens, and the EU project itself will fall apart.

  74. L.K says:
    @James N. Kennett

    Kennett: “The principal conflict was between Germany and Imperial Russia (WWI) or the Soviet Union (WWII).”

    Nonsense.

    The British deep state( elements of it) was the major culprit for WW1 and bears a lot of responsibility for WW2 as well.
    Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War.(2014)
    by Gerry Docherty , Jim MacGregor.

    It reveals how accounts of the war’s origins have been deliberately falsified to conceal the guilt of the secret cabal of very rich and powerful men in London responsible for the most heinous crime perpetrated on humanity. For 10 years, they plotted the destruction of Germany as the first stage of their plan to take control of the world.
    The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was no chance happening. It lit a fuse that had been carefully set through a chain of command stretching from Sarajevo through Belgrade and St. Petersburg to that cabal in London.

    https://www.amazon.com/Hidden-History-Secret-Origins-First/dp/1780576307

    • Replies: @James N. Kennett
  75. L.K says:
    @Curmudgeon

    Good post.

    On another note, yes, Italy is occupied, but so is Germany.

    Yep, both are occupied.

  76. L.K says:

    The following books shed light on some of the topics this good article discusses:

    - Killing the Host by M. Hudson
    - The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West
    by P. C. Roberts

  77. @L.K

    The British deep state( elements of it) was the major culprit for WW1 and bears a lot of responsibility for WW2 as well.

    Well, let’s say opinion is divided on the matter.

    Germany had definite territorial designs to the East, managed with Austria to sabotage Russia by sending Lenin to St Petersburg with $10 million in gold, and achieved its aims with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Then it lost the war on the Western Front. The fighting on the Western Front, although it cost many lives, was not the main event.

  78. @Polish Perspective

    So we can ignore large and growing interest payments, then? Italy and the USA are both recklessly indebted and show zero sign of controlling spending and starting to pay back the debt. Let’s not dance around that fact.

    Having a balanced budget “not counting interest” means little. Not reassuring.

    When either country is approaching an ACTUAL balanced government budget, then we can say things aren’t so dire and they’re turning around. But that’s not the case.

    Italy, with its “balanced budget not counting interest”, is going insolvent and is being colonized by Africans and Arabs at the same time. Sorry, paisan, but Italy is just another one of my family’s Ancestral countries that will not exist genetically or culturally within two generations more.

  79. @Polish Perspective

    If someone is paying interest in the first place, it means that he was profligate because he spent more than he took in — and in the case of Italy and the USA, has done so for many years in a row.

    If that overspending person continues overspending — spending so much that he can’t ever catch up on the interest from past overspending (past borrowing) — he is profligate.

    Yes, Italy, like my USA, is profligate and does not have a rosy future financially or socially / culturally. Enough with sticking our heads in the sand and making excuses like “hey, if we ignore interest, we’re doing fine.”

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