Today is a blog lay day only because I now have to pay the piper for being Australian but having to undertake work commitments in Europe – a very long tiring flight. At least I can read a lot of detective novels. But there was a story on Monday in the Italian media that I report on now as a conclusion to my stay here in Italy. The only conclusion is that the Italian left should hang their heads in shame for being surrender monkeys to the neo-liberal forces defined by the Troika.
The lack of leadership and initiative among the left has allowed the extreme right Lega Nord to garner electoral support that the left could have enjoyed had it not been so keen to play along with the so-called European vision, which is really code for the neo-liberal hegemony and redistribution of income from poor to rich – people, regions and nations.
In part, this is because the left is a heavily intellectual movement dominated by people who have money, security, nice housing and enjoy the ‘better’ things in life – meaning they have little contact with the seething masses in the streets and suburbs who are the targets and victims of the policy austerity regimes that the Eurozone has imposed.
Their love of Shakespeare and Verdi and Puccini presumably knows no bounds!
The – L’informazione indipendente Ageneparl – which is an independent news agency in Italy aimed at bringing the political and economic news to the general public in a simple, accessible language and format (le notizie sono scritte con un linguaggio semplice e mai specialistico ed hanno come obiettivo quello di avvicinare il grande pubblico all’informazione parlamentare ed economica”) – published an article yesterday that caught my attention.
The article (November 24, 2014) – Lavoro: Borghi Aquilini, inserire in costituzione prinicipio per piene occupazione – or “Jobs: Borghi Aquilini: wants to insert the principle of full employment into the constitution”.
What? Who is Borghi Aquilini – a left political leader perhaps? If only. Claudio Borghi Aquilini – is an economics lecturer at the Catholic University of Milan and writes for the the Italian news paper il Giornale on economic and political matters. He was previously the Managing Director of the Deutsche Bank in Italy.
He also happens to be the chief economist (“il responsabile economico della Lega Nord”) for the Lega Nord per l’Indipendenza della Padania who is prominent in their “Enough Euro, Another Europe is Possible” campaign (“Basta Euro, Un’Altra Europa è possibile!”). You can search it out if you want to know about that.
The Lega Nord wants independence for Padania (Northern Italy) within a federal structure and strong regional autonomy.
They also want the new federal state of Italy to exit the Euro. I won’t comment on their demand for a federal state, but their Euro exit strategy is the only sensible path for Italy to follow if they want to break out of the cycle of recession and increasing poverty.
So there is a lot of common ground there although the economics that underpin their concept of a new fiscal state is thoroughly neo-liberal and deeply flawed. They do not understand Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).
Their anti-Euro stance has won them some electoral success in May European Parliament elections (6.2 per cent).
There were regional elections in two areas of Italy at the weekend, Emilia Romagna (centred on Bologna) and Calabria (south).
The Lega Nord won 19.42 per cent of the vote in Emilia Romagna, which is south of their usual power base centred on Milan.
Reuters reported that:
In Emilia Romagna, the anti-immigrant, anti-euro Northern League party … did better than expected, winning nearly 20 percent of the vote, while Forza Italia took 8 percent.
Forza Italia is Silvio Berlusconi’s party and the election was seen as nail in the coffin for his future political chances at the national level.
The Lega Nord leader claimed that the result was an indication that they can “break out of their northern base” and “allows me to go across Italy, from north to south because I want to get to 51 percent of the electorate”.
They are also strongly committed to environmental policies such as public green areas, national parks, recycling and opposes the big corporate food industry in favour of healthy alternatives.
But the League is also a nasty neo-fascist group fostering extremely conservative social policy stances – anti abortion, anti stem cell research, anti gay and same sex marriage, anti-immigration, and authoritarian rule of law positions. Their far right xenophobia amounts to racism.
They are also relative factionalised and there have been notable leadership spills and internal revolts.
Overall, not an attractive lot and one that the left should easily be able to pick off with some slick marketing and some strong framing of the alternative, with appealing language to support the frame.
But the left are pro-euro because the Lega Nord is anti-euro. Go figure. The left is scared of being confused with the Lega Nord in the electoral process. Go figure!
The left are so lacking in leadership and self-confidence that they do not think a fully articulated progressive social policy with an anti-euro stance could be differentiated from the filth that the Lega Nord push out.
And the article yesterday announced that the Lega Nord recognises the damage the Eurozone has caused for workers with high unemployment and lost incomes and plans to do something about it – something that will work.
The left talk relentlessly about ‘structural reform’ which is just the Troika neo-liberal mantra. Claudio Borghi Aquilini instead is now proposing to present to the Parliament:
… presenteremo in Parlamento un importante emendamento costituzionale in cui per la prima volta faremo passare il principio della piena occupazione come prioritario rispetto a qualsiasi parametro inventato da Bruxelles.
Which means they are planning to present to the Parliament a major constitutional amendment which will embed, for the first time, the principle of full employment. This principle will take priority over any of the rules imposed by Brussels (the European Commission) on the Eurozone nations.
In other words, the Stability and Growth Pact fiscal rules, the Two-Pack, the Six-Pack, the Fiscal Compact would be non-operative under Italian law if the economy was below full employment.
Sounds like a perfect interim step on the way to exiting and the basis for prosperity once the nation had left the euro and established its own currency.
Sounds like a perfect policy stance for the progressive left.
Why the hell is it being left to the crazies on the extreme right to articulate basic economic and social (in terms of employment) sense?
That is why the left should hang their heads in shame.
By framing their political stance in terms that people care about – jobs and opportunity, the right wingers gain political credibility and that gives them traction to then push their nasty agenda.
The political attraction could be garnered by the left if they concentrate their minds on what people really want.
But that would be too hard and going to the Opera and being a surrender monkey is easier.
Running in Rome
Briefly, I went back to old haunts. Villa Borghese gardens for one route and the second route the following day (see below) took me down to the river and along the paths. You have to watch the traffic but there are backstreets and once you get into the gardens or down the river things are fine.
Here was my 12.1 kms circuit on Tuesday morning before I left for Milan. I can recommend it for those with a similar propensity.
Thanks DNM for advice.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2014 Bill Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.