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Europe, Italy

Italy: How the spread lost the elections

Grillo’s success and failure of Monti and the peninsula’s two main parties is a sign of a growing European revolt that has finally started in Italy too, says Giorgio Cremaschi

The markets have reacted badly. It was obvious, banking and finance wanted the victory
of the Democrats, working with Monti. Moreover, if elections had delivered victory to Monti, for the markets that would have been ideal, but they were willing to settle for less.

But no, the Italian people did not vote as it was supposed to, with a sense of responsibility and in support of business. Austerity policies, this was quickly grasped abroad, have been rejected.

How can one not fee satisfaction with such a political upheaval?

Six hundred thousand redundancies in nine months, the worst mass impoverishment since the war, all forecasts pessimistic about the future, and Italians we supposed to be captivated by the theatre of Bersani, Berlusconi and Monti?

The powers that be, and the pollsters too, had the illusion that this would be the outcome. In the end of the brutal pension and labour counter reforms, and cuts to schools and hospitals were introduced without the social upheaval that we have seen grow in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

CGIL, CISL and UIL trade union confederations either approved or put up with it, and their leaders were equally distributed between support for the center to center-left. Even the scandalous robbery carried out by the political class seemed to arouse more resentment that protest.

It was possible to believe the regime’s representation of an Italian people who were passive and basically willing to vote according to the instructions of the same European Troika, acting as dictator with Greece.

But in the end this was the minority. The fact is Berlusconi and Bersani, who now still pretend to have won something, achieved the worst result in the history of their coalitions, which now each represent a little over a quarter of the votes cast. Monti, who appeared jubilent, entered the lower house of parliament by the skin of his teeth. Why are all these people, who have ruled alternately in the last twenty years and together in the last thirteen months, now an electoral minority?

Severely defeated with them was the President of the Republic, who is now being
subjected to thee harsh law of retaliation. After imposing governance at all costs in the
name of the government bond spreads, he is now having to administer the most ungovernable of electoral responses, while the spread widens again.

We are in the midst of a systemic crisis that the old policies and old alliances will only deepen. It has to be hoped that the Five Star Movement is aware that its success is not a definite choice nor a proxy, but it is the signal of revolt that is growing across Europe and has finally started in Italy too.

We are only at the beginning of a long and painful process, from which we will only exit
positively with the pursuit of social equality and the toppling of austerity, with the public instead of the markets, and direct democracy to control state power. And this can only be done by blasting away the schemes of an Italy and Europe at the service of the banks. We are facing a systemic crisis that can only be resolved only by changing the system.


26 February 2013

Translation by Revolting Europe

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Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


One thought on “Italy: How the spread lost the elections

  1. It is not hard to reinvent the financial wheel. There is a large corpus of material that was formulated decades ago by keen minds on the subject, and because the financial system has not changed, the relevance of these ideas remains. Those such as Silvio Gesell, Ezra Pound, Charles Coughlin, C. H. Douglas, John A. Lee, and Gottfried Feder, should again become required reading and subjects of discussion. Instead, where there is discussion on finance among the Right it often involves some idiot scheme about a silver or a gold standard.
    The major cause of World War II was fear of Germany’s new banking system, and also the barter trading system that was allowing Germany to displace the USA, Britain, and others in world trade.

    As Feder states throughout his manifesto, currency (or credit) is simply intended as a means of exchange, not as a profit-making commodity via usury. During the Medieval era usurers were executed; now they are regarded as the epitome of respectable business practice.

    Finally, the ideals of liberating all of mankind from the slavery of usury is one that can capture the imagination of multitudes of people of goodwill, as it once did during the 1920s and 1930s. It is an alternative that leaves Marxism for dead and demands the utmost idealism, based on the closing words by Feder: “Give me your hands, workers of all lands, unite!” (Manifesto, p. 57).

    Feder: “Closing of the nation externally with all freedom and diversity internally. This is the correct idea of a German state.”

    I think Grillo have read it as he asks revisions of free trade agreement, referendum on Euro etc.

    A popular view of the crisis in the eurozone is that it is a balance of payments crisis caused by the growing gap in competitiveness between core and periphery countries. This view is equally used to validate austerity-based national policies repressing domestic consumption, as well as pleas for leaving the euro to regain competitiveness through currency depreciation.

    This view is based on two (unwarranted) concerns. The first is that a rise in net exports is the best strategy for getting out of recession. This is obviously not true, as fiscal policy is an alternative (and more effective) solution. Yet, the attempt to use exports to drive demand is functional to the refusal to use fiscal expansion.

    The second is that trade deficit countries face an unsustainable growing foreign debt. The reality is that all a trade deficit entails is an increased stock of currency-denominated savings held abroad. When this stock happens to be greater than desired, the currency will depreciate. Unless the country specifically negotiates a loan (like Britain in the 1940s), no increase in foreign debt is needed to match the trade deficit.

    Rather, trade surpluses (not deficits) need to be funded. In Euroland, for example, the trade surpluses of core countries have been funded by bank loans, and ultimately government deficits of peripheral countries.

    Dr. Terzi is a Professor of Economics and coordinator of the Mecpoc Project at Franklin College Switzerland.

    Bring us public banks, interest free money, decentralization and cooperative structure of public affairs. Democracy instead fascism. Looking at national figures, some countries have a very high proportion of cooperative membership, for example: Ireland (approximately 70% of the population), Finland (60%), Austria (58%), Singapore (50%), Switzerland (46%), Sweden (45%), Norway (44%), and Canada (40%).

    Book to read: Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism.

    Posted by Francesca | February 27, 2013, 8:34 pm

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