By Giorgio Cremaschi
This week Italy’s government launched its privatisation plan, ostensibly to boost the economy. This is a thoroughly reactionary operation.
In 2008, with the start of the Great Depression, the ultra-liberal economic model launched in the early ’80s by Reagan and Thatcher failed. Since then, countries have broadened the scope of their intervention and extensive nationalisations have been undertaken in countries of socialism unexpected. In Britain a widespread cultural revolt has began to question the scientific validity of this neo-liberal dogma. Only in Europe do we see neo-liberal recipes painstakingly re-proposed and supported by the financial and bureaucratic power that governs the continent, despite the devastation wrought on Greece, the guinea pig which they have force fed with ever more violent doses, a country that is devastated.
The government supported and guided by President Giorgio Napolitano once again adapts to the worst in Europe and has launched a privatisation plan that looks only to the past. With an aggravating circumstance, that in Italy one can already see the results of privatisation in the 80s and 90s. And it it has been catastrophic.
Ilva [steel], Telecom, Italtel [telecoms/ICT], Alitalia [airline], highways, energy, transport, there is not a single company, a single productive sector where privatisations have been beneficial to the country. Jobs cut, strategic investments abandoned, service users worse off, a dilapidated heritage, this is the indisputable result.
The political, business and managerial cast sanctioned them with the same empty rhetoric that we hear replicated today: the public is inefficient and a source of plunder, private is best. In fact the casta continues to divide the cake, as shown in the privatised banking system where more than ever we see top posts taken by that realm where politics meets business.
Privatisation saves the caste. If a building administrator steals you send him packing, you don’t knock down the house. Instead, we are are demolishing homes and in their place were leave the directors who have profited from their demolition.
Now the Government wants to do the same with what is left of publicly-owned property and it is clear that, given the state of our entrepreneurial class, this new wave of privatizations will be primarily a sellout to corporations. That, as they always have done, will take brands, technologies and profits, and leave unemployment in their wake.
Instead of more privatisation our productive system needs a return to public ownership. The state should have intervened in order to stop the destruction of Olivetti. Many superficial admirers of America’s Silicon Valley forget that we had a IT heritage that was unique and that has been deleted. We should have nationalised Fiat, rather than leave it in the hands, such as hands, private with public money. And one could go on, recalling the country’s industrial disaster caused by the entrepreneurial elite and political class, from Azeglio Ciampi [prime minister in 1993 to 1994 and then President in 1999-2006] to Romano Prodi [PM from May 1996- 21 October 1998 and again May 2006- May 2008] and Silvio Berlusconi [three times PM over the period 1994 and 2011].
Now the Grand Coalition government is launching yet another wave of privatisation, and in so doing making the workers and the country pay again. Those workers who a few years ago had fought against the privatization plan of Fincantieri and had won. With the result that Italy has remained one of the few Western countries that still build big, beautiful ships. But not in the future.
We must stop them. We are trying in Genoa with the strike against the privatisation of the public transport company; it is necessary that this revolt extends to the whole country.
Translation/edit by Revolting Europe