Three centuries in a month and moving forward: #Italy, #EU, and #COVID19 - 5. Potemkin villages- the relative irrelevance of decision-makers

5. Potemkin villages- the relative irrelevance of decision-makers

Innovare e rinnovare)

As I wrote in July 2016, in Italian: "come mostrato da Brexit, non sono gli argomenti ma l'argomentare che nelle nostre democrazia (in cui l'ignoranza è quasi un vanto) fornisce accesso alle stanze del potere (altro che Antica Grecia, lì partecipare alle assemblee non era una passeggiata)."

Or: it is not just with "populists"- politicians of all hues and inclinations have perfected the art of complete irrelevance while pretending to be absolutely in control.

In part probably was a development of the first real worldwide industrial war, WWII: I remember reading a book on the history of the first campaign in Northern Africa, and how logistics had to be developed to make that successful, something that then helped for D-Day and the ensuing Continental War (yes, my history buff friends will notice a tongue-in-cheek).

And, anyway, also Napoleon, as an artillery officer, was no alien from the benefits of logistics, and was able to have some early successes also through deft movement of scarce resources.

After WWII, complexity increased- e.g. the potential of the thermonuclear war altered dramatically the response time (see e.g. my review of a more recent book on Russia in the XXI century, in which I referred to a book on President Eisenhower, here).

Eventually, the development of real-time financial markets on a scale that made to pale by size, speed, means the previous telegraph-based globalization of the XIX century, further reinforced what, in part articles, already quoted as identified by Carl Schmitt in the early XX century (see here).

In my discussion with USA colleagues and friends, they often shared their view (both democrats and republicans) that, in reality, politicians create the conditions or create disruption, but jobs and the economy are really something to be done by the private sector.

This actually did not really work in a crisis, where both needed to work, as shown by President Obama and President Trump.

So, in our complex times, we need to revise our social contract, e.g. freedom of enterprise implies also self-standing resources- re-allocating public resources to private companies implies a social impact on the use of those resources: if public funding is funnelled into dividends, this is a redistributive mechanism, while the idea is that public funding should be an enabler to generate value added that exceeds the fund received.

What do I think about the current measures promoted by various governments, including the Italian government, to sustain the economy?

Sorely needed, but frankly I am a little bit uneasy whenever I see 100% guarantee from the State with no control.

Just an example: if 1mln small and tiny companies were to access the 25k EUR funding that needs just a self declaration, that would amount to 25bln released with no control whatsoever.

I do understand the need to pump immediate liquidity into companies, but at least ex-post "strings" should be attached, otherwise I do except a round of creativity and "herd immunity" due to the inability to control so many recipients.

In Italy, I didn't change my mind from my first contacts in Brussels with the precursor of M5S, "I Grillini" via Meetups.

Or: I see a continuity between part of the Partito Radicale, part of the Di Pietro (who because famous for his role as a magistrate for the "Mani Pulite" investigation)- both in terms of backing, and in terms of rethoric and approach to political debate (all three of them do not debate, assert).

The curious point is that in the 2016 article found some parallels within the weaknesses of both the main political parties that now are partners in government, M5S and PD.

Back then my concept was that innovation (that isn't just a mere incremental innovation) requires a leap of faith (yes, a little bit Schumpeterian).

Considering that in 2016 already the Italian situation wasn't a paramount of growth, and that also the European Union at large wasn't a tiger, risk governance in my view was more important than creating a "Sturm und Drang" engine for change.

We were in the immediate aftermath of Brexit initial steps, and therefore it was visible how institutional change isn't a free lunch.

I think that Italy is a European country, but historically we suffered, as some said in the XIX century, from being too large to be a backbencher between the countries, and too small (and back then too poor) to be at the forefront.

Therefore we need to find a balance between our instinctive Europhilia (routinely, in the past, Italy was a leading country in polls on "being European"), and real Europhobia (routinely, in the past, Italy was a leading country in... non compliance).