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Contributions. The Liberal Age

Anno XXXII, n. 142, novembre-dicembre 1997
Centro Einaudi


Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
This section presents ten critiques on Valerio Zanone’s L’Età liberale, published last autumn, and a riposte in which the author specifies and defines his thesis. Zanone’s book addresses the problem of the future of freedom, hence of liberalism, in a world whose ineluctable horizons are capitalism and democracy. Luigi Marco Bassani suggests that a liberalism that has made peace with the democracy is also a liberalism which enters into conflict with market freedom precisely because democracy is often used against capitalism. Girolamo Cotroneo, instead, argues that it is only in liberal democracy that the traditional antithesis between freedom and justice is satisfactorily – and, arguably, in the only way possible – solved. According to Emilio Papa, if we want to avoid ending up on the "losing side", we must be on our guard not only against the danger of seeing a repeat of past experiences of "State arrogance" and the liberty-destroying planning of collectivist systems, but also of the indifferentism of new forms of capitalism. Carlo Scognamiglio argues that, after democracy and the market, science is the third distinctive component of western societies, vital in so far as it offers us the hope of a better future. Pier Giuseppe Monateri, on the other hand, is of the opinion that we have to take stock of the fact that liberalism is "contaminated"; all we can do at this point, he says, is to "disseminate" its last surviving parts. Three of the contributions deal specifically with the problem of the relationship between justice and the law. Vincenzo Ferrari recalls that, even in this era of continuous globalisation, the problem of rules is still topical; liberal policy has to programme not only the methods but also, by any measure, the contents of such rules without confiding over much in pacific self-regulation. Fulvio Gianaria argues that impatience with normative constraints is counterpoised by an unfulfilled demand for justice on the part of citizens seemingly prepared to repudiate democratic methods to obtain moral responses from a judge (Providence) destined to be the arbiter of all particularisms. Mario Montorzi, finally, asserts the need to for an active system of liberal guarantees designed to benefit the individual vis-à-vis not only the State, but also the numerous intermediate corporative formations which are increasingly invading, occupying and qualifying post-industrial societies. Two contributions view Zanone’s book through the lens of the political history of liberalism in Italy. Giancarlo Lunati highlights the difficulties which the lack of an overall design causes when it comes to translating liberal ideas into organised movements. Aldo Bello concludes that the Italy of today and of the future desperately needs a genuinely liberal culture capable of influencing the rootedness and identity of those collective ideals which, left to their own devices, would risk triggering forms of illiberal democracy.