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The State of Liberalism in Italy Today / Thesis: Wanted: Liberals * Views / 30 Authors
The debate in the following pages takes stock of the present state and future prospects of liberalism in Italy: as a tradition of thought, as a ‘diffuse’ cultural approach and as an organised political expression. Piero Ostellino’s introduction is followed by brief articles by Luca Anselmi, Dario Antiseri, Aldo Bello, Salvatore Carrubba, Franco Chiarenza, Raimondo Cubeddu, Vincenzo Ferrari, Maurizio Ferrera, Giorgio S. Frankel, Fulvio Gianaria, Giancarlo Lunati, Anthony Marasco, Piero Melograni, Pier Giuseppe Monateri, Mario Montorzi, Antonio Patuelli, Orazio M. Petracca, Angelo M. Petroni, Angelo Pezzana, Giorgio Rebuffa, Sergio Ricossa, Stefano Sacchi, Enrico Salza, Paolo Savona, Galeazzo Scarampi, Carlo Scognamiglio, Massimo Teodori, Giuliano Urbani, Valerio Zanone and Giuliano Zincone. The debate will be concluded by a reply by Ostellino in the next number of Biblioteca della libertà. Ostellino’s thesis is that, in its different interpretations, liberalism has had and continues to have a difficult time in Italy, especially insofar as competition and conflict, which in societies of mature liberal democracy are a ‘physiological’ factor of social dynamism and social and economic progress, are perceived here as an anomaly, indeed as a ‘pathology’ that needs to be exorcised. To demonstrate this interpretation, he cites recent episodes such as the attempts to reform education, the pension system, the welfare state and the judicial system, as well as persistent concertation between the government and the unions. He argues that traces of this congenital anti-liberalism are to be found in the Constitution of the Republic itself, and that it may be partly attributed to the hostility of Catholic culture towards liberal thought. Coming to the present, Ostellino judges the present Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s attempt to form a ‘mass liberal party’ as a substantial failure, and the role of liberals who identified with the project as totally marginal. The views prompted by Ostellino’s article approach his arguments from a variety of angles – economic, historical, politological, philosophical – and in different specialist ambits: from the questions of justice and the reform of the welfare state to that of the relationship between liberal and Catholic culture, to cite just three of them. Some authors share Ostellino’s pessimistic diagnosis, others consider the evolution of the Italian system in recent years as substantially positive, while others still stress, on the one hand, the liberal features of the Constitution and, on the other, certain illiberal features in the actions of the present government.