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Good Italy, Bad Italy

Good Italy, Bad Italy

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Good Italy, Bad Italy
    Book Description:

    Not long ago Italy was Europe's highly touted emerging economy, a society that blended dynamism and super-fast growth with a lifestyle that was the envy of all. Now it is viewed as a major threat to the future of the Euro, indeed to the European Union as a whole. Italy's political system is shorn of credibility as it struggles to deal with huge public debts and anemic levels of economic growth. Young people are emigrating in droves, frustrated at the lack of opportunity, while older people stubbornly cling to their rights and privileges, fearful of an uncertain future.

    In this lively, up-to-the-minute book, Bill Emmott explains how Italy sank to this low point, how Italians feel about it, and what can be done to return the country to more prosperous and more democratic times. With the aid of numerous personal interviews, Emmott analyzes "Bad Italy"-the land of disgraced Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an inadequate justice system, an economy dominated by special interests and continuing corruption-against its contrasting foil "Good Italy," the home of enthusiastic entrepreneurs, truth-seeking journalists, and countless citizens determined to end mafia domination for good.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18865-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-xi)
    Bill Emmott
  4. [Map]
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Italy’s Second Chance
    (pp. 1-28)

    For most of the big, rich countries of the West, the financial crisis of 2008–10 and its worrying aftermath came as a genuine shock, the worst such economic shock since the Second World War. It was made even more humbling by the sense that their control over world affairs is ebbing away, thanks to the rise of China, India and other previously poor countries, and thanks to the ageing of their populations. It was far from being the first big post-war crisis – the oil-price hike and runaway inflation of the 1970s had long ago jolted Europe and North...

  6. CHAPTER 2 L’Inferno Politico
    (pp. 29-71)

    If you have been following Italian political events, you could be forgiven for wondering whether the political scene there in recent years should best be categorized, whether by Dante or by a modern observer, as a type of hell or as some sort of paradise. It depends on whose point of view you are taking.

    After all, the countless nights of partying with scantily clad young women that the 75-year-old prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, held at his villas between 2008 and his fall from office in 2011 could place politics in either category. The life of the government leader and...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Il Purgatorio Economico
    (pp. 72-107)

    These days, we all have a view about southern Europe, and it is generally bad – at least if it is the economy we are talking about. In search of a nice headline and memorable phrase, during the 1990s research analysts in financial markets came up with the acronym ‘PIGS’ to group together the slow-growing, highly indebted countries of the European Union’s south, namely Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. They were unified in the analysts’ minds by thoughts of a monopolistic capitalism, of bloated public sectors, of a lack of dynamism, and of a clientelistic politics that uses public money...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Inspirations from Turin
    (pp. 108-138)

    Once, in 1998, in the midst of peace talks to end the violence in Northern Ireland, Tony Blair provoked derision from us cynical, undeferential British journalists when he proclaimed that such a serious moment was no time for soundbites and then, seconds later, produced one of his most pompous slogans ever. ‘I feel’, he said, ‘the hand of history upon our shoulder.’

    Well, in a rather different way, I too felt a ghostly hand on my shoulder as I tucked into myfiletto di vitello piemontese, sitting in the lovely old Ristorante Del Cambio in Turin right underneath the plaque...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Hope in the South
    (pp. 139-183)

    It was only after I had handed over the money that it occurred to me. By buying a red T-shirt at the Fiera Addiopizzo (Addiopizzo Fair) as a gift for my companion, might I be subconsciously paying homage to Giuseppe Garibaldi, another visitor to Sicily from afar, who had arrived in Palermo a century and a half earlier, almost to the day? Well, red was no doubt more suitable anyway for a woman than the macho black version I was buying for myself, which was why she chose it. And we were neither invaders nor liberators, nor, despite my previous...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Enterprise Obstructed
    (pp. 184-210)

    In the admittedly emotional wake of the western financial and economic crises since 2008, many of us who have felt disappointed or disillusioned with our unstable, unequal, often short-sighted forms of capitalism have groped for alternatives. Not alternatives to capitalism itself as some of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ style of campaigners have demanded, for that is futile, since the use of competitive, commercial activities, dividing our labour, investing our savings and taking or avoiding risks – which is all capitalism means – is simply an essential and inevitable part of human life. But rather the groping has been for alternatives...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Potential Displayed
    (pp. 211-253)

    Antonio Gramsci said that he was ‘a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will’.

    I rather doubt if the great Marxist philosopher would approve of a quest for optimism about his country that was founded on global capitalism, on the will that capitalism requires, and on the belief that this globalized capitalism is one of the main places in which the Good Italy resides. Gramsci’s way of thinking and his pessimism, which is forgiveable given his experiences with Mussolini, would surely lead him to pour scorn on such a quest and on such a belief. But apply...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Good Italy, Bad Italy
    (pp. 254-280)

    In hisDivine Comedy, his epic poem set in fourteenth-century Florence, Dante Alighieri met his symbol of love and hope, the beautiful Beatrice, and she showed him that, despite his doubts and fears, there was indeed a Paradise, cleansed of the sins of Hell and Purgatory that had made Florence a nest of corruption, self-indulgence, internecine warfare and moral cowardice.

    Few of us doubt that Italy itself remains beautiful today, yet there is little that is beautiful or paradisiacal in the slum cities around Naples where the Camorra mafia rule, where drug-dealing is a main industry and used needles make...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 281-288)
  14. Further reading
    (pp. 289-290)
  15. Index
    (pp. 291-300)