How Italy Preserved The Democracy And Saved The Western World?

This short text is meant to be read in March 2021. The projections made here will be proven by reality in 12 months. However, I don’t want to wait until then to publish it. The reason is that it won’t be important in an year from now. It is important to read it and reflect on it today. The reason for that is that this short article offers a simple perspective based on the concept of sustainability of the human nature.

The Coronavirus showed us how fragile our societies are, how easy we get scared, how spoiled by the modern lifestyle we are. The Coronavirus also showed us how selfish, self-centered and short-sighted is the current Western civilization.

There have been only 2 months since the Coronavirus outbreak. The spread of COVID-19 hasn’t even reached it peak yet, but various public figures, influencers, popular writers, journalists, political analysts, have already started making projections and big statements about how the world would look like tomorrow. Some of them have already started drawing apocalyptic scenarios. From a hot topic the Coronavirus is slowly becoming a business-as-usual for those who are in the business of making projections.

I must admit that I am a bit ashamed of the way that Western world, the “white people’s civilization’ reacted to the Coronavirus threat. Six years ago most people in Europe and North America neglected the threat of Ebola virus outbreak in Africa between 2014 and 2016. We did that because Ebola hit people “somewhere in Africa”, because it was just a story in the news, that wasn’t affecting us. Now, when I look back, I feel ashamed that I was probably one of those people. I haven’t donated money, I did not do anything.

Now, when Coronavirus knocked on our door and endangered our countries we got scared and started drawing apocalyptic scenarios about tomorrow. The incumbent political leaders started introducing states of emergency even in countries where there are just few hundreds of people affected by the Coronavirus. Scared about the possibility to be blamed for downplaying the threat, to lose their positions and power they have started shutting down businesses, closing the borders, locking the people at home and to quarantine us. I do understand that the quarantine is the most efficient way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. I support all reasonable measures, especially those which protect the elderly. However, if the same elected officials who are now shutting everything down have acted to respond faster to the Coronavirus threat and to protect those who are 60 years old or above, then countries like Italy, Spain, France and many others would have been in a much better situation.

The current political elites have seen a huge opportunity amid the current global crisis. It is to get us as scared as possible in their own favor. This will help them to extend their executive powers beyond the current constitutional boundaries and to weaken public control over their power.

I’m sure that there are decent people who hold executive powers in various countries during the current global crisis. I’m also sure that there are many elected officials who act because they really care about the people’s well-being and especially for the elderly of above 70, who are the most severely affected generation by the Coronavirus. I would not question the fact that there are many good, decent people in politics. Still, the political process is not strictly based on moral values, it is much more a game of power. For this particular reason, the main danger for our societies and for our well-being are the ambitious, unscrupulous, divisive and authoritarian political leaders who hold the power in various countries around the world.

So, no matter how big is the Coronavirus threat, we should not stop questioning the way our politicians act just because the Coronavirus presents a significant danger for our health. The COVID-19 will be gone in 2, 3 or 6 months. The unscrupulous politicians who enjoy the power they have will stay.

COVID-19 is not the biggest threat for our future. A much bigger threat for us is the likely Coronavirus mutation into a political disease. This would not be a disease that can damage a country like China. It is a disease that will hit very badly the countries with a competitive political systems. It is a political virus that will change the institutional system of checks and balances which is the core of the Western democracies. Such a political virus would change the way our public institutions work.

What Italy would do for all of us?

Here I came to a moment to explain how Italy, one of the world’s most prominent republics would help our societies and states to go back to normal.

Italy has historically been a land of political extremes and a society influenced by elitist political philosophers. The Italian society has a historical memory from the 2 decades of a fascist rule that ended during the Second World War. Italians also have a significant historical achievements in the field of republicanism. The Italian world had its republics during the Middle Ages, at times when the monarchs had their power by the will of God. The Lombard League for example played a huge role in stopping the spread of the absolute power of The Holy Roman Empire to expand its powers in the Italian peninsula.

Some of the historically significant attempts to impose constitutional restrictions on the supreme power of monarchs in medieval Europe and to establish republican forms of government, came from the Italian political world. There are examples in the Italian history of how people can establish a political justice as a form of government and as a state where the most important question is “How the political decisions are made?” and not “Who holds power?”. These examples include republics or non-feudal forms of state, such as the Republic of San Marino, the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Florence, the Republic of Ancona, Republic of Pisa, Republic of Siena and the small autonomous Republic of Lucca within the Kingdom of Italy. From today’s perspective, those republics can be called oligarchic states, but in historical perspective they had represented an advanced form of government, well ahead of their time.

After the Second World War Italy has adopted a republican constitution, which since it has been established is one of the most democratic political founding documents in the Western world. Since then Italy have had seen a lot – a governmental and political instability and a huge political dynamics between far left and far right. In certain periods of time Italy have also had the strongest communist party in the Western World.

Ever since the Second World War Italy has been one of the most open, politically lively and vibrant societies in European and in the Western world. I know that many would point fingers to the negatives of the Italian political system, for example a certain level of corruption and probably a certain level of economic oligarchy. However, if we just for a moment look at the way other countries – including the leading societies in the Western world the Anglo-Saxon countries – have been walking within the last few decades, we would certainly not be pointing fingers towards Italy.

Italy didn’t bring the Great recession from 2007 to the world. Its not the Italian corporations that pushed the economy towards a non-restricted market driven only by the rules of greed, to a state of the national and global economy which is literally killing the middle class and destroying the capitalism. If Karl Marx was here, he would be very happy to see what is happening to the capitalism. As someone who’s not a Marxist, I will say only that there is a huge risk for Western societies and Western states whose historical fundamentals are capitalism and free market. The way the political elites in the Western world acted within the last few decades weakened the people’s faith in capitalism.

Now, with the Coronavirus changing our way of life for the foreseeable future, it is very likely that the political fundamentals of the Western polity will change from a state of capitalist society, market economy and competitive democracy towards statism and authoritarian form of government. Italy can stop all this. Why?

The main reason is that unlike the Anglo-Saxon societies which led by a profit-centric culture and are obsessed by an extreme forms of efficiency and automation, digital economy, technology trends, the artificial intelligence and artificial equality, Italians are a nation that has a historical memory for the natural inequality and for this special reason created a constitution state of the natural equality. It is not the Italian companies who push for introduction of production and economic models who depreciate the value of the human labor and are happy to adopt the artificial intelligence.

Italy is a lively Mediterranean polity. In March 2020 it looks like that the country is failing to cope with the spread of Corona virus, that its health system is on the edge of collapse, that there is not enough doctors and medical staff and that the government is not up to the expectations of the society. I would not judge the Italian government based on its current response to the Coronavirus spread, a disease which has been imported to the country. As one of the world’s most open countries and the most attractive tourist destinations, Italy will be always at risk. I am sure that Italy will go through the Coronavirus and will be one of the first countries to beat it properly, without turning its cities and neighborhoods into a isolation camps, like other countries did. Italy does not need to follow the Chinese model of dealing with disease. It is very important Italy to come out of the Coronavirus crisis by setting an example. It would be an example on how any democratic government can cope with the state of emergency without violating the human rights and without turning a democratic state into authoritarian polity.

It is one of those defining moments of the history of any nation which it needs to embrace, it is not an opportunity to miss. Italy has had the misfortune to become a place where the Coronavirus disease started spreading across Europe. Now the country has a chance become a global leader by setting an example on how the virus can be beaten. China cannot show us the path to beat the virus. It is impossible for the Western countries to act like China. All eyes now are on Italy the worst hit country by the Coronavirus. The way Italian government acts in its fight with the disease, will be closely examined, analyzed and if it worths to be used, it will copied by other countries.

In a world, shut and obsessed by fears about the future, Italy is in a position to lead by example. Italians can do things that might sound absurd, but would be a huge morale-boosting action. One of them is to set a date for reopening the Serie A championship, let clubs play behind closed doors and broadcast the football games on the public TV channels. Serie A could waive the payments on TV rights until the end of the season and give hope to 60 million people in Italy and 8 billion people around the world. How and when this would happen? I would say only “The sooner, the better”!

Of course, the reopening of Serie A is more of a extravagant and risky move, rather than a reasonable package of necessary measures to fight the Coronavirus spread. A much more reasonable, must-do political move of the Italian and the other governments in Europe would be to restart the European Union, which is currently falling apart to national states and looks virtual, more than ever, behind the closed national borders. Now is the time for the Europeans to discover how important is the EU for them.

As far as for the suggestion for reopening the Seria A, it might not be the most reasonable or the most brightest idea. However, some of the most significant achievements in the human history weren’t driven by reason or by brightness. They have been driven by emotion and hope. What most people need today is hope, a leadership and an example to follow. It will help us win.

It is march 2021 and we should be grateful to Italy for preserving the democracy and saving the Western world?