[ExI] Italy's Social Capital (was france again)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Jun 2 19:49:14 UTC 2007

Amara writes

> "Giu1i0 Pri5c0" <pgptag at gmail.com> :
>>As a Southern European I think that our big strength is flexibility
> Regarding the flexibility: I'm very flexible (remember I'm an Italian
> government employee who is also an illegal immigrant), but my
> flexibility is not enough for increasing my productivity for the half of
> my life I spend in queues.
> To have any productivity in this particular country where the
> infrastructure is broken, one _must_ have also the social and
> familial network (to get help from someone who knows
> someone who knows someone who knows someone who
> knows someone ...) Italy does not not run by merit
> (i.e. skills, experience, competence), it runs by who you know.

In the book "Trust" Fukuyama listed among his examples
northern Italy (where trust is high) as opposed to southern Italy
where it isn't. In the book "War and Peace and War", Peter
Turchin describes how southern Italy has never recovered
from the events of the first two centuries A.D. when their
"asabiya" and social capital slowly vanished. Two thousand
years ago!

I cannot help but wonder what long term solutions might be
available to Italians who love their country. My particular,
my focus now is on the Fascist era, and I'm reading a quite
thick but so far quite enjoyable book "Mussolini's Italy".
Even in the movie "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", one
strongly senses that the Fascists were trying as best they
knew how to solve this problem and make the average
Italian develop Fukuyama's "trust" in other Italians, and
develop their social capital (amid the corruption, etc.).

Of course, it hardless needs to be said that the Fascists
were a brutal, repressive, and abominable regime. This
book "Mussolini's Italy" spares nothing here, and was
even described by one reviewer as "unsympathetic". 

Still---given the nearly absolute power the Fascists wielded
for about three decades---wasn't there anything that they
could have done?  That is, instead of trying to foment
patriotism by attempted military victories in Ethiopia
and Libya (a 19th century colony of theirs), wouldn't it have
been somehow possible to divert their resources to more
effectively "homogenizing" Italy in some other way? 

(I must say that as a libertarian, I'd much prefer that everyone
---especially including a small minimal government---mind their
own business.  Here, I'm just considering a theoretical 
question concerning how groups might reaquire their asabiya
and their social capital.)

I have two ideas, only one of which is outrageous. But the first
one is to have universal millitary service for all young people
between ages 14 and 25. By mixing them thoroughly with
Italians from every province, couldn't trust evolve, and in 
such a way that the extreme parochialism of the countryside
could be reduced?  The 25-year-olds could return with
a better attitude to "outsiders" (e.g. other Italians), and
with a much stronger sense of "being Italian" as opposed to
being Calabrian, or just being the member of some clan.

(My outrageous idea is that instead of trying to subdue 
Ethiopia, what if Sicily and other areas of the south could
have been "subdued" instead?  Stalin managed to force the
relocation of huge numbers of people, so couldn't 
Mussolini have done the same?  Clans in the south might
have been broken up into separate northern cities, and
depopulated areas of the south might have been colonized
by force by northern Italians.  Perhaps impracticable, but
at least the goal would have made more sense that getting
into stupid wars.)

Ah, but alas, the history of "social engineering" and "social
planning" doesn't have a very good track record, now,
does it?  But there had to be a *better* program that the
King of Lydia could have pursued with his tremendous
resources than getting into a war with Persia and getting
creamed. Or there had to be a *better* idea for the 
Romans than allowing slavery to supplant their farmers...
And so on.  Is there nothing constructive the Fascists
could have done?


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