"It is time for Italy to offer a serious industrial policy in the European framework according to the major coordinates of European integration". With this warning, the Head of State asked the Italian political elite to take an active and responsible role, worthy of a civilized country and greatly needed to move towards satisfactory economic development in the global economy.
However, there is no single industrial policy and it is assumed that the Head of State did not want to say "give yourself any industrial policy"; so, no matter what the President meant by "industrial policy", it is necessary that the political forces compare models presented by economics and the practical experiences that have historically characterized the industrial policy of our country. To give an extreme simplification, we can detect a pattern of "statist-centralist" development and "liberal-personalistic"; the first one has strongly characterized the Italian economic unit until the eighties, the second one has never been explored and is still struggling to emerge. Still, the term "liberal-personalistic" is old and has many noble fathers.
In order to consider only the Italian political tradition of Catholicism, we will focus on suggestions of one of its most authoritative interpreters. Luigi Sturzo, in his appeal of 1919: "To all free and strong men", from which the People's Party was born, he wrote, "in a centralized State, which wants to limit and regulate all organic power and all civic and individual activities, we intend to replace, on constitutional grounds, a genuinely popular State". Sturzo reiterates this concept on several occasions and in 1926, in an essay-review of the book of Guido Dorso, entitled The Revolution of the South, he stresses that the Popular Party was convinced that no regeneration of the country would have been possible except through an evolution towards the "decentralized and economically free State and an inclusion of the South in the State equilibrium". Contrary to those who continue to support the thesis of "two Sturzo", a popular former exile, and liberal, after returning from exile (1924-1946). Sturzo was the founder of the People's Party in 1901 and 1919 and in 1925 and the Fifties, he always repeated, like a mantra, his federalist, personalistic, and liberal vision. "Because of the lack of firmness of faith in liberal principles, on which rest the unity of the country, panic and jealousy are invading our men when we talk about a decentralization and regional federalization, and force them to establish that uniformity . . . that is the bane of modern nations". He wrote these words in 1901; clearly, there are no "two Sturzos"! There is only one: the federalist, free market-oriented and popular Sturzo.
Speaking of national industrial policy, with great foresight, Sturzo argued in the early twentieth century that no economic development could be achieved if one had not first addressed the crux of the "southern question". He proposed three conditions for a revival the South. First, a genuine political liberalization, since State interference in industry would have created an untenable situation--"the monopoly of big businesses, who live as a parasite on the nation, paralyzes industrial regions disadvantaged by economic centralization". Secondly, to give more economic substance to the regions and move towards a progressive joint federal state, so that "regional governments compete with the central government to restore the economic tax balance altered to the detriment of the South and Islands since the first decades of the Risorgimento, and later destroyed by the fascist system". Third, to nurture the spirit of initiative and entrepreneurship, so that the South is returned to the people of the South and they can be actors in its revival. At this point, a genuine industrial policy that maintains a liberal and personalistic character, Sturzo's inspiration, looks like a system of a "contiguous industrial complex, independent, linked to production cycles and served by adequate means of transportation. It is necessary, therefore, to affect industrial activity in order to promote and develop the highest performance".
Today, Catholics can count, as well as the social teaching of the Church, on a wealth of ideas and policy proposals still largely unknown. Unlike some copies poorly complaint, federalism, liberalism and the Sturzo version of social market economy ("odoliberal" theory) are a function of economic development of the nation and appear as integral parts of an industrial and social policy. This policy is one that is wary of adopting centralizing solutions, gigantic plans and legislative and fiscal uniformity. It appears in harmony with a vision of economic and social progress, consistent with the the modern Church's Social Doctrine, and is focused on intermediaries, small groups and platoons on the worlds of life, respecting the principles of subsidiarity and polyarchy.
Flavio Felice is an adjunct fellow at AEI.
(Translation to English by Francesca Lazzeri)
Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano
In 1901, Sturzo wrote an article, published in The Cross of Constantine, stating that broad decentralization was the path of redemption for the Italian South
In 1919, Sturzo was one of the founders of the Italian People's Party (Partito Popolare Italiano)
This is the name given to the historic period of struggle for independence and Italian unity from its first movements (1820-21, 1831) to the insurrections and wars 1848-66.
A principle in social organization; functions which subordinate or local organizations perform effectively belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization
Rule or government by many people; (also) an instance of this; a state or polity ruled by many