To the north of the Alps, the policy of the new Italian government is almost always severely criticised. But there are also exceptions. On 21 November 2018, for example, the “Basler Zeitung” gave the Genoese legal philosopher Paolo Becchi the chance to speak in a detailed interview (“The enemy is no longer in Rome, but in Brussels”; <link https: bazonline.ch ausland europa der-feind-sitzt-nicht-mehr-in-rom-sondern-in-bruessel story external-link seite:>bazonline.ch/ausland/europa/Der-Feind-sitzt-nicht-mehr-in-Rom-sondern-in-Bruessel/story/28267401). From 2006 to 2017 Becchi taught philosophy of law in Lucerne. With Italy’s new government he sees “an opportunity for more federalism in Europe and a reform of the EU”.
km. The new government cannot be classified in a left-right scheme, as it is widely tried. Instead, the election results show: “In southern Italy people are fed up with the old parties that simply managed the decline. Moreover, in the north, citizens wanted more autonomy, more federalism.” [all quotes translated by Current Concerns]
Paolo Becchi hopes that with the new government Italy “can regain its national identity externally and reform itself internally”. Becchi: “The new distinction is between sovereignists and globalists. […] The Italians want to decide for themselves how to live. They defend themselves against foreign rule by the global financial markets and globalised politics, above all by the bureaucrats from Brussels – and they defend themselves against their proconsuls in Rome.”
Becchi replies to the accusation that peace is endangered by a more nationally oriented policy: “It wasn‘t the idea of the nation that was to blame for the terrible wars of the 20th century. Who has instigated these wars, the nation states or the empires?”
Nationalism can indeed “increase in dangerous imperialism”. But souverainism has nothing to do with nationalism at the expense of other countries: “It does not mean an absolute, centralist state, but a self-determined country with a federalist state structure from below – just as I got to know it in Switzerland.”
Becchi adds: “This genuine federalism, coupled with direct democratic elements, is a model for the future Italy.”
Not just for Italy it is about “people needing an identity and a home in which they are at home and where as citizens they [can] help determine their fate.”
The Italians want a federal and direct-democratic state where power is shared, distributed and thus limited. This has nothing to do with the catastrophes of the 20th century.
The euro, on the other hand, is a real disaster for countries like Italy. With the euro, the countries of the South are “taken hostage economically”. It is a “visible sign of Italy’s foreign rule”.
With regard to the EU, Becchi said that the idea of “United States of Europe” should be abandoned and “a Europe of Fatherlands” should be reverted to. After 1990 it was believed that „with the fall of the Iron Curtain the ‘end of history’ had been reached and the idea of the nation state was over, and everything would dissolve in globalisation. But that was a fallacy.“
Most people “need roots, a home and a state that takes them seriously and where they can have a say”. Switzerland, with its extensive autonomy of the cantons and its citizens’ direct codetermination, is a model for the sovereign state of the 21st century. The EU, on the other hand, is “an undemocratic, leviathanic entity”.
Switzerland shows how even difficult times can be overcome: “with federalism and direct democratic co-determination”.
Democracy and federalism need “sovereignty of the country, independence from transnational bodies that are always undemocratic”.
The new government in Italy has the potential to go down this road to more sovereignty and federalism – “and Switzerland should support Italy in this”.
At the end of the interview Becchi talks about the EU’s obvious crisis: “I believe the crisis can only be solved if the nation states experience a renaissance. I am Genoese first, then Italian, and I feel culturally European. But Europe is not the EU. The latter must respect national identities, traditions and political cultures if it is to survive.” •
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