Sicily today, all of Europe tomorrow: the onward march of the managers
By Richard Cottrell
Contributing writer for End the Lie
Breathtaking in his latest display of sheer daring, the technocrat dictator of Italy, Mario Monti, is planning to reverse the historic Risorgimento which created the modern united state of Italy in the 1860s.
Ever a man with a sense of history, he’s aiming to kick the Sicilian football with that famous boot which represents the Italian mainland.
Garibaldi and his thousand-strong legion first seized the Sicilian capital Palermo and then set out to Occupy Italy, in the now fashionable parlance. Monti has a similar idea. He and his legions of bureaucrats are planning to depose the island’s government and replace it with a technocrat provincial administration cast in his own image.
Monti just held an emergency meeting with the country’s president, the aging old tortoise Giorgio Napolitano, to persuade him to trash the constitution yet again and sweep away the elected island administration, just as Monti staged his own putsch against Silvio Berlusconi last autumn.
The pretext is identical. According to this reincarnation of Mussolini in a grey business suit, Sicily is about to default on its public debts to the tune of €7 billion (£5.49 billion) unless the poorest region of Italy is immediately subjected to sweeping austerity cuts. Since no elected politician on the island will go along with this, it will be necessary to install a technocrat government.
There is no doubt that Sicily’s finances are in a bad shape. The island government is close to running out of money to pay public servants or fund schools, hospitals and other essential services.
The New World Order’s favorite nanny, the Moody’s rating agency, answered a 999 emergency call from Rome by downgrading a whole string of provincial governments in southern Italy aside from Sicily: Piedmont, Abruzzo, Calabria, Lazio, and Campania all felt the edge of the icy blade. Naples was chopped to junk status, which came as no surprise to anybody who knows Italy’s legendary, fascinating dystopian city.
Immediately, the donkeys of the toothless parliament in Rome rose up to bray almost unanimously for the same kind of takeovers associated with the EU-IMF Troika rape and pillage system which has destroyed Greece and is close to achieving the same result in Spain and Italy. This year Monti says Italy’s GDP will shrink 2 percent. He’ll be lucky if it doesn’t slump by 5% at the current rate of economic contraction.
Sicily, it seems, is to be the practice run for the gradual Balkanization of Europe, the gradual bulldozing of nation-states into tame, pliant regions. This ‘Europe of the Regions’ was actually one of Monti’s popular themes as a former EU Commissioner (aka Commissar). There’s an entire department of the Brussels mendocracy (meaning liars and enablers) dedicated to the same just cause.
Sicily has enjoyed a special status since the Second World War — reflecting its long tradition of separatist revolt, typified by the legendary Sicilian Robin Hood, the bandito-separatist Salvatore Giuliano. He is still a revered name throughout the island, regarded with allure of a martyred saint. He was mysteriously murdered in 1944.
The politicians sitting in the rumbustious, seedy capital Palermo control a whole swathe of public services, which, aside from healthcare and schools, includes effective control of communications and water supply.
Of course as everyone knows, the omnipresent Mafia is the secretive, alternative government of the island. Like his predecessor, Benito Mussolini, Monti’s dearest wish is to dismantle the apparatus of organized crime and make way for an honest, tax-paying regime, which is like expecting the ruins of Pompeii to suddenly explode into a bustling revitalized city overnight.
Monti’s Public Enemy Number One is the island governor, Raffaele Lombardo, who is under a Carabinieri investigation for Mafia connections, which he firmly denies. Monti is using this excuse to force Lombardo out of office by the end of the month, a move that is obviously intended to clear the way for a Troika-type control system to take over the island.
Such haste speaks of well-laid plans, rather than the sudden, convenient discovery of a latent fiscal crisis that threatens the whole of Italy.
Lombardo counters by reminding us that Monti’s austerity measures and all-round asset stripping designed to bolster his industrial money-laundering pals in Wall Street and the City of London are to no small extent responsible for swelling the island’s financial woes.
“We face a liquidity crisis linked to the recession in the rest of the country” says Lombardo. “It is hard for lots of regions, and not just Sicily.”
He is right. When we see the formerly prosperous north, represented by the Veneto and Lombardian regions, are scraping along in a similar financial fix, clearly something is wrong.
The governor asks, “what are we supposed to do? Cut even further? Detonate a social explosion in Sicily? Turn Sicily into a land of desperation where everything is destroyed?”
He is correct that Italy’s drastic austerity measures — net tightening of 3.2 percent of GDP this year — is bleeding the regions and causing bitter hardship everywhere.
Abruzzo, for example, has been hard hit by devastating earthquakes in recent years and is still far from recovery. Yet Moody’s has downgraded the provincial government with all the grace of an executioner sharpening his axe while the hapless victim looks on.
For almost its entire history, Sicily’s biggest export has been people. As Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa states in his epic dedicated to Sicilian life, The Leopard, the island is soaked in an endless dismal drama of repression and misery.
The wealth of the Italian north, the great factory belts of Turin and Milan, was foremost created by peasant job-seekers flooding the north from Sicily and the south in general.
The mighty conglomerate Fiat was really nothing less than the Italian equivalent of a Soviet gulag, an endless treadmill for poor peasants who escaped the misery of the dust-blown Sicilian landscape for scarcely better rewards chained to the machines of mass production.
Like all intellectually arrogant Northerners, Monti despises Sicilians and indeed all southern Italians as work-shy, feckless shirkers. He regards all transfers from central budgets to local treasuries in the south as an inherent waste of money and resources that could be put to better use.
What he fails to see, or rather admit, is that Sicily is indeed a victim of the misaligned North-South relationship balance within Italy, which has never been properly addressed let alone cured by the fiction of a united state. Along with the Mezzogiorno in general, Sicily is confined in a welfare trap, highly dependent on remittances from reluctant central governments who do not use the funds to restructure local economies.
To a large extent this is the fault of Sicily finding itself trapped in another cruel dependency, that of the EU and the euro currency. The euro is supremely over-valued in the Sicilian climate. The island and indeed all the southern provinces would be immediately better off if Italy left the euro and readopted the banished lira.
Of course, this would not amount to some magical quick fix. It needs to be accompanied by firm remedial measures to leverage the south out of poverty.
The situation is worsened by pay deals that do not encourage productivity throughout the south. Sicily has started a small high tech belt near the famous Etna volcano. The enterprise is turning out high quality computers and cell phones, which proves that given the right encouragement and investments, modern business can prosper in the island climate. What’s needed is more hard transfer methods of this kind.
If Monti has his way, the opposite will happen. The intended austerity measures will, for example, wreck the education system which represents the best investment for the island’s future. Instead, Sicily will continue to be trapped in the brooding, poor south, existing hand-to-mouth on the latest whim from Rome, the curse of ages past.
I began with the big picture, so I shall return to that.
The Brussels Union regards nation states as a tiresome distraction and irrelevance in the pursuit of the great cause of a single, centralized state organized on the principles of top-down managerialism. This historical trend was foreseen with astonishing accuracy by the great American political seer James Burnham some 70 years ago.
The Marxist-turned-Neocon Burnham noticed the striking likeness between the Soviet form of managerialism and its developing counterpart in the American corporate climate. His book The Managerial Revolution (1941) is the Old Testament for those who see that the steady destruction of civil liberties and freedoms based on deeply rooted nation states is part and parcel of the steady drift to global authoritarianism.
The revolution is close to its conclusion in the United States, where Congress has effectively resigned all power to the Supreme Manager, Barack Obama. In Europe the Managers at the center of the EU nexus have amassed powers close to the mightiest empire in history. In Russia and China managerialism flourishes as always.
Sicily is but an ink blot in this scenario. But the use of executive powers to push aside an elected government on the vaguest pretext should be carefully noted as a model for what comes next, on a far wider scale. To take but one more example, if the restless Scots really believe they will be allowed to walk away from allegiance to the Crown, they are likely to be seriously disappointed.
Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive Press. You may order it using the link below (or by clicking here – Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis):
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Edited by End the Lie
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Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive Press. You may order it by clicking here - Gladio, NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis