I difensori dell’Occidente, curato da Giampietro Berti, Nunziante Mastrolia…
In Germany there are those who defended those who criticised them. About a year ago, in France, the General Secretary of a historical trade union, Thierry Lepaon, declared that in Germany more than seven million people were under-employed, earning less than €460 per month.
Similar statements were made in Italy. Thierry Lepaon, however, was proven wrong by the French-German television ARTE, in a programme developed in collaboration with “Libération”.
The title of ARTE’s program is showing: Dossier Désintox. La parole des politiques soumise à contre-enquête, (Dossier detoxification. Speeches of politicians subjected to counter-investigation).
It’s not true – says the detox pill – that seven million Germans earn €450 per month. It is true that 2.6 million workers in Germany combine their mini-job with a full-time job, while the remaining 4 million or so mini-job workers are students or mothers who split their time between house and children.
And then there are the unemployed, people who, in addition to their mini-job, are entitled to a subsidy, with all the accompanying benefits.
The criticisms that have been made in many European countries about the reform of the labour market and welfare for the unemployed cannot be transposed to Italy. There is not a common platform. If you looked at the contents, you would discover the sharp differences, even of an ideological nature.
For example: the Italian left is strongly ‘labourist,’ while many protest movements – notably in Germany, where a strong argument is made for Basic Income, of which one of the most prominent supporters is Claus Offe – are critical of the centrality of traditional work expressed by the back to work programme.
The Italian situation is completely different. Though the welfare systems of the European social model were born with Beveridge, combining full employment and benefits for the unemployed, forms of ‘guaranteed minimum income’ (benefits for the unemployed) are seen in Italy as related to the destruction of the value of regular work, the counterpart of flexibility, the end of a society of full employment.
In reality, however, in Italy – as the European Union’s 2006 Report on Work certifies – one finds the same flexibility as that available in an Anglo-Saxon country, though without the protections of welfare.
The distrust for European welfare has deep roots in Italy. It is no coincidence that of the many theories on the origin of the welfare state, the one which is taken almost as a cliché in Italy, is the so-called Conspiratorial Theory.
According to this view, welfare would have arisen within a plan to contrast Soviet communism, to then decline with the decline of the Soviet Union.
Now, aside from not explaining why Italy, which had the strongest communist party in the West, remained well behind the rest of Europe in the development of a welfare state – the conspiracy thesis reveals that, after all, Italian political culture does not recognise an independent European social policy, with its own autonomous social thought.
The European social model is seen only as reflection of a tactic: thus something specific to Europe, a social model capable of attracting American liberals like Paul Krugman, is nothing more than the product of a conservative tactic.
Harmonising the systems of protection of the unemployed is therefore much more than a social measure to combat poverty: it is the opportunity to overcome a very deep difference in political culture.
Translation by Julian Siravo