Cittadini del mondo, un po preoccupati (Italian Edition)

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The Ghost of Boccaccio presents a sustained textual analysis of a selection of male-authored texts. By analysing these texts together in one volume, this study places them firmly on the scholarly map. They represent an extraordinary variety of voices seeking to be heard about the status of women in Renaissance Italy, ranging from the most conservative to the truly radical.

They provide vital perspectives on constructions of women in the Renaissance. A number of these texts also represent a crucial moment in the development of intellectual strategies to challenge the dominant gender ideologies of Renaissance and early modern Europe. This is the bathwater that needs to be thrown away, the sooner the better. It is important to openly stress this point in the debate.

Let us think of the European Semester. Surely there are ways for bringing the Semester closer to the circuits of electoral representation, for enhancing its throughput legitimacy via inclusion and accountability constraints — as currently advocated by many critical commentators. For that matter, the chapter by Bovens and Curtin shows promising signs of growing accountability at least a readiness to be accountable on the side of some top supranational leaders. The relative insulation from domestic electoral contingencies and from the logic of partisan responsiveness would activate a choice logic sensitive to fine-grained instrumental and normative considerations and open to reflexive learning — a logic that tends to be stifled in domestic contexts.

Effective democracy requires an appropriate balance between popular demands and elite expertise, supported by the best available knowledge. Let me now briefly turn to citizenship. The Fiscal Compact and especially the conditionality regime of the Memoranda of Understanding have definitely contributed to pushing through painful social reforms, to the detriment of long established redistributive arrangements and their supporting coalitions, laboriously built through domestic political channels and resting on territorially bounded balances of power.

In general terms, the worry about such developments is justified and well grounded. But again we must distinguish between babies and bathwaters. Societies mobilized in search of protection; states responded with the production of rights. In some moments and in some contexts, the noble instrument of democratic citizenship has been hijacked by petty interests, sectional lobbies, circumscribed groups defending their privileges. The awareness and the preoccupation with such dynamics were already clearly present in the early and classical debates about social citizenship.

Economically inefficient and normatively unjustifiable forms of right-based closure must be singled out with care and precision, context by context.

Lettera aperta al direttore dell’US Holocaust Memorial Museum

I believe instead that it is important to combine the loyalty to abstract normative standards with a factually grounded acknowledgement and critique of real-world deviations from such standards. The Southern European countries in particular Italy and Greece offer a good illustration of the dynamics just described. During the last couple of decades, EU membership and the so-called external constraint has provided these countries with precious spurs for stabilizing public finances, modernizing the state apparatus, recalibrating the welfare state and the labour market, and rebalancing traditional distributive distortions.

In my own work on the Italian case, I have often used the metaphor of a rescue by Europe :during the s, the Maastricht process prompted a real quantum leap in terms of institutional capabilities and risanamento the restoring to health of public finances. Admission into the Euro-zone was lived as a hard-won achievement by the vast majority of Italians. Unfortunately, this bonanza was mostly squandered: savings mainly went into pensions.

The reform process stalled, much needed public investments were not made. It is no surprise that popular support for the euro has been markedly declining in recent years. With the demise of Berlusconi, the center-right has become increasingly critical of the common currency, while the new Five Star Movement and much more vocally the Lega Nord are now openly asking for a referendum on the common currency. This would give back to peripheral countries — so the argument goes — the option of external devaluations, allowing them to recuperate competiveness and relaunch growth, without incurring in the painful social costs that the achievement of those objectives entails within the monetary union.

While I agree that a frank debate on such prospect would be useful, I also believe that there are important aspects to be considered, which might possibly tilt the balance in the opposite direction. Let me briefly mention these aspects, focusing again on the Italian case. The first aspect has to do with the diagnosis of Italian problems and prospects.

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The constraints of the euro have aggravated these problems, but have not caused them, therefore leaving the euro would not solve them. The key question however is: does Italy have an internal springboard to remain competitive among the big export-oriented economic powers, hopefully within the euro? In medium sized firms, during the crisis productivity grew more than in Germany. The recession led to the loss of many small firms, but overall it enhanced allocative efficiencies which were able to sustained export levels for data and discussion, see the Bank of Italy.

To re gain momentum, such an engine needs incisive internal maintenance and re-adaptation. But above all it needs to be complemented by a much more efficient service sector which should itself become a second engine for growth and employment and to be supported by a more favorable institutional environment — including a modernized welfare state. A lot of dirty bathwater must be thrown away, especially in terms of bad regulations, rent-subsidizing protections, clientelistic distributions.

A reasonable vincolo esterno remains key for moving in this direction. Net of the perverse consequences of the Eurocratic regime, developments during the crisis do lend support this view. And since , growth and jobs have started to pick up again. It does not seem too late or impossible to revive the springboard.

I am not arguing that Italy is out of trouble: far from it. But let us sketch a counterfactual based on the breakup hypothesis. A weaker lira gave to exporting producers temporary relief for their losses in competitiveness. But it also discouraged investments and innovations on the side of firms, crippled incentives for reforming the state apparatus and for opening protected sectors, caused a number of perverse distributional consequences, not to speak of the activation of several vicious circles such as inflationary spirals.

There is a second, wider aspect to consider. It would thus delegitimize entire generations of pro-integration leaders, including the younger ones who have gained office during the crisis. It must also be noted that the mere starting of the breakup process e. Italy is not Greece; a European bailout would be impossible. Should financial markets come to believe that Italy might exit from the euro as it is, they would have enough weapons to force this outcome on their own, very unorderly terms.

Some Italian analysts Bianchi , Bordogna have recently offered rough estimates about the consequences of such a scenario. I report some of them here just to give an idea of the numbers which are being seriously discussed in the domestic debate. This would trigger off a price-wage-exchange rate spiral resulting in even higher inflation and huge losses for workers in terms of purchasing power, increased inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth between employees and self-employed, and between domestic creditors and debtors. In five years, the real value of domestic debt would be halved, with a loss for bond holding families of ca.

For banks and financial institutions, which own about half of the debt, the impact on budgets would be tragic, especially for those which have foreign currency liabilities. In addition to the need for recapitalization by the state, it would be necessary to prevent bank runs by depositors.

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Interest rates would skyrocket in the wake of higher inflation, the currency and banking crisis and the government default. Exporting firms would do business, but those producing for the domestic market would all be affected by the contraction of consumption and investment as well as the banking crisis. It is true, as Baccaro argued, that the last big devaluation of the lira, in , did not produce all these dramatic effects and that — to the contrary — it turned out to beneficial for growth and jobs. But that devaluation took place in the context of the Maastricht process: the Italian government was determined to enter into the forthcoming single currency.

This created an incentive constellation for domestic and foreign actors which is very different than the constellation likely to result today from a euro-exit or the mere prospect thereof. You can check-out any time, but you can never leave. A doomsday scenario? As noted by Scharpf, the pro-status quo camp tends to ignore or minimize the costs of non-disintegration.

But — having personally experienced the dramas of some past devaluations of the lira — I believe that responsible politicians should be wary to play with the fire of disintegration. The path of a smooth, agreed-upon, well-planned dismantlement of the common currency is extremely narrow and very unsafe. Needless to say, this does not mean that things should remain as they are: far from it. The Eurocratic regime is too constraining, rigid and dogmatic for the type of economic and institutional modernization that befits Italy — and, a fortiori, the other Southern European countries.

But maintaining the single currency is compatible with different modes of economic and fiscal governance. In his chapter Sharpf himself puts forward the breakup scenario as an alternative to other possible paths, based on the expansion of productive investments and aggregate demand management. Located kilometres North East of Srinagar, at an altitude of almost 4, meters, the cave of Amarnath, with its ice stalagmite, has been for centuries the site of religious pilgrimages. At the end of a steep climb in a pristine forest, the cave is blocked by snow for most of the year and it is only accessible for a short period of time during which pilgrims challenge altitude and asperities to pay their respect to the god.

Legend has it that this is the secluded place that Lord Shiva chose to reveal to Parvati the secrets of immortality and of the creation of the Universe without being heard by any other living being. The cave is therefore revered and considered among the most important religious sites for Hindus.

To corroborate its sacrality, it is believed that the ice stalagmite, which is thought to be waxing and waning in accordance to the moon cycles, is an embodiment of the Lingam, the phallic representation of Lord Shiva himself. The Maharaja was all too happy to encourage pilgrims to visit the site. Since its modern inception, the Yatra was a relatively small event that lasted no longer than fifteen days and included twenty to thirty thousand local Kashmiri Pandits.

Between and , the pilgrimage was suspended because of political instability; it was then resumed in after assurances by the militants that they would not harm the pilgrims. That year, however, a sudden change of weather and unexpected snowfall caused the death of more than people.