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“Neoliberal recipes on well-being. The only exception is the M5S agenda”

Domenico De Masi, one of the most accredited labor sociologists in Italy, all party electoral programs have a chapter dedicated to well-being. What is your opinion on the matter?
“You need a premise. The real distinction that has been consolidated in recent years has been between neoliberals and social democrats. Neoliberalism, from the 1980s, swept away its privatizations, with its economic policy based on the precariousness of ever wider masses, favoring profit, shareholding, competition, risk distribution and precariousness, precisely. On the other hand, the social democratic vision is very weak. Because the parties that were on the left have moved more and more to the right. If we started from the great electoral campaign of 1948, we could verify that three major left-wing parties appeared in these elections – the PCI of Togliatti, the PSI of Nenni, the PSDI of Saragat – and on the right the void, with a small monarchist party and a nascent neo-fascist party, but they were very marginal formations. Today, 74 years later, the opposite is true: there are three major right-wing parties and no left-wing parties. The Democratic Party says it but it does not, the M5S says it but it does not say it. There is a huge vacuum on the left and this translates into economic policies for the lower classes that are very weak if not counterproductive. Matteo Renzi’s position is significant. Renzi was the neoliberal prime minister who destroyed article 18, which dismantled the workers’ statute. The truth is that the situation of the poor is very weak and is found in an embryonic way only in the M5S program, in the other programs it is marginal, even absent. The watchwords of the Movement today are those most on the left. All the others are full of pushed neoliberalism”.

Why the rage against citizenship income?
“This persistence is explained by the fact that neoliberalism has always been interested in the ruling class, taking for granted that inequalities are inevitable. He was careful to control only the wealth of the rich. As Warren Buffett said, the class struggle exists, we are the rich who make it and we win it”.

Why is it wrong to claim that the abolition of citizenship income would create jobs?
“I answer you with an emblematic case. I am in Ravello. There are 12 towns on the Amalfi Coast that live off tourism and suffer from an absolute shortage of staff. Well, anywhere along the coast there are only 4 recipients of citizenship income”.

What are the effects of the victory of the right on our well-being?
“The victory of the right on the negative side has a positive aspect: it puts politics back in the spotlight. From September 26 we will have a revolutionized political framework. The parties that have always been in power for the last 20 years will find themselves in opposition and will probably not be able to do so. But this is an opportunity for the left to completely overhaul it. What so far has been made difficult by wanting to keep the foot in both directions. Wanting to make the government on one side, the demonstrators on the other. The government function has failed. The last governments leave Italy much more divided between rich and poor. During the months of the Draghi government, the absolute poor increased by 570,000 units. To which are added the relative poor. There is a team of at least 14 million Italians who have no political representation. The last party to support the poor was Berlinguer’s PCI. Now the Five Stars are trying.

The M5S leader described Draghi’s agenda as “modest”: there is no answer on the minimum wage and precariousness.
“Mario Draghi is a neoliberal, inattentive to the problems of the left. I had foreseen that during his government he would lose the class of the proletariat and the underclass, which in fact was growing. But, although the wealthy classes have become even wealthier, we are left with a country as a whole that is much more tired, less ready for a serious economic renaissance conducted with respect for justice and equality. Conte’s success now is entirely due to the fact that he is less to the right than the others, that he places himself to the left of the Democratic Party”.

Conte also proposed the reduction of working hours for equal pay.
“I note with great satisfaction that from a theoretical point of view my beasts of burden have been adopted by the M5S. Reduction of working time, minimum wage, citizenship income are the watchwords of the Movement which until now certainly correspond to a summary social welfare which can however be developed to allow the M5S in the following years to become a force of serious left, compact and prepared”.

How do you judge the interventions that have been made recently in the field of work?
“The years when Renzi was at the top of the Democratic Party and government, there was a real suppression of labor politics. The Jobs Act distributes billions to companies in exchange for a small number of almost always precarious jobs, with few guarantees”.

Enrico Letta said he wanted to close the employment law.
“Confindustria would have him done?” But then we must consider that Letta has made the Draghi agenda his own. Hiring a neoliberal as a standard bearer is a terrible oversight that the Democratic Party is now paying for. He made a thousand internal revolutions, an immense campaign to mobilize the peripheries of the party, but the result from the point of view of the electoral capitulation for the demo is negligible”.

Back to the old question: Was Letta right to break up with the Five Stars?
“He has certainly done a great service to the 5 Stars who come out much clearer, sharper and appear more left wing than if they had been with the Democratic Party. The same Nicola Fratoianni whom I had voted for but who I will not vote for, because it is like bringing water to the Democratic Party full of neoliberalism, betrayed his leftist vocation by allying himself with the dem. A vocation that he had on the contrary kept with the courage not to enter the Draghi government. Letta’s economic policy is very confused, certainly not leftist, Confindustria doesn’t care. He wants to keep Susanna Camusso and Carlo Cottarelli, who is a neoliberalist, together. Entrusting economic policy to Cottarelli is a dystonic operation, difficult to understand. Camusso and Cottarelli are carriers of opposite ideas”.

Also read: From citizenship income to pensions. The welfare state threatened with dismantling. Right arm arm in arm with the Center. All at war with the poor

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