Advocates of bitcoin typically claim two things: that by introducing certainty into the monetary system, it overcomes the problem of trust and its failure; and that by removing hierarchies between users, the system becomes democratic. Both claims are problematic, argues Lea Kuhar.
Italy out of step
Il Mulino 3/19
In il Mulino, Stefano Feltri compares Merkel and Sarkozy’s lack of confidence in Berlusconi’s reforms in 2011 with the spectacle of Salvini rubbing shoulders with Le Pen, Wilders, et al. Both were ‘unequivocally images of Italy’s isolation in Europe. In the past this was hard to bear and always denied, but now it is proclaimed with pride.’
A major reason for the conflict between Europe and Italy is the argument over Italy’s deficit. As Carlo Mazzaferro writes, the argument revolves around the question as to ‘who will pay the pensions of today’s youth’. Tackling Italy’s tax system is one answer, suggests Vincenzo Visco, but Italian politicians continue to fight shy of the consequences: ‘the tax evaders’ faction has many millions of votes.’
The Lega Nord is determined to lower unemployment by reducing the cost of working, for instance through a flat tax. As Matteo Jessoula, Marcello Natili and Emmanuele Pavolini argue, the focus on welfare for Italians only, particularly pensions, together with vague income generation plans, is likely to increase the public debt.
Alessandro Cavalli sees German-style civic education as a way of encouraging better engagement with these complex problems. He draws three lessons: that people are not naturally democratic but can be educated to be so; that this can only happen if education faces the hard questions that divide people; and that arguments must be based in fact.
The European project was ‘founded in reason’ and continues to be based on fundamental principles and arguments, writes Roberta De Montecelli. The challenge is to make democracy a virtuous circle in which citizens develop and flourish. ‘No democracy can maintain itself for long when the mechanism that processes the political will of the community is running on empty.’
This article is part of our 13/2019 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our reviews, and you also can subscribe to our newsletter and get the bi-weekly updates about latest publications and news on partner journals.
Published 2 August 2019
Original in English
First published by Eurozine
The pro-Kremlin far right in power
Despite far-right parties’ criticism of EU sanctions on Russia, at national levels they lack the foreign policy leverage to be of direct use to Moscow. The strengthening of the far-right bloc in the European Parliament is also unlikely to alter the EU’s position. Does this mean that Russian influence on European politics is negligible?