The Italians: Family as a Core
The Italians suffer from two characteristics which have an adverse effect on their national identity: cleavages between north and south, and the dominant role of family. For Italians, family loyalty is stronger than any other allegiance, including feelings towards their country, their nation, or the EU. This feature underlies the rise of and dominant role of family-like organizations such as the mafia; support for Fascism and the appeal of a leader such as Mussolini; and the inability of the state and its legal system to effectively govern. To this day, the Italians find it difficult to accept Western culture’s principle of the rule of law when it runs counter to deeply-entrenched family values, which may also explain Berlusconi’s popularity.
Due to such sub-national allegiances and values, civic society is weaker and engagement at the grass roots is less robust than one finds in other democracies, leaving politics in Italy largely in the hands of political parties. In essence, the attraction of Italy’s membership in the EU for its ruling elites rests on the desire for a supra-Italian framework and authority that can govern Italians and provide for their well-being and prosperity where Italian institutions have failed due to geographical fissures and structural weaknesses in their own institutions.
EU membership, however, provides no magic bullet: it cannot change internal cleavages, the Italian worldview and family values or the country’s mafia-dominated power matrix. This, and the underlying absence of fidelity to a shared polity – Italian or European – leave Italy as ungovernable as ever.
Hardback ISBN-13: 978-1-84519-391-1
Page Extent / Format: 193 pp. / 234 X 157 mm
Editions: 1st: Jan.2013
Hardback Price: 56.00 €