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Reading Sturzo’s better structured, more academic and systematic works, as well as his collections of articles and essays that have become largely popular, not only can one grasp, in a crystal clear manner, the strong personality and the ideal horizon guiding the investigations and political actions of the Sicilian priest, but we can also highlight the most interesting features of his publications on current affairs: scientific rigor, political passion, love for his own country, the ongoing search for an order that could be meaningful from the Christan and, thus, human standpoint in the field of politics, economics, and culture. An order enabling the fulfillment of human beings, confirming the firm and intransigent refusal to yield to antireligious cultures; cultures that in the name of materialism and a sort of dogmatic rationalism ended up limiting freedom in the political, economic and cultural spheres.
Sturzo’s reference to the social market economy happens in parallel with an academic, more than political, experiment, that was initiated–when he was an illegal immigrant and an exile–in the second half of the 30s in Nazified Germany. An experiment that took the name of “Ordoliberalism”, and among the main representatives who contributed to the development and dissemination of that school of thought there were economists suh as Walter Eucken, Alexander Rüstov, and Wilhelm Röpke and jurists such as Hans Grossman-Dörth and Franz Böhm ; the latter were, with Eucken, the coeditors of the “Ordo” magazine. In the first volume of their political publication, Ordnug der Wirtschaft (1936), Böhm, Eucken and Grossman-Dörth drafted a programmatic introduction in which they articulated their firm stance against the persistent legacy of the German Historical School of Economics of Gustav Schmoller and they also asserted the general principle that “all the practical politico-legal or politico-economic issues had to be linked to the notion of economic constitution”, being convinced that the interrelationship between law and economics was “crucial”. In the essay/manifesto of 1936, named “Il nostro compito” (“Our task), the fathers of ordoliberalism pointed out: “Law and political economy were constitutive forces that exercised a remarkable influence–for instance, in the reconstruction of the legal and economic system that took place in all civilized countries at the end of the 18th century. Only during the course of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century they lost their prominence” . The Historical School of Economics, as Eucken wrote in the 1951 edition in his Foundations of political economy , is atheoretical in the sphere of political economy and arbitrary in the sphere of economic policy: “Menger maintains that the historical economist must find out the “concrete relationships between facts”. But this is exactly what a historian cannot do. How can he, through his historical method, establish the connections that exist between price drops, unemployment and output decline and the concrete causes of all these phenomena?”. The relations that the “historical economist” discerns, according to Eucken, “are still unknowable through his methods”.
The social market economy and its underlying theory, ordoliberalism, present themselves like an alternate and systematic approach leading up to the Ordnungstheorie and to the Ordnungspolitik. Unlike the authoritarian understanding of the term, “order” for “ordoliberals” referred to the notion of coordination of individual plans, a decentralized coordination of economic activities in a general framework of rules of the game, and of refusal to subordinate economic activities to a central authority. This is the reason why we believe, like Vanberg does, that the founders of ordoliberalism emphasized the role of the rules of the game, as the main means to attempt to put in place an economic policy capable of improving economy, i.e. to put in place “correct economic institutions”. For our authors the combination of law and economic analysis is a prerequisite to create what they called the social market economy, i.e the development of an economic constitution attempting to improve the economic system in an indirect manner, revising the rules of the game, in sharp contrast with an interventionist economic policy. Razeen Sally writes: “It’s up to the State to put in place and maintain the institutional framework of a free economic order, but it must not intervene in the mechanisms of the competitive economic process: here is the essence of the Ordnungspolitik” . All of this being convinced that the establishment of such an institutional and legal framework, of an effective market order, could have enabled to solve of the social issues of the 19th century. in 1936 Eucken, Böhm and Grossmann-Dörth themselves, in the “Ordo” manifesto, stated that: “We seek to create an economic and social order ensuring, at the same time, the proper functioning of the economic activity as well as decent and humane living conditions. We are in favor of a competitive economy, since it allows to achieve these goals. And we can also say that this end cannot but be accomplished by this means. Competition is a means, and not an end in itself “.
The Three “Bad Beasts”
In Sturzo’s work, the search for a new order is conducted through the criticism of the factors that, in his opinion, characterized the present and had characterized the more or less recent past of the Country. In the economic sphere, the criticism of Sturzo focuses on bureaucracy and the State unduly encroaching into private initiatives. We have now come to the first of the three bad beasts of democracy: statism, that appears to go against freedom. Sturzo writes in this regard: “The mistake of those who are in good faith stems from a false vision of modern economy, believing that the State with its increasingly large interventions may repair inequalities, provide jobs for the unemployed and elevate the level of working classes; rather, the opposite will take place”. Statism, so fiercely condemned by Sturzo, should not be mixed up with public intervention in the economy. As we shall see later, Sturzo shares the opinion of the theoricians of market social economy, as proven also by the firm support of the founder of the People’s Party to the theoretical perspective ushered in by Röpke, reported in an article that can be considered to be his “economic” legacy since it appeared two days after the Sicilian priest passed away, on the 10th of August, 1959: “Prof. Roepke (Sic!) could not have better emphasized the problem of modern economy than by referring to the fundamental canon of morals. Without this, no public economy, nor private economy can hold”. A further evidence that the German “ordoliberal” theoricians and Sturzo share ideals, can be found in a letter sent by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to prof. Giuseppe Palladino (Sturzo’s executor) on the 25th of September, 1919, a few days after the death of the Sicilian priest: “I appreciated Don Sturzo as one of the great politicians who, for a deep-seated sense of Christian responsibility, after the chaos of the last war, strived to build a new Europe; I really hope Don Sturzo’s prayers can help me work in the same spirit that motivated his noble intentions, to solve the problems the Christian West” will be faced with”.
In the political sphere, Sturzo complained about the well established practice of partitocracy: the second of the three bad beasts that, according to our Author, go against the principle of equality; by partitocracy, Sturzo meant the irresponsible encroaching of political parties and trade unions in the functions of the legislative power. In Sturzo’s words: “In the post-war period it was a calamity for our mother country that the Parliament and the Government, the only state bodies that are responsible towards the nation, have not only t allowed the irresponsible interference of political parties and trade unions in the delicate functions of the legislative and active power; but they also tolerated their continuous predominance that constitutes an actual partitocracy and, in many cases, also an irresponsible and overwhelming unions’ power with respect to the rights and the interests of the community”. Then, we were speaking about the theory of a political, economic and cultural system–ordoliberalism–that would enable the fulfillment of human personality in the political, economic, and cultural spheres. What has been said so far about the economic and political sphere allows to extend the discussion to the ethico-cultural sphere as well. Against this backdrop, as a consequence of partitocracy and statism, Sturzo discerns the fauces of the third “bad beast”: the squandering of public money that is thought to prevent the accomplishment of justice. Partitocracy and statism, through the misuse of public money, relieve the social body of its responsibility and empty human actions of their ethical significance: “As confidence may edify but also destroy, thus risk may educate, but also corrupt [. . .], neither the State, nor the Parties can presume to eliminate risk; it would cause harm to the society, in an attempt to paralyse the flow of human activities, subtracting momentum to emulation, to trading by individuals and by organized groups, lessening the possibilities of welfare itself. Vexatio dat intellectum . . .” . From this standpoint, claiming the right to eliminate the risk, that is the inevitabile human ignorance, inhibiting the competitive process, besides wasting energies uselessly, would also mean causing very severe harm to society, paralysing the natural flow of human activity and depriving the human person of the necessary drive towards interpersonal relationships, discovery, and personal and social responsibility. A classic text on the social relevance of individual risk is provided in the following passage by Luigi Sturzo: “Vexatio dat intellectum; man, in order to understand, and then operate, needs coercion, to train his strength, to speculate intellectually, to prepare plans, to overcome obstacles; it fosters the spirit of conquest”. Sturzo’s viewpoint enables us to consider risk as an opportunity provided to men to go, each time, beyond the limits of knowledge and to train their own abilities to develop the necessary skills to pursue that multi-dimensional well-being that enables us to work out a mature notion of common good, being neither void political rhetoric nor a utopian “fatal presumption” that history has proven to be the noble cover of the most pernicious alchemies of social engineering.
The Return From Exile
Being aware that without freedom, equality and justice no democracy can ever exist, Sturzo realizes that the main battle in favor of democracy will have to be fought on the practical and theoretical grounds to prevent the emergence of the arguments of the followers and theoricians of the “three bad beasts”.
Sturzo, coming back from the twenty-year exile, is not a different person from the one who, in the late 19th century, took his first steps in the socio-political engagement in his Sicily and, in 1919, founded the Italian People’s Party. The political action and the academic research of our author were always inspired by the defense of free and responsible human actions, against any form of interference of the State in the autonomous capacity for action of intermediate bodies: individuals, families, municipalities, provinces, and regions. His battles against usury and landed estates, the establishment of agricultural credit banks and cooperatives are all concrete experiences that must be interpreted as practical factors of political action, understandable from his epistemological reflection, an epistemology of social sciences that resulted in a sociological, politological, and economic analysis found in the ample scientific work that he had the chance to write during the period of the exile in London and in the United States. At the same time, the political activity will lead him just apparently to drop the philosophy studies and a probably fortunate academic career will pave the way for the antistatist disputation in his publications of the ‘50s. For this reason, it would be utterly wrong not to grasp in his commitment to the South of Italy, in the federalism and in the subsidiarity principle, that are typical of the Social doctrine of the Church as well as of the Social market economy, the cultural roots of Sturzo’s antistatism and of the methodological personalism that eventually must be traced back to Christian personalism inspired by the social doctrine of the Church that dialogue, in an unprecedented manner, with the tradition of classical liberalism, with which Sturzo had come in contact both in the late 19th-century Sicily–think of the influence of Francesco Ferrara and Napoleone Colajanni on Sturzo’s economic reflection–and during the long exile in London and in the United States. In a controversial statement intended for the young Christian Democrat leaders who ususally criticized the “liberalist” Sturzo of post World War II to contrast him with the “popular” Sturzo before the twenty-year exile, the priest, who founded the Italian People’s Party, mentioned a relevant point of the appeal “To the strong and the free” of 1919, to prove that there never were “two Sturzos”, the “popular” and “the liberalist”: “We intend to replace, on constitutional grounds, the centralizing State, aimed to limit and regulate each organic power as well as civic and individual activities, with a genuinely popular State, recognizing the limits of its activity, respecting individual personalities and encouraging private initiatives”.
However, we must recognize that the tones and words used by Sturzo in the ‘50s in his everyday battle in favor of freedom, against statism, partitocracy and the waste of public money (“the three bad beasts”) were different from those used by the author in his political activity before the advent of fascism. The Sicilian priest himself admits this difference exists, but soon after that he explains the reasons for this. If on one hand it is undeniable that the nature of statism is immutable: “the systematic and abusive intervention of the State, violating freedom of individuals, of private and public social groups, and their related rights and autonomy”, the way in which this materializes in history can change over time. And this is why, in the eyes of Sturzo, post-fascist Italy appeared to have embraced the all-engaging Mussolini’s motto: everything in he State and for the State, nothing outside the State, inheriting a heavy authoritarian and illiberal tradition, first in the the Risorgimento’s secularist and antireligious version, then in the fascist one and eventually, supported by a sort of “catholic leftism” that mixes social tension up with an “opening to the left”, in the deadly embrace with the Socialist party, that would usher in the “Social Communism”, Italian-style. Here are the words of our author: “Unfortunately like in the two decades some Social Catholics borrowed political and corporative methods and doctrines from fascism; after Italy’s liberation, in the Christian Democratic Party, which has become the ruling and guiding Party, in fact the fundamental party, there are some who guide not only the contingent policy of alliances, but the directive social policy in a direction that is not our own and cannot be such: the socialist conception“.
Thus, Sturzo himself recognizes the differences between the Italian pre-fascist and fascist statism, that had settled at the end of World War II in the new and democratic Italy of liberation committees, political parties, trade unions, and countless State bodies. Sturzo, anti-fascist and anti-communist, could not helplessly witness the stepping up of the state presence in the business, banking, insurance and even cultural arena, to the point that it became necessary to establish an ad hoc Ministery of State Holdings; he had to denounce the historical contiguity between fascist nationalist totalitarianism and the economic statism of the rising centre-left. Sturzo writes: “In fact, after the many State interventions, the billions of INAM (Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority), the deficit of the film industry, here come the pretentious ENI initiatives, that pump out public money with the go-ahead of the Governor of the Bank of Italy; thus, we observe a State that is not only “not social” but rather “antisocial“, that disrupts, squanders, takes apart everything that it thinks to promote to the benefit of the people (meant as all tax paying citizens) and of the working people (meant as the class justifying the dissipation)”.
Sturzo notices a quality leap of Italian statism of post-world war II with respect to that of post-unity and fascism, and he publicly intervenes in this regard, engaging in a heated debate also with the Christian Democratic leaders of the time: from Giorgio La Pira to Amintore Fanfani, from Enrico Mattei to future President Gronchi. This is how Sturzo expressed his views in favor of free economic initiative and against statism, a statism that was defended by his old friends in the party that he provocatively called “sinister Christian Democrats”: “The fundamental error of statism is that of entrusting the State with activities having a productive purpose, connected to an economic restrictionism stifling the freedom of private initiative” ; “Transferring private capital to the State, and make it operate in the large indistries [. . .] causes harm to the country, to its economy and to the working class itself” and furthermore: “Blessed be private initiative that is not obliged to expect the benefits dispensed from above when the Gods of the state Olympus,–whether democratic or totalitarian–, manage to find a compromise between them, like at the time of Homer, and then deign to look at what happens in the small, low world of living reality!” ; and moreover “The State is unable to run a simple cobbler’s workshop”. And speaking about school freedom he pointed out: “As long as school in Italy is not free, Italians themeselves will not be free; they will be servants, servants of the State, of the Party, of private or public organizations of any sort [. . .]. The genuine school, free, joyful, full of youth enthusiasm, developed in a suitable environment, with teachers engeged in the noble function of educators, cannot thrive in the heavy climate created by the bureaucratic state monopoly”.
The foundation of the argument by Sturzo against state interventionism and the naïve equalization performed by many young Christan Democrats of the time between solidarity, the active role of the state in the economy and the myth of opening to the left would be a theoretical reason clear-sightedly outlined by Mario D’Addio in the following passage:
“[Sturzo’s argument against statism and partitocracy] was actually addressed against the conception, naïve in many regards, of the Welfare State as a safe solution for the social issues linked to the process of industrial economic development, and therefore as a “ground” where traditional forces of marxist and socialist left could meet with those of Christan and lay inspiration. In the wake of this theoretical argument, that in the ‘50s will result in the antistatist and antipartitocratic controversy, we can notice that Sturzo sort of drew inspiration from popularism in the light of the tradition of Anglo-American liberalism, having directly experienced two of the most ancient and established western democracies: the US and UK democracies. No doubt the tough exile was also for our author a chance to open his mind and the encounter with the British and American political literature profoundly influenced his way of interpreting also the political economy and the political and cultural currents of the time.
Sturzo and the Social Market Economy
With specific reference to Sturzo’s contribution to economy, we already had the chance to pinpoint the affinity of his view towards the German ordoliberal tradition and that of social market economy of Röpke, Erhard, Eucken, Adenauer, and others. During the debate with Giorgio La Pira, in his answer to the major of Florence on May 21, 1954, Sturzo suggests him to read up on “how Germany was able to recover after the war and achieve some competitive economic aspects that started to worry the so called winners”.
In an article on December 29, 1957, titled Paura della libertà, he said. “Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, ours is a hybrid industrial enterprise, state-owned and private, the first one with monopolistic privileges, strong state support, easy means and lacking sense of risk. The second one with an old tradition of state favours, easy means and lacking sense of risk: even industry actors looking for specific favours lose sight of the value of economic freedom and real interests of domestic productivity”. These are not the words of a hopeless liberal, of an anarchical-capitalist, who rambles on a far-fetched privatization of the moon. They are the words of the father of the Italian and European political Catholicism, of one of the most renown interpreters of the modern social Christian thought and one of the most influential social scientists of the XX century.
This article is noteworthy, it is interesting to see how Sturzo claims there is no form of “solidarism” actionable where “statism” and “market economy” coexist, whereas a solidarity-oriented policy can be achieved only where a “free market” coexists with a state policy of “cooperation” and “occasional” and “more or less agreed upon intervention”. These are the circumstances that entitle a fair and sound policy, as well as the categories that describe a political economy in line with market order. Not by chance Sturzo makes the example of the German and U.S. economic-entrepreneurial reality and that Röpke, as well as Adenauer, chose Sturzo’s works as an important source of inspiration. The social market economy developed by Sturzo considers three basic conceptual elements. First of all; liberty is unique and individual: “one loses political and cultural liberty when economic freedom is lost and vice-versa”, in contrast with Croce’s distinction between liberism and liberalism and in tune with the unitarist perspective of Einaudi and Hayek- who in the social economic market were, respectively from the Higher Education Academy for Social Studies of Geneva and University of Freiburg, among the most relevant protagonists and scholars, as well as close to ordoliberalism during the war and post-war period.
Secondly, liberty is an expression of self-discipline, in addition to legislative regulations, “for the coexistence and respect of mutual rights and duties”. Thus, the state’s main task is to “guarantee and monitor collective and private rights”, keep public order, national defence, safeguard and monitor credit and monetary systems. And still, safeguard and monitor public finance and guarantee good administration. Only secondarily and subsidiarily the state intervenes, in an integrative way, in sectors of social and general interest where private initiative is poor, until it is able to resume its own role”. Sturzo, like other ordoliberals, does not deny that in cases of need the state can intervene, but confines them to “emergency” situations, for a “limited” period and ” in a secondary and subsidiary way”.
Economic freedom, Sturzo himself points out, is not freedom from the fascist regime, the “agreed alliance” and “collision” among antifascist forces gathered in the Committee of National Liberation (CLN). Sturzo writes: “When a dictator is ousted (our case), an oligarchy is created; the liberation committee was an oligarchy; those who were excluded then were the outcasts, who later joined the banner of new parties”. Freedom according to Sturzo, he himself writes: “is the economic freedom that influences and facilitates the existence and development of political and moral liberties”. Thus, Sturzo rules out all the “corporatist illusion of pro-fascist Catholics of that period”. Corporatism, according to our author, did not have and can never have any relation besides the unsuccessful attempt of Mussolini to identify “State-party-corporation”, where there is a total lack of freedom and the complete fulfilment of the fascist motto: “all in the State, of the State for the State”.
Similarly, the identification of economic freedom with the existence and development of political and moral liberties–absolute and inseparable liberty–led also to the fall of “the Socialist and class State” illusion. The experience of the Soviet bloc and its satellite Countries, such as the “imitation of Belgrade and Beijing” are there to demonstrate that, where there is no economic freedom, “free capitalism” sooner or later replaces “state capitalism, thousands of time worse than the private one” and that proletarian dictatorship is nothing more than “military dictatorship with the apparatus of profiteering functionalism”.
Furthermore, in his considerations Sturzo claims that “Western countries, more or less individualistic and dynamic, with many differences in climate, productivity, economic development, customs, needs, history, culture and contrasting political conditions will never experience, except with the use of force, the imposition of fundamental rights, that deeply influence economy”.
In this setting, even if state intervention was generally more extended compared to the past, its impact would have been less and the productive force coming from the private sector would represent a remedy against state intervention specifically in those countries with the strongest political structure and soundest industry. Among these countries Sturzo does not identify Italy, inconsistent, lacking political maturity and with an extremely poor economic-production system constantly relieved from responsibility by state intervention. State intervention by ensuring monopolistic privileges, that is state guarantees, had ended up miseducating economic players on “educational risk”.
In highlighting evidence on how state intervention does not lead to solidarity policies or respect for personal liberties, but rather to override a free society in an authoritarian manner, Sturzo portrays a strongly realistic picture: thus his bitter criticism towards some of the political and intellectual Catholic groups that often referred to concepts such as “personalism” and “solidarism” as possible picklocks that could have disrupted–overridden– typical market economy institutions leading to the creation of some sort of “specific economy” ; an illusive alternative to market economy that would safeguard political and cultural liberties. Misleading, since for Sturzo liberty is “individual”, thus it is “unique and inseparable”.
Also due to this, personalism and solidarism could have morally oriented market economy, they could have represented the moral numbers of a economic system based on free market economy, but they could never replace it at the expense of “falling into a classist statism (as State capitalism in Moscow and connected Countries)”. In an article published on January 23,1959, Sturzo provocatively wonders: “The currency? The hell with it. The stock market in undergoing a crisis? It’s a bourgeoisie problem. Production drops and workforce increases? Too bad. Today, all civil countries must choose between a market economy with all its entailed inconveniences and state economy with its noxious flaws. Go to Berlin to see the two economies: West Berlin: market and prosperity; East Berlin Socialism, communism and misery; we could say “community and sociality of misery”.
State intervention, for Sturzo, is necessary for civil life, that is compatible, using the “ordoliberal” terminology, when it dangerously falls into statism intervention: non-compatible, when it becomes “destructive of all forms of institutional order and every administrative moral”. In another article he defines statism as follows: “Statism is the degeneration of state intervention in inappropriate sectors with actions that are harmful to citizen rights”. An intervention that is “illegitimate” or “harmful” to citizen rights”–Röpke and other ordoliberals would claim “incompatible to market economy”– when the state does not limit itself to neutralize hostile factors to the joint activities of entrepreneurs and workers; when, ultimately its intervention goes beyond its scope, of respecting individual, full and undividable liberties of human beings and from historical experience of its concrete enactment. Statism degeneration entails monopoly of national capital, with the consequent contraction of production, currency devaluation, generalized functionalism and totalitarian drift. These are the cases where the “State” is theorized as “source, and single source of Law”; the state as the supreme fulfilment of the idea; the ethical state. The pantheist state whose last definition was given by Mussolini: “All within the state, nothing outside, nothing against the State, all for the State.” Furthermore, a similar view of the state, Sturzo pointed out, from the Christian perspective, is based on the mistaken and harmful anthropology on human beings’ dignity, in its fundamental elements of freedom and responsibility.
In this case the Sicilian priest reiterates a doctrine consistent with “ordoliberalism”, so clear but still often ignored; not only at the time of Sturzo: “The state cannot create ex nihilo an order since politics cannot create ethics; it is the state that acknowledges an ethical-social order that men process and express as rational subjects”. As we can see, for Sturzo the state was, in its essence, the political form of civil society and not the substance sui generis under which to sacrifice people’s reasons; ultimately, it was what ancient Romans considered Res publica and the Administration in Anglo-Saxon liberal literature; in the words of Sturzo the “power and administration of common good”.
The reasons of economic social market in Sturzo’s model are expressed by the priest himself when he claims that statism disrupts the intermediate order of society; ultimately, by centring state authorities and bureaucratizing civil society, the “State” would infringe one of the pillars of the Church’s modern social doctrine: the principle of subsidiarity, both in its horizontal and its vertical one. It would end up weakening the individual ability to resist threats of invasion by bureaucratic bodies in the spontaneous life of social organizations.
Statism, for Sturzo, by undermining all the rights pertaining to human personality, disrupting the order that imperfect but perfectible men, ignorant and fallible, the only ones aware of the type of knowledge Hayek used to define “knowledge of specific situations in time and place” (nothing other than the logical base of the “principle of subsidiarity”), end up also disrupting administrative powers and functions. Furthermore, producing an imbalance, an economic chaos, both in production and distribution of goods and services due to irrational market initiatives, no longer dictated by free trends in commodity prices, as Ludwig von Mises explained; it favours price increase due to the failure of the state as entrepreneur, insurer, gambler and artistic entrepreneur and thus increases management deficit that is added to all the previous causes, together with the desperate and depressive practice of political corruption.
For Sturzo, just like the market that according to the “primitive capitalism” perspective has not been able to carry out contemporarily the field-function and rules of the game, also the state was unsuccessful in playing the referee and player. The state can only carry out the referee tasks. The state should have distinguished itself from the economic system by overriding it both domestically and internationally. Therefore the need to trace the difference between the state as referee and the market as the playing field and the actors as players. Now, once every actor plays his role, we can see possible remedies against the risk that enormous economic private concentrations might degenerate into a system of public collectivism.
This was for Sturzo on top of the agenda of all the world’s governments; a problem that associated the German “Ordoliberalism”, in favour of social market economy and Sturzo’s Popularism. For this reason, from the many “ordoliberal” lessons, Francesco Forte claims, a free economy is compatible “only under certain types and planning measures (. . .) as far as its interventions are limited and, especially, focused mainly at strengthening the market.” The appropriate amount of intervention, or rather its compatibility, Röpke said with a incredible analogy to Sturzo–very telling of the deep relation between the two intellectuals–is given by the intervention’s ability not much in raising walls that will not resist earthquakes that are about to strike the economic-productive reality or letting the quake destroy all that contrasts its destructive force, but to guide and mitigate the quake’s force, limiting possible damages. A sort of “initial injection” by the State that would enable the economic system to restart, by leveraging the forces of the same private market operators .. In connection to this, here is an interesting article by Sturzo (1928) on globalization. An excerpt where Sturzo not only anticipates the “quake” problem raised by Röpke, and just mentioned above, but also the type of remedy given by Röpke and Rüstowian: “adequate intervention”, that makes the contribution of the German “ordoliberalism” special, compared to the Post-war liberal Continental and Anglo-Saxon archipelago and specifically qualifies social market economy compared to other hybrid forms of mixed market economies. Sturzo writes: “Some fear the enormous power that international capitalism has and continues to gain by overriding state boundaries and geographical limits, becoming a State in the State itself. This fear resembles that of the rivers’ water; threatened by flooding, people make an effort to safeguard the city and countryside with channels, damps and other defence facilities: they also use them for navigation, irrigation, power and so on. A large river can be a great resource and a big threat: its up to men, largely, to avoid this danger. What does not depend on man is its existence. The same is true for the large international river of economy. Its modern importance dates back to the big industry of the previous century: its development, through outstanding scientific discoveries in the field of physics and chemistry, that become even more important with rational use of the forces of nature. Nobody can object to this perspective: everybody must contribute to push the big river towards common benefits, Against the enlargement of economic frontiers from single States to Continents, small and large national interests arise, but the movement cannot be stopped; the extension of economic boundaries will anticipate political ones, Those who do not perceive it are out of touch with reality”.
These were the problems that from the end of the Twenties to the mid-Seventies some intellectuals, from various parts of Europe, thought needed to be addressed. Starting from the clear theory of political and economic order, not wanting to surrender to autarchic populism, aggressive totalitarism and liberticide protectionism, in their utmost love of their liberties and that of others more than anything else and love for other countries as if they were their own. Aware that no bureaucratic organization–either public or private–could avoid and neglect the fact that there is always something, as Röpke’s spiritual testament claims, that goes “beyond supply and demand”. This something is the transcendent dignity of human kind–that even more so today, needs to be addressed and understood with maximum urgency and depth to avoid risk of sacrificing economic dynamism to stagnation of collective agreements, of anarchism of individual interests, respectively derived from a neo-corporative logic of an optimistic lack of interest for the reasons of social order and civitas humana, and end up sacrificing free individual choices on the altar of the “fatal presumption” of the Great Planner.
Flavio Felice is an adjunct scholar at AEI and the president of the Acton-Tocqueville Studies Centre.
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