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Italy and development policies from the golden age to the current crisis: the role of the “nuovo meridionalismo”

Lepore, Amedeo (2011): Italy and development policies from the golden age to the current crisis: the role of the “nuovo meridionalismo”. Forthcoming in: Journal of Studies in Economics and Society, “Aleksander Moisiu” University, Durrës (2012)


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The first aim of this paper on “L’Italia e le politiche di sviluppo dalla golden age alla crisi attuale: il ruolo del “nuovo meridionalismo” (Italy and its development policies from the golden age to the current crisis: the role of “nuovo meridionalismo”)” is to examine the state of the art concerning the strategies for the development of southern Italy. These strategies have been severely weakened, not only because of national policy choices, but also because of the prevailing cultural bias against Southern issues; this culture took hold even amongst those people of Southern Italy committed to “abolish the South”. Only in recent years has the trend been inverted, as the gap between the regions of Southern Italy and those in the Center and Northern areas has grown wider and wider and the attention has been focused back, at the national level, on an “open problem” such as the backwardness of Southern Italy. In order to perform an effective historical evaluation, this paper will reconsider the starting moment of the “nuovo meridionalismo”, when the birth of the SVIMEZ and the efforts carried out to define the industrialization strategies of the less developed area of our country gave life to a complex of unvaluable reforms, beginning with the extraordinary intervention and with the establishment of the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno. The positive turn impresses by this innovative setup of industrial policy had its roots in those development theories which, from the mid-XX° Century, began to bring the issue of “depressed areas” and of those cornerstone choices necessary to effectively tackle global problems. From them on, all the strategies for productive growth had to contend with defining the gap issue and the dual dynamics of several economies, as it is the (paradigm) case with Southern Italy. Upon the 150th anniversary of Italian unity, to effectively sum up all the main points of this paper, if one wants to meaningfully take on the lesson of “nuovo meridionalismo”, without invoking abstract reasons of social cohesion, a path must be detected. This path should be made of reciprocal interests between two areas: a Northern one and a Southern one; the latter has vast unproductive areas, but also creativity, talents and singe innovative experiences. Within this new and difficult context, the solution to the issues of Southern Italy, if accompanied by a profound conviction and commitment towards the need to stand up to global competition and market choices, can retake its role as a fundamental theme of the national economic policy, in order to benefit the rest of the country as well.

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