It is difficult for Italians to have much faith in the future. The last Labour Minister said it was a good thing if young people emigrated, to stop them “getting under our feet”; one recent Prime Minister said that young Italians should not invest their hopes in securing stable jobs, for that would be “boring,” anyway.
Examining Italy’s history since the end of the Cold War, First We Take Rome argues that its dismal situation should not be understood in terms of a stereotypical narrative of Italian chaos or backwardness. A country that once boasted Europe’s strongest Left, today Italy epitomises the crisis of democracy in the West.
The scandals of Silvio Berlusconi’s rule, the pervasive corruption of public life and sky-high youth unemployment are indicators of a particularly sick society. Yet forging the difficulty of a new force to renew Italy’s institutions is also apparent as its atomised citizens lose hope in political change.
What has broken apart in Italy is not just its once-mighty Left but the very foundation of social solidarity. Not only this or that political party, but public life itself, is in full-scale collapse.