Commentary on Political Economy

Saturday 24 February 2024


The quasi-ubiquitous feeling I experience these days, gyrovagating the world, is of what Nietzsche described as the Disgregation (in German, no such word in English) of Western Christian-bourgeois society (this phrase belongs to Karl Löwith instead). The causes of this dis-integration are not difficult to locate, though the remedies may be impossible to prescribe. The globalisation of capital has resulted in the dispersion of our élites, the offshoring of investments and jobs, the pauperisation of vast sectors of our societies exacerbated by the influx of migrants with tenuous loyalty to their host countries, made even more flebile by their ability to maintain daily contact with their places of origin. On the other side of the ledger, the flippant overconfidence and idiotic credulity of these same élites and Western publics in general has allowed autocratic ruling classes in less evolved countries to garner vast resources to strengthen their military and to press revisionist and revanchist territorial claims against that "world order" which the West still fatuously believes is "established" when in fact it is this very nonchalance that has turned it into a delusion.

Years ago, perhaps sensing the coming self-imposed or inflicted decline of the West, Alberto Asor Rosa saw fit to recount and re-examine ( in Machiavelli e l'Italia) the Italian catastrophe (disfatta) that befell the peninsula with the execrable and desecrating "sack of Rome" at the hands of northern marauding mercenary looters in 1527 - occasioned analogously by the corruption and indolence of Italian popes, princes and their populace.

In a terse and ominous encapsulation of this catastrophe, for Rome and Italy and Europe, of this Sack, the French historian André Chastel (in The Sack of Rome) may well be credited with prophesying what could still afflict Western civilization in the gathering gloom we are witnessing presently:

"Generally speaking, one or more
serious consequences arising from the events of 1527 and the succeeding years can be seen in all areas—diplomacy, religion, politics,
culture, urban life, art. In this unparalleled humiliation of city,
papacy, and italianità, disaster revealed to Italians and to the world,
not only the tensions of this contradictory and somewhat artificial
society that composed the papal city, but also the virtual absence of
"national spirit" in the peninsula, something that has often puzzled
historians of Italy."

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