Acton Institute Powerblog

Bashing Globalization in the Name of European ‘Values’

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Hostility towards globalization is not the exclusive territory of the left in Italy. Giulio Tremonti, a former minister of the economy in Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government, has written a book called Fear and Hope (La Paura e la Speranza), largely arguing against free trade and the opening of international markets.

Tremonti blames the recent rise in the prices of consumer goods on globalization and says that this is only the beginning. The global financial crisis, environmental destruction, and geopolitical tensions in the struggle for natural resources are also fruits of globalization, according to Tremonti. He identifies the main problem as a lack of international governance of the process of globalization and calls for a new Bretton Woods-like system to confront the multiple crises caused by what he calls “marketism”.

The “dark side of globalization” can only be countered by a return to European values: tradition, the family, and the nation, adds Tremonti. Europe “needs a philosophy which makes politics and not economics the primary mover [of globalization]. This can only work if we go back to the roots of Europe, these are the roots of Judeo-Christianity”.

This “cure” to the ills of globalization remains vague (as one would imagine in a book of only 112 pages). Still more puzzling is his insistence on a contrast between market principles and traditional European values. The idea that a return to values must be coupled with a stronger politicization of the world economy clashes with experience. More regulation and state interference not only tend to reduce growth and living standards but also create new opportunities for rent-seeking and corruption, and thereby undermine the traditional virtues that Tremonti supports.

He misses the opportunity to discuss how certain values are enhanced by the market and how international competition has in fact strengthened Europe by highlighting its best qualities, both technologically and culturally, while repressing its worst.

Tremonti’s vision is inward-looking and profoundly pessimistic. Some market-oriented Italian commentators have pointed out that his ideas seem dangerously close to old-style protectionism. It is clear if Europe followed his analysis, it would be led on a path of future irrelevance both as an economic and a cultural model.

Bernd Bergmann


  • The European common currency *Euro* has been created artificially, mainly in order to overcome the huge differences in culture, traditions, languages, often religions, which face the process of European integration.

    Different expectations made this project possible: some people were allured by some sentiments still present like “pangermanism” or “La Grandeur”, i.e. possessiveness or revenge against the American power, a possible replacement of the Euro as the global money currency in Trade and in Governments’ reservoirs. Other people simply saw it as an innocuous way to simplify trade and enhance competitivity.

    But on-fact the introduction of Euro –though not legitimated by democratic people suffrages– has revealed itself quite hostile. It is a _currency war_ : people found themselves unwittingly to finance this war with their own savings, with an economic stagnation, with lack of jobs, with young people’s shakiness condition.
    This scenario is not circumscribed only in Italy, from where I’m writing, but it has spread out into other countries and in US, too. A dramatic raising of poverty in middle class families.

    What are we defending? who are we serving? The god GOLD?

    The analysis by Tremonti on the globalization’s effects and on the necessity of new ethic rules, a new Bretton-Woods Trait, it seems to me quite interesting.

    Thank you for the attention.

  • Giulio Tremonti barely knows Italian, I doubt this book was written by him. Most likely one of his ghostwriters. But the protectionist ideas are for sure his. And if you think that he’s a poor man, just consider that he’s gonna shine in Berlusconi’s next govt., which should be the one that ends its work: to kill a nation.

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