One aspect of the southern question

Posted: 22 July 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Reading today’s New York Times article on the debt crisis in Sicily, after months of pernicious punditry (not to mention official pronouncements from European bankers and nostrums from mainstream economists) supporting additional austerity measures in southern Europe, I was reminded of Antonio Gramsci’s 1926 essay, “Some Aspects of the Southern Question.”

He wrote,

It is well known what kind of ideology has been disseminated in myriad ways among the masses in the North, by the propagandists of the bourgeoisie: the South is the ball and chain which prevents the social development of Italy from progressing more rapidly; the Southerners are biologically inferior beings, semi-barbarians or total barbarians, by natural destiny; if the South is backward, the fault does not lie with the capitalist system or with any other historical cause, but with Nature, which has made the Southerners lazy, incapable, criminal and barbaric – only tempering this harsh fate with the purely individual explosion of a few great geniuses, like isolated palm-trees in an arid and barren desert.

Now, the focus is on the social development of Europe but the ideology remains the same: if southern Europe is in the midst of a debt crisis, the fault does not lie with the capitalist system or with any other historical cause, but with Nature, which has made the Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Sicilians lazy, incapable, criminal, and barbaric.

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