This Is the New Italy

Years of neoliberal economic policies imposed by Brussels and by Italian politicians alike have devastated numerous industrial towns and the very fabric of Italian society

By Attilio Moro and cross-posted from Consortium News

Sesto San Giovanni, a town on the outskirts of Milan, used to be one of the industrial capitals of Italy.

With around 200,000 inhabitants (45,000 blue collar workers, and a robust middle class), it was the headquarters of some of the most dynamic Italian companies, including Magneti Marelli, Falck, Breda and many more.

Today Sesto is an industrial desert – the factories are gone, the professional middle class has fled, many stores have shut down, and the city is trying to reinvent itself as a medical research center.

Twenty-three kilometers (14 miles) to the north of Sesto, the town of Meda was the seat of various symbols of Italian excellence: Salotti Cassina and Poltrona Frau, both of which exported high-quality furniture all over the world and employed tens of thousands of workers and designers. They fed a number of small family-based companies providing parts and highly qualified seasonal labour. Today both companies are gone.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, a former chairman of Ferrari, Fiat and Alitalia, and now a public enemy because of his dismissal of the “Made in Italy” label, acquired both companies and moved them to Turkey, choosing profit over quality—and Italian jobs. Montezemolo, of aristocratic background, is a champion of Italian neoliberalism, having founded the influential “free market” think tank Italia Futura (Future Italy) in 2009.

Another victim is the town of Sora, with a population of 25,000, 80 km. (50 miles) east of Rome. Until recently Sora was an affluent commercial city, with medium-sized paper factories and hundreds of shops. Today, all of the factories are gone and 50 percent of shops have closed.

All over Italy, the neoliberal policies that led to the economic crisis and resulting social decadence have accelerated in the wake of the financial collapse of 2007

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