Q&A with Marco Respinti

“The American Republican Party Italian-style” and other reflections

MR: Most of Europe is politically moving leftward but, even if unpredictably, the Conservative Party has won political elections in the UK. In Italy, a kind of Blairite new Democratic Party (formerly the Italian Communist Party) is governing, technically unelected, since months with no challenge neither opposition.

Silvio Berlusconi, the man that for 20 years has set the political climate of the country, today leads a small, litigious center-right party that once was the would-be driving force for Italian change. Looking for a second chance, he knows launches the idea of establishing “an American Republican Party Italian-style”. Out of nowhere? More or less, and this is the problem. Someone takes him seriously, and is already organizing, both officially and unofficially, political actions and political meetings. But the effort seems already doomed if it will, as before, as usual, lack of substantial political culture. Will the “American Republican Party Italian-style” seek for sound inspiration? Well, Dr. Roger Scruton’s “How to be a Conservative” (London: Bloomsbury 2014) would perfectly do. What follows is a brief discussion on the subject with one of the most brilliant contemporary philosopher (and writer, teacher, composer, businessman and hunter).

MR: Do you consider the British and American two-party system as a source of political stability? Still?

RS: It is undeniable that Britain and America have been stable for longer and through more changes than any of the European countries. But maybe we should not put it down to the two-party system, but to the fact that so much of decision making takes place in committees, courts of law, advisory bodies and civic institutions. The problem now is that the new political class in both major parties has grown away from the people. Whether some other way of voting would introduce greater stability I do not know.

MR: What are the major flaws, problems, and damages that you see in countries, like Italy, were the two-party system isn’t secured yet?

RS: The major problem in Italy is surely corruption, rather than the party system. I suspect that the division of Italy between North and South would lead to a stable North, and a failing South.

MR: Which are ‒ in your opinion ‒ the major political and institutional differences (going also to the cultural side of it, if you wish) between the British and American model on one side and the Italian/European on the other?

RS: Common law versus Napoleonic judicial system; private versus public education; strong civil society versus top-down administration; strong charitable giving versus dependence on the state.

MR: How do you explain the recent victory of the Tories in the UK (and the huge loss of UKIP) in spite of the electoral uncertainty of the eve and their poor record for true blue conservatives?

RS: The explanation lies partly in the recognition that a strong and committed government is after all better than votes wasted on small parties that are not going to achieve representation in Parliament. True blue Tories also have a tendency to vote for the Party, even when they disagree with it.

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