Monday, October 15, 2012

Venice Needs Italy as Italy Needs Venice

Because of a mass rally and a few new polls, there has been a lot of talk about the city of Venice seceding from Italy and becoming an independent city-state again (or actually not just a city-state as they plan to claim Veneto, Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia). The Republic of Venice II. However, one thing that should be established clearly at the outset is that if these modern-day separatists have their way, the new independent Venice will not be anything like the old Republic of Venice, nor will it really be independent. One of the first thing the pro-independence group did was to take their case to the President of the European Commission which should make clear to everyone that even they themselves do not believe in independence but would rather be ruled from Brussels instead of Rome. Newspaper polls have found 70-80% of the local population in favor of this so-called independence, yet at the same time stressing that part of the reason for the large numbers is the economic crisis. Italy would certainly be harmed economically by the loss of Venice but Venice would neither be better off in the long-term with her economic policies still being dictated by EU bureaucrats in Brussels.

The Republic of Venice (and I mean the original, legitimate, genuine article of centuries past) was a great and admirable country and a significant Mediterranean regional power in its own right. In fact, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the old Republic of Venice. Title aside, if anyone from our own time could go back and see the Republic of Venice as it was then; they would take it for a monarchy. The Doge certainly looked and acted more like a monarch than a president and, even at the time, despite his republican form of government, was considered something of a prince by the other crowned heads of Europe. Obviously, this is not what is being proposed today nor would it be something the ruling elites of the EU would ever tolerate. Venice was a city that celebrated its accomplishments, today people are expected to apologize for them. The most famous public spectacle of the old Republic of Venice was the ceremony, presided over by the Doge, which “married” Venice to the sea. This ceremony, however, originated as a celebration of the Venetian acquisition of the Dalmatian coast. Would the powers-that-be in Brussels ever allow something like that to be celebrated today? Of course not. Because they scorn pride, ambition and achievement.

Today, Venice is one of the more prosperous parts of Italy, like the north in general is still more prosperous than the south, and this is a large part of what drives the separatist campaigns in these areas; people resent having to work to support less successful parts of the country. However, so long as a potential Republic of Venice remained in the EU, this would still be the case only in a different way. This is a complaint though that many people can sympathize with. It is part of what is driving similar movements in various European countries, from Catalan to Flanders. However, separation within the EU will not solve the problem. The only thing that will solve the problem is to lift up the poorer areas so that they are no longer dependent on the more prosperous regions and this is part of why Italy needs Venice and the north in general. All Italians should take a look back at what made Venice great during her glory days. Everyone should try to learn the lesson of how this watery village of refugees rose to become one of the major regional powers of the eastern Mediterranean. The simple, basic reason is the profit motive.

The Republic of Venice was able to exercise a level of power and influence far beyond her own strength because of her economic success, driven by trade and commerce all of which was driven by the profit motive and the maintenance of a pro-business, pro-entrepreneur, adventurous spirit. That atmosphere drove Venetians to build up an extensive commercial empire throughout the eastern Mediterranean and even some areas beyond. I marvel at what Venice was able to accomplish yet, I also think of how much more could have been possible or how such a vast network could have been maintained if the rest of Italy was alongside in support rather than tearing each other apart in squabbles between the Italian states. What if men of vision and talent like Christopher Columbus or John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) had been sailing for the Italian nation rather than Spain or England? What if there had been a united Italy to prevent the conquest of Venice by the French revolutionaries in the first place and so also prevent the years of Austrian rule? If Venice wishes greater control over their own local affairs, I would have no problem with that. I would applaud a Venice that becomes even more successful by their own decisions and I would deplore Venice being robbed of their success to reward the less successful. Rather, I would encourage less successful areas to follow their example in making themselves just as prosperous as Venice.

Again, however, we come back to the current state of the Italian republic which has an EU-imposed government, which discourages national pride, encourages people to be ashamed of success and there is the very existence of the republican government in Italy which has taught the Italians to be complacent and content with the status of a third-rate power. They condemn the Kingdom of Italy, amazingly, for encouraging Italians to think “big”, to strive for something greater, to see themselves as a great people and work to reach their maximum potential. No, the answer to the ills of Venice is not independence and another republican micro-state dependent on the EU. The answer is, and always has been, the restoration of the Kingdom of Italy, the restoration of the lire, freedom from crushing bureaucratic red tape, confiscatory taxation and burdensome regulation. The answer is free and open competition that will, by the talents and ambition of individual Italians, raise up the country to a level of prosperity that states like Venice once had when they lived by these same principles but which will be so much the greater with all Italians pulling in the same direction rather than feeding off of one another in a state of collective slavery to the political class.

Viva Venezia! Viva Italia! Evviva il Re!

2 comments:

  1. I think this is truly a superb post and I don't know how anyone could improve on it. I am Sicilian myself, but I have long had great admiration for the glorious 'Republic' (Dogedom is probably the more appropriate word) of Venice.

    I sincerely understand the complaints of Venetians who complain about their transfer of money to the central government in Rome. It should be noted as well, though, that, contrary to popular belief, there isn't a mass transfer of money to the South. The South certainly is mired in clientelism and socialism, I certainly do not blame Northerners for the South's woes. However I do not see the point in independence for Veneto. They have always been a part of Italy, whether politically independent or not.

    And Venetians should humbly remember that it was the united government of Italy that fought to cast off the Hapsburgs from Veneto, and more importantly, it was the united government of Italy that invested generous amounts of money to a greatly impoverished Veneto after reunification. It was, in the beginning, through even the Fascist era, one of the poorer areas of the country.

    Now I don't mean to say that Venetians should subsidize il Meridione but it is important to remember the humble origins of modern Venice. I would support allowing each region more fiscal autonomy over its own affairs, but independence would not bring it the prosperity Venetians think it might.

    I also give little recognition to that local newspaper poll. Venice was the city that flowered in tricolor flags when Umberto Bossi in the early 1990s made offensive comments about the flag.

    The great solution to Italy's malaise is as you said: restore the monarchy, independence from the EU, restore the Lira.

    On a side note: Apparently there has been a unified constituent assembly of monarchists who gathered in Rome over the weekend to launch a true and unified monarchist party in Italy. Have you heard of it?

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    1. Thank you, and it is true, in virtually every case of redistribution of wealth by the government, which causes so much hard feelings, most of it ends up being taken by the government rather than the people to whom everyone thinks it is going. Venice may think their money is going to the south but, in fact, it mostly goes to Rome and into the pockets of politicians and bureaucrats. And as much as I love the country as a whole, I always have a soft spot for Sicily which most like home to me.

      I have heard about the monarchist gathering, I think it was on Saturday, and it sounded very good to me. I know there are some very good people involved, I would not agree completely with every single point, but that is unavoidable and should not detract anyone from the ultimate goal of the restoration of the Kingdom of Italy. I say everyone should unite behind that goal and then sort out other differences once that great work is accomplished.

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