07 March 2021

This Will Not End Well

Pretty much
As history shows, the appointment of technocratic apolitical experts to run governments does not run well

This is because if you have a problem, the conventional wisdom, which is ideology that the aforementioned, "Technocratic apolitical experts," subscribed to, is ALWAYS wrong.

And yes, I mean ALWAYS, because if the conventional wisdom were correct, then the problem would have been solved.

In the latest case of subverting democracy on the alter of "expertise", the Italian government has been handed to former ECB president Mario Draghi, and he has decided the notoriously corrupt consulting firm McKinsey & Company will help run things, because, given their paying of bounties for opioid overdose deaths, white-washing of mass layoffs, instructing hospitals to game the bailout system that they were managing, suggesting that immigration detainees be starved and denied medical care, self-dealing in bankruptcies, aiding the House of Saud's persecution of its critics, and aiding and abetting corruption in South Africa.

So, going with McKinsey to fix things in Italy is not going to be the panacea that Draghi think it will be: 

Upon its formation last month, Mario Draghi’s new government was heralded by almost all Italian and international media as a rescue operation. Where the former European Central Bank (ECB) chief Draghi had “saved the euro” in the 2010s, most outlets gushed over “Super Mario” and his plan to “save Italy” by splashing a mooted €209 billion in European recovery fund cash while “reforming” its lackluster economy.

The kind of “reforms” this meant went unmentioned — and after all, this government bears no relation to voter decisions, or the coalitions that ran in the last general election. But for the fourth time since the 1990s, a president called on a technocrat from the world of finance and banking to form a cabinet, halfway through a parliament. Eight of Draghi’s twenty-three ministers are unelected technocrats, in a so-called government of experts.

If these figures are not party-political, they have similar backgrounds and instincts. Economy minister Daniele Franco is a former Bank of Italy official who drafted the famous 2011 ECB letter instructing the government to implement privatizations and cut back collective bargaining. Former Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao — today innovation and digital transition minister — is a former partner at private consultants McKinsey & Company.

Now, it has been revealed that McKinsey is going to be tasked with writing Italy’s economic plan for the coming period, to be submitted for review by the European Commission at the end of next month. Notorious for its role in the Enron scandal as well as the 2008 financial crisis — as it promoted the boundless securitization of mortgage assets — and the botched vaccine rollout in France, the firm is now being called on to shape the Draghi government’s “reform” agenda.


The suggestion that this is a purely “technical” collaboration — that McKinsey’s choices will not be political — is patently absurd, not least given that this claim is also widely made for Draghi’s “technical” government itself. For decades, the imposition of neoliberal recipes in Italy has been advanced through this same procedure, with the agenda advanced by privatizers couched in the dogma of “unavoidable choices.”


As Lorenzo Zamponi writes, it is quite possible that there is some shift since the “expansive austerity” of the 2010s — that is, Draghi will put economic reforms above a simple reduction in overall spending. Yet the appointment of McKinsey and Bocconi-school ideologues points toward the same gospel of privatization and deregulation that technocrats have been imposing on Italy for decades, without ever winning popular backing.


Government by experts may sound good — but only so long as we forget all the previous rounds of such “cures,” which have helped push Italian GDP below the level it was at in 1999. But La Repubblica is, in its own way, quite right to compare this move to a corporation calling in McKinsey. For a failing business isn’t a democracy either — and when the consultants call for restructuring, it’s the workers who get screwed.

Once again, the very serious people in the EU are going to take the wrong actions, based on the wrong world view, on behalf of the people already rich and powerful, and right wing populists will gain yet more ground.

This will not end well.


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