Liberalism and Economic Planning in Italian Constituent Culture

By Nicola Giovanni Cezzi

In studying the Italian constitutional culture on economic planning, the context (here, the years between 1943 and 1948), which was characterized by the contingencies of a wartime economy and the rediscovery of political freedom, requires a prior examination of the term «planning» meant in political debates. On one hand, it could indicate the interventions to support reconstruction; on another, the elaboration of multi-year strategic plans; on yet another, the rationalization of the long-standing presence of the State in the Italian economy. Similar definitional problems arise with regard to the conception of liberalism advanced from time to time: orthodox liberalism, neoliberalism, social-liberalism, third ways, a mixed system, etc. The following summary lines can be traced: in the Socialist-Communist context, the initial display of moderation (expressed especially in terms of the priority granted to political liberty) was replaced, once the Constitution was approved, with sharp opposition, with strong criticism of how the tools for planning had been perverted. On the neo-liberal side, the orthodoxy expressed through the polemics on even the mere use of the word «planning» gave way, once the constitutional text was endorsed, to a complete absence of any embarrassment in admitting the tool. In the political middle ground, the Christian Democratic ideals on the balances between market and public power remained steadfast.