Business, the State and Economic Policy: The Case of Italy

By Grant Amyot | Go to book overview

10

Conclusion

The limits of the state’s autonomy

In the previous chapters, we have seen that somewhat different logics appear to apply in different policy areas. While the approach favoured in the Introduction, German derivationism, did indeed account well for the monetary policies of the Bank of Italy, we called on the concept of Bonapartism, a centrepiece of Poulantzas’ theory of the capitalist state, to explain the eventual resolution of the issue of government debt, while a version of his approach modified to include institutional and economic factors also best fitted the facts of industrial relations policy. Bonapartism, furthermore, appears to do justice to the historically autonomous role of the state in Italy. Does this mean that theoretical eclecticism is the only possible stance to take vis-à-vis the Italian political economy? Is the search for a unified theory a hopelessly modernist endeavour anyway? Or can the different threads be woven together into a coherent whole?

In fact the derivationist approach is open enough to accommodate our findings with respect to budgetary policy and industrial relations, as well as monetary policy. Joachim Hirsch, who has already been quoted in the Introduction, attempts to base his derivation of the state on the nature of exploitation under capitalism, and in particular on the non-coercive form of that exploitation. 1 This implies a sensitivity to the need to secure the consent or acquiescence of both capitalists and non-capitalists for the policies of the state. Hence a Poulantzian element is built into Hirsch’s theory from the beginning: the objective tendencies determined by the law of value and the capital relation assert themselves through the mediation of concrete political movements and processes, class struggles and conflicts between individual capitals and groups of capitals on a national and on an international level. 2 Hirsch, like Poulantzas, envisages conflicts between capitals 3 and also the fragmentation of the state apparatus into different institutions operating with different logics in response to pressures from distinct fractions of capital and from non-capitalist classes:

It necessarily falls apart into a conglomerate of relatively unconnected part-bureaucracies, because it must, in a contradictory manner, relate to and support itself on competing individual capitals having, under

-182-

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Business, the State and Economic Policy: The Case of Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Tables x
  • Note on Currency Values xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Growth and Development of Italian Capitalism 6
  • 3 - Wealth and Power in Contemporary Italian Business 26
  • 4 - Italian Capitalism in Comparative Perspective 62
  • 5 - Italian Capital in the Global Economy 81
  • 6 - Business and the Political System 95
  • 7 - Making Italian Macroeconomic Policy 126
  • 8 - The Politics of Budgets and Public Debt 144
  • 9 - The State and Industrial Relations 165
  • 10 - Conclusion 182
  • Notes 189
  • Index 207
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