The Corner

World

A View from Milan

Cathedral Square in Milan on March 11, 2020 — the second day of Italy’s national lockdown, occasioned by the coronavirus (Flavio Lo Scalzo / Reuters)

The guest on my Q&A podcast last week came to us from Milan: Katie Harris, the language maven. The guest this week comes to us from Milan as well: Alberto Mingardi, who is a writer and intellectual — a political scientist, by training. He is the executive director of the Bruno Leoni Institute, a free-market think tank. Milan, as you know, has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. So has Italy in general.

Alberto and I talk about this, of course. I ask him personal questions, social questions, political questions. The pandemic is imposing costs of all sorts. On March 7 — which seems an eternity ago — Alberto wrote me, “Economic disruption will be massive, and Lombardy, one the richest areas in Europe since the 14th century, will eventually become poor.” That statement hit me like a thunder clap.

Jonah Goldberg says that the present plague should be known as the “confirm-your-priors virus.” Nationalists, populists, socialists, and assorted other types contend that the crisis upon us confirms everything they have believed all along. What does Mingardi think?

And, by the way, is liberal democracy in peril?

Italian politicians, says Mingardi, have seized the opportunity to enlarge the state, something they are looking to do in any season. Politicians elsewhere are doing this too, of course. Whether they can effect permanent changes — for the worse — remains to be seen.

Our podcast does not exclude literature and music, for Alberto has long experience and extensive knowledge of each. A man to listen to, coming from a city, and a country, that has been battered every which way.

Again, here.

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