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There are many forms of social behaviour that are based on the principle of gratuitousness. It is only if we take these as the starting point for rethinking the concept of capitalistic private ownership that it makes sense to commit to an economic reconstruction project involving Europe, the North African coastal countries and the Middle East. Otherwise, we will reproduce the capitalistic and neo-colonialist monstrosities that have thrown the entire planet into an economic emergency.
The feasibility of a “Marshall Plan” for the Mediterranean cannot even be envisaged if such a plan – whatever its economic proposal may be – does not find the geostrategic conditions needed for it to unfold and achieve a regional balance of power. The great obstacle to this hypothesis aiming at not just the economic but also the demographic reconstruction of the Mediterranean’s two shores is the fact that it is impossible to reconstruct a path to economic recovery solely by appealing to the concept of capitalistic private ownership.
A new Marshall Plan can only be the testing ground for polygamy in the forms of exchange described so well in Caritas in Veritate. Precisely because we still have not come out of the great economic crisis, the current debate ought to be about diversifying the forms of exchange and exploring different modes of allocating property rights. These two trains of thought on capitalism run into the thinking of Karl Polanyi and his school, according to whom there would be a contradiction between the market and its moral basis: when, in the “great transformation,” the market establishes itself as a fully-fledged form of exchange, the “moral economy” disappears. Many support this position even today. In reality, history contradicts it. Studies such as those by the great English historian Edward P. Thompson (who coined the expression “moral economy” to indicate a vision of economic relations inspired not by individual profit but by the quest for collective well-being) demonstrate how the moral economy continued even with the advent of capitalism.
Of course, the world also contains abominations such as the market for organs, for example, but here we are in the sphere of the criminal economy. People pursue these ends, too, but I continue to believe that they are a minority. And yet, I hear many people asking whether the current crisis has not corroded the market’s moral basis.
To cite this article
Giulio Sapelli, “A Marshall Plan for the Mediterranean? A Premature Idea”, Oasis, year XII, n. 24, December 2016, pp. 46-54.
Giulio Sapelli, “A Marshall Plan for the Mediterranean? A Premature Idea”, Oasis [online], published on 16th March 2017, URL: https://www.oasiscenter.eu/en/marshall-plan-mediterranean-premature-idea.