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Ten Reasons Technocrats Should Stay Out Of Politics

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was called on to lead a caretaker government. His expertise was welcome, but then the economics professor was bitten by the bug of political ambition...

Monti (center) ended up looking small in the political ring. Also pictured clockwise from top left: Grillo, Napolitano, Berlusconi, Bersani
Monti (center) ended up looking small in the political ring. Also pictured clockwise from top left: Grillo, Napolitano, Berlusconi, Bersani
Luigi La Spina

ROME - Italy finds itself at what seems to be another all-time political low.

After inconclusive February elections, center-left leader Pierluigi Bersani has been desperately trying to form a new government coalition; followers of comic-turned-politico Beppe Grillo stonewall in Parliament; and Silvio Berlusconi lingers amidst endless judicial inquiries.

Meanwhile, the Parliament must choose a new President of the Republic, as respected head of state Giorgio Napolitano's seven-year term ends -- and the country's diplomatic corps is reeling from the resignation of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who fell out with interim Prime Minister Mario Monti over a dispute with India.

It could all be the source for general mockery, both at home and abroad. But perhaps now is the time instead to look back for the answer to a more specific question: Why did Monti’s government of experts -- who were called in to rescue a failed policy, and were so loudly lauded by the foreign press -- end up failing so disastrously?

It begs the bigger question of whether or not any technocrats should ever be called upon to lead when politics isn’t able to solve our problems. But the disappointment of the Monti era should not lead us to the false conclusion that expertise itself is unnecessary, nor an obstacle to a good politician. Instead, the lesson that can be learned from what happened with Monti, in a year-and-a-half of activity, is that a mess begins when experts drift outside their area of expertise, seduced by the prospects of a career change to fully and finally become politicians.

In a world where we think we can do without doctors by looking up treatments on the Internet and avoid plumbers by going to the DIY store, maybe it’s time the so-called technocrats respected their own skills and professionalisms enough to stop trying to do the work of others.

Faced with this tempting genetic mutation of species, here are the Ten Capital Sins that experts who want to become politicians commit:

1.OVER-RATE OWN COMPETENCE As they've been called upon because their theories are infallible, if mistakes occur, the blame isn’t on errors in their theories, but an erroneous reality that fails to adapt to them.

2. THIN SKIN Accustomed to academic reverence, they have trouble withstanding political clashes.

3. NAIVETÉ They underestimate the power of bureaucracies, which can derail any attempt at innovation.

4. PROFESSIONAL ISOLATION If the advisors are the ones in charge, who advises the advisors?

5. A QUESTION OF RESPECT Nothing worse than trading in a classroom full of university students who are afraid of you for a Parliament ready to attack you.

6. A MATTER OF EMOTIONS Politics is personal, but you are doomed if you take it personally.

7. TIME Politics doesn’t slow down for those who are used to having time to respond to things (not even when you’re on camera).

8. TIME II Knowing their assignment is just temporary doesn't stop them from wanting to always be on the *tenure track* instead.

9. HOPE They create too much hope, which inevitably leads to disappointments.

10. VANITY Unlike actors and politicians who know how to handle it, the sin of vanity can take over a technocrat -- and return like a boomerang.

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The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

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