This essay considers how Italian liberal culture has confronted the relationship between politics and expertise since the late nineteenth century. The first section presents general remarks on how liberalism tries to define the boundaries of the political sphere and limit the scope for political strife by referring to technical arguments. The second section is centred on the relationship between politics and expertise in the fin-de-siècle crisis of liberalism, and considers two protagonists of that period: Marco Minghetti and Giovanni Giolitti. The third section deals with the Italian Liberal Party leader Giovanni Malagodi, whose biography shows how a part of post- 1945 liberalism endeavoured to enlighten Italians as to the limits of political action. The birth of the new centre-left governing alliance in the early 1960s - Malagodi’s greatest defeat - is seen here both as an attempt to produce an ambitious reformist effort which was deeply rooted in technical knowledge, and as the failure of that attempt. The conclusion provides some reflections on the crises of politics in Italy in the last twenty years.
Keywords: Technocracy; Technique; Politics; Liberalism; Italy