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Charity and conscience

(… waiting for the results of the elections in Sardinia …)

From multiple and converging clues I understand what was the main obstacle to the ability of this blog to engage, an obstacle as old as the world, codified by popular wisdom ( ex multis : full stomach does not believe in fasting), an objectively insurmountable obstacle.

We often told ourselves, quoting Upton Sinclair , that it was useless to try to make certain things understand to people whose salary depended on not understanding them. This is certainly true. Perhaps it is equally and more true that it is impossible to try to make certain things understand to people who are convinced that they do not concern them.

In short, the first political theme always remains that of charity, understood as realizing things that are wrong when they haven't happened to you yet .

I realized this while reading an article by the Skeptical Chemist on Sinistrainrete a few days ago.

Two premises are urgent: the first is that yes, every now and then I read Sinistrainrete , it is an aggregator (or, as he says, archive) of interesting blogs, obviously in different degrees of reading: it may be that something seems interesting to me for reasons other than those for whom it seems interesting to him, but this matters little. The person writing to you here is the same one who opened the blog thirteen years ago. I remain among the blogs recommended by Sinistrainrete and I believe that there are various reasons for this choice which may seem strange to debate tourists. The first of these reasons is that "left" does not mean "PD", which is actually the opposite of the left!

Second premise: I learned of the existence of the Skeptical Chemist and his blog during the pandemic, even if the blog pre-existed (it appears to have started in 2018). I have always found his work balanced and interesting, if only because unlike another recent meteorite, Climate Criticism, he cites sources and is more careful in repressing any anti-political impulses. So I'm not mad at him, on the contrary!, and what follows should not be read as: "Look at that [epithet at will] of the skeptical chemist who doesn't realize etc.!", but on the contrary as one dejectedly: "Look how we are if even a person as esteemed as the Skeptical Chemist has missed certain details…".

What details?

I'll be quicker if I bring you the phrase that caught my attention: "the last two years have made me understand how fascism has spread in Italy" ( in this article ).

Now, we here began a reflection on the danger of authoritarian drifts of various kinds, more or less similar to historical "fascism", a long time ago and on different levels: dwelling desolately on the conformism of the scientific profession, all ready to put the own signature under a project (that of monetary union) in which its most authoritative exponents had identified more than one "collateral effect" (and we said we were dismayed that if twelve had opposed fascism, heurism in the academic profession only one was opposed); analyzing the redistributive consequences of the austerity policies (i.e. internal devaluation) to which natural heurism led, those policies which today everyone says, more or less convincingly, were a mistake, without, however, clarifying what motivation this mistake had, or what were the results in terms of dialectics between social classes (which we had done for example here , talking about Latvia, but before that here …); thus reflecting on the historical link between austerity policies, polarization of political discourse and the advent of authoritarian regimes, a topic that is mainstream today, to the point that we are already at meta-analyses (i.e. articles that summarize the results of an entire literature: one is this , and it's worth a look), but which was certainly equally mainstream when I said, unheard and misunderstood on the "manifesto", that "in the long run right-wing policies only benefit the right" ( here ), or when, a little (ten years) before the meritorious work of Galofré-Vilà and others on austerity and the rise of the Nazi party , we realized that Hitler was not the product of the mythological "Weimar inflation", but of austerity (here for example , Alex documented it for us ), and we were worried about it.

In short, the reflection that came to me, reading the words of the esteemed skeptical chemist, was perhaps a little ungenerous, and certainly very insidious (the risk of paternalism is always imminent, as is that of grillism). I could summarize it like this: there are many good, excellent people who do this:

they never knew anything (or, worse still, they metabolised it by absentmindedly adhering to the mainstream story , or perhaps to the comforting idea that "it couldn't happen here anyway!"),   and that from this:

have not (yet) been drawn on.

Now, we could organize various reflections around this observation, but I don't have time to do it in a sufficiently structured way, so you'll be satisfied.

The first reflection is that charity requires not only that we become aware of Evil and combat it before it affects you personally, but also that we not invoke it as a pedagogical tool!

Of course, if the poor skeptical chemist had found himself in the middle of a street in the period in which so many entrepreneurs took their lives, perhaps he would have made a reflection, but perhaps not. As I was saying today at the Training School, if many went unnoticed by the fact that the historical path of GDP instead of C for growth has led us to D for depression, this means that they have evidently maintained or increased their positions of well-being relative. But then, given that the sum must always add up, this also means that many others have been literally shattered by the crisis, to the point of not even being able to organize a reflection, not even outline an awareness. It is not by wishing those who have not understood to find themselves like the Greek pensioner that we will be able to build the widespread awareness necessary to change trajectory.

On the other hand, the story of the "punturini" contains two important and complementary lessons: the first, for them, is that you can ignore what happens around you, but sooner or later reality will knock on your door; the second, for us, is that no political discourse of sufficient breadth can be built on individual awareness, on the reaction to the direct existential threat.

In short: the fact that others realize that we are in a delicate situation is certainly positive. Without a correct attribution of responsibility, however, without a correct analysis, it risks becoming an episodic, ephemeral fact, fueling the dust of the "zero point". The Italian anomaly exists, and it lies in the fact that those who brought us from B to D are still in Parliament with considerable percentages, which means that there is a considerable percentage of Italians who have seen their interests defended by those who brought the country in depression, or, more likely, which has not developed a sufficiently clear awareness of what its interests are.

How can we help this awareness?

This is a machine translation of a post (in Italian) written by Alberto Bagnai and published on Goofynomics at the URL https://goofynomics.blogspot.com/2024/02/carita-e-coscienza.html on Sun, 25 Feb 2024 17:14:00 +0000. Some rights reserved under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license.