Sinecdoche Bibbiano

A social pathology?

I confess that when some friends asked me for a structured comment on Bibbiano's investigation, I doubted I could do it. Because if even a fraction of what the magistrates contest against social workers, foster families and administrators of the Val d'Enza were confirmed, we would be faced with the purest epiphany of evil . From those facts it would emerge a sadistic and more than bestial will to traumatize the most innocent for life and to throw their families into an endless torment and no escape – because it is imposed by the law – breaking in a single blow the social and flesh ties. For a parent the thought of those little ones who fall asleep in tears, away from home, induced to hate those who love them, in some cases mistreated, entrusted to deranged or sexually harassed (!), While fathers and mothers send letters and gifts that will never be delivered and pray to get out of a nightmare that they dare not report in order not to lose the hope of hugging their children. With all due respect to the penal code, the crimes hypothesized here exceed murder in gravity: because they kill the soul, not the body . They empty people and let them live in pain.

The alleged abuses of the Val d'Enza are, in fact, presumed up to the sentence. But their modus operandi and the recurrence of some protagonists have rekindled the memory of other family distances which later turned out, even in court, to be gravely unjustified, and of the irreparable trail of pain that they affected in the affected communities. The clamor of the news has also given strength to the denunciation of a few hitherto isolated voices , of a system that, even when it remains within the perimeter of formal legality, gives social workers a power without effective counterweights capable of snatching children from families for years with more arbitrary than the reasons: from "educational inadequacy" to poverty, from conflict between spouses to domestic disorder, from "hypostimulation" of children to "immaturity" of parents. These cases would not be residual but prevalent , as we learn from a parliamentary investigation concluded in 2018:

Reason for entry Total
Victims of abuse and mistreatment 1,399
Removed from the family nucleus for economic problems, educational inability or psycho-physical problems of the parents 7,632
Welcomed together with the parent 4,099
Unaccompanied foreigners 3,672
Expectant mothers or minors with dependent children 72
Involved in criminal proceedings or in alternative custody 465
Minors with other reasons for entry 2,617
Not indicated 1

Minor guests in social-welfare and social-health residential facilities by gender, citizenship and reason for entry as at 31 December 2014 (from the Chamber of Deputies, fact- finding survey on minors "outside the family" – Final document , 17 January 2018).

On the one hand, therefore, it is urgent to put in default any other priority to amend this system starting from the highest ranks of the state administration, because it would be vain and painful to talk in the early evening of political, economic and cultural rebirths while the biological basis of the community. It would be – as in fact it is – the most fitting metaphor of humanity's ethical and civil impotence to us coeval, which while babbling about saving the world cannot protect the life of its children from a stamped paper . On the other hand, it is useful to reflect on the cultural safeguards that have been overseeing this system for years. Overcoming the circumstances of the news, the debate on Bibbiano's surroundings and precedents has aroused in many the suspicion of a civilization that does not contain horror but dresses it with its procedures and fetishes. Investigating the latter, one would realize that the abuses ascertained, reported or hypothesized here may allude to more radical problems.


According to those who conducted the investigations, the heads of the social services of the Val d'Enza would have acted "in such a way as to support a priori and without any minimum balance, the theses or suspicions … that the children had suffered sexual abuse" even when the alleged victims denied and begged to return to their families. In other words, they would have placed an ideology of abuse before the psychological investigation to be "demonstrated" at all costs. An ideology, we add, which in its motivations and verbalizations sought to be placed in the broader bed of a specific political and cultural area, as can be seen from the writings and choices of some of the main protagonists of the investigation: from feminist rhetoric and already male-master Marxist (" in this country the idea of ​​the patriarchal family that owns the children is still too strong ," commented the social worker Anghinolfi in La Stampa , in 2016) to activism for LGBT rights and parenting, since support for Mediterranean NGOs to participate in meetings, conferences and hearings organized by the local and national left.

It is all legitimate and nothing adds to the alleged offenses. Nor does it imply that political groups exist today that "steal children" as they were once said to eat them. Here the moral principals are not interested – whatever that means, by the way – but the way in which these events have been received and translated into symbols by the social body, and the solidity of the hypothesis that the excesses recognized in part by Bibbiano (seven minor entrusted have already returned to their families of origin ) and certified elsewhere have made themselves a shield, in their reiteration, of a respectability not only scientific, but also ethical and cultural.

Reductio ad pueros

For years I have been struck by the obsessive but at the same time surgically selective attention that progressives reserve for suffering children. In an article of some time ago I coined the term " reductio ad pueros " to denounce the use of enslaving the representation of the tragedies that affect children to promote a political goal. The memory of the very young Alan Kurdi, who drowned in 2015 during a failed attempt to clandestinely reach the Greek coast in the wake of his father, is still alive. The heartbreaking photo of his body was reproduced everywhere, and almost everywhere accompanied by invitations to "open the borders" and to widen the meshes of the right of asylum to avoid the repetition of similar tragedies. A few years later Beppe Severgnini theorized in the Corriere della Sera the lawfulness, indeed the duty, to " show a photo of a child who dies " to denounce crimes such as that of Douma, where the Syrian government would have used nerve gas against its own people . For crimes of this magnitude, the journalist explained, "there can be no suspicion that it is a way of speculating on minors." Unfortunately – for him, not for the Syrians – the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would soon have certified that the chemical attack had never happened . But it is not a coincidence, nor an exception .

In the same article I observed that often the representations of childish suffering, as well as carefully filtered to reinforce a message, result on a closer analysis stretched, exaggerated or simply invented . The little Kurdi, for example, could not have been a victim of the denied right of asylum as his family who fled Syria had already enjoyed international protection in Turkey for some time. And many other small alleged victims of Syrian bombs or snipers were actually actors , protagonists of video clips or testimonials of the rebel factions . Just as they never existed the hundreds of British children who died of measles repeatedly cited by former minister Lorenzin on television to support the urgency of his vaccination decree. Just as it is not credible that our children "ask" us to reduce the public debt or, if foreigners, to obtain Italian citizenship before the age of eighteen, with equal rights.

In concluding with the maxim "ubi puer ibi mendacium", I put forward the hypothesis that the pain of children – true or more often invented – served to deactivate the rational resistance of the public and thus induce it to accept otherwise controversial political proposals, because linked to a innate, immediate and profound emotion. The easy success of this operation, not unlike that of those who choose a handsome body to advertise a product, is such as to have pushed someone even to wish that pain. This was the case with the writer Edoardo Albinati , who a year ago confessed in public that he “wished someone to die on the Aquarius ship. I said: now, if a child dies, I want to see what happens to our government ».

I add here a third property of the reductio ad pueros : that in selecting (first property) a juvenile misfortune in hyperbolic, deforming or imaginative terms (second property) to conceal an ideological end (motive), it almost always promotes a more serious misfortune of many orders . This major misfortune, due to the effect of the first property, remains muted and can thus unfold in all its atrocity without resistance or remedies. Consider the founding example of the Gulf War, when a fifteen-year-old starlet sowed horror around the world by pretending to be a nurse under whose eyes some Kuwaiti babies were brutally killed. That (false) testimony had the effect of convincing Western opinion of the need to wage war against the Iraqi government. The (real) consequence was that tens of thousands of (real) children lost their lives under the bombs and hundreds of thousands (real) to the deprivations caused by the subsequent embargo. In a more recent example, the need to facilitate the mass transfer of human beings from Africa to Europe (motive) has in some cases been supported by representing the (presumed) suffering suffered by ( presumed ) underage immigrants at home and on the road. , with the consequence of consigning many of them to a (real) destiny of labor and sexual exploitation , or to disappearance .

The phenomenon of family expulsion for futile or non-existent reasons, by mistake or willful misconduct, can satisfy the requirements of the reductio ad pueros . In these cases, the right attention paid to the phenomenon of abuse in the family and their possible underestimation (first ownership) was accompanied by the urgent need to magnify or imagine the signs or even, as the Reggio magistrates hypothesize, to "subtly support and artificial clues, or aggravate existing ones, hiding indicative elements of possible alternative explanations "(second property). The fabrication of the false suffering of abuse has finally produced the true suffering of affective uprooting and the consequent destruction of lives and families (third property).

The motive remains to be investigated.

Familles je vous hais!

According to the investigators, in Val d'Enza the "false representations of reality" were "in any case aimed at depicting the original family unit as conniving (at least if not complicit or worse) with the alleged abusive adult". Other authoritative commentators have more directly denounced a "very intrusive culture which sees in the family … a potentially oppressive and therefore striking place". According to others, there is a plan to "destroy the family".

At the opposite extreme we read the words of Claudio Foti , the psychoanalyst (also of the aforementioned Anghinolfi) and scientific director of the Hansel and Gretel association who collaborated with the social services of Bibbiano, according to whom the problem would be instead that

for a part of the social community the family is sacred and untouchable. And woe to anyone who touches it! The family is always an idealized microcosm where children are protected and welcomed! And the operators who deal with protection, abuse, who question the sacred and idealized image of the family become the target of a sometimes blind and destructive rage!

The professional investigated today, recognizing in the family "the most extraordinary educational resource of children", believes that among those who today are indignant about the Bibbian chronicles there is "a vast area of ​​people … who tend to take sides a priori in defense parents and family ("a father and a mother cannot have done this terrible thing!") "and that their violent reaction" [has] developed [a] as social and psychological interventions to support parents, but also to limit their omnipotence and … in society a critical awareness of the family was maturing ».

These oppositions certainly signal a radicalization of the debate, albeit in the special form of the mutual accusation of ideological excess. To be honest though, it's hard to come across someone who wants to destroy all families as such , including their own. But it is even more difficult for others to consider them all holy and immaculate as such . To whom does Dr. Foti refer? Who are these fundamentalists? Although I frequent political shores very far from yours, I have never met one, not even among those who today wish the worst tortures to the suspects in Bibbiano. The suspicion is that here there is confusion between first and second substances in the Aristotelian sense : the sacralization or quasi-sacralization of the family institution (second substance), in the religious (Gen 2:24, Mk 10: 6-9) or civil sense (Const. Art. 31), does not exclude the possibility of criticizing individual parental σύνολα (first substance), and that it should be done if unworthy. Even the inherent sacredness of the priesthood does not prevent the doctrine from condemning bad priests, rather it imposes it. The sin that desecrates the divine plan is an ineliminable condition of man and the gravest sin is also the original one, of assuming that the things of men can become sacred in the sense of boasting divine perfection ( ὕβϱις ).

Those of Foti and his possible maximalist enemies therefore seem to be puppet arguments whose hyperbole allude to deeper cultural clashes, to the dialectic between the reason of state of the princeps and the reasons for the blood of the pater familias and, at root, between the law ( νόμος ) and human nature ( φύσις ). Today the regulatory pole, that of having to be, is experiencing a hypertrophic phase and its invasions in the field of being are evident: it aims to establish the parenting of those who cannot generate, to promote or impose mass bioengineering, to compress reality physics in algorithms and data streams, to replace biological sexes with cultural juxtapositions (gender roles and identities) and more, but its claims are not new.

Nor is the idea new to which Foti seems to adhere, that social progress must also demand the demystification, containment and criticism of family rights. In 1958 the sociologist Edward Banfield coined the fortunate definition of " amoral familism " to explain how the material and moral backwardness of certain areas of our South originates from the centrality assumed by close family relationships at the expense of a more structured, cooperative and supportive sociality . The combination of backwardness and family finds support in the common feeling, for example when family economies are identified with mafias, corruption and favoritism (while family businesses are the most prosperous and resilient ) or it is hoped that our young people will soon abandon their families of origin to become independent and increase the national workforce, it does not matter under what conditions – that they stop, said a former minister of a very rich family , from being "big babies" to surrender to a healthier "hardness of life". Or again, when the integration of young immigrants is subordinated to their emancipation from "archaic" and "oppressive" family legacies, that is, to their emotional uprooting .

While politicians and economists of the liberal area pit children against fathers and fathers against grandparents by insinuating that the elderly are "stealing the future" of young people with their pension "privileges" , the health care they enjoy and, upstream, the thoughtlessly accumulated public debt, in the most noble academic circles, consents to the idea of ​​increasing inheritance taxes so that new workers, no longer protected by the family assets, immolate themselves in the arena of meritocratic competition "in a country where often a young adult relies too much, like it or not, on the home and on the financing of the parents or on the recommendation of the relative ». In the meantime, those who dictate the education reforms ask that our children spend much more time between the desks – and therefore less in the family – with the extension of compulsory schooling starting from three years and the long compulsory time up to fourteen. This would serve, the Corriere candidly comments , "precisely to reduce the weight ( sic ) of environmental and family conditions".

In the field of health, the most daring experiments are dared. In the debate that arose around the new vaccination obligations for children, the opportunity to steal children from parents refusing to inoculations was discussed with alarming obsession, thus accepting the certainty of traumatizing the little ones for life (third property of the aforementioned reductio ) to protect them from possible and remote risks (first property) magnified until the apocalypse (second property). Readers will remember that this option, never dared in our legal system, to annihilate dissidents by depriving them of their affections, was clearly provided for in paragraph 5 of article 1 of the Lorenzin decree , then repealed in the conversion into law. For similar reasons, the right of minors, even very young ones , is claimed to undergo tests and health treatments without parental consent , they are represented as heroes when they rely on medical systems against the will of naturally retrograde parents, chemotherapy destruction is authorized of their bodies to experiment with new sexual paradigms and their difficulties and their character are pathologized to entrust them to the care of special experts, almost from the cradle .

It is difficult not to see the red thread that binds these and other events. Progressivism is the will to impose progress which, due to the fact of having to be imposed, is not recognized as such by its presumed beneficiaries. Its propositional moment is therefore eternally postponed and crushed by the preliminary urgency of forcing social resistances to change and previous sediments of habit and thought, so much so that it is almost always identified with pars parsuens alone, with a war on the old, of which the new is not it is more the end, but the pretext. It is not surprising that progressivism badly tolerates the rights of families. Because these are the place of the literally understood traditio in which values, representations and beliefs are "handed over" from one generation to another by binding to the impregnable and primordial vehicle of affects. Those who want to attack the old must attack families and break their transmission chain: even physically , not having men as equally incisive pedagogical surrogates (but work is underway ).


Through a detailed analysis of international agreements, understandings and recommendations, Elisabetta Frezza has reconstructed the stages of a process that from the post-war period to today has prepared and promoted the progressive elimination of family pedagogical references to favor programs of pansexualist education and early eroticization of children, by the school systems. In a recent speech, the scholar cited a passage from The Impact of Science on Society (1951) by Bertrand Russel where the British philosopher envisioned a "scientific dictatorship" in which "the socio-psychologists of the future" could "convince anyone of any what », even that« the snow is black … as long as you can work patiently from a young age ». In this the main obstacle to be overcome will be the "influence of the family".

These ideas are also ancient. If utopia is the most extreme and transparent exercise of progressivism, the dissolution of the family was already preached in the oldest utopian text we know: Plato's Republic . In the polis of the wise (which today we would call "technicians" having put accounting before metaphysics) women are "all in common", conjugal cohabitation is forbidden and "the father does not know [and] the son, nor the son the father »Since« special authorities … will take over the newborns »immediately after birth to direct them to the education and careers established by the guardians of the oligarchy. In a short passage of Book VII we describe how this revolution will take place. "The true philosophers who will take power in the cities", explains Socrates to Glaucone,

they will send all citizens over the age of ten to the countryside, they will take care of their children who are still immune from their parents' customs and raise them according to their own ways of life and laws … This is the quickest and easiest way to establish that city is that constitution we spoke of .

Two thousand five hundred years ago the Platonic text thus fixed an archetype, the shortcut against nature that from then on would seduce all hasty and misunderstood revolutionaries. On the slope of that tragic illusion, of regenerating society by undermining the biological foundations of marriage "prima societas" and of the family "principium urbis et quasi seminarium rei publicae" ( Cicero , De officiis ), many followed the Athenian, from Campanella de La città del sole to the utopian socialists like Fourier , but unfortunately also non-literary governments such as the Cambodian of the four-year red period or the Canadian one, which snatched the children from the natives to physically erase their legacy.

Among the most often cited exponents of this tendency, often inappropriately, Marx and Engels did not oppose the institution of the family in itself but criticized the "bourgeois family" as an instrument with which the ruling classes would oppress both proletarian families ("sie findet ihre Ergänzung in der erzwungenen Familienlosigkeit der Proletarier ") and their wives (" ein bloßes Produktionsinstrument ") and children (" die Ausbeutung der Kinder durch ihre Eltern "). The followers later extended the definitions of bourgeois family, ruling class and "father-master" to all conventional families of the rich hemisphere, practically without exception, making them systemic and thus justifying the front-line participation of the left in the battles. for divorce, abortion and other "conquests" capable of weakening a model that is no longer political, but anthropological.

From this short and insufficient anthology it seems to me to emerge that the idea of ​​improving society by criticizing the family-form, entrusting some prerogatives to the state or even breaking it up, is ancient and whipped, somehow omnipresent, always ready to inflict its failures. If not the phenomenon of custody too easy, it can certainly explain the intensity of the reactions that it is provoking on both sides of the debate. Denying the enormity of the stakes is all the more dishonest if it is not recognized that these chronicles bring ammunition to an ongoing war against the definition and role of the family – a war that starts at the highest levels, precisely those of the "ruling classes. »On a world scale, and is spreading in the fields of education, health and sexuality having already hit that of subsistence with the deflation of wages, employment and services. Beyond the object, the invitation "not to talk about Bibbiano" therefore risks appearing as a not very credible attempt to anesthetize a conflict that is already raging in the rear and to normalize the ever more daring attempts to conquer one of the psychological trenches, welfare, cultural and spiritual more tenacious, because pre-political, of a people who insist on not wanting to take global medicine.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Il Pedante at the URL on Fri, 02 Aug 2019 09:48:00 PDT.