Viewed 1251 times | Published on 2022-11-03 23:55:00
Let's assume that this aftermath of the Italian elections is already showing the tell-tale signs of the usual posturing.
But, of course, it was expected: as Bruno Bozzetto showed in a cartoon, that is the "standard routine".
This article is quite short (for my standards), and focused just on one point: looking forward.
Just to disclose the usual: I am bipartisan but from the left side of the political spectrum.
Hence, in the 1980s, in my first banking project, I carried everyday into my briefcase (beside chocolate and office consumables that my colleagues liberally took advantage of) also two Italian newspapers: Il Sole 24 Ore and Il Manifesto.
Once a colleague who had shown at a dinner a badge to prove that he was an officer within the Sud-Tirol Schüaut;tzen told me half-jokingly that he disliked those who read the Il Manifesto (well, he was the one who picked it up from my briefcase, wasn't he?), and I replied that I disliked those who smoke.
Anyway, it was bantering between comrades in arms: he was much more senior and from the "upper side" of the company, but we respected each other for our working habits (somebody would say workaholic- we were just both committed to deliver), as he showed more than once.
In a democracy, it is not an issue to say "we agree to disagree"- and I do not necessarily expect to consider friends or spend time only with those who agree with me.
Or to work only with those who belong to my political tribe (yes, I do not belong to any social or political or other form and shape of tribe).
Tonight I reminded to a friend a funny joke from when I was working in Paris, late 1990s to early 2000s: somebody administered a poll on where was politically positioned "Le Monde".
Those from the left of the political spectrum assumed it was on the right, and viceversa.
In the late 1980s, when somebody asked me if I were from the right or the left, I replied that I was "economist but from the left".
We reformist and bipartisan are really boring people!
I wanted to look at reality, but then assumed that what you do with information is about your purposes- hence, I was back then as now supporting the development of potential, whatever the (tribal or otherwise) source.
Yes, first the information, then the political choices, not the other way around.
Otherwise, the risk is that you put the cart in front of the horses.
Beware: I wrote "political choices", not "political ideas": you might have ideas about what you would like society to become, but, when you shift from the realm of the ideas to the realm of implementation, you have first and foremost to cope with reality.
And work to change it, if needed.
It was funny and obviously partially self-serving when you are in your early 20s, and working on something you should not be working on, weren't for your past political activities that showed already how hard working you can be if you "believe".
It is relaxing now, over 35 years later, when at least there is some experience that you can share and leverage on.
The concept being: I learned the hard way that potential can be outside the expected circles, and that it pays to nurture it- so, more than once, since I returned in Italy to live and work in 2012, I shielded some from immediate retribution for something that was a mistake, but did not deny the potential.
And then saw that potential actually deliver.
Is this a leftist attitude? No, just a "common good" attitude- which has to transcend the here and now.
As I wrote already 15 years ago while in Brussels, we were once builders of cathedrals.
And builders of cathedrals minded their own here and now, but still contributed to something that would be completed generations down the timeline.
I like to remember how somebody who identified himself as supporting Berlusconi in public interviews, Mr. Marchionne, the late CEO of FCA before it became Stellantis, said once in an interview that he asked to sort out and improve dressing rooms and toilets, as well as other common areas in factories, when he arrived, as he found them to be worth of Dickens.
What that a leftist or rightist choice? Neither- also Henry Ford, who nobody with a decent grasp of history could call a leftist, did increase salaries.
You cannot support Word Class Manufacturing and Lean, and then accept Dickens' style working environments.
As I shared long ago online, when I did a test online with a local foundation website, I was marked as "liberal" (in Italy, implies supporting freedom of enterprise, but also human rights, etc) from the left (i.e. supporting redistribution of wealth, an inclusive society, etc).
The point of this post? Tomorrow, when you will probably read this article, it will be November 4th, a day that celebrates the Italian armed forces and their service to Italy.
Personally, when I was a teenager and was time to choose (I was 14), studied the Italian laws about "non-armed service" (in Italian called "servizio civile")- and even delivered, along with others concerning other laws and other subjects, a lecture in classroom to my high school classmates, as part of what was then called "educazione civica" (citizens' education- is when I started to read and then reread laws and Constitutional charts).
Then, selected to serve.
I checked at the beginning of high school for personal reasons if I could become an air force pilot (but I have bookworm eyesight- no chance except to become an air flight engineer), then, at 18, when it was time to confim my choice, as my political activities (both European federalist and campaigning for a leftist party in 1983) showed me that we still needed a standing Army for the foreseeable future, confirmed my choice.
To make a long story short, eventually I was called to serve in artillery.
There, I did again the same: out of boredom, instead of sitting on my hands, looked for something worth doing and that could be deliver a service (will skip the details- I sound already enough Munchausen).
Really, it does not matter why either I or others classify myself as "from the left".
What matters, to me, is that I am not from the left that assumes to be always right and that anybody voting for anybody else is either dumb or wicked.
I dislike any kind of fascist "one idea is enough" attitude- be it a statement from the left, centre, right, or any other "blend".
Winning elections delivers a burden, not a freedom- the burden of history.
As I saw in the early 1980s, when I was waiting to serve in my first call (before being called again in 1985), if you assume that anybody in the Army or security forces is from the right of political spectrum, and therefore you refuse to serve because you are not, then you are generating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Armed or security forces are a national asset, and therefore should be considered as a national interest that transcends individuals' political choices.
Like or dislike: courtesy of my prior experience at the polling stations as a civilian, while serving in the Army was asked to be at a polling station in my barracks for a kind of representative body election.
I do not know its current status- I tried to search online, but it was a little bit confusing (at best) what is the current status.
Personally, I think that political representation is something that is achieved via the elections for the Parliament, while representation as "workers" within the force should follow a similar pattern to that awarded to citizens who join trades unions.
But probably I am influenced by experience in the private sector: despite what other say, I think that collective representation is a value that is shown long-term and transcends individuals.
Yes, my first work experience in 1986-1990 was in a company where we had individual measuring of performance (I did well or even more than that, got few "outstanding"), and salary increases delivered accordingly.
But, working also on the number crunching side, I considered it really a Gaussian (the "bell curve"): you weren't assessed individually, you were assessed individually within a set of ranges of maximum admissable "grades"- say 5% of this, 10% of that, etc.
Which made sense, if you assumed that a "pool" of resources had to be spread across employees according to some algorithm, and was not really linked to each individual's performance.
Today, as I wrote above, is a day when there will be the usual annual celebration linked to national boundaries, national concepts, and of course the flag.
Being 2022, and considering what we experienced since at least 2008, our current European Union arrangements showed their shortcomings.
As I wrote already over 15 years ago while living in Brussels, a European Union makes sense if we consider that at least our external boundaries are a shared concern.
Hence, both in terms of defense and management, should be a shared concern- and, once a border is crossed, the consequences should be jointly managed.
We cannot be federalists when it is time to ask for "budgetary discipline", and a mere alliance of souverain states when it is time to ask to "share the burden".
It will take time before we Europeans get real, operational joint armed forces (not just procurement, not just a brigade or two of rapid deployment forces).
But there is no reason whatsoever why Frontex cannot have liaising officers across the whole European Union acting as "Virgil" to support redeployment of those who land on our shores and need temporary humanitarian support while e.g. their asylum applications are vetted.
It is not just Italy: all the "external border countries" have or will have the same issue, potentially.
Let me say something from the left of the political spectrum that actually I believe should be common sense (but it is my political choice, so others might of course disagree).
The European Union is not an ordinary "country", but a collection of cultures that not too long ago had spent centuries at killing and invading each other.
Hence, the way forward should show a difference, not just something akin to a temporary truce due to shared economic interests.
Hence, we need to build a shared culture that includes but also transcends each individual culture- and is open to evolve.
As in the Ancient Roman Empire, evolve also due to influences from outside Europe: a culture is not cast in stone, changes across time.
Hence, each single political action that our alphabet soup in Brussels (in agreement with the national alphabet soups) decides should become a building brick toward a way forward, not just "hedging by tinkering".
So, we might be today celebrating something of concern just to Italy- but remember also that actually November 4th is a celebration in Italy linked to WWI- the first offical "World War".
While trying to avoid getting into a WWIII (please remember what Albert Einstein said about that), we can also keep building something larger and different.
As for those who ask for taxation at the European Union level (i.e. federal taxes): I am one of those, but my experiences since the late 1990s around Europe showed me that something that my USA friends once in a while uttered still holds true.
No taxation without representation, i.e. not only the European Parliament should have expanded powers, but should interact with European Union institutions that have been democratically elected, not appointed or bartered between Member States or their governments.
Have a nice week-end.