Written by Alessandro Baricco, translation by google.
We break our heads about why the citizens around the world are so angry. One thing is certain: the ordinary man and woman want to free themselves from the elites. But what comes next? Unable to invent a future, the past is dusted off.
So, in summary: a certain pact between the elites and the people has fallen apart, and now people have decided to do it themselves. It is not really an uprising, or not yet. It is an iron succession of stubbornnesses, of sudden moves, of the apparent ignoring of common sense, or even of rational thinking. The people sing obsessively one crystal-clear message – whether through their voice or going up the street – they want it to be written in History that the elites have failed and that they have to get lost. How the hell could this have happened?
Let’s start by agreeing on what these notorious elites are then. The doctor, the university lecturer, the entrepreneur, the management of the company we work with, the mayor of our city, lawyers, brokers, many journalists, many artists with success, many priests, many politicians, those who are members of the board of directors , a good part of who is in the stadium on the stands, anyone who has more than five hundred books in the house, and that way I could go on for pages longer, but we have understood each other. The exact boundaries of the category may be diffuse, but by elites we generally mean that kind of people. They are few (in the United States one in ten), they have a large share of the money (in the United States they have eight out of ten dollars and this is no joke) and they occupy the vast majority of the posts that belong to power. In summary: a rich and very powerful minority.
If you look at them closely, it appears to be mostly members of humanity who study a lot, engage in the social sphere, are well-educated, clean, reasonable, and fairly or very learned. They have inherited part of the money that they have available and spend, but for another part they earn it every day by working hard. They love their country, they believe in meritocracy, in culture and in a certain respect for the rules. They can be both left and right. An astonishing moral blindness – I want to add to this anyway – prevents them from seeing the injustices and violence that sustains the system in which they believe. So they sleep peacefully, albeit often helped by sleeping pills or other tranquillizers.
Certainly from their passage around the world they live in a protected habitat that has little interaction with the other members of mankind. The neighborhoods in which they live, the schools where they send their children, the sports they practice, the trips they make, the clothes they wear, the restaurants where they eat: everything in their lives is part of a delimited area from which the privileged protect their community. Their children are kept in the same area and the penetration of new arrivés from below is highly unlikely. From this elegant nature reserve they keep the world in the grip. Or, you could also say, standing up. Even you could still say that they save her.
Recently, the first definition has won it from the other two. And there it is that the tacit pact we were talking about is suddenly no longer valid. I would describe that pact as follows: people recognize the privileges of the elites and even a sort of misty unenforceability, and the elites assume the responsibility to build and guarantee a common living space in which it is better for everyone. If you translate this practically, it comes down to a community where elites work towards a better world and where people believe the doctors, respect the teachers of their children, have faith in the numbers of economic experts, journalists believe and even – for who wants – the priests. However you turn or turn it, Western democracies turned their best when there was such a community; when the pact held, was strong and produced results.
Now the news that brings us in big trouble is the following: the pact has been killed. It started a year or twenty ago, it is now pulverizing. And this happens faster and more violently where people are more awake (or more desperate): in Italy, for example. The people here in Italy are now in the phase where the doctor or the teacher of the children is not even trusted anymore. As far as the power of our politics is concerned: first it was placed in the hands of a super-rich person who hated the elites (a trick later copied by the Americans), then a final attempt was made with Renzi, from the misunderstanding that Renzi did not do anything with the elites had to do, and in the end the Italians immediately tore the pact to get the command themselves. What is it that makes them so angry?
The first answer is easy: the economic crisis. To start with, the elites did not have that. Then they took a long time to admit her. Finally, when everything was already collapsing, they put themselves on dry land and the heavy sacrifices that had to be delivered were dumped on the shoulders of the people. Can we say, when we think of the crisis of 2007-2009, that this really happened?
I do not know with certainty, but it is certain that it has been felt by the people. So, when the state of emergency and the first confusion were over, people came to settle the bill, so to speak. The people came to take back the money that had been withdrawn: see the ‘civilian salary’ (unemployment benefit – abr) of the Five Stars, see the cancellation of the horrible and sometimes deadly charges of Equitalia (tax terror – abr). No economic policy or vision of the future is involved: that is simply retrieving what has been taken away.
The second reason is more sophisticated and to me she really persuaded when I started studying the digital revolution for writing The Game. I would summarize her: all electronic tools that we use every day have a number of genetic traits that come from a certain vision of the world, the vision of the pioneers of the Game. One of these features is evidently libertarian: to pulverize the power to give it to everyone. The clearest example: putting a computer on every writing table of every member of mankind. And then place it in the pocket of every person. Unchecked.
The enormous portion of this single fact should not be underestimated. Today, for everyone with a smartphone in hand, the following four steps are within reach: having access to all the information of the world, being able to communicate with everyone, giving his own opinion to a huge crowd and the personal beauty ideal in the form of things , objects, photos, moments, parts with the whole world. It is important to realize that these four steps belonged to the elites in the past only. They were, to be precise, in the past the gestures on which the identity of the elites was based. In 1700, to name but a few, there were perhaps a few hundred people in Italy who could do this. In the times of my grandfather, maybe a few thousand families. And today? One in two Italians has a Facebook profile, more explanation is unnecessary.
In this way – that is what we need to penetrate deeply – the Game has thus overcome the psychological barriers that determine the entire history of mankind. People are now training to enter the grounds of the elites, and with them they take the monopoly down to the monopoly that has always made them mythologically inviolable throughout history. In itself that situation is already explosive, but perhaps nothing would have happened if there was not another pull of the Game, a pull that you could call a fatal imprecision. Because the Game has spread the power over everyone, or at least, that belongs to the possibilities, but what is not distributed at the same time is the money. There is nothing in the Game that contributes to a redistribution of wealth. Of the knowledge, the possibilities, the privileges, but not of the wealth. And the asymmetry is evident. From this, in the long run, nothing could be but a great social outrage that has now quietly spread like a huge petrol glass. Did I or did I mention that the economic crisis was the match? The burning match, I mean.
We know what happened after that. But we do not always really want to know. I summarize it for convenience. The people have just gone to get the power with a certain aplomb: actually still quite orderly and in rows of two, but with a self-confidence and a lack of respectful fear that was unprecedented. They even just did it by voting. By voting what !? The opposite of what the elites ‘suggested’. On who!? On anyone who was not part of the elites or who was scorned or hated by the elites. What ideas ?! Every idea that was the opposite of what the elites wanted. Simple, but very effective.
Can I give one unpleasantly abrasive example that summarizes the situation? Europe. The idea of European unification is clearly an idea of the elites. The people really did not ask for it by going out on the streets with banners and chanting slogans. It was an intuition of some enlightenment that can easily be summarized as follows: startled by what we have baked in the last century, with two big superpowers gasping in our neck, America and the Soviet Union, the European elite understood that it was smarter to stop those centuries-long massacres and instead to lift the borders and become a joint political and economic power.
Of course it was not an easy to realize plan. For centuries, the European elite had been working to create nationalist feelings on which their power was based, as did the hatred for the stranger, who came out very well when the war ended again. And now suddenly it all had to be broken down and the direction of the march would be radically changed. First millions of soldiers had been needed, now suddenly millions of peace-loving people. People who, so to speak, still had the blood-dripping bayonet in their hands, suddenly had to be transformed into one people, with one currency and one flag: not exactly an egg.
For this reason, the European elite forced us with unmistakable lasciviousness into a model of European unification that had a high drama: once unity was a fact, it was immediately irreversible. They burned the ships behind our backs, to prevent the people (or perhaps a few dissident cells from the elites) from ever coming to the thought that you could turn it back again. No one would take that further because it was technically completely impossible to do it. And if, despite this, there were still doubts among the people, the method was patience.
Recently I read in Le Monde diplomatique (not a populist leaf) a nice, short summary that I just copy-paste: ‘In 1992 the Danes voted against the tract of Maastricht: they are forced to return to the ballot box. In 2001, the Irish voted against the Treaty of Nice: they were forced to return to the polls. In 2005, the French and the Dutch voted against the European Constitution: they were still being pushed through the gab with another name, the Lisbon treaty. In 2008, the Irish voted against the Lisbon treaty: they had to go back to the polls. In 2015, 61.3 percent of the Greeks voted against the austerity plan of Brussels: it is still imposed. “An impressive democratic mourning must be said. It says here that no plan B existed. There is no alternative.
The obvious elitist DNA of the European Union became immediately visible when Europe was a fact and the European power system occupied its seats: the institutions, the government organs and even the types that were sent out for each country to govern. An elite who probably knows quite well, but those kilometers are removed from the people, an inexhaustible supplier of perfectly incomprehensible reasons and numbers, in no way in contact with ordinary life. It could even be that they are now actually doing things that are in front of people’s lives, but their main reason for being seems to be to make it clear that the grand piano is being played and is being carried up the stairs, by Us, the elite.
And so, when the pact broke, the people immediately turned against these wing players first: Europe was the most obvious symbol, it was the target par excellence, immediately visible on the horizon. There was an aura of invincibility about it, but that, as we saw the day after the referendum on the Brexit, was only held for the elites. For the other citizens of the Game, the spell was broken. Can you claim, in the light of this, that people are against Europe? No, we can not really say that. They are against this Europe, against this symbol of the primacy of the elites, for sure. Today, anti-European means more than anything else anti-elite.
There is already a new formulerinkje the round: the Europe of the peoples. It means nothing at all, but it means this: it is not the unity that we want to break, it is the unity that is conceived in this way and run by the elites.
Europe is just one example. What I am trying to say is that it is completely pointless to interpret the things that people want today (the return to the lira, the guillotine for Benetton’s Autostrade society, free choice of vaccination) without reading the relief from where it all really stands for: freeing themselves from the elites.
That is the point, and that is what we need to consider thoroughly, what we should look at, even if we find it disgusting, frightening or exhausting. Because it is on this one point that the decisive battle for our future takes place.
The first thing you see is how the elite started to move when she finally realized she was under attack. She was stiffened in her own certainties and came up with a statement that would get everything back as soon as possible: people suddenly became totally gaga, probably because they were maneuvered by a new generation of leaders without any sense of responsibility, without any objection to being filthy. game, useful in directing to the underbelly of the citizens, where there was any intelligence that cleverly undermined.
Vague and inexact terms such as fake news, populism, or just a moment of wrapping, fascism, were put in place to convey the message as clearly as possible and to label the rebels as easily as possible. In the background, that one certainty, there is no alternative, is always repeated as a mantra, cherished as an obsession, imposed as a prophecy and a threat. No second, it seems, the elite has stopped thinking about the question of perhaps doing something wrong, so terribly wrong that the whole avalanche came out of it. If she had thought about that, it would not have been so difficult to establish three phenomena that are clear to me and for many others.
The idea of the elite of infinite development and progression fails to generate social justice. The wealth is distributed in a ridiculous way and destroys much more work than it generates. The heart of the game is donated to economic powers that are not or barely verifiable, and, as in the past, it remains based on criminal control over the weak areas of the earth. With this the earth is seriously endangered, forgetting that it is our house and not the landfill of a few.
The elites have been in the grip of a deep anesthetic for some time, a kind of hypnosis, from which they produce only one common thought, which is based on what I know for refined theories, but which always turns out to be the same totem pole: there is no alternative. Many people will not fail to notice that they are no longer responding, that they are hypnotized by themselves, that they have lost all contact with the life that people lead, that they spend more than half of their time considering themselves and their rearrange and rearrange privileges. The elites are blocking history and divorce heirs who are unable to think or think of anything other than the obsessions of their fathers.
Only once in the past fifty years have the elites accidentally generated an alternative thought. This was because a few counter-thinkers escaped them, almost all of them technicians, from whose heresy the digital uprising was born. Frozen in their anesthetic, the elites registered it too late, so the digital uprising was initially dismissed as a fairly flat commercial trick, and they were done with it again. It was not a commercial trick, it was a revolution that was all about eliminating them, the elites of the last century, to replace them with a new elite, a new intelligence, even a new morality. They have not gotten anything at all and this means that the Game could quietly grow in the folds of their power, slowly but surely delegitimize them, they could extradite to the people the moment they no longer had the strength to defend themselves. . While this huge uprising was still going on, the only brilliant idea of the elites has been to use the Game to increase money. Whether they were selling the relics of the previous century or financing start-ups, they have diligently sold tickets to be spectators of the spectacle of their own death warrant. A strange way to deal with History.
You make such mistakes and then you think you can dismiss those who come knocking on your door to pull out the plug as ‘fascists’?
It is just as interesting to see how people have moved from the moment they pulverized the pact because they were able to finish it themselves. Potentially, they had a kind of new, immense horizon for themselves, but they were stuck with the first step, that of pure and simple reckoning. The dreams have shifted to further on in the story, the only thing that counts now is the celebration of the anger. Unable to invent a future, the past is continuously removed from the mothballs.
We have chosen leaders who guarantee a daily revenge in the permanent reverse gear: that is all they can do. They are simply unable to imagine anything else, more, all attention goes to correcting what already exists, namely the legacy of the elites. And often that does not work either, because they are incompetent, unprepared for reign, for the sudden discovery of their own limits and for the fact that the enemy, the system, is damn complex. They find courage in a sort of brutal tone of voice that is actually their only truly distinctive power. A mixture of directness, aggressiveness, the scream of the market vendor and the advertising slogans.
People find this reassuring and have adopted it as a way of thinking. They understand it, they see a kind of elementary intelligence that finally replaces the refined, incomprehensible sophisms of the elites. Finally a clear movement of men who go straight to the goal, who unmask old tricks and hypocrisies. The glorification of this way of thinking – believe me, it is necessary to understand this – is the weapon with which people today commit the most aggressive coup against the elites. It is the true battering ram with which the defensive wall of the elites is knocked down. If this way of reading the world wins, the elites are defeated forever. Finita la pacchia (‘Cockle Land is over’, a famous slogan by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini who refers to the boat refugees from Africa – abr).
The point that is clear to me, like so many others, is that such a victory has a destructive price: not for the elites, because now and for everyone.
The earth is seriously compromised, forgetting that it is our house and not the landfill of a few
For the myth of a direct, virgin approach to all phenomena as an answer to the complex, decadent, and also a little narcissistic step of the higher developed thought, is a fantastic creature that we have spent centuries and centuries uncovering it. Bringing her back to life now is for mentally retarded.
We have long understood that it is better to know a lot, as much as possible, of something before you start to fumble, that it is better to know as many people as possible if you want to get to know yourself, that it is better to to share the feelings of others in order to manage our own feelings, that it is better to have a lot of words available instead of little, because ultimately whoever knows the most wins. And there is an understanding, a definition, of this way of defending against the cruel hardness of reality thanks to the patient and refined use of our intelligence and our collective memory: culture.
To replace this with the clear simplicity of an elementary expression, a peasant’s limitation, is voluntary to go to the slaughter. I want to be clear: every time we are satisfied, or even enthusiastic, about certain simple words or slogans, we burn years of common growth in which we have invested in not letting ourselves be upset by the seemingly simple simplicity of stuff. And with ‘we’ I do not mean our elites, but all of us. We condemn ourselves to enormous misunderstandings and a tragic downfall. Just an example from the loose pulse: considering the logical movement of a fairly modest number of people from parts of the world that we have squeezed and still stick to the balls as an enormous threat to our state of being and prosperity. Those kind of things. Cows of nonsense. So what I see, which seems so obvious to me, is that people wake up every day to the mission to storm the fortress of the elites; and the more they do it, and the more they win, the more they damage themselves.
Thus we go through dark times, and we are like the earth where marauding armies cross. Nobody seems to be able to win, so it is difficult to get an end in sight. Every day that passes, the provisions become less: the power, the beauty, the respect, the humanity, and even the humor. These times have already occurred in the history of mankind, but we, who really did not think it would become our part, wonder whether it is really necessary that we have to experience this moment? Is there really not something we can do to reverse the debilitating inertia of this total dismantling of everything?
As far as I am concerned: admit that the people are right. Restore contact with reality and face the enormous mess we have made of it. Immediately get started to distribute the wealth better, more evenly. To see social justice again as the main point that it once was and is. Indeed pull the plug from the old elites of the last century and entrust us to the intelligences that have grown in the shadow of the Game. To redefine the concepts of progress and development, because the current meaning has poisoned us.
Liberate the intelligences that are able to lead us beyond the iron rails of ‘there is no alternative’. Stop politics from assigning the insane, exaggerated, unjust interest that we are now doing. Our happiness does not come through politics. Restoring confidence in those who really know things, because they are there. The numbers, criteria and measurement methods in which we now express the world in the wastebasket (first of all that absurd gross national product) and new criteria and measurement methods that reflect the true reality of our lives.
Immediately restore confidence in the culture, all together, and invest heavily in education, always, always. Do not stop reading books, all of them, just as long as the image of a boat loaded with refugees without a port will take us all over our necks.
To enter the Game without fear, so that all our tendencies, also the most personal, also the most fragile ones, will contribute to the course of the whole world. Use the Game as a huge opportunity for change rather than as an alibi to entrench us in our libraries or create even greater economic differences.
We will rebuild all the walls that we have brought down too quickly; Immediately rebound them as soon as everyone is able to live without walls. Letting the fast run to create our future, but on the condition that they sit at the table every night with the slow, to realize what the present is. Make peace with ourselves, probably because you can not live well in contempt and resentment.
Breathing. Occasionally switch off all electronics. Hiking. Stop constantly fluttering and abusing the specter of fascism. Think big. To think.
None of this is impossible, if you think about it. It is about finding the will power, the patience and the courage.
This article by Italy’s best-known scribe, the writer and philosopher Alessandro Baricco (61), appeared on 11 January in the progressive Italian newspaper la Repubblica. It was a bat in the henhouse of the, by definition, left-wing Italian elite, as shown by the deluge of reactions. A huge, ongoing stream of big names in newspapers, weekly magazines and TV programs. Hurt reactions, but also, albeit less, consenting.
It is striking that none of the Italian politicians, intellectuals, columnists, opinion makers, Baricco’s major theme of the past thirteen years – pick up the influence of the digital revolution on Western democracies. The Italian reactions focus mainly on Baricco’s definition of the elite, and whether this is appropriate for how the Italian intelligentsia likes to see themselves portrayed. It seems like most illustrious pens are especially concerned about this: I do not. This does not apply to me.
A favorable exception to this is the reaction of former editor-in-chief of Repubblica Ezio Mauro (70): ‘Italy’s leading class has never been able to become a real establishment and to translate its legitimate private interests into the public interest’ , writes Mauro. “The Italian elite is a vacuum double that has appropriated large parts of society and has arrogantly pasted the exclusive title” civilization “on it. This has led to an ineffective top-down culture, and that is what Alessandro Baricco rightly appeals to us. ‘
The well-known journalist Antonio Padellaro (72), former editor-in-chief and currently director of the newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano, is also able to see beyond his own shoe points. ‘Rarely do I have such a deep, convincing analysis read from how and why the world as we have known it until now fell apart into two halves of the apple, never compatible again, never to become one round sphere again. It is true and Baricco proves it irrefutably, “Padellaro said in his newspaper.
The sad thing about Italy is that even an article of this caliber in its own country will never be read as a universal analysis. It always remains ‘I do not recognize me here’. But ultimately Alessandro Baricco is also an Italian, and that is encouraging.