Posted by: Massimo Merlino in Culture
First time it happened to me in Turkey, during a vacation maybe in 1975. I was sitting in a small open air cinema of a village along the coast, news were passing on the screen about Cyprus crisis, and a young man sitting near asked to me “What is Italy thinking about Cyprus situation?” I am generally quite informed on Italian press and TV news, no web at those times, and I tried to review my informations about, but didn’t find nothing to say. So he said “I asked because Italy is so important in Mediterranean”. As today our public opinion was concentrated on political gossip about leaders and parties, more interested in entertainment show in TV than in other things, particularly foreign affairs.
So from that experience on I was more and more involved in understanding better our position in the world, which my generation didn’t have many opportunities to think to, after the sad experience of our parents with European dictatorships in 40ties and the difficult post war period. But in our culture the attention to the world around us remained very poor, no newspaper dedicates serious analysis to foreign policy, no magazines, no books, no geopolitics in University, now not even geography in the school, basic know how in a globalised world. So I started to travel more, to read more international magazines, simply to think with an international global vision of what was happening in other countries around us and far.
And all my long experiences were concluding with one result only: the Absence of Italy in all the international context.Here we could discuss a lot about the concept of Italy. When it wasn’t a nation with this name, Italians were famous everywhere for their talent and contribution to civilisation. Restelli was building imperial palaces in Saint Petersburg, and in Rundale in Latvia, not only drawing them but supervising directly the construction in those winters, so as Milan architects rebuilt Prague with Charles IV of Luxembourg in 1300. And don’t speak about poets, scientists, navigators, explorers in all the world. Becoming a nation a bit too late like Germany and Japan, Italians were not able to express their distinctive competencies in the difficult arena of the more developed countries, notwithstanding their participation to the two world wars, or because of these tragedies, whose victorious powers dominate also today the world.
But being a 60 million country with other 60 million emigrated in Americas, Australia, Europe, and developing in the sixties a large modern economy, Italy positioning and ideas are expected from the other people and from our partners in Europe. Not even in Europe Italy contributed with original and strong ideas and projects, as it could easily do with its cultural heritage. Italians preferred to abdicate from its tradition, following the leaders emerged after second world war, but also the losers, like Germany or Japan.
Focused on internal social and economic problems, divided by hot ideological positions, looking to revolutionary speech from South America and URSS, they forgot the international arena and isolated themselves more and more, in a provincial approach, not learning languages, just remaining on gossip, delegating to Vatican some international fame. Today we can see the tremendous results on the internal affairs of this international absence: quite governed from outside, like in ‘600 and ‘700, no more development in technology and economy, disemployment, no babies, savage immigration of low civilised populations not contributing to new progress. So now we have minor potential to express our virtues and values internationally. But in any case it must be done, the other people ask from us.
Italians must try to focus their energies in a small number of action programs where to be leader and provoke other cultures to pay attention to. We can’t be only, as some part of Italians want, be a sort of nurse looking desperately some one more poor than us, and will be difficult in the future, to assist with a hot soup, crying “peace, peace”. If we think to be the first in renovating monuments, we should do it for all the cities and villages of Europe. If we think to have excellence in mechatronics, lets be the first leader in Europe and distribute our know how. If we have glorious Universities, let’s open them to all Europeans and leave our heritage. Something to give to other people, not only pizza and spaghetti, will give also new proudness to our young boys and girls so depressed today, with a future of waiters or hairdressers.
World cannot further loose our contribution, presence and voice.