Interview. An interview with Marco Morosini, a professor of environmental policy and one-time adviser to Beppe Grillo. Grillo is returning to his roots.

On the ecological origins of Grillo’s political awakening

Marco Morosini, professor of environmental policy at ETH Zurich, was an author and ghostwriter for Beppe Grillo the environmentalist in the early 1990s. We spoke to him about the environmentalist turn of the M5S and the prospects in the Draghi government.

“Back in 1993, in Beppe’s show that aired on RaiUno,” he tells us, “we were talking about an ecological re-foundation.”

So, professor, is this a return to origins for Grillo?

Everyone is defining “the origins of the M5S” as they like, according to when they joined it. However, there is only one origin. It is 100% social-ecological and it is expressed as three milestones.

In 1993, the show on RaiUno, with 13 million viewers, was our declaration of war on the “incivility of consumption.”

The second milestone was our 1998 film A Sustainable Future, based on the book Sustainable Future by the Wuppertal Institut, the leading European social-ecological think tank, a point of reference for two decades for Grillo and his early followers.

The third is the most political: a real government program in a single page. I am referring to Grillo’s article entitled “Perché non voto” (“Why I don’t vote”), published in the weekly magazine Internazionale on April 11, 2008. With one word, it indicated the key to the social-ecological transition: “Less.”

We proposed deadlines (2050) and quantities to be reduced: a halving of energy, paid work, raw materials. Grillo concluded: “At the moment, I don’t think there are any parties capable of carrying this out. If you know one, good luck.”

A year later, the M5S was born.

Exactly. But the goals of “halving” turned into others: the “seats,” the “annuities,” the “blue official cars.”

What do you think of Grillo’s proposals to Draghi?

The most important is the merger of the ministries of the environment and economic development into a single ministry for the ecological and solidarity transition, as in France and Spain. This super-ministry should be the multi-decade control room for a profound transformation of society, not just the economy.

Only this transformation can enable us to cope with crises that are becoming increasingly dramatic. Those of nature, inequality, migration, labor. This is a change of civilization, not of government, economy or technology.

Is there room in the Recovery plan for a true ecological transition?

The social-ecological transition is a process that takes decades, not semesters. If it is spent on the social-ecological transition, the Recovery Plan can help cover the first inch of a very long journey in the right direction.

Is it a contradiction to talk about environmentalism to a government that is likely to restart drilling and will certainly move the TAV high-speed train project forward?

Every war is made up of battles won and battles lost. But not all of them have the same importance. In a pluralistic political system, if you can’t win a large majority, you can’t change a system, let alone a civilization.

If the Five Star Movement had put more skillfulness, more humility and less hatred and vulgarity into its political actions for ten years, it would have had the prerequisites to aspire to a hegemony of ideas, programs and public sympathy. Instead, it has become embroiled in a furious war against “them.”

But who is “them”? Everyone is “them” from the perspective of someone else. You see, a chapter of my book, Snaturati (“The De-natured”), is entitled “Gramsci and Casaleggio,” and compares the New Order of the first with the “New World Order” of the second. It sounds like a joke, but it’s a very serious chapter and helps one understand why the M5S has been reduced to its current condition.

Do you think there is a risk that environmentalism will become only an alibi, a form of greenwashing of Mario Draghi’s image?

If you don’t have the requirements for a transformative hegemony, you have to settle for the little that a few can achieve. But if you can secure a milestone, like the ministry for ecological transition, then it will have been worthwhile. The mill of history grinds slowly.

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