We are moving, if not towards the exit from the pandemic, at least towards a mitigation of its effects. And soon we will begin to spend the first funds to launch a new phase of sustainable development.
Faced with such an important scenario, we should expect a strong cultural fervor, and also some signs of the much-hoped-for restructuring of the parties.
However, we are far from the breakups and reformations that would be necessary in order to have more homogeneous political subjects with renewed identities. And, since history does not stop and wait for political forces to guide it, we are faced with a truly “great risk”: the downsizing of the function of politics, with further distancing between it and the citizens and the consolidation of the use of technocrats to govern society.
A first risk is connected to work.
While we are planning investments and new development and thinking about new jobs and training, layoffs are taking place that are aggravating the situation even more. We have entered the pandemic from a place of long stagnation and widespread precariousness. Thanks to the citizenship income, the heaviest effects of the pandemic on people have been attenuated, but just as one sees the first small signs of recovery, the campaign against the CI has started again: they are claiming that jobs exist, but people don’t want them because they prefer the guaranteed income.
The first statistical data show the actual trends: a growth of fixed-term contracts and a stagnation in the number of permanent ones. Thus, the great risk is that the post-pandemic phase may generate an enormous substitution effect: the semi-seniors with protected jobs are out, young people with smaller contributions and fewer rights are in. Less regular contracts and more miniature contracts. Environmental sustainability, perhaps, but social sustainability no more.
If these are the risks, there is a need for a new culture to be upheld that would combine the right to work and the right to the guaranteed income, correcting the “spontaneous” development of the market. But who will manage to act as its representative, in a context of social fragmentation aggravated by the pandemic and by interventions that have favored some, protected others and abandoned others still?
And here we come to a second great risk: that instead of creating a new fabric of solidarity, political entities will adapt to the new social fragmentation by imitating it.
This is what seems to be happening. The PD is focusing on “its own” Zan Law, the M5S on “its own” statute of limitations reform, the left on “its own” estate tax, while the unions focus on merely protecting “their” organized workers.
In this context, it is certain that the use of technocrats is becoming the only solution, both mandatory and supported by the masses, a true genetic mutation which brings with it another “replacement”: that of politics with the technocrats. A movement from democracy to technocracy. We are already well on our way to the latter. How can we fight against this risk? At this point, politics would have to renew itself at a profound level. But can it do so by going forward as it seems to be doing today, as separate actors, each committed to protecting and defending its own identity? Shouldn’t the existing identities, on the contrary, intersect, encounter, enrich each other? In the Italian context, this problem concerns, above all, the so-called progressive area.
The more conservative and moderate one has its own version of the problem, but it also has a common denominator that permeates the political subjects and the social body. Here, there is a widespread and deep-rooted underlying culture that yields a “common sense,” that crosses social strata, interest groups, traditional and social media and that has remained substantially in the majority in the country for many years.
However, on the other side, the “common sense” which had developed at certain historical moments, feeding the hopes of reform, is still buried under disillusionment. There is much, much more to be done. One must mend the fracture created by the birth of the M5S. The necessary convergence between the left and the electoral body of the Five Stars cannot be confined within a logic of an alliance of necessity and for the purpose of power.
We must devote ourselves to the search for a medium-long term perspective that would take into account the drives behind the various ideas: environmentalism, ethics, solidarity, labor, civil and social justice. The next elections may dig other fault lines, but they might also serve to recompose and generate convergences that are not merely tactical, rewriting values and trajectories.
There is also another wound that must be closed: there are movements and organizations engaged in struggle that have no intersection with politics, due to mutually set limits. How long will it be possible to proceed along separate paths?
Finally, there is a new fact to consider: among the policies launched with the NRP, which will certainly keep us busy for the next few years, the logic of investments aimed at, and conditioned by, implementation implies a new approach. It requires a politics that doesn’t merely preach, but a politics that can set goals, allocate resources, build projects, monitor them, control them and implement them. In short, a politics that can regain possession of its high function of governing the entire decision-making process. A politics that can generate a new ruling class that would be able to combine ideals and hopes with actions and operational directions.
We are still in the midst of the rubble left behind by the long crisis and the pandemic. But there is rebuilding and building to do. Let us all look carefully at ourselves in order to get back on track.