INTRODUCTION BY ANTONIO CORVINO
GENERAL MANAGER OF THE REGIONAL OBSERVATORY BANKS-ENTERPRISES OF ECONOMY AND FINANCE
The storm that hit the Mediterranean Area
From the collapse of the American Finance to the speculation fed by the crisis affecting euro trust and the risk of resolution (opportunity of transformation) of the Mediterranean economic, social and political systems
The storm that hit Europe and the whole Mediterranean Area is destined to cause deep changes in the economic, social, political and institutional assets.
The crisis, originated in the framework of the American Finance, progressively extended its scope to Europe. Fed by the lack of trust deriving from the debts of Ireland first and then from those of the Mediterranean countries, it spread like wildfire on the basis of the speculation trend that increasingly expanded itself compromising the euro steadiness and the default possibilities of the Atlantic and Mediterranean States. The storm then produced a long wave that affected the social balance of many European countries, heavily undermining the already precarious social conditions that for long time had been overstretched by strong internal and external migratory flows involving in particular way Mediterranean young people and women.
The consequence of this situation has been a general process of decay that affected the whole economic system shaken by strong destructuring forces and by the extraordinary globalization acceleration that irremediably and drastically shifted the balance of the productive system in Eastern countries and in peripheral regions of Europe. The above mentioned long wave, even not having achieved destroying dimensions, anyhow has seriously undermined the consolidated economic balance, showing weakness and risks of a social system that for long time had been stiff and reluctant to any change, thus evidencing the entropy risks of a weak institutional system, confined in its State borders and prisoner of national interests at European level, even in a context of liturgical and ritual conformism, then exiled to the edges of the European Union. The perspective that today Europe and Mediterranean Area should envisage is an overall transformation of their economic, social and political systems. The alternative is the risk of a sudden, violent or less violent, breakdown or, more concretely, of a slow but not less dangerous and problematic decay process.
From the storm to the risk of drift
The State economic-financial assets should be harmonized and not counterposed to the economical and social systems
The financial assets of the National States on the one hand and the related economic and social systems on the other hand are the core of speculation in the so-called financial markets, but they are also the central focus of national government authorities. The decisions taken in this framework are often imposed and hardly absorbed and accepted by the enterprises, determining worries, fears and anger feelings also in most part of the population.
In this context the assimilation/equalization of State time projections and enterprise/population expectations – produced in the last ten-year periods – is undermining one of the main presupposition of the State sovereignty, which projects its credibility, action and duration in an age-long historic dimension.
The annihilation of the State time horizons implies the reduction to a lesser charge of the State financial capacity and resistance level. From economic policy lever they are becoming a mere accounting parameter.
Consequently, the State ability to invest and sustain economy through a virtuous deficit spending vanishes (even if it has been theorized and extraordinarily and positively experimented in a framework of the overall economic and financial compatibility) and, from the constitutional point of view, the ban established for the State to go through deficit finds a supporting ennobling reason.
Therefore it is evident the risk undergone by the Mediterranean Europe economic systems that are checkmated by the new international producers and by the measures taken by the respective national and European government authorities at fiscal and financial level. The social steadiness yielding due to the extraordinary and prolonged ballasting of the old welfare state mechanisms in the footsteps of a rarefaction of work opportunities and of the definite exclusion of young people and women from the market, has to be considered, at this point, something that is about to happen.
The dramatic fall in the GDP in many European countries, the prolonged recession in many European regions destined to last over time, the increasing difficulties encountered by men and women in being protagonists in their countries of origin (20 year-old people represent now a minority group in many countries if compared to the overall population, starting from Italy) are evident signs of this risk.
In Italian “Mezzogiorno” wealth has produced the risk, at least until 2015, to undergo problematic and/or negative indexes, with consequent effects on the unemployment rate that is already very high and sometimes striking for both women and young people categories.
The risks of outbreak of crime phenomena affecting the economic, social and institutional system in many Mediterranean countries become more and more concrete and fearful, as well as the temptation to take dangerous short cuts for containing the reactions and protests that are spreading throughout the Mediterranean Area. In the meanwhile, in a very questionable manner, international attempts to define a new Mediterranean asset, causing neo-colonialist misunderstandings that have nothing to do with shared development objectives, are emerging.
The reports introduced in this Meeting whose main topics are drift and crime in Italy and Europe and GDP trend in Europe, Italy and “Mezzogiorno” and the reports on the Mediterranean economic-social processes and on Mediterranean young people migration flows underline in a clear way the risks connected with an inadequate and incautious management of the current crisis.
The challenge of the New Argonauts
The conquest of the New Golden Fleece: different Mediterranean economic-social-political assets
The risk of waste of human resources caused by the young people migratory flows, in Europe and in the Mediterranean Area are added to the risks of religion and culture clash and to the risks of unhinging historic consolidated balances.
From the awareness of the risks affecting Europe and Mediterranean Area and from the certainty that future generations will have the task to affirm new economic, social and political assets derives the metaphor of the New Argonauts, proposed by 2012 Sorrento Meeting.
The storm that hit Europe and Mediterranean Area requires young people and women to accelerate the process of assumption of responsibility, in order to exorcize fears with their commitment and their positiveness. Exactly like the picture used for the Meeting Placard – realized by Helena Klakocar, a Croatian artist who experimented the escape from war through the sea – young people, like Jason and the Argonauts, the guardians of the Golden Fleece, are called to dispel the fog and gain, with the aid of Medea, the dry land where, according to the words of the art critic Toti Carpentieri referred to Klakocar’s Placard, “the longed for calm and the achieved stability” dominate. Certainly, exactly like for Jason and the Argonauts, the pathway is full of perils and it will probably imply suffering and sacrifices, but there is no alternative except accepting the scattering of the extraordinary European resources through migratory flows affecting countries such Europe, North Africa and Mediterranean Area or getting into culture and religion clash that necessarily will determine the unhinging and/or the decay of historical balances consolidated in the Mediterranean Area.
THE CHALLENGE OF THINKING
Some analysts like to underline with self-irony that their reliability concerning future forecasts has been rather approximate
Actually it has to be admitted that the economic, social and political thinking, in the last decades, has undergone a sort of conformism that has levelled its critical potentialities. There are many examples both in the economic context and in the pure thinking framework of personalities who had anticipated the problems that are now affecting Europe and Western countries. Among them: Federico Caffè, Italian economist who at the end of the ‘70’s had warned investors about the risks of speculation and financial drift that could undermine the system balance; John K. Gelbraith, the American economist who supported the plan proposed by the President Kennedy and who, in 1950, forecast the risks of an opulent society whose main objective is private enrichment neglecting wealth distribution and social consumptions; Albert Camus, the great thinker who, 1952, in his book entitled Rebel, warned Europe about the dangers of the impending consumerism which will have determined its decay once the sense of proportion had been completely lost. For supporting his thesis Camus quoted Heraclitus and his theory of continuous transformation (“panta rei”) according to which Nemesis, goddess of revenge, and Hybris, goodness of outrageous behaviour, had to punish people “without the sense of proportion”.
In Italy, among the intellectuals, Southern supporters in the After World War decades established very high economic, social, civil and institutional thought systems, a heritage that unfortunately has been lost in the last years in favour of short cuts without perspectives.
Occupational resources and young people-oriented policies
The reform of the labour market roles and patterns cannot be disjoint from the identification on new occupational resources
In this context, and on the basis of the reflections proposed so far, to make an effort to redefine rules that can give new strength to the social agreement between people and nations is of priority importance. The reform of labour market and welfare, as well as the codification of new fiscal regimes and of new financial systems, need an overall datum point. Besides the structural reforms destined to give sense and direction to the new State and social agreement, it is necessary to develop a deepened research on the perspectives and the objectives that societies have to achieve. The identification of new extraordinary resources existing in the Mediterranean Area has to keep pace with the implementation of new rules and patterns. Resuming handicraft activities and manufacturing systems certainly represents one of the most important resources but it has to be valorised in terms of professionalism and excellence.
Environment and territory, with their extraordinary natural, urban, historical and cultural heritage represent, in their turn, a further great basin able to develop absolute value and wealth. Agriculture, with excellence and typical productions and the spreading out of modern production and cultivation techniques, can represent an extraordinary wealth potentiality as well. It requires an indispensable support to restore the will of planning and making adequate investments able to give back the Mediterranean Area its necessary propulsive force.
In their turn, research and innovation – connected with the restoration of a basic industrial policy oriented to the global market balance and to the recovery of the ability to define strategic and operational objectives – represent complementary and basic elements. Finally, culture and creativity, through the exploitation of Talent, Technology and Tolerance, according to the words of the American economist Richard Florida, must irremissibly represent the future for the development of the Mediterranean Area and the humus for realizing this development.
New Argonauts discovering new territories
The risks of slowdown in the increase of wealth and employment evidenced in many European countries, the risk of decay in the civil common life and the risks of crime activities are connected with possible risks of clash among Mediterranean cultures and with the sacrifice of whole generations of young people. Anyhow these risks can and must be absolutely avoided.
Once again we quote Albert Camus, who, in his book entitled Rebel, in the After World War years hoped in the essence of the thinking based on sense of proportion, sense of solidarity and perception of the positive “Mediterranean light” that can stop the annihilation process affecting Western countries.
The light of this thinking, according to Camus, is the antidote against the dark of social disintegration.
The task of the New Argonauts is then to follow this light and dispel darkness, for themselves, for their fathers and for their sons.