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Piero Angela, "A cosa serve la politica"

Growth and development

By Patrizia PoliPublished about a year ago 4 min read

The title is created along the lines of the anti-caste books that have enjoyed such success in recent years, but Piero Angela’s essay “What is politics for?” goes beyond the purely institutional discourse, or of politics understood in an immediate, literal and superficial way.

All of Angela’s (and his family’s) books are examples of how the way of treating a topic makes the topic itself captivating. It is a book that can be read in one breath, which makes you turn the page and scroll from one paragraph to another, which captures more than a compelling narrative, not so much for the themes developed, all of great social relevance, but for the style. The extreme simplicity, the ease of speech, the fresh communication, create a bridge between meaning and signifier that can also be crossed by the profane reader.

But if the style is easy, the thesis is of a revolutionary depth. Politics, understood as it has always been understood and as, unfortunately, it is even more so today, will never be able, not even with the best intentions and the best personalities, to revive the fortunes of Italy which is sinking as a GDP, as a civilization, as a culture. Politics cannot be limited to the distribution of wealth, choosing, according to one’s own orientation of thought, to whom to assign existing resources. Politics must know how to produce this wealth, develop these resources which it will then distribute.

The production of wealth, i.e. the starting up of the economy, is not an operation that can be carried out overnight and no change of majority will transform a technologically and culturally backward country into a rich one, no election or change of executive will give a Turk the wages of a Swede. For this to happen, what Angela calls the “artificial ecosystem” must vary, i.e. the set of infrastructures, energy sources, schools, etc., which modern man needs to live.

The production of wealth takes place through growth and development, which, in turn, progress from knowledge, science, education, research, intellectual formation, respect for the law, the sharing of values and the meritocracy.

In Italy, explains Angela, there is no meritocracy. In every field, from hospitals to universities, to industries, to research centres, talents are not allowed to emerge, the best do not see their abilities recognised, brains are forced to flee abroad, slothfuls obtain important positions for mechanisms that have nothing to do with merit, i.e. automatic advancements, job lists, recommendations, political lobbying.

Only if the talent is developed, if the right men are placed in the right places at the right time, will it be possible to pull Italy out of the abyss of degrowth and public debt that the policy of rigor alone will not be enough to heal.

We need to change the mentality of our people. Given how we are made and how deeply rooted in us are malpractice, corruption, incivility, evasion, waste of public money, it can only be done with a targeted action of rewards and punishments. Rewards for the deserving and certain punishments for those who transgress.

It is also necessary to understand culture differently, which is not only literary and artistic. With all due respect to writers, critics, journalists, musicians, directors, playwrights, culture is something much broader and more interconnected. Anthropology, geology, archeology, paleontology, astronomy, physics, etc. constitute a wealth of knowledge that helps us answer the great questions of human beings: who we are, where we come from, what life is and what purpose it has. In a word, everything from mathematics to the study of dinosaurs is philosophy.

In this regard, I refer to another text by Angela, written together with his son Alberto, “The extraordinary story of life on earth”, from 2003, a book capable of changing the perspective with which we look at our existence, a book which, starting from the fossil record, from the primordial soup, opens up existential, religious and philosophical questions, even speaking of the transfer of intelligence from the biological to matter until it becomes thinking.

Angela — and I with him — wonders how it is possible that those with an “on” brain are not interested in topics so important, so indispensable. In fact, the traditional academic world often shows a certain annoyance with science, considering only everything that concerns the humanae litterae as culture.

In a population destined to age dramatically, where schooling covers a few years of life and people find themselves unprepared to face and understand a rapidly changing world around them, a fundamental role for education can be played by television, if this is capable of freeing itself once again from political-party pressures.

And here let’s go back to business. To progress, a forward-looking politics is needed, which does not take electoral shortcuts but thinks about the future, which is not quarrelsome, which seeks harmony and not clashes, which also considers the ideas of the adversary if they are good, without rejecting them a priori because they belong to the enemy area.

“Our problem is a political class screwed up on itself. And extremely quarrelsome, as seen in certain televised debates that often become boxing matches. [… ]The goal basically becomes to knock down the opponent, to show how incapable and unreliable he is, unearthing old stories, only listing the data in one’s favor, arguing about everything.”

Above all, a political class that cares about the effective development of the country.

“For example by pressing on the pedal of merit, of values, of respect for the rules, through a strong system of rewards and punishments. And acting on other accelerators such as culture, education, research, television and many other growth factors such as creative entrepreneurship, which can fertilize the country and its productive capacity. Also focusing on excellence: starting from school, and raising a new generation of leaders capable of making their contribution not only in science, technology and the economy, but also and perhaps above all in politics.”


About the Creator

Patrizia Poli

Patrizia Poli was born in Livorno in 1961. Writer of fiction and blogger, she published seven novels.

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