Authentic freedom is made up of relationships between people, not algorithms – time.news

by time news
Authentic freedom is made up of relationships between people, not algorithms – time.news
from FERRUCCIO dE BORTOLI

The essay by Chiara Giaccardi and Mauro Magatti, published by Mulino, which proposes a choice of civilization, comes out on Thursday 19 May. The implosion of desires generates unease, it is necessary to rebuild the social bond

Finland, according to the World Happiness Report, is the happiest country in the world. We do not know if this enviable record withstands the winds of war and the new geopolitical tensions. Italy is not even in the top twenty. But it has a suicide rate that is one third of that of Helsinki. In short, alleged Nordic happiness has its dark side. The pandemic has multiplied the discomforts of the emotional sphere. So they identify them, in their latest book (Supersociet, il Mulino), the sociologists Chiara Giaccardi and Mauro Magatti. Especially in teenagers. We speak, more and more often, of childhood depression. And I was struck by the figure of the child neuropsychiatry department of the Policlinico San Matteo in Pavia. Thirty hospital places. A list of 160 guys. It had never happened before. What is happening in the deepest coils of our society? We are faced with the implosion of desires, the first response of the authors. We have stimulated them too much (to the detriment of duties). And today we see the emergence of a security drive. The wall syndrome, as Massimo Recalcati calls it. Pleasure and the death drive are two sides of the same coin, Sigmund Freud warned us.


The drive to open up to others – accelerated by globalization and digitalization – has turned into its exact opposite: closure in itself. Too much competitive anxiety. Then we take refuge in parallel universes. Apparently repaired. In not too rare cases the antechamber of resignation from life. If society is constituted more and more, and in the end only, by an atomized set of individuals, power tends to undergo a process of totalization: it becomes exclusive, cold, distant. The quarrels are detached from the local communities; democratic institutions are becoming impoverished. And the consequence, on the political level, is the growth of populism and nostalgic nationalism. Giaccardi and Magatti have it (too!) With neoliberalism – and especially with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan – perhaps mistaking it for a hedonism devoid of the ethics of individual responsibility, as it should be. Many mistakes were made, but it was not an orgy of uncontrolled selfishness. Each season has its favorite targets.

The risk society fades into the age of shocks. We know what dangers we are exposed to, we have an infinity of data, but we cannot grasp the chain of interrelationships. N to fully understand the extent of the damage that our development determines on the environment (anthropy, or the set of entropic effects, in Bernard Stiegler’s definition). The link between growth (of the possibilities of life) and anthropy – the authors write – still seems to escape our social reflexivity. We so fragile will we be able to cure the frailties of the planet?


The challenge of sustainability – and this is an extremely important passage of the essay – above all cultural. A paradigm break. The sustainable world is not founded on increasing individual possibilities. a brake on desires is needed. But also to rights and to complete democracy, perhaps on the basis of new scientific theories? This is the danger, to be avoided, inherent in the concept of Supersociet. A knot that cannot be faced and is culpably removed. Digitization has also profoundly changed the nature of power (and its control over our lives) as well as having weakened our capacity for discernment. The Faustian illusion of a neuronal man who, thanks to technology, overcomes his own physical and mental limits does not open unknown spaces of freedom. Far from it. It exposes us to the risk of being completely absorbed in systemic logic to the point of no longer conceiving of a definition of self. Wrapped in an iron cloak in Max Weber’s definition of a self-made prison. We risk becoming just codes. A sequence of passwords.


The market is unable to govern the exchanges of a Supersociet. And even the state risks succumbing to the global overlords of our data. And therefore we find ourselves in the presence of a crossroads, a bifurcation. Sustainability and digitalisation lead to a more rigid regulation of individual behaviors and a new fearful imbalance in favor of the Supersocietary pole. And the basic question of how the intimate spaces of freedom, conscience, intelligence, reason can be defended. The relationship freedom. It feeds on knowledge. In education and training courses. It is grown in communities. Being free does not mean having no ties. In the digitized society the brain is constantly stimulated. But it also favors a loss in the ability to know how to think.

Giaccardi and Magatti propose a new form of education. They call it epimeletics, from the Greek melete (cure). We are, they argue, in a condition similar to that of our ancestors who found themselves, in the mid-nineteenth century, with less than 5 percent of the population who could read and write. It is a pity that today we do not have the same perception of drama and urgency. Indeed, the care of human capital is not a priority. It is not, for example, in anticipating, as happens in other countries, the school service (at 3/4 years), nor in promoting ongoing formation. Now is the time to get rid of the heavy industrial legacy. What the greatest freedom has to do with the manufacture and possession of things and therefore of people.

The authors also redesign the social spaces, the role of associations and intermediate bodies, configure new noetic organizations, capable of merging the respect and promotion of the person with the not only economic objectives of a territory, of a country. In order for citizens to remain a name, a set of human relationships that make up their horizon of personal freedom. And not a number, much less a code. Life is fruitful – wrote Romano Guardini – and the more alive the life, the greater its strength to give what does not yet exist. Progress made of ideas that seem impossible and shared values ​​that require constant care.

The presentation

The essay by Chiara Giaccardi and Mauro Magatti is released in bookstores on Thursday 19 May Supersociet (il Mulino, pages 239, euro 16) Chiara Giaccardi teaches Sociology and Anthropology of the Media at the Catholic University of Milan, where she also directs the magazine Comunicazioni Sociali. Mauro Magatti, Corriere columnist, teaches Sociology at the Catholic University of Milan. Among his books Don’t be afraid of falling (Mondadori, 2019).

Chiara Giaccardi and Mauro Magatti present their Supersociet essay, published by Mulino, at the Turin Book Fair on Thursday 19 May. The sociologist Franco Garelli and the journalist Giorgio Zanchini take part in the meeting, which is held at 3 pm in the Sala Bianca.

May 17, 2022 (change May 17, 2022 | 21:32)

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