Who will decide on the state of exception?
By Fiorello Cortiana
Everything must not go back to the way it was before, because it is from ‘the way it was before’ that disasters are generated. Viral disasters, viral in the biological sphere of the living, as with Ebola, SARS, now Covid19, as well as the radionuclides of Three Miles Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, rather than digital, in the crashes of operating systems and the theft and manipulation of identity data. Here in Italy, the disasters have the ether of fossil fuel pollution for heating and mobility, with 80,000 deaths a year, rather than the production of asbestos in Casale Monferrato or the emissions and effluents of ILVA in Taranto, emissions that affect 18,000 people in the Tamburi district alone. We are experiencing a pandemic crisis, which affects all the inhabitants of this Little Earth. The land that perhaps we can and, by obvious necessity, should recognise, in Edgar Morin’s felicitous suggestion, as Terra Matria, as a generative body. I too think that crisis is not synonymous with catastrophe, but we will be saved by virtue of a choice of value and not as a result of despair over an irreparable disaster, greater than others.
A paradigm shift is needed, and the determination to propose it, now that some knots are coming to the boil: the idea of unlimited quantitative growth, at the expense of a supposedly unlimited availability of resources, has not only proved to be fallacious but also a threat to the possibility of our species living in the Earth environment that is being defined. Here the concept of hybris highlights a presumptuous anthropocentrism incapable of a custodial function based on the ethics of responsibility. The inequalities of social opportunity that have long returned have been dramatically accentuated in this crisis. We call individual distancing ‘social distance’: if this is a typo, it is very indicative of a collective condition where the possibility of social emancipation is not taken for granted, one is more committed to avoiding downgrading.
That is why young people do not take to the streets to decide on their future. If, as a society, we want to be capable of having a future, we cannot fail to come to terms with some of the no longer negligible evidence presented by this pandemic crisis. The deaths of the elderly in nursing homes at the time of Covid 19 had such an intense systemic character as to characterise them as a massacre. They also had a clear social indicator function: the ship is making water and we are getting rid of the ballast, instead of understanding why there is a leak and how to repair it. In a society devoted to consumerism and to linking people’s dignity to their ability to spend, where facelifts and viagras contribute to the exhibition of an eternal youthfulness that shirks adult responsibilities towards the other, the average age increases but the elderly become a burden. The train of unlimited quantitative growth is heading straight into the ravine, this is the fact, we need to stop and change direction. It is clear that the quality of health is the product of what we eat and what we breathe, of the quality of the mind-body-nature relationship of which our daily life is made up.
For this reason, it is wrong to think that the problems of social action faced by each one of us should inevitably become a therapeutic issue, ending up in the hospital funnel of emergency rooms. Prevention, precaution, the sharing of research financed with public money, and a local presence, starting with health assistants in schools, family doctors, sports doctors, and voluntary work organised in the third sector, must therefore become constituent elements of a public social and health policy that implements the constitutional right to health. Immuni is proposed as an effective application for mapping contagion, but it raises delicate questions for a democracy in a knowledge-based society such as ours. The usefulness of behavioural traceability for what concerns domotics and the cycle of energy consumption and waste generation is obvious, as is the case for infomobility with the relationship between traffic-congestion-incidence-emissions-productivity, but the figure concerning the body and the identity profile of each of us is different. This is the Big Data market and data mining, but there are some data that cannot become a commodity, and for this reason it is necessary to affirm without modesty that there are rights that cannot be subjected to the market and whose unavailability must be protected.
- It is possible to get out from under the two horns of constraint. It takes will, talent and wisdom to use the contingencies of the unexpected, starting with the rules of the game, it takes another approach to allow enlightenment. We need a reunion between mind, body and nature, between the anthropological and biological spheres, a rethinking of how we exercise our subjectivity. Open data, accountability, transparency, informed participation, enhancement of institutions and representation, are constituent elements of a public policy capable of freeing itself in an innovative way from the horns of the double constraint ‘or viral insecurity or widespread social control’. In the context of entrusting and adapting cognitive processes to Artificial Intelligence programmes, there is a need for awareness and composition of the relationship between knowledge and wisdom. In the knowledge society, schools are not about teaching ‘how to do’, they are about learning how to learn.
In the conclusions of his 2002 report, Rodotà prophetically warned that ‘If we do not arrive at this “constitution of the Internet”, the rules will risk being dictated above all by technological logic and the logic (and censorship) of the market’. There is a crucial element that determines the immiseration that this season of civil life is experiencing, a homologating element like a metastasis, which expands at the expense of the social pact, changing its quality. It is the parallel world of the mafias. In non-emergency daily life, Italy produces around 1,000 tonnes of hazardous medical waste per day, which is not always managed and disposed of properly. In the facilities in 24 countries verified in 2015 by the WHO and Unicef, this occurred in 58% of cases. We are talking about about 200,000 tonnes produced each year. For a large part of these Asl and Hospital Authorities, by means of public tenders, entrust the collection, transport, storage and disposal of waste at facilities owned by the entrusted parties or contracted with them.
Amidst the coronavirus emergency, hospital waste has increased by 20% and operators are under pressure. This percentage is increasing if we only think of the sanitary facilities that everyone must have at their disposal and the sanitisation work linked to Phase 2 of the new normalcy that will follow. Sanitary facilities, workplaces, public transport, must be constantly sanitised and hygienised and the protective equipment, products and rags used must then be disposed of. The environmental, industrial and public health problem derives from the presence of a parallel system, with operators linked to the organised underworld, which operates and disposes of waste outside the law and the environmental sustainability of the management process, with links between the north and south of the country. The sentences have shown the influence of the cosche with the ruling class of the Public Administration, both local and regional, administrators and officials. They are the ones who decide on policy, procedures and budget chapters of public spending.
An exchange of favours: professional appointments with electoral aid, bribes with recruitment and promotion. This does not just alter legality, and therefore competition, the quality of infrastructure, waste disposal, the quality of groundwater, soil, air, safety and workers’ rights. Over time, the quality and profiles of the PA ruling class itself, of the policies adopted and of the interlocutors to whom it must answer and report are altered: no longer the voters but the godfathers. Corruption is confirmed as the most effective tool to circumvent and evade environmental protection rules and generate illicit profits. Between 1 June 2018 and 31 May 2019, Legambiente has surveyed 100 investigations carried out by 36 public prosecutors’ offices: 597 people reported, 395 arrested, 143 seized. The 2019 corruption ranking sees the four regions with a traditional mafia presence at the top with 43 investigations, 43%, but Lazio is the region with the highest number of investigations, 23, followed by Sicily with 21, Lombardy with 12, preceding Campania with 9, and Calabria with 8.
The problem of the mafias is not that of generating value but of parasitising those who produce it, adapting to every change generated by others, like a metastasis. There is certainly a need for a shared culture of legality as the foundation of the social pact, with widespread awareness of the damage done to society, democracy and the economy by the presence of the mafias and their deadly contagion activities. It is the institution of democracy that is being called upon to regenerate. Transparency and accountability of the Public Administration, effective informed participation of citizens, widespread exercise of the instruments of participation of active citizenship, for which access to justice by associations should be free and effectively accessible, quality of institutional representation. These are the conditions for producing a shared culture of legality. The paradigm of complexity requires a sustainable evolutionary balance for the unfolding of a viable development model.
This determines the coherent relationship between ends and means: this does not mean the fusion of cultural, religious, ethnic identities in an undifferentiated homologation, on the contrary it requires the recognition of differences, therefore of complexity, places procedures and rules for confrontation and dialogue. Because it is differences that generate communication, and this is evident in a forest as well as in a garden, rather than in crops or in the various expressive languages, such as music, painting, cinema, photography… This approach comes into direct tension with those who think of restoring the energy-intensive model that produces environmental and social waste in its affirmation of nominal values and in the construction of speculative bubbles, which requires spectators and information surfers, maintains tax havens for financial speculators and mafias, but does not tolerate those who overspend their budgets to respond to emergencies.
According to Carl Schmidt, the politician, the sovereign, is the one who decides the state of exception. Today, it is more accurate to say not only who decides the state of exception, but also who defines it. It is in this distance between visions that conflict is generated, hence participatory politics, and for ecologists here lies the capacity not to turn it into a question of public order or therapy, but a possibility for qualitative innovation in social living.