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Notes on the New European Time. Salvatore Veca's lesson for good politics

11-03-2024 18:50


Europolitiche, Cultura politica, Alessandro Mauriello, Nicola Schmit, Salvatoe Veca +, Rawls, Amartya Sen, teorie normative, filosofia politica, libro di Veca qualcosa di sinistra del 2019, Sebastiano Maffettone, feltrinelli, la lezione di Veca, il lascito intellettuale di Veca,

Notes on the New European Time. Salvatore Veca's lesson for good politics

of Alessandro Mauriello

by Alessandro Mauriello

In the pandemic crisis we have been through, we have learned that we need radical change. Today we are faced with a completely different social framework, paradoxically after years of intense debate on disintermediation, there is once again awareness and conviction that social intermediation (Representation) creates social cohesion, in territories up to the geopolitics of global systems, with a moral imperative to reconstruct the thread of politics for a new model of development. The thread of high politics that is inherent in new inequalities, social cohesion, social mobility. On all this, Professor Salvatore Veca gives us a path that "tries to solve the crisis of contemporary knowledge" (1) in two ways:
1) by producing proposals that are strongly in dialogue and conflict with each other;
2) following the lesson of Isaiah Berli: "Thinking of the perfect society and thinking of it with a given catechism, not open to contradictions, has been and is responsible for an impressive number of political/moral catastrophes.

Starting from the work of the recently deceased political philosopher, we will give working hypotheses on the various themes dealt with at the beginning of the text Qualcosa di Sinistra. Veca was one of the most influential thinkers in the contemporary Italian philosophical-political debate, without ever shiing away from civic engagement, as a world-renowned academic. A pupil of Ludovico Geymonat and Enzo Paci, emeritus for many years at the IUSS in Padua, member and founder of the Politeia Research Center, he was president of the Feltrinelli Foundation. Author of now famous essays, Veca is to be ascribed one of the most fruitful schools of Italian political philosophy, although his intellectual eclecticism was not inclined to recognize its boundaries, unraveling from the seventies and eighties until the second decade of the twenty-first century. A fame recognized by an immense international literature on his works and the influence of his reflections.

Veca's philosophical work has its own particular aspect, albeit essential in the opinion of the writer, namely that it is always aimed at constituting an offer for the political culture of the Italian left. This aspect is more evident in some writings such as Citizenship (1990), Dizionario minimo (2009), There is no alternative. False! (2014) and The Sense of Possibility (2018).

"Something Sinister" according to Veca.

We are talking about one of the latest essays by the famous Milanese thinker and academic, published in 2019 (2), in which Veca opens, for his part, a reflection on the European/Global Left, with a surprising ability to update, despite his advanced age, on the problems of the new century. The issue is always on the priority agenda in political philosophy and of cogent relevance in this spring of 2024, as the Congress of the Party of European Socialists took place in Rome with the nomination of Nicolas Schmit as candidate for president of the European Commission.

Veca's text has an articulated structure, with multiple developments in terms of content and descriptive models, aimed at an open process of elaboration on politics in general, and on progressive politics. It is an essay to reason together, on various themes such as "indifference in the times of the great regression of the so-called illiberal democracies, of the growing unjustifiable inequalities within society". Veca redesigns a "vision of ends" with a new critical thinking, and a human development as the freedom of people, as imagined by Amartya Sen (3), economist, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner, very close to Veca both for intellectual harmonies and for human ties. For the philosopher it is necessary to assume the threshold condition of the legitimacy of the democratic fundamentals of institutional political systems, even by conservative political families in line with political pluralism, and respecting Veca's line of reflection on the axiom that the North Star is Article 3 of our Fundamental Charter first paragraph which reads: "All citizens have equal social dignity, and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinion, personal and social conditions." With the second paragraph of the same article, the theoretical reasoning of the Roman political philosopher is reinforced: "It is the task of the Republic to remove obstacles of an economic and social order, which, by limiting the freedom and equality of citizens, impede the full development of the human person and the effective participation of all workers in political organization, economic and social aspects of the country".
In the essay, Veca proposes a progressive interpretation of the aforementioned article, with a strong connection to the sustainable development goals of the UN 2030 Agenda, declined by ASVIS in our country with the action of the statistician Enrico Giovannini.
In 2013, Salvatore Veca, as president of the Gian Giacomo Feltrinelli Foundation, promoted the Annals for EXPO, a multidisciplinary discussion between researchers and 135 research centers from all over the world, to analyze the relationship between nutrition, production, and distribution. With a strong connection to urban and rural realities, meeting the ideas of Jeffrey Sachs, former director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University, Special Advisor of the UN, as well as consultant for environmental issues to Pope Bergoglio. As is well known, the general framework of the 2030 Agenda outlines a multidimensional social progress, which has three founding elements: Social Justice and Inclusion, Human Development as Freedom and the Globalization of Rights and Social Equity.
Veca's general proposal is innervated in the European lexicon of a European Union in crisis, but indispensable for achieving the set objectives of sustainability, and democratic ideals of human dignity. Veca poses the problem of how to decline this perspective in political models and proposes the "model of consensus by intersection" of the philosopher John Rawls, author of the famous "Theory of Justice" (4) (5): "Deliberative processes arise from the conflict of alternative perspectives on visions of the world, against this background the choices with the Socialist Party" are inscribed.and then the public policies. When, in a constitutional democracy, political or other pluralism, conflicting or not on the various doctrines, but these adhere to the common civil loyalty, in which all the protagonists of the polis, adhere to the value proposition. even for different reasons. The value of coexistence, of institutions, of social practices, hence the theory of overlapping consensus".

Ultimately, Veca's message for the 21st century left is about an "elementary idea at the basis of a political culture of liberal and democratic socialism" after "the social-democratic century," an idea that must concern a message that does not close itself within the national perimeter, but that concerns the "great city" of mankind and a global criterion of equity: the idea of "human development as freedom".

Veca's death has left a void in the Italian and international debate on political culture that many believe is unbridgeable. In particular, many intellectuals who shared with the Milanese professor fruitful years of direct confrontation and elective affinities, have given us pages and pages of memories. Among the many, the commemorative incipit by Michele Salvati in a recent article is memorable: "The more time passes, the more the absence of Salvatore Veca is felt. The world is broken – Dead is the world was the title of a beautiful essay by Tony Judt, written before Covid and the war in Ukraine – and it is even more broken today. In order not to be overwhelmed by despair, we need wise people today to help us reflect, and Salvatore was one of them."

(1) - Besussi A. , Galeotti A. E. (ed.) , Ragione, giustizia, filosofia. Scritti in onore di Salvatore Veca, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2013.

(2) - Veca S., Qualcosa di sinistra, Milano, Feltrinelli, April 2019.

(3) - Sen, A., Development as Freedom, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

(4) - Rawls J., A Theory of Justice, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Theory of Justice; edited by Maffettone S., translated by Santini U., Milan: Feltrinelli, 1982).

(5) - It was Veca himself who introduced the discussion of Rawls' theories of justice into Italian philosophical culture with the volume La società giusta (Milan: il Saggiatore 1982, 1988 2^ ed., 2010 3^ expanded ed.) and who elaborated and developed his theoretical perspective in Questioni di giustizia (Parma: Pratiche 1985) and Una filosofia pubblica (Milan: Feltrinelli 1986, 1987 2^ ed.). Recently, studies consistent with Veca's approach to Rawls have been re-proposed by Sebastiano Maffettone (Rawls: an introduction, Laterza, 2010.2019, Rawls, Polity Press, 2010.) considered the moral heir of Veca's thought on normative theories.

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