“…in studying any complex process in which there are two or more contradictions, we must devote every effort to finding its principal contradiction. Once this principal contradiction is grasped, all problems can be readily solved.” –
Mao Tse-tung, “On Contradiction,” (August 1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 332.
Italy is the place, that we the people hugely admire. We deeply love it indifferently from who we are: Italians, emigrants, immigrants or demanding tourists. We love it genuinely because it gives us poweful emotions and touching memories. At the same time, we the people repeatedly complain about Italy’s unfavorable politics, too high taxes, social exclusion, or, for example, trains in a constant delay. We do complain, because due to our high expectations regarding Italy, we the people sometimes feel disappointed, and hence irritated, or even desperate. Yet, inspite of these somewhat contradictory emotions, we the people simply adore Belpaese, enjoy it, and dearly keep it in the bottom of our hearts. Once and for a life time.
From The Philosophical Point of View…
According to an ancient interpretation of the laws that govern the world, every thing, as well as every event, has its own cause. In other words, everything what happens is determined. On the other hand, according to the Western Democracy, man has complete freedom of choice and the world is full of infinite possibilities, whilst the doubt reppresents an antidote to absolute truths. This is a dilemma concerning our relationship with life, our anxiety about change, experience and knowledge.
So why does Italy, this spectacular and wonderful Belpaese, raise in us, the people, quite contradictory emotions? Because Italy is the country full of contradictions. It’s the contradictions of Italy that determine our freedom of choice and the possibilities to act. The contradictions make out of a doubt a common sense, whilst the contradictory common sense is perceived as normal.
Great Contradictions of Italy
From The Historical Point of View…
Italy was born out of contradiction. At Plombières, Cavour, a Piedmont statist, and Napoleon III marked the geographical boundaries on the map to define the French intervention against the Austrians. The historic moment of undeniable importance, however, was of interest to only a handful of Italians… The North Italian peasants voted for the referendum since were forced to put a cross in favour of scattering middlemen and bourgeois who desired a wider commercial space. In the South, the Unification was perceived with even less importance: one master was just replacing the other.
The whole history of Italy is characterized by contradictions. Despite the Unification, Italy has always remained somewhat internally divided between the North and the South. Two-half of the same nation, officially united but constantly conflicting at the same time. The contradictions between the North and the South are infinite: from industrial development, the economical growth and employment level to the life style and cultural differences. The gap is insurmountable. So, still today, and perhaps even more than ever, Belpaese coexists in two cultural dimensions, as opposed to the national one.
From The Political Point of View…
Pyramid-shaped, these cultural contradictions between the North and the South overlap the contradictions of regional, national and communal nature. As Riccardo Giumelli points out, “The policy is that these differences and the way in which they are resolved nourish the inequality in treatment between powerful and less powerful, between immigrants and Italian citizens, between paid taxes and services received”. Nothing that the Italian people do not know about. Moreover, Italians do complain repeatedly, yet, unfortunately, unnecessarily.
From The Cultural Point of View…
Italy is the wonderland in the narrow sense of the word: with its total of 51 inscribed properties of universal value, Italy holds the record in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. However, only some Italians have visited them all, not to mention that just a handful could list all Italy’s Heritage Sites by memory or tell their story. No wonder, since overwhelming majority of Italians living in Rome are somewhat reluctant to visit Milan or Genoa, Florence or Pisa, and vice versa.
In this way, Italy’s wealthiest and invaluable cultural heritage is highly admired on the global scale, whilst Italians themselves attribute it “little” importance. So, Italy is also a wonderland in the strictly metaphorical sense since the country also holds the record for its intrinsic contradictions inherent in the culture of Belpaese.
From The Economic Point of View…
Some might say that that’s due to small money. In other words, that Italians don’t travel much, since traveling in Italy after the recent financial crisis has become an inaccessible luxury. However, we all know that such assumption has nothing to do with the reality of facts.
True, once Italy faced better times. True, once there was more money in the circulation. The introduction of the Euro, the global financial crisis and mass immigration have destabilized the happy life of Belpaese. Today, Italy faces the corruption and its consequences, the financial controls, high taxes, stratospheric utility bills, whilst a monthly salary of common Italans is little more than a thousand Euros. A meager salary which is barely enough to make it through to the next month.
Yet, if you decide to go out for a dinner to any Italian fancy restaurant, let’s say Saturday night, without making a reservation before, you hardly find a place. In addition, in nine cases out of ten, the waiter will give you a doubtful look at you as if you were a Martian. Am I accidently wrong?
The same thing about room booking for extended weekends (for example, that of 25/04/2017 or 01/05/2017) all over Italy. Let alone room booking in seaside resorts, as well as beach umbrellas and chaise-longues, or even airplane seats (to fly, for example, to Mykonos) during the summer months. Not that the winter holiday period makes an exception. As well as no season in particular. During the year Italians will change the destination, but their interest and propensity to travel will remain the same, and there will be money. Thanks God!
That’s it: essencially, one can not think of Italy if not through the prism of contradiction.
From The National Point of View…
Finally, the centuries-old cultural divergences between the North and the South dissipated in the intrinsic antipathy between “snobbish hypocrites” and “terroni” (with all due respect for interpersonal relationships, where Italians show innate agility in overcoming their own contradictory believes), are further downplayed by mass immigration. Since the mass immigration vigorously rejects any idea of European, and Italian, social integration and assimilation.
So, nowadays in contrast to the exquisite Italian cuisine and classy restaurants Belpaese repletes with numerous “kebabberies” or “Japanese restaurants” that are run by Chinese (on the other hand, everything is made in China, right?). In the same way, the tatty Chinese clothing stores constantly crop up right next to the high fashion Italian boutiques. Whilst while walking long the streets of Belpaese the Italians are the people you see less… They say that Italy, once too beautiful, civilized and educated, is becoming increasingly disordered, unruly and disrespectful. What’s next? Boh.
“Boh” especially because today Italy is not only assisting to nationalist regurgitation but to an anti-patriotic rhetoric as well. And the direct consequence of this phenomenon are thousands of emigrants.
In the end … Italy is the country full of contradictions
According to the latest official data available, in 2015, Italian expatriates amount to 100,000, about half of those are relatively young people (below 40). However, according to unofficial (far more alarming) data, i.e. the result produced by comparison between Italian and foreign data, numbers of Italian expats vary between 250 and 300 thousands.
In addition, according to the Istat report, the share of emigrants graduating with more than 24 years has gone from 11.9% in 2002 to 27.6% from 2002 to 2011 (while the share of emigrants having school education only has declined from 51% to 37.9%, in the same period), thus establishing a double graduate outbreak ratio over the immigrants. As Dylan Emanuele De Michiel notes, about 60 and 70% of young students would like to move abroad.
Don’t you find it contradictory that many Italians abandon Italy, this spectacular Belpaese, to which lots of people worldwide are addicted (by thousands of reasons)? Yet, as we the people know, the Italian emigrants do not get it wrong, after all. Because Italy is the country full of contradictions.
The principal contradiction
Wise Mao Tse-tung stated: “…in studying any complex process in which there are two or more contradictions, we must devote every effort to finding its principal contradiction. Once this principal contradiction is grasped, all problems can be readily solved.” Yet, Italy has not only two contradictions, or ten, since the list of Italy’s contradictions is infinite… Since Italy is the country full of contradictions. Therefore, as I see it, “the principal contradiction” of this spectacular and wonderful Belpaese, remains, and perhaps will remain for centuries, an inextricable mystery …
What do you think is the principal contradiction of Italy? Fell free to share your ideas….