A commentary to the Turin Tecnological Kermesse (Decode Symposium and Festival della Tecnologia).
The approval, by the European Parliament, of Thierry Breton as the candidate of France to the new Commission opens up the necessary debate about a coordinated European policy for digital. I think that this is the key issue of this political phase.
Not everybody is persuaded of that. On the contrary, many tend to deny also now that Europe must start as soon as possible with a new affirmative strategy for catching up the distance accumulated, not only towards America, but also towards China, Russia, India and Israel.
When I have asked, to the panel of the Decode Symposium of 5-6 November, in Nuvola Lavazza, Torino, whether they did not think that Europe needs now a new Institution, and even a “Single Man in Power”, for handling all of the Digital Issues presently at stake, Luca Di Biase answered me in a hurry that, since everything is becoming digital now, my proposal would mean that such person would become “a Fuehrer”. But this is precisely the direction into which all areas of the world are going, not because of a specific ideological choice, but because of the technological evolution of the Digital Era obliges nations and societies to follow that path. In the States, if the “Fuehrer” were not Trump, it would be Kurzweil or Zuckerberg.
In fact, my provocation was not just a strange personal idea, but rather corresponds to a clearly perceived need, shared by a relevant segment of European politics, citizens and think tanks. As written by the European Foreign Relation Council (ECFR), “European countries are increasingly vulnerable to external pressure that prevents them from exercising their sovereignty.” By the way, these pressures have been very heavy since a long time, i.e., since the end of World War II: for example, as concerns the drafting of the new constitutions, the repression of alternative political movements, the stationing of US and USSR forces and armaments in Europe, the impunity of these armed forces and intelligence. However, notwithstanding the end of the Warsaw Pact, the European weakness has never been so striking as now, since at least the competition between US and USSR opened up some spaces of freedom, such as the ones exploited by national-communist parties, by de Gaulle, by the Ostpolitik and by the dissident movements of Eastern Europe.
Taking into account this present situation, the ECFR has written that ” to prosper and maintain their independence in a world of geopolitical competition, Europeans must address the interlinked security and economic challenges other powerful states present – without withdrawing their support for a rules-based order and the transatlantic alliance. This will involve creating a new idea of ‘strategic sovereignty’, as well as creating institutions and empowering individuals that see strategic sovereignty as part of their identity and in their bureaucratic interest. Most fundamentally, the EU needs to learn to think like a geopolitical power”.
2. AI has worsened Europe’s weakness.
As stated by many people, including Hawking, Rees, Musk and Putin, Artificial Intelligence constitutes a fundamental existential risk, i.e., the risk that mankind will cease to exist because intelligent machines will render it useless or even dangerous. This risk is strictly connected with the one of the extinction of Europeans because of their inability to cope with the digital revolution.
Within the above framework, Ulrike Franke has written: “AI’s potential can appear almost limitless. It is not only ‘dual-use’, in the sense that it can be used for both civilian and military applications, but ‘omni-use’, potentially able to influence all elements of life”(such as religion, freedom, human structure, sex, family, politics, economy, work, ethic…).The US, China, and Russia grasp this geopolitic impact of AI and pursue their imperial agendas in recognition of this. The negligence of the Europeans is highly suspect, and connected with the overwhelming nature of American hegemony. As Franke remarks, “the recently published ‘Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence’ takes a clearly geopolitical approach, and emphasises that: ’continued American leadership in AI is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States and to shaping the global evolution of AI in a manner consistent with our Nation’s values, policies, and priorities’. In contrast, the European Commission’s ‘AI Factsheet’ only emphasises the importance of AI in sectors such as healthcare, transport, and public services. “
Contrary to the optimism expressed by Thierry Breton during his hearing in front of the European Parliament, Kai-Fu Lee has claimed that Europe is “not even in the running for bronze AI medal”.
3.A criticism to the vision of Evgeny Morozov and of the Decode Project.
Evgeny Morozov, which was the soul of the Decode Symposium, expressed without hesitation a need for a strong European state intervention against digital capitalism. However, according to my mind, as I told him, his proposed strategy is vague, not drawing all consequences from the “net delusion”. In fact, if “technological sublime” was just the last avatar of the myth of progress, its failure shows also the impossibility to master technology with a “libertarian” approach. The first stumbling block is constituted by the inability of such approach to cope with the fundamental problem of labour’s role in the digital society. In fact, the digital capitalism well described by Morozov and Zuboff consists of a step-by-step take-over of the economic system by an alliance of digital industries and finance. Via their control an all production processes, digital capitalists, in the same moment in which they digitalise productive capital (agriculture, manufacture, services), they become the beneficial owners of the same. E.g., in substituting manpower with machines, the digital industry becomes the main supplier of the manufacturing industry, and, in providing also the services of Big Data, it substitutes their management staff (which exercised the control over the businesses), and the administrative complex of the State (which exercised the control over economy. At the end, digital giants will remain the only employers of the machines, carrying out the work of all society.
The form of democratic participation favoured by the Decode Project are helpful for maintaining a certain amount of participation at local level, but cannot impede that the giants of the web take over the real infrastructures of society, i.e. the large continental States and the manufacturing complex, nor address the question of power on the big decisions presently taken by States and Corporations.
In a realistic view, decentralisation, as favoured by the Decode Project, would play a positive role positive in a digital society as in any other society, but will never be integral, because certain fundamental decisions, such as the one about the social model and the one of war and peace have always been centralised, and always will be. We cannot leave them to the digital giants and to Big Data.
So, at the end of the day, if we follow the suggestions of the Decode Project, we will have a concentration of political and economic power in a few digital capitalists, and probably a certain vague and useless decentralisation of municipal life. The main problem, the one to transfer the profits of the digital complex to the unemployed population would remain unsolved. The idea of “citizenship income”, even if it would be really be implemented, would be unsatisfactory, before all because it would involve the whole population, but will not solve the problem of power. Citizens have power only if they have a role in the production and management cycle, and this role will not be guaranteed by participation just in municipal life, but, on the contrary, by the one in production processes. Whilst physical production will be concentrated in machines, immaterial processes (or, better, decision-making processes) should be concentrated in humans.
4.Europe’s Digital Sovereignty
Because of the need to assert the people’s sovereignty over the digital-military complex, people’s participation should be guaranteed not just at local level, but also, and above all, Europe.
Unfortunately, because of the omni-pervasive impact of AI, digital subordination of Europe just increases the former general kind of subalternity. As the Brueghel think Tank puts it, “Europeans like to believe the European Union has the collective economic size and capacity to determine its own economic destiny. But the behaviour of others global powers is increasingly calling this ability into question. China and the United States, especially, do not separate economic interests from geopolitical interests in the same way the EU does. They are increasingly using economic connections, from cyberspace to financial links, to gain geopolitical advantage or to serve geopolitical goals. Europe’s economic sovereignty is at stake”.
Tis problem is tightly linked to the one of participation, shown by the debates inside the Decode Symposium. In fact, as, in the West, digital giants are all American, the expropriation of all production structures from their former owners amounts, in the long term, to the colonisation of Europe’s economy by America, as foreseeen by Lev Trockij already during World War I. This problem is worsened, now, by the fact that, for being able to maintain a minimum of balance with America, European are favouring the presence, beside the American multinationals, of Chinese, Arab, Indian and Russian ones. This has led to a substantial absence of managerial skills in Europe, both in the private and in the public sector. An extreme paradox is constituted by the fact that the Italian State, after having privatised ILVA considering the private sector as more effective than the public one, and after the bankruptcy of the Italian investors, has attracted an Indian group, which, immediately thereafter, would be happy to flee away, but which the Italian State pretends to “oblige” do hold its investment in Italy.
As I personally recalled during the Festival della Tecnologia at the Politecnico di Torino, Emmanuel Macron has recently declared: “My goal is to recreate a European sovereignty in AI” . And, as ECFR has written, “the EU has the market power, defence spending, and diplomatic heft to end this vulnerability and restore sovereignty to its member states. But, unless it acts soon, Europe may become not a player in the new world order but the chessboard on which great powers compete for power and glory”. “This means fundamentally rethinking the purpose of European integration. In an earlier era, the main tools of EU policymaking served quite different purposes than they do today. Defence and security policy was about demilitarising Europe rather than building capabilities and a capacity for action. Competition policy was about eliminating state aid and unfair competition within the EU rather than defending European consumers and companies from the predatory behaviour of actors outside Europe’s borders. Equally, European technology and research policies were about redistributing resources within the EU rather than matching the best in a global technology race”.
5.AI and Defence
Paradoxically, recovering European sovereignty would be easier in the defence sector than in the civil one, because cyberwar is less expensive than traditional warfare based upon a mix of infantry, marine, air forces, missile nuclear forces and covert operations.
Ulrike Franke writes, for this purpose, that “ignoring the impact that AI can have on warfare is not a viable long- or even short-term approach. Indeed, there may even be opportunities for European countries that they have not yet acknowledged: the new competitive landscape could, in fact, benefit middle powers, as they will have greater capacity to compete than they did in the creation of the complex – and expensive – military platforms used today, such as precision-guided missiles and nuclear-powered submarines. Political scientist Michael Horowitz argues: ‘As long as the standard for air warfare is a fifth-generation fighter jet, and as long as aircraft carriers remain critical to projecting naval power, there will be a relatively small number of countries able to manufacture cutting-edge weapons platforms. But with AI, the barriers to entry are lower, meaning that middle powers could leverage algorithms to enhance their training, planning, and, eventually, their weapons systems. That means AI could offer more countries the ability to compete in more arenas alongside the heavy hitters.’ Horowitz even goes as far as to say that it is ‘possible, though unlikely, that AI will propel emerging powers and smaller countries to the forefront of defense innovation while leaving old superpowers behind’”.
The festival has had the huge advantage of bringing all these problems to the forefront in a region still obsessed by the idea of “factory” and “manufacturing”. Fortunately, the simultaneous news about the German crisis, the creation in Berlin of a Tesla plant, the FCA-PSA agreements which oresee the control by the French (and the Chinese) over the FCA group, the non solution of the crises of Embraco, Mahle, Pernigotti…have shown to everybody that, either Piedmont choses new types of specialisation , or it will disappear as an economic subject. The Technology kermess constitutes a tentative to go in the right direction.
The number and qualities of the interventions on all matters concerning the connection between technology and society have been exceptional. The historical and philosophical trends of the digital civilisation have been outlined, i.a,, by Elena Loewenthal, Laura Curino, Massimo Leone, Luca Peyron, Davide Sisto, Dario Voltolini, Derrick de Kerkhove, Gaetano di Tondo, Pier Paolo Peruccio, Vincenzo Giorgio, Denis Maggiorotto, Eleonora Monge, Valerio di Tana, Giancarlo Genta, Paolo Riberi, Claudio Allocchio, Elia Bellussi, Vittorio Bertola, Andrea Casalegno, Arturo di Corinto, Francesco Ruggiero, Marcello Fois, Giuseppe Cambiano, Christian Greco, Cecilia Pennaccini.
The philosophical and political challenges of digital technologies has been outlined by Pierluigi Fagan, Stefano Quintarelli, Geert Lovink, Steve Graham, Simone Arcagni, Ugo Pagallo, Niculae Sebe, Tommaso Valletti, Enrico Donaggio, Franco Bernabè, Marcello Chiaberge, Viola Schiaffonati, Gianmarco Veruggio, Paolo Benanti, Marina Geymonat, Alessandro Montelero, Carlo Blangino, Francesco Garibaldo, Tatiana Mazali, Nicola Scarlatelli, Juan Carlos De Martin, Cristofer Cepernich, Fabio Chiusi, Paolo Gerbaudo, Valeria Cirillo, Cinzia Minzolini, Giulio de Pietra, Deborah De Angeli, Enzo Mazza, Marco Ricolfi, Peppino Ortoleva, Stefano Geuna, Massimo Inguscio, Giammarco Molinari, Simona Morini.
A so wide range of speakers brings about obviously a wide spectrum of ideas and of positions. Unfortunately, the fact that all these specialists, representing an elite in our society, have been able to acquire their skills and renown having worked, directly or indirectly, for the digital giants, has unfortunately had a negative impact on their capability to be fully objective, and as critical as necessary, towards the obscure prospects of the ongoing trend towards the Society of Total Control.
This situation has been addressed openly by Carlos de Martin, who has recognized that, even in University, research on digital matters is financed mainly by the US giants. But this is just a part of a general landscape where all research is financed by multinational corporations, what explains the wide-ranging conformism of today’s culture.
Therefore, criticisms are always very prudent. Especially, nobody wants to arrive at any practical conclusion, from a cultural, historical, political and legislative point of view. Those, who, like we do, raise too many questions, are considered troubleshooters. Their questions are not properly addressed. I recall, among others, the questions concerning the proviso not to try to insert ethics into the programs for machines; European Digital Sovereignty (which, i.a., was supposed to be the object of the Decode Symposium); the need to define the concepts of digital revolution not only with reference to Western cultures, but also to the Eastern ones; technological unemployment; especially, the question of who will take care of all these matters at a European level.
The final mock trial, devoted to a “process to technology”, shows this excessive prudence. As the new Rector of the Politecnico, Guido Saracco, has stated candidly at the end, he could not, in his position, condemn technology.
- A European Sovereignty Strategy
Taking into account the links of European digital sovereignty with the Common External and Defence policy, ECFR has suggested that the new High Representative (Josep Borrell) is charged to work out a comprehensive strategy in this direction, but the mission letter of Ursula von der Leyn is much more prudent in this regard. Personally, I wonder whether the High Commissioner is the most appropriated subject for this coordination task, which, as said before, is multidisciplinary. In fact, as the ECFR writes: “Principally, any such strategy will need to integrate geo-economic and strategic policymaking. Currently, European economic governance purposefully ignores geopolitical considerations. So, for example, EU state aid rules make it difficult to channel support to emerging strategic industries such as AI, thereby allowing other powers to gain an advantage in such areas”.
From a professional point of view, Thierry Breton is more fit for the purpose, but his conflicts of interest might be an obstacle. These are the reasons why I expressed the above provocative suggestion to create a new Institution, instead of the may already existing and of the others which the European think tanks are suggesting. In fact, the solution proposed by ECFR is a network of inter-Commission committees for coordinating the different aspects of this tremendous challenge. First of all, a Strategic Sovereignty Committee within the European Commission and an EU Task Force on Strategic Industries and Technologies. Moreover, “in the economic realm, the EU needs to create a Financial Sanctions Enforcement Office and to ensure that all member states are represented on the board of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. The EU should also adopt asymmetric countermeasures by setting out a formal legal process for enforcing the EU Blocking Regulation through investigations into companies that withdraw from a country in response to non-European sanctions. The EU could mobilise its competition policy instruments to expand state aid control beyond European companies, and bolster the euro’s international role by fostering deep and integrated capital and banking markets, creating a euro area safe asset, and extending currency swap lines to partner central banks. The EU could improve its AI capacity by leveraging its significant regulatory power through shared, anonymised European databases for research, as well as an EU seal for ethical AI.
As it also needs an effective cyber security institution with centralised functions, Europe could transform the EU Agency for Network and Information Security to that end. An investigative service focusing on foreign interference would also be valuable. “
I may agree that, within the present framework, dominated by power struggles between member States and European Parties for the allotment of competences to their national Commissioners, a system of committees coordinated by somebody (why not, by the President) is probably the best result that may be achieved. However, this Commission should work out at least a new legal framework which puts “under the same umbrella”, among other things, a European Academy, the EFSI, the existing European Strategic Fund, a new European Intelligence, a European Investment Fund for ITC, a Regulator for the Digital industries. This agency should also rethink and coordinate according to a sole design the very numerous actions under way by the most different entities: international treaties for the regulation of digital; the EU regulations concerning data and robotics; antitrust concerning ITC; Internet tax; financing of EU digital industries and academic research.
Earlier this year, the European Council on Foreign Relations had commissioned YouGov to carry out surveys covering more than 60,000 people across Europe. These included finding out their views on the foreign policy challenges the EU faces. As ECFR writes, “The study reveals a fundamental shift in Europeans’ views of the world. Although there is widespread public support for the idea of the EU becoming a cohesive global actor, there is also a growing divergence between the public and the foreign policy community on several key issues – ranging from trade and the transatlantic relationship to EU enlargement. “The most shocking finding of the survey is that, contrary to what all the establishments constantly thought and said, a large majority of the citizens of all member states, in case of a conflict between US and Russia, would opt for neutrality.
Precisely for this reason is it necessary that the European digital system is disconnected, at least potentially, from the American one. The new Russian law follows precisely that path. Without impeding now the utilisation of the “American” World Wide Web by Russian users, it renders possible, in a case of conflict, to disconnect the Russian web from the general Internet, for the same reason that, since ever, in case of war, there has been always a military censorship on mails sent across the national borders.
Paradoxically, this is already the main reason of dispute between the EU and the USA in the digital sector. After that, in the Schrems Case, the European Court of Justice had condemned the Commission, obliging it to renegotiate with the US, in substitution of the Safe Harbour Agreement (not complying with the DGPR), the Commission had signed with the US a new agreement, the Privacy Shield, which was again not compliant, as declared by the European Parliament, and is giving rise to a new action in front of the Luxemburg Court. Why is it non compliant? Because, under the signed copy of the agreement, the US in any case the application of the agreement is subject to the US defence laws (which allow the secret services to have access, with a certain procedure, to the files stored in any part of the world, by US multinational). It is always an effect of the US “military censorship law” for the time of war, which has never been suspended because, from Word War I up to now, the US has never ceased to be at war against somebody. Under these circumstances, it is clear that the privacy of European citizens intellectual property of European Companies and the military secrets of European Armies will never be safe, until their data will be stored in Europe, by companies or public entities integrally subject to European Law. This renders many of the discussion under way about digital unrealistic, and emphasizes the urgency of an implementation of the ideas of Macron about European Digital Sovereignty.
The new Huawei campus in Dong Guang, in the middle of the new megacity of the Pearl River (as large as Germany), will host the headquarters of the Huawei Group. The campus consists of full scale perfect copies of 12 historical centers of European towns, chosen in a non trivial way, i.e., avoiding the most commercialised locations, such as the Pisa Tower or the San Marco Square, and, instead, in search for hidden pearls of European culture, from Verona to the Heidelberg castle, up to the Alhambra and al Generalife of Granada (moreover Paris, Burgundy, Fribourg, Český Krumlov, Budapest…)-places that even Europeans often ignore-. This “ideal town”, built according to the examples of Pienza, Sabbioneta, Palmanova and Zamość, constitutes in itself a well-conceived challenge to the present non-existence of a European ICT culture.
It represents also the most recent example of the spirit by which China, or at least a part of it, is facing the challenges of modernity, a spirit which is evidently traditional, or, more precisely, “axial” (from the idea of an “axial era”, to which Jaspers, Eisenstadt, Kojève and Assman have made reference). This spirit is made still more evident by the continuous quotations of Chinese and European antique, starting from the Clay Army and the Great Wall , not to speak of the Hanfu movement, and arriving at the clonation, everywhere, of European monuments, with a devotion that we do not have here in Europe.
1. Ren Zhengfei’s Offer
Also the offer of Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s CEO, to sell (or, better, to licence) to a foreign competitor his technology, falls doubtless within that “perennialist” mood. According to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”, the objective of a commander is “To conquer the Tian Xia without killing anybody”. Already here we can appreciate the differences with Google. In fact, in their book “The New Digital Era”, two board members of Google, Schmidt and Cohen, explained how they had worked out together, in a Baghdad destroyed by American bombs, the newest Google strategy, which would have been “to substitute Lockheed in leading America in the conquest of the world”.
It is said that also Ren would have incited his shareholders-staff members to move towards world conquest. However, he has not linked this program to a military or ideological agenda, but, as it seems, to a cultural vision.
In a certain sense, President Trump is right in thinking that the ongoing economic and technological by-pass, by China, of the United States, is due to the ability of Chinese people in copying the West. In fact, all civilisations which have progressed and won have massively “copied” their predecessors (Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Macedonia, Rome…).All extra-European countries (America, Russia, Turkey, Japan, India, after the colonial period, have massively copied Europe, starting from religion (Brahmo-Samaj, Bahai, Taiping), going further to ideology (nationalism, monarchy, liberalism, marxism, fascism), and economy (free market, socialism), for arriving at technology (ITC, high speed trains, ecology, space). If we want to qualify this as a “theft”, well, theft would be the equivalent for “history”.The USA are the most blatant case of a continuous “theft”, having “stolen” their land to Indians, their freedom from blacks, the North American territory from European settlers, their ideas from Britons and Hiberians, culture and technology from German and Jews…
The idea of a “New Europe” in China represents a response to the ideas of Hegel on the “End of History” with Europe and to the one of neo-Hegelians that America is the “real” end of History. If the Spirit of the World follows westwards the course of the sun, then, after America, it will enlighten again China (and Eurasia).
The Chous: a Chinese-Italian family
2.Trump’s Struggle to Curb China
In any case, that eternal will to emulate other peoples had never been pushed forward so insistently as in the case of the China of the last 30 years, arriving up to cloning the very hidden idea of modernity, the revolution of intelligent machines. But China is able to do more than what USA could ever have dreamed, because China includes in itself, under a sole leadership, a universe which is larger than the whole West, a universe including top technologies and primitive societies, a large cultivated bourgeoisie and a very numerous Lumpenproletariat, wide bureaucratic and managerial middle classes and a myriad of SME: that “unity in diversity” which everybody extols, but that cannot be achieved elsewhere, in countries of widespread homologation. On the contrary, China’s empire has been in a position to play on several economic tables, from war communism to the most extreme laissez-faire, from maoism to international finance, from free market to “military keynesism”. Still now, China is in a position to mobilise in a differentiated ways millions of migrant workers as well as officers, of entrepreneurs and of scientists, on all terrains and on the most different economic landscapes . In such way, it has been able to escape the bottlenecks of a “mono-thematical” development path, such as Soviet-type planning and/or Anglo-saxon neo-liberalism.
Trump, having abandoned (as it was overdue) the hypocrisy of the preceding Presidents, is acting rationally when he, as the defender of the United States, tries openly to put a brake to this unprecedented growth of China. However, he cannot escape the consequences of the limited scale of his country and the -albeit weak- “checks and balances” which still limit his freedom of movement -first of all, the existence of the European Union (which he considers as his worst enemy)-.It is not a case if he is making every effort for imitating China, starting from concentrating all powers in himself and from deleting the few veto powers remained to Europeans. It is also normal, in the logic of international power struggles, that Trump succeeds partially to curb the growth of China together with the welfare of the rest of the world, but it is very unlikely that his successes becomes decisive.
In fact, since 4000 years, East has been transferring technologies westwards (agriculture, writing, papyrus, purpure, strategies, silk, potteries, glass, compass, gunpowder, printing, paper money), and 500 that the West transfers technologies eastwards (metallurgy, steam and internal combustion engines, newspapers, cars, radio, movies, energy, television, space, ITC). It is a sort of “communicating vessels”. The contractual forms may vary ad infinitum, but, in substance, it is still not possible, as long as intelligent machines will not impose their own world empire, that, in the whole world, only one supplier exists for any essential object of demand. A similar situation would in any case generate a war aiming at the forceful appropriation of the new technologies. China has just now prevented a similar strike from the part of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, from one side resisting the dissolving influences of its peripheries, and, from another, creating, as it has done, Chinese homologues of the “Big Five” (Baidoo, Alibaba, Tencent).
The first Internet, Minitel, was European
3.The End of the Silicon Valley Monopoly
After having created an alternative to the Silicon Valley, China is offering to the rest of the world an opportunity for real competition, creating two parallel ITC ecosystems, not limited to “either bloc’s” territory, but worldwide. Paradoxically, the existence of a competition at least worldwide is a traditional pretention of Western “free market” rhetoric and one of the bases of both US ad EU competition policy. In abidance with this principle, US and UE enforcers had not hesitated, in the XX century, to impose “orders to divest” to Standard Oil, SKF and General Electric. Well: since nobody in the world dares now to issue a (badly needed) “order to divest” against the Big Fives, enjoying an absolute power everywhere, Ren has issued against himself an “order to divest”, thus supplying an example which may have a disruptive impact worldwide. If Huawei has felt obliged to break-up its own monopoly, why should the Big Five not do the same?
In view of the foregoing, it is impossible to prevent Chinese technologies to flow into the rest of the world ,even if this constitutes an outrageous challenge to the hegelian and weberian dogma that the economic development of modernity is a direct and unescapable consequence of the puritan (American) revolution. This dogma, evoked a long time ago by Marx as a justification for slavery in the States and, by Rostow, as a basis for his “Development Theory”, represents the “hidden engine” of American power, in the same way as theology represented, according to Benjamin, the hidden engine of marxism. If this dogma would fall, not just the West, but also modernity, and even the United States, would fall apart.
Olivetti and Chou: prematurely disappeared
In the last few days, myriads of hypotheses have been worked out for explaining Ren’s proposals. Most of them are inspired by eternal anti-Chinese biases. First of all, the suspicion that the proposal is “a tactical trick”, or that it is the evidence that Huawei is desperate, for not being able to sell enough mobiles and other equipment in the West.
The truth is that the whole life of today’s technologies is based upon IPR transfer contracts: nobody has been able to exploit forever an invention under a monopoly; since ever there have been an “exhaustion of rights”, a “trickle-down effect”, licences and know how agreements. This contractual and commercial transfer of technologies has represented since ever a physiological form of international technical cooperation, albeit some “pathological” cases of forced transfer of technology have existed, like the capture and deportation of von Brown and of Antonov. China is trying precisely to avoid that things may follow again that course.
Moreover, the transformations under way in world economy are so fast, that the role of Chine, as the focal point of this economy, cannot but change without interruption, so that what was true yesterday is no more true today. If China had been transformed in the ‘90ies, by US multinationals, by the delocalisation of their productions, into the “manufacturer of the world”, China is new becoming (always in symbiosis with Western economic milieus), “the brain of the world”. In such situation, it is no more so important, for China, that telecom products are manufactured within the Huawei universe: what is strategic is to govern the international supply chain as a qualified partner for its players. In the same way as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba already do.
A licence of the G5 technology, as liberal as it may be, would not put an end to Huawei’s “intellectual leadership”, whose force derives precisely from continuous innovation. The Dong Guan campus will be used precisely for nurturing innovation worldwide. The fact of having been built “copying” the bulwarks of European culture (and not of the American, Russian, islamic or Indian), shows that the model, and the natural partner, for these developments is Europe. This for two reasons: one is historical, since DA QIN has represented since ever the mirror image pole of the Silk Roads, at which China has looked since the times of the Former Han; the other, geopolitical, because Europe is, today, the mirror-image of China, and therefore is complementary to it in culture, politics, technology and economy.
Olivetti: a piemontese entrepreneur with universal ambitions
5.Challenging the Cultural and Technological Backwardness of Europe
From the technological point of view, Europe appears, at the down of the Era of Intelligent Machines, as an underdeveloped country: “If it is true that Europe has, in extra-UE commerce, a positive balance of manufacturing export as a whole, it shows a deficit as to high technology productions. In 2015, the European deficit has been of 63,5 billion Euro, especially, but not only, towards China: also the United States, Korea, Japan, and even Vietnam and Thailand, have achieved a an export surplus in high tech products towards the European Union… “(Francesca and Luca Balestrieri, “Guerra Digitale”). As the cited authors are writing, “The discontinuity marking the beginning of the second phase of the digital revolution should offer theoretically to Europe the opportunity for a change of direction: in the new mix of converging technologies, the European excellence in sectors like robotics, automation and -in general- manufacturing 4.0, could foster the birth of new global champions, having their roots in Europe. The critical element consists in the ability to work out an effective European scale industrial policy.”
According to me, the absence of Europe from high tech is a consequence of a generally favourable geopolitical and intellectual environment (i.e. of motivated vanguard engineers, such as von Braun, Turing, Olivetti, Chou, or, in the US, Wiener, von Neumann, Esfandiari, Kurzweil…; of initiatives like Minitel or Programma 101; of an independent military decision-making center like DARPA, financing ITC as intrinsically “dual”; of intelligence networks apt to prevent the theft of technologies).Perhaps, also of secret agreements with the US.
Notwithstanding all that, if, in the XX century, European countries still could have hoped to maintain their “European lifestyle” while remaining simple “followers” of the US, they cannot nurture such hope after the digital revolution, dominated by the Silicon Valley, Dong Guan, Xiong’an, Bangaluru, Internet providers,digital intelligence, Big dat, quantic computing and 5G.
In Europe, nobody has yet understood that today’s societies have overcome the axle-ages logics, as well as the ones of modernity, based upon religion, humanism, rationality, law, personality, freedom, state, industry, society. Those elements have been substituted with ICT, machine dominance, “Big Data”, “hair trigger alert”, social media, Big Five, virtual mankind. Who is not in a position to master this complex world will step quickly down, to the level of a passive object, of a Guinea pig, of a mere archaeological fund, from which to dig new ideas (as it happens in the Dong Guan campus).
Today, US, China, Russia, India, Israel, Iran, have their own Big Data, their own digital intelligence, their own ICT pundits, their own OTTs…We don’t. For this reason, we have lost any possible geopolitical status and even the capability to survive economically and culturally.
Vega: Italy’s Luncher, is a part of the European Arianespace Consortium
6.Let’s Build-Up a European ICT Agency
Escaping this decadence spiral requires a cultural shock and new technologies. Both of them could come from Dong Guan : from one side, regenerating our pride of belonging to “DA QIN”, the other major pole, together with Asia, of human civilisation, and, from the other side, utilising 5G technologies, which represent the ICT of the future. For both things, we need China.
As Francesca and Luca Balestrieri are writing, “The forecasts of the next few years include so many variables, that bi-polarity does not appear to be a destiny necessarily scratch us by the logic of a new cold war: although, at present, the scene is dominated by the US and China, the second phase of digital revolution is still open to a possible wider dissemination of industrial power and to a more sophisticated geopolitical landscape.”
Having in mind such objectives and such strategy, Europe should organise a negotiating package with Huawei, to which not only the European ITC multinationals, but also other subjects may be involved, first of all the European Union, possibly as such. I cannot see why, as we have a European Space Agency, we could not have also a European ICT Agency, which operates, directly or via financial vehicles (such as Aerospatiale), as a player on the market of digital products and services, acquiring premium technology where it is available, and creating the new (and today not existing) ruling classes of the European ICT society, in the same way as, for the design of “Programma 101”, Adriano Olivetti had hired (upon recommendation of Enrico Fermi), the Italian-Chinese engineer Mario Chou.
After the deception of the neo-liberal and post-humanist rhetorics, everywhere a very interventionist mood towards ICT is gaining momentum, alongside the examples of the US DARPA and of the Chinese Committee for the Unification of Civil and Military. Well: if even Great Powers need such instruments for disputing mutually about the technological world dominance, imagine if we Europeans do not need a similar approach for avoiding to be reduced to the role of “digital primitives”, as a consequence of the most spectacular “market failure” of world history.
Also we must build-up our humanist-digital campus, including both the best traditions of all phases of Europe’s history and a selected anthology of all cultures of the world.
On March 23th, in Rome, the Italian version of the book if President Xi Jinping,”The Governance of China”, (“Governare la Cina”) has been presented by The State Council Information Office of China, China International Publishing Group (CIPG) The Chinese Embassy in Italy
Foreign Languages Press and Giunti Editore S.p.A, in Palazzo Colonna, Rome. Xi Jinping’s thought, as it has been expressed in the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and in the book, is focussed on the idea that China is entitled, and obliged, because of its unique history, scale and power, to participate on an equal footing in decisions concerning the future of mankind.
Notwithstanding the frequent comparisons between the “Americam Exceptionalism” and the idea of “Zhong Guo”, China’ approach is different from the one adopted by the United States, which, according to a constant tradition, starting from George Washington, Emerson and Whitman, have conceived themselves as “the legislators of mankind”, so deliberately understating the contributions of different cultural traditions.
- Wu Wei
The concept underlying the idea of the participation of China in world affairs is the typically Asian idea of “Wu Wei” (Sanskrit “ahimsa”= “action without effort, or violence”), which means that, though wise men may act in society and history, their action is not direct, nor violent, but, on the contrary, aims at a long term impact of their wisdom, of their self- control, of their example and of their teachings.
Things have changed since the times of Lao Tse, but this has not made Wu Wei obsolete; on the contrary, that approach is still more needed now than before, because digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence have emphasized the immaterial aspects of geopolitics.
In reality, it is impossible, for this kind of reasons, to address today’s existential risks (such as the taking over, by machines, of control over mankind), either via a XX century approach, or through a sort of technological determinism. Relevant solutions can come only from a higher level of wisdom, such as the one of the Confucian Junzi, of the Daoist Xian,of the Buddhist Rshi or of the Christian Saints.
The crucial question for the survival of mankind is its capability to maintain control over the complex technological apparatus, enhancing, to the maximum extent as possible, the positive qualities of mankind, in such a way that decisions will be taken, also in the future, at human level, whereas only their implementation will be a task for machines. The symbol of this control is the gigantic robot Mazinga, steered by a child hidden at its heart.
2.China’s unique achievements
China’s ancient culture and strong organisational structure allows the country to achieve a high level of understanding of the ongoing processes, beyond temporary moods and ideologies, permitting to it an effective decision-making process. This is shown, i.a., by the unique achievements of China in the last 50 years, after the massive destructions caused by one hundred years of wars (Opium Wars, Taiping and Boxers uprisings, North Campaign, Long March, Japanese invasion, civil war, Korean, China-India and Vietnam wars).
In the last few years, China has become the country with the highest gross internal revenue, the main holder of foreign debt (including US and Italian debts), as well the most advanced country in the areas of telecommunications, quantic computing, high speed railways and hypersonic missiles.
Invoking his country’s ancient past in order to define its future, Xi makes, in his book, a cultural appeal that fashions a historical continuity between Confucian values and contemporary “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. With the formal systematization of Xi Jinping’s thought in the CCP’s Constitution ,a new political era has emerged in China. The present-day merging of Confucianism with another dominant logic—Chinese Marxism—mirrors, at least tangentially, an ancient Chinese antecedent, when the Ming and later Qing governments codified Neo-Confucianism as a guiding convention within their respective administrations.
Also from a commercial point of view, China has shown a unique capability to cope with the challenges of today’s world, governed by digitalisation, by the creation of multinational corporations such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Huawei and ZTE. Up to now, only China has succeeded in this effort, what has not yet happened with Russia, India and Europe. Therefore, the existence of a strong Chinese digital industry is the best guarantee against the risk of a monopoly in the area of Artificial Intelligence.
Gradually growing into an iconic brand in Europe, China Railway Express, which connects 59 Chinese cities with 49 European cities in 15 countries, made 6,363 trips in 2018, surging 73 percent from 2017, according to the China Railway Corporation. The Belt and Road Initiative will liaise the Chinese high speed trains network (the largest of the world), with the existing TEN-T corridors of the European Union, bringing new business opportunities to crisis-ridden Europe.
3.Negotiations with Italy and Europe
On 23 of March, the MOU about the Belt and Road Initiative has been signed in Rome with the Italian Government. This MOU, strictly compliant with several European documents dealing with the relationships with China and with connectivity with Asia, opens up a large spectrum of cooperation opportunities in areas such as worldwide policies, cultural exchanges, joint industrial projects, the promotion of Italian style, and, especially, connectivity.
In particular, the MOU gives a concrete content to China’s interest for Italy as a western terminal for the Belt and Road Initiative, defining an interest for the ports of Genoa and Trieste. This choice has a paramount impact on Northern Italy, presently ridden by a 0% growth as a consequence of the worldwide slowing down of economy, caused by Trump’s trade wars. Northern Italy is nearer to the Suez Channel than Rotterdam and Hamburg. Therefore, it is important that ships may be downloaded there, so better serving not only Northern Italy, but also the Alpine Region and Central-Eastern Europe. The Chinese cooperation will speed up the renovation of those two Italian ports, for making them apt to convey a heavy burden of maritime traffic.
On the 9th of April, the Chinese Government will meet the European Union, many members of which have already signed MOUs similar to the one signed in Rome.
The meeting is important because it should speed up a commercial treaty, including the investments regimes, between China and Europe, due to substitute commercial agreements in force with each member State, and overdue since a long time because of the ever changing international political and business climate.
A tight connection with China is badly needed by the EU because of the present economic crisis and for facing US duties. Already the purchase of 290 airplanes from Airbus, the European aerospace champion, has been an important help, by China, to the ailing European economy. Moreover, completion of the TEN-T, especially for what concerns Central and Eastern Europe, is delayed. The Chinese contribution should help Europe to carry out the proposed programs.
4.A cultural Silk Road
As it has been made clear in Xi Jinping’s book, as well as in the other book presented in Rome in these days, “La Chiesa in Cina”, with the participation of Italy’s Prime Minister Conte, as well as in the speeches exchanged during Xi Jinping’s visit, the core meaning of the Italian adhesion to the Belt and Road initiative is neither economic, nor political, but rather cultural. China and Italy (“Da Qin”) two of the oldest civilisations in the World, have influenced immensely the Western and the Eastern parts of the world for three thousand years. Their mutual relationships have shaped the ancient Silk Road, with Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci, Giovanni Castiglione, ecc…
These countries have an important role to play also in the future of Mankind, thanks to their ancient wisdom.
The Belt and Road initiative is important for us because it gives a concrete content to this ancient relationship.
Il piano degli orari della Via della Seta disegnato dall’ osservatorio Tav come se fosse un metrò
Siamo stati educati, almeno a partire dalla 2° Guerra Mondiale, a pensare che l’unico obiettivo seriamente perseguibile da parte di una società fosse l’incremento della disponibilità di beni materiali. Certo, vi erano profonde differenze fra coloro che proponevano questo benessere come realizzabile attraverso un ordinato sviluppo dei ceti produttivi in base alle leggi consolidate nella storia, e quelli che sostenevano, invece, che il pieno sviluppo delle energie produttive si sarebbe potuto ottenere soltanto con una rigida organizzazione economica diretta da un partito progressista; fra coloro che sostenevano che il benessere dovesse essere distribuito sal mercato o dallo Stato. Tuttavia, l’obiettivo finale restava lo stesso: “case, scuole, ospedali”, ottenuti attraverso l’industrializzazione: in una parola, “il Progresso” (Taguieff, “Le sens du Progrès”). Tanto il “miracolo economico” occidentale quanto la “costruzione del socialismo” ad Est furono alimentati da questo obiettivo. Fu un periodo di duro lavoro, e anche di repressione, ma che suscita tutt’ora, in coloro che l’hanno vissuto, un ricordo positivo, in primo luogo come reazione agli orrori e alle privazioni della 2° Guerra Mondiale, e, in secondo, per l’apparente successo della ricostruzione, confrontato con la “stagnazione” che seguì, in tempi diversi, all’ Est e all’ Ovest. Non per nulla le televisioni di tutta Europa continuano a propinarci ancor oggi spettacoli che richiamano i fasti provinciali di Sanremo e dei cori dell’ Armata Rossa, del Commonwealth e dell’ Ostalgie.
Oggi, però, dopo mezzo secolo di sotterranea erosione dell’economia europea, dalla morte di Olivetti allo shock petrolifero, dal debito polacco alla “Stagnazione” brezhneviana, dalle delocalizzazioni ai “defaults”, dalle sanzioni ai dazi, nessuno crede più che il futuro prometta all’ Europa un mondo di ricchezza crescente. Le statistiche sono lì a dimostrare che la quota dell’economia mondiale che si muove al di fuori dell’ Europa aumenta costantemente. Anzi, sono tutti convinti che la nostra situazione continuerà a peggiorare, almeno rispetto alla Cina, all’ India e all’ America (anche se nessuno dice veramente perché). Una spiegazione implicita, anche se detta a mezza bocca, è quella della “middle class trap”: quando un Paese raggiunge un certo livello di benessere, non sarebbe più competitivo e perderebbe anche l’incentivo a migliorare. Spiegazione che reggerebbe solo all’ interno della “Teoria dello Sviluppo” di Rostow, che presuppone che sempre e dovunque si debba seguire l’iter storico che ha caratterizzato gli Stati Uniti, mentre invece la storia sta dimostrando che l’iter dell’economia segue strade diverse a longitudini e latitudini diverse. Ed è questo che sta mettendo in crisi filosofia e religione, politica e società. Basta che certe aree non siano sotto l’influenza politica degli Stati Uniti, e le “leggi dello sviluppo” perdono di valore: basta guardare la Cina.
A mio avviso, per capire la crisi dell’Europa, dell’Italia e di Torino, occorre cumulare almeno tre effetti: l’indebolimento della tempra degli Europei er effetto educazione anti-identitaria post-bellica; il ruolo direttivo degli Stati Uniti; la scelta della decolonizzazione, fatta accettando, direttamente o indirettamente, la Carta Atlantica.
L’“educazione antiautoritaria”, che trova le sue radici nell’etica kantiana, che si è sviluppata (seppure con ripensamenti) con la Scuola di Francoforte e si completa con il consumismo, ha tolto agli Europei quel piglio polemico che è necessario per qualunque azione seria, anche per fondare imprese, dirigere i collaboratori, sconfiggere la concorrenza ed invadere lontani mercati. La subordinazione agli Stati Uniti ha fatto sì che si accettasse la programmazione di fatto della società da parte americana, istituzionalizzata con il Piano Marshall, con l’implicita condizione di subire sempre le priorità dell’America (“America First”), e sacrificando di conseguenza quelle europee. Come si vide con i successivi obiettivi dell’allargamento dei consumi, della democratizzazione, delle liberalizzazioni, delle privatizzazioni, della deregolamentazione, dei “diritti”, delle guerre umanitarie, della lotta al terrorismo, della “politica di internet”, del blocco all’ immigrazione, ecc…La decolonizzazione, portata fino in fondo, ha portato anche a una diversa ripartizione delle funzioni sociali nella divisione internazionale del lavoro, dove i ruoli meglio pagati (imperiali, imprenditoriali, politici, finanziari, intellettuali, manageriali) sono passati gradualmente dall’ Europa all’America, alla Russia, alla Cina, all’India, al Medio Oriente, restando in Europa sempre più quelli gregari, meramente esecutivi. Lo stesso Aiuto allo Sviluppo è stato una forma di restituzione di ricchezza , preconizzata già da De Las Casas, per compensare gli effetti del colonialismo, alla fine del quale si dovrebbe a rigore ipotizzare che il PIL pro-capite dei Paesi donatori e dei Paesi recipienti dovrebbe risultare eguale (già oggi si è molto ravvicinato).
A meno che, nel frattempo, non fossero state inventate nuove forme di eccellenza, che ci permettessero di emergere nella competizione internazionale in modo diverso. Che è quello che ha fatto l’America con l’informatica, la Russia con l’esercito e la Cina con la Via della Seta.
Ciò avrebbero dovuto esserlo, per l’ Europa, i cosiddetti “valori post-materialistici”. Era in sostanza ciò che l’ Unione Europea ci prometteva quando parlava dell’ “Europa potenza gentile”, propositrice del federalismo, un nuovo esperimento di convivenza internazionale che avrebbe fato di noi un modello da imitare. E quello che diceva anche Jeremy Rifkin, americano immigrato in Europa che sosteneva che il “sogno europeo” avrebbe surclassato il “sogno americano”.
Nulla di tutto ciò è avvenuto. L’Europa non sta più inventando nulla, mentre, invece, l’America continua a inventare Internet e la Singularity, e la Cina la Via della Seta. Probabilmente, la nostra via ai valori post-materialistici era sbagliata.
Certo, una forma di “restituzione” ai Paesi coloniali era dovuta. L’aveva già scritto Bartolomé de Las Casas nella sua “Relaciòn sobre la destrucciòn de las Indias”. Tuttavia, a me sembra che tale restituzione sia già abbondantemente avvenuta, con l’abnorme trasferimento di ricchezza in America, e negli altri “Paesi di immigrati”, da almeno un secolo, e con 70 anni di aiuto allo sviluppo. L’Europa ha avuto in passato delle colpe, ma non si può fargliele pagare in eterno, soprattutto quando sono 500 anni che si permette invece di prosperare senza rimorsi e senza scuse ai cosiddetti “Paesi di emigranti”, che in realtà sono i veri Paesi dei genocidi e delle spoliazioni. Infine, fin qui nessuno ha considerato l’ulteriore trasferimento transnazionale di risorse che sta avvenendo comunque, verso i Paesi artici, per effetto del surriscaldamento atmosferico.
Comunque sia, si diceva, crollate le non motivate speranze di una ricchezza comparabile a quella di epoche irripetibili, figlie indirette della mobilitazione bellica, ci sarebbero rimasti almeno i “valori” di pace, libertà e democrazia, ma anche questi, dopo decenni di partitocrazia, spionaggio, smantellamento delle imprese e dei diritti, guerre umanitarie, sembrano sempre meno realizzati, e perfino non più credibili.
Oggi, si parla solo più di “stabilità”, di “risparmio” e di aiuto ai più deboli, ma anche queste sono parole vuote, perché è evidente a tutti che l’economia europea ci sta franando sotto i piedi, che viviamo di rendita e che fra breve nulla dei “diritti sociali” resterà in piedi. Il nostro relativo benessere nesce soltanto dalla scarsa fecondità, che fa sì suddiviso che un PIL decrescente per un numero decrescente di abitanti, il PIL pro-capite resti invariato, in modo che tutti possano continuare a vivere di rendita fin che muoiono, senza lasciare eredi.
Sarebbe ora che si compisse una seria riflessione sui veri “valori post-materialistici”, che oggi vengono in realtà repressi, per esempio distruggendo il patrimonio naturale e storico, attaccando le religioni, minimizzando il ruolo della cultura classica e tagliando i fondi alla cultura.
Nel terzo trimestre del 2018, non soltanto l’economia italiana, ma anche quella europea, si sono attestate sulla “crescita 0”, quel mitico obiettivo che paradossalmente il Club di Roma, Serge Latouche e Beppe Grillo hanno indicato come positivo, e necessario da raggiungere, ma che certamente non fa piacere alla gran parte degli Europei, anzi li inquieta a tal punto da spingerli a disertare il voto (e/o a votare per i “populisti”).
Sui giornali si afferma che l’opinione pubblica (per esempio, a Torino) rifiuta la “decrescita felice”, ma nessuno (men che mai economisti e politici) è in grado di dirci come si potrà conseguire una crescita reale (vale a dire superiore all’ inflazione e all’ obsolescenza tecnologica), dato che tutte le ricette delle scuole economiche ufficiali (protezionismo e liberismo, assistenzialismo e deregulation, keynesismo e socialismo), sono già state tentate senza successo. Non sarà certo (ammesso che si faccia) la TAV, ultimo rametto ancora incompiuto della Via della Seta, a fare per noi una reale differenza.
Sarà pure che l’opinione pubblica rifiuta la “decrescita felice”, ma questo significa solo che l’opinione pubblica non conta nulla. In realtà, l’”establishment” ha sposato da sempre la decrescita felice, vale a dire la rinunzia, da parte dell’ Europa, a rivendicare un suo peso nella divisione mondiale del lavoro, e del potere. Questo perché da sempre è partita dall’ idea che noi dovessimo essere i “followers” dell’ America, e che le cose più ambiziose (ideologia, spazio, guerra, scienza) non fossero fatte per noi. Ora, dopo un secolo di rinunce, è evidente che il gap tecnologico fra noi e le Grandi Potenze è divenuto così incolmabile, che esercita effetti pesantissimi anche sull’economia e sulla vita di tutti i giorni (per esempio, attraverso le multinazionali dell’ informatica).
Quanto, poi, all’ economia di Torino, essa va, certo, verso la decrescita più spaventosa del mondo intero, ma per nulla felice. E come potrebbe essere diversamente se abbiamo perso, nel tempo, la Corte, l’aristocrazia, la cinematografia, i computer, la moda, l’editoria, la formazione, l’aeronautica, le automobili, la finanza? Di che cosa si potrebbero occupare oggi coloro che prima erano cortigiani, ufficiali, rivoluzionari, progettisti, dirigenti d’azienda, bancari, tecnici, operai, editori, sindacalisti, e, soprattutto, i loro figli? Certo, possono sempre emigrare, ma, in un’era di “familismo amorale”, di micronazionalismi e di lottizzazioni ideologiche, quante “chances” hanno i nostri giovani qualificati di fare carriera contro gli emigranti dal Sud e dell’ Est, contro i Tedeschi o gl’Inglesi?
E’ giunto dunque il momento di riflettere seriamente, a livello “filosofico”, su che cosa conti veramente per noi e su che cosa ci stia veramente accadendo.
1.Critica della ragione economica
Intanto, c’è del vero nelle esternazioni di Beppe Grillo, che riprendono una polemica di lunga data di ampi settori della cultura e della politica. Dopo settant’anni passati a studiare accanitamente per trovare un lavoro, a investire per il futuro, a spendere il nostro tempo in fumosi uffici, in maleodoranti officine e su infermali autostrade; a batterci per poterci realizzare nella società; a litigare per imporre una determinata condotta aziendale o di economia nazionale, incominciamo a chiederci se il nostro errore non sia consistito proprio in questa frenetica ossessione per l’ economia. Questa fissazione ci ha istupiditi, ci ha alienati, ci ha indeboliti, ci ha impedito di comprendere come vadano veramente le cose, di dedicarci quanto conviene alla cura di noi stessi – il che significa anche alla lotta civile per fare valere le nostre ragioni, anche in campo economico-.
E i risultati di questo istupidimento si vedono: l’Europa fanalino di coda della crescita mondiale; l’ Europa senza industrie informatiche, culturali, della difesa; l’Europa protettorato dell’ America e colonizzata economicamente dall’ Asia. Non passa giorno senza che le nostre imprese siano acquisite, quale dagli Americani, quale dai Cinesi, chi dagli Arabi, chi dai Giapponesi, chi dagl’Indiani, chi dai Turchi, chi dai Russi. Noi invece non acquisiamo mai nulla in quei Paesi.
Bel risultato dopo settant’anni di sedicenti governanti europeisti, che a Lisbona avevano promesso che l’Europa sarebbe divenuta nel 2010 l’area economica più competitiva del pianeta.
La fine della politica è stata, dunque, anche la fine dell’autoaffermazione dell’Europa.
2.Guerra senza limiti
Ha ragione Grillo: in una società ben ordinata, l’economia dovrebbe costituire soltanto una parte delle nostre preoccupazioni, le altre essendo la spiritualità, la salute, la comunità, la natura, la cultura…Ma noi non viviamo affatto in una società ben ordinata, bensì in una società decerebrata, che corre deliberatamente verso l’autodistruzione.
Fermare questa corsa costituisce la nostra ragion d’essere oggi. Quale dunque l’ordine delle priorità in questo “stato di guerra” permanente contro le macchine intelligenti e un establishment traditore e suicida?
“Primum vivere, deinde philosophari”. Ma è veramente un “vivere” il sopravvivere in questo limbo in cui da decenni vediamo lo sfacelo, lo denunziamo, cerchiamo di raddrizzarlo, ci battiamo, ma non serve a nulla? Forse non abbiamo proprio riflettuto abbastanza, e non abbiamo combattuto abbastanza, o almeno non in un modo strategicamente efficace. Occorre dunque ritornare ai massimi principi, alle ragioni per cui vale la pena vivere e di combattere.
3.Una classe dirigente perduta
E’ vano attendersi che, senza essere stata debellata sul campo di battaglia, una classe dirigente riconosca apertamente che la propria visione del mondo è sbagliata, e che, quindi, la propria leadership è inutile e dannosa. Quindi, dovremo assistere ancora per lungo tempo all’agonia di questo “establishment”, che, pur cambiando continuamente cappelli ed etichette (fascismo, Occidente, democrazia, progresso, sinistra, liberalismo, 2° Repubblica, populismo), non riesce a cambiare nella sostanza, salvo declinare ininterrottamente al ribasso, come i gamberi, le proprie rivendicazioni ideologiche: prima, il “primato morale e civile degl’Italiani”,poi, l’ eguaglianza universale, e, via via, la “democrazia”, ”, il miracolo economico, il progresso tecnico, l’ antiautoritarismo, l’ “innovazione”, i “diritti”, il costituzionalismo, la ricostruzione, almeno, la “ripresa”, la “ripresina”…
Continueranno così ancora un bel po’, trovando sempre nuovi camuffamenti per impedire di vedere i problemi e impedire una trasformazione effettiva.
Intanto , diviene possibile comprendere il filo rosso della logica di potere che ha dominato questi decenni. Ha ragione anche Chiara Appendino a difendersi dalle accuse da destra e sinistra, affermando che sono state queste ultime, e non il Movimento Cinque Stelle, a coprire il progressivo declassamento della città, coprendo con parole antisonanti come Patria e “Roma o Morte”, atlantismo e libera competizione; consolidamento, apertura dei mercati e globalizzazione, la realtà vera di una città che si arrendeva senza combattere.
4. L’economia quale strumento d’indipendenza
Il dibattito sul “reddito di cittadinanza” ci permette di comprendere quale sia la funzione più importante dell’economia nella società postmoderna. Se la maggior parte della popolazione dovesse veramente essere mantenuta dallo Stato, come ormai quasi tutti credono,e alcuni, addirittura, propugnano, la prima sconfitta sarebbe quella della libertà: lavoro e ricchezza sono infatti due forme fondamentali dello “jus activae civitatis”. Esse non sono valori fini a se stessi, bensì due strumenti con cui le persone libere possono condizionare la società, e, in tal modo, contribuire a fare la storia. Se si tolgono loro queste due forze, divengono ciechi strumenti di una volontà impersonale: il Servo Arbitrio, la Volontà Generale, il General Intellect, la Singularity.
Ma, come dicevo, noi non viviamo in una società normale, bensì in uno stato di guerra civile mondiale: abbiamo una ben precisa guerra da combattere (la “Guerra senza Limiti”), quella contro il dominio, sulle persone, delle macchine intelligenti. Orbene, come in tutte le guerre, ci vogliono i combattenti e i soldi. Per questo l’economia continua ad essere importante: serve, o, meglio, dovrebbe servire, innanzitutto, per addestrare i lavoratori/cittadini a controllare le macchine intelligenti e per generare quelle risorse che ci permettano di fronteggiare l’escalation tecnologica che si sta sviluppando a livello mondiale. L’Europa è oggi purtroppo all’ultimo posto nella società digitale mondiale, dopo USA, Cina, Russia e India.
5.Che cosa non va dunque nell’ economia europea?
Ho scritto spesso in questo blog circa i limiti dell’economia europea. Oggi, due anni dopo l’elezione di Trump, le nostre analisi si sono rivelate più esatte di quanto mai avessimo osato immaginare: si tratta del cosiddetto “contingentamento dell’ Europa” profetizzato da Trockij e realizzato in esito alle due Guerre Mondiali. Affinché si perpetui il mito dell’America quale guida dell’ Umanità, occorre, occorre che nessuno ne offuschi il primato simbolico, soprattutto nessuno in Occidente. Altrimenti, nessuno crederà più, non solo alla sua missione provvidenziale, ma, alla fine, neppure alla Modernità quale sbocco finale e necessario della Storia.
Con le due guerre mondiali, l’ America si è garantita dunque il controllo dei “rubinetti” con cui può regolare a suo piacimento lo sviluppo dell’Europa: l’ideologia; le lobby; la finanza; i media; la tecnologia; la bomba atomica; le basi militari; il dollaro; le multinazionali. Grazie a tutto questo, ha potuto trasferire le contrattazioni finanziarie da Londra a New York, l’arte astratta da Parigi a New York, le industrie militari dalla Germania e le prime tecnologie digitali dall’Ungheria e dalla Polonia; ha potuto programmare l’economia europea con il Piano Marshall; stroncare Olivetti, Concorde, Minitel; comprare le multinazionali europee; scremare tutti i business con il web e i paradisi fiscali; strangolare il business con la Russia e l’ Iran e rendere più care le nostre esportazioni; prelevare una tassa maggiore per la difesa nonostante le nostre difficoltà economiche.
Ancora oggi, l’America condiziona perfino il nostro modo abnorme di essere filo-russi, sotto la pesante ombra di Trump.
6.Dal contingentamento americano allo svuotamento dell’ economia novecentesca
Potrebbe andare peggio? Certo che può andare peggio; in un certo senso, va già peggio.
E’ brutto essere un protettorato contingentato, ma è ancora più brutto essere contingentati da un Paese che sta diventando a sua volta una colonia. Ora, come osserva Foer nel suo “I nuovi poteri forti”, le Big Five stanno svuotando delle sue prerogative lo stato americano, conducendo una loro politica autonoma con la Cina; manipolando le elezioni, l’editoria e i media; imponendo un succube conformismo agli intellettuali; sovrapponendosi ai servizi segreti; imponendosi al presidente; declassando le multinazionali. Fra breve, lo Stato americano sarà una semplice colonia delle Big Five, e noi il protettorato di una colonia.
Peggio ancora è l’essere il protettorato di una colonia quando il colonizzatore va verso la guerra contro una coalizione invincibile: quella eurasiatica ( il Comitato di Difesa di Shanghai).
7.Gli scambi con l’ Eurasia: una “leva” per riequilibrare i poteri con gli USA
Per uscire dalle prospettive, assai prossime, della recessione, aggravata dalla certezza dell’impossibilità del rilancio, per mancanza di idee, dell’economia europea, ma soprattutto dall’ affermarsi della Società delle Macchine Intelligenti e ancor più dal rischio incombente di guerra fra l’America e il resto del mondo per difendere la propria egemonia, l’unico salvagente a cui aggrapparsi è un possibile contrasto all’ egemonia americana appoggiandosi alla crescente influenza dell’Eurasia.
Fortunatamente, nell’elogiare la TAV, i promotori della manifestazione torinese hanno pronunziato le fatidiche parole “Eurasia” e “Via della Seta”, che oggi costituiscono le uniche uscite di salvataggio dal declino. E, in effetti, ben pochi sanno che la TAV è una delle ultime maglie della Via della Seta: una delle poche ancora non completate.
Se la politica è, come diceva Bismarck, un “parallelogramma delle forze”, allora è un fatto obiettivo che la “ragnatela” che avvolge il mondo a partire dall’ America si sta lacerando in vari punti: nel Mar della Cina, in Medio Oriente, in Africa. Emergono punte avanzate della Cina in Pakistan, Kenya, Etiopia,Grecia, Serbia, Ungheria, Italia. La Russia ha i propri agganci in tutta Europa, in Siria, in Iran, ma anche in Israele.
Tutto ciò non può non avere il proprio impatto anche a Bruxelles e negli Stati Uniti, e infatti lo ha. Suoi prodotti: i “4 di Visegrad”, i “16+1”, l’ ASEM, Trump. Per ora, si tratta di una trasformazione infinitesimale: nessuno di questi fenomeni ha ancora realizzato il “sorpasso” della Cina sugli USA, né la fuoriuscita di nessun Paese dalla visione del mondo scientista e messianica nata da Cristoforo Colombo e da Bacone. Tuttavia, s’incominciano a sentire i primi scricchiolii dell’impianto puritano e atlantico in cui siamo ingabbiati: il ritorno, nel discorso pubblico, delle antiche religioni e dei classici delle filosofie orientali e occidentali; una certa qual maggiore confidenza in se stessi di molti popoli; la ripresa, da parte di molti governanti europei, della “politica dei due forni” cara ai vecchi governi democristiani (cfr. p. es., Tsipras, Orban,Salvini, Di Maio, Heiko Maas, Macron….).
Certo che Macron ha effettivamente detto che la politica europea di difesa è diretta anche contro gli Stati Uniti. Ma è quello che diceva sempre anche De Gaulle, quando affermava che la “Force de Frappe” dev’essere “à tous les azimuths”. Ma perché mai non dovrebbe esserlo, quando Trump stesso considera gli Europei come dei nemici e lo dice anche?
Comunque sia, queste prime avvisaglie potrebbero annunziare una trasformazione reale se anticipassero una politica unitaria dell’ Europa. Lo stanno intuendo tanto l’attuale “establishment” , quanto i sedicenti “sovranisti”. Nessuno dei due ha però un progetto strategico convincente, perché nessuno dei due osa affrontare il tabù che è alla base dell’ attuale sistema: la subordinazione culturale, storica, ideologica, politica, militare, economica e sociale all’ America, che viene documentata da sempre nuovi, ponderosi libri in tutti i campi dello scibile, dalla storia(Israel), all’economia (Eichengreen, Steil), alle relazioni internazionali (Hathaway,Shapiro).
Se, nell’ analisi delle ragioni remote della crisi, si partisse dallo studio approfondito della subordinazione complessiva dell’ Europa, quest’ultima farebbe poi relativamente in fretta a darsi un’autonoma cultura, a organizzare una “sovranità digitale europea”, a creare una leadership coerente, a organizzare dei “campioni europei” in sostituzione degli ormai pochi e obsoleti “campioni nazionali”.
E si riuscirebbe anche a rispondere a Trump:
-che non c’è alcuna ragione per cui l’America debba spendere per la difesa più di 700 milioni di dollari l’anno, cioè la metà della spesa militare mondiale, che costituisce obiettivamente una minaccia per tutti i Paesi del modo, e il maggior incentivo per la corsa agli armamenti;
-che, se Europa e Usa vogliono restare alleate, occorrerà ridimensionare gli obiettivi militari, dall’ offesa alla difesa;
-che, ammesso che l’Europa aumenti le proprie spese, non lo dovrà fare in modo funzionale alla difesa americana, bensì fornendosi di ciò in cui essa è oggi carente (intelligence, cyberguerra, nucleare, missili ipersonici, armi spaziali), e favorendo la propria industria della difesa.
Solo in quell’ atmosfera avrebbe senso parlare di “valori non materialistici”, che non sono quelli della società dei consumi o del livellamento verso il basso, bensì quelli tradizionali dai tempi dell’Epoca Assiale: spiritualità, eccellenza, estetica, libertà, patriottismo, cultura…., che l’ Europa condivide con gli altri popoli dell’ Eurasia.
Solo così si potrebbero realizzare veramente gli obiettivi conclamati a vuoto dalla destra e della sinistra: una vera sovranità, la ripresa del nostro ruolo nel mondo, il rilancio del PIL;occupazione, investimenti sociali e infrastrutturali, diritti dei lavoratori).
Il fatto che nessuno ne voglia nemmeno sentir parlare dimostra invece che, non soltanto la sinistra europea come denunziato dal Presidente della RAI Foa, riceve, cospicui finanziamenti dall’ America, bensì anche i sovranisti, per esempio nelle elezioni olandesi. E, a parte ciò, quante sono le “connections” con fondazioni, università, ecc…? Due esempi per tutti: l’attuale Presidente della Commissione, Juncker, è stato il grande architetto delle agevolazioni fiscali che, negli ultimi 40 anni, hanno permesso alle big five di sottrarre all’Europa la quasi totalità del loro reddito.
Quanto al suo predecessore, Barroso, non aveva esitato, dopo il pensionamento, neppure un mese a entrare a pieno servizio presso il suo vero padrone: la Lehman Brothers.
Lo schema fiscale con cui le multinazionli americane hannno svuotato l’ Europa
ASEM covers most parts of EURASIA
The 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM12) was successfully held on 18-19 October 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.
The ASEM summit brought together:
- heads of state or government of 51 European and Asian countries
- representatives of the European Union
- the Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The summit was chaired by the European Council President Donald TUSK. European Commission President Jean-Claude JUNCKER and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica MOGHERINI, also represented the EU at the summit.
Discussions focused on the theme“Europe and Asia: Global Partners for Global Challenges“.
Leaders sought to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the two continents on a wide range of areas, including:
- trade & investment
- sustainable development and climate
- security challenges such as terrorism, non-proliferation, cyber-security, irregular migration
Under the theme “Global Partners for Global Challenges” Leaders are addressing key opportunities and challenges facing Europe and Asia in a world of accelerating change.
Alpina’s “Yellow Book Series” devoted to Eurasia
“Brussels, 19 September 2018
The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy today adopted a Joint Communication that sets out the EU’s vision for a new and comprehensive strategy to better connect Europe and Asia.
The Joint Communication builds on the European Union’s own experience of enhancing connections between its Member States, with and in other regions. With sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based connectivity at its core, the Communication will help to guide the EU’s external action in this field and is a part of the implementation of its Global Strategy.
The Joint Communication on elements for an EU strategy on connecting Europe and Asia is available online.
“Connectivity is the way to the future. The more connected we are, the more opportunities we have – to find common political solutions and to bring economic prosperity to citizens”, said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini. “Our approach is the European Union’s way: to establish stronger networks and strengthen partnerships for sustainable connectivity, across all sectors and based on a respect for common rules. This is the European way to tackle challenges and take opportunities, to the benefit of people in Europe and in Asia as well.”
Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said: “We want to work with our Asian partners to improve connections between Europe and Asia, while bringing our values and approach in doing so. Infrastructure networks that will be built should be coherent, interoperable, as well as financially and environmentally sustainable. Calls for tender should be open and transparent to promote good governance and a level playing field. It is an approach that works, and one that we see a demand for among Asian countries, in our Eastern neighbourhood, the Western Balkans and beyond.”
The Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica added: “The EU and Asia are important partners on sustainable development and delivering the UN 2030 Agenda. Our development cooperation is an essential element of our broader engagement and partnership with Asia, not least in promoting sustainable connectivity. We want to further strengthen our partnership and focus even more on providing technical assistance, improving regulatory environments and creating incentives to drive forward and scale-up much needed investments.”
Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, said: “Transport infrastructure is the lifeblood of EU-Asia connections, carrying both people and goods between the continents, on the wings of digitalisation and decarbonisation. Europe is sharing and engaging through one of the most developed transport networks and infrastructure financing programmes in the world: the trans-European transport network. Connectivity matters!”
DA QIN, “Greater China”: the classical denomination of Europe in Chinese
Sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based: connectivity the EU’s way
The EU will combine a principled approach to connectivity and recognition that Asia encompasses different regions, which are home to very diverse countries in terms of economic models and level of development, with concrete action based on three strands:
- Creating transport links, energy and digital networks and human connections;
- Offering connectivity partnerships to countries in Asia and organisations;
- Promoting sustainable finance through utilising diverse financial tools.
Viacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov: the inventor of the expression “Europe’s two lungs”
Creating cross-border networks
Efficient infrastructure and connections create growth and jobs and enables people and goods to move. From transport links to energy networks, people-to-people contacts to digital webs, the EU will extend its own networks and to contribute to new ones beyond its borders.
The EU’s Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) are being extended to countries bordering Asia. The EU should now connect the TEN-T with networks in Asia. The EU’s digital single market provides a blueprint for enhancing trade in digital services, while its Digital4Development strategy fosters socio-economic development. We will share our experience of creating regional, liberalised energy markets with a focus on market-driven transformation towards clean energy. We will continue to promote human exchanges and mobility, for example in education, research, innovation, culture and tourism.
The New Silk Road
Developing strong bilateral and global connectivity partnerships
Our world depends on smooth and secure flows of goods, services and people. With a track record of a rules-based, fair and transparent internal market, the European Union is engaging with partners beyond its borders in order to promote similar approaches to sustainable connectivity.
The EU will pursue bilateral connectivity partnerships. The EU-China Connectivity Platform, for example, will help both parties to create synergies and address differing points of view. At a regional level, the EU is able to draw on its experience of contributing to the enhanced connectivity and integration of various regional cooperation structures, for example in the Baltic and Black Seas, as well as with ASEAN and as part of the ASEM process. Fostering increased region-to-region cooperation in connectivity would enable the European Union to extend its sustainable and rules-based connectivity model. Finally, the EU will engage with international organisations in determining the legal frameworks and concrete forms of connectivity, for example to set international standards. The World Trade Organisation, the International Energy Agency, the International Maritime Organisation and United Nations bodies are just a few examples where the European Union is working and will continue to work for sustainable and fair global practices.
The ancient Silk Road created by the Persian Empire
Promoting sustainable financing of investment
With Asia requiring an estimated €1.3 trillion per year for infrastructure investment, there are significant opportunities for EU companies, provided that robust legal frameworks are in place. The EU will look to combine financial sources from international financial institutions, multilateral development banks and the private sector to ensure sustainable domestic and international finance for connectivity, while ensuring transparency and a level playing field for businesses. A comprehensive approach to investment financing, pioneered in Europe by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, as well as outside the EU through specific geographical investment facilities, has successfully leveraged investments for infrastructure and connectivity. Combined with the European Commission’s proposals for reinforced external action under the next EU Multi-annual Financial Framework (2021-2027), the potential for additional intelligent, innovative and multi-dimensional investment financing in and towards Asia is significant.
A better connected Europe and Asia through transport links, energy, human and digital networks will strengthen the resilience of societies and regions, facilitate trade, promote the rules-based international order, and create avenues for a more sustainable, low-carbon future. This Joint Communication will inform the EU’s engagement with its partners from the neighbourhood to the Pacific, bringing benefits for the people of Europe and those countries who see the value of our approach to connectivity.
I am 70 years old , and, in my life, I have gone through many, very different, jobs. In 1978. when I was 30, I was responsible for business development in countries for an Italian tannery.Among other countries, I had got in touch also with the Chinese Government. So, I was invited to attend the International Guangzhou Fair. At that time, it was not so easy to travel extensively in Asia. Therefore, I had arranged to link together my travels towards different countries, including Bangladesh, China and Korea. Notwithstanding a lot of difficulties that I met, it was for me an unforgettable experience.
Unfortunately, in the absence of cell phones, and being a work holiday in Italy, nobody had informed me that also the Government of Ivory Coast had called me for an urgent meeting in Abidjan. So, I had already arrived in Hong Kong. The day after, I postponed my meeting in Korea and organized a flight back to Italy via a different route. Moreover, because of further difficulties in communication, I had no clear idea on how to reach Guangzhou from Hong Kong. So, after a meeting in the Bank of China offices, I went to the premises of the PRC travel organisation, where I bought a huge set of tickets which should have been of use for me for travelling, entering PRC and reaching Guangzhou. The following day, at 6.30 a.m., I left Hong Kong central station by a metro driving through the New Territories and arriving at the PRC border, where I was obliged to go through a medieval check point not very different from the Jade Gate in the Great Wall, where very kind officials performed a lot of border checks offering always new cups of tea.
In the afternoon, after lunch, I took a very smart train provided with sleeperettes and good Chinese music in the background. From the windows, I could see, where now we have the skyscrapers of Shenzhen, just rice fields and peasants. When arriving in Guangzhou, the passengers (mostly businessmen visiting the International Fair), were welcomed by thousands of children flying multicoloured flags. In the hotel, my interpreter and guide informed me that I was invited by the management of the Fair to attend a show in the central theatre of Guangzhou. The show was a political ballet alongside the style of the Beijing Opera, with texts in Mongolian, devoted to the Four Modernisations, a policy which had been launched just in those days.
During the night, I found it difficult to sleep, because I was awaken continuously by the fuzz of the huge number of bicycles, to which I was not accustomed in Italy. The day after, I looked for my partners of the state-owned import-export company specialised in the international trade in hides, skins and shoes. Very competent guys, which were delighted to be able to discuss with me at length about the Italian market. At the end, I invited them to visit our tannery – a thing that they did not much time later-.Afterwards, I visited the fair, which, at that time, looked very exotic, because it was devoted for a large extent to traditional Chinese productions, such as carpets and porcelain.
When coming back to the hotel, the reception recalled to me that, like in many other developing countries, I could not have left China if I had not confirmed in advance my back flight and I had not obtained my exit visa. So, I paid a visit to my air carrier and to the police station. I had also the time to make a tour through GuangZhou, which, at that time, had not yet been completely reconstructed after the destructions of the war. Finally, I travelled back with some businesspeople of my town coming back after having purchased carpets and porcelain at the Fair. Then, I hurried to Abidjan, with a short round trip to the Luxemburg Court of Justice.
Without any doubt, my life in those times was very stressing. I could not have endured it if I would not have been 30 years old; nevertheless, it was the most charming period of my life. Unfortunately, I could not attend the visit of the Chinese officials because I had become, in the meantime, an official of the European Communities in Luxemburg, a much lighter and safer job. However, I regret not having been able to be there, as well as not to have continued my business relations with the Chinese tanning industry.
I do not stop wondering how China has been able to develop since those distant days, and I think that its unique experience may be useful for the whole mankind.
If I could have become young a second time, I probably would not have chosen to join the European Communities, and I would have continued to pursue the development of business in the charming Far East. But, since life is becoming longer and longer, why not doing it now, that the New Silk Road exists?
All religions have crossed the Silk roads at all times. Already in mythology, we have elements of Egyptian religion arriving on the Tibetan Plateau, where a Book of the Dead exists in like in Egypt; Buddhism, Mazdeism, Manichaeism, have arrived into China via Sogdiana; Islam has crossed the Silk Road up to Samarkand and Hui mosques exist all over China.
Especially Christianity crossed the Silk Road in an impressive way. Apart from the disputed pretended travels of Christ in India claimed by Indus and Ahmadiyya, less controversial is the activity of Saint Thomas in Chennai (Tamil Nadu). I have visited his cell on Mount Chennai and in Sao Tome, a suburb along the coast, where, according to a legend, he had been killed. In Dravidic India, several Christian confessions still exist claiming their origin from Saint Thomas.
The first peoples of the Middle East to be converted to Christianism were Syrians, Cartvelians and Armenians kingdoms existing among Roman and Persian Empires between Euphrates and Caucasus (Edessa, Caucasian Albania and Iberia). The Syrian Nestorians, followers of the Constantinopolitan Archbishop Nestorius, flying from the Roman Empire because of his condemnation by the Council of Ephesus, and, then, supported by the Persian Emperors, settled everywhere in Asia.
In the 7th Century, under the Tang Dynasty, the Syrian Nestorian monk Rabban (A-luoben in Chinese, crossed the border with China and came to Chang’An (today’s Xi’An), bringing with him the Holy Gospel. At the same time, “the Jesus Sutras” were produced Emperor TaiZong had the Gospels translated and granted to Nestorians, baptized “The Enlightened Doctrine of DaQin” (Rome), the privilege of being a recognized religion of China. The DaQing Stele, with a summary of the “Sutras” and of the history of Chinese Nestorianism, and the “DaQin Pagode” (the main church of Nestorians in China) are still visible in Xi’an.
In the 13th century, Giovanni da Pian del Carpine had been charged of a mission at the Court of the Mongolian Khan, and wrote a report for the Pope, which is known as the Historia Mongalorum. Later on, Khubilai Khan sent to the Pope, via the Polo brothers, a message, asking him to send missionaries to China. The Pope appointed Giovanni da Montecorvino, who translated the Bible into the Chinese language. After a certain time, no bishop was appointed to Beijing any more, because the Black Death had rendered it too dangerous to travel up and down the Silk Road.
When Vasco da Gama opened the road to Indies via the Cape of Good Hope Christian missionaries, and especially the Jesuits, flocked towards India, Japan and China. Especially in China, they played a special role, studying the Chinese and teaching the European culture, advising the Emperor, introducing European cultural fashions into China, as well as Chinese ideas into Europe. Ricci translated Christian terms into Chinese, wrote books in Chinese and initiated the modern Chinese cartography; Castiglione portrayed the emperors KangXi and Qianlong and built an Italian style pavilion in the Forbidden City; Bouvet illustrated to Louis XIV and his advisor De Quesnais the political and economic ideas of the Chinese.
The description of China made by Jesuits was so impressive, that Voltaire, and especially Leibniz, expressed the idea that Europe should have been unified, like China, into a sole large kingdom. Leibniz was so fond of Chinese culture, that he suggested, in his work “Novissima Sinica” (“The Latest News from China”) that not only Europeans should have sent missionaries to China, but also Chinese should have sent their own to Europe.
Jesuits helped also the Chinese empire to arrive at an agreement with the Russian (the Nerchinsk Treaty). In Novissima Sinica, Leibniz, who had met Peter the Great in St.Petersburg, expressed the hope that the new Russia could have constituted a bridge between Europe and China.
The ancient relationships between Europe and China thanks to Catholic missionaries are still vivid on the background of the discussions under way for stabilising the relationships between the Catholic Church and China.
I was present since my youth in several aspects of trade along the Silk Road, in Russia, the Middle East, India and China, studying the cultures, the languages and the economies of those countries. My own family name hints at Asia. Wherever I go, from Bosnia to Greece, from the Gulf to India, everybody thinks I am of local origin, since Lala means “elder brother” or “flower” in many Islamic countries, and “red”, “lovely”, “great”, “literate” or “rich” in several Indian languages.
I was thinking of Eurasia since I was a student. Already at that time, I thought that there would not have been a future for us Europeans without an active involvement in a Eurasia which, with all its troubles and crises, was, and is, the only region of the world where a remarkable, cultural and economic growth may take pace. In fact, the US, after their unprecedented growth after WW II, would necessarily have faced a crisis due to overstretching, as the events of Viet Nam and Middle East, as well as the subprime crisis, have shown. From another point of view, the European Union, not having been able to timely really unify the European continent, is now subject to the limitations imposed to its growth by the West and to its incapacity to find a common ground on the most important issues of the world. On the contrary, Asian countries, after two centuries of Western colonial rule, have recovered their traditional cultures and wealth, so overcoming all other countries of the world. If we consider that in Eurasia there is already the largest part of world population, it is clear that, in a thriving Eurasia, there is all necessary place also for Europeans.
Being conscious of this fact, I devoted a large part of my time to the study of the languages and cultures of different parts of Asia, such as Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese, Hebrew and Russian. Moreover, I was active as a manager of the Italian industry, operating, before as a business developer, and, later, as a corporate lawyer, for projects in Africa, Russia, Middle East, India and Far East. I had even been the responsible interface for legal matters of the FIAT Group for Eastern Europe and Far East during the Perestrojka era. I have travelled extensively in those areas, and, in the last ten years, as managing director of a small publishing house, devoted to Europe and the world, I have founded a book series, called Evrazija-Avrasya, specialised in questions related to the relationships among Europe and Asia. In this series, the book “DaQin” has already been published, dealing with the necessity that, in considering the future of Europe, its relationship with Asia is taken into account. A second esdition, as well as collective work, “Europe riding along the Silk Road”,are under way.