8 – A Cultural Action for the European Participation in the New Silk Road

At the end of 17th century, the philosopher and scientist Leibniz wrote, in Latin, the work “Novissima Sinica”, what means “Last news from China”, which related about the twofold victory achieved  by Jesuits, both in Rome and in Cina and, obtaining, from the Pope, the  recognition of the “Chinese Rythes” and, from the Chinese Emperor, the right to preach and to convert in China under his high protection. In the foreword of “Novissima Sinica”, Leibniz explained why China and Europe are very similar, and that also Russia was trying to emulate Europe, so to become able to represent a bridge between Europe and China. These pages could have been written even today: “I consider it a singular plan of the fates that human cultivation and refinement should today be concentrated, as it were in the past, in the two extremes of our continent, in Europe and in Tshina (as they call it), which adorns the Orient as Europe does the opposite edge of the earth. Perhaps, Supreme Providence has ordained such an arrangement, so that as the most cultivated and distant peoples stretch out their arms to each other, those in between may gradually be brought to a better way of life. I do not think it an accident that the Muscovites whose vast
realm connects Europe with China and who hold sway over the deep barbarian lands of the North by the shore of the frozen ocean, should be led to the emulation of our ways through the strenuous efforts of their present ruler and their Patriarch, as I understand it, in agreement with him.”

According to Leibniz, the Chinese were inferior to Europeans as to mathematics, but were superior for their ethical virtues and for their political culture. Albeit he appreciated immensely the mission of Jesuits as mediators among Europe and China, he would have preferred that not only Europe had sent its  missionaries to China, but that also the latter would have sent its own missionaries. A thing which is now happening, with Confucius Institutes. Also today we should carry out an activity of cultural enlightenment between Europe and China, like the one of Jesuits and Leibniz.

In fact, our “Western” culture, unbelievably self-centered, operates as if it were surrounded by an artificial  screen, impeaching us to see what is happening in the “world outside”, especially in the Asian continent. We are suffering, thus, because of three types of limitations:

-a disproportion between our information about “Western modern” and the one about the rest of the world;

-a disproportion between information about our limited “Nation-States” and the one concerning the rest of the West;

-Western cultural arrogance, which pushes us to consider anything “Western” and “Modern” to be superior to anything “Eastern” and “Ancient”.

Whilst most Europeans ignore even the names of all the member States of the European Union, cultivated Europeans often ignore the names of the capital cities of  such States. Only a few specialists in Italy know something of a language different from Italian and English, and, moreover,  some intellectuals know something about extra-European States. Under these conditions, it is almost impossible to discuss seriously with anybody in Europe about world politics or economy, or to work out any credible corporate strategy. This is the first and foremost reason why European integration has reached so poor results, and why European companies are not able to effectively compete with international groups of other Continents. Americans have at least the presumption to understand everything of the other countries, also because they find always everybody able and willing to express himself in English.

On the contrary, Asian people are well acquainted with all parts of the world because, up to very recent times, education in their countries was based to  a large extent upon European curricula and ideologies, but, now, they have been obliged to study, at least partially, also their own history, language and culture, so that they are more able to understand what happens in a larger part of the world. This ability, essential today, is one of the main reasons for the success of China, India and some Arabic countries.

We should promote such effort of information also in Europe, what would prove useful in first instance to each of our fellow countrymen, and, secondarily, for a reasonable political re-orientation of Europe. Europe is now in a deep cultural, ideological, economic, political and social crisis. Having accepted a merely passive role within the West, we have lost our independence of judgement, the taste for autonomy, the objectivity of thinking.  Only going out of our closed world will we be able to detect which are  our real problems and try to solve them. The presence of, and the dialogue with, Asian people, will help us to accomplish this task.

ALPINA/DIALEXIS AL SALONE OFF DI TORINO

Come noto, nelle elezioni regionali del Molise, e, soprattutto, del Friuli, la partecipazione popolare ha raggiunto livelli bassissimi. Nel Friuli, si è rimasti al di sotto del 50% degli aventi diritto. Questo è solo l’ultimo esempio di come i cittadini siano disamorati dalla cosa pubblica, che, semplicemente, non è gestita, forse perché è divenuta letteralmente ingestibile.

Non v’ è il minimo dubbio, quindi,  sul fatto che il comportamento tenuto dai partiti subito prima e subito dopo le elezioni, basato solamente su considerazioni di potere e senz’alcun nesso con problemi reali o programmi effettivi, abbia esasperato una trend assenteistico in atto già da tempo. Quando il Movimento 5 Stelle, a pochi giorni dal voto, è corso a Washington per garantire un drastico cambiamento di politica internazionale; poi, addirittura, ha cambiato surrettiziamente online, senza avvertire nessuno, il programma elettorale approvato dalla base fra mille bizantinismi informatici, la fiducia degl’Italiani anche verso l’ultimo movimento che si pretendeva “diverso” e “antisistema” è caduta a picco in pochi giorni.

Ma in realtà, tutti hanno seguito lo stesso copione: non sbilanciarsi, lanciando sistematicamente ad altri le patate bollenti.

La teoria dell’ “Ignoranza razionale”

D’altra parte, la recentissima traduzione in Italiano del libro di Jason Brennan, “Contro la democrazia”, ci insegna che lo stesso fenomeno è in corso anche negli USA, dove, addirittura, è stata lanciata la teoria dell’”ignoranza razionale”: visto che il voto del singolo cittadino non conta nulla,  è razionale, anzi, diremmo noi, obbligato,  l’atteggiamento di quegli elettori che non spendono il loro scarsissimo tempo e danaro, non diciamo per fare politica, ma neppure per informarsi sulla cosa pubblica.

In questa situazione, insistere, come noi facciamo, a voler informare i cittadini, loro malgrado, su tematiche estremamente complesse, come la politica europea, i rapporti geopolitici in Eurasia o il modello sociale europeo, può sembrare una follia. In realtà, ci ispiriamo al verso di Hoelderlin, secondo cui, “quando il pericolo cresce, cresce anche ciò che salva”.

Secondo le previsioni degli organismi internazionali, il nostro PIL ha smesso di crescere da aprile, e comunque, nei prossimi anni, crescerà addirittura meno del malandato PIL europeo; non per nulla, siamo stati sorpassati perfino dalla Spagna…

Che fare?

In realtà, non è vero che non si possa far niente per ovviare allo sfacelo.

Il crollo economico dell’ Europa (che tutti gli organismi internazionali hanno evidenziato ancora una volta qualche giorno fa, abbassando le previsioni di crescita da 2,5% a 1,4-1,9%); i dazi  di Trump decretati in violazione degli accordi promossi e sottoscritti dagli USA; le pagliacciate a livello europeo, con le minacce di sanzioni salatissime contro le Big Five che poi sono state immotivatamente del tutto abbandonate; l’approvazione di una legge sulla tutela dei dati che danneggia le imprese europee, ma non le Big Five; la bocciatura della seppur modesta proposta di Macron sulle liste transnazionali, dimostrano che, per migliorare, in un qualche modo, la nostra situazione, occorrerebbe operare energicamente sul piano europeo, non già su quello nazionale..

Ne consegue che il Governo italiano, da chiunque sarà composto, non potrà fare assolutamente nulla per arginare la catastrofica caduta della nostra economia, che prosegue più violenta che mai, salvo se si decidesse a battersi per una drastica modifica delle politiche europee verso il resto del mondo e verso le nuove tecnologie.Ma gli organi competenti (partiti, Stati nazionali, Commissione, Parlamento) sono troppo pusillanimi per farlo. È per questo che i partiti non hanno nessuna fretta di governare, sapendo che, facendolo, si prenderebbero delle grandi responsabilità e una ulteriore  dose d’impopolarità.

A questo punto, l’unica cosa che resta da fare a noi cittadini è la cultura, intesa, non già come una presuntuosa evasione in paradisi artificiali (siano essi snobistici, esoterici, ideologici o estetizzanti), bensì come doveroso studio di quanto sta accadendo intorno a noi, per modificarlo, preparando una riscossa.

Ri-educare gli Europei

Il deliberato non-governo in cui viviamo da almeno mezzo secolo  si fonda infatti sulla totale disinformazione: sulla storia della cultura europea; sulla geo-politica mondiale; sulle dialettiche intrinseche della modernità e della postmodernità…Con i nostri libri sull’Europa, sulla Cina, sulla Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, ecc…, miriamo semplicemente a colmare almeno in parte queste lacune, in modo che almeno qualcuno dei nostri concittadini, comprendendo la reale natura e importanza delle poste in gioco, sia preso dall’interesse, e, diremmo, dal senso del dovere verso la cosa pubblica, e si associ a noi in quest’opera di approfondimento e di dibattito.

È in questo spirito che partecipiamo al Salone Off, che ci offre l’opportunità di inserire, nei programma del Salone, manifestazioni dedicate a due temi che ci sembrano scottanti e improrogabili, ma sono da tutti negletti: il confronto fra Europa e Cina e il futuro del lavoro nella Società delle macchine intelligenti.

Nella prima delle due manifestazioni, quella del 10 Maggio, discuteremo su 13 questioni scottanti dell’ Europa alla luce delle soluzioni adottate dalle altre grandi realtà subcontinentali, e, in particolare, dalla Cina, l’enfant prodige dell’ economia mondiale, la quale, partita dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale completamente distrutta dall’invasione giapponese, appare oggi come il Paese più ricco e potente del mondo.

Nella seconda, quella del 14 maggio, considereremo come il modello sociale europeo e il pensiero sociale cristiano forniscano indicazioni su come fronteggiare il rischio che le macchine intelligenti si sostituiscano agli uomini, non soltanto nel lavoro di fabbrica, bensì in tutte le funzioni sociali, comprese le più delicate, come quelle della riproduzione, della guerra e della pace e dello stesso governo. A questo proposito, si terrà particolarmente conto delle esperienze dell’Europa Centrale, e, soprattutto, della Germania.

Vi trasmettiamo qui di seguito una sintesi dei rispettivi programmi, riservandoci di comunicarVi ulteriori dettagli.

PROGRAMMA ALPINA/DIALEXIS PER IL SALONE OFF

Centro Studi San Carlo, Via Monte di Pietà 1

Incontri con gli autori

 

Giovedì 10 maggio, ore 18

Prendersi cura dell’ Europa…con un occhio alla Cina

In occasione della pubblicazione del libro  DA QIN, L’ Europa sovrana in un mondo multipolare, tredici ipotesi di lavoro per un federalismo europeo del XXI secolo, di RICCARDO LALA

 

A cura di Alpina in collaborazione con Associazione Culturale Diàlexis, Rinascimento Europeo, ANGI-Associazione  Nuova  Generazione  Italo-cinese-, Movimento Federalista Europeo.

 

Chi, come ha fatto il Presidente Macron,  invoca un “sovranismo europeo”,  ha poi anche la responsabilità di trasformare questo slogan in una realtà, rendendo l’ Europa veramente autonoma nella cultura, nella tecnologia, nella politica, nell’ economia, nei costumi, nella difesa, nel rispetto delle tradizioni pluralistiche delle nostre terre. A ciò basterebbe forse un serio ri-orientamento delle istituzioni esistenti  verso i loro compiti autentici: della scuola verso una cultura alta, dei fondi dell’Unione e delle Forze Armate verso tecnologie autonome, dell’Unione verso le nostre antiche tradizioni costituzionali, delle industrie verso i “campioni europei di alta tecnologia” , delle imprese, verso il “modello sociale europeo”.

L’autore, che ha vissuto in prima persona le successive crisi dell’ Europa come studioso, eurofunzionario, manager, editore, scrive di tutto ciò, come ha detto Roberto Esposito, “guardando all’ Europa da fuori”, cioè senza pregiudizi “eurocentrici”, e, innanzitutto, partendo dal Paese che, per antichità e dimensioni, più ci assomiglia: la Cina. Per questa somiglianza, gli antichi Cinesi chiamavano  l’ Europa addirittura “Da Qin” (la “Grande Cina”). La Via della Seta, che fin dai tempi dell’ Impero Romano e di quello germanico univa Roma con le capitali cinesi, è stata anche  l’asse delle altre grandi civiltà: persiane, greco-macedoni, islamiche e turco-mongole. La Nuova Via della Seta -una rete inestricabile, già in costruzione,  di treni, autostrade e porti- , costituisce una fondamentale  speranza per rilanciare, attraverso le nuove tecnologie, il commercio e il turismo, l’economia e la cultura dell’ Italia e dell’ Europa, travolte da un’interminabile decadenza.

Ne discutono, con l’ Autore, Stefano Commodo, Fondatore e animatore dell’ Associazione Rinascimento Europeo, Giuseppina Merchionne, docente di lingua cinese della Università Cattolica di Milano e presidente del Centro di Scambi culturali Italia Cina ‘The Belt and Road Iniziative’, Ming Chen , segretario dell’ Associazione Nuova Generazione Italo-Cinese, e il Professor Alfonso Sabatino, del Movimento Federalista Europeo. Modera Marco Margrita.

 

Torino, 14 maggio 2018,ore 18.

Il ruolo dei lavoratori nella società delle macchine intelligenti

In occasione della pubblicazione di “Modello sociale europeo e pensiero cristiano dopo l’Enciclica ‘Laudato sì’”, di Alberto Acquaviva e Riccardo Lala

 

A cura di Alpina in collaborazione con Associazione Culturale Diàlexis e Rinascimento Europeo.

 

La disoccupazione tecnologica richiede, oramai,  il controllo, da parte degli “stakeholders”, sui rapporti uomo-macchina, attraverso approcci nuovi, tanto rispetto alla vecchia contrapposizione lavoro-capitale, quanto nei confronti delle concezioni puramente formalistiche della partecipazione dei lavoratori, sempre più travolte dalle nuove forme di organizzazione del lavoro.

 

Il modello sociale europeo e il pensiero sociale cristiano, spregiati e negletti negli ultimi decenni, potrebbero  fornire, più ancora che non i paradigmi pragmatistici e post-umanistici oggi in voga, idee innovative, fondate sul rinnovamento e il potenziamento dell’ umano a partire dall’ irriducibile libertà e imprevedibilità della persona. La critica, da parte dell’Enciclica “Laudato sì”, delle “colonizzazioni culturali”, e le sperimentate ricette della partecipazione nell’ impresa, collaudate in Europa Centrale, forniscono una base sperimentale da cui partire.

 

Ne discutono con gli autori l’avvocato Stefano Commodo, animatore del movimento della società civile “Rinascimento Europeo”, Riccardo Ghidella, Presidente dell’Associazione Cristiana Imprenditori e Dirigenti, e Ezio Ercole, Vice-presidente dell’ Ordine dei Giornalisti del Piemonte.

 

7 – Knowledge-intensive Industries alongside the New Silk Road

Europe, in developing its own knowledge-intensive industries, is confronted with the challenge to find a new way to interact with what Ray Kurzweil has called “Spiritual Machines”, but respecting European cultural traditions: how will it be possible to develop ICT in such a way as to avoid the complete destruction, by machines, of the natural human environment, to which we are used to live, as feared , for instance, by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk,-what Vladimir Putin has called “Bridling Artificial Intelligence”-?.

A series of different industries are converging presently around ICT, under the cover of huge multinational groups, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba, such as cultural and communication industries (education, publishing, broadcasting, cinema, music, entertainment), bioengineering, cybernetics, neurosciences, robotics, mechatronics, telecommunications, aerospace, defence, etc.

In consideration of the ongoing worldwide effort to build up such industries and of the  present employment crisis in Europe, to which our Governments are unable to provide a remedy, the European Union should concentrate its efforts in generating jobs in all sectors of knowledge-intensive Industries, such as, for instance:

a) ICT intelligence and warfare;

b) a Universal European Academy, unifying the existing ones, including an ICT Academy, as proposed by the European Parliament;

c) a whole set of pan-European e.publishers;

d) unifying Arte and Euronews into a powerful multi-channel multilingual broadcaster for all Europeans, alongside the model of al-Jazeera and al-‘Arabiyya for the Arab world;

e) a new “digital Hollywood”;

f) a European hardware manufacturer, competing with Apple;

g) a European software producer, competing with Microsoft;

h) a European Web Provider complying with all requirements of European legislation;

i) a European Internet system;

l) a European search engine, competing with Google;

m) a European e-commerce portal, competing with Amazon and e.Bay;

n) a pan-European promotional portal in all languages;

o) a financial company investing in pan-European touristic enterprises;

p) concentrating and coordinating the existing telecommunication companies for a management of the framework infrastructure apt to safeguard the security of the Europeans’ data.

Presently, Europeans are completely absent from the web industry, search engines, large scale e.publishing and e-commerce.

The Chinese example shows that a State having, as  China has, a continental scale, possesses all characteristics required for hosting the first e-commerce companies of the world, and even two search engines, which, together, have subtracted, from Google, more than 20% of the world market. Therefore, there would not be any reasons why also Europe could not do the same. Presently, no one of these activities is actively supported by the European Institutions, not even at the very low level of “traditional” publishing. It would be impossible to create new jobs for 30 million people in these sectors in a very short time with the same methodologies adopted up to now. Among the  innovative leverages to be utilized for such large scale job creation, a connection with the  Belt and Road Initiative could result decisive.

In particular, the newly created EFSI, connected to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the “On Belt-One Road Fund”, should foster development projects especially in areas along the New Silk Road where, presently, there is, in Europe, a lack of investments.

We remark also the following:

  1. in the debate organised by CGTV at the occasion of the Xiamen BRICS forum of 2017, the idea of a new form of transnational media consensus was aired, which could overcome the media concentration presently existing in the West. A more independent European communication sector could be a part of the play;
  2. Baidu and Alibaba have acquired a valuable experience in creating new knowledge- intensive industries strictly connected with national identity, which are able to compete effectively worldwide, and could be helpful for repeating the same experience in other Continents;
  3. the new Pirelli corporate governance shows a path for  Belt and Road investors to safeguard the independence of European joint ventures and/or subsidiaries.

6 – Italy alongside the Silk Road: 2000 Years of Interchange

The HouHanShu  (the Annals of Later Han) defined Rome, Italy, the Roman Empire, as “DaQin”, the Great China, in the same way as Ancient Greeks defined Italy as “Megale Hellas” (“the Great Greece”). This was a sign of respect and communicated a sense of commonality. What the Han  admired in the Western Empire were, from one side, the nature of its citizens, which were “tall and upright”, that means “kaloikagathoi”, according to the Greek ideal, which corresponded to the Confucian concept of “Junzi”. From the other side, the perfection of its organisation, from the monarchic institution, to urbanism, to transportation and post, up to agricultural production. Especially, Rome and Italy have always been active in the exchange with the Far East. As the Weilue says, the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius had sent an embassy to China. Under Trajan, the Roman fleet dominated the Indian coasts. In the Middle Ages, Italian merchants were specialised in commerce with the East. The trip of Marco Polo is famous both in the East and in the West. Marco Polo arranged, on behalf of the Pope,  the creation of a catholic  ecclesiastical seat in Beijing . The first bishop of the city, Giovanni da Monte Corvino, translated the Gospel and the Psalms into the Chinese Language. Mostly Italian Jesuits played a crucial role in Ching Empire, with Matteo Ricci writing books in Chinese and creating the so-called “Chinese Ryths”, Intorcetta translating Confucius, and Castiglione introducing the Italian pictorial and architectural style. Italian Jesuits defused Chinese culture in Europe and influenced especially the philosopher Leibniz, the main admirer of that culture. The City of Torino hosts the most important Egyptian Museum of the Wold after Cairo. The Italian musician Giacomo Puccini composed two operas (Turandot and Butterfly) which express the spirit of the Silk Road, whilst the writer Emilio  Salgari created, already at the end of the XIX century, fancy novels extolling  the struggles for independence of South-East Asia. Umberto Tucci was an important scholar of Asian cultures, and the writers Pasolini and Moravia appreciated Indian culture. Prime Minister Gentiloni has been the first leader of an important Western country to participate in the Silk Road Forum in  Beijing in 2017.

Chinese enterprises are very active in Italy. The Bank of China has a shareholding in all most important public companies in Italy. Moreover,   the Chinese rating company Dagong has on office in Milan. Finally, Chinese companies control the tyre manufacturer Pirelli, whose brand new corporate governance represents a model of independence of local management and continuity of employment and local corporate culture.

All the above shows that Italy is a crucial point for the relationships of China with the rest of the world, and especially with Europe. Notwithstanding the above, knowledge of China in Italy is not widespread, and most Italians are not realising how important the relationships with China are for economy and culture.

There is a huge space for cultural action.

5 – The Connections of “One Belt-One Road” with the Projects of Other Major Railways Players in Eurasia

The One Belt-One Road system makes sense only if it constitutes also a modality for connecting existing projects which are under way in different parts of Eurasia.

a.Russian Railways in the Global Transportation System

An important part of the Northern branch of the New Silk Road (the railway part, the “Road”) will run through the territories of the Russia Federation. Russia’s railways (RZD) share global leadership, along with China and the U.S.A, in terms of their volume of shipments and the extension of their railway lines. Russia has excellent routes, many of which are part of International Transport Corridors (ITCs).The strategic development of Russian Railways is aimed at improving the global competitiveness of Russia’s railways and their integration into the Eurasian transport system. The transportation of goods from Central Asia to Ukraine, Belarus and the European Union forms the back-bone of the existing transit routes passing through Russia. The main types of wares are oil, ferrous metals, chemicals, coal, ore and grain. In the near future, the basis of transit traffic will become the shipment of containerized cargo on key International Transport Corridors, especially the East – West transcontinental route, which is based on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

b.Europe’s TEN-T – “Connecting Europe” Corridors

Nine core network corridors are identified in the CEF Regulation, which includes a list of projects pre-identified for possible EU funding during the period 2014 – 2020, based on their added value for TEN-T development and their maturity status.

To make sure that such corridors are developed effectively and efficiently, each of them is led by a European Coordinator, supported by a consultative forum (the “Corridor Forum”).

The following nine core network corridors have been identified and will function along the lines described:

  1. The Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor is a crucial north-south axis for the European economy. Crossing the Baltic Sea from Finland to Sweden and passing through Germany, the Alps and Italy, it links the major urban centres and ports of Scandinavia and Northern Germany to continue to the industrialised high production centres of Southern Germany, Austria and Northern Italy further to the Italian ports and Valletta.
  1. The North Sea-Baltic Corridor connects the ports of the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea with the ports of the North Sea.
  1. The North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor stretches from Ireland and the North of the UK through the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to the Mediterranean Sea in the South of France.
  1. The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor is one of the most important trans-European road and railway axes. It connects the Baltic with the Adriatic Sea, through industrialized areas between Southern Poland (Upper Silesia), Vienna and Bratislava, the Eastern Alpine region and Northern Italy.
  1. The Orient/East-Med Corridor connects the maritime interfaces of the North, Baltic, Black and Mediterranean seas, allowing to optimize the use of the ports concerned and the related “Motorways of the Sea”. Including Elbe as inland waterway, it will improve the multimodal connections between Northern Germany, the Czech Republic, the Pannonian region and Southeast Europe. It extends, across the sea, from Greece to Cyprus.
  1. The Rhine-Alpine Corridor constitutes one of the busiest freight routes of Europe, connecting the North Sea ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp to the Mediterranean basin in Genoa, via Switzerland and some of the major economic centres in the Rhein-Ruhr, the Rhein-Main-Neckar regions and the agglomeration around Milan in Northern Italy. This multimodal corridor includes the Rhine as inland water-way. Key projects are the base tunnels, partly already completed, in Switzerland and their access routes in Germany and Italy.
  1. The Atlantic Corridor links the Western part of the Iberian Peninsula and the ports of Le Havre and Rouen to Paris and further to Mannheim/Strasbourg, with high speed rail lines and parallel conventional ones, including also the Seine as inland waterway.
  1. The Rhine-Danube Corridor, with the Main and Danube waterway as its backbone, connects the central regions around Strasbourg and Frankfurt via Southern Germany to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and finally the Black Sea, with an important branch from Munich to Prague and the Ukrainian border.
  1. The Mediterranean Corridor links the Iberian Peninsula with the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. It follows the Mediterranean coastlines of Spain and France, crosses the Alps towards East through Northern Italy, leaving the Adriatic coast in Slovenia and Croatia towards Hungary. Apart from the Po River and some other canals in Northern Italy, it consists of road and rail. Key railway projects along this corridor are the links Lyon-Turin and the section Venice – Ljubljana.

Two key transport policy areas, which are closely related to infrastructure development, have been provided with a TEN-T governance form which is comparable with that of the nine “geographical” corridors: the establishment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and the promotion of the “Motorways of the Sea”

4 – A Shared Culture of Complexity for Facing the New Silk Road’s Challenges

It goes without saying that the New Silk Road , as all political projects, is exposed to several kinds of threats.
The first one of them is the risk of economic failure. Since 2013, a lot of elements have worsened in the world economic landscape, with some of the BRICS countries still in a phase of recession. Notwithstanding certain signs of recovery, the future either is not yet completely clear.

A second risk is derailing because of wars, such as it could happen in Korea, Himalaya or Eastern Europe. During the Xiamen summit, the Korean crisis had arrived at a summit, whilst Indian and Chinese troops were  confronting each other in Doklam and the “Zapad” drills were just starting in Eastern Europe.

The third risk is the one of not being understood by Europe. In fact, Europeans are living in a confuse transition, where  a sense of superiority and of arrogance is defused step by step by the economic crisis  and by their lack of ability to cope new challenges, such as migrations and terrorism. Because of the depth of the cultural changes required, the required  processes are lengthy. In the meantime, Europeans have not understood that joining the Silk Road Initiative is their last occasion for participating to the ongoing renaissance of the Eurasian Continent.

A fourth risk is that the Silk Road Initiative remains confined to politics and economy, without being able to reach the cultural domain. During the debate organised by CGTV at the occasion of the Xiamen BRICS Forum, some voices had invoked a de-ideologized attitude, while others stressed a confrontational  approach against the manipulation of truth by western media.

How to cope with all these challenges?

According to us, the response lies first of all in stressing the role of culture. In fact, the uniting concepts of the so-called “BRICS Plus” is that the culture of the West is unable to supply a satisfactory  basis for a debate among the different peoples of the world for solving their problems. But does this happen only because the West is wicked, or because it is monopolised by a narrow group of powerful people? Or, said otherwise, is it so because it has adopted a fanatical ideology divinising technology, and, as a consequence, abhorring humanity? May the coloured  world “there outside”, represented, for instance, by  the Beijing Opera, the World Yoga Day, al-Azhar University, the Bolshoi theatre, Bantu dances, the Rio Carnival, be coerced into the aseptic theories of Post-humanism?

According to me, it is this incapacity to understand the complexity of the world which is bringing about the economic disaster of the West, as well as its useless tentatives to “bridle” diversity, in Cuba as in Irak, in Iran as in Afghanistan..

The  concept itself of the Belt and Road initiative is an exemplification of the above dialectics (if you want, Yin and Yang), among  different civilisations along the “Seven Climates” of ancient Persian culture: the agricultural civilisations along the oceans and of the  Mediterranean shores (the “Wen” according to Shiratori), and the nomadic peoples of the Asiatic hinterlands (the “Wu”). It is normal that all these civilisations have their contributions to give to human history, even in the present globalised and technological  era. Only if globalisation will incorporate such elements of multiplicity will we escape the prospective “End of Mankind”, overwhelmed by “Intelligent Machines”.

Only once such new multi-faceted “techno-humanism” (as Harari calls it)  is shared, different problems may be solved: the economic crisis by  means of economic policies adapted to each different area; military confrontations via an open debate about the conflicting requirements. At the end, there should be a phase of debate among all participants, based upon common goals. Europe must understand that, within this wide debate area, it has the duty to declare its own proposals, which may not be a simple photocopy of the American vision.

3 – Win-Win Benefits from the New Silk Road for Europe and China

The multiplication of new exchange opportunities is unavoidable in a moment when Europe and Russia are hit by a long-standingcrisis, also because of their mutual economic war following to the Ukrainian crisis, and China’s economy is relatively slowingdown because of the worldwide recession and of the impossibility, by its internal market, to absorb the bulk of the country’s hugecommercial surplus.

Europe will benefit under several points of view from the increasing ease with which people from all of Eurasia will be able reach it, witnessed already now by the multiple direct railway connections with Madrid, Lyon, Rotterdam, Warsaw, Lodz and also Mortara. Theexperience of the last years has shown that crisis ridden Europe is attracting important Chinese, Russian,  Indian and Arabi (such as the ones in Jaguar, Pirelli,   PSA, Pyraeus Port), and that Russian and Chinese tourists rush are just at the beginning, whilst we have now130 million tourists exiting Chine each year, of which only a small percentage are coming to Europe.

Notwithstanding the positive shift of interest, in worldwide culture, from a narrow-minded Eurocentrism (the so-called “provincialisation of Europe”), Europe is still attracting people of all the world for a series of conditions unique to it: the European tradition to preserve alsophysically ancient cultural heritage (Athens, Rome, Florence, Venice); the concentration of a centuries old history within a limited space;the diversity among the different parts of this space; the European origin of the inhabitants of many important non European countries, aswell as the influence of European culture on other peoples during the XIX and XX Centuries; the special sophistication of Europeanconsumerism, which renders European culture, goods and locations, very appreciated by big spenders both in the Americas and in Eurasia. As concerns, in particular, China, the Chinese people has always paid a strong attention to European culture because of the similarities between the two worlds, either  evident or hidden.

Today, Europe must overcome its doubts about the positive impact of Eurasian investments in the Continent, which are contributing massively to the overcoming of the present economic crisis, and pave the way to new, more decisive, ones.

Summing up, the benefits for Europe are numerous:

-our economies will be able to recover from the ongoing crisis thanks to the existence in Eurasia of a large population of consumers,which  is hungry of our sophisticated products;

-foreign investments in these sectors will improve, from one side, employment, and, from the other, export;

-there will be a larger “aura” effect, with the connected investments in real estate, with enhanced attention for our cultural institutions (alarge part of students in Europe are Chinese already now), and with a stronger confidence of international financial markets in our economies.

For being able to exploit in the best way this overall shift, Europeans must prepare themselves, their States and their societies. TheEuropean Union must launch an urgent action for the diffusion of Eurasian cultures, for the electronic promotion of Europe worldwide, forthe study of Chinese, Russian and Arabic at all levels. Our publishing house, Alpina srl, its consulting division Bouleusis and thecultural association Diàlexis are working for these objectives since a long time. We have created an Evrazija-Avrasya division for this purpose, and are expecting partners of all over the world to cooperate with us (see http://www.alpinasrl.com)

It should be self-evident that China attributes a large interest to this in depth interconnection with Europe. Advantages for the Chinese havebeen cited as concerns export, a better political image and avoiding that isolation to which the failed TIPP treaty was intended.

The main advantages for both sides would be cultural and political. Paradoxically, whilst China had been very well known in Europe in theXVIII century thanks to Jesuits, courts and Enlightenment, we have witnessed, in the last two hundred years, a growing China-bashingtrend, with China described, starting from Hegel, as backward, despotic, poor, violent, fanatic, narrow-minded. Today, China has anoccasion to show to the whole world its true face: ancient and hyper-modern, one of the oldest civilizations, which, nevertheless, is atthe forefront of progress worldwide.

Not only China, but all Eurasian countries will benefit from the New Silk Road.

2 – The Cultural Silk Road

Albeit most modern sciences and techniques (mathematics, glass production, automata, paper, paper-money, algebra, printing, gunpowder, firearms…), have ancient Asiatic roots, the development of complicated machines apt to substitute men’s work, such as steam engines, Jacquard looms, dynamos and turbines, motor vehicles, writing and computing machines, electric and nuclear energies, mass media, informatics, are connected in some way to the era  of European hegemony, such as Western exploration, colonialism and neo-colonialism, and, as it has been investigated by many contemporary authors, bear the imprinting of certain characteristics of Western cultures, such as Indo-European language logics and religious messianism. For these reasons, notwithstanding  many efforts made to challenge some of these new developments, such as the ones of  Huxley, McLuhan and Hawking, the mainstream Western thought has not expressed  valuable proposals on how to govern the rise of Intelligent Machines.

Contrary to what is happening in the West, all countries of the BRICS are going, since many decades, in the direction of re-evaluating their traditional cultures, such as Sinic and Indic philosophies, Islam and Eastern Christianity, which are less oriented towards rationalism and messianism. As a consequence, even if  BRICS are now in the forefront of the development of new technologies, we may expect that they will introduce balances to a strict mechanical logic, apt to oppose the risks of the machines overcoming men, expressed still recently by scientists and entrepreneurs such as Hawking and Musk. Let’s think, for instance, of the idea of a “fuzzy” logic, of the Azeri mathematician Lotfi Zadeh, already utilised in the past by Indian and Chinese scientists for predicting rainfalls. Recently, President Putin has spoken about the need to “bridle” Artificial Intelligence and to avoid a world monopoly in this area, and has expressed his preparedness to share with other world powers Russia’ achievements in this field. The fact itself that the final document of the Xiamen Summit had included a series of themes concerning cooperation in the control of several types of abuse of new technologies is evidence of a cultural preparedness, by participating countries, to meet this type of challenge.

Looking at it from with a positive point of view, culture is becoming a social need everywhere, also for balancing the de-personalizing effects of economy and technology. The countries alongside the land and maritime Silk Roads include almost all the most important sources of culture during history (the “Haft Kesvar”-“Seven Climates”-of Persian tradition) . Their histories had borne the risk to be forgotten, inter alia with the reduction of the role of their classical languages, the neglect of care for archaeological sites and museums, the prevalence of market-oriented publishing trends, fanatics’ destruction of ancient treasures, the ignorance of the history of Asian cultures.

Among other things, the Silk Road Initiative should provide finance for publishing, media, academies, universities, schools, archaeology and travel devoted to comparative culture (philology, philosophy, religions, history, literatures, music, arts, cinema, architecture…): the relationships among ancient languages and peoples, didactic methods, comparative cultural history,…

A cultural revival of the Eurasian Continent would contribute to salvage mankind from nihilism and mechanisation, and to the birth of a vibrant cultural industry in a time when simpler jobs are destroyed by technological unemployment.

1 – Two Keywords for Understanding the New Silk Road: Culture and “Win-Win approach”

China is explaining the New Silk Road (or “One-Belty-One Road”, or “Silk Road Initiative”Yi Dai-Yi Lu: hereinafter, “the Initiative”)to the world. Moreover, there is another multiplicity of initiatives, independent of China, which contribute to clarify it in a very differentiated way. Many books have been published in all continents and in many languages. That it normal, because, albeit China is acting as its catalyser, the initiative is not a monopoly of China, but on the contrary is an asset for the entire world.

In any case, a better coordination would be useful, because those multiple independent undertakings encounter difficulties in interfacing one another. According to me, two main aspects should be strongly emphasized: culture and win-win approach.

From the cultural point of view, the Initiative may represent even an answer to the lack of meaning of contemporary societies, too haunted by technical and contingent questions, and loosing hold on reflection and phantasy. As to the win-win approach, the logics of Western languages and cultures is too rigid and materialistic for being apt to explain the deep interrelationships existing among situations and people.

As to culture, the East-West relationship transcends a simplistic dialectic between “modernity” and “tradition”. Contrary to what is commonly believed, East and West have been intertwined since the beginning. The HouHanShu, the Qur’an, the “Trip to the Western Regions”, the Wolfram von Eschenbach, Marco Polo, Akbar, Ricci, Puccini, have shown in practice what these interrelationships mean. Today, Confucius, Tao, Chan, as well as Mahabharata or Bodhidharma, may represent answers to many of the most urgent questions of our technological time. Everything which moved or happens among East and West, such as Alexander, Zhuan Zang, Ibn Battuta, Ibn Sina, al Ghazzali, al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam, Jalal ad-Din .Zheng He, Cinggiz Khan, Kabir, still constitute an unexhausted source of inspiration and fantasy all over the world. As a consequence, the New Silk Road should be conceived first of all as a cultural project, utilising the many works and authors which have focussed on this transnational Eurasian space, such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Schopenhauer, Rerih, Guénon, Fenollosa, Pound and Gumilev.

As to the “win-win” idea, it is not sufficient to list the huge quantity of synergies which may be achieved thanks to a more coordinated approach. Each country and each individual should be made able to understand in which way its assets, its skills, its ambitions, may be better exploited and valued thanks to the opportunities of a broader interchange. This is true especially for Europe, which is experiencing a century-long decadence due to its narrow internal market and to the political limitations imposed by its belonging in the Western block. Only the unlimited Eastern finance and the fast growing Eastern markets may provide a long term sustained development for the sectors in which Europe is still leading, such as culture, tourism, fashion, food and beverages. Unfortunately, the insufficient structures of the European Union is such, that a coordinated approach to these matters does not exist today. In their mutual interests, the EU and China should foster a coordinated approach on both sides, first of all via the Investment Protection Treaty under negotiation; secondly, by organising the utilisation of the New Silk Road for channelling cooperation in new technologies and tourism on both directions, and, finally, for enhancing mutual knowledge between East and West.

In the past millennia, it was clear that Eurasia “functioned” as a sole entity. The Japanese geo-political scholar Shiratori spoke, in this connection, of a the continuous dialectic between the Northern cattle breeding and nomadic “Wu”, “武”(in Japanese, “Bu”) in the North of Eurasia, and the stable, agricultural “Wen”, “文”(in Japanese, “Bu”) along the shores of the seas and of the oceans . Recent paleo-ontological and linguistic studies have confirmed a certain mixture of Northern steppe tribes and Proto-sinic populations, for instance in the necropoles of Elgyin and Linzi.

Old Chinese scholars, albeit considering their country as being the centre of the world (as the name “Zhong Guo” suggests), attributed crucial importance to Europe since the oldest antiquity. Typical is the utilisation of the expression “Da Qin” (“Greater China”) for designating, according to the periods, Rome, Italy, the Roman Empire, the Middle Eastern “Rum”, or even Christianity. In such Old Chinese view, there were only two areas of the world which had a civilization comparable to the one of China: “Da Qin” and India. Much later, this idea was shared by many Europeans, including Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci, and especially the Enlighteners De Quesnais, Leibniz and Voltaire, who aimed at the unification of Europe under a sovereign similar to the Chinese Emperors Kang Xi and Qianlong.

Today, the world is facing unprecedented challenges. The development of informatics, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, neurobiology, etc… is producing new mental, biological and social entities, which had not been addressed either by traditional cultures, such as the Sinic San Jiao, or Vedic and Mediterranean Axial cultures, and not even contemplated by modern humanism, liberalism, socialism, Christian social thought or ecologism. In fact, what could the dignity of big data be? Which is the sense of liberty of a robot? The role of proletariat in a society of intelligent machines? Equality among humans, cyborgs and robots? The defence of all biospecies, except mankind?