Rediscovering the value of the public good
Criminal organizations such as camorra, ‘ndrangheta and mafia prosper by conquering their own social and economic spaces, not to mention their political territory, exactly in those gray areas of broader illegality. Actually, there is no region in Italy that can be considered safe from this advancing trend. It is no surprise then that local scholars, social co-ops, and judges – all engaged in a daily struggle against violence and injustice -- are expressing their grateful wonder at the commitment shown by the Province of Trento and its Festival of Economics for organizing this round-table discussion about the submerged economy specifically and appropriately at the catacombs of San Gennaro.
«If we win, we win all together. If we lose, each of us will lose». These words, uttered by Robert De Niro in an old movie, reverberated on Saturday May 28th within the ancient walls of the Basilica of San Gennaro, in the heart of Naples' Sanità district. Originally built between the V and VI century, more recently the Basilica became a landfill for the nearby hospital waste. But thanks to the hard work of young people and the vision of the parish priest, Don Antonio Loffredo, the Basilica was born again in the new Millennium, connecting the neighborhood with the catacombs, whose winding paths dug into the belly of the mountain reach the apse of the Basilica of Incoronata at Capodimonte. In turn, this revival gave way to restoration co-ops, tourism opportunities, crafts schools -- all of them managed by local youngsters able to escape the suffering of job insecurity and the siren songs of illegal activities. This was the perfect setting for the introduction of the Festival of Economics in Trento, with a discussion event about the submerged economy and the strategies aimed at exposing it.
This situation affects all of us. Judges, sociologists and economists painted a specific picture of Naples: the submerged economy, tax evasion, corruption and organized criminality are occurrences deeply linked to each other, even if carrying different urgency and consequences. Criminal organizations such as camorra, ‘ndrangheta and mafia prosper by conquering their own social and economic spaces, not to mention their political territory, exactly in those gray areas of broader illegality. And now they can also move from their traditional Southern turf to Northern Italy and even across the border -- thus slowing down the economic growth of the entire system. Actually, there is no region in Italy that can be considered safe from this advancing trend. It is no surprise then that local scholars, social co-ops, and judges – all engaged in a daily struggle against violence and injustice -- are expressing their grateful wonder at the commitment shown by the Province of Trento and its Festival of Economics for organizing this round-table discussion about the submerged economy specifically and appropriately at the catacombs of San Gennaro.
In fact, this simple gesture has brought to the surface a larger awareness about the statement «If we win, we win all together» mentioned above. A position underlined here by Vincenzo Moretti, a "scugnizzo" [a typical underclass Neapolitan street kid] living in Secondigliano who was able, through an extraordinary effort of hard work and study, to become Professor of Social Studies at Salerno University and an engaged contributor to the <ahref Foundation. He and his fellows -- Giacomo Di Gennaro (Professor of Social Studies at Naples’ University Federico II), Franco Roberti (district attorney in Salerno), Michele Polo (economist at the Bocconi University), Umberto Sirico (General in charge of the Central Service for Organized Crime Investigation Unit), Luciano Brancaccio (sociologist), Luca Meldolesi (professor of political economy at Naples’ Federico II University ), Giovanni Allucci (CEO of Agrorinasce), Carlo Borgomeo (President of the Fondazione con il Sud) -- thoroughly pointed out the connections linking these illegal cultures, the institutional duties and the responsibilities pertaining of each of us.
Indeed: every citizen can contribute to the recovery of confidence toward a healthy and peaceful coexistence, a social innovation capable of providing new perspectives to the youth and good people, an entrepreneurial wave that can regenerate the hope for economic growth aimed at improving the quality of life. A collection of initiatives outlined by Alex Giordano, expert of online marketing, and Luca Dello Iacovo, journalist and researcher with the <ahref Foundation -- thus proving that the Internet can actually became a tool to develop appropriate solutions to urgent problems and long-term struggles.
The online collaborative dimension gives strength to the civil society in taking back its own destiny. In fact, despite their explicit or submerged diversities, their commercial or underground features, all Net cultures share a common trait: any problem can be interpreted as a challenge to do something to solve it. At the end of the day, the combined skills of citizens and professionals who have been actively using the Internet seem to increase the general awareness that the future is not something to be waiting for, but rather a consequence of what we can build today. The Net is one more opportunity to create something anew, in addition to local networks, social media, collaborative systems already functioning. However, such opportunity can only be seized, as Carlo Borgomeo suggested, by cultivating a wide-ranging sense of responsibility. Which in turn becomes a social and cultural program in its own right: to achieve such responsibility we must regain the value of public good, something that belongs to all of us and whose impoverishment makes each of us poorer. This is the value of shared information and engaged collaboration, pushing each person to his/her requalification in accordance to his/her own role as a citizen or a professional. This is the capital embodied in the culture of people and rooted in the history of local territories. This is the asset of hope in our society and in a legal system that can be supported only by stimulating the links among different individuals and experiences around a set of common rules. These are the true sources of an economic and human growth.
(Luca De Biase)