L'associazione Utopia Rossa lavora e lotta per l'unità dei movimenti rivoluzionari di tutto il mondo in una nuova internazionale: la Quinta. Al suo interno convivono felicemente - con un progetto internazionalista e princìpi di etica politica - persone di provenienza marxista e libertaria, anarcocomunista, situazionista, femminista, trotskista, guevarista, leninista, credente e atea, oltre a liberi pensatori. Non succedeva dai tempi della Prima internazionale.

sabato 8 giugno 2013

INDIVIDUAL, CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION, by Roberto Massari

Report for the seminar of Revolutionary Socialism/Socialist Utopia
(Assisi, July 10, 1992)

1. “Legend” of the three wayfarers

It is far from easy to analyze in a lecture the relations that exist or may be established between those three elements indicated in the title. About the mutual dependence of culture and communication only, oceans of ink have been spilled and numerous scholars on social systems and mass communication have dealt with the topic. But, somehow, we must take the bull by the horns.

We will attempt to move forward from an allegorical image which, as it is the case with images used in a symbolic explicative function, will increase its metaphoric value in the very course of the exposition.
Let us suppose for a moment that we are here in Assisi but one thousand years ago, on July 992. Let us imagine ourselves on this hill while three wayfarers dressed in medieval costumes proceed along that country path.
One of them could be a merchant, heading to some country fair for business; or maybe the member of an artisans corporation; or a nobleman with no intentions to seclude himself in a convent or to stay home playing the role of the second son in line for the rest of his life and has decided to wander around the world (that world…). Whichever of those three he might be, we can consider him at all effects an individual with the characteristics of his epoch and, in the last hypothesis, even a person who would like to refrain from the obligations of family or nobility effective in those centuries of the Italian Middle Ages. In any case, he is a person who is conscious of his individuality and is willing to defend it.

A typical figure of those centuries anteceding the year One thousand is walking alongside him: a wandering minor clerk, an expert in several arts, a student –not from university because universities simply have not yet started to function (that of Bologna will begin officially in 1088, less than a century after).  There are indeed other centers of reclusion and fellowship for those devoted to studies, mostly in the religious field since the official “high” culture was essentially theological or, in any case, submitted to the undemocratic guidance of the Roman catholic clergy and its ramifications; that was the period’s hegemonic culture whether it dealt with interpretation of the Scriptures in their new translations or the movements of the stars or the echelons of animal creation. We will thus summarily call this second figure a “student” while considering him a most appropriate representation of middle and medieval culture.
The third wayfarer can be no other than a minstrel, a juggler, a troubadour, a pioneer in Occitan verse, arrived in Italy who knows why or invited by who knows who. We can picture him with a hurdy-gurdy in his sack, or a lute or any other wind or plucked-string instrument. The important thing is that this figure travels from court to court, from prince to prince – from Aquisgrain to Perugia, from Sevilla to Viterbo, from Canterbury to Paris – frequently treading upon, for lay more than religious reasons, the same roads which pilgrims from other countries take along the Via Francígena to the alleged Roman sepulcher of Peter the apostle or down the Santiago de Compostela road where, in the preceding century, a tomb had been discovered and attributed to Jacob the Major.  This artist-musician- poet-traveller incarnates in reality the “journalist” if not the epoch’s “oral journal”: he is the one who transfers news and the new ways of poetizing, of music and culture; he does it from village to village, from bishopric to bishopric.
We are not to think, however, that the representation of these three figures, going together and apparently to the same destination, is an invention of mine. In fact, we know a lot about their convergence in the socio-historic realities of their time, whether thanks to the chronicles of their contemporaries or to the more recent work of scholars. But we also count on some materials –literary and musical at the same time- in those goliardic, celebratory, erotic, moralizing and even licentious street-and-tavern songs known as Carmina Burana.

Well, the Carmina Burana – whose musical performances usually raise a real musicological debate and which many of you have enjoyed in the 1937 Carl Orff’s version- offer a coherent representation in the three afore mentioned figures. Produced in no specific social or geographic point, anonymous and alien to the official “high” culture, these Carmina were pleasurably composed or listened to by travellers, passing merchants, wandering priests, students and bards: a concentrate of high and low culture, of languages noble (Latin above all, deformed though it may be) and popular (from High German to vulgar Italian); a knowledge of musical traditions, from Gregorian chant to the new poetry of troubadours, with certain elements of pneumatic writing; an effective synthesis in the popular arts field of spiritual trends and thought which could be common to the three allegorical subjects at the starting point of our discourse.

2. An emblematic maître-à-penser of our times

Let us now take a one thousand year leap and move on to the current 1992, in the same Assisi alley, and try to imagine a contemporary trio of characters which may allow me to carry out an analogous synthesis: three sociocultural figures emblematic enough to incarnate, more or less definitely, certain general expressions of the individual, culture and communication with the same denseness of the preceding trio and –why not? – the same aesthetic beauty of the Carmina Burana’s musical translation.

As to such effort my failure is complete: I have found nothing capable of functioning as a modern equivalent to the allegory of the three wayfarers, the Carmina, etc., nor anything concrete and visible enough to enable me to metaphorically connect the individual’s modern demands with the exigencies of modern culture and communication. Nor have I been able to find any synthesis, mental production, visual, literary or sound representation.
 
I have thus decided to resort to a compromising solution and to accept the first image which, through association of ideas, has come to mind, to then confront it with the synthetic capacity, historicity and coherence of the previous trinity. And it is so that, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, the image that has come to my mind is that of a great journalist of our time: Giorgio Bocca [1920-2012, note from 2012].

I have then imagined this professional trouble-maker of our epoch, treading upon the same country road, in July 1992. And the first thing I have been forced to ascertain is that this is not an individual. I mean to say that, as long as we refer to a flesh and blood man who walks, eats, defecates and relates to others, Bocca would be an individual like any one of us. Nevertheless, if we refer to the journalist, the author of books and reportages, to his thinly disguised aspiration to function as a maître-à-penser of our wretched Italy (so much and so justly despised by him), it becomes evident that we are no longer facing a real individual but an image.
It is an image that has separated from the individual and already goes its own path, made out of television appearances, compromises and skirmishes with newspapers’ directors. An image produced, broadcasted and amplified by the media or, if you prefer, by that sector of the spectacular society which intends to entertain the new generations of the Left with the myth of the partisans’ war (a myth which, deprived from class connotations and according to Bocca’s own goals, functions very well), with a superficial laicism or with the myth of independence as a career (an oxymoron perfectly incarnated by Bocca inasmuch as a 100% media image built by the current communication system). As a television character, Bocca more or less critically relates to the television power system (which we shall discuss); as an author of books, he relates to the editorial power system; as a journalist, he relates, more or less critically, to the newspapers’ system and its massive operation of falsification of the social and political reality in which we live. As a whole, he relates to the mass communication system, a cultural ramification of dubious dignity.
I am pleased to have chosen the figure of one of the less corrupt and dishonest specimens in the Italian journalistic milieu, for thus the attention will easily be guided to the objective datum, that is to say, to the work of Great falsification collectively carried out by the private and state disinformation system (with or without the complicity of various Bocca or non-Bocca), independently of the will, capability or honesty of the individual journalist. A journalist –that specific journalist we are talking about- who has been formed in the system and that, practically speaking, has also shown discreet qualities in the areas of communication and culture ( as a historian, research editor, defender of certain guarantees in the judiciary field, etc.). In short, Bocca offers to us a balanced, dignified and middle-high image in the cultural sense of a “critical” journalistic model at the service, anyhow, of the media-oriented requirements of the system while apparently respectful of the liberal-democratic principles which promoted this sort of journalism and which should, in theory, keep on sustaining it.
Had I chosen the image of a Maurizio Costanzo –to name but an instance well known even to somebody like me who has never had a T. V. set- we would inexorably descend to the level of low, very low culture and would have had to immediately renounce the quest for any symbolic quality able to work, in this second type of journalist, for our metaphorical representation in its unity-trinity ambivalence.
Paradoxically enough, the fact of resorting to the image of a great scientist or artist would not have worked at all because we would have been biased towards a high or even very high cultural side. With Bocca, we have a satisfactory middle level, a balance between the aspiration for a middle-high culture and a commitment with an everyday reality made out of a middle or low popular culture: we should almost talk of a national-popular equilibrium –something Bocca certainly would not like to be rewarded with.
I hope, then, to have made myself clear and that we might agree on this fact: in the picture of our allegorical representation, on that Assisi alley there is no such thing as an individual walking but an image, however emblematic of the “public vices and virtues” of our time.

3. It is not a unifying expression of Culture

Culture does not walk through this image, not even a specific cultural or subcultural dimension.  Who would dare saying that a journalist, even with such level and capacities as Bocca’s, is able to provide today a significant or trustworthy testimony of our cultural world?
The organization of culture, its system of production, reproduction and diffusion has reached such levels of complexity that not even the most encyclopedic of living intellectuals could provide a representation of it or give a first person synthesis, neither as an individual nor as journalistic lobby, nor as a research team, intellectual trend, etc. While in the transitional phases from the High to the Low Middle Ages we would have been able to enclose in some great humanist’s personality a representative cultural synthesis, a comprehensive expression of the best of the epoch’s culture, it is clear in our day that there is no place for such figures, historic and symbolic at the same time, like a Marsilio Ficino or a Da Vinci or, later, a Giordano Bruno. And this, I insist, as a result of the complexity and ampleness of artistic development in middle or middle-high (not to mention high) culture, as well as of the levels of specialization required in specific terrains whether it is mathematics, visual arts or engineering.
Beyond the system’s complexity and the inadequacy of its representative subjects, we are not to forget either the question of those spaces where cultural production takes place: elusive and, frequently enough, impalpable spaces always and anyway conditioned by money, political affiliation and the demands of a mass-level spectacular society. An issue we are compelled to put aside however worth of deeper analysis.

4. It is not a unifying expression of communication

Now we must ask ourselves if this non-individual who does not carry culture is, at least, a vehicle of communication. Being a well-known journalist and notorious character of the world of television, the most natural and trivial answer would seem to be the affirmative one. Gosh! How not to recognize Bocca, or his associated (or substituting) journalistic image as a broadcaster of messages, an amplifier of issues, a connector of different and interrelated communicative contexts: in short, a media-based bridge between various constitutive elements of mass communication. Well, this third element of my threefold entity was doubtless the most insidious and liable to be taken for granted of them all. I have had, therefor, to give it even more reflecting time, only to arrive once more to a negative certainty: no, on the Assisi alley etc., etc., the image of the famous journalist does not even carry along communication, in a comprehensive, emblematic and structurally integrated sense.

4a. He cannot carry it, then, due to an instrumental, say material, concretion. The medieval or proto- renaissance troubadour carried along with him those instruments to communicate which, in general, he also owned: the voice, a hurdy-gurdy, a lute, a drum or, in particular cases (for instance, in street theater), also the wardrobe. If a given Bocca or present day expert in mass communication were to carry his own professional instruments, five vans would not be enough to contain the whole load of television paraphernalia of microphones, amplifiers, but also rotogravures, linotypes, computers or everyday press files classified as to date and topics (without which a journalist would feel practically naked). [This last consideration is actually obsolete, in the light of informatics’ development affecting systems of filing and classification in the web, with Wikipedia, Google, etc. Note from 2012]. Nor he would certainly feel satisfied with owning or transporting exclusively Italian newspapers’ editorial councils or properties for also in the mass communication world there is a multi-nationalization process of the press, editorial councils, television stations and an international concentration of journalistic and T.V. ownerships. Yesterday [July 9, 1992] the news read that the holders of La Reppublica journal have bought the 17 % of a Portuguese newspaper, just like that, as if it were the most natural thing in the world…of the press. And many other massive property displacements have been going on in the field of journals and big editorial groups, at least, since the end of Second World War. And in the U. S. even before that.
4b. But that journalist we have chosen as an emblem cannot carry with him or transmit communication with a minimum of perfection or representativeness, above all, because of ideological reasons which could be, in a ultimate analysis, also political. The cultural heritage he represents is barely a component (whether more or less important is debatable) of the dominant cultural system. This system is constituted by the accumulation and elaboration of information, news, artistic manifestations, linguistic transformations etc., carried out through centuries of bourgeois permanence in power. And it reflects, rightly or wrongly, the multiple and profound differentiations that time and class struggle have operated inside this social class, rigidly national before and now in a process of increasing internationalization (even if it has not yet cut its genetic identification with National States and Individual Country).
Not even a cultivated and “cult” journalist such as Bocca can speak in the name of the whole social bourgeois front, much less of the ensemble of political parties which represent it or with which the bourgeoisie decides, eventually, to establish relationships of privilege (from the extreme right to the so-called extreme left). Our journalist-symbol, when he does not speak or writes simply in his own name, does it in the name of a fraction of the bourgeois front, a fraction, to make things worse, slippery and chameleonic, in constant transformation. Such a fraction is, in its turn, subject as a “mother” social class to the pressures of a socio-political mutation which no longer possesses the secular rhythms of the year 992 and of a great part of the following millennium, but it goes on progressively acquiring faster and more uncontrollable rhythms.
In short, he does not transmit authentic communication 1) because he is not speaking in the name of the bourgeoisie as a whole nor of its decisive components; 2) because he cannot speak of those transformations intervening in the social body in real time, neither can he adapt his own analysis to the frenetic rhythms of social and cultural change; 3) because he must continuously confront the negative impact of that transformation in the political field: no wonder Bocca has had the wisdom to keep himself outside of the melee, preferring to consider himself a living anachronism with his explicit appeal to the founding principles of Justice and Liberty and of the Party-in-action.
We must add that he cannot even talk in the name of an alleged socio-political opposition which is itself fragmented and reluctant to recognize itself in the message of this or that tribune, of this or that supposedly charismatic character, of this or that party secretary or leftist anchorman [which is what Bertinotti is about to become, Note from 2012]. Fragmentariness, dispersion, impossibility to sustain the change-frenzy…these are some of the elements which contribute to provide a realist picture of the “minorityness” of the individual intellectual’s message (whether he is a journalist, politician, cardinal, union or university baron), no matter how talented, well-trained and privileged in material and professional assets. To the fragmentation and diversification of the social body (and its reproductive processes) corresponds an analogous fragmentation-diversification of the mass communication system; we could even say that the latter is greater thus contributing to further diversification in the social tissue. Wandering clerics or troubadours, with their Carmina Burana, unified, rendered homogeneous and made circulate a certain type of culture that, even if was not an expression of the society of the period as a whole, did represent it in some of its conspicuous sectors (from the monastery to the university, from the market to the nascent theatre on the road to institutionalization), layers of social classes in ascent, at times the “best” ones, under the quantitative profile of a bourgeoisie in formation, then arising and finally dominating. (In this respect, our allegory could move forward in time and attempt to recommence with three different figures from the end of the XVIII century, the Enlightenment and French Revolution onward: who knows if and how much this could work). 
It would not be far-fetched to apply to those sociocultural layers in ascent, from that past in slow transformation, the definition of elites coined by modern Sociology (from Mosca or Pareto on). Whether or not this retroactive use of the term is valid, it is a fact that those “medieval” elites represented anyhow the most active, studious, critical and modernizing part of society; they contributed essentially to the diffusion of the best that the “mass intelligentsia” of each epoch was able to produce, and that other elites were prompt to disseminate geographically and socially speaking.
We would then agree that none of that can be applied to the modern castes of journalists, scholars, politicians and controllers of mass communication. In our time there is no longer a qualitative correspondence to the wandering clerics, jugglers, alchemists or preachers of long ago.  Only the corrupt figures of servile courtiers and mercenaries could match with the current partisan, parliamentary or media castes. But the appetites and ruinous influence of the modern courtesan castes are stronger and not comparable to those of their medieval colleagues.

4c. I could add a few considerations as to the fact that today there is no longer “information”, “artistic" manifestation or cultural content impervious to the contact of the political mainstream which, in every industrialized country, determine the good or bad weather of the everyday parliamentary life, filling the “blanks” between one political campaign and the other. In countries such as Italy, France and Germany (and why not thinking also of some Latin American countries) where the party system practically dominates the ensemble of cultural manifestations, the opportunities for a career improvement or the alleged professionalization of cultural operators themselves, this is but blatant. And the influence of party systems on the diffusion of communication represents an internal cancer, one further element of fragmentation which dooms communication itself to an always faster trivialization in historical terms.
Out of all the everyday political blab (from newsreels to television agoras, from show-congresses to the ever-growing homologation of partisan press) the amount of information which becomes sediment in time and conforms a lasting message is always smaller. Decadent debates, superficial analyses, biased hostility towards the demands of theoretical elaboration, the shameful political pragmatism of the “lesser evil”, the genetic assimilation of the ill-fated theory of end justifying means (well represented in Italy by Togliattismo) make us clearly realize that this rhythm of trivialization will not permit the preservation of a heritage in qualitative or propositional terms favorable for future generations and intellectual elites, political or not, to grow and confront themselves with.
I am referring to the right, center, left and, an innovation respect the postwar period (at least since the end of the 60’), to the extreme left too. And nevertheless, while this general decadence intensifies itself, the Defensor Pacis, by Marsilio di Padova (1275-1342) –to only quote a great work which irritated the Church much before Erasmus and Giordano Bruno- is still being published, read and commented, as a matter of fact, with pleasure and profit. Other texts-symbols destined to remain in time could be mentioned, also because they are not so many. Precisely…

4d. In the year 992, there was nothing that could be considered a symptom or pioneering expression of the temporal damage exerted by the party system on the growth and dissemination of an authentic mass culture and, therefore, it is not possible to make comparisons. Only the Catholic Church –thanks to its relative immobility throughout the centuries- has retained a role comparable to the one it then had, but such an aspect goes beyond our reflection. And it must have been noticed that the monk (or the friar) a noteworthy figure in the year 992, if not during all of the Middle Ages, was not included in our happy trio in the opening.

A deliberate choice, since the real or symbolic figure of the friar used to exclude eventually the expression of individuality. By definition, that expression had to dissolve in Jesus/God (especially in the case of Franciscans) and, even if he was a preacher, he should not preach anything new outside the convent’s walls, apart from a variously interpreted Christological message. But we must also acknowledge that many of those friars – since the creation of the Benedictine order, but not only- were unconsciously contributing to the preservation of classical culture (“high” in such sense) through their work as copyists and amanuenses. A work which, nevertheless, they carried out as an act of self-mortification and devotion towards the divine and with no ambition whatsoever translatable in terms of increase or expansion of “mass communication”, inasmuch as that could be then understood. In literary terms, that intellectual world has been magnificently described by Umberto Eco in The name of the rose.
No. The preaching friar, or amanuensis or heretic martyr would not have been able to join our happy trio. But that is no reason to undermine the importance of his work within the collectiveness of the Order or, in certain cases, of his personal testimony. Here, in Assisi, I do not need to proceed any further with that topic, even if I would like to open a chapter on the artistic figurations of some of the things I am pointing at.

5. Spectacular mass society

I hope that this procedure which began with the allegorical image of the unifying trio, has been, first, agreeable for those of you who are listening; then comprehensible and, finally, useful. My secret ambition was that of summarizing in some phrases and symbolic images the ultimate sense of those libraries full of volumes describing or reconstructing the way we have passed from fundamentally oral cultures (i. e., those built upon the transmission of the word which have continued their momentum even in times when writings were transmitted in manual form) to typographic cultures (the Gutenberg era, when writing started its journey reproduced by the press, in place of words) to reach the present epoch constituted by cultures based mainly on images (visual, film or telecast representations): an epoch, let us say it, dominated by the spectacular transformation of any cultural manifestation –whether it is creative, conformist, individual or collective- into consumer goods.   
I am referring, obviously, to that new mode of dominating cultural life and the communication system which, in his 1967 book, Guy Debord defined as spectacular society. A text we consider as decisively referential as its successive interpretations. 
Video representation (such as television, computerized elaboration, telecast communication, etc.) and the other systems of production and broadcasting of images which scientific progress will, little by little, make more and more economical –thus, enjoyable in real time and available for the consumption of millions, and very soon, billions of individuals- concentrate in themselves the control of all forms of mass communication. That is to say that all those forms of communication which are transferable in industrial technology gadgets are, therefore, liable to be reproduced, commercialized and consumed by an individual, a group, an ethnic minority, a nation… and the whole of humanity, provided that market laws could act unhindered. 

6. Cinema

You have probably noticed that, so far, I have not named or included cinema –understood as world of filmic production- in the criticism of the video-dependent society. Perhaps that is explained by a personal insufficiency, or by the fact that I have not recovered from the effects of a precocious youthful love affair with the Tenth Muse (or Seventh Art). I still think, as a matter of fact, that such world has its own specific characteristics of language, at the same time noble and plebeian, since its very conception which, in any case, are not to be reduced to the spectacular element in itself or to the video-dependence that also the cinema might have induced in the spectator but which, in fact, it has not induced. We know today that the video-dependence was born with television and it is there that it has originally affirmed itself.
Cinema can be essentially considered (who knows till when) an instrument of figurative entertainment, more and maybe better than theater may have been so far in its various forms (from farce to the new avant-garde, passing through sacramental representations, street theatre, etc.), and in the same hereditary line. In spite of huge technological progress, the movies still retain –and seem to increase “as time goes by”- its own constitutive traits and potentialities according to periods and places as well as its validity in terms of aesthetical enjoyment, artistic creativity, psycho-sociological inquiry, historiographical synthesis, allegorical constructions, plain narration and so forth, according to genre, author, paymasters and trends.
Maybe I am deluding myself as to the autonomic nature of filmic resources but I would like, just the same, to wield the evocative swing of certain movies (and, obviously enough, of certain theatre) to take my criticism beyond those degenerative and invasive processes characterizing the spectacular society and mass communication. Time will tell how justified is my bias towards big screen creations.

7. The globalizing, or totalitarian, invasiveness of television

Many have already written, and many more will still write in the future, about the decline or the end, of that era known as the “Gutenberg Galaxy”: a beautiful suggestive definition formulated with scarce analytic capacities in a (much celebrated and quoted but, evidently, not so often read) book by Marshall McLuhan. With this term, already accepted in everyday language, reference is made to a process -perfectly traceable in historic terms– of increasing inferiority of writing in relation to the iconic power, the power of images or however you want to call it.
For the sake of being synthetic, I will say that living as contemporaries within this process, our mind goes towards the televising instrument (and, inductively, towards the surrounding world), neglecting, due to imperatives of concision, all that which, being beautiful and useful, is transmitted or born still within the realm of the visual: from the ever enhanced technical, thus industrial and massive reproducibility of artistic products -today also enjoyable through a massive “fast home delivery”, however deprived of the “cultist” aura described by Benjamin – to the communicating immediacy of a certain type of  cinema we have already mentioned; from the ever growing symbiotic integration of several arts in multimedia products (video, poetry, cartoons, music, colors, sounds, odors, different techniques of multi-dimensionality) to the use or reconstruction of real or presumable settings as a scholarly back up to paleontology, archeology, historiography, etc., to scientific and literary didactics in general.

7a. The first unmistaken characteristic of television –which no other communication means has ever had in the past – is its global and totalizing character: it concentrates in itself the media-based representation (sometimes made-up, always artificial) of the whole of our epoch, meaning everything mankind produces in any given historic-political circumstance, in any given form (physical or virtual). In the televising system, renouncing their respective autonomies and with no hope of return, all precedent communication forms have coalesced.
This system has absorbed all specific forms of writing (literary, erotic, vulgar, poetic, political, advertising, etc.); it has appropriated, and flattened even more, the monopoly of daily or weekly information which was previously held by periodicals in their plurality of styles and trends: just take a look at how many do not buy the paper anymore in the kiosks because there is the T.V. news anyway…
Television has supplanted the traditional functions of the publishing house, either by usurping the classical “literary initiation rites” (why reading Salgari´s novels after watching the grotesque cine-televising series devoted to Sandokan?); or by assuming (acquiring it in virtual and counterfeited auctions) the literary authority to establish which books the uncouth masses should read, which should be placed in specific market niches even if those niches are constituted by irreducible contradictors of the dominating culture. The psychology treatise written by a well-known footballer could only compete in the literary-teledependent market with the manual of soccer technique written by a famous psychiatrist. And since we have reached this point, we have no other choice but to recite a de profundis for the creative independence of the literary work, whether it is fiction or essay, understood in editorial terms and admitting that a minimal authority of the creating individual can remain intact, even if at a high cost and with a lot of effort, outside the editorial-televising canons.
But, to ask a still more banal question: how much reading time is devoted instead to watch T. V.? As far as I know, there are no researches on this topic and if such confrontations were carried out, the editorial-televising world would do anything to stop them from coming into public light.
The world of figurative arts suffers a similarly devastating influence, according to analogous mechanisms. Not to mention the music world, whether classical or young-generations music (from consumer rock to mega-concerts, live raves, etc.)

7b. It would also be necessary to comment football fanaticism – as well as the likes in other team games- already identified with those spectacular rites broadcasted basically through television channels. The rites of football fans –in the stadium, at home or on the streets- manage to get millions of (mainly male) individuals involved, nourishing their fanaticism or, in any case, the intensification of more or less temporal states of mental disturbance. This is going on with increasing regularity all over the country, in most towns and in different times of the day, the fact being irrelevant that most fans will not be able to directly attend games. I think that this phenomenon is widely known and very little could be added about the fact of massive mental brutalization as expressed by this sort of fanaticism, stimulated by the televising system in all possible, open or disguised, manners.
As to the other source of irrational attachment, fashion (this time a basically, though not exclusively, female phenomenon), television exerts a similar role, by unleashing a wave of publicity and parades, even if it can be a more varied and, at times, also aesthetically-motivated phenomenon.

7c. I would add a reference to religion – mainly catholic in Italy and elsewhere acting according to the supremacy of one of the three big monotheistic, or revealed, religions. In its cultist manifestations, catholic religion can be considered as a particular and spectacular form of mass communication. While television is proving to be, ever more, an “all-mighty” instrument for religious propaganda and marginalization of those individuals who are anti-religious, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers in general, but also of followers of other religions as well as of protestant Christians, etc. The total and unchallenged control the Vatican exerts upon the Italian televising system as well as upon stupefied layers of the population, has become the main instrument of clericalism in the social and cultural life of the people, the State, institutions, childhood, scholastic life, etc., suffocating any libertarian or autonomously thinking instance. The Vatican has played its most decisive move in the televising field during the 50’, winning from the very start and consolidating its victory when the clericalism started also to permeate the ex-Left (in Italy from the late 70’ onward).
We have to keep an eye on this, because, by controlling the televising system, the Vatican reinforces even more its capacity to control the education system which is, anyway, totally subservient to Church demands in various areas (didactic contents, teaching of religion, ceremonies of chiefly religious festivities, the appointment of professors of religion, the obsessive presence of Christological symbols, etc.). Through the televising mechanism, such ecclesiastical mass control of conscience is reinforced and reaches an almost monopolistic condition.

8. Where are we heading to? The impotence of political science (fiction)

Whether we agree or not with this distopical description of an Orwellian universe –in which the combined activity of mass communications (mostly absorbed by the televising world, by images produced or broadcasted through video, by the computer’s new potentialities), tends to penetrate, in a totalitarian sense, people’s lives – we could coincide in a corroboration: the cultural communication system is no longer liable to be reduced or trusted to an individual, however charismatic (I think, in the first place, of that great communicator that Francesco d’ Assisi was, in the Mediterranean environment, that is, in the “cultural” world of the period) and not even to a collectively structured group of individuals, such as the Jesuits or those prominent philosophical schools which were at times capitalized by outstanding catholic personalities (not only Franciscans) in important universities such as Oxford, Prague, Paris, Bologna, etc. Even more, that system can no longer be reduced not even to a political caste (such as the fascist party eventually was) nor to a single social class no matter how integrated and homogeneous it may be. There is no social class able to guarantee the control of a system so diversified in its numerous ramifications and, at the same time, so openly monopolistic in its exercising of power and in its work of commercializing and spectacularizing any form of human activity.
We would add, to the obvious sociological considerations about the diversification of classes, classist fronts, strata, sectors, etc., the revolution operated by technological development in the field of mass communications or mass media. Such a revolution has not stopped at the threshold of the totalitarian tele-transformation of social and cultural life, but has moved forward at an even faster pace and with innovatory rhythms which no political, economic or scientific subject can safely control. And the difference between technological and social control is doomed to become greater in the future, and at an accelerated rate.
It is hard, from this perspective, not only to answer how but even to imagine where we are marching on. And it will become eventually harder. Political science fiction, literary distopies and scientific social prognoses seem to coincide in their incapacity to foresee the arrival point of such processes and the duration of their trajectories. We don’t know where to nor how nor when. Probably, we don’t even know why, although at least some of us keep on wondering. We, however, know the present or are able to know it. Or, better said, some of us can attempt to know it.

9. The delay of conscience in relation to technological development as applied to mass communication

We live in an epoch where no individual or structured group of individuals –from lobbies to dominating social classes- has anymore the chance to exert a monopolistic, real, lasting and one-sided control upon the mass communications system. At a certain point –for some, it started with radio, for others with television, for others still with the adoption of the satellite system in 1973-74 and, finally, with the creation of informatics and its adoption in communicative webs [the official constitution of the World Wide Web (www) took place the following year, note from 2012] – the communication system has been certified by technological development, becoming, step by step, more autonomous than any other form of social, economic or political control.
This has been a characteristic novelty of the current mass media which had not verified itself in previous epochs: for instance, in the troubadour’s hurdy-gurdy or in the wandering cleric’s goose feather the levels of existing progress in musical or writing technologies of the times, were not reflected because those levels were already much higher. And the identification itself of communicating media with the radio, first, and then with television, took place decades after the elaboration of the scientific bases for the production of such instruments. Needless to say that the initial delay has been met and definitely left behind with the constitution of a very close (interactive) connection between technology’s scientific development and its practical application to the world of mass communication (no less than in the fields of weapons, spatial research, systems of espionage, etc.).
It used to be admitted, along with Marx, that mankind’s development has always shown a certain delay in conscience as to the conditions of existence. Adding, nonetheless, that the human being has been the only representative of the animal world capable not only to accumulate knowledge and question it from its very origins, but who also, at a given point –soon enough in relative terms of human history- has created instruments which made it possible to reproduce the already accumulated knowledge, with or without the correlated presence of eventual inventors, whether during their lifetimes, after their passing or in the course of centuries, etc.
Electricity was probably the first technologically modern invention which allowed a strong contraction of times between massive application of new technology and its use in the communications field. Radio, television and cybernetics itself (whether it is called “informatics” or with the generic term “electronics”) are off-springs of that leap forward promoted by electricity. In the future, nevertheless, the human hunt for innovation will assume even more ambitious forms and today we could foresee or presume that the next qualitative and scientifically important step will be the application of atomic physics to the world of mass communications.            
Formidable things will happen! And maybe that will be already verifiable in the next generations, with the passing to the new millennium. The year 2000, seen in the perspective of the growth of mass communications, is a creepy fantasy. How to forget that in my childhood and adolescence the mere fact of saying “two thousand” had an unmistaken science fiction air.
Given the fact that in the last half a century the most significant changes in people’s behavior have been introduced by transformations in the mass media, it does not seem far-fetched to predict that, at the threshold of 2000 and after, the application of electronics and computer techniques to these communication media will induce the bigger and deeper modifications in people’s everyday life. A process we are already living.
Scientific development will have its small share of responsibility in this transformation, while the application of electronics, in a more massive way, to the technology of mass communications will have the greatest responsibility in the upcoming and quite foreseeable changes in the field of human relations. We may witness the intensification of a phenomenon already foreseen during the Renaissance, when the scientific-technical development began to escape the control and comprehension of a gradually growing human community while the gap between this community and that of humanists and scientists became deeper.
In the “avant-garde” of this breach, philosophers occupied an outstanding space. From the early XIX century on, they stopped having professional links with art, science or work organization, becoming, almost all of them, university professors, that is to say, a very precise social category. In Kant, the astronomer and scholar, both sides seem to still retain some balance, but with the triumph of German idealism, such transformation spread, becoming overwhelming and, in due time, irreversible: the world of contemporary “philosophers” is already made up everywhere by a growing cosmopolitan academic caste, substantially apart from the world of science, certainly in operative terms, but also in theoretical ones.
This phenomenon, nevertheless, is in turn inserted in certain degenerative processes of the spectacular society which tend to assimilate the “philosopher”-professor to other categories of the intellectual world. Degenerative processes responsible for the fact that the human communities’ conscience has been losing terrain in relation to science, even if the latter radically transformed the conditions of existence.
Religion endeavored and goes on determinedly endeavoring to widen this breach but, obviously, there were many other factors at play in this unstoppable and impetuous process.
That old apothegm according to which mankind can only solve those problems it is able to pose to itself, does it still make any sense or is it already obsolete?
I hope this reflection –even if unable to answer the previous question- at least encourages us to pose it.
I am not a lover of quotations, maybe out of respect for those great predecessors who, probably, knew exactly what they meant at the moment of letting certain phrases out. Nevertheless, given the origins of the organization which has invited me to talk, I would like to finish expressing the wish that we may reach, as soon as possible, a social system in which the development of technology, with its possible applications, can be used only to achieve those two ends Trotsky indicated (in Their moral and ours) as the only worthy of a truly revolutionary perspective: to increase ever more the power of control of man over nature and diminish ever more the power of control of man over other men.
These are words that very hardly our three wayfarers down the Assisi country alley would have had the chance to listen to, but, had they listened they would have had the chance to also share them. As far as we are concerned, however deep the breach may be between conscience and the conditions of existence, those words should be subscribed withouthesitation.


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RED UTOPIA ROJA - Principles / Principios / Princìpi / Principes / Princípios

a) The end does not justify the means, but the means which we use must reflect the essence of the end.

b) Support for the struggle of all peoples against imperialism and/or for their self determination, independently of their political leaderships.

c) For the autonomy and total independence from the political projects of capitalism.

d) The unity of the workers of the world - intellectual and physical workers, without ideological discrimination of any kind (apart from the basics of anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and of socialism).

e) Fight against political bureaucracies, for direct and councils democracy.

f) Save all life on the Planet, save humanity.

(January 2010)

* * *

a) El fin no justifica los medios, y en los medios que empleamos debe estar reflejada la esencia del fin.

b) Apoyo a las luchas de todos los pueblos contra el imperialismo y/o por su autodeterminación, independientemente de sus direcciones políticas.

c) Por la autonomía y la independencia total respecto a los proyectos políticos del capitalismo.

d) Unidad del mundo del trabajo intelectual y físico, sin discriminaciones ideológicas de ningún tipo, fuera de la identidad “anticapitalista, antiimperialista y por el socialismo”.

e) Lucha contra las burocracias políticas, por la democracia directa y consejista.

f) Salvar la vida sobre la Tierra, salvar a la humanidad

(Enero de 2010)

* * *

a) Il fine non giustifica i mezzi, ma nei mezzi che impieghiamo dev’essere riflessa l’essenza del fine.

b) Sostegno alle lotte di tutti i popoli contro l’imperialismo e/o per la loro autodeterminazione, indipendentemente dalle loro direzioni politiche.

c) Per l’autonomia e l’indipendenza totale dai progetti politici del capitalismo.

d) Unità del mondo del lavoro mentale e materiale, senza discriminazioni ideologiche di alcun tipo (a parte le «basi anticapitaliste, antimperialiste e per il socialismo.

e) Lotta contro le burocrazie politiche, per la democrazia diretta e consigliare.

f) Salvare la vita sulla Terra, salvare l’umanità.

(Gennaio 2010)

* * *

a) La fin ne justifie pas les moyens, et dans les moyens que nous utilisons doit apparaître l'essence de la fin projetée.

b) Appui aux luttes de tous les peuples menées contre l'impérialisme et/ou pour leur autodétermination, indépendamment de leurs directions politiques.

c) Pour l'autonomie et la totale indépendance par rapport aux projets politiques du capitalisme.

d) Unité du monde du travail intellectuel et manuel, sans discriminations idéologiques d'aucun type, en dehors de l'identité "anticapitaliste, anti-impérialiste et pour le socialisme".

e) Lutte contre les bureaucraties politiques, et pour la démocratie directe et conseilliste.

f) Sauver la vie sur Terre, sauver l'Humanité.

(Janvier 2010)

* * *

a) O fim não justifica os médios, e os médios utilizados devem reflectir a essência do fim.

b) Apoio às lutas de todos os povos contra o imperialismo e/ou pela auto-determinação, independentemente das direcções políticas deles.

c) Pela autonomia e a independência respeito total para com os projectos políticos do capitalismo.

d) Unidade do mundo do trabalho intelectual e físico, sem discriminações ideológicas de nenhum tipo, fora da identidade “anti-capitalista, anti-imperialista e pelo socialismo”.

e) Luta contra as burocracias políticas, pela democracia directa e dos conselhos.

f) Salvar a vida na Terra, salvar a humanidade.

(Janeiro de 2010)