The reality is that an era is over and you all know the reasons behind it here. History is back. It was not the end of Fukuyama’s prophecy.
An era of globalization has also come to an end. Look at this graph on the measures that have raised barriers to world trade. This story did not begin with Trump (which we will discuss shortly).
We live in an accelerated and compressed society, with a rate of intensity unknown in history. In its cycle of eternal return, this acceleration starts from the Napoleonic cavalry and goes as far as the Wall Street flash crashes. The revolution gallops.
The barriers raised on trade culminated with the policy of Trump in the so-called war of duties. There is nothing new, it is since the first session of Congress in 1789 that America has been discussing and using tariffs as a political tool. What is new in container policy is that it has no containment. Trump has signed an agreement for a new NAFTA with Mexico and Canada, but it continues in the battle with China (which, as chance would have it, today shows the lowest growth since 2009: +6.5 per cent) and Europe’s game – as always – is all based on Germany’s interest. This movement of plates is moving Europe towards Eurasia. The outcome of this process of imbalance towards the East will be a fragmentation of the Union, we already have the obvious signs, see the entry for Hungary and Poland, and especially look on the map where the oil and gas pipelines of today and tomorrow pass.
George Steiner in his book In the Castle of Bluebeard recalls the bewilderment, the rupture of the pastoral silence of Europe between 1789 and 1815 when everywhere one saw the bayonets of the French infantry pass and when Hegel wrote his Phenomenology he heard the dull sound of the boots of Napoleon’s escort passing to go to the battle of Jena at night. Hartmut Rosa in his book Social Acceleration reminds us that we live in the time of the flash crash, of an asymmetrical distribution of acceleration that becomes disparity, dysfunction and de-synchronization.
The here and now, becomes everywhere and yesterday for the speed and intensity of the interconnections. The passage from the love of movement to the law of acceleration: philosophy, history and technology. I do not mention the economy first because – although important – alone does not help us to understand the acceleration of events that we have witnessed in the last two years, Brexit arrives on the island of England with the conservative government of David Cameron who had given a positive sign to growth, Donald Trump arrives in an America that had overcome the economic crisis with Barack Obama, Alternative für Deutschland arrives in Germany despite the German locomotive travels to the maximum, with minimal unemployment since the time of reunification. The vote of the rich Bavaria is there, says it all. And soon we will vote in Hesse; Macron comes as a response from the French elite to the rise of a right that has found a narrative element not in the economy but in immigration;
The nationalism of Eastern Europe was born in countries that have benefited from the Union’s contributions to growth and has deep historical and cultural reasons;The constitutional crisis of Spain – where Sanchez is already in difficulty and a sovereign party is being born – is a problem of Iberian autonomy and not of the economy, Catalonia is the richest region of Spain. The crisis of Sweden is not the collapse of an economic system, but of a model of inclusion of the foreigner that eventually revealed the limits of utopia without roots. What is all this? The counterbalance of what Roberto Calasso in his book L’innominabile attuale calls the cosmopolitan man: without borders, without homeland, universal, depersonalized, homogenized. This process of uprooting ends up feeding the opposite reaction: re-territorialization, need of homeland, rediscovery of the nation. In this scenario, Italy and France play on the geopolitical chessboard in several dimensions: continental Europe (projected towards the North), the Mediterranean (projected towards the South), the Atlantic one that looks at America.
In each of these challenges, at the moment we are in a lose-lose condition, always losing, because every move is conditioned by the idea that the architecture of Europe is untouchable, immutable and – as Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, referring to the Euro – “irreversible”. That’s not true. One cannot think of ignoring history: empires that seemed destined for eternity have fallen. Charles V of Habsburg said that the sun did not set over his empire. His entire empire has gone down.
Europe is in serious danger of ending up in a chaotic situation and we here have the duty to say so in all frankness.the dimensions of which I spoke earlier are spaces, understood in the Schmittan sense of the term. Carl Schmitt saw clearly the crisis that today has (almost) come to its conclusion: “There can be no Ordnung (ordering) world without Ortung (localization), that is, without an adequate, differentiated subdivision of the earth’s space. Is this primary space for us the European Union? No, that is the ordering (Ordnung), to make it work you need the localization (Ortung), the nation. The European space today sees the reconstruction of a League of Northern countries on a commercial and economic level, but the factor that has the greatest impact is – once again – ideal, there is a contraposition from North to South, towards the Mediterranean space. I sum it up with the image of Luther against the Papacy. When Jens Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank, quotes Goethe’s Faust in his speech on monetary policy, evoking Mephistopheles and the creation of money, he draws a clear cultural boundary. History enjoys playing dice and often likes to reappear with new clothes and old lessons. France and Italy are part of both spaces, they feel the magnetic force of the North but can only dive into the Mediterranean, we are faced with a complexity that needs analysis and new models of scenario. The reality is that together with history, geography has returned. Germany and the other countries of the North do not have an outlet in the Mare Nostrum, but we have the test bed of geography and history on immigration and Libya. Seven years after the Arab Spring and the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, we are now at the top. We know the debate on immigration: given that the element of a Mediterranean that is the border of Southern Europe is taken for granted, it should lead to a common commitment to combat illegal immigration. We are a long way from all this. And would that be enough? Or should Europe look away from the chart and look at Africa? We think that Libya is not a voting problem today or tomorrow – given the material conditions, better tomorrow and here there is a disagreement between Italy and France – nor that we can think of doing nation building (we are talking about this) only with the leverage of oil and money of the Libyan Central Bank. Distributing money is not enough to build peace in a tribal country where the state entity is a fiction. Africa needs a coordinated European intervention, robust in financial and planning terms, not post-colonialist, but strongly antagonistic to what China has put in place, a real threat to our interests in the Mediterranean. The landings have decreased, well, but what have we done for Africa? Do any of you remember how things went between Italy and France when the Gentiloni government decided on the mission to Niger? There was no cooperation, but competition between the parties and not always fair. Once again, it is history that gives direction. Some will say that many have already expressed themselves on this, that it is all work in progress. True, but it is enough to take a look at the UN data to understand that so far little has been done and that Libya is a problem of which the outcome is unknown: in 2011 there was plan A (to bring down Gaddafi) but there was not plan B (how to replace it). Of course, the dream of democracy, the Arab springs, all beautiful. But who among us can say here that today’s Libya is better than yesterday’s? Nobody. And are we certain that Libya must remain united? Or should it be thought of in different terms, with more courage and realism? What is the choral response of Rome and Paris? We’re divided, it’s not a good show. Let’s meet again: the Mediterranean brings out a subject that was close to us yesterday and that has never been so far away today: the United States of America. Macron sends his fighter-bombers to Syria with the Pentagon.
So what? Trump’s America is another world. And it’s not true that it’s completely new. It has its roots in the karst river of Jacksonism. Here we need to make a key step on the energy transition, the first factor of change in the contemporary economic scenario. American politics and relations with Washington did not turn with the Trump administration, but well before. And the first reason for this turning point is to be found in the shale oil and shale gas revolution, which gave the Americans an energy autonomy they did not have before. The United States will become a leader in the production of oil and gas in a few years, these are the numbers of the International Energy Agency: This energy transition says that today the actors in the field able to change the curvature of geopolitical space are those who have their hands resting on the gas tap: This is the new world order of the future: United States, Russia, Africa (read the entry China), Australia, Middle East (read the entry Saudi Arabia and Iran). Europe is not there. There is Germany, which is continuing the North Stream 2 project with Russia. The White House is against it. What do Paris and Rome have to say about this? Europe is no longer the strategic centre of the American game for reasons that are evident to all, but no one wants to accept. Not even the fact that relations between the United States and Russia are at the lowest level since the collapse of the Wall will save us from the decline of this relationship: First America is not a slogan, it is a reality. One could argue that NATO is the “padlock” that holds the Atlantic chain together, it seems utopian to me to imagine a deal based on the assumption that the Alliance is forever. Even NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg doesn’t believe it anymore. It seems to me that the facts go in the opposite direction, just see how and where the defense market moves. Europe – and America itself – needs a new Atlantic Deal, a pact that is not refounded, but completely new. If we are to do it ourselves, as Trump said, then it is we who must take the initiative and put Washington first of all in the face of its reality. The free hands of the White House must also be those of Europe. Is there a disproportionate force? On a military level, of course, but on the economy, the Eurozone has its strength. It cannot be asserted because – and we are at the paradox – the Europeanists actually play a national game. We talk about trade, we too raise the flag of customs duties, but there is no industrial policy and innovation is in a state of disarray. Brexit, how can we forget it? A few days ago, a very harsh comment was published on the FAZ against the European Commission, which is accused of asking London so much, but of not giving anything. I imagine you know how much Germany’s trade surplus with the United Kingdom amounts to: EURÂ 47Â billion in 2017. The second after Berlin with America. With France it is EURÂ 41Â billion. Defence, common industrial policy in strategic sectors, immigration, energy. Slowly, as you can see, we are also listing a series of things that Europe must do. For this reason it is necessary, for this reason it must be reconsidered. National differences and mistrust are before us all. I am not French, you are not Italian, you have Voltaire and we have Machiavelli, you immerse yourselves in the pages of the great Victor Hugo we have the sublime Dante. We are all Europeans and yet this is no longer enough to make us a family fighting for a common ideal. All revolutions – and what we have in Italy is so much so as to represent the laboratory for the rest of Europe, where the facts are emerging as volcanic islands – are an unknown, but thinking of taming the revolution in progress by waving the club and remembering that there is a spread is an exercise that works on the pages of newspapers, not in reality. If you go to the clash, they will win. Old comrade Lenin would have wondered: what to do? You have to “go back” to go forward. Turning back means saving Europe from the elitist ideology of Europeism, keeping the Union alive and tuning it with history, avoiding its lethal derailment by ruling classes that – I suppose in good faith – have a serious problem reading the contemporary.