Mala tempora currunt sed peiora parantur
(We live in ugly times but they prepare us for worse)
Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 - 43 BC
Pragmatism and ‘justicialism’ [using the courts as a political instrument – Garzanti online, tr.]. These are the main lines of thought popular with public opinion and in the acts of the present Cinque Stelle/ Leghista government of Italy. A response to decades of political correctness, administrative inaction and persistent economic (and moral) stagnation.
I do not see anything strange, let alone wrong here. It seems rather spontaneous that the popular masses, although conditioned and infected by the unique post-capitalist absolute idea of producing and consuming (and possibly cracking up!) might in the long run experience a sort of bewilderment and lack of perspective. Since the great political ideologies have run their course and moral thought been rendered neutralized – under the blows of a relativism that has imported and dignified distant and remote ethical outfits – the identity drugs that have sedated the people for over two centuries of modernity are now absent. These powerful balsams sublimated common feeling forging the thought of class (bourgeois) and belonging (nationalism), often both, in a cauldron chemically unstable if not constantly corrected and managed.
And at the end of the times as sadly noted, homo oeconomicus, a rational and technocratic being who perfectly masters the global network and delivers itself to a eudemonic [‘conducive to happiness’] future – loses its civilizing flame to an existential fire produced by the corruption of the same principles that inspired it.
Thus the myth of pragmatism, the son of positivism, originated overseas in the second half of the nineteenth century, where pragmatic reason is a process of active intervention on reality. A movement that moves away from the ‘pragmatic reason’ (pragmatisch) of Kant, with reason still formal, non-instrumental and subservient to matter, directed to the attainment of a concrete purpose. Thus comes the materialistic operation of pragmatic thinking which arrives currently in a work-in-progress form in dominant political thought, now completely empty of any conceptual framework and totally instrumental – for the obtaining of immediate pleasures and possessions.
On the other hand, the justicialist intention of confused groupings that crave a fetish and a scapegoat for their bewilderment and frustration is clear. Modern history is packed with angry rituals and liberators against the actually or presumed guilty and oppressors who powerfully embody the faults of will or power, appearing previously as executioners. Let us therefore not be enchanted by pragmatism in its materialistic drift or by justicialism in its Jacobin version.
Recommended Listening: I fought the law, The Clash