INTERVIEW WITH DANIELE DELBENE
The United States of Europe, social justice and the dictatorship of the time
Daniele Delbene, former president of the PSE National Constituent Assembly and member of the national consultation table of Italian Socialism. In recent days you launched a manifesto on the United States of Europe centered on a new model of social justice. A manifesto that had a great success and thousands of interactions on social media among the youngsters. Why do you think a new European role cannot ignore the social question?
The institutions must be a tool to guarantee all men the conditions necessary to emancipate and realize themselves. Only socio-economic emancipation allows men to be truly free. Otherwise, all the rights will be restricted to those few who will afford havin them guaranteed. To allow everyone to be free, we must therefore redistribute wealth better. And this can only be accomplished with rules at a global level, or at least at an European level".
In your opinion, the United States of Europe should be conceived starting from a new approach on the topic of the transfer of sovereignty and the division of competences between member states and the European Union. What hasn't worked so far and what do you propose?
In recent years the European Union has been an instrument not at the service of the European people, but dominated by bureaucrats and technocrats who did not know how to look beyond what was there and to rules that are not democratic but are the result of a global financial system controlled by a few. The pandemic has alsodemonstrated to those who were used to not look beyond their front door that even to live selfishly, locked in their own apartment, there is a need for policies that go well beyond national borders. This applies to maintaining peace, to redistributing wealth, to guaranteeing rights and freedom. Finance, taxation, trade, defence, work, environment, health and civil protection will therefore have to be managed at an European level".
United States of Europe, Europe of the Regions were the slogans of the European socialism in the rich elaboration that developed from many fronts in the last century. Do you think that the technocratic drift of the current Europe can be fixed with this recipe?
Of course, but we need to be careful when we talk about United States of Europe, or rather we need to understand how the proponents imagine them. By United States of Europe we intend precisely the tool to allow men to emancipate themselves economically and socially, to allow them to fulfill themselves and be able to enjoy the pleasures that life offers, and to guarantee peace and freedom. Others imagine the United States of Europe on the American model. The United States of America are a great democracy with many civil rights but little social justice and therefore true freedom is for few. For example, everyone has the right to be cured when ill, but as a matter of fact only those who can afford it get medical assistance."
How can Europe, which in the current context is struggling to carve out a role for itself in the spheres of influence of the great global powers, even become an engine for internationalizing the rights?
By becoming a true and democratic political Europe, which can represent, with the characteristics mentioned above, the embryo hence the prerequisite for the construction, in the future, of the United States of the World: the only instrument capable of guaranteeing global peace and freedom.
What do you mean by saying, in the manifesto, that there's a need to build international representative bodies that promote the fight against inequalities?
International organizations must be an expression of the people they represent and therefore of their interests. Not instruments controlled by a few unknown people appointed by no one knows who. The primary interest that all people have in common is represented by social justice, freedom, peace and the possibility of living one's life. Equality does not mean everyone being equal, but rather allowing everyone to be able to realize themselves based on their abilities, their commitment and their merits. This must be the task and the aim of supranational organizations."
The progress, intended as technological progress, has risked as never before to be antithetical to the theme of social achievements. Artificial intelligence will revolutionize the world of work as we conceive it today. The comparison with the old industrial revolution seems obvious, but the dimensions of AI's impact definitely go beyond post-humanism. How can we be prepared?
If progress is understood as an improvement to the conditions and life expectations of men, it can only be welcome. There is no need to be afraid of progress: it is an irreversible path, you can slow it down, but you cannot prevent it. The point is an other".
Progress must be governed. And to govern it you need to be able to anticipate it by imagining today what it will be tomorrow. And if there are democratic organizations founded on principles of social justice and freedom to anticipate it, imagine it and govern its processes, then progress can represent the realization of a better world for all men".
Let everyone work to make everyone work less is one of the cornerstones of your manifesto. Is this a realistically achievable goal in your opinion?
It is not just an aim, but also a need resulting from the progressive reduction of the need for manpower. This is not only an achievable goal, but also an unavoidable priority. Obviously, to allow everyone to work less with a salary that not only does not decrease but on the contrary is adapted to the real needs of life, there is a need to better redistribute wealth, at least in a European context. This is also why we need European policies be common to all member countries. But without looking at tomorrow, a lot can already be done today in this direction, by spending the available resources better".
Today the system, with a sharply decreasing number of jobs even compared to the increase in the population, forces men to work an increasingly higher number of years and this inevitably determines that their children and younger people in general find a decent employment at an increasingly higher age. The State as a whole wastes enormous resources on subsidies for young people ("citizen's income", unemployment, various local and national incentives). So, on one hand, the system wastes resources to leave on the couch those who have the energy and the desire to contribute to the future, those who need to build a family and a life. And on the other hand, it forces to go on working those who, after years of hard work, have less energies, less enthusiasm and would finally need to be able to enjoy life. It would be a matter of immediately reversing the current spending - and we would already have the resources to slow down the increase in the retirement age and to review the working hours. Unless seeing men always suffocated by uncertainties, difficulties and lack of free time turns out to be an advantage for someone."
How can rescuing the time we have lost, to measure the quality of life through different lenses, realistically become a political objective?
We must seize the opportunities to accelerate standing in front of us. We cannot just imagine a better world for the future, we must have the ambition to be able to pursue it starting from the present - in the interest not only of the future generations but also of the current ones. The European elections will be held in a few months. Great: let them be an opportunity to discuss, confront and implement the acceleration I have mentioned."
In the national political debate in view of the next European elections, the engines have not yet warmed up. Your manifesto seems to hope for the birth of a new idea that doesn't yet exist. On what legs should this idea walk and where should it be located?
In order to imagine a new society and a better world, we must be able to escape from the unique thought dictated by the current model. The current political forces in recent decades have not been able to do this. They have looked at the world in black and white, where white meant good and black meant evil. We need political forces capable first of all of looking at the world in colour."
What is missing from the Italian and European left to become representative again? For years, progressive forces have appeared displaced and harmless.
The problem is not what the left is missing, it's that THE left is missing! Let me clarify. The left should not be seen as a geographical place. What in recent years has identified itself as 'the left' has often been the expression of blind political forces, which on the one hand have accepted all the rules imposed by society and on the other have been victims of old ideological preclusions. That left that has only been able to distinguish between good and bad has been one of the first responsible for the growing social malaise that is affecting Europe. We need new and vital forces, animated by a new socialist humanism that can represent its heart and brain. We need new men and women who know how to dream and who have not been protagonists in politics in recent decades."