Gian Piero de Bellis
Polyarchy : Essays on Statism
(2003 - 2011)
The current political and social debate focuses on topics that have been with us for almost two centuries and have been argued about and dealt with in the same stereotypical way throughout the 20th century.
As far as social thinking is concerned, we seem to be running around in circles, repeating the all too familiar arguments, hardly ever questioning the soundness of the beliefs on which we build our theories and base our decisions/actions. No wonder that progress in the social sciences has been so poor, especially if we make a comparison with the revolutionary ideas and discoveries that have emerged in the physical sciences and related applications in many technological fields.
For this reason, given the lack of any true advancement in the domain of human studies (especially, politics, sociology and economics), we should perhaps question
- if we are sincerely focusing on real, substantial themes/problems or on imaginary/invented ones;
- if the way we approach these themes/problems is a creative and sound one, leading to effective theoretical and practical results.
The real problems (^)
The problems most debated refer to the following pairs of opposites:
- Capitalism / Anticapitalism
- Globalism / Antiglobalism
- Socialism / Antisocialism
- Terrorism / Antiterrorism
The core argument of the following essays is that the real themes to be tackled are hidden behind these made-up pairs.
Furthermore, within these made-up pairs, we might discover that a conflict is implicitly assumed between personal freedom on the one side and social equality, public welfare and collective security on the other.
What some, even well intentioned, participants in the debate maintain is that, in order to achieve social equality, public welfare and collective security, it is necessary that we give up some (or a lot) of personal freedom to some appointed figures within certain recognized organizations.
This is the gist of the matter and the real core of the problem.
However, the main thesis that will be advanced here is that what many fail, in different ways, to grasp is the fact:
- that there is no opposition between freedom and equality, since equality in the enjoyment of freedom is the most important source and form of equality;
- that personal freedom is social welfare or, rather, that freedom is the essential source/component of personal well-being and that the well-being of each individual is the necessary condition for the well-being of all;
- that the only way to ensure security is not to destroy personal freedom because, as has already been seen in the past, if we destroy personal freedom the security of everybody, with the (temporary) exception of the ruling élites, is seriously compromised.
From problems to solutions (^)
It is a common saying amongst creative people, that the most demanding task in the process of looking for a solution is to find (define, depict, dissect, etc.) the problem. Only if this stage has been satisfactorily carried out, can we start designing a solution.
Otherwise, we are just deceiving ourselves and frustrating all possible efforts towards a positive outcome.
That is why social problems seem insoluble or so difficult to solve compared with technological problems. It is not because the latter are simple and present self-evident answers; it is because, in their case, the scientists have successfully focused on the real questions. On the other hand, in the field of social problems, politicians, social scientists and laymen have superimposed on real problems many fantastic fabrications so that, in the end, fictitious scenarios are put in the place of actual realities.
This is, at least, what will be put forward in the essays here presented. The focus is on:
The main aim is to:
- analyze the historical background of these themes,
- ascertain how relevant, in content and form, is the current debate on them,
- advance the thesis that these themes are used (consciously or unconsciously) to conceal more pertinent, pressing and potentially disturbing problems.
What should emerge, at the end, is an unconventional (and so highly debatable) outlook aiming at inspiring unconventional (and so highly disparate) solutions, far from the uniformity and conventionality of present day thinking and acting.