ACLI – Trentino*

Dialogue with Roberto Savio and Giuliano Rizzi

To the energy dilemma assaulting families and businesses are added the dramatic unknowns of this period with the return of topicality of the war, the devastating repercussions of the pandemic and now of the deepening economic and employment crisis.

Faced with this situation, an extraordinary effort is needed to understand the origins of the problems and, above all, a compass must be re-established to identify the new trajectories of change.

We discussed this with Roberto Savio, an international journalist and economist, and Giuliano Rizzi of Ipsia (Institute for Peace and Development Innovation- Acli Trentine) of Trentino, authors of “Manual for…Changing the World” published by Massari.

I would like to begin with a direct question through which we attempt to revive the need for a new alliance between thought and action, between analysis and proposal. In your opinion, what kind of epoch are we living in?

RIZZI I think the most effective definition was given by the pope when he spoke of a “change of epoch” in that we are living in a real crucible where several crises converge: the climate crisis with the economic one, but even more so the crisis of democracy with the crisis of conscience. Regarding the latter point, I am referring to the fact that the egoistic models have definitely asserted themselves: only I exist, not we. This last observation should make us think about the ways out of this situation. Ways out that are viable are through true inner change.

SAVIO We live in an era characterized by the victory of neoliberal capitalism, which has led to the establishment of an unregulated economic and financial model. This has meant the defeat, not only of communism, but of all those proposals for mediation that had belonged to multilateralism, cooperation among nations, and compromise between capital and labor. The power of finance has finally created a situation where the value of speculation exceeds that of the real economy by 40 times.

In this context, models related to success, individualism and selfishness have taken hold. Issues that are inextricably linked to the crisis of politics and the ruling classes with the emergence of localism, xenophobia and populism.

Today, politics is unable to provide answers to problems, and all this has an impact on the inability to ensure a future for the younger generations.

In the face of this situation, it is very important to turn our gaze to the individual, to his or her conscience and to the representations of the social, as in the case of the Acli.

Of course, the challenge is indeed of enormous dimensions but, in spite of everything, also because of the Christian spirit that characterizes us, I would like to ask if in all this it is possible to trace a sort of “new beginning.”

RIZZI If we can talk about a new beginning, we can do so by thinking about the value of the human person and his spirituality, and for that I would not limit myself only to the Christian dimension. The spiritual dimension is fundamental to understanding our place in the world through a deep relationship with ourselves and others. The great danger of our age is man who feels like a god and forgets the other. Our task is to help people become truly human.

SAVIO Our society is characterized by power and the centrality of the market at the expense of the human person, and all this is at the root of the inability we have to see ourselves inside, to look at our true consciousness.

Many young people live in a world that has forgotten about culture and education in which even the book has waned and newspapers are read only from the age of 35 and up.

In this context hedonistic attitudes mature that prevent the development of an adequate level of consciousness with the feeling of living in an eternal present.

It is therefore necessary to relate to the younger generation with their language, that of social media, building a new communication, oriented to the new humanism that places the person and not the market at the center of attention.

Based on these considerations, is it also possible to identify opportunities for change within the global situation in which we find ourselves?

RIZZI We are certainly living through a difficult and tiring time and we will be called to new difficulties in the coming months, but I still want to hope that humanity will come out of it better.

 As in other historical moments, I am thinking of the Resistance against Nazi-Fascism, it will be a minority that will have to take charge and chart the path of the future. In the face of a majority living in unawareness there will surely be minorities, (who do not emerge when all is well), who will put themselves at the service of humanity and the “changes of epoch” to which we are called.

SAVIO We are incapable of putting the issues of our age at the center of attention. Did you happen to hear in the last election campaign about climate change? In the face of global emergencies, it seems that humanity turns away, opting for a kind of return to the past as xenophobic and authoritarian movements around the world are demonstrating. So, the answer can only come from those. Acli was born at a time of deep crisis, right after World War II. Difficult years where, however, answers were given to the problems and needs of people, workers, citizens…components of global civil society that will be able to politically represent those 4.5 billion human beings who today are excluded from welfare and the right to life. 

It will be a revolution, that is, a transition from one system to another, involving a clash between the representatives of the majority of humanity against a tiny minority represented by finance and the elites of the super-rich. I hope that all this will take place without bloodshed, that confrontation and debate will prevail and not anger and violence.

In all this what role could the ACLI take?

SAVIO I believe that the Acli at this time should open a very serious and sincere debate on the kind of crisis we are experiencing in order to revive a new consciousness on the part of citizens. To do this, however, it is necessary to take a top-down view because all the issues are interconnected and there are no single solutions. The environment is connected to the economy, and the economy is connected to the future of the poor and oppressed. Leonardo da Vinci said in this regard that it is necessary to “be able to see” meaning by this to affirm the need for a systemic and global approach to problems. Acli could thus affirm the urgent, even dramatic, need to form a new civic consciousness to deal with a mass of emergencies that have never manifested themselves in this way in human history.

RIZZI Acli was born at a time of deep crisis, immediately after World War II. Difficult years where, however, they were able to give answers to the problems and needs of people, workers, and citizens. Acli has been able to interpret the signs of the times by taking an active and essential role on the cultural and educational, trade union and labor services side.

I believe that the relevance of the Acli lies in their ability to recover this vocation to work starting from today’s emergency, which is represented by the fight against precariousness. On the table are issues related to an unjust economic system that is a source of inequality and poverty, while on the other hand, serious reasoning is required to put ideas back at the center of politics.

To do this, it is necessary to free ourselves from the cloak of market centrality in order to release the vital energies of young people, to rediscover the taste of dreaming of a slower, deeper and lighter world as Alex Langer used to say. OCTOBER, 2022.


*Christian Association of Italian Workers. Traduzione automatica di DeepL