Sat. May 25th, 2019

Calabria: Continue the decline or start development? Reflections on the sidelines of a debate at San Mango D'Aquino

The meeting, organized by Gianmarco Cimino «To promote an open and frank debate on our communities», saw the participation of a good number of public administrators, economic operators, small entrepreneurs, trade unionists, politicians and Exponents of Associationism.

They have missed – but it is not new – the interest of citizenship and the presence of a wider audience; And it is a limit because it is the citizens, ultimately, the final recipients of every operation put in place for the promotion of the Territory.

This "fracture", this lack of communication and information among the different components of society, is in fact one of the factors that hinder more the growth (not only economic) of a community and relegates – on the one hand – the population to a role of Marginality and-on the other-isolates the main actors of development, who risk to fall into the trap of self-referentiality also coming to be identified as "caste", just to use a term become frequent in the language Common.  

"No longer the classic initiative, but the creation of a space vision, beyond the borders, together for the territory," said Cimino.

And the news has not been lacking. Because they emerged both productive realities born from innovation, both opportunities and opportunities for collaboration with associations and consortia, and because it was verified the determination of some young industrious determined to exploit their enthusiasm for Find employment and success solutions in their homeland.

Political leaders and trade unions – and also the deputy Antonio Viscomi, who concluded the work – added that the lack of development is not caused by the absence of financial resources, because the funds are there and are waiting only to be employed.

So why don't our territories grow? Why does Calabria not develop?

If we were to evaluate the project of a new entrepreneurial activity, the elements to be considered would be – essentially – the technical-productive validity of plants and equipment, the adequate financial coverage of investments and the profitability Of the invested capital backed by a serious and credible marketing program.

But when you evaluate – or you think – on a territory, on an area or a district, other elements take over and you need to shift your attention to so-called pre-conditions, and therefore to all that is preliminary to the possibility of accomplishing something.

Calabria, together with the broader context of the Kingdom of Naples, has already known – in the past – opportunities for development, when, for example, in the first half of the nineteenth century «The industrial sector marks net progress, now under the stimulus of foreign technicians and operators, Now for the interest that brings you the state», as Alberto Caracciolo wrote.

But the attempt made by the Bourbon dynasty to equip the midday of an industry in step with the times fails, and Silvio De Majo lists some causes: insertion in a general economy rather static with market conditions backward; Politically marginal and geographically decentralized position of the kingdom; Low number and limited entrepreneurial capacity of industrialists, who prefer safe and parasitic income; Lack of an organic infrastructural network support.

But there are other factors that are added to the causes of that non-industrialization of noon. These are factors that bring us back to what we have called pre-condition and that Marco Doria identifies in the local economic environment when he says that in the south the Swiss cotton mills of the Salernitano "operate in conditions of isolation, produce for distant markets, They sometimes have problematic relationships with the surrounding environment, while in the north the insertion succeeds well, finding a more favorable humus and thus contributing to a further development of the productive apparatus».

and Giuseppe Galasso (historian, journalist, politician and university professor deceased last year), with whom I met twice at Falerna, together with Armido Cario and other scholars, reminded us: "Precisely the historical observation tells us that no Decisive quality leap is produced by the simple subsist of the technical-social and productive conditions deemed suitable for this. The conditions are necessary, rather indispensable, but not enough. What he decides is always, and not only ultimately, the spirit of initiative. '

And here we enter the heart of the problem. We had a man in Calabria-Antonio Serra, of Cosenza-that prisoner in the prisons of the Vicaria in Naples writes a treatise in which he speaks «of the causes that can abound the kingdoms of gold and silver where they are not mines», and among the causes he inserts « The quality of the people ', i.e. ' the psychological attitude of the population of a state towards productive activity '.

The greater or lesser industriousness of a people acquires a more decisive relief of its "quantity" of data, said Serra in 1613, attributing so much importance to the human action, that is to the attitude of the people.

The Marquis Domenico Grimaldi, Patrizio Genovese born in Seminara, exponent of the Calabrian branch of the Grimaldi of Monaco and owner of land in the plain of Gioia Tauro, in 1773 wrote: In the contrary Calabria the pruning of the olive trees makes horror to name it Only, and it is believed that those who cut a single olive branch in excommunication. '

Grimaldi – which Antonio Piromalli defines as "the first complete intellectual of the modern era of Calabria" – clashes with all (peasants, nobles, clergy) to adapt the backward agricultural economy and the miserable state of the southern industry to modern Existing systems in Europe and in the most advanced part of Italy. It is the initiative to replace the old Frantoio alla calabrese (a stone from Mola made to turn in the tank from the arms and shoulders of more workers) with a more modern and functional type of press: the so-called "Alla Genovese". In an attempt to improve the quality, since the oil of those lands was sold mainly for the production of the soap of Marseilles or to lubricate the industrial machines of England.

We enter into the problem because the events narrated – even if they are related to the eighteenth and nineteenth century – present a topical nature in terms of our local economic environment, and more particularly because they emphasize the importance of innovation, Because the number of real industrialists is low, because investments are scarce, because we have a limited (and sometimes non-existent) ability to associate and network.

There are-in Calabria-companies that in their sector are an excellence, and we also have men and women who have made the company their mission. Also in this territory – that from the Tyrrrrenic coast passing through San Mango reaches the heights of Reventino – we boast good entrepreneurs and Excellencies. But that's not enough. Not enough to determine the development of the region; It is not enough to contribute to the progress of the population (and so I keep the two words separate – development and progress – as Pasolini liked).

What to do, then?  What to do to create pre-favourable conditions first, and then to develop an economic policy that can affect the growth of our territory, our region?

Entrepreneurs who came to San Mango gave their example and their experience; The professionals have made available their knowledge; Politicians and administrators have informed about projects and programs. But the way to go is long. The problems are urgent. And the time we have available is limited. In the last 15 years Calabria has lost 180,000 young people, and it is estimated that between 2000 and 2050 the region will lose a total of 500,000 inhabitants. South Italy, between 2016 and 2065, will lose 5 million of inhabitants. And in the presence of such an obvious depopulation, what economic relevance and what prospects can a territory have?

Meetings like that of San Mango have to face this challenge as well. In fact, essentially this challenge. Otherwise you run the risk of leaving room for protagonism and self-referentiality. And that doesn't benefit. In other fields we can afford the luxury of satisfying the need for vanity that often manifests man. But when we play the collective interest and the growth of a community, we must leave a sign, a trace. You need to have a vision that allows you to use the transitoriness of the present to create a better future. Because it is here, in our time, that we build the future. And who is wrong now, maybe even in good faith, who speculates or benefits, belongs to the group of people who will be condemned by history.

I end with an invitation: it would be appropriate to recover and take into account the work initiated by Fabrizio Barca in the quality of Minister for territorial cohesion from 2011 to 2013. Especially where-among the instruments-suggests to "open gates to innovators in the territories, stopping the" extractors "of income", and when he invites to "start from the multitude of private and public practices to build system proposals capable of Win».

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