di Filippo Addarii
What do you expect to happen to funding for civil society when a third of the seats in the European Parliament will be won by members of euro-skeptic parties? It will be a Big Society for Europe… paraphrasing the agenda of the actual coalition government in the UK which massively cut public spending for social services as they entered government in 2009, causing a mayhem in civil society that for years feasted over Labour’s bonanza.
This is the likely plot to be re-enacted next year following the election of the European Parliament.
Most of the representatives of civil society organisations funded by the European Commission were outraged by the presentation I gave at the Structured Dialogue meeting of European for Citizens Programme (European Commission, DG COM) last Friday.
Unfortunately for them shooting the ambassador won’t save them from the wrath of the people’s representatives. These organisations quartered in the European capital are considered accomplice in the Brussels bubble… and most of them are indeed.
The only solution for them as for any other other civil society organisation is not the defense of vested interest. It’s untenable given the scale of the crisis. It’s time for an overhaul of their business strategy combined with proof of their realized impact.
di Filippo Addarii
“Social impact investing is neither about government funding under another label, nor philanthropy. It’s not a new fundraising strategy for non-profit organisations… and money is not even the central question. Investing for social impact is an agenda to turn capital into a force to create a market for social change”
Can we really make capitalism to serve social development? Marx would horrify, but that was the creed of Adam Smith. Whatever is your view attendants at Friday event realized that these was not the usual Brussels debate as we started.
People are tired of repetitive lobbyists and complacent policy-makers. They want real solutions for the ongoing state of crisis in which we have been trapped for the last 5 years. Therefore Consulta Europe asked me to design a session on social impact investing.
Roberto Mangabeira-Unger was unequivocal when I asked him what should be the strategy of the social innovation community with the European Union: “I’m passionately against this European Union. It has centralized political and economic power and left national governments to grapple with a shrinking budget for the public services necessary to empower citizens. This has inevitably turned the most vital forces of Europe – especially young people – against the Union”.
“The European Union must invert its course decentralizing power and centralizing the responsibility to intervene wherever society is most in need”.
This is not anyone critizing the EU but one of the most inspiring and thoughtful intellectual rock-stars of our time, Professor of Law at Harvard University, former Minister and adviser of Lula, and inspiration of Obama in the first presidential campaign. I fully subscribe to this vision for another EU.
di Filippo Addarii
Eccomi di ritorno. Scusatemi per il prolungato silenzio ma ho dovuto gestire la mia transizione professionale in questi ultimi mesi. Hanno cercato di affondarmi nel momento di debolezza ma, sfortunatamente per i miei avversari, sono di nuovo a cavallo equipaggiato con un arsenale ancora più fornito, e risolunto più di prima ad arrivare fino in fondo.
Forse questo non suona in sintonia con la rivista che pubblica il mio blog e con la sensibilità dei suoi lettori, ma questo non è più un mio problema. Dopo quasi dieci anni di lavoro nel cosidetto terzo settore mi sono reso conto dei suoi limiti nel trasformare la società; soprattutto delle limitate capacità cognitive delle sue leve storiche di capire come la società si sta trasformando e quali strategie d’intervento siano necessarie per controllare il processo. Il buon cuore non basta a garantire la giustizia sociale. E probabilmente non si tratta di garazie, ma di condurre la società verso nuove frontiere di sviluppo in cui la giustizia è sinonimo di prosperità.
La mia conclusione è semplice: il terzo settore deve bruciare e rinascere dalle proprie ceneri come l’Araba Fenice o restare per sempre una componente marginale della società e dell’economia. [...]
I spent the last week at the Arizona State University, hosted by the School of Sustainability.
It was refreshing to spend a week just thinking big and long-term with like-minded people who don’t do “little”.
Practitioners tend to rush from one task to the other one and attend too many conferences that are just good for networking. Radical thinking is rare. They normally have too much on the plate and not enough time to think about the bigger picture.
Instead you need to pose and ponder if what you do makes sense or if you need to change direction.
Moreover, an emerging industry such as social innovation and entrepreneurship needs to be framed within a broader vision: underpinned by data, understood within existing macroeconomic theories to justify its added value for the whole society. Even when you challenge the system you need to understand it. We can’t rely only on lofty values and feel-good stories.
When, a few months ago, I accepted the invitation of Prof Sander van der Leeuw (first picture), Dean of the School of Sustainability at ASU and UN Champion of the Earth 2012, I did not realise the need to take this pause. I met him thank to the European research projects in which I ended up by chance (INSITE and MD). Fortunately Sander persuaded me to fly over for a week and get to know each other. Prof Carlo Jaeger (second picture), world expert on climate and economy, was his accomplice in the operation.
di Filippo Addarii
Travelling across France and Italy reveals something reminiscent of the nature of the cancer: Europe is afraid of a globalising world that neither dominates nor understands anymore, and seeks refuge in a comfortable past. Everything is OK if we shut down from the rest of the world.
What does this have to do with Roberspierre? Maximilien de Robespierre is the symbol of modern revolutions and the end of the status quo at any cost. He did not refrain from sending a hundred thousand people to the guillotine to build a new country. He’s a founding father of modern State and ultimately Europe (although the most sensitive readers would not admit).
However, Robespierre has turned into the champion of the Ancien Regime today protecting the status quo and its beneficiaries ie the sacred cows, at the expenses of innovators ie the black swan.
What shall we do to save Europe and give a future to Europeans? We need to make a U-turn: slaughter the sacred cows, not the black swan.
‘Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit’.
di Filippo Addarii
The Resistance, the popular armed movement for the liberation from Nazi-Fascism, is the founding myth of the Italian Republic. Almost all Italian political leaders after WW2 had been partisans or supported the resistance although they lived abroad as dissidents. Italians united for once in their long history of factions and divisions.
Hopefully not so far in the future we will remember Francesco Profumo (Minister of Education and Innovation in the Monti Government 2012 – 13) as one of the first leaders of the second resistance that turned the tide of recession, austerity and general despair into a new Renaissance.
Despite the crisis he has been championing reforms and public investments especially for young people from the beginning. On Thursday he presented the results of a year of work: La via Italiana alla social innovation.
I was there as a foreign guest speaker and it was an unique experience. For the first time in my life I agreed with the vision of an Italian politician. I was happy to be reunited to my folk.
After 6 years of daily news on declining economic performance and even gloomier forecasts of the future do we wonder why people are fed up and disillusioned, demonstrating in the streets of European capitals?
Without hope of keeping falling material standards in check, life becomes unbearable and social conflict might return. Shopping is not affordable anymore and society has to resort to sustainable solutions to give direction to people.
I was ruminating on these ideas when I end up watching Django Unchained, the last film of Tarantino. I bought a ticket for Les Miserables but entered another room.
Django is a black slave who becomes a cowboy hero slaughtering whites in southern American. Lincoln or Amazing Grace are feel-good films for white progressive folk, but Django is what a Black crowd needs to feel good and proud. It is just fiction but it’s a good story to energise people who have been portrayed as losers for the last 3 centuries.
di Filippo Addarii
Aliens who have online media as their only source of info must assume that Southern Europe is doomed: sovereign debt, economic stagnation, rocketing unemployment, high taxes combined with generalized tax evasion. No light at the end the tunnel – only the Germans to keep the situation under control with the help of the EU and IMF.
But today those aliens have to change their mind. Even Southern Europe can generate successful stories, such as the Basque case. After decades of conflict, terrorism and economic stagnation 30 years ago, the Basque country found its stride and its course and embraced a balanced development model which combines innovation, solidarity, and sustainability built on the respect of its unique cultural identity.
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