by Maria Alessandra Varone

Aristotle was convinced that, since the human intellect is aimed at achieving truth, it could never be completely wrong; on the contrary, it would always be condemned to say, even in the false, something true. A drastic but useful statement that can help a lot, if one is willing to take a closer look.

Young people know that something is missing (but they don't know what)

When discussing young people in Italy, and liberal-progressives in particular, one arrives at the conclusion that the problem lies with the new generations, their inability, unlike their predecessors, to grasp beauty, respect and the sacred. In reality this is not so, as Lorenzo Bernasconi points out in his article  Defeating wokism with strong thinking ; and in this he is also followed by Francesco Borgonovo, who, in his speech at the conference Culture and Identity, organised by the Centro Machiavelli at the Chamber of Deputies on 12 April 2023, made some fundamental considerations:

There is so much beauty in the young Italian generation, the most lies in giving it to them. [...] In TV series, in music, young people today are passionate about genres that speak of physical strength, group loyalty, community, courage, verticality. Muted by the criminal setting, what remains are traditional values. That is what attracts young people, but we do not want to give them that in positive products. Yet, Rai [Italian public TV broadcasting] could do it.

This approach was also adopted by Benedict XVI, who, as early as 2012, in a pastoral meeting in Loreto, showed how the desire for the infinite was also evident in the tragedies of young people, such as drugs:

The thirst for infinity in our hearts is demonstrated in the very reality of drugs. Man wants to enlarge the depth of life, to have more of life, to have infinity. But drugs are a lie, a scam, because they do not enlarge life, they destroy life.

One could give countless examples to replace the word 'drugs' but still leave the sense of the text intact, and thus its grotesque concrete result: the desire for beauty, which however destroys art; the will to do good, which turns into harming one's neighbour; the desire for freedom, which becomes mental and carnal slavery. From ecologists to supporters of the womb for rent: they all fall, in terms of Aristotelian thought, under this category, which, in our discourse, is only one, not ten, as for the philosopher of Stagira: the desire for beauty, understood in its widest, most extensive and popular sense, and therefore for happiness.

Right and Left, opposite but equal

But there is something positive in the destructive narrative of liberal-progressivism, something that neither the liberal Left nor the conservative Right have: concrete, living action. Young people throughout Italy recognise themselves in that great system of liquid identity, of desires confused by rights, and yet they act. There is only one common element, one point of contact between the two polarities: the constant re-proposition of the outcomes of the Second World War as a demarcation criterion between friend and foe: fascist or anti-fascist. Italy, and this must be acknowledged, lies between these two extremes: a narrative turned to the past, which proposes it as an ideal oasis, all the way back to 1789, to which conservatives and reactionaries are positioned, and one turned to the future, where ecologists sit. Between the two extremes, the near past: the fall of Fascism, the victory of the Allies. Here lies the reservoir of that common language that renders the debate sterile at the outset, because the instances called for have no real counterpart in reality. However, this is also the point from which conservatives and progressives separate, because the latter, unlike the former, act. With the exception of this last point, however, it is interesting to see how far the two extremes overlap. The Right adopts Dugina as a martyr of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the left calls Politkovskaya a victim of Putin's despotism; on 25 April, the right recalls the nefariousness of the partisans, the left that of the fascists; the right prays to God, the Left to the state; the Right wants to save Italy, the Left the world. If they are the same in their methods, evidently they are also the same in their desires. Picking up on Borgonovo's words, one could offer something alternative to what the left proposes, something that satisfies this desire for the beautiful, the infinite, the good, and that can thus be transformed into action: it is fundamental to know that this is possible, however arduous, and it is precisely this, at the end of the day, that must force serious reflection, with a resolving and constructive desire and not simply polemical and destructive.

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What, then, can be the way to overcome the liberal-progressive wave? Logic or rhetoric? The answer is probably in the latter, because every day we witness the failures of the former. One does not respond to rhetoric with logic, but with equally if not more effective rhetoric. A first step could be to get out of the condition imposed by the Left, which is the one of losers, so that the Right, should always behave better.. It must escape from this yoke and find legitimacy in itself, only in this way can it succeed in imposing itself as autonomous and in proposing, over time, a credible and viable alternative, which can counter liberal progressivism, but also the disillusioned, trying to find a language and an identity in which all the Italians who live in this epoch of ours, made up of romantics without Romanticism, desiring everything but finding a mere nothing, because idols are no longer enough, never enough. In fact, it's all about shouting a I want it! and nothing else. And it is from this that we must start: not from the chief systems, but from the lesser ones, to arrive, however, at the chief, indeed, supreme ones.

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Varone holds a degree in Philosophy and a Master's degree in Philosophical Sciences from the University of Roma Tre. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the same university for the "Analytical Philosophy and Empirical Sciences" curriculum. Her research interests focus on metaphysics and the history of science in Europe between the 18th and 19th centuries.