by Francesco Maria Ricciardi

A cohesive score, with some off-key notes

A rather ponderous pamphlet, but quite smooth. "Il mondo al contrario proceeds between considerations on topics of common interest, argued in a straightforward, dry, linear style. Brief anecdotes serve as interludes in a score that, on the whole, remains emotionally aseptic, without lapsing into the trivial. One virtue is internal consistency. The contents of the next chapter specify and clarify those of the previous one, in a tree-like diagram whose branches hang down toward the central chapters, almost creating a protective niche around them. Compositional geometry that becomes a visual vehicle of signification, in which it is indeed difficult to extrapolate periods ad nutum. For as Richelieu teaches, it only takes six lines written by the most honest of men to find something in them sufficient to have him hanged.

The tone, tendentially, is relaxed, discursive, neutral. The chapters on multicultural society and lgbt issues are a story in themselves. The first, a triumph of solecisms and anacolutes, registers a jarring shift to harsher, election rally-like accents. The second, at times convoluted, shows signs of inconsistency between the opening (more cryptic) and concluding (flatter) parts, likely the result of later drafts.

Between Apocalypse now and Amarcord, with Shakespearean overtones

The author's thesis is that there is a systematic "assault on normality" underway, which takes on the contours of a tight military operation, permeating all fields of civil life and conditioning government policies, with a targeted attack on the heart of society: the family. The offensive is hidden behind the noble goal of protecting minorities, in the name of which it comes to effectively subvert the order of priorities, giving rise to a Macbethian reality.

The origins of the problem are traced back to the fateful Cartesian anathema of "Cogito ergo sum" at the dawn of modernity. It warns against the exaggerations of solipsism, which degrade into aggressive and prevaricating forms of relational autism. Dysphoric behaviors externalize in reference to various social issues, which undergo distortions such that they become extremist, absolute, self-referential religions. Responsibility for such drifts is attributed, first and foremost, to real Socialism, which intends to make use of alter-egos of the terror regime in order to unhinge the foundations of Western society. Against the invasive advance of new, more fluid and "inclusive" principles and values is the concept of "normality," understood as a condition of regularity, custom, not exceptionality. It should be used to resolve, through reason-based appreciations, controversial dichotomies: environmental catastrophism/pragmatic environmentalism; traditional family/lgbt marriage; sovereign states/multicultural society.

The perspective is secular, immanent, anthropocentric, grafted onto an evolutionary-adaptive view. It conceives of the world as a physical system completely divorced from the ethical struggle between good and evil, in which only living beings capable of enduring and adapting to different habitats can survive. Man is the dominant species par excellence, because he has developed the best adaptive capacities, both in relation to other creatures and within his own specific community. This logic is reproduced, with increasing degrees of intensity, in all institutions, from the microcosm of the family, to the macrocosm of nations. Dominance/prevalence mechanisms select the most effective solutions in meeting human needs (affectivity, security, defense of property); in this sense, "normality" rises to a condition of preservation. Hence the need to preserve "winning" choices and models, starting with the "traditional family," the first and most solid of social supports. In support of the reasoning, articles, publications, charts are mentioned, to which is added the seasoning of personal life and professional experience, gained in critical contexts. Comparison with realities far from the West, where the scourge of poverty is palpable, prompts one to look with impatience at the whims and ambitions of a certain à la page domestic progressivism.

It would be an idle pastime to engage in the authentic interpretation of isolated periods, disengaged from their context. It should be noted, however, that the writing is not a violent and reactionary j'accuse against specific figures or groups. The target of the heartfelt reprimand are the subversive and delinquent behaviors, inspired by the most intransigent instances, that create unease in the entire community.

Political manifesto or pragmatic memorandum?

The book has one undeniable merit: to have roused the political debate from the torpor of the summer break by focusing it on issues of common interest. The polarization of opinion it has engendered and the rapid success it is experiencing in sales are a sign of people's interest in the content it covers. It is always a good and right thing for politics, removed from the esoteric spaces of institutional buildings, to be brought back to its popular matrix and for citizens to claim their right to manage the res publica. Whatever the reactions to the general's words may be, the discussions they produce are arena, agon, democratic life. To deprive ourselves of them, through obtuse prejudicial obstructionism or inconclusive obliviousness, is tantamount to mindless discharge of responsibility and entails insidious blank delegations of sovereignty ownership. Another great merit, more consequential to the reactions of top decision-makers than to the work itself, is that it has tempered the scepter of the rulers, stripping away its laurels and showing the intimate contradictions with which it drips. It is difficult, after an unprejudiced reading, to understand what Vannacci's foulness might have been, protected, among other things, in the free manifestation of his own thought, by constitutional dictate (Art. 21 Const.) and special laws (Art. 1472 of the Code of Military Order). All the more arduous when one considers that a large number of his positions form the basis of the electoral programs of the current majority parties and do not deviate from the moderate idem sentire. If even this is to be the object of public abjuration, what is really left to be preserved but a "rest of nothing"?

Saving ourselves from wokeism: community as an antidote to homo homini lupus

The attitude with which the work should have been received is that of an opinion coming from a position of honorable experience. Opinion from which to gem a broader discussion, perhaps even at odds with the conclusions of the paper, but still in dialectical tension with them. To invoke, hastily, damnatio memoriae is disjointed reaction, which ends up confirming the military man's assumptions. One runs the risk, in order to quell the annoyance aroused by some equivocal phrases, of killing in the cradle so many other reasonable proposals (support for the elderly, a rethinking of childcare services, a possible parenting income).

Let us move on to the failings. The great absentee, in the list of Tradition values to be preserved, is Faith. No specific chapter is devoted to the defense of Christianity and Catholic worship. Yet it is precisely the latter that are the object of the most angry attacks, both from other religious minorities in the country and from the liberal world, which often points to them as a cumbersome obstacle in the path to emancipation. Also raising doubts is the methodology of the investigation. In certain passages, statements sound apodictic and tetragonal. Finally, a conspicuous flaw is the lack of perspicuous definitions and a certain conceptual schizophrenia, which results in reticence, fostered by terminological imprecision. The polar star pursued, that of "Common Sense," is presented with smoky contours, as a synonym for "common sense," understood as generic feeling, majority opinion. More precision would be needed to avert semantically and culturally dangerous drifts. Common sense, as a moderate, balanced use of reason, does not coincide with sanity, as Manzoni recalls, regarding the plague. Conceptual clarity and taxonomic rigor indicate clarity of thought and serve to distinguish it from the smokiness of political manifestos and ideologies. The general, who shows that he knows and understands the importance of language harbinger of concrete meanings, cannot ignore it.

What is not fully persuasive is precisely the idea behind the book: the idea that concepts such as "normality," "democracy," and "justice" should be explained on the basis of a statistical relationship of predominance and prevalence, in which the majority decides and the minority, in compliance, conforms. It does not persuade by the inescapable fatality with which such an idea seems imbued, as if it were an unchangeable, intangible axiom.

“Il mondo al contrario” in the end, seems destined to disappoint a bit everyone: both those who will find it inadmissible a priori and those who will buy it in the fleeting hope of being able to crown a new messiah. The honor of arms should certainly be given, for defending common heritage values in a society where it seems to have become necessary to brandish swords, to raise shields in order to claim that the leaves are green. However, approximations, logical fallacies, reticence should not be overlooked. It should be consulted as a pragmatic memorandum, on which to try to innervate a responsible, mature discussion, free of ideological bias, seriously oriented to the solution of the problems examined. And, probably, in response to the censorious ostracism it denounces (and of which, in part, it is a victim), it should be read not so much out of unconditional confidence as out of mere petition of principle, for the sake of civil rebellion, pour la beautè du geste.


Lawyer, practices at the Court of Naples.
A graduate in Law (University of Pisa), he is a PhD candidate in Administrative Law (University of Salerno). He has a Master's Degree in Competition and Innovation Law (LUISS, Rome) and a Graduate Diploma in Accounting, Budgeting and Corporate Finance for Jurists (Parthenope University of Naples).