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“This Democratic Party has a thousand flaws but don’t call us populists”

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“This Democratic Party has a thousand flaws but don’t call us populists”

Dear manager,

in your article published yesterday in the newspaper you direct, Professor Recalcati, I must say politely, consigns me to my ineluctable destiny as a populist. This alarms me up to a certain point, because I have to tell you the truth: I am beginning to no longer understand the meaning of some words. Reformist: Everyone calls themselves reformists. Populist: everyone is accused of populism.

Populism is a very specific way of conceiving power. The elimination of any democratic intermediation, the debasement of elective assemblies, a direct relationship between the leader and the people. The leader appropriates the voice of the people. He is the only custodian of it. What he opposes is against the people. The search for an enemy is essential. The government practice is illiberal. Throughout history, populism has worked, and in many cases, has dragged the electorate with it; before the inevitable advent of disappointment.

I believe that everything can be said except that the Democratic Party is a populist party. It may have a thousand flaws, but this one really isn’t. The undersigned, then, comes from a political tradition, that of the Italian Communists, in which a highly refined and important leader like Paolo Bufalini, as soon as I was elected secretary of the federation of the PCI of Rome, said to me: “Goffredo, remember: you must fight on two fronts. That of your right-wing opponents and that of plebeism, which you must incorporate but transform into a conscious people ». Not to mention the current secretary of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta: perhaps the only Italian political leader truly exempt, even in his rigorous and calm way of presenting himself, from the contagion of the populist virus.

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I have the feeling that some use this sort of invective not to call everyone to respect the republican spirit and rules, but to normalize even the slightest ripple that poses problems of a social nature or concerning the tiring life of many people.

I have always hoped for the construction of a third pole capable of gathering so many moderate votes that have gone to swell the Italian right. But why has this third pole been so difficult to be born? Of course, there is no Ugo La Malfa. Rather, there are leaders who transition from one political form to another. There are solitary leaders who aspire to roles in some way monochromatic, dispensers of truth, with aggressive, assertive, in some cases even threatening languages: as when Calenda stated several times, with misplaced impetus, that in his program the first objective is to destroy another democratic party, the 5 Star Movement. With a typical populist reasoning: to create an enemy that strengthens your truth and takes on the meaning of a virus that causes all evil.

Of course: it is a strange populism. Which assumes the ways but does not foresee the people, who are usually disgusted. The funny thing is that these ways, being by no means moderate, upset the moderate electorate who remain, thus, more willingly under the wing of Berlusconi’s bonhomie.

Finally, I really appreciate Recalcati’s call for greater merit-based rigor. It seems unfair to concentrate it in particular on teachers, poorly paid and daily committed to educating children who are uneducated by their families and dominant values.

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And then you have to be consistent. Can the privileged also give a small sign of meritocratic rigor in Italy? Because we do not accept the idea that for assets over 5 million euros there is a levy in the inheritances that is irrelevant for the life of the rich young people who inherit, to be invested, instead, in starting the life of many young people who really have it need, to compete with their merits? Before giving lessons, it is always helpful to persuade others by example.

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