Its second decade has begun, but the new century still mantains the now meaningless features of the old. With ideologies, ideals fell too; with authority fell the stength of the future; with moral certainty, fell material certainty.
In our Country, workers’ rights once held as natural are now reduced to deadened, meaning-shifting words. All the while, the urgency of millions of men and women, arisen from migration and turmoil, shakes and presses on our borders, welcomed by our Centers for Identification and Deportation – read: concentration camps.
If these are the times in which we live, which we can read, in which we can write, it’s necessary for those who work in literature and publishing to shift from solitary indignation to common analysis and action, conducted with the radical clarity of duty. This means, first of all, interpreting the advance of neoliberalism as a Western epidemic fueled not only by the political right, but also by supposedly left-wing and other inconclusive political forces; recognizing Berlusconism as a dangerous demagogical incarnation of neoliberalism, with its unacceptable traits of authoritarianism, defiance of law and private looting of the common; denouncing the ignoble racism of the Northern League; acknowledging the decadence of democratic participation, the degradation of the media, the destruction of our cultural heritage, the dismantlement of our public school system, the targeted ousting of women from workforce and their deformed representation in advertising and media shows, given by a society that is still foreign to a real culture of diversity. This means trying to redress where possible the shortcomings of political representation, the loss of decisional autonomy of the Parliament, the confusion and vulgarity of the public discourse, the all-out self defense of a de facto political oligarchy unable to pay attention to the needs of the weakest, the claims of civil society and the pressure of a multitude of citizens without citizenship in a Country that is now multicultural.
Reacting to this state of things and to the exclusion of two generations of Italian from political and economical life, on April 29, 2011 about a hundred of writers, critics, publishers and journalists gathered in the Roman offices of the publishing house Laterza under the name TQ, «Trenta-Quaranta» (Thirty-Forty), from the age of the participants, and invoked this collective taking on the responsibility, with the certainty that our generation, now for the first time, brings the burden of historical changes that concern everyone, but most of all the youngest. In the months following that meeting the participants debated on the web and agreed on the importance of joining the use of the new technologies with real-life participation to meetings and initiatives.
TQ is not just about discussion, but wants to undertake a shared path of knowledge and action. We want to encompass, through analysis and action, the broad and intertwined themes of education, research, welfare, markets, public spaces, production and distribution of culture. We want to reinstate, by contributing to rewrite its terms, the social contract broken both by the end of an immediate relationship between growth of education levels and of income, which was the basis of social mobility, and by the unilateral abolition of mutual exchange between our generation and the preceding. However, TQ does not seek a symbolic «killing of the fathers» – or of the mothers. Instead, we want to avoid the errors of the former generation, and at the same time to have an authentic and deep exchange with who came before us, albeit based on new rules; we are committed to a constant exercise of self-criticism, both individual and collective, and to take charge of obligations too often overlooked by many, and maybe, until now, by ourselves too: obligations of clarity, fairness and condivision; we intend, finally, to act first and foremost with a thought on future generations.
It’s evident that we are not making esthetic, but political and social statements. This is not an artistic or literary movement in the Twentieth century’s sense. It’s a group of intellectuals and knowledge workers that has the ambition to operate at the heart of Italian society, in the worn fabric of its material relations, to point with greater strength at the tears (starting from the systematization of precarious work, the generational wound on which many of our contemporary ills are encysted), and to advance a new operating vision of culture, able at last to fight back the unending devaluation suffered by the concept itself of culture and the role of those who produce and diffuse it. TQ deems culture a common good, like water: a good whose access should be universal and as costless as possible, the management of which must be strictly laic and competence-based. Only in this way, only by challenging any contraposition between populist drifts and ivory towers, between anti-intellectual oversimplifications and Byzantine snobberies, can we stem the rampant scorn for the discipline and effort that study requires and give back to public opinion new tools of interpretation suitable for our time. For this purpose also, TQ will promote public seminars on humanistic, scientific and economic themes, not only from a multidisciplinary perspective but above all of critic of their own discourses.
With the purpose of opposing the ever increasing identification of quality with quantity, the exclusive use of numerical, economistic evaluations of knowledge, TQ is committed to practicing and requiring the use of critical filters able to recognize and reward quality. For this reason, TQ adopts as one of its principles of action the promotion of bibliodiversity, by defending the complexity and variety of writing in a publishing scene mainly oriented to the esthetic and productive standards of mass consumption.
This is not a call to sign a petition: this is an invitation, open to anyone working in culture and arts, to think and act together, setting self-interest and rivalries aside, to put at stake part of our time and challenge our artistic or intellectual role, and be strongly, proudly citizens, by working as mediators between fields of knowledge, by participating to the political debate, by imagining new models of social practices. This invitation we extend to the whole Country: an invitation to every category of people in their thirties and fourties that might be interested to work with us: from researchers to economists, from artists to show business workers, from industry workers to teachers, from freelancers to the precarious in the advanced tertiary – many of them, like us, coping several times a day with the infinite summation of distinct roles.
In this time of emergency joining TQ means an ethical commitment towards political action, an individual pace in view of collective efforts. We are now fully convinced that it is no longer sufficient to devote everyone for himself, with detached purity, to art and literature: now more than ever it is necessary to practice a humane and collective alternative to this long sleep of reason.