In the present age, if we want to keep the institutes of our democracies healthy, our reflection cannot but be articulated. The topic of security might be the best example to describe the complexity of such a historic step. Italy, for instance, has experienced the tragic dilemma of conflict between personal freedom and security during the years of lead. Benigno Zaccagnini, the secretary of Christian Democracy when Aldo Moro was seized, reflected on that alleged alternative in a letter to one of his children.
He admonished him “not to accept any kind of limitation of the degrees of his freedom, even if it were a condition for an attractive or charming conquest”. The firm but democratic collective response that the institutions have been able to give to subversive terrorism, years later, acquires a more noble value in this context. Italy succeeded, in fact, to defeat terrorism without becoming a police State. A similar debate has incited the post-11 September era in US. Partial limitations to freedom, starting from the right to privacy, in exchange for greater security. Although divided, the country accepted these conditions and almost fifteen years later, despite the alternation of the administrations, the provisions adopted after the attack on the Towers are mostly still in force.
Today it is Europe’s turn. Paris under the fire of terrorists, Paris marching for the values which it has given to the West in the first place. After the extraordinary emotional reaction to the 2015 attacks, there was an intense debate on how to react at fear. Running a capital risk, dictated, once again, by haste: derogating from the cornerstones of our model of democracy and freedom to feel safer.
A shortcut, again. Perhaps the most insidious, if we think of how many centuries, how many wars and how many human lives, how much philosophical thought it took to build the present-day Europe. The danger is always the same as well as the terms of the matter: the temptation not to ask the most structural questions, not to dissolve the most thorny issues one after another, to pack solutions in a hurry, solutions of immediate impact to announce to the public. A wall built somehow, a ribbon cut in favor of the camera. And it does not matter much if the wall will be thrown down by the first storm, when the clamor will have ended. We will think about when it happens.
Elsewhere, people talk about it. In Italy we do it less. As for the tragedies of immigration, editorials on the emotional wave of current events and little more. Whereas the question should be sounded with the highest level of attention because it involves all the spheres of our life: politics, administration, economy. Western world is full of impulses that go in this direction. Temptation must be contrasted to the root. Restricting the perimeter of participation does not allow to become more efficient. Limiting freedom of movement will not make us safer. Concentrating power and reducing the democratic counterweights governance will not be improve governance. A good form of democratic participation is an essential condition of prosperity, democracy, security. Here is another of our non-negotiable values.
Taken from Going Together, Going Far