Year LIII, 2011, Single Issue, Page 77
FEDERALISM AND THE CRISIS
OF YOUTH POLITICAL PARTICIPATION*
The GFE and the MFE have decided to reorganise, together, the policy on the training of the federalist cadres. In this regard, both the GFE and the MFE can draw on an experience that was successful in the past, and allowed militants trained in Italy to play an essential role both in organised federalism in Europe and in the struggle for Europe. But in seeking to develop militant federalism in the current situation, there is a new difficulty that must be taken into account, a difficulty that did not arise the first time we were faced with the problem of training the cadres. This difficulty lies in the crisis of political participation among the young.
Clearly— and we must actually consider this a rule — this is a crisis that can be overcome only by the young people themselves, through their choices. It is easy to see why. No one can be forced to participate, because participation is a matter of free will. Naturally, the GFE and the MFE can remind young people that there is a price to be paid for political disengagement. For the young, there is much at stake: the life and work they will have, the type of society they will live in, the alternative between an Italy that is increasingly adrift, and a united, fair, prosperous and strong Europe. Abandoning politics does not simply mean leaving things as they are, not even in our private lives. It means creating power vacuums, entrusting power to others, being willing to put our future in the hands of others.
But these general observations are only a premise. The real crux of the matter is the relationship between the crisis of political engagement among the young, the crisis of the ideologies, and the steadily declining moral and cultural level of the actions implemented by the traditional parties (the Marxist framework included). This practical and theoretical decline, which is increasingly reducing political power to a personal matter, pursued only for personal reasons, impacts particularly on the young, because theirs is a stage in life in which people are interested in power purely as a social and civil issue, and not as a personal thing. When a young man or woman begins to wonder whether to become politically active, and in what way, it is certainly not the idea of some personal advantage that will induce him or her to get involved, but rather the idea of the right kind of society in which to live. And this idea is precisely what is currently failing to emerge in prevailing culture. The crisis of the ideologies has left only uncertainty in this regard. People no longer know — and the parties are no longer able to say with a reasonable degree of certainty — what has caused the unsatisfactory state of society today. They no longer know — and, again, no party is able to say with sufficient certainty — what sort of society we should be building, and with whom, because the era of the division of peoples, civilisations and men has now come to a definitive end, and every one of us has vital relationships not only with our neighbours and with other Italians, but also with the Europeans and indeed with the whole of mankind. Consequently, young people today do not know what to do.
But the situation is not beyond recovery. There is no reason to think that mankind can no longer advance. What young people need to realise is this: if the crisis of the traditional ideologies has left us without guides, then they too, like every other willing man, now find themselves in the forefront of the research endeavour. The research front, the shaping of the future, is precisely the front on which the crisis of youth political participation has emerged, and it is on this front that it can be overcome, through a new political commitment, an alternative to the decadence and blind pragmatism of power, and the first steps towards the construction of a more rational society — a more just and more humane society.
The reason why militant federalism has ideas on how to hold this front is not that it already knows how to go about building the future; it is because its political experience is still completely new, still almost entirely to be acquired. The young federalists of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s developed militant federalism, founded forty years ago, in the direction opened up by Spinelli. Those young people understood that if politics is identified with action geared at obtaining a seat in a government, parliament or local government, then one remains within the sphere of the existing power structure, i.e. on the side of the crisis and not on that of its overcoming. They therefore set out to conduct politics without using the weapon of general elections, or that of violence, or that of the representation of sectoral interests, and they succeeded.
This is why today we can speak seriously of federalism, and say that through the theory of federalism, as taught by Kant, it is possible to conceive of mankind, and not just the nation, in political terms; and that through militant federalism, it is possible to conceive of the way for a new form of political commitment, different from the failed one of the past.