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I migranti di Fahrenheit migrano ancora… (IV inbloggazione)

I guai dell’avanguardia musicale

Interessante sentire un conservatore intelligente come Roger Scruton pronunciarsi sull’avanguardia musicale. Lo fa per esteso nel saggio THE MUSIC OF THE FUTURE.

Parte a razzo dal XIX secolo: per Richard Wagner aveva senso solo la musica proiettata nel futuro. Un’adamantina mentalità avanguardistica, sembrerebbe…

… In 1860 Wagner published a now famous pamphlet entitled The Music of the Future– Zukunftmusik. In it he expressed his view that it was not enough for music to be merely contemporary– zeitgenössisch; it had to be ahead of itself, summoning from the future the forms that already lay there in embryo…

La visione wagneriana si ispirava a Feuerbach e Hegel

… We should not forget, however, the wider context of Wagner’s argument. The obsession with the future comes from Ludwig Feuerbach, and ultimately from Hegel’s philosophy of history, which represents human events as motivated by the always-advancing logic of the dialectic. For Hegel history has a direction…

Per i due filosofi la dimensione del futuro era quella decisiva. Feurbach, per esempio, credeva in un miglioramento cumulativo

… The future, Feuerbach believed, is not merely a development of the past; it is better than the past…

Questa mentalità progressista ci contagia ancora oggi, almeno nelle arti…

… We spontaneously incline to the view that each artistic form and style must be superseded as soon as it appears, and that the true values of art require constant vigilance against the diseases of nostalgia and pastiche….

Tutti ricercano “originalità” e “autenticità“, ripetersi è l’errore da evitare.

Tuttavia, quando si passa dalle parole ai fatti, in Wagner la tradizione restava ben riconoscibile. La sua musica cresce organicamente su quella del passato, la grammatica di base resta la stessa…

… Wagner’s emphasis on the future of music was influenced by the Hegelian theory of history and Feuerbach’s use of it. But it was also rooted in a real sense of tradition and what tradition means…

Ma anche a parole Wagner è in fondo consapevole del suo debito

… Wagner was aware of this, and indeed dramatized the predicament of the modern composer in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which is his own striking reflection on ‘tradition and the individual talent.’…

Nulla del genere nell’avanguardia radicale del dopo guerra. Lì non si fanno concessioni.

E Schoenberg è senz’altro  più vicino a Wagner che ai suoi nipotini…

… Right up until Schoenberg’s experiments with serialism, musical innovation in the realm of ‘classical’ music proceeded in Wagner’s way…

Ma la stessa cosa può dirsi per altri protagonisti dell’avanguardia storica…

… new rhythms and time-signatures were adopted, and with Stravinsky and Bartók organisation was inspired more by dance than by the classical forms….

Non fanno eccezione Debussy o Rimsky-Korsakov. Nessuno di loro, per quanto innovativo, è impegnato attivamente nel rigettare la tradizione.

Possiamo concludere che prima della seconda guerra, sia i classicisti che i modernisti, rientravano nel “solco”…

… Both the continuous development of the romantic symphony in Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, and Shostakovich, and the incorporation of modernist devices into the tonal language, lay within the scope of the existing language: these were developments that issued naturally from the pattern of musical discovery that has characterised Western classical music from the Renaissance…

Poi, la rottura.

Il passato doveva essere sfidato…

… modern works of music tend to be self-consciously part of an avant-garde, never content to belong to the tradition but always overtly and ostentatiously defying it;…

Il dogma diventava: azzerare la melodia e moltiplicare gli effetti sonori

… these works seem to be melodically impoverished, and even without melody entirely, relying on sound effects and acoustical experiments to fill the void where melody should be…

Un esempio…

Nathan Davies used live filtering to give the effect of resonators, extracting tones from white noise, and turning those tones towards music. The effect was undeniably striking, at times entrancing…

Il guaio di fondo in questo approccio:  la musica si compie nel nostro cuore, ma il mero effetto sonoro non ha alcun contenuto affettivo.

Non è la novità da sola che puo’ far prosperare la musica…

… It is only the loved and repeated repertoire that will ensure the survival of music…

Un repertorio consolidato e sempre rivisitato è essenziale.

Con un motto potremmo dire che necessitiamo di affetti più che di effetti

… Music exists in the ear of the listener, not on the page of the score, nor in the world of pure sound effects…

Il nuovo compositore, invece, è più filosofo che musicista

… a new kind of music has emerged which is less music than a reflection upon music, or perhaps even a reflection on the lack of music…

Ma perché siamo arrivati a questo punto? Bè, ci sono alcuni responsabili.

Innanzitutto il rifiuto ideologico della tonalità. Adorno ne è il principale responsabile…

… the radical attack on tonality by Theodor Adorno and his immediate followers. Although Adorno linked his argument to his advocacy of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone serialism, the force of the argument is largely negative…

Per un comunista come lui la critica all’ordine tonale equivaleva alla critica dell’ordine borghese…

… Adorno’s critique of tonality was part of a systematic theory of the death of bourgeois culture. Tonality had to die because the bourgeois order had to die…

La musica tonale si sarebbe esaurita producendo solo cliché

… the desire nevertheless to cling to tonality, in the manner of Sibelius or Copland, even in the manner of the neo-classical Stravinsky, is bound to lead, Adorno thought, to empty clichés or sterile kitsch…

Thomas Mann sollevò dubbi, ma nell’ambito specifico della musica passarono inosservati…

… Thomas Mann wrote a great novel about this, Doktor Faustus, meditating on the fate of Germany in the last century. Mann takes the tradition of tonal music as both a significant part of our civilisation, and a symbol of its ultimate meaning…

Seguì l’invenzione del serialismo

… the invention of serialism. I call this an invention, rather than a discovery, in order to record the wholly a priori nature of the serial system….

Si badi bene: invenzione (artificiale) non scoperta (naturale)…

… serial organisation was an invention– a set of a priori rules laid down by Schoenberg and adapted and varied by his successors. These rules were to provide a non-tonal grammar for music…

Con il serialismo il cervello soppianta l’orecchio

… Serialism asks us to hear in another way, with the brain rather than the ear in charge…

I capolavori seriali esistono ma sono tali per gli elementi antiserialisti che contengono…

… In a great serial composition, such as the Berg Violin Concerto, we hear harmonies, melodies, sequences, and rhythmical regularities, just as in the great works of the tonal tradition, and we do so because we are hearing against the serial order…

La serie fu poi estesa a tutti i parametri musicali trasformando la composizione in un enigma astratto…

… In a great serial composition, such as the Berg Violin Concerto, we hear harmonies, melodies, sequences, and rhythmical regularities, just as in the great works of the tonal tradition, and we do so because we are hearing against the serial order…

Paradossalmente, questi pezzi musicali iper-ordinati suonano come composizioni aleatorie: nelle une come nelle altre l’elemento umano è espulso…

… Randomisation had the same effect as serialisation, which was to deprive musical elements of their intrinsic ways of relating to each other…

La musica si trasforma da esperienza in concetto

… The effect of such innovations was to replace the experience of music by the concept of music…

Esempio: Gruppen di Stockhausen…

… The score is not a notation of musically organized sounds, but a mathematical proof, from which the sounds can be deduced as theorems…

La pittura, come sempre, ha anticipato la musica. E all’inizio è stato anche eccitante. Ma che noia, oggi…

… The eclipse of art by the concept of art occurred at around the same time in the visual arts, and for a while the game was amusing and intriguing…

Infine, c’è quanto dicevamo prima: l’effetto sonoro ha rimpiazzato i toni.

I precursori…

… Varèse, Pierre Schaeffer and their immediate successors awoke composers and audiences to the many new sounds, some of them produced electronically, that could enter the space of music without destroying its intrinsic order…

Ma cosa distingue un tono da un suono?…

… Sounds are objects in the physical world, albeit objects of a special kind whose nature and identity is bound up with the way they are perceived. Tones are what we hear in sounds when we hear the sounds as music….

Il tono è la realtà interiore del suono, porta con sè una lingua, delle emozioni, degli affetti. Il suono è solo una realtà fisica.

Non possiamo rinunciare ad un ordine e a una durata se vogliamo che la musica si articoli in un discorso e ci parli…

… Music goes up and down, it leads and follows; it is dense, translucent, heavy, light; it encounters obstacles and crashes through them, and sometimes it comes to an end which is the end of everything. Those metaphors, and the order derived from them, are shared by all musical people. The order that we hear is an order that we– the musical public– hear, when we hear these sounds as music…

L’effetto rumoristico può starci ma va addomesticato (contestualizzato)…

… Of course there are sound effects too: sounds from the real world intrude into music, like the unpitched sounds of the percussion section, or the recorded bird-song that intrudes into Respighi’s Pines of Rome. But when we hear these sounds as part of the music they change character….

Questo approccio “acustico” si riflette nell’insegnamento della musica…

… The intrusion of acoustical ways of thinking into the practice and teaching of music is something we owe to Boulez and Stockhausen, and to the educational practises that they established….

Prendiamo un’opera “senza capo nè coda” come “Momente” di Stockhausen…

… As Stockhausen himself says, this work has no real beginning and no end: like all his works it starts without beginning and finishes without ending…

Altro esempio di disconnessione temporale…

… The same is true of Boulez’s Pli selon pli, in which the exotic instrumentation and serial organisation do not conceal the fact that no moment in this work has any intrinsic connection to the moment that comes next…

Una cosa è certa: la musica occidentale precedente è sempre stata qualcosa di molto diverso…

… Music (music of our classical tradition included) has until now consisted of events that grow organically from each other, over a repeated measure and according to recognizable harmonic sequences….

Ma perché siamo arrivati a questo punto?

Una causa sta nel fatto che il pubblico è stato trascurato

… If avant-garde music is ever to step down from the world of concepts into the world of tones, then it will be because the audience exists in whose ears this transition can occur. Take away the audience and you take away the concrete reality of music as an art. You turn music into an arcane exercise in the acoustical laboratory, in which groups of patient instrumentalists pump out sounds according to formulae which mean nothing, since meaning lies in the ears that have fled from the scene…

Per tornare sulla retta via si frappongono alcuni ostacoli. Innanzitutto, l’onnipresenza della musica commerciale che abbassa la durata nell’attenzione dei giovani…

… By easy music I mean the ubiquitous products of pop and rock, which influence the ears and the attention-span of young people long before they can be captured by a teacher…. to offer serious music to such an audience you must also attract their attention. And this cannot be done without rhythms that connect to their own bodily perceptions. Serious composers must work on the rhythms of everyday life. Bach addressed listeners whose ears had been shaped by allemandes, gigues, and sarabands…

per aggirare il problema, forse un compromesso accettabile ci viene da soluzioni alla John Adams (ma di molti altri americani)…

… Adams lift the ostinato four in a bar of the Rock group into an orchestral empyrean, where the flat-footed dance gives way to a gravitationless rhythm that moves and develops with the harmony. Adams uses the tonal language, not to make the kind of profound statement of a Beethoven or a Bruckner, but nevertheless to lift the young ear out of its groove and to make it listen. There is a lesson to be taken from this, which is that music is tested in the ear of the listener and not in the laboratory, and the ear of the listener is plastic, moulded both by the surrounding culture and by the everyday sounds of life as it is now…

Altro problema: la presa di potere nelle accademie dei “cervellotici” avanguardisti…

Oggi, un burocrate che deve sganciare i sussidi rischia se non privilegia la musica cervellotica. Il timore viene anche dalle gaffe fatte in passato. L’esempio dei saloni d’arte dell’800…

… The history of the French salons in the 19th century, and of the early reactions to musical and literary modernism, has made people aware of how easy it is to miss the true creative product…

Sarà anche per questo complesso storico che in Francia la “gang” di Boulez spadroneggia da decenni…

… In a book published in 1995: Requiem pour une avant-garde, Benoît Duteurtre tells the story of the steady takeover by Boulez and his entourage of the channels of musical and cultural communication, and their way of establishing a dictatorship of the difficult at the heart of the subsidy machine. At the same time as vilifying his opponents and anathematising tonal music and its late offshoots in Duruflé and Dutilleux, Boulez achieved a cultural coup d’état, which was the founding of IRCAM…

Da qui il criterio prudenziale seguito dal burocrate per la spartizione dei sussidi…

… only if it sounds difficult, disturbing, ‘challenging,’ ‘transgressive’ could a bureaucrat dare to provide it with a subsidy…

Una via per non rompere con il passato è allora quella di dare più spazio al pubblico, a costo di tagliare i fondi…

… new music addressed to the musical public… It seems to me that, if there is, now, to be a music of the future it will, in that way, belong with the music of the past…

Che è poi la via americana: una musica colta non meno innovativa ma più “vendibile”, e quindi anche meno cervellotica, con un maggiore appello alle emozioni.

Luigi-Russolo-Ugo-Piatti-and-the-Intonarumori-via-arthistoryproject-com-4

L’odio per lo stato che avvelena i libertari

Lo stato è da sempre il nemico giurato dei libertari, questo anche se spesso le sue politiche dei governi sono di stampo libertario.

[… attingo da William D. Eggers & John O’Leary: “Reasons Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Hate Government”…]

Prendiamo la lotta all’inflazione

… inflation has come down from unacceptable levels in the 1970s to an eminently livable situation…

Oppure le minori tasse per i ricchi

… Marginal tax rates have fallen from 70 percent to below 40 percent….

O il vasto programma di privatizzazioni degli anni passati…

… There has not been a major cry to nationalize or otherwise cripple the hi-tech sector….

O la deregolamentazione della finanza

… Private capital markets have become more advanced, more liquid, and better able to fund new ideas….

O la lotta al  comunismo

… on a global scale communism has fallen… few American politicians advocate central planning or an economy built around collective bargaining. Marxism has retreated in intellectual disgrace….

Domanda retorica: che fine farebbe l’austerity dei nostri giorni se non fosse strenuamente difesa dai governi in carica e dai burocrati di Bruxelles? E l'”austerity”, ovvero rispondere dei propri debiti sul mercato, è una politica libertaria.

Lo stato ha garantito anche molte libertà positive (opportunità) che magari il libertario “duro e puro” non vede con simpatia ma che indubbiamente migliorano la vita di tutti…

… much greater liberty, at least in the positive sense of greater life opportunities….

In fondo, i danni che lo stato crea possiamo permetterceli proprio grazie alle concessioni che lui stesso ha fatto al mercato…

… The more wealth we have, the more government we can afford…

Da qui il paradosso libertario

… the better government operates, the more government people will demand. That is the fundamental paradox of libertarianism. Many initial victories bring later defeats….

Vediamo qual è il ciscuito sottostante: i libertari evangelizzano, i governi si convertono operando in modo più razionale e la gente, visti i buoni risultati, vuole più stato.

Il mondo di domani:

… We should embrace a world with growing wealth, growing positive liberty, and yes, growing government…

Accettiamo allora più governo: fa parte del “pacchetto” che comprende anche più libertà, più mercato e quindi più ricchezza.

[… ma c’è anche un canale parallelo più specifico da cui si genera il paradosso: più innovazione, più tecnologia disponibile per il controllo, più stato…]

… We don’t have to favor the growth in government per se, but we do need to recognize that sometimes it is a package deal…

Il nuovo motto…

… The motto— “liberty is good”— is the more important…. advances in liberty bring bigger government.”…

Conclusione: la libertà di mercato genera ricchezza che porta più stato: prendere o lasciare. E “lasciare” è folle.

Anche dal punto di vista intellettuale, quello del libertario antistatalista ormai è un  piagnisteo ripetitivo che nessuno ascolta più…

… much of libertarianism has become a series of complaints…  the welfare state is here to stay,…

Molti libertari hanno trasformato la libertà da mezzo a fine. Ma questa scala di valori spesso non coincide con quella delle persone a cui si rivolge…

… seeing positive liberty (“what can I do with my life?”) as more important than negative liberty (“how many regulations are imposed on me?”)….

In molte aree cruciali per il nostro futuro lo stato può e deve dare il sul contributo: brevetti, diritti d’autore, riscaldamento globale, pandemie, politica estera, nucleare

… I worry about pandemics and natural disasters, as well as global warming and climate change more generally (it doesn’t have to be carbon-induced to be a problem). These developments are big threats to the liberty of many people in the world, although not necessarily Americans. The best answers to these problems don’t always lie on the old liberty/power spectrum in a simple way. Defining property rights in clean air, or in a regular climate, isn’t that easy and it probably cannot be done without significant state intervention… Intellectual property in vaccines and drug patents also will become an increasingly critical issue on a global scale…. More and more economic value is being held in the form of intellectual property…. Another major problem– the major problem in my view– is nuclear proliferation…

Il libertario duro e puro è allo stesso tempo radicale e prevedibile

… We would run the risk of being too kooky and too mainstream at the same time…

I suoi libri sono perfetti ma leggendoli non si impara mai niente, sono tutti uguali…

… Brian Doherty’s wonderful book…. what I liked most about the book was how little I learned from it….

Sono finiti i bei tempi della guerra al comunismo, quando il messaggio antistatalista girava a meraviglia…

… The book hearkens back to those good old days when the nature of the fight, “liberty vs. power,” was really quite clear. America in the mid to late 1970s was a wreck, and libertarians indeed had a lot of the right answers….

L’atteggiamento libertario spesso diventa addirittura inviso

… “I don’t want to make government work better, I want it to go away”…

Il fallimento della scuola pubblica o della Rai, per esempio, sono per lui  occasione di festa: sente la privatizzazione è più vicina! Ma questo atteggiamento da “gufo” gli aliena inevitabilmente l’empatia della massa.

Nel suo Pantheon il libertario venera eroi – esempio  i Padri fondatori della democrazia americana – che non avevano certo un atteggiamento simile…

… Our Founding Fathers, fondly quoted by limited-government advocates, didn’t view government as evil, but as a flawed institution with some important jobs to do…

Il governo era temuto e limitato ma nessuno pensava di liberarsene o di farlo funzionare male per avere la scusa per liberarsene.

Ecco allora alcune ragioni per “amare” il potere politico.

Cattivi governi accrescono la domanda di governo. Sembra strano ma è così. La questione del resto è empirica…

… the less citizens trust government, the less willing they should be to give it big new responsibilities, right? Wrong. An important recent academic study called “Regulation and Distrust” shows that, paradoxically, the worse government performs, the more citizens demand greater government intervention…

Perchè? Forse, per un’illusione cognitiva, gli errori della politica ci appaiono talmente macroscopici che ci sembra facile correggerli (con un po’ di potere in più nelle mani giuste).

Per andare al governo (e limitarlo) bisogna “amarlo”.

La Sinistra lo ama visceralmente, non c’è dubbio, la politica è la sua passione, cosicché la politica e i giornali che si occupano di politica registrano un persistente e fastidioso bias a sinistra

… liberals believe deeply in government. As a result, they sit on school boards, city councils, and regional planning boards…

Destra e libertari hanno invece altre passioni

… Many conservatives and libertarians come from the world of business… Once in power, they tend to have far more difficulty… most high-profile attempts to shrink government fail…

Le riforme di mercato non si fanno da sole, bisogna progettarle ed è un lavoro duro.

Privatizzare è difficile e se sbagli i “nemici” ti fanno a polpette. Immaginatevi solo una privatizzazione dell’acqua andata male! C’è chi non aspetta altro per scatenarsi…

… what happened when California actually tried electricity deregulation? Within just a few years, the new law caused soaring prices, rolling blackouts, and the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. Consumers lost billions…. energy companies such as Enron exploited design flaws…

Fare i “gufi” ci rende antipatici. Non si può godere impunemente delle disgrazie altrui…

… Incessant government-bashing may make you feel good, but alienates most everybody who knows and loves a police officer, firefighter, teacher, social worker, anyone who has ever collected an unemployment check…

Nessuno ti ascolta se trasudi solo disprezzo. La gente vuole competenza, non disprezzo…

… Many voters today may indeed want smaller government, but what they want most of all is competent government… free-marketers also need to communicate a genuine interest in the effective performance…

La gente vuole “felicità”, non “libertà” fine a se stessa. Per i più la libertà è un mezzo per essere felici, non un fine. Giusto o sbagliato che sia, per molti essere schiavi trattati con i guanti dai rispettivi padroni è preferibile che essere liberi e in balia degli eventi. Questo è un fatto.

D’altronde, non si può negare che molti progetti della politica sino stati dei successi di portata storica…

1. Democratic Reconstruction in Japan Post WWII….

2. The Marshall Plan. Aid to rebuild Europe following WWII…

3. The Apollo Moon Landings. A come-from-behind win in the space race. On time, on budget, and 40 years later still never repeated. A strong head of NASA, James Webb, and a start-up culture made this incredibly audacious effort reality…

4. 1996 Welfare Reform. Put time limits on welfare benefits and encouraged work rather than dependence. Based on a program in Wisconsin, a good example of building off the demonstrated success of our nation’s laboratories of democracy—the states. Cut welfare rolls by more than 50 percent in many states…

Naturalmente ci sono anche molti fallimenti…

1. Hurricane Katrina. The failure of the Corps’ to adequately prepare was less visible but just as disastrous as the Keystone Cops response

2. NASA’s Shuttle Tragedies.

3. Democratic Reconstruction in Iraq

4. The 1970s War on Inflation…

E allora non resta che giudicare caso per caso avendo la consapevolezza che “a volte le cose vanno in un senso, a volte nell’altro“.

libertà

Ribelli in vendita

Selling Out – You are Not So Smart by David McRaney

Molti “ribelli” moderni finiscono per diventare un brand. L’errore è quello di considerare tutto questo un paradosso quando invece si tratta della loro sorte naturale. Sbagliarsi su questo punto significa non cogliere l’ “essenza del capitalismo”.

L‘illusione ottica…

… Both consumerism and capitalism are sustained by corporations and advertising…

La credenza corretta

… Both consumerism and capitalism are driven by competition among consumers for status…

Insomma, il capitalismo non si fonderebbe sui fantomatici bisogni indotti ma sulla competizione tra consumatori.

Ok, ma come si arriva da qui al fatto che il ribelle è destinato alla mercificazione. Calma, un passo alla volta.

Il venditore è sempre in cerca di novità: i ribelli all’ordine costituito – con le loro proposte innovative – sono quindi per lui una miniera d’oro…

… Beatniks, hippies, punk rockers, grunge rats, metal heads, goth kids, hipsters…

Tutti noi attraversiamo una fase giovanile di ribellione…

… Whether you lived through the Summer of Love or South Park, somewhere in your youth you started to realize who was in control, and you rebelled… you sought out something real, something with meaning…

Si tratta di un periodo molto creativo, e spesso sono proprio quelle idee che verranno commercializzate domani. L’ esempio del punk

… Think about an archetypal punk rocker with chains and spikes, gaudy pants and a leather jacket. Yeah, he bought all of those clothes. Someone is making money off of his revolt. That’s the paradox of consumer rebellion—everything is part of the system…

Il “venditore” non aspetta altro: nuove idee per rinnovare completamente il “guardaroba” (e non solo) di una generazione…

…  Every niche opened by rebellion against the mainstream is immediately filled by entrepreneurs who figure out how to make a buck off those who are trying to avoid what the majority of people are buying…

Il cinema recente offre uno spaccato di cultura “contro” che rende benone al botteghino…

… Fight Club, American Beauty, Fast Food Nation, The Corporation, etc. The creators of these works may have had the best intentions, but their work still became a product designed for profit…

Ma anche tra artisti e scrittori il fenomeno è ben evidente…

… Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Kurt Cobain, Christopher Hitchens—they may have been solely concerned with creating art or illustrating academic principles, but once their output fell into the marketplace, it found its audience, and that audience made them wealthy…

Le t-shirt con Che Guevara sono un classico e “Imagine” di John Lenon, da inno comunista e visionario, è diventata in un amen la muzak ideale per accompagnare gli acquisti al centro commerciale. E, restando in Italia, che dire di Pasolini? L’ uomo che denunciò in largo e in lungo lo “sviluppo” facendo la gioia dei suoi editori e del PIL. Paradossi? No, casi di scuola per capire la macchina capitalistica.

Il libro che meglio ha sviscerato il fenomeno: The Rebel Sell di Joseph Heath e Andrew Potter. La tesi…

… you can’t rage against the machine through rebellious consumption….

Non esistono “consumi alternativi”. Solo consumi da reinventare continuamente.

Secondo la vulgata bisogna “omologare” per vendere meglio…

… All the interconnected institutions in the marketplace need everyone to conform in order to sell the most products to the most people…

Corollario: ci si salva solo uscendo dal mainstream

… To escape consumerism and conformity, you must turn your back and ignore the mainstream culture…

Sbagliatissimo, il mercato prospera proprio grazie al “diverso“. I mercanti amano e ricercano l’ “alternativo“, se la giostra riparte sono i primi a beneficiarne…

… The problem, say Heath and Potter, is the system doesn’t give a shit about conformity. In fact, it loves diversity and needs people like hipsters and music snobs so it can thrive…

La parabola di una band indie

… For example, say there is this awesome band no one knows about except you and a few others. They don’t have a record contract or an album. They just go out there and play, and they are great. You tell everyone about them as they build a decent fan base. They make an album that sells enough copies to allow them to quit their day jobs. That album gets them more gigs and more fans. Soon they have a huge fan base and get a record contract and get on the radio and play on prime time. Now they’ve sold out…

Altri esempi presi a  caso qua e là…

… In the 1960s, it took months before someone figured out they could sell tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms to anyone who wanted to rebel. In the 1990s, it took weeks to start selling flannel shirts and Doc Martens to anyone anywhere….

Le corporation sguinzagliano i loro osservatori nei centri sociali per capire meglio le tendenze del futuro…

… Now people are hired by corporations to go to bars and clubs and observe what the counterculture is into… The counterculture, the indie fans, and the underground stars—they are the driving force behind capitalism…

Ora l’essenza del capitalismo dovrebbe essere più chiara…

… This brings us to the point: Competition among consumers is the turbine of capitalism…

Cerchiamo di essere i più fighi, e su questa nostra ambizione gira la macchina degli affari…

… As Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like, pointed out in a radio interview, you compete with your peers by one-upping them. You attain status by having better taste in movies and music, by owning more authentic furniture and clothing…so you reveal your unique character through your consumption habits…

Ma è difficile essere i più fighi intruppandosi nella massa, da qui l’ossessione per l’autenticità

… your desire for authenticity is what moves these items and artists and services and goods up from the bottom to the top—where they can be mass-consumed…

Passata un’ onda si attende la prossima con ansia, e gli innovatori ribelli al conformismo sono proprio quelli che più garantiscono questo dinamismo… “siano benedetti” pensa il mondo del business…

… It is ironic in the sense the very act of trying to run counter to the culture is what creates the next wave of culture people will in turn attempt to counter…

La merce non ha solo un valore intrinseco

… The value, then, is not intrinsic. The thing itself doesn’t have as much value as the perception of how it was obtained or why it is possessed…

La merce serve anche per competere e nel capitalismo la competizione tra consumatori relativa allo status conta più di quella tra imprese…

… Competition for status is built into the human experience at the biological level. Poor people compete with resources. The middle class competes with selection. The wealthy compete with possessions…

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Storia e cronaca di un divario

Fra i grandi problemi del Paese campeggia l’eterna “questione meridionale”, un puzzle irrisolto su cui il Luca Ricolfi di “Mezzogiorno sconosciuto” ha qualcosa di originale da ricordarci…

… un divario del 5-10% rientra nell’ordine delle cose, un divario del 30-40% che persiste nel tempo diventa un fatto patologico…

Ma pensandolo in questi termini si dà per scontato che la “questione meridionale” esistesse anche prima dell’unità d’Italia e che l’unità non sia riuscita a risolverla. E in effetti…

… fino a poco tempo fa gli studiosi pensavano che al momento dell’unità il sud avesse un ritardo del 15-20%…

Si tratta di un pregiudizio. I due studiosi che l’hanno in buona parte sfatato sono Paolo Malanima e Vittorio Daniele, pubblicano per Bankitalia…

… secondo la loro certosina ricostruzione… fino agli anni 40 non esisteva la moderna contabilità nazionale… non è affatto vero che al momento dell’unità il sud fosse economicamente più arretrato del nord… il divario sarebbe interamente un portato della storia unitaria… qualcosa che non esisteva nel 1861 e si sarebbe prodotto dopo… il periodo nero va dal 1880 al 1951… quello migliore va dai primi 50 ai primi 70…

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Ma vediamo meglio la natura del divario tra Nord e Sud…

… se per divario intendiamo che il Sud produce meno del nord, questo è indiscutibile… nei settori di mercati lo scarto è del 48%…

E il tenore di vita?…

… se invece confrontiamo come se la passano le famiglie, il quadro si fa assai più sfumato… il reddito disponibile è effettivamente inferiore… 26%… oltre ad avere un numero maggiore di componenti…

Ma la famiglia del Sud gode di tre vantaggi formidabili

… una maggiore evasione fiscale… una redistribuzione favorevole negli aiuti pubblici e un livello di prezzi al consumo decisamente più basso…

Chi ha studiato il costo della vita del Sud?…

… Luigi Campiglio iniziò le sue ricerche già alla fine degli anni 80… l’Osservatorio prezzi del ministero dello sviluppo economico… due recenti studi dell’Istat sui prezzi e sulla povertà assoluta… una ricerca molto accurata della Banca d’Italia condotta da Luigi Cannari e Giovanni Uzzolino…

Risultato?…

… ne esce un quadro complesso, alcuni beni sono anche più cari al sud ma molti beni costano significativamente meno: per esempio le case, gli affitti, la maggior parte dei servizi pubblici, in generale i beni di prima necessità… circa il 30% in meno… lo scarto negli alimentari fresche è circa del 25%…

Facendo quattro conti e ci troviamo di fronte ad un colpo di scena

… il consumo reale di una famiglia meridionale risulta mediamente del 5% più elevato… e diventa appena un po’ inferiore… 5%… se si corregge per la numerosità familiare… diciamo che siamo vicini alla parità… se poi conteggiamo il tempo libero, la parità diviene difficilmente contestabile…

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Ma se il tenore di vita è simile a quello del Nord, come mai il 70% dei poveri lo riscontriamo al Sud?…

… la cosa è in parte dovuta alle statistiche che riguardano la povertà relativa… e che quindi ignorano del tutto le differenze nel costo della vita… se ne teniamo conto il tasso di povertà del Sud diventa una volta e mezza quello del Nord anziché cinque volte…

Ma se il tenore di vita è comparabile, anche “una volta e mezza” è comunque tanto! Perché così tanto?…

… innanzitutto i servizi pubblici del Sud sono inferiori per quantità e qualità a quelli del Nord… e spesso tra i servizi pubblici rientrano gli strumenti di contrasto alla povertà…

Secondo motivo…

… nel mezzogiorno il reddito è distribuito in modo più diseguale… c’è una Casta politico-burocratico-affaristica, spesso collegata alla criminalità organizzata… che si appropria di una fetta consistente delle risorse destinate al Sud…

Conclusione

… al sud non serve un euro in più… basterebbero servizi pubblici gestiti meglio… e risorse distribuite in modo più equo…

La mano tesa del neocolonialismo

Per aiutare i poveri dl mondo dobbiamo fare in modo che producano, redistribuire ricchezze serve a poco. Parte da qui la riflessione di Paul Romer

… Redistribution from rich to poor has not and cannot solve more than a tiny fraction of the problem. Even if you could perfectly equalize income in Third World nations with zero effect on production, the citizens of Third World countries would remain mired in poverty…

Non dividere la produzione ma aumentare la produzione.

C’è un modo semplice per farlo: trasferire il Terzo Mondo nel Primo Mondo grazie all’immigrazione…

… there turns out to be one foolproof way for people from the Third World to drastically increase their production overnight: move to the First World…

Il lavoro di Michael Clemens, Claudio Montenegro e Lant Pritchett è illuminante su questo punto. Prendi il caso di un Haitiano medio traslato negli USA…

… Holding workers’ traits fixed, moving a Haitian from Haiti to the United States increases his wage about ten times – a gain of 900%. The lesson: Third World workers are less productive than First World workers largely because they live in the dysfunctional countries…

Ma politicamente sembra che la cosa non sia fattibile. Da qui la proposta provocatoria di Romer: trasferiamo un pezzo di Primo mondo nel Terzo

… create pockets of high-quality First World governance in the heart of the Third World. How? By persuading Third World governments to create new self-governing cities exempt from most existing laws. These new cities could be governed by foreign law, and administered by foreign governments – or even a for-profit corporation….

Costruire ex novo città governate da leggi americane (charter city) nei paesi poveri e consentire che la gente si trasferisca liberamente dal territorio.

Un’idea radicale, al limite del visionario. Ma ci sono dei brillanti precedenti storici: Hong Kong…

… The success of Hong Kong is a key inspiration. At the dawn of British rule, the land area that is now Hong Kong was sparsely inhabited. But it had one blessing denied to the rest of China: British rules…

Hong Kong ha 1) prosperato rispetto al contesto in cui era inserita e 2) ha funto da modello positivo per l’intera Cina.

… By the time Hong Kong reverted to mainland rule, it was not only a First World country, but a model for the rest of China to emulate…

Spesso la tabula rasa è l’unica via: conosciamo bene quali sarebbero le riforme salutari ma non riusciamo ad applicarle in un contesto altamente consolidato…

… Intense populist opposition aside, it is hard to graft one country’s institutions on to another’s – especially when entrenched interests fight you every step of the way….

Del resto, è vero per i paesi come è vero per le imprese

… This is true in the business world as well. Competitors often try and fail to adopt leading firms’ “best practices.”…

Un esempio…

… It is easier to open a new WalMart than to make the Kmart chain better. Advocates of charter cities argue that is also easier to bring in “outside management” to make a new city that works than to reform existing countries that don’t…

Quanto talento avremmo sprecato se Hong Kong non fosse mai nata?…

… If the native entrepreneurs who built Hong Kong had been trapped in mainland China, most would have wasted their lives in dead-end jobs on Maoist communes or joined the Communist elite. Hong Kong gave them opportunities to use talents that otherwise would have gone to waste…

E quanta ricchezza avremmo bruciato se Hong Kong non fosse stata emulata?…

… Hong Kong shined brightly enough to convince even dogmatic Chinese Communist elites that private property, foreign investment, and economic integration with the world economy were the way to go…

Il copia/incolla della Cina ha tolto dalla povertà una frazione importante della popolazione mondiale.

Altro vantaggio delle charter city: non vengono turbati gli equilibri esistenti, si inizia altrove lasciando che l’esistente prosegua la sua routine adeguandosi gradualmente seguendo i percorsi più idonei…

… Another upside of charter cities is that there is virtually no downside. A charter city begins on empty land. It can only grow by voluntary migration of workers and investors. If no one chooses to relocate, they’re no worse off…

È un punto decisivo se si considera che molti “aiuti”, oltre a non far bene, fanno male…

… the paths the Gates Foundation currently intends to pursue sound worse than doing nothing. “Build capacity of organizations working on-the-ground with the urban poor” and “Integrate the voice of the poor into the planning process” sound compassionate. But they could easily further retard the only poverty-reduction process that really works: economic growth… economic illiteracy is especially pronounced among the least educated. They are especially likely to misperceive the economy as a zero-sum game, to fear economic interaction with foreigners, and to naively focus on employment rather than production….

L’aiuto diretto è umiliante e crea risentimenti, la charter city è un affare per tutti e mobilita energie: non dobbiamo contare su un “buono” per fondare una charter city ma su un affarista

… In the developing world, most people don’t yet live in big well-run cities. Given the chance to move to one, hundreds of millions of people would go there to get a job, get an education for their children, and live in a place that is clean, safe, and healthy. Other people will make a profit by hiring them or supplying them with infrastructure and other services… It doesn’t take any charity to build well-run cities.

La dimensione della città è comunque decisiva: nel Terzo Mondo le città esistenti fanno piuttosto schifo ma sono comunque il meglio a disposizione, tutti vogliono andare lì…

… In many cities in poor countries, health is bad because governments don’t enforce basic rules about sanitation. The crime rate is appallingly high because the government doesn’t enforce rules that prohibit theft and violence. Traffic fatalities and congestion are both high because they don’t have good traffic rules or if they do, they don’t enforce them. The fact that people still flock to cities with such bad rules tells us something about how big the other benefits from living in a city must be…

Oggi l’economista teorizza e consiglia riforme. Ma il problema non è tanto quello: tutti in fondo sanno bene cosa si dovrebbe fare. Il problema non è “che fare” ma “come fare”. La soluzione charter è una proposta che prende di petto proprio il vero problema…

… Economists tend to assume that societies will naturally adopt good rules… The evidence suggests to the contrary that many societies are stuck with bad rules. Moving from bad rules to better ones may be much harder than most economists have allowed. The construct of a charter city is a suggestion about how we can change the dynamics of rules….

Chi dovrebbero essere i fondatori di “colonie”? In una soluzione “minimal” possono essere i governi stessi del Terzo Mondo a stabilire delle enclaves, in una soluzione più credibile potrebbero essere quelli del Primo. Ma anche corporation e società private…

… If a national government has sufficient credibility, it could start a charter city within its own territory and administer it from the national capital… in poorer countries that don’t have the same kind of credibility with international investors, a more interesting but controversial possibility is that two or more countries might sign a treaty specifying the charter for a new city and allocate between them responsibilities for administering different parts of the treaty…

L’esempio di Cuba

… Right now, the United States and Cuba have a treaty that gives the United States administrative control in perpetuity over a piece of sovereign Cuban territory, Guantanamo Bay. I’ve suggested that Canada and Cuba sign a new treaty in which Canada would take over administration of this area, bring Canadian rule of law there, and let a city grow up that could bring to Cuba some of the advantages that Hong Kong brought to China….

Dubbio: i “cattivi” non lo consentiranno…

… Why will governments, particularly the entrenched, corrupt governments found in many countries, be willing to cede control of these zones?…

Ma qui si ricade nella falsa narrazione “buoni vs cattivi”: i cattivi non ci sono, c’è solo una congerie di interessi consolidati difficile da estirpare, meglio allora rinunciarci per iniziare altrove, l’esistente si adeguerà con i suoi ritmi…

… Systems of rules are “sticky”; they are difficult for any leader or group to change. With this in mind, suppose you were the president of Cuba. Suppose you wanted to do for Cuba what Deng Xiaoping did for China: engineer the transition from communism to rapid market-led growth. To do this, you might want to create a special zone where some of your citizens could opt-in to the market system without forcing others to make this change…

Un altro punto a favore: le buone pratiche si consolidano almeno quanto le cattive. Istituiamole ex novo, allora! La cosa avrebbe un valore in sè. La restituzione di Hong Kong alla Cina era programmata ma era chiaro a tutti che la cosa non si sarebbe verificata senza una riforma della Cina o comunque senza le dovute garanzie di continuità…

… Another good example is Hong Kong. The British clearly did not want to live up to the terms of the treaty they signed, which returned control of important parts of Hong Kong to China after 99 years. China didn’t want to wait that long to get Hong Kong back. But in the end, for 99 years, they stuck to the terms of the treaty they signed…

In certi paesi arretrati molte riforme sono un miraggio: l’economista è tenuto a dire le cose come stanno, non quello che la politica vuol sentirsi dire…

… Think about the truly important changes in political systems. Back in the middle ages, suppose that someone described a legal system that enforced rules and contracts that everyone had to obey, even the country’s leaders. What would informed opinion of the day have been? “Great idea, but it will never happen.” No question it was hard to pull off, but it did happen. People always think that the unfamiliar is impossible. Many times, all that holds us back is a failure of imagination…

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Vivere in una bolla

Henry David Thoreau cercò scampo nel bosco.

Lo stilita si accucciò su una colonna e smise di parlare.

Paul Gauguin e Robert Louis Stevenson fuggirono nelle lontane isole del Sud.

Ma il passato non ha l’esclusiva di gesti del genere: ho appena letto il milanese  Paolo Cognetti, per lui l’occasione di ritirarsi dal mondo è la vita in baita a quota duemila. E nessuno oggi spiega meglio le ragioni per farlo.

In questi casi la solitudine è ricercata con uno sforzo eroico.

*** Leggi il resto dell’articolo

Non parlare, spara!

Is There a Right to Own a Gun?”di Mike Huemer.

Per me la miglior difesa disponibile sul mercato del diritto ad armarsi. Argomenti di diritto e di fatto ben miscelati e presentati con maestria. Ne esce un trattato completo e convincente.

Partiamo dal dubbio assunto  implicito nella posizione di troppi proibizionisti…

… Gun control supporters often assume that the acceptability of gun control laws turns on whether they increase or decrease crime rates. The notion that such laws might violate rights, independently of whether they decrease crime rates, is rarely entertained…

Per loro non esisterebbe nemmeno un diritto a priori di armarsi, l’unica cosa che conta sarebbero le ripercussioni che le armi liberamente circolanti hanno sui crimini.  Esempio…

… Thus, a colleague who teaches about the issue once remarked to me that from the standpoint of rights, as opposed to utilitarian considerations, there wasn’t much to say. The only right that might be at stake, he said, was “a trivial right—‘ the right to own a gun.’”…

Ma il buon senso ci chiede di impostare il problema diversamente

… I contend that individuals have a prima facie right to own firearms, that this right is weighty and protects important interests, and that it is not overridden by utilitarian considerations…

Cosa assumere per partire con un’analisi più completa?

Innanzitutto il fatto che le persone hanno dei diritti

… I assume that individuals have at least some moral rights that are logically prior to the laws enacted by the state, and that these rights place restrictions on what sort of laws ought to be made. I assume that we may appeal to intuitions to identify some of these rights…

Per esempio: non posso essere pestato dalla polizia se non ho fatto nulla di male. Ok?…

… An example [298] is the right to be free from physical violence: intuitively, it is, ceteris paribus, wrong for people to do violence to one another, and this limits what sort of laws may, morally, be made— it explains, for instance, why the state ought not to pass a law according to which a randomly chosen person in each district is flogged each week…

Poi: questi diritti possono essere limitati solo se esistono valide ragioni

… I further assume that we normally have a right to do as we wish unless there is a reason why we should not be allowed to do so— and hence that one who denies our right to act in a particular way has the dialectical burden to provide reasons against the existence of the right in question…

La prova di validità deve essere fornita da chi intende limitare i diritti.

Altro assunto: ci sono diritti fondamentali e diritti derivati (questi ultimi sono strumentali ai primi)…

… A right is derivative when it derives at least some of its weight from its relationship to another, independent right. A right is fundamental when it has some force that is independent of other rights… Derivative rights are usually related to fundamental rights as means to the protection or enforcement of the latter…

Altro assunto: distinguiamo tra diritti assoluti e diritti “prima facie”…

… Second, I distinguish between absolute and prima facie rights. An absolute right is one with overriding importance, such that no considerations can justify violating it. A prima facie right is one that must be given some weight in moral deliberation but that can be overridden by sufficiently important countervailing considerations…. It is doubtful whether any rights are absolute…

I diritti assoluti non possono mai essere “superati“. Probabilmente nemmeno esistono, in ogni caso qui non se ne parla.

Un diritto prima facie, al contrario, può essere “superato” in casi particolari.

Non confondiamo il “superamento” con l'”eccezione“. Quest’ultima serve solo a definire meglio il diritto in oggetto. Facciamo il caso della legittima difesa…

… To illustrate the distinction: assume that it is morally permissible to kill an aggressor in self-[ 300] defense. This might be permissible in virtue of an exception to the right to life (the aggressor temporarily loses his right not to be killed by his intended victim), rather than because the aggressor’s right to life is overridden…

Se l’aggressore soccombe non è perché viene “superato” il suo diritto a non subire violenze ma perché lo perde nel momento stesso in cui aggredisce la sua vittima.

Un caso classico di “superamento” è quello  del “vagone fuori controllo” o “problema del trolley”…

… suppose it is permissible to kill an innocent person to save the lives of 1000 others. Plausibly, this is a case of the overriding of the first individual’s right to life…

Qui sacrifico una vita innocente per salvarne mille. I diritti del sacrificato restano intatti ma chi lo sacrifica decide che sono “superati” da esigenze di forza maggiore.

Quando un diritto è particolarmente importante?

Di solito quando pesa nel realizzare i piani del soggetto che lo esercita…

… First: Ceteris paribus, the weight of a fundamental right increases with the importance of the right to an individual’s plans for his own life or other purposes…

Chi decide su questo punto? Il soggetto stesso. Esempio dell’omosessualità: non posso impedirne la pratica decidendo io che per l’omosessuale non è poi così importante…

… On some theories of self-interest, one’s purposes may diverge from one’s interests. In such a case, I maintain that the weight of a right should be at least partly determined by the rights-bearer’s aims, and not [301] merely by the rights-bearer’s actual interests. Consider an example to motivate this view: imagine a proposed law forbidding all homosexual relationships. Suppose its proponents argue that the law is at most a trivial rights-violation, because homosexual relationships are morally bad, so homosexuals are mistaken in believing they have a positive interest in such relationships. Without entering into a debate concerning the value of homosexuality, we can say that intuitively, the proponents’ argument is invalid: the law would seem to be a major restriction of the civil liberties of homosexuals, regardless of whether homosexuality is healthy or virtuous…

Da quanto detto si evince un diritto prima facie a detenere delle armi

… Given the presumption in favor of liberty, there is at least a prima facie right to own a gun…

Non sembra proprio che un diritto del genere possa soffrire “eccezioni” nel senso specificato sopra. Detenendo un’arma io non faccio del male a nessuno, almeno in modo diretto, quindi…

… one lacks a right to do things that harm others, treat others as mere means, or use others without their consent. It is difficult to see how owning a gun could itself be said to do any of those things, even though owning a gun makes it easier for one to do those things if one chooses to…

Nemmeno sottopongo terze persone a rischi particolarmente elevati: detenere una piscinetta è più rischioso…

… Consider the principle that one lacks a right to do things that impose unacceptable, though unintended, risks on others. Since life is replete with risks, to be plausible, the principle must use some notion of excessive risks. But the risks associated with normal ownership and recreational use of firearms are minimal. While approximately 77 million Americans now own guns, the accidental death rate for firearms has fallen dramatically during the last century, and is now about .3 per 100,000 population….

Ci sono comportamenti molto più rischiosi che noi ci guardiamo bene dal proibire…

… citizen is nineteen times more likely to die as a result of an accidental fall, and fifty times more likely to die in an automobile accident, than to die as a result of a firearms accident…

Essere bruschi nelle conversazioni è estremamente rischioso: uno scarso self control è molto peggio di un’arma carica, eppure non è una buona ragione per limitare la libertà d’espressione…

… Nicholas Dixon argues: “In 1990, 34.5% of all murders resulted from domestic or other kinds of argument. Since we are all capable of heated arguments, we are all, in the wrong circumstances, capable of losing control and killing our opponent.”…

C’è poi un argomento legato al costo sociale delle armi detenute dai privati…

… It might be argued that the total social cost of private gun ownership is significant, that the state is unable to identify in advance those persons who are going to misuse their weapons, and that the state’s only viable method of significantly reducing that social cost is thus to prevent even noncriminal citizens from owning guns…

Ma questo non è un argomento valido per stabilire un’eccezione, semmai per “superare” il diritto…

… this is not an argument against the existence of a prima facie right to own a gun. It is just an argument for overriding any such right…

Veniamo allora al caso del “superamento”. Molti riconoscono il diritto ad armarsi ma non lo considerano molto importante, quindi facilmente superabile

… Most gun control advocates would claim, not that there is not even a prima facie right to own a gun, but that the right is a minor one, and that the harms of private gun ownership, in comparison, are very large…

Di certo esiste un valore ricreativo nel detenere armi…

… The recreational uses of guns include target shooting, various sorts of shooting competitions, and hunting. In debates over gun control, participants almost never attach any weight to this recreational value…

Ma per i proibizionisti si tratta solo di un passatempo trascurabile

… First: One might think life is lexically superior to (roughly, of infinitely greater value than) recreation, such that no amount of recreational value could counterbalance even one premature death…

Questa posizione è però improbabile

… This position is implausible, since recreation is a major source of enjoyment, and enjoyment is (at least) a major part of what gives life value…

Potremmo chiamarla posizione “biologicista“: una mera vita biologica vale molto più dei suoi contenuti. È una posizione tipicamente moderna (atea) per il religioso, per esempio, una vita senza fede ha scarso valore, e se ce l’ha ce l’ ha perché la conversione è sempre possibile, non per il fatto biologico in sè. L’uomo moderno invece è più propenso a idolatrare la vita biologica in sé, il che significa che pur di salvarne una è disposto a sacrificare molto sui contenuti.

Ma limitiamoci a citare alcune attività  ricreative per comprendere quanto squallida possa essere una vita che non le contempla…

… non-reproductive sexual activity, reading fiction, watching television or movies, talking with friends, listening to music, eating dessert, traveling, going out to eat, playing games, and so on…

Per molte persone avere armi e sparare è uno stile di vita. Non bisogna condividerlo per registrare che è così: lo dicono loro e a noi basta. Come per l’omosessuale di cui sopra.

Ma nel nostro caso c’è di più: detenere un’arma può salvarmi la vita. E così anche i “biologisti” sono serviti…

… Second, and more plausibly: one might claim that the value of the lives that could be saved by anti-gun laws is simply much greater than the recreational value of firearms…

2000 a 1. È il rapporto tra vittime della proibizione e vite salvate dalla proibizione. Già di per sè la proibizione sembra una violazione seria di un diritto…

… At a rough estimate, the number of gun owners is two thousand times greater than the number of annual firearms-related deaths… this suffices to show that such a prohibition would be a serious rights-violation….

Vediamo più nel dettaglio l’argomento pro-gun

… this suffices to show that such a prohibition would be a serious rights-violation… The main argument on the gun rights side goes like this: 1. The right of self-defense is an important right. 2. A firearms prohibition would be a significant violation of the right of self-defense. 3. Therefore, a firearms prohibition would be a serious rights-violation…

Ma di che natura morale è la proibizione di detenere un’arma per autodifesa. Proponiamo un’analogia

… A killer breaks into a house, where two people—“ the victim” and “the accomplice”— are staying. (The “accomplice” need have no prior interaction with the killer.) As the killer enters the bedroom where the victim is hiding, the accomplice enters through another door and proceeds, for some reason, to hold the victim down while the killer stabs him to death. In this scenario, the killer commits what may be the most serious kind of rights-violation possible….

Il complice immobilizza la vittima mentre il killer lo uccide. In un caso del genere il complice ha responsabilità simili a quelle dell’assassino…

… It is common to distinguish killing from letting die. In this example, we see a third category of action: preventing the prevention of a death…

Ma forse l’analogia più pertinente è un’altra…

… Example 2 As in example 1, except that the victim has a gun by the bed, which he would, if able, use to defend himself from the killer. As the killer enters the bedroom, the victim reaches for the gun. The accomplice grabs the gun and runs away, with the result that the killer then stabs his victim to death…

Qui il complice impedisce alla vittima di raggiungere l’arma per difendersi. La sua responsabilità morale non sembra molto diminuita…

… The accomplice’s action in this case seems morally comparable to his action in example 1…

La gravità della proibizione assoluta sembra dunque fuori discussione…

… The analogy between the accomplice’s action in this case and a general firearms prohibition should be clear. A firearms ban would require confiscating the weapons that many individuals keep for self-defense [308] purposes, with the result that some of those individuals would be murdered, robbed, raped, or seriously injured….

Possibili disanalogie: l’imminenza del crimine…

… it might be argued that example 2 differs from a gun ban in that the murder is imminent…

Ma si può cambiare il caso prospettato eliminando l’imminenza del crimine senza che cambi la portata etica delle conseguenze…

… suppose that the accomplice, knowing that someone is coming to kill the victim tomorrow (while the victim does not know this), decides to take the victim’s gun away from him today, again resulting in his death…

Altra obiezione: la conoscenza. Il complice sa bene cosa implica il suo comportamento…

… whereas we assume that in example 2 the accomplice knows that the victim is going to be killed or seriously injured, the state does not know that its anti-gun policy will result in murders and injuries to former gun-owners…

Ma anche il proibizionista sa che delle vite saranno sacrificato. Potrà dire che altre saranno salvate ma non potrà mai negare la presenza di capri espiatori nella sua soluzione…

… Although the state may claim that the lives saved by a gun ban would outnumber the lives cost, one cannot argue that no lives will be cost at all, unless one claims implausibly that guns are never used in self-defense against life-threatening attacks…

Altra obiezione: nell’ analogia la vita sacrificata è ben identificata, nel caso di una proibizione è una vita statistica…

… it may be observed that in example 2, there is a specific, identifiable victim: the accomplice knows who is going to die…

Ma una vita statistica non è meno reale. L’osservazione sembrerebbe quindi moralmente irrilevante…

… this seems morally irrelevant. Consider: Example 3 An ‘accomplice’ ties up a family of five somewhere in the wilderness where he knows that wolves roam. He has good reason to [309] believe that a pack of wolves will happen by and eat one or two of the family members (after which they will be satiated), but he doesn’t know which ones will be eaten. He leaves them for an hour, during which the mother of the family is eaten by the wolves….

Altra obiezione: nel caso del proibizionismo c’è un preavviso e quindi il tempo per mettersi in salvo adottando soluzioni alternative

… Fifth, the victims of a gun ban would presumably have sufficient forewarning of the coming ban to take alternative measures to protect themselves, unlike the victim in example 2…

Ma le alternative possibili non sembrano molto efficaci

… statistics from the National Crime Victimization Survey indicate that such alternative means of self-protection would be relatively ineffective— individuals who defend themselves with a gun are less likely to be injured and far less likely to have the crime completed against them than are persons who take any other measures….

Veniamo infine all’obiezione più comune

… it might be said that in the case of a gun ban, the government would have strong reasons for confiscating the guns, in order to save the lives…

Insomma: il diritto sarà anche importante,, la sua violazione sarà anche grave ma ci sono buone ragioni per non rispettarlo. In altri termini, il diritto può essere “superato“…

… there is a strong prima facie right to own a gun. [310] Nevertheless, firearms prohibition might be justified, if the reasons for prohibition were strong enough to override that right…

E qui si passa alla parte pratica: il proibizionista deve fornire prove convincenti che esistono buone ragioni per violare in modo importante un diritto che riconosce come “fondamentale”.

Di solito viene citato il rapporto 43:1

… One prominent argument claims that a gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to be used in a suicide, criminal homicide, or accidental death than it is to kill an intruder in self-defense…

Su 43 usi dell’arma uno solo è per autodifesa.

Ma limitarsi a questa considerazione trascura l’effetto deterrente dell’arma…

… Kellerman and Reay made no estimate of the frequency with which guns are used to stop attacks, life-threatening or otherwise; they only considered cases in which someone was killed…

Posso salvarmi la vita rispondendo all’aggressore o facendolo desistere a priori. Questa seconda forma – per altro la più comune – non viene conteggiata nel rapporto.

Ma il punto fondamentale è un altro…

… A second problem is that 37 of Kellerman and Reay’s 43 deaths were suicides…

37 utilizzi sono per suicidio.

Ora, il suicidio per molti resta un problema, non si puo’ negarlo. Ma non si puo’ nemmeno negare che si tratta di un problema molto diverso da quello che hanno in mente molti proibizionisti. Tra suicidio e aggressione il discrimine etico è netto.

Questa statistica, poi, ha un altro problema

… A third problem is that Kellerman and Reay only counted as “self-defense” cases that were so labeled by the police and the local prosecutor’s office; they ignored the possibility of cases that were later found in court to be self-defense…

Veniamo ora alla seconda arma dei proibizionisti: i  confronti internazionali

… A second type of argument often used by gun-control proponents relies on comparisons of homicide rates between the United States and other industrialized democracies, such as Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, and Australia….

Ma forse il mix etnico e la cultura USA sono uniche. Non a caso per molti fenomeni sociali si parla di “eccezionalismo” americano, mi viene in mente il tema della secolarizzazione…

… Skeptics suggest that the United States has a number of unique cultural factors that influence the murder rate and that invalidate such cross-country comparisons…

Meglio allora che i test empirici si facciano all’interno degli USA tra stati e contee che in materia di armi hanno regolamentazioni diverse, in questo modo il fattore culturale è neutralizzato.

Esito

… When we do this, we find that (i) jurisdictions with stricter gun laws tend to have higher crime rates, (ii) shifts to more permissive gun laws tend to be followed by drops in crime rates, (iii) areas with higher gun ownership rates have lower crime rates, and (iv) historically, crime rates have fluctuated with no discernible pattern as the civilian gun stock has increased drastically…

Alcuni concludono: più armi =》meno crimini. Azzardato. Fortunatamente a noi basta molto meno…

… I do not claim to have proved that gun laws cause increased crime or that civilian gun ownership fails to do so. Nor do I deny there is any evidence on the gun control advocates’ side. What I am claiming at this point is that the evidence presented by gun control advocates fails to make a very convincing case for the net harmfulness of private gun ownership…

Basta concludere che l’evidenza di chi sostiene il contrario è alquanto debole, e comunque non sufficiente per colpire in modo importante un diritto fondamentale delle persone.

Torniamo allora per un attimo sull’importanza di questo diritto: ci sono parecchi studi anche sull’uso difensivo delle armi, almeno una quindicina…

… Fifteen surveys, excluding the one discussed in the following paragraph, have been conducted since 1976, yielding estimates of between 760,000 and 3.6 million defensive gun uses per year, the average estimate being 1.8 million…

E per quanto riguarda le vite salvate? In Kleck and Gertz’ 1993…

… Gun users in 400,000 of these cases believe that the [313] gun certainly or almost certainly saved a life… if even one tenth of them were correct, the number of lives saved by guns each year would exceed the number of gun homicides and suicides… Kleck’s statistics imply that defensive gun uses outnumber crimes committed with guns by a ratio of about 3: 1…

Per ogni vita perduta ce ne sarebbero tre salvate.

Anche la stima più pessimista non cambia di molto le cose…

… One survey, the National Crime Victimization Survey, obtained an estimate an order of magnitude below the others. The NCVS statistics imply something in the neighborhood of 100,000 defensive gun uses per year. Though even this number would establish a significant self-defense value of guns, the NCVS numbers are probably a radical underestimate, given their extreme divergence from all other estimates…. NCVS is a non-anonymous survey (respondents provide their addresses and telephone numbers)…

Ma gli stati si differenziano anche sulla legislazione in materia di porto d’armi, un esperimento naturale che cade a fagiolo e che merita di essere approfondito…

… In the United States, some states prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons. Others have “discretionary”… John Lott and David Mustard conducted a study, probably the most rigorous and comprehensive study…

Cosa dicono i dati?…

… Lott’s study uses time-series and cross-sectional data for all 3,054 counties in the United States from 1977 to 1992. Overall, states with shall-issue laws have a violent crime rate just over half (55%) of the rate in other states…

Ancora: dove le armi circolano più liberamente i crimini sono inferiori.

Ripetiamo: a noi non interessa dimostrare un nesso tra le due cose (come fa chi coerentemente invita a sussidiare l’acquisto di armi)! Interessa solo far notare come i proibizionisti siano ben lungi dall’aver dimostrato alcunché.

… This alone does not establish that the more restrictive gun laws are a cause of the dramatically higher violent crime rates in the states that have them, since the correlation could be explained by the hypothesis that states that already have higher crime rates are more likely to pass restrictive gun laws. The latter hypothesis, however, would not explain why violent crime rates fell after states adopted shall-issue concealed carry laws… Lott found that upon the adoption of shall-issue laws, murder rates declined immediately by about 8 percent, rapes by 5 percent, and aggravated assaults by 7 percent, with declines continuing in subsequent years (Lott explains the latter fact by the gradually increasing numbers of individuals obtaining permits)…

Ma c’è di più: sulle armi è possibile elaborare una teoria alternativa a quella dei proibizionisti che sembrerebbe più in linea con i dati, oltre che con il buon senso…

… Increased availability of guns to citizens, including the ability to carry concealed weapons, increases the risks to would-be criminals of experiencing undesired consequences as a result of attempting a violent crime….

La teoria è semplice e lineare: se la vittima predestinata è armata, il rischio per il criminale è più elevato e spesso tutto questo implica una rinuncia a colpire.

D’altronde, laddove si proibisce la detenzione delle armi il divieto, di fatto, vale solo per le vittime, il criminale è già fuori dalla legge e quindi non ha problemi ad aggirarla anche su questo punto…

… the theory is more plausible than that offered by gun control supporters. Gun control laws tend to influence the behavior of would-be crime victims much more than the behavior of criminals. Those who are willing to commit violent felonies are much more likely than the average citizen to be willing to commit misdemeanors such as carrying a concealed weapon without a permit…

Chiediamoci ora che evidenza occorre per giungere alla proibizione? Quante vite dobbiamo salvare per procedere ad una proibizione e quindi al sacrificio di altre vite? Molte, moltissime. Ricapitoliamo nel dettaglio la teoria di fondo…

… 1. It is wrong to murder a person, even to prevent several other killings. (premise) 2. A violation of a person or group’s right of self-defense, predictably resulting in the death of one of the victims, is morally comparable to murder. (premise) 3. If it is wrong to commit a murder to prevent several killings, then it is wrong to commit a rights-violation comparable to murder to prevent several killings. 4. Therefore, it is wrong to violate a person or group’s right of self-defense, predictably resulting in the death of one of the victims, even to prevent several killings. (from 1, 2, 3) 5. Therefore, it is wrong to violate a group of people’s right of self-defense, predictably resulting in the deaths of many of the victims, even to prevent several times as many killings. (from 4) 6. Gun prohibition would violate a group of people’s right of self-defense, predictably resulting in the deaths of many of the victims. (premise) 7. Therefore, gun prohibition is wrong, even if it would prevent several times as many killings as it contributed to. (from 5, 6)…

Nessuno nega che in via di principio alcune vite possano essere sacrificate per salvarne altre. Si tratta del ben noto problema del “vagone fuori controllo” a cui accennavamo anche prima…

… in some cases, it is permissible to violate one person’s rights to prevent a comparable harm to a few other people, as in the infamous “trolley car problem”…

Quante vite ti sono sufficienti per sacrificare una vita innocente? 10? 100? 1000?: proibire significa di fatto deviare il vagone su un binario dove delle vite innocenti periranno.

È una situazione simile a quella dello standard giudiziario

… Those who believe that it is generally worse to punish an innocent person than to let several guilty people go free should consider that principle in the light of this example…

Quanti colpevoli in libertà vogliamo tollerare per ogni innocente in galera? Le sensibilità sono diverse ma il problema deve essere chiaro.

Passiamo ora a un problema diverso ma collegato: quali sono le colpe di chi vende le armi?…

… Perhaps an argument can be made, based on principles similar to those I have used, that the sale of guns is morally wrong. A company that sells many guns can be more or less certain that some of the guns it sells will be used to commit crimes…

I gradi di coinvolgimento con le malefatte di un cattivo utilizzatore sono  molto diversi…

… Seller Responsibility applies in some cases. If I sell a gun to a customer who I know plans to use it to commit a murder, then I am partly responsible for the subsequent murder. If there is merely a high probability that the buyer plans to commit a murder, then I have still acted wrongly, though not as wrongly as in the first case. Likewise, if I run a gun store and I market my guns specifically to criminals, then I am partly responsible for any resulting crimes…

Un commerciante che vende al pubblico non ha responsabilità, uno stato che vende ad un altro stato con evidenti secondi fini è chiaramente responsabile.

Una possibile soluzione del dilemma…

… I propose, therefore, a restricted Seller Reponsibility principle which holds that a seller is responsible for the criminal use of his product only if (i) the product has no morally legitimate uses, (ii) on the information available to the seller, there is a substantial probability, in an individual sale, that the buyer intends to use the product in a morally objectionable manner, or (iii) the seller willfully or negligently fails to take reasonable steps to reduce the chances of selling to criminal users…

C’è un’altra obiezione: ragionando in questi termini, un privato potrebbe detenere una testata nucleare…

… Some object that strong gun rights positions imply the existence of a right to own all sorts of weapons…. nuclear missile…

Qui in realtà basta ripercorrere il ragionamento fatto per constatare che molti passaggi non possono valere per armi eccezionali

… While my premises may support some prima facie right to own all manner of weapons, from machine guns to nuclear missiles, the arguments of §4 do not imply that all such prima facie rights are equally weighty, nor do those of §5 imply that the reasons for overriding all such prima facie rights are of equal strength. Based on empirical evidence discussed above, firearms, particularly handguns, are the most effective means of self-defense against violent criminals, while both handguns and rifles are commonly used for recreational purposes. It would be, to say the least, difficult to make a case for the importance of nuclear missiles for either recreational or self-defense purposes…

Alcuni stati adottano misure intermedie

… First, many support a ban on all handguns. Second, many states either prohibit or place severe restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons in public places…

Come giudicarle? In realtà non sembra che la musica cambi granché, almeno con le misure citate….

… I think that these measures are also serious rights-violations, though not as serious as a complete gun ban… almost no one in our society would carry a gun for self-protection unless they were able to carry it concealed. Almost no one would carry any kind of gun other than a handgun for self-protection. So laws that prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying concealed weapons, or from owning handguns at all, effectively eliminate self-defense uses of guns outside the home, to the extent that the laws are obeyed… All mentally competent, noncriminal adults should therefore be allowed to own and carry concealed handguns…

Bisognerebbe individuare i soggetti più a rischio di un uso improprio. Per esempio: neri tra i 15 e i 25. Ma il divieto ai minori già esiste e il divieto razziale è inconcepibile.

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Calma e gesso

Viviamo nella società dell’ignoranza e cerchiamo  di gestirla come i dottori medievali gestivano i loro malcapitati pazienti, con salamandre e decotti.

Questa almeno l’opinione da cui parte Mike Huemer nel suo “In Praise of Passivity”…

… Voters, activists, and political leaders of the present day are in the position of medieval doctors. They hold simple, prescientific theories about the workings of society and the causes of social problems, from which they derive a variety of remedies– almost all of which prove either ineffectual or harmful. Society is a complex mechanism whose repair, if possible at all, would require a precise and detailed understanding of a kind that no one today possesses…

Chi vuole agire per porre un rimedio si fermi a riflettere. Anzi, meglio ancora se si ferma e basta

… the wisest course for political agents is often simply to stop trying to solve society’s problems…

Ma cosa non conosciamo esattamente? La politica e le sue leggi, per esempio.

Esempi di ignoranza proverbiale

… Michael Delli Carpini and Scott Keeter give the flavor of public political knowledge in America: The most commonly known fact about George [H.W.] Bush’s opinions while he was president was that he hated broccoli. During the 1992 presidential campaign 89 percent of the public knew that Vice President Quayle was feuding with the television character Murphy Brown, but only 19 percent could characterize Bill Clinton’s record on the environment. Also during that campaign, 86 percent of the public knew that the Bushes’ dog was named Millie, yet only 15 percent knew that both presidential candidates supported the death penalty… International data indicate that Americans’ political knowledge is no more than moderately below average…

Il consenso degli esperti è bellamente ignorato anche quelle poche volte che lo si riscontra…

… Fortunately, in some areas of social theory, one can find a clear, policy-relevant consensus among the experts. Unfortunately, this consensus is often boldly defied by both political leaders and the general public…

Il  caso del “protezionismo“…

… The vast majority of economists– the people whose profession is to study these kinds of things– oppose protectionism and believe that it harms the domestic economy… even left-wing economists such as Paul Krugman, famous for advocating government management of the economy,[ 21] have signed on to this consensus… When experts from opposite sides of the political spectrum converge on a given position, in contradiction to conventional opinion, who is the more likely victim of a cognitive bias: the community of experts, or the uneducated masses?…

Il caso del terrorismo…

… Experts whose careers center on the study of terrorism generally agree that terrorism functions as retaliation for specific government policies, especially for foreign military occupation of territories that the terrorists prize.[… Political leaders in countries subject to terrorist attacks, however, typically blame the attacks on fundamental and irreconcilable clashes of values, on the moral virtue of their own country and the sheer evil of the terrorists… They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other…

Non che gli esperti abbiano la verità in tasca: sanno ben poco anche loro…

… In light of the ignorance of typical political leaders and members of the general public, we might be tempted by the idea of rule by experts, as in Plato’s Republic.[ 28] [4] Unfortunately, when it comes to descriptive social theory, even the experts’ knowledge is unimpressive, as demonstrated recently by the social psychologist Phillip Tetlock…

Giusto qualcosina in più del profano… più che altro sono bravi a razionalizzare…

… the best experts did only slightly better than chance at predicting outcomes…  What the experts were good at was rationalizing their failures…

Ahimé, la politica è zeppa di questioni non testabili

… Might it be that experts have highly reliable beliefs about these untestable matters? There is no reason to think so. Typically, if a person proves unreliable whenever you actually test that person’s claims, it is reasonable to assume that that person is also unreliable with regard to the claims you did not test… Thus, experts are probably even less reliable when it comes to these untestable matters…

Senza contare che molte scelte politiche riguardano i valori: quanta eguaglianza perseguire? I disaccordi etici sono inevitabili, chi avrà ragione? Boh…

… There is no generally accepted theory– either among ordinary people or among experts– for any of the central evaluative categories of moral or political philosophy. There is no generally accepted theory of the good, the right, justice, authority, human rights, equality, or liberty…

La tentazione è quella di gridare: io ho ragione, ovvio. Ma “io” non sono un essere speciale…

… We may be tempted to argue that while other people are unreliable about evaluative questions, we ourselves have the correct values… I would suggest that we ought to be very suspicious of any attempt to treat ourselves as special…

Cose che sappiamo

… I think we know that slavery is unjust, that democracy is superior to dictatorship, that torture is almost always wrong, that free markets work better than communist planning…

Davvero poco considerate le discussioni in cui ci impegniamo di solito.

Discutiamo di problemi a cui eminenti studiosi hanno dedicato la vita. Ma a noi, curiosamente, non interessa quanto avevano da dire costoro…

… People often vociferously defend a policy while having no awareness of the literature on the subject…

Ma come riconoscere la conoscenza?

Ci sono 7  indizi

… Genuine political knowledge tends to be: 1. Simple… 2. Accepted by experts… 3. Non-ideological… 4. Weak… 5. Specific and concrete… 6. Supported by appropriate evidence… 7. Undefeated by counter-evidence…

Forse il punto decisivo è il quarto: la vera conoscenza della società umana è soggetta a molte eccezioni.

Facciamo un caso in cui si riscontrano i 7 requisiti: “le democrazie sono preferibili alla dittatura”…

… Consider now the claim that democracy is better than dictatorship. This claim fares reasonably well with respect to the above list…

Possiamo dire che questa è “conoscenza”. Ma non andiamo molto lontano con questa conoscenza, a noi interessa ben altro.

Ma perché siamo tanto ignoranti in politica?

Innanzitutto l’ignoranza politica è razionale: informarsi costa tanto e rende poco…

… The benefits of political knowledge are dubious. For the overwhelming majority of individuals, political knowledge makes no practical difference to how their lives go, since the probability of their causing a change in public policy is approximately zero… The costs of political knowledge, however, can be enormous, beginning with the costs in sheer time and effort…

Persino coltivare un’abitudine al razionalismo è costoso: il carico cognitivo sopportabile è limitato, meglio investirlo altrove.

Potremmo riassumere l’argomento in quattro punti

… 1. People act only when the benefits exceed the costs. 2. The benefits of acquiring political knowledge are minimal. 3. The costs of acquiring political knowledge are substantial. 4. Therefore, people will not acquire political knowledge…

E i politici di professione? Hanno interessi diversi dal bene pubblico…

… politician may have strong motives to discover which positions are popular among voters and campaign contributors. But this is quite a different matter from discovering which policies are truly best…

Non voglio essere pessimista: molta gente è sicuramente ben intenzionata. Ma lo è veramente o vuole solo sentirsi tale per sentirsi in pace con se stessa?…

… most of those who think of themselves as deeply moved by high ideals are not in fact so moved. This may seem a surprising claim…

Come discernere i veri “santi”…

… there is at least one way of distinguishing the desire for X from the desire to perceive oneself as promoting X. This is to observe the subject’s efforts at finding out what promotes X…

È una questione empirica…

… It seems to me that most people who expend a great deal of effort promoting political causes expend very little effort attempting to make sure their beliefs are correct…

I riscontri sono scoraggianti: pochi tra i più impegnati studiano, pochi cambiano idea… chiari indizi che l’ideologia spadroneggia e la santità latita. Noi vogliamo sentirci impegnati per il bene, non lo siamo veramente.

Nessuno studia anche perché la materia è difficile

… There is another reason why human beings are terrible at figuring out political issues: it is a lot harder to figure things out than it appears…

In un certo senso le scienze sociali sono anche più ostiche delle scienze fisiche, il fatto che non esistano laboratori non significa che la sperimentazione sia bandita ma che deve essere molto più sofisticata.

I secoli passati sono cosparsi dai cadaveri di teorie elaborate nelle scienze che riteniamo più affidabili…

… From ancient Greece through the middle ages, the received view in (what then passed for) science was that the physical world was composed of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The received medical theory was that diseases were caused by imbalances among the four bodily fluids, namely, black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. For instance, a fever was caused by an excess of blood, which therefore needed to be treated by draining the patient’s blood. The 20 ancient and medieval theory of the cosmos located the Earth at the center with the sun and planets orbiting the Earth. The fixed stars were points of light on a large spherical shell encompassing the sun, Earth, and planets….

Cosa dovremmo pensare delle teorie di moda oggi nelle pseudoscienze sociali?

L’attenzione, la cura, l’impegno deve come minimo decuplicarsi!

C’è un altro fatto: il numero di teorie possibili che spiegano un fenomeno è infinito…

… the number of possible theories of any given phenomenon is enormous, if not infinite. Of these, all but one are false. So given just the information that T is a theory, the probability that T is correct is approximately zero….

Conseguenza prevedibile: bias ovunque (specie di conferma)…

… 1. People act only when the benefits exceed the costs. 2. The benefits of acquiring political knowledge are minimal. 3. The costs of acquiring political knowledge are substantial. 4. Therefore, people will not acquire political knowledge…

Non sorprende che la politica sia il paradiso dell’ideologia e della “razionalizzazione”: “pensare male” ci consola e ci costa poco, “pensare bene” ci costa caro e ci deprime…

… We now test hypotheses experimentally, making serious and explicit efforts at falsification. But when it comes to political ideology, no such techniques have been developed…

Nessun laboratorio a disposizione, nessun test, nessun esito fastidioso da razionalizzare…

… questions are difficult to investigate because of the unavailability of controlled experiments. If we want to test whether fiscal stimulus cures recessions, we cannot prepare two identical societies, with identical recessions, and then apply fiscal stimulus in one society but not the other… social phenomena are vastly more complex than the phenomena studied by physicists and chemists…

Le generalizzazioni delle scienze valgono “a parità di condizioni”. Ma in politica le condizioni non sono mai “pari”, cambiano sempre come cambia sempre una nube gassosa…

… Generalizations about human behavior almost always contain “ceteris paribus” clauses. Almost any factor influencing our behavior can be amplified or moderated by numerous other factors. When we move to the behavior of an entire society, matters are only that much more complicated. If there are laws of social evolution, they are no doubt incredibly complex… But as Tetlock found, this rarely happens; most experts prefer to explain away their errors in ways that preserve the experts’ theoretical beliefs…

Ma non lasciamoci sedurre dallo scetticismo assoluto: non siamo completamente ignoranti…

… Fortunately, however, we are not completely ignorant, and we can derive some plausible recommendations for political agents…

Traiamo allora alcune conseguenze pratiche dalle considerazioni svolte.

Primo, meglio non votare.

Analogia…

Imagine that someone asks you for directions to a local restaurant. If you have no idea where the restaurant is, you should not make it up. You should not tell the person some guess that seems sort of plausible to you. You should tell them you don’t know and let them get directions from someone more knowledgeable… Ignorant voting is even worse than ignorant giving of directions, because voting is an exercise of political power (albeit a very small one)– to vote for a policy is not only to make a recommendation, but to request that the policy be imposed on others by force…

Si potrebbe imporre all’elettore lo studio e la razionalità, ma sarebbe una forma di schiavismo vista la mole di studi e di sforzo cognitivo richiesto…

… One might suggest that citizens have an obligation to become informed, and then vote. But becoming sufficiently informed to know who is the best candidate in a given election is typically extremely difficult…

Seconda conseguenza pratica: trascurare i problemi sociali.

Analogia della droga

… Consider for example the problem of recreational drug use, which leads to health problems, addiction, and general deterioration of the lives of drug users and their families. Perhaps there is something government could do to solve the problem. But given the ignorance of political leaders, activists, and the public, a government attempt to solve the problem is unlikely to succeed…

Obiezione: ma se qualcosina so, qualcosina posso fare… magari poco ma qualcosina…

… one might think that, if we were completely ignorant, our policies would be as likely to increase as to reduce the problem; but as long as we have some relevant knowledge and understanding, and we are aiming at a reduction in the problem, we should be at least slightly more likely to alleviate the problem than to exacerbate it….

Sbagliato per almeno quattro ragioni. Innanzitutto, intervenire produce già dei costi certi a terzi (esempio proibizioni) a fronte di benefici incertissimi…

… First, any government policy that imposes requirements or prohibitions on citizens automatically has certain costs. One cost is the reduction of citizens’ freedom…

Ci sono poi i costi delle punizioni inflitte…

… suffering on the part of those who violate the law and are subsequently punished by the legal system…

C’è il costo della burocrazia necessaria da mettere in piedi…

… the monetary cost involved in implementing the policy…

C’è poi una questione morale: se per te vale il principio “liberty first” non ha senso agire di fronte a tanta incertezza e tanta ignoranza…

… moral presumption against coercive interventions…

L’omissione ci rende meno colpevoli da un punto di vista etico…

… when the state actively intervenes in society– for example, by issuing commands and coercively harming those who disobey its commands– the state then becomes responsible for any resulting harms, in a way that the state would not be responsible for harms that it merely (through lack of knowledge) fails to prevent…

Ma l’argomento più forte è l’ultimo: la possibilità di produrre danni è sempre preponderante.

Se turbo un ordine naturale complesso e non lo faccio dominando tutte le variabili in gioco, avrò degli scompensi, anche se magari la mia conoscenza di quel sistema è molto avanzata. Conoscere poco non serve perché non serve nemmeno conoscere molto: bisogna conoscere tutto quando si toccano sistemi complessi…

… Fourth and finally, a policy made under conditions of extreme ignorance is not equally likely to be beneficial as harmful; it is much more likely to be harmful…

Torniamo ai medici medievali, ma anche a quelli che curarono il povero George Washington per comprendere meglio l’idea di fondo…

… It is here that we must recall the case of George Washington. Washington’s doctors, ignorant of the germ theory of disease and lacking in antibiotics, had no chance of curing Washington’s infection. The human body is a complex mechanism with parts that work together in specific ways. Nearly all things one might add to or take away from the body, and nearly all ways in which one might rearrange the parts of the body, will interfere with that mechanism. Indeed, almost all large changes in the body are fatal. Thus, given their state of ignorance, almost any treatment the former President’s doctors prescribed could be expected to be harmful. Society can be viewed as a vast mechanism, whose parts (individual human beings), like the parts of an organism, work together in extremely complex ways…

Non è questo un invito all’inazione, molte soluzioni registrano un consenso e debbono essere implementate…

… I am not arguing that states should never intervene in society. Some interventions are clearly justified. For instance, prohibitions on murder, theft, and assault are justified. What differentiates these from, say, a prohibition on recreational drug use? A number of differences might be cited, 10 but what is most relevant to this paper is the difference in the state of our knowledge with respect to these prohibitions. We know that prohibitions on murder are beneficial– there are no real counter-arguments to the claim, and all experts agree…

Il non-intervento prudenziale non è un dogma quanto un modo per attribuire l’onere della prova

… Rather than recommending universal non-intervention, I am advocating a strong burden of proof for those who advocate legal demands or prohibitions…

Ora sappiamo come trattare i casi dubbi di intervento: alcuni esempi…

… The same lesson applies to many other controversial issues, such as gun control, fiscal stimulus, the minimum wage, immigration, and so on…

Altra raccomandazione pratica: indebolire la democrazia.

Qual è il difetto delle democrazie? possono  sempre “agire” anche in assenza  senza un consenso diffuso…

… for issues that are controversial or require careful reasoning or specialized knowledge, democracy is about the equivalent of drawing policies out of a hat… When an issue is controversial, the best solution is not to simply take a vote; the best solution is to remove the issue from the political arena…

Una soluzione pratica: super-maggioranze

… It is perhaps infeasible for a Constitution to include prohibitions on all the policies that would be controversial or whose effects would be unknown. A reasonable proxy would be to require large supermajority votes for the passage of any law. For example, a state could be designed in which a 70% vote of the legislature would be required to pass any new law, while a 30% vote would suffice to repeal any existing law…

Altra conseguenza pratica: non lottare mai per cio’ in cui credi.

Qui do’ per scontato che si “lotta” solo per ideali controversi

… Fighting for something, as I understand the term, involves fighting against someone. If one’s goal faces no (human) opposition, then one might be described as working for a cause (for instance, working to reduce tuberculosis, working to feed the poor) but not fighting for it. Thus, one normally fights for a cause only when what one is promoting is controversial…

Lottare per qualcosa di controverso produce molti costi che paghiamo in prima persona e riversiamo su terzi, e in molti casi l’esito è deprecabile… non ne vale la pena…

… Fighting for a cause has significant costs. Typically, one expends a great deal of time and energy, while simultaneously imposing costs on others, particularly those who oppose one’s own political position. This time and energy is very likely to be wasted, since neither side knows the answer to the issue over which they contend… In many cases, the effort is expended in bringing about a policy that turns out to be harmful or unjust…

Un caso esemplare…

… Thus, suppose you are deciding between donating time or money to Moveon.org (a left-wing political advocacy group), and donating time or money to the Against Malaria Foundation (a charity that fights malaria in the developing world). For those concerned about human welfare, the choice should be clear. Donations to Moveon.org may or may not affect public policy, and if they do, the effect may be either good or bad– that is a matter for debate. But donations to Against Malaria definitely save lives. No one disputes that…

Scegliete allora solo cause non controverse e dedicatevi a quelle, sono più che sufficienti per assorbire tutte le vostre energie.

***

Rolf Dobelli spiega bene i bias dell’iper-reazione parlando di calcio

…I calciatori che devono tirare un rigore calciano per un terzo nel mezzo, per un terzo a sinistra e per un altro terzo a destra. E i portieri che fanno? Nel 50 per cento dei casi si buttano a sinistra, e nel restante 50 a destra. Ma in pochissimi casi rimangono fermi nel mezzo, anche se un terzo delle palle finisce proprio lì. Perché? Perché sembra loro preferibile e meno doloroso buttarsi dalla parte sbagliata invece di rimanere fermi come scemi e vedere sfrecciare la palla a sinistra o a destra. Questo comportamento si chiama action bias (traducibile con iperattività): agire anche quando non serve…

L’action bias è più forte nelle situazioni nuove o poco chiare…

…Quindi: nelle situazioni incerte sentiamo il bisogno di fare qualcosa, qualunque cosa, poco importa se serve o meno. Ci fa sentire meglio, a prescindere dal fatto che la situazione sia migliorata. Spesso non lo è…

Chiudo citando Pascal

… «La più grande sventura dell’umanità consiste nel fatto di non essere in grado di restarsene tranquilli nella propria stanza»…

 

COMMENTO PERSONALE

La preghiera è il modo migliore per coltivare una sana e razionale abitudine alla passività, per tenere a bada cioè lo sciagurato istinto di reagire in modo eccessivo (overeaction) quando capita qualcosa di spiacevole. I terroristi compiono un attentato? Prega, prega per almeno una settimana e invita i politici a farlo. La crisi economica colpisce duro? Prega, prega a lungo e invita i politici a farlo. Si scatena il terremoto o l’alluvione? Limitati all’emergenza, dopodiché prega a lungo invitando i politici a fare altrettanto. Pregare a lungo ci impedisce di agire, l’attività interiore genera passività esteriore, e quindi anche un mondo migliore. I motivi sono finalmente ben spiegati nel saggio di Huemer.

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Stereotipi sugli stereotipi

Secondo il John J. Ray di “DO WE STEREOTYPE STEREOTYPING? STEREOTYPING AND RACISM” non esiste alcun collegamento tra razzismo e pregiudizi. L’autore passa in rassegna la letteratura scientifica disponibile sui pregiudizi.

La tesi è chiara…

… A notion that seems to figure prominently in most explanations of racism is the notion of stereotyping. It certainly seems to occur in almost all elementary psychology and social psychology textbook accounts of racism. It will be submitted here, however, that even a desultory reading of the social cognition literature pushes us towards the view that stereotyping neither causes racism nor has any useful role in its explanation…

Molti, purtroppo, credono ancora in una versione superata del concetto di pregiudizio.

Facciamo il caso sintomatico di un autore influente come Lippman…

… as Weber & Crocker (1983) point out, the old Lippman view of stereotypes as being mythical, rigidly held and highly resistant to change still seems to be widely believed among psychologists…

Ma già a quei tempi c’è chi seminava dubbi

… More careful writers (e.g. Allport, 1954) admit that stereotypes may often have a “kernel of truth”…

La teoria etnocentrica stabiliva poi un collegamento robusto tra la concezione ortodossa del pregiudizio e il razzismo. Autori di riferimento: Sumner (1906), Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford (1950). La teoria….

… This theory predicts that people who place a high value on their own group will tend to scorn outgroups…

Ma esiste davvero una correlazione, per esempio, tra odio per lo straniero e sopravvalutazione del proprio gruppo di appartenenza?  Driedger & Clifton (1984) ci dicono che è scarsa…

… From their Table III we find that the correlation between autostereotype and heterostereotype is in only one case out of 24 above… Thinking well of your own group, in other words, has virtually nothing to do with thinking ill of other groups….

Altra ricerca dalle conclusioni ancor più radicali…

… For example: “Not only is ingroup favoritism in the laboratory situation not related to outgroup dislike, it also does not seem causally dependant on denigration of the outgroup” (Turner, 1978)…

Pensar bene di sè e del proprio gruppo non implica odio per gli altri. Autori di riferimento: Brewer & Collins (1981, p. 350) and Brown, Condor, Matthews, Wade & Williams (1986), Ray & Furnham, 1984; Heaven, Rajab & Ray, 1985 and Ray & Lovejoy, 1986.

La teoria contraria è più probabile: l’autostima ci spinge ad instaurare relazioni più sane con lo straniero…

… There is, furthermore, a substantial body of thought which sees pro-ingroup sentiment as something like self-esteem –i.e. a positive influence and a basis for a healthy, adaptive and positive view of the world. It is hard to think well of outgroups if you do not think well of your own group…

Autori: Mihalyi, 1984/ 85), Cairns (1982), Furnham & Kirris (1983) and Elwert (1982).

Ma gli stereotipi sono accurati?

Di certo sono differenziati per gruppo etnico, il che è un indice di accuratezza…

… Stereotyping studies in fact almost invariably find that responses to different ethnic groups are highly differentiated (e.g. Kippax & Brigden, 1967; Gallois, Callan & Parslow, 1982; Callan & Gallois, 1983; Houser, 1979)…. what is believed of one ethnic group is not believed of others. Jews, for instance, are seen as different from blacks… Asians might be seen as “industrious” and blacks as “dirty”…

Altri autori sul punto: Newman, Liss & Sherman (1983), Ray (1974) and Ray & Lovejoy (1986).

Altro indice di accuratezza: c’è accordo tra gruppi nel sostenere uno  stereotipo, spesso anche con il gruppo interessato dallo stereotipo…

… There also seems to be a not inconsiderable tendency for agreement between the in- and the out-group concerning the characteristics of the in-group…

Un esempio…

… For instance, Callan & Gallois (1983) found that Anglo-Australians, Greek-Australians and Italian-Australians all showed a high level of agreement that Anglo-Australians were “sportsmanlike”, “happy-go-lucky” and “pleasure-loving”…

Altro esempio…

… See also Kippax & Brigden (1977), where Australian and American opinions about one-another and various other nationalities are shown to have a lot in common…

Chi discrimina lo fa in modo altamente differenziato…

… Gallois, Callan & Parslow (1982) that people who discriminate on ethnic grounds do so in highly differentiated ways… On matters of interest to him (i.e. racial and ethnic matters) the racially discriminatory person is cognitively complex rather than cognitively simple (See also Ray, 1972a)….

Gli stereotipi positivi fanno bene?

Si direbbe di no…

… Viljoen (1974) found that South African Blacks thought higher of English-speaking whites than they did of themselves yet those same blacks still liked their own group best in other ways. In particular, blacks preferred more social distance from the English-speaking whites than from other blacks. To put it plainly, the blacks thought that the English- speakers were admirable but still did not like the thought of their daughters marrying one….

Lo stereotipo positivo allarga la distanza sociale e ostacola l’integrazione tra gruppi: Miller (1985).

Un esempio di scuola…

… Australian schoolchildren (whites) who had large numbers of blacks (Australian Aborigines) in their classes resented black welfare programs most when they had positive stereotypes of blacks….

La politica delle quote è spesso sostenuta da chi nutre pregiudizi negativi sulla minoranza…

… Conversely, the people who accepted affirmative action programs uncritically were those whites who thought very poorly of blacks…

Concllusione…

… The simple idea that positive stereotypes are good and negative stereotypes are bad is thus revealed as an oversimplification…

Il primo autore a sostenere la funzione benigna degli stereotipi fu Schutz (1932). Tesi…

… If you can categorize people, you have to make less effort in order to interact constructively with them…

Lo stereotipo è uno strumento conoscitivo, come la generalizzazione e l’astrazione. La guerra agli stereotipi in fondo è una piccola  guerra alla scienza…

Altro autore…

… Berry (1970) is one of many who concede that stereotypes can indeed have a useful role…. stereotypes are an aid in accurately knowing what the key (i.e. different) traits of various groups are… enabling us to deal with difficult and ambiguous data…

Lo stereotipo non fa che mettere  a frutto l’informazione minima e ridurre l’incertezza…

… It is a great human strength that we can make great use of even the tiniest amounts of information…

Sulla natura generalizzante degli stereotipi…

… Hamill, Wilson & Nisbett (1980) found that people will generalize from a single instance even when they are specifically told in advance that the instance concerned is an a-typical one…

Sulla loro natura adattiva

… Doing so, however, does not mean that some rigid mental structure has been adopted. Quite to the contrary, stereotypes are approximations. They are continually modified as information comes in…

Lo stereotipo è un’approssimazione in itinere. Autori: Locksley, Hepburn & Ortiz, 1982.

Un esempio…

… show that when a target person is being evaluated by Ss, the provision of case information about that individual target person will substantially reduce the role of stereotypes in the evaluation made of the target person by the Ss…

Il lavoro di Galper & Weiss (1975)…

… stereotyping was not used where the situation was more fully specified…

Altro caso…

… Braithwaite, Gibson & Holman (1985-86)… stereotyping diminishes as the experimental situation becomes more realistic….

Conclusione possibile…

… Beyond the point where better information than what is contained in the stereotype becomes available, however, the stereotype is steadily abandoned as a guide to action….

Lo stereotipo persiste in assenza di informazioni

… Where stereotypes persist, however, are those situations where specific information will seldom be adequate or available soon enough. For instance, when confronted by an unfamiliar black, a white does not conclude that he has no information to guide him in the interaction. He instead uses his stereotypes…

Lo stereotipo persiste nelle situazioni anonime

… Thus a white who encounters a large black coming towards him on a dark street late at night will not normally approach the encounter with an empty mind…

Lo stereotipo si aggiorna con la presa di contatto specifica…

… If, however, the black simply says “Nice day” when he passes, the stereotype will no longer have any role in the interaction and some pleasantry in reply may be uttered…

Studi a supporto: Stein, Hardyck &Smith (1965), McCauley, Stitt & Segal (1980) and Bond (1986).

Un esempio tratto da Bayton, McAlister & Hamer (1956).

… These authors described a person to students simply as “black” and got the usual stereotypes back: “dirty”, “lazy” etc. They then modified the description to “educated black” and instantly got greatly changed responses. The educated black was in fact described in terms very similar to an educated white…

Cos’è allora uno stereotipo?…

… Rather, stereotyping is a process of successive approximation towards accurate judgments…

Lo stereotipo fa parte a pieno titolo della razionalità bayesiana

… The stereotype may start out containing very little in the way of accurate information but as knowledge of and experience with the particular class of person accumulates, the information will become progressively more accurate…

Autori a supporto: Locksley et al, 1982; Galper & Weiss, 1975; Braithwaite et al, 1985- 86; McCauley et al, 1980; Stein, Hardyck & Smith, 1965.

Eppure ci sono anche studi che mostrano la rigidità dei pregiudizi: Pettigrew, 1979; Johnson & Judd, 1983; Darley & Gross, 1983.

Ma non è affatto razionale abbandonare uno stereotipo in seguito ad un’eccezione: “una rondine non fa primavera“. Questi autori s3mbrano trascurarlo.

… We do not immediately abandon or revise the rule but instead wait until several or maybe many exceptions build up. If blacks are generally seen by whites as lazy, one diligent black man will not disturb that stereotype. “One swallow does not make a summer”. If, however, lots of diligent black men are encountered, cognitive change will eventuate (Weber & Crocker, 1983)…

Gli autori che sostengono la rigidità non colgono quanto sia razionale tollerare delle eccezioni, sono vittime di un’ idealizzazione popperiana della conoscenza…

… Writers such as Pettigrew simply fail to consider adequately how many exceptions (to a rule) will be tolerated…

Conclusione: lo stereotipo non è il primo passo verso il razzismo ma verso la conoscenza in generale…

… Stereotyping may be involved as a step in the formation of racially antagonistic attitudes but it is involved as a step in the formation of all attitudes…

Tanto è vero che anche il tollerante ha i suoi bravi stereotipi, solo che li nasconde…

… Devine showed that “tolerant” people do not differ in their awareness of stereotypes from non-tolerant people but that the tolerant people deliberately suppress their use of stereotypes…

Altri autori a sostegno: Smith, Griffith, Griffith & Steger (1980).

Esempio di studio…

… These authors studied stereotypes of Germans held by American students who had been living in Germany for some time. They found that the students had stereotypes that were realistic and positive and concluded that stereotyping is of little use in explaining racial and ethnic antagonisms…

Ma se i pregiudizi non spiegano il razzismo, quali sono le teorie alternative più promettenti?…

… Perhaps the most hopeful line of enquiry for psychologists, however, may be those theories and findings which portray racial preferences as just another instance of a more general human tendency to prefer the familiar and thus to prefer people who are similar to themselves (Rokeach, 1960; Stein, Hardyck & Smith, 1965; Levine & Campbell, 1972; Liebowitz & Lombardo, 1980; Taylor & Guimond, 1978; Byrne, Clore & Smeaton, 1986; Marin & Salazar, 1985; Ray, 1983)…

Un forte sentimento comunitario può facilmente evolvere in razzismo. In questo senso sono i pilastri della comunità i soggetti più a rischio.

 

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Ode al sacchetto di plastica

Non è mia ma di Katherine Mangu-Ward, io la trovo solo convincente.

Cose più spesse di un sacchetto di plastica…

… A strand of hair. A coat of paint. A human cornea…

Per dire, il sacchetto di plastica è un miracolo della tecnologia umana…

… Despite weighing less than 5 grams, one bag can hold 17 pounds, well over 1,000 times its own weight…

Economico e funzionale: cosa vuoi di più dalla vita?

Eppure, questa meraviglia è diventata il bersaglio prediletto dell’ambientalista d’assalto. Ovunque è proibito o tassato.

L’accusa:

… coastal areas blame the wispy totes for everything from asphyxiated sea turtles to melting glaciers, while inland banners decry the bags’ role in urban landscape pollution and thoughtless consumerism…

Ma si tratta di accuse dubbie: il sospetto è che attaccare il sacchetto di plastica sia un atto simbolico in sfregio al consumismo.

In realtà potremmo considerare il sacchetto di plastica come…

one of the most efficient, resource-saving inventions of the 20th century…

Facciamo un po’di storia: prima dell’ottocento i mezzi per trasportare gli acquisti al dettaglio erano interamente a cura dell’acquirente…

… baskets for the little stuff and wheeled carts for the bigger… scraps of canvas or other durable fabric…

Inconvenienti: scomodità, germi e necessità di lavaggi frequenti…

… This was back when the germ theory of disease was yet to be broadly accepted, and there were not yet Laundromats on every street corner…

Poi la carta cominciò a diventare conveniente dominando la scena per un secolo…

… The paper bag was invented in the 1850s, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that a factory girl named Margaret Knight cobbled together a machine that cut, folded, and glued flat-bottomed paper receptacles….

Pechmann fu il primo eroe della plastica…

… German chemist Hans von Pechmann was messing around with methane and ether in a lab in 1898 when he happened to notice a waxy precipitate called polymethylene…

Seguito da Du Pont

… 30 years would pass before DuPont chemists stumbled upon a similar compound, polyethylene. This time, the British figured out they could use it to insulate radar cables, which is where the substance served its war duty…

E infine da Ziegler…

… In 1953, Karl Ziegler of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (later re-christened the Max Planck Institute, for obvious reasons) and Erhard Holzkamp invented high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and soon after figured out how to use it to make pipes…

Poi arrivò Thulin Sfen, il vero protagonista di questa storia…

… But Gustaf Thulin Sten is the real hero (or villain, depending on your point of view) of our tale. An employee of the Swedish company Celloplast, Sten was the person who had the inspiration to punch holes into the side of super-thin tubes of HDPE, thus creating the ubiquitous, filmy “T-shirt bags” we know and love (to ban) today…

Nel 1985 la plastica era più conveniente della carta dell’ 11,5%.

La conservazione delle foreste era affare importante negli anni ottanta, ma poi subentrò la fissa per il global warming: carta o plastica? Da sempre l’imbarazzo ambientalista è stato grande…

… Forest conservation was a big deal in the ’80s, a point in favor of plastic. But fossil fuels were a no-no, so maybe paper was better?…

Oggi, sacchetto di plastica uguale consumismo…

… In 2010, Guinness World Records named plastic bags the most ubiquitous consumer item in the world…

Cominciò la serie delle proibizioni a raffica…

… South Africans refer to bags snagged in bushes as their “national flower.” In Washington, D.C., concern about used plastic bags finding their way down storm drains, through the Anacostia River, and into the Chesapeake Bay was the primary justification for the capital city’s 5-cent bag tax in 2010, under the slogan “Skip the Bag, Save the River.”…

Trattiamo l’accusa di essere un rifiuto onnipresente, specie su spiagge e fiumi. Ebbene, il sacchetto è un rifiuto forse più visibile di altri ma in realtà molto meno invasivo di quel che si pensa comunemente …

… In 2006, the California Coastal Commission claimed that plastic bags make up 3.8 percent of beach litter, and a few years later the California Ocean Protection Council upped the ante to 8 percent of all coastal trash…

3,8%!?…

… But the definitive American litter study— yep, such a thing exists— reports much lower figures. The 2009 Keep America Beautiful Survey, run by Steven Stein of Environmental Resources Planning, shows that all plastic bags, of which plastic retail bags are only a subset, are just 0.6 percent of visible litter nationwide…

0,6%!!

Constatiamo poi con rammarico quanto  la metodologia dei primi studi fosse a dir poco dubbia…

… And those California data? They come from the International Coastal Commission (ICC), which the California Coastal Commission notes relies on information “collected by volunteers on one day each year, and is not a scientific assessment.”…

Nei fiumi i sacchetti sono almeno al terzo posto come presenza…

… only the third-largest contributor to litter in the river, after food wrappers and bottles and cans…

Veniamo ora all’accusa di minacciare la vita marina.

Ecco un esempio sintomatico di allarmismo

… The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation is just one organization among many that claim that more than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating or getting entangled in plastic…

Le fonti di certe dicerie…

… source this figure back to a study funded by the Canadian government that tracked loss of marine animals in Newfoundland as a result of incidental catch and entanglement in fishing gear from 1981 to 1984. Importantly, this three-decade-old study had nothing to do with plastic bags at all…

La goffa retromarcia di Greenpeace

… As David Santillo, a senior biologist with Greenpeace, told The Times of London, “It’s very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags. The evidence shows just the opposite. We are not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags. With larger mammals it’s fishing gear that’s the big problem. On a global basis plastic bags aren’t an issue.”…

E sul fronte del global warming? Il sacchetto di plastica è davvero la minaccia di cui si dice? Per saperlo bisognerebbe calcolarne l’ “impronta ecologica”…

… A 2011 study from the U.K.’ s Environmental Agency attempted to quantify the emissions footprint both of plastic bags and of their substitutes…

Quanti riutilizzi richiedono i succedanei del sacchetto di plastica per compensare la sua impronta ecologica?…

… Holding the typical HDPE grocery bag up as the standard, researchers found that the common reusable non-woven polypropylene bag— the ubiquitous crinkly plastic tote, typically made with oil— had to be used at least 11 times to hold its own against an HDPE grocery bag. Cotton bags had to be used an amazing 131 times to do the same…

11 e 131. Non male. Ma studi del genere restano comunque deficitari: assumono che i sacchetti non vengano mai riutilizzati e che le borse non vengano mai lavate…

… U.K. Environmental Agency figures assume the HDPE bag is not being reused. Nor do they account for the energy and materials needed to regularly wash the reusable bags in hot soapy water…

In realtà, il riutilizzo del sacchetto è la norma…

… About 65 percent of Americans report that they repurpose their grocery bags for garbage. By contrast, a survey by the marketing research firm Edelman Berland found that consumers reported forgetting their reusable bags on 40 percent of grocery trips and opted for plastic or paper instead. Prior to the movement to ban plastic bags, many American homes had a nook, cranny, or drawer that functioned as a kind of grocery-sack clown car. It seemed that whatever the size of the container, an infinite number of bags could be stuffed inside…

Altra accusa: troppi sacchetti in giro, nessuno ricicla…

… 100 billion plastic bags that are thrown away in the U.S. every year.”…

Nessuno sa da dove arrivino questi numeri. I numeri da prendere più seriamente sono altri…

… In 2010, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans threw away 690,000 tons of HDPE bags. Of those, approximately 30,000 tons were recycled. That means a total of 660,000 tons were discarded, mostly into landfills (approximately 82 percent of non-recovered municipal solid waste goes to landfill; 18 percent is incinerated)…

Ma soprattutto: il riciclo delle alternative al sacchetto non è certo più massiccio…

… That same year, Americans also chucked almost exactly the same amount of “reusable” polypropylene bags (680,000 tons), of which zero were recovered… reusable bags actually constituted a slightly higher proportion of all bags going to landfills….

Ma il mancato riciclo sembra un peccato veniale: riciclare non conviene, è un mero spreco di risorse…

… In April, NPR’s Planet Money reported on the economics of plastic recycling, and noted that while recycled plastic from bags and sacks was once a profitable industry, times have changed. The prices of oil and gas have fallen, which means it is cheaper to just make new bags rather than undertake the laborious process of recycling the old ones. As Tom Outerbridge, who runs a Brooklyn recycling center called Sims, explained, “We can’t afford to put a lot of time and money into trying to recycle it” if no one’s buying the final product….

Il ritorno delle borse riutilizzabili è in realtà un ritorno alla sporcizia della nonna…

… reminiscent of the sub-hygienic reality faced by my great-great-grandmother,…

Il modo migliore per beccarsi una diarrea

… Put a leaky package of chicken in your cloth or plastic tote. Then go home, empty the bag, crumple it up, and toss it in the trunk of your car to fester. A week later, you go shopping again and throw some veggies you’re planning to eat raw into the same bag. Cue diarrhea….

Presenze inquietanti nella metà delle borse riutilizzabili…

… A 2011 survey published in the journal Food Protection Trends found coliform bacteria in fully half of the reusable shopping bags tested…

Altre ricerche sulla scarsa igiene delle borse alternative al sacchetto di plastica…

… The same 2014 Edelman Berland study that found consumers frequently forgot their bags also unearthed the fact that only 18 percent of shoppers reported cleaning their bags “once a week or more.” An article in the Journal of Infectious Diseases traced a 2010 outbreak of norovirus to nine members of an Oregon soccer team who had touched or eaten food stored in a contaminated reusable bag…

Conclusione

… technology behind plastic grocery bags is so useful it won a Nobel Prize… Employing an unimaginably small amount of base material… Far from being the environmental threat activists make them out to be, plastic bags are not particularly to blame for clogged sewers, choked rivers, asphyxiated sea animals, or global warming. Instead, they are likely our best bet for carrying all of our junk in a responsible manner….

cello