Hi-tech humanism. Richard Florida (the theorist of the new “creative class”) maintains that when we talk of the “digital age” it is important to remember that interconnection is a sort of extension and amplification of activities which we have carried out with traditional means and methods. At the base of everything are human relations, physical contact, dialogue, aspects of life which digital technologies do not replace. The assumption on which interconnection is based is the ability and willingness to work together. Naturally, critical awareness, listening and respect for the freedom of others are also fundamental in every relationship which is not obedience, in every culture of competition, cooperation and dialogue which seeks out fusions that suit times of change and the search for new balances.
Florida’s hi-tech humanism is fully suited to seasons of uncertainty and changes and even actual metamorphoses. Methods and languages which were features of the long period stretching from the Eighties to the explosion of the economic crisis have come to the end of the line: the policies of power and the logic of the domination of force, the rapacious individualism of cut-throat finance, frenetic and infinite economic growth, the myths of limitless progress, of unregulated and uncontrolled globalism, of marketism as ideology (despite cultures of a well-regulated market). Goodbye to the “greed is good” of the speculators of the paper economy and financial fraud. Feet are now firmly on the ground of the real economy, of politics which has to rebuild its creditability on transparent responsibility and the idea of power as a service and not domination.
A new age. Ancient values to be restored. Innovative languages to be filled with contemporary meanings. Without the temptation towards nostalgia and looking back with the awareness that words such as sustainability, responsibility, community, participation and a willingness to take on general interests and duties have potential which is yet to be explored.
This is the framework in which we also find the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, consequent behaviour and values. Respect for people, in political, professional, working and private relations. An end to the frenzy of the cool and trendy and the worldly neurosis of the “new at all costs”, to make room for the “pleasant” and the Calvinist “light” substance of the quality of life and of relationships (detailed information on this is given by Maria Luisa Agnese in Corriere della Sera of 28 December 2013). A return into the spotlight of good manners, with a large crop of self-help books in stores, not as an affectation but with the awareness that there is in any case a link between etiquette and ethics, and the endorsement of kindness.
Kindness, as interpreted by Pope Francis in his speeches about the family, remembering the importance of simple words such as “thank you”. This is widely echoed in political science, economics and managerial literature: if we move from the dimension of the subject, the consumer who has been won over and the obedient voter to that of the citizen and of the person, the entire system of relationships (voting, purchasing, work and professional service, etc.) must inevitably meet criteria in which “trust” and “responsibility” are processes to be won over, motivated and rebuilt in the exchange between “individuality” and “otherness”, adding value to humanity.
This is the age of emotional intelligence and the predominance of “feminine” values, welcoming and listening (in place of conflict with the success of the bolder or the stronger), competitive collaboration and no longer the merciless selection of Darwin’s theories. This has a positive effect on the construction of corporate cultures. Rediscovering the all-Italian aptitude of those who for example used the words of Gandhi for extraordinary advertising in the world of telecoms or those who traditionally maintained that power is nothing without control, a demonstration of responsibility.
There are other words in the dictionary of the modern age on which to reflect. “Humility” for example, or “tenderness”. They were used by Pope Francis in fact and give a sense of intense humanity and respect. They mark the end of the cycle of “power”, “domination” and the display of muscle “strength” (behind which an impotent arrogance is often concealed). They inaugurate the new season of the new millennium in which reasoning is based on values and file away finally the time when we knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. Just as we said: “humanism”, or not?