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Rereading article 9 of the Italian Constitution – culture, science and environment, to place Italy at the centre of a new Bauhaus movement

Rereading Article 9 of the Italian Constitution, in order to contemplate the strategies and quality of Italy’s economic and social development and reflect on how relevant that formal and solemn pledge – according to which “the Republic promotes the development of culture and scientific and technical research” and “safeguards the natural landscape and the historic and artistic heritage of the Nation” – still is today. A pledge that was recently updated – this past February – by adding that “the Republic safeguards the environment and ecosystems, protects biodiversity and animals, promotes sustainable development, also in the interest of future generations.”

Echoes of Article 9, in both traditional and modern form, loudly resounded throughout the presentation of the “Io sono cultura 2022 – L’Italia della qualità e della bellezza sfida la crisi” (“I am culture 2022 – Italian quality and beauty defy the crisis” report, curated by Symbola and Unioncamere. The event was held at the MAXXI, in Rome, to discuss the economic value of the cultural and creative production system (88.6 billion, with the potential to generate 252 billion and create 1.5 million jobs) and the important role that cultural processes and products have in terms of the competitiveness and growth of Italian companies on the international market, while also fostering the development of quality and efficiency in cultural and creative enterprises.

The underlying strategy is rather challenging: as argued by Ermete Realacci, president of Symbola, Italy should become “the main protagonist in the new Bauhaus movement strongly advocated by the EU Commission, in order to consolidate the ties between the world of culture and creativity and the worlds of production, science and technology, steering them towards the environmental transition defined in the EU Next Generation plan.”

Thus, rereading Article 9 of the Italian Constitution is important. Why? Let’s take a step back in history, to better understand.

Article 9 is one of 12 “Fundamental principles”. In 1946-1947, it was painstakingly and adeptly scrutinised, as part of the activities of the Assemblea Costituente (Constituent Assembly), by Concetto Marchesi, one of the most prominent Latin scholars of the 20th century and a Communist; by Costantino Mortati, a greatly skilled constitutionalist (his books were used to train generations of lawyers up to the end of the 1960s) and a Christian Democrat; and by a young and very smart Aldo Moro. After a lengthy and laborious debate, the original wording was finally decided upon and, though nothing like it can be found in other 20th-century constitutions, it nonetheless encapsulates the cultural, aesthetic and ethical themes that denoted that of the Weimar Republic (to learn more about this, it’s useful to reread the book published in 2018 by Carocci and curated by Tomaso Montanari as part of the series dedicated to constitutional “Fundamental principles”).

Its wording binds together humanist culture and science, beauty and technology, historic and artistic heritage and, indeed, the natural landscape, thus describing a veritable “polytechnic culture”. Furthermore, it paves the way for a number of desirable political decisions in term of sustainable development and implementation of the ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles, as per the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

In fact, these are the Article’s characteristics that have made it increasingly relevant over time (despite our severe negligence of environment and natural landscape, for which we continue to suffer dramatic consequences). And now, thanks to its updated wording and a more internationally sensitive context, it has also regained its power as a legal and strategic tool suitable to this new era defined by the “knowledge economy”, environmental and social sustainability, and the twofold green and digital transition that will regenerate public institutions, private companies and “third-sector” structures.

Italian enterprises are caught between old rifts and uncertainties (an overall stagnant production offset only in part by quality manufacturing, increasing political and administrative shortcomings, the “demographic winter” and its negative impact on the GDP, a generally low level of education paired with an equally low number of graduates – not sufficient to meet the country’s needs and significantly lower than in other EU countries), as well as new ones (the energy crisis, inflation, a looming recession linked to the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions). All this gives rise to great concerns about the future. Yet, as in all previous crises (from the Great financial crisis of 2008 to the COVID-19 pandemic), Italian enterprises know that they can count on their own entrepreneurial spirit’s extraordinary adaptive skills, on a versatile approach to innovation that enhances their processes and products, on a resilient attitude that arises from their quick and effective aptitude for adapting to new market conditions – rather than merely relying on welfare benefits or protectionist policies.

In certain territories strong values, especially considering these times marked by transition and new challenges, are deeply entrenched – know-how is based on a “do and do well” attitude, a “polytechnic culture” permeates design and quality, enterprises are considered responsible communities where people are involved in the production process. Indeed, the ability to see environment and culture as resources, beauty as quality, history as a reference for the future, is something in which we should confide.

Italian and European industrial policies related to Industry 4.0 have eased this process of innovation and competitiveness and, for the sake of Italy’s role within the EU context, we now hope that the future Italian government will continue on this path.

Companies consider environmental and social sustainability not as a constraint but as a competitive asset, a leading one at that in Europe. Applied scientific research consolidates the productivity of regions, networks, production supply chains. Regional foundations are going to great lengths to open ITS, higher technical institutes, offering training programmes aligned with companies’ needs.

As mentioned in the “Io sono cultura” debate, this frame of reference is encouraging companies to invest in cultural activities, not so much in terms of patronage (which is nonetheless always welcome) but, above all, by considering culture as a productive tool, a feature distinguishing goods and services, thus asserting a veritable “made in Italy’s polytechnic culture” founded on beauty and quality, design, science, technology and functionality. A culture that encompasses the mechanical and mechatronics, automotive and chemical, aerospace and shipbuilding industries, as well as more traditional sectors (furnishings, agro-industry, clothing).

Know-how is key, but it’s not enough. We also need to reshape the way we narrate, produce and portray – we need to build a new story about a manufacturing, productive Italy. And, bearing in mind the strategic recommendations set out in Article 9 of the Constitution, we need to stimulate a new and deep appreciation of the quality that Italy can offer – with the awareness that “Italy must make the best of Italy”, as Symbola likes to say, and, in the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, we need to actualise that extraordinary notion of a “sweet patriotism” that marked the Presidency of the Republic during the leadership of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Rereading Article 9 of the Italian Constitution, in order to contemplate the strategies and quality of Italy’s economic and social development and reflect on how relevant that formal and solemn pledge – according to which “the Republic promotes the development of culture and scientific and technical research” and “safeguards the natural landscape and the historic and artistic heritage of the Nation” – still is today. A pledge that was recently updated – this past February – by adding that “the Republic safeguards the environment and ecosystems, protects biodiversity and animals, promotes sustainable development, also in the interest of future generations.”

Echoes of Article 9, in both traditional and modern form, loudly resounded throughout the presentation of the “Io sono cultura 2022 – L’Italia della qualità e della bellezza sfida la crisi” (“I am culture 2022 – Italian quality and beauty defy the crisis” report, curated by Symbola and Unioncamere. The event was held at the MAXXI, in Rome, to discuss the economic value of the cultural and creative production system (88.6 billion, with the potential to generate 252 billion and create 1.5 million jobs) and the important role that cultural processes and products have in terms of the competitiveness and growth of Italian companies on the international market, while also fostering the development of quality and efficiency in cultural and creative enterprises.

The underlying strategy is rather challenging: as argued by Ermete Realacci, president of Symbola, Italy should become “the main protagonist in the new Bauhaus movement strongly advocated by the EU Commission, in order to consolidate the ties between the world of culture and creativity and the worlds of production, science and technology, steering them towards the environmental transition defined in the EU Next Generation plan.”

Thus, rereading Article 9 of the Italian Constitution is important. Why? Let’s take a step back in history, to better understand.

Article 9 is one of 12 “Fundamental principles”. In 1946-1947, it was painstakingly and adeptly scrutinised, as part of the activities of the Assemblea Costituente (Constituent Assembly), by Concetto Marchesi, one of the most prominent Latin scholars of the 20th century and a Communist; by Costantino Mortati, a greatly skilled constitutionalist (his books were used to train generations of lawyers up to the end of the 1960s) and a Christian Democrat; and by a young and very smart Aldo Moro. After a lengthy and laborious debate, the original wording was finally decided upon and, though nothing like it can be found in other 20th-century constitutions, it nonetheless encapsulates the cultural, aesthetic and ethical themes that denoted that of the Weimar Republic (to learn more about this, it’s useful to reread the book published in 2018 by Carocci and curated by Tomaso Montanari as part of the series dedicated to constitutional “Fundamental principles”).

Its wording binds together humanist culture and science, beauty and technology, historic and artistic heritage and, indeed, the natural landscape, thus describing a veritable “polytechnic culture”. Furthermore, it paves the way for a number of desirable political decisions in term of sustainable development and implementation of the ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles, as per the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

In fact, these are the Article’s characteristics that have made it increasingly relevant over time (despite our severe negligence of environment and natural landscape, for which we continue to suffer dramatic consequences). And now, thanks to its updated wording and a more internationally sensitive context, it has also regained its power as a legal and strategic tool suitable to this new era defined by the “knowledge economy”, environmental and social sustainability, and the twofold green and digital transition that will regenerate public institutions, private companies and “third-sector” structures.

Italian enterprises are caught between old rifts and uncertainties (an overall stagnant production offset only in part by quality manufacturing, increasing political and administrative shortcomings, the “demographic winter” and its negative impact on the GDP, a generally low level of education paired with an equally low number of graduates – not sufficient to meet the country’s needs and significantly lower than in other EU countries), as well as new ones (the energy crisis, inflation, a looming recession linked to the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions). All this gives rise to great concerns about the future. Yet, as in all previous crises (from the Great financial crisis of 2008 to the COVID-19 pandemic), Italian enterprises know that they can count on their own entrepreneurial spirit’s extraordinary adaptive skills, on a versatile approach to innovation that enhances their processes and products, on a resilient attitude that arises from their quick and effective aptitude for adapting to new market conditions – rather than merely relying on welfare benefits or protectionist policies.

In certain territories strong values, especially considering these times marked by transition and new challenges, are deeply entrenched – know-how is based on a “do and do well” attitude, a “polytechnic culture” permeates design and quality, enterprises are considered responsible communities where people are involved in the production process. Indeed, the ability to see environment and culture as resources, beauty as quality, history as a reference for the future, is something in which we should confide.

Italian and European industrial policies related to Industry 4.0 have eased this process of innovation and competitiveness and, for the sake of Italy’s role within the EU context, we now hope that the future Italian government will continue on this path.

Companies consider environmental and social sustainability not as a constraint but as a competitive asset, a leading one at that in Europe. Applied scientific research consolidates the productivity of regions, networks, production supply chains. Regional foundations are going to great lengths to open ITS, higher technical institutes, offering training programmes aligned with companies’ needs.

As mentioned in the “Io sono cultura” debate, this frame of reference is encouraging companies to invest in cultural activities, not so much in terms of patronage (which is nonetheless always welcome) but, above all, by considering culture as a productive tool, a feature distinguishing goods and services, thus asserting a veritable “made in Italy’s polytechnic culture” founded on beauty and quality, design, science, technology and functionality. A culture that encompasses the mechanical and mechatronics, automotive and chemical, aerospace and shipbuilding industries, as well as more traditional sectors (furnishings, agro-industry, clothing).

Know-how is key, but it’s not enough. We also need to reshape the way we narrate, produce and portray – we need to build a new story about a manufacturing, productive Italy. And, bearing in mind the strategic recommendations set out in Article 9 of the Constitution, we need to stimulate a new and deep appreciation of the quality that Italy can offer – with the awareness that “Italy must make the best of Italy”, as Symbola likes to say, and, in the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, we need to actualise that extraordinary notion of a “sweet patriotism” that marked the Presidency of the Republic during the leadership of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.