Giorgio Galli - May 2020

Covid 19 and Democracy

When, in the debate at one of the "Vetrine" of the“Libreria delle Donne”, I said that democracy is a "project", the statement seemed quite obvious to me. Democracy literally understood as "power" or "government" of the people, never exists and it is almost impossible that it could exist, said the greatest European political scientist of the twentieth century, the French Maurice Duverger. However, the project to involve all adult members of a community in its government, the management of the power only on the basis of consent, according to the formulation I prefer, whale, intersecting with gender relations (men and women), since the “Greek miracle ”, to reach the English suffragettes at the beginning of the nineteenth century. I documented this interpretation in subsequent thirty-year books, up to "Le ribelli della storia" (Shake editions, 2014). Hellenic democracy excluded women, as did the 17th century British representative and France at the time of the "glorious revolution": all evidence of patriarchal power, from the time when, millennia before Christ, the knights of the steppe had overwhelmed the "gilania of ”Maria Gijmbutas and Riane Eisler, the mutual and egalitarian civilization that developed in Ancient Europe, between the Carpathians and the Black Sea.

The decline of patriarchy began when women obtained the right to vote, in parallel to the development of capitalism: we need to refer to this combination (women, capitalism, right to vote in representative democracy) to assess whether the SARS CoV-2 pandemic could be considered an epochal turning point. The current globalized capitalism is the economic system of the large “multinationals” (around five hundred), developed during the "glorious thirty years" post-war and is the capitalism of the full development of welfare in Europe, while the epochal turning point of the SARS CoV-2 could turn the tide upside down: the following decades have seen the hegemony of the seven sisters cartel of oil (Big Oil) and, with the new millennium, the hegemony of the five sisters cartel of computer science (Big Data), with a continuum important role of Big Pharma, the cartel of therapeutic multinationals, whose virologists believed that epidemics have disappeared in the West, remaining an underdeveloped residue of Africa and China, to which mask production was reserved.

It is true that science may progress by mistake, but what the epidemic could change is the presumption of its omnipotence, in a context of revision of five thousand years of patriarchy, five hundred of capitalism and just one hundred of the voting rights of women. If democracy is a project that provides power based on consensus, the hegemony of IT multinationals is the proof of how consensus can be manipulated. A great political scientist, the North American Robert Dahl, provides us with a precious key to the reading. He considered democracy not a project, but a reality, albeit in a representative and constantly evolving form. In conclusion of his studies, from Pericles' Athens male democracy to Roosevelt's United States suffrage, finally "universal" even female, Dahl came to the conclusion that the democracy of our successors would not have been, inevitably, that of our predecessors: either it would have expanded, with greater control of citizens over the ruling elites, or it would be reduced to ever more oligarchic forms.

The last quarter of a century has seen the second trend prevailing, with multinationals that manipulating the consensus with the control of its sources, from the media to the universities (as I write in "How the world is commanded", ed. Rubbettino; and "Enriching oneself by impoverishing", ed. Mimesis), built only a formal democracy (foreseen by Dahl: periodic elections, for Parliaments with less and less power, in States with budgets lower than those of the major multinationals).

The epochal turning point, the year 2020 of the pandemic, could overturn the trend: if multinationals can manipulate consensus, undermining the democracy project, then it is the multinationals that need to be controlled, through the finally "universal" suffrage, with the vote of women which is one of the conquests of the presence of gender in all sectors, from art to science, made more "gilanic" (Riane Eisler) by the sunset of his (male) presumption of omnipotence. If there will be a change, it will be this.

Giorgio Galli

ph Rossana Ciocca